All Commentary
Thursday, September 1, 1955

A Horse, A Stag, And Liberty

Samuel Croxall’s Fables. London, 1813.

Aesop said:

“A horse and a stag, feeding together in a rich meadow, began fighting over which should have the best grass. The stag with his sharp horns got the better of the horse. So the horse asked the help of man. And man agreed, but suggested that his help might be more effective if he were permitted to ride the horse and guide him as he thought best. So the horse permitted man to put a saddle on his back and a bridle on his head. Thus they drove the stag from the meadow. But when the horse asked man to remove the bridle and saddle and set him free, man answered. ‘I never before knew what a useful drudge you are. And now that I have found what you are good for, you may rest assured that I will keep you to it.’”

The philosopher and poet, Horace, said of this fable:

“This is the case of him, who, dreading poverty, parts with that invaluable jewel, Liberty; like a wretch as he is, he will be always subject to a tyrant of some sort or other, and be a slave for ever; because his avaricious spirit knew not how to be contented with that moderate competency, which he might have possessed independent of all the world.”