CHAPTER XXX

THE PILGRIM IS ACCUSED AT THE PALACE OF WISDOM

THE PILGRIM IS BROUGHT BEFORE THE QUEEN OF WORLDLY WISDOM. They led me into a certain spacious hall where I was at first dazzled by the extraordinary brilliance of the light that streamed not only through the many windows, but was more especially reflected from the previous stones with which (I was told) the wall were studded. The floor was covered with expensive rugs resplendent with gold; instead of a ceiling, there was something that appeared like a cloud or a mist. But I had no time to examine it carefully; for my eyes rested instantly on that precious Queen herself, sitting upon a high throne, under a canopy, and was surrounded on both sides by her advisors and attendants, a retinue of an amazingly majestic mien. I was awestruck by such splendor, especially when they began, one after another, to cast glances at me. "Fear nothing, but approach closer, " Mr. Ubiquitous whispered, "so that Her Majest the Queen may see you; be of good courage, but do not forget humility and civility." He then led me to the middle of the room and ordered me to make a low bow; which, although I did not know how to do, yet I performed somehow.

2 AND IS IMPEACHED. Then the interpreter, making himself my spokesman without my consent, began his speech as follows: "Most illustrious Queen of the world, the brightest beam of God, august Wisdom! This young man, whom we have brought before your honorable countenance, had been so fortunate as to receive permission from Fate, your Grace's regent, to travel through and to examine all the groups and orders of this most glorious kingdom of the world. The Most High has placed you in His stead as the ruler of the world, that by your providence you may rule it from one end to the other. This young man, then, has been conducted by us, who have been designated by your providence for such service, through all the classes of mankind. But (we confess it with humility and pain) despite all our sincere and faithful endeavors, we have been unable to induce him to take a liking to any occupation in which he might settle peacefully and become one of the faithful, obedient, and permanent citizens of this our common land; for he has shown himself forever displeased and has found fault with everything and has a longing for some other extraordinary thing. Being unable either to understand or to satisfy this wild desire of his, we have brought him before your august Majesty and commend him to your province to do with him as you see fit."

3 AND BECAME APPREHENSIVE. Hearing this unexpected speech, I was thrown, as anyone might well imagine, into an apprehensive state of mind. I clearly saw that I had been brought here to trial, and hence was filled with fear, particularly as I perceived a ferocious beast lying near the throne of the Queen (whether it was a dog or a lynx or some dragon, I do not well know), its shining eyes riveted upon me: I noticed that a single word would have sufficed to have it spring upon me.

THE ADVERSARY. Besides, two courtiers, the Queen's guards stood there, who were indeed dressed in women's apparel, but were, nevertheless, terrible to behold; especially the one on the left.

POWER. For this guard was clad in a suit of armor studded with sharp points like a hedgehog (so that it was dangerous even to touch him, as I perceived), having steel claws on his feet and hands and held a spear and a sword in one hand, a bow and fire in the other.

CRAFTINESS. The other guard appeared more grotesque than terrible, instead of armor he wore a great coat lined with the fox fur but turned inside out: in place of a halberd, he held a fox-tail in his right hand and rattled a branch with nuts with his left.

4 When my interpreter (or shall I say, my betrayer) finished his speech, the Queen (whose face was covered with the finest veil), spoke to me in a serious and discursive tone. "My worthy youth, I am not ill-pleased with your desire and intention to examine all things in the world (for I gladly give my permission to any of my beloved servants who wishes such a boom, and gladly render him assistance therein through these my faithful servants and serving-maids). Just the same, I dislike to hear that you are so fastidious that insteadof learning, as behooves you, a recent guest in the world, you give yourself over to sophistication. For which reason, although I could chastise you as a warning to others, yet in order to make my forbearance and goodness more commonly known rather than my strictness, I shall bear with you a little longer and allow you to dwell here at the castle, that you may be able to understand better both yourself and my rule. Value this my grace and know that not everybody is granted permission to visit these secret places, where the decrees and policies of the world are determined." Having finished speaking, she made a motion with her hand, in accordance with which sign I stepped aside, desirous to watch the further proceedings.

5 THE ROYAL COUNSELLORS. Having stepped aside, I inquired of my interpreter about the names, order, and duties of the counsellors. "Those nearest Her Majesty the Queen are her privy counsellors, " he answered, "on her right hand stand Purity, Prudence, Deliberation, Affability and Moderation; on her left hand are Truth, Zeal, Earnestness, Valor, Patience, and Constancy; these counsellors are ever near the royal throne.

6 THE FEMALE OFFICIALS OF THE QUEEN. "The women occupying the lower level are her officials and viceregents in the world. The one in the grey skirt, veiled, is the viceregent of the lower realms and is called Insdustry ; the other, in the gold-embroidered head-dress, wearing the folded ruff and crowned with the wreath, is the viceregent of the castle of blessings, and is named Dame Fortune (but I take it that you already know her). These two, together with their maid-servants, are sometimes at their respective stations, sometimes here, where they render service as well as receive orders and directions. Both of them have their under-regents: thus Dame Industry has placed Love over the matrimonial state, Diligence over the crafts and trades, Intelligence over the scholars, Piety over the clergy, Justice over the governing class, and Courage over the soldiers."

7 THE RULE OF WOMEN IN THE WORLD. Hearing these high-sounding names, and recalling the disorder I found in the world, I was tempted to make a testy remark, but did not dare; I merely thought to myself: "What a strange order prevails in this world! The ruler is a woman, her counsellors are women, the officials are women, the whole government is feminine! No wonder nobody fears it!"

8 THE BODYGUARDS. Thereupon, I inquired about the two guards, who they were and what their task was. My interpreter informed that "even Her Majesty the Queen has enemies and foes, against whom she must guard herself. The one dressed in fox furs is named Craftiness, while the other, clad in steel and fire, is called Force; where one fails to protect, the other comes to the rescue; thus the two co-operate. The dog also serves as a guard, for by his barking he warns against, and drives away any suspicious individual; his name at the court is Warner, but some who dislike his duties nickname him Adversary. "Nevertheless, now you had better stop your idle prattle and observe and listen to what is to take place, " he added. "Very well, " I replied, " I shall gladly do so."

Chapter 31 ||| Labyrinth index page



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