1.01. THE MILLER, HIS SON AND THEIR ASS. 'Tis better to pursue the dictates of one's own reason than attempt to please all mankind. A Miller and his Son were driving their Ass to market in order to sell him and that he might get thither fresh and in good condition they drove him on gently before them. They had not proceeded far when they met a company of travellers. Sure, say they, you are mighty careful of your Ass methinks: one of you might as well get up and ride as suffer him to walk on at his ease, while you trudge after on foot. In compliance with this advice, the Old Man set his Son upon the beast.
And now they had scarce advanced a quarter of a mile farther before they met another company. You idle young rogue, said one of the party, why don't you get down and let your poor father ride? Upon this the Old Man made his Son dismount and got up himself.
While they were marching in this manner a third company began to insult the Father: You hard-hearted unnatural wretch, say they; how can you suffer that poor lad to wade through the dirt while you like an alderman ride at your ease? The good-natured Miller stood corrected and immediately took his Son up behind him. And now the next man they met exclaimed with more vehemence and indignation than all the rest, Was there ever such a couple of lazy boobies! to overload in so unconscionable a manner a poor dumb creature who is far less able to carry them than they are to carry him! The complying Old Man would have been half inclined to make the trial had not experience by this time sufficiently convinced him that there cannot be a more fruitless attempt than to endeavour to please all mankind. [more info]