Chapter XXXII The pilgrim observes the secret judgements and the government of the world
I soon realized that the business transacted here had to do only with the general public policies affecting in common all the callings in the world; particular business was transacted in the appropriate headquarters, such as city-halls, courts of justice, consistories, and so forth. Let me relate as briefly as possible what took place in my presence.
Complaints regarding the disorders of the world
2 First of all, Industry and Fortune, the viceregents of the world, stepped forth and brought complaints regarding the disorders afflicting all classes that were caused by mutual distrust, craftiness, deceit, and falsehoods of all kinds; petitioning that they be somehow rectified. I rejoiced to find these officials themselves now to admit the evil which I had found, namely that there was no order in the world. Perceiving this, my interpreter remarked:
“You thought that you alone possessed eyes, while everybody else was blind; here you witness how diligently they watch whom such oversight is committed.” —
“I am glad to hear it,” I replied,
“may God grant that a way be found to remove these evils.”
Search for the causes
3 Then the counsellors came together, as I saw, and after a short consultation, inquired through the Chancelloress Prudence whether it were possible to discover who caused these evils. After much investigation it was announced that certain rioters and ruffians had slipped into the country and were spreading both private and public disosrders. Among these the chief blame was laid on Drunkenness, Greed, Usury, Lust, Pride, Cruelty, Laziness, and Idleness (for they were thus mentioned by name) as well as upon several others.
A decree against the causers of disorders
4 After an inquiry about these individuals had been made, a decree was finally composed and read, and public proclamations (posted and displayed in public places and sent out throughout the kingdom) made it know that her Majesty, Queen Wisdom, having taken notice of certain foreigners who had surreptitiously slipped into the country and had become the cause of many disorders, were in consequence forever proscribed from all communitiese of the kingdom, namely Drunkenness, Greed, Usury, Lust and so forth, and were ordered, under penalty of death, from the hour of proclamation of the decreee, to be seen no more. When this decree was made public, it created an incredibly widespread commotion among the joyous people, for everybody (myself included) expected that the golden age of the world had begun.
New complaints and new decrees
5 Within a short time, however, when no improvement was noticeable anywhere in the world, many rushed to complain that the edict had not been enforced. Thereupon, after the counsellors again gathered in council, the Queen appointed a commission which consisted of Careless and Overlook, to whom, for the greater honor, Moderation was added from among the Queen’s counsellors. This commission was ordered to ascertain diligently whether the infamous banished ruffians had not remained in the country despite the edict, or whether perchance they had not the audacity to return again. The commissioners departed and returning after a time reported that they had indeed found some suspicious-looking individuals, but upon examination had found that they did not profess themselves as belonging to the banished band and, besides, that they had borne different names. Thus one resembling Drunkenness was called Tipsiness alias Joviality; another resembling Greed bore the name of Thrift; the third, bearing a likeness to Usury was known as Interest; the fourth, resembling Lust was called Favor; the fifth, much like Pride, was known as Dignity; the sixth, not unlike Cruelty, was called Strictness; the seventh, bearing a likeness to Laziness, was named Amiability; and so forth.
The characters are expounded
6 Upon consideration of this report by the counsellors, it was decreed that Joviality was not to be confused with Drunkennes, nor should Thrift be called Greed, etc. Therefore, the suspected individuals were ordered to be set free, for the edict had no reference to them. This finding having been made public, the suspects were instantly freed and gathered about themselves a following of common people who adhered to and fraternized with them. I glanced at Solomon and his colleagues and observed them shaking their heads; but since they preserved their silence, so did I, although I overheard one of them whisper to another:
“Only the names are proscribed; the traitors and destroyers themselves, having changed their names, have a free hand; nothing good will come of this.”
The estates of the world demand greater liberties
7 Then the representatives of all the estates of the world entered, asking for an audience; having been admitted, they presented, with many a quaint obeisance, a humble petition of the faithful subjects of her Majesty, the most illustrious Queen, begging her graciously to remember their faithful and loyal adherence to her sceptre hitherto, and reminding her that they had ever remained content with her laws, regulations, and her rule generally, and intended to remain so in the future; but they petitioned her Majesty the Queen for an increase of their privileges and liberties (if it might meet with Her Majesty’s pleasure) as a reward for their former faithfulness, and as an incentive for continuing therein. In consideration of such benefits, they pledged their gratitude and unswerving obedience. Having finished their harangue, they bowed down to the floor and stepped back. I rubbed my eyes:
“What will now follow? Does not the world possess enough privileges that it seeks for more? A bridle for you, a bridle and a whip, together with a pinch of +77hellbore!” But all this I thought to myself, having determined not to speak aloud; for it was not proper that I should do so in the presence of those wise men and greybeards who likewise witnessed the accident.