The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1901)/Chapter 15



(Finis Juris.)

Then they again lead me to a spacious lecture-room, in which I saw more notable men than elsewhere. All along the walls they had painted masonry blockhouses, fences, ramparts, rails, partition-walls, and partitions; and through these, again, there were gaps and holes, doors and gates, bolts and locks, and together with them divers keys, hinges, and hooks. All these men in the lecture-room pointed to this, and attempted to measure where and how it would be possible to enter or not. And I asked: "What, then, are these folks doing?" The answer was that they were striving to discover how every man in the world could retain possession of his goods, and also transfer peacefully to himself the goods of others while maintaining order and concord. Then I said: "This is a pretty thing;" yet after watching it for some time, it disgusted me.

(Jus Circa quid Versetur.)

2. And this was mainly because they had enclosed within these barriers not the spirit or the mind or the body of man, but only his worldly goods, a non-essential matter which seemed not to me worthy of the very hard toil that was, as I saw, bestowed on it.

(Fundamentum Juris.Perplexitas Juris.)

3. Besides, I saw that all this science was founded only on the arbitrament of a few, so that if this man or that thought well to maintain that this thing or that was true, the others judged it accordingly; or (I noted this here) according to the fashion in which a man's brain whirled, he built up or destroyed these fences and gaps. Therefore there were many things here that were verily contrary to each other, and others had to break their heads in a wondrous subtle fashion to settle and arrange these differences; at last I wondered that they should grow so heated and sweat so over petty matters, some of which hardly occurred once in a thousand years, and this with no little arrogance. For the better a man was able to burst through a gap and then again to stop it up, the more was he pleased with himself, and the more did the others praise him. But some (wishing to show their wit also) opposed the others, and loudly declared that thus, and not otherwise, things must be enclosed and gaps filled up;[1] then there were quarrels and disputes; then they stepped apart, and one drew one design, another a different one, while all endeavoured to attract the onlookers. When I had sufficiently viewed this fooling, I shook my head. "Let us hurry hence, for already am I afeard," I said. And the interpreter to me, with wrath: "Will nothing then please thee in this world? Even in the most noble things, man of an unstable mind, thou findest somewhat to blame." Impudence answered him: "His mind, meseems, sickens with religiousness. Let us lead him elsewhere; there perhaps will he find attraction."

  1. I.e., the law expounded.