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´╗┐Title: In Praise of Folly - Illustrated with Many Curious Cuts
Author: Erasmus, Desiderius, 1469-1536
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "In Praise of Folly - Illustrated with Many Curious Cuts" ***

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[Illustration: Frontispiece]


By Erasmus

Illustrated with many curious CUTS, Designed, Drawn, and Etched by Hans




Epistle addressed to Sir Thomas More.




ERASMUS, so deservedly famous for his admirable writings, the vast
extent of his learning, his great candour and moderation, and for being
one of the chief restorers of the Latin tongue on this side the Alps,
was born at Rotterdam, on the 28th of October, in the year 1467. The
anonymous author of his life commonly printed with his Colloquies (of
the London edition) is pleased to tell us that _de anno quo natus est
apud Batavos, non constat_. And if he himself wrote the life which we
find before the Elzevir edition, said to be _Erasmo autore_, he does not
particularly mention the year in which he was born, but places it _circa
annum 67 supra millesintum quadringentesimum_. Another Latin life, which
is prefixed to the above-mentioned London edition, fixes it in the year
1465; as does his epitaph at Basil. But as the inscription on his statue
at Rotterdam, the place of his nativity, may reasonably be supposed the
most authentic, we have followed that. His mother was the daughter of a
physician at Sevenbergen in Holland, with whom his father contracted an
acquaintance, and had correspondence with her on promise of marriage,
and was actually contracted to her. His father's name was Gerard; he
was the youngest of ten brothers, without one sister coming between; for
which reason his parents (according to the superstition of the times)
designed to consecrate him to the church. His brothers liked the notion,
because, as the church then governed all, they hoped, if he rose in
his profession, to have a sure friend to advance their interest; but
no importunities could prevail on Gerard to turn ecclesiastic Finding
himself continually pressed upon so disagreeable a subject, and not able
longer to bear it, he was forced to fly from his native country, leaving
a letter for his friends, in which he acquainted them with the reason of
his departure, and that he should never trouble them any more. Thus he
left her who was to be his wife big with child, and made the best of
his way to Rome. Being an admirable master of the pen, he made a very
genteel livelihood by transcribing most authors of note (for printing
was not in use). He for some time lived at large, but afterwards applied
close to study, made great progress in the Greek and Latin languages,
and in the civil law; for Rome at that time was full of learned men.
When his friends knew he was at Rome, they sent him word that the young
gentlewoman whom he had courted for a wife was dead; upon which, in a
melancholy fit, he took orders, and turned his thoughts wholly to the
study of divinity. He returned to his own country, and found to his
grief that he had been imposed upon; but it was too late to think of
marriage, so he dropped all farther pretensions to his mistress; nor
would she after this unlucky adventure be induced to marry.

The son took the name of Gerard after his father, which in German
signifies _amiable_, and (after the fashion of the learned men of that
age, who affected to give their names a Greek or Latin turn) his was
turned into Erasmus, which in Greek has the same signification. He was
chorister of the cathedral church of Utrecht till he was nine years
old; after which he was sent to Deventer to be instructed by the famous
Alexander Hegius, a Westphalian. Under so able a master he proved
an extraordinary proficient; and it is remarkable that he had such a
strength of memory as to be able to say all Terence and Horace by heart.
He was now arrived to the thirteenth year of his age, and had been
continually under the watchful eye of his mother, who died of the plague
then raging at Deventer. The contagion daily increasing, and having
swept away the family where he boarded, he was obliged to return home.
His father Gerard was so concerned at her death that he grew melancholy,
and died soon after: neither of his parents being much above forty when
they died.

Erasmus had three guardians assigned him, the chief of whom was Peter
Winkel, schoolmaster of Goude; and the fortune left him was amply
sufficient for his support, if his executors had faithfully discharged
their trust Although he was fit for the university, his guardians were
averse to sending him there, as they designed him for a monastic life,
and therefore removed him to Bois-le-duc, where, he says, he lost near
three years, living in a Franciscan convent The professor of humanity in
this convent, admiring his rising genius, daily importuned him to take
the habit, and be of their order. Erasmus had no great inclination for
the cloister; not that he had the least dislike to the severities of
a pious life, but he could not reconcile himself to the monastic
profession; he therefore urged his rawness of age, and desired farther
to consider better of the matter. The plague spreading in those parts,
and he having struggled a long time with a quartan ague, obliged him to
return home.

His guardians employed those about him to use all manner of arguments to
prevail on him to enter the order of monk; sometimes threatening, and at
other times making use of flattery and fair speeches. When Winkel, his
guardian, found him not to be moved from his resolution, he told
him that he threw up his guardianship from that moment Young Erasmus
replied, that he took him at his word, since he was old enough now to
look out for himself. When Winkel found that threats did not avail, he
employed his brother, who was the other guardian, to see what he could
effect by fair means. Thus he was surrounded by them and their agents
on all sides. By mere accident, Erasmus went to visit a religious house
belonging to the same order, in Emaus or Steyn, near Goude, where he met
with one Cornelius, who had been his companion at Deventer; and though
he had not himself taken the habit, he was perpetually preaching up the
advantages of a religious life, as the convenience of noble libraries,
the helps of learned conversation, retirement from the noise and folly
of the world, and the like. Thus at last he was induced to pitch upon
this convent. Upon his admission they fed him with great promises, to
engage him to take the holy cloth; and though he found almost everything
fall short of his expectation, yet his necessities, and the usage he was
threatened with if he abandoned their order, prevailed with him, after
his year of probation, to profess himself a member of their fraternity.
Not long after this, he had the honour to be known to Henry a Bergis,
bishop of Cambray, who having some hopes of obtaining a cardinal's hat,
wanted one perfectly master of Latin to solicit this affair for him; for
this purpose Erasmus was taken into the bishop's family, where he wore
the habit of his order. The bishop not succeeding in his expectation
at Rome, proved fickle and wavering in his affection; therefore Erasmus
prevailed with him to send him to Paris, to prosecute his studies in
that famous university, with the promise of an annual allowance,
which was never paid him. He was admitted into Montague College, but
indisposition obliged him to return to the bishop, by whom he was
honourably entertained. Finding his health restored, he made a journey
to Holland, intending to settle there, but was persuaded to go a second
time to Paris; where, having no patron to support him, himself says,
he rather made a shift to live, than could be said to study. He next
visited England, where he was received with great respect; and as
appears by several of his letters, he honoured it next to the place of
his nativity. In a letter to Andrelinus, inviting him to England, he
speaks highly of the beauty of the English ladies, and thus describes
their innocent freedom: "When you come into a gentleman's house you are
allowed the favour to salute them, and the same when you take leave." He
was particularly acquainted with Sir Thomas More, Colet, dean of Saint
Paul's, Grocinus, Linacer, Latimer, and many others of the most eminent
of that time; and passed some years at Gam-bridge. In his way for France
he had the misfortune to be stripped of everything; but he did not
revenge this injury by any unjust reflection on the country. Not meeting
with the preferment he expected, he made a voyage to Italy, at that time
little inferior to the Augustan age for learning. He took his doctor
of divinity degree in the university of Turin; stayed about a year
in Bologna; afterward went to Venice, and there published his book of
Adages from the press of the famous Aldus. He removed to Padua, and last
to Rome, where his fame had arrived long before him. Here he gained the
friendship of all the considerable persons of the city, nor could have
failed to have made his fortune, had he not been prevailed upon by the
great promises of his friends in England to return thither on Henry
VIIIth coming to the crown. He was taken into favour by Warham,
archbishop of Canterbury, who gave him the living of Aldington, in
Kent; but whether Erasmus was wanting in making his court to Wolsey,
or whether the cardinal viewed him with a jealous eye, because he was
a favourite of Warham, between whom and Wolsey there was perpetual
clashing, we know not; however, being disappointed, Erasmus went
to Flanders, and by the interest of Chancellor Sylvagius, was made
counsellor to Charles of Austria, afterward Charles V., emperor of
Germany. He resided several years at Basil; but on the mass being
abolished in that city by the Reformation, he retired to Friberg
in Alsace, where he lived seven years. Having been for a long time
afflicted with the gout, he left Friberg, and returned to Basil. Here
the gout soon left him, but he was seized by a dysentery, and after
labouring a whole month under that disorder, died on the 22nd of July,
1536, in the house of Jerome Frobenius, son of John, the famous printer.
He was honourably interred, and the city of Basil still pays the highest
respect to the memory of so great a man.

Erasmus was the most facetious man, and the greatest critic of his age.
He carried on a reformation in learning at the same time he advanced
that of religion; and promoted a purity of style as well as simplicity
of worship. This drew on him the hatred of the ecclesiastics, who were
no less bigotted to their barbarisms in language and philosophy, than
they were to their superstitious and gaudy ceremonies in religion; they
murdered him in their dull treatises, libelled him in their wretched
sermons, and in their last and most effectual efforts of malice, they
joined some of their own execrable stuff to his compositions: of which
he himself complains in a letter addressed to the divines of Louvain. He
exposed with great freedom the vices and corruptions of his own church,
yet never would be persuaded to leave her communion. The papal policy
would never have suffered Erasmus to have taken so unbridled a range
in the reproof and censure of her extravagancies, but under such
circumstances, when the public attack of Luther imposed on her a
prudential necessity of not disobliging her friends, that she might with
more united strength oppose the common enemy; and patiently bore what at
any other time she would have resented. Perhaps no man has obliged the
public with a greater number of useful volumes than our author; though
several have been attributed to him which he never wrote. His book of
Colloquies has passed through more editions than any of his others:
Moreri tells us a bookseller in Paris sold twenty thousand at one

[Illustration: Tailpiece 022]

[Illustration: Erasmus 025]

E R A S M U S's




IN my late travels from Italy into England, that I might not trifle
away my time in the rehearsal of old wives' fables, I thought it more
pertinent to employ my thoughts in reflecting upon some past studies,
or calling to remembrance several of those highly learned, as well as
smartly ingenious, friends I had here left behind, among whom you (dear
Sir) were represented as the chief; whose memory, while absent at this
distance, I respect with no less a complacency than I was wont while
present to enjoy your more intimate conversation, which last afforded
me the greatest satisfaction I could possibly hope for. Having therefore
resolved to be a doing, and deeming that time improper for any serious
concerns, I thought good to divert myself with drawing up a panegyrick
upon Folly. How! what maggot (say you) put this in your head? Why, the
first hint, Sir, was your own surname of More, which comes as near
the literal sound of the word,* as you yourself are distant from the
signification of it, and that in all men's judgments is vastly wide.

* Mwpia.

In the next place, I supposed that this kind of sporting wit would be
by you more especially accepted of, by you, Sir, that are wont with this
sort of jocose raillery (such as, if I mistake not, is neither dull nor
impertinent) to be mightily pleased, and in your ordinary converse
to approve yourself a Democritus junior: for truly, as you do from a
singular vein of wit very much dissent from the common herd of mankind;
so, by an incredible affability and pliableness of temper, you have the
art of suiting your humour with all sorts of companies. I hope therefore
you will not only readily accept of this rude essay as a token from
your friend, but take it under your more immediate protection, as being
dedicated to you, and by that tide adopted for yours, rather than to
be fathered as my own. And it is a chance if there be wanting some
quarrelsome persons that will shew their teeth, and pretend these
fooleries are either too buffoon-like for a grave divine, or too
satyrical for a meek christian, and so will exclaim against me as if I
were vamping up some old farce, or acted anew the Lucian again with
a peevish snarling at all things. But those who are offended at the
lightness and pedantry of this subject, I would have them consider that
I do not set myself for the first example of this kind, but that the
same has been oft done by many considerable authors. For thus several
ages since, Homer wrote of no more weighty a subject than of a war
between the frogs and mice, Virgil of a gnat and a pudding-cake,
and Ovid of a nut Poly-crates commended the cruelty of Busiris; and
Isocrates, that corrects him for this, did as much for the injustice of
Glaucus. Favorinus extolled Thersites, and wrote in praise of a quartan
ague. Synesius pleaded in behalf of baldness; and Lucian defended
a sipping fly. Seneca drollingly related the deifying of Claudius;
Plutarch the dialogue betwixt Gryllus and Ulysses; Lucian and Apuleius
the story of an ass; and somebody else records the last will of a
hog, of which St. Hierom makes mention. So that if they please, let
themselves think the worst of me, and fancy to themselves that I was all
this while a playing at push-pin, or riding astride on a hobby-horse.
For how unjust is it, if when we allow different recreations to each
particular course of life, we afford no diversion to studies; especially
when trifles may be a whet to more serious thoughts, and comical matters
may be so treated of, as that a reader of ordinary sense may possibly
thence reap more advantage than from some more big and stately argument:
as while one in a long-winded oration descants in commendation of
rhetoric or philosophy, another in a fulsome harangue sets forth the
praise of his nation, a third makes a zealous invitation to a holy war
with the Turks, another confidently sets up for a fortune-teller, and a
fifth states questions upon mere impertinences. But as nothing is more
childish than to handle a serious subject in a loose, wanton style, so
is there nothing more pleasant than so to treat of trifles, as to make
them seem nothing less than what their name imports. As to what relates
to myself, I must be forced to submit to the judgment of others; yet,
except I am too partial to be judge in my own case, I am apt to believe
I have praised Folly in such a manner as not to have deserved the name
of fool for my pains. To reply now to the objection of satyricalness,
wits have been always allowed this privilege, that they might be smart
upon any transactions of life, if so be their liberty did not extend to
railing; which makes me wonder at the tender-eared humour of this age,
which will admit of no address without the prefatory repetition of all
formal titles; nay, you may find some so preposterously devout, that
they will sooner wink at the greatest affront against our Saviour, than
be content that a prince, or a pope, should be nettled with the least
joke or gird, especially in what relates to their ordinary customs. But
he who so blames men's irregularities as to lash at no one particular
person by name, does he (I say) seem to carp so properly as to teach
and instruct? And if so, how am I concerned to make any farther excuse?
Beside, he who in his strictures points indifferently at all, he seems
not angry at one man, but at all vices.

Therefore, if any singly complain they are particularly reflected upon,
they do but betray their own guilt, at least their cowardice. Saint
Hierom dealt in the same argument at a much freer and sharper rate; nay,
and he did not sometimes refrain from naming the persons: whereas I have
not only stifled the mentioning any one person, but have so tempered my
style, as the ingenious reader will easily perceive I aimed at diversion
rather than satire. Neither did I so far imitate Juvenal, as to rake
into the sink of vices to procure a laughter, rather than create a
hearty abhorrence. If there be any one that after all remains yet
unsatisfied, let him at least consider that there may be good use made
of being reprehended by Folly, which since we have feigned as speaking,
we must keep up that character which is suitable to the person

But why do I trouble you, Sir, with this needless apology, you that are
so peculiar a patron; as, though the cause itself be none of the best,
you can at least give it the best protection. Farewell.

[Illustration: Tailpiece 033]

On the Argument and Design of the following Oration.

     WHATEVER the modern satyrs o' th' stage,
     To jerk the failures of a sliding age,
     Have lavishly expos'd to public view,
     For a discharge to all from envy due,
     Here in as lively colours naked lie,
     With equal wit, and more of modesty,
     Those poets, with their free disclosing arts,
     Strip vice so near to its uncomely parts,
     Their libels prove but lessons, and they teach
     Those very crimes which they intend t' impeach:
     While here so wholesome all, tho' sharp t' th' taste,
     So briskly free, yet so resolv'dly chaste;
     The virgin naked as her god of bows,
     May read or hear when blood at highest flows;
     Nor more expense of blushes thence arise,
     Than while the lect'ring matron does advise
     To guard her virtue, and her honour prize.

     Satire and panegyric, distant be,
     Yet jointly here they both in one agree.
     The whole's a sacrifice of salt and fire;
     So does the humour of the age require,
     To chafe the touch, and so foment desire.
     As doctrine-dangling preachers lull asleep
     Their unattentive pent-up fold of sheep;
     The opiated milk glues up the brain,
     And th' babes of grace are in their cradles lain;
     ( xxiv)
     While mounted Andrews, bawdy, bold, and loud,
     Like cocks, alarm all the drowsy crowd,
     Whose glittering ears are prick'd as bolt-upright,
     As sailing hairs are hoisted in a fright.
     So does it fare with croaking spawns o' th' press,
     The mould o' th' subject alters the success;
     What's serious, like sleep, grants writs of ease,
     Satire and ridicule can only please;
     As if no other animals could gape,
     But the biting badger, or the snick'ring ape.

     Folly by irony's commended here,
     Sooth'd, that her weakness may the more appear.
     Thus fools, who trick'd, in red and yellow shine,
     Are made believe that they are wondrous fine,
     When all's a plot t' expose them by design.
     The largesses of Folly here are strown.
     Like pebbles, not to pick, but trample on.
     Thus Spartans laid their soaking slaves before
     The boys, to justle, kick, and tumble o'er:
     Not that the dry-lipp'd youngsters might combine
     To taste and know the mystery of wine,
     But wonder thus at men transform'd to swine;
     And th' power of such enchantment to escape,
     Timely renounce the devil of the grape.
     So here,
     Though Folly speaker be, and argument,
     Wit guides the tongue, wisdom's the lecture meant.

     So here, Though Folly speaker be, and argument,
     Wit guides the tongue, wisdom's the lecture meant.

[Illustration: Header 036]

ERASMUS's Praise of FOLLY.

_An oration, of feigned matter, spoken by Folly in her own person_.

[Illustration: Letter H 036]

HOW slightly soever I am esteemed in the common vogue of the world, (for
I well know how disingenuously Folly is decried, even by those who are
themselves the greatest fools,) yet it is from my influence alone that
the whole universe receives her ferment of mirth and jollity: of
which this may be urged as a convincing argument, in that as soon as I
appeared to speak before this numerous assembly all their countenances
were gilded oyer with a lively sparkling pleasantness: you soon welcomed
me with so encouraging a look, you spurred me on with so cheerful a hum,
that truly in all appearance, you seem now flushed with a good dose of
reviving nectar, when as just before you sate drowsy and melancholy, as
if you were lately come out of some hermit's cell. But as it is usual,
that as soon as the sun peeps from her eastern bed, and draws back the
curtains of the darksome night; or as when, after a hard winter, the
restorative spring breathes a more enlivening air, nature forthwith
changes her apparel, and all things seem to renew their age; so at the
first sight of me you all unmask, and appear in more lively colours.
That therefore which expert orators can scarce effect by all their
little artifice of eloquence, to wit, a raising the attentions of their
auditors to a composedness of thought, this a bare look from me has
commanded. The reason why I appear in this odd kind of garb, you shall
soon be informed of, if for so short a while you will have but the
patience to lend me an ear; yet not such a one as you are wont to
hearken with to your reverend preachers, but as you listen withal to
mountebanks, buffoons, and merry-andrews; in short, such as formerly
were fastened to Midas, as a punishment for his affront to the god Pan.
For I am now in a humour to act awhile the sophist, yet not of that sort
who undertake the drudgery of tyrannizing over school boys, and teach a
more than womanish knack of brawling; but in imitation of those ancient
ones, who to avoid the scandalous epithet of wise, preferred this title
of sophists; the task of these was to celebrate the worth of gods and
heroes. Prepare therefore to be entertained with a panegyrick, yet not
upon Hercules, Solon, or any other grandee, but on myself, that is, upon

[Illustration: Folly 038]

And here I value not their censure that pretend it is foppish and
affected for any person to praise himself: yet let it be as silly as
they please, if they will but allow it needful: and indeed what is more
befitting than that Folly should be the trumpet of her own praise, and
dance after her own pipe? for who can set me forth better than myself?
or who can pretend to be so well acquainted with my condition?

And yet farther, I may safely urge, that all this is no more than the
same with what is done by several seemingly great and wise men, who with
a new-fashioned modesty employ some paltry orator or scribbling poet,
whom they bribe to flatter them with some high-flown character, that
shall consist of mere lies and shams; and yet the persons thus extolled
shall bristle up, and, peacock-like, bespread their plumes, while the
impudent parasite magnifies the poor wretch to the skies, and proposes
him as a complete pattern of all virtues, from each of which he is yet
as far distant as heaven itself from hell: what is all this in the mean
while, but the tricking up a daw in stolen feathers; a labouring to
change the black-a-moor's hue, and the drawing on a pigmy's frock over
the shoulders of a giant.

Lastly, I verify the old observation, that allows him a right of
praising himself, who has nobody else to do it for him: for really, I
cannot but admire at that ingratitude, shall I term it, or blockishness
of mankind, who when they all willingly pay to me their utmost
devoir, and freely acknowledge their respective obligations; that
notwithstanding this, there should have been none so grateful or
complaisant as to have bestowed on me a commendatory oration, especially
when there have not been wanting such as at a great expense of sweat,
and loss of sleep, have in elaborate speeches, given high encomiums to
tyrants, agues, flies, baldness, and such like trumperies.

I shall entertain you with a hasty and unpremeditated, but so much the
more natural discourse. My venting it _ex tempore_, I would not have
you think proceeds from any principles of vain glory by which ordinary
orators square their attempts, who (as it is easy to observe) when they
are delivered of a speech that has been thirty years a conceiving, nay,
perhaps at last, none of their own, yet they will swear they wrote it in
a great hurry, and upon very short warning: whereas the reason of my
not being provided beforehand is only because it was always my humour
constantly to speak that which lies uppermost. Next, let no one be
so fond as to imagine, that I should so far stint my invention to
the method of other pleaders, as first to define, and then divide
my subject, i.e., myself. For it is equally hazardous to attempt the
crowding her within the narrow limits of a definition, whose nature
is of so diffusive an extent, or to mangle and disjoin that, to the
adoration whereof all nations unitedly concur. Beside, to what purpose
is it to lay down a definition for a faint resemblance, and mere shadow
of me, while appearing here personally, you may view me at a more
certain light? And if your eye-sight fail not, you may at first
blush discern me to be her whom the Greeks term _Mwpia_, the Latins

[Illustration: Folly 044]

But why need I have been so impertinent as to have told you this, as if
my very looks did not sufficiently betray what I am; or supposing any be
so credulous as to take me for some sage matron or goddess of wisdom, as
if a single glance from me would not immediately correct their mistake,
while my visage, the exact reflex of my soul, would supply and supersede
the trouble of any other confessions: for I appear always in my natural
colours, and an unartificial dress, and never let my face pretend one
thing, and my heart conceal another; nay, and in all things I am so true
to my principles, that I cannot be so much as counterfeited, even by
those who challenge the name of wits, yet indeed are no better than
jackanapes tricked up in gawdy clothes, and asses strutting in lions'
skins; and how cunningly soever they carry it, their long ears appear,
and betray what they are. These in troth are very rude and disingenuous,
for while they apparently belong to my party, yet among the vulgar they
are so ashamed of my relation, as to cast it in others' dish for a shame
and reproach: wherefore since they are so eager to be accounted wise,
when in truth they are extremely silly, what, if to give them their due,
I dub them with the title of wise fools: and herein they copy after
the example of some modern orators, who swell to that proportion of
conceitedness, as to vaunt themselves for so many giants of eloquence,
if with a double-tongued fluency they can plead indifferently for either
side, and deem it a very doughty exploit if they can but interlard a
Latin sentence with some Greek word, which for seeming garnish they
crowd in at a venture; and rather than be at a stand for some cramp
words, they will furnish up a long scroll of old obsolete terms out of
some musty author, and foist them in, to amuse the reader with, that
those who understand them may be tickled with the happiness of being
acquainted with them: and those who understand them not, the less they
know the more they may admire; whereas it has been always a custom to
those of our side to contemn and undervalue whatever is strange and
unusual, while those that are better conceited of themselves will nod
and smile, and prick up their ears, that they may be thought easily to
apprehend that, of which perhaps they do not understand one word. And so
much for this; pardon the digression, now I return.

Of my name I have informed you, Sirs; what additional epithet to give
you I know not; except you will be content with that of most foolish;
for under what more proper appellation can the goddess Folly greet
her devotees? But since there are few acquainted with my family and
original, I will now give you some account of my extraction:

[Illustration: Grandsire Gods 048]

First then, my father was neither the chaos, nor hell, nor Saturn, nor
Jupiter, nor any of those old, worn out, grandsire gods, but Plutus, the
very same that, maugre Homer, Hesiod, nay, in spite of Jove himself, was
the primary father born amongst these delights, I did not, like
other infants, come crying into the world, but perked up, and laughed
immediately in my mother's face. And there is no reason I should envy
Jove for having a she-goat to his nurse, since I was more creditably
suckled by two jolly nymphs; the name of the first drunkenness, one
of Bacchus's offspring, the other ignorance, the daughter of Pan;
both which you may here behold among several others of my train and
attendants, whose particular names, if you would fain know, I will give
you in short This, who goes with a mincing gait, and holds up her head
so high, is Self-Love. She that looks so spruce, and makes such a noise
and bustle, is Flattery. That other, which sits hum-drum, as if she were
half asleep, is called Forgetfulness. She that leans on her elbow, and
sometimes yawningly stretches out her arms, is Laziness. This, that
wears a plighted garland of flowers, and smells so perfumed, is
Pleasure. The other, which appears in so smooth a skin, and pampered-up
flesh, is Sensuality. She that stares so wildly, and rolls about her
eyes, is Madness. As to those two gods whom you see playing among the
lasses the name of the one is Intemperance, the other Sound Sleep. By
the help and service of this retinue I bring all things under the verge
of my power, lording it over the greatest kings and potentates.

[Illustration: Forebearers 048]

[Illustration: Forebearers 051]

[Illustration: Forebearers 052]

[Illustration: Forebearers 055]

[Illustration: Forebearers 057]

You have now heard of my descent, my education, and my attendance; that
I may not be taxed as presumptuous in borrowing the title of a goddess,
I come now in the next place to acquaint you what obliging favours I
everywhere bestow, and how largely my jurisdiction extends: for if,
as one has ingenuously noted, to be a god is no other than to be a
benefactor to mankind; and if they have been thought deservedly deified
who have invented the use of wine, corn, or any other convenience for
the well-being of mortals, why may not I justly bear the van among the
whole troop of gods, who in all, and toward all, exert an unparalleled
bounty and beneficence?

[Illustration: 060]

[Illustration: 063]

[Illustration: 064]

For instance, in the first place, what can be more dear and precious
than life itself? and yet for this are none beholden, save to me alone.
For it is neither the spear of throughly-begotten Pallas, nor the
buckler of cloud-gathering Jove, that multiplies and propagates mankind:
but my sportive and tickling recreation that proceeded the old crabbed
philosophers, and those who now supply their stead, the mortified monks
and friars; as also kings, priests, and popes, nay, the whole tribe of
poetic gods, who are at last grown so numerous, as in the camp of heaven
(though ne'er so spacious), to jostle for elbow room. But it is not
sufficient to have made it appear that I am the source and original
of all life, except I likewise shew that all the benefits of life are
equally at my disposal. And what are such? Why, can any one be said
properly to live to whom pleasure is denied? You will give me your
assent; for there is none I know among you so wise shall I say, or so
silly, as to be of a contrary opinion. The Stoics indeed contemn, and
pretend to banish pleasure; but this is only a dissembling trick, and
a putting the vulgar out of conceit with it, that they may more quietly
engross it to themselves: but I dare them now to confess what one stage
of life is not melancholy, dull, tiresome, tedious, and uneasy, unless
we spice it with pleasure, that hautgoust of Folly. Of the truth whereof
the never enough to be commended Sophocles is sufficient authority, who
gives me the highest character in that sentence of his,

     To know nothing is the sweetest life.

[Illustration: 068]

[Illustration: 070]

Yet abating from this, let us examine the case more narrowly. Who
knows not that the first scene of infancy is far the most pleasant and
delightsome? What then is it in children that makes us so kiss, hug, and
play with them, and that the bloodiest enemy can scarce have the heart
to hurt them; but their ingredients of innocence and Folly, of which
nature out of providence did purposely compound and blend their tender
infancy, that by a frank return of pleasure they might make some sort
of amends for their parents' trouble, and give in caution as it were for
the discharge of a future education; the next advance from childhood is
youth, and how favourably is this dealt with; how kind, courteous, and
respectful are all to it? and how ready to become serviceable upon all
occasions? And whence reaps it this happiness? Whence indeed, but from
me only, by whose procurement it is furnished with little of wisdom, and
so with the less of disquiet? And when once lads begin to grow up,
and attempt to write man, their prettiness does then soon decay, their
briskness flags, their humours stagnate, their jollity ceases, and their
blood grows cold; and the farther they proceed in years, the more they
grow backward in the enjoyment of themselves, till waspish old age
comes on, a burden to itself as well as others, and that so heavy and
oppressive, as none would bear the weight of, unless out of pity to
their sufferings. I again intervene, and lend a helping-hand, assisting
them at a dead lift, in the same method the poets feign their gods to
succour dying men, by transforming them into new creatures, which I do
by bringing them back, after they have one foot in the grave, to their
infancy again; so as there is a great deal of truth couched in that old
proverb, _Once an old man, and twice a child_. Now if any one be curious
to understand what course I take to effect this alteration, my method is
this: I bring them to my well of forgetfulness, (the fountain whereof is
in the Fortunate Islands, and the river Lethe in hell but a small stream
of it), and when they have there filled their bellies full, and washed
down care, by the virtue and operation whereof they become young again.

Ay, but (say you) they merely dote, and play the fool: why yes, this is
what I mean by growing young again: for what else is it to be a child
than to be a fool and an idiot? It is the being such that makes that age
so acceptable: for who does not esteem it somewhat ominous to see a boy
endowed with the discretion of a man, and therefore for the curbing
of too forward parts we have a disparaging proverb, _Soon ripe, soon
rotten?_ And farther, who would keep company or have any thing to do
with such an old blade, as, after the wear and harrowing of so many
years should yet continue of as clear a head and sound a judgment as
he had at any time been in his middle-age; and therefore it is great
kindness of me that old men grow fools, since it is hereby only that
they are freed from such vexations as would torment them if they were
more wise: they can drink briskly, bear up stoutly, and lightly pass
over such infirmities, as a far stronger constitution could scarce
master. Sometime, with the old fellow in Plautus, they are brought back
to their horn-book again, to learn to spell their fortune in love.

[Illustration: 075]

Most wretched would they needs be if they had but wit enough to be
sensible of their hard condition; but by my assistance, they carry
off all well, and to their respective friends approve themselves good,
sociable, jolly companions. Thus Homer makes aged Nestor famed for
a smooth oily-tongued orator, while the delivery of Achilles was but
rough, harsh, and hesitant; and the same poet elsewhere tells us of old
men that sate on the walls, and spake with a great deal of flourish and
elegance. And in this point indeed they surpass and outgo children, who
are pretty forward in a softly, innocent prattle, but otherwise are too
much tongue-tied, and want the other's most acceptable embellishment of
a perpetual talkativeness. Add to this, that old men love to be playing
with children, and children delight as much in them, to verify the
proverb, that _Birds of a feather flock together_. And indeed what
difference can be discerned between them, but that the one is more
furrowed with wrinkles, and has seen a little more of the world than
the other? For otherwise their whitish hair, their want of teeth,
their smallness of stature, their milk diet, their bald crowns, their
prattling, their playing, their short memory, their heedlessness, and
all their other endowments, exactly agree; and the more they advance
in years, the nearer they come back to their cradle, till like children
indeed, at last they depart the world, without any remorse at the loss
of life, or sense of the pangs of death.

[Illustration: 079]

And now let any one compare the excellency of my metamorphosing power
to that which Ovid attributes to the gods; their strange feats in some
drunken passions we will omit for their credit sake, and instance
only in such persons as they pretend great kindness for; these they
transformed into trees, birds, insects, and sometimes serpents; but
alas, their very change into somewhat else argues the destruction of
what they were before; whereas I can restore the same numerical man to
his pristine state of youth, health and strength; yea, what is more,
if men would but so far consult their own interest, as to discard all
thoughts of wisdom, and entirely resign themselves to my guidance and
conduct, old age should be a paradox, and each man's years a perpetual
spring. For look how your hard plodding students, by a close sedentary
confinement to their books, grow mopish, pale, and meagre, as if, by a
continual wrack of brains, and torture of invention, their veins were
pumped dry, and their whole body squeezed sapless; whereas my followers
are smooth, plump, and bucksome, and altogether as lusty as so many
bacon-hogs, or sucking calves; never in their career of pleasure to be
arrested with old age, if they could but keep themselves untainted from
the contagiousness of wisdom, with the leprosy whereof, if at any time
they are infected, it is only for prevention, lest they should otherwise
have been too happy.

For a more ample confirmation of the truth of what foregoes, it is on
all sides confessed, that Folly is the best preservative of youth,
and the most effectual antidote against age. And it is a never-failing
observation made of the people of Brabant, that, contrary to the proverb
of _Older and wiser_, the more ancient they grow, the more fools
they are; and there is not any one country, whose inhabitants enjoy
themselves better, and rub through the world with more ease and quiet.
To these are nearly related, as well by affinity of customs, as of
neighbourhood, my friends the Hollanders: mine I may well call them, for
they stick so close and lovingly to me, that they are styled fools to
a proverb, and yet scorn to be ashamed of their name. Well, let fond
mortals go now in a needless quest of some Medea, Circe, Venus, or
some enchanted fountain, for a restorative of age, whereas the accurate
performance of this feat lies only within the ability of my art and

It is I only who have the receipt of making that liquor wherewith
Memnon's daughter lengthened out her grandfather's declining days: it is
I that am that Venus, who so far restored the languishing Phaon, as to
make Sappho fall deeply in love with his beauty. Mine are those herbs,
mine those charms, that not only lure back swift time, when past and
gone, but what is more to be admired, clip its wings, and prevent all
farther flight. So then, if you will all agree to my verdict, that
nothing is more desirable than the being young, nor any thing more
loathed than contemptible old age, you must needs acknowledge it as
an unrequitable obligation from me, for fencing off the one, and
perpetuating the other.

But why should I confine my discourse to the narrow subject of mankind
only? View the whole heaven itself, and then tell me what one of that
divine tribe would not be mean and despicable, if my name did not lend
him some respect and authority. Why is Bacchus always painted as a young
man, but only because he is freakish, drunk, and mad; and spending his
time in toping, dancing, masking, and revelling, seems to have nothing
in the least to do with wisdom? Nay, so far is he from the affectation
of being accounted wise, that he is content, all the rights of devotion
which are paid unto him should consist of apishness and drollery.
Farther, what scoffs and jeers did not the old comedians throw upon him?
_O swinish punch-gut god_, say they, _that smells rank of the sty he was
sowed up in_, and so on. But prithee, who in this case, always merry,
youthful, soaked in wine, and drowned in pleasure, who, I say, in such
a case, would change conditions, either with the lofty menace-looking
Jove, the grave, yet timorous Pan, the stately Pallas, or indeed any
one other of heaven's landlords? Why is Cupid feigned as a boy, but only
because he is an under-witted whipster, that neither acts nor thinks any
thing with discretion? Why is Venus adored for the mirror of beauty, but
only because she and I claim kindred, she being of the same complexion
with my father Plutus, and therefore called by Homer the Golden Goddess?
Beside, she imitates me in being always a laughing, if either we believe
the poets, or their near kinsmen the painters, the first mentioning, the
other drawing her constantly in that posture. Add farther, to what deity
did the Romans pay a more ceremonial respect than to Flora, that bawd of
obscenity? And if any one search the poets for an historical account
of the gods, he shall find them all famous for lewd pranks and
debaucheries. It is needless to insist upon the miscarriages of others,
when the lecherous intrigues of Jove himself are so notorious, and
when the pretendedly chaste Diana so oft uncloaked her modesty to run
a hunting after her beloved Endimion. But I will say no more, for I
had rather they should be told of their faults by Momus, who was want
formerly to sting them with some close reflections, till nettled by his
abusive raillery, they kicked him out of heaven for his sauciness
of daring to reprove such as were beyond correction: and now in his
banishment from heaven he finds but cold entertainment here on
earth, nay, is denied all admittance into the court of princes, where
notwithstanding my handmaid Flattery finds a most encouraging welcome:
but this petulant monitor being thrust out of doors, the gods can now
more freely rant and revel, and take their whole swinge of pleasure.

[Illustration: 85-86]

[Illustration: 89-90]

Now the beastly Priapus may recreate himself without contradiction in
lust and filthiness; now the sly Mercury may, without discovery, go on
in his thieveries, and nimble-fingered juggles; the sooty Vulcan may now
renew his wonted custom of making the other gods laugh by his hopping so
limpingly, and coming off with so many dry jokes, and biting repartees.
Silenus, the old doting lover, to shew his activity, may now dance a
frisking jig, and the nymphs be at the same sport naked. The goatish
satyrs may make up a merry ball, and Pan, the blind harper may put up
his bagpipes, and sing bawdy catches, to which the gods, especially when
they are almost drunk, shall give a most profound attention. But why
would I any farther rip open and expose the weakness of the gods, a
weakness so childish and absurd, that no man can at the same time keep
his countenance, and make a relation of it? Now therefore, like Homer's
wandering muse, I will take my leave of heaven, and come down again
here below, where we shall find nothing happy, nay, nothing tolerable,
without my presence and assistance. And in the first place consider how
providently nature has took care that in all her works there should
be some piquant smack and relish of Folly: for since the Stoics define
wisdom to be conducted by reason, and folly nothing else but the being
hurried by passion, lest our life should otherwise have been too dull
and inactive, that creator, who out of clay first tempered and made
us up, put into the composition of our humanity more than a pound of
passions to an ounce of reason; and reason he confined within the narrow
cells of the brain, whereas he left passions the whole body to range
in. Farther, he set up two sturdy champions to stand perpetually on the
guard, that reason might make no assault, surprise, nor in-road: anger,
which keeps its station in the fortress of the heart; and Just, which
like the signs Virgo and Scorpio, rules the belly and secret members.
Against the forces of these two warriors how unable is reason to bear up
and withstand, every day's experience does abundantly witness; while let
reason be never so importunate in urging and reinforcing her admonitions
to virtue, yet the passions bear all before them, and by the least offer
of curb or restraint grow but more imperious, till reason itself, for
quietness sake, is forced to desist from all further remonstrance.

But because it seemed expedient that man, who was born for the
transaction of business, should have so much wisdom as should fit and
capacitate him for the discharge of his duty herein, and yet lest such
a measure as is requisite for this purpose might prove too dangerous
and fatal, I was advised with for an antidote, who prescribed this
infallible receipt of taking a wife, a creature so harmless and silly,
and yet so useful and convenient, as might mollify and make pliable
the stiffness and morose humour of man. Now that which made Plato
doubt under what genus to rank woman, whether among brutes or rational
creatures, was only meant to denote the extreme stupidness and Folly of
that sex, a sex so unalterably simple, that for any of them to thrust
forward, and reach at the name of wise, is but to make themselves the
more remarkable fools, such an endeavour, being but a swimming against
the stream, nay, the turning the course of nature, the bare attempting
whereof is as extravagant as the effecting of it is impossible: for
as it is a trite proverb, _That an ape will be an ape, though clad in
purple_; so a woman will be a woman, a fool, whatever disguise she takes
up. And yet there is no reason women should take it amiss to be thus
charged; for if they do but righdy consider they will find it is to
Folly they are beholden for those endowments, wherein they so far
surpass and excel man; as first, for their unparalleled beauty, by the
charm whereof they tyrannize over the greatest tyrants; for what is
it but too great a smatch of wisdom that makes men so tawny and
thick-skinned, so rough and prickly-bearded, like an emblem of winter
or old age, while women have such dainty smooth cheeks, such a low
gende voice, and so pure a complexion, as if nature had drawn them for a
standing pattern of all symmetry and comeliness? Beside, what live, but
to be wound up as it were in a winding-sheet before we are dead, and so
to be shuffled quick into a grave, and buried alive.

[Illustration: 097]

But there are yet others perhaps that have no gust in this sort of
pleasure, but place their greatest content in the enjoyment of friends,
telling us that true friendship is to be preferred before all other
acquirements; that it is a thing so useful and necessary, as the very
elements could not long subsist without a natural combination; so
pleasant that it affords as warm an influence as the sun itself; so
honest, (if honesty in this case deserve any consideration), that the
very philosophers have not stuck to place this as one among the rest of
their different sentiments of the chiefest good. But what if I make it
appear that I also am the main spring and original of this endearment?
Yes, I can easily demonstrate it, and that not by crabbed syllogisms,
or a crooked and unintelligible way of arguing, but can make it (as the
proverb goes) _As plain as the nose on your face_. Well then, to scratch
and curry one another, to wink at a friend's faults; nay, to cry up some
failings for virtuous and commendable, is not this the next door to
the being a fool? When one looking stedfastly in his mistress's face,
admires a mole as much as a beauty spot; when another swears his lady's
stinking breath is a most redolent perfume; and at another time the fond
parent hugs the squint-eyed child, and pretends it is rather a becoming
glance and winning aspect than any blemish of the eye-sight, what is all
this but the very height of Folly?

[Illustration: 100]

Folly (I say) that both makes friends and keeps them so. I speak of
mortal men only, among whom there are none but have some small faults;
he is most happy that has fewest. If we pass to the gods, we shall
find that they have so much of wisdom, as they have very little of
friendship; nay, nothing of that which is true and hearty. The reason
why men make a greater improvement in this virtue, is only because they
are more credulous and easy natured; for friends must be of the same
humour and inclinations too, or else the league of amity, though made
with never so many protestations, will be soon broke. Thus grave
and morose men seldom prove fast friends; they are too captious and
censorious, and will not bear with one another's infirmities; they are
as eagle sighted as may be in the espial of others' faults, while they
wink upon themselves, and never mind the beam in their own eyes. In
short, man being by nature so prone to frailties, so humoursome and
cross-grained, and guilty of so many slips and miscarriages, there could
be no firm friendship contracted, except there be such an allowance made
for each other's defaults, which the Greeks term _'Eunoeia_, and we may
construe good nature, which is but another word for Folly. And what?
Is not Cupid, that first father of all relation, is not he stark blind,
that as he cannot himself distinguish of colours, so he would make us as
mope-eyed in judging falsely of all love concerns, and wheedle us into a
thinking that we are always in the right? Thus every Jack sticks to his
own Jill; every tinker esteems his own trull; and the hob-nailed suiter
prefers Joan the milk-maid before any of my lady's daughters. These
things are true, and are ordinarily laughed at, and yet, however
ridiculous they seem, it is hence only that all societies receive their
cement and consolidation.

[Illustration: 109]

The same which has been said of friendship is much more applicable to a
state of marriage, which is but the highest advance and improvement
of friendship in the closest bond of union. Good God! What frequent
divorces, or worse mischief, would oft sadly happen, except man and
wife, were so discreet as to pass over light occasions of quarrel with
laughing, jesting, dissembling, and such like playing the fool? Nay, how
few matches would go forward, if the hasty lover did but first know
how many little tricks of lust and wantonness (and perhaps more gross
failings) his coy and seemingly bashful mistress had oft before been
guilty of? And how fewer marriages, when consummated, would continue
happy, if the husband were not either sottishly insensible of, or did
not purposely wink at and pass over the lightness and forwardness of his
good-natured wife? This peace and quietness is owing to my management,
for there would otherwise be continual jars, and broils, and mad doings,
if want of wit only did not at the same time make a contented cuckold
and a still house; if the cuckoo sing at the back door, the unthinking
cornute takes no notice of the unlucky omen of others' eggs being laid
in his own nest, but laughs it over, kisses his dear spouse, and all
is well. And indeed it is much better patiently to be such a hen-pecked
frigot, than always to be wracked and tortured with the grating surmises
of suspicion and jealousy. In fine, there is no one society, no one
relation men stand in, would be comfortable, or indeed tolerable,
without my assistance; there could be no right understanding betwixt
prince and people, lord and servant, tutor and pupil, friend and
friend, man and wife, buyer and seller, or any persons however otherwise
related, if they did not cowardly put up small abuses, sneakingly cringe
and submit, or after all fawningly scratch and flatter each other. This
you will say is much, but you shall yet hear what is more; tell me then,
can any one love another that first hates himself? Is it likely any
one should agree with a friend that is first fallen out with his own
judgment? Or is it probable he should be any way pleasing to another,
who is a perpetual plague and trouble to himself? This is such a paradox
that none can be so mad as to maintain. Well, but if I am excluded
and barred out, every man would be so far from being able to bear
with others, that he would be burthensome to himself, and consequently
incapable of any ease or satisfaction. Nature, that toward some of her
products plays the step-mother rather than the indulgent parent, has
endowed some men with that unhappy peevishness of disposition, as to
nauseate and dislike whatever is their own, and much admire what belongs
to other persons, so as they cannot in any wise enjoy what their birth
or fortunes have bestowed upon them: for what grace is there in the
greatest beauty, if it be always clouded with frowns and sulliness? Or
what vigour in youth, if it be harassed with a pettish, dogged,
waspish, ill humour? None, sure. Nor indeed can there be any creditable
acquirement of ourselves in any one station of life, but we should sink
without rescue into misery and despair, if we were not buoyed up and
supported by self-love, which is but the elder sister (as it were) of
Folly, and her own constant friend and assistant For what is or can be
more silly than to be lovers and admirers of ourselves? And yet if it
were not so there will be no relish to any of our words or actions. Take
away this one property of a fool, and the orator shall become as dumb
and silent as the pulpit he stands in; the musician shall hang up his
untouched instruments on the wall; the completest actors shall be hissed
off the stage; the poet shall be burlesqued with his own doggrel rhymes;
the painter shall himself vanish into an imaginary landscape; and the
physician shall want food more than his patients do physic. In short,
without self-love, instead of beautiful, you shall think yourself an old
beldam of fourscore; instead of youthful, you shall seem just dropping
into the grave; instead of eloquent, a mere stammerer; and in lieu of
gende and complaisant, you shall appear like a downright country clown;
it being so necessary that every one should think well of himself before
he can expect the good opinion of others. Finally, when it is the main
and essential part of happiness to desire to be no other than what we
already are; this expedient is again wholly owing to self-love, which so
flushes men with a good conceit of their own, that no one repents of his
shape, of his wit, of his education, or of his country; so as the dirty
half-drowned Hollander would not remove into the pleasant plains of
Italy, the rude Thracian would not change his boggy soil for the best
seat in Athens, nor the brutish Scythian quit his thorny deserts to
become an inhabitant of the Fortunate Islands. And oh the incomparable
contrivance of nature, who has ordered all things in so even a method
that wherever she has been less bountiful in her gifts, there she
makes it up with a larger dose of self-love, which supplies the former
defects, and makes all even. To enlarge farther, I may well presume to
aver, that there are no considerable exploits performed, no useful arts
invented, but what I am the respective author and manager of: as first,
what is more lofty and heroical than war? and yet, what is more foolish
than for some petty, trivial affront, to take such a revenge as both
sides shall be sure to be losers, and where the quarrel must be decided
at the price of so many limbs and lives? And when they come to an
engagement, what service can be done by such pale-faced students, as
by drudging at the oars of wisdom, have spent all their strength and
activity? No, the only use is of blunt sturdy fellows that have little
of wit, and so the more of resolution: except you would make a soldier
of such another Demosthenes as threw down his arms when he came within
sight of the enemy, and lost that credit in the camp which he gained in
the pulpit.

But counsel, deliberation, and advice (say you), are very necessary
for the management of war: very true, but not such counsel as shall be
prescribed by the strict rules of wisdom and justice; for a battle shall
be more successfully fought by serving-men, porters, bailiffs, padders,
rogues, gaol-birds, and such like tag-rags of mankind, than by the
most accomplished philosophers; which last, how unhappy they are in the
management of such concerns, Socrates (by the oracle adjudged to be the
wisest of mortals) is a notable example; who when he appeared in the
attempt of some public performance before the people, he faltered in the
first onset, and could never recover himself, but was hooted and hissed
home again: yet this philosopher was the less a fool, for refusing the
appellation of wise, and not accepting the oracle's compliment; as also
for advising that no philosophers should have any hand in the government
of the commonwealth; he should have likewise at the same time, added,
that they should be banished all human society.

And what made this great man poison himself to prevent the malice of his
accusers? What made him the instrument of his own death, but only his
excessiveness of wisdom? whereby, while he was searching into the nature
of clouds, while he was plodding and contemplating upon ideas, while he
was exercising his geometry upon the measure of a flea, and diving into
the recesses of nature, for an account how little insects, when they
were so small, could make so great a buzz and hum; while he was intent
upon these fooleries he minded nothing of the world, or its ordinary

Next to Socrates comes his scholar Plato, a famous orator indeed, that
could be so dashed out of countenance by an illiterate rabble, as to
demur, and hawk, and hesitate, before he could get to the end of one
short sentence. Theo-phrastus was such another coward, who beginning to
make an oration, was presently struck down with fear, as if he had seen
some ghost, or hobgoblin. Isocrates was so bashful and timorous, that
though he taught rhetoric, yet he could never have the confidence to
speak in public. Cicero, the master of Roman eloquence, was wont to
begin his speeches with a low, quivering voice, just like a school-boy,
afraid of not saying his lesson perfect enough to escape whipping:
and yet Fabius commends this property of Tully as an argument of a
considerate orator, sensible of the difficulty of acquitting himself
with credit: but what hereby does he do more than plainly confess that
wisdom is but a rub and impediment to the well management of any affair?
How would these heroes crouch, and shrink into nothing, at the sight of
drawn swords, that are thus quashed and stunned at the delivery of bare

[Illustration: 113]

Now then let Plato's fine sentence be cried up, that "happy are those
commonwealths where either philosophers are elected kings, or kings turn
philosophers." Alas, this is so far from being true, that if we consult
all historians for an account of past ages, we shall find no princes
more weak, nor any people more slavish and wretched, than where the
administrations of affairs fell on the shoulders of some learned bookish
governor. Of the truth whereof, the two Catos are exemplary instances:
the first of which embroiled the city, and tired out the senate by his
tedious harangues of defending himself, and accusing others; the younger
was an unhappy occasion of the loss of the peoples' liberty, while
by improper methods he pretended to maintain it To these may be added
Brutus, Cassius, the two Gracchi, and Cicero himself, who was no less
fatal to Rome, than his parallel Demosthenes was to Athens: as likewise
Marcus Antoninus, whom we may allow to have been a good emperor, yet the
less such for his being a philosopher; and certainly he did not do half
that kindness to his empire by his own prudent management of affairs,
as he did mischief by leaving such a degenerate successor as his son
Commodus proved to be; but it is a common observation, that _A wise
father has many times a foolish son_, nature so contriving it, lest the
taint of wisdom, like hereditary distempers, should otherwise descend by
propagation. Thus Tully's son Marcus, though bred at Athens, proved but
a dull, insipid soul; and Socrates his children had (as one ingeniously
expresses it) "more of the mother than the father," a phrase for their
being fools. However, it were the more excusable, though wise men are so
awkward and unhandy in the ordering of public affairs, if they were
not so bad, or worse in the management of their ordinary and domestic
concerns; but alas, here they are much to seek: for place a formal wise
man at a feast, and he shall, either by his morose silence put the whole
table out of humour, or by his frivolous questions disoblige and tire
out all that sit near him. Call him out to dance, and he shall move no
more nimbly than a camel: invite him to any public performance, and by
his very looks he shall damp the mirth of all the spectators, and at
last be forced, like Cato, to leave the theatre, because he cannot
unstarch his gravity, nor put on a more pleasant countenance. If he
engage in any discourse, he either breaks off abruptly, or tires out the
patience of the whole company, if he goes on: if he have any contract,
sale, or purchase to make, or any other worldly business to transact, he
behaves himself more like a senseless stock than a rational man; so as
he can be of no use nor advantage to himself, to his friends, or to
his country; because he knows nothing how the world goes, and is wholly
unacquainted with the humour of the vulgar, who cannot but hate a person
so disagreeing in temper from themselves.

And indeed the whole proceedings of the world are nothing but one
continued scene of Folly, all the actors being equally fools and madmen;
and therefore if any be so pragmatically wise as to be singular, he
must even turn a second Timon, or man-hater, and by retiring into some
unfrequented desert, become a recluse from all mankind.

But to return to what I first proposed, what was it in the infancy of
the world that made men, naturally savage, unite into civil societies,
but only flattery, one of my chiefest virtues? For there is nothing else
meant by the fables of Amphion and Orpheus with their harps; the first
making the stones jump into a well-built wall, the other inducing the
trees to pull their legs out of the ground, and dance the mor-rice after
him. What was it that quieted and appeased the Roman people, when they
brake out into a riot for the redress of grievances? Was it any sinewy
starched oration? No, alas, it was only a silly, ridiculous story, told
by Menenius Agrippa, how the other members of the body quarrelled with
the belly, resolving no longer to continue her drudging caterers, till
by the penance they thought thus in revenge to impose, they soon
found their own strength so far diminished, that paying the cost of
experiencing a mistake, they willingly returned to their respective
duties. Thus when the rabble of Athens murmured at the exaction of the
magistrates, Themistocles satisfied them with such another tale of the
fox and the hedge-hog; the first whereof being stuck fast in a miry bog,
the flies came swarming about him, and almost sucked out all his blood,
the latter officiously offers his service to drive them away; no, says
the fox, if these which are almost glutted be frighted off, there will
come a new hungry set that will be ten times more greedy and devouring:
the moral of this he meant applicable to the people, who if they had
such magistrates removed as they complained of for extortion, yet their
successors would certainly be worse.

With what highest advances of policy could Sertorius have kept the
Barbarians so well in awe, as by a white hart, which he pretended was
presented to him by Diana, and brought him intelligence of all his
enemies' designs? What was Lycurgus his grand argument for demonstrating
the force of education, but only the bringing out two whelps of the same
bitch, differently brought up, and placing before them a dish, and a
live hare; the one, that had been bred to hunting, ran after the game;
while the other, whose kennel had been a kitchen, presently fell a
licking the platter. Thus the before-mentioned Sertorius made his
soldiers sensible that wit and contrivance would do more than bare
strength, by setting a couple of men to the plucking off two horses'
tails; the first pulling at all in one handful, tugged in vain; while
the other, though much the weaker, snatching off one by one, soon
performed his appointed task.

Instances of like nature are Minos and king Numa, both which fooled
the people into obedience by a mere cheat and juggle; the first by
pretending he was advised by Jupiter, the latter by making the vulgar
believe he had the goddess _AEgeria_ assistant to him in all debates and
transactions. And indeed it is by such wheedles that the common people
are best gulled, and imposed upon.

For farther, what city would ever submit to the rigorous laws of Plato,
to the severe injunctions of Aristotle? or the more unpracticable tenets
of Socrates? No, these would have been too straight and galling, there
not being allowance enough made for the infirmities of the people.

To pass to another head, what was it made the Decii so forward to offer
themselves up as a sacrifice for an atonement to the angry gods, to
rescue and stipulate for their indebted country? What made Curtius, on
a like occasion, so desperately to throw away his life, but only
vainglory, that is condemned, and unanimously voted for a main branch of
Folly by all wise men? What is more unreasonable and foppish (say they)
than for any man, out of ambition to some office, to bow, to scrape
and cringe to the gaping rabble, to purchase their favour by bribes and
donatives, to have their names cried up in the streets, to be carried
about as it were for a fine sight upon the shoulders of the crowd, to
have their effigies carved in brass, and put up in the market place
for a monument of their popularity? Add to this, the affectation of new
titles and distinctive badges of honour; nay, the very deifying of such
as were the most bloody tyrants. These are so extremely ridiculous,
that there is need of more than one Democritus to laugh at them. And yet
hence only have been occasioned those memorable achievements of heroes,
that have so much employed the pens of many laborious writers.

It is Folly--that, in a several dress, governs cities, appoints
magistrates, and supports judicatures; and, in short, makes the whole
course of man's life a mere children's play, and worse than push-pin
diversion. The invention of all arts and sciences are likewise owing to
the same cause: for what sedentary, thoughtful men would have beat their
brains in the search of new and unheard-of-mysteries, if not egged on
by the bubbling hopes of credit and reputation? They think a little
glittering flash of vain-glory is a sufficient reward for all their
sweat, and toil, and tedious drudgery, while they that are supposedly
more foolish, reap advantage of the others' labours.

And now since I have made good my title to valour and industry, what if
I challenge an equal share of wisdom? How! this (you will say) is absurd
and contradictory; the east and west may as soon shake hands as Folly
and Wisdom be reconciled. Well, but have a little patience and I will
warrant you I will make out my claim. First then, if wisdom (as must be
confessed) is no more than a readiness of doing good, and an expedite
method of becoming serviceable to the world, to whom does this virtue
more properly belong? To the wise man, who partly out of modesty, partly
out of cowardice, can proceed resolutely in no attempt; or to the fool,
that goes hand over head, leaps before he looks, and so ventures through
the most hazardous undertaking without any sense or prospect of danger?
In the undertaking any enterprize the wise man shall run to consult with
his books, and daze himself with poring upon musty authors, while the
dispatchful fool shall rush blundy on, and have done the business, while
the other is thinking of it. For the two greatest lets and impediments
to the issue of any performance are modesty, which casts a mist before
men's eyes; and fear, which makes them shrink back, and recede from any
proposal: both these are banished and cashiered by Folly, and in their
stead such a habit of fool-hardiness introduced, as mightily contributes
to the success of all enterprizes. Farther, if you will have wisdom
taken in the other sense, of being a right judgment of things, you shall
see how short wise men fall of it in this acceptation.

First, then, it is certain that all things, like so many Janus's, carry
a double face, or rather bear a false aspect, most things being really
in themselves far different from what they are in appearance to others:
so as that which at first blush proves alive, is in truth dead; and
that again which appears as dead, at a nearer view proves to be alive:
beautiful seems ugly, wealthy poor, scandalous is thought creditable,
prosperous passes for unlucky, friendly for what is most opposite, and
innocent for what is hurtful and pernicious. In short, if we change the
tables, all things are found placed in a quite different posture from
what just before they appeared to stand in.

If this seem too darkly and unintelligibly expressed, I will explain it
by the familiar instance of some great king or prince, whom every one
shall suppose to swim in a luxury of wealth, and to be a powerful lord
and master; when, alas, on the one hand he has poverty of spirit enough
to make him a mere beggar, and on the other side he is worse than a
galley-slave to his own lusts and passions.

If I had a mind farther to expatiate, I could enlarge upon several
instances of like nature, but this one may at present suffice.

Well, but what is the meaning (will some say) of all this? Why, observe
the application. If any one in a play-house be so impertinent and rude
as to rifle the actors of their borrowed clothes, make them lay down the
character assumed, and force them to return to their naked selves, would
not such a one wholly discompose and spoil the entertainment? And would
he not deserve to be hissed and thrown stones at till the pragmatical
fool could learn better manners? For by such a disturbance the whole
scene will be altered: such as acted the men will perhaps appear to be
women: he that was dressed up for a young brisk lover, will be found a
rough old fellow; and he that represented a king, will remain but a mean
ordinary serving-man. The laying things thus open is marring all the
sport, which consists only in counterfeit and disguise. Now the world is
nothing else but such another comedy, where every one in the tire-room
is first habited suitably to the part he is to act; and as it is
successively their turn, out they come on the stage, where he that now
personates a prince, shall in another part of the same play alter his
dress, and become a beggar, all things being in a mask and particular
disguise, or otherwise the play could never be presented Now if there
should arise any starched, formal don, that would point at the several
actors, and tell how this, that seems a petty god, is in truth worse
than a brute, being made captive to the tyranny of passion; that the
other, who bears the character of a king, is indeed the most slavish of
serving-men, in being subject to the mastership of lust and sensuality;
that a third, who vaunts so much of his pedigree, is no better than
a bastard for degenerating from virtue, which ought to be of greatest
consideration in heraldry, and so shall go on in exposing all the
rest; would not any one think such a person quite frantic, and ripe for
bedlam? For as nothing is more silly than preposterous wisdom, so
is there nothing more indiscreet than an unreasonable reproof. And
therefore he is to be hooted out of all society that will not be
pliable, conformable, and willing to suit his humour with other men's,
remembering the law of clubs and meetings, that he who will not do as
the rest must get him out of the company. And it is certainly one great
degree of wisdom for every one to consider that he is but a man, and
therefore he should not pitch his soaring thoughts beyond the level of
mortality, but imp the wings of his towering ambition, and obligingly
submit and condescend to the weakness of others, it being many times a
piece of complaisance to go out of the road for company's sake.

[Illustration: 126]

No (say you), this is a grand piece of Folly: true, but yet all our
living is no more than such kind of fooling: which though it may seem
harsh to assert, yet it is not so strange as true.

For the better making it out it might perhaps be requisite to invoke the
aid of the muses, to whom the poets devoutly apply themselves upon far
more slender occasions. Come then and assist, ye Heliconian lasses,
while I attempt to prove that there is no method for an arrival at
wisdom, and consequently no track to the goal of happiness, without the
instructions and directions of Folly.

And here, in the first place it has been already acknowledged, that all
the passions are listed under my regiment, since this is resolved to be
the only distinction betwixt a wise man and a fool, that this latter
is governed by passion, the other guided by reason: and therefore the
Stoics look upon passions no other than as the infection and malady
of the soul that disorders the constitution of the whole man, and by
putting the spirits into a feverish ferment many times occasion some
mortal distemper. And yet these, however decried, are not only our
tutors to instruct us towards the attainment of wisdom, but even
bolden us likewise, and spur us on to a quicker dispatch of all our
undertakings. This, I suppose, will be stomached by the stoical Seneca,
who pretends that the only emblem of wisdom is the man without passion;
whereas the supposing any person to be so, is perfectly to unman him, or
else transforming him into some fabulous deity that never was, nor
ever will be; nay, to speak more plain, it is but the making him a mere
statue, immoveable, senseless, and altogether inactive. And if this be
their wise man, let them take him to themselves, and remove him into
Plato's commonwealth, the new Atlantis, or some other-like fairy land.
For who would not hate and avoid such a person as should be deaf to all
the dictates of common sense? that should have no more power of love or
pity than a block or stone, that remains heedless of all dangers? that
thinks he can never mistake, but can foresee all contingencies at the
greatest distance, and make provision for the worst presages? that feeds
upon himself and his own thoughts, that monopolises health, wealth,
power, dignity, and all to himself? that loves no man, nor is beloved
of any? that has the impudence to tax even divine providence of ill
contrivance, and proudly grudges, nay, tramples under foot all other
men's reputation; and this is he that is the Stoic's complete wise man.
But prithee what city would choose such a magistrate? what army would be
willing to serve under such a commander? or what woman would be content
with such a do-little husband? who would invite such a guest? or what
servant would be retained by such a master? The most illiterate mechanic
would in all respects be a more acceptable man, who would be frolicsome
with his wife, free with his friends, jovial at a feast, pliable in
converse, and obliging to all company. But I am tired out with this part
of my subject, and so must pass to some other topics.

[Illustration: 131-132]

And now were any one placed on that tower, from whence Jove is fancied
by the poets to survey the world, he would all around discern how many
grievances and calamities our whole life is on every side encompassed
with: how unclean our birth, how troublesome our tendance in the cradle,
how liable our childhood is to a thousand misfortunes, how toilsome and
full of drudgery our riper years, how heavy and uncomfortable our old
age, and lastly, how unwelcome the unavoidableness of death. Farther, in
every course of life how many wracks there may be of torturing diseases,
how many unhappy accidents may casually occur, how many unexpected
disasters may arise, and what strange alterations may one moment
produce? Not to mention such miseries as men are mutually the cause of,
as poverty, imprisonment, slander, reproach, revenge, treachery, malice,
cousenage, deceit, and so many more, as to reckon them all would be as
puzzling arithmetic as the numbering of the sands.

[Illustration: 138]

How mankind became environed with such hard circumstances, or what deity
imposed these plagues, as a penance on rebellious mortals, I am not
now at leisure to enquire: but whoever seriously takes them into
consideration must needs commend the valour of the Milesian virgins, who
voluntarily killed themselves to get rid of a troublesome world: and
how many wise men have taken the same course of becoming their own
executioners; among whom, not to mention Diogenes, Xenocrates, Cato,
Cassius, Brutus, and other heroes, the self-denying Chiron is never
enough to be commended; who, when he was offered by Apollo the privilege
of being exempted from death, and living on to the world's end, he
refused the enticing proposal, as deservedly thinking it a punishment
rather than a reward.

But if all were thus wise you see how soon the world would be unpeopled,
and what need there would be of a second Prometheus, to plaister up
the decayed image of mankind. I therefore come and stand in this gap
of danger, and prevent farther mischief; partly by ignorance, partly by
inadvertence; by the oblivion of whatever would be grating to remember,
and the hopes of whatever may be grateful to expect, together palliating
all griefs with an intermixture of pleasure; whereby I make men so far
from being weary of their lives, that when their thread is spun to its
full length, they are yet unwilling to die, and mighty hardly brought
to take their last farewell of their friends. Thus some decrepit old
fellows, that look as hollow as the grave into which they are falling,
that rattle in the throat at every word they speak, that can eat no meat
but what is tender enough to suck, that have more hair on their beard
than they have on their head, and go stooping toward the dust they must
shortly return to; whose skin seems already drest into parchment, and
their bones already dried to a skeleton; these shadows of men shall
be wonderful ambitious of living longer, and therefore fence off the
attacks of death with all imaginable sleights and impostures; one shall
new dye his grey hairs, for fear their colour should betray his age;
another shall spruce himself up in a light periwig; a third shall repair
the loss of his teeth with an ivory set; and a fourth perhaps shall fall
deeply in love with a young girl, and accordingly court her with as much
of gaiety and briskness as the liveliest spark in the whole town: and
we cannot but know, that for an old man to marry a young wife without a
portion, to be a cooler to other men's lust, is grown so common, that it
is become the a-la-mode of the times. And what is yet more comical, you
shall have some wrinkled old women, whose very looks are a sufficient
antidote to lechery, that shall be canting out, _Ah, life is a sweet
thing_, and so run a caterwauling, and hire some strong-backed stallions
to recover their almost lost sense of feeling; and to set themselves
off the better, they shall paint and daub their faces, always stand
a tricking up themselves at their looking-glass, go naked-necked,
bare-breasted, be tickled at a smutty jest, dance among the young girls,
write love-letters, and do all the other little knacks of decoying
hot-blooded suitors; and in the meanwhile, however they are laughed at,
they enjoy themselves to the full, live up to their hearts' desire, and
want for nothing that may complete their happiness. As for those that
think them herein so ridiculous, I would have them give an ingenuous
answer to this one query, whether if folly or hanging were left to their
choice, they had not much rather live like fools, than die like dogs?
But what matter is it if these things are resented by the vulgar? Their
ill word is no injury to fools, who are either altogether insensible of
any affront, or at least lay it not much to heart. If they were knocked
on the head, or had their brains dashed out, they would have some cause
to complain; but alas, slander, calumny, and disgrace, are no other way
injurious than as they are interpreted; nor otherwise evil, than as they
are thought to be so: what harm is it then if all persons deride and
scoff you, if you bear but up in your own thoughts, and be yourself
thoroughly conceited of your deserts? And prithee, why should it be
thought any scandal to be a fool, since the being so is one part of our
nature and essence; and as so, our not being wise can no more reasonably
be imputed as a fault, than it would be proper to laugh at a man because
he cannot fly in the air like birds and fowls; because he goes not on
all four as beasts of the field; because he does not wear a pair of
visible horns as a crest on his forehead, like bulls or stags: by the
same figure we may call a horse unhappy, because he was never taught
his grammar; and an ox miserable, for that he never learnt to fence: but
sure as a horse for not knowing a letter is nevertheless valuable, so a
man, for being a fool, is never the more unfortunate, it being by nature
and providence so ordained for each.

[Illustration: 142]

Ay, but (say our patrons of wisdom) the knowledge of arts and sciences
is purposely attainable by men, that the defect of natural parts may be
supplied by the help of acquired: as if it were probable that nature,
which had been so exact and curious in the mechanism of flowers, herbs,
and flies, should have bungled most in her masterpiece, and made man
as it were by halves, to be afterward polished and refined by his own
industry, in the attainment of such sciences as the Egyptians feigned
were invented by their god Theuth, as a sure plague and punishment to
mankind, being so far from augmenting their happiness, that they do not
answer that end they were first designed for, which was the improvement
of memory, as Plato in his Phaedrus does wittily observe.

In the first golden age of the world there was no need of these
perplexities; there was then no other sort of learning but what was
naturally collected from every man's common sense, improved by an easy
experience. What use could there have been of grammar, when all men
spoke the same mother-tongue, and aimed at no higher pitch of oratory,
than barely to be understood by each other? What need of logic, when
they were too wise to enter into any dispute? Or what occasion for
rhetoric, where no difference arose to require any laborious decision?
And as little reason had they to be tied up by any laws, since the
dictates of nature and common morality were restraint and obligation
sufficient: and as to all the mysteries of providence, they made them
rather the object of their wonder, than their curiosity; and therefore
were not so presumptuous as to dive into the depths of nature, to labour
for the solving all phenomena in astronomy, or to wrack their brains
in the splitting of entities, and unfolding the nicest speculations,
judging it a crime for any man to aim at what is put beyond the reach of
his shallow apprehension.

[Illustration: 147]

Thus was ignorance, in the infancy of the world, as much the parent of
happiness as it has been since of devotion: but as soon as the golden
age began by degrees to degenerate into more drossy metals, then were
arts likewise invented; yet at first but few in number, and those rarely
understood, till in farther process of time the superstition of
the Chaldeans, and the curiosity of the Grecians, spawned so many
subtleties, that now it is scarce the work of an age to be thoroughly
acquainted with all the criticisms in grammar only. And among all the
several Arts, those are proportionably most esteemed that come nearest
to weakness and folly. For thus divines may bite their nails, and
naturalists may blow their fingers, astrologers may know their own
fortune is to be poor, and the logician may shut his fist and grasp the

     While all these hard-named fellows cannot make
     So great a figure as a single quack.

And in this profession, those that have most confidence, though the
least skill, shall be sure of the greatest custom; and indeed this whole
art as it is now practised, is but one incorporated compound of craft
and imposture.

Next to the physician comes (he, who perhaps will commence a suit with
me for not being placed before him, I mean) the lawyer, who is so silly
as to be _ignoramus_ to a proverb, and yet by such are all difficulties
resolved, all controversies determined, and all affairs managed so much
to their own advantage, that they get those estates to themselves which
they are employed to recover for their clients: while the poor divine
in the mean time shall have the lice crawl upon his thread-bare gown,
before, by all his sweat and drudgery, he can get money enough to
purchase a new one. As those arts therefore are most advantageous to
their respective professors which are farthest distant from wisdom, so
are those persons incomparably most happy that have least to do with
any at all, but jog on in the common road of nature, which will never
mislead us, except we voluntarily leap over those boundaries which she
has cautiously set to our finite beings. Nature glitters most in her
own plain, homely garb, and then gives the greatest lustre when she is
unsullied from all artificial garnish.

[Illustration: 151]

Thus if we enquire into the state of all dumb creatures, we shall find
those fare best that are left to nature's conduct: as to instance in
bees, what is more to be admired than the industry and contrivance of
these little animals?

What architect could ever form so curious a structure as they give a
model of in their inimitable combs? What kingdom can be governed with
better discipline than they exactly observe in their respective hives?
While the horse, by turning a rebel to nature, and becoming a slave
to man, undergoes the worst of tyranny: he is sometimes spurred on to
battle so long till he draw his guts after him for trapping, and at last
falls down, and bites the ground instead of grass; not to mention the
penalty of his jaws being curbed, his tail docked, his back wrung, his
sides spur-galled, his close imprisonment in a stable, his rapshin and
fetters when he runs a grass, and a great many other plagues, which
he might have avoided, if he had kept to that first station of freedom
which nature placed him in. How much more desirable is the unconfined
range of flies and birds, who living by instinct, would want nothing
to complete their happiness, if some well-employed Domitian would not
persecute the former, nor the sly fowler lay snares and gins for the
entrapping of the other? And if young birds, before their unfledged
wings can carry them from their nests, are caught, and pent up in a
cage, for the being taught to sing, or whistle, all their new tunes make
not half so sweet music as their wild notes, and natural melody: so much
does that which is but rough-drawn by nature surpass and excel all the
additional paint and varnish of art And we cannot sure but commend
and admire that Pythagorean cock, which (as Lucian relates) had been
successively a man, a woman, a prince, a subject, a fish, a horse, and
a frog; after all his experience, he summed up his judgment in this
censure, that man was the most wretched and deplorable of all creatures,
all other patiently grazing within the enclosures of nature, while man
only broke out, and strayed beyond those safer limits, which he was
justly confined to. And Gryllus is to be adjudged wiser than the
much-counselling Ulysses, in as much as when by the enchantment of Circe
he had been turned into a hog, he would not lay down his swinishness,
nor forsake his beloved sty, to run the peril of a hazardous voyage.
For a farther confirmation whereof I have the authority of Homer, that
captain of all poetry, who, as he gives to mankind in general, the
epithet of wretched and unhappy, so he bestows in particular upon
Ulysses the title of miserable, which he never attributes to Paris,
Ajax, Achilles, or any other of the commanders; and that for this
reason, because Ulysses was more crafty, cautious, and wise, than any of
the rest.

[Illustration: 156]

As those therefore fall shortest of happiness that reach highest
at wisdom, meeting with the greater repulse for soaring beyond the
boundaries of their nature, and without remembering themselves to be but
men, like the fallen angels, daring them to vie with Omnipotence, and
giant-like scale heaven with the engines of their own brain; so are
those most exalted in the road of bliss that degenerate nearest into
brutes, and quietly divest themselves of all use and exercise of reason.

And this we can prove by a familiar instance. As namely, can there be
any one sort of men that enjoy themselves better than those which we
call idiots, changelings, fools and naturals? It may perhaps sound
harsh, but upon due consideration it will be found abundantly true, that
these persons in all circumstances fare best, and live most comfortably;
as first, they are void of all fear, which is a very great privilege
to be exempted from; they are troubled with no remorse, nor pricks of
conscience; they are not frighted with any bugbear stories of another
world; they startle not at the fancied appearance of ghosts, or
apparitions; they are not wracked with the dread of impending mischiefs,
nor bandied with the hopes of any expected enjoyments: in short, they
are unassaulted by all those legions of cares that war against the quiet
of rational souls; they are ashamed of nothing, fear no man, banish the
uneasiness of ambition, envy, and love; and to add the reversion of a
future happiness to the enjoyment of a present one, they have no sin
neither to answer for; divines unanimously maintaining, that a gross
and unavoidable ignorance does not only extenuate and abate from the
aggravation, but wholly expiate the guilt of any immorality.

[Illustration: 159]

Come now then as many of you as challenge the respect of being accounted
wise, ingenuously confess how many insurrections of rebellious thoughts,
and pangs of a labouring mind, ye are perpetually thrown and tortured
with; reckon up all those inconveniences that you are unavoidably
subject to, and then tell me whether fools, by being exempted from
all these embroilments, are not infinitely more free and happy than
yourselves? Add to this, that fools do not barely laugh, and sing, and
play the good-fellow alone to themselves: but as it is the nature of
good to be communicative, so they impart their mirth to others, by
making sport for the whole company they are at any time engaged in, as
if providence purposely designed them for an antidote to melancholy:
whereby they make all persons so fond of their society, that they are
welcomed to all places, hugged, caressed, and defended, a liberty given
them of saying or doing anything; so well beloved, that none dares to
offer them the least injury; nay, the most ravenous beasts of prey will
pass them by untouched, as if by instinct they were warned that such
innocence ought to receive no hurt. Farther, their converse is so
acceptable in the court of princes, that few kings will banquet, walk,
or take any other diversion, without their attendance; nay, and had much
rather have their company, than that of their gravest counsellors, whom
they maintain more for fashion-sake than good-will; nor is it so strange
that these fools should be preferred before graver politicians, since
these last, by their harsh, sour advice, and ill-timing the truth, are
fit only to put a prince out of the humour, while the others laugh, and
talk, and joke, without any danger of disobliging.

It is one farther very commendable property of fools, that they always
speak the truth, than which there is nothing more noble and heroical.
For so, though Plato relate it as a sentence of Alcibiades, that in the
sea of drunkenness truth swims uppermost, and so wine is the only teller
of truth, yet this character may more justly be assumed by me, as I
can make good from the authority of Euripides, who lays down this as
an axiom _uwpa uwpos heyei_. Children and fools always speak the truth.
Whatever the fool has in his heart he betrays it in his face; or what
is more notifying, discovers it by his words: while the wise man, as
Euripides observes, carries a double tongue; the one to speak what may
be said, the other what ought to be; the one what truth, the other what
the time requires: whereby he can in a trice so alter his judgment,
as to prove that to be now white, which he had just before swore to be
black; like the satyr at his porridge, blowing hot and cold at the same
breath; in his lips professing one thing, when in his heart he means

Furthermore, princes in their greatest splendour seem upon this account
unhappy, in that they miss the advantage of being told the truth,
and are shammed off by a parcel of insinuating courtiers, that acquit
themselves as flatterers more than as friends. But some will perchance
object, that princes do not love to hear the truth, and therefore wise
men must be very cautious how they behave themselves before them, lest
they should take too great a liberty in speaking what is true, rather
than what is acceptable. This must be confessed, truth indeed is seldom
palatable to the ears of kings; yet fools have so great a privilege as
to have free leave, not only to speak bare truths, but the most bitter
ones too; so as the same reproof, which had it come from the mouth of a
wise man would have cost him his head, being blurted out by a fool, is
not only pardoned, but well taken, and rewarded. For truth has naturally
a mixture of pleasure, if it carry with it nothing of offence to the
person whom it is applied to; and the happy knack of ordering it so is
bestowed only on fools. 'Tis for the same reason that this sort of men
are more fondly beloved by women, who like their tumbling them about,
and playing with them, though never so boisterously; pretending to take
that only in jest, which they would have to be meant in earnest, as that
sex is very ingenious in palliating, and dissembling the bent of their
wanton inclinations.

But to return. An additional happiness of these fools appears farther
in this, that when they have run merrily on to their last stage of
life, they neither find any fear nor feel any pain to die, but march
contentedly to the other world, where their company sure must be as
acceptable as it was here upon earth.

[Illustration: 164]

Let us draw now a comparison between the condition of a fool and that of
a wise man, and see how infinitely the one outweighs the other.

Give me any instance then of a man as wise as you can fancy him possible
to be, that has spent all his younger years in poring upon books, and
trudging after learning, in the pursuit whereof he squanders away the
pleasantest time of his life in watching, sweat, and fasting; and in
his latter days he never tastes one mouthful of delight, but is
always stingy, poor, dejected, melancholy, burthensome to himself, and
unwelcome to others, pale, lean, thin-jawed, sickly, contracting by his
sedentariness such hurtful distempers as bring him to an untimely death,
like roses plucked before they shatter. Thus have you, the draught of a
wise man's happiness, more the object of a commiserating pity, than of
an ambitioning envy.

But now again come the croaking Stoics, and tell me in mood and figure,
that nothing is more miserable than the being mad: but the being a fool
is the being mad, therefore there is nothing more miserable than the
being a fool. Alas, this is but a fallacy, the discovery whereof solves
the force of the whole syllogism. Well then, they argue subtlety, 'tis
true; but as Socrates in Plato makes two Venuses and two Cupids, and
shews how their actions and properties ought not to be confounded;
so these disputants, if they had not been mad themselves, should have
distinguished between a double madness in others: and there is certainly
a great difference in the nature as well as in the degrees of them, and
they are not both equally scandalous: for Horace seems to take delight
in one sort, when he says:--

_Does welcome frenzy make me thus mistake?_

And Plato in his Phaedon ranks the madness of poets, of prophets, and of
lovers among those properties which conduce to a happy life. And Virgil,
in the sixth AEneid, gives this epithet to his industrious AEneas:--

_If you will proceed to these your mad attempts._

And indeed there is a two-fold sort of madness; the one that which the
furies bring from hell; those that are herewith possessed are hurried on
to wars and contentions, by an inexhaustible thirst of power and
riches, inflamed to some infamous and unlawful lust, enraged to act the
parricide, seduced to become guilty of incest, sacrilege, or some
other of those crimson-dyed crimes; or, finally, to be so pricked in
conscience as to be lashed and stung with the whips and snakes of grief
and remorse. But there is another sort of madness that proceeds from
Folly, so far from being any way injurious or distasteful that it is
thoroughly good and desirable; and this happens when by a harmless
mistake in the judgment of things the mind is freed from those cares
which would otherwise gratingly afflict it, and smoothed over with
a content and satisfaction it could not under other circumstances so
happily enjoy. And this is that comfortable apathy or insensibleness
which Cicero, in an epistle to his friend Atticus, wishes himself master
of, that he might the less take to heart those insufferable outrages
committed by the tyrannizing triumvirate, Lepidus, Antonius, and
Augustus. That Grecian likewise had a happy time of it, who was so
frantic as to sit a whole day in the empty theatre laughing, shouting,
and clapping his hands, as if he had really seen some pathetic tragedy
acted to the life, when indeed all was no more than the strength of
imagination, and the efforts of delusion, while in all other respects
the same person behaved himself very discreetly was,

     Sweet to his friends, to his wife, obliging, kind,
     And so averse from a revengeful mind,
     That had his men unsealed his bottled wine,
     He would not fret, nor doggedly repine.

And when by a course of physic he was recovered from this frenzy, he
looked upon his cure so far from a kindness, that he thus reasons the
case with his friends:

     This remedy, my friends, is worse i' th' main
     Than the disease, the cure augments the pain;
     My only hope is a relapse again,

And certainly they were the more mad of the two who endeavoured to
bereave him of so pleasing a delirium, and recall all the aches of his
head by dispelling the mists of his brain.

[Illustration: 169]

[Illustration: 173-174]

I have not yet determined whether it be proper to include all the
defects of sense and understanding under the common genius of madness.
For if anyone be so short-sighted as to take a mule for an ass, or so
shallowpated as to admire a paltry ballad for an elegant poem, he is not
thereupon immediately censured as mad. But if anyone let not only his
senses but his judgment be imposed upon in the most ordinary common
concerns, he shall come under the scandal of being thought next door to
a madman. As suppose any one should hear an ass bray, and should take it
for ravishing music; or if any one, born a beggar, should fancy himself
as great as a prince, or the like. But this sort of madness, if (as is
most usual) it be accompanied with pleasure, brings a great satisfaction
both to those who are possessed with it themselves, and those who deride
it in others, though they are not both equally frantic. And this species
of madness is of larger extent than the world commonly imagines. Thus
the whole tribe of madmen make sport among themselves, while one laughs
at another; he that is more mad many times jeering him that is less
so. But indeed the greater each man's madness is, the greater is his
happiness, if it be but such a sort as proceeds from an excess of folly,
which is so epidemical a distemper that it is hard to find any one man
so uninfected as not to have sometimes a fit or two of some sort of
frenzy. There is only this difference between the several patients, he
that shall take a broom-stick for a strait-bodied woman is without more
ado sentenced for a madman, because this is so strange a blunder as very
seldom happens; whereas he whose wife is a common jilt, that keeps a
warehouse free for all customers, and yet swears she is as chaste as an
untouched virgin, and hugs himself in his contented mistake, is scarce
taken notice of, because he fares no worse than a great many more of his
good-natured neighbours. Among these are to be ranked such as take an
immoderate delight in hunting, and think no music comparable to the
sounding of horns and the yelping of beagles; and were they to take
physic, would not question to think the most sovereign virtues to be
in the _album Graecum_ of a dog's, turd. When they have run down their
game, what strange pleasure they take in cutting of it up! Cows and
sheep may be slaughtered by common butchers, but what is killed in
hunting must be broke up by none under a gentleman, who shall throw down
his hat, fall devoutly on his knees, and drawing out a slashing hanger
(for a common knife is not good enough), after several ceremonies shall
dissect all the parts as artificially as the best skilled anatomist,
while all that stand round shall look very intently, and seem to be
mightily surprised with the novelty, though they have seen the same an
hundred times before; and he that can but dip his finger, and taste of
the blood, shall think his own bettered by it: and though the constant
feeding on such diet does but assimilate them to the nature of those
beasts they eat of, yet they will swear that venison is meat for
princes, and that their living upon it makes them as great as emperors.

[Illustration: 178]

Near a kin to these are such as take a great fancy for building: they
raise up, pull down, begin anew, alter the model, and never rest till
they run themselves out of their whole estate, taking up such a compass
for buildings, till they leave themselves not one foot of land to live
upon, nor one poor cottage to shelter themselves from cold and hunger:
and yet all the while are mighty proud of their contrivances, and sing a
sweet _requiem_ to their own happiness.

To these are to be added those plodding virtuosos, that plunder the most
inward recesses of nature for the pillage of a new invention, and rake
over sea and land for the turning up some hitherto latent mystery; and
are so continually tickled with the hopes of success, that they spare
for no cost nor pains, but trudge on, and upon a defeat in one attempt,
courageously tack about to another, and fall upon new experiments, never
giving over till they have calcined their whole estate to ashes, and
have not money enough left unmelted to purchase one crucible or limbeck.
And yet after all, they are not so much discouraged, but that they
dream fine things still, and animate others what they can to the like
undertakings; nay, when their hopes come to the last gasp, after all
their disappointments, they have yet one _salvo_ for their credit,

_In great exploits our bare attempts suffice._

And so inveigh against the shortness of their life, which allows them
not time enough to bring their designs to maturity and perfection.

[Illustration: Dice Players 182]

[Illustration: Dice Players-2 186]

Whether dice-players may be so favourably dealt with as to be admitted
among the rest is scarce yet resolved upon: but sure it is hugely vain
and ridiculous, when we see some persons so devoutly addicted to this
diversion, that at the first rattle of the box their heart shakes within
them, and keeps consort with the motion of the dice: they are egg'd on
so long with the hopes of always winning, till at last, in a literal
sense, they have thrown away their whole estate, and made shipwreck of
all they have, scarce escaping to shore with their own clothes to their
backs; thinking it in the meanwhile a great piece of religion to be just
in the payment of their stakes, and will cheat any creditor sooner than
him who trusts them in play: and that poring old men, that cannot tell
their cast without the help of spectacles, should be sweating at the
same sport; nay, that such decrepit blades, as by the gout have lost
the use of their fingers, should look over, and hire others to throw for
them. This indeed is prodigiously extravagant; but the consequence of it
ends so oft in downright madness, that it seems rather to belong to the
furies than to folly.

The next to be placed among the regiment of fools are such as make a
trade of telling or inquiring after incredible stories of miracles and
prodigies: never doubting that a lie will choke them, they will muster
up a thousand several strange relations of spirits, ghosts, apparitions,
raising of the devil, and such like bugbears of superstition, which the
farther they are from being probably true, the more greedily they are
swallowed, and the more devoudy believed. And these absurdities do not
only bring an empty pleasure, and cheap divertisement, but they are a
good trade, and procure a comfortable income to such priests and friars
as by this craft get their gain. To these again are nearly related such
others as attribute strange virtues to the shrines and images of saints
and martyrs, and so would make their credulous proselytes believe, that
if they pay their devotion to St. Christopher in the morning, they
shall be guarded and secured the day following from all dangers and
misfortunes: if soldiers, when they first take arms, shall come and
mumble over such a set prayer before the picture of St. Barbara, they
shall return safe from all engagements: or if any pray to Erasmus on
such particular holidays, with the ceremony of wax candles, and other
fopperies, he shall in a short time be rewarded with a plentiful
increase of wealth and riches. The Christians have now their gigantic
St. George, as well as the pagans had their Hercules; they paint the
saint on horseback, and drawing the horse in splendid trappings, very
gloriously accoutred, they scarce refrain in a literal sense from
worshipping the very beast. What shall I say of such as cry up and
maintain the cheat of pardons and indulgences? that by these compute the
time of each soul's residence in purgatory, and assign them a longer or
shorter continuance, according as they purchase more or fewer of these
paltry pardons, and saleable exemptions? Or what can be said bad enough
of others, who pretend that by the force of such magical charms, or
by the fumbling over their beads in the rehearsal of such and such
petitions (which some religious impostors invented, either for
diversion, or what is more likely for advantage), they shall procure
riches, honour, pleasure, health, long life, a lusty old age, nay, after
death a sitting at the right hand of our Saviour in His kingdom; though
as to this last part of their happiness, they care not how long it
be deferred, having scarce any appetite toward a tasting the joys of
heaven, till they are surfeited, glutted with, and can no longer relish
their enjoyments on earth. By this easy way of purchasing pardons, any
notorious highwayman, any plundering soldier, or any bribe-taking judge,
shall disburse some part of their unjust gains, and so think all their
grossest impieties sufficiently atoned for; so many perjuries, lusts,
drunkenness, quarrels, bloodsheds, cheats, treacheries, and all sorts of
debaucheries, shall all be, as it were, struck a bargain for, and such a
contract made, as if they had paid off all arrears, and might now begin
upon a new score.

[Illustration: Devil Teaching St. Bernard 190]

And what can be more ridiculous, than for some others to be confident of
going to heaven by repeating daily those seven verses out of the Psalms,
which the devil taught St. Bernard, thinking thereby to have put a trick
upon him, but that he was over-reached in his cunning.

Several of these fooleries, which are so gross and absurd, as I myself
am even ashamed to own, are practised and admired, not only by the
vulgar, but by such proficients in religion as one might well expect
should have more wit.

From the same principles of folly proceeds the custom of each country's
challenging their particular guardian-saint; nay, each saint has his
distinct office allotted to him, and is accordingly addressed to upon
the respective occasions: as one for the tooth-ache, a second to grant
an easy delivery in child-birth, a third to help persons to lost
goods, another to protect seamen in a long voyage, a fifth to guard the
farmer's cows and sheep, and so on; for to rehearse all instances would
be extremely tedious.

There are some more catholic saints petitioned to upon all occasions, as
more especially the Virgin Mary, whose blind devotees think it manners
now to place the mother before the Son.

And of all the prayers and intercessions that are made to these
respective saints the substance of them is no more than downright Folly.
Among all the trophies that for tokens of gratitude are hung upon the
walls and ceilings of churches, you shall find no relics presented as
a memorandum of any that were ever cured of Folly, or had been made one
dram the wiser. One perhaps after shipwreck got safe to shore; another
recovered when he had been run through by an enemy; one, when all his
fellow-soldiers were killed upon the spot, as cunningly perhaps as
cowardly, made his escape from the field; another, while he was a
hanging, the rope broke, and so he saved his neck, and renewed his
licence for practising his old trade of thieving; another broke gaol,
and got loose; a patient, against his physician's will, recovered of a
dangerous fever; another drank poison, which putting him into a violent
looseness, did his body more good than hurt, to the great grief of
his wife, who hoped upon this occasion to have become a joyful widow;
another had his waggon overturned, and yet none of his horses lamed;
another had caught a grievous fall, and yet recovered from the bruise;
another had been tampering with his neighbour's wife, and escaped very
narrowly from being caught by the enraged cuckold in the very act. After
all these acknowledgments of escapes from such singular dangers, there
is none (as I have before intimated) that return thanks for being freed
from Folly; Folly being so sweet and luscious, that it is rather sued
for as a happiness, than deprecated as a punishment But why should I
launch out into so wide a sea of superstitions?

_Had I as many tongues as Argus eyes, Briareus hands, they all would not
suffice Folly in all her shapes t' epitomise._

Almost all Christians being wretchedly enslaved to blindness and
ignorance, which the priests are so far from preventing or removing,
that they blacken the darkness, and promote the delusion; wisely
foreseeing that the people (like cows, which never give down their milk
so well as when they are gently stroked), would part with less if they
knew more, their bounty proceeding only from a mistake of charity. Now
if any grave wise man should stand up, and unseasonably speak the truth,
telling every one that a pious life is the only way of securing a happy
death; that the best title to a pardon of our sins is purchased by a
hearty abhorrence of our guilt, and sincere resolutions of amendment;
that the best devotion which can be paid to any saints is to imitate
them in their exemplary life: if he should proceed thus to inform them
of their several mistakes, there would be quite another estimate put
upon tears, watchings, masses, fastings, and other severities, which
before were so much prized, as persons will now be vexed to lose that
satisfaction they formerly found in them.

[Illustration: 194]

In the same predicament of fools are to be ranked such, as while they
are yet living, and in good health, take so great a care how they shall
be buried when they die, that they solemnly appoint how many torches,
how many escutcheons, how many gloves to be given, and how many mourners
they will have at their funeral; as if they thought they themselves in
their coffins could be sensible of what respect was paid to their
corpse; or as if they doubted they should rest a whit the less quiet in
the grave if they were with less state and pomp interred.

Now though I am in so great haste, as I would not willingly be stopped
or detained, yet I cannot pass by without bestowing some remarks upon
another sort of fools; who, though their first descent was perhaps no
better than from a tapster or tinker, yet highly value themselves upon
their birth and parentage. One fetches his pedigree from AEneas, another
from Brute, a third from king Arthur: they hang up their ancestors'
worm-eaten pictures as records of antiquity, and keep a long list of
their predecessors, with an account of all their offices and tides,
while they themselves are but transcripts of their forefathers' dumb
statues, and degenerate even into those very beasts which they carry
in their coat of arms as ensigns of their nobility: and yet by a strong
presumption of their birth and quality, they live not only the most
pleasant and unconcerned themselves, but there are not wanting others
too who cry up these brutes almost equal to the gods. But why should I
dwell upon one or two instances of Folly, when there are so many of like
nature. Conceitedness and self-love making many by strength of Fancy
believe themselves happy, when otherwise they are really wretched and
despicable. Thus the most ape-faced, ugliest fellow in the whole town,
shall think himself a mirror of beauty: another shall be so proud of his
parts, that if he can but mark out a triangle with a pair of compasses,
he thinks he has mastered all the difficulties of geometry, and could
outdo Euclid himself. A third shall admire himself for a ravishing
musician, though he have no more skill in the handling of any instrument
than a pig playing on the organs: and another that rattles in the throat
as hoarse as a cock crows, shall be proud of his voice, and think he
sings like a nightingale.

[Illustration: 199]

There is another very pleasant sort of madness, whereby persons assume
to themselves whatever of accomplishment they discern in others. Thus
the happy rich churl in Seneca, who had so short a memory, as he could
not tell the least story without a servant standing by to prompt him,
and was at the same time so weak that he could scarce go upright, yet he
thought he might adventure to accept a challenge to a duel, because he
kept at home some lusty, sturdy fellows, whose strength he relied upon
instead of his own.

[Illustration: 202]

It is almost needless to insist upon the several professors of arts and
sciences, who are all so egregiously conceited, that they would sooner
give up their title to an estate in lands, than part with the reversion
of their wits: among these, more especially stage-players, musicians,
orators, and poets, each of which, the more of duncery they have, and
the more of pride, the greater is their ambition: and how notoriously
soever dull they be, they meet with their admirers; nay, the more
silly they are the higher they are extolled; Folly (as we have before
intimated) never failing of respect and esteem. If therefore every one,
the more ignorant he is, the greater satisfaction he is to himself, and
the more commended by others, to what purpose is it to sweat and toil in
the pursuit of true learning, which shall cost so many gripes and
pangs of the brain to acquire, and when obtained, shall only make the
laborious student more uneasy to himself, and less acceptable to others?

As nature in her dispensation of conceited-ness has dealt with private
persons, so has she given a particular smatch of self-love to each
country and nation. Upon this account it is that the English challenge
the prerogative of having the most handsome women, of the being most
accomplished in the skill of music, and of keeping the best tables: the
Scotch brag of their gentility, and pretend the genius of their native
soil inclines them to be good disputants: the French think themselves
remarkable for complaisance and good breeding: the Sorbonists of Paris
pretend before any others to have made the greatest proficiency in
polemic divinity: the Italians value themselves for learning and
eloquence; and, like the Grecians of old, account all the world
barbarians in respect of themselves; to which piece of vanity the
inhabitants of Rome are more especially addicted, pretending themselves
to be owners of all those heroic virtues, which their city so many ages
since was deservedly famous for. The Venetians stand upon their birth
and pedigree. The Grecians pride themselves in having been the first
inventors of most arts, and in their country being famed for the product
of so many eminent philosophers. The Turks, and all the other refuse of
Mahometism, pretend they profess the only true religion, and laugh at
all Christians for superstitious, narrow-souled fools. The Jews to
this day expect their Messias as devoudy as they believe in their first
prophet Moses. The Spaniards challenge the repute of being accounted
good soldiers. And the Germans are noted for their tall, proper stature,
and for their skill in magick. But not to mention any more, I suppose
you are already convinced how great an improvement and addition to the
happiness of human life is occasioned by self-love: next step to
which is flattery; for as self-love is nothing but the coaxing up
of ourselves, so the same currying and humouring of others is termed

[Illustration: 206]

Flattery, it is true, is now looked upon as a scandalous name, but it is
by such only as mind words more than things. They are prejudiced against
it upon this account, because they suppose it justles out all truth and
sincerity? whereas indeed its property is quite contrary, as appears
from the examples of several brute creatures. What is more fawning than
a spaniel?

And yet what is more faithful to his master? What is more fond
and loving than a tame squirrel? And yet what is more sporting and
inoffensive? This little frisking creature is kept up in a cage to play
withal, while lions, tigers, leopards, and such other savage emblems of
rapine and cruelty are shewn only for state and rarity, and otherwise
yield no pleasure to their respective keepers.

There is indeed a pernicious destructive sort of flattery wherewith
rookers and sharks work their several ends upon such as they can make
a prey of, by decoying them into traps and snares beyond recovery: but
that which is the effect of folly is of a much different nature; it
proceeds from a softness of spirit, and a flexibleness of good humour,
and comes far nearer to virtue than that other extreme of friendship,
namely, a stiff, sour, dogged moroseness: it refreshes our minds when
tired, enlivens them when melancholy, reinforces them when languishing,
invigorates them when heavy, recovers them when sick, and pacifies them
when rebellious: it puts us in a method how to procure friends, and how
to keep them; it entices children to swallow the bitter rudiments of
learning; it gives a new ferment to the almost stagnated souls of old
men; it both reproves and instructs principles without offence under the
mask of commendation: in short, it makes every man fond and indulgent of
himself, which is indeed no small part of each man's happiness, and at
the same time renders him obliging and complaisant in all company, where
it is pleasant to see how the asses rub and scratch one another.

[Illustration: Asses Scratch One Another 210]

This again is a great accomplishment to an orator, a greater to a
physician, and the only one to a poet: in fine, it is the best sweetener
to all afflictions, and gives a true relish to the otherwise insipid
enjoyments of our whole life. Ay, but (say you) to flatter is to
deceive; and to deceive is very harsh and hurtful: no, rather just
contrary; nothing is more welcome and bewitching than the being
deceived. They are much to be blamed for an undistinguishing head, that
make a judgment of things according to what they are in themselves, when
their whole nature consists barely in the opinions that are had of them.
For all sublunary matters are enveloped in such a cloud of obscurity,
that the short-sightedness of human understanding, cannot pry through
and arrive to any comprehensive knowledge of them: hence the sect of
academic philosophers have modestly resolved, that all things being no
more than probable, nothing can be known as certain; or if there could,
yet would it but interrupt and abate from the pleasure of a more happy
ignorance. Finally, our souls are so fashioned and moulded, that they
are sooner captivated by appearances, than by real truths; of which,
if any one would demand an example, he may find a very familiar one in
churches, where, if what is delivered from the pulpit be a grave, solid,
rational discourse, all the congregation grow weary, and fall asleep,
till their patience be released; whereas if the preacher (pardon the
impropriety of the word, the prater I would have said) be zealous, in
his thumps of the cushion, antic gestures, and spend his glass in the
telling of pleasant stories, his beloved shall then stand up, tuck their
hair behind their ears, and be very devoutly attentive. So among the
saints, those are most resorted to who are most romantic and fabulous:
as for instance, a poetic St. George, a St. Christopher, or a St.
Barbara, shall be oftener prayed to than St. Peter, St. Paul, nay,
perhaps than Christ himself; but this, it is possible, may more properly
be referred to another place.

[Illustration: 215]

In the mean while observe what a cheap purchase of happiness is made by
the strength of fancy. For whereas many things even of inconsiderable
value, would cost a great deal of pains and perhaps pelf, to procure;
opinion spares charges, and yet gives us them in as ample a manner by
conceit, as if we possessed them in reality. Thus he who feeds on such
a stinking dish of fish, as another must hold his nose at a yard's
distance from, yet if he feed heartily, and relish them palateably, they
are to him as good as if they were fresh caught: whereas on the other
hand, if any one be invited to never so dainty a joul of sturgeon, if
it go against his stomach to eat any, he may sit a hungry, and bite his
nails with greater appetite than his victuals. If a woman be never so
ugly and nauseous, yet if her husband can but think her handsome, it
is all one to him as if she really were so: if any man have never so
ordinary and smutty a draught, yet if he admires the excellency of it,
and can suppose it to have been drawn by some old Apelles, or modern
Vandyke, he is as proud of it as if it had really been done by one
of their hands. I knew a friend of mine that presented his bride with
several false and counterfeit stones, making her believe that they were
right jewels, and cost him so many hundred thousand crowns; under his
mistake the poor woman was as choice of pebbles, and painted glass, as
if they had been so many natural rubies and diamonds, while the subtle
husband saved a great deal in his pocket, and yet made his wife as well
pleased as if he had been at ten hundred times the cost What difference
is there between them that in the darkest dungeon, can with a platonic
brain survey the whole world in idea, and him that stands in the open
air, and takes a less deluding prospect of the universe? If the beggar
in Lucian, that dreamt he was a prince, had never waked, his imaginary
kingdom had been as great as a real one. Between him therefore that
truly is happy, and him that thinks himself so, there is no perceivable
distinction; or if any, the fool has the better of it: first, because
his happiness costs him less, standing him only in the price of a single
thought; and then, secondly, because he has more fellow-companions and
partakers of his good fortune: for no enjoyment is comfortable where
the benefit is not imparted to others; nor is any one station of life
desirable, where we can have no converse with persons of the same
condition with ourselves: and yet this is the hard fate of wise men, who
are grown so scarce, that like Phoenixes, they appear but one in an age.
The Grecians, it is true, reckoned up seven within the narrow precincts
of their own country; yet I believe, were they to cast up their accounts
anew, they would not find a half, nay, not a third part, of one in far
larger extent.

[Illustration: 218]

Farther, when among the several good properties of Bacchus this is
looked upon as the chief, namely, that he drowns the cares and anxieties
of the mind, though it be indeed but for a short while; for after a
small nap, when our brains are a little settled, they all return to
their former corrodings: how much greater is the more durable advantage
which I bring? while by one uninterrupted fit of being drunk in conceit,
I perpetually cajole the mind with riots, revels, and all the excess and
energy of joy.

Add to this, that I am so communicative and bountiful, as to let no one
particular person pass without some token of my favour; whereas other
deities bestow their gifts sparingly to their elect only. Bacchus has
not thought fit that every soil should bear the same juice-yielding
grape: Venus has not given to all a like portion of beauty: Mercury
endows but few with the knack of an accomplished eloquence: Hercules
gives not to all the same measure of wealth and riches: Jupiter has
ordained but a few to be born to a kingdom: Mars in battle gives a
complete victory but to one party; nay, he often makes them both losers:
Apollo does not answer the expectation of all that consult his oracles:
Jove oft thunders: Phoebus sometimes shoots the plague, or some other
infection, at the point of his darts: and Neptune swallows down more
than he bears up: not to mention their Ve-Jupiters, their Plutos, their
Ate goddess of loss, their evil geniuses, and such other monsters of
divinity, as had more of the hangman than the god in them, and were
worshipped only to deprecate that hurt which used to be inflicted by
them: I say, not to mention these, I am that high and mighty goddess,
whose liberality is of as large an extent as her omnipotence: I give to
all that ask: I never appear sullen, nor out of humour, nor ever demand
any atonement or satisfaction for the omission of any ceremonious
punctilio in my worship: I do not storm or rage, if mortals, in
their addresses to the other gods pass me by unregarded, without the
acknowledgment of any respect or application: whereas all the other
gods are so scrupulous and exact, that it often proves less dangerous
manfully to despise them, than sneakingly to attempt the difficulty of
pleasing them. Thus some men are of that captious, froward humour, that
a man had better be wholly strangers to them, than never so intimate

[Illustration: Alter of Folly 222]

Well, but there are none (say you) build any altars, or dedicate any
temple to Folly. I admire (as I have before intimated) that the world
should be so wretchedly ungrateful. But I am so good natured as to pass
by and pardon this seeming affront, though indeed the charge thereof, as
unnecessary, may well be saved; for to what purpose should I demand the
sacrifice of frankincense, cakes, goats, and swine, since all persons
everywhere pay me that more acceptable service, which all divines
agree to be more effectual and meritorious, namely, an imitation of
my communicable attributes? I do not therefore any way envy Diana for
having her altars bedewed with human blood: I think myself then most
religiously adored, when my respective devotees (as is their usual
custom) conform themselves to my practice, transcribe my pattern, and so
live the copy of me their original. And truly this pious devotion is not
so much in use among christians as is much to be wished it were: for
how many zealous votaries are there that pay so profound respect to
the Virgin Mary, as to place lighted tapers even at noon day upon her
altars? And yet how few of them copy after her untouched chastity, her
modesty, and her other commendable virtues, in the imitation whereof
consists the truest esteem of divine worship? Farther, why should I
desire a temple, since the whole world is but one ample continued choir,
entirely dedicated to my use and service? Nor do I want worshippers at
any place where the earth wants not inhabitants. And as to the manner of
my worship, I am not yet so irrecoverably foolish, as to be prayed to
by proxy, and to have my honour intermediately bestowed upon senseless
images and pictures, which quite subvert the true end of religion; while
the unwary supplicants seldom distinguish betwixt the things themselves
and the objects they represent The same respect in the meanwhile is paid
to me in a more legitimate manner; for to me there are as many statues
erected as there are moving fabrics of mortality; every person, even
against his own will, carrying the image of me, _i.e._ the signal of
Folly instamped on his countenance. I have not therefore the least
tempting inducement to envy the more seeming state and splendour of the
other gods, who are worshipped at set times and places; as Phoebus at
Rhodes, Venus in her Cyprian isle, Juno in the city Argos, Minerva at
Athens, Jupiter on the hill Olympus, Neptune at Tarentum, and Priapus
in the town of Lampsacum; while my worship extending as far as my
influence, the whole world is my one altar, whereon the most valuable
incense and sacrifice is perpetually offered up.

[Illustration: 226]

But lest I should seem to speak this with more of confidence than truth,
let us take a nearer view of the mode of men's lives, whereby it will be
rendered more apparently evident what largesses I everywhere bestow, and
how much I am respected and esteemed of persons, from the highest to the
basest quality. For the proof whereof, it being too tedious to insist
upon each particular, I shall only mention such in general as are most
worthy the remark, from which by analogy we may easily judge of the
remainder. And indeed to what purpose would it be singly to recount the
commonalty and rabble of mankind, who beyond all question are entirely
on my side? and for a token of their vassalage do wear my livery in
so many older shapes, and more newly invented modes of Folly, that the
lungs of a thousand Democrituses would never hold out to such a laughter
as this subject would excite; and to these thousand must be superadded
one more, to laugh at them as much as they do at the other.

[Illustration: 230]

It is indeed almost incredible to relate what mirth, what sport,
what diversion, the grovelling inhabitants here on earth give to the
above-seated gods in heaven: for these exalted deities spend their
fasting sober hours in listening to those petitions that are offered up,
and in succouring such as they are appealed to by for redress; but when
they are a little entered at a glass of nectar, they then throw off
all serious concerns, and go and place themselves on the ascent of some
promontory in heaven, and from thence survey the little mole-hill of
earth. And trust me, there cannot be a more delightsome prospect, than
to view such a theatre so stuffed and crammed with swarms of fools. One
falls desperately in love, and the more he is slighted the more does his
spaniel-like passion increase; another is wedded to wealth rather than
to a wife; a third pimps for his own spouse, and is content to be
a cuckold so he may wear his horns gilt; a fourth is haunted with a
jealousy of his visiting neighbours; another sobs and roars, and plays
the child, for the death of a friend or relation; and lest his own tears
should not rise high enough to express the torrent of his grief, he
hires other mourners to accompany the corpse to the grave, and sing its
_requiem_ in sighs and lamentations; another hypocritically weeps at the
funeral of one whose death at heart he rejoices for; here a gluttonous
cormorant, whatever he can scrape up, thrusts all into his guts to
pacify the cryings of a hungry stomach; there a lazy wretch sits yawning
and stretching, and thinks nothing so desirable as sleep and idleness;
some are extremely industrious in other men's business, and sottishly
neglectful of their own; some think themselves rich because their credit
is great, though they can never pay, till they break, and compound for
their debts; one is so covetous that he lives poor to die rich; one for
a little uncertain gain will venture to cross the roughest seas, and
expose his life for the purchase of a livelihood; another will depend on
the plunders of war, rather than on the honest gains of peace; some will
close with and humour such warm old blades as have a good estate, and no
children of their own to bestow it upon; others practice the same art
of wheedling upon good old women, that have hoarded and coffered up more
bags than they know how to dispose of; both of these sly flatteries make
fine sport for the gods, when they are beat at their own weapons, and
(as oft happens) are gulled by those very persons they intended to make
a prey of.

There is another sort of base scoundrels in gentility, such scraping
merchants, who although, for the better vent of their commodities they
lie, swear, cheat, and practice all the intrigues of dishonesty, yet
think themselves no way inferior to persons of the highest quality, only
because they have raked together a plentiful estate; and there are not
wanting such insinuating hangers on, as shall caress and compliment
them with the greatest respect, in hopes to go snacks in some of their
dishonest gains; there are others so infected with the philosophical
paradox of banishing property, and having all things in common, that
they make no conscience of fastening on, and purloining whatever they
can get, and converting it to their own use and possession; there are
some who are rich only in wishes, and yet while they barely dream
of vast mountains of wealth, they are as happy as if their imaginary
fancies commenced real truths; some put on the best side outermost, and
starve themselves at home to appear gay and splendid abroad; one with
an open-handed freedom spends all he lays his fingers on; another with
a logic-fisted gripingness catches at and grasps all he can come within
the reach of; one apes it about in the streets to court popularity;
another consults his ease, and sticks to the confinement of a
chimney-corner; many others are tugging hard at law for a trifle, and
drive on an endless suit, only to enrich a deferring judge, or a knavish
advocate; one is for new-modelling a settled government; another is for
some notable heroical attempt; and a third by all means must travel a
pilgrim to Rome, Jerusalem, or some shrine of a saint elsewhere, though
he have no other business than the paying of a formal impertinent visit,
leaving his wife and children to fast, while he himself forsooth is gone
to pray.

[Illustration: 234]

In short, if (as Lucian fancies Menippus to have done heretofore,) any
man could now again look down from the orb of the moon, he would see
thick swarms as it were of flies and gnats, that were quarrelling with
each other, justling, fighting, fluttering, skipping, playing, just new
produced, soon after decaying, and then immediately vanishing; and it
can scarce be thought how many tumults and tragedies so inconsiderate a
creature as man does give occasion to, and that in so short a space as
the small span of life; subject to so many casualties, that the sword,
pestilence, and other epidemic accidents, shall many times sweep away
whole thousands at a brush.

[Illustration: 238]

But hold; I should but expose myself too far, and incur the guilt of
being roundly laughed at, if I proceed to enumerate the several kinds
of the folly of the vulgar. I shall confine therefore my following
discourse only to such as challenge the repute of wisdom, and seemingly
pass for men of the soundest intellectuals. Among whom the Grammarians
present themselves in the front, a sort of men who would be the most
miserable, the most slavish, and the most hateful of all persons, if
I did not in some way alleviate the pressures and miseries of their
profession by blessing them with a bewitching sort of madness: for they
are not only liable to those five curses, which they so oft recite from
the first five verses of Homer, but to five hundred more of a worse
nature; as always damned to thirst and hunger, to be choked with dust
in their unswept schools (schools, shall I term them, or rather
elaboratories, nay, bridewells, and houses of correction?), to wear out
themselves in fret and drudgery; to be deafened with the noise of gaping
boys; and in short, to be stifled with heat and stench; and yet they
cheerfully dispense with all these inconveniences, and, by the help of
a fond conceit, think themselves as happy as any men living: taking a
great pride and delight in frowning and looking big upon the trembling
urchins, in boxing, slashing, striking with the ferula, and in the
exercise of all their other methods of tyranny; while thus lording it
over a parcel of young, weak chits, they imitate the Cuman ass, and
think themselves as stately as a lion, that domineers over all the
inferior herd. Elevated with this conceit, they can hold filth and
nastiness to be an ornament; can reconcile their nose to the most
intolerable smells; and finally, think their wretched slavery the most
arbitrary kingdom, which they would not exchange for the jurisdiction
of the most sovereign potentate: and they are yet more happy by a
strong persuasion of their own parts and abilities; for thus when their
employment is only to rehearse silly stories, and poetical fictions,
they will yet think themselves wiser than the best experienced
philosopher; nay, they have an art of making ordinary people, such as
their school boys' fond parents, to think them as considerable as their
own pride has made them. Add hereunto this other sort of ravishing
pleasure: when any of them has found out who was the mother of Anchises,
or has lighted upon some old unusual word, such as _bubsequa, bovinator,
manticulator_, or other like obsolete cramp terms; or can, after a great
deal of poring, spell out the inscription of some battered monument;
Lord! what joy, what triumph, what congratulating their success, as if
they had conquered Africa, or taken Babylon the Great! When they recite
some of their frothy, bombast verses, if any happen to admire them, they
are presendy flushed with the least hint of commendation, and devoudy
thank Pythagoras for his grateful hypothesis, whereby they are now
become actuated with a descent of Virgil's poetic soul. Nor is any
divertisement more pleasant, than when they meet to flatter and curry
one another; yet they are so critical, that if any one hap to be guilty
of the least slip, or seeming blunder, another shall presendy correct
him for it, and then to it they go in a tongue-combat, with all the
fervour, spleen, and eagerness imaginable. May Priscian himself be my
enemy if what I am now going to say be not exactly true. I knew an
old Sophister that was a Grecian, a latinist, a mathematician, a
philosopher, a musician, and all to the utmost perfection, who, after
threescore years' experience in the world, had spent the last twenty of
them only in drudging to conquer the criticisms of grammar, and made
it the chief part of his prayers, that his life might be so long spared
till he had learned how righdy to distinguish betwixt the eight parts of
speech, which no grammarian, whether Greek or Latin, had yet accurately
done. If any chance to have placed that as a conjunction which ought to
have been used as an adverb, it is a sufficient alarm to raise a war
for doing justice to the injured word. And since there have been as many
several grammars, as particular grammarians (nay, more, for Aldus alone
wrote five distinct grammars for his own share), the schoolmaster must
be obliged to consult them all, sparing for no time nor trouble, though
never so great, lest he should be otherwise posed in an unobserved
criticism, and so by an irreparable disgrace lose the reward of all his
toil. It is indifferent to me whether you call this folly or madness,
since you must needs confess that it is by my influence these
school-tyrants, though in never so despicable a condition, are so happy
in their own thoughts, that they would not change fortunes with the most
illustrious Sophi of Persia.

[Illustration: 242]

The Poets, however somewhat less beholden to me, own a professed
dependence on me, being a sort of lawless blades, that by prescription
claim a license to a proverb, while the whole intent of their profession
is only to smooth up and tickle the ears of fools, that by mere toys and
fabulous shams, with which (however ridiculous) they are so bolstered
up in an airy imagination, as to promise themselves an everlasting name,
and promise, by their balderdash, at the same time to celebrate the
never-dying memory of others. To these rapturous wits self-love and
flattery are never-failing attendants; nor do any prove more zealous or
constant devotees to folly.

The Rhetoricians likewise, though they are ambitious of being ranked
among the Philosophers, yet are apparently of my faction, as appears
among other arguments, by this more especially; in that among their
several topics of completing the art of oratory, they all particularly
insist upon the knack of jesting, which is one species of folly; as is
evident from the books of oratory wrote to Herennius, put among Cicero's
work, but done by some other unknown author; and in Quintilian,
that great master of eloquence, there is one large chapter spent in
prescribing the methods of raising laughter: in short, they may well
attribute a great efficacy to folly, since on any argument they can many
times by a slight laugh over what they could never seriously confute.

Of the same gang are those scribbling fops, who think to eternize their
memory by setting up for authors: among which, though they are all some
way indebted to me, yet are those more especially so, who spoil paper in
blotting it with mere trifles and impertinences. For as to those graver
drudgers to the press, that write learnedly, beyond the reach of an
ordinary reader, who durst submit their labours to the review of the
most severe critic, these are not so liable to be envied for their
honour, as to be pitied for their sweat and slavery. They make
additions, alterations, blot out, write anew, amend, interline, turn it
upside down, and yet can never please their fickle judgment, but that
they shall dislike the next hour what they penned the former; and all
this to purchase the airy commendations of a few understanding readers,
which at most is but a poor reward for all their fastings, watchings,
confinements, and brain-breaking tortures of invention. Add to this
the impairing of their health, the weakening of their constitution,
their contracting sore eyes, or perhaps turning stark blind; their
poverty, their envy, their debarment from all pleasures, their hastening
on old age, their untimely death, and what other inconveniences of a
like or worse nature can be thought upon: and yet the recompense for all
this severe penance is at best no more than a mouthful or two of frothy
praise. These, as they are more laborious, so are they less happy than
those other hackney scribblers which I first mentioned, who never stand
much to consider, but write what comes next at a venture, knowing that
the more silly their composures are, the more they will be bought up by
the greater number of readers, who are fools and blockheads: and if they
hap to be condemned by some few judicious persons, it is an easy matter
by clamour to drown their censure, and to silence them by urging the
more numerous commendations of others. They are yet the wisest who
transcribe whole discourses from others, and then reprint them as their
own. By doing so they make a cheap and easy seizure to themselves of
that reputation which cost the first author so much time and trouble to
procure. If they are at any time pricked a little in conscience for fear
of discovery, they feed themselves however with this hope, that if they
be at last found plagiaries, yet at least for some time they have the
credit of passing for the genuine authors. It is pleasant to see how all
these several writers are puffed up with the least blast of applause,
especially if they come to the honour of being pointed at as they walk
along the streets, when their several pieces are laid open upon every
bookseller's stall, when their names are embossed in a different
character upon the tide-page, sometime only with the two first letters,
and sometime with fictitious cramp terms, which few shall understand the
meaning of; and of those that do, all shall not agree in their verdict
of the performance; some censuring, others approving it, men's judgments
being as different as their palates, that being toothsome to one which
is unsavoury and nauseous to another: though it is a sneaking piece of
cowardice for authors to put feigned names to their works, as if, like
bastards of their brain, they were afraid to own them. Thus one styles
himself Telemachus, another Stelenus, a third Polycrates, another
Thrasyma-chus, and so on. By the same liberty we may ransack the whole
alphabet, and jumble together any letters that come next to hand. It is
farther very pleasant when these coxcombs employ their pens in writing
congratulatory episdes, poems, and panegyricks, upon each other, wherein
one shall be complimented with the title of Alcaeus, another shall be
charactered for the incomparable Callimachus; this shall be commended
for a completer orator than Tully himself; a fourth shall be told by his
fellow-fool that the divine Plato comes short of him for a philosophic
soul. Sometime again they take up the cudgels, and challenge out an
antagonist, and so get a name by a combat at dispute and controversy,
while the unwary readers draw sides according to their different
judgments: the longer the quarrel holds the more irreconcilable it
grows; and when both parties are weary, they each pretend themselves the
conquerors, and both lay claim to the credit of coming off with victory.
These fooleries make sport for wise men, as being highly absurd,
ridiculous and extravagant True, but yet these paper-combatants, by my
assistance, are so flushed with a conceit of their own greatness, that
they prefer the solving of a syllogism before the sacking of Carthage;
and upon the defeat of a poor objection carry themselves more triumphant
than the most victorious Scipio.

[Illustration: 250]

Nay, even the learned and more judicious, that have wit enough to laugh
at the other's folly, are very much beholden to my goodness; which
(except ingratitude have drowned their ingenuity), they must be ready
upon all occasions to confess. Among these I suppose the lawyers will
shuffle in for precedence, and they of all men have the greatest conceit
of their own abilities. They will argue as confidently as if they
spoke gospel instead of law; they will cite you six hundred several
precedents, though not one of them come near to the case in hand; they
will muster up the authority of judgments, deeds, glosses, and reports,
and tumble over so many musty records, that they make their employ,
though in itself easy, the greatest slavery imaginable; always
accounting that the best plea which they have took most pains for.

[Illustration: 254]

[Illustration: 257]

To these, as bearing great resemblance to them, may be added logicians
and sophisters, fellows that talk as much by rote as a parrot; who shall
run down a whole gossiping of old women, nay, silence the very noise of
a belfry, with louder clappers than those of the steeple; and if their
unappeasable clamorousness were their only fault it would admit of some
excuse; but they are at the same time so fierce and quarrelsome, that
they will wrangle bloodily for the least trifle, and be so over intent
and eager, that they many times lose their game in the chase and fright
away that truth they are hunting for. Yet self-conceit makes these
nimble disputants such doughty champions, that armed with three or four
close-linked syllogisms, they shall enter the lists with the greatest
masters of reason, and not question the foiling of them in an
irresistible way, nay, their obstinacy makes them so confident of their
being in the right, that all the arguments in the world shall never
convince them to the contrary.

Next to these come the philosophers in their long beards and short
cloaks, who esteem themselves the only favourites of wisdom, and look
upon the rest of mankind as the dirt and rubbish of the creation: yet
these men's happiness is only a frantic craziness of brain; they build
castles in the air, and infinite worlds in a _vacuum_. They will give
you to a hair's breadth the dimensions of the sun, moon, and stars, as
easily as they would do that of a flaggon or pipkin: they will give a
punctual account of the rise of thunder, of the origin of winds, of
the nature of eclipses, and of all the other abstrusest difficulties
in physics, without the least demur or hesitation, as if they had been
admitted into the cabinet council of nature, or had been eye-witnesses
to all the accurate methods of creation; though alas nature does
but laugh at all their puny conjectures; for they never yet made one
considerable discovery, as appears in that they are unanimously agreed
in no one point of the smallest moment; nothing so plain or evident but
what by some or other is opposed and contradicted. But though they are
ignorant of the artificial contexture of the least insect, they vaunt
however, and brag that they know all things, when indeed they are unable
to construe the mechanism of their own body: nay, when they are so
purblind as not to be able to see a stone's cast before them, yet they
shall be as sharp-sighted as possible in spying-out ideas, universals
separate forms, first matters, quiddities, formalities, and a hundred
such like niceties, so diminutively small, that were not their eyes
extremely magnifying, all the art of optics could never make them
discernible. But they then most despise the low grovelling vulgar
when they bring out their parallels, triangles, circles, and other
mathematical figures, drawn up in battalia, like so many spells
and charms of conjuration in muster, with letters to refer to the
explication of the several problems; hereby raising devils as it
were, only to have the credit of laying them, and amusing the ordinary
spectators into wonder, because they have not wit enough to understand
the juggle. Of these some undertake to profess themselves judicial
astrologers, pretending to keep correspondence with the stars, and so
from their information can resolve any query; and though it is all but a
presumptuous imposture, yet some to be sure will be so great fools as to
believe them.

[Illustration: 262]

The divines present themselves next; but it may perhaps be most safe to
pass them by, and not to touch upon so harsh a string as this subject
would afford. Beside, the undertaking may be very hazardous; for they
are a sort of men generally very hot and passionate; and should I
provoke them, I doubt not would set upon me with a full cry, and force
me with shame to recant, which if I stubbornly refuse to do, they will
presently brand me for a heretic, and thunder out an excommunication,
which is their spiritual weapon to wound such as lift up a hand against
them. It is true, no men own a less dependence on me, yet have they
reason to confess themselves indebted for no small obligations. For it
is by one of my properties, self-love, that they fancy themselves, with
their elder brother Paul, caught up into the third heaven, from whence,
like shepherds indeed, they look down upon their flock, the laity,
grazing as it were, in the vales of the world below. They fence
themselves in with so many surrounders of magisterial definitions,
conclusions, corollaries, propositions explicit and implicit, that
there is no falling in with them; or if they do chance to be urged to a
seeming non-plus, yet they find out so many evasions, that all the art
of man can never bind them so fast, but that an easy distinction shall
give them a starting-hole to escape the scandal of being baffled. They
will cut asunder the toughest argument with as much ease as Alexander
did the gordian knot; they will thunder out so many rattling terms
as shall fright an adversary into conviction. They are exquisitely
dexterous in unfolding the most intricate mysteries; they will tell
you to a tittle all the successive proceedings of Omnipotence in the
creation of the universe; they will explain the precise manner of
original sin being derived from our first parents; they will satisfy you
in what manner, by what degrees, and in how long a time, our Saviour was
conceived in the Virgin's womb, and demonstrate in the consecrated wafer
how accidents may subsist without a subject. Nay, these are accounted
trivial, easy questions; they have yet far greater difficulties behind,
which notwithstanding they solve with as much expedition as the former;
as namely, whether supernatural generation requires any instant of time
for its acting? whether Christ, as a son, bears a double specifically
distinct relation to God the Father, and his virgin mother? whether
this proposition is possible to be true, the first person of the Trinity
hated the second? whether God, who took our nature upon him in the form
of a man, could as well have become a woman, a devil, a beast, a herb,
or a stone? and were it so possible that the Godhead had appeared in any
shape of an inanimate substance, how he should then have preached his
gospel? or how have been nailed to the cross? whether if St. Peter had
celebrated the eucharist at the same time our Saviour was hanging on the
cross, the consecrated bread would have been transubstantiated into
the same body that remained on the tree? whether in Christ's corporal
presence in the sacramental wafer, his humanity be not abstracted from
his Godhead? whether after the resurrection we shall carnally eat and
drink as we do in this life?

There are a thousand other more sublimated and refined niceties of
notions, relations, quantities, formalities, quiddities, haeccities, and
such like abstrusities, as one would think no one could pry into, except
he had not only such cat's eyes as to see best in the dark, but even
such a piercing faculty as to see through an inch-board, and spy out
what really never had any being. Add to these some of their tenets and
opinions, which are so absurd and extravagant, that the wildest fancies
of the Stoicks which they so much disdain and decry as paradoxes, seem
in comparison just and rational; as their maintaining, that it is a less
aggravating fault to kill a hundred men, than for a poor cobbler to set
a stitch on the sabbath-day; or, that it is more justifiable to do
the greatest injury imaginable to others, than to tell the least
lie ourselves. And these subtleties are alchymized to a more refined
sublimate by the abstracting brains of their several schoolmen; the
Realists, the Nominalists, the Thomists, the Albertists, the Occamists,
the Scotists; these are not all, but the rehearsal of a few only, as a
specimen of their divided sects; in each of which there is so much of
deep learning, so much of unfathomable difficulty, that I believe the
apostles themselves would stand in need of a new illuminating spirit, if
they were to engage in any controversy with these new divines. St. Paul,
no question, had a full measure of faith; yet when he lays down faith
to be the substance of things not seen, these men carp at it for an
imperfect definition, and would undertake to teach the apostles better
logic. Thus the same holy author wanted for nothing of the grace
of charity, yet (say they) he describes and defines it but very
inaccurately, when he treats of it in the thirteenth chapter of his
first epistle to the Corinthians. The primitive disciples were very
frequent in administering the holy sacrament, breaking bread from house
to house; yet should they be asked of the _Terminus a quo_ and the
_Terminus ad quern_, the nature of transubstantiation? the manner
how one body can be in several places at the same time? the difference
betwixt the several attributes of Christ in heaven, on the cross, and in
the consecrated bread? what time is required for the transubstantiating
the bread into flesh? how it can be done by a short sentence pronounced
by the priest, which sentence is a species of discreet quantity, that
has no permanent _punctum?_ Were they asked (I say) these, and several
other confused queries, I do not believe they could answer so readily
as our mincing school-men now-a-days take a pride to do. They were well
acquainted with the Virgin Mary, yet none of them undertook to prove
that she was preserved immaculate from original sin, as some of our
divines very hotly contend for. St. Peter had the keys given to him, and
that by our Saviour himself, who had never entrusted him except he had
known him capable of their manage and custody; and yet it is much to
be questioned whether Peter was sensible of that subtlety broached by
Scotus, that he may have the key of knowledge effectually for others,
who has no knowledge actually in himself. Again, they baptized all
nations, and yet never taught what was the formal, material, efficient,
and final cause of baptism, and certainly never dreamt of distinguishing
between a delible and an indelible character in this sacrament They
worshipped in the spirit, following their master's injunction, God is a
spirit, and they which worship him, must worship him in spirit, and
in truth; yet it does not appear that it was ever revealed to them how
divine adoration should be paid at the same time to our blessed Saviour
in heaven, and to his picture here below on a wall, drawn with two
fingers held out, a bald crown, and a circle round his head. To
reconcile these intricacies to an appearance of reason requires
three-score years' experience in metaphysics.

Farther, the apostles often mention _Grace_, yet never distinguish
between _gratia, gratis data_, and _gratia gratificans_. They earnestly
exhort us likewise to good works, yet never explain the difference
between _Opus operans_, and _Opus operatum_. They very frequently press
and invite us to seek after charity, without dividing it into infused
and acquired, or determining whether it be a substance or an accident, a
created or an uncreated being. They detested sin themselves, and warned
others from the commission of it; and yet I am sure they could never
have defined so dogmatically, as the Scotists have since done. St. Paul,
who in other's judgment is no less the chief of the apostles, than
he was in his own the chief of sinners, who being bred at the feet of
Gamaliel, was certainly more eminently a scholar than any of the rest,
yet he often exclaims against vain philosophy, warns us from doting
about questions and strifes of words, and charges us to avoid profane
and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called; which
he would not have done, if he had thought it worth his while to have
become acquainted with them, which he might soon have been, the
disputes of that age being but small, and more intelligible sophisms,
in reference to the vastly greater intricacies they are now improved
to. But yet, however, our scholastic divines are so modest, that if they
meet with any passage in St. Paul, or any other penman of holy writ,
which is not so well modelled, or critically disposed of, as they
could wish, they will not roughly condemn it, but bend it rather to a
favorable interpretation, out of reverence to antiquity, and respect
to the holy scriptures; though indeed it were unreasonable to expect
anything of this nature from the apostles, whose lord and master
had given unto them to know the mysteries of God, but not those of
philosophy. If the same divines meet with anything of like nature
unpalatable in St. Chrysostom, St. Basil, St. Hierom, or others of the
fathers, they will not stick to appeal from their authority, and very
fairly resolve that they lay under a mistake. Yet these ancient fathers
were they who confuted both the Jews and Heathens, though they both
obstinately adhered to their respective prejudices; they confuted them
(I say), yet by their lives and miracles, rather than by words and
syllogisms; and the persons they thus proselyted were downright honest,
well meaning people, such as understood plain sense better than any
artificial pomp of reasoning: whereas if our divines should now
set about the gaining converts from paganism by their metaphysical
subtleties, they would find that most of the persons they applied
themselves to were either so ignorant as not at all to apprehend them,
or so impudent as to scoff and deride them; or finally, so well skilled
at the same weapons, that they would be able to keep their pass, and
fence off all assaults of conviction: and this last way the victory
would be altogether as hopeless, as if two persons were engaged of so
equal strength, that it were impossible any one should overpower the

If my judgment might be taken, I would advise Christians, in their next
expedition to a holy war, instead of those many unsuccessful legions,
which they have hitherto sent to encounter the Turks and Saracens,
that they would furnish out their clamorous Scotists, their obstinate
Occamists, their invincible Albertists, and all their forces of tough,
crabbed and profound disputants: the engagement, I fancy, would be
mighty pleasant, and the victory we may imagine on our side not to be
questioned. For which of the enemies would not veil their turbans at so
solemn an appearance? Which of the fiercest Janizaries would not
throw away his scimitar, and all the half-moons be eclipsed by the
interposition of so glorious an army?

[Illustration: 270]

I suppose you mistrust I speak all this by way of jeer and irony; and
well I may, since among divines themselves there are some so ingenious
as to despise these captious and frivolous impertinences: they look upon
it as a kind of profane sacrilege, and a little less than blasphemous
impiety, to determine of such niceties in religion, as ought rather
to be the subject of an humble and uncontradicting faith, than of a
scrupulous and inquisitive reason: they abhor a defiling the mysteries
of Christianity with an intermixture of heathenish philosophy, and judge
it very improper to reduce divinity to an obscure speculative science,
whose end is such a happiness as can be gained only by the means of
practice. But alas, those notional divines, however condemned by the
soberer judgment of others, are yet mightily pleased with themselves,
and are so laboriously intent upon prosecuting their crabbed studies,
that they cannot afford so much time as to read a single chapter in
any one book of the whole bible. And while they thus trifle away their
mis-spent hours in trash and babble, they think that they support
the Catholic Church with the props and pillars of propositions and
syllogisms, no less effectually than Atlas is feigned by the poets to
sustain on his shoulders the burden of a tottering world.

[Illustration: Atlas with the Burden of the Tottering World 274]

Their privileges, too, and authority are very considerable: they can
deal with any text of scripture as with a nose of wax, knead it into
what shape best suits their interest; and whatever conclusions they
have dogmatically resolved upon, they would have them as irrepealably
ratified as Solon's laws, and in as great force as the very decrees of
the papal chair. If any be so bold as to remonstrate to their decisions,
they will bring him on his knees to a recantation of his impudence.
They shall pronounce as irrevocably as an oracle, this proposition is
scandalous, that irreverent; this has a smack of heresy, and that is
bald and improper; so that it is not the being baptised into the church,
the believing of the scriptures, the giving credit to St. Peter, St.
Paul, St. Hierom, St. Augustin, nay, or St. Thomas Aquinas himself, that
shall make a man a Christian, except he have the joint suffrage of these
novices in learning,-who have blessed the world no doubt with a great
many discoveries, which had never come to light, if they had not struck
the fire of subtlety out of the flint of obscurity. These fooleries sure
must be a happy employ.

Farther, they make as many partitions and divisions in hell and
purgatory, and describe as many different sorts and degrees of
punishment as if they were very well acquainted with the soil and
situation of those infernal regions. And to prepare a seat for the
blessed above, they invent new orbs, and a stately empyrean heaven,
so wide and spacious as if they had purposely contrived it, that the
glorified saints might have room enough to walk, to feast, or to take
any recreation.

With these, and a thousand more such like toys, their heads are more
stuffed and swelled than Jove, when he went big of Pallas in his brain,
and was forced to use the midwifery of Vulcan's axe to ease him of his
teeming burden.

[Illustration: Midwivery of Vulcan's Axe 278]

Do not wonder, therefore, that at public disputations they bind their
heads with so many caps one over another; for this is to prevent the
loss of their brains, which would otherwise break out from their uneasy
confinement. It affords likewise a pleasant scene of laughter, to listen
to these divines in their hotly managed disputations; to see how proud
they are of talking such hard gibberish, and stammering out such
blundering distinctions, as the auditors perhaps may sometimes gape at,
but seldom apprehend: and they take such a liberty in their speaking of
Latin, that they scorn to stick at the exactness of syntax or concord;
pretending it is below the majesty of a divine to talk like a pedagogue,
and be tied to the slavish observance of the rules of grammar.

Finally, they take a vast pride, among other citations, to allege the
authority of their respective master, which word they bear as profound
a respect to as the Jews did to their ineffable _tetragrammaton_, and
therefore they will be sure never to write it any otherwise than in
great letters, MAGISTER NOSTER; and if any happen to invert the order of
the words, and say, _noster magister_ instead of _magister noster_, they
will presently exclaim against him as a pestilent heretic and underminer
of the catholic faith.

[Illustration: 282]

The next to these are another sort of brainsick fools, who style
themselves monks and of religious orders, though they assume both titles
very unjustly: for as to the last, they have very little religion in
them; and as to the former, the etymology of the word monk implies a
solitariness, or being alone; whereas they are so thick abroad that
we cannot pass any street or alley without meeting them. Now I cannot
imagine what one degree of men would be more hopelessly wretched, if
I did not stand their friend, and buoy them up in that lake of misery,
which by the engagements of a holy vow they have voluntarily immerged
themselves in. But when these sort of men are so unwelcome to others, as
that the very sight of them is thought ominous, I yet make them highly
in love with themselves, and fond admirers of their own happiness. The
first step whereunto they esteem a profound ignorance, thinking carnal
knowledge a great enemy to their spiritual welfare, and seem confident
of becoming greater proficients in divine mysteries the less they are
poisoned with any human learning. They imagine that they bear a sweet
consort with the heavenly choir, when they tone out their daily tally
of psalms, which they rehearse only by rote, without permitting their
understanding or affections to go along with their voice. Among these
some make a good profitable trade of beggary, going about from house to
house, not like the apostles, to break, but to beg, their bread; nay,
thrust into all public-houses, come aboard the passage-boats, get into
the travelling waggons, and omit no opportunity of time or place for the
craving people's charity; doing a great deal of injury to common highway
beggars by interloping in their traffic of alms. And when they are thus
voluntarily poor, destitute, not provided with two coats, nor with
any money in their purse, they have the impudence to pretend that they
imitate the first disciples, whom their master expressly sent out in
such an equipage. It is pretty to observe how they regulate all their
actions as it were by weight and measure to so exact a proportion, as if
the whole loss of their religion depended upon the omission of the least
punctilio. Thus they must be very critical in the precise number of
knots to the tying on of their sandals; what distinct colours their
respective habits, and what stuff made of; how broad and long their
girdles; how big, and in what fashion, their hoods; whether their bald
crowns be to a hair's-breadth of the right cut; how many hours they must
sleep, at what minute rise to prayers, &c. And these several customs are
altered according to the humours of different persons and places. While
they are sworn to the superstitious observance of these trifles, they do
not only despise all others, but are very inclinable to fall out among
themselves; for though they make profession of an apostolic charity,
yet they will pick a quarrel, and be implacably passionate for such poor
provocations, as the girting on a coat the wrong way, for the wearing of
clothes a little too darkish coloured, or any such nicety not worth the
speaking of.

[Illustration: 288]

Some are so obstinately superstitious that they will wear their upper
garment of some coarse dog's hair stuff, and that next their skin
as soft as silk: but others on the contrary will have linen frocks
outermost, and their shirts of wool, or hair. Some again will not touch
a piece of money, though they make no scruple of the sin of drunkenness,
and the lust of the flesh. All their several orders are mindful of
nothing more than of their being distinguished from each other by
their different customs and habits. They seem indeed not so careful of
becoming like Christ, and of being known to be his disciples, as the
being unlike to one another, and distinguishable for followers of their
several founders. A great part of their religion consists in their
title: some will be called cordeliers, and these subdivided into
capuchines, minors, minims, and mendicants; some again are styled
Benedictines, others of the order of St. Bernard, others of that of
St. Bridget; some are Augustin monks, some Willielmites, and others
Jacobists, as if the common name of Christian were too mean and vulgar.
Most of them place their greatest stress for salvation on a strict
conformity to their foppish ceremonies, and a belief of their legendary
traditions; wherein they fancy to have acquitted themselves with so much
of supererogation, that one heaven can never be a condign reward for
their meritorious life; little thinking that the Judge of all the earth
at the last day shall put them off, with a who hath required these
things at your hands; and call them to account only for the stewardship
of his legacy, which was the precept of love and charity. It will be
pretty to hear their pleas before the great tribunal: one will brag how
he mortified his carnal appetite by feeding only upon fish: another will
urge that he spent most of his time on earth in the divine exercise
of singing psalms: a third will tell how many days he fasted, and what
severe penance he imposed on himself for the bringing his body into
subjection: another shall produce in his own behalf as many ceremonies
as would load a fleet of merchant-men: a fifth shall plead that in
threescore years he never so much as touched a piece of money, except
he fingered it through a thick pair of gloves: a sixth, to testify his
former humility, shall bring along with him his sacred hood, so old and
nasty, that any seaman had rather stand bare headed on the deck, than
put it on to defend his ears in the sharpest storms: the next that comes
to answer for himself shall plead, that for fifty years together, he had
lived like a sponge upon the same place, and was content never to change
his homely habitation: another shall whisper softly, and tell the judge
he has lost his voice by a continual singing of holy hymns and anthems:
the next shall confess how he fell into a lethargy by a strict,
reserved, and sedentary life: and the last shall intimate that he has
forgot to speak, by having always kept silence, in obedience to the
injunction of taking heed lest he should have offended with his tongue.
But amidst all their fine excuses our Saviour shall interrupt them with
this answer, Woe unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites, verily I
know you not; I left you but one precept, of loving one another, which
I do not hear any one plead he has faithfully discharged: I told you
plainly in my gospel, without any parable, that my father's kingdom was
prepared not for such as should lay claim to it by austerities, prayers,
or fastings, but for those who should render themselves worthy of it by
the exercise of faith, and the offices of charity: I cannot own such as
depend on their own merits without a reliance on my mercy: as many of
you therefore as trust to the broken reeds of your own deserts may even
go search out a new heaven, for you shall never enter into that, which
from the foundations of the world was prepared only for such as are true
of heart. When these monks and friars shall meet with such a shameful
repulse, and see that ploughmen and mechanics are admitted into that
kingdom, from which they themselves are shut out, how sneakingly will
they look, and how pitifully slink away? Yet till this last trial they
had more comfort of a future happiness, because more hopes of it than
any other men. And these persons are not only great in their own eyes,
but highly esteemed and respected by others, especially those of the
order of mendicants, whom none dare to offer any affront to, because
as confessors they are intrusted with all the secrets of particular
intrigues, which they are bound by oath not to discover; yet many times,
when they are almost drunk, they cannot keep their tongue so far within
their head, as not to be babbling out some hints, and shewing themselves
so full, that they are in pain to be delivered. If any person give them
the least provocation they will sure to be revenged of him, and in their
next public harangue give him such shrewd wipes and reflections, that
the whole congregation must needs take notice at whom they are levelled;
nor will they ever desist from this way of declaiming, till their mouth
be stopped with a bribe to hold their tongue. All their preaching is
mere stage-playing, and their delivery the very transports of ridicule
and drollery. Good Lord! how mimical are their gestures? What heights
and falls in their voice? What toning, what bawling, what singing, what
squeaking, what grimaces, making of mouths, apes' faces, and distorting
of their countenance; and this art of oratory as a choice mystery,
they convey down by tradition to one another. The manner of it I may
adventure thus farther to enlarge upon. First, in a kind of mockery
they implore the divine assistance, which they borrowed from the solemn
custom of the poets: then if their text suppose be of charity, they
shall take their exordium as far off as from a description of the river
Nile in Egypt; or if they are to discourse of the mystery of the Cross,
they shall begin with a story of Bell and the Dragon; or perchance if
their subject be of fasting, for an entrance to their sermon they shall
pass through the twelve signs of the zodiac; or lastly, if they are to
preach of faith, they shall address themselves in a long mathematical
account of the quadrature of the circle. I myself once heard a great
fool (a great scholar I would have said) undertaking in a laborious
discourse to explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity; in the unfolding
whereof, that he might shew his wit and reading, and together satisfy
itching ears, he proceeded in a new method, as by insisting on the
letters, syllables, and proposition, on the concord of noun and verb,
and that of noun substantive, and noun adjective; the auditors all
wondered, and some mumbled to themselves that hemistitch of Horace,

     Why all this needless trash?

But at last he brought it thus far, that he could demonstrate the
whole Trinity to be represented by these first rudiments of grammar,
as clearly and plainly as it was possible for a mathematician to draw a
triangle in the sand: and for the making of this grand discovery, this
subtle divine had plodded so hard for eight months together, that he
studied himself as blind as a beetle, the intenseness of the eye of his
understanding overshadowing and extinguishing that of his body; and yet
he did not at all repent him of his blindness, but thinks the loss of
his sight an easy purchase for the gain of glory and credit.

[Illustration: 294]

I heard at another time a grave divine, of fourscore years of age at
least, so sour and hard-favoured, that one would be apt to mistrust that
it was Scotus Redivivus; he taking upon him to treat of the mysterious
name, JESUS, did very subtly pretend that in the very letters was
contained, whatever could be said of it: for first, its being declined
only with three cases, did expressly point out the trinity of persons,
then that the nominative ended in S, the accusative in M, and the
ablative in U, did imply some unspeakable mystery, viz., that in words
of those initial letters Christ was the _summus_, or beginning, the
_medius_, or middle, and the _ultimus_, or end of all things. There was
yet a more abstruse riddle to be explained, which was by dividing the
word JESUS into two parts, and separating the S in the middle from the
two extreme syllables, making a kind of pentameter, the word consisting
of five letters: and this intermedial S being in the Hebrew alphabet
called sin, which in the English language signifies what the Latins term
_peecatum_, was urged to imply that the holy Jesus should purify us
from all sin and wickedness. Thus did the pulpiteer cant, while all the
congregation, especially the brotherhood of divines, were so surprised
at his odd way of preaching, that wonder served them, as grief did
Niobe, almost turned them into stones. I among the rest (as Horace
describes Priapus viewing the enchantments of the two sorceresses,
Canidia and Sagane) could no longer contain, but let fly a cracking
report of the operation it had upon me. These impertinent introductions
are not without reason condemned; for of old, whenever Demosthenes among
the Greeks, or Tully among the Latins, began their orations with so
great a digression from the matter in hand, it was always looked upon
as improper and unelegant, and indeed, were such a long-fetched exordium
any token of a good invention, shepherds and ploughmen might lay claim
to the title of men of greatest parts, since upon any argument it is
easiest for them to talk what is least to the purpose. These preachers
think their preamble (as we may well term it), to be the most
fashionable, when it is farthest from the subject they propose to treat
of, while each auditor sits and wonders what they drive at, and many
times mutters out the complaint of Virgil:--

_Whither does all this jargon tend?_ In the third place, when they come
to the division of their text, they shall give only a very short touch
at the interpretation of the words, when the fuller explication of their
sense ought to have been their only province. Fourthly, after they are
a little entered, they shall start some theological queries, far enough
off from the matter in hand, and bandy it about pro and con till they
lose it in the heat of scuffle. And here they shall cite their doctors
invincible, subtle, seraphic, cherubic, holy, irrefragable, and such
like great names to confirm their several assertions. Then out they
bring their syllogisms, their majors, their minors, conclusions,
corollaries, suppositions, and distinctions, that will sooner
terrify the congregation into an amazement, than persuade them into
a conviction. Now comes the fifth act, in which they must exert their
utmost skill to come off with applause. Here therefore they fall a
telling some sad lamentable story out of their legend, or some
other fabulous history, and this they descant upon allegorically,
tropologically, and analogically; and so they draw to a conclusion of
their discourse, which is a more brain-sick chimera than ever Horace
could describe in his _De Arte Poetica_, when he began:--

_Humano Capitis &c_. Their praying is altogether as ridiculous as their
preaching; for imagining that in their addresses to heaven they should
set out in a low and tremulous voice, as a token of dread and reverence,
they begin therefore with such a soft whispering as if they were afraid
any one should overhear what they said; but when they are gone a little
way, they clear up their pipes by degrees, and at last bawl out so loud
as if, with Baal's priests, they were resolved to awake a sleeping god;
and then again, being told by rhetoricians that heights and falls, and a
different cadency in pronunciation, is a great advantage to the setting
off any thing that is spoken, they will sometimes as it were mutter
their words inwardly, and then of a sudden hollo them out, and be sure
at last, in such a flat, faltering tone as if their spirits were spent,
and they had run themselves out of breath. Lastly, they have read
that most systems of rhetoric treat of the art of exciting laughter;
therefore for the effecting of this they will sprinkle some jests and
puns that must pass for ingenuity, though they are only the froth and
folly of affectedness. Sometimes they will nibble at the wit of being
satyrical, though their utmost spleen is so toothless, that they suck
rather than bite, tickle rather than scratch or wound: nor do they ever
flatter more than at such times as they pretend to speak with greatest

Finally, all their actions are so buffoonish and mimical, that any
would judge they had learned all their tricks of mountebanks and
stage-players, who in action it is true may perhaps outdo them, but
in oratory there is so little odds between both, that it is hard to
determine which seems of longest standing in the schools of eloquence.

Yet these preachers, however ridiculous, meet with such hearers, who
admire them as much as the people of Athens did Demosthenes, or the
citizens of Rome could do Cicero: among which admirers are chiefly
shopkeepers, and women, whose approbation and good opinion they only
court; because the first, if they are humoured, give them some snacks
out of unjust gain; and the last come and ease their grief to them upon
all pinching occasions, especially when their husbands are any ways
cross or unkind.

Thus much I suppose may suffice to make you sensible how much these
cell-hermits and recluses are indebted to my bounty; who when they
tyrannize over the consciences of the deluded laity with fopperies,
juggles, and impostures, yet think themselves as eminently pious as St.
Paul, St. Anthony, or any other of the saints; but these stage-divines,
not less ungrateful dis-owners of their obligations to folly, than they
are impudent pretenders to the profession of piety, I willingly take my
leave of, and pass now to kings, princes, and courtiers, who paying me
a devout acknowledgment, may justly challenge back the respect of being
mentioned and taken notice of by me. And first, had they wisdom enough
to make a true judgment of things, they would find their own condition
to be more despicable and slavish than that of the most menial subjects.
For certainly none can esteem perjury or parricide a cheap purchase
for a crown, if he does but seriously reflect on that weight of cares a
princely diadem is loaded with. He that sits at the helm of government
acts in a public capacity, and so must sacrifice all private interest
to the attainment of the common good; he must himself be conformable to
those laws his prerogative exacts, or else he can expect no obedience
paid them from others; he must have a strict eye over all his inferior
magistrates and officers, or otherwise it is to be doubted they will but
carelessly discharge their respective duties. Every king, within his own
territories, is placed for a shining example as it were in the firmament
of his wide-spread dominions, to prove either a glorious star of benign
influence, if his behaviour be remarkably just and innocent, or else
to impend as a threatening comet, if his blazing power be pestilent and
hurtful. Subjects move in a darker sphere, and so their wanderings and
failings are less discernible; whereas princes, being fixed in a more
exalted orb, and encompassed with a brighter dazzling lustre, their
spots are more apparently visible, and their eclipses, or other defects,
influential on all that is inferior to them. Kings are baited with so
many temptations and opportunities to vice and immorality, such as are
high feeding, liberty, flattery, luxury, and the like, that they must
stand perpetually on their guard, to fence off those assaults that are
always ready to be made upon them. In fine, abating from treachery,
hatred, dangers, fear, and a thousand other mischiefs impending on
crowned heads, however uncontrollable they are this side heaven, yet
after their reign here they must appear before a supremer judge, and
there be called to an exact account for the discharge of that great
stewardship which was committed to their trust If princes did but
seriously consider (and consider they would if they were but wise) these
many hardships of a royal life, they would be so perplexed in the result
of their thoughts thereupon, as scarce to eat or sleep in quiet But now
by my assistance they leave all these cares to the gods, and mind only
their own ease and pleasure, and therefore will admit none to their
attendance but who will divert them with sport and mirth, lest they
should otherwise be seized and damped with the surprisal of sober
thoughts. They think they have sufficiently acquitted themselves in the
duty of governing, if they do but ride constantly a hunting, breed up
good race-horses, sell places and offices to those of the courtiers that
will give most for them, and find out new ways for invading of their
people's property, and hooking in a larger revenue to their own
exchequer; for the procurement whereof they will always have some
pretended claim and title; that though it be manifest extortion, yet
it may bear the show of law and justice: and then they daub over their
oppression with a submissive, flattering carriage, that they may so far
insinuate into the affections of the vulgar, as they may not tumult nor
rebel, but patiently crouch to burdens and exactions. Let us feign now a
person ignorant of the laws and constitutions of that realm he lives in,
an enemy to the public good, studious only for his own private interest,
addicted wholly to pleasures and delights, a hater of learning, a
professed enemy to liberty and truth, careless and unmindful of the
common concerns, taking all the measures of justice and honesty from
the false beam of self-interest and advantage, after this hang about his
neck a gold chain, for an intimation that he ought to have all virtues
linked together; then set a crown of gold and jewels on his head, for
a token that he ought to overtop and outshine others in all commendable
qualifications; next, put into his hand a royal sceptre for a symbol
of justice and integrity; lastly, clothe him with purple, for an
hieroglyphic of a tender love and affection to the commonwealth. If a
prince should look upon this portraiture, and draw a comparison between
that and himself, certainly he would be ashamed of his ensigns of
majesty, and be afraid of being laughed out of them.

[Illustration: His Majesty 302]

Next to kings themselves may come their courtiers, who, though they
are for the most part a base, servile, cringing, low-spirited sort of
flatterers, yet they look big, swell great, and have high thoughts of
their honour and grandeur. Their confidence appears upon all occasions;
yet in this one thing they are very modest, in that they are content to
adorn their bodies with gold, jewels, purple, and other glorious ensigns
of virtue and wisdom, but leave their minds empty and unfraught; and
taking the resemblance of goodness to themselves, turn over the truth
and reality of it to others. They think themselves mighty happy in that
they can call the king master, and be allowed the familiarity of talking
with him; that they can volubly rehearse his several tides of august
highness, supereminent excellence, and most serene majesty, that they
can boldly usher in any discourse, and that they have the complete knack
of insinuation and flattery; for these are the arts that make them truly
genteel and noble. If you make a stricter enquiry after their other
endowments, you shall find them mere sots and dolts. They will sleep
generally till noon, and then their mercenary chaplains shall come to
their bed-side, and entertain them perhaps with a short morning prayer.
As soon as they are drest they must go to breakfast, and when that
is done, immediately to dinner. When the cloth is taken away, then to
cards, dice, tables, or some such like diversion. After this they must
have one or two afternoon banquets, and so in the evening to supper.
When they have supped then begins the game of drinking; the bottles are
marshalled, the glasses ranked, and round go the healths and bumpers
till they are carried to bed. And this is the constant method of passing
away their hours, days, months, years, and ages. I have many times took
great satisfaction by standing in the court, and seeing how the tawdry
butterflies vie upon one another: the ladies shall measure the height of
their humours by the length of their trails, which must be borne up by a
page behind. The nobles justle one another to get nearest to the king's
elbow, and wear gold chains of that weight and bigness as require no
less strength to carry than they do wealth to purchase.

And now for some reflections upon popes, cardinals, and bishops, who in
pomp and splendour have almost equalled if not outgone secular princes.
Now if any one consider that their upper crotchet of white linen is to
signify their unspotted purity and innocence; that their forked mitres,
with both divisions tied together by the same knot, are to denote the
joint knowledge of the Old and New Testament; that their always wearing
gloves, represents their keeping their hands clean and undented from
lucre and covetousness; that the pastoral staff implies the care of
a flock committed to their charge; that the cross carried before them
expresses their victory over all carnal affections; he (I say) that
considers this, and much more of the like nature, must needs conclude
they are entrusted with a very weighty and difficult office. But alas,
they think it sufficient if they can but feed themselves; and as to
their flock, either commend them to the care of Christ himself, or
commit them to the guidance of some inferior vicars and curates; not so
much as remembering what their name of bishop imports, to wit, labour,
pains, and diligence, but by base simoniacal contracts, they are in a
profane sense _Episcopi, i.e_., overseers of their own gain and income.

[Illustration: 312]

[Illustration: 316]

So cardinals, in like manner, if they did but consider that the church
supposes them to succeed in the room of the apostles; that therefore
they must behave themselves as their predecessors, and so not be lords,
but dispensers of spiritual gifts, of the disposal whereof they must one
day render a strict account: or if they would but reflect a little on
their habit, and thus reason with themselves, what means this white
upper garment, but only an unspotted innocence? What signifies my
inner purple, but only an ardent love and zeal to God? What imports my
outermost pall, so wide and long that it covers the whole mule when I
ride, nay, should be big enough to cover a camel, but only a diffusive
charity, that should spread itself for a succour and protection to all,
by teaching, exhorting, comforting, reproving, admonishing, composing of
differences, courageously withstanding wicked princes, and sacrificing
for the safety of our flock our life and blood, as well as our wealth
and riches; though indeed riches ought not to be at all possessed by
such as boast themselves successors to the apostles, who were poor,
needy, and destitute: I say, if they did but lay these considerations to
heart they would never be so ambitious of being created to this honour,
they would willingly resign it when conferred upon them, or at least
would be as industrious, watchful and laborious, as the primitive
apostles were. Now as to the popes of Rome, who pretend themselves
Christ's vicars, if they would but imitate his exemplary life, in the
being employed in an unintermitted course of preaching; in the being
attended with poverty, nakedness, hunger, and a contempt of this world;
if they did but consider the import of the word pope, which signifies
a father; or if they did but practice their surname of most holy, what
order or degrees of men would be in a worse condition? There would be
then no such vigorous making of parties, and buying of votes, in the
conclave upon a vacancy of that see: and those who by bribery, or other
indirect courses, should get themselves elected, would never secure
their sitting firm in the chair by pistol, poison, force, and violence.
How much of their pleasure would be abated if they were but endowed with
one dram of wisdom? Wisdom, did I say? Nay, with one grain of that salt
which our Saviour bid them not lose the savour of. All their riches,
all their honour, their jurisdictions, their Peter's patrimony, their
offices, their dispensations, their licences, their indulgences, their
long train and attendants (see in how short a compass I have abbreviated
all their marketing of religion); in a word, all their perquisites
would be forfeited and lost; and in their room would succeed watchings,
fastings, tears, prayers, sermons, hard studies, repenting sighs, and a
thousand such like severe penalties: nay, what's yet more deplorable,
it would then follow, that all their clerks, amanuenses, notaries,
advocates, proctors, secretaries, the offices of grooms, ostlers,
serving-men, pimps (and somewhat else, which for modesty's sake I shall
not mention); in short, all these troops of attendants, which depend on
his holiness, would all lose their several employments.

[Illustration: The Pope 320]

This indeed would be hard, but what yet remains would be more dreadful:
the very Head of the Church, the spiritual prince, would then be brought
from all his splendour to the poor equipage of a scrip and staff.
But all this is upon the supposition only that they understood what
circumstances they are placed in; whereas now, by a wholesome neglect
of thinking, they live as well as heart can wish: whatever of toil and
drudgery belongs to their office that they assign over to St. Peter, or
St. Paul, who have time enough to mind it; but if there be any thing of
pleasure and grandeur, that they assume to themselves, as being hereunto
called: so that by my influence no sort of people live more to their
own ease and content. They think to satisfy that Master they pretend to
serve, our Lord and Saviour, with their great state and magnificence,
with the ceremonies of instalments, with the tides of reverence and
holiness, and with exercising their episcopal function only in blessing
and cursing. The working of miracles is old and out-dated; to teach
the people is too laborious; to interpret scripture is to invade the
prerogative of the schoolmen; to pray is too idle; to shed tears is
cowardly and unmanly; to fast is too mean and sordid; to be easy and
familiar is beneath the grandeur of him, who, without being sued to
and intreated, will scarce give princes the honour of kissing his toe;
finally, to die for religion is too self-denying; and to be crucified as
their Lord of Life, is base and ignominious. Their only weapons ought to
be those of the Spirit; and of these indeed they are mighty liberal,
as of their interdicts, their suspensions, their denunciations, their
aggravations, their greater and lesser excommunications, and their
roaring bulls, that fright whomever they are thundered against; and
these most holy fathers never issue them out more frequently than
against those, who, at the instigation of the devil, and not having the
fear of God before their eyes, do feloniously and maliciously attempt to
lessen and impair St. Peter's patrimony: and though that apostle tells
our Saviour in the gospel, in the name of all the other disciples, we
have left all, and followed you, yet they challenge as his inheritance,
fields, towns, treasures, and large dominions; for the defending
whereof, inflamed with a holy zeal, they fight with fire and sword,
to the great loss and effusion of Christian blood, thinking they are
apostolical maintainers of Christ's spouse, the church, when they have
murdered all such as they call her enemies; though indeed the church has
no enemies more bloody and tyrannical than such impious popes, who give
dispensations for the not preaching of Christ; evacuate the main effect
and design of our redemption by their pecuniary bribes and sales;
adulterate the gospel by their forced interpretations, and undermining
traditions; and lastly, by their lusts and wickedness grieve the Holy
Spirit, and make their Saviour's wounds to bleed anew.

[Illustration: 324]

Farther, when the Christian church has been all along first planted,
then confirmed, and since established by the blood of her martyrs, as if
Christ her head would be wanting in the same methods still of protecting
her, they invert the order, and propagate their religion now by arms
and violence, which was wont formerly to be done only with patience
and sufferings. And though war be so brutish, as that it becomes beasts
rather than men; so extravagant, that the poets feigned it an effect of
the furies; so licentious, that it stops the course of all justice and
honesty, so desperate, that it is best waged by ruffians and banditti,
and so unchristian, that it is contrary to the express commands of the
gospel; yet maugre all this, peace is too quiet, too inactive, and they
must be engaged in the boisterousness of war. Among which undertaking
popes, you shall have some so old that they can scarce creep, and yet
they will put on a young, brisk resolution, will resolve to stick at
no pains, to spare no cost, nor to waive any inconvenience, so they may
involve laws, religion, peace, and all other concerns, whether sacred or
civil, in unappeasable tumults and distractions. And yet some of their
learned fawning courtiers will interpret this notorious madness for
zeal, and piety, and fortitude, having found out the way how a man may
draw his sword, and sheathe it in his brother's bowels, and yet not
offend against the duty of the second table, whereby we are obliged
to love our neighbours as ourselves. It is yet uncertain whether these
Romish fathers have taken example from, or given precedent to, such
other German bishops, who omitting their ecclesiastical habit, and other
ceremonies, appear openly armed cap-a-pie, like so many champions and
warriors, thinking no doubt that they come short of the duty of their
function, if they die in any other place than the open field, fighting
the battles of the Lord. The inferior clergy, deeming it unmannerly not
to conform to their patrons and diocesans, devoutly tug and fight for
their tithes with syllogisms and arguments, as fiercely as with swords,
sticks, stones, or anything that came next to hand. When they read the
rabbies, fathers, or other ancient writings, how quick-sighted are they
in spying out any sentences, that they may frighten the people with, and
make them believe that more than the tenth is due, passing by whatever
they meet with in the same authors that minds them of the duty and
difficulty of their own office. They never consider that their shaven
crown is a token that they should pare off and cut away all the
superfluous lusts of this world, and give themselves wholly to divine
meditation; but instead of this, our bald-pated priests think they have
done enough, if they do but mumble over such a fardel of prayers; which
it is a wonder if God should hear or understand, when they whisper them
so softly, and in so unknown a language, which they can scarce hear or
understand themselves. This they have in common with other mechanics,
that they are most subtle in the craft of getting money, and wonderfully
skilled in their respective dues of tithes, offerings, perquisites, &c.
Thus they are all content to reap the profit, but as to the burden, that
they toss as a ball from one hand to another, and assign it over to
any they can get or hire: for as secular princes have their judges and
subordinate ministers to act in their name, and supply their stead; so
ecclesiastical governors have their deputies, vicars, and curates, nay,
many times turn over the whole care of religion to the laity. The laity,
supposing they have nothing to do with the church (as if their baptismal
vow did not initiate them members of it), make it over to the priests;
of the priests again, those that are secular, thinking their tithe
implies them to be a little too profane, assign this task over to the
regulars, the regulars to the monks, the monks bandy it from one order
to another, till it light upon the mendicants; they lay it upon the
Carthusians, which order alone keeps honesty and piety among them, but
really keep them so close that no body ever yet could see them. Thus the
Popes thrusting only their sickle into the harvest of profit, leave all
the other toil of spiritual husbandry to the bishops, the bishops bestow
it upon the pastors, the pastors on their curates, and the curates
commit it to the mendicants, who return it again to such as well know
how to make good advantage of the flock, by the benefit of their fleece.

[Illustration: 329]

[Illustration: 332]

But I would not be thought purposely to expose the weaknesses of popes
and priests, lest I should seem to recede from my title, and make a
satire instead of a panegyric: nor let anyone imagine that I reflect on
good princes, by commending of bad ones: I did this only in brief, to
shew that there is no one particular person can lead a comfortable life,
except he be entered of my society, and retain me for his friend. Nor
indeed can it be otherwise, since fortune, that empress of the world, is
so much in league and amity with me, that to wise men she is always
stingy, and sparing of her gifts, but is profusely liberal and lavish to
fools. Thus Timotheus, the Athenian commander, in all his expeditions,
was a mirror of good luck, because he was a little underwitted; from him
was occasioned the Grecian proverb, 'H _evdovtos kvptos aipel_, _The net
fills, though the fisherman sleeps_; there is also another favourable
proverb, _yhavf itttatai_, _The owl flies_ an omen of success. But
against wise men are pointed these ill-aboding proverbs, '_Ev tetpadi.
yewnoevtas, Born under a bad planet_; equum habet seianum, _He cannot
ride the fore-horse_; aurum tholosanum, _Ill-gotten goods will never
prosper_; and more to the same purpose. But I forbear from any farther
proverbializing, lest I should be thought to have rifled my Erasmus's
adages. To return, therefore, fortune we find still favouring the blunt,
and flushing the forward; strokes and smoothes up fools, crowning all
their undertakings with success; but wisdom makes her followers bashful,
sneaking, and timorous, and therefore you see that they are commonly
reduced to hard shifts, must grapple with poverty, cold and hunger, must
lie recluse, despised, and unregarded, while fools roll in money, are
advanced to dignities and offices, and in a word, have the whole world
at command. If any one think it happy to be a favourite at court, and to
manage the disposal of places and preferments, alas, this happiness is
so far from being attainable by wisdom, that the very suspicion of it
would put a stop to all advancement Has any man a mind to raise himself
a good estate? Alas what dealer in the world would ever get a farthing,
if he be so wise as to scruple at perjury, blush at a lie, or stick at
any fraud and over-reaching.

[Illustration: 336]

Farther, does any one appear a candidate for any ecclesiastical dignity?
Why, an ass, or a plough-jobber, shall sooner gain it than a wise man.
Again, are you in love with any handsome lady? Alas, women-kind are so
addicted to folly, that they will not at all listen to the courtship of
a wise suitor. Finally, wherever there is any preparation made for mirth
and jollity, all wise men are sure to be excluded the company, lest they
should stint the joy, and damp the frolic In a word, to what side soever
we turn ourselves, to popes, princes, judges, magistrates, friends,
enemies, rich or poor, all their concerns are managed by money, which
because it is undervalued by wise men, therefore, in revenge to be sure,
it never comes at them.

But now, though my praise and commendation might well be endless, yet it
is requisite I should put some period to my speech. I'll therefore
draw toward an end, when I have first confirmed what I have said by
the authority of several authors. Which by way of farther proof I shall
insist upon, partly, that I may not be thought to have said more in my
own behalf than what will be justified by others; and partly, that the
lawyers may not check me for citing no precedents nor allegations. To
imitate them therefore I will produce some reports and authorities,
though perhaps like theirs too, they are nothing to the purpose.

First then, it is confessed almost to a proverb, that the art of
dissembling is a very necessary accomplishment; and therefore it is a
common verse among school-boys:--

     To feign the fool when fit occasions rise,
     Argues the being more completely wise.

It is easy therefore to collect how great a value ought to be put upon
real folly, when the very shadow, and bare imitation of it, is so much
esteemed. Horace, who in his episdes thus styles himself:--

     My sleek-skinn'd corpse as smooth as if I lie
     'Mong th' fatted swine of Epicurus's sty.

This poet (I say) gives this advice in one of his odes:--

     Short Folly with your counsels mix.

[Illustration: Short 340]

The epithet of short, it is true, is a little improper. The same poet
again has this passage elsewhere:--

     Well-timed Folly has a sweet relish.

And in another place:--

     I'd rather much be censured for a fool,
     Than feel the lash and smart of wisdom' s school.

Homer praises Telemachus as much as any one of his heroes, and yet he
gives him the epithet of Nuttios, _Silly_: and the Grecians generally
use the same word to express children, as a token of their innocence.
And what is the argument of all Homer's Iliads, but only, as Horace

     They kings and subjects dotages contain?

How positive also is Tully's commendation that all places are filled
with fools? Now every excellence being to be measured by its extent, the
goodness of folly must be of as large compass as those universal places
she reaches to. But perhaps christians may slight the authority of a
heathen. I could therefore, if I pleased, back and confirm the truth
hereof by the citations of several texts of scripture; though herein.
it were perhaps my duty to beg leave of the divines, that I might so far
intrench upon their prerogative. Supposing a grant, the task seems so
difficult as to require the invocation of some aid and assistance; yet
because it is unreasonable to put the muses to the trouble and expense
of so tedious a journey, especially since the business is out of
their sphere, I shall choose rather (while I am acting the divine, and
venturing in their polemic difficulties), to wish myself for such time
animated with Scotus, his bristling and prickly soul, which I would not
care how afterwards it returned to his body, though for refinement it
were stopped at a purgatory by the way. I cannot but wish that I might
wholly change my character, or at least that some grave divine, in
my stead, might rehearse this part of the subject for me; for truly I
suspect that somebody will accuse me of plundering the closets of those
reverend men, while I pretend to so much divinity, as must appear in my
following discourse. Yet however, it may not seem strange, that after
so long and frequent a converse, I have gleaned some scraps from the
divines; since Horace's wooden god by hearing his master read Homer,
learned some words of Greek; and Lucian's cock, by long attention, could
readily understand what any man spoke. But now to the purpose, wishing
myself success.

[Illustration: 344]

Ecclesiastes doth somewhere confess that there are an infinite number of
fools. Now when he speaks of an infinite number, what does he else but
imply, that herein is included the whole race of mankind, except some
very few, which I know not whether ever any one had yet the happiness to

The prophet Jeremiah speaks yet more plainly in his tenth chapter, where
he saith, that _Every man is brutish in his knowledge_. He just before
attributes wisdom to God alone, saying, that the _Wise men of the
nations are altogether brutish and foolish_. And in the preceding
chapter he gives this seasonable caution, _Let not the wise man glory
in his wisdom_: the reason is obvious, because no man hath truly any
whereof to glory. But to return to Ecclesiastes, when he saith, _Vanity
of vanities, all is vanity_, what else can we imagine his meaning to
be, than that our whole life is nothing but one continued interlude of
Folly? This confirms that assertion of Tully, which is delivered in that
noted passage we but just now mentioned, namely, that _All places swarm
with fools_. Farther, what does the son of Sirach mean when he saith in
Ecclesiasticus, that the _Fool is changed as the moon_, while the
_Wise man is fixed as the sun_, than only to hint out the folly of all
mankind; and that the name of wise is due to no other but the all-wise
God? for all interpreters by Moon understand mankind, and by Sun that
fountain of all light, the Almighty. The same sense is implied in that
saying of our Saviour in the gospel, _There is none good but one, that
is God_: for if whoever is not wise must be consequently a fool, and if,
according to the Stoics, every man be wise so far only as he is good,
the meaning of the text must be, all mortals are unavoidably fools; and
there is none wise but one, that is God. Solomon also in the fifteenth
chapter of his proverbs hath this expression, _Folly is joy to him
that is destitute of wisdom_; plainly intimating, that the wise man is
attended with grief and vexation, while the foolish only roll in delight
and pleasure. To the same purpose is that saying of his in the first
chapter of Ecclesiastes, _In much wisdom is much grief; and he that
increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow_. Again, it is confessed by the
same preacher in the seventh chapter of the same book, _That the heart
of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in
the house of mirth_. This author himself had never attained to such a
portion of wisdom, if he had not applied himself to a searching out the
frailties and infirmities of human nature; as, if you believe not me,
may appear from his own words in his first chapter, _I gave my heart to
know wisdom, and to know madness and folly_; where it is worthy to be
observed that as to the order of words, Folly for its advantage is
put in the last place. Thus Ecclesiastes wrote, and thus indeed did an
ecclesiastical method require; namely, that what has the precedence in
dignity should come hindmost in rank and order, according to the tenor
of that evangelical precept, _The last shall be first, and the first
shall be last_. And in Ecclesiasticus likewise (whoever was author of
the holy book which bears that name) in the forty-fourth chapter, the
excellency of folly above wisdom is positively acknowledged; the very
words I shall not cite, till I have the advantage of an answer to a
question I am proposing, this way of interrogating being frequently made
use of by Plato in his dialogues between Socrates, and other disputants:
I ask you then, what is it we usually hoard and lock up, things of
greater esteem and value, or those which are more common, trite, and
despicable? Why are you so backward in making an answer? Since you are
so shy and reserved, I'll take the Greek proverb for a satisfactory
reply; namely, _Foul water is thrown down the sink_; which saying, that
no person may slight it, may be convenient to advertise that it comes
from no meaner an author than that oracle of truth, Aristotle himself.
And indeed there is no one on this side Bedlam so mad as to throw out
upon the dunghill his gold and jewels, but rather all persons have a
close repository to preserve them in, and secure them under all the
locks, bolts, and bars, that either art can contrive, or fears suggest:
whereas the dirt, pebbles, and oyster-shells, that lie scattered in the
streets, ye trample upon, pass by, and take no notice of.

[Illustration: 348]

If then what is more valuable be coffered up, and what less so lies
unregarded, it follows, that accordingly Folly should meet with a
greater esteem than wisdom, because that wise author advises us to the
keeping close and concealing the first, and exposing or laying open the
other: as take him now in his own words, _Better is he that hideth his
folly than him that hideth his wisdom_. Beside, the sacred text does oft
ascribe innocence and sincerity to fools, while the wise man is apt to
be a haughty scorner of all such as he thinks or censures to have less
wit than himself: for so I understand that passage in the tenth chapter
of Ecclesiastes, _When he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom
faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool._ Now what
greater argument of candour or ingenuity can there be, than to demean
himself equal with all others, and not think their deserts any way
inferior to his own. Folly is no such scandalous attribute, but that
the wise Agur was not ashamed to confess it, in the thirtieth chapter
of Proverbs: _Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the
understanding of a man_, Nay, St. Paul himself, that great doctor of the
Gentiles, writing to his Corinthians, readily owns the name, saying, _If
any man speak as a fool, I am more_; as if to have been less so had
been a reproach and disgrace. But perhaps I may be censured for
misinterpreting this text by some modern annotators, who like crows
pecking at one another's eyes, find fault, and correct all that went
before them, pretend each their own glosses to contain the only true and
genuine explication; among whom my Erasmus (whom I cannot but mention
with respect) may challenge the second place, if not the precedency.
This citation (say they) is purely impertinent; the meaning of the
apostle is far different from what you dream of: he would not have these
words so understood, as if he desired to be thought a greater fool
than the rest, but only when he had before said, _Are they ministers of
Christ? so am I_: as if the equalling himself herein to others had been
too little, he adds, _I am more_, thinking a bare equality not enough,
unless he were even superior to those he compares himself with. This
he would have to be believed as true; yet lest it might be thought
offensive, as bordering too much on arrogance and conceit, he tempers
and alleviates it by the covert of Folly. _I speak_ (says he) _as a
fool_, knowing it to be the peculiar privilege of fools to speak the
truth, without giving offence. But what St. Paul's thoughts were when he
wrote this, I leave for them to determine. In my own judgment at least
I prefer the opinion of the good old tun-bellied divines, with whom
it's safer and more creditable to err, than to be in the right with
smattering, raw, novices.

[Illustration: 352]

[Illustration: 356]

Nor indeed should any one mind the late critics any more than the
senseless chattering of a daw: especially since one of the most eminent
of them (whose name I advisedly conceal, lest some of our wits should
be taunting him with the Greek proverb, magisterially and dogmatically
descanting upon his text [_are they the ministers of Christ?_ ]) I speak
as a fool. I am more makes a distinct chapter, and (which without good
store of logic he could never have done) adds a new section, and then
gives this paraphrase, which I shall verbatim recite, that you may have
his words materially, as well as formally his sense (for that's one
of their babbling distinctions). [_I speak as a fool_] that is, if the
equalling myself to those false apostles would have been construed as
the vaunt of a fool, I will willingly be accounted a greater fool, by
taking place of them, and openly pleading, that as to their ministry, I
not only come up even with them, but outstrip and go beyond them: though
this same commentator a little after, as it were forgetting what he had
just before delivered, tacks about and shifts to another interpretation.

But why do I insist upon any one particular example, when in general
it is the public charter of all divines, to mould and bend the sacred
oracles till they comply with their own fancy, spreading them (as Heaven
by its Creator) like a curtain, closing together, or drawing them back,
as they please? Thus indeed St. Paul himself minces and mangles some
citations he makes use of, and seems to wrest them to a different sense
from what they were first intended for, as is confessed by the great
linguist, St. Hierom.

Thus when that apostle saw at Athens the inscription of an altar, he
draws from it an argument for the proof of the christian religion; but
leaving out great part of the sentence, which perhaps if fully recited
might have prejudiced his cause, he mentions only the two last words
viz., _To the unknown God_; and this too not without alteration, for the
whole inscription runs thus: _To the Gods of Asia, Europe, and Africa,
to all foreign and unknown Gods_.

[Illustration: 360]

'Tis an imitation of the same pattern, I will warrant you, that our
young divines, by leaving out four or five words in a place, and putting
a false construction on the rest, can make any passage serviceable to
their own purpose; though from the coherence of what went before, or
follows after, the genuine meaning appears to be either wide enough, or
perhaps quite contradictory to what they would thrust and impose upon
it. In which knack the divines are grown now so expert, that the lawyers
themselves begin to be jealous of an encroachment upon what was formerly
their sole privilege and practice. And indeed what can they despair of
proving, since the fore-mentioned commentator (I had almost blundered
out his name), but that I am restrained by fear of the same Greek
proverbial sarcasm) did upon a text of St. Luke put an interpretation,
no more agreeable to the meaning of the place, than one contrary quality
is to another? The passage is this, when Judas's treachery was preparing
to be executed, and accordingly it seemed requisite that all the
disciples should be provided to guard and secure their assaulted master,
our Saviour, that he might piously caution them against reliance for
his delivery on any worldly strength, asks them, whether in all their
embassy they lacked anything, when he had sent them out so unfurnished
for the performance of a long journey, that they had not so much as
shoes to defend their feet from the injuries of flints and thorns, or
a scrip to carry a meal's meat in; and when they had answered that they
lacked nothing, he adds, _But now he that hath a purse let him take
it, and likewise a scrip; and he that hath no sword let him sell his
garment, and buy one_. Now when the whole doctrine of our Saviour
inculcates nothing more frequently than meekness, patience, and a
contempt of this world, is it not plain what the meaning of the place
is? Namely, that he might now dismiss his ambassadors in a more naked,
defenceless condition, he does not only advise them to take no thought
for shoes or scrip, but even commands them to part with the very clothes
from their back, that so they might have the less incumbrance and
entanglement in the going through their office and function. He cautions
them, it is true, to. be furnished with a sword, yet not such a carnal
one as rogues and highwaymen make use of for murder and bloodshed,
but with the sword of the Spirit, which pierces through the heart, and
searches out the innermost retirements of the soul, lopping off all our
lust, and corrupt affections, and leaving nothing in possession of our
breast but piety, zeal, and devotion: this (I say) in my opinion is the
most natural interpretation.

[Illustration: 364]

But see how that divine misunderstands the place; by sword (says he)
is meant, defence against persecution; by scrip, or purse, a sufficient
quantity of provision; as if Christ had, by considering better of it,
changed his mind in reference to that mean equipage, which he had before
sent his disciples in, and therefore came now to a recantation of what
he had formerly instituted: or as if he had forgot what in time past he
had told them, _Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and persecute
you, and say all manner of evil against you for my sake. Render not evil
for evil, for blessed are the meek_, not the cruel: as if he had forgot
that he encouraged them by the examples of sparrows and lilies to take
no thought for the morrow; he gives them now another lesson, and charges
them, rather than go _without a sword, to sell their garment, and
buy one_; as if the going cold and naked were more excusable than
the marching unarmed. And as this author thinks all means which are
requisite for the prevention or retaliation of injuries to be implied
under the name of sword, so under that of scrip, he would have
everything to be comprehended, which either the necessity or conveniency
of life requires.

Thus does this provident commentator furnish out the disciples with
halberts, spears, and guns, for the enterprise of preaching Christ
crucified; he supplies them at the same time with pockets, bags, and
portmanteaus, that they might carry their cupboards as well as their
bellies always about them: he takes no notice how our Saviour afterwards
rebukes Peter for drawing that sword which he had just before so
strictly charged him to buy; nor that it is ever recorded that the
primitive Christians did by no ways withstand their heathen persecutors
otherwise than with tears and prayers, which they would have exchanged
more effectually for swords and bucklers, if they had thought this text
would have borne them out.

There is another, and he of no mean credit, whom for respect to his
person I shall forbear to name, who commenting upon that verse in the
prophet Habakkuk (_I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction, and the
curtains of the land of Midian did tremble_), because tents were
sometimes made of skins, he pretended that the word tents did here
signify the skin of St. Bartholomew, who was flayed for a martyr.

I myself was lately at a divinity disputation (where I very often pay my
attendance), where one of the opponents demanded a reason why it should
be thought more proper to silence all heretics by sword and faggot,
rather than convert them by moderate and sober arguments? A certain
cynical old blade, who bore the character of a divine, legible in the
frowns and wrinkles of his face, not without a great deal of disdain
answered, that it was the express injunction of St. Paul himself, in
those directions to Titus (_A man that is an heretic, after the first
and second admonition, reject_), quoting it in Latin, where the word
_reject_ is _devita_, while all the auditory wondered at this citation,
and deemed it no way applicable to his purpose; he at last explained
himself, saying, that _devita_ signified _de vita tollendum hereticum_,
a heretic must be slain. Some smiled at his ignorance, but others
approved of it as an orthodox comment And however some disliked that
such violence should be done to so easy a text, our hair-splitting and
irrefragable doctor went on in triumph. To prove it yet (says he) more
undeniably, it is commanded in the old law [_Thou shalt not suffer a
witch to live_]: now then every _Maleficus_, or witch, is to be killed,
but an heretic is _Maleficus_, which in the Latin translation is put for
a witch, _ergo, &c_. All that were present wondered at the ingenuity of
the person, and very devoudy embraced his opinion, never dreaming that
the law was restrained only to magicians, sorcerers, and enchanters:
for otherwise, if the word _Maleficus_ signified what it most naturally
implies, every evil-doer, then drunkenness and whoredom were to meet
with the same capital punishment as witchcraft But why should I squander
away my time in a too tedious prosecution of this topic, which if drove
on to the utmost would afford talk to eternity? I aim herein at no more
than this, namely, that since those grave doctors take such a swinging
range and latitude, I, who am but a smattering novice in divinity, may
have the larger allowance for any slips or mistakes.

[Illustration: 370]

Now therefore I return to St. Paul, who uses these expressions [_Ye
suffer fools gladly_] applying it to himself; and again [_As a fool
receive me_], and [_That which I speak, I speak not after the Lord, but
as it were foolishly_]; and in another place [_We are fools for Christ's
sake_]. See how these commendations of Folly are equal to the author of
them, both great and sacred. The same holy person does yet enjoin and
command the being a fool, as a virtue of all others most requisite and
necessary: for, says he [_If any man seem to be wise in this world, let
him become a fool that he may be wise_]. Thus St. Luke records, how
our Saviour, after his resurrection, joining himself with two of his
disciples travelling to Emmaus, at his first salutation he calls them
fools, saying [_O fools, and slow of heart to believe_], Nor may this
seem strange in comparison to what is yet farther delivered by St. Paul,
who adventures to attribute something of Folly even to the all-wise God
himself [_The foolishness of God_ (says he) _is wiser than men_];
in which text St. Origen would not have the word foolishness any way
referred to men, or applicable to the same sense, wherein is to be
understood that other passage of St. Paul [_The preaching of the cross
to them that perish, foolishness_]. But why do I put myself to the
trouble of citing so many proofs, since this one may suffice for all,
namely, that in those mystical psalms wherein David represents the
type of Christ, it is there acknowledged by our Saviour, in way of
confession, that even he himself was guilty of Folly; _Thou_ (says he)
_O God knowest my foolishness?_ Nor is it without some reason that
fools for their plainness and sincerity of heart have always been
most acceptable to God Almighty. For as the princes of this world
have shrewdly suspected, and carried a jealous eye over such of their
subjects as were the most observant, and deepest politicians (for thus
Caesar was afraid of the plodding Cassius, and Brutus, thinking
himself secure enough from the careless drinking Anthony; Nero likewise
mistrusted Seneca, and Dionysius would have been willingly rid of
Plato), whereas they can all put greater confidence in such as are of
less subtlety and contrivance So our Saviour in like manner dislikes
and condemns the wise and crafty, as St. Paul does expressly declare
in these words, _God hath chosen the foolish things of the world_; and
again, _it pleased God by foolishness to save the world_; implying that
by wisdom it could never have been saved. Nay, God himself testifies
as much when he speaks by the mouth of his prophet, _I will destroy
the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nought the understanding of the
learned_. Again, our Saviour does solemnly return his Father thanks
for that he had _hidden the mysteries of salvation from the wise,
and revealed them to babes_, i.e., to fools; for the original word
_vnpriois_, being opposed to _oooois_ if one signify wise, the other
must foolish. To the same purpose did our blessed Lord frequently
condemn and upbraid the scribes, pharisees, and lawyers, while he
carries himself kind and obliging to the unlearned multitude: for what
otherwise can be the meaning of that tart denunciation, _Woe unto you
scribes and pharisees_, than woe unto you wise men, whereas he seems
chiefly delighted with children, women, and illiterate fishermen.

We may farther take notice, that among all the several kinds of brute
creatures he shews greatest liking to such as are farthest distant from
the subtlety of the fox. Thus in his progress to Jerusalem he chose to
ride sitting upon an ass, though, if he pleased, he might have mounted
the back of a lion with more of state, and as little of danger. The Holy
Spirit chose rather likewise to descend from heaven in the shape of a
simple gall-less dove, than that of an eagle, kite, or other more lofty

Thus all along in the holy scriptures there are frequent metaphors and
similitudes of the most inoffensive creatures, such as stags, hinds,
lambs, and the like. Nay, those blessed souls that in the day of
judgment are to be placed at our Saviour's right hand are called sheep,
which are the most senseless and stupid of all cattle, as is evidenced
by Aristotle's Greek proverb, a sheepishness of temper, a dull,
blockish, sleepy, unmanly humour. Yet of such a flock Christ is not
ashamed to profess himself the shepherd. Nay, he would not only have all
his proselytes termed sheep, but even he himself would be called a lamb;
as when John the Baptist seeth Jesus coming unto him, he saith, _Behold
the Lamb of God_; which same title is very often given to our Saviour in
the apocalypse.

All this amounts to no less than that all mortal men are fools, even the
righteous and godly as well as sinners; nay, in some sense our blessed
Lord himself, who, although he was the _wisdom of the Father_, yet
to repair the infirmities of fallen man, he became in some measure a
partaker of human Folly, when he _took our nature upon him, and was
found in fashion as a man_; or when _God made him to be sin for us, who
knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him_. Nor
would he heal those breaches our sins had made by any other method
than by the _foolishness of the cross_, published by the ignorant and
unlearned apostles, to whom he frequently recommends the excellence
of Folly, cautioning them against the infectiousness of wisdom, by the
several examples he proposes them to imitate, such as children, lilies,
sparrows, mustard, and such like beings, which are either wholly
inanimate, or at least devoid of reason and ingenuity, guided by
no other conduct than that of instinct, without care, trouble, or
contrivance. To the same intent the disciples were warned by their lord
and master, that when they should be _brought unto the synagogues, and
unto magistrates and powers_, they shall _take no thought how, or what
thing they should answer, nor what they should say_: they were again
strictly forbid to _enquire into the times and seasons_, or to place
any confidence in their own abilities, but to depend wholly upon divine

[Illustration: 378]

At the first peopling of paradise the Almighty had never laid so strict
a charge on our father Adam to refrain from _eating of the tree of
knowledge_ except he had thereby forewarned that the taste of knowledge
would be the bane of all happiness. St. Paul says expressly, that
_knowledge puffeth up, i.e._, it is fatal and poisonous. In pursuance
whereunto St. Bernard interprets that _exceeding high mountain_ whereon
the devil had erected his seat to have been the mountain of knowledge.
And perhaps this may be another argument which ought not to be omitted,
namely, that Folly is acceptable, at least excusable, with the gods,
inasmuch, as they easily pass by the heedless failures of fools, while
the miscarriages of such as are known to have more wit shall very hardly
obtain a pardon; nay, when a wise man comes to sue for an acquitment
from any guilt, he must shroud himself under the patronage and pretext
of Folly. For thus in the twelfth of Numbers Aaron entreats Moses to
stay the leprosy of his sister Miriam, saying, _alas, my Lord, I beseech
thee lay not the sin upon us wherein we have done foolishly_. Thus,
when David spared Saul's life, when he found him sleeping in a tent
of Hachilah, not willing to _stretch forth his hand against the Lord's
anointed, Saul excuses his former severity by confessing, _Behold, I
have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly_. David also himself in
much the same form begs the remission of his sin from God Almighty with
this prayer, _Lord, I pray thee take away the iniquity of thy servant,
for I have done very foolishly_; as if he could not have hoped otherwise
to have his pardon granted except he petitioned for it under the covert
and mitigation of Folly. The agreeable practice of our Saviour is
yet more convincing, who, when he hung upon the cross, prayed for his
enemies, saying, _Father, forgive them_, urging no other plea in their
behalf than that of their ignorance, _for they know not what they do_.
To the same effect St. Paul in his first epistle to Timothy acknowledges
he had been a blasphemer and a persecutor, _But (saith he) _I obtained
mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief_. Now what is the meaning
of the phrase [_I did it ignorantly_] but only this? My fault was
occasioned from a misinformed Folly, not from a deliberate malice. What
signifies [_I obtained mercy_] but only that I should not otherwise have
obtained it had not folly and ignorance been my vindication? To the same
purpose is that other passage in the mysterious Psalmist, which I forgot
to mention in its proper place, namely, _Oh remember not the sins and
offences of my youth!_ the word which we render offences, is in Latin
_ignorantias_, ignorances. Observe, the two things he alleges in his
excuse are, first, his rawness of age, to which Folly and want of
experience are constant attendants: and secondly, his ignorances,
expressed in the plural number for an enhancement and aggravation of his

But that I may not wear out this subject too far, to draw now towards a
conclusion, it is observable that the christian religion seems to have
some relation to Folly, and no alliance at all with wisdom. Of the truth
whereof, if you desire farther proof than my bare word you may please,
first, to consider, that children, women, old men, and fools, led as
it were by a secret impulse of nature, are always most constant in
repairing to church, and most zealous, devout and attentive in the
performance of the several parts of divine service; nay, the first
promulgators of the gospel, and the first converts to Christianity, were
men of plainness and simplicity, wholly unacquainted with secular policy
or learning.

Farther, there are none more silly, or nearer their wits' end, than
those who are too superstitiously religious: they are profusely lavish
in their charity; they invite fresh affronts by an easy forgiveness of
past injuries; they suffer themselves to be cheated and imposed upon by
laying claim to the innocence of the dove; they make it the interest of
no person to oblige them, because they will love, and _do good to their
enemies_, as much as to the most endearing friends; they banish all
pleasure, feeding upon the penance of watching, weeping, fasting, sorrow
and reproach; they value not their lives, but with St. Paul, _wish to be
dissolved_, and covet the fiery trial of martyrdom: in a word, they seem
altogether so destitute of common sense, that their soul seems already
separated from the dead and inactive body. And what else can we imagine
all this to be than downright madness? It is the less strange therefore
that at the feast of Pentecost the apostles should be thought drunk with
new wine; or that St. Paul was censured by Festus to have been beside

And since I have had the confidence to go thus far, I shall venture yet
a little forwarder, and be so bold as to say thus much more: all that
final happiness, which christians, through so many rubs and briars of
difficulties, contend for, is at last no better than a sort of folly
and madness. This, no question, will be thought extravagantly spoke; but
consider awhile, and deliberately state the case.

First, then, the christians so far agree with the Platonists as to
believe that the body is no better than a prison or dungeon for the
confinement of the soul. That therefore, while the soul is shackled
to the walls of flesh, her soaring wings are impeded, and all her
enlivening faculties clogged and fettered by the gross particles of
matter, so that she can neither freely range after, nor, when happily
overtook, can quietly contemplate her proper object of truth.

Farther, Plato defines philosophy to be the meditation of death, because
the one performs the same office with the other; namely, withdraws the
mind from all visible and corporeal objects; therefore while the soul
does patiently actuate the several organs and members of the body, so
long is a man accounted of a good and sound disposition; but when the
soul, weary of her confinement, struggles to break jail, and fly beyond
her cage of flesh and blood, then a man is censured at least for being
magotty and crack-brained; nay, if there be any defect in the external
organs it is then termed downright madness. And yet many times persons
thus affected shall have prophetic ecstacies of foretelling things to
come, shall in a rapture talk languages they never before learned, and
seem in all things actuated by somewhat divine and extraordinary; and
all this, no doubt, is only the effect of the soul's being more released
from its engagement to the body, whereby it can with less impediment
exert the energy of life and motion. From hence, no question, has sprung
an observation of like nature, confirmed now into a settled opinion,
that _some long experienced souls in the world, before their dislodging,
arrive to the height of prophetic spirits_.

[Illustration: 384]

If this disorder arise from an intemperance in religion, and too high a
strain of devotion, though it be of a somewhat differing sort, yet it is
so near akin to the former, that a great part of mankind apprehend it as
a mere madness; especially when persons of that superstitious humour
are so pragmatical and singular as to separate and live apart as it
were from all the world beside: so as they seem to have experienced
what Plato dreams to have happened between some, who, enclosed in a
dark cave, did only ruminate on the ideas and abstracted speculations
of entities; and one other of their company, who had got abroad into the
open light, and at his return tells them what a blind mistake they
had lain under; that he had seen the substance of what their dotage of
imagination reached only in shadow; that therefore he could not but pity
and condole their deluding dreams, while they on the other side no less
bewail his frenzy, and turn him out of their society for a lunatic and

Thus the vulgar are wholly taken up with those objects that are most
familiar to their senses, beyond which they are apt to think all is but
fairy-land; while those that are devoutly religious scorn to set their
thoughts or affections on any things below, but mount their soul to
the pursuit of incorporeal and invisible beings. The former, in their
marshalling the requisites of happiness, place riches in the front, the
endowments of the body in the next rank, and leave the accomplishments
of the soul to bring up the rear; nay, some will scarce believe there is
any such thing at all as the soul, because they cannot literally see a
reason of their faith; while the other pay their first fruits of service
to that most simple and incomprehensible Being, God, employ themselves
next in providing for the happiness of that which comes nearest to
their immortal soul, being not at all mindful of their corrupt bodily
carcases, and slighting money as the dirt and rubbish of the world; or
if at any time some urging occasions require them to become entangled
in secular affairs, they do it with regret, and a kind of ill-will,
observing what St. Paul advises his _Corinthians, having wives, and yet
being as though they had none; buying, and yet remaining as though they
possessed not_.

There are between these two sorts of persons many differences in several
other respects. As first, though all the senses have the same mutual
relation to the body, yet some are more gross than others; as those five
corporeal ones, of touching, hearing, smelling, seeing, tasting, whereas
some again are more refined, and less adulterated with matter; such are
the memory, the understanding, and the will. Now the mind will be always
most ready and expedite at that to which it is naturally most inclined.
Hence is it that a pious soul, employing all its power and abilities in
the pressing after such things as are farthest removed from sense, is
perfectly stupid and brutish in the management of any worldly affairs;
while on the other side, the vulgar are so intent upon their business
and employment, that they have not time to bestow one poor thought upon
a future eternity. From such ardour of divine meditation was it that
Saint Bernard in his study drank oil instead of wine, and yet his
thoughts were so taken up that he never observed the mistake.

Farther, among the passions of the soul, some have a greater
communication with the body than others; as lust, the desire of meat and
sleep, anger, pride, and envy; with these the pious man is in continual
war, and irreconcile-able enmity, while the vulgar cherish and foment
them as the best comforts of life.

There are other affections of a middle nature, common and innate to
every man; such are love to one's country, duty to parents, love to
children, kindness to friends, and such like; to these the vulgar pay
some respect, but the religious endeavour to supplant and eradicate from
their soul, except they can raise and sublimate them to the most refined
pitch of virtue; so as to love or honour their parents, not barely under
that character (for what did they do more than generate a body? nay,
even for that we are primarily beholden to God, the first parent of all
mankind), but as good men only, upon whom is imprinted the lively image
of that divine nature, which they esteem as the chief and only good,
beyond whom nothing deserves to be beloved, nothing desired.

By the same rule they measure all the other offices or duties of life;
in each of which, whatever is earthly and corporeal, shall, if not
wholly rejected, yet at least be put behind what faith makes the
_substance of things not seen_. Thus in the sacraments, and all other
acts of religion, they make a difference between the outward appearance
or body of them, and the more inward soul or spirit. As to instance, in
fasting, they think it very ineffectual to abstain from flesh, or debar
themselves of a meal's meat (which yet is all the vulgar understand by
his duty), unless they likewise restrain their passions, subdue their
anger, and mortify their pride; that the soul being thus disengaged
from the entanglement of the body, may have a better relish to spiritual
objects, and take an antepast of heaven. Thus (say they) in the holy
Eucharist, though the outward form and ceremonies are not wholly to be
despised, yet are these prejudicial, at least unprofitable, if as bare
signs only they are not accompanied with the thing signified, which is
_the body and blood of Christ_, whose death, till his second coming,
we are hereby to represent by the vanquishing and burying our vile
affections that they may arise to a newness of life, and be united first
to each other, then all to Christ.

These are the actions and meditations of the truly pious person; while
the vulgar place all their religion in crowding up close to the altar,
in listening to the words of the priest, and in being very circumspect
at the observance of each trifling ceremony. Nor is it in such cases
only as we have here given for instances, but through his whole course
of life, that the pious man, without any regard to the baser materials
of the body, spends himself wholly in a fixed intentness upon spiritual,
invisible, and eternal objects.

Now since these persons stand off, and keep at so wide a distance
between themselves, it is customary for them both to think each other
mad: and were I to give my opinion to which of the two the name does
most properly belong, I should, I confess, adjudge it to the religious;
of the reasonableness whereof you may be farther convinced if I proceed
to demonstrate what I formerly hinted at, namely, that that ultimate
happiness which religion proposes is no other than some sort of madness.

First, therefore, Plato dreamed somewhat of this nature when he tells
us that the madness of lovers was of all other dispositions of the body
most desirable; for he who is once thoroughly smitten with this passion,
lives no longer within himself, but has removed his soul to the same
place where he has settled his affections, and loses himself to find the
object he so much dotes upon: this straying now, and wandering of a
soul from its own mansion, what is it better than a plain transport of
madness? What else can be the meaning of those proverbial phrases, _non
est apua se_, he is not himself; _ad te redi_, recover yourself; and
_sibi redditus est_, he is come again to himself? And accordingly
as love is more hot and eager, so is the madness thence ensuing more
incurable, and yet more happy. Now what shall be that future happiness
of glorified saints, which pious souls here on earth so earnestly groan
for, but only that the spirit, as the more potent and prevalent victor,
shall over-master and swallow up the body; and that the more easily,
because while here below, the several members, by being mortified, and
kept in subjection, were the better prepared for this separating change;
and afterward the spirit itself shall be lost, and drowned in the abyss
of beatific vision, so as the whole man will be then perfectly beyond
all its own bounds, and be no otherwise happy than as transported
into ecstasy and wonder, it feels some unspeakable influence from
that omnipotent Being, which makes all things completely blessed, by
assimilating them to his own likeness. Now although this happiness be
then only consummated, when souls at the general resurrection shall be
re-united to their bodies, and both be clothed with immortality; yet
because a religious life is but a continued meditation upon, and as it
were a transcript of the joys of heaven, therefore to such persons there
is allowed some relish and foretaste of that pleasure here, which is
to be their reward hereafter. And although this indeed be but a small
pittance of satisfaction compared with that future inexhaustible
fountain of blessedness, yet does it abundantly over-balance all worldly
delights, were they all in conjunction set off to their best advantage;
so great is the precedency of spiritual things before corporeal, of
invisible before material and visible. This is what the apostle gives
an eloquent description of, where he says by way of encouragement, that
_eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of
man to conceive those things which God hath prepared for them that love

This likewise is that better part which Mary chose, which shall not be
taken from her, but perfected and completed by her mortal putting on

[Illustration: 397-398]

Now those who are thus devoutly affected (though few there are so),
undergo somewhat of strange alteration, which very nearly approaches to
madness; they speak many things at an abrupt and incoherent rate, as if
they were actuated by some possessing demon; they make an inarticulate
noise, without any distinguishable sense or meaning; they sometimes
screw and distort their faces to uncouth and antic looks; at one time
beyond measure cheerful, then as immoderately sullen; now sobbing, then
laughing, and soon after sighing, as if they were perfectly distracted,
and out of their senses. If they have any sober intervals of coming
to themselves again, like St. Paul they then confess, that _they were
caught up they know not where, whether in the body, or out of the body,
they cannot tell_; as if they had been in a dead sleep or trance, they
remember nothing of what they have heard, seen, said, or done: this they
only know, that their past delusion was a most desirable happiness; that
therefore they bewail nothing more than the loss of it, nor wish for
any greater joy than the quick return of it, and more durable abode
for ever. And this (as I have said) is the foretaste or anticipation of
future blessedness.

But I doubt I have forgot myself, and have already transgressed the
bounds of modesty. However, if I have said anything too confidently or
impertinently, be pleased to consider that it was spoke by Folly, and
that under the person of a woman; yet at the same time remember the
applicableness of that Greek proverb:--

     A fool oft speaks a seasonable truth.

Unless you will be so witty as to object that this makes no apology
for me, because the word _aunp_ signifies a man, not a woman, and
consequently my sex debars me from the benefit of that observation.

I perceive now, that, for a concluding treat, you expect a formal
epilogue, and the summing up of all in a brief recitation; but I will
assure you, you are grossly mistaken if you suppose that after such a
hodge-podge medley of speech I should be able to recollect anything I
have delivered. Beside, as it is an old proverb, _I hate a pot-companion
with a good memory_; so indeed I may as truly say, _I hate a hearer that
will carry any thing away with him_. Wherefore, in short:--

[Illustration: Tailpiece 401]

     Farewell! live long, drink deep, be jolly,
     Ye most illustrious votaries of folly!


     THERE'S ne'er a blade of honour in the town,
                      But if you chance to term him _fool_ and _clown_,
             Straight _satisfaction_ cries, and then with speed
     The time, the place, and rapier's length's decreed.
            Prodigious fops, I'll swear, which can't agree
             To be call'd what's their happiness to be:
                Blest _Idiots!_
     That in an humble sphere securely move,
     And there the sweets of a safe _dulness_ prove,
     Nor envy the proud heights of those who range above.
     _Folly_, sure friend of a misguided will,
     Affords a kind excuse for doing ill;
     And _Socrates_, that prudent, thinking tool,
     Had the gods lik'd him would have prov'd a _fool_.
     Methinks our author, when without a flaw,
     The graces of his mistress he does draw,
     Wishes (if _Metempsychosis_ be true,
     And souls do change their case, and act anew),
     In his next life he only might aspire
     To the few brains of some soft country squire,
     Whose head with such like rudiments is fraught,
     As in his youth his careful grannum taught.

     And now (dear friend) how shall we to thy brow
     Pay all those laurels which we justly owe?
     For thou fresh honours to the work dost bring,
     And to the theme: nor seems that pleasing thing,
     Which he so well in _Latin_ has express'd,
     Less comical in _English_ garments dress'd;
     Thy sentences are all so clearly wrought,
     And so exactly plac'd in every thought,
     That, which is more oblig'd we scarce can see
     The subject by thine author, or himself by thee.


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