The Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart (1901)/Chapter 30

CHAPTER XXX

HOW THE PILGRIM WAS IMPEACHED IN THE PALACE OF WISDOM

(The Pilgrim is placed before the Queen of Worldly Wisdom.)

Then they lead me into a large hall, within which a wondrous lightness streamed towards me. It did not proceed from any of the many windows, but rather—as I was told—from the many precious stones with which the walls were encased; and the floor was bestrewn with precious carpets that also gleamed with gold, but in the place of a ceiling there appeared to be a cloud or mist. This I could not fully examine, for my eyes were incontinently fixed on the dear queen herself, who sat on the highest place under a baldachin; and around her stood on both sides her councillors and servants, a truly glorious company. But I was terrified by this splendour, and yet more so when the queen's ladies, one after the other, began to look at me. Then Impudence spake: "Fear naught; approach more closely, that her majesty the queen may see thee. Be then valiant, but forget not modesty nor courtesy." Then he led me into the middle of the hall and ordered me to bow down low; knowing not how to bear myself, I did so.

(The Pilgrim is impeached.)

2. Then my interpreter, who, against my wishes, had become my interpreter, began thus: "Most serene queen of the world, most brilliant ray of God's light, magnificent Wisdom! This young man whom we bring before you has had the good fortune to receive from Fate (the regent of your Majesty) permission to view all the ranks and conditions in this kingdom of the world, over which the great God has placed you as His representative, that you may by your prudence rule it wisely from one boundary to the other. He has been led by us, who, through your prudent decision, have been appointed the guides of such men, through all the estates of mankind. Yet—with humility and sorrow we confess this to thee—in spite of all our sincere and faithful endeavours, we have not succeeded in persuading him to choose a certain estate, establish himself tranquilly in it, and become one of the faithful, obedient, constant inhabitants of this our common country; rather is he ever and on all occasions anxious, disgusted with all, desirous of somewhat unusual. Therefore, as we can neither satisfy his wild cravings nor even understand them, we place him before your illustrious serenitude, leaving it to your prudence to decide what is to be done with him."

(The Pilgrim is afeard.The Adversary; Power; Endearment.[1])

3. Now everyone will judge what my state of mind was when I heard this speech (which I had not expected). For I now fully understood that I had been brought here for judgment. Therefore was I afeard; and yet more so when I saw lying beneath the throne of the queen a terrible beast (whether it was a dog or a lynx, or some dragon, I do not well know); and when I saw that it looked at me with sparkling eyes, I clearly saw that it required little to incite it against me. There stood there also two soldiers in mail, bodyguards of the queen; they were indeed in female attire, but terrible to behold, particularly the one who stood at the left. For he wore an iron coat of mail, prickly as a hedgehog (and even to touch it, I saw, was dangerous); on his hands and feet he had steely claws; in one hand he held a spear and a sword, in the other arrows and fire-arms. The second guard seemed to me laughable rather than terrible; for instead of a coat of mail, he wore the skin of a fox turned inward out; instead of a halberd he carried the brush of a fox, and in the left hand he held a nut-twig which he rattled.

(The Queen's Words to the Pilgrim.)

4. Now when my interpreter (or rather, if I may say so, traitor) had finished his discourse, the queen (whose visage was covered by a most soft veil of lawn), spoke to me this weighty and lengthy speech: "Worthy young man, thy intention and desire to behold everything in the world displeaseth me not (indeed, I wish all my beloved ones to do this, and gladly through my trusty servants render them aid). But this I hear of thee with displeasure, that thou art somewhat fastidious; and though thou art in the world as a guest, who should learn what is new to him, yet thou givest thyself up to cavilling. Though I could therefore award thee punishment as an example to others, yet I wish that examples rather of my peaceableness and kindness than of my severity should be known to all; therefore I forbear with thee, and grant thee a residence near me in this my palace, that thou mayest better understand both thyself and the order of my rule. Value, then, this my favour, and learn that it is not granted to all to reach those secret spots, where the decrees and judgments of the world are delivered." When she had ended her speech she waved her hand, and I stepped aside, according to the instructions I had received, and I was anxious to see what now again would befall.

(The Queen's Councillors.)

5. Meanwhile, standing somewhat apart, I ask the interpreter how these councillors of the queen are named, what was the order among them, and what were the duties of each of them. Then he said to me: "Those privy councillors that stand nearest to the queen are, at her right: Purity, Circumspection, Prudence, Caution, Affability, Moderation. On the left side stand: Truth, Zeal, Sincerity, Courage, Patience, and Constancy; and these are the councillors of the queen who ever surround her throne."

(The Officials of the Queen.)

6. "Now these who stand beneath the barriers are the queen's officials and vice-regents upon earth. The one who is clothed in grey garments is the ruler of the inferior regions, and she is called Industria or Endeavour; then that one garbed in purple, wearing a slighted necklace and a wreath (but her, I think, thou hast already seen) is the ruler of the Castle of Fame, and she is called the Lady Fortuna. These two and their aids are employed at their business, now here, now there; they have both to render services and to receive judgments and commands. Each of these has again her inferior officials under her; thus the Lady Industria has appointed Love to rule over the married people, Laboriousness over the trades and matters of commerce, Sagacity over the scholars, Piety over the clergy, Justice over the lawyers, and so forth."

(The Rule of Women in the World.)

7. Now hearing these fine names, and seeing that none the less all was awry in the world, I would fain have spoken somewhat, but I dared not. I merely devised with myself: "This is indeed a wondrous government of the world. The king is a woman, the councillors are women, the officials are women; the whole rule is of women. How could anyone fear it?"

(The Bodyguards.)

8. Now I inquired also about these two bodyguards, what and wherefore they were. He[2] said that her majesty the queen also had her enemies and caballers, against whom it behove her to guard herself. "This one in a fox's skin is called Endearment; the other, with iron and fire, is Power. When one cannot guard the queen, the other defends her; thus by turns they take the place one of the other. Then that dog who is near them does duty as watcher, who by barking makes known the approach of all who are suspect, and drives them away. He is known at Court as the Messenger, but those whom his duties please not much call him the Adversary. But cease now to gape; listen and attend to what will befall here." "It is well," said I, "with pleasure."

  1. For the explanation of these names, see later, p. 246.
  2. I.e., the interpreter.