Friday Fable. Aesop’s “The Hawk, the Kite, and the Pigeons”*

Posted by jlubans on March 27, 2015

Caption: Revolutionary “Pigeons” Pulling Down King George III

“THE PIGEONS, terrified by the appearance of a Kite, called upon the Hawk to defend them. He at once consented. When they had admitted him into the cote, they found that he made more havoc and slew a larger number of them in one day than the Kite could pounce upon in a whole year.”

“Avoid a remedy that is worse than the disease.”

And from 1775, a moral appearing in ÆSOP'S FABLES, translated by Samuel Croxall, D. D. London. The 10th edition, it suggests a strong interest in Croxall’s translation of Aesop.**

“What can this fable be applied to but the exceeding blindness and stupidity of that part of mankind who wantonly and foolishly trust their native rights of liberty without good security? …. The truth is, we ought not to incur the possibility of being deceived in so important a matter as this: an unlimited power should not be trusted in the hands of any one who is not endued with a perfection more than human.

Mr. Croxall, writing just before America’s break with King George III, (over the “native rights of liberty”) did not miss the point of this fable. If liberty is worth having, making concessions to “the (presumed) lesser of two evils” is to repeat the pigeons’ self-destructing folly. Today’s news of a centuries-old enemy providing “free” military assistance to a hapless "former" foe and another country’s “freeing” a part of a sovereign state with grand promises to those “liberated” suggest that Aesop’s insights are as relevant today as they were in 550BC.

**A reprint from 1814 keeps Croxall’s text, drops his name and says the book was “Printed at the Chiswick Press, BY C. WHITTINGHAM.” You can see it here.

Leading from the Middle News. June, 2015 will be the five-year anniversary of Leading from the Middle. Get a copy before it goes out of print!

Today’s Leading from the Middle Library: Singapore Management University, Li Ka Shing Library.

© 2015 John Lubans

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