[E] Superioribus diebus cum me ex Italia in Angliam recepissem, ne totum hoc tempus quo equo fuit insidendum amusois et illitteratis fabulis tereretur, malui mecum aliquoties uel de communibus studiis nostris aliquid agitare, uel amicorum, quos hic ut doctissimos ita et suauissimos reliqueram, recordatione frui. Inter hos tu, mi More, uel in primis occurrebas; cuius equidem absentis absens memoria non aliter frui solebam quam presentis presens consuetudine consueueram; qua dispeream si quid unquam in uita contigit mellitius. Ergo quoniam omnino aliquid agendum duxi, et id tempus ad seriam commentationem parum uidebatur accommodatum, uisum est Moriae Encomium ludere.
[E] Que Pallas istuc tibi misit in mentem? inquies. Primum admonuit me Mori cognomen tibi gentile, quod tam ad Moriae uocabulum accedit quam es ipse a re alienus; es autem uel omnium suffragiis alienissimus. Deinde suspicabar hunc ingenii nostri lusum tibi precipue probatum iri, propterea quod soleas huius generis iocis, hoc est nec indoctis, ni fallor, nec usquequaque insulsis, impendio delectari, et omnino in communi mortalium uita Democritum quendam agere. Quanquam tu quidem, ut pro singulari quadam ingenii tui perspicacitate longe lateque a uulgo dissentire soles, ita pro incredibili morum suauitate facilitateque cum omnibus omnium horarum hominem agere et potes et gaudes. Hanc igitur declamatiunculam non solum lubens accipies ceu mnemosunon tui sodalis, uerum etiam tuendam suscipies, utpote tibi dicatam iamque tuam non meam.
[E] Etenim non deerunt fortasse uitilitigatores, qui calum nientur partim leuiores esse nugas quam ut theologum deceant, partim mordaciores quam ut Christiane conueniant modestie; nosque clamitabunt ueterem comediam aut Lucianum quempiam referre atque omnia mordicus arripere. Verum quos argumenti leuitas et ludicrum offendit, cogitent uelim non meum hoc exemplum esse, sed idem iam olim a magnis auctoribus factitatum; cum ante tot secula Batrachomuomachian luserit Homerus, Maro Culicem et Moretum, Nucem Ouidius; cum Busyriden laudarit Polycrates et huius castigator Isocrates, iniustitiam Glauco, Thersiten et quartanam febrim Fauorinus, caluitiem Synesius, muscam et parasiticam Lucianus; cum Seneca Claudii luserit apotheôsin, Plutarchus Grylli cum Ulysse dialogum, Lucianus et Apuleius Asinum, et nescio quis Grunnii Coro cottae porcelli testamentum, cuius et diuus meminit Hieronymus Proinde, si uidebitur, fingant isti me laterunculis in terim animi causa lusisse, aut si malint equitasse in arundine longa. Nam que tandem est iniquitas, cum omni uite insti tuto suos lusus concedamus, studiis nullum omnino lusum permittere, maxime si nuge seria ducant, atque ita tractentur ludicra ut ex his aliquanto plus frugis referat lector non omnino naris obese, quam ex quorundam tetricis ac splendidis argumentis? ueluti cum alius diu consarcinata oratione rhetoricen aut philosophiam laudat, alius principis alicuius laudes describit, alius ad bellum aduersus Turcas mouendum adhortatur, alius futura predicit. alius nouas de lana caprina comminiscitur questiunculas. Vt enim nihil nugacius quam seria nugatorie tractare, ita nihil festiuius quam ita tractare nugas ut nihil minus quam nugatus fuisse uidearis. De me quidem aliorum erit iudicium; tamet si, nisi plane me fallit philautia, Stulticiam laudauimus, sed non omnino stulte.
[E] Iam uero ut de mordacitatis cauillatione respondeam, semper hec ingeniis libertas permissa fuit, ut in communem hominum uitam salibus luderent impune, modo ne licentia exiret in rabiem. Quo magis admiror his temporibus aurium delicias que nihil iam fere nisi solennes titulos ferre possunt. Porro nonnullos adeo prepostere religiosos uideas, ut uel grauissima in Christum conuicia ferant citius quam pontificem aut principem leuissimo ioco aspergi, presertim si quid pros ta alphita id est ad questum, attinet. At enim qui uitas hominum ita taxat ut neminem omnino perstringat nominatim, queso utrum is mordere uidetur an docere potius ac monere? Alioqui quot obsecro nominibus ipse me taxo? Preterea qui nullum hominum genus pretermittit, is nulli homini, uiciis omnibus iratus uidetur. Ergo si quis extiterit qui sese lesum clamabit, is aut conscientiam prodet suam aut certe metum. Lusit hoc in genere multo liberius ac mordacius diuus Hieronymus, ne nominibus quidem ali quoties parcens. Nos preterquam quod a nominibus in to tum abstinemus, ita preterea stilum temperauimus ut cordatus lector facile sit intellecturus nos uoluptatem magis quam morsum quesisse. Neque enim ad Iuuenalis exemplum occultam illam scelerum sentinam usquam mouimus, et ridenda magis quam foeda recensere studuimus. Tum si quis est quem nec ista placare possunt, is saltem illud meminerit, pulchrum esse a Stulticia uituperari; quam cum loquentem fecerimus, decoro persone seruiendum fuit. Sed quid ego hec tibi, patrono tam singulari ut causas etiam non optimas optime tamen tueri possis? Vale, disertissime More, et Moriam tuam gnauiter defende.
Ex Rure Quinto Idus Iunias, [AN. MDVII].
[E] Vtcumque de me uulgo mortales loquuntur, neque enim sum nescia, quam male audiat STVLTITIA etiam apud stultissimos, tamen hanc esse, hanc, inquam, esse unam, quae meo numine Deos atque homines exhilaro, uel illud abunde magnum est argumentum, quod simulatque in hunc coetum frequentissimum dictura prodii, sic repente omnium uultus noua quadam atque insolita hilaritate enituerunt, sic subito frontem exporrexistis , sic laeto quodam et amabili applausistis risu, ut mihi profecto quotquot undique praesentes intueor, pariter deorum Homericorum nectare non sine nepenthe temulenti esse uideamini, cum antehac tristes ac solliciti sederitis, perinde quasi nuper e Trophonii specu reuersi. Caeterum quemadmodum fieri consueuit, ut cum primum sol formosum illud et aureum os terris ostenderit, aut ubi post asperam hiemem, nouum uer blandis adspirarit Fauoniis, protinus noua rebus omnibus facies, nouus color ac plane iuuenta quaedam redeat, ita uobis me conspecta, mox alius accessit uultus. Itaque quod magni alioqui Rhetores, uix longa diuque meditata oratione possunt efficere, nempe ut molestas animi curas discutiant, id ego solo statim adspectu praestiti.
[E] Quamobrem autem hoc insolito cultu prodierim hodie, iam audietis, si modo non grauabimini dicenti praebere aures, non eas sane quas sacris Concionatoribus, sed quas fori circulatoribus, scurris ac morionibus consueuistis arrigere, quasque olim Midas ille noster exhibuit Pani. Lubitum est enim paulisper apud uos Sophistam agere, non quidem huius generis quod hodie nugas quasdam anxias inculcat pueris, ac plus quam muliebrem rixandi pertinaciam tradit, sed ueteres illos imitabor, qui quo infamem Sophorum appellationem uitarent, Sophistae uocari maluerunt. Horum studium erat, Deorum ac fortium uirorum laudes encomiis celebrare. Encomium igitur audietis, non Herculis, neque Solonis, sed meum ipsius, hoc est, STVLTITIAE
[E] Iam uero non huius facio sapientes istos qui stultissimum et insolentissimum esse praedicant, si quis ipse laudibus se ferat. Sit sane quam uolent stultum, modo decorum esse fateantur. Quid enim magis quadrat, quam ut ipsa Moria suarum laudum sit buccinatrix, et Autê heautês aulê. Quis enim me melius exprimat quam ipsa me? Nisi si cui forte notior sim, quam egomet sum mihi. Quamquam ego hoc alioqui, non paulo etiam modestius arbitror, quam id quod optimatum ac sapientum uulgus faetitat, qui peruerso quodam pudore uel Rhetorem quempiam palponem, uel Poetam uaniloquum, subornare solent, eumque mercede conductum, a quo suas laudes audiant, hoc est, mera mendacia, et tamen uerecundus interim ille, pauonis in morem pennas tollit, cristas erigit, cum impudens assentator nihili hominem Diis aequiparat, cum absolutum omnium uirtutum exemplar proponit, a quo sciat ille se plusquam dis dia pasôn abesse: cum corniculam alienis conuestit plumis: cum ton Aithiopa leucainei, denique cum ec muias ton elephanta poiei. Postremo sequor tritum illud vulgi prouerbium, quo dicitur is recte laudare sese, cui nemo alius contigit laudator. Quamquam hic interim demiror mortalium, ingratitudinem dicam, an segnitiem, quorum cum omnes me studiose colant, meamque libenter sentiant beneficentiam, nemo tamen tot iam saeculis exstitit, qui grata oratione STVLTITIAE laudes celebrarit, cum non defuerint, qui Busirides, Phalarides, febres quartanas, muscas, caluitia, atque id genus pestes, accuratis magnaque et olei et somni iactura elucubratis laudibus uexerint. A me extemporariam quidem illam et illaboratam, sed tanto ueriorem audietis orationem.
[E] Id quod nolim existimetis ad ingenii ostentationem esse confictum, quemadmodum uulgus oratorum facit. Nam ii, sicuti nostis, cum orationem totis triginta annis elaboratam, nonnumquam et alienam proferunt, tamen triduo sibi quasi per lusum scriptam, aut etiam dictatam esse deierant. Mihi porro semper gratissmum fuit hoti an epi glôttan elthoi dicere. At ne quis iam a nobis expectet ut iuxta uulgarium istorum rhetorum consuetudinem, me ipsam finitione explicem porro ut diuidam, multo minus. Nam utrumque ominis est inauspicati, uel fine circumscribere eam cuius numen tam late pateat, uel secare, in cuius cultum omne rerum genus ita consentiat. Tametsi quorsum tandem attinet mei uelut umbram atque imaginem finitione repraesentare, cum ipsam me coram praesentes praesentem oculis intueamini? Sum etenim uti uidetis, uera illa largitrix eaôn, quam Latini STVLTITIAM, Graeci MÔRIAN appellant.
[E] Quamquam quid uel hoc opus erat dicere, quasi non ipso ex uultu fronteque, quod aiunt, satis quae sim prae me feram, aut quasi si quis me Mineruam, aut Sophiam esse contendat, non statim solo possit obtutu coargui, etiam si nulla accedat oratio, minime mendax animi speculum. Nullus apud me fucis locus, nec aliud fronte simulo, aliud in pectore premo. Sumque mei undique simillima, adeo ut nec ii me dissimulare possint, qui maxime Sapientiae personam ac titulum sibi uindicant, kai tê porphura pithêkoi, kai in tê leontê onoi, obambulant. Quamuis autem sedulo fingant, tamen alicunde prominentes auriculae Midam produnt. Ingratum mehercle et hoc hominum genus, qui cum maxime sint nostrae factionis, tamen apud uulgum cognominis nostri sic pudet, ut id passim aliis magni probri uice obiiciant. Proinde istos cum sint môrotatoi, caeterum sophi ac Thaletes uideri uelint, nonne iure optimo môrosophous illos appellabimus?
[E] Visum est enim hac quoque parte nostri temporis Rhetores imitari, qui plane Deos esse sese credunt, si hirudinum ritu bilingues appareant, ac praeclarum facinus esse ducunt, Latinis orationibus subinde Graeculas aliquot uoculas, uelut emblemata intertexere, etiam si nunc non erat his locus. Porro si desunt exotica, e putribus chartis quatuor aut quinque prisca uerba eruunt, quibus tenebras offundant lectori, uidelicet, ut qui intelligunt, magis ac magis sibi placeant: qui non intelligunt, hoc ipso magis admirentur quo minus intelligunt. Quandoquidem est sane et hoc nostratium uoluptatum genus non inelegans, quam maxime peregrina maxime suspicere. Quod si qui paulo sunt ambitiosiores, arrideant tamen et applaudant, atque asini exemplo ta ôta kinôsi, quo caeteris probe intelligere uideantur, kai tauta dê men tauta. Nunc ad institutum recurro.
[E] Nomen igitur habetis: Viri, Quid addam epitheti? Quid nisi stultissimi? Nam quo alio honestiore cognomine Mystas suos compellet Dea STVLTITIA? Sed quoniam non perinde multis notum est, quo genere prognata sim, id iam Musis bene iuuantibus exponere conabor. Mihi uero neque Chaos, neque Saturnus, neque Iapetus, aut alius id genus obsoletorum, ac putrium Deorum quispiam pater fuit. Sed ploutos ipse unus, uel inuitis Hesiodo et Homero, atque ipso adeo Ioue, patêr andrôn te theôn te. Cuius unius nutu, ut olim ita nunc quoque sacra profanaque omnia sursum ac deorsum miscentur. Cuius arbitrio bella, paces, imperia, consilia, iudicia, comitia, connubia, pacta, foedera, leges, artes, ludicra, seria, iam spiritus me deficit, breuiter, publica priuataque omnia mortalium negotia administrantur. Citra cuius opem, totus ille Poeticorum Numinum populus, dicam audacius, ipsi quoque Dii selecti, aut omnino non essent, aut certe oikositoi sane quam frigide uictitarent. Quem quisquis iratum habuerit, huic ne Pallas quidem satis auxilii tulerit. Contra, quisquis propitium, is uel summo Ioui, cum suo fulmine mandare laqueum possit. Toutou patros euchomai einai. Atque hic quidem me progenuit non e cerebro suo, quemadmodum tetricam illam ac toruam Palladem Iupiter, uerum ex Neotete Nympha multo omnium uenustissima, pariter ac festiuissima. Neque rursum id tristi illi illigatus coniugio, quomodo faber ille claudus natus est, uerum quod non paulo suauius en philotêti michtheis: quemadmodum noster ait Homerus. Genuit autem, ne quid erretis, non Aristophanicus ille Plutus, iam capularis, iam oculis captus, sed quondam integer adhuc calidusque iuuenta, neque iuuenta solum, uerum multo magis nectare, quod tum forte in Deorum conuiuio largius ac meracius hauserat.
[E] Quod si locum quoque natalem requiritis, quandoquidem id hodie uel inprimis ad nobilitatem interesse putant, quo loco primos edideris uagitus, ego nec in erratica Delo, nec in undoso mari, nec en spessi glaphuroisi sum edita, sed in ipsis insulis fortunatis, ubi aspata kai anêrota omnia proueniunt. In quibus neque labor, neque senium, neque morbus est ullus, nec usquam in agris asphodelus, malua, squilla, lupinumue, aut faba, aut aliud hoc genus nugarum conspicitur. Sed passim oculis, simulque naribus adblandiuntur moly, panace, nepenthes, amaracus, ambrosia, lotus, rosa, uiola, Hyacinthus, Adonidis hortuli. Atque in his quidem nata delitiis, nequaquam a fletu sum auspicata uitam, sed protinus blande arrisi matri. Iam uero non inuideo tô hupatô Kroniôni capram altricem, cum me duae lepidissimae Nymphae suis aluerint mammis, Methe Baccho progenita, et Apaedia Panos filia. Quas hic quoque in caeterarum comitum ac pedissequarum mearum consortio uidetis. Quarum mehercle nomina, si uoletis cognoscere, ex me quidem non nisi Graece audietis.
[E] Haec nimirum quam sublatis superciliis conspicamini, philautia est. Huic quam uelut arridentibus oculis, ac plaudentem manibus uidetis, kolakia nomen Haec semisomnis ac dormitanti similis lêthê vocatur. Haec cubito utroque innitens, confertisque manibus, misoponia dicitur. Haec roseo reuincta serto, et undique delibuta unguentis, hêdonê. Haec lubricis et huc atque illuc errantibus luminibus, anoia dicitur. Haec nitida cute, probeque saginato corpore truphê nomen habet. Videtis et Deos, puellis admixtos, quorum alterum kômon uocant, alterum nêgreton huponn. Inquam, famulitii fidelibus auxiliis genus omne rerum meae subiicio ditioni, ipsis etiam imperans imperatoribus.
[E] Genus, educationem, et comites audistis. Nunc, ne cui sine causa uidear mihi Deae nomen usurpare, quantis commoditatibus Deos simul et homines adficiam, quamque late meum pateat numen arrectis auribus accipite. Etenim si non inscite scripsit quidam, hoc demum esse Deum, iuuare mortales, et si merito in Deorum senatum adsciti sunt, qui uinum, aut frumentum aut unam aliquam huiusmodi commoditatem mortalibus ostenderunt, cur non ego iure, Deorum omnium alpha dicar, habearque, quae una omnibus largior omnia?
[E] Principio quid esse potest uita ipsa uel dulcius, uel pretiosius? At huius exordium cui tandem acceptum ferri conuenit, nisi mihi? Neque enim aut obrimopatrês hasta Palladis, aut nephelegeretou Iouis aegis hominum genus uel progignit, uel propagat. Verum ipse Deum pater atque hominum Rex, qui totum nutu tremefactat Olympum, fulmen illud trisulcum ponat oportet, et uultum illum Titanicum, quo, cum lubet, Deos omneis territat, planeque histrionum more, aliena sumenda misero persona, si quando uelit id facere, quod numquam non facit, hoc est paidopoiein. Iam uero Stoici se Diis proximos autumant. At date mihi terque quaterque, aut si libet, sexcenties Stoicum, tamen huic quoque, si non barba insigne sapientiae, etiam si cum hircis commune, certe supercilium erit ponendum, explicanda frons, abicienda dogmata illa adamantina, ineptiendum ac delirandum aliquantisper. In summa, me, me inquam, sapiens accersat oportet, si modo pater esse uelit. Et cur non apertius meo more uobiscum fabuler? Quaeso num caput, num facies, num pectus, num manus, num auris, quae partes honestae putantur, progenerant Deos aut homines? Non, opinor, imo ea pars adeo stulta, adeoque ridicula, ut nec nominari citra risum possit, humani generis est propagatrix. Is est sacer ille fons, unde uitam hauriunt omnia uerius quam ille Pythagoricus quaternio. Age uero, qui uir, obsecro, matrimonii capistro uelit praebere os, si quemadmodum isti sapientes facere consueuerunt, prius eius uitae incommoda secum perpenderit: aut quae tandem mulier uirum admissura sit, si partus periculosos labores, si educationis molestiam, uel norit, uel cogitarit? Porro si coniugiis debetis uitam, coniugium autem debetis anoia pedissequae, mihi nimirum quid debeatis, intelligitis. Tum quae semel haec experta, denuo repetere uelit nisi lêthês praesens nomen adfuerit? Neque uero id Venus ipsa, uel reclamante Lucretio, umquam inficias iuerit, sine nostri numinis accessione, suam uim mancam atque irritam esse. Itaque ex nostro illo temulento ridiculoque lusu, proueniunt, et superciliosi Philosophi, in quorum locum nunc successere, quos uulgus Monachos appellat, et purpurei reges et pii sacerdotes, et ter sacntissimi Pontifices. Postremo totus etiam ille Deorum Poeticorum coetus, adeo frequens, ut turbam uix iam ipse capiat Olympus, tametsi spatiosissimus.
[E] At sane parum sit mihi uitae seminarium, ac fontem deberi, nisi quidquid in omni uita commodi est, id quoque totum ostendero mei muneris esse. Quid autem uita haec, num omnino uita uidetur appellanda, si uoluptatem detraxeris? Applausistis. Equidem sciebam neminem uestrum ita sapere, uel desipere magis, imo sapere potius, ut in hac esset sententia. Quamquam ne Stoici quidem isti uoluptatem adspernantur, tametsi sedulo dissimulant, milleque conuitiis eam apud uulgus dilacerant, nimirum ut deterritis aliis, ipsi prolixius fruantur. Sed dicant mihi per Iouem, quae tandem uitae pars est, non tristis, non in infestiua, non inuenusta, non insipida, non molesta, nisi uoluptatem, id est, stultitiae condimentum adjunxeris? Cuius rei cum satis idoneus testis esse possit, ille numquam satis laudatus Sophocles, cuius exstat pulcerrimum illud de nobis Elogium, en tô phronein gar mêdev hêdistos bios, tamen age, rem omnem sigillatim aperiamus.
[E] Principio quis nescit primam hominis aetatem multo laetissimam, multoque omnibus gratissimam esse? Quid est enim illud in infantibus, quod sic exosculamur, sic amplectimur, sic fouemus, ut hostis etiam huic aetati ferat opem, nisi stultitiae lenocinium, quod data opera prudens natura, recens natis adjunxit, ut aliquo uoluptatis uelut auctoramento, et educantium labores delinire queant, et tuentium fauores eblandiantur? Deinde quae succedit huic adolescentia, quam est apud omnes gratiosa, quam candide fauent omnes, quam studiose prouehunt, quam officiose porrigunt auxiliares manus? At unde, quaeso, ista iuuentae gratia? unde, nisi ex me? Cuius beneficio quam minimum sapit, atque ob id quam minime ringitur. Mentior, nisi mox ubi grandiores facti, per rerum usum, ac disciplinas uirile quiddam sapere coeperint, continuo deflorescit formae nitor, languescit alacritas, frigescit lepos, labascit uigor. Quoque longius a me subducitur, hoc minus minusque uiuit, donec succedat to chalepon gêras, id est, molesta senectus, non iam aliis modo, uerum etiam sibimet inuisa. Quae quidem prorsum nulli mortalium foret tolerabilis, nisi rursum tantorum miserta laborum dextra adessem, et quemadmodum Dii Poetarum solent pereuntibus aliqua metamorphosi succurrere, itidem ego quoque iam capulo proximos denuo quoad licet, ad pueritiam eos reuocarem. Vnde non abs re uulgus eos palimpaidas appellare consueuit. Porro si quis transformandi rationem requirat, ne id quidem celarim. Ad Lethes nostrae fontem, nam Insulis Fortunatis oritur (siquidem apud Inferos tenuis modo riuulus labitur), eos produco, ut simul atque illic longa potarint obliuia, paulatim dilutis animi curis repubescant. At isti iam delirant, inquiunt, iam desipiunt. Esto sane. Sed istud ipsum est repuerascere. An uero aliud est puerum esse quam delirare, quam desipere? An non hoc uel maxime in ea delectat aetate, quod nihil sapit? Quis enim non ceu portentum oderit, atque exsecretur puerum uirili sapientia? Adstipulatur et uulgo iactatum prouerbium: Odi puerulum praecoci sapientia. Quis autem sustineret habere commercium aut consuetudinem cum eo sene, qui ad tantam rerum experientiam, parem animi uigorem iudiciique acrimoniam adiunxisset? Itaque delirat senex meo munere. Sed tamen delirus iste meus interim miseris illis curis uacat, quibus sapiens ille distorquetur. Interim non illepidus est compotor. Non sensit uitae taedium, quod robustior aetas uix tolerat. Nonnumquam cum sene Plautino ad tres illas litteras reuertitur, infelicissimus si sapiat: At interim meo beneficio felix, interim amicis gratus, ne congerro quidem infestiuus. Quandoquidem et apud Homerum e Nestoris ore fiuit oratio melle dulcior, cum Achillis sit amarulenta, et apud eumdem, senes in moenibus considentes, tên leirioessan uocem edunt. Quo quidem calculo ipsam etiam superant pueritiam, suauem quidem illam, sed infantem, ac praecipuo uitae oblectamento, puta garrulitate carentem. Addite huc quod pueris quoque gaudeant impensius senes, ac pueri uicissim senibus delectantur, hôs aiei ton homoion agei theos hôs ton homoion. Quid enim inter illos non conuenit, nisi quod hic rugosior et plures numerat natales? Alioqui capillorum albor, os edentulum, corporis modus minor, lactis appetentia, balbuties, garrulitas, ineptia, obliuio, incogitantia, breuiter omnia caetera congruunt. Quoque magis accedunt ad senectam, hoc propius ad pueritiae similitudinem redeunt, donec puerorum ritu, citra uitae taedium, citra mortis sensum emigrant e vita.
[E] Eat nunc qui uolet, et hoc meum beneficium cum reliquorum Deorum metamorphosi comparet. Qui quid irati faciant, non libet commemorare: sed quibus quam maxime propitii sunt, eos solent in arborem, in auem, in cicadam aut etiam in serpentem transformare: quasi uero non istud ipsum sit perire, aliud fieri. Ego uero hominem eumdem optimae ac felicissimae uitae parti restituo. Quod si mortales prorsus ab omni sapientiae commercio temperarent, ac perpetuo mecum aetatem agerent, ne esset quidem ullum senium, uerum perpetua iuuenta fruerentur felices. An non uidetis tetricos istos et uel Philosophiae studiis, uel seriis et arduis addictos negotiis plerumque priusquam plane iuuenes sint, iam consenuisse, uidelicet curis, et assidua acrique cogitationum agitatione sensim spiritus et succum illum uitalem exhauriente? Cum contra Moriones mei pinguiculi sint, et nitidi, et bene curata cute, plane choiroi, quod aiunt, Akaranioi, numquam profecto senectutis incommodum ullum sensuri, nisi nonnihil, ut fit, sapientum contagio inficerentur. Adeo nihil patitur hominum uita, omni ex parte beatum esse. Accedit ad haec uulgati prouerbii non leue testimonium, quo dictitant, STVLTITIAM unam esse rem, quae et iuuentam alioqui fugacissimam remoretur, et improbam senectam procul arceat. Vt non temere de Brabantis populari sermone iactatum sit. Cum caeteris hominibus aetas prudentiam adferre soleat, hos quo propius ad senectam accedunt, hoc magis atque magis stultescere. Atqui hac gente non est alia, uel ad communem uitae consuetudinem festiuior, uel quae minus sentiat senectutis tristitiam. His quidem ut loco, ita et uitae instituto confines sunt Hollandi mei, cur enim non meos appellem, usque adeo studiosos mei cultores, ut inde uulgo cognomen emeruerint? cuius illos adeo non pudet, ut hinc uel praecipue sese iactitent. Eant nunc stultissimi mortales, et Medeas, Circes, Veneres, Auroras, et fontem, nescio quem, requirant, quo sibi iuuentam restituant, cum id sola praestare et possim et soleam. Apud me succus est ille mirificus, quo Memnonis filia Tithoni aui sui iuuentam prorogauit. Ego sum Venus illa, cuius fauore Phaon ille repubuit, ita ut a Sapphone tantopere deamaretur. Meae sunt herbae, si quae sunt, mea precamina, meus ille fons, qui non solum reuocat elapsam adolescentiam, sed quod est optabilius, perpetuam seruat. Quod si omnes huic sententiae subscribitis, adolescentia nihil esse melius, senectute nihil detestabilius, quantum mihi debeatis uidetis opinor, quae tantum bonum retineat, tanto excluso malo.
[E] Sed quid adhuc de mortalibus loquor? Coelum omne lustrate, et mihi meum nomen opprobret licebit, quicumque uolet, si quem omnino Deorum repererit non insuauem et aspernabilem, nisi meo numine commendetur. Etenim cur semper ephebus et comatus Bacchus? Nempe quia uecors ac temulentus, conuiuiis, saltationibus, choreis, lusibus uitam omnem transigens, ne tantulum quidem habet cum Pallade commercii. Denique tantum abest, ut sapiens haberi postulet, ut ludibriis ac iocis coli gaudeat. Neque prouerbio offenditur, quod illi fatui cognomentum attribuit, id est huiusmodi, moruchou môrteros. Porro Morycho nomen uerterunt, quod illum pro templi foribus sedentem, musto ficisque recentibus, agricolarum lasciuia consueuerit oblinere. Tum autem quid non scommatum in hunc uetus iacit comoedia? O insulsum, inquiunt, Deum, et dignum qui ex inguine nasceretur. At quis non malit hic fatuus et insulsus esse, semper festiuus, semper pubescens, semper omnibus lusus ac uoluptatem adferens, quam uel agkulomêtis ille Iupiter omnibus formidabilis, uel Pan suis tumultibus omnia senio uitians, uel fauillis oppletus Vulcanus, ac semper of ficinae laboribus squalidus, aut Pallas etiam ipsa, sua Gorgone et hasta terribilis kai aei enorôsa drimu. Cur semper puer Cupido? Cur? nisi quia nugator est, kai mêdev hugies neque facit, neque cogitat? Cur aureae Veneri semper uornat sua forma? Nimirum, quia mecum habet affinitatem, unde et patris mei colorem uultu refert, atque hac de causa est apud Homerum, chrusê Aphroditê. Deinde perpetuo ridet, si quid modo Poetis credimus, aut horum aemulis Statuariis. Quod numen umquam religiosius coluere Romani, quam Florae omnium uoluptatum parentis? Quamquam si quis etiam tetricorum Deorum uitam diligentius requirat ab Homero, reliquisque Poetis, reperiet stultitiae plena omnia. Quid enim attinet reliquorum facta commemorare, cum Iouis ipsius fulminatoris amores ac lusus probe noritis? cum seuera illa Diana oblita sexus, nihil aliud quam uenetur, Endymionem interim deperiens? Verum illi sua facinora a Momo audiant malim, a quo saepius quondam audire solebant. Sed hunc nuper irati una cum Ate in terras praecipitem dederunt, quod sapientia sua felicitati Deorum importunus obstreperet. Neque mortalium ullus exsulem dignatur hospitio, tantum abest ut illi in Principum aulis sit locus, in quibus tamen mea kolakia primas tenet, cui cum Momo non magis conuenit, quam cum agno lupis. Itaque sublato illo, iam multo licentius ac suauius nugantur Dii, uere raon agontes, ut inquit Homerus, nullo uidelicet censore. Quos enim non praebet iocos ficulnus ille Priapus? Quos non ludos exhibet furtis ac praestigiis suis Mercurius? Quin et Vulcanus ipse in Deorum conuiuiis gelôtopoion agere consueuit, ac modo claudicatione, modo cauillis, modo ridiculis dictis exhilarare compotationem. Tum et Silenus ille senex amator, tên kordaka saltare solitus, una cum Polyphemo tên threttanelo, Nymphis tên gumnopodian saltantibus. Satyri semicapri Atellanas agitant, Pan insulsa quapiam cantiuncula risum omnibus mouet, quem ita malunt, quam ipsas audire Musas, praecipue cum iam nectare coeperint madere. Porro quid ego nunc commemorem, quae probe poti Dii post conuiuium agitent? adeo mehercle stulta, ut ipsa nonnumquam a risu temperare nequeam. At satius est in his Harpocratis meminisse, ne quis forte nos quoque Corycaeus aliquis Deus auscultet, ea narrantes, quae ne Momus quidem impune proloquutus est.
[E] Sed iam tempus est, ut ad Homericum exemplar relictis Coelitibus uicissim in terram demigremus, quamque ibi nihil laetum, aut felix, nisi meo munere, dispiciamus. In primis uidetis, quanta prouidentia Natura parens et humani generis opifex, illud cauerit, ne usquam deesset stultitiae condimentum? Etenim cum Stoicis definitoribus nihil aliud sit sapientia, quam duci ratione; contra stultitia, affectuum arbitrio moueri, ne plane tristis ac tetrica esset hominum uita, Iupiter quanto plus indidit affectuum quam rationis? quasi semiunciam compares ad assem. Praeterea rationem in angustum capitis angulum relegauit, reliquum omne corpus perturbationibus reliquit. Deinde duos quasi tyrannos uiolentissimos uni opposuit, iram, quae praecordiorum arcem obtinet, atque adeo ipsum uitae fontem cor, et concupiscentiam, quae ad imam usque pubem latissime imperium occupat. Aduersus has geminas copias quantum ualeat ratio, communis hominum uita satis declarat, cum illa, quod unum licet, uel usque ad rauim reclamat, et honesti dictat formulas. Verum hi laqueum regi suo remittunt, multoque odiosius obstrepunt, donec iam is quoque fessus ultro cedit, ac manus dat.
[E] Caeterum quoniam uiro administrandis rebus nato, plusculum de rationis unciola erat adspergendum, ut huic quoque pro uirili consuleret, me sicut in caeteris in consilium adhibuit, moxque consilium dedi me dignum: nempe uti mulierem adiungeret, animal, uidelicet, stultum quidem illud atque ineptum, uerum ridiculum et suaue, quo conuictu domestico, uirilis ingenii tristitiam, sua stultitia condiret atque edulcaret. Nam, quod Plato dubitare uidetur, utro in genere ponat mulierem, rationalium animantium, an brutorum, nihil aliud uoluit, quam insignem eius sexus stultitiam indicare. Quod si qua forte mulier sapiens haberi uoluit, ea nihil aliud agit quam ut bis stulta sit, perinde quasi bouem aliquis ducat ad ceroma, inuita reluctanteque, ut aiunt, Minerua. Conduplicat enim uitium, quisquis contra naturam, uirtutis fucum inducit, atque alio deflectit ingenium. Quemadmodum, iuxta Graecorum prouerbium, simia semper est simia, etiam si purpura uestiatur: Ita mulier semper mulier est, hoc est, stulta, quamcumque personam induxerit. Neque uero mulierum genus usque adeo stultum arbitror, ut eam ob rem mihi succenseant, quod illis et ipsa mulier, et STVLTITIA stultitiam attribuam. Etenim si rem recta reputent uia, hoc ipsum Stultitiae debent acceptum ferre, quod sint uiris multis calculis fortunatiores. Primum formae gratiam, quam illae merito rebus omnibus anteponunt, cuiusque praesidio in tyrannos etiam ipsos tyrannidem exercent. Alioqui undenam horror ille formae, hispida cutis, et barbae sylua, plane senile quoddam in uiro, nisi a prudentiae uitio, cum feminarum semper laeues malae, uox semper exilis, cutis mollicula, quasi perpetuam quamdam adolescentiam imitentur? Deinde quid aliud optant in hac uita, quam ut uiris quam maxime placeant? Nonne huc spectant tot cultus, tot fuci, tot balnea, tot compturae, tot unguenta, tot odores, tot componendi, pingendi, fingendique uultus, oculos et cutem, artes? Iam num alio nomine, uiris magis commendatae sunt, quam stultitiae? Quid enim est quod illi mulieribus non permittunt? At quo tandem auctoramento, nisi uoluptatis? Delectant autem non alia re, quam stultitia. Id esse uerum non ibit inficias quisquis secum reputarit, quas uir cum muliere dicat ineptias, quas agat nugas, quoties foeminea uoluptate decreuerit uti. Habetis igitur primum et praecipuum uitae oblectamentum, quo fonte proficiscatur.
[E] Sed sunt nonnulli, cumprimis autem senes bibaces quidem illi magis quam mulierosi, qui summam uoluptatem in compotationibus constituunt. Equidem an sit ullum lautum conuiuium, ubi mulier non adsit, uiderint alii. Illud certe constat, citra Stultitiae condimentum, nullum omnino suaue esse. Adeo ut si desit, qui seu uera, seu simulata STVLTITIA risum moueat, gelôtopoion quempiam uel mercede conductum accersant, aut ridiculum aliquem parasitum adhibeant, qui ridendis, hoc est, stultis dicteriis, silentium ac tristitiam compotationis discutiat. Quorsum enim attinebat tot bellariis, tot lautitiis, tot cupediis onerare uentrem, nisi et oculi pariter et aures, nisi totus animus, risu, iocis, leporibus pasceretur? At istiusmodi tragematum ego sum architectrix unica. Quamquam illa ipsa iam in conuiuiis solennia, regem sortiri talis, lusitare tesseris, Philotesiis inuitare, certare sumperiphorais ad Myrtum canere, saltare, gesticulari, non a septem Graeciae Sophis, uerum a nobis ad humani generis salutem reperta sunt. Atqui omnium huiusmodi rerum ea natura est, ut quo plus habeant stultitiae, hoc plus conferant uitae mortalium, quae si tristis sit ne uita quidem appellanda uideatur. Tristis autem euadat oportet, nisi cognatum taedium, hoc genus oblectamentis absterseris.
[E] Sed erunt fortassis, qui hoc quoque uoluptatis genus negligant, et in amicorum caritate et consuetudine acquiescant, amicitiam dictitantes unam rebus omnibus anteponendam, quippe rem usque adeo necessariam, ut nec aer, nec ignis, nec aqua magis. Rursum adeo iucundam, ut qui hanc de medio sustulerit, solem sustulerit: adeo denique honestam, si quid tamen hoc ad rem pertinet, ut nec ipsi philosophi uereantur eam inter praecipua bona commemorare. Sed quid, si doceo me huius quoque tanti boni, et puppim esse et proram? Docebo autem non crocodilitis, aut soritis ceratinis, aut aliis id genus dialecticorum argutiis, sed pingui, quod aiunt, Minerua, rem digito propemodum ostendam. Age, conniuere, labi, caecutire, hallucinari in amicorum uitiis, quaedam etiam insignia uitia pro uirtutibus amare, mirarique, an non stultitiae uidetur affine? Quid cum alius exosculatur naeuum in amica, alium delectat polypus Agnae, cum filium strabonem appellat petum pater: quid, inquam, hoc est, nisi mera stultitia? Clament terque quaterque, stultitiam esse: atqui haec una stultitia, et iungit iunctos, et seruat amicos. De mortalibus loquor, quorum nemo sine uitiis nascitur, optimus ille est, qui minimis urgetur: cum interim inter sapientes istos Deos, aut omnino non coalescit amicitia, aut tetrica quaedam et insuauis intercedit, nec ea nisi cum paucissimis, nam cum nullis dicere religio est, propterea quod maxima pars hominum desipit, imo nullus est, qui non multis modis deliret, et non nisi inter similes cohaeret necessitudo. Quod si quando inter seueros istos coierit mutua beneuolentia, ea certe haudquaquam stabilis est, nec admodum duratura, nimirum inter morosos et plus satis oculatos, ut qui in amicorum uitiis tam cernunt acutum, quam aut aquila, aut serpens Epidaurius. At ipsi in propriis uitiis quam lippiunt, et quam non uident manticam in tergo pendentem. Itaque cum ea sit hominum natura, ut nullum ingenium reperiatur non magnis obnoxium uitiis. Adde tantam annorum ac studiorum dissimilitudinem, tot lapsus, tot errata, tot casus uitae mortalis, quo pacto uel horam constabit inter Argos istos amicitiae iucunditas, nisi accesserit ea, quam mire Graeci euêtheian appellantl, hanc seu stultitiam, seu morum facilitatem uertas licebit. Quid autem? an non Cupido ille omnis necessitudinis auctor et parens, prorsum oculis captus est, cui quemadmodum ta mê kala, kala pephantai, itidem inter uos quoque efficit, ut suum cuique pulcrum uideatur, ut cascus cascam, perinde ut pupus pupam deamet. Haec passim et fiunt et ridentur, sed tamen haec ridicula iucundam uitae glutinant copulantque societatem.
[E] Porro quod de amicitia dictum est, id multo magis de coniugio sentiendum, quod quidem nihil est aliud, quam indiuidua uitae coniunctio. Deum immortalem! quae non diuortia, aut etiam diuortiis deteriora passim acciderent, nisi uiri foeminaeque domestica consuetudo, per adulationem, per iocum, per facilitatem, errorem, dissimulationem, meum utique satellitium, fulciretur alereturque? Papae, quam pauca coirent matrimonia, si sponsus prudenter exquireret, quos lusus delicata illa sicuti uidetur, ac pudens uirguncula iam multo ante nuptias luserit? Tum quanto pauciora cohaererent inita, nisi plurima uxorum facta per uiri uel negligentiam, uel stuporem laterent? Atque haec quidem merito stultitiae tribuuntur, uerum ea interim praestat, ut marito iucunda sit uxor, uxori iucundus maritus, ut tranquilla domus, ut maneat affinitas. Ridetur, cuculus, curruca, et quid non uocatur, cum moechae lacrymas labellis exsorbet. At quanto felicius, sic errare quam zelotypiae diligentia cum sese conficere, tum omnia miscere tragaediis?
[E] In summa usque adeo nulla societas, nulla uitae coniunctio sine me uel iucunda, uel stabilis esse potest, ut nec populus Principem, nec seruum herus, nec heram pedissequa, nec discipulum praeceptor, nec amicus amicum, nec maritum uxor, nec locator conductorem, nec contubernalis contubernalem, nec conuictor conuictorem diutius ferat, nisi uicissim inter sese nunc errent, nunc adulentur, nunc prudentes conniueant, nunc aliquo stultitiae melle sese deliniant. Iam haec scio uideri maxima, sed audietis maiora.
[E] Quaeso num quemquam amabit, qui ipse semet oderit? Num cum alio concordabit, qui secum ipse dissidet? Num ulli uoluptatem adferet, qui sibimet ipsi sit grauis ac molestus? Istud, opinor, nemo dixerit, nisi qui sit ipsa stultior Stultitia. Atqui si me excluseris, adeo nemo poterit alterum ferre, ut ipse etiam sibi quisque puteat, sua cuique sordeant, sibi quisque sit inuisus. Quandoquidem id mali natura, non paucis in rebus nouerca magis quam parens, mortalium ingeniis inseuit, praecipue paulo cordatiorum, ut sui quemque poeniteat. admiretur aliena. Quo fit ut omnes dotes, omnis elegantia decorque uitae uitietur, pereatque. Quid enim proderit forma, praecipuum Deorum immortalium munus, si putiditatis uitio contaminetur? Quid iuuenta, si senilis tristitiae fermento corrumpatur? Denique quid in omni uitae munere uel tecum, uel apud alios acturus es cum decoro (est enim non artis modo, uerum etiam omnis actionis caput, decere quod agas) nisi adsit dextra haec Philautia, quae mihi merito germanae est uice? Adeo strenue meas ubique partes agit. Quid autem aeque stultum, atque tibi ipsi placere? te ipsum admirari? At rursum quid uenustum, quid gratiosum, quid non indecorum erit, quod agas, ipse tibi displicens? Tolle hoc uitae condimentum et protinus frigebit cum sua actione Orator, nulli placebit cum suis numeris Musicus, explodetur cum sua gesticulatione Histrio, ridebitur una suis cum Musis Poeta, sordebit cum arte Pictor, esuriet cum pharmacis Medicus. Postremo pro Nireo Thersites, pro Phaone Nestor, pro Minerua suslls, pro facundo infans, pro urbano rusticus uideberis. In tantum necesse est, ut sibi quoque quisque blandiatur, et assentatiuncula quapiam sibi prius commendetur, quam aliis possit esse commendatus. Denique cum praecipua felicitatis pars sit, ut quod sis, esse uelis, nimirum totum hoc praestat compendio mea Philautia, ut neminem suae formae, neminem sui ingenii, neminem generis, neminem loci, neminem instituti, nemiminem patriae poeniteat, adeo, ut nec Irlandus cum Italo, nec Thrax cum Atheniensi, nec Scytha cum Insulis Fortunatis cupiat permutare. Et o singularem naturae sollicitudinem, ut in tanta rerum uarietate paria fecit omnia. Vbi dotibus suis nonnihil detraxit, ibi plusculum Philautiae solet addere, quamquam hoc ipsum stulte profecto dixi, cum haec ipsa dos sit uel maxima. Vt ne dicam interim, nullum egregium facinus adiri, nisi meo impulsu, nullas egregias artes, nisi me auctore fuisse repertas.
[E] An non omnium laudatorum facinorum seges ac fons est bellum? Porro quid stultius, quam ob causas, nescio quas, certamen eiusmodi suscipere, unde pars utraque semper plus aufert incommodi quam boni? Nam eorum qui cadunt, veluti Megarensium oudeis logos. Dein cum iam utrimque constitere ferratae acies, et rauco crepuerunt cornua cantu, quis, oro, Sapientum istorum usus, qui studiis exhausti, vix tenui frigidoque sanguine spiritum ducunt, crassis ac pinguibus opus est, quibus quam plurimum adsit audaciae, mentis quam minimum. Nisi si quis Demosthenem militem malit, qui Archilochi sequutus consilium, vix conspectis hostibus, abiecto clypeo fugit tam ignavus miles, quam orator sapiens. Sed consilium, inquiunt, in bellis plurimum habet momenti. Equidem fateor in duce, verum id quidem militare, non philosophicum, alioqui parasitis, lenonibus, latronibus, sicariis, agricolis, stupidis, obaeratis, et huiusmodi mortalium fece res tam praeclara geritur, non Philosophis lucernariis.
[E] Qui quidem quam sint ad omnem vitae usum inutiles, vel Socrates ipse unus Apollinis oraculo sapiens, sed minime sapienter iudicatus, documento esse potest, qui nescio quid publice conatus agere, summo cum omnium risu discessit. Quamquam viris in hoc non usquequaque desipit, quod sapientis cognomen non agnoscit, atque ipsi Deo rescribit, quodque censet sapienti a Republica tractanda abstinendum esse, nisi quod potius monere debuerat, a sapientia temperandum ei, qui velit in hominum haberi numero. Deinde quid eumdem accusatum ad cicutam bibendam adegit, nisi sapientia? Nam dum nubes et ideas philosophatur, dum pulicis pedes metitur, dum culicum vocem miratur, quae ad vitam communem attinent, non didicit. Sed adest praeceptori de capite periclitanti discipulus Plato, egregius, scilicet, patronus, qui turbae strepitu offensus, vix dimidiatam illam periodum pronunciare potuit. Iam quid dicam de Theophrasto? qui progressus in concionem, repente obmutuit, perinde quasi lupo conspecto. Qui militem animasset in bello? Isocrates ob ingenii timiditatem nec hiscere umquam est ausus. M. Tullius eloquentiae Romanae parens, semper indecora trepidatione, perinde quasi puer singultiens, exordiri consuevit: Idque Fabius interpretatur cordati oratoris et periculum intelligentis argumentuml. Verum cum hoc dicit, an non palam fatetur sapientiam obstare ad rem probe gerendam? Quid isti facient, cum res ferro geritur, qui tum metu exanimantur, cum nudis verbis est decertandum? Et post haec celebratur, si Diis placet, praeclara illa Platonis sententia, beatas fore respublicas, si aut imperent philosophi, aut philosophentur Imperatores. Imo si consules historicos, reperies, nimirum, nullos reipublicae pestilentiores fuisse Principes, quam si quando in philosophastrum aliquem aut litteris addictum inciderit imperium. Cuius rei satis, opinor, faciunt fidem Catones, quorum alter insanis delationibus reipublicae tranquillitatem vexavit, alter libertatem Populi Romani, dum nimium sapienter vindicat, funditus subvertit. Adde his Brutos, Cassios, Gracchos, ac Ciceronem etiam ipsum, qui non minus pestilens fuit Romanorum Reipublicae, quam Demosthenes Atheniensium. Porro Marcus Antoninus ut donemus bonum Imperatorem fuisse, iam id ipsum extorquere possim, fuit enim hoc ipso nomine gravis, atque invisus civibus, quod tam philosophus esset . Sed tamen ut donemus fuisse bonum, at certe pestilentior fuit Reipublicae tali relicto filio, quam fuerat sua administratione salutaris. Quandoquidem solet hoc hominum genus, qui se sapientiae studio dediderunt, cum caeteris in rebus, tum praecipue in liberis propagandis infelicissimum esse, providente opinor natura, ne malum hoc sapientiae inter mortales latius serpat. Itaque Ciceroni degenerem fuisse filium constat, et sapiens ille Socrates liberos habuit matri similiores quam patri, ut non omnino pessime scripsit quidam, id est, stultos.
[E] Sed utcumque ferendum si tantum ad publica munia forent onoi pros luran, nisi ad omnem prorsus vitae functionem nihil essent dexteriores. Ad convivium adhibe sapientem, aut tristi silentio, aut molestis quaestiunculis obturbabit. Ad chorum advoca, camelum saltare dices. Ad publicos ludos trahe, ipso vultu populi voluptatibus obstabit et cogetur e theatro migrare sapiens Cato, quandoquidem supercilium non potest ponere. In colloquium inciderit, repente lupus in fabula. Si quid emendum, si contrahendum, breviter, si quid eorum agendum, sine quibus haec quotidiana vita transigi non potest, stipiteml dicas sapientem istum, non hominem. Usque adeo neque sibi, neque patriae, neque suis usquam usui esse potest, propterea quod communium rerum sit imperitus, et a populari opinione, vulgaribusque institutis longe lateque discrepet. Qua quidem ex re odium quoque consequatur necessum est, nimirum, ob tantam vitae atque animorum dissimilitudinem. Quid enim omnino geritur inter mortales non stultitiae plenum, idque a stultis, et apud stultos? Quod si quis unus universis velit obstrepere, huic ego suaserim, ut Timonem imitatus, in solitudinem aliquam demigret, atque ibi solus sua fruatur sapientia.
[E] Verum ut ad id quod institueram, revertar: quae vis saxeos, quernos, et agrestes illos homines in civitatem coegit, nisi adulatio? Nihil enim aliud significat illa Amphionis et Orpheil cithara. Quae res plebem Romanam iam extrema molientem, in concordiam civitatis revocavit? Num oratio philosophica? Minime. Imo ridiculus ac puerilis apologus de ventre, reliquisque corporis membris confictus. Idem valuit Themistoclis apologus consimilis de vulpe et ericio. Quae Sapientis oratio tantumdem potuisset, quantum commentitia illa cerva Sertorii potuit quantum Laconis illius de duobus canibus deque vellendis equinae caudae pilis ridendum commentum? Ut ne quid dicam de Minoe, deque Numa, quorum uterque fabulosis inventis stultam multitudinem rexit. Huiusmodi nugis commovetur ingens ac potens illa bellua, populus.
[E] At rursum, quae civitas umquam Platonis, aut Aristotelis leges, aut Socratis dogmata recepit? Tum autem quae res Deciis persuasit, ut ultro sese Diis Manibus devoverent? Quod Q. Curtium in specum traxit, nisi inanis gloria, dulcissima quaedam Siren, sed mirum quam a Sapientibus istis damnata ? Quid enim stultius, inquiunt, quam supplicem candidatum blandiri populo, congiariis favorem emere, venari tot stultorum applausus, acclamationibus sibi placere, in triumpho veluti signum aliquod populo spectandum circumferri, aeneum in foro stare? Adde his nominum et cognominum adoptiones. Adde divinos honores, homuncioni exhibitos, adde publicis cerimoniis in Deos relatos etiam sceleratissimos tyrannos. Stultissima sunt haec, et ad quae ridenda non unus sufficiat Democritus. Quis negat? Atqui hoc fonte nata sunt fortium Heroum facinora, quae tot eloquentium virorum litteris in coelum tolluntur. Haec stultitia parit civitates, hac constant imperia, magistratus, religio, consilia, iudicia, nec aliud omnino est vita humana, quam stultitiae lusus quidam.
[E] Iam vero ut de artibus dicam, quid tandem mortalium ingenia ad excogitandas prodendasque posteris, tot egregias, ut putant disciplinas excitavit, nisi gloriae sitis? Tantis vigiliis, tantis sudoribus, famam, nescio quam, qua nihil esse potest inanius, redimendam putarunt homines vere stultissimi. Sed interim Stultitiae tot iam egregia vitae commoda debetis, quodque est longe dulcissimum, aliena fruimini insania.
[E] Ergo posteaquam mihi fortitudinis et industriae laudem vindicavi, quid si prudentiae quoque vindicem? Sed dixerit aliquis eadem opera ignem aquae misceas, licebit. Verum hoc quoque successurum, arbitror, si vos modo, quod antehac fecistis, auribus atque animis favebitis. Principio si rerum usu constat prudentia, in utrum magis competet eius cognominis honos, in sapientem, qui partim ob pudorem, partim ob animi timiditatem nihil aggreditur, an in stultum, quem neque pudor quo vacat, neque periculum, quod non perpendit, ab ulla re deterret? Sapiens ad libros Veterum confugit, atque hinc meras vocum argutias ediscit. Stultus adeundis cominusque periclitandis rebus, veram, ni fallor, prudentiam colligit. Id quod vidisse videtur Homerus, etiamsi caecus, cum ait rechthen de te nêpios egnô. Sunt enim duo praecipua ad cognitionem rerum parandam obstacula, pudor qui fumum offundit animo, et metus, qui ostenso periculo, dehortatur ab adeundis facinoribus. At his magnifice liberat Stultitia. Pauci mortales intelligunt ad quam multas alias quoque commoditates conducat, numquam pudescere, et nihil non audere. Quod si prudentiam accipere malunt eam quae rerum iudicio constat, audite obsecro, quam procul absint ab hac, qui hoc nomine sese venditant. Principio constat res omneis humanas, velut Alcibiadis Silenos, binas habere facies nimium inter sese dissimiles. Adeo ut quod prima, ut aiunt, fronte mors est, si interius inspicias, vita sit: contra quod vita, mors: quod formosum, deforme: quod opulentum, id pauperrimum: quod infame, gloriosum: quod doctum, indoctum: quod robustum, imbecille: quod generosum, ignobile: quod laetum, triste: quod prosperum, adversum: quod amicum, inimicum: quod salutare, noxium: breviter, omnia repente versa reperies, si Silenum aperueris. Id si cui forte nimis philosophice dictum videtur, age pinguiore, quemadmodum dici solet, Minerva, planius faciam. Quis Regem non et opulentum, et dominum fatetur? Atqui nullis animi bonis instructus est, atqui nihil illi satis est, iam videlicet pauperrimus est. Tum animum habet plurimis addictum vitiis, iam turpiter servus est. Ad eumdem modum in caeteris quoque philosophari liceret. Sed hoc exempli vice posuisse satis sit. At quorsum haec? inquiet aliquis. Audite quo rem deducamus . Si quis histrionibus in scena fabulam agentibus personas detrahere conetur, ac spectatoribus veras nativasque facies ostenderel, nonne is fabulam omnem perverterit, dignusque habeatur, quem omnes e theatro velut lymphatum saxis eiiciant? Exorietur autem repente nova rerum species, ut qui modo mulier, nunc vir: qui modo iuvenis, mox senex: qui paulo ante Rex, subito Dama: qui modo Deus, repente homunculus appareat. Verum eum errorem tollere, est fabulam omnem perturbare. Illud ipsum figmentum et fucus est, quod spectatorum oculos detinet. Porro mortalium vita omnis quid aliud est, quam fabula quaepiam, in qua alii aliis obtecti personis procedunt, aguntque suas quisque partes, donec choragus educat e proscenio? Qui saepe tamen eumdem diverso cultu prodire iubet, ut qui modo Regem purpuratum egerat, nunc servulum pannosum gerat. Adumbrata quidem omnia, sed haec fabula non aliter agitur. Hic si mihi sapiens aliquis coelo delapsus subito exoriatur, clamitetque hunc quem omnes ut Deum ac dominum suspiciunt, nec hominum esse, quod pecudum ritu ducatur affectibus, servum esse infimum, quod tam multis, tamque foedis dominis sponte serviat. Rursum alium, qui parentem exstinctum luget, ridere iubeat, quod iam demum ille vivere coeperit, cum alioqui vita haec nihil aliud sit quam mors quaedam. Porro alium stemmatis gloriantem, ignobilem ac nothum appellet, quod a virtute longe absit, quae sola nobilitatis sit fons, adque eumdem modum de caeteris omnibus loquatur, quaeso, quid is aliud egerit, nisi ut demens ac furiosus omnibus esse videatur? Ut nihil est stultius praepostera sapientia, ita perversa prudentia nihil imprudentius. Siquidem perverse facit, qui sese non accommodet rebus praesentibus, foroque nolit uti, nec saltem legis illius convivialis meminerit, ê pithi, ê apithi, postuletque ut fabula iam non sit fabula. Contra, vere prudentis est, cum sis mortalis, nihil ultra sortem sapere velle, cumque universa hominum multitudine vel connivere libenter, vel comiter errare. At istud ipsum, inquiunt, stultitiae est. Haud equidem inficias iverim, modo fateantur illi vicissim hoc esse, vitae fabulam agere.
[E] Caeterum illud, o Dii immortales ! eloquarne, an sileam? Cur autem sileam, cum sit vero verius? Sed praestiterit fortassis in re tanta, Musas ex Helicone accersere, quas Poetae saepius ob meras nugas advocare solent. Adeste igitur paulisper, Iovis filiae, dum ostendo nec ad egregiam illam sapientiam, ac felicitatis, ut ipsi vocant arcem, aditum esse cuiquam, nisi STULTITIA duce. Iam primum illud in confesso est, affectus omnes ad Stultitiam pertinere. Quandoquidem hac nota a stulto sapientem discernunt, quod illum affectus, hunc ratio temperat. Eoque Stoici perturbationes omnes ceu morbos a sapiente semovent, verum affectus isti non solum paedagogorum vice funguntur ad sapientiae portum properantibus, verum etiam in omni virtutis functione, ceu calcaria stimulique quidam adesse solent, velut ad bene agendum exhortatores. Quamquam hic fortiter reclamat bis Stoicus Seneca, qui prorsum omnem affectum adimit sapienti. Verum cum id facit, iam ne hominem quidem relinquit, sed novum potius Deum quemdam dêmiourgei, qui nusquam nec exstitit umquam, nec exstabit: imo ut apertius dicam, marmoreum hominis simulacrum constituit, stupidum, et ab omni prorsus humano sensu alienum. Proinde, si libet, ipsi suo sapiente fruantur, citraque rivalem ament licet, cumque eo vel in civitate Platonis, vel si malint, in idearum regione, vel in Tantaliis inhabitent hortis. Quis enim non istiusmodi hominem ceu portentum ac spectrum fugitet horreatque, qui ad omnes naturae sensus obsurduerit, qui nullis sit affectibus, nec amor,e, nec misericordia magis commoveatur, quam si dura silex, aut stet Marpesia cautes, quem nihil fugiat, qui nihil erret, sed ceu Lynceus quispiam nihil non perspiciat, nihil non ad amussim perpendat, nihil ignoscat, qui solus se ipso sit contentus, solus dives, solus sanus, solus rex, solus liber, breviter, omnia solus, sed suo solius iudicio, qui nullum moretur amicum, ipse amicus nemini, qui Diis quoque ipsis non dubitet mandare laqueum, qui quidquid in omni vita geritur, velut insanum damnet, rideatque? Atqui huiusmodi animal est absolutus ille sapiens. Quaeso, si res agatur suffragiis, quae civitas istiusmodi magistratum sibi velit, aut quis exercitus talem optet ducem? imo quae mulier id genus maritum, quis convivator eiusmodi convivam, quis servus talibus moribus domnium vel optet, vel ferat? Quis autem non malit vel unum quemvis de media stultissimorum hominum plebe, qui stultus stultis vel imperare possit, vel parere, qui sui similibus placeat, sed quam plurimis, qui comis sit in uxorem, iucundus amicis, bellus conviva, convictor facilis, postremo qui nihil humani a se alienum putet? Sed me quidem iam dudum istius sapientis piget. Quare ad reliqua commoda sese recipiat oratio.
[E] Agedum, si quis velut e sublimi specula circumspiciat, ita ut Iovem Poetae facere praedicant, quot calamitatibus hominum vita sit obnoxia, quam misera, quam sordida nativitas, quam laboriosa educatio, quot iniuriis exposita pueritia, quot sudoribus adacta iuventus, quam gravis senectus, quam dura mortis necessitas, quot morborum agmina infestent, quot immineant casus, quot ingruant incommoda, quam nihil usquam non plurimo felle tinctum, ut ne commemorem ista, quae homini ab homine inferuntur mala, quod genus sunt, paupertas, carcer, infamia, pudor, tormenta, insidiae, proditio, convitia, lites, fraudes. Sed ego iam plane ton ammon anametrein aggredior. Porro quibus admissis ista commeruerint homines, aut quis Deus iratus eos in has miserias nasci coegerit, non est mihi fas in praesentia proloqui. Verum ista qui secum perpendat, nonne Milesiarum virginum probabit exemplum etiam si miserandum? At quinam potissimum sibi vitae taedio fatum accersivere Nonne sapientiae confines? Inter quos, ut interim Diogenes, Xenocrates, Catones, Cassios, ac Brutos sileam, Chiron ille cum immortalem esse liceret, ultro mortem praeoptavit. Videtis, opinor, quid futurum sit, si passim sapiant homines: nempe altero luto, altero figulo Prometheo opus fore. Verum ego partim per ignorantiam, partim per incogitantiam, nonnumquam per oblivionem malorum, aliquando spem bonorum, aliquoties nonnihil mellis voluptatibus adspergens, ita tantis in malis succurro, ut ne tum quidem libeat vitam relinquere, cum exacto Parcarum stamine, ipsa iam dudum eos relinquit vita, quoque minus sit causae, cur in vita manere debeant, hoc magis iuvet vivere, tantum abest, ut ullo vitae taedio tangantur. Mei nimirum muneris est, quod passim Nestorea senecta senes videtis, quibus iam ne species quidem hominis superest, balbos, deliros, edentulos, canos, calvos, vel ut magis Aristophanicis eos describam verbis, rupôntas, kuphous, athlious, rusous, madôntas, nôdous kai psôlous, usque adeo vita delectari, adeoque neanizein, ut alius tingat canos, alius apposititia coma calvitium dissimulet, alius dentibus utatur mutuo fortassis a se quopiam sumptis, hic puellam aliquam misere depereat, et amatoriis ineptiis quemvis etiam superet adolescentulum. Nam ut capulares iam, meraque silicernia, teneram aliquam iuvenculam ducant uxorem, eamque et indotatam, et aliis usui futuram, id adeo frequens, ut propemodum et laudi detur. Sed multo etiam suavius, si quis animadvertat anus, longo iam senio mortuas, adeoque cadaverosas, ut ab inferis redisse videri possint, tamen illud semper in ore habere, phôs agathon, adhuc catullire, atque, ut Graeci dicere solent, kaproun et magna mercede conductum aliquem Phaonem inducere, fucis assidue vuItum oblinere, nusquam a speculo discedere, infimae pubis silvam vellere, vietas ac putres ostentare mammas, tremuloque gannitu languentem sollicitare cupidinem, potitare, misceri puellarum choris, litterulas amatorias scribere. Ridentur haec ab omnibus, tamquam uti sunt, stultissima: at ipsae sibi placent, et in summis interim versantur delitiis, totasque sese melle perungunt, meo videlicet beneficio felices. Porro quibus haec deridicula videntur, illud secum expendant velim, utrum satius ducant huiusmodi stultitia vitam plane mellitam exigere, an trabem, ut aiunt, suspendio quaerere. Porro quod haec vulgo putantur infamiae obnoxia, istud nihil ad stultos meos, qui malum hoc aut non sentiunt, aut si quid sentiunt, facile negligunt. Si saxum in caput incidat, id vere malum sit. Caeterum pudor, infamia, probrum, maledicta, tantum adferunt noxae, quantum sentiuntur. Si sensus absit, ne mala quidem sunt. Quid laedit, si totus populus in te sibilet, modo tute tibi plaudas? Atque ut id liceat, sola Stultitia praestat.
[E] Sed mihi videor audire reclamantes philosophos. Atqui hoc ipsum est, inquiunt, miserum, STULTITIA teneri, errare, falli, ignorare. Imo hoc est hominem esse. Porro miserum cur vocent, non video, quandoquidem sic nati estis, sic instituti, sic conditi, ea est communis omnium sors. Nihil autem miserum, quod in suo genere constat, nisi forte quis hominem deplorandum existimet, qui neque volare possit cum avibus, neque quaternis ingredi pedibus cum reliquo pecudum genere, neque cornibus sit obarmatus, quemadmodum tauri. Verum is eadem opera equum etiam bellissimum infelicem vocabit, quod neque Grammaticam didicerit, neque placentis vescatur: taurum miserum, quod ad palaestricam sit inutilis. Igitur ut equus imperitus Grammaticae, miser non est, ita nec homo stultus, infelix, propterea quod haec cum illius natura cohaerent. Verum rursus urgent Logodaedali. Est, inquiunt, homini peculiariter addita disciplinarum cognitio, quarum adminiculis id quod natura diminutum est, ingenio penset. Quasi vero ullam veri faciem habeat, naturam, quae in culicibus, atque adeo in herbis ac flosculis tam sollicite vigilaverit, in uno homine dormitasse, ut disciplinis opus esset, quas Theutus ille humano generi infensus genius, in summam perniciem excogitavit, adeo non utiles ad felicitatem, ut illi quoque ipsi officiant, ad quod proprie repertae dicuntur, ut eleganter arguit apud Platonem, Rex ille prudentissimus de litterarum invento. Igitur disciplinae cum reliquis humanae vitae pestibus irrepserunt, iisdem auctoribus, a quibus omnia flagitia proficiscuntur, puta Daemonibus, quibus hinc nomen etiam inventum, quasi daêmonas, hoc est, scientes appelles. Siquidem simplex illa aurei seculi gens, nullis armata disciplinis, solo naturae ductu, instinctuque vivebat. Quorsum enim opus erat Grammatica, cum eadem esset omnibus lingua, nec aliud sermone petebatur, nisi ut alius alium intelligeret? Quis usus dialectices, ubi nulla erat pugnantium inter se sententiarum dimicatio? Quis rhetoricae locus, cum nullus alteri negotium facesseret? Quorsum requireretur legum prudentia, cum abessent mali mores, ex quibus haud dubie bonae leges prognatae sunt? Porro religiosiores erant, quam ut impia curiositate arcana naturae, siderum mensuras, motus, effectus, abditas rerum causas scrutarentur, nefas esse rati, si homo mortalis ultra sortem suam sapere conaretur. Iam quid extra coelum esset, inquirendi dementia ne in mentem quidem veniebat. At labente paulatim aetatis aureae puritate, primum a malis, ut dixi, geniis inventae sunt artes, sed paucae, atque hae quidem a paucis receptae. Postea sexcentas addidit Chaldaeorum superstitio, et Graecorum otiosa levitas, meras ingeniorum cruces, adeo ut vel una Grammatica abunde satis sit ad perpetuam vitae carnificinam.
[E] Quamquam inter has ipsas disciplinas, hae potissimum in pretio sunt, quae ad sensum communem, hoc est, ad stultitiam, quam proxime accedunt. Esuriunt Theologi, frigent Physici, ridentur Astrologi, negliguntur Dialectici. Solus iatros anêr pollôn antaxios andrôn. Atque in hoc ipso genere, quo quisque indoctior, audacior, incogitantiorque, hoc pluris fit etiam apud torquatos istos Principes. Atqui Medicina, praesertim ut nunc a compluribus exercetur, nihil aliud est quam assentationis particula, non minus profecto quam rhetorica. Secundum hos proximus datur locus leguleiis: Et haud scio, an primus, quorum professionem, ne quid ipsa pronunciem, velut asininam philosophi magno consensu ridere solent. Sed tamen horum asinorum arbitrio maxima minimaque negotia transiguntur. His latifundia crescunt, cum theologus interim excussis totius divinitatis scriniis, lupinum arrodit, cum cimicibus ac pediculis assidue bellum gerens. Ut igitur feliciores sunt artes, quae maiorem habent cum STULTITIA affinitatem, ita longe felicissimi sunt hi, quibus prorsus licuit ab omnium disciplinarum commercio abstinere, solamque naturam ducem sequi, quae nulla sui parte manca est, nisi forte mortalis sortis pomeria transilire velimus. Odit natura fucos, multoque felicius provenit, quod nulla sit arte violatum.
[E] Agedum, annon videtis ex unoquoque reliquorum animantium genere ea felicissime degere, quae sunt a disciplinis alienissima, nec ullius magisterio nisi naturae, ducuntur? Quid apibus aut felicius, aut mirabilius? At his ne corporis quidem omnes sensus adsunt. Quid simile in exstruendis aedificiis reperiat architectura? Quis umquam philosophus similem instituit rempublicam? Rursum equus quoniam humanis sensibus affinis est, et in hominum contubernium demigravit, humanarum item calamitatum est particeps. Quippe qui non raro dum vinci pudet in certaminibus ducit ilia, et in bellis dum ambit triumphum, confoditur, simulque cum sessore terram ore momordit. Ut ne commemorem interim lupata frena, aculeata calcaria, stabuli carcerem, scuticas, fustes, vincula, sessorem, breviter omnem illam servitutis tragoediam, cui se ultro addixit, dum fortes viros imitatus, impensius hostem ulcisci studet. Quanto optabilior muscarum et avicularum vita ex tempore soloque naturae sensu degentium, modo per hominum insidias liceat. Quae si quando caveis inclusae, adsuescant humanas sonare linguas, mirum quam a nativo illo nitore degenerent. Adeo modis omnibus laetius est, quid natura condidit, quam quod fucavit ars. Proinde numquam satis laudarim, gallum illum Pythagoram, qui cum unus omnia fuisset, philosophus, vir, mulier, rex, privatus, piscis, equus, rana, opinor etiam spongia, tamen nullum animal iudicavit calamitosius homine, propterea quod caetera omnia, naturae finibus essent contenta, solus homo sortis suae limites egredi conaretur.
[E] Rursum inter homines, idiotas multis partibus anteponit doctis ac magnis, et Gryllus ille non paulo plus sapuit, quam polumêtis Odusseus, qui maluerit in hara grunnire, quam cum illo tot miseris obiici casibus. Ab his mihi non dissentire videtur Homerus nugarum pater, qui cum mortales omnes subinde deilous kai mochthêrous appellat, tum Ulyssem illum suum sapientis exemplar, saepenumero dustênon vocat, Paridem nusquam, nec Aiacem, nec Achillem. Quamobrem id tandem? Nisi quod ille vafer et artifex nihil non Palladis consilio agebat, nimiumque sapiebat, a naturae ductu quam longissime recedens? Ut igitur inter mortales, ii longissime absunt a felicitate, qui sapientiae student, nimirum hoc ipso bis stulti, quod homines nati cum sint, tamen obliti conditionis suae Deorum immortalium vitam affectant, et Gigantum exemplo, disciplinarum machinis, naturae bellum inferunt, ita quam minime miseri videntur ii, qui ad brutorum ingenium stultitiamque quam proxime accedunt, neque quidquam ultra hominem moliuntur. Age experiamur num hoc quoque non Stoicis enthymematis, sed crasso quopiam exemplo queamus ostendere. Ac per Deos immortales, est ne quidquam felicius isto hominum genere, quos vulgo moriones, stultos, fatuos, ac bliteos appellant, pulcerrimis, ut equidem opinor, cognominibus? Rem dicam prima fronte stultam fortassis atque absurdam, sed tamen unam multo verissimam. Principio vacant mortis metu, non mediocri, per Iovem, malo. Vacant conscientiae carnificina. Non territantur Manium fabulamentis. Non expavescunt spectris ac lemuribus, non torquentur metu impendentium malorum, non spe futurorum bonorum distenduntur. In summa, non dilacerantur millibus curarum, quibus haec vita obnoxia est. Non pudescunt, non verentur, non ambiunt, non invident, non amant. Denique si propius etiam ad brutorum animantium insipientiam, accesserint, ne peccant quidem, auctoribus theologis. Hic mihi iam expendas velim, stultissime sapiens, quot undique sollicitudinibus noctes diesque discrucietur animus tuus, congeras in unum acervum universa vitae tuae incommoda, atque ita demum intelliges, quantis malis meos fatuos subduxerim. Adde huc, quod non solum ipsi perpetuo gaudent, ludunt, cantillant, rident, verum etiam caeteris omnibus quocumque sese verterint, voluptatem, iocum, lusum, risumque adferunt, velut in hoc ipsum a Deorum indulgentia dati, ut humanae vitae tristitiam exhilararent. Unde fit, ut cum aliis in alios varius sit affectus, hos omnes ex aequo tamquam suos agnoscant, expetant, pascant, foveant, complectantur, succurrant, si quid acciderit: impune permittant, quidquid vel dixerint, vel fecerint. Adeoque nemo, illis nocere cupit, ut ferae quoque belluae ab illorum iniuria temperent, sensu quodam innocentiae naturali. Sunt enim vere sacri Diis, praecipue mihi, ideoque non iniuria hunc honorem omnes illis habent.
[E] Quid quod summis etiam regibus adeo sunt in delitiis, ut nonnulli sine his neque prandere, nec ingredi, nec omnino vel horam durare possint. Neque vero paullo intervallo hos bliteos suis illis tetricis sophis anteponunt, quos tamen ipsos aliquot honoris gratia solent alere. Cur autem ante ponant, nec obscurum arbitror nec mirum videri debet, cum sapientes illi nil nisi triste soleant adferre principibus, suaque doctrina freti, non vereantur aliquoties auriculas teneras mordaci radere vero. Moriones autem id praestent, quod unum undecumque principes modis omnibus aucupantur, iocos, risus, cachinnos, delitias. Iam accipite et hanc non aspernandam stultorum dotem, quod soli simpli ces ac veridici sunt. Quid autem veritate laudatius? Quamquam enim Alcibiadeum apud Platonem proverbium, veri tatem vino pueritiaeque tribuit, tamen omnis ea laus mihi peculiariter debetur, vel Euripide teste, cuius exstat illud celebre de nobis dictum, môra gar môros legei. Fatuus quidquid habet in pectore, id et vultu prae se fert, et ora tione promit. At sapientum sunt duae illae linguae, ut idem meminit Euripides, quarum altera verum dicunt, altera, quae pro tempore iudicarint opportuna. Horum est nigrum in candida vertere, et eodem ex ore frigidum pariter et calidum efflare, longeque aliud conditum habere in pectore, aliud sermone fingere. Porro in tanta felicitate, tamen hoc nomine principes mihi videntur infelicissimi, quod deest, a quo verum audiant, et assentatores pro amicis ha bere coguntur. Sed abhorrent a vero principum aures, dixerit aliquis et hac ipsa de causa, sapientes istos fugitant, quod vereantur ne quis forte liberior exsistat, qui vera magis, quam iucunda loqui audeat. Ita quidem res habet, invisa regibus veritas. Sed tamen hoc ipsum mire in fatuis meis usu venit, ut non vera modo, verum etiam aperta convitia cum voluptate audiantur, adeo ut idem dictum, quod si a sapientis ore proficiscatur, capitale fuerat futurum: a morione profectum, incredibilem voluptatem pariat. Habet enim genuinam quamdam delectandi vim veritas, si nihil accedat quod offendat: verum id quidem solis fatuis Dii dederunt. Iisdem ferme de causis hoc hominum genere mulieres gaudere solent impensius, utpote ad voluptatem et nugas natura propensiores. Proinde quidquid cum huiusmodi factitarint, etiamsi nonnumquam serium nimis, illae tamen iocum ac lusum interpretantur, ut est ingeniosus, praesertim ad praetexenda commissa sua, sexus ille.
[E] Igitur ut ad fatuorum felicitatem redeam, multa cum iucunditate peracta vita, nullo mortis vel metu, vel sensu, recta in campos Elysios demigrant, et illic pias atque otiosas animas lusibus suis delectaturi. Eamus nunc, et quemvis etiam sapientem cum huius morionis sorte conferamus. Finge quod huic opponas exemplar sapientiae, hominem qui totam pueritiam atque adolescentiam in perdiscendis disciplinis contriverit, et suavissimam vitae partem, perpetuis vigiliis, curis, sudoribus perdiderit, ne in reliqua quidem omni vita vel tantillum voluptatis degustarit, semper parcus, pauper, tristis, tetricus, sibi ipsi iniquus ac durus, aliis gravis et invisus, pallore, macie, valetudine, lippitudine, confectus senio, canitieque multo ante diem contracta, ante diem fugiens e vita. Quamquam quid refert quando moriatur istiusmodi, qui numquam vixerit? Habetis egregiam illam sapientis imaginem.
[E] At hic rursus obganniunt mihi, hoi ek tês stôas (!) batrachoi. 'Nihil', inquiunt, 'miserius insania'. Sed insignis stultitia, vel insaniae proxima est, vel ipsa potius insa nia. Quid enim aliud est insanire, quam errare animo? Sed isti tota errant via. Age, hunc quoque syllogismum dissipemus, Musis bene fortunantibus. Argute quidem isti, verum quemadmodum apud Platonem docet Socrates, ex una Venere secta duas, et ex uno Cupidine dissecto duos faciens, itidem et istos Dialecticos decebat insaniam ab insania distinguere, si modo ipsi sani videri vellent. Neque enim protinus omnis insania calamitosa est. Alioqui non dixisset Horatius: 'An me ludit amabilis insania': Neque Plato poetarum, vatum, et amantium furorem inter praecipua vitae bona collocasset nec vates illa laborem Aeneae vocasset insanuma. Verum est duplex insaniae genus: alterum quod ab inferis dirae ultrices submittunt, quoties immissis anguibus, vel ardorem belli, vel inexplebilem auri sitim, vel dedecorosum ac nefarium amorem, vel parricidium, incestum, sacrilegium, aut aliam id genus pestem aliquam in pectora mortalium invehunt, sive cum nocentem et conscium animum, Furiis ac terriculorum facibus agunt. Est alterum huic longe dissimile, quod videlicet a me proficiscitur, omnium maxime exoptandum. Id accidit quoties iucundus quidam mentis error simul et anxiis illis curis animum liberat, et multiiuga voluptate delibutum reddit. Atqui hunc mentis errorem ceu magnum quoddam Deorum munus, ad Atticum scribens, optat Cicero, nimirum, quo tantorum malorum sensu carere posset. Neque perperam sensit Argivus ille, qui hactenus insaniebat, ut totos dies solus desideret in theatro, ridens, plaudens, gaudens, quod crederet illic miras agi tragoedias, cum nihil omnino ageretur, cum in caeteris vitae officiis probe sese gereret: 'iucundus amicis, comis in uxorem, posset qui ignoscere servis. Et signo laesae non insanire lagenae'. Hunc ubi cognatorum opera datis pharmacis morbo levasset, sibique iam totus esset redditus, hunc in modum cum amicis expostulans: 'Pol, me occidistis, amici, non servastis', ait, 'cui sic extorta voluptas. Et demptus per vim mentis gratissimus error'. Et merito quidem: errabant enim ipsi, atque elleboro magis opus habebant, qui tam felicem ac iucundam insaniam, ceu malum aliquod, existimaquoties foedum illum cornuum cantum audierint, quoties rent potionibus expellendam. Quamquam illud equidem nondum statui, num quivis sensus, aut mentis error, insa niae nomine sit appellandus. Neque enim si cui lippienti mulus asinus esse videatur: aut si quis indoctum carmen veluti doctissimum admiretur, is continuo videbitur insanire. Verum si quis non sensu tantum, sed animi iudicio fallatur, idque praeter usitatum morem ac perpetuo, is demum insaniae censebitur affinis esse, veluti si quis quoties asinum audierit rudentem, arbitretur sese miros symphoniscos audire, aut si quis pauperculus, infimi loco natus, Croesum Lydorum regem esse se credat. Sed hoc insaniae genus, si, quemadmodum fere sit, vergat ad voluptatem, non mediocrem delectationem adfert tum iis, qui eo tenentur, tum illis, quibus est hoc animadversum, nec tamen eodem insaniunt. Nam haec insaniae species multo latius patet, quam vulgus hominum intelligit. Sed vicissim insanus insanum ridet, ac mutuam sibi voluptatem invicem ministrant. Neque raro fieri videbitis, ut maior insanus, vehementius rideat minorem.
[E] Verum hoc quisque felicior, quo pluribus desipit modis, Stultitia iudice, modo in eo genere insaniae maneat, quod nobis est peculiare, quod quidem usque adeo late patet, ut haud sciam, an ex universa mortalium summa quempiam liceat reperire, qui omnibus horis sapiat, quique non aliquo insaniae genere teneatur. Quamquam hoc tantum interest qui cucurbitam cum videt, mulierem esse credit, huic insano nomen ponunt, propterea quod per paucis id usu veniat. Verum ubi quis uxorem suam, quam cum multis habet communem, eam plusquam Penelopen esse deierat, sibique maiorem in modum plaudit, feliciter errans, hunc nullus insanum appellat, propterea quod passim maritis hoc accidere videant. Ad hunc ordinem pertinent et isti, qui prae venatu ferarum omnia contemnunt, atque incredibilem animi voluptatem percipere se praedicant, canum eiulatus. Opinor etiam cum excrementa canum odorantur, illis cinnamomum videri. Deinde quae suavitas, quoties fera lanianda est? Tauros et verveces humili plebi laniare licet, feram nisi a generoso secari nefas. Is nudo capite, inflexis genibus, gladio ad id destinato, neque enim quovis idem facere fas est, certis gestibus, certa membra, certo ordine religiose secat. Miratur interim perinde ut in re nova, circumstans tacita turba, tametsi spectaculum hoc plus millies viderit. Porro cui contigerit e bellua nonnihil gustare, is vero existimat sibi non parum nobilitatis accedere. Itaque cum isti assidua ferarum insectatione atque esu, nihil aliud assequantur, nisi ut ipsi propemodum in feras degenerent, tamen interea regiam vitam agere se putant. Est his simillimum genus eorum, qui insatiabili aedificandi studio flagrant, nunc rotunda quadratis, nunc, quadrata rotundis permutantes. Neque vero finis ullus, neque modus, donec ad extremam redactis inopiam, nec ubi habitent, nec quid edant, supersit. Quid tum postea? Interim annos aliquot summa cum voluptate peregerunt. Ad quos mihi quidem proxime videntur accedere, qui novis et arcanis artibus, rerum species vertere moliuntur, ac terra marique quintam quamdam essentiam venantur. Hos adeo lactat mellita spes, ut neque laborum, neque impensarum umquam pigeat, miroque ingenio semper aliquid excogitant, quo sese denuo fallant, sibique ipsis gratam faciant imposturam, donec absumtis omnibus, non sit quo iam fornaculam instruant. Non desinunt tamen iucunda somniare somnia, caeteros pro viribus ad eamdem felicitatem animantes. Cumque iam prorsus omni spe destituuntur, superest tamen una sententia, abunde magnum solatium: 'In magnis et voluisse sat est'. Ac tum vitae brevitatem incusant, ut quae magnitudini negotii non suffecerit. Porro aleatores nonnihil addubito num in nostrum collegium sint admittendi. Sed tamen stultum omnino ridiculumque spectaculum est, quoties videmus nonnullos usque adeo addictos, ut simul atque strepitum talorum audierint, protinus illis cor saliat, palpitetque. Deinde cum semper illiciente vincendi spe omnium facultatum naufragium fecerint, in aleae scopulum illisa nave, non paulo formidabiliorem Malea, vixque nudi emerserint, quosvis potius fraudant quam victorem, ne scilicet viri parum graves habeantur. Quid cum senes iam et caecutientes, vitreis etiam oculis lusitant? Postremo cum iam iusta chiragra contudit articulos, vicarium etiam mercede conducunt, qui pro se talos in pyrgum mittat? Suavis quidem res, nisi quod hic ludus plerumque solet in rabiem evadere, iamque ad Furias, non ad me pertinere.
[E] Caeterum illud hominum genus haud dubie totum est nostrae farinae qui miraculis ac prodigiosis gaudent mendaciis, vel audiendis vel narrandis. Nec ulla satietas talium fabularum, cum portentosa quaedam, de spectris, de lemuribus, de larvis, de inferis, de id genus millibus miraculorum commemorantur: quae quo longius absunt a vero, hoc et creduntur lubentius et iucundiore pruritu titillant aures. Atque haec quidem non modo ad levandum horarum taedium mire conducunt, verum etiam ad quaestum pertinent, praecipue sacrificis et concionatoribus. His rursum adfines sunt ii, qui sibi stultam quidem, sed tamen iucundam persuasionem induerunt, futurum, ut si ligneum, aut pictum aliquem Polyphemum Christophorum adspexerint, eo die non sint perituri, aut qui sculptam Barbaram praescriptis verbis salutarit, sit incolumis e praelio rediturus, aut si quis Erasmum certis diebus, certis cereolis, certisque preculis convenerit, brevi sit dives evasurus. Iam vero Georgium etiam Herculem invenerunt, quemadmodum et Hippolytum alterum. Huius equum phaleris ac bullis religiosissime adornatum tantum non adorant ac subinde novo quopiam munusculo demerentur, per huius aeream galeam deierare plane regium habetur. Nam quid dicam de iis, qui sibi fictis scelerum condonationibus, suavissime blandiuntur, ac Purgatorii spatia veluti clepsydris metiuntur, saecula, annos, menses, dies, horas, tamquam e tabula mathematica, citra ullum errorem dimetientes. Aut de iis qui magicis quibusdam notulis ac preculis, quas pius aliquis impostor, vel animi causa, vel ad quaestum excogitavit, freti nihil sibi non pollicentur, opes, honores, voluptates, saturitates, valetudinem perpetuo prosperam, vitam longaevam, senectam viridem, denique proximum Christo apud Superos consessum, quem tamen nolint, nisi admodum sero contingere, hoc est, cum huius vitae voluptates, invitos eos ac mordicus retinentes, tamen deseruerint, tum succedant illae Coelitum delitiae. Hic mihi puta negociator aliquis aut miles, aut iudex, abiecto ex tot rapinis unico nummulo, universam vitae Lernam semel expurgatam putat, totque periuria, tot libidines, tot ebrietates, tot rixas, tot caedes, tot imposturas, tot perfidias, tot proditiones existimat velut ex pacto redimi, et ita redimi, ut iam liceat ad novum scelerum orbem de integro reverti. Quid autem stultius iis, imo quid felicius, qui septem illis sacrorum Psalmorum versiculis quotidie recitatis, plus quam summam felicitatem sibi promittunt? Atque hos magicos versiculos Daemon quispiam, facetus quidem ille, sed futilis magis quam callidus, Divo Bernardo creditur indicasse, sed arte circumventus miser. Et haec tam stulta, ut me ipsam propemodum pudeat, tamen approbantur, idque non a vulgo modo, verum etiam a religionis professoribus. Quid iam, nonne eodem fere pertinet, cum singulae regiones suum aliquem peculiarem vindicant Divum, cumque in singulos singula quaedam partiuntur, singulis suos quosdam culturae ritus attribuunt, ut hic in dentium cruciatu succurrat, ille parturientibus dexter adsit, alius rem furto sublatam restituat, hic in naufragio prosper adfulgeat, ille gregem tueatur: atque item de caeteris. Nam omnia percensere longissimum fuerit. Sunt qui singuli pluribus in rebus valeant, praecipue Deipara Virgo, cui vulgus hominum plus prope tribuit quam Filio.
[E] Verum ab his Divis quid tandem petunt homines nisi quod ad stultitiam attinet? Agedum inter tot anathemata, quibus templorum quorumdam parietes omnes, ac testudinem ipsam refertam conspicitis, vidistisne umquam qui stultitiam effugerit, qui vel pilo sit factus sapientior? Alius enatavit incolumis. Alius ab hoste perfossus, vixit. Alius e praelio, pugnantibus caeteris, non minus feliciter quam fortiter aufugit. Alius in crucem subactus, favore Divi cuiuspiam furibus amici, decidit ut nonnullos etiam male divitiis onustos pergeret exonerare. Alius perfracto carcere fugit. Alius irato medico a febre revaluit. Alii potum venenum, alvo soluta, remedio non exitio fuit, idque non admodum laeta uxore, quae operam et impensam luserit. Alius everso plaustro, equos incolumes domum abegit. Alius oppressus ruina vixit. Alius a marito deprehensus elusit. Nullus pro depulsa stultitia gratias agit. Adeo suavis quaedam res est nihil sapere, ut omnia potius deprecentur mortales, quam Moriam. Sed quid ego hoc superstitionum pelagus ingredior?
Non mihi si linguae centum sint, oraque centum, Ferrea vox, omneis fatuorum evolvere formas, Omnia stultitiae percurrere nomina possim'.
Usque adeo omnis omnium Christianorum vita istiusmodi delirationibus undique scatet: quas ipsas tamen Sacrifici non gravatim et admittunt et alunt, non ignari quantum hinc lucelli soleat accrescere. Inter haec, si quis odiosus sapiens exoriatur, succinatque id, quod res est, non male peribis, sibene vixeris: peccata redimis, si nummulo addideris odium malefactorum, tum lacrymas, vigilias, precationes, ieiunia, ac totam vitae rationem commutaris: Divus hic tibi favebit, si vitam illius aemulaberis. Haec, inquam, atque id genus alia, si sapiens ille obganniat, vide a quanta felicitate repente mortalium animos in quem tumultum retraxerit? Ad hoc collegium pertinent, qui vivi qua funeris pompa velint efferri, tam diligenter statuunt, ut nominatim etiam praescribant, quot taedas, quot pullatos, quot cantores, quot luctus histriones velint adesse, perinde, quasi futurum sit, ut aliquis huius spectaculi sensus ad ipsos sit rediturus, aut ut pudescant defuncti, nisi cadaver magnifice defodiatur, haud alio studio, quam si aediles creati, ludos aut epulum edere studeant.
[E] Equidem tametsi propero, tamen haud possum istos silentio praetercurrere qui cum nihil ab infimo cerdone differant, tamen inani nobilitatis titulo, mirum quam sibi blandiuntur. Alius ad Aeneam, alius ad Brutum, alius ad Arcturum genus suum refert. Ostendunt undique sculptas et pictas maiorum imagines. Numerant proavos atque atavos, et antiqua cognomina commemorant, cum ipsi non multum absint a muta statua, pene iis ipsis, quae ostentant signis, deteriores. Et tamen hac tam suavi Philautia felicem prorsum vitam agunt. Neque desunt aeque stulti, qui hoc belluarum genus perinde ut Deos suspiciunt. Sed quid ego de uno aut altero genere loquor, quasi vero non passim haec Philautia plurimos ubique miris modis felicissimos efficiat. Cum hic quavis simia deformior, sibi plane Nireus videtur? Alius simul atque treis lineas circinno duxerit, prorsum Euclidem sese putat: hic ônos pros luran, et 'Quo deterius, nec ille sonat, quo mordetur gallina marito', tamen alterum Hermogenem esse se credit. Est autem illud longe suavissimum insaniae genus, quo nonnulli, quidquid ulli suorum dotis adest, eo non aliter atque suo gloriantur. Qualis erat ille bis beatus apud Senecam dives, qui narraturus historiolam quampiam, servos ad manum habebat, qui nomina suggererent, non dubitaturus, vel in pugilum certamen descendere, homo alioqui adeo imbecillus, ut vix viveret, hac re fretus, quod multos haberet domi servos egregie robustos. Porro de artium professoribus, quid attinet commemorare? quando peculiaris est horum omnium Philautia, adeo ut reperias citius, qui velit agello paterno, quam ingenio cedere, verum praecipue histrionum, cantorum, oratorum, ac poetarum, quorum quo quisque est indoctior, hoc sibi placet insolentius, hoc sese magis iactat, ac dilatat. Et inveniunt similes labra lactucas, imo quo quidque est ineptius, hoc plures admiratores nanciscitur, ut pessima quaeque semper plurimis arrident, propterea quod maxima pars hominum, ut diximus, Stultitiae obnoxia est. Proinde si quis est imperitior, et sibi ipsi multo iucundior est, et pluribus admirationi, quid est quod is veram eruditionem malit, primum magno constaturam, deinde reddituram et putidiorem et timidiorem, postremo multo paucioribus placituram?
[E] Iam vero video naturam, ut singulis mortalibus suam, ita singulis nationibus, ac pene civitatibus communem quamdam insevisse Philautiam: Atque hinc fieri, ut Britanni praeter alia, formam, musicam, et lautas mensas proprie sibi vindicent. Scoti, nobilitate, et Regiae affinitatis titulo, neque non dialecticis argutiis sibi blandiantur: Galli morum civilitatem sibi sumant: Parisienses, Theologicae scientiae laudem omnibus prope submotis, sibi peculiariter arrogent: Itali bonas litteras et eloquentiam asserant: Atque hoc nomine sibi suavissime blandiantur omnes, quod soli mortalium barbari non sint. Quo quidem in genere felicitatis, Romani primas tenent, ac veterem illam Romam adhuc iucundissime somniant: Veneti nobilitatis opinione sunt felices. Graeci tamquam disciplinarum auctores, veteribus illis laudatorum heroum titulis sese venditant: Turcae totaque illa vere barbarorum colluvies etiam religionis laudem sibi vindicat, Christianos perinde ut superstitiosos irridens. At multo etiam suavius Iudaei etiamdum Messiam suum constanter exspectant, ac Mosen suum, hodieque mordicus tenent: Hispani bellicam gloriam nulli concedunt: Germani corporum proceritate, et magiae cognitione sibi placent.
[E] Ac ne singula persequar, videtis, opinor, quantum ubique voluptatis pariat singulis et universis mortalibus Philautia, cui prope par est Assentatio soror. Nihil enim aliud Philautia, quam cum quis ipse sibi palpatur. Idem si alteri facias, kolakia fuerit. At hodie res quaedam infamis est adulatio, sed apud eos, qui rerum vocabulis magis, quam rebus ipsis commoventur. Existimant cum adulatione fidem male cohaerere: quod multo secus sese habere, vel brutorum animantium exemplis poterant admoneri. Quid enim cane adulantius? At rursum quid fidelius? Quid sciuro blandius? At hoc quid est homini magis amicum? Nisi forte vel asperi leones, vel immites tigres, vel irritabiles pardi magis ad vitam hominum conducere videntur. Quamquam est omnino pernieiosa quaedam adulatio, qua nonnulli perfidiosi et irrisores, miseros in perniciem adigunt. Verum haec mea, ab ingenii benignitate, candoreque quodam proficiscitur, multoque virtuti vicinior est, quam ea qua huic opponitur, asperitas, ac morositas inconcinna, ut ait Horatius, gravisque. Haec deiectiores animos erigit, demulcet tristes, exstimulat languentes, expergefacit stupidos, aegrotos levat, feroces mollit, amores conciliat, conciliatos retinet. Pueritiam ad capessenda studia litterarum allicit, senes exhilarat, principes citra offensam sub imagine laudis, et admonet et docet. In summa, facit, ut quisque sibi ipse sit iucundior et carior, quae quidem felicitatis pars est vel praecipua. Quid autem officiosius, quam cum mutuum muli scabunt? Ut ne dicam interim hanc esse magnam illius laudatae eloquentiae partem, maiorem Medicinae, maximam Poetieae: denique hanc esse totius humanae consuetudinis mel et condimentum.
[E] Sed falli, inquiunt, miserum est; imo non falli, miserrimum. Nimium enim desipiunt, qui in rebus ipsis felicitatem hominis sitam esse existimant. Ex opinionibus ea pendet: Nam rerum humanarum tanta est obscuritas, varietasque, ut nihil dilucide sciri possit, quemadmodum recte dictum est ab Academicis meis, inter philosophos quam minimum insolentibus. Aut si quid sciri potest, id non raro officit etiam vitae iucunditati. Postremo sic sculptus est hominis animus, ut longe magis fucis, quam veris capiatur. Cuius rei si quis experimentum expositum et obvium quaerat, conciones ac templa petat, in quibus si quid serium narratur, dormitant, oscitant, nauseant omnes. Quod si clamator ille (lapsa sum, declamator dicere volebam) ita ut saepe faciunt, anilem aliquam fabellam exordiatur, expergiscuntur, eriguntur, inhiant omnes. Item si quis sit Divus fabulosiur et poeticus, quod si exemplum requiris, finge huius generis Georgium aut Christophorum, aut Barbaram, videbitis hunc longe religiosius coli, quam Petrum, aut Paulum, aut ipsum etiam Christum. Verum haec non huius sunt loci. Iam quanto minoris constat haec felicitatis accessio? Quandoquidem res ipsas aliquoties magno negotio pares oportet, vel levissimas, uti Grammaticen. At opinio facillime sumitur. Quae tamen tantumdem, aut amplius etiam ad felicitatem conducat. Age si quis putribus vescatur salsamentis, quorum alius nec odorem ferre possit, et tamen huic ambrosiam sapiant, quaeso, quid interest ad felicitatem? Contra, si acipenser alicui nauseam sapiat, quid referet ad vitae beatitudinem? Si cui sit uxor egregie deformis, quae tamen marito, vel cum ipsa Venere certare posse videatur, nonne perinde fuerit, ac si vere formosa foret? Si quis tabulam minio lutoque male oblitam, suspectet, ac demiretur, persuasum habens, Apellis aut Zeuxidis esse picturam, nonne felicior etiam fuerit eo, qui eorum artificum manum magno emerit, fortassis minus ex eo spectaculo voluptatis percepturus? Novi ego quemdam mei nominis, qui novae nuptae gemmas aliquot adulterinas dono dedit, persuadens, ut erat facundus nugator, eas non modo veras ac nativas esse, verum etiam singulari atque inaestimabili pretio. Quaeso, quid intererat puellae, cum vitro non minus iucunde pasceret et oculos, et animum, nugas, perinde ut eximium aliquem thesaurum, conditas apud sese servaret? Maritus interim et sumptum effugiebat, et uxoris errore fruebatur, nec eam tamen sibi minus habebat devinctam, quam si magno empta donasset. Num quid interesse censetis inter eos, qui in specu illo Platonico variarum rerum umbras ac simulacra demirantur, modo nihil desiderent, neque minus sibi placeant? et sapientem illum qui specum egressus, veras res adspicit? Quod si Mycillo Lucianico dives illud et aureum somnium perpetuo somniare licuisset, nihil erat cur aliam optaret felicitatem. Aut nihil igitur interest, aut si quid interest, potior etiam stultorum conditio. Primum quod iis sua felicitas minimo constat, id est, sola persuasiuncula . Deinde, quod ea fruuntur cum plurimis communiter.
[E] Porro nullius boni iucunda sine socio possessio. Quis enim nescit quanta sapientum paucitas, si modo quisquam inveniatur? quamquam ex tot saeculis Graeci septem omnino numerant, quos mehercle, si quis accuratius excutiat, dispeream, si vel semisapientem inveniet, imo si vel trientem viri sapientis. Proinde cum inter multas Bacchi laudes, illud habeatur, ut est primarium, quod animi curas eluat, idque ad exiguum modo tempus, nam simulatque villum edormieris, protinus albis, ut aiunt, quadrigis recurrunt animi molestiae: quanto meum beneficium cum plenius, tum praesentius, quae perpetua quadam ebrietate, mentem gaudiis, delitiis, tripudiis, expleo, idque nullo negotio? Neque quemquam omnino mortalem mei muneris expertem esse sino, cum reliquae numinum dotes aliae ad alios perveniant. Non ubivis nascitur generosum et lene merum, quod curas abigat, quod cum spe divite manet. Paucis contigit formae gratia, Veneris munus, paucioribus eloquentia, Mercurii donum. Non ita multis obtigerunt opes, dextro Hercule. Imperium non cuivis concedit Iupiter Homericus, Saepenumero Mavors neutris favet copiis. Complures ab Apollinis tripode tristes discedunt. Saepe fulminat Saturnius. Phoebus aliquando iaculis pestem immittit. Neptunus plures exstinguit quam servat. Ut interim Veioves istos, Plutones, Atas, Poenas, Febres, atque id genus, non Deos, sed carnifices commemorem. Ego sum una illa Stultitia, quae omneis ex aequo tam parata beneficentia complector.
[E] Nec vota moror, nec irascor, exposcens piamina, si quid cerimoniarum fuerit praetermissum. Nec coelum terrae misceo, si quis reliquis invitatis Diis, me domi relinquat, nec admittat ad nidorem illum victimarum. Nam caeterorum Deorum tanta in his est morositas, ut prope maius sit operae pretium, atque adeo tutius, illos negligere, quam colere. Quemadmodum sunt et homines nonnulli, tam difficiles, et ad laedendum irritabiles, ut praestiterit eos prorsum alienissimos habere, quam familiares. At nemo, inquiunt, Stultitiae sacrificat, neque templum statuit. Equidem demiror, ut dixi, nonnihil hanc ingratitudinem. Verum hoc quoque pro mea facilitate boni consulo: quamquam ne haec quidem desiderare possum. Quid enim est cur tusculum aut molam aut hircum, aut suem requiram, cum mihi mortales omnes ubique gentium eum cultum persolvant, qui vel a Theologis maxime probari solet? Nisi forte Dianae debeam invidere, quod illi humano sanguine litatur. Ego me tum religiosissime coli puto, cum passim, ut faciunt omnes, animo complectuntur, moribus exprimunt, vita repraesentant. Qui quidem Divorum cultus, nec apud Christianos admodum frequens est. Quanta turba eorum, Deiparae Virgini cereolum affigunt, idque in meridie, cum nihil est opus? Rursum quam pauci qui eamdem, vitae castimonia, modestia, coelestium rerum amore studeant aemulari? Nam is demum verus est cultus, longeque Coelitibus gratissimus. Praeterea cur templum desiderem, cum orbis hic universus templum mihi sit, ni fallor, pulcerrimum? Neque vero desunt mystae, nisi ubi desunt homines. Nec iam usque adeo stulta sum, ut saxeas ac coloribus fucatas imagines requiram, quae cultui nostro nonnumquam officiunt, cum a stupidis, et pinguibus istis, signa pro Divis ipsis adorantur. Nobis interim usu venit, quod solet iis, qui a vicariis suis extruduntur. Mihi tot statuas erectas puto, quot sunt mortales, vivam mei imaginem prae se ferentes, etiamsi nolint. Itaque nihil est quod reliquis Diis invideam, si aliis in angulis terrarum alii colantur, idque statis diebus: quemadmodum Rhodi Phoebus, in Cypro Venus, Argis Iuno, Athenis Minerva, in Olympo Iupiter, Tarenti Neptunus, Lampsaci Priapusa, modo mihi communiter orbis omnis longe potiores victimas assidue praebeat.
[E] Atque si cui videor haec audacius quam verius dicere, agedum paulisper ipsas hominum vitas inspiciamus, quo palam fiat, et quantum mihi debeant, et quanti me faciant maximi pariter ac minimi. At non quorumlibet vitam recensebimus, nam id quidem perlongum, verum insignium tantum, unde reliquos facile sit aestimare. Quid enim attinet de vulgo, plebeculaque commemorare, quae citra controversiam tota mea est? tot enim undique Stultitiae formis abundat, tot in dies novas comminiscitur, ut nec mille Democriti ad tantos risus suffecerint: quamquam illis ipsis Democritis rursum alio Democrito foret opus. Quin etiam incredibile sit dictu, quos ludos, quas delitias, homunculi quotidie praebeant Superis. Nam hi quidem horas illas sobrias, et antemeridianas iurgiosis consultationibus, ac votis audiendis impartiunt. Caeterum ubi iam nectare madent, neque lubet quidquam serium agere, tum qua parte coelum quam maxime prominet, ibi consident ac pronis frontibus, quid agitent homines speculantur. Nec est aliud spectaculum illis suavius. Deum immortalem! quod theatrum est illud, quam varius stultorum tumultusa? Nam ipsa nonnumquam in Deorum poeticorum ordinibus considere soleo. Hic deperit mulierculam, et quo minus adamatur, hoc amat impotentius. Ille dotem ducit, non uxorem. Ille sponsam suam prostituit. Alius zelotypus velut Argus observat. Hic in luctu, papae, quam stulta dicit facitque? conductis etiam velut histrionibus, qui luctus fabulam peragant. Ille flet ad novercae tumulum. Hic quidquid undecumque potest corradere, id totum ventriculo donat, paulo post fortiter esuriturus. Hic somno et otio nihil putat felicius. Sunt qui alienis obeundis negotiis sedulo tumultuantur, sua negligunt. Est qui versuris, atque aere alieno divitem se esse putat, mox decocturus. Alius nihil arbitratur felicius, quam si ipse pauper haeredem locupletet. Hic ob exiguum, idque incertum lucellum, per omnia maria volitat, undis ac ventis vitam committens, nulla pecunia reparabilem. Ille mavult bello divitias quaerere, quam tutum otium exigere domi. Sunt qui captandis orbis senibus, putant quam commodissime ad opes perveniri. Neque desunt, qui idem malint deamandis beatis aniculis aucupari. Quorum utrique tum demum egregiam de se voluptatem Diis spectatoribus praebent, cum ab iis ipsis, quos captant, arte deluduntur. Est omnium stultissimum ac sordidissimum negotiatorum genus, quippe qui rem omnium sordidissimam tractent, idque sordidissimis rationibus, qui cum passim mentiantur, peierent, furentur, fraudent, imponant, tamen omnium primos sese faciunt, propterea quod digitos habeant auro revinctos. Nec desunt adulatores Fraterculi, qui mirentur istos, ac venerabiles palam appellent, nimirum, ut ad ipsos aliqua male partorum portiuncula redeat. Alibi videas Pythagoricos quosdam, quibus usque adeo omnia videntur esse communia , ut quidquid usquam incustoditum nacti fuerint, id velut haereditate obvenerit, aequo animo tollant. Sunt qui votis tantum divites sunt, et iucunda quaedam sibi fingunt somnia, idque ad felicitatem satis esse putant. Nonnulli foris divites haberi gaudent, domi gnaviter esuriunt. Hic festinat quidquid habet profundere, ille per fas nefasque congerit. Hic candidatus ambit populares honores, ille ad focum semet oblectat. Bona pars lites numquam finiendas agitat, et hinc atque hinc certatim contendunt, ut prorogatorem iudicem, et collusorem ditent advocatum. Hic rebus novandis studet, ille magnum quiddam molitur. Est qui Hierosolymam, Romam, aut divum Jacobum adeat, ubi nihil est illi negotii, domi relictis cum uxore liberis. In summa, si mortalium innumerabiles tumultus, e Luna, quemadmodum Menippus olim, despicias, putes te muscarum, aut culicum videre turbam inter se rixantium, bellantium, insidiantium, rapientium, ludentium, lascivientium, nascentium, cadentium, morientium. Neque satis credi potest, quos motus, quas tragoedias ciat tantulum animalculum, tamque mox periturum. Nam aliquoties vel levis belli, seu pestilentiae procella, multa simul millia rapit ac dissipat.
[E] Sed ipsa stultissima sim, planeque digna, quam multis cachinnis rideat Democritus, si pergam popularium stultitiarum, et insaniarum formas enumerare. Ad eos accingar, qui sapientiae speciem inter mortales tenent, et aureum illum ramum, ut aiunt, aucupantur, inter quos Grammatici primas tenent, genus hominum profecto, quo nihil calamitosius, nihil afflictius, nihil aeque Diis invisum foret, nisi ego miserrimae professionis incommoda dulci quodam insaniae genere mitigarem. Neque enim pente katarais, id est, quinque tantum diris obnoxii sunt isti, quemadmodum indicat epigramma Graecum, verum sexcentis, ut qui semper famelici, sordidique in ludis illis suis, in ludis dixi, imo in phrontistêriois vel pistrinis potius, ac carnificinis inter puerorum greges, consenescant laboribus, obsurdescant clamoribus, foetore paedoreque contabescant, tamen meo beneficio fit, ut sibi primi mortalium esse videantur. Adeo sibi placent, dum pavidam turbam, minaci vultu voceque territant: dum ferulis, virgis, lorisque conscindunt miseros, dumque modis omnibus suo arbitratu saeviunt, asinum illum Cumanum imitantes. Interim sordes illae, merae munditiae videntur, paedor amaricinum olet, miserrima illa servitus regnum esse putatur, ut tyrannidem suam nolint cum Phalaridis aut Dionysii imperio commutare. Sed longe etiam feliciores sunt, nova quadam doctrinae persuasione. Siquidem cum mera deliramenta pueris inculcent, tamen, Dii boni, quem non illi Palaemonem, quem non Donatum prae sese contemnunt? idque nescio quibus praestigiis mire efficiunt, ut stultis materculis et idiotis patribus tales videantur, quales ipsi se faciunt. Iam adde et hoc voluptatis genus, quoties istorum aliquis Anchisae matrem, aut voculam vulgo incognitam, in putri quapiam charta deprehenderit, puta bubsequam, bovinatorem aut manticulatorem, aut si quis vetusti saxi fragmentum, mutilis notatum litteris, alicubi effoderit: O Iupiter, quae tum exsultatio, qui triumphi, quae encomia, perinde quasi vel Africam devicerint, vel Babylonas ceperint. Quid autem cum frigidissimos et insulsissimos versiculos suos passim ostentant, neque desunt qui mirentur, iam plane Maronis animam in suum pectus demigrasse credunt. At nihil omnium suavius, quam cum ipsi inter sese mutua talione laudant ac mirantur, vicissimque scabunt. Quod si quis alius verbulo lapsus sit, idque forte fortuna hic oculatior deprehenderit, Hêrakleis, quae protinus tragoediae, quae digladiationes, quae convitia, quae invectivae? Male propitios habeam omneis Grammaticos, si quid mentior. Novi quemdam polutechnotaton, graecum, latinum, mathematicum, philosophum, medicum, kai tauta basilikon, iam sexagenarium, qui caeteris rebus omissis, annis plus viginti se torquet ac discrutiat in Grammatica, prorsus felicem se fore ratus, si tam diu liceat vivere, donec certo statuat, quomodo distinguendae sint octo partes orationis, quod hactenus nemo Graecorum aut Latinorum ad plenum praestare valuit. Perinde quasi res sit bello quoque vindicanda, si quis coniunctionem facit dictionem ad adverbiorum ius pertinentem. Et hac gratia, cum totidem sint grammaticae quot grammatici, imo plures: quandoquidem Aldus meus unus, plus quinquies grammaticam dedit, hic nullam omnino quantum vis barbare aut moleste scriptam praetermittit, quam non evolvat, excutiatque: nemini non invidens, si quid quantumlibet inepte moliatur in hoc genere, misere timens, ne quis forte gloriam hanc praeripiat, et pereant tot annorum labores. Utrum insaniam hanc vocare mavultis, an stultitiam? Nam mea quidem haud magni refert, modo fateamini meo beneficio fieri, ut animal omnium alioqui longe miserrimum, eo felicitatis evehatur, ut sortem suam neque cum Persarum regibus cupiat permutare.
[E] Minus mihi debent Poetae, tametsi vel ex professo meae sunt factionis, quippe liberum genus, ut habet proverbium, quorum omne studium non alio pertinet, quam ad demulcendas stultorum aures, idque meris nugamentis, ac ridiculis fabulis. Et tamen his freti dictu mirum, ut cum sibi polliceantur immortalitatem, et Diis parem vitam, tum aliis eamdem promittant. Huic ordini prae caeteris familiares philautia kai kolakia, nec ab ullo mortalium genere color neque simplicius, neque constantius. Porro rhetores, quamquam nonnihil illi quidem praevaricantur, colluduntque cum philosophis, tamen hos quoque nostrae factionis esse, cum alia multa, tum illud in primis arguit, quod praeter alias nugas, tam accurate, tam multa de iocandi ratione conscripserunt. Atque adeo stultitiam ipsam inter facetiarum species numerat, quisquis is fuit, qui ad Herennium dicendi artem scripsit: Quodque apud Quintilianum, huius ordinis longe principem, caput est de risu, vel Iliade prolixius: tantumque stultitiae tribuunt, ut saepenumero quod nullis argumentis dilui possit, risu tamen eludatur. Nisi et si quis hoc arbitretur ad Stultitiam non pertinere, ridiculis dictis excitare cachinnos, idque arte. Huius farinae sunt et isti, qui libris edendis famam immortalem aucupantur. Hi cum omnes mihi plurimum debent, tum praecipue qui meras nugas chartis illinunt. Nam qui erudite ad paucorum doctorum iudicium scribunt, quique nec Persium, nec Laelium iudicem recusant, mihi quidem miserandi magis, quam beati videntur, ut qui sese perpetuo torqueant: addunt, mutant, adimunt, reponunt, repetunt, recudunt, ostendunt, nonum in annum premunt, nec umquam sibi satisfaciunt, ac futile praemium, nempe laudem, eamque perpaucorum, tanti emunt, tot vigiliis, somnique, rerum omnium dulcissimi, tanta iactura, tot sudoribus, tot crucibus. Adde nunc valetudinis dispendium, formae perniciem, lippitudinem, aut etiam caecitatem, paupertatem, invidiam, voluptatum abstinentiam, senectutem praeproperam, mortem praematuram, et si qua sunt alia eiusmodi. Tantis malis sapiens ille redimendum existimat, ut ab uno aut altero lippo probetur. At meus ille scriptor, quanto delirat felicius, dum nulla lucubratione, verum utcumque visum est animo, quidquid in calamum incidit, vel somnia sua, statim litteris prodit, levi dumtaxat chartarum iactura, non ignarus futurum, ut quo nugaciores nugas scripserit, hoc a pluribus, id est, stultis et indoctis omnibus probetur. Quid enim est negotii, treis illos doctos, si tamen ea legerint, contemnere? Aut quid valebit, tam paucorum sapientum calculus, in tam immensa reclamantium turba? sed magis etiam sapiunt, qui aliena pro suis edunt, et alieno magnoque partam labore gloriam, verbis in se transmovent, hoc videlicet freti, quod arbitrentur futurum, ut etiam si maxime coarguantur plagii, tamen aliquanti temporis usuram sint interim lucrifacturi. Videre est operae pretium, quam hi sibi placent, cum vulgo laudantur, cum digito ostenduntur in turba, houtos estin ho deinos ekeinos cum apud bibliopolas prostant, cum in omnium paginarum frontibus leguntur tria nomina, praesertim peregrina, ac magicis illis similia. Quae, per Deum immortalem, quid aliud sunt quam nomina? Deinde quam a paucis cognoscenda, si mundi vastitatem respicias: tum a quanto paucioribus laudanda, ut sunt etiam indoctorum diversa palata. Quid quod ea ipsa nomina non raro confinguntur, aut e priscorum libris adoptantur? Cum alius sese Telemachum, alius Stelenum aut Laertem, hic Polycratem, ille Thrasymachum sese nominari gaudet: ut nihil iam referat, etiam si chamaeleonti aut cucurbitae, sive quemadmodum solent philosophi loqui, alpha aut beta librum inscribas. Illud autem lepidissimum, cum mutuis epistolis, carminibus, encomiis sese vicissim laudant, stulti stultos, indoctos indocti. Hic illius suffragio discedit Alceus, ille huius Callimachus: ile huic est M. Tullio superior, hic illi Platone doctior. Nonnumquam etiam antagonistam quaerunt, cuius aemulatione famam augeant. Hic scinditur incertum studia in contraria vulgus, donec uterque dux re bene gesta victor discedit, uterque triumphum agit. Rident haec sapientes, ut, veluti sunt, stultissima. Quis enim negat? Sed interim meo beneficio suavem vitam agunt, ne cum Scipionibus quidem suos triumphos commutari. Quamquam docti quoque interim dum haec magna cum animi voluptate rident, et aliena fruuntur insania, non paulum mihi debent et ipsi, quod inficari possunt, nisi sint omnium ingratissimi.
[E] Inter eruditos iurisconsulti sibi vel primum vindicant locum, neque quisquam sibi placet, dum Sisyphi saxum assidue volvunt, ac sexcentas leges eodem spiritu contexunt, nihil refert quam ad rem pertinentes, dumque glossematis glossemata, opiniones opinionibus cumulantes, efficiunt ut studium illud omnium difficillimum esse videatur. Quidquid enim laboriosum, idem protinus et praeclarum existimant. Adiungamus his dialecticos ac sophistas, hominum genus quovis aere Dodonaeo loquacius, ut quorum unusquivis cum vicenis delectis muleribus garrulitate decertare possit, feliciores tamen futuri, si tantum linguaces essent, non etiam rixosi, adeo ut de lana caprina pertinacissime digladientur, et nimium altercando plerumque veritatem amittant. Hos tamen sua Philautia beatos reddit, dum tribus instructi syllogismis incunctanter audent quavis de re, cum quovis manum conserere. Caeterum pertinacia reddit invictos, etiamsi Stentorem opponas.
[E] Sub hos prodeunt philosophi, barba pollioque verendi, qui se solos sapere praedicant, reliquos omnes mortales, umbras volitare. Quam vero suaviter delirant, cum innumerabiles aedificant mundos, dum solem, dum lunam, stellas, orbes, tamquam pollice filove metiuntur, dum fulminum, ventorum, eclipsium ac caeterarum inexplicabilium rerum causas reddunt, nihil usquam haesitantes, perinde quasi naturae rerum architectrici fuerint a secretis, quasive e Deorum consilio nobis advenerint: quos interim Natura cum suis coniecturis, magnifice ridet. Nam nihil apud illos esse comperti, vel illud satis magnum est argumentum, quod singulis de rebus inexplicabilis inter ipsos est digladiatio. Ii cum nihil omnino sciant, tamen omnia se scire profitentur: cumque se ipsos ignorent, neque fossam aliquoties, aut saxum obvium videant, vel quia lippiunt plerique, vel quia peregrinantur animi, tamen ideas, universalia, formas separatas, primas materias, quidditates, ecceitates videre se praedicant, res adeo tenues, ut neque Lynceus, opinor, possit perspicere. Ium vero praecipue profanum vulgus adspernantur, quoties, triquetris, et tetragonis, circulis, atque huiusmodi picturis mathematicis, aliis super alias inductis, et in labyrinthi speciem confusis, praeterea litteris velut in acie dispositis, ac subinde alio atque alio repetitis ordine, tenebras offundunt imperitioribus. Neque desunt ex hoc genere qui futura quoque praedicant consultis astris, ac miracula plusquam magica polliceantur, et inveniunt homines fortunati, qui haec quoque credant.
[E] Porro Theologos silentio transire fortasse praestiterit, kai tautên kamarinan ou kinein, nec hanc anagyrim tangere, utpote genus hominum mire superciliosum atque irritabile, ne forte turmatim sexcentis conclusionibus adoriantur, et ad palinodiam adigant, quod si recusem, protinus haereticam clamitent. Nam illico solent hoc terrere fulmine, si cui sunt parum propitii. Sane quamquam non alii sunt, qui minus libenter agnoscant meam in se beneficentiam, tamen hi quoque non mediocribus nominibus obstricti sunt, dum felices sua Philautia perinde quasi ipsi tertium incolant coelum, ita reliquos mortaleis omneis ut humi reptantes pecudes, e sublimi despiciunt, ac prope commiserantur, dum tanto magistralium definitionum, conclusionum, corollariorum, propositionum explicitarum et implicitarum agmine septi sunt, tot exuberant krêsphugetois, ut nec Vulcaniis vinculis sic possint irretiri, quin elabantur distinctionibus, quibus nodos omneis adeo facile secant, ut non Tenedia bipennis melius, tot nuper excogitatis vocabulis, ac prodigiosis vocibus scatent. Praeterea dum arcana mysteria suo explicant arbitratu, qua ratione conditus ac digestus sit mundus. Per quos canales labes illa peccati in posteritatem derivata sit: quibus modis, qua mensura, quantulo tempore in Virginis utero sit absolutus Christus, quemadmodum in synaxi accidentia subsistant sine domicilio. Sed haec protrita. Illa demum magnis et illuminatis, ut vocant, Theologis digna putant, ad haec si quando incidunt, expergiscunter. Num quod instans in generatione divina? Num plures in Christo filiationes? Num possibilis propositio, Pater Deus odit filium? Num Deus potuerit suppositare mulierem, num Diabolum, num asinum, num cucurbitam, num silicem? Tum quemadmodum cucurbita fuerit concionatura, editura miracula, figenda cruci? Et, quid consecrasset Petrus, si consecrasset eo tempore, quo corpus Christi pendebat in cruce? Et, num eodem tempore Christus homo dici potuerit: et num post resurrectionem edere aut bibere fas sit futurum, iam nunc famem sitimque praecaventes. Sunt innumerabiles leptoleschiai, his quoque multo subtiliores, de instantibus, de notionibus, de relationibus, de formalitatibus, de quidditatibus, ecceitatibus, quas nemo possit oculis adsequi, nisi tam Lynceus, ut ea quoque per altissimas tenebras videat, quae nusquam sunt. Adde nunc his gnômas, illas, adeo paradoxous ut illa Stoicorum oracula, quae paradoxa vocant, crassissima prae his videantur, et circumforanea, velut levius esse crimen, homines mille iugulare, quam semel in die Dominico calceum pauperi consuere. Et potius esse committendum, ut universus orbis pereat una cum victu et vestitu, quod aiunt, suo, quam unicum quantumlibet leve mendaciolum dicere. Iam has subtilissimas subtilitates subtiliores etiam reddunt tot scholasticorum viae, ut citius e labyrinthis temet explices, quam ex involucris Realium, Nominalium, Thomistarum, Albertistarum, Occanistarum, Scotistarum, et nondum omneis dixi, sed praecipuas dumtaxat. In quibus omnibus tantum est eruditionis, tantum difficultatis, ut existimem ipsis Apostolis alio spiritu opus fore, si cogantur hisce de rebus cum hoc novo Theologorum genere conserere manus. Paulus fidem praestare potuit, at idem cum ait: 'Fides est substantia rerum sperandarum, argumentum non apparentium': parum magistraliter definivit. Idem ut caritatem optime praestitit, ita parum dialectice vel dividit, vel finit, in priore ad Corinthios epistola, cap. 13. Ac pie quidem illi consecrabant synaxim, et tamen rogati de termino a quo, et termino ad quem: de transsubstantiatione: de modo quo corpus idem sit in diversis locis: de differentia, qua corpus Christi est in coelo, qua fuit in cruce, qua in sacramento synaxeos: quo puncto fiat transsubstantiatio, cum oratio per quam ea fit, ut quantitas discreta sit in fluxu, non pari, sicut opinor, respondissent acumine, quo Scotidae disserunt haec, ac definiunt. Noverant illi Iesu matrem, sed quis eorum tam philosophice demonstravit, quomodo fuerit ab Adae macula, praeservata, quam nostri Theologi? Petrus accepit claves, et accepit ab eo, qui non committat indigno, et tamen an intellexerit, nescio, certe nusquam attigit subtilitatem, quomodo scientiae clavem habeat is quoque, qui scientiam non habeat. Baptizabant illi passim, et tamen nusquam docuerunt, quae sit causa formalis, materialis, efficiens, et finalis baptismi, nec characteris delebilis, et indelebilis apud hos ulla mentio. Adorabant quidem illi, sed in Spiritu, nihil aliud sequentes, quam illud Evangelicum, spiritus est Deus, et eos qui adorant eum in spiritu et veritate oportet adorare. Verum haud apparet eis tum fuisse revelatum, una eademque adoratione adorandam imagunculam carbone delineatam in pariete, ut Christum ipsum, si modo duobus sit porrectis digitis, intonsa coma et in umbone qui adhaeret occipitio, treis habeat notas. Quis enim haec percipiat, nisi triginta sex annos totos in physicis, et ultramundanis Aristotelis et Scoticis contriverit? Idemtidem inculcant Apostoli gratiam, at iidem nusquam distinguunt, quid intersit inter gratiam gratis datam, et gratiam gratificantem. Hortantur ad bona opera, nec discernunt opus, opus operans et opus operatum. Passim inculcant caritatem, nec secernunt infusam ab acquisita, nec explicant, accidens ne sit, an substantia, creata res an increata. Detestantur peccatum, at, emoriar, si potuerunt scientifice definire, quid sit illud, quod peccatum vocamus, nisi forte Scotistarum spiritu fuerunt edocti. Nec enim adduci possum, ut credam Paulum, e cuius unius eruditione licet omneis aestimare, toties, damnaturum fuisse quaestiones, disceptationes, genealogias, et ut ipse vocat, logomachias, si eas percalluisset argutias, praesertim cum omnes illius temporis contentiones, pugnaeque rusticanae fuerint, et crassae, si cum magistrorum nostrorum plus quam Chrysippeis subtilitatibus conferantur. Quamquam homines modestissimi, si quid forte scriptum sit ab Apostolis indolatius parumque magistraliter, non damnant quidem, sed commode interpretantur. Hoc videlicet honoris, partim antiquitati, partim Apostolico nomini deferentes. Et, hercle, parum aequum erat, res tantas ab illis requirere, de quibus ex praeceptore suo, ne verbum quidem umquam audissent. Idem si eveniat in Chrysostomo, Basilio, Hieronymo, tum sat habent adscribere: 'Non tenetur'. Et illi quidem confutarunt Ethnicos Philosophos ac Iudaeos, suapte natura pertinacissimos, sed vita magis ac miraculis quam syllogismis, tum eos quorum nemo fuerit idoneus, vel unicum Scoti Quodlibetum ingenio consequi. Nunc quis Ethnicus, quis Haereticus non continuo cedat tot tenuissimis subtilitatibus, nisi tam crassus, ut non adsequatur, aut tam impudens ut exsibilet, aut iisdem instructus laqueis, ut iam par sit pugna, perinde quasi magum cum mago committas, aut si gladio fortunato pugnet aliquis cum eo, cui gladius sit fortunatus: tum enim nihil aliud quam tela Penelopes retexeretur. Ac meo quidem iudicio saperent Christiani, si pro pinguibus istis militum cohortibus, per quas iam olim ancipiti Marte belligerantur, clamosissimos Scotistas, et pertinacissimos Occanistas, et invictos Albertistas una cum tota Sophistarum manu, mitterent in Turcas et Saracenos: spectarent, opinor, et conflictum omnium lepidissimum, et victoriam non ante visam. Quis enim usque adeo frigidus, quem istorum non inflamment acumina? quis tam stupidus, ut tales non excitent aculei? Quis tam oculatus, ut haec illi non maximas offundant tenebras? Verum haec omnia videor vobis propemodum ioco dicere. Nec mirum sane, cum sint et inter ipsos Theologos melioribus instituti litteris, qui ad has frivolas, ut putant, Theologorum argutias nauseent. Sunt qui velut sacrilegii genus exsecrentur, summamque ducant impietatem, de rebus tam arcanis et adorandis magis quam explicandis, tam illoto ore loqui, tam profanis Ethnicorum argutiis disputare, tam arroganter definire, ac divinae Theologiae maiestatem tam frigidis, imo sordidis verbis simul et sententiis conspurcare. At interim ipsi felicissime sibi placent, imo plaudunt, adeo ut his suavissimis naeniis, nocte dieque occupatis, ne tantulum quidem otii supersit ut Euangelium, aut Paulinas Epistolas vel semel liceat evolvere. Atque interim dum haec nugantur in scholis, existimant sese universam Ecclesiam, alioqui ruituram, non aliter syllogismorum fulcire tibicinibus, quam Atlas coelum humeris sustinet apud poetas. Iam illud quantae felicitatis esse putatis, dum arcanas litteras, perinde quasi cereae sint, pro libidine formant ac reformant, dum conclusiones suas, quibus iam aliquot Scholastici subscripserunt, plus quam Solonis leges videri postulant, et vel pontificiis decretis anteponendas, dumque veluti censores orbis ad palinodiam trahunt, si quid usquam cum explicitis et implicitis illorum conclusionibus, non ad amussim quadrarit, ac non secus atque ex oraculo pronunciant: 'Haec propositio scandalosa est: haec parum reverentialis: haec haeresim olet: haec male tinnit': ut iam nec Baptismus, nec Euangelium, nec Paulus aut Petrus, nec sanctus Hieronvmus aut Augustinus, imo nec ipse Thomas aristotelikôtatos Christianum efficiat, nisi Baccalauriorum calculus accesserit, tanta est in iudicando subtilitas. Quis enim sensurus erat eum Christianum non esse, qui diceret has duas orationes, 'matula putes', et 'matula putet', item 'ollae fervere', et 'ollam fervere', pariter esse congruas, nisi sapientes illi docuissent? Quis tantis errorum tenebris liberasset Ecclesiam, quos ne lecturus quidem umquam quisquam fuerat, nisi magnis sigillis isti prodidissent? Verum, an non felicissimi dum haec agunt? Praeterea dum inferorum res omneis sic examussim depingunt, tamquam in ea republica complureis annos sint versati? Praeterea dum pro arbitrio novos orbes fabricantur, addito denique latissimo illo, pulcerrimoque: ne scilicet deesset ubi felices animae commode vel spatiari, vel convivium agitare, vel etiam pila ludere possent. His atque id genus bis mille nugis horum capita adeo distenta differtaque sunt, ut arbitrer nec Iovis cerebrum aeque gravidum fuisse, cum ille Palladem parturiens, Vulcani securim imploraret. Quare nolite mirari, si videtis caput illorum tot fasciis tam diligenter obvinctum in publicis disputationibus, alioquin enim plane dissilirent. Illud ipsa quoque nonnumquam ridere soleo, cum ita demum maxima sibi videntur Theologi, si quam maxime barbare spurceque loquantur, cumque adeo balbutiunt, ut a nemine nisi balbo possint intelligi, acumen appellant, quod vulgus non adsequatur. Negant enim e dignitate Sacrarum Litterarum esse, si grammaticorum legibus parere cogantur. Mira vero maiestas theologorum, si solis illis fas est mendose loqui, quamquam hoc ipsum habent cum multis cerdonibus commune. Postremo iam Diis proximos sese ducunt, quoties quasi religiose Magistri Nostri salutantur, in quo quidem nomine, tale quiddam subesse putant, quale est apud Iudaeos tetragrammaton. Itaque nefas aiunt esse Magister Noster secus quam maiusculis scribere litteris. Quid si quis praepostere, Noster Magister dixerit, is semel omnem Theologici nominis perverterit maiestatem.
[E] Ad horum felicitatem proxime accedunt ii, qui se vulgo Religiosos ac Monachos appellant utroque falsissimo cognomine, cum et bona pars istorum longissime absit a Religione, et nulli magis omnibus locis sint obvii. Iis non video quid possit esse miserius, nisi ego multis modis succurrerem. Etenim cum hoc hominum genus omnes sic exsecrentur, ut fortuitum etiam occursum ominosum esse persuasum sit, tamen ipsi sibi magnifice blandiuntur. Primum summam existimant pietatem, si usque adeo nihil attigerint litterarum, ut ne legere quidem possint. Deinde cum Psalmos suos, numeratos quidem illos, at non intellectos, asininis vocibus in templis derudunt, tum vero se putant Divorum aures multa voluptate demulcere. Et sunt ex his nonnulli, qui sordes ac mendicitatem magno vendunt, proque foribus magno mugitu panem efflagitant, imo in nullis diversoriis, vehiculis, navibus non obturbant, non mediocri profecto reliquorum mendicorum iactura. Atque ad eum modum homines suavissimi, sordibus, inscitia, rusticitate, impudentia, Apostolos, ut aiunt, nobis referunt. Quid autem iucundius, quam quod omnia faciunt ex praescripto, quasi Mathematicis utentes rationibus, quas praeterire piaculum sit. Quot nodos habeat calceus, quo colore cingula, vestis quot discriminibus varieganda, qua materia, quotque culmis latum cingulum, qua specie, et quot modiorum capax cucullus, quot digitis latum capillitium, quot dormiendum horas. Atque haec quidem aequalitas in tanta corporum et ingeniorum varietate, quam sit inaequalis, quis non perspicit? Et tamen his nugis, non alios modo per se nauci faciunt, verum invicem alii alios contemnunt, atque homines apostolicam caritatem professi, ob aliter cinctam vestem, ob colorem paulo fusciorem, omnia miris tragoediis miscent. Ex his videas quosdam adeo rigide religiosos, ut summa veste, non nisi Cilicina utantur, intima Milesia, alios contra, qui superne linei sint, intime lanei. Rursum alios qui pecuniae contactum ceu aconitum horreant, nec a vino interim, nec a mulierum contactu temperantes. Denique mirum omnibus studium, ne quid in ratione vitae conveniat. Nec illud studio est, ut Christo similes sint, sed ut interse dissimiles. Porro magna felicitatis pars est in cognomentis, dum hi Funigeros appellari se gaudent, et inter hos, alii Coletas, alii Minores, alii Minimos, alii Bullistas. Rursum hi Benedictinos, illi Bernardinos: hi Brigidenses, illi Augustinenses: hi Guilhelmitas, illi Iacobitas, quasi vero parum sit, dici Christianos. Horum magna pars in tantum suis nititur cerimoniis, et hominum traditiunculis, ut putet unum coelum parum dignum esse tantis praemium, haud cogitantes futurum, ut Christus contemtis his omnibus, suum illud sit exacturus praeceptum, nempe caritatis. Alius ostentabit aqualiculum, omni piscium genere distentum. Alius Psalmorum centum effundet modios. Alius ieiuniorum myriadas adnumerabit, et toties unico prandio pene disruptam imputabit alvum. Alius tantum cerimoniarum acervum proferet, quantum vix septem onerariis navibus vehi possit. Alius gloriabitur sexaginta annos numquam attactam pecuniam, nisi digitis duplici chirotheca munitis. Alius cucullam ingeret adeo sordidam et crassam, ut nullus nauta suo dignetur corpore. Commemorabit alius se plus quam undecim lustris spongiae vitam egisse, semper eidem affixum loco: Alius raucam assiduo cantu vocem adducet: Alius lethargum solitudine contractum: alius linguam iugi silentio torpentem. At Christus interpellatis, numquam alioqui finiendis gloriis, undenam hoc, inquiet, novum Iudaeorum genus? Unicam ego legem vere meam agnosco, de qua sola nihil audio. Et olim palam nulloque parabolarum utens involucro, paternam haereditatem pollicitus sum, non cucullis, preculis, aut inediis, sed caritatis officiis. Nec eos agnosco, qui sua facta nimis agnoscunt, isti qui me quoque sanctiores videri volunt, Abraxasiorum coelos, si libet, occupent, aut ab his sibi novum exstrui coelum iubeant, quorum traditiunculas meis praeceptis anteposuerunt. Cum haec audient, et videbunt nautas et aurigas sibi praeferri, quibus, putatis, vultibus sese mutuo contuebuntur? Sed interim spe sua felices sunt, non absque meo beneficio. Atque hos quidem, quamquam a republica semotos, nemo tamen audet contemnere, praecipue mendicantes, propterea quod omnia omnium arcana teneant, ex confessionibus, quas vocant. Quae tamen prodere nefas habent, nisi si quando poti, fabulis amoenioribus delectare se volunt, sed coniecturis modo rem indicant, tacitis interim nominibus. Quod si quis hos crabrones irritarit, tum in popularibus concionibus probe ulciscuntur sese, et obliquis dictis hostem notant, adeo tecte, ut nemo non intelligat, nisi qui nihil intelligit. Nec prius oblatrandi finem faciunt, quam in os offam obieceris. Age vero quem tu mihi comoedum, quem circulatorem spectare malis, quam istos in concionibus suis rhetoricantes omnino ridicule, sed tamen suavissime imitantes ea quae rhetores de dicendi ratione tradiderunt? Deum immortalem ! ut gesticulantur, ut apte commutant vocem, ut cantillant, ut iactant sese, ut subinde alios vultus induunt, ut omnia clamoribus miscent. Atque hanc orandi artem ceu rem arcanam fraterculus fraterculo, per manus tradit: eam tametsi mihi non est fas scire, tamen utcumque coniecturis sequar. Primo loco invocant, id quod a poetis mutuo sumserunt: deinde dicturi de caritate, a Nilo Aegypti fluvio sumunt exordium, aut crucis mysterium enarraturi, a Babylonio dracone Bel feliciter auspicantur: aut de ieiunio disputaturi, a duodecim zodiaci signis principium faciunt, aut de fide verba facturi, diu de quadratura circuli praeloquuntur. Audivi ipsa quemdam eximie stultum, erravi, doctum volebam dicere, qui in concione celeberrima, divinae Triadis mysterium explicaturus, quo et doctrinam suam non vulgarem ostentaret, et Theologicis satisfaceret auribus, nova prorsus ingressus est via, nimirum a litteris, syllabis, et oratione, tum a concordia nominis et verbi, adiectivi nominis et substantivi, mirantibus iam plerisque, ac nonnullis Horatianum illud apud se mussitantibus: 'Quorsum haec tam putida tendunt?' Tandem huc rem deduxit, ut in Grammaticorum rudimentis sic expressum ostenderet totius Triadis simulacrum, ut nemo Mathematicorum in pulvere posset evidentius depingere. Atque in hac oratione theologôtatos ille totos octo menses ita desudarat, ut hodie quoque magis caecutiat quam talpae, nimirum, tota luminum acie ad ingenii cuspidem avocata. Verum haud poenitet hominem caecitatis, ac parvo quoque putat emptam eam gloriam. Auditus est a nobis alius quidam octogenarius, adeo Theologus, ut in hoc Scotum ipsum renatum putes. Is explicaturus mysterium nominis Iesu, mira subtilitate demonstravit in ipsis litteris latere, quidquid de illo dici possit. Etenim quod tribus dumtaxat inflectitur casibus, id manifestum esse simulacrum divini ternionis. Deinde quod prima vox Iesus, desinat in s, secunda Iesum in m, tertia Iesu in u, in hoc arrêton subesse mysterium: nempe tribus litterulis indicantibus eum esse summum, medium, et ultimum. Restabat mysterium his quoque retrusius, Mathematica ratione. Iesus sic in duas aequales diffidit portiones, ut scilicet pentemimeres in medio resideret. Deinde docuit eam litteram apud Hebraeos esse quam illi Syn appellent: porro syn Scotorum, opinor, lingua, peccatum sonat: atque hinc palam declarari, Iesum esse qui peccata tolleret mundi. Hoc tam novum exordium sic inhiantes admirati sunt omnes, praecipue Theologi, ut parum abfuerit, quin illis acciderit, quod olim Niobae, cum mihi propemodum evenerit, quod ficulno illi Priapo, qui magno suo malo, Canidiae Saganaeque nocturna sacra spectavit. Nec iniuria profecto: nam quando similem ephodon, commentus est Demosthenes ille graius, aut Cicero Latinus? Illis vitiosum habebatur proemium, quod a re foret alienius: quasi vero non ad istum modum exordiantur et subulci, natura videlicet magistra. At hi docti praeambulum suum, sic enim vocant, ita demum eximie Rhetoricum fore ducunt, si nusquam quidquam habeat cum reliquo argumento confine, ut auditor interim admirans, illud secum murmuret, quo nunc se proripit ille? Tertio loco ceu narrationis vice nonnihil ex Euangelio, sed cursim ac velut obiter interpretantur, cum id solum fuerit agendum. Quarto loco iam nova sumpta persona, quaestionem movent theologalem, aliquoties oute gês, oute ouranou haptomenên, atque id quoque ad artem arbitrantur pertinere. Hic demum Theologicum attollunt supercilium, Doctores solennes, Doctores subtiles, Doctores subtilissimos, Doctores seraphicos, Doctores sanctos, Doctores irrefragabiles, magnifica nomina auribus inculcantes. Tum syllogismos maiores, minores, conclusiones, corollaria, suppositiones frigidissimas ac plus quam scholasticas nugas apud imperitum vulgus iactitant. Superest iam quintus actus, in quo summum artificem praestare convenit. Hic mihi stultam aliquam et indoctam fabulam, ex speculo, opinor, historiali, aut gestis Romanorum in medium adferunt, et eamdem interpretantur allegorice, tropologice, et anagogice. Atque ad hunc quidem modum Chimaeram suam absolvunt, qualem nec Horatius umquam adsequi potuit cum scriberet: 'Humano capiti' etc. Sed audierunt a nescio, quibus, ingressum orationis sedatum, minimeque clamosum esse oportere. Itaque principio sic exordiuntur, ut nec ipsi vocem propriam exaudiant, quasi referat dici, quod nullus intelligat. Audierunt nonnumquam ad concitandos adfectus, exclamationibus utendem esse. Proinde presse alioqui loquentes, subinde repente vocem tollunt furioso plane clamore, etiam cum nihil opus. Iures elleboro homini opus esse, perinde quasi nihil referat, ut clames. Praeterea quoniam audierunt oportere sermonem in progressu fervescere, in singulis partibus principiis utcumque sane recitatis, mox mira vocis contentione utuntur, etiam si res sit frigidissima, atque ita denique desinunt, ut spiritu defectos credas. Postremo didicerunt, apud rhetores de risu fieri mentionem, eoque student et ipsi iocos quosdam adspergere, ê philê Aphroditê, quam plenos gratiarum, quamque in loco, ut plane onon pros tên luran esse dicas. Mordent quoque nonnumquam, sed ita, ut titillent magis quam vulnerent. Nec umquam verius adulantur, quam cum maxime parrêsiazesthai videri student. Denique tota actio est eiusmodi, ut iures eos a fori circulatoribus didicisse a quibus longe vincuntur. Quamquam utrique alteris usque adeo sunt similes, ut nemo dubitet, quin aut hi ab illis, aut illi ab his rhetoricen suam didicerint. Et tamen inveniunt hi quoque, mea nimirum opera, qui cum hos audiunt, Demosthenes meros, ac Cicerones audire se putant. Quod genus sunt praecipue mercatores ac mulierculae: quorum auribus unice placere student, quod illi nonnullam praedae portiunculam de rebus male partis soleant impertiri, si commode fuerint palpati. Illae cum aliis multis de causis huic ordini favent, tum praecipue, quod in horum sinus soleant effundere, si quid in maritos stomachantur. Videtis, opinor, quantopere mihi debeat hoc hominum genus, cum cerimoniolis, et nugis deridiculis, clamoribusque tyrannidem quamdam inter mortales exerceant, et Paulos atque Antonios sese credant.
[E] Verum ego istos histriones tam ingratos beneficiorum meorum dissimulatores, quam improbos simulatores pietatis libenter relinquo. Iamdudum enim iuvat de regibus ac principibus aulicis a quibus simplicissime color, et, ut dignum est, ingenuis, ingenue nonnihil attingere. Qui quidem si vel semiunciam sani cordis haberent, quid esset horum vita tristius aut aeque fugiendum? Neque enim existimabit vel periurio parricidioque parandum imperium, quisquis secum perpenderit, quam ingens onus sustineat humeris, qui vere principem agere velit. Eum quirerum gubernacula susceperit, publicum non privatum negotium gerere, nihil nisi de commodis publicis oportere cogitare: a legibus, quarum ipse et auctor et exactor est, nec latum digitum discedere: officialium omnium et magistratuum integritatem sibi praestandam esse: sese esse unum omnium oculis expositum, qui vel ceu sidus salutare, morum innocentia, maximam rebus humanis salutem possit adferre, vel veluti cometa lethalis summam perniciem invehere. Aliorum vitia neque perinde sentiri, neque tam late manare. Principem eo loco esse, ut si quid vel leviter ab honesto deflexerit, gravis protinus ad quamplurimos homines vitae pestis serpat. Tum quod multa secum adferat principum fortuna, quae soleant a recto deducere, quod genus, delitiae, libertas, adulatio, luxus, hoc acrius enitendum ac sollicitius advigilandum, necubi vel deceptus cesset in officio. Postremo, ut insidias, odia, caeteraque vel pericula, vel metus omittam capiti imminere verum illum regem, qui paulo post ab eo sit etiam de minimo quoque commisso rationem exacturus, idque tanto severius, quanto praestantius gessit imperium. Haec, inquam, atque huiusmodi plurima, si princeps secum perpenderet, perpenderet autem si saperet, is nec somnum, nec cibum, opinor, iucunde capere posset. At nunc, meo munere, has omneis curas Diis permittunt, ipsi sese molliter curant, neque quemquam ad aurem admittunt, nisi qui iucunda loqui norit, ne quid animo sollicitudinis oboriatur. Se probe principis partes omneis implesse credunt, si venentur assidue, si bellos alant caballos, si suo commodo vendiderint magistratus ac praefecturas, si quotidie novae rationes excogitentur, quibus civium opes attenuent et in suum converrant fiscum. Verum id apposite, repertis titulis, ut etiam si sit iniquissimum, aliquam tamen aequitatis speciem prae se ferat. Addunt data opera nonnihil adulationis, quo populares animos, utcumque sibi devinciant. Fingite mihi nunc quales sunt nonnumquam, hominem legum ignarum, publicorum commodorum pene hostem, privatis intentum commoditatibus, addictum voluptatibus, osorem eruditionis, osorem libertatis ac veri, nihil minus quam de reipublicae salute cogitantem, sed omnia sua libidine, suisque utilitatibus metientem. Deinde addite huic torquem auream, omnium virtutum cohaerentium consensum indicantem, tum coronam gemmis insignitam, quae quidem admoneat eum heroicis omnibus virtutibus oportere caeteris antecellere. Praeterea sceptrum, iustitiae et undecumque incorrupti pectoris symbolum. Postremo purpuram eximiae cuiusdam in rempublicam caritatis indicium. Haec gestamina si princeps cum sua vita conferret, equidem futurum arbitror, ut plane pudescat ornatus sui, vereaturque ne quis nasutus interpres, totum hunc tragicum cultum, in risum, iocumque vertat.
[E] Iam quid de proceribus aulicis commemorem? quorum plerisque cum nihil sit addictius, servilius, insulsius, abiectius, tamen omnium rerum primos sese videri volunt. Hac una in re tamen modestissimi, quod contenti, aurum, gemmas, purpuram, reliquaque virtutum ac sapientiae insignia corpore circumferre, rerum ipsarum studium omne concedunt aliis. Hoc abunde felices sibi videntur, quod regem herum vocare liceat, quod tribus verbis salutare didicerint, quod norint civiles titulos subinde inculcare, serenitatem, dominationem, et magnificentiam. Quod egregie perfricuerint faciem, quod festiviter adulentur. Nam hae sunt artes, quae vere nobilem et aulicum deceant. Caeterum si vitae rationem omnem propius inspicias, nimirum meros Phaeacas invenies, sponsos Penelopes , reliquum carmen agnoscitis, quod Echo vobis melius referet quam ego. Dormitur in medios dies, ibi Sacrificulus mercenarius ad lectum paratus, qui propemodum cubantibus adhuc sacrum expedite peragat. Mox ad ientaculum, quo vix peracto, iam interpellat prandium. Sub id alea, laterunculi, sortes, scurrae, moriones, scorta, lusus, inficetiae. Interim una aut altera merenda. Rursum coena, post hanc repotia, non una per Iovem. Atque ad hunc modum, citra ullum vitae taedium elabuntur horae, dies, menses, anni, saecula. Ipsa nonnumquam saginatior abeo, si quando viderim illos megalorrvntas, dum inter Nymphas unaquaeque hoc sibi videtur Diis propior, quo caudam longiorem trahit, dum procerum alius alium cubito protrudit, quo Iovi vicinior esse videatur, dum sibi quisque hoc magis placet, quo graviorem catenam collo baiulat, ut robur etiam, non opes tantum ostentent.
[E] Ac principum quidem institutum, Summi Pontifices, Cardinales, et Episcopi, iam pridem gnaviter aemulantur, ac prope superant. Porro si quis perpendat, quid linea vestis admoneat, niveo candore insignis, nempe vitam undiquaque inculpatam. Quid sibi velit mitra bicornis, utrumque fastigium eodem cohibente nodo, puta Novi pariter et Veteris Instrumenti absolutam scientiam. Quid manus chirothecis communitae, puram et ab omni rerum humanarum contagio immunem sacramentorum administrationem. Quid pedum, nimirum, crediti gregis vigilantissimam curam. Quid praelata crux, videlicet, omnium humanorum affectuum victoriam. Haec, inquam, atque id genus multa, si quis perpendat, nonne tristem ac sollicitam vitam egerit? At nunc belle faciunt, cum sese pascunt. Caeterum ovium curam aut ipsi Christo mandant, aut in Fratres, quos vocant, ac vicarios reiiciunt. Neque vel nominis sui recordantur, quid sonet Episcopi vocabulum, nempe laborem, curam, sollicitudinem. Verum in irretiendis pecuniis, plane Episcopos agunt, oud' alaoskopiê.
[E] Ad eumdem modum Cardinales si cogitent sese in Apostolorum locum successisse, eadem ab ipsis requiri, quae illi praestiterunt. Deinde non dominos esse, sed administratores spiritalium dotium, de quibus omnibus sint paullo post exactissime reddituri rationem. Imo si vel in cultu paulisper philosophentur, atque ita secum cogitent, quid sibi vult hic vestitus candor ? Nonne summam et eximiam vitae innocentiam? Quid interior purpura? Nonne flagrantissimum in Deum amorem? Quid rursus exterior sinuosa capacitate diffluens, ac totam reverendissimi complectens mulam, quamquam una vel camelo contegendo suffecerit? Nonne caritatem latissime sese pandentem ad subveniendum omnibus, hoc est, ad docendum, exhortandum, increpandum, admonendum, componenda bella, resistendum improbis principibus, et vel sanguinem libenter impendendum gregi Christiano, non solum opes. Quamquam quorsum omnino opes, pauperum Apostolorum vicem gerentibus? Haec si perpenderent, inquam, nec eum locum ambirent, et libenter relinquerent, aut certe vitam plane laboriosam, atque sollicitam agerent, cuiusmodi veteres illi vixerunt Apostoli.
[E] Iam Summi Pontifices, qui Christi vices gerunt, si conentur eiusdem vitam aemulari, nempe paupertatem, labores, doctrinam, crucem, vitae contemptum, si vel Papae, id est patris nomen vel Sanctissimi cognomen cogitent, quid erit in terris afflictius? aut quis eum locum omnibus emat facultatibus: emptum, gladio, veneno, omnique vi tueatur? Quantum his abstulerit commoditatum, si semel incessiverit sapientia? Sapientia dixi? Imo vel mica salis illius, cuius meminit Christus. Tantum opum, tantum honorum, tantum ditionis, tantum victoriarum, tot officia, tot dispensationes, tot vectigalia, tot indulgentias, tantum equorum, mulorum, satellitum, tantum voluptatum. Videtis, quantas nundinas, quantam messem, quantum bonorum pelagus paucis sim complexa. In quorum locum inducet vigilias, ieiunia, lacrymas, orationes, conciones, studia, suspiria, milleque id genus miseros labores. Neque vero negligendum, illud futurum, ut tot scriptores, tot copistae, tot notarii, tot advocati, tot promotores, tot secretarii, tot mulotribae, tot equisones, tot mensarii, tot lenones, pene mollius quiddam addideram, sed vereor ne durius sit auribus. In summa, tam ingens hominum turba, quae Romanam sedem onerat, lapsa sum, honorat sentiebam, ad famem adigetur. Inhumanum quidem hoc, et abominandum facinus, at multo magis detestandum, ipsos etiam summos Ecclesiae Principes ac vera mundi lumina, ad peram et baculum revocari. At nunc fere, si quid laboris est, id Petro et Paulo relinquitur, quibus abunde satis est otii. Porro si quid splendoris, aut voluptatis, id sibi sumunt. Atque ita fit, mea quidem opera, ut nullum paene hominum genus vivat mollius, minusque sollicitum, ut qui abunde Christo satisfactum existiment, si mystico ac paene scenico ornatu, cerimoniis, beatitudinum, reverentiarum, sanctitatum titulis, et benedictionibus ac maledictionibus, Episcopos agant. Priscum et obsoletum, nec horum omnino temporum, miracula edere: docere populum, laboriosum: sacras interpretari litteras, scholasticum: orare, otiosum: lacrymas fundere, miserum ac muliebre: egere, sordidum: vinci, turpe, parumque dignum eo, qui vix reges etiam summos, ad pedum beatorum admittit oscula: denique mori, inamabile: tolli in crucem, infame.
Restant sola haec arma ac benedictiones dulces, quarum meminit Paulus, atque harum quidem sunt sane quam benigni, interdictiones, suspensiones, aggravationes, anathematizationes, ultrices picturae, ac fulmen illud terrificum, quo solo nutu mortalium animas vel ultra tartara mittunt. Quod ipsum tamen sanctissimi in Christo patres, et Christi vicarii, in nullos torquent acrius, quam in eos qui instigante Diabolo, patrimonia Petri minuere atque arrodere conantur. Cuius cum haec vox sit in Euangelio: 'Reliquimus omnia, et sequuti sumus te', tamen huius patrimonium appellant agros, oppida, vectigalia, portitoria, ditiones. Pro quibus dum zelo Christi accensi, ferro ignique dimicant, non absque plurimo Christiani sanguinis dispendio, tum demum Ecclesiam Christi sponsam sese credunt apostolice defendere, fortiter profligatis, ut vocant, hostibus. Quasi vero ulli sint hostes Ecclesiae perniciosiores, quam impii pontifices, qui et silentio Christum sinunt abolescere, et quaestuariis legibus alligant et coactis interpretationibus adulterant, et pestilente vita iugulant.
Porro cum Christiana Ecclesia sanguine sit condita, sanguine confirmata, sanguine aucta, nunc perinde quasi Christus perierit, qui more suo tueatur suos, ita ferro rem gerunt. Cumque bellum res sit adeo immanis, ut feras non homines deceat, adeo insana, ut poetae quoque fingant a Furiis immitti, adeo pestilens, ut universam morum luem simul invehat, adeo iniusta, ut a pessimis latronibus optime soleat administrari, adeo impia, ut nihil cohaereat cum Christo, tamen omnibus omissis, hoc tantum agunt. Hic videas etiam decrepitos senes, iuvenilis animi robur praestare, nec offendi sumptibus, nec fatigari laboribus, nec deterreri quidquam si leges, si religionem, si pacem, si res humanas omneis sursum ac deorsum misceant. Neque desunt adulatores eruditi, qui istam manifestariam insaniam, zelum, pietatem, fortitudinem appellent, excogitata via, qua fieri potest, ut quis lethale ferrum stringat, adigatque in fratris sui viscera, manente nihilominus caritate illa summa, quam ex Christi praecepto debet proximo Christianus.
[E] Equidem incerta sum adhuc, utrum his rebus exemplum dederint, an potius hinc sumpserint episcopi quidam Germanorum, qui simplicius, etiam omisso cultu, omissis benedictionibus, aliisque id genus cerimoniis, plane satrapas agunt, adeo ut propemodum ignavum, parumque decorum episcopo putent, alibi, quam in acie, fortem animam Deo reddere. Iam vero vulgus Sacerdotum, nefas esse ducens, a praesulum suorum sanctimonia degenerare, euge, quam militariter pro iure decimarum, ensibus, iaculis, saxis, omnique armorum vi belligerantur: quam hic oculati, si quid ex veterum litteris possint elicere, quo plebeculam territent, et plus quam decimas deberi convincant. At interim non venit in mentem, quam multa passim legantur de officio, quod illi vicissim praestare populo debeant. Nec saltem admonet eos vertex rasus, sacerdotem omnibus huius mundi cupiditatibus liberum esse oportere, neque quidquam nisi coelestia meditari. Sed homines suaves, se suo officio probe perfunctos aiunt, si preculas illas suas, utcumque permurmurarint, quas, mehercule, demiror, si quis Deus vel audiat, vel intelligat, cum ipsi fere nec audiant, nec intelligant, tum cum eas ore perstrepunt. Verum hoc quidem sacerdotibus est cum profanis commune, ut ad emolumenti messem vigilent omnes, neque quisquam ibi leges ignoret. Caeterum si quid sarcinae, id prudenter in alienos humeros reiiciunt, et aliis alii tamquam pilam per manus tradant. Siquidem laici quoque Principes, quemadmodum partes administrandi regni vicariis delegant, et vicarius item vicario tradit, ita pietatis studium omne plebi modestiae causa relinquunt. Plebs in eos reiicit, quos Ecclesiasticos vocant, perinde quasi ipsis cum Ecclesia nihil omnino sit commercii, quasi Baptismi votis nihil prorsus sit actum. Rursum Sacerdotes, qui sese vocant Seculares, quasi mundo initiati non Christo, in regulares onus hoc devolvunt: regulares in monachos: monachi laxiores in arctiores: Omnes simul in mendicantes: mendicantes in Carthusienses, apud quos solos sepulta latet pietas, et adeo latet ut vix umquam liceat conspicere. Itidem pontifices in messe pecuniaria diligentissimi, labores illos nimium apostolicos, in episcopos relegant, episcopi in pastores, pastores in vicarios, vicarii in fratres mendicantes. Hi rursum in eos retrudunt, a quibus ovium lana tondetur. Verum non est huius instituti, pontificum ac sacerdotum vitam excutere, ne cui videar satyram texere, non encomium recitare, neve quis existimet bonos principes a me taxari, dum malos laudo. Sed haec ideo paucis attigi, quo palam fieret, nullum esse mortalem, qui suaviter vivere possit, nisi meis initiatus sit sacris, meque propitiam habeat.
[E] Nam id quo pacto fieri queat, cum ipsa etiam Rhamnusia, rerum humanarum fortunatrix, mecum adeo consentiat, ut sapientibus istis semper fuerit inimicissima? contra stultis etiam dormientibus omnia commoda adduxerit?
Agnoscitis Timotheum illum, cui hinc etiam cognomen, et proverbium ê heudontos kurtos hairei. Rursum aliud glaux hiptatai. Contra in sapientes quadrant illa, en tetradi gennêthentes, et equum habet Seianum, et aurum Tolosanum. Sed desino paroimiazesthai, ne videar Erasmi mei commentaria suppilasse. Ergo ut ad rem: Amat Fortuna parum cordatos, amat audaciores, et quibus illud placet pas erriphthô kubos. At Sapientia timidulos reddit, ideoque vulgo videtis sapientibus istis cum paupertate, cum fame, cum fumo rem esse, neglectos, inglorios, invisos vivere: Stultos affluere nummis, admoveri reipublicae gubernaculis, breviter, florere modis omnibus. Etenim si quis beatum existimet principibus placuisse viris, et inter meos illos, ac gemmeos Deos versari, quid inutilius sapientia, imo quid apud hoc hominum genus damnatius? Si divitiae parandae sunt, quid tandem lucri facturus est negotiator, si sapientiam secutus: periurio offendetur, si in mendacio deprehensus erubescet, si anxios illos de furtis, atque usuris sapientum scrupulos, vel tantuli faciet. Porro si quis honores, atque opes ambiat Ecclesiasticas, ad eas vel asinus, vel bubalus citius penetrabit quam sapiens. Si voluptate ducaris, puellae, maxima huius fabulae pars, stultis toto pectore sunt addictae, sapientem haud secus ac scorpium horrent fugiuntque. Denique quicumque paulo festivius ac laetius vivere parant, sapientem inprimis excludunt, ac quodvis animal potius admittunt. Breviter quoquo te vertas, apud pontifices, principes, iudices, magistratus, amicos, hostes, maximos, minimos, omnia praesentibus nummis parantur: quos uti contemnit sapiens, ita illum sedulo fugere consueverunt. Sed cum laudum mearum nullus sit modus, neque finis, tamen oratio aliquando finem habeat, necesse est. Itaque desinam dicere, sed si prius ostendero paucis, non deesse magnos auctores, qui me litteris suis pariter ac factis illustrarint, ne cui forte stulte mihi soli videar placere, neve legulei calumnientur, me nihil allegare. Ad ipsorum igitur exemplum allegabimus, hoc est, ouden pros epos.
[E] Principio illud omnibus vel notissimo proverbio persuasum est: Ubi res abest, ibi simulationem esse optimam. Eoque recte statim traditur hic versus pueris: Stultitiam simulare loco, sapientia summa est. Vos iam ipsi coniicite, quam ingens sit bonum Stultitia, cuius etiam fallax umbra, et imitatio sola tantum laudis meretur a doctis. Sed multo candidius pinguis ille ac nitidus Epicuri de grege porcus miscere stultitiam consiliis iubet, tametsi brevem non admodum scite addidit. Item alibi: 'Dulce est desipere in loco.' Rursum alio in loco, mavult 'delirus, inersque videri, quam sapere, et ringi.' Iam apud Homerum Telemachus, quem modis omnibus laudat poeta subinde nêpios appellatur, atque eodem praenomine tamquam felicis ominis libenter pueros et adolescentes vocare solent tragici. Quid autem sacrum Iliadis carmen, nisi stultorum regum et populorum continet iras? Porro quam absoluta laus illa Ciceronis? Stultorum sunt plena omnia. Quis enim ignorat, unumquodque bonum, quo latius patet, hoc esse praestantius?
[E] Atqui fortassis apud Christianos horum levis est auctoritas. Proinde Sacrarum quoque Litterarum testimoniis, si videtur, laudes nostras fulciamus, sive ut docti solent, fundemus, principio veniam a Theologis praefatae, ut nobis fas esse velint, deinde quoniam arduam rem aggredimur, et fortassis improbum fuerit denuo Musas ex Helicone, ad tantum itineris revocare, praesertim cum res sit alienior, fortasse magis conveniet optare, ut interim dum Theologum ago, perque has spinas ingredior, Scoti anima paulisper ex sua Sorbona in meum pectus demigret, quovis hystrice atque erinaceo spinosior, moxque remigret quo lubebit, vel es korakas. Utinam et vultum alium liceat sumere, et ornatus adsit Theologicus. Verum illud interim vereor, ne quis me furti ream agat, quasi clanculum Magistrorum Nostrorum scrinia compilaverim, quae tantum rei Theologicae teneam. Sed non adeo mirum videri debet, si tam diutina, quae mihi arctissima est, cum Theologis consuetudine, nonnihil arripui, cum ficulnus etiam ille Deus Priapus, nonnullas Graecas voces, legente domino, subnotarit tenueritque. Et gallus Lucianicus longo hominum convictu sermonem humanum expedite calluerit. Sed iam ad rem bonis avibus. Scripsit Ecclesiastes capite primo: Stultorum infinitus est numerus. Cum numerum praedicat infinitum, nonne mortaleis universos complecti videtur, praeter pauculos aliquot, quos, haud scio, an cuiquam videre contigerit? Sed magis ingenue confitetur hoc Ieremias cap. 10. 'Stultus', inquiens, 'factus est omnls homo a sapientia sua.' Soli Deo tribuit sapientiam, universis hominibus stultitiam relinquens. Ac rursum paulo superius: Ne glorietur homo in sapientia sua. Cur non vis hominem in sua sapientia gloriari, optime Ieremia? Nimirum, inquiet, ob id, quia non habet sapientiam. Sed ad Ecclesiasten redeo. Hunc, cum exclamat: 'Vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas,' quid aliud sensisse creditis, nisi, quemadmodum diximus, vitam humanam nihil aliud quam Stultitiae ludicrum esse? nimirum Ciceronianae laudi album addentem calculum, cuius optimo iure celebratur illud, quod modo retulimus: 'stultorum plena sunt omnia'. Rursum sapiens ille Ecclesiasticus, qui dixit: 'Stultus mutatur ut Luna, sapiens permanet ut Sol,' quid aliud innuit, nisi mortale genus omne stultum esse, soli Deo, sapientis nomen competere? Siquidem Lunam humanam naturam interpretantur, Solem omnis luminis fontem, Deum. Huic adstipulatur quod ipse Christus in Euangelio negat, quemquam appellandum bonum, nisi Deum unum. Porro si stultus est, quisquis sapiens non est, et quisquis bonus, idem sapiens, auctoribus Stoicis, nimirum mortales omneis Stultitia complectatur necessum est. Iterum Salomon cap. 15 'Stultitia', inquit, 'gaudium stulto', videlicet, manifeste confitens, sine stultitia nihil in vita suave esse. Eodem pertinet illud quoque: 'Qui apponit scientiam, apponit dolorem, et in multo sensu, multa indignatio.' An non idem palam confitetur egregius ille concionator cap. 7: 'Cor sapientum, ubi tristitia est: et cor stultorum, ubi laetitia'. Eoque non satis habuit sapientiam perdiscere, nisi nostri quoque cognitionem addidisset. Quod si mihi parum habetur fidei, ipsius accipite verba, quae scripsit cap. 1: 'Dedique cor meum, ut scirem prudentiam atque doctrinam, erroresque et stultitiam.' Quo quidem loco illud animadvertendum, ad Stultitiae laudem pertinere, quod eam posteriore posuit loco. Ecclesiastes scripsit, et hunc scitis esse ordinem Ecclesiasticum, ut qui dignitate primus sit, is locum obtineat extremum vel hic certe memor Euangelici praecepti. Sed Stultitiam praestantiorem esse Sapientia, et Ecclesiasticus ille quisquis fuit, liquido testatur cap. 44. cuius mehercle verba non prius proferam, quam eisagôgên meam commoda responsione adiuveritis, ut faciunt apud Platonem hi, qui cum Socrate disputant. Utra magis convenit recondere, quae rara sunt et pretiosa, an quae vulgaria viliaque? Quid tacetis? Etiam si vos dissimuletis, proverbium illud Graecorum pro vobis respondet, tên epi thurais hudrian, quod ne quis impie reiiciat, refert Aristoteles magistrorum nostrorum Deus. An quisquam vestrum tam stultus est, ut gemmas et aurum in via relinquat? non, hercle, opinor. In abditissimis penetralibus, nec id satis, in munitissimorum scriniorum secretissimis angulis ista reponitis, coenum in propatulo relinquitis. Ergo si quod pretiosius est reconditur, quod vilius exponitur, nonne palam est, sapientiam quam vetat abscondi, viliorem esse stultitia quam recondi iubet? Iam ipsius testimonii verba accipite: 'Melior est homo qui abscondit stultitiam suam, quam homo qui abscondit sapientiam suam.' Quid quod animi quoque canordem Divinae litterae stulto tribuunt, cum sapiens interim neminem sui similem putet. Sic enim intelligo, id quod scribit Ecclesiastes, cap. 10. 'Sed et in via stultus ambulans, cum ipse insipiens sit, omneis, stultos existimat.' An non istud eximii cuiusdam candoris est, omnes aequare tibi ipsi, cumque nemo non magnifice de se sentiat, omnibus tamen tuas communicare laudes? Proinde nec puduit tantum regem huius cognominis, cum ait cap. 30. 'Stultissimus sum virorum'. Neque Paulus ille gentium doctor, Corinthiis scribens, stulti cognomen illibenter agnoscit: 'Ut insipiens', inquit, 'dico, plus ego, perinde quasi turpe sit vinci stultitia'. Sed interim obstrepunt mihi Graeculi quidam, qui tot huius temporis Theologorum, ceu cornicum oculos student configere, dum annotationes suas, veluti fumos quosdam aliis offundunt, cuius gregis si non Alpha, certe Beta meus est Erasmus, quem ego saepius honoris causa nomino. O vere stultam, inquiunt, et ipsa dignam MORIA citationem. Longe diversa mens Apostoli quam tu somnias ! Nec enim hoc agit his verbis, ut caeteris stultior haberetur, verum eum dixisse, 'ministri Christi sunt; et ego', seque veluti iactabundus in hac quoque parte aequasset caeteris, per correctionem adiecit, 'plus ego', sentiens, se non modo parem reliquis Apostolis in Euangelii ministerio, verum etiam aliquanto superiorem. Idque cum ita verum videri vellet, ne tamen ut arrogantius dictum offenderet aures, praemuniit stultitiae praetextu. Ut minus sapiens dico, propterea quod diceret esse stultorum privilegium, ut soli, verum citra offensam, proloquantur. Verum quid Paulus senserit cum haec scriberet, ipsis disputandum relinquo. Ego magnos, pingues, crassos, et vulgo probatissimos Theologos sequor, cum quibus magna pars doctorum errare, nê ton Dia, malit, quam cum istis trilinguibus bene sentire. Neque quisquam illorum Graeculos istos pluris facit quam graculos: praesertim cum quidam gloriosus Theologus, cuius ego nomen prudens supprimo, ne graculi nostri continuo Graecum in illum scomma iaciant onos luras: Magistraliter et Theologaliter hunc passum enarrans, ab hoc loco. Ut minus sapiens dico, plus ego, novum facit caput, et quod absque summa Dialectica non poterat, novam addit sectionem, ad hunc interpretans modum: Adducam enim ipsius verba non solum in forma, verum etiam in materia. 'Ut minus sapiens dico, id est, si videor vobis insipiens, me Pseudapostolis adaequando, adhuc videbor vobis minus sapiens, me eis praeferendo'. Quamquam idem paulo post, velut oblitus sui alio delabitur.
[E] Sed cur anxie me unius exemplo tueor? cum hoc publicum ius sit Theologorum, coelum, hoc est, Divinam Scripturam, ceu pellem extendere: cum apud divum Paulum pugnent Divinae Scripturae verba, quae suo loco non pugnant, si qua fides illi pentaglôttô Hieronymo, cum Athenis forte conspectum arae titulum torqueret in argumentum fidei Christianae, ac caeteris omissis, quae causae fuerant offectura, duo tantum extrema verba decerpserit, nempe haec, IGNOTO DEO, atque haec quoque nonnihil immutata, siquidem integer titulus sic habebat: DIIS ASIAE, EUROPAE, ET AFRICAE, DIIS IGNOTIS, ET PEREGRINIS. Ad huius, opinor, exemplum passim iam hoi tôn theologôn paides, hinc atque hinc revulsa, quatuor aut quinque verbula, et si quid opus est, etiam depravata ad suam accommodant utilitatem, licet ea quae praecedunt et consequuntur, aut nihil omnino faciant ad rem, aut reclament quoque. Quod quidem faciunt tam felici impudentia, ut saepenumero theologis invideant iureconsulti. Quid enim illis iam non succedat, posteaquam magnus ille, paene nomen effutiveram, sed rursus metuo Graecum proverbium, ex Lucae verbis sententiam expresserit, tam consentaneam animo Christi quam igni cum aqua convenit. Etenim cum immineret extremum periculum, quo tempore solent boni clientes maxime suis adesse patronis, et quanta valent ope summachein, Christus hoc agens, ut omnem huiusmodi praesidiorum fiduciam eximeret ex animis suorum, percontatus est eos, numquid rei defuisset usquam, cum illos emisisset, adeo non instructos viatico, ut nec calceis muniret adversus spinarum et saxorum iniuriam, nec peram adderet, adversus famem. Ubi negassent defuisse quidquam, adiecit: 'Sed nunc, inquit, qui habet sacculum tollat, similiter et peram: et qui non habet, vendat tunicam suam, et emat gladium'. Cum tota Christi doctrina, nihil aliud inculcet, quam mansuetudinem, tolerantiam, vitae contemptum, cui non perspicuum sit, quid hoc loco sentiat? nempe, ut magis etiam exarmet suos legatos, ut non tantum calceos negligant et peram, verum et tunicam insuper abiiciant, nudique et prorsus expediti, munus Euangelicum aggrediantur, nihil sibi parent, nisi gladium, non istum quo grassantur latrones, et parricidae, sed gladium spiritus, in intimos quoque pectoris sinus penetrantem, qui semel affectus omneis sic amputat, ut nihil iam illis cordi sit, praeter pietatem. At videte, quaeso, quorsum haec torqueat celebris ille theologus: Gladium interpretatur defensionem adversus persecutionem, sacculum sufficientem commeatus provisionem, perinde quasi Christus commutata in diversum sententia, quod oratores suos parum basilkôs instructos emisisse videretur, superioris institutionis palinodiam canat. Aut velut oblitus quod dixerat beatos fore, cum probris, contumeliis et suppliciis affligerentur, prohibens ne quando resisterent malo, mites enim beatos esse, non feroces, oblitus quod illos ad passerum, et liliorum exemplum vocarit, nunc adeo noluerit eos absque gladio proficisci, ut eum vel tunica divendita iubeat emi, malitque nudos ire, quam non accinctos ferro. Ad haec quemadmodum gladii nomine contineri putat, quidquid ad depellendam vim pertinet, ita marsupii titulo complectitur, quidquid ad vitae pertinet necessitatem. Atque ita Divinae mentis interpres Apostolos lanceis, ballistis, fundis et bombardis instructos educit ad praedicationem crucifixi. Loculis item, vidulis, et sarcinis onerat, ne forte non liceat illis e diversorio discedere, nisi impransis. Nec vel illud commovit hominem, quod ensem, quem tantopere iusserat emi, mox idem obiurgans iubeat recondi, quodque numquam fando sit auditum, Apostolos ensibus aut clypeis usos adversus vim Ethnicorum, utique usuros, si Christus hoc sensisset, quod hic interpretatur. Est alius, quem honoris causa non nomino, haud quaquam postremi nominis, qui e tentoriis, quorum meminit Habacuk, 'turbabuntur pelles terrae Madian', pellem fecerit Bartholomaei excoriati. Ipsa nuper interfui dissertationi Theologicae, (nam id facio frequenter). Ibi cum quispiam exigeret, quae tandem esset Divinarum Litterarum auctoritas, quae iuberet Haereticos incendio vinci, magis quam disputatione revinci: Senex quidam severus, et, vel supercilio teste, Theologus, magno stomacho respondit, hanc legem tulisse Paulum Apostolum, qui dixerit: 'Haereticum hominem post unam et alteram correptionem devita'. Cumque ea verba idemtidem intonaret, et plerique demirarentur quid accidisset homini, tandem explanavit, de vita tollendum haereticum. Risere quidam, nec deerant tamen quibus hoc commentum plane theologicum videretur, caeterum reclamantibus etiamnum nonnullis successit Tenedios, quod aiunt, sunêgopos et auctor irrefragabilis. Accipite rem, inquit: Scriptum est: 'Maleficum ne patiaris vivere': Omnis Haereticus maleficus: Ergo etc. Mirati quotquot aderant, hominis ingenium, et in eam sententiam itum est pedibus, et quidem peronatis. Neque cuiquam venit in mentem, legem eam ad sortilegos et incantatores, ac magos at tinere, quos Hebraei sua lingua vocant mekaschephim, alioqui fornicationem et ebrietatem capite punire oportuit.
[E] Verum haec stulte persequor, tam innumera, ut nec Chrysippi, nec Didymi voluminibus omnia comprehendi possint. Illud dumtaxat admonitos volebam, cum haec divinis illis magistris licuerint, mihi quoque plane sukinê theologô, par est dare veniam, si minus omnia ad amussim citavero. Nunc tandem ad Paulum redeo: 'Libenter', inquit, 'fertis insipientes,' de sese loquens. Et rursum 'velut insipientem accipite me.' Et: 'Non loquor secundum Deum, sed quasi in insipientia'. Rursum alibi: 'Nos', inquit, 'stulti propter Christum.' Audistis a quanto auctore quanta stultitiae praeconia. Quid, quod idem palam Stultitiam praecipit, ut rem in primis necessariam et oppido salutarem. 'Qui videtur esse sapiens inter vos, stultus fiat, ut sit sapiens'. Et apud Lucam, duos discipulos, quibus se iunxerat in via Iesus, stultos appellat. Illud haud scio, an mirum videatur, cum Deo quoque nonnihil stultitiae tribuit divinus ille Paulus: 'Quod stultum est', inquit, 'Dei, sapientius est hominibus'. Porro Origenes interpres obsistit, quo minus hanc stultitiam ad hominum opinionem possis referre: quod genus est illud: 'Verbum crucis pereuntibus quidem stultitiam'. Sed quid ego frustra anxia, tot testimoniis haec docere pergo, cum in psalmis mysticis palam ipse Christus loquatur Patri: 'Tu scis insipientiam meam?' Neque vero temere est, quod Deo stulti tam impense placuerunt: opinor propterea, quod quemadmodum summi principes nimium cordatos suspectos habent, et invisos, ut Iulius Brutum et Cassium, cum ebrium Antonium nihil metueret, utque Nero Senecam, Dionysius Platonem: contra crassioribus, ac simplicioribus ingeniis delectantur. Itidem Christus sophous istos, suaque nitentes prudentia semper detestatur, ac damnat. Testatur id Paulus haud quaquam obscure, cum ait: 'Quae stulta sunt mundi elegit Deus', cumque ait, 'Deo visum esse, ut per stultitiam servaret mundum', quandoquidem per sapientiam restitui non poterat. Quin ipse idem satis indicat, clamans per os Prophetae: 'Perdam sapientiam sapientium, et prudentiam prudentium reprobabo'. Rursum cum agit gratias, quod salutis mysterium celasset sapientes, parvulis autem, hoc est, stultis, aperuisset. Nam Graece pro parvulis, est nêpiois, quos opposuit sophois. Huc pertinet quod passim in Euangelio, Pharisaeos et scribas ac legum doctores incessit, vulgus indoctum sedulo tuetur. Quid enim aliud est, 'vae vobis, scribae et pharisaei', quam, 'vae vobis sapientes'? At parvulis, mulieribus, ac piscatoribus potissimum delectatus esse videtur. Quin et ex animantium brutorum genere ea potissimum placent Christo, quae a vulpina prudentia quam longissime absunt. Eoque asino maluit insidere, cum ille, si libuisset, vel leonis tergum impune potuisset premere. Ac Spiritus ille sacer in columbae specie delapsus est, non aquilae aut milvii. Praeterea cervorum hinnulorum, agnorum, crebra passim in Divinis Litteris mentio. Adde, quod suos ad immortalem vitam destinatos, oves appellat. Quo quidem animante non est aliud insipientius, vel Aristotelico proverbio teste, probateion êthos: quod quidem admonet, ab eius pecudis stoliditate sumptum in stupidos et bardos, convitii loco dici solere. Atqui huius gregis Christus sese pastorem profitetur, quin etiam ipse agni nomine delectatus est, indicante eum Ioanne, Ecce agnus Dei: cuius multa fit et in Apocalypsi mentio. Haec quid aliud clamitant, nisi mortaleis stultos esse, etiam pios? ipsum quoque Christum, quo stultitiae mortalium subveniret, cum esset sapientia Patris, tamen quodammodo stultum esse factum, cum hominis assumpta natura, habitu inventus est ut homo? quemadmodum et peccatum factus est, ut peccatis mederetur. Neque alia ratione mederi voluit quam per stultitiam crucis, per Apostolos idiotas, ac pingues: quibus sedulo stultitiam praecipit, a sapientia deterrens, cum eos ad puerorum, liliorum, sinapis, et passerculorum exemplum provocat, rerum stupidarum ac sensu carentium, soloque naturae ductu, nulla arte, nulla sollicitudine, vitam agentium. Praeterea cum vetat esse sollicitos, qua essent apud praesides oratione usuri, cumque interdicit, ne scrutentur tempora vel momenta temporum, videlicet, ne quid fiderent suae prudentiae, sed totis animis ex se penderent. Eodem pertinet, quod Deus ille orbis architectus interminatur ne quid de arbore scientiae degustarent, perinde quasi scientia felicitatis sit venenum. Quamquam Paulus aperte scientiam, veluti inflantem et perniciosam improbat. Quem divus Bernardus, opinor, sequutus, montem eum in quo Lucifer sedem statuerat, scientiae montem interpretatur. Fortasse nec illud omittendum videatur argumentum, gratiosam esse apud superos stultitiam, quod huic solidatur erratorum venia, sapienti non ignoscitur, unde veniam orant, etiam si prudentes peccaverint, tamen stultitiae praetextu patrocinioque utuntur. Nam sic Aaron uxoris poenam deprecatur in Numerorum, si satis commemini, libris: 'Obsecro, domine mi, ne imponas nobis hoc peccatum, quod stulte commisimus'. Sic et Saul apud David culpam deprecatur: 'Apparet enim', inquiens, 'quod stulte egerim'. Rursum ipse David ita blanditur Domino: 'Sed precor, Domine, ut transferas iniquitatem servi tui, quia stulte egimus': perinde quasi non impetraturus veniam, nisi stultitiam et inscitiam obtenderet. Sed illud acrius urget, quod Christus in cruce, cum oraret pro suis inimicis. 'Pater ignosce illis': non aliam praetexuit excusationem, quam imprudentiae, 'quia nesciunt', inquit, 'quid faciunt'. Ad eumdem modum, Paulus scribens ad Timotheum: 'Sed ideo misericordiam Dei consecutus sum, quia ignorans feci in incredulitate'. Quid est, 'ignorans feci', nisi per stultitiam feci, non malitiam? Quid est, 'ideo misericordiam consecutus sum', nisi non consecuturus, ni stultitiae patrocinio commendatus? Pro nobis facit et mysticus ille Psalmographus, qui suo loco non veniebat in mentem: 'Delicta iuventutis meae, et ignorantias meas ne memineris'. Audistis quae duo praetexat, nimirum aetatem, cui semper comes esse soleo, et ignorantias, idque numero multitudinis, ut ingentem Stultitiae vim intelligeremus.
[E] Ac ne quae sunt infinita persequar, utque summatim dicam, videtur omnino Christiana religio quamdam habere cum aliqua stultitia cognationem, minimeque cum sapientia convenire. Cuius rei si desideratis argumenta primum illud animadvertite, pueros, senes, mulieres, ac fatuos sacris ac religiosis rebus praeter caeteros gaudere, eoque semper altaribus esse proximos, solo, nimirum, naturae impulsu. Praeterea videtis primos illos religionis auctores, mire simplicitatem amplexos, acerrimos litterarum hostes fuisse. Postremo nulli moriones magis desipere videntur, quam hi, quos Christianae pietatis ardor semel totos arripuit: adeo sua profundunt, iniurias negligunt, falli sese patiuntur, inter amicos et inimicos nullum discrimen, voluptatem horrent, inedia, vigilia, lacrymis, laboribus, contumeliis saginantur, vitam fastidiunt, mortem unice optant, breviter, ad omnem sensum communem prorsus obstupuisse videntur, perinde quasi alibi vivat animus, non in suo corpore. Quod quidem quid aliud est, quam insanire? quo minus mirum videri debet, si Apostoli musto temulenti sunt visi, si Paulus iudici Festo visus est insanire. Sed posteaquam semel tên leontên induimus, age doceamus et illud, felicitatem Christianorum, quam tot laboribus expetunt, nihil aliud esse, quam insaniae stultitiaeque genus quoddam, absit invidia verbis, rem ipsam potius expendite. Iam primum illud propemodum Christianis convenit cum Platonicis, animum immersum illigatumque esse corporeis vinculis, huiusque crassitudine praepediri, quo minus ea, quae vere sunt, contemplari, fruique possit. Proinde Philosophiam definit esse mortis meditationem, quod ea mentem a rebus visibilibus, ac corporeis abducat, quod idem utique mors facit. Itaque quam diu animus corporis organis probe utitur, tam diu sanus appellatur, verum ubi ruptis iam vinculis, conatur in libertatem asserere sese, quasique fugam ex eo carcere meditatur, tum insaniam vocant. Id si forte contingit morbo, vitioque organorum, prorsus omnium consensu, insania est. Et tamen hoc quoque genus hominum videmus futura praedicere, scire linguas ac litteras, quas antea numquam didicerant, et omnino divinum quiddam prae se ferre. Neque dubium est id inde accidere quod mens a contagio corporis paulo liberior incipit nativam sui vim exserere. Idem arbitror esse in causa, cur laborantibus vicina morte, simile quiddam soleat accidere, ut tamquam afflati prodigiosa quaedam loquantur. Rursum si id eveniat studio pietatis, fortasse non est idem insaniae genus, sed tamen adeo confine, ut magna pars hominum meram insaniam esse iudicet, praesertim cum pauculi homunciones ab universo mortalium coetu, tota vita dissentiant. Itaque solet iis usu venire, quod iuxta Platonicum figmentum, opinor, accidere iis, qui in specu vincti rerum umbras mirantur, et fugitivo illi, qui reversus in antrum, veras res vidisse se praedicat, illos longe falli, qui praeter miseras umbras nihil aliud esse credant. Etenim sapiens hic commiseratur, ac deplorat illorum insaniam, qui tanto errore teneantur. Illi vicissim illum veluti delirantem rident, atque eiiciunt. Itidem vulgus hominum ea quae maxime corporea sunt, maxime miratur, eaque prope sola putat esse. Contra pii, quo quidquam propius accedit ad corpus, hoc magis negligunt, totique ad invisibilium rerum contemplationem rapiuntur. Nam isti primas partes tribuunt divitiis, proximas corporis commodis, postremas animo relinquunt: quem tamen plerique nec esse credunt, quia non cernatur oculis. E diverso illi primum in ipsum Deum, rerum omnium simplicissimum, toti nituntur: secundum hunc, et tamen in hoc, quod ad illum quam proxime accedit, nempe animum: corporis curam negligunt, pecunias ceu putamina prorsus aspernantur, ac fugitant. Aut si quid huiusmodi rerum tractare coguntur, gravatim, ac fastidienter id faciunt, habent tamquam non habentes, possident tamquam non possidentes. Sunt et in singulis rebus, gradus multum inter istos diversi. Principio sensus tametsi omnes cum corpore cognationem habeant, tamen quidam sunt ex his crassiores, ut tactus, auditus, visus, olfactus, gustus. Quidam magis a corpore semoti, veluti memoria, intellectus, voluntas. Igitur ubi se intenderit animus, ibi valet. Pii quoniam omnis animi vis ad ea contendit, quae sunt a crassioribus sensibus alienissima, in his velut obbrutescunt, atque obstupescunt. Contra vulgus in his plurimum valet, in illis quam minimum. Inde est, quod audimus nonnullis divinis viris accidisse, ut oleum vini loco biberint. Rursum in affectibus animi, quidam plus habent cum pingui corpore commercii, veluti libido, cibi somnique appetentia, iracundia, superbia, invidia: cum his irreconciliabile bellum piis, contra vulgus sine his vitam esse non putat. Deinde sunt quidam affectus medii, quasique naturales, ut amor patris, caritas in liberos, in parentes, in amicos: His vulgus nonnihil tribuit. At illi hos quoque student ex animo revellere, nisi quatenus ad summam illam animi partem adsurgant, ut iam parentem ament, non tamquam parentem, quid enim ille genuit, nisi corpus ? quamquam hoc ipsum Deo parenti debetur, sed tamquam virum bonum, et in quo luceat imago summae illius mentis, quam unam summum bonum vocant, et extra quam nihil nec amandum nec expetendum esse praedicant. Hac eadem regula reliqua item omnia vitae officia metiuntur, ut ubique id quod visibile est, si non est omnino contemnendum, tamen longe minoris faciant, quam ea quae videri nequeunt. Aiunt autem et in Sacramentis, atque ipsis pietatis officiis, corpus et spiritum inveniri. Velut in ieiunio non magni ducunt, si quis tantum a carnibus, coenaque abstineat, id quod vulgus absolutum esse ieiunium existimat, nisi simul et affectibus aliquid adimat, ut minus permittat irae quam soleat, minus superbiae: utque ceu minus iam onustus mole corporea, spiritus ad coelestium bonorum gustum, fruitionemque enitatur. Similiter et in synaxi, tametsi non est aspernandum, inquiunt, quod cerimoniis geritur, tamen id per se, aut parum est conducibile, aut etiam perniciosum, nisi id quod est spiritale accesserit, nempe hoc quod signis illis visibilibus repraesentatur. Repraesentatur autem mors Christi, quam domitis, exstinctis, quasique sepultis corporis affectibus, exprimere Mortales oportet, ut in novitatem vitae resurgant, utque unum cum illo, unum item inter sese fieri queant. Haec igitur agit, haec meditatur ille pius. Contra, vulgus sacrificium nihil aliud esse credit, quam adesse altaribus, idque proxime, audire vocum strepitum, aliasque id genus cerimoniolas spectare. Nec in his tantum, quae dumtaxat exempli gratia proposuimus, sed simpliciter in omni vita refugit pius ab his quae corpori cognata sunt, ad aeterna, ad invisibilia, ad spiritalia rapitur. Proinde cum summa sit inter hos et illos omnibus de rebus dissensio, fit ut utrique alteris insanire videantur. Quamquam id vocaibuli rectius in pios competit quam in vulgus, mea quidem sententia.
[E] Quod quidem magis perspicuum fiet, si quemadmodum pollicita sum, paucis demonstraro, summum illud praemium nihil aliud esse, quam insaniam quamdam. Primum igitur existimate, Platonem tale quiddam iam tum somniasse, cum, amantium furorem omnium felicissimum esse, scriberet. Etenim qui vehementer amat iam non in se vivit, sed in eo quod amat, quoque longius a se ipso digreditur, et in illud demigrat, hoc magis ac magis gaudet. Atque cum animus a corpore peregrinari meditatur, neque probe suis utitur organis, istud haud dubie furorem recte dixeris. Alioqui quid sibi vult, quod vulgo etiam dicunt: 'Non est apud se, et, ad te redi, et, sibi redditus est?' Porro quo amor est absolutior, hoc furor est maior, ac felicior. Ergo quaenam futura est illa coelitum vita, ad quam piae mentes tanto studio suspirant? Nempe spiritus absorbebit corpus, utpote victor ac fortior. Idque hoc faciet facilius, partim quod iam velut in suo regno est, partim quod iam olim in vita corpus, ad huiusmodi transformationem repurgarit, atque extenuarit. Deinde spiritus a mente illa summa mire absorbebitur, quippe infinitis partibus potentiore. Ita ut iam totus homo extra se futurus sit, nec alia ratione felix futurus, nisi quod extra sese positus, patietur quiddam ineffabile a summo illo bono, omnia in se rapiente. Iam haec felicitas quamquam tum demum perfecta contingit, cum animi receptis pristinis corporibus, immortalitate donabuntur: Tamen quoniam piorum vita nihil aliud est, quam illius vitae meditatio, ac velut umbra quaedam, fit ut praemii quoque illius aliquando gustum aut ardorem aliquem sentiant. Id tametsi minutissima quaedam stillula est, ad fontem illum aeternae felicitatis, tamen longe superat universas corporis voluptates, etiam si omnes omnium mortalium deliciae in unum conferantur. Usque adeo praestant spiritualia corporalibus, invisibilia visibilibus. Hoc nimirum est quod pollicetur Propheta: 'Oculus non vidit, nec auris audivit, nec in cor hominis adscenderunt, quae praeparavit Deus diligentibus se'. Atque, haec est Moriae pars, quae non aufertur commutatione vitae, sed perficitur. Hoc igitur quibus sentire licuit, contingit autem perpaucis, ii patiuntur quoddam dementiae simillimum, loquuntur quaedam non satis cohaerentia, nec humano more, sed dant sine mente sonum, deinde subinde totam oris speciem vertunt. Nunc alacres, nunc deiecti, nunc lacrymant, nunc rident, nunc suspirant; in summa, vere toti extra se sunt. Mox ubi ad sese redierint, negant se scire, ubi fuerint, utrum in corpore, an extra corpus, vigilantes an dormientes, quid audierint, quid viderint, quid dixerint, quid fecerint, non meminerunt, nisi tamquam per nebulam, ac somnium, tantum hoc sciunt se felicissimos fuisse, dum ita desiperent. Itaque plorant sese resipuisse, nihilque omnium malint, quam hoc insaniae genus perpetuo insanire. Atque haec est futurae felicitatis tenuis quaedam degustatiuncula.
[E] Verum ego iam dudum oblita mei huper ta eskammena pêdô. Quamquam si quid petulantius aut loquacius a me dictum videbitur, cogitate et Stultitiam, et mulierem dixisse. Sed interim tamen memineritis illius Graecanici proverbii pollaki toi kai môros anêp katakairion eipen, nisi forte putatis hoc ad mulieres nihil attinere. Video vos epilogum exspectare, sed nimium desipitis, siquidem arbitramini, me quid dixerim etiam dum meminisse, cum tantam verborum farraginem effuderim. Vetus illud, misô mnamona sumpotan. Novum hoc, misô mnamona akroatên. Quare valete, plaudite, vivite, bibite, Moriae celeberrimi Mystae.
Creator(s): Erasmus, Desiderius (c. 1466-1536)
Print Basis: University of Michigan Press  CCEL Subjects: All; Classic; Fiction; LC Call no: PA8514.E5 LC Subjects: Medieval and modern Latin literature
Translated by John Wilson 1688
ERASMUS OF ROTTERDAM to his friend THOMAS MORE, health:
As I was coming awhile since out of Italy for England, that I might not waste all that time I was to sit on horseback in foolish and illiterate fables, I chose rather one while to revolve with myself something of our common studies, and other while to enjoy the remembrance of my friends, of whom I left here some no less learned than pleasant. Among these you, my More, came first in my mind, whose memory, though absent yourself, gives me such delight in my absence, as when present with you I ever found in your company; than which, let me perish if in all my life I ever met with anything more delectable. And therefore, being satisfied that something was to be done, and that that time was no wise proper for any serious matter, I resolved to make some sport with the Praise of Folly. But who the devil put that in your head? you'll say. The first thing was your surname of More, which comes so near the word Moriae (Folly) as you are far from the thing. And that you are so, all the world will clear you. In the next place, I conceived this exercise of wit would not be least approved by you; inasmuch as you are wont to be delighted with such kind of mirth, that is to say, neither unlearned, if I am not mistaken, not altogether insipid, and in the whole course of your life have played the part of a Democritus. And though such is the excellence of your judgment that it was even contrary to that of the people's, yet such is your incredible affability and sweetness of temper that you both can and delight to carry yourself to all men a man of all hours. Wherefore you will not only with good will accept this small declamation, but take upon you the defense of it, for as much as being dedicated to you, it is now no longer mine but yours. But perhaps there will not be wanting some wranglers that may cavil and charge me, partly that these toys are lighter than may become a Divine, and partly more biting than may beseem the modesty of a Christian, and consequently exclaim that I resemble the ancient comedy, or another Lucian, and snarl at everything. But I would have them whom the lightness or foolery of the argument may offend to consider that mine is not the first of this kind, but the same thing that has been often practiced even by great authors: when Homer, so many ages since, did the like with the battle of frogs and mice; Virgil, with the gnat and puddings; Ovid, with the nut; when Polycrates and his corrector Isocrates extolled tyranny; Glauco, injustice; Favorinus, deformity and the quartan ague; Synescius, baldness; Lucian, the fly and flattery; when Seneca made such sport with Claudius' canonizations; Plutarch, with his dialogue between Ulysses and Gryllus; Lucian and Apuleius, with the ass; and some other, I know not who, with the hog that made his last will and testament, of which also even St. Jerome makes mention. And therefore if they please, let them suppose I played at tables for my diversion, or if they had rather have it so, that I rode on a hobbyhorse. For what injustice is it that when we allow every course of life its recreation, that study only should have none? Especially when such toys are not without their serious matter, and foolery is so handled that the reader that is not altogether thick-skulled may reap more benefit from it than from some men's crabbish and specious arguments. As when one, with long study and great pains, patches many pieces together on the praise of rhetoric or philosophy; another makes a panegyric to a prince; another encourages him to a war against the Turks; another tells you what will become of the world after himself is dead; and another finds out some new device for the better ordering of goat's wool: for as nothing is more trifling than to treat of serious matters triflingly, so nothing carries a better grace than so to discourse of trifles as a man may seem to have intended them least. For my own part, let other men judge of what I have written; though yet, unless an overweening opinion of myself may have made me blind in my own cause, I have praised folly, but not altogether foolishly. And now to say somewhat to that other cavil, of biting. This liberty was ever permitted to all men's wits, to make their smart, witty reflections on the common errors of mankind, and that too without offense, as long as this liberty does not run into licentiousness; which makes me the more admire the tender ears of the men of this age, that can away with solemn titles. No, you'll meet with some so preposterously religious that they will Sooner endure the broadest scoffs even against Christ himself than hear the Pope or a prince be touched in the least, especially if it be anything that concerns their profit; whereas he that so taxes the lives of men, without naming anyone in particular, whither, I pray, may he be said to bite, or rather to teach and admonish? Or otherwise, I beseech you, under how many notions do I tax myself? Besides, he that spares no sort of men cannot be said to be angry with anyone in particular, but the vices of all. And therefore, if there shall happen to be anyone that shall say he is hit, he will but discover either his guilt or fear. Saint Jerome sported in this kind with more freedom and greater sharpness, not sparing sometimes men's very name. But I, besides that I have wholly avoided it, I have so moderated my style that the understanding reader will easily perceive my endeavors herein were rather to make mirth than bite. Nor have I, after the example of Juvenal, raked up that forgotten sink of filth and ribaldry, but laid before you things rather ridiculous than dishonest. And now, if there be anyone that is yet dissatisfied, let him at least remember that it is no dishonor to be discommended by Folly; and having brought her in speaking, it was but fit that I kept up the character of the person. But why do I run over these things to you, a person so excellent an advocate that no man better defends his client, though the cause many times be none of the best? Farewell, my best disputant More, and stoutly defend your Moriae. From the country, the 5th of the Ides of June.
THE PRAISE OF FOLLY An oration, of feigned matter, spoken by Folly in her own person
At what rate soever the world talks of me (for I am not ignorant what an ill report Folly has got, even among the most foolish), yet that I am that she, that only she, whose deity recreates both gods and men, even this is a sufficient argument, that I no sooner stepped up to speak to this full assembly than all your faces put on a kind of new and unwonted pleasantness. So suddenly have you cleared your brows, and with so frolic and hearty a laughter given me your applause, that in truth as many of you as I behold on every side of me seem to me no less than Homer's gods drunk with nectar and nepenthe; whereas before, you sat as lumpish and pensive as if you had come from consulting an oracle. And as it usually happens when the sun begins to show his beams, or when after a sharp winter the spring breathes afresh on the earth, all things immediately get a new face, new color, and recover as it were a certain kind of youth again: in like manner by but beholding me you have in an instant gotten another kind of countenance; and so what the otherwise great rhetoricians with their tedious and long-studied orations can hardly effect, to wit, to remove the trouble of the mind, I have done it at once with my single look.
But if you ask me why I appear before you in this strange dress, be pleased to lend me your ears, and I'll tell you; not those ears, I mean, you carry to church, but abroad with you, such as you are wont to prick up to jugglers, fools, and buffoons, and such as our friend Midas once gave to Pan. For I am disposed awhile to play the Sophist with you; not of their sort who nowadays boozle young men's heads with certain empty notions and curious trifles, yet teach them nothing but a more than womanish obstinacy of scolding: but I'll imitate those ancients who, that they might the better avoid that infamous appellation of Sophi or Wise chose rather to be called Sophists. Their business was to celebrate the praises of the gods and valiant men. And the like encomium shall you hear from me, but neither of Hercules nor Solon, but my own dear self, that is to say, Folly. Nor do I esteem those wisemen a rush that call it a foolish and insolent thing to praise one's self. Be it as foolish as they would make it, so they confess it proper: and what can be more than that Folly be her own trumpet? For who can set me out better than myself, unless perhaps I could be better known to another than to myself? Though yet I think it somewhat more modest than the general practice of our nobles and wise men who, throwing away all shame, hire some flattering orator or lying poet from whose mouth they may hear their praises, that is to say, mere lies; and yet, composing themselves with a seeming modesty, spread out their peacock's plumes and erect their crests, while this impudent flatterer equals a man of nothing to the gods and proposes him as an absolute pattern of all virtue that's wholly a stranger to it, sets out a pitiful jay in other's feathers, washes the Blackmoor white, and lastly swells a gnat to an elephant. In short, I will follow that old proverb that says, "He may lawfully praise himself that lives far from neighbors." Though, by the way, I cannot but wonder at the ingratitude, shall I say, or negligence of men who, notwithstanding they honor me in the first place and are willing enough to confess my bounty, yet not one of them for these so many ages has there been who in some thankful oration has set out the praises of Folly; when yet there has not wanted them whose elaborate endeavors have extolled tyrants, agues, flies, baldness, and such other pests of nature, to their own loss of both time and sleep. And now you shall hear from me a plain extemporary speech, but so much the truer. Nor would I have you think it like the rest of orators, made for the ostentation of wit; for these, as you know, when they have been beating their heads some thirty years about an oration and at last perhaps produce somewhat that was never their own, shall yet swear they composed it in three days, and that too for diversion: whereas I ever liked it best to speak whatever came first out.
But let none of you expect from me that after the manner of rhetoricians I should go about to define what I am, much less use any division; for I hold it equally unlucky to circumscribe her whose deity is universal, or make the least division in that worship about which everything is so generally agreed. Or to what purpose, think you, should I describe myself when I am here present before you, and you behold me speaking? For I am, as you see, that true and only giver of wealth whom the Greeks call Moria, the Latins Stultitia, and our plain English Folly. Or what need was there to have said so much, as if my very looks were not sufficient to inform you who I am? Or as if any man, mistaking me for Wisdom, could not at first sight convince himself by my face, the true index of my mind? I am no counterfeit, nor do I carry one thing in my looks and an other in my breast. No, I am in every respect so like myself that neither can they dissemble me who arrogate to themselves the appearance and title of wise men and walk like asses in scarlet hoods, though after all their hypocrisy Midas' ears will discover their master. A most ungrateful generation of men that, when they are wholly given up to my party, are yet publicly ashamed of the name, as taking it for a reproach; for which cause, since in truth they are morotatoi, fools, and yet would appear to the world to be wise men and Thales, we'll even call them morosophous, wise fools.
Nor will it be amiss also to imitate the rhetoricians of our times, who think themselves in a manner gods if like horse leeches they can but appear to be double-tongued, and believe they have done a mighty act if in their Latin orations they can but shuffle in some ends of Greek like mosaic work, though altogether by head and shoulders and less to the purpose. And if they want hard words, they run over some worm-eaten manuscript and pick out half a dozen of the most old and obsolete to confound their reader, believing, no doubt, that they that understand their meaning will like it the better, and they that do not, will admire it more by how much less they understand it. Nor is this way of ours of admiring what seems foreign without its particular grace; for if there happen to be any more ambitious than others, they may give their applause with a smile, and, like the ass, shake their ears, that they may be thought to understand more than the rest of their neighbors.
But to come to the purpose: I have given you my name, but what epithet shall I add? What but that of the most foolish? For by what more proper name can so great a goddess as Folly be known to her disciples? And because it is not alike known to all from what stock I am sprung, with the Muses' good leave I'll do my endeavor to satisfy you. But yet neither the first Chaos, Orcus, Saturn, or Japhet, nor any of those threadbare, musty gods were my father, but Plutus, Riches; that only he, that is, in spite of Hesiod, Homer, nay and Jupiter himself, divum pater atque hominum rex, the father of gods and men, at whose single beck, as heretofore, so at present, all things sacred and profane are turned topsy-turvy. According to whose pleasure war, peace, empire, counsels, judgments, assemblies, wedlocks, bargains, leagues, laws, arts, all things light or serious--I want breath--in short, all the public and private business of mankind is governed; without whose help all that herd of gods of the poets' making, and those few of the better sort of the rest, either would not be at all, or if they were, they would be but such as live at home and keep a poor house to themselves. And to whomsoever he's an enemy, 'tis not Pallas herself that can befriend him; as on the contrary he whom he favors may lead Jupiter and his thunder in a string. This is my father and in him I glory. Nor did he produce me from his brain, as Jupiter that sour and ill-looked Pallas; but of that lovely nymph called Youth, the most beautiful and galliard of all the rest. Not was I, like that limping blacksmith, begot in the sad and irksome bonds of matrimony. Yet, mistake me not, 'twas not that blind and decrepit Plutus in Aristophanes that got me, but such as he was in his full strength and pride of youth; and not that only, but at such a time when he had been well heated with nectar, of which he had, at one of the banquets of the gods, taken a dose extraordinary.
And as to the place of my birth, forasmuch as nowadays that is looked upon as a main point of nobility, it was neither, like Apollo's, in the floating Delos, nor Venus-like on the rolling sea, nor in any of blind Homer's as blind caves: but in the Fortunate Islands, where all things grew without plowing or sowing; where neither labor, nor old age, nor disease was ever heard of; and in whose fields neither daffodil, mallows, onions, beans, and such contemptible things would ever grow, but, on the contrary, rue, angelica, bugloss, marjoram, trefoils, roses, violets, lilies, and all the gardens of Adonis invite both your sight and your smelling. And being thus born, I did not begin the world, as other children are wont, with crying; but straight perched up and smiled on my mother. Nor do I envy to the great Jupiter the goat, his nurse, forasmuch as I was suckled by two jolly nymphs, to wit, Drunkenness, the daughter of Bacchus, and Ignorance, of Pan. And as for such my companions and followers as you perceive about me, if you have a mind to know who they are, you are not like to be the wiser for me, unless it be in Greek: this here, which you observe with that proud cast of her eye, is Philautia, Self-love; she with the smiling countenance, that is ever and anon clapping her hands, is Kolakia, Flattery; she that looks as if she were half asleep is Lethe, Oblivion; she that sits leaning on both elbows with her hands clutched together is Misoponia, Laziness; she with the garland on her head, and that smells so strong of perfumes, is Hedone, Pleasure; she with those staring eyes, moving here and there, is Anoia, Madness; she with the smooth skin and full pampered body is Tryphe, Wantonness; and, as to the two gods that you see with them, the one is Komos, Intemperance, the other Ecgretos hypnos, Dead Sleep. These, I say, are my household servants, and by their faithful counsels I have subjected all things to my dominion and erected an empire over emperors themselves. Thus have you had my lineage, education, and companions.
And now, lest I may seem to have taken upon me the name of goddess without cause, you shall in the next place understand how far my deity extends, and what advantage by it I have brought both to gods and men. For, if it was not unwisely said by somebody, that this only is to be a god, to help men; and if they are deservedly enrolled among the gods that first brought in corn and wine and such other things as are for the common good of mankind, why am not I of right the alpha, or first, of all the gods? who being but one, yet bestow all things on all men. For first, what is more sweet or more precious than life? And yet from whom can it more properly be said to come than from me? For neither the crab-favoured Pallas' spear nor the cloudgathering Jupiter's shield either beget or propagate mankind; but even he himself, the father of gods and king of men at whose very beck the heavens shake, must lay by his forked thunder and those looks wherewith he conquered the giants and with which at pleasure he frightens the rest of the gods, and like a common stage player put on a disguise as often as he goes about that, which now and then he does, that is to say the getting of children: And the Stoics too, that conceive themselves next to the gods, yet show me one of them, nay the veriest bigot of the sect, and if he do not put off his beard, the badge of wisdom, though yet it be no more than what is common with him and goats; yet at least he must lay by his supercilious gravity, smooth his forehead, shake off his rigid principles, and for some time commit an act of folly and dotage. In fine, that wise man whoever he be, if he intends to have children, must have recourse to me. But tell me, I beseech you, what man is that would submit his neck to the noose of wedlock, if, as wise men should, he did but first truly weigh the inconvenience of the thing? Or what woman is there would ever go to it did she seriously consider either the peril of child-bearing or the trouble of bringing them up? So then, if you owe your beings to Wedlock, you owe that wedlock to this my follower, Madness; and what you owe to me I have already told you. Again, she that has but once tried what it is, would she, do you think, make a second venture if it were not for my other companion, Oblivion? Nay, even Venus herself, notwithstanding whatever Lucretius has said, would not deny but that all her virtue were lame and fruitless without the help of my deity. For out of that little, odd, ridiculous May-game came the supercilious philosophers, in whose room have succeeded a kind of people the world calls monks, cardinals, priests, and the most holy popes. And lastly, all that rabble of the poets' gods, with which heaven is so thwacked and thronged, that though it be of so vast an extent, they are hardly able to crowd one by another.
But I think it is a small matter that you thus owe your beginning of life to me, unless I also show you that whatever benefit you receive in the progress of it is of my gift likewise. For what other is this? Can that be called life where you take away pleasure? Oh! Do you like what I say? I knew none of you could have so little wit, or so much folly, or wisdom rather, as to be of any other opinion. For even the Stoics themselves that so severely cried down pleasure did but handsomely dissemble, and railed against it to the common people to no other end but that having discouraged them from it, they might the more plentifully enjoy it themselves. But tell me, by Jupiter, what part of man's life is that that is not sad, crabbed, unpleasant, insipid, troublesome, unless it be seasoned with pleasure, that is to say, folly? For the proof of which the never sufficiently praised Sophocles in that his happy elegy of us, "To know nothing is the only happiness," might be authority enough, but that I intend to take every particular by itself.
And first, who knows not but a man's infancy is the merriest part of life to himself, and most acceptable to others? For what is that in them which we kiss, embrace, cherish, nay enemies succor, but this witchcraft of folly, which wise Nature did of purpose give them into the world with them that they might the more pleasantly pass over the toil of education, and as it were flatter the care and diligence of their nurses? And then for youth, which is in such reputation everywhere, how do all men favor it, study to advance it, and lend it their helping hand? And whence, I pray, all this grace? Whence but from me? by whose kindness, as it understands as little as may be, it is also for that reason the higher privileged from exceptions; and I am mistaken if, when it is grown up and by experience and discipline brought to savor something like man, if in the same instant that beauty does not fade, its liveliness decay, its pleasantness grow fat, and its briskness fail. And by how much the further it runs from me, by so much the less it lives, till it comes to the burden of old age, not only hateful to others, but to itself also. Which also were altogether insupportable did not I pity its condition, in being present with it, and, as the poets' gods were wont to assist such as were dying with some pleasant metamorphosis, help their decrepitness as much as in me lies by bringing them back to a second childhood, from whence they are not improperly called Twice-children. Which, if you ask me how I do it, I shall not be shy in the point. I bring them to our River Lethe (for its springhead rises in the Fortunate Islands, and that other of hell is but a brook in comparison), from which, as soon as they have drunk down a long forgetfulness, they wash away by degrees the perplexity of their minds, and so wax young again.
But perhaps you'll say they are foolish and doting. Admit it; 'tis the very essence of childhood; as if to be such were not to be a fool, or that that condition had anything pleasant in it, but that it understood nothing. For who would not look upon that child as a prodigy that should have as much wisdom as a man?--according to that common proverb, "I do not like a child that is a man too soon." Or who would endure a converse or friendship with that old man who to so large an experience of things had joined an equal strength of mind and sharpness of judgment? And therefore for this reason it is that old age dotes; and that it does so, it is beholding to me. Yet, not withstanding, is this dotard exempt from all those cares that distract a wise man; he is not the less pot-companion, nor is he sensible of that burden of life which the more manly age finds enough to do to stand upright under it. And sometimes too, like Plautus' Old-man, he returns to his three letters, A.M.O., the most unhappy of all things living, if he rightly understood what he did in it. And yet, so much do I befriend him that I make him well received of his friends and no unpleasant companion; for as much as, according to Homer, Nestor's discourse was pleasanter than honey, whereas Achilles' was both bitter and malicious; and that of Old-men, as he has it in another place, florid. In which respect also they have this advantage of children, in that they want the only pleasure of the others' life, we'll suppose it prattling. Add to this that old men are more eagerly delighted with children, and they, again, with Old-men. "Like to like," quoted the Devil to the collier. For what difference between them, but that the one has more wrinkles and years upon his head than the other? Otherwise, the brightness of their hair, toothless mouth, weakness of body, love of milk, broken speech, chatting, toying, forgetfulness, inadvertency, and briefly, all other their actions agree in everything. And by how much the nearer they approach to this old age, by so much they grow backward into the likeness of children, until like them they pass from life to death, without any weariness of the one, or sense of the other.
And now, let him that will compare the benefits they receive by me, the metamorphoses of the gods, of whom I shall not mention what they have done in their pettish humors but where they have been most favorable: turning one into a tree, another into a bird, a third into a grasshopper, serpent, or the like. As if there were any difference between perishing and being another thing! But I restore the same man to the best and happiest part of his life. And if men would but refrain from all commerce with wisdom and give up themselves to be governed by me, they should never know what it were to be old, but solace themselves with a perpetual youth. Do but observe our grim philosophers that are perpetually beating their brains on knotty subjects, and for the most part you'll find them grown old before they are scarcely young. And whence is it, but that their continual and restless thoughts insensibly prey upon their spirits and dry up their radical moisture? Whereas, on the contrary, my fat fools are as plump and round as a Westphalian hog, and never sensible of old age, unless perhaps, as sometimes it rarely happens, they come to be infected with wisdom, so hard a thing it is for a man to be happy in all things. And to this purpose is that no small testimony of the proverb, that says, "Folly is the only thing that keeps youth at a stay and old age afar off;" as it is verified in the Brabanders, of whom there goes this common saying, "That age, which is wont to render other men wiser, makes them the greater fools." And yet there is scarce any nation of a more jocund converse, or that is less sensible of the misery of old age, than they are. And to these, as in situation, so for manner of living, come nearest my friends the Hollanders. And why should I not call them mine, since they are so diligent observers of me that they are commonly called by my name?--of which they are so far from being ashamed, they rather pride themselves in it. Let the foolish world then be packing and seek out Medeas, Circes, Venuses, Auroras, and I know not what other fountains of restoring youth. I am sure I am the only person that both can, and have, made it good. 'Tis I alone that have that wonderful juice with which Memnon's daughter prolonged the youth of her grandfather Tithon. I am that Venus by whose favor Phaon became so young again that Sappho fell in love with him. Mine are those herbs, if yet there be any such, mine those charms, and mine that fountain that not only restores departed youth but, which is more desirable, preserves it perpetual. And if you all subscribe to this opinion, that nothing is better than youth or more execrable than age, I conceive you cannot but see how much you are indebted to me, that have retained so great a good and shut out so great an evil.
But why do I altogether spend my breath in speaking of mortals? View heaven round, and let him that will, reproach me with my name, if he find any one of the gods that were not stinking and contemptible, were he not made acceptable by my deity. Why is it that Bacchus is always a stripling, and bushy-haired? but because he is mad, and drunk, and spends his life in drinking, dancing, revels, and May games, not having so much as the least society with Pallas. And lastly, he is so far from desiring to be accounted wise that he delights to be worshipped with sports and gambols; nor is he displeased with the proverb that gave him the surname of fool, "A greater fool than Bacchus;" which name of his was changed to Morychus, for that sitting before the gates of his temple, the wanton country people were wont to bedaub him with new wine and figs. And of scoffs, what not, have not the ancient comedies thrown on him? O foolish god, say they, and worthy to be born as you were of your father's thigh! And yet, who had not rather be your fool and sot, always merry, ever young, and making sport for other people, than either Homer's Jupiter with his crooked counsels, terrible to everyone; or old Pan with his hubbubs; or smutty Vulcan half covered with cinders; or even Pallas herself, so dreadful with her Gorgon's head and spear and a countenance like bullbeef? Why is Cupid always portrayed like a boy, but because he is a very wag and can neither do nor so much as think of anything sober? Why Venus ever in her prime, but because of her affinity with me? Witness that color of her hair, so resembling my father, from whence she is called the golden Venus; and lastly, ever laughing, if you give any credit to the poets, or their followers the statuaries. What deity did the Romans ever more religiously adore than that of Flora, the foundress of all pleasure? Nay, if you should but diligently search the lives of the most sour and morose of the gods out of Homer and the test of the poets, you would find them all but so many pieces of Folly. And to what purpose should I run over any of the other gods' tricks when you know enough of Jupiter's loose loves? When that chaste Diana shall so far forget her sex as to be ever hunting and ready to perish for Endymion? But I had rather they should hear these things from Momus, from whom heretofore they were wont to have their shares, till in one of their angry humors they tumbled him, together with Ate, goddess of mischief, down headlong to the earth, because his wisdom, forsooth, unseasonably disturbed their happiness. Nor since that dares any mortal give him harbor, though I must confess there wanted little but that he had been received into the courts of princes, had not my companion Flattery reigned in chief there, with whom and the other there is no more correspondence than between lambs and wolves. From whence it is that the gods play the fool with the greater liberty and more content to themselves "doing all things carelessly," as says Father Homer, that is to say, without anyone to correct them. For what ridiculous stuff is there which that stump of the fig tree Priapus does not afford them? What tricks and legerdemains with which Mercury does not cloak his thefts? What buffoonery that Vulcan is not guilty of, while one with his polt-foot, another with his smutched muzzle, another with his impertinencies, he makes sport for the rest of the gods? As also that old Silenus with his country dances, Polyphemus footing time to his Cyclops hammers, the nymphs with their jigs and satyrs with their antics; while Pan makes them all twitter with some coarse ballad, which yet they had rather hear than the Muses themselves, and chiefly when they are well whittled with nectar. Besides, what should I mention what these gods do when they are half drunk? Now by my troth, so foolish that I myself can hardly refrain laughter. But in these matters 'twere better we remembered Harpocrates, lest some eavesdropping god or other take us whispering that which Momus only has the privilege of speaking at length.
And therefore, according to Homer's example, I think it high time to leave the gods to themselves, and look down a little on the earth; wherein likewise you'll find nothing frolic or fortunate that it owes not to me. So provident has that great parent of mankind, Nature, been that there should not be anything without its mixture and, as it were, seasoning of Folly. For since according to the definition of the Stoics, wisdom is nothing else than to be governed by reason, and on the contrary Folly, to be given up to the will of our passions, that the life of man might not be altogether disconsolate and hard to away with, of how much more passion than reason has Jupiter composed us? putting in, as one would say, "scarce half an ounce to a pound." Besides, he has confined reason to a narrow corner of the brain and left all the rest of the body to our passions; has also set up, against this one, two as it were, masterless tyrants--anger, that possesses the region of the heart, and consequently the very fountain of life, the heart itself; and lust, that stretches its empire everywhere. Against which double force how powerful reason is let common experience declare, inasmuch as she, which yet is all she can do, may call out to us till she be hoarse again and tell us the rules of honesty and virtue; while they give up the reins to their governor and make a hideous clamor, till at last being wearied, he suffer himself to be carried whither they please to hurry him.
But forasmuch as such as are born to the business of the world have some little sprinklings of reason more than the rest, yet that they may the better manage it, even in this as well as in other things, they call me to counsel; and I give them such as is worthy of myself, to wit, that they take to them a wife--a silly thing, God wot, and foolish, yet wanton and pleasant, by which means the roughness of the masculine temper is seasoned and sweetened by her folly. For in that Plato seems to doubt under what genus he should put woman, to wit, that of rational creatures or brutes, he intended no other in it than to show the apparent folly of the sex. For if perhaps any of them goes about to be thought wiser than the rest, what else does she do but play the fool twice, as if a man should "teach a cow to dance," "a thing quite against the hair." For as it doubles the crime if anyone should put a disguise upon Nature, or endeavor to bring her to that she will in no wise bear, according to that proverb of the Greeks, "An ape is an ape, though clad in scarlet;" so a woman is a woman still, that is to say foolish, let her put on whatever vizard she please.
But, by the way, I hope that sex is not so foolish as to take offense at this, that I myself, being a woman, and Folly too, have attributed folly to them. For if they weigh it right, they needs must acknowledge that they owe it to folly that they are more fortunate than men. As first their beauty, which, and that not without cause, they prefer before everything, since by its means they exercise a tyranny even upon tyrants themselves; otherwise, whence proceeds that sour look, rough skin, bushy beard, and such other things as speak plain old age in a man, but from that disease of wisdom? Whereas women's cheeks are ever plump and smooth, their voice small, their skin soft, as if they imitated a certain kind of perpetual youth. Again, what greater thing do they wish in their whole lives than that they may please the men? For to what other purpose are all those dresses, washes, baths, curlings, slops, perfumes, and those several little tricks of setting their faces, painting their eyebrows, and smoothing their skins? And now tell me, what higher letters of recommendation have they to men than this folly? For what is it they do not permit them to do? And to what other purpose than that of pleasure? Wherein yet their folly is not the least thing that pleases; which so true it is, I think no one will deny, that does but consider with himself, what foolish discourse and odd gambols pass between a man and his woman, as often as he had a mind to be gamesome? And so I have shown you whence the first and chiefest delight of man's life springs.
But there are some, you'll say, and those too none of the youngest, that have a greater kindness for the pot than the petticoat and place their chiefest pleasure in good fellowship. If there can be any great entertainment without a woman at it, let others look to it. This I am sure, there was never any pleasant which folly gave not the relish to. Insomuch that if they find no occasion of laughter, they send for "one that may make it," or hire some buffoon flatterer, whose ridiculous discourse may put by the gravity of the company. For to what purpose were it to clog our stomachs with dainties, junkets, and the like stuff, unless our eyes and ears, nay whole mind, were likewise entertained with jests, merriments, and laughter? But of these kind of second courses I am the only cook; though yet those ordinary practices of our feasts, as choosing a king, throwing dice, drinking healths, trolling it round, dancing the cushion, and the like, were not invented by the seven wise men but myself, and that too for the common pleasure of mankind. The nature of all which things is such that the more of folly they have, the more they conduce to human life, which, if it were unpleasant, did not deserve the name of life; and other than such it could not well be, did not these kind of diversions wipe away tediousness, next cousin to the other.
But perhaps there are some that neglect this way of pleasure and rest satisfied in the enjoyment of their friends, calling friendship the most desirable of all things, more necessary than either air, fire, or water; so delectable that he that shall take it out of the world had as good put out the sun; and, lastly, so commendable, if yet that make anything to the matter, that neither the philosophers themselves doubted to reckon it among their chiefest good. But what if I show you that I am both the beginning and end of this so great good also? Nor shall I go about to prove it by fallacies, sorites, dilemmas, or other the like subtleties of logicians, but after my blunt way point out the thing as clearly as it were with my finger.
And now tell me if to wink, slip over, be blind at, or deceived in the vices of our friends, nay, to admire and esteem them for virtues, be not at least the next degree to folly? What is it when one kisses his mistress' freckle neck, another the wart on her nose? When a father shall swear his squint-eyed child is more lovely than Venus? What is this, I say, but mere folly? And so, perhaps you'll cry it is; and yet 'tis this only that joins friends together and continues them so joined. I speak of ordinary men, of whom none are born without their imperfections, and happy is he that is pressed with the least: for among wise princes there is either no friendship at all, or if there be, 'tis unpleasant and reserved, and that too but among a very few 'twere a crime to say none. For that the greatest part of mankind are fools, nay there is not anyone that dotes not in many things; and friendship, you know, is seldom made but among equals. And yet if it should so happen that there were a mutual good will between them, it is in no wise firm nor very long lived; that is to say, among such as are morose and more circumspect than needs, as being eagle-sighted into his friends' faults, but so blear-eyed to their own that they take not the least notice of the wallet that hangs behind their own shoulders. Since then the nature of man is such that there is scarce anyone to be found that is not subject to many errors, add to this the great diversity of minds and studies, so many slips, oversights, and chances of human life, and how is it possible there should be any true friendship between those Argus, so much as one hour, were it not for that which the Greeks excellently call euetheian? And you may render by folly or good nature, choose you whether. But what? Is not the author and parent of all our love, Cupid, as blind as a beetle? And as with him all colors agree, so from him is it that everyone likes his own sweeterkin best, though never so ugly, and "that an old man dotes on his old wife, and a boy on his girl." These things are not only done everywhere but laughed at too; yet as ridiculous as they are, they make society pleasant, and, as it were, glue it together.
And what has been said of friendship may more reasonably be presumed of matrimony, which in truth is no other than an inseparable conjunction of life. Good God! What divorces, or what not worse than that, would daily happen were not the converse between a man and his wife supported and cherished by flattery, apishness, gentleness, ignorance, dissembling, certain retainers of mine also! Whoop holiday! how few marriages should we have, if the husband should but thoroughly examine how many tricks his pretty little mop of modesty has played before she was married! And how fewer of them would hold together, did not most of the wife's actions escape the husband's knowledge through his neglect or sottishness! And for this also you are beholden to me, by whose means it is that the husband is pleasant to his wife, the wife to her husband, and the house kept in quiet. A man is laughed at, when seeing his wife weeping he licks up her tears. But how much happier is it to be thus deceived than by being troubled with jealousy not only to torment himself but set all things in a hubbub!
In fine, I am so necessary to the making of all society and manner of life both delightful and lasting, that neither would the people long endure their governors, nor the servant his master, nor the master his footman, nor the scholar his tutor, nor one friend another, nor the wife her husband, nor the usurer the borrower, nor a soldier his commander, nor one companion another, unless all of them had their interchangeable failings, one while flattering, other while prudently conniving, and generally sweetening one another with some small relish of folly.
And now you'd think I had said all, but you shall hear yet greater things. Will he, I pray, love anyone that hates himself? Or ever agree with another who is not at peace with himself? Or beget pleasure in another that is troublesome to himself? I think no one will say it that is not more foolish than Folly. And yet, if you should exclude me, there's no man but would be so far from enduring another that he would stink in his own nostrils, be nauseated with his own actions, and himself become odious to himself; forasmuch as Nature, in too many things rather a stepdame than a parent to us, has imprinted that evil in men, especially such as have least judgment, that everyone repents him of his own condition and admires that of others. Whence it comes to pass that all her gifts, elegancy, and graces corrupt and perish. For what benefit is beauty, the greatest blessing of heaven, if it be mixed with affectation? What youth, if corrupted with the severity of old age?
Lastly, what is that in the whole business of a man's life he can do with any grace to himself or others --for it is not so much a thing of art, as the very life of every action, that it be done with a good meen--unless this my friend and companion, Self-love, be present with it? Nor does she without cause supply me the place of a sister, since her whole endeavors are to act my part everywhere. For what is more foolish than for a man to study nothing else than how to please himself? To make himself the object of his own admiration? And yet, what is there that is either delightful or taking, nay rather what not the contrary, that a man does against the hair? Take away this salt of life, and the orator may even sit still with his action, the musician with all his division will be able to please no man, the player be hissed off the stage, the poet and all his Muses ridiculous, the painter with his art contemptible, and the physician with all his slip-slops go a-begging. Lastly, you will be taken for an ugly fellow instead of a beautiful, for old and decrepit instead of youthful, and a beast instead of a wise man, a child instead of eloquent, and instead of a well-bred man, a clown. So necessary a thing it is that everyone flatter himself and commend himself to himself before he can be commended by others.
Lastly, since it is the chief point of happiness "that a man is willing to be what he is," you have further abridged in this my Self-love, that no man is ashamed of his own face, no man of his own wit, no man of his own parentage, no man of his own house, no man of his manner of living, not any man of his own country; so that a Highlander has no desire to change with an Italian, a Thracian with an Athenian, not a Scythian for the Fortunate Islands. O the singular care of Nature, that in so great a variety of things has made all equal! Where she has been sometimes sparing of her gifts she has recompensed it with the mote of self-love; though here, I must confess, I speak foolishly, it being the greatest of all other her gifts: to say nothing that no great action was ever attempted without my motion, or art brought to perfection without my help.
Is not war the very root and matter of all famed enterprises? And yet what more foolish than to undertake it for I know what trifles, especially when both parties are sure to lose more than they get by the bargain? For of those that are slain, not a word of them; and for the rest, when both sides are close engaged "and the trumpets make an ugly noise," what use of those wise men, I pray, that are so exhausted with study that their thin, cold blood has scarce any spirits left? No, it must be those blunt, fat fellows, that by how much the more they exceed in courage, fall short in understanding. Unless perhaps one had rather choose Demosthenes for a soldier, who, following the example of Archilochius, threw away his arms and betook him to his heels e'er he had scarce seen his enemy; as ill a soldier, as happy an orator.
But counsel, you'll say, is not of least concern in matters of war. In a general I grant it; but this thing of warring is not part of philosophy, but managed by parasites, panders, thieves, cut-throats, plowmen, sots, spendthrifts, and such other dregs of mankind, not philosophers; who how unapt they are even for common converse, let Socrates, whom the oracle of Apollo, though not so wisely, judged "the wisest of all men living," be witness; who stepping up to speak somewhat, I know not what, in public was forced to come down again well laughed at for his pains. Though yet in this he was not altogether a fool, that he refused the appellation of wise, and returning it back to the oracle, delivered his opinion that a wise man should abstain from meddling with public business; unless perhaps he should have rather admonished us to beware of wisdom if we intended to be reckoned among the number of men, there being nothing but his wisdom that first accused and afterwards sentenced him to the drinking of his poisoned cup. For while, as you find him in Aristophanes, philosophizing about clouds and ideas, measuring how far a flea could leap, and admitting that so small a creature as a fly should make so great a buzz, he meddled not with anything that concerned common life. But his master being in danger of his head, his scholar Plato is at hand, to wit that famous patron, that being disturbed with the noise of the people, could not go through half his first sentence. What should I speak of Theophrastus, who being about to make an oration, became as dumb as if he had met a wolf in his way, which yet would have put courage in a man of war? Or Isocrates, that was so cowhearted that he dared never attempt it? Or Tully, that great founder of the Roman eloquence, that could never begin to speak without an odd kind of trembling, like a boy that had got the hiccough; which Fabius interprets as an argument of a wise orator and one that was sensible of what he was doing; and while he says it, does he not plainly confess that wisdom is a great obstacle to the true management of business? What would become of them, think you, were they to fight it out at blows that are so dead through fear when the contest is only with empty words?
And next to these is cried up, forsooth, that goodly sentence of Plato's, "Happy is that commonwealth where a philosopher is prince, or whose prince is addicted to philosophy." When yet if you consult historians, you'll find no princes more pestilent to the commonwealth than where the empire has fallen to some smatterer in philosophy or one given to letters. To the truth of which I think the Catoes give sufficient credit; of whom the one was ever disturbing the peace of the commonwealth with his hair-brained accusations; the other, while he too wisely vindicated its liberty, quite overthrew it. Add to this the Bruti, Cassii, nay Cicero himself, that was no less pernicious to the commonwealth of Rome than was Demosthenes to that of Athens. Besides M. Antoninus (that I may give you one instance that there was once one good emperor; for with much ado I can make it out) was become burdensome and hated of his subjects upon no other score but that he was so great a philosopher. But admitting him good, he did the commonwealth more hurt in leaving behind him such a son as he did than ever he did it good by his own government. For these kind of men that are so given up to the study of wisdom are generally most unfortunate, but chiefly in their children; Nature, it seems, so providently ordering it, lest this mischief of wisdom should spread further among mankind. For which reason it is manifest why Cicero's son was so degenerate, and that wise Socrates' children, as one has well observed, were more like their mother than their father, that is to say, fools.
However this were to be born with, if only as to public employments they were "like a sow upon a pair of organs," were they anything more apt to discharge even the common offices of life. Invite a wise man to a feast and he'll spoil the company, either with morose silence or troublesome disputes. Take him out to dance, and you'll swear "a cow would have done it better." Bring him to the theatre, and his very looks are enough to spoil all, till like Cato he take an occasion of withdrawing rather than put off his supercilious gravity. Let him fall into discourse, and he shall make more sudden stops than if he had a wolf before him. Let him buy, or sell, or in short go about any of those things without which there is no living in this world, and you'll say this piece of wisdom were rather a stock than a man, of so little use is he to himself, country, or friends; and all because he is wholly ignorant of common things and lives a course of life quite different from the people; by which means it is impossible but that he contract a popular odium, to wit, by reason of the great diversity of their life and souls. For what is there at all done among men that is not full of folly, and that too from fools and to fools? Against which universal practice if any single one shall dare to set up his throat, my advice to him is, that following the example of Timon, he retire into some desert and there enjoy his wisdom to himself.
But, to return to my design, what power was it that drew those stony, oaken, and wild people into cities but flattery? For nothing else is signified by Amphion and Orpheus' harp. What was it that, when the common people of Rome were like to have destroyed all by their mutiny, reduced them to obedience? Was it a philosophical oration? Least. But a ridiculous and childish fable of the belly and the rest of the members. And as good success had Themistocles in his of the fox and hedgehog. What wise man's oration could ever have done so much with the people as Sertorius' invention of his white hind? Or his ridiculous emblem of pulling off a horse's tail hair by hair? Or as Lycurgus his example of his two whelps? To say nothing of Minos and Numa, both which ruled their foolish multitudes with fabulous inventions; with which kind of toys that great and powerful beast, the people, are led anyway. Again what city ever received Plato's or Aristotle's laws, or Socrates' precepts? But, on the contrary, what made the Decii devote themselves to the infernal gods, or Q. Curtius to leap into the gulf, but an empty vainglory, a most bewitching siren? And yet 'tis strange it should be so condemned by those wise philosophers. For what is more foolish, say they, than for a suppliant suitor to flatter the people, to buy their favor with gifts, to court the applauses of so many fools, to please himself with their acclamations, to be carried on the people's shoulders as in triumph, and have a brazen statue in the marketplace? Add to this the adoption of names and surnames, those divine honors given to a man of no reputation, and the deification of the most wicked tyrants with public ceremonies; most foolish things, and such as one Democritus is too little to laugh at. Who denies it? And yet from this root sprang all the great acts of the heroes which the pens of so many eloquent men have extolled to the skies. In a word, this folly is that that laid the foundation of cities; and by it, empire, authority, religion, policy, and public actions are preserved; neither is there anything in human life that is not a kind of pastime of folly.
But to speak of arts, what set men's wits on work to invent and transmit to posterity so many famous, as they conceive, pieces of learning but the thirst of glory? With so much loss of sleep, such pains and travail, have the most foolish of men thought to purchase themselves a kind of I know not what fame, than which nothing can be more vain. And yet notwithstanding, you owe this advantage to folly, and which is the most delectable of all other, that you reap the benefit of other men's madness.
And now, having vindicated to myself the praise of fortitude and industry, what think you if I do the same by that of prudence? But some will say, you may as well join fire and water. It may be so. But yet I doubt not but to succeed even in this also, if, as you have done hitherto, you will but favor me with your attention. And first, if prudence depends upon experience, to whom is the honor of that name more proper? To the wise man, who partly out of modesty and partly distrust of himself, attempts nothing; or the fool, whom neither modesty which he never had, nor danger which he never considers, can discourage from anything? The wise man has recourse to the books of the ancients, and from thence picks nothing but subtleties of words. The fool, in undertaking and venturing on the business of the world, gathers, if I mistake not, the true prudence, such as Homer though blind may be said to have seen when he said, "The burnt child dreads the fire." For there are two main obstacles to the knowledge of things, modesty that casts a mist before the understanding, and fear that, having fancied a danger, dissuades us from the attempt. But from these folly sufficiently frees us, and few there are that rightly understand of what great advantage it is to blush at nothing and attempt everything.
But if you had rather take prudence for that that consists in the judgment of things, hear me, I beseech you, how far they are from it that yet crack of the name. For first 'tis evident that all human things, like Alcibiades' Sileni or rural gods, carry a double face, but not the least alike; so that what at first sight seems to be death, if you view it narrowly may prove to be life; and so the contrary. What appears beautiful may chance to be deformed; what wealthy, a very beggar; what infamous, praiseworthy; what learned, a dunce; what lusty, feeble; what jocund, sad; what noble, base; what lucky, unfortunate; what friendly, an enemy; and what healthful, noisome. In short, view the inside of these Sileni, and you'll find them quite other than what they appear; which, if perhaps it shall not seem so philosophically spoken, I'll make it plain to you "after my blunt way." Who would not conceive a prince a great lord and abundant in everything? But yet being so ill-furnished with the gifts of the mind, and ever thinking he shall never have enough, he's the poorest of all men. And then for his mind so given up to vice, 'tis a shame how it enslaves him. I might in like manner philosophize of the rest; but let this one, for example's sake, be enough.
Yet why this? will someone say. Have patience, and I'll show you what I drive at. If anyone seeing a player acting his part on a stage should go about to strip him of his disguise and show him to the people in his true native form, would he not, think you, not only spoil the whole design of the play, but deserve himself to be pelted off with stones as a phantastical fool and one out of his wits? But nothing is more common with them than such changes; the same person one while impersonating a woman, and another while a man; now a youngster, and by and by a grim seignior; now a king, and presently a peasant; now a god, and in a trice again an ordinary fellow. But to discover this were to spoil all, it being the only thing that entertains the eyes of the spectators. And what is all this life but a kind of comedy, wherein men walk up and down in one another's disguises and act their respective parts, till the property-man brings them back to the attiring house. And yet he often orders a different dress, and makes him that came but just now off in the robes of a king put on the rags of a beggar. Thus are all things represented by counterfeit, and yet without this there was no living.
And here if any wise man, as it were dropped from heaven, should start up and cry, this great thing whom the world looks upon for as a god and I know not what is not so much as a man, for that like a beast he is led by his passions, but the worst of slaves, inasmuch as he gives himself up willingly to so many and such detestable masters. Again if he should bid a man that were bewailing the death of his father to laugh, for that he now began to live by having got an estate, without which life is but a kind of death; or call another that were boasting of his family ill begotten or base, because he is so far removed from virtue that is the only fountain of nobility; and so of the rest: what else would he get by it but be thought himself mad and frantic? For as nothing is more foolish than preposterous wisdom, so nothing is more unadvised than a forward unseasonable prudence. And such is his that does not comply with the present time "and order himself as the market goes," but forgetting that law of feasts, "either drink or begone," undertakes to disprove a common received opinion. Whereas on the contrary 'tis the part of a truly prudent man not to be wise beyond his condition, but either to take no notice of what the world does, or run with it for company. But this is foolish, you'll say; nor shall I deny it, provided always you be so civil on the other side as to confess that this is to act a part in that world.
But, O you gods, "shall I speak or hold my tongue?" But why should I be silent in a thing that is more true than truth itself? However it might not be amiss perhaps in so great an affair to call forth the Muses from Helicon, since the poets so often invoke them upon every foolish occasion. Be present then awhile, and assist me, you daughters of Jupiter, while I make it out that there is no way to that so much famed wisdom, nor access to that fortress as they call it of happiness, but under the banner of Folly. And first 'tis agreed of all hands that our passions belong to Folly; inasmuch as we judge a wise man from a fool by this, that the one is ordered by them, the other by reason; and therefore the Stoics remove from a wise man all disturbances of mind as so many diseases. But these passions do not only the office of a tutor to such as are making towards the port of wisdom, but are in every exercise of virtue as it were spurs and incentives, nay and encouragers to well doing: which though that great Stoic Seneca most strongly denies, and takes from a wise man all affections whatever, yet in doing that he leaves him not so much as a man but rather a new kind of god that was never yet nor ever like to be. Nay, to speak plainer, he sets up a stony semblance of a man, void of all sense and common feeling of humanity. And much good to them with this wise man of theirs; let them enjoy him to themselves, love him without competitors, and live with him in Plato's commonwealth, the country of ideas, of Tantalus' orchards. For who would not shun and startle at such a man, as at some unnatural accident or spirit? A man dead to all sense of nature and common affections, and no more moved with love or pity than if he were a flint or rock; whose censure nothing escapes; that commits no errors himself, but has a lynx's eyes upon others; measures everything by an exact line, and forgives nothing; pleases himself with himself only; the only rich, the only wise, the only free man, and only king; in brief, the only man that is everything, but in his own single judgment only; that cares not for the friendship of any man, being himself a friend to no man; makes no doubt to make the gods stoop to him, and condemns and laughs at the whole actions of our life? And yet such a beast is this their perfect wise man. But tell me pray, if the thing were to be carried by most voices, what city would choose him for its governor, or what army desire him for their general? What woman would have such a husband, what goodfellow such a guest, or what servant would either wish or endure such a master? Nay, who had not rather have one of the middle sort of fools, who, being a fool himself, may the better know how to command or obey fools; and who though he please his like, 'tis yet the greater number; one that is kind to his wife, merry among his friends, a boon companion, and easy to be lived with; and lastly one that thinks nothing of humanity should be a stranger to him? But I am weary of this wise man, and therefore I'll proceed to some other advantages.
Go to then. Suppose a man in some lofty high tower, and that he could look round him, as the poets say Jupiter was now and then wont. To how many misfortunes would he find the life of man subject? How miserable, to say no worse, our birth, how difficult our education; to how many wrongs our childhood exposed, to what pains our youth; how unsupportable our old age, and grievous our unavoidable death? As also what troops of diseases beset us, how many casualties hang over our heads, how many troubles invade us, and how little there is that is not steeped in gall? To say nothing of those evils one man brings upon another, as poverty, imprisonment, infamy, dishonesty, racks, snares, treachery, reproaches, actions, deceits--but I'm got into as endless a work as numbering the sands--for what offenses mankind have deserved these things, or what angry god compelled them to be born into such miseries is not my present business. Yet he that shall diligently examine it with himself, would he not, think you, approve the example of the Milesian virgins and kill himself? But who are they that for no other reason but that they were weary of life have hastened their own fate? Were they not the next neighbors to wisdom? among whom, to say nothing of Diogenes, Xenocrates, Cato, Cassius, Brutus, that wise man Chiron, being offered immortality, chose rather to die than be troubled with the same thing always.
And now I think you see what would become of the world if all men should be wise; to wit it were necessary we got another kind of clay and some better potter. But I, partly through ignorance, partly unadvisedness, and sometimes through forgetfulness of evil, do now and then so sprinkle pleasure with the hopes of good and sweeten men up in their greatest misfortunes that they are not willing to leave this life,. even then when according to the account of the destinies this life has left them; and by how much the less reason they have to live, by so much the more they desire it; so far are they from being sensible of the least wearisomeness of life. Of my gift it is, that you have so many old Nestors everywhere that have scarce left them so much as the shape of a man; stutterers, dotards, toothless, grayhaired, bald; or rather, to use the words of Aristophanes, "Nasty, crumpled, miserable, shriveled, bald, toothless, and wanting their baubles," yet so delighted with life and to be thought young that one dyes his gray hairs; another covers his baldness with a periwig; another gets a set of new teeth; another falls desperately in love with a young wench and keeps more flickering about her than a young man would have been ashamed of. For to see such an old crooked piece with one foot in the grave to marry a plump young wench, and that too without a portion, is so common that men almost expect to be commended for it. But the best sport of all is to see our old women, even dead with age, and such skeletons one would think they had stolen out of their graves, and ever mumbling in their mouths, "Life is sweet;" and as old as they are, still caterwauling, daily plastering their face, scarce ever from the glass, gossiping, dancing, and writing love letters. These things are laughed at as foolish, as indeed they are; yet they please themselves, live merrily, swim in pleasure, and in a word are happy, by my courtesy. But I would have them to whom these things seem ridiculous to consider with themselves whether it be not better to live so pleasant a life in such kind of follies, than, as the proverb goes, "to take a halter and hang themselves." Besides though these things may be subject to censure, it concerns not my fools in the least, inasmuch as they take no notice of it; or if they do, they easily neglect it. If a stone fall upon a man's head, that's evil indeed; but dishonesty, infamy, villainy, ill reports carry no more hurt in them than a man is sensible of; and if a man have no sense of them, they are no longer evils. What are you the worse if the people hiss at you, so you applaud yourself? And that a man be able to do so, he must owe it to folly.
But methinks I hear the philosophers opposing it and saying 'tis a miserable thing for a man to be foolish, to err, mistake, and know nothing truly. Nay rather, this is to be a man. And why they should call it miserable, I see no reason; forasmuch as we are so born, so bred, so instructed, nay such is the common condition of us all. And nothing can be called miserable that suits with its kind, unless perhaps you'll think a man such because he can neither fly with birds, nor walk on all four with beasts, and is not armed with horns as a bull. For by the same reason he would call the warlike horse unfortunate, because he understood not grammar, nor ate cheese-cakes; and the bull miserable, because he'd make so ill a wrestler. And therefore, as a horse that has no skill in grammar is not miserable, no more is man in this respect, for that they agree with his nature. But again, the virtuosi may say that there was particularly added to man the knowledge of sciences, by whose help he might recompense himself in understanding for what nature cut him short in other things. As if this had the least face of truth, that Nature that was so solicitously watchful in the production of gnats, herbs, and flowers should have so slept when she made man, that he should have need to be helped by sciences, which that old devil Theuth, the evil genius of mankind, first invented for his destruction, and are so little conducive to happiness that they rather obstruct it; to which purpose they are properly said to be first found out, as that wise king in Plato argues touching the invention of letters.
Sciences therefore crept into the world with other the pests of mankind, from the same head from whence all other mischiefs spring; we'll suppose it devils, for so the name imports when you call them demons, that is to say, knowing. For that simple people of the golden age, being wholly ignorant of everything called learning, lived only by the guidance and dictates of nature; for what use of grammar, where every man spoke the same language and had no further design than to understand one another? What use of logic, where there was no bickering about the double-meaning words? What need of rhetoric, where there were no lawsuits? Or to what purpose laws, where there were no ill manners? from which without doubt good laws first came. Besides, they were more religious than with an impious curiosity to dive into the secrets of nature, the dimension of stars, the motions, effects, and hidden causes of things; as believing it a crime for any man to attempt to be wise beyond his condition. And as to the inquiry of what was beyond heaven, that madness never came into their heads. But the purity of the golden age declining by degrees, first, as I said before, arts were invented by the evil genii; and yet but few, and those too received by fewer. After that the Chaldean superstition and Greek newfangledness, that had little to do, added I know not how many more; mere torments of wit, and that so great that even grammar alone is work enough for any man for his whole life.
Though yet among these sciences those only are in esteem that come nearest to common sense, that is to say, folly. Divines are half starved, naturalists out of heart, astrologers laughed at, and logicians slighted; only the physician is worth all the rest. And among them too, the more unlearned, impudent, or unadvised he is, the more he is esteemed, even among princes. For physic, especially as it is now professed by most men, is nothing but a branch of flattery, no less than rhetoric. Next them, the second place is given to our law-drivers, if not the first, whose profession, though I say it myself, most men laugh at as the ass of philosophy; yet there's scarce any business, either so great or so small, but is managed by these asses. These purchase their great lordships, while in the meantime the divine, having run through the whole body of divinity, sits gnawing a radish and is in continual warfare with lice and fleas. As therefore those arts are best that have the nearest affinity with folly, so are they most happy of all others that have least commerce with sciences and follow the guidance of Nature, who is in no wise imperfect, unless perhaps we endeavor to leap over those bounds she has appointed to us. Nature hates all false coloring and is ever best where she is least adulterated with art.
Go to then, don't you find among the several kinds of living creatures that they thrive best that understand no more than what Nature taught them? What is more prosperous or wonderful than the bee? And though they have not the same judgment of sense as other bodies have, yet wherein has architecture gone beyond their building of houses? What philosopher ever founded the like republic? Whereas the horse, that comes so near man in understanding and is therefore so familiar with him, is also partaker of his misery. For while he thinks it a shame to lose the race, it often happens that he cracks his wind; and in the battle, while he contends for victory, he's cut down himself, and, together with his rider "lies biting the earth;" not to mention those strong bits, sharp spurs, close stables, arms, blows, rider, and briefly, all that slavery he willingly submits to, while, imitating those men of valor, he so eagerly strives to be revenged of the enemy. Than which how much more were the life of flies or birds to be wished for, who living by the instinct of nature, look no further than the present, if yet man would but let them alone in it. And if at anytime they chance to be taken, and being shut up in cages endeavor to imitate our speaking, 'tis strange how they degenerate from their native gaiety. So much better in every respect are the works of nature than the adulteries of art.
In like manner I can never sufficiently praise that Pythagoras in a dunghill cock, who being but one had been yet everything, a philosopher, a man, a woman, a king, a private man, a fish, a horse, a frog, and, I believe too, a sponge; and at last concluded that no creature was more miserable than man, for that all other creatures are content with those bounds that nature set them, only man endeavors to exceed them. And again, among men he gives the precedency not to the learned or the great, but the fool. Nor had that Gryllus less wit than Ulysses with his many counsels, who chose rather to lie grunting in a hog sty than be exposed with the other to so many hazards. Nor does Homer, that father of trifles, dissent from me; who not only called all men "wretched and full of calamity," but often his great pattern of wisdom, Ulysses, "miserable;" Paris, Ajax, and Achilles nowhere. And why, I pray but that, like a cunning fellow and one that was his craft's master, he did nothing without the advice of Pallas? In a word he was too wise, and by that means ran wide of nature. As therefore among men they are least happy that study wisdom, as being in this twice fools, that when they are born men, they should yet so far forget their condition as to affect the life of gods; and after the example of the giants, with their philosophical gimcracks make a war upon nature: so they on the other side seem as little miserable as is possible who come nearest to beasts and never attempt anything beyond man. Go to then, let's try how demonstrable this is; not by enthymemes or the imperfect syllogisms of the Stoics, but by plain, downright, and ordinary examples.
And now, by the immortal gods! I think nothing more happy than that generation of men we commonly call fools, idiots, lack-wits, and dolts; splendid titles too, as I conceive them. I'll tell you a thing, which at first perhaps may seem foolish and absurd, yet nothing more true. And first they are not afraid of death--no small evil, by Jupiter! They are not tormented with the conscience of evil acts, not terrified with the fables of ghosts, nor frightened with spirits and goblins. They are not distracted with the fear of evils to come nor the hopes of future good. In short, they are not disturbed with those thousand of cares to which this life is subject. They are neither modest, nor fearful, nor ambitious, nor envious, nor love they any man. And lastly, if they should come nearer even to the very ignorance of brutes, they could not sin, for so hold the divines. And now tell me, you wise fool, with how many troublesome cares your mind is continually perplexed; heap together all the discommodities of your life, and then you'll be sensible from how many evils I have delivered my fools. Add to this that they are not only merry, play, sing, and laugh themselves, but make mirth wherever they come, a special privilege it seems the gods have given them to refresh the pensiveness of life. Whence it is that whereas the world is so differently affected one towards another, that all men indifferently admit them as their companions, desire, feed, cherish, embrace them, take their parts upon all occasions, and permit them without offense to do or say what they like. And so little does everything desire to hurt them, that even the very beasts, by a kind of natural instinct of their innocence no doubt, pass by their injuries. For of them it may be truly said that they are consecrate to the gods, and therefore and not without cause do men have them in such esteem. Whence is it else that they are in so great request with princes that they can neither eat nor drink, go anywhere, or be an hour without them? Nay, and in some degree they prefer these fools before their crabbish wise men, whom yet they keep about them for state's sake. Nor do I conceive the reason so difficult, or that it should seem strange why they are preferred before the others, for that these wise men speak to princes about nothing but grave, serious matters, and trusting to their own parts and learning do not fear sometimes "to grate their tender ears with smart truths;" but fools fit them with that they most delight in, as jests, laughter, abuses of other men, wanton pastimes, and the like.
Again, take notice of this no contemptible blessing which Nature has given fools, that they are the only plain, honest men and such as speak truth. And what is more commendable than truth? For though that proverb of Alcibiades in Plato attributes truth to drunkards and children, yet the praise of it is particularly mine, even from the testimony of Euripides, among whose other things there is extant that his honorable saying concerning us, "A fool speaks foolish things." For whatever a fool has in his heart, he both shows it in his looks and expresses it in his discourse; while the wise men's are those two tongues which the same Euripides mentions, whereof the one speaks truth, the other what they judge most seasonable for the occasion. These are they "that turn black into white," blow hot and cold with the same breath, and carry a far different meaning in their breast from what they feign with their tongue. Yet in the midst of all their prosperity, princes in this respect seem to me most unfortunate, because, having no one to tell them truth, they are forced to receive flatterers for friends.
But, someone may say, the ears of princes are strangers to truth, and for this reason they avoid those wise men, because they fear lest someone more frank than the rest should dare to speak to them things rather true than pleasant; for so the matter is, that they don't much care for truth. And yet this is found by experience among my fools, that not only truths but even open reproaches are heard with pleasure; so that the same thing which, if it came from a wise man's mouth might prove a capital crime, spoken by a fool is received with delight. For truth carries with it a certain peculiar power of pleasing, if no accident fall in to give occasion of offense; which faculty the gods have given only to fools. And for the same reasons is it that women are so earnestly delighted with this kind of men, as being more propense by nature to pleasure and toys. And whatsoever they may happen to do with them, although sometimes it be of the most serious, yet they turn it to jest and laughter, as that sex was ever quickwitted, especially to color their own faults.
But to return to the happiness of fools, who when they have passed over this life with a great deal of pleasantness and without so much as the least fear or sense of death, they go straight forth into the Elysian field, to recreate their pious and careless souls with such sports as they used here. Let's proceed then, and compare the condition of any of your wise men with that of this fool. Fancy to me now some example of wisdom you'd set up against him; one that had spent his childhood and youth in learning the sciences and lost the sweetest part of his life in watchings, cares, studies, and for the remaining part of it never so much as tasted the least of pleasure; ever sparing, poor, sad, sour, unjust, and rigorous to himself, and troublesome and hateful to others; broken with paleness, leanness, crassness, sore eyes, and an old age and death contracted before their time (though yet, what matter is it, when he die that never lived?); and such is the picture of this great wise man.
And here again do those frogs of the Stoics croak at me and say that nothing is more miserable than madness. But folly is the next degree, if not the very thing. For what else is madness than for a man to be out of his wits? But to let them see how they are clean out of the way, with the Muses' good favor we'll take this syllogism in pieces. Subtly argued, I must confess, but as Socrates in Plato teaches us how by splitting one Venus and one Cupid to make two of either, in like manner should those logicians have done and distinguished madness from madness, if at least they would be thought to be well in their wits themselves. For all madness is not miserable, or Horace had never called his poetical fury a beloved madness; nor Plato placed the raptures of poets, prophets, and lovers among the chiefest blessings of this life; nor that sibyl in Virgil called Aeneas' travels mad labors. But there are two sorts of madness, the one that which the revengeful Furies send privily from hell, as often as they let loose their snakes and put into men's breasts either the desire of war, or an insatiate thirst after gold, or some dishonest love, or parricide, or incest, or sacrilege, or the like plagues, or when they terrify some guilty soul with the conscience of his crimes; the other, but nothing like this, that which comes from me and is of all other things the most desirable; which happens as often as some pleasing dotage not only clears the mind of its troublesome cares but renders it more jocund. And this was that which, as a special blessing of the gods, Cicero, writing to his friend Atticus, wished to himself, that he might be the less sensible of those miseries that then hung over the commonwealth.
Nor was that Grecian in Horace much wide of it, who was so far mad that he would sit by himself whole days in the theatre laughing and clapping his hands, as if he had seen some tragedy acting, whereas in truth there was nothing presented; yet in other things a man well enough, pleasant among his friends, kind to his wife, and so good a master to his servants that if they had broken the seal of his bottle, he would not have run mad for it. But at last, when by the care of his friends and physic he was freed from his distemper and become his own man again, he thus expostulates with them, "Now, by Pollux, my friends, you have rather killed than preserved me in thus forcing me from my pleasure." By which you see he liked it so well that he lost it against his will. And trust me, I think they were the madder of the two, and had the greater need of hellebore, that should offer to look upon so pleasant a madness as an evil to be removed by physic; though yet I have not determined whether every distemper of the sense or understanding be to be called madness.
For neither he that having weak eyes should take a mule for an ass, nor he that should admire an insipid poem as excellent would be presently thought mad; but he that not only errs in his senses but is deceived also in his judgment, and that too more than ordinary and upon all occasions--he, I must confess, would be thought to come very near to it. As if anyone hearing an ass bray should take it for excellent music, or a beggar conceive himself a king. And yet this kind of madness, if, as it commonly happens, it turn to pleasure, it brings a great delight not only to them that are possessed with it but to those also that behold it, though perhaps they may not be altogether so mad as the other, for the species of this madness is much larger than the people take it to be. For one mad man laughs at another, and beget themselves a mutual pleasure. Nor does it seldom happen that he that is the more mad, laughs at him that is less mad. And in this every man is the more happy in how many respects the more he is mad; and if I were judge in the case, he should be ranged in that class of folly that is peculiarly mine, which in truth is so large and universal that I scarce know anyone in all mankind that is wise at all hours, or has not some tang or other of madness.
And to this class do they appertain that slight everything in comparison of hunting and protest they take an unimaginable pleasure to hear the yell of the horns and the yelps of the hounds, and I believe could pick somewhat extraordinary out of their very excrement. And then what pleasure they take to see a buck or the like unlaced? Let ordinary fellows cut up an ox or a wether, 'twere a crime to have this done by anything less than a gentleman! who with his hat off, on his bare knees, and a couteau for that purpose (for every sword or knife is not allowable), with a curious superstition and certain postures, lays open the several parts in their respective order; while they that hem him in admire it with silence, as some new religious ceremony, though perhaps they have seen it a hundred times before. And if any of them chance to get the least piece of it, he presently thinks himself no small gentleman. In all which they drive at nothing more than to become beasts themselves, while yet they imagine they live the life of princes.
And next these may be reckoned those that have such an itch of building; one while changing rounds into squares, and presently again squares into rounds, never knowing either measure or end, till at last, reduced to the utmost poverty, there remains not to them so much as a place where they may lay their head, or wherewith to fill their bellies. And why all this? but that they may pass over a few years in feeding their foolish fancies.
And, in my opinion, next these may be reckoned such as with their new inventions and occult arts undertake to change the forms of things and hunt all about after a certain fifth essence; men so bewitched with this present hope that it never repents them of their pains or expense, but are ever contriving how they may cheat themselves, till, having spent all, there is not enough left them to provide another furnace. And yet they have not done dreaming these their pleasant dreams but encourage others, as much as in them lies, to the same happiness. And at last, when they are quite lost in all their expectations, they cheer up themselves with this sentence, "In great things the very attempt is enough," and then complain of the shortness of man's life that is not sufficient for so great an understanding.
And then for gamesters, I am a little doubtful whether they are to be admitted into our college; and yet 'tis a foolish and ridiculous sight to see some addicted so to it that they can no sooner hear the rattling of the dice but their heart leaps and dances again. And then when time after time they are so far drawn on with the hopes of winning that they have made shipwreck of all, and having split their ship on that rock of dice, no less terrible than the bishop and his clerks, scarce got alive to shore, they choose rather to cheat any man of their just debts than not pay the money they lost, lest otherwise, forsooth, they be thought no men of their words. Again what is it, I pray, to see old fellows and half blind to play with spectacles? Nay, and when a justly deserved gout has knotted their knuckles, to hire a caster, or one that may put the dice in the box for them? A pleasant thing, I must confess, did it not for the most part end in quarrels, and therefore belongs rather to the Furies than me.
But there is no doubt but that that kind of men are wholly ours who love to hear or tell feigned miracles and strange lies and are never weary of any tale, though never so long, so it be of ghosts, spirits, goblins, devils, or the like; which the further they are from truth, the more readily they are believed and the more do they tickle their itching ears. And these serve not only to pass away time but bring profit, especially to mass priests and pardoners. And next to these are they that have gotten a foolish but pleasant persuasion that if they can but see a wooden or painted Polypheme Christopher, they shall not die that day; or do but salute a carved Barbara, in the usual set form, that he shall return safe from battle; or make his application to Erasmus on certain days with some small wax candles and proper prayers, that he shall quickly be rich. Nay, they have gotten a Hercules, another Hippolytus, and a St. George, whose horse most religiously set out with trappings and bosses there wants little but they worship; however, they endeavor to make him their friend by some present or other, and to swear by his master's brazen helmet is an oath for a prince. Or what should I say of them that hug themselves with their counterfeit pardons; that have measured purgatory by an hourglass, and can without the least mistake demonstrate its ages, years, months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds, as it were in a mathematical table? Or what of those who, having confidence in certain magical charms and short prayers invented by some pious impostor, either for his soul's health or profit's sake, promise to themselves everything: wealth, honor, pleasure, plenty, good health, long life, lively old age, and the next place to Christ in the other world, which yet they desire may not happen too soon, that is to say before the pleasures of this life have left them?
And now suppose some merchant, soldier, or judge, out of so many rapines, parts with some small piece of money. He straight conceives all that sink of his whole life quite cleansed; so many perjuries, so many lusts, so many debaucheries, so many contentions, so many murders, so many deceits, so many breaches of trusts, so many treacheries bought off, as it were by compact; and so bought off that they may begin upon a new score. But what is more foolish than those, or rather more happy, who daily reciting those seven verses of the Psalms promise to themselves more than the top of felicity? Which magical verses some devil or other, a merry one without doubt but more a blab of his tongue than crafty, is believed to have discovered to St. Bernard, but not without a trick. And these are so foolish that I am half ashamed of them myself, and yet they are approved, and that not only by the common people but even the professors of religion. And what, are not they also almost the same where several countries avouch to themselves their peculiar saint, and as everyone of them has his particular gift, so also his particular form of worship? As, one is good for the toothache; another for groaning women; a third, for stolen goods; a fourth, for making a voyage prosperous; and a fifth, to cure sheep of the rot; and so of the rest, for it would be too tedious to run over all. And some there are that are good for more things than one; but chiefly, the Virgin Mother, to whom the common people do in a manner attribute more than to the Son.
Yet what do they beg of these saints but what belongs to folly? To examine it a little. Among all those offerings which are so frequently hung up in churches, nay up to the very roof of some of them, did you ever see the least acknowledgment from anyone that had left his folly, or grown a hair's breadth the wiser? One escapes a shipwreck, and he gets safe to shore. Another, run through in a duel, recovers. Another, while the rest were fighting, ran out of the field, no less luckily than valiantly. Another, condemned to be hanged, by the favor of some saint or other, a friend to thieves, got off himself by impeaching his fellows. Another escaped by breaking prison. Another recovered from his fever in spite of his physician. Another's poison turning to a looseness proved his remedy rather than death; and that to his wife's no small sorrow, in that she lost both her labor and her charge. Another's cart broke, and he saved his horses. Another preserved from the fall of a house. All these hang up their tablets, but no one gives thanks for his recovery from folly; so sweet a thing it is not to be wise, that on the contrary men rather pray against anything than folly.
But why do I launch out into this ocean of superstitions? Had I a hundred tongues, as many mouths, and a voice never so strong, yet were I not able to run over the several sorts of fools or all the names of folly, so thick do they swarm everywhere. And yet your priests make no scruple to receive and cherish them as proper instruments of profit; whereas if some scurvy wise fellow should step up and speak things as they are, as, to live well is the way to die well; the best way to get quit of sin is to add to the money you give the hatred of sin, tears, watchings, prayers, fastings, and amendment of life; such or such a saint will favor you, if you imitate his life-- these, I say, and the like--should this wise man chat to the people, from what happiness into how great troubles would he draw them?
Of this college also are they who in their lifetime appoint with what solemnity they'll be buried, and particularly set down how many torches, how many mourners, how many singers, how many almsmen they will have at it; as if any sense of it could come to them, or that it were a shame to them that their corpse were not honorably interred; so curious are they herein, as if, like the aediles of old, these were to present some shows or banquet to the people.
And though I am in haste, yet I cannot yet pass by them who, though they differ nothing from the meanest cobbler, yet 'tis scarcely credible how they flatter themselves with the empty title of nobility. One derives his pedigree from Aeneas, another from Brutus, a third from the star by the tail of Ursa Major. They show you on every side the statues and pictures of their ancestors; run over their great-grandfathers and the great-great-grandfathers of both lines, and the ancient matches of their families, when themselves yet are but once removed from a statue, if not worse than those trifles they boast of. And yet by means of this pleasant self-love they live a happy life. Nor are they less fools who admire these beasts as if they were gods.
But what do I speak of any one or the other particular kind of men, as if this self-love had not the same effect everywhere and rendered most men superabundantly happy? As when a fellow, more deformed than a baboon, shall believe himself handsomer than Homer's Nereus. Another, as soon as he can draw two or three lines with a compass, presently thinks himself a Euclid. A third, that understands music no more than my horse, and for his voice as hoarse as a dunghill cock, shall yet conceive himself another Hermogenes. But of all madness that's the most pleasant when a man, seeing another any way excellent in what he pretends to himself, makes his boasts of it as confidently as if it were his own. And such was that rich fellow in Seneca, who whenever he told a story had his servants at his elbow to prompt him the names; and to that height had they flattered him that he did not question but he might venture a rubber at cuffs, a man otherwise so weak he could scarce stand, only presuming on this, that he had a company of sturdy servants about him.
Or to what purpose is it I should mind you of our professors of arts? Forasmuch as this self-love is so natural to them all that they had rather part with their father's land than their foolish opinions; but chiefly players, fiddlers, orators, and poets, of which the more ignorant each of them is, the more insolently he pleases himself, that is to say vaunts and spreads out his plumes. And like lips find like lettuce; nay, the more foolish anything is, the more 'tis admired, the greater number being ever tickled at the worst things, because, as I said before, most men are so subject to folly. And therefore if the more foolish a man is, the more he pleases himself and is admired by others, to what purpose should he beat his brains about true knowledge, which first will cost him dear, and next render him the more troublesome and less confident, and lastly, please only a few?
And now I consider it, Nature has planted, not only in particular men but even in every nation, and scarce any city is there without it, a kind of common self-love. And hence is it that the English, besides other things, particularly challenge to themselves beauty, music, and feasting. The Scots are proud of their nobility, alliance to the crown, and logical subtleties. The French think themselves the only wellbred men. The Parisians, excluding all others, arrogate to themselves the only knowledge of divinity. The Italians affirm they are the only masters of good letters and eloquence, and flatter themselves on this account, that of all others they only are not barbarous. In which kind of happiness those of Rome claim the first place, still dreaming to themselves of somewhat, I know not what, of old Rome. The Venetians fancy themselves happy in the opinion of their nobility. The Greeks, as if they were the only authors of sciences, swell themselves with the titles of the ancient heroes. The Turk, and all that sink of the truly barbarous, challenge to themselves the only glory of religion and laugh at Christians as superstitious. And much more pleasantly the Jews expect to this day the coming of the Messiah, and so obstinately contend for their Law of Moses. The Spaniards give place to none in the reputation of soldiery. The Germans pride themselves in their tallness of stature and skill in magic.
And, not to instance in every particular, you see, I conceive, how much satisfaction this Self-love, who has a sister also not unlike herself called Flattery, begets everywhere; for self-love is no more than the soothing of a man's self, which, done to another, is flattery. And though perhaps at this day it may be thought infamous, yet it is so only with them that are more taken with words than things. They think truth is inconsistent with flattery, but that it is much otherwise we may learn from the examples of brute beasts. What more fawning than a dog? And yet what more trusty? What has more of those little tricks than a squirrel? And yet what more loving to man? Unless, perhaps you'll say, men had better converse with fierce lions, merciless tigers, and furious leopards. For that flattery is the most pernicious of all things, by means of which some treacherous persons and mockers have run the credulous into such mischief. But this of mine proceeds from a certain gentleness and uprightness of mind and comes nearer to virtue than its opposite, austerity, or a morose and troublesome peevishness, as Horace calls it. This supports the dejected, relieves the distressed, encourages the fainting, awakens the stupid, refreshes the sick, supplies the untractable, joins loves together, and keeps them so joined. It entices children to take their learning, makes old men frolic, and, under the color of praise, does without offense both tell princes their faults and show them the way to amend them. In short, it makes every man the more jocund and acceptable to himself, which is the chiefest point of felicity. Again, what is more friendly than when two horses scrub one another? And to say nothing of it, that it's a main part of physic, and the only thing in poetry; 'tis the delight and relish of all human society.
But 'tis a sad thing, they say, to be mistaken. Nay rather, he is most miserable that is not so. For they are quite beside the mark that place the happiness of men in things themselves, since it only depends upon opinion. For so great is the obscurity and variety of human affairs that nothing can be clearly known, as it is truly said by our academics, the least insolent of all the philosophers; or if it could, it would but obstruct the pleasure of life. Lastly, the mind of man is so framed that it is rather taken with the false colors than truth; of which if anyone has a mind to make the experiment, let him go to church and hear sermons, in which if there be anything serious delivered, the audience is either asleep, yawning, or weary of it; but if the preacher--pardon my mistake, I would have said declaimer--as too often it happens, fall but into an old wives' story, they're presently awake, prick up their ears and gape after it. In like manner, if there be any poetical saint, or one of whom there goes more stories than ordinary, as for example, a George, a Christopher, or a Barbara, you shall see him more religiously worshipped than Peter, Paul, or even Christ himself. But these things are not for this place.
And now at how cheap a rate is this happiness purchased! Forasmuch as to the thing itself a man's whole endeavor is required, be it never so inconsiderable; but the opinion of it is easily taken up, which yet conduces as much or more to happiness. For suppose a man were eating rotten stockfish, the very smell of which would choke another, and yet believed it a dish for the gods, what difference is there as to his happiness? Whereas on the contrary, if another's stomach should turn at a sturgeon, wherein, I pray, is he happier than the other? If a man have a crooked, ill-favored wife, who yet in his eye may stand in competition with Venus, is it not the same as if she were truly beautiful? Or if seeing an ugly, ill-pointed piece, he should admire the work as believing it some great master's hand, were he not much happier, think you, than they that buy such things at vast rates, and yet perhaps reap less pleasure from them than the other? I know one of my name that gave his new married wife some counterfeit jewels, and as he was a pleasant droll, persuaded her that they were not only right but of an inestimable price; and what difference, I pray, to her, that was as well pleased and contented with glass and kept it as warily as if it had been a treasure? In the meantime the husband saved his money and had this advantage of her folly, that he obliged her as much as if he had bought them at a great rate. Or what difference, think you, between those in Plato's imaginary cave that stand gaping at the shadows and figures of things, so they please themselves and have no need to wish, and that wise man, who, being got loose from them, sees things truly as they are? Whereas that cobbler in Lucian if he might always have continued his golden dreams, he would never have desired any other happiness. So then there is no difference; or, if there be, the fools have the advantage: first, in that their happiness costs them least, that is to say, only some small persuasion; next, that they enjoy it in common. And the possession of no good can be delightful without a companion. For who does not know what a dearth there is of wise men, if yet any one be to be found? And though the Greeks for these so many ages have accounted upon seven only, yet so help me Hercules, do but examine them narrowly, and I'll be hanged if you find one half-witted fellow, nay or so much as one-quarter of a wise man, among them all.
For whereas among the many praises of Bacchus they reckon this the chief, that he washes away cares, and that too in an instant, do but sleep off his weak spirits, and they come on again, as we say, on horseback. But how much larger and more present is the benefit you receive by me, since, as it were with a perpetual drunkenness I fill your minds with mirth, fancies, and jollities, and that too without any trouble? Nor is there any man living whom I let be without it; whereas the gifts of the gods are scrambled, some to one and some to another. The sprightly delicious wine that drives away cares and leaves such a flavor behind it grows not everywhere. Beauty, the gift of Venus, happens to few; and to fewer gives Mercury eloquence. Hercules makes not everyone rich. Homer's Jupiter bestows not empire on all men. Mars oftentimes favors neither side. Many return sad from Apollo's oracle. Phoebus sometimes shoots a plague among us. Neptune drowns more than he saves: to say nothing of those mischievous gods, Plutoes, Ates, punishments, fevers, and the like, not gods but executioners. I am that only Folly that so readily and indifferently bestows my benefits on all. Nor do I look to be entreated, or am I subject to take pet, and require an expiatory sacrifice if some ceremony be omitted. Nor do I beat heaven and earth together if, when the rest of the gods are invited, I am passed by or not admitted to the stream of their sacrifices. For the rest of the gods are so curious in this point that such an omission may chance to spoil a man's business; and therefore one has as good even let them alone as worship them: just like some men, who are so hard to please, and withall so ready to do mischief, that 'tis better be a stranger than have any familiarity with them.
But no man, you'll say, ever sacrificed to Folly or built me a temple. And troth, as I said before, I cannot but wonder at the ingratitude; yet because I am easily to be entreated, I take this also in good part, though truly I can scarce request it. For why should I require incense, wafers, a goat, or sow when all men pay me that worship everywhere which is so much approved even by our very divines? Unless perhaps I should envy Diana that her sacrifices are mingled with human blood. Then do I conceive myself most religiously worshipped when everywhere, as 'tis generally done, men embrace me in their minds, express me in their manners, and represent me in their lives, which worship of the saints is not so ordinary among Christians. How many are there that burn candles to the Virgin Mother, and that too at noonday when there's no need of them! But how few are there that study to imitate her in pureness of life, humility and love of heavenly things, which is the true worship and most acceptable to heaven! Besides why should I desire a temple when the whole world is my temple, and I'm deceived or 'tis a goodly one? Nor can I want priests but in a land where there are no men. Nor am I yet so foolish as to require statues or painted images, which do often obstruct my worship, since among the stupid and gross multitude those figures are worshipped for the saints themselves. And so it would fare with me, as it does with them that are turned out of doors by their substitutes. No, I have statues enough, and as many as there are men, everyone bearing my lively resemblance in his face, how unwilling so ever he be to the contrary. And therefore there is no reason why I should envy the rest of the gods if in particular places they have their particular worship, and that too on set days--as Phoebus at Rhodes; at Cyprus, Venus; at Argos, Juno; at Athens, Minerva; in Olympus, Jupiter; at Tarentum, Neptune; and near the Hellespont, Priapus--as long as the world in general performs me every day much better sacrifices.
Wherein notwithstanding if I shall seem to anyone to have spoken more boldly than truly, let us, if you please, look a little into the lives of men, and it will easily appear not only how much they owe to me, but how much they esteem me even from the highest to the lowest. And yet we will not run over the lives of everyone, for that would be too long, but only some few of the great ones, from whence we shall easily conjecture the rest. For to what purpose is it to say anything of the common people, who without dispute are wholly mine? For they abound everywhere with so many several sorts of folly, and are every day so busy in inventing new, that a thousand Democriti are too few for so general a laughter, though there were another Democritus to laugh at them too. 'Tis almost incredible what sport and pastime they daily make the gods; for though they set aside their sober forenoon hours to dispatch business and receive prayers, yet when they begin to be well whittled with nectar and cannot think of anything that's serious, they get them up into some part of heaven that has better prospect than other and thence look down upon the actions of men. Nor is there anything that pleases them better. Good, good! what an excellent sight it is! How many several hurly-burlies of fools! for I myself sometimes sit among those poetical gods.
Here's one desperately in love with a young wench, and the more she slights him the more outrageously he loves her. Another marries a woman's money, not herself. Another's jealousy keeps more eyes on her than Argos. Another becomes a mourner, and how foolishly he carries it! nay, hires others to bear him company to make it more ridiculous. Another weeps over his mother-in-law's grave. Another spends all he can rap and run on his belly, to be the more hungry after it. Another thinks there is no happiness but in sleep and idleness. Another turmoils himself about other men's business and neglects his own. Another thinks himself rich in taking up moneys and changing securities, as we say borrowing of Peter to pay Paul, and in a short time becomes bankrupt. Another starves himself to enrich his heir. Another for a small and uncertain gain exposes his life to the casualties of seas and winds, which yet no money can restore. Another had rather get riches by war than live peaceably at home. And some there are that think them easiest attained by courting old childless men with presents; and others again by making rich old women believe they love them; both which afford the gods most excellent pastime, to see them cheated by those persons they thought to have over-caught. But the most foolish and basest of all others are our merchants, to wit such as venture on everything be it never so dishonest, and manage it no better; who though they lie by no allowance, swear and forswear, steal, cozen, and cheat, yet shuffle themselves into the first rank, and all because they have gold rings on their fingers. Nor are they without their flattering friars that admire them and give them openly the title of honorable, in hopes, no doubt, to get some small snip of it themselves.
There are also a kind of Pythagoreans with whom all things are so common that if they get anything under their cloaks, they make no more scruple of carrying it away than if it were their own by inheritance. There are others too that are only rich in conceit, and while they fancy to themselves pleasant dreams, conceive that enough to make them happy. Some desire to be accounted wealthy abroad and are yet ready to starve at home. One makes what haste he can to set all going, and another rakes it together by right or wrong. This man is ever laboring for public honors, and another lies sleeping in a chimney corner. A great many undertake endless suits and outvie one another who shall most enrich the dilatory judge or corrupt advocate. One is all for innovations and another for some great he-knows-not-what. Another leaves his wife and children at home and goes to Jerusalem, Rome, or in pilgrimage to St. James's where he has no business. In short, if a man like Menippus of old could look down from the moon and behold those innumerable rufflings of mankind, he would think he saw a swarm of flies and gnats quarreling among themselves, fighting, laying traps for one another, snatching, playing, wantoning, growing up, falling, and dying. Nor is it to be believed what stir, what broils, this little creature raises, and yet in how short a time it comes to nothing itself; while sometimes war, other times pestilence, sweeps off many thousands of them together.
But let me be most foolish myself, and one whom Democritus may not only laugh at but flout, if I go one foot further in the discovery of the follies and madnesses of the common people. I'll betake me to them that carry the reputation of wise men and hunt after that golden bough, as says the proverb. Among whom the grammarians hold the first place, a generation of men than whom nothing would be more miserable, nothing more perplexed, nothing more hated of the gods, did not I allay the troubles of that pitiful profession with a certain kind of pleasant madness. For they are not only subject to those five curses with which Homer begins his Iliads, as says the Greek epigram, but six hundred; as being ever hungerstarved and slovens in their schools--schools, did I say? Nay, rather cloisters, bridewells, or slaughterhouses--grown old among a company of boys, deaf with their noise, and pined away with stench and nastiness. And yet by my courtesy it is that they think themselves the most excellent of all men, so greatly do they please themselves in frighting a company of fearful boys with a thundering voice and big looks, tormenting them with ferules, rods, and whips; and, laying about them without fear or wit, imitate the ass in the lion's skin. In the meantime all that nastiness seems absolute spruceness, that stench a perfume, and that miserable slavery a kingdom, and such too as they would not change their tyranny for Phalaris' or Dionysius' empire. Nor are they less happy in that new opinion they have taken up of being learned; for whereas most of them beat into boys, heads nothing but foolish toys, yet, you good gods! what Palemon, what Donatus, do they not scorn in comparison of themselves? And so, I know not by what tricks, they bring it about that to their boys' foolish mothers and dolt-headed fathers they pass for such as they fancy themselves. Add to this that other pleasure of theirs, that if any of them happen to find out who was Anchises' mother, or pick out of some worm-eaten manuscript a word not commonly known--as suppose it bubsequa for a cowherd, bovinator for a wrangler, manticulator for a cutpurse--or dig up the ruins of some ancient monument with the letters half eaten out; O Jupiter! what towerings! what triumphs! what commendations! as if they had conquered Africa or taken in Babylon.
But what of this when they give up and down their foolish insipid verses, and there wants not others that admire them as much? They believe presently that Virgil's soul is transmigrated into them! But nothing like this, when with mutual compliments they praise, admire, and claw one another. Whereas if another do but slip a word and one more quick-sighted than the rest discover it by accident, O Hercules ! what uproars, what bickerings, what taunts, what invectives! If I lie, let me have the ill will of all the grammarians. I knew in my time one of many arts, a Grecian, a Latinist, a mathematician, a philosopher, a physician, a man master of them all, and sixty years of age, who, laying by all the rest, perplexed and tormented himself for above twenty years in the study of grammar, fully reckoning himself a prince if he might but live so long till he could certainly determine how the eight parts of speech were to be distinguished, which none of the Greeks or Latins had yet fully cleared: as if it were a matter to be decided by the sword if a man made an adverb of a conjunction. And for this cause is it that we have as many grammars as grammarians; nay more, forasmuch as my friend Aldus has given us above five, not passing by any kind of grammar, how barbarously or tediously soever compiled, which he has not turned over and examined; envying every man's attempts in this kind, how foolish so ever, and desperately concern'd for fear another should forestal him of his glory, and the labours of so many years perish. And now, whether had you rather call this Madness or Folly? It is no great matter to me whether, so long as ye confess it is by my means that a creature, otherwise the most miserable of all others, is rais'd to that height of felicity that he has no desire to change his condition with the King of Persia.
The Poets, I must confess, are not altogether so much beholding to me, though 'tis agreed of all hands they are of my partie too; because they are a free kind of people, not restrain'd or limited to any thing, and all their studies aim at nothing more than to tickle the ears of fools with meer trifles and ridiculous fables. And yet they are so bold upon 't, that you'll scarce believe how they not onely assure themselves of immortality and a life like the Gods, but promise it to others too. And to this order, before all others, Self-love and Flattery are more peculiarly appendant; nor am I worshipt by any sort of men with more plainness or greater constancy.
And then, for the Rhetoricians, though they now and then shuffle and cut with the Philosopher, yet that these two are of my faction also, though many other Arguments might be produc'd this clearly evinces exquisitely of Fooling. And so, who ever he were that writ of the Art of Rhetorick to Herennius, he reckons Folly as a species of wit. And Quintilian, the Soveraign of this Order, has a Chapter touching Laughter more prolixe than an Iliad. In fine, they attribute so much to Folly, that what many times cannot be clear'd with the best Arguments, is yet now and then put off with a jest: unless, perhaps you'll say, 'tis no part of Folly to provoke laughter, and that artificially.
Of the same batch also are they that hunt after immortality of Fame by setting out Books. Of whom, though all of 'em arre endebted to me, yet in the first place are they that nothing but daub Paper with their empty Toyes. For they that write learnedly to the understanding of a few Scholers, and refuse not to stand the test of a Persius or Laelius, seem to me rather to be pitied than happy, as persons that are ever tormenting themselves; adding, changing, putting in, blotting out, revising, reprinting, showing it to friends, and nine years in correcting, yet never fully satisfied; at so great a rate do they purchase this vain reward, to wit, praise, and that too of a very few, with so many watchings, so much sweat, so much vexation and loss of sleep, the most precious of all things. Add to this the waste of health, spoil of complexion, weakness of eyes or rather blindness, poverty, envy, abstinence from pleasure, over-hasty old age, untimely death, and the like; so highly does this wise man value the approbation of one or two blear-eyed fellows. But how much happier is this my writer's dotage who never studies for anything but puts in writing whatever he pleases or what comes first in his head, though it be but his dreams; and all this with small waste of paper, as well knowing that the vainer those trifles are, the higher esteem they will have with the greater number, that is to say all the fools and unlearned. And what matter is it to slight those few learned if yet they ever read them? Or of what authority will the censure of so few wise men be against so great a cloud of gainsayers?
But they are the wiser that put out other men's works for their own, and transfer that glory which others with great pains have obtained to themselves; relying on this, that they conceive, though it should so happen that their theft be never so plainly detected, that yet they should enjoy the pleasure of it for the present. And 'tis worth one's while to consider how they please themselves when they are applauded by the common people, pointed at in a crowd, "This is that excellent person;" lie on booksellers' stalls; and in the top of every page have three hard words read, but chiefly exotic and next degree to conjuring; which, by the immortal gods! what are they but mere words? And again, if you consider the world, by how few understood, and praised by fewer! for even among the unlearned there are different palates. Or what is it that their own very names are often counterfeit or borrowed from some books of the ancients? When one styles himself Telemachus, another Sthenelus, a third Laertes, a fourth Polycrates, a fifth Thrasymachus. So that there is no difference whether they title their books with the "Tale of a Tub," or, according to the philosophers, by alpha, beta.
But the most pleasant of all is to see them praise one another with reciprocal epistles, verses, and encomiums; fools their fellow fools, and dunces their brother dunces. This, in the other's opinion, is an absolute Alcaeus; and the other, in his, a very Callimachus. He looks upon Tully as nothing to the other, and the other again pronounces him more learned than Plato. And sometimes too they pick out their antagonist and think to raise themselves a fame by writing one against the other; while the giddy multitude are so long divided to whether of the two they shall determine the victory, till each goes off conqueror, and, as if he had done some great action, fancies himself a triumph. And now wise men laugh at these things as foolish, as indeed they are. Who denies it? Yet in the meantime, such is my kindness to them, they live a merry life and would not change their imaginary triumphs, no, not with the Scipioes. While yet those learned men, though they laugh their fill and reap the benefit of the other's folly, cannot without ingratitude deny but that even they too are not a little beholding to me themselves.
And among them our advocates challenge the first place, nor is there any sort of people that please themselves like them: for while they daily roll Sisyphus his stone, and quote you a thousand cases, as it were, in a breath no matter how little to the purpose, and heap glosses upon glosses, and opinions on the neck of opinions, they bring it at last to this pass, that that study of all other seems the most difficult. Add to these our logicians and sophists, a generation of men more prattling than an echo and the worst of them able to outchat a hundred of the best picked gossips. And yet their condition would be much better were they only full of words and not so given to scolding that they most obstinately hack and hew one another about a matter of nothing and make such a sputter about terms and words till they have quite lost the sense. And yet they are so happy in the good opinion of themselves that as soon as they are furnished with two or three syllogisms, they dare boldly enter the lists against any man upon any point, as not doubting but to run him down with noise, though the opponent were another Stentor.
And next these come our philosophers, so much reverenced for their furred gowns and starched beards that they look upon themselves as the only wise men and all others as shadows. And yet how pleasantly do they dote while they frame in their heads innumerable worlds; measure out the sun, the moon, the stars, nay and heaven itself, as it were, with a pair of compasses; lay down the causes of lightning, winds, eclipses, and other the like inexplicable matters; and all this too without the least doubting, as if they were Nature's secretaries, or dropped down among us from the council of the gods; while in the meantime Nature laughs at them and all their blind conjectures. For that they know nothing, even this is a sufficient argument, that they don't agree among themselves and so are incomprehensible touching every particular. These, though they have not the least degree of knowledge, profess yet that they have mastered all; nay, though they neither know themselves, nor perceive a ditch or block that lies in their way, for that perhaps most of them are half blind, or their wits a wool-gathering, yet give out that they have discovered ideas, universalities, separated forms, first matters, quiddities, haecceities, formalities, and the like stuff; things so thin and bodiless that I believe even Lynceus himself was not able to perceive them. But then chiefly do they disdain the unhallowed crowd as often as with their triangles, quadrangles, circles, and the like mathematical devices, more confounded than a labyrinth, and letters disposed one against the other, as it were in battle array, they cast a mist before the eyes of the ignorant. Nor is there wanting of this kind some that pretend to foretell things by the stars and make promises of miracles beyond all things of soothsaying, and are so fortunate as to meet with people that believe them.
But perhaps I had better pass over our divines in silence and not stir this pool or touch this fair but unsavory plant, as a kind of men that are supercilious beyond comparison, and to that too, implacable; lest setting them about my ears, they attack me by troops and force me to a recantation sermon, which if I refuse, they straight pronounce me a heretic. For this is the thunderbolt with which they fright those whom they are resolved not to favor. And truly, though there are few others that less willingly acknowledge the kindnesses I have done them, yet even these too stand fast bound to me upon no ordinary accounts; while being happy in their own opinion, and as if they dwelt in the third heaven, they look with haughtiness on all others as poor creeping things and could almost find in their hearts to pity them; while hedged in with so many magisterial definitions, conclusions, corollaries, propositions explicit and implicit, they abound with so many starting-holes that Vulcan's net cannot hold them so fast, but they'll slip through with their distinctions, with which they so easily cut all knots asunder that a hatchet could not have done it better, so plentiful are they in their new-found words and prodigious terms. Besides, while they explicate the most hidden mysteries according to their own fancy--as how the world was first made; how original sin is derived to posterity; in what manner, how much room, and how long time Christ lay in the Virgin's womb; how accidents subsist in the Eucharist without their subject.
But these are common and threadbare; these are worthy of our great and illuminated divines, as the world calls them! At these, if ever they fall athwart them, they prick up--as whether there was any instant of time in the generation of the Second Person; whether there be more than one filiation in Christ; whether it be a possible proposition that God the Father hates the Son; or whether it was possible that Christ could have taken upon Him the likeness of a woman, or of the devil, or of an ass, or of a stone, or of a gourd; and then how that gourd should have preached, wrought miracles, or been hung on the cross; and what Peter had consecrated if he had administered the Sacrament at what time the body of Christ hung upon the cross; or whether at the same time he might be said to be man; whether after the Resurrection there will be any eating and drinking, since we are so much afraid of hunger and thirst in this world. There are infinite of these subtle trifles, and others more subtle than these, of notions, relations, instants, formalities, quiddities, haecceities, which no one can perceive without a Lynceus whose eyes could look through a stone wall and discover those things through the thickest darkness that never were.
Add to this those their other determinations, and those too so contrary to common opinion that those oracles of the Stoics, which they call paradoxes, seem in comparison of these but blockish and idle--as 'tis a lesser crime to kill a thousand men than to set a stitch on a poor man's shoe on the Sabbath day; and that a man should rather choose that the whole world with all food and raiment, as they say, should perish, than tell a lie, though never so inconsiderable. And these most subtle subtleties are rendered yet more subtle by the several methods of so many Schoolmen, that one might sooner wind himself out of a labyrinth than the entanglements of the realists, nominalists, Thomists, Albertists, Occamists, Scotists. Nor have I named all the several sects, but only some of the chief; in all which there is so much doctrine and so much difficulty that I may well conceive the apostles, had they been to deal with these new kind of divines, had needed to have prayed in aid of some other spirit.
Paul knew what faith was, and yet when he said, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen," he did not define it doctor-like. And as he understood charity well himself, so he did as illogically divide and define it to others in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter the thirteenth. And devoutly, no doubt, did the apostles consecrate the Eucharist; yet, had they been asked the question touching the "terminus a quo," and the "terminus ad quem" of transubstantiation; of the manner how the same body can be in several places at one and the same time; of the difference the body of Christ has in heaven from that of the cross, or this in the Sacrament; in what point of time transubstantiation is, whereas prayer, by means of which it is, as being a discrete quantity, is transient; they would not, I conceive, have answered with the same subtlety as the Scotists dispute and define it. They knew the mother of Jesus, but which of them has so philosophically demonstrated how she was preserved from original sin as have done our divines? Peter received the keys, and from Him too that would not have trusted them with a person unworthy; yet whether he had understanding or no, I know not, for certainly he never attained to that subtlety to determine how he could have the key of knowledge that had no knowledge himself. They baptized far and near, and yet taught nowhere what was the formal, material, efficient, and final cause of baptism, nor made the least mention of delible and indelible characters. They worshipped, 'tis true, but in spirit, following herein no other than that of the Gospel, "God is a Spirit, and they that worship, must worship him in spirit and truth;" yet it does not appear it was at that time revealed to them that an image sketched on the wall with a coal was to be worshipped with the same worship as Christ Himself, if at least the two forefingers be stretched out, the hair long and uncut, and have three rays about the crown of the head. For who can conceive these things, unless he has spent at least six and thirty years in the philosophical and supercelestial whims of Aristotle and the Schoolmen?
In like manner, the apostles press to us grace; but which of them distinguishes between free grace and grace that makes a man acceptable? They exhort us to good works, and yet determine not what is the work working, and what a resting in the work done. They incite us to charity, and yet make no difference between charity infused and charity wrought in us by our own endeavors. Nor do they declare whether it be an accident or a substance, a thing created or uncreated. They detest and abominate sin, but let me not live if they could define according to art what that is which we call sin, unless perhaps they were inspired by the spirit of the Scotists. Nor can I be brought to believe that Paul, by whose learning you may judge the rest, would have so often condemned questions, disputes, genealogies, and, as himself calls them, "strifes of words," if he had thoroughly understood those subtleties, especially when all the debates and controversies of those times were rude and blockish in comparison of the more than Chrysippean subtleties of our masters. Although yet the gentlemen are so modest that if they meet with anything written by the apostles not so smooth and even as might be expected from a master, they do not presently condemn it but handsomely bend it to their own purpose, so great respect and honor do they give, partly to antiquity and partly to the name of apostle. And truly 'twas a kind of injustice to require so great things of them that never heard the least word from their masters concerning it. And so if the like happen in Chrysostom, Basil, Jerome, they think it enough to say they are not obliged by it.
The apostles also confuted the heathen philosophers and Jews, a people than whom none more obstinate, but rather by their good lives and miracles than syllogisms: and yet there was scarce one among them that was capable of understanding the least "quodlibet" of the Scotists. But now, where is that heathen or heretic that must not presently stoop to such wire-drawn subtleties, unless he be so thickskulled that he can't apprehend them, or so impudent as to hiss them down, or, being furnished with the same tricks, be able to make his party good with them? As if a man should set a conjurer on work against a conjurer, or fight with one hallowed sword against another, which would prove no other than a work to no purpose. For my own part I conceive the Christians would do much better if instead of those dull troops and companies of soldiers with which they have managed their war with such doubtful success, they would send the bawling Scotists, the most obstinate Occamists, and invincible Albertists to war against the Turks and Saracens; and they would see, I guess, a most pleasant combat and such a victory as was never before. For who is so faint whom their devices will not enliven? who so stupid whom such spurs can't quicken? or who so quicksighted before whose eyes they can't cast a mist?
But you'll say, I jest. Nor are you without cause, since even among divines themselves there are some that have learned better and are ready to turn their stomachs at those foolish subtleties of the others. There are some that detest them as a kind of sacrilege and count it the height of impiety to speak so irreverently of such hidden things, rather to be adored than explicated; to dispute of them with such profane and heathenish niceties; to define them so arrogantly and pollute the majesty of divinity with such pithless and sordid terms and opinions. Meantime the others please, nay hug themselves in their happiness, and are so taken up with these pleasant trifles that they have not so much leisure as to cast the least eye on the Gospel or St. Paul's epistles. And while they play the fool at this rate in their schools, they make account the universal church would otherwise perish, unless, as the poets fancied of Atlas that he supported heaven with his shoulders, they underpropped the other with their syllogistical buttresses. And how great a happiness is this, think you? while, as if Holy Writ were a nose of wax, they fashion and refashion it according to their pleasure; while they require that their own conclusions, subscribed by two or three Schoolmen, be accounted greater than Solon's laws and preferred before the papal decretals; while, as censors of the world, they force everyone to a recantation that differs but a hair's breadth from the least of their explicit or implicit determinations. And those too they pronounce like oracles. This proposition is scandalous; this irreverent; this has a smack of heresy; this no very good sound: so that neither baptism, nor the Gospel, nor Paul, nor Peter, nor St. Jerome, nor St. Augustine, no nor most Aristotelian Thomas himself can make a man a Christian, without these bachelors too be pleased to give him his grace. And the like in their subtlety in judging; for who would think he were no Christian that should say these two speeches "matula putes" and "matula putet," or "ollae fervere" and "ollam fervere" were not both good Latin, unless their wisdoms had taught us the contrary? who had delivered the church from such mists of error, which yet no one ever met with, had they not come out with some university seal for it? And are they not most happy while they do these things?
Then for what concerns hell, how exactly they describe everything, as if they had been conversant in that commonwealth most part of their time! Again, how do they frame in their fancy new orbs, adding to those we have already an eighth! a goodly one, no doubt, and spacious enough, lest perhaps their happy souls might lack room to walk in, entertain their friends, and now and then play at football. And with these and a thousand the like fopperies their heads are so full stuffed and stretched that I believe Jupiter's brain was not near so big when, being in labor with Pallas, he was beholding to the midwifery of Vulcan's ax. And therefore you must not wonder if in their public disputes they are so bound about the head, lest otherwise perhaps their brains might leap out. Nay, I have sometimes laughed myself to see them so tower in their own opinion when they speak most barbarously; and when they humh and hawh so pitifully that none but one of their own tribe can understand them, they call it heights which the vulgar can't reach; for they say 'tis beneath the dignity of divine mysteries to be cramped and tied up to the narrow rules of grammarians: from whence we may conjecture the great prerogative of divines, if they only have the privilege of speaking corruptly, in which yet every cobbler thinks himself concerned for his share. Lastly, they look upon themselves as somewhat more than men as often as they are devoutly saluted by the name of "Our Masters," in which they fancy there lies as much as in the Jews' "Jehovah;" and therefore they reckon it a crime if "Magister Noster" be written other than in capital letters; and if anyone should preposterously say "Noster Magister," he has at once overturned the whole body of divinity.
And next these come those that commonly call themselves the religious and monks, most false in both titles, when both a great part of them are farthest from religion, and no men swarm thicker in all places than themselves. Nor can I think of anything that could be more miserable did not I support them so many several ways. For whereas all men detest them to that height, that they take it for ill luck to meet one of them by chance, yet such is their happiness that they flatter themselves. For first, they reckon it one of the main points of piety if they are so illiterate that they can't so much as read. And then when they run over their offices, which they carry about them, rather by tale than understanding, they believe the gods more than ordinarily pleased with their braying. And some there are among them that put off their trumperies at vast rates, yet rove up and down for the bread they eat; nay, there is scarce an inn, wagon, or ship into which they intrude not, to the no small damage of the commonwealth of beggars. And yet, like pleasant fellows, with all this vileness, ignorance, rudeness, and impudence, they represent to us, for so they call it, the lives of the apostles. Yet what is more pleasant than that they do all things by rule and, as it were, a kind of mathematics, the least swerving from which were a crime beyond forgiveness--as how many knots their shoes must be tied with, of what color everything is, what distinction of habits, of what stuff made, how many straws broad their girdles and of what fashion, how many bushels wide their cowl, how many fingers long their hair, and how many hours sleep; which exact equality, how disproportionate it is, among such variety of bodies and tempers, who is there that does not perceive it? And yet by reason of these fooleries they not only set slight by others, but each different order, men otherwise professing apostolical charity, despise one another, and for the different wearing of a habit, or that 'tis of darker color, they put all things in combustion. And among these there are some so rigidly religious that their upper garment is haircloth, their inner of the finest linen; and, on the contrary, others wear linen without and hair next their skins. Others, again, are as afraid to touch money as poison, and yet neither forbear wine nor dallying with women. In a word, 'tis their only care that none of them come near one another in their manner of living, nor do they endeavor how they may be like Christ, but how they may differ among themselves.
And another great happiness they conceive in their names, while they call themselves Cordiliers, and among these too, some are Colletes, some Minors, some Minims, some Crossed; and again, these are Benedictines, those Bernardines; these Carmelites. those Augustines: these Williamites. and those Jacobines; as if it were not worth the while to be called Christians. And of these, a great part build so much on their ceremonies and petty traditions of men that they think one heaven is too poor a reward for so great merit, little dreaming that the time will come when Christ, not regarding any of these trifles, will call them to account for His precept of charity. One shall show you a large trough full of all kinds of fish; another tumble you out so many bushels of prayers; another reckon you so many myriads of fasts, and fetch them up again in one dinner by eating till he cracks again; another produces more bundles of ceremonies than seven of the stoutest ships would be able to carry; another brags he has not touched a penny these three score years without two pair of gloves at least upon his hands; another wears a cowl so lined with grease that the poorest tarpaulin would not stoop to take it up; another will tell you he has lived these fifty-five years like a sponge, continually fastened to the same place; another is grown hoarse with his daily chanting; another has contracted a lethargy by his solitary living; and another the palsy in his tongue for want of speaking. But Christ, interrupting them in their vanities, which otherwise were endless, will ask them, "Whence this new kind of Jews? I acknowledge one commandment, which is truly mine, of which alone I hear nothing. I promised, 'tis true, my Father's heritage, and that without parables, not to cowls, odd prayers, and fastings, but to the duties of faith and charity. Nor can I acknowledge them that least acknowledge their faults. They that would seem holier than myself, let them if they like possess to themselves those three hundred sixty-five heavens of Basilides the heretic's invention, or command them whose foolish traditions they have preferred before my precepts to erect them a new one." When they shall hear these things and see common ordinary persons preferred before them, with what countenance, think you, will they behold one another? In the meantime they are happy in their hopes, and for this also they are beholding to me.
And yet these kind of people, though they are as it were of another commonwealth, no man dares despise, especially those begging friars, because they are privy to all men's secrets by means of confessions, as they call them. Which yet were no less than treason to discover, unless, being got drunk, they have a mind to be pleasant, and then all comes out, that is to say by hints and conjectures but suppressing the names. But if anyone should anger these wasps, they'll sufficiently revenge themselves in their public sermons and so point out their enemy by circumlocutions that there's no one but understands whom 'tis they mean, unless he understand nothing at all; nor will they give over their barking till you throw the dogs a bone. And now tell me, what juggler or mountebank you had rather behold than hear them rhetorically play the fool in their preachments, and yet most sweetly imitating what rhetoricians have written touching the art of good speaking? Good God! what several postures they have! How they shift their voice, sing out their words, skip up and down, and are ever and anon making such new faces that they confound all things with noise! And yet this knack of theirs is no less a mystery that runs in succession from one brother to another; which though it be not lawful for me to know, however I'll venture at it by conjectures. And first they invoke whatever they have scraped from the poets; and in the next place, if they are to discourse of charity, they take their rise from the river Nilus; or to set out the mystery of the cross, from bell and the dragon; or to dispute of fasting, from the twelve signs of the zodiac; or, being to preach of faith, ground their matter on the square of a circle.
I have heard myself one, and he no small fool -- I was mistaken, I would have said scholar -- that being in a famous assembly explaining the mystery of the Trinity, that he might both let them see his learning was not ordinary and withal satisfy some theological ears, he took a new way, to wit from the letters, syllables, and the word itself; then from the coherence of the nominative case and the verb, and the adjective and substantive: and while most of the audience wondered, and some of them muttered that of Horace, "What does all this trumpery drive at?" at last he brought the matter to this head, that he would demonstrate that the mystery of the Trinity was so clearly expressed in the very rudiments of grammar that the best mathematician could not chalk it out more plainly. And in this discourse did this most superlative theologian beat his brains for eight whole months that at this hour he's as blind as a beetle, to wit, all the sight of his eyes being run into the sharpness of his wit. But for all that he thinks nothing of his blindness, rather taking the same for too cheap a price of such a glory as he won thereby.
And besides him I met with another, some eighty years of age, and such a divine that you'd have sworn Scotus himself was revived in him. He, being upon the point of unfolding the mystery of the name Jesus, did with wonderful subtlety demonstrate that there lay hidden in those letters whatever could be said of him; for that it was only declined with three cases, he said, it was a manifest token of the Divine Trinity; and then, that the first ended in S, the second in M, the third in U, there was in it an ineffable mystery, to wit, those three letters declaring to us that he was the beginning, middle, and end (summum, medium, et ultimum) of all. Nay, the mystery was yet more abstruse; for he so mathematically split the word Jesus into two equal parts that he left the middle letter by itself, and then told us that that letter in Hebrew was schin or sin, and that sin in the Scotch tongue, as he remembered, signified as much as sin; from whence he gathered that it was Jesus that took away the sins of the world. At which new exposition the audience were so wonderfully intent and struck with admiration, especially the theologians, that there wanted little but that Niobe-like they had been turned to stones; whereas the like had almost happened to me, as befell the Priapus in Horace. And not without cause, for when were the Grecian Demosthenes or Roman Cicero ever guilty of the like? They thought that introduction faulty that was wide of the matter, as if it were not the way of carters and swineherds that have no more wit than God sent them. But these learned men think their preamble, for so they call it, then chiefly rhetorical when it has least coherence with the rest of the argument, that the admiring audience may in the meanwhile whisper to themselves, "What will he be at now?" In the third place, they bring in instead of narration some texts of Scripture, but handle them cursorily, and as it were by the bye, when yet it is the only thing they should have insisted on. And fourthly, as it were changing a part in the play, they bolt out with some question in divinity, and many times relating neither to earth nor heaven, and this they look upon as a piece of art. Here they erect their theological crests and beat into the people's ears those magnificent titles of illustrious doctors, subtle doctors, most subtle doctors, seraphic doctors, cherubic doctors, holy doctors, unquestionable doctors, and the like; and then throw abroad among the ignorant people syllogisms, majors, minors, conclusions, corollaries, suppositions, and those so weak and foolish that they are below pedantry. There remains yet the fifth act in which one would think they should show their mastery. And here they bring in some foolish insipid fable out of Speculum Historiae or Gesta Romanorum and expound it allegorically, tropologically, and anagogically. And after this manner do they and their chimera, and such as Horace despaired of compassing when he wrote «Humano capiti», etc.
But they have heard from somebody, I know not whom, that the beginning of a speech should be sober and grave and least given to noise. And therefore they begin theirs at that rate they can scarce hear themselves, as if it were not matter whether anyone understood them. They have learned somewhere that to move the affections a louder voice is requisite. Whereupon they that otherwise would speak like a mouse in a cheese start out of a sudden into a downright fury, even there too, where there's the least need of it. A man would swear they were past the power of hellebore, so little do they consider where 'tis they run out. Again, because they have heard that as a speech comes up to something, a man should press it more earnestly, they, however they begin, use a strange contention of voice in every part, though the matter itself be never so flat, and end in that manner as if they'd run themselves out of breath. Lastly, they have learned that among rhetoricians there is some mention of laughter, and therefore they study to prick in a jest here and there; but, O Venus! so void of wit and so little to the purpose that it may be truly called an ass's playing on the harp. And sometimes also they use somewhat of a sting, but so nevertheless that they rather tickle than wound; nor do they ever more truly flatter than when they would seem to use the greatest freedom of speech. Lastly, such is their whole action that a man would swear they had learned it from our common tumblers, though yet they come short of them in every respect. However, they are both so like that no man will dispute but that either these learned their rhetoric from them, or they theirs from these. And yet they light on some that, when they hear them, conceive they hear very Demosthenes and Ciceroes: of which sort chiefly are our merchants and women, whose ears only they endeavor to please, because as to the first, if they stroke them handsomely, some part or other of their ill-gotten goods is wont to fall to their share. And the women, though for many other things they favor this order, this is not the least, that they commit to their breasts whatever discontents they have against their husbands. And now, I conceive me, you see how much this kind of people are beholding to me, that with their petty ceremonies, ridiculous trifles, and noise exercise a kind of tyranny among mankind, believing themselves very Pauls and Anthonies.
55. But I willingly give over these stage-players that are such ingrateful dissemblers of the courtesies I have done them and such impudent pretenders to religion which they haven't. And now I have a mind to give some small touches of princes and courts, of whom I am had in reverence, aboveboard and, as it becomes gentlemen, frankly. And truly, if they had the least proportion of sound judgment, what life were more unpleasant than theirs, or so much to be avoided? For whoever did but truly weigh with himself how great a burden lies upon his shoulders that would truly discharge the duty of a prince, he would not think it worth his while to make his way to a crown by perjury and parricide. He would consider that he that takes a scepter in his hand should manage the public, not his private, interest; study nothing but the common good; and not in the least go contrary to those laws whereof himself is both the author and exactor: that he is to take an account of the good or evil administration of all his magistrates and subordinate officers; that, though he is but one, all men's eyes are upon him, and in his power it is, either like a good planet to give life and safety to mankind by his harmless influence, or like a fatal comet to send mischief and destruction; that the vices of other men are not alike felt, nor so generally communicated; and that a prince stands in that place that his least deviation from the rule of honesty and honor reaches farther than himself and opens a gap to many men's ruin. Besides, that the fortune of princes has many things attending it that are but too apt to train them out of the way, as pleasure, liberty, flattery, excess; for which cause he should the more diligently endeavor and set a watch over himself, lest perhaps he be led aside and fail in his duty. Lastly, to say nothing of treasons, ill will, and such other mischiefs he's in jeopardy of, that that True King is over his head, who in a short time will call him to account for every the least trespass, and that so much the more severely by how much more mighty was the empire committed to his charge. These and the like if a prince should duly weigh, and weigh it he would if he were wise, he would neither be able to sleep nor take any hearty repast.
But now by my courtesy they leave all this care to the gods and are only taken up with themselves, not admitting anyone to their ear but such as know how to speak pleasant things and not trouble them with business. They believe they have discharged all the duty of a prince if they hunt every day, keep a stable of fine horses, sell dignities and commanderies, and invent new ways of draining the citizens' purses and bringing it into their own exchequer; but under such dainty new-found names that though the thing be most unjust in itself, it carries yet some face of equity; adding to this some little sweetening that whatever happens, they may be secure of the common people. And now suppose someone, such as they sometimes are, a man ignorant of laws, little less than an enemy to the public good, and minding nothing but his own, given up to pleasure, a hater of learning, liberty, and justice, studying nothing less than the public safety, but measuring everything by his own will and profit; and then put on him a golden chain that declares the accord of all virtues linked one to another; a crown set with diamonds, that should put him in mind how he ought to excel all others in heroic virtues; besides a scepter, the emblem of justice and an untainted heart; and lastly, a purple robe, a badge of that charity he owes the commonwealth. All which if a prince should compare them with his own life, he would, I believe, be clearly ashamed of his bravery, and be afraid lest some or other gibing expounder turn all this tragical furniture into a ridiculous laughingstock.
And as to the court lords, what should I mention them? than most of whom though there be nothing more indebted, more servile, more witless, more contemptible, yet they would seem as they were the most excellent of all others. And yet in this only thing no men more modest, in that they are contented to wear about them gold, jewels, purple, and those other marks of virtue and wisdom; but for the study of the things themselves, they remit it to others, thinking it happiness enough for them that they can call the king master, have learned the cringe a la mode, know when and where to use those titles of Your Grace, My Lord, Your Magnificence; in a word that they are past all shame and can flatter pleasantly. For these are the arts that speak a man truly noble and an exact courtier. But if you look into their manner of life you'll find them mere sots, as debauched as Penelope's wooers; you know the other part of the verse, which the echo will better tell you than I can. They sleep till noon and have their mercenary Levite come to their bedside, where he chops over his matins before they are half up. Then to breakfast, which is scarce done but dinner stays for them. From thence they go to dice, tables, cards, or entertain themselves with jesters, fools, gambols, and horse tricks. In the meantime they have one or two beverages, and then supper, and after that a banquet, and 'twere well, by Jupiter, there were no more than one. And in this manner do their hours, days, months, years, age slide away without the least irksomeness. Nay, I have sometimes gone away many inches fatter, to see them speak big words; while each of the ladies believes herself so much nearer to the gods by how much the longer train she trails after her; while one nobleman edges out another, that he may get the nearer to Jupiter himself; and everyone of them pleases himself the more by how much more massive is the chain he swags on his shoulders, as if he meant to show his strength as well as his wealth.
57. Nor are princes by themselves in their manner of life, since popes, cardinals, and bishops have so diligently followed their steps that they've almost got the start of them. For if any of them would consider what their alb should put them in mind of, to wit a blameless life; what is meant by their forked miters, whose each point is held in by the same knot, we'll suppose it a perfect knowledge of the Old and New Testaments; what those gloves on their hands, but a sincere administration of the Sacraments, and free from all touch of worldly business; what their crosier, but a careful looking after the flock committed to their charge; what the cross born before them, but victory over all earthly affections--these, I say, and many of the like kind should anyone truly consider, would he not live a sad and troublesome life? Whereas now they do well enough while they feed themselves only, and for the care of their flock either put it over to Christ or lay it all on their suffragans, as they call them, or some poor vicars. Nor do they so much as remember their name, or what the word bishop signifies, to wit, labor, care, and trouble. But in racking to gather money they truly act the part of bishops, and herein acquit themselves to be no blind seers.
58. In like manner cardinals, if they thought themselves the successors of the apostles, they would likewise imagine that the same things the other did are required of them, and that they are not lords but dispensers of spiritual things of which they must shortly give an exact account. But if they also would a little philosophize on their habit and think with themselves what's the meaning of their linen rochet, is it not a remarkable and singular integrity of life? What that inner purple; is it not an earnest and fervent love of God? Or what that outward, whose loose plaits and long train fall round his Reverence's mule and are large enough to cover a camel; is it not charity that spreads itself so wide to the succor of all men? that is, to instruct, exhort, comfort, reprehend, admonish, compose wars, resist wicked princes, and willingly expend not only their wealth but their very lives for the flock of Christ: though yet what need at all of wealth to them that supply the room of the poor apostles? these things, I say, did they but duly consider, they would not be so ambitious of that dignity; or, if they were, they would willingly leave it and live a laborious, careful life, such as was that of the ancient apostles.
59. And for popes, that supply the place of Christ, if they should endeavor to imitate His life, to wit His poverty, labor, doctrine, cross, and contempt of life, or should they consider what the name pope, that is father, or holiness, imports, who would live more disconsolate than themselves? or who would purchase that chair with all his substance? or defend it, so purchased, with swords, poisons, and all force imaginable? so great a profit would the access of wisdom deprive him of--wisdom did I say? nay, the least corn of that salt which Christ speaks of: so much wealth, so much honor, so much riches, so many victories, so many offices, so many dispensations, so much tribute, so many pardons; such horses, such mules, such guards, and so much pleasure would it lose them. You see how much I have comprehended in a little: instead of which it would bring in watchings, fastings, tears, prayers, sermons, good endeavors, sighs, and a thousand the like troublesome exercises. Nor is this least considerable: so many scribes, so many copying clerks, so many notaries, so many advocates, so many promoters, so many secretaries, so many muleteers, so many grooms, so many bankers: in short, that vast multitude of men that overcharge the Roman See -- I mistook, I meant honor -- might beg their bread.
A most inhuman and economical thing, and more to be execrated, that those great princes of the Church and true lights of the world should be reduced to a staff and a wallet. Whereas now, if there be anything that requires their pains, they leave that to Peter and Paul that have leisure enough; but if there be anything of honor or pleasure, they take that to themselves. By which means it is, yet by my courtesy, that scarce any kind of men live more voluptuously or with less trouble; as believing that Christ will be well enough pleased if in their mystical and almost mimical pontificality, ceremonies, titles of holiness and the like, and blessing and cursing, they play the parts of bishops. To work miracles is old and antiquated, and not in fashion now; to instruct the people, troublesome; to interpret the Scripture, pedantic; to pray, a sign one has little else to do; to shed tears, silly and womanish; to be poor, base; to be vanquished, dishonorable and little becoming him that scarce admits even kings to kiss his slipper; and lastly, to die, uncouth; and to be stretched on a cross, infamous.
Theirs are only those weapons and sweet blessings which Paul mentions, and of these truly they are bountiful enough: as interdictions, hangings, heavy burdens, reproofs, anathemas, executions in effigy, and that terrible thunderbolt of excommunication, with the very sight of which they sink men's souls beneath the bottom of hell: which yet these most holy fathers in Christ and His vicars hurl with more fierceness against none than against such as, by the instigation of the devil, attempt to lessen or rob them of Peter's patrimony. When, though those words in the Gospel, "We have left all, and followed Thee," were his, yet they call his patrimony lands, cities, tribute, imposts, riches; for which, being enflamed with the love of Christ, they contend with fire and sword, and not without loss of much Christian blood, and believe they have then most apostolically defended the Church, the spouse of Christ, when the enemy, as they call them, are valiantly routed. As if the Church had any deadlier enemies than wicked prelates, who not only suffer Christ to run out of request for want of preaching him, but hinder his spreading by their multitudes of laws merely contrived for their own profit, corrupt him by their forced expositions, and murder him by the evil example of their pestilent life.
Nay, further, whereas the Church of Christ was founded in blood, confirmed by blood, and augmented by blood, now, as if Christ, who after his wonted manner defends his people, were lost, they govern all by the sword. And whereas war is so savage a thing that it rather befits beasts than men, so outrageous that the very poets feigned it came from the Furies, so pestilent that it corrupts all men's manners, so unjust that it is best executed by the worst of men, so wicked that it has no agreement with Christ; and yet, omitting all the other, they make this their only business. Here you'll see decrepit old fellows acting the parts of young men, neither troubled at their costs, nor wearied with their labors, nor discouraged at anything, so they may have the liberty of turning laws, religion, peace, and all things else quite topsy-turvy. Nor are they destitute of their learned flatterers that call that palpable madness zeal, piety, and valor, having found out a new way by which a man may kill his brother without the least breach of that charity which, by the command of Christ, one Christian owes another. And here, in troth, I'm a little at a stand whether the ecclesiastical German electors gave them this example, or rather took it from them; who, laying aside their habit, benedictions, and all the like ceremonies, so act the part of commanders that they think it a mean thing, and least beseeming a bishop, to show the least courage to Godward unless it be in a battle.
And as to the common herd of priests, they account it a crime to degenerate from the sanctity of their prelates. Heidah! How soldier-like they bustle about the jus divinum of titles, and how quicksighted they are to pick the least thing out of the writings of the ancients wherewith they may fright the common people and convince them, if possible, that more than a tenth is due! Yet in the meantime it least comes in their heads how many things are everywhere extant concerning that duty which they owe the people. Nor does their shorn crown in the least admonish them that a priest should be free from all worldly desires and think of nothing but heavenly things. Whereas on the contrary, these jolly fellows say they have sufficiently discharged their offices if they but anyhow mumble over a few odd prayers, which, so help me, Hercules! I wonder if any god either hear or understand, since they do neither themselves, especially when they thunder them out in that manner they are wont. But this they have in common with those of the heathens, that they are vigilant enough to the harvest of their profit, nor is there any of them that is not better read in those laws than the Scripture. Whereas if there be anything burdensome, they prudently lay that on other men's shoulders and shift it from one to the other, as men toss a ball from hand to hand, following herein the example of lay princes who commit the government of their kingdoms to their grand ministers, and they again to others, and leave all study of piety to the common people. In like manner the common people put it over to those they call ecclesiastics, as if themselves were no part of the Church, or that their vow in baptism had lost its obligation. Again, the priests that call themselves secular, as if they were initiated to the world, not to Christ, lay the burden on the regulars; the regulars on the monks; the monks that have more liberty on those that have less; and all of them on the mendicants; the mendicants on the Carthusians, among whom, if anywhere, this piety lies buried, but yet so close that scarce anyone can perceive it. In like manner the popes, the most diligent of all others in gathering in the harvest of money, refer all their apostolical work to the bishops, the bishops to the parsons, the parsons to the vicars, the vicars to their brother mendicants, and they again throw back the care of the flock on those that take the wool.
But it is not my business to sift too narrowly the lives of prelates and priests for fear I seem to have intended rather a satire than an oration, and be thought to tax good princes while I praise the bad. And therefore, what I slightly taught before has been to no other end but that it might appear that there's no man can live pleasantly unless he be initiated to my rites and have me propitious to him. For how can it be otherwise when Fortune, the great directress of all human affairs, and myself are so all one that she was always an enemy to those wise men, and on the contrary so favorable to fools and careless fellows that all things hit luckily to them?
You have heard of that Timotheus, the most fortunate general of the Athenians, of whom came that proverb, "His net caught fish, though he were asleep;" and that "The owl flies;" whereas these others hit properly, wise men "born in the fourth month;" and again, "He rides Sejanus's his horse;" and "gold of Toulouse," signifying thereby the extremity of ill fortune. But I forbear the further threading of proverbs, lest I seem to have pilfered my friend Erasmus' adages. Fortune loves those that have least wit and most confidence and such as like that saying of Caesar, "The die is thrown." But wisdom makes men bashful, which is the reason that those wise men have so little to do, unless it be with poverty, hunger, and chimney corners; that they live such neglected, unknown, and hated lives: whereas fools abound in money, have the chief commands in the commonwealth, and in a word, flourish every way. For if it be happiness to please princes and to be conversant among those golden and diamond gods, what is more unprofitable than wisdom, or what is it these kind of men have, may more justly be censured? If wealth is to be got, how little good at it is that merchant like to do, if following the precepts of wisdom, he should boggle at perjury; or being taken in a lie, blush; or in the least regard the sad scruples of those wise men touching rapine and usury. Again, if a man sue for honors or church preferments, an ass or wild ox shall sooner get them than a wise man. If a man's in love with a young wench, none of the least humors in this comedy, they are wholly addicted to fools and are afraid of a wise man and flee him as they would a scorpion. Lastly, whoever intend to live merry and frolic, shut their doors against wise men and admit anything sooner. In brief, go whither you will, among prelates, princes, judges, magistrates, friends, enemies, from highest to lowest, and you'll find all things done by money; which, as a wise man condemns it, so it takes a special care not to come near him. What shall I say? There is no measure or end of my praises, and yet 'tis fit my oration have an end. And therefore I'll even break off; and yet, before I do it, 'twill not be amiss if I briefly show you that there has not been wanting even great authors that have made me famous, both by their writings and actions, lest perhaps otherwise I may seem to have foolishly pleased myself only, or that the lawyers charge me that I have proved nothing. After their example, therefore, will I allege my proofs, that is to say, nothing to the point.
62. And first, every man allows this proverb, "That where a man wants matter, he may best frame some." And to this purpose is that verse which we teach children, " 'Tis the greatest wisdom to know when and where to counterfeit the fool." And now judge yourselves what an excellent thing this folly is, whose very counterfeit and semblance only has got such praise from the learned. But more candidly does that fat plump "Epicurean bacon-hog," Horace, for so he calls himself, bid us "mingle our purposes with folly;" and whereas he adds the word bravem, short, perhaps to help out the verse, he might as well have let it alone; and again, " 'Tis a pleasant thing to play the fool in the right season;" and in another place, he had rather "be accounted a dotterel and sot than to be wise and made mouths at." And Telemachus in Homer, whom the poet praises so much, is now and then called nepios, fool: and by the same name, as if there were some good fortune in it, are the tragedians wont to call boys and striplings. And what does that sacred book of Iliads contain but a kind of counter-scuffle between foolish kings and foolish people? Besides, how absolute is that praise that Cicero gives of it! "All things are full of fools." For who does not know that every good, the more diffusive it is, by so much the better it is?
63. But perhaps their authority may be of small credit among Christians. We'll therefore, if you please, support our praises with some testimonies of Holy Writ also, in the first place, nevertheless, having forespoke our theologians that they'll give us leave to do it without offense. And in the next, forasmuch as we attempt a matter of some difficulty and it may be perhaps a little too saucy to call back again the Muses from Helicon to so great a journey, especially in a matter they are wholly strangers to, it will be more suitable, perhaps, while I play the divine and make my way through such prickly quiddities, that I entreat the soul of Scotus, a thing more bristly than either porcupine or hedgehog, to leave his scorebone awhile and come into my breast, and then let him go whither he pleases, or to the dogs. I could wish also that I might change my countenance, or that I had on the square cap and the cassock, for fear some or other should impeach me of theft as if I had privily rifled our masters' desks in that I have got so much divinity. But it ought not to seem so strange if after so long and intimate an acquaintance and converse with them I have picked up somewhat; when as that fig-tree-god Priapus hearing his owner read certain Greek words took so much notice of them that he got them by heart, and that cock in Lucian by having lived long among men became at last a master of their language.
But to the point under a fortunate direction. Ecclesiastes says in his first chapter, "The number of fools is infinite;" and when he calls it infinite, does he not seem to comprehend all men, unless it be some few whom yet 'tis a question whether any man ever saw? But more ingeniously does Jeremiah in his tenth chapter confess it, saying, "Every man is made a fool through his own wisdom;" attributing wisdom to God alone and leaving folly to all men else, and again, "Let not man glory in his wisdom." And why, good Jeremiah, would you not have a man glory in his wisdom? Because, he'll say, he has none at all. But to return to Ecclesiastes, who, when he cries out, "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!" what other thoughts had he, do you believe, than that, as I said before, the life of man is nothing else but an interlude of folly? In which he has added one voice more to that justly received praise of Cicero's which I quoted before, viz., "All things are full of fools." Again, that wise preacher that said, "A fool changes as the moon, but a wise man is permanent as the sun," what else did he hint at in it but that all mankind are fools and the name of wise only proper to God? For by the moon interpreters understand human nature, and by the sun, God, the only fountain of light; with which agrees that which Christ himself in the Gospel denies, that anyone is to be called good but one, and that is God. And then if he is a fool that is not wise, and every good man according to the Stoics is a wise man, it is no wonder if all mankind be concluded under folly. Again Solomon, Chapter 15, "Foolishness," says he, "is joy to the fool," thereby plainly confessing that without folly there is no pleasure in life. To which is pertinent that other, "He that increases knowledge, increases grief; and in much understanding there is much indignation." And does he not plainly confess as much, Chapter 7, "The heart of the wise is where sadness is, but the heart of fools follows mirth"? by which you see, he thought it not enough to have learned wisdom without he had added the knowledge of me also. And if you will not believe me, take his own words, Chapter 1, ''I gave my heart to know wisdom and knowledge, madness and folly." Where, by the way, 'tis worth your remark that he intended me somewhat extraordinary that he named me last. A preacher wrote it, and this you know is the order among churchmen, that he that is first in dignity comes last in place, as mindful, no doubt, whatever they do in other things, herein at least to observe the evangelical precept.
Besides, that folly is more excellent than wisdom the son of Sirach, whoever he was, clearly witnesses, Chapter 44, whose words, so help me, Hercules! I shall not once utter before you meet my induction with a suitable answer, according to the manner of those in Plato that dispute with Socrates. What things are more proper to be laid up with care, such as are rare and precious, or such as are common and of no account? Why do you give me no answer? Well, though you should dissemble, the Greek proverb will answer for you, "Foul water is thrown out of doors;" which, if any man shall be so ungracious as to condemn, let him know 'tis Aristotle's, the god of our masters. Is there any of you so very a fool as to leave jewels and gold in the street? In truth, I think not; in the most secret part of your house; nor is that enough; if there be any drawer in your iron chests more private than other, there you lay them; but dirt you throw out of doors. And therefore, if you so carefully lay up such things as you value and throw away what's vile and of no worth, is it not plain that wisdom, which he forbids a man to hide, is of less account than folly, which he commands him to cover? Take his own words, "Better is the man that hideth his folly than he that hideth his wisdom." Or what is that, when he attributes an upright mind without craft or malice to a fool, when a wise man the while thinks no man like himself? For so I understand that in his tenth chapter, "A fool walking by the way, being a fool himself, supposes all men to be fools like him." And is it not a sign of great integrity to esteem every man as good as himself, and when there is no one that leans not too much to other way, to be so frank yet as to divide his praises with another? Nor was this great king ashamed of the name when he says of himself that he is more foolish than any man. Nor did Paul, that great doctor of the Gentiles, writing to the Corinthians, unwillingly acknowledge it; "I speak," says he, "like a fool. I am more." As if it could be any dishonor to excel in folly.
But here I meet with a great noise of some that endeavor to peck out the crows' eyes; that is, to blind the doctors of our times and smoke out their eyes with new annotations; among whom my friend Erasmus, whom for honor's sake I often mention, deserves if not the first place yet certainly the second. O most foolish instance, they cry, and well becoming Folly herself! The apostle's meaning was wide enough from what you dream; for he spoke it not in this sense, that he would have them believe him a greater fool than the rest, but when he had said, "They are ministers of Christ, the same am I," and by way of boasting herein had equaled himself with to others, he added this by way of correction or checking himself, "I am more," as meaning that he was not only equal to the rest of the apostles in the work of the Gospel, but somewhat superior. And therefore, while he would have this received as a truth, lest nevertheless it might not relish their ears as being spoken with too much arrogance, he foreshortened his argument with the vizard of folly, "I speak like a fool," because he knew it was the prerogative of fools to speak what they like, and that too without offense. Whatever he thought when he wrote this, I leave it to them to discuss; for my own part, I follow those fat, fleshy, and vulgarly approved doctors, with whom, by Jupiter! a great part of the learned had rather err than follow them that understand the tongues, though they are never so much in the right. Not any of them make greater account of those smatterers at Greek than if they were daws. Especially when a no small professor, whose name I wittingly conceal lest those choughs should chatter at me that Greek proverb I have so often mentioned, "an ass at a harp," discoursing magisterially and theologically on this text, "I speak as a fool, I am more," drew a new thesis; and, which without the height of logic he could never have done, made this new subdivision--for I'll give you his own words, not only in form but matter also--"I speak like a fool," that is, if you look upon me as a fool for comparing myself with those false apostles, I shall seem yet a greater fool by esteeming myself before them; though the same person a little after, as forgetting himself, runs off to another matter.
64. But why do I thus staggeringly defend myself with one single instance? As if it were not the common privilege of divines to stretch heaven, that is Holy Writ, like a cheverel; and when there are many things in St. Paul that thwart themselves, which yet in their proper place do well enough if there be any credit to be given to St. Jerome that was master of five tongues. Such was that of his at Athens when having casually espied the inscription of that altar, he wrested it into an argument to prove the Christian faith, and leaving out all the other words because they made against him, took notice only of the two last, viz., "To the unknown God;" and those too not without some alteration, for the whole inscription was thus: "To the Gods of Asia, Europe, and Africa; To the unknown and strange Gods." And according to his example do the sons of the prophets, who, forcing out here and there four or five expressions and if need be corrupting the sense, wrest it to their own purpose; though what goes before and follows after make nothing to the matter in hand, nay, be quite against it. Which yet they do with so happy an impudence that oftentimes the civilians envy them that faculty.
For what is it in a manner they may not hope for success in, when this great doctor (I had almost bolted out his name, but that I once again stand in fear of the Greek proverb) has made a construction on an expression of Luke, so agreeable to the mind of Christ as are fire and water to one another. For when the last point of danger was at hand, at which time retainers and dependents are wont in a more special manner to attend their protectors, to examine what strength they have, and prepare for the encounter, Christ, intending to take out of his disciples' minds all trust and confidence in such like defense, demands of them whether they wanted anything when he sent them forth so unprovided for a journey that they had neither shoes to defend their feet from the injuries of stones and briars nor the provision of a scrip to preserve them from hunger. And when they had denied that they wanted anything, he adds, "But now, he that hath a bag, let him take it, and likewise a scrip; and he that hath none, let him sell his coat and buy a sword." And now when the sum of all that Christ taught pressed only meekness, suffering, and contempt of life, who does not clearly perceive what he means in this place? to wit, that he might the more disarm his ministers, that neglecting not only shoes and scrip but throwing away their very coat, they might, being in a manner naked, the more readily and with less hindrance take in hand the work of the Gospel, and provide themselves of nothing but a sword, not such as thieves and murderers go up and down with, but the sword of the spirit that pierces the most inward parts, and so cuts off as it were at one blow all earthly affections, that they mind nothing but their duty to God. But see, I pray, whither this famous theologian wrests it. By the sword he interprets defense against persecution, and by the bag sufficient provision to carry it on. As if Christ having altered his mind, in that he sent out his disciples not so royally attended as he should have done, repented himself of his former instructions: or as forgetting that he had said, "Blessed are ye when ye are evil spoken of, despised, and persecuted, etc.," and forbade them to resist evil; for that the meek in spirit, not the proud, are blessed: or, lest remembering, I say, that he had compared them to sparrows and lilies, thereby minding them what small care they should take for the things of this life, was so far now from having them go forth without a sword that he commanded them to get one, though with the sale of their coat, and had rather they should go naked than want a brawling-iron by their sides. And to this, as under the word "sword" he conceives to be comprehended whatever appertains to the repelling of injuries, so under that of "scrip" he takes in whatever is necessary to the support of life. And so does this deep interpreter of the divine meaning bring forth the apostles to preach the doctrine of a crucified Christ, but furnished at all points with lances, slings, quarterstaffs, and bombards; lading them also with bag and baggage, lest perhaps it might not be lawful for them to leave their inn unless they were empty and fasting. Nor does he take the least notice of this, that he so willed the sword to be bought, reprehends it a little after and commands it to be sheathed; and that it was never heard that the apostles ever used or swords or bucklers against the Gentiles, though 'tis likely they had done it, if Christ had ever intended, as this doctor interprets.
There is another, too, whose name out of respect I pass by, a man of no small repute, who from those tents which Habakkuk mentions, "The tents of the land of Midian shall tremble," drew this exposition, that it was prophesied of the skin of Saint Bartholomew who was flayed alive. And why, forsooth, but because those tents were covered with skins? I was lately myself at a theological dispute, for I am often there, where when one was demanding what authority there was in Holy Writ that commands heretics to be convinced by fire rather than reclaimed by argument; a crabbed old fellow, and one whose supercilious gravity spoke him at least a doctor, answered in a great fume that Saint Paul had decreed it, who said, "Reject him that is a heretic, after once or twice admonition." And when he had sundry times, one after another, thundered out the same thing, and most men wondered what ailed the man, at last he explained it thus, making two words of one. "A heretic must be put to death." Some laughed, and yet there wanted not others to whom this exposition seemed plainly theological; which, when some, though those very few, opposed, they cut off the dispute, as we say, with a hatchet, and the credit of so uncontrollable an author. "Pray conceive me," said he, "it is written, 'Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.' But every heretic bewitches the people; therefore, etc." And now, as many as were present admired the man's wit, and consequently submitted to his decision of the question. Nor came it into any of their heads that that law concerned only fortunetellers, enchanters, and magicians, whom the Hebrews call in their tongue "Mecaschephim," witches or sorcerers: for otherwise, perhaps, by the same reason it might as well have extended to fornication and drunkenness.
65. But I foolishly run on in these matters, though yet there are so many of them that neither Chrysippus, nor Didymus, volumes are large enough to contain them. I would only desire you to consider this, that if so great doctors may be allowed this liberty, you may the more reasonably pardon even me also, a raw, effeminate divine, if I quote not everything so exactly as I should. And so at last I return to Paul. "Ye willingly," says he, "suffer my foolishness," and again, "Take me as a fool," and further, "I speak it not after the Lord, but as it were foolishly," and in another place, "We are fools for Christ's sake." You have heard from how great an author how great praises of folly; and to what other end, but that without doubt he looked upon it as that one thing both necessary and profitable. "If anyone among ye," says he, "seem to be wise, let him be a fool that he may be wise." And in Luke, Jesus called those two disciples with whom he joined himself upon the way, "fools." Nor can I give you any reason why it should seem so strange when Saint Paul imputes a kind of folly even to God himself. "The foolishness of God," says he, "is wiser than men." Though yet I must confess that Origen upon the place denies that this foolishness may be resembled to the uncertain judgment of men; of which kind is, that "the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness."
But why am I so careful to no purpose that I thus run on to prove my matter by so many testimonies? when in those mystical Psalms Christ speaking to the Father says openly, "Thou knowest my foolishness." Nor is it without ground that fools are so acceptable to God. The reason perhaps may be this, that as princes carry a suspicious eye upon those that are over-wise, and consequently hate them--as Caesar did Brutus and Cassius, when he feared not in the least drunken Antony; so Nero, Seneca; and Dionysius, Plato--and on the contrary are delighted in those blunter and unlabored wits, in like manner Christ ever abhors and condemns those wise men and such as put confidence in their own wisdom. And this Paul makes clearly out when he said, "God hath chosen the foolish things of this world," as well knowing it had been impossible to have reformed it by wisdom. Which also he sufficiently declares himself, crying out by the mouth of his prophet, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and cast away the understanding of the prudent."
And again, when Christ gives Him thanks that He had concealed the mystery of salvation from the wise, but revealed it to babes and sucklings, that is to say, fools. For the Greek word for babes is fools, which he opposes to the word wise men. To this appertains that throughout the Gospel you find him ever accusing the Scribes and Pharisees and doctors of the law, but diligently defending the ignorant multitude (for what other is that "Woe to ye Scribes and Pharisees" than woe to you, you wise men?), but seems chiefly delighted in little children, women, and fishers. Besides, among brute beasts he is best pleased with those that have least in them of the foxes' subtlety. And therefore he chose rather to ride upon an ass when, if he had pleased, he might have bestrode the lion without danger. And the Holy Ghost came down in the shape of a dove, not of an eagle or kite. Add to this that in Scripture there is frequent mention of harts, hinds, and lambs; and such as are destined to eternal life are called sheep, than which creature there is not anything more foolish, if we may believe that proverb of Aristotle "sheepish manners," which he tells us is taken from the foolishness of that creature and is used to be applied to dull-headed people and lack-wits. And yet Christ professes to be the shepherd of this flock and is himself delighted with the name of a lamb; according to Saint John, "Behold the Lamb of God!" Of which also there is much mention in the Revelation. And what does all this drive at, but that all mankind are fools--nay, even the very best?
And Christ himself, that he might the better relieve this folly, being the wisdom of the Father, yet in some manner became a fool when taking upon him the nature of man, he was found in shape as a man; as in like manner he was made sin that he might heal sinners. Nor did he work this cure any other way than by the foolishness of the cross and a company of fat apostles, not much better, to whom also he carefully recommended folly but gave them a caution against wisdom and drew them together by the example of little children, lilies, mustard-seed, and sparrows, things senseless and inconsiderable, living only by the dictates of nature and without either craft or care. Besides, when he forbade them to be troubled about what they should say before governors and straightly charged them not to inquire after times and seasons, to wit, that they might not trust to their own wisdom but wholly depend on him. And to the same purpose is it that that great Architect of the World, God, gave man an injunction against his eating of the Tree of Knowledge, as if knowledge were the bane of happiness; according to which also, St. Paul disallows it as puffing up and destructive; whence also St. Bernard seems in my opinion to follow when he interprets that mountain whereon Lucifer had fixed his habitation to be the mountain of knowledge.
Nor perhaps ought I to omit this other argument, that Folly is so gracious above that her errors are only pardoned, those of wise men never. Whence it is that they that ask forgiveness, though they offend never so wittingly, cloak it yet with the excuse of folly. So Aaron, in Numbers, if I mistake not the book, when he sues unto Moses concerning his sister's leprosy, "I beseech thee, my Lord, not to lay this sin upon us, which we have foolishly committed." So Saul makes his excuse of David, "For behold," says he, "I did it foolishly." And again, David himself thus sweetens God, "And therefore I beseech thee, O Lord, to take away the trespass of thy servant, for I have done foolishly," as if he knew there was no pardon to be obtained unless he had colored his offense with folly and ignorance. And stronger is that of Christ upon the cross when he prayed for his enemies, "Father, forgive them," nor does he cover their crime with any other excuse than that of unwittingness--because, says he, "they know not what they do." In like manner Paul, writing to Timothy, "But therefore I obtained mercy, for that I did it ignorantly through unbelief." And what is the meaning of "I did it ignorantly" but that I did it out of folly, not malice? And what of "Therefore I received mercy" but that I had not obtained it had I not been made more allowable through the covert of folly? For us also makes that mystical Psalmist, though I remembered it not in its right place, "Remember not the sins of my youth nor my ignorances." You see what two things he pretends, to wit, youth, whose companion I ever am, and ignorances, and that in the plural number, a number of multitude, whereby we are to understand that there was no small company of them.
But not to run too far in that which is infinite. To speak briefly, all Christian religion seems to have a kind of alliance with folly and in no respect to have any accord with wisdom. Of which if you expect proofs, consider first that boys, old men, women, and fools are more delighted with religious and sacred things than others, and to that purpose are ever next the altars; and this they do by mere impulse of nature. And in the next place, you see that those first founders of it were plain, simple persons and most bitter enemies of learning. Lastly there are no sort of fools seem more out of the way than are these whom the zeal of Christian religion has once swallowed up; so that they waste their estates, neglect injuries, suffer themselves to be cheated, put no difference between friends and enemies, abhor pleasure, are crammed with poverty, watchings, tears, labors, reproaches, loathe life, and wish death above all things; in short, they seem senseless to common understanding, as if their minds lived elsewhere and not in their own bodies; which, what else is it than to be mad? For which reason you must not think it so strange if the apostles seemed to be drunk with new wine, and if Paul appeared to Festus to be mad.
But now, having once gotten on the lion's skin, go to, and I'll show you that this happiness of Christians, which they pursue with so much toil, is nothing else but a kind of madness and folly; far be it that my words should give any offense, rather consider my matter. And first, the Christians and Platonists do as good as agree in this, that the soul is plunged and fettered in the prison of the body, by the grossness of which it is so tied up and hindered that it cannot take a view of or enjoy things as they truly are; and for that cause their master defines philosophy to be a contemplation of death, because it takes off the mind from visible and corporeal objects, than which death does no more. And therefore, as long as the soul uses the organs of the body in that right manner it ought, so long it is said to be in good state and condition; but when, having broken its fetters, it endeavors to get loose and assays, as it were, a flight out of that prison that holds it in, they call it madness; and if this happen through any distemper or indisposition of the organs, then, by the common consent of every man, 'tis downright madness. And yet we see such kind of men foretell things to come, understand tongues and letters they never learned before, and seem, as it were, big with a kind of divinity. Nor is it to be doubted but that it proceeds from hence, that the mind, being somewhat at liberty from the infection of the body, begins to put forth itself in its native vigor. And I conceive 'tis from the same cause that the like often happens to sick men a little before their death, that they discourse in strain above mortality as if they were inspired. Again, if this happens upon the score of religion, though perhaps it may not be the same kind of madness, yet 'tis so near it that a great many men would judge it no better, especially when a few inconsiderable people shall differ from the rest of the world in the whole course of their life. And therefore it fares with them as, according to the fiction of Plato, happens to those that being cooped up in a cave stand gaping with admiration at the shadows of things; and that fugitive who, having broke from them and returning to them again, told them he had seen things truly as they were, and that they were the most mistaken in believing there was nothing but pitiful shadows. For as this wise man pitied and bewailed their palpable madness that were possessed with so gross an error, so they in return laughed at him as a doting fool and cast him out of their company. In like manner the common sort of men chiefly admire those things that are most corporeal and almost believe there is nothing beyond them. Whereas on the contrary, these devout persons, by how much the nearer anything concerns the body, by so much more they neglect it and are wholly hurried away with the contemplation of things invisible. For the one give the first place to riches, the next to their corporeal pleasures, leaving the last place to their soul, which yet most of them do scarce believe, because they can't see it with their eyes. On the contrary, the others first rely wholly on God, the most unchangeable of all things; and next him, yet on this that comes nearest him, they bestow the second on their soul; and lastly, for their body, they neglect that care and condemn and flee money as superfluity that may be well spared; or if they are forced to meddle with any of these things, they do it carelessly and much against their wills, having as if they had it not, and possessing as if they possessed it not.
There are also in each several things several degrees wherein they disagree among themselves. And first as to the senses, though all of them have more or less affinity with the body, yet of these some are more gross and blockish, as tasting, hearing, seeing, smelling, touching; some more removed from the body, as memory, intellect, and the will. And therefore to which of these the mind applies itself, in that lies its force. But holy men, because the whole bent of their minds is taken up with those things that are most repugnant to these grosser senses, they seem brutish and stupid in the common use of them. Whereas on the contrary, the ordinary sort of people are best at these, and can do least at the other; from whence it is, as we have heard, that some of these holy men have by mistake drunk oil for wine. Again, in the affections of the mind, some have a greater commerce with the body than others, as lust, desire of meat and sleep, anger, pride, envy; with which holy men are at irreconcilable enmity, and contrary, the common people think there's no living without them. And lastly there are certain middle kind of affections, and as it were natural to every man, as the love of one's country, children, parents, friends, and to which the common people attribute no small matter; whereas the other strive to pluck them out of their mind: unless insomuch as they arrive to that highest part of the soul, that they love their parents not as parents--for what did they get but the body? though yet we owe it to God, not them--but as good men or women and in whom shines the image of that highest wisdom which alone they call the chiefest good, and out of which, they say, there is nothing to be beloved or desired.
And by the same rule do they measure all things else, so that they make less account of whatever is visible, unless it be altogether contemptible, than of those things which they cannot see. But they say that in Sacraments and other religious duties there is both body and spirit. As in fasting they count it not enough for a man to abstain from eating, which the common people take for an absolute fast, unless there be also a lessening of his depraved affections: as that he be less angry, less proud, than he was wont, that the spirit, being less clogged with its bodily weight, may be the more intent upon heavenly things. In like manner, in the Eucharist, though, say they, it is not to be esteemed the less that 'tis administered with ceremonies, yet of itself 'tis of little effect, if not hurtful, unless that which is spiritual be added to it, to wit, that which is represented under those visible signs. Now the death of Christ is represented by it, which all men, vanquishing, abolishing, and, as it were, burying their carnal affections, ought to express in their lives and conversations that they may grow up to a newness of life and be one with him and the same one among another. This a holy man does, and in this is his only meditation. Whereas on the contrary, the common people think there's no more in that sacrifice than to be present at the altar and crowd next it, to have a noise of words and look upon the ceremonies. Nor in this alone, which we only proposed by way of example, but in all his life, and without hypocrisy, does a holy man fly those things that have any alliance with the body and is wholly ravished with things eternal, invisible, and spiritual. For which cause there's so great contrarity of opinion between them, and that too in everything, that each party thinks the other out of their wits; though that character, in my judgment, better agrees with those holy men than the common people: which yet will be more clear if, as I promised, I briefly show you that that great reward they so much fancy is nothing else but a kind of madness.
And therefore suppose that Plato dreamed of somewhat like it when he called the madness of lovers the most happy condition of all others. For he that's violently in love lives not in his own body but in the thing he loves; and by how much the farther he runs from himself into another, by so much the greater is his pleasure. And then, when the mind strives to rove from its body and does not rightly use its own organs, without doubt you may say 'tis downright madness and not be mistaken, or otherwise what's the meaning of those common sayings, "He does not dwell at home," "Come to yourself," "He's his own man again"? Besides, the more perfect and true his love is, the more pleasant is his madness. And therefore, what is that life hereafter, after which these holy minds so pantingly breathe, like to be? To wit, the spirit shall swallow up the body, as conqueror and more durable; and this it shall do with the greater ease because heretofore, in its lifetime, it had chanced and thinned it into such another nothing as itself. And then the spirit again shall be wonderfully swallowed up by the highest mind, as being more powerful than infinite parts; so that the whole man is to be out of himself nor to be otherwise happy in any respect, but that being stripped of himself, he shall participate of somewhat ineffable from that chiefest good that draws all things into itself. And this happiness though 'tis only then perfected when souls being joined to their former bodies shall be made immortal, yet forasmuch as the life of holy men is nothing but a continued meditation and, as it were, shadow of that life, it so happens that at length they have some taste or relish of it; which, though it be but as the smallest drop in comparison of that fountain of eternal happiness, yet it far surpasses all worldly delight, though all the pleasures of all mankind were all joined together. So much better are things spiritual than things corporeal, and things invisible than things visible; which doubtless is that which the prophet promises: "The eye hath not seen, nor the ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man to consider what God has provided for them that love Him." And this is that Mary's better part which is not taken away by change of life, but perfected.
And therefore they that are sensible of it, and few there are to whom this happens, suffer a kind of somewhat little differing from madness; for they utter many things that do not hang together, and that too not after the manner of men but make a kind of sound which they neither heed themselves, nor is it understood by others, and change the whole figure of their countenance, one while jocund, another while dejected, now weeping, then laughing, and again sighing. And when they come to themselves, tell you they know not where they have been, whether in the body or out of the body, or sleeping; nor do they remember what they have heard, seen, spoken, or done, and only know this, as it were in a mist or dream, that they were the most happy while they were so out of their wits. And therefore they are sorry they are come to themselves again and desire nothing more than this kind of madness, to be perpetually mad. And this is a small taste of that future happiness.
68. But I forget myself and run beyond my bounds. Though yet, if I shall seem to have spoken anything more boldly or impertinently than I ought, be pleased to consider that not only Folly but a woman said it; remembering in the meantime that Greek proverb, "Sometimes a fool may speak a word in season," unless perhaps you expect an epilogue, but give me leave to tell you you are mistaken if you think I remember anything of what I have said, having foolishly bolted out such a hodgepodge of words. 'Tis an old proverb, "I hate one that remembers what's done over the cup." This is a new one of my own making: I hate a man that remembers what he hears. Wherefore farewell, clap your hands, live and drink lustily, my most excellent disciples of Folly.