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THE CORONA REGIA OF ISAAC CASAUBON, I. E., THE FRAGMENTS OF A CERTAIN GOLDEN PANEGYRIC OF HIS, WHICH HE HAD SKETCHED OUT FOR JAMES I, KING OF GREAT BRITAIN &c. AND DEFENDER OF THE FAITH,
DISCOVERED AMIDST THE NOTES OF THAT BLESSED MAN, COLLECTED AND PUBLISHED BY EUPHMORIO
PRINTED BY JOHN BILL AT THE ROYAL PRINTERY, LONDON
EUPHORMIO GREETS THE READER
INERVA would be little indebted to the famous shades of Isaac Casaubon, were not religion bound by an equal obligation. There has been no man of this age who more nobly disdained his reputation for learning so that he might serve the beings of heaven, or who found a happier patronage for his great undertakings. Now his posthumous glory as a man no less pious than learned consists in this, that, although he could have excelled in human subjects, he wished to seem more industrious in divine ones. The perversity of nearly all the world goes to show how rare this is: for while some men do battle over religion employing the heavy weaponry of learning, they reluctantly allow their minds to stoop to the service of the Muses, whereas others believe that their genius is being squandered on useless effort whenever they depart from these gardens and delights. Therefore few men return from theology to belles lettres, whereas many strive to ascend from belles lettres to theology, but with no happy result — it is that difficult to please our good divinity or, when it comes time to write, to be taken up by a prince or king. Casaubon owed his good fortune to James, that most illustrious monarch of Britain (the sun has never seen a greater): since he had reverence for the king’s example, thanks to James’ most kindly liberality he could be induced to engage in any field of learning you care to name. After that king undertook his divine task, that writing minister his royal one, this greatest enterprise of any age of the world began to be conducted with such great good fortune that now all Europe knows what virtues have made James worthy of heaven, and what sense of duty bound Casaubon to so great a sovereign. But, alas, a stroke of most dire misfortune cut short his most fair endeavors and took off that man, whom theology will never sufficiently mourn, nor will he be given back to us by all learning, Latin or Greek, or by a Church made new again after sixteen centuries.
2. What was to be hoped for is shown especially by the annals of refuted Old Man Time himself: his keen industry was attempting to put on its anvil all Christian antiquity, filthy from neglect and rusty thanks to the very perverse rituals of so many centuries. He could have removed whatever credulous opinion had introduced to humanity’s detriment. But, just as the whole smithy of the Cyclopes came to a halt in Vulcan’s absence, so all this devotion of his efforts ceased amidst the fumes and the fire, and no works have been left behind, naught but fragments. At one point half-wrought iron still requires a shape, and at another the splendor of gold, corrupted by fire and begrimed by soot, conceals its true worth. As I handled these sacred remains, I was confronted by a golden crown of great value, but still unfinished, most ingeniously designed by its artisan with twelve rays. Nothing could have been undertaken with greater care or subtler art, so that its author might be thought to have given his life for such a great work, since he attempted something beyond his powers.
3. I believe it worthwhile, without any great verbal disguise, to reveal a mystery most worthy of becoming public knowledge. After Isaac Casaubon arrived in Britain and made his entry on the royal stage of learning, he believed that a theologian’s first duty was to please the king, and to regard him as next to God and as the earthly head of the Church. Therefore he began to compose a panegyric filled with such great praises and setting James at the pinnacle of all the virtues, so that henceforth we could have no doubt of his divinity. Pliny did not thus extol his Trajan, although he was the best of men; nor Mamertinus his Julian, although the most learned of men; nor Maximilianus, although so Herculean. Those men said many fine things, but Casaubon uttered no falsehood. With his unconditional laudations he could both indulge his liking and satisfy the truth, although it is a very hard thing to praise everything without lapsing into flattery. Indeed, you might have have your doubts whether he was more eloquent for writing thus, or more fortunate for having such a great king to write about. Since he alone was sufficient to praise James, he bid all the other devotees of the Muses hold their silence. Genuine virtue was discernible only in James, and so the king should be painted by nobody else but an Apelles; royal majesty displayed its power in this king alone, therefore he was worthy of the bronze of a Polyclitus exclusively. A trifling subject will stimulate the art and exertion of other writers, but here in this work all things are great and their fragmentary condition does not diminish their worth. You can imagine, reader, how great an eloquence it must be which is not deficient even when reduced to its individual parts, what an abundance of full and effusive oratory there must be, when the free copiousness and indomitable surge of an ocean abounds even in these marshes and pools.
4. It was therefore my act of piety, inasmuch as I had come across this treasure, to gather together its parts, which were scattered among so many writings, and publish in their imperfection things which would have perished thanks to further damage. Gold melted down into rings and coins is nevertheless valuable, and a heap of such things goes to make a mighty mass. Posterity’s delight will be my concern. I shall print whatever remains of his notes, making a new edition out of this pleasant assembly of fragments. Indeed, nothing could flow from Casaubon’s golden pen not worth its weight in gems and worthy of the diligence of the curious reader, but, in order that his posthumous eloquence might satisfy the desires of living readers, it is necessary that it be endowed with a celestial aura. To this end, our blessed writer shaped his plan of writing so as use this special book to display his ardor to the king, and the king to all men. Prevented by fate from doing this in life, he will now do so in death, and bequeath to the world this token of eternity, which can easier be suppressed than hold its silence. But why is it strange for the dead to speak in England? I’ll tell you something more wonderful — our kings write. Farewell.
FRAGMENTS OF ISAAC CASAUBON’S CORONA REGIA,
I. E., OF THE PANEGYRIC WHICH HE INTENDED TO WRITE FOR THE KING OF BRITAIN
HE happiness and safety of nations and peoples are thought to repose in the king, in the same way that the physicians tell us that the proper health of the limbs depends on the head, and that this is the head’s function. Hence (as Justin writes), “originally the government of nations and tribes was in the hands of kings, whom it was not their flattery of the people, but their discretion, as commended by the prudent, that elevated to the height of this dignity.” Nor do we believe that the body is made for the advantage of the head, but rather the head for that of the body, and likewise that a king is given to people so that he would be their father and protector; that he would stay awake of nights, act, and fight for their benefit; that he should think that alone to be pleasurable which is associated with the public peace; and therefore that they who undertake this great task among mankind are possessed of great virtue, and that they who express God’s image on earth ought to endowed with great natural gifts and supported by the help of learning. But, just as it is not enough to be born a good man unless you show yourself such by your manner of life, so proper upbringing is wont to add much to a character predisposed to virtue, as if God wished the seeds of justice, clemency, and piety to depend on the one, but their fruit on the other. Nor, when one’s nature is depraved, does any less glory attach to the ability to conceal this behind a veil of probity and integrity. I am well aware that virtue is not to be found in all men, so that, if you cannot be so, you can at least be regarded as such by your subjects. It is royal to dissimulate and pretend, and also to speak of the best things while your mind, corrupted from the outset, takes delight in the worst. Just as the virtues exist, so do their images: and so, if justice displeases you, wear its mask so that you may be unjust without criticism; if you abhor clemency, you will hide behind its face so you may exercise your savagery with impunity; if you indulge in every manner of vice, you have the greatest need of a veil of piety so that you may appear most holy. It is truly wonderful how much turpitude and vice the profession of a peaceful and modest nature can manage to conceal, if a king shows himself highly devoted to learning (traditionally regarded as an instrument of virtue) and to religion, that bond of the realm. Both these jewels are able to hide the ulcers of a diseased mind, and kings will be able to work their harm on all men and on human law and yet be thought good men, to scorn God and yet be most sanctimonious. Those who know you, wonderful king, do not know you at all. There is no man alive who knows the inmost secrets of your mind, few who know the inner workings of your household, who are familiar with your idleness of days and your more than royal business of nights, which is more than pontifical. * * * I was admitted, and so why should I not whole admire and venerate you? Though the manners of my times be base and malign, let posterity know that I was not unaware of the virtues of our most vigorous King James.
6. When I first looked on Your Majesty’s sacred countenance with these eyes of mine, I confess that of a sudden all my mind was suddenly moved and transfigured, so that I do not hesitate to affirm as most true that which we hear from days of yore, that there is something of God in kings, but it shines forth most especially in yourself, after so many and such immense efforts of great men in our days and that of our fathers, because of the excellence and sanctity of reformed religion, when idle superstition has been banished. And indeed, as far as I am concerned, albeit I was born and raised in the doctrines of Puritanical piety by my father, a perfervid minister of the Church, and confirmed in them by the erudite Theodore Beza and lengthy usage, after I came to this kingdom (which was another world) I willingly submitted the government of my faith and intellect to your religious and right learned Majesty, thanks to a divine admonition (if I am not mistaken) given me at that very moment in time, that the utterances of kings are far holier than whatever men of the common run (to say no worse about them than that) may teach or reform in God’s Church. I perceived the splendor of the Saints in your eyes, the spirit of Jesus Christ in your words, and all that is rare in divine in your gesture and carriage. I saw a sovereign and I marveled at this teacher of sovereigns and peoples; I beheld a king, and venerated a prophet; I observed some new Solomon sitting on a golden throne, and I perceived God’s familiar, Moses the lawgiver, crowned with divinity. You were sitting, armed with a book and a pen, and, whereas other kings wear a crown or a tiara, you could have rightly and deservedly claimed for yourself the insignia and ornament customarily worn in our time by a right excellent Doctor, so I could have entertained doubts whether I had entered a court or a school, a palace or an academy. Astonished by this unaccustomed and wholly wonderful spectacle, my mind and my tongue failed me, so that I not unreasonably feared lest you would find the mind in my poor body wanting and I would strike you as unfit for your service, thus was I reduced to helplessness.
7. Nevertheless, returning to myself somewhat, or rather receding farther from myself (and let this be said to your praise, right wise king), after I heard a word spoken in Latin I took on another self, another nature, and nearly another confidence. since I thought it a great sin and sacrilege not to have sense, and certainly to fail to speak in the presence of the intellect of a sovereign so well instructed, and ever so fit for instructing others. Added to this was the sacred, ancestral liberality of your great erudition, by which I was advised that I should not devote any effort to grammar, criticism, or any manner of profane studies, but rather to the Church and to its royal head, and that all the passages I have scrutinized, corrected and annotated, all the formulae of Latinity, all the various readings, all the fund of lections, and all the storehouses of my polymathy were now bought, dedicated, and indentured to your service. Nor was the money for my largesse to be paid out of the royal treasury or some profane coffer, rather it was to be had from Church tax and priestly income, which was far more religious, so that by this scheme nothing would be subtracted from royal resources, and yet Your Majesty might be generous, since stipends so piously invented and religiously assigned would make men say, right from the outset, that there was something sacred in me, and that you are the true Defender of the Faith, a prudent manager of your affairs, and a sacred dispenser. And so in this very honorarium I discovered my duty, and likewise your command, which encouraged me to write canonically and theologically.
8. At length, motivated by these urgings, I attempted to write about more than I had ever learned; indeed, so that I would be ready for all things, I began to be, and to be regarded as, a theologian, something I had never practiced. And so my transition from grammar to theology, which would otherwise have been an impossible, was made without any further effort or passage of time. But to please the king is to be able to do anything; to be pious is to do whatever he commands; and his favor is the equivalent of consummate learning. And so I wrote, right learned King James, but I wrote things that could be yours, were my name not on the title page. First (since was compliant in all my literary duties) at your command I wrote a letter to the Jesuit Fronton du Duc, in which I so reduced the boundless power of the Pope of Rome that henceforth all sovereigns might be armed against his bloodthirsty threats, scorning his intolerable arrogance as being rejected and condemned by law both divine and human. And although I know not what devil, and some devilish men) driven by their petulant arrogance as if by the Furies of Hell, sought to chew at me and wound me, they accomplished nothing else but to show the malice of their character and the madness of their pens; than to display their envy of my intellect in matters of faith, my skill in the secrets of Scripture, and my industry in the study of sacred matters, which they nevertheless could have tolerated, did they not now fear my intellect, inspired and illuminated by the influence of your wonderful generosity. Meanwhile I showed that, no matter what storm the Devil might stir up, no matter what all those fools might exclaim, none of the threats and thunderbolts, none of the disdain and almightiness of Capitoline Jove has any power against you, and that you are the author and artisan of peace and concord, he of disturbances and seditions. And finally I demonstrated that those pestilent missionaries sent from the brothels of the Jesuits against the order of the Church of England, renewed and cleansed after so many centuries, are worthy both of my pen and your wrath (I mean of your justice), and that they are deservedly rent apart, racked, and dismissed from this life by the sword, the noose, and the other contraptions of savagery, and that those of your subjects who openly or secretly support that nefarious breed of men can equally be condemned for treason. * * * Your opinion of my Exercises against Baronius are public knowledge; and yet I shall not deny that something could have been written that was more grave, more careful, and more erudite, especially since the subject did not concern words or minute scholarly notes, but about the truth of most consequential matters.
* * *
9. And, besides the fact that as a critic I regarded your learning with particular affection and admiration, as I did as a grammarian your theology, and as a man who spends his all his time indoors your life (so well suited for a school), I was seized by a certain innate sympathy and, because of some similarity (if it is permissible), I compared myself to you. For it has been observed that no small sense of kinship springs up and grows between those who devote themselves to the pen and whose name is on men’s lips because of the published monuments of their genius. I have thus far done so to the best of my ability, whereas you have now so industriously published several books, with the result that you appear to have surpassed all my industry with your choice of subjects, and that so earnestly that you esteem your pen more than your crown: setting aside the personage of a sovereign, you assume that of a writer, attesting that it seems to you a far finer thing to be great and famous thanks to one’s talent than because of fortune. I was moved, moreover, by a certain rumor (and perhaps not an empty one), which spoke of a lot in life not unalike for the both of us, but nevertheless one that was fine in its origin, a thing which is pleasant for me to recall, and which will likewise strike you as a pious thing. And so let your kindness permit me to speak of myself first, right religious king, that I might pave the way from lesser things to greater. I imagine there is no man unaware of my excellent father Arnauld Casaubon, a man I once took down from the gallows with my pious pen, and freed from that most foul noose in which he was choking, giving him back his innocence and proven integrity in the eyes of all men, and I shall not fear to celebrate him with eternal and all but royal praise. I demonstrated what a son owes to his father, and how the most perverse of rumors can be overcome by industry. Now I continue onward with this act of piety, and am lauding to heaven that man whom they had suspended in mid-air so they might despoil him of his peace. *
10. …nor should it be allowed to obtain this? But let these villains be present and manufacture new slanders, a means has been discovered to compel them to hold their peace; let as many buffoons as exist in this world be present, let them all become butchers, I shall rescue my origin from their clutches and their cruelty. * *
11. He often confronted great dangers, but glorious ones, since they were of the kind that were common to all men inspired by piety towards God and desirous that the depravities of the Roman Church to be reformed. Therefore, since he was a minister of rare probity and prudence…who, when he thought his position to be a profane one if he were a bachelor, married Jeanne Rousseau, a woman of very steadfast piety, not without…when (in addition to other children) he had harvested me from such a goodly and pleasant garden, which he vigorously cultivated for nearly thirty years, he painstakingly raised me so that I would be fit and useful for the Church and worthy of the friendship and company of kings. As far as that matter was concerned, I do not accuse my fortune. For thus I was thus treated in France by the most Christian King Henri that I was able to enjoy happy and prosperous leisure. Whatever could proceed from his kindness and benevolence flowed to me, and whatever the sovereign did was imitated by all their grandees and leading men, and also by their prelates. Those very men whom for your sake I subsequently called scourges, seditious, evil, rabid parricides, embraced me so fairly, so readily favored my studies, so earnestly fostered the king’s affection for me, that I found them truly to be fathers, wholly learned, and unfeignedly my friends, and (first and foremost) most earnest champions of the king’s welfare and dignity, and tireless conservators of peace and public concord. I am compelled to say that, overcome in part by so many kindnesses of the king, and partly of those who toiled on the king’s behalf, I could scarce refrain from altering my opinion concerning religion and going over to the side of the Papists. Nor was there more eager helps whereby I could spread to Italy and Spain the reputation I had gained for my literary pursuits, or to fulfil my hopes of gaining some public professorship in those parts (which, besides being a great ornament to my studies, as well as a source of profit, would have been useful for cultivating my expertise in Latin eloquence, in which I was not very experienced, except incidentally, in my Genevan profession). Altogether, it was that worthwhile for me to worship God according to another rite (albeit with no less wholeheartedness), so that in such a great tempest of events and religions I might avoid the shipwreck of my name and reputation. It was likewise worthwhile to acquire facility of expression in some noble professorship of letters, after all my industry and attention had been lavished on the reading, annotation and comparison of Latin and Greek authors.
12. Thus, great God help me, I was now coming close to conversion, and now the right honorable Cardinal du Perron and no few others whose learning I admired and whose authority I revered, were lending me a helping hand, and this ambition would have been brought to completion, had not the death of Henri le Grand occurred at that very time. And that death, although fatal and grievous to all France, was so salubrious for me that I do not know whether I had greater grounds for grieving or for rejoicing. For, orphaned and wholly destitute of my livelihood and that very substantial source of patronage, since my mind had now grown so accustomed to the habits of a courtier that I could not exist without a king, I thought about changing my region rather than my religion: it occurred to me that you are unique among all kings for supporting talents, for encouraging studies, for yourself pursue that by which most of us scholars earn our livelihood, as if you think it no less fine a thing to be learned than great, no less fine to be a professor than a king, to be a teacher than to be James. And you have done this with such cultivation of mind, and with an elegance that observes the Golden Mean, that you have no reason to fear Fortune, which governs all things. For if (God forbid!) Fortune should be unkind to you, and should cast you out of her lap, where you softly sit writing, with great steadfastness of mind, you could pass from the scepter to the schoolmaster’s rod, after the example of the tyrant Dionysius, who inherited the government of the Syracusans and nearly all of Sicily and was the master of the greatest wealth, but was soon compelled to abandon his great happiness and taught schoolboys their ABC’s at Corinth. By this great change, whereby he was transformed from a tyrant into a schoolmaster, he has taught us that no man should place his trust in Fortune overmuch. Yet he was blessed in this, that, when he and his rule were, as it were, put in the shade, he governed pupils rather than peoples. And, as I started to say, I began to regard everything in suspicion when I was in France after the great king’s foul assassination, and imagined that a new slaughter was hanging over the necks of all good men who thought aright concerning religion, I had before my eyes only yourself, I thought of you alone. In my imagination I hastened to you, as from the sea to a harbor, from a storm to a calm, from danger to asylum, from fear to a sure resting-place — in short, from Henri to James. Thus I seemed to be safe and able to regain that royal friendship and company to which I had grown accustomed.
13. But I was above all impelled by that wonderful sympathy about which I shall now hasten to speak, lest I abandon the thread of my speech as I am diverted by various pleasantries. For this too needs to be shown, how my condition is not unlike your own. Which I shall do, right learned king, and I shall do so to your honor, if you allow me briefly to recall things not known by all men, and which contain no little grounds for praise, if it is true (as I believe, and as you yourself ought to concede) that the origin of kings is not to be sought in their bloodlines, but rather in their piety. And so those who have known you from the cradle are aware that you are king by divine rather than human agency, that your kingship has been accepted but not bequeathed, and perhaps was accepted even prior to your birth. For, just as if Mary Queen of Scots, who is reputed to have been your mother, were unworthy to give birth to a sovereign, they say she was deceived. The babe could not be killed in the womb by Puritans, but after its birth it could be switched and replaced by the son of a minister of the divine Word, could someday conjoin his father’s nature with the scepter, and could be pious, learned, and concerned for God’s Kirk. And so, with Mary’s son taken away and, as it were, disowned by God, you, right blessed king, were placed in the royal swaddling-clothes and cradle, and commenced being the son of Mary, from whom you were not born, to the end that, if needs be, you could neglect her, hate her, and even kill her, since no law or bond of nature bound you to her. Ands after our reformed God refused to allow a king to be born of a Stuart, the Fates seem to me to have entertained doubts whether James could be born of Mary, as Hercules was born of Alcmena or Alexander of Olympias. But there was need of another Jove or Ammon to commit this act of adultery on earth. This matter, too, was considered by the Kirk, nor was it thought difficult, on the grounds that kings could be procreated as easily as ministers fell in love. For this was the job of Venus, and pleasure could easily make its way. Such gods have indeed passed out of fashion, but the vices remained; their names are mocked, but their examples are followed. And so it was possible for the part of Jove to be played by some minister of the divine Word, that of Ammon by some behorned fellow or other. It was necessary to pass from mythology to Gospel truth, from the vanity of errors to the Holy Spirit.
14. But what should I say, right sweet King? Mary was frigid, being superstitious, she had none of your graces or your nature. She was so far removed from the condition of an Alcmena or an Olympias that she could not be deceived, she was not willing to be corrupted, and thought everything unclean to be impious. What do you think? My view is that, since she wished to be chaste, she was unaware that she was a queen. Loving her husband as much as the religion to which she was addicted, she deserved to be impregnated only by her Stewart and produce a son who would not succeed to the throne and and who, brought to light, would soon cease being deemed her son. So what was done? This which I am telling. Right fortunate king, unless everything deceives me you were suppositious, and when once you had been brought to life, you seemed to have been born a second time, but with a greater fortune; indeed to you seem to have this similarity to mythology’s twice-born Bacchus or Bimater. Oh the singular gift and kindness of God! Oh the truly wonderful miracle! Thus you were intended to born to be a king and likewise a defender of the Church, enjoying such an origin that you could have an equal care for religion and the kingdom. The lineaments of your countenance insinuate I know not what, but they possess nothing of Mary’s manners. And your written works are so rare and divine that they could not be written by anybody but the Kirk or a son of the Kirk. Therefore, no matter what others may say, it is more glorious to owe your name to a minister than to a royal father, albeit Fortune adds royal dignity to your origins. And if there be something of obscurity in your birth, nothing in your origin prevents you from being rendered illustrious by your doctrine and piety, but rather, like a shadow adhering to your image, it makes the brightness of your felicity shine forth all the more. For to rise from a humble and wholly unknown beginning to royal power and the scepter of the British, this is something we all admire and, since it has not been achieved without divine intervention, we praise it with great fervor of mind.
15. Thus, just as you have been brought to this pinnacle by divine aid, so all your writings, your actions, your undertaking, your enterprises are divine, so that that you seem entirely to surpass all the sovereigns and princes of Europe. Let them govern, you also teach. Let each of them have his kingdom, you also have your Church. They are subordinate to the Pope and the vicar of Christ, you yourself act the pontiff and vicar of Christ, obliged to no man, suspect to no man, slave to no man but yourself. Wherefore, just as antiquity found it great and admirable that King Telephanes of Lydia had been an apprentice in a smithy, that Agathocles of Sicily had been born to a potter, in Servius of Rome, who had been a slave, and similarly with others, this all posterity will admire in yourself, that you have been transformed from a minister’s son into a king. Diogenes once called Alexander, by whom he was being visited, an intruder, and when he realized that the king took his freedom of speech amiss, he added, “I know not whether you were born of Philip, or of a snake, or Ammon, or some one or other of gods, men, or beasts.” This saying did not appear to come from a barrel, but rather from Apollo’s tripod, and was welcome to Alexander, since it indicated his divinity. And so he both loved and esteemed Diogenes, thinking it a finer thing to be praised by a Cynic than fathered by a king, and he could do without his father Philip, since he thought he was believed to be born of Jove. And I apply this example to you, indomitable James, I venture to compare you with Alexander as being most famous. For if someone should simply call you suppositious, at first sight you would regard this as an insult. Should someone call you the son of a minister for the sake of honor, nothing greater could be attributed to a royal pontiff. Thus divinity is conjoined with humanity, nor can you boast of your pontificate because you are a king, but rather because you are the son of a minister, because (and this is the greatest point) you possess this by your nature and it is simultaneously an inheritance, and less importance should be placed on the work of fickle Fortune.
16. I cannot help but add the memorable deed of Amasis, King of Egypt. He, acting out of clever piety (or should I say impiety), demonstrated to his subjects that his scepter was not besmirched by the humbleness of his birth. For, since he could not defend his majesty from reproaches against his breeding, and was openly held in contempt, he caused a statue of Jove to be made out of a golden vessel he kept for shameful and foul purposes, and when it was made he placed it in the most conspicuous place in his city and publicly dedicated it. There was nobody who did not consider such distinguished metal worthy of his singular piety. But Amasis, praising the reverence of the citizenry, indicated that his standing ought to be calculated after its example: the statue was made out of something into which the Egyptians were wont to vomit, piss, and discharge other yet more disgusting things, and he himself was of base origin like the vessel but, distinguished by his crown, and also enhanced in dignity, he resembled the statue, and in his reign had found his pedigree and veneration. And you, oh golden and right religious king, could have proclaimed the same thing concerning yourself, for people, because they find you wanting in royal pedigree, have been accustomed to attribute less to your noble virtues and most pious morals. And indeed, if we are to act in accordance with the authority of Scripture, we shall discover that the greatest men and those most dear to God are always those who have been born in a humble station. Thus we read that David the shepherd was made a king, such a holy prophet did he show himself to be. Such was the Lord’s kindness that “he uplifted the pauper from the dunghill.” And He Himself, the Son of God from all eternity, in choosing to assume human form, preferred a lowly birth, to struggle against poverty during His infancy and boyhood, and to balance His mastery over life and death with misery and disgrace. Wherefore, right ministerial king, when your condition (as far as your origin goes) is compared, not only with the principal sovereigns of all time, but even with the Son of God Himself, we have a reason why we should give you no small congratulations on your affairs and your reputation.
17. And so I in the meantime obtain this, which will be memorable among all posterity, that I, being born of a minister, and a Puritan one at that, can be classified together with a king, and with that king who, being at such a lofty summit of affairs and concerns, does not regard a minister’s duty as foreign to himself. Since these things are the case, I both venerate you as a king and address you as an equal: in my equal I discern intellect and learning, in the king authority and power, which in no other way * * *
18. Likewise the Church grew resplendent, its grieving and squalor cast aside, and the mystic voice of all Gospel believers was heard shouting, “We have made the discovery, we rejoice.” And indeed (a thing holier, more solemn and august than all antiquity), after our Isis we had an Osiris, after Elizabeth came James. What need for words? By means of this mystery you had a queen for a mother (when you ought not to have one), and thanks to this same mystery, when you came into your new kingdom to succeed a woman, you were also a pontiff. How unusual and all-but-divine this dignity is is shown by its recent origin. For sacred doctrines exist thanks to truth rather than time, to a suddenly-formed opinion rather than long-enduring usage. Nor is there need for lengthy twistings and turnings, for a protracted series of royal successions, or for many centuries, for us to believe that this faith is true, orthodox, and evangelic. For first (so that it not be lacking in majesty), it is royal, founded by Henry VIII. From this recent sun of England dawned upon the world that light of Christian doctrine, after a protracted night and the darkness of so many errors and superstitions, and the wonder was that this evangelical dawn broke in the west, promising day for all time. And, oh good and holy God, how naturally this all occurred, yet how mystically! We wonder that She who gave birth to mankind’s salvation was both a mother and a virgin, and we equally wonder that she was a king’s daughter, and likewise a king’s wife, from whom the pontificate of this new Church was produced. The Son of God was born contrary to nature, and the beginning of the Church of England was likewise unnatural. Mary was a mother, and did not know her husband. Anne was a mother, and conceived by her father.
19. And so Henry sired his papacy with such an origin, and governed with such a right. Embracing his wife (who was at the same time his daughter), he founded his church, not upon a rock (which would have been too hard), but on a mattress and a bed, which was right royal. And so, had Boleyn not existed, the papacy of England could not have been born, and unless the father lay with his daughter and had her for a wife, the Church would not have existed. Those who judge all things by our crass senses, who measure God’s plans and kings’ morals according to human and everyday judgment, neglect these mysteries, or even jeer at them. They make a fuss about an incestuous marriage, prodigious lust, the kings wanton cock, the queen’s voracious cunt, an England’s Priapus and Venus, and burst with their fury, for they demand that everything be chaste, everything be modest, everything be sober, everything be pious. Let them snarl as they can, and yet this papacy remains very intact, this Church most true, this Gospel, although most sullied, still thrives, still flourishes, still bears the fruit of its origin. Its enemies can more easily mock the father and mother of established religion than render them hateful. For love of these princes granted that charity should exist towards God’s Church, and thus they adore the sovereigns who ordained this papacy. And then, so that its fruitfulness would not cease, the idea of divine preceptors, almost rendered barren by the ignorance and malice of so many centuries, needed to be cemented by the mingled fluids of venery. And indeed, as far as Boleyn’s marriage goes, this is a fair and holy thing, only diminished by a profane label: it was fair, because it was royal; it was holy, because it was pontifical, and on that score held up as a particular model for ministers of the divine Word and was adopted by the Church with praise for its continence. Therefore the things in this reign and papacy of which ignorant fanatics speak ill, we call great and entirely miraculous; what they call shameful we call worthy of reverence; what they call monstrosities we call mysteries, what they call works of the Devil we call the works of God.
20. Why? Henry could not have his Boleyn to wife unless he altered religion — so was he impious? But he introduced a new piety: he could not exercise his savagery against all those monks, Peers, and bishops without shedding the blood of his realm — so was he cruel? But he did away with the tyranny of Roman power: he could not enjoy marriage to Boleyn without repudiating his wife — so was he an adulterer? But he tried to conceal the disgracefulness of his lust behind a veil of matrimony, so that the Popes of Rome might learn not to begrudge kings their marital pleasure. Had Henry been content with pleasure alone, he could have resorted to a mistress. Now, since he sought an honorable relation, he was able to discover the title of wife in this shabby affair, so that he could piously and honorably raise the Church he had fathered, that he could be at once a father and a grandfather to Elizabeth, whom he sired on his new wife as a gift for his kingdom, his Church, and his papacy. So from this honor, or rather this piety, I say, the dignity of the Church and the English papacy was born, whose foundation, like its grounds for existence, was a woman’s con, whose architect was the wanton dard of a king, whose building and erection was a certain randy lust, from which arose the freedom of all things both human and divine.
21. Just as Henry had many wives for chastity’s sake, so he had them in common for the sake of charity, and so that as a pontiff he could set the example for what should pass for something solemn and fair in God’s Church. But, since it does not befall all men to have several wives, he at least brought it about that whoever would be a minister should marry a wife, a thing he begrudged no man. Furthermore, Boleyn herself, thinking her father’s embraces very pious, and therefore unpleasant, kindly shared the core of her body, that breeding-ground of pontiffs, with right pleasant Peers, partly to show herself a queen in the same way that the king was acting the pontiff; partly so that the majesty of her excellent father and husband, I mean that head of the Church, might be enhanced and amplified by an invisible grace and decorum; and also partly that she might in her turn bestow a crown on her husband, by whom she had been taken as a partner of his bed and his scepter. Therefore she repaid him, not with a golden one, but with horns, once regarded as an emblem of divinity surpassing even the excellence of crowns. It was indeed a fine thing for a king to go about, not only crowned, but also wearing a set of horns, so that, as a result of this adornment, nobody had any doubt about Henry’s pontificate. For likewise Alexander the Great, when he had difficulty in inducing men to believe he was the son of Jove, found no more fit remedy than to transform his appearance and wear the twisted horns of Ammon. So too, after this sacred head of the Church shone with those rays, they were distributed to all the ministers of the Church, so that, like little pontiffs, they would wear similar badges on their brows, at once signifying their ministry and their matrimony. Wherefore in after times within the Church it was just as needful to take a wife as to be a minister, for, in the absence of marriage, no man could attain to this ecclesiastical crown. And could there be anything finer than something that once was an attribute of the gods, and then of kings and the Pope of Britain? Horns make the ecclesiastical crown, horns decorate our holy pulpits, horns enliven our churches, govern our consistories, bestow heavenly eloquence, confirm our spiritual grace, and procure authority for the man addressing his congregation. In honor of believers it has been predestined by God that no minister should live wifeless, none should not have a head resplendent with horns. Why say more? This example created the necessity, and since Henry did not only adorn his head with gold, husbandly horns have subsequently been imposed upon the Church. No less cheerfully have all its ministers borne these bullish burdens than the head of its first pontiff burst forth with them. Thus some superstition likewise recommended to antiquity. For it is gathered from Prudentius that that Ammon of Libya was not the only personage in his household to possess the best part of a ram, but also that the lesser divinities who surrounded him were horned after his image, like little Ammons. It was the same with Henry VIII as with Ammon, that all preachers of the Gospel were Henry-like and employed the sacred privilege of horns.
22. Wherefore let our opponents say and object that Henry was a sacrilegious and criminal man, and I shall reply that he was a pontiff; let them show that he was base, wine-bibbing, and lecherous, I shall reply that he was learned; let them complain that he perverted the laws of the realm, I shall reply that otherwise the new Church could not have been established. And, just as it was permissible for Henry VIII, that right innocent sovereign, to found a pontificate under the auspices of a woman, so let no man hold his youth and further-altered religion against his son Edward. For his age permitted him to be a pontiff, and yet he departed from his father’s decrees, and his sacred dignity allowed him to be a little boy and yet display greater wisdom in religious matters than had his father. Nobody will reproach Boleyn’s daughter Elizabeth for her sex and her chastity, sullied by the most foul of rumors. By her prudence and learning she desired to show that a woman was capable, not only of ruling, but also of governing the Church, and so she strove by herself to embody the praises and glory of both her father and her mother. And nobody should reprehend you, greatest king, for having dared disdain the religion of your mother Mary and firmly adhering to novel opinions. Thus, perhaps, you were born, thus you were raised by most pious men and by that Buchanan of yours, so that thanks in part to the benefit of your nature, and in part to that of your education, you can comprehend what is best and what is most useful in God’s worship, what will preserve your kingdom for you and promote you in your foreign one. And so you turned your attention to Henry, to Edward, to Elizabeth: their footsteps pleased you, you followed these examples, and in the end Fortune so favored you that you may be considered worthy to hold in disdain those predecessors whose life, morals, and virtues you embody. At length elevated to the throne of England, you were able to do whatever would afflict and destroy addicts of the Church of Rome, and wield your power according to a policy of doing everything for the sake of the Church and shoring up your pontificate.
23. And now this necessity is conjoined to that greatness, that, unless you are deemed to be savage you cannot be good and, unless you regard the Pope of Rome as your enemy, you yourself would be compelled to resign the title of pontiff. And grant that up to the present this primacy has been exposed to the criticism and condemnation of other men, and has been criticized. Grant, as I say, that the first pontiff of England was an adulterer, the second a little boy, and the third a woman. You, right reverend king, have achieved it by your wonderful erudition and all-but-divine intellect, with the result that you can hide and conceal whatever seems a reason for blushing; you can sin (if it is sinful to imitate Henry, Edward, and Elizabeth of glorious memory) and yet be esteemed as a good man; you can be savage (if it is savage to punish your superstitious subjects) and nonetheless gain praise for your clemency. That which the others did cannot be evil, since you affirm it, and you were were worthy to become the instructor of them all after you began to understand that religion is ordained for the sake of government. You, indeed, ought to have been the first pontiff of this Church, so that the rest would be instructed by one who was more learned, more prudent, and a better man. And yet, as I think, it was a greater thing to confirm dogmas that are pleasant at first sight than to design them, to fortify them than to promulgate them, to defend them than to begin them. There was need for your virtue, so that the foundations of this Church, once established and erected, might gather strength and hope for long endurance, for a house is built in vain if it does not endure. But by thus preserving, enhancing, and adorning this pontificate, you can also gain a name as its founder. For now you are the Henry, you are the Edward, you are the Elizabeth you always keep before your eyes, as if you contain within yourself the praise of every sex and every age. But I want to dwell on the details and revive the memory of this Church, happily born and a-growing, which may preserve your greatest lauds. Henry, now equipped with the scepter and surrounded by good fortune * * *
24. Oh great lady, worthy of your perpetual praises! Oh mother, deserving your veneration above any other mother! And she, greater than her own self thanks to her wonderful virtue, transcended her sex * * *
25. But how prudently, how cleverly everything was transacted! By these counsels, those who had been her subjects rose up against their sovereign and became rebels, and the fire burned so greatly that it could not be put out by the blood of Spain, Italy, or other kingdoms and provinces. Thus indeed Britain remained unharmed and flourished in its peace. And I do not know if any more excellent example of a war exists, and whether that Xerxes of the west could have been shattered by any superior strategy. For the queen did not fight, yet she was victorious. She threw kingdoms and peoples into utter confusion with her arms, and yet there was no war in England. So you perceived the power of counsels, and how greatly this woman’s footsteps were to be esteemed, for she did not wish to live so as to be quiet, but rather to govern so as to be engaged. As if this were the single strength of your scepter, you fostered rebels, you animated them, you armed them as the need arose. It is no wonder that this was your desire as long as Spain remained hostile: that you were able to impose a check on them by peace, a treaty, and good faith is evidence of your great cunning and prudence. So auxiliaries were procured furtively, and your Britons fought in Belgium, but as if they had not been sent by you, your money (which you multiplied by the interest you secretly charged) did your fighting for you. For in addition to rebellion there existed religion, and even if this was not yours, or even opposed by your pen, it nevertheless deserved your patronage because it was greatly opposed to the Papacy. Thus nobody could rebuke you for bad faith, but you paid out your circumspect subsidies for their piety. You suffered no harm at the hands of your enemy, but you inflicted great damage on him while wearing the mask of peace. And in this you surpassed the glory of Elizabeth, for you understood not only how to oppose, but also how to deceive, and, whereas she showed herself a man, you took upon yourself the arts and character of a woman. * * *
26. …should resist? I praise this high-mindedness, I praise it. For as many kings, as many princes as professed themselves to be Catholic, you rightly called Antichristians and idolaters. Unless this censure came from a pontiff, it could not be leveled against kings; unless it came from a king, the title and authority of a pontiff would be cheapened. If they are Antichristians, they are enemies; if idolaters, they deserve extermination; you should employ arms and war to exterminate those you have shown to be enemies with your pen. Therefore as many scepters, crowns and provinces that defer to Christ should place themselves at your service, so that they might obtain their liberty. Everybody will be Christians, Catholic and apostolic, when your pontificate extends to all men, and whatever has hitherto been reviled will seem fair to them all. Certainly, since (as I have said) Henry, Edward and Elizabeth, those excellent and great pontiffs, are reincarnated in you, whatever has been done by them, or is being done by yourself, ought to be considered excellent and great. And if there are any faults in you (for we must admit you are a man, and not just a sovereign or a pontiff), if there are any faults, these are elegancies which, even if shut up in secret and obscured by silence, nevertheless burst forth, as if through chinks, and insinuate themselves into the public eye: and that these are not evil in their appearance we learn most greatly from this, that most men prefer to imitate rather then criticize them, that they imagine that nothing originates from their pontiff save what is holy, nothing from their sovereign that is not worthy of imitation. Therefore to delight in surpassing beauty is sweetness; to indulge your nature is pleasantness; to do as your mind pleases amidst such great good fortune is relaxation. In the secret nights, as far as pleasure… * * …either sex. Which, though it is miraculous in these chill climes, in you is manly and royal. * * *
27. Let them complain about your cruelty who are unaware of the zeal of your religion, and as often as I consider this, I desire you to exercise greater rigor over all men. For, though others scribble and lie as they will, I think you a good man endowed with excessive clemency and believe you are mistaken (if a man can be mistaken for being good, or be thought bad for being merciful). Wherefore, as I myself must now admit and contend, Mary Queen of Scots, a woman who deserved her punishment, was not your mother (for it will be as easy for you to deny that she whom you assert was no martyr to have been your mother, as it is for you to hold the opinion that she was condemned, proscribed and excommunicated by all of nature). Rather, you were the son of the woman you succeeded, and to her you are indebted for everything, since she left you her realm. For this is being born — not so much into life, which is capable of being very wretched, as into the greatest royal good fortune. By a certain standard you were more indebted to Mary than to your mother: you could be her son twice over (just as you were twice pious), and you could have repaid to her all that you could not repay your mother. Nature had granted this boon. That being the case, Mary could not have been besmirched by insult or slander without the insult redounding on yourself, as if you were her son; she could not be wounded without you feeling the pain; she could not be put to death without piety compelling you to exact just revenge. And yet, oh your admirable, incredible gentleness! You preferred to seem merciful rather than a son, and when piety conflicted with your wisdom, you showed reason has more power within you than nature.
28. George Buchanan (not to mention other men), a man endowed with a keen intellect and first-rate erudition, exceeding the limits of his fortune and the bounds of modesty, raged against Mary with his most terrible pen, but, right patient king, did you not choose to dissimulate? No doubt he was such a valuable tutor that he needed to be adored in preference to your mother (as I now refer to her). Why continue writing of these details, which are a matter of common knowledge? There were gentlemen who conspired against this same mother of yours, whether she was innocent or guilty (I have no idea which word would please your ears) and who dared accuse her, condemn her, and then produce her for disgraceful punishment, putting her into the hands of the executioner. You, however, remained unmoved by her steadfastness of mind, as if her death did not pertain to yourself. Oh, your virtue! Shall I say it was Stoic? That is too little, I shall call it Christian. You tolerated this most grave insult when it occurred and, when it was in your power to exact vengeance, you declined to remember it. You comprehended, right wise king, that forgetting a crime is better than avenging it. Furthermore, you understood that all of those gentlemen you had transformed from parricides into friends and intimate familiars were destined to live for your advantage and service. And so it was not enough for you to spare them so that you might forgive them. More was done: you chose to repay them with favors, honors and dignities, although these guilty fellows had deserved imprisonment, torture and execution. I should have need of greater eloquence properly to describer that clemency, thus far never encountered among mankind. What is it? Perhaps it struck you that revenge, although most just, necessary, and anticipated by all the world, was incompatible with your glory and felicity. For you were unable to rule piously or freely unless that mother were removed, and when the scepter was in your grasp, it seemed most advantageous and by far the best policy, to have a care for the living and abandon the dead. Therefore you daily see and bestow your affection on men whom you should call your enemies, if you would heed nature and justice; you cherish and number among your favorites men against whom all other kings would wage everlasting war and towards whom other men would pronounce their everlasting loathing. But what is this? You surpass kings, you transcend mankind, and, inspired by a certain divine clemency, you show yourself worthy of the British throne and pontificate. Let ancient Rome boast of its youthful Nero, who, lest he have to sign his name to a certain man’s death warrant, uttered that very fine statement, “how I wish I had never learned to write!” But will he be comparable to you? That gentle Nero, that devotee of Apollo, subsequently murdered his mother: I mean, he could be both most learned and most evil. Therefore, right powerful king, the nature of clemency is far more clearly shown by your example * * *
29. Those excellent and entirely literary virtues of yours will be borne up to heaven on victorious chariots, which are of a number such as many a century hitherto could not have, those ornaments of your reign, of a number such as the rest of Europe has not possessed before now, nor have any pedagogues ever demonstrated. Even if at present the envy and malevolence of this most impious and ignorant century does not understand you, some day, after you are taken away and dead, all mankind will long for you. From the very fact of your death (and may it be late in coming!) this fine kingdom will comprehend what it is to be ruled by the wisest, best, and most pious of all kings. And so your bones and ashes will be greatly valued, and in your rotting remains we shall venerate things we have never esteemed in the remains of any of the Saints. Someday your right learned and, as it were, gown-clad soul will migrate from this body and kingdom. Your funeral will be a baccalaureate, and this life of yours, cultivated with such arts and letters, will triumph over your mortality. It shall not have to dread the sting of any pen, the sword point of any malevolence, no dagger, no poison, no gunpowder. I do not yet discern what place or time of nature will receive you. The gods above hope to gain you, those of the Underworld crave you, those of this middle world possess you. And this will be your misfortune, to have been so fortunate, inasmuch as they say that the kings who wished to be most wise in this life are made fools and jesters for the dead. Whatever this may be, wherever you will be, you are still able to write, your pen will overshadow your scepter’s power. Thus in death you will find the same thing which you regard as best and most majestic in life. Should I say more? There will be a heaven, to which Fortune will translate you after your death, and in this will exist a company and companionship of learned men, who will not even be happy —
30. But, to return to the point from which I appear to have digressed, right distinguished king, all the British will understand what a leader they possessed, the best prince, the holiest, and, most important of all, the most merciful, who to spare the blood of his people, when he was unable to preserve his majesty and security without cruelty, invented this most useful form of torture, that he should only rage against his subjects’ goods and fortunes, and think it better to reduce a noble pedigree to squalor, filthy, and poverty, than to slaughter one, two, three or more men without turning any profit. He did not hope (as does a tyrant) that all the Papists had a single throat he could cut, but rather he brought it about that they who for religion’s sake deserved disgrace, banishment, or confiscation, should only be impoverished. Out of his innate piety he preferred that his Britons addicted to the Roman Church live elsewhere in unhappiness than die while flourishing at home. This policy was therefore invented and devised, according to which no man would die against his will, since it is more honorable to live in exile rather than in prison, and preferable to die of care or sorrow and the injury of fortune than by hand of the executioner. Let men furthermore perceive and admire the rich fruit of that learning which always thrives in the right kindly King James. He put away the axes, nooses, and infamous instruments of death, so as to fill his treasury, bankrupt by his pleasure-seeking, and when he was suspect of cruelty, religion offered an opportunity for him to subsidizing a commonwealth that was weak and all but drained dry. Thus it was with both praise and profit that the king could wax savage against the most powerful of his subjects, and yet nobody could reprehend him for cruelty. His saying and his wish was “To be sparing of his subjects, and war against the haughty.”
31. The haughty are those who have disdained their ancestral homes and received customs, and who, lest they live under your lynx-like gaze and censure, excessively clinging to the old ways and simplicity, have crossed the sea and sought peace and liberty of conscience in the freedom of another government. They were haughty, and thus were rebels, since they failed to share their king’s opinion concerning religion and eternal salvation, and rejected and condemned the decrees and examples of their betters because they set a higher value on the kings of their own blood, whom England possessed home-grown and home-reared, than the on the wisdom, learning, and authority of a new and foreign one. But what does this amount to? The carefulness of your intellect, right vigilant king, keeps watch in every quarter, it crosses the sea, it penetrates to all parts of Europe, scrutinizing cities, nooks and crannies, and since, like the Persians, you possess eyes and ears everywhere, you seem not just to exist, but to reign ubiquitously. And since nearly everywhere religion must have a home and a lodging subject to your authority, you wield your right and exercise your power ubiquitously, with kings and princes ignored (as you should do in this business of religion) or even held in contempt (as you are able to do). This is what it is to perform the office of a right august king, and a defender of the true, Christian, Catholic and apostolic faith. This is what it is to employ that title which, insofar as Henry VIII received it from Pope Leo, you may also use, I mean according to that right by which you are wont to call the Pope of Rome the Antichrist in your pronouncements and writings. In your wisdom you have understood, right perspicacious king, that all faith is located in power, and, inasmuch as neither your virtue nor your learning are less than Henry’s, you can think that to be your office and your honor which he, although an enemy of the Church of Rome and therefore of the Pope, nonetheless retained.
* * *
32. Who should not be swept away in love and admiration for your paternal concern towards kings and their kingdoms? You advice princes, you instruct peoples, and when you display your passion, and make that more-than-royal prudence and learning of yours visible to all men by emending ὑκαιρως to ἀκαίρως, you excellently show with what power and confidence you employ these. We therefore understand that, in comparison with yourself, other kings are mushrooms, dunces and blockheads, and wholly unworthy of their thrones. For you are entirely unique in understanding that you are king and in allowing the rights of your scepter to depend on no man other than yourself, and you have fearlessly trampled on that intolerable power of the Pope of Rome, as a genuine vicar of God should. They are slaves, you a free man; they can be deposed from their thrones, you have confirmed yourself in the possession of yours. They can be killed, you have opposed yourself to most evil assassins and monstrous parricides. As often as I ponder your others virtues, I can ignore whatever Fortune has granted you and yet celebrate you as the greatest and most powerful. You make yourself such and so great. Let your ministers and ambassadors rehearse and write your royal titles, when you call yourself James you express your full magnitude. By a wonderful formula and string of titles they call you, first, King of France, and then of Great Britain and Ireland, but by a fairer title you exclaim that you are Defender of the Faith. Whereas they attribute all things to your vanity and extend your power to embrace France, and go on from there, you, in out of your consummate piety appointing yourself vicar of Christ and head of the Church, are not content with this earth. Wherefore, as often as a comparison is made between you and other kings and Christian princes, they say you delight in that satiric poet’s verse, “as much greater as a British whale is than dolphins.” So away with other kings, away with them, they are small, they are abject, they are dolphins. James is great, James is huge, James is a whale. And, although antiquity attributed to the dolphin speed, affection for mankind, and the title of first among the fish, it is nevertheless far more excellent to be compared with a whale, I mean a gigantic beast, which, as Pliny wrote, “extends himself in the manner of a huge column, and spouts forth a geyser that goes higher than ships’ sails.” What then? “It is inflexible when it comes to bending, helpless when it comes to offering a fight and hampered by its own weight, has only one resource when attacked by killer whales, which is to plunge into the deep and employ the entire ocean for self-defense.” And finally, “It has a mouth on its forehead, and with that it shoots up clouds of mist into the high air while swimming on the surface of the water.” And you, right superlative king, have now elevated yourself to the point that you can appear a column, by which the safety of all sovereigns is supported. As often as you rage against the Pope, you spout forth a geyser of learning. Meanwhile, if some Bellarmine, some Becan, some Eudaemon-Johannes, if some Scioppe attacks you, you prudently do as as the whale does. But what it means to possess an eye on one’s forehead let them say for whom all decency of speech has perished, those who impudently babble forth every little thing. And this is how it is with them, he does not know how to speak who is not daring. You must write, indeed you must wax delirious, so as to seize every opportunity of terrifying your adversaries. When truths do not suffice, falsehoods will come to the rescue; when learned things are in short supply, commonplaces will serve your turn. Hence he swims on the surface of the water who expounds trifles, vain and fleeting things, being destitute of the truth and lacking profound knowledge of all things. What to do then? Shoot up clouds of mist, issue forth a huge supply of words, disturb the peace of Europe, still well-disposed towards the Pope of Rome, with your seditious writings. Is there any wonder? No man has ever been so great and vast, no man has been a whale. Yet truly, since this praise particularly pleases you as being most fit, this should be written in all your books, on all the walls of your court, on all the gates of your cities, and in whale-like letters:
AS MUCH GREATER AS A
BRITISH WHALE IS
And if you like graphic art, there will not be lacking very clever men, at least among those who devote themselves to images and dedicate their volumes to you, who will illustrate such a fine verse with a memorable emblem.
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33. They will gradually come to realize that this greatness is most particularly based on this liberality of yours. For the gifts that you give — or should I say rain down? — are not simple, but rather adorned by the greatest honors; they are not dispensed to men of every age, but to that in the flower of youth’s comeliness; nor is they bestowed on men who have deserved well of the kingdom, but rather of those who have ability to deserve well of yourself. For here you esteem, not virtue, but rather a handsome appearance, which we learn was held in the greatest honor and esteem by Socrates himself. But I omit the philosopher and set an emperor in his place. The fine example of the single man Antinous will suffice for my argument. When he had died in Egypt and was mourned by Hadrian in a thoroughly womanish manner (thus he ought to have been bewailed, for he was Hadrian’s darling), was placed among the gods and received a place in the star catalogues, as if his surpassing beauty, which so many artists had labored to represent, was worthy of heaven. Others (as I mentioned in a commentary note on Spartianus) placed him in the orbit of the moon, together with Endymion.
* * *
…you could not have done so any more liberally. For with the exception that they are not gods, you have conferred everything…
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34. And who should criticize you? To promote the handsome is to raise up good men. After the death of Gowrie, thinking the Scotsman John Ramsay to be no less comely than brave, you knighted him, and then, as if you had not satisfied your passion, created him a viscount. But why limit yourself to one? You chose Philip Herbert, younger son of the Earl of Pembroke, a youth of ingratiating good looks, a gentleman of your Bedchamber, in which position he was able to repay the favor. And he earned yet more profuse kindness. For he was created Earl of Montgomery and endowed with sundry offices. But what can always be pleasing? After about years Robert Carr caught your eye, a lad deemed worthy of honors and rewards, who mounted to the highest dignities by no slow steps. I should praise the lad’s good luck, if your bounty did not surpass that. For first he was made a knight, then Viscount Rochester, and soon, at about the age of twenty-six, a member of the Privy Council, subsequently Earl of Somerset, and at length your Chamberlain. And now that he had come to maturity and you had bestowed on him various properties of proscribed noblemen, you wished to add the gift of a wife, and a wife of what sort, pray tell? A wife gained as the result of a divorce. These gentlemen were followed by a young man of incomparable beauty, George Villiers, introduced into your bedchamber by the Queen herself, where on the selfsame day he was made a knight and a gentleman of the Bedchamber, and not long thereafter received an annual pension of 10,000 florins from the royal Treasury. And now… Does this business require words? I am praising Britons, not the inhabitants of Arcadia. They are too fastidious to live on acorns, should our British Ceres tolerate that?
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35. Next follow your endowments of mind and your conversation, as if you cannot speak otherwise than you act. For he who has heard you has no doubt of your majesty. You are equipped with a royal character, and each day your countenance thus reflects every mood of your mind that you appear inspired by a loftier divinity. You rage against everything as if everything displeases you. Now you rail at the sky, now you castigate the weather with your words, now you enter suits against the rain, the wind, the sun, and are astonished that nature does not comply with your affairs, since you are acting as king, by your royal personage representing the part of God’s vicar, i. e., of a pontiff. Therefore, at the times you can be called a holy thing of cursing, imprecations and curses constitute the sum of your conversation: as often as you rise up to the skies or penetrate to the Underworld with this vigor, your word become animated with great strength, they go a-flying on these wings. You do not speak, you thunder, as a sovereign reared by Jove properly should, and what issues from your sacred mouth, or is in your countenance, is something at which even your closest familiars should blanch. But to invoke the holiest names and mysteries of religion to create terror, that is either a certain kind of nobility or piety. For God is such a close associate of yours that you are unable to forget Him, even when your blood is up. Many men would not recognize you as a king, were your tongue not equipped with this weaponry; they would deny you were a pontiff, if you did not thus shape your speech. Either I am mistaken, nor eloquence can be no finer.
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36. But the greatness of your intellect shines forth most brightly in this, that whereas so many opinions have been printed and considered concerning reformed religion, in which the industry of the reformers has fallen into sects and schisms, and daily new schisms appear, and whereas you have been able to compare and study all those errors defended by the wonderful stubbornness of their devotees, you were able to observe that they differ only in the most trifling points and are uniformly enemies of the Church of Rome, and that this body was at odds with itself because of all its heads, but could easily be reduced to concord. And this shrewdness is all the greater because, even after the publication of your letter of admonition, nothing of the kind entered my mind. For I had always believed that everything innovated in religion by Luther, and by all those after Luther, were “twice doubly” divided, or even diametrically exposed, and that fire and water, darkness and light, could more easily be conjoined and united than just the Puritans (to say nothing of the others) with your orthodox churchmen, i. e., bandits (as you call them), could be united and bound together in the same religious observances and articles of faith with your orthodox Anglicans. For what need is there to gather together the Anabaptists, Libertines, Swenckfeldians, Valentinians, New Arrians, Semi-Arrians, Tritheitists, and Socinians, whom in the Preface to my Exercises I called the worst heretics I could recall? For I wrote that amidst the first commotions stirred up by the reformation of the Church, a swarm of the foulest heretics suddenly came forth, who disturbed the peace of the pious and sullied their reputation among those outside the movement. And I called the doctrine of all of them the delusions of the most depraved of men. But this error of mine, great and all but intolerable, serves further to illustrate your wisdom and understanding, right doctoral king: those I regarded as huge beams and masses you have understood to be only motes and chaff. And this is the single greatest thing which removes me from the ranks of the bandits and binds me more strongly to your Church, which is genuinely rather than Puritanically reformed.
37. Therefore I have received a benefit as great as is your intellect, and you have been able to benefit me more by your theological instruction than I could repay you by the insightfulness of my writings. For you have learned more from Luther (whom you call your own writer, and compare to St. John the Baptist) than I from all the grammarians and all the encyclopedic learning of the ancients.
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38. I do not wish to make you blush by recalling your other praises. For concerning your physical endowments, and your life, private or public, and the manners which attach to them both, if I begin to speak, “what shall I list first, what next, and what last of all?” You are indeed wont, right dainty king, to devote much of your time and effort, and that by the wisest counsel, to that part of your majesty in which you are mortal and subject to its ills, since you understand that the school of Epicurus was not entirely wrong in deciding that there is as much happiness in each man as there is pleasure. I am of the opinion that this noble pronouncement, which you confirm by your most pleasant imitation, has a greater application to sovereigns than to the rest of mankind, and that, among all the gods, Bacchus and Venus are especially to be associated with scepters. Had more of the ancients grasped this, many crowns would have suffered from less infamy. Sardanapulus would have been better, Heliogabalus more acceptable, that large throng of kings and Caesars (to whom your name could be added as the most distinguished) more illustrious. And the constitution of your body is such that it appears entirely deserving of delights and pleasure: in the shapeliness of all your parts (your legs excepted) that you seem created more by design than chance, learnedly rather than royally. Therefore those who see you standing upright see more in your shanks than can be proportionate to your thighs, buttocks, belly, chest, neck, and head, and just as the great weight of a building cannot be supported by columns that are overlong, your majesty is mainly consumed by these props for your body. I say this so that your fellow Scotsmen, who have had the ancient custom of swearing by the hand, foot, or name of a chieftain in entering into contracts, might perceive that your shanks are worthy of this solemn observance, and indeed so that all painters might learn what is particularly to be represented in your portraits, so that they will admit that your body indeed does depart from the rules of nature, but without losing its praiseworthiness. For as far as use goes, nothing is more suitable. Thus formed, you increase your stature, and you may move your neat little body (albeit growing a little damp with perspiration), with longer steps and more nobly in any direction you choose. Let other men use stilts, you will do the same with your legs and walk aloft, just as if you scorn the earth. King Edward I of England goes to show to that this is no novel thing or foreign to royal nature, for (as Hector Boethius writes), he was called Longshanks for the length of his legs. But I am lingering overlong in my meditation on your feet and legs. Were you handsome and had a similarity with the peacock, I should shift my attention to your tail, but since I must praise your frontal appendage separately, I must instead commence with your face. In this some men criticize a certain foreignness and deformity, as if it were a depraved manner of appearance. But they are too finicky, and certainly unaware that this is the attraction of a man, and especially of a king, if he should appear foul, or as close to foul as possible, and in no other way is that line of Euripides to be taken, “an appearance worthy of a tyrant.” Yet scrunch up your face, twist its lineaments, and you reveal your character by making these faces. You can be handsome, as often as the need arises, and as often as you pluck apples from outside your own garden the wanton * discover handsomeness in you, and men think whatever a king does by unusal activity to be fair, and whatever a pontiff accomplishes to be holy.
39. For perhaps I am now penetrating your secrets overmuch, and you would prefer the praise of these things to be limited to your private awareness rather than be matters for public rumor. For it would be enough to make public mention of those passions and delights of venery you cannot conceal from everybody’s eyes, or neglect. And these are of this kind: to feed your eyes with drunken delight at banquets, to arouse lust by the forwardness of your words, to pinch cheeks, slobber kisses, and, as it were, to burst forth in flame from this smoke, a flame you may extinguish in private. These things, I say, are sufficient to mention, and these are indeed ornaments to your life, by which you bring it about that nobody calls you gloomy, nobody calls you an early riser, nobody calls you harsh, but rather everybody celebrates you for being pleasant, cheerful, and relaxed, as if you represent to us wisdom without arrogance, learning without pallor, and a sovereign without care. You act the king, yet you set aside your rigor; you act the pontiff, yet you assume pleasant airs. Why say more? You show that Venus can be mixed with Minerva, pleasure with religion, admirable wisdom and heretofore unknown sanctity. * * Christ’s saying was “suffer the little children to come to Me”; you summon the prettiest little boys, and and them you esteem as nature’s benefits and miracles. Continue as you are doing, pray continue, right sweet king, continue to stupefy all mankind. For if it hitherto seemed incredible for a king to be found with the leisure for scribbling and publishing books yearly, it is all but divine for a sovereign to pay constant attention to his religious amours. You are an Alcibiades, yet you can philosophize. You act the part of Socrates, you love and are pious.
40. Since we are on the subject of your body, this ought not to be ignored. They say your chest bears a certain birthmark, and when certain maladroit flatters tried to compare it to a lion, they were unaware they were ascribing to you more of ferocity than strength, more of anger and wrath than of courage. Indeed, they seem to have been wholly ignorant of your character, which is disposed to peace and quiet, prone to the sedentary life, and dedicated to studies. Perhaps by this mark you are advising us that you represent Actaeon for us, taking great delight in the hunt, and you should particularly pursue those beasts so you might appear strong and Alexander-like — lions, I mean, if any are to be found in Britain alone, now that they have become extinct in Europe. So as often as the horns blow and you make your invocation to Diana, you hunt other quarry and take other prey, even when you are at rest and taking your pleasure in the open air — or should I say indoors? Amiable quarry, delightful quarry, and quarry there is no need to track down. But you employ another method of hunting, you beat another bush, you garner other pleasures. Yet you can hunt thus and nevertheless remain sturdy. For they interpret this vigor, too, to be designated by the lion shape. There comes to my mind Philip of Macedon, who in a dream saw himself mark the belly of his wife Olympias with a kind of ring that had a lion engraved on it. After several others had tried to interpret the dream, Aristander the soothsayer said that the queen’s womb had been fructified (for nothing empty would have been marked), and that she had conceived “a son who would be high-spirited and lion-like of nature.” We therefore ought to say that your breast bears a similarity to Olympias’ belly: it is marked, and within it hides the embryo of your character, entirely spirited and lion-like, and when it is has come forth with an evangelical roar it will attack the Pope of Rome and those two indefatigable athletes of his, Cardinals Bellarmine and du Perron, throwing them wholly into consternation.
41. But others are of the opinion that this is not a sign of a lion, but rather of a frog or a toad, and that your breast has been marked with such a sign so that we might understand how greatly you transcend God’s Church. For just as that animal, albeit noxious for its poison, takes particular delight in that plant which we call salvia, taking its name from salvation, and dwells about its roots, so there is nobody who is not aware that the doctrines of the Christian religion, those sole instruments and, as it were, healing potions of eternal salvation, are uniquely loved and constantly pondered by you, and that they derive all their power from your toad-like wisdom. And this interpretation, since it is both learned and magnificent, will be able to put a stop to the cleverness of others, who in order to inflate your mind with a preposterous and entirely untimely desire for power, argue that your kingdom of France is signified by this ancient symbol, as if it is due to you because of the titles you usurp, promised you by the arms with which you are strong, and easily claimed, if only you would commence to make war. I readily praise their ingenuity, but I abhor their counsel, since I know that the lily is in no way going to be rejected so that frogs might be adopted anew.
42. Possibly you are expecting, right elegant king, that, since you take great pleasure in this marking, I shall state my view concerning it. Not to keep you in suspense any longer or torment you with erudite subtlety, we need to appreciate that signs of this kind come either from things themselves or from their images or appearance. If this came from things, then pray ask yourself whether it is likelier that that your mother saw a frog or a lion while pregnant in Scotland; if from an appearance, consider whether it is likelier that she was thinking about a lion or a frog while expecting, while you were shut up as burden within her womb. But God forbid I should say anything unwelcome to your ears. If you answer that it is a lion, then I tell you it is a lion; but, with your permission, it is a frog, especially since you used to eat frogs in generous quantities, or (if you will grant thus much liberty to a man now devoted to you in all things), allow me to inform you that a mark occurs only as a fault of nature, and only makes the shape it possesses. Thus Suetonius writes about Nero that his body was blotched and unhandsome. Whether Augustus really had marks on his belly and chest that corresponded in their manner, order and number to the stars of the Great Bear is doubtful. Not to speak of others, I admire both Seleucus and the power of nature. For, just as he had an anchor-shaped birthmark on his thigh, so did his sons and grandsons. But let us grant that this was a perfect anchor, but that in the others was represented now a spear, now a sword, and now a scepter. Nature owed you some mark in recognition of your learning or your school, so that, warned by it, kings would submit their scepters to your pen, and acknowledge that you alone are divinely designated, you who by writing and teaching not only surpass their fortune, but also can aspire to some reputation among the professors themselves. For it was less difficult for a king to write than to gain kingship among writers.
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43. Nobody is so dull that he is not captivated by elegance. I for my part prefer to admire everything than pursue each thing individually. But, as far as your manners go, in your diet, your dress, your cultivation I do not praise your habit so much as your wisdom. For you seem to grant more to intellect than style, nor to follow fashion but to set it, which, since this is a great thing, cannot be accomplished by any others than great men. And so these things, which would be disgraceful in another man, are elegancies in yourself (such is the importance of which man is the doer of any particular thing), and since these manners are adopted by yourself, they should not be criticized or chided. Since your life consists in merrymaking, here you show the most what most greatly excites a king’s affections. You are in good cheer and act concerning matters of faith, this is royal. You indulge your nature and you organize the mysteries of salvation, that is royal. You do not eat, you gobble, that is royal. You do not drink, but rather noisily slurp your wine and suck at it, this is royal. To eat all day long and scarcely allow your mouth any respite is so natural that this is done by all animals. But I think it supernatural to regurgitate one’s food as often as it is burdensome. That which Galen prescribed to be done once a month, right capacious king, you do frequently and busily, nor do you lie down: for you, it is as easy to vomit on horseback as to load yourself down at table.
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44. …nor hitherto observed in any men. For when you are alone and walk, you do not proceed in a straight line and manage your steps, but reel about in a circle, either under the guidance of Liber (a god propitious to yourself), or by some other instinct of nature, as if in your very progress you are signifying eternity and attesting to the movement of heaven, where you fix your mind. Either I am wrong or in thus progressing you are also playing the philosopher, demonstrating that everything we see in human affairs proceeds and is transformed in a cyclical manner, unless we are rather to learn from this that you, uniquely among kings, can by the divine force of your intellect and learning transform the condition of Europe, confound the sacred and the profane, raise up the highest, and cast down the lowest * * Even some insects flitter around a lantern at night, but are burned and fall as sacrificial victims to the light. Thus it is, I confess: nobody touches the flame and goes away unharmed * They therefore mean, right circular king, that the Pope of Rome is a flame and shines at night, and we are like insects that fly around him.
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45. To summarize, nothing is more beautiful and perfect than a circle, nothing more divine, nothing more worthy of a king. Therefore, if everything is placed on a circular basis and thus conducted, we shall seem to possess heaven on earth. * What disgrace shall wanderers or vagabonds have to fear? You yourself are a circular wanderer as you ponder the finest and most excellent things. Why should the court income not be increased? In legal cases and suits, everybody prefers to go around in circles rather than act in accordance with the law. Since the sons of the Church perceive your rotation, by the same token they regard their mental aberrations and hallucinations as divine wisdom. And since others understand that traveling in circles is royal, they think it their right to circumvent and circumscribe. Come, you Britons, trust your minister, nobody is going to criticize all that is curved, twisted, and base. Thanks to the king’s example the straightforward, the plain, the honorable will be banished.
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46. Whatever I have said is the doing of fortune. I think it must be ascribed to such a kindly and propitious god that you are James, that you are king, that you have changed your title from The Sixth to The First, that, having armed your hand with the pen, you are able to wound all sovereigns and sons of the Church of Rome with your indirect slanders, and and yet thus far have had no cause to fear, feel, or experience the wrath of anybody. Have you not criticized Henri le Grand for his lust and illicit marriage? But he neglected your book, not unaware of how much must be conceded to one’s nature. Have you not accused Holy Roman Emperors and princes of the Austrian stock, the noble King of Poland, and the Dukes of Bavaria, Savoy, and Loraine of being fools, unchristian idolaters, and worshipers of the Beast or Antichrist? And yet all of these men, as if this theological tract originated with a minister rather than a king, have thought it something they should consider handed down from heaven. This blessedness is so great and so manifest that you can not undeservedly join with Sophocles’ Oedipus in exclaiming “I regard myself as a child of Fortune.” So follow your mother, right lucky king, I mean this Fortune. Dare and undertake greater things. Now you must pass from the pen to arms, especially according to the urging of that warrior and Pyrgopolynices Mornay that you should fight, although hitherto you have only been able to write, so that about you we can pronounce that Homeric line, “both a good king and a doughty warrior.” For it is your duty, right martial king, to conduct the world’s business, to free the universe from tyranny, the Church from superstition, this century from infamy. It is your duty to do whatever great God has ordained for mankind’s salvation. Babylon will fall, it will fall, if only you are as steadfast in fighting as you have been learned in writing, if, just as you have pinked that Roman beast with your pen, you also strike it with your avenging sword. The business needs to be conducted by war and Mars, for all those barbarians have shown that Romans can be conquered. After the Heruli and the Goths will come the Britons; after Odoacer and Theodosius, James will demonstrate that “every bad thing comes from the north.”
47. “To arms, men, to arms!” How easily this expedition is destined to be has been explained by that Calchas Duplessy, that man of God, that prophet of the Church with the amazing miracle of his iniquity. For when you approach Italy, by God’s wonderful kindness the Alps will immediately bow their heads and receive your army without any trouble or delay, the Po will part and offer a crossing, the Apennines will spring aside. What then? At the sound of your trumpets those seven hills will be leveled, the walls will collapse, that very mass of Hadrian will fall. What need for words? You will arrive at Rome without abandoning your British pleasures. This entire expedition will be like a hunting excursion, but performed according to the Roman rite. You will hunt, the world will watch. The beast that will be sought is worthy of royal tracking, of royal nets, of a royal javelin. You have no reason to fear effort or danger, you will be refreshed rather than exhausted, you will produce a great slaughter without accepting any, you shall drive your prey while suffering no harm. Nor in the meantime will you abandon your studies or your habitual life. The queen herself will accompany you, as if attending a play, and if she does not suffice, other Venuses and Cupids will accompany you as delights along the way. And by this extremely attractive escort you will show the Italians that there is no beauty lacking for you, no pleasure or healing balm for pleasure lacking in Britain. And likewise your vintage wines will be at hand wherever you go, and soon, enriched by spoils, you will not spend eight hundred florins for an individual drinking-utensil, as has been your custom, but eight times eight hundred. And because you live on no other juice, are soaked daily by no other liquor, right genial king, you have a mind that grows more divine by the day, and you rise to a height hitherto attained by no sovereign. For you should forget all mortal things so you may speak of God, so that you may establish religion, so that you may attest you are a sovereign. Armed with this wine, you will do all these things more sweetly, the closer you come to the contemplation of your fruits and the fulfillment of your desires. You will find no less effective drinks abroad than at home, you will celebrate no less theological feasts in camp than at your London palace. Bacchus himself will provide you with strength and science, and he shall make no troublesome mixture with Mars: I mean Father Bacchus, whom many men say is not merely the god of wine, but was once a great warrior. You will drink strenuously so as to fight the harder.
48. Thus under God’s auspices, with Him your moving force, your helper, your inspirer (as our Calchas has predicted), you will trample down the power of iniquity, and at the same time all witchcraft, parricide, and all the evils of mankind will cease to exist. When as a triumphant victor you have trampled down your enemies, you will also begin to deliberate whether to supervise your reformed pontificate at Rome or at London, whether you are going to introduce British morals into Italy, or Italian treasures into Britain. Since the title of king is loathsome to the Romans, whereas the Britons have not yet sufficiently digested your pontifical authority, perhaps it would better for you to divide your task and your government, and act the pontiff at Rome and the king in Britain. Thus will you give some measure of liberty to the Britons while imposing no servitude on the Romans, and you will be celebrated with praise for your clemency and prudence among all the posterity of the Church.
49. But perhaps I am being preposterous in organizing your victory, since I have not yet said anything about the fighting needful for gaining the victory. Therefore, as much as you have been able to exhibit wisdom in the business of your books and learning, so much reason I shall venture to say must be employed in war. And so, first of all, I am of the opinion that, inasmuch as you have to muster an army for the sake of religion and the faith, you should recruit those who are as like yourself as possible, and will defend the cause of religion and faith with their words. For if you fill your ranks with ministers, you will save a great deal of money: there will be no need for swords, spears, and shields, they will provide their own armaments and show themselves to be not just men, but also husbands. Intent on fighting with their horns, they will expend the force of goats and bulls on the enemy. Nor do I think an army of ministers of the Gospel to be indecorous when a pontiff is acting the part of a general. For just as he who is a king can be a pontiff, so a minister can with equal right be considered a soldier. Then, too, if any city needs to be stormed (as happens in war), if some wall needs to be shattered, you will have rams who will perform the function of all your ballistas and catapults. And if you must fight a battle, you can divide your forces into a van and two wings or “horns,” over one of which you may preside, while Mornay, the man most vigorous in urging you to make war, may command the other. You, up to now a writer, a teacher, a schoolmaster, never armed with anything (save for the time you were hunting for treasure at Gowrie House, and as a result of this happy catastrophe discovered your darling), can follow his example in fighting, in striking at your enemy, and performing all the tasks of a soldier and a captain.
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49. Thus far the document, so that I seem to have retrieved the author’s true judgment and intention from these sometimes doubtful writings I have most painstakingly assembled. Some blotted scraps pieces, making no sense, have been omitted, by royal consent. But if my successful efforts turn up any more fragments, that will be a lucky find.
THE DELPHO-GALLIC TRIPOD
A British rabbit has wounded the lions of France, the lions are at play and avenge their injury. But why are they not wearing a French face? They terrify with a Latin one, so that may soon rage with their own. The rabbit will learn not to wound.
The nobility of France, unable to tolerate its wounding, about to spew forth its rage, commences its revenge.
No harm occurs when a fool provokes it. He who inflicts the wound is the author of his own injury.
He who speaks as he pleases will hear something that does not please him. — Plautus