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Universal Reformation of Trajano Bocalini

By Manly P. Hall, 1939

In the year 1613, Trajano Bocalini was strangled to death in his bed by hired assassins. At least this is one account. We are informed by another historian that he died of colic. A third describes his demise as the result of being slugged with sandbags. One thing appears to be certain--he died.

The cause of his untimely end appears to have been a satirical work entitled Ragguagli di Parnaso, a witty exposition of the foibles of his time. He trounced his contemporaries so thoroughly that he was forced to leave Rome and take refuge in Venice, where, according to the records in the register of the parochial church of Santa Maria Formosa, he died on the sixteenth of November from one of the causes listed above.

Ragguagli di Parnaso, or "Advertisements from Parnassus," was published in two parts, each called a century because it contained one hundred sections of advertisements. The 77th Advertisement of the first century, entitled A General Reformation of the World, is usually regarded as the most important part of the entire book. The Universal Reformation was published separately in 1614. In the back of this edition, the Fame and Confession of the Rosicrucian Society first appeared as an appendix or supplement. Thus the Universal Reformation must be included in the bibliography of Rosicrucianism.

The writings of Bocalini first put on English garb in 1656, when the two centuries of Advertisements, together with the Political Touchstone, were translated "By the Right Honourable Henry Earl of Monmouth." Milord heightened his translation with a fine portrait of himself. Several editions of his translations followed in rapid succession. The book was a great favorite during the seventeenth century.

A new edition was prepared in 1704 by N. N. Esq., who took great liberties with the text for reasons not entirely obvious, but of the greatest significance. This edition contains a portrait of Bocalini supported by satyrs, which is reproduced herewith.

N. N. Esq. was particularly original in his treatment of the 77th Advertisement. Jacopo Mazzoni da Casena is no longer secretary of the Delphic committee. Instead, the name of Sir Francis Bacon is introduced as a secretary of the assembly of the Sophists. There is reason to believe that Bacon himself was the true composer of the 77th Advertisement, and that Bocalini, in this particular section, was only his mouthpiece.

Bayle, in his Dictionary, Historical and Critical, writes: "Boccalini was never charged with stealing the work of another, but with lending his own name to conceal the true Author." This supports my belief that the true author of the Universal Reformation remains unknown.

Minshaeus published, in 1625, his Guide into the Tongues. This book frequently is called the Baconian dictionary. The 1575th entry gives the meaning of the word boca. The entry reads: "BOCONIE, poison, Italian figges. G. Boucon. I Bocone, a Boca, i. the mouth." Not only does Bocalini become the diminutive mouth, but Bocone is decidedly reminiscent of Bacon.

A third point of interest is that the English translation should so conveniently have been made by Monmouth, or my mouth. For some reason, also, the motto engraved around the portrait of Monmouth has been cut backwards, and can be read only by looking through the paper. The sheet of paper which bears the portrait is the famous Baconian vase paper, the watermark being a pitcher-shaped urn with a handle, from which rise flowers surmounted by a lunar crescent. Within the body of the vase are three capital letters. The upper letter is B, and below it together are R C. If the B stood for Bacon or Brother, and the R C stood for Rosy Cross, the result would be most intriguing.

The Universal Reformation restates the evident fact that human nature is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Civilizations may come and go, languages and customs may change, but man is forever exploiting man.

Bocalini ridicules the fallacies of his age, but these same fallacies afflict also our present time. They have afflicted every generation recorded in history. Stupidity emerged with man from the prehistoric world. The strong always have persecuted the weak. The weak always have grown strong with desperation and have overthrown the great.

Three hundred years ago, Trajano Bocalini, or the man writing behind his name, compressed the problem of human policy and fallacy into an imaginary setting suitable for his satire. He conceived the court of Apollo on the summit of high Parnassus. Here dwell the wise of all time, and some who are not so wise who have been acclaimed by others more stupid than themselves. Here also are the literati, the intelligentsia of the world, men of good reputation in their own time who have come to lave forever in the pools of Helicon.

Yet even in this fine setting, the humanity in human nature remains strong. Even on Parnassus, there are petty jealousies, and, if we are to believe the satirist, strong prejudices of race and time. There are cliques and groups of super-mundane aristocracy who are so far from the mortal sphere that they rather have lost touch with man and the problems of his mundane state. These think in the broad generalities of opinion, seeking to solve mortal ills with formulas rather than facts.

The wise and noble Emperor Justinian ascends to the high throne of Apollo, beseeching the god of light and of truth for a solution to the afflictions that have reduced mankind to the extremity of self-destruction. Apollo, burdened with the necessity of preserving the whole order of the cosmos, decides to delegate Justinian's problem to the wisest of his philosophers, whom he has been supporting in Parnassian style.

The fact that the Universal Reformation should be linked to the Fame and Confession of the Rosicrucians reveals clearly the objectives of that mysterious society. They sought the universal reformation; they desired through the promulgation of knowledge to improve the general state of humanity. They envisioned a golden age to come, in which men should dwell together in enlightened peace.

The Universal Reformation cleared the way for their dispensation. It stated the problem and the uselessness of available remedies. The unrest in society bears witness to soul-sickness in man. This can be healed only through enlightenment. But enlightenment cannot be rapidly achieved. It must result from ages of refinement and regeneration.

The only panacea for the wasting disease which has threatened on many occasions to destroy mankind is the reform of the individual through a mystical participation in Universal Truth.



77TH Advertisement

The Universal Reformation of Mankind.

(A digest from the first English edition, London, 1656.)

The Emperor Justinian, that great compiler of statutes and books of civil law, recently presented for Apollo's approval a law strictly forbidding suicide.

"Is the good government of mankind fallen into such great disorder that men voluntarily kill themselves? I have fed an infinite number of philosophers only that by their words and writings they might make men less apprehensive of death. Are things reduced to such a calamity that those who formerly feared death will now no longer live?"

"The law was necessary," answered Justinian, "because many men have committed suicide, making worse to be feared unless some remedy be found."

After diligently informing himself as to why men found the world so impaired that they valued not their lives or their estate, just so that they might be out of it, Apollo resolved to create a Congregation of the most famous men in his dominions for wisdom and goodness of life. But when he came to choose the members of this Congregation from among the many moral philosophers and the almost infinite number of virtuosi, he could not find one who was endowed with half those parts which were requisite in him who ought to reform his companion.

His Majesty knew very well that men are better reformed by the exemplary life of their reformer than by any of the best rules that can be given. In this penury of fitting personages, Apollo gave charge of the Universal Reformation to the seven wise men of Greece. These are of great repute in Parnassus as those who have the method of washing blackamoors white.

The Grecians rejoiced at the honor paid to their nation. But the Latins were much grieved, thinking themselves injured. Apollo, knowing that the dissatisfaction of those to be reformed in their reformers hinders the fruit which is hoped, appointed Marcus Cato and Annaeus Seneca to satisfy the Romans, and in favor of the modern Italian philosophers, he made Jacopo Mazzoni da Casena secretary of the Congregation and honored them with a vote in their consultations.

The Congregation, accompanied by a train of the choicest virtuosi, went to the Delphic Palace. The literati were pleased to see the great number of pedants who, with little baskets, went gathering up the sentences and apothegms which fell from those wise men as they went along.

The next day after the solemn entrance, the assembly met to open the business. Thales, the first wise man of Greece spoke thus:

"Difficulties which frighten others ought not to make us despair of their cure. The impossibility will increase our glory and will keep us in the esteem we are in. I assure you that I have found the antidote for the poisons of our present corruption. Nothing has more corrupted the present age than hidden hatreds, feigned love, impiety, and the double-dealing of men cloaked under the mantle of simplicity, love and religion, and charity. The true and immediate cure for these present evils consists only in necessitating men to live with candor and purity of mind. This cannot be effected better than by making a little window in men's breasts. Men would be forced to speak and act knowing that there was a window wherein one might see into their hearts. Men would learn the excellent virtue of being, and not appearing to be; and would conform their deeds to their words, their dissembling tongues to sincerity of heart."

Thales' opinion was affirmed by the Congregation. Apollo approved it and commanded that the little window should be begun to be made in the breast of every man that very day.

Just as the surgeons took their instruments in hand, Virgil, Plato, Aristotle, Averroes, and other of the chief literati went to Apollo and reminded him that the prime means whereby men rule the world with so much ease is the reputation of those who command. If his majesty should unexpectedly open the breasts of every man, the greater part and better sort of the esteemed philosophers ran the evident hazard of being shamed. He might find the foulest faults in those whom he formerly had held to be immaculate. Before a business of such importance should be begun, he should give his virtuosi time to wash and cleanse their souls.

Apollo was pleased with the advice and extended the time eight days. During this time everyone attended to the cleansing of his soul from all fallacies, hidden vice, concealed hatred, and counterfeit love. When they were finished, there was no more honey of roses nor laxative syrups to be found at any grocer's or apothecary shop. The more curious observed that the greatest activity took place among the platonists, peripatetics, and moral philosophers.

The day before they were to begin making the windows, Hippocrates, Galen, Cornelius Celsus, and other skillful physicians went to Apollo and said: "This microcosm must not be deformed. It is so nobly and miraculously framed that if any chief muscle, if any principal vein be but touched, human creatures run the danger of being slain. Should so much mischief be done only for the advantage of a few ignorant people?"

Apollo was so much impressed that he changed his former resolution and bade the philosophers to proceed in delivering their opinions.

Solon began thus: "In my opinion, that which has this present age in such confusion is the cruel hatred and spiteful envy which reigns in men. We ought to employ our skill in taking away the occasions of those hatreds. I long have held the opinion that the true springs of human hatred proceed from disparity of means, from the hellish custom of mine and thine. This world was created only that mankind might live upon it as the brute beasts do; not that avaricious men should divide it among themselves and turn what was common into mine and thine, which has put all men to such confusion. What justice is it that everyone should not share thereof equally with his companions? But that which infinitely aggravates this disorder is that usually good, virtuous men are beggars; whereas wicked and ignorant people are wealthy. From the root of this inequality, the rich are injurious to the poor and the poor envy the rich.

"It is easy to apply the medicine. Divide the world anew and allot equal parts to everyone. In order to prevent like disorders in the future, I advise that all buying and selling be forbidden."

Solon's opinion suffered a long debate: Great disorder would follow such a division--too great a share would fall to fools and too little to gallant men--plague, famine, and wars are not God's severest scourges--his greatest punishment for mankind is to enrich rascals. Thus was Solon's opinion set aside.

Chilon spoke to this purpose: "Who does not know the thirst men have for gold? What wickedness, what impiety men willingly commit if thereby they may accumulate riches. No better way can be found to extirpate all the vices that oppress our age and to bring in that sort of life that best becomes men, than to banish out of the world the two infamous metals, gold and silver. The occasion of our present disorders ceasing, the evils necessarily will cease."

Chilon's opinion could not endure the test: Men took much pains to get gold and silver because they are the measure and counterpoise of all things--it is necessary to have some standard of price--if there were no such things as gold and silver, men would make use of some other thing instead, which, rising in value, would be as much coveted; for example, cockleshells are more valued in the Indies.

Cleobulus suggested: "Banish iron from the world, for that is the metal that has put us in our present condition. Gold and silver serve for the use which is ordained by God, to be the measure of all things. But iron, which is produced by nature for making plowshares, spades, mattocks, and other instruments to cultivate the earth, is by the malice and mischief of men turned to the making of swords, daggers, and other deadly instruments."

Though Cleobulus' opinion was judged to be very true, yet it was concluded by the whole Congregation that it was impossible to expel iron and that it would be imprudent to multiply, or to cure one wound with another. Gold and silver should be kept, but in the future, the refiners should cleanse them well, and not take them out of the fire until they had taken from both metals the vein of turpentine in them, which is the reason both gold and silver stick so close to the fingers of even good and honest men.

Pittacus, with extraordinary gravity, began thus: "Men in these days have given over travelling by the beaten road of virtue and take the byways of vice. None can get into the Palace of Dignity, Honor, or Reward by the Gate of Merit and Virtuous Endeavor. But like thieves, men climb the windows with ladders of tergiversation. There are some who by force of gifts and favors have thereby entered the House of Honor.

"If you will reform this corrupted age, you should do well to force men to walk by the way of virtue, and make severe laws, that whosoever desires supreme honors and dignities must travel by the wagon of deserts, and with the sure guide of virtue; and take away so many byways, little paths, and crooked lanes found by ambitious men and modern hypocrites, which multiply faster in this miserable age than locusts in Africa. What greater affront can be put upon virtue and merit than to see ambitious men rise to the highest preferments when no one can guess how they got there?"

Pittacus' opinion was not only praised but would have been approved, had not Periandro made them alter their minds. "Gentlemen, these things are true, but what we ought to consider is why princes bestow great places on new fellows, raised out of the dirt and mire, without either worth or honor. Princes do not act by chance. What they do is out of interest. Those things which to private men appear errors and negligence are accurate political precepts. All who have written of state affairs freely confess that the best way to govern kingdoms well is to confer places of highest honor and dignity upon men of great merit and known worth and valor. Though princes do not observe it, he is a fool who believes that they do it out of carelessness.

"I am persuaded through long study that ignorant men of no merit are preferred through default of the virtuosi. I acknowledge that princes need learned men, and men of experience and valor. But none of you will deny that they likewise need men who are loyal. It is evident that if deserving men were but as faithful as they are able, as grateful as they are knowing, we should not see undeserving dwarfs become great giants in four days space, nor see ignorance seated in the chair of virtue, and folly in valor's tribunal. It is common to all men to think much better of themselves than they deserve. But the virtuosi presume so much upon their own good parts, that they rather pretend to add to the prince's reputation by having any honors conferred upon them, than to receive credit themselves by his munificence. These men prove so ungrateful to their princes and benefactors in their greatest necessities as to cause themselves to be abhorred. Princes seek for loyalty and trust in those they prefer for high places."

Bias then spoke: "God, knowing that the harmony of the world would be filled with incurable diseases if men should exceed the bounds which he had allotted them, and that he might make the ways of such disorders more difficult, added a multitude of languages to the mountains, precipices, violent courses of rivers, and immense seas.

"But men boldly cross all hazards to ruin other men's affairs and to decompose their own. The true remedy is first to force every nation to return home to its own country. Then, to end all like mischief, destroy bridges over rivers, make the mountains more inaccessible, and forbid navigation."

Further examination by the best wits found Bias' opinion not good: The greatest enmities between nations are not natural, but occasioned by the cunning princes who are masters of the proverb divide and rule--men early learn wisdom by travelling through the world--by navigation the precious benefits peculiar to certain regions are distributed to the world.

Cleobulus rising, seemed with a low bow to desire to speak: "I clearly perceive that the reform of the present age, a business of itself very easy, becomes by the diversity and extravagance of our opinions, impossible rather than difficult. I find here the common defects of ambitious and slight wits, who get up in public and labor more to show the rarity of their own wits, than to benefit their audience by useful precepts and sound doctrines. To raise men out of the foul mire and dirt into which he has fallen, why need we make windows in his breast? Why should we undertake the laborious division of the world into equal parts? Banish gold and silver from the earth? Force men to walk in the way of virtue and merit? Why make more difficult the passage over nature's barriers? These are sophistical fancies and mere chimeras.

"Our chief consideration ought to be that the remedy applied to the undoing of evil may be easy to put into execution, that it may work its effect soon and secretly without any noise, and that it may be received cheerfully by those who are to be reformed. Otherwise, we shall deform instead of reform the world. It is the duty of reformers to provide themselves with a sure remedy before they take notice of the wound. It is not only foolishness, but impiety, to defame men by publishing their vices, and to show to the world that their maladies are grown to such a height that it is not in the power of man to cure them. Wise men lay axes to the greatest root to fell a tree. The reform of the present world consists wholly in rewarding the good and punishing the bad."

Thales opposed these words with such violence, that he showed how dangerous it is to offend those who have a reputation of being good and wise, even though telling the truth. "Since you have rejected our opinions as sophistries and chimeras, we expected rare wisdom from you, some miraculous cure from the Indies. There is not one of us, my Cleobulus, who did not know before you were pleased to put us in mind of it, that reformation of the world depends wholly upon rewarding the good and punishing the wicked. But who in our age are perfectly good and who exactly ill? Hypocrites seem most exactly good, while really perfect men who live in sincerity and singleness of soul are thought to be scandalous and silly. True virtue is known only and rewarded by God, for he alone penetrates into the depths of men's hearts. We, by means of the window proposed by me, might have penetrated thereinto, had not the enemy of mankind sowed tares in the field where I sowed the grain of good advice. But new laws, no matter how good and wholesome they may be, have ever been and ever will be opposed by those vicious people who are thereby punished."

The assembly was mightily pleased at the reasons alleged by Thales and all turned their eyes on Periandro, who began thus: "The variety of opinions that I have heard confirms me in my former tenet, that four out of five that are sick perish because the physicians do not know the disease. These may be excused because men are easily deceived in things about which they may only conjecture. But that we, who are judged by Apollo to be the salt of the earth, should not know the evil under which the present age labors redounds much to our shame. The malady which we ought to cure is not hidden in the veins, but is so manifestly known to all men that it cries aloud for help. Yet from the reasons I have heard I think you go about to mend the arm when it is the breast that is fistuled.

"But, gentlemen, since it is Apollo's pleasure that we should do so, and since our reputations stand upon it, let us take from our faces the mask of respect and speak freely. Great disorder has always reigned among men. Powerful men disorder the world by their detestable vices while others go about to reorder it by mending the faults of private men. But these are not the vices that have depraved our age. Fitting punishment provided by law enables a few ministers to make it possible for every one to walk safely both by day and by night. But public peace is disturbed by ambition, avarice, and diabolical engagements which some powerful persons have usurped over the states of those who are less powerful. This is the true cause of the scandal of the present times. It is this, gentlemen, that has filled the world with hatred and suspicion, and defiled it with so much blood that men, who were created by God with human hearts and civil inclinations, are become ravenous beasts tearing one another in pieces with all sorts of inhumanity. The ambition of these men has changed public peace into most cruel war, virtue into vice, charity and love for neighbors into such hatred that nation appears to nation not to be men, not brothers as they are, but creatures of another species.

"Theft is so persecuted by all that the stealing of an egg is a capital fault, and yet powerful men are so blinded with the ambition of reigning as to rob another man of his whole estate. This is not thought to be an execrable mischief but a noble occupation fit only for kings. How can those who obey live virtuously quiet when their commanders abound in vices? To bereave a powerful prince of a kingdom requires a multitude of men who do not feel the shame of stealing their neighbors' goods, or of murdering men, and of firing cities. They change the base name of thief into that of gallant soldier and valiant commander. And that which aggravates the evil is that even good princes are forced to run upon the same rocks to defend their own estates, to regain what they have lost, and to revenge themselves on those who have injured them by stealing their estates. Being allured by gain, they betake themselves to the same shameful trade.

"The art of bereaving other men of their territories has become a highly esteemed science. Thus human wit, which was made to admire and contemplate the miracles of heaven and the wonders of the earth, is wholly trained to invent stratagems and plot treasons, and hands which were made to cultivate the earth that feeds us are taught to handle arms that we may kill one another.

"This is what has brought our age to its last gasp. The true way to remedy it is for the princes who use such dealing to amend themselves and be content with their present fortunes. It appears strange to me that there should be no king who can satisfy his ambition with the absolute command over twenty millions of men. Princes were ordained for the good of mankind.

"Therefore, bridle the ambition of princes and limit the greatness of principalities. There never was a monarchy excessively great which was not in a short time lost by the carelessness and negligence of its governors."

Solon opposed Periandro thus: "The true cause of the present evils, which you have been pleased with much freedom to speak, was not omitted by us out of ignorance as you may believe, but out of prudence.

"These disorders began when the world was first peopled. The most skillful physicians cannot restore sight to one born blind. When vice and corruption have a deep rooting, it is wiser to tolerate the evil than to go about remedying it out of time with danger of occasioning worse inconvenience. Moreover, we are here to call to mind the disorders of private men and to use modesty in so doing; to be silent in what concerns princes and to bury their disorders which a wise man must touch very tenderly or else say nothing of them. Princes have no superiors in this world and it belongs to God to reform them."

After Solon's words had been commended, Cato began: "Your opinions, most wise Grecians, are much to be admired for infinite wisdom and human knowledge. But the malady is so spread through the parts of the patient that medicines good for one part would harm the others. The maladies which molest our present age are as the stars of heaven or the sands of the sea, and I believe the cure to so desperate that it is beyond human help.

"It is my opinion that we must have recourse to prayers and other divine helps. When the world formerly had fallen into difficulties, God sent universal deluges that razed mankind full of abominable and incorrigible vices from off the world. When a man sees the walls of his house gaping and ruinous, and the foundations so weakened that it is ready to fall, it certainly is wiser to build anew than to waste time and money in piecing and patching the old. Since man's life is so foully depraved with vices, I beseech the Divine Majesty, and counsel you to do the like, that he will again open the cataracts of heaven and send new deluges upon the earth, and by so pouring forth his wrath upon mankind mend the incurable wounds by the salve of death; that a new ark may be made wherein all boys not above twelve years of age may be saved; that all the female sex of all ages be consumed and nothing but the unhappy memory remain. And I beseech the same Divine Majesty that he grant to men the benefit of procreation without the feminine sex, for, gentlemen, I have learned for certain that as long as there shall be any women in the world, men will be wicked."

Cato's discourse displeased the whole assembly. They did not abhor so much the harsh conceit of the deluge, but cast themselves on the ground with their hands held up to heaven and humbly beseeched Almighty God that he would preserve the excellent female sex, that he would keep mankind from any more deluges and send them upon the earth only to extirpate those decomposed wild wits who, being of depraved judgment with an overweening opinion of themselves, are nothing but mad men. These, and other specious petitions to God, brought Cato's opinion to its unlucky end.

Seneca thus began: "Rough treating is not requisite. The chief thing is to deal gently with them. It is rash to go from one extreme to another. Man's nature is not capable of violent mutations. If it be true that the world has been falling many thousands of years into the present infirmities, he is a very fool who thinks he can restore it to its former health in a few days. Moreover, in reformation, the conditions of those who do the reforming, and the quality of those that are to be reformed, ought to be exactly considered.

"We that are reformers are all of us philosophers, learned men. If those to be reformed be only stationers, printers, and such as sell paper, pens and inks, we may well correct their errors. But if we attempt to mend the faults of other occupations we should commit worse errors and become more ridiculous than the shoemaker who would judge colors and censure pictures.

"Upon this question I am forced to put you in mind of a fault which is usual among us of the literati who for four cujus pretend to know all things. We appear unaware that when we first swerve from what is treated in our books, we run riot and say a thousand things to no purpose. I say this, gentlemen, because there is nothing which more obviates reformations than to walk therein in the dark, which happens when the reformers are not perfectly well acquainted with the vices of those that are to be reformed. Which of us knows the abuses and excuses which we must correct? If we go about to mend such disorders which are so far from our profession, shall we not be thought blind? It is a manifest presumption in us to pretend to know all things, to believe that there are not three or four of every trade or occupation who fear God and love their own reputation. We should send for three or four men of known goodness and integrity in every trade or occupation, that every one may reform his own trade."

While some favored Seneca's views, others were moved to indignation: By taking in more reformers they would dishonor Apollo who had thought them not only sufficient but excellently fit for that business--that it was not wisely advised to begin the reformation by publishing their own weakness.

The whole assembly, by the refutation of Seneca's opinion, found small hopes of effecting a reformation. They relied but little on Mazzoni who was but a novice. Though Mazzoni perceived by many signs that they did not think he could speak to any purpose, yet not discouraged he spoke thus:

"It was not for any merit of mine, most wise philosophers that I was admitted by Apollo into this reverend congregation, but by his Majesty's special favor. I know it better becomes me to use my ears than my tongue. I certainly should not dare to open my mouth on any other occasion, but reformation is the business in hand and I lately came from where nothing is spoken of but reformation and reformers. You seem much like those indiscreet physicians who lose time in consulting and disputing without ever having seen the sick party for himself.

"We, gentlemen, are to cure the present age of the awful infirmities with which we see it oppressed. We have labored to find out the reason for the maladies and how to cure them. And none of us have been wise enough to visit the sick party. I advise that we send for the Present Age, question it, and see the affected parts naked. Thus the cure which we hold so desperate will prove easy."

The whole assembly was pleased at Mazzoni's motion. They commanded the Age to be sent for, which presently was brought in on a chair by the four seasons of the year. He was a man full of years but with such a fresh and strong complexion that he seemed likely to live for many ages. But he was short of breath and his voice was very weak. They told him that they had sent for him to cure him of his infirmity and bade him speak freely.

The Age answered: "Soon after I was born, gentlemen, I fell into these maladies under which I now labor. My sickness resembles the ebb and flow of the sea which always contains the same water though it rises and falls. When my looks are outwardly good, my malady is more grievous inwardly. When my face looks ill, I am best within. For the infirmities that torment me, just take off this gay jacket with which good people have covered the rotten carcass." Having stripped the Age naked, they saw the poor wretch plastered with appearances four inches thick all over his body. The reformers tried to scrape them away with razors, but found them so far eaten into the bone that in all that huge Colossus they could not find one ounce of good live flesh.

After dismissing the Age and finding the cure altogether desperate, they assembled themselves close together. Forsaking all thought of public affairs, they resolved to prepare for the indemnity of their own reputations.

Mazzoni wrote what the rest of the reformers dictated. In the manifesto they witnessed to the world the great care Apollo had of his literati's virtuous living and of the welfare of mankind, and what pains the reformers had taken in compiling the General Reformation. Then coming to particulars, they set down the prices of cabbages, sprats, and pompions. All the assembly had signed the Reformation when Thales reminded them that certain hagglers who sell lupins and black cherries give such small measure that it was a shame not to take order therein.

The assembly thanked Thales for his advertisement, and added to their Reformation that the measures should be made greater.

Then the palace gates were thrown open and the General Reformation was read to the people, who flocked in infinite numbers. It was so generally applauded that all Parnassus rang with shouts of joy, for the meaner sort of people are pleased with every little thing, and men of judgment know that as long as there are men there will be vices.

Men live on earth not well but as little ill as they may. The height of human wisdom lies in being discreet and in being content to leave the world as it was found.