The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1901)/Chapter 2



And then I came out of my solitude—and began to look around, thinking how and whence to begin my voyage. At that very instant there appeared one coming, I knew not whence. His gait was active, his sight skilful, his speech quick, so that it seemed to me that his feet, his eyes, his tongue, all possessed great agility. He stepped up to me, and asked whence I came and whither I proposed to go? I said that I had left my home, and decided to wander through the world and obtain some experience.

(The World a Labyrinth.)

2. This pleased him well, and he said, "But where hast thou a guide?" I answered, "I have none. I trust to God and to my eyes, that they will not lead me astray." "Thou wilt not succeed," said he. "Hast thou heard of the labyrinth of Crete?" "I have heard somewhat," I answered. He then replied, "It was a wonder of the world, a building consisting of so many chambers, closets, and corridors, that he who entered it without a guide walked and blundered through it in every direction, and never found the way out. But this was nothing compared to the way in which the labyrinth of this world is fashioned, particularly in these times. I do not, believe me, counsel a prudent man to enter it alone."

(Description of One who was insolent.)

3. "But where, then, shall I seek such a guide?" I asked. He answered: "I am able to guide those who wish to see and learn somewhat, and to show them where everything is; therefore, indeed, did I come to meet thee." Wondering, I said: "Who art thou, my friend?" He answered: "My name is Searchall, and I have the by-name of Impudence. I wander through the whole world, peep into all corners, inquire about the words and deeds of all men, see everything that is visible, spy out and discover everything that is secret; generally, nothing can befall without me. It is my duty to survey everything; and if thou comest with me, I shall lead thee to many secret places, whereto thou wouldst never have found thy way."

4. Hearing such speech, I begin to rejoice in my mind at having found such a guide, and beg him not to shun the labour of conducting me through the world. He answered: "As I have gladly served others in this matter, so will I gladly aid you also." And seizing my hand, "Let us go," he said, and we went; and I said: "Well, now will I gladly see what the ways of the world are, and also whether it contains that on which a man may safely rely." Hearing this, my companion stopped and said: "Friend, if thou art starting on this voyage with the purpose, not of seeing our things with pleasure, but of passing judgment on them according to thine own understanding, I do not know if Her Majesty our Queen will be pleased with this."

(Vanity, the Queen of the World.)

5. "And who, then, is your Queen?" I said. He answered: "She who directs the whole world and its ways from the beginning. She is called Wisdom, though some wiseacres call her Vanity. I therefore warn thee in time, when we shall go there and look round, do not cavil; then wouldst thou draw some evil upon thyself, even though I be close to thee."