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To that individual, if such an one exists, who resembles the man sought after by the philosopher Diogenes at noon dạy, with a lighted candle in a lanthorn *.
WhereSOE'ER thou art, I humbly greet thee, heedless of thy country, religion, language, or colour; well convinced, that neither climate, creed, tongue or complexion can prove detrimental to the expansion of wisdom, or tend to warp thee from the pursuits of everlasting truth.
To thee, O Phoenix ! or to adopt the words of Solomon, “Beloved of my soul,” do I send
* It is obvious, that our Poet did not take the honest man of the Cynic, in a literal sense, but that he conceived the philosopher went in search of a wise and good man, and not merely of one who was proof against the temptation of purloining a silver spoon.
Colui e buomo, che può regger se stesso.
- this little book, greeting, under the assurance, that my moral will be in unison with thy practice, and consonant with thy theory, when absolute action hath not led thee to display thy conduct to the world of fools.
To intrude upon thee fulsome flattery would be fruitless, thy discriminating sense would pierce the flimsy veil: to wish thee unfading happiness would be nugatory, since wisdom is thy pursuit, and joys unperishable are the attendants on those who struggle in order to its attainment: to urge thee to proceed in thy career with steady determination, would merely hold me up to ridicule in thine eyes, since he who hath tasted the delicious fruits of science, would never quit the Hesperian produce" to prey on garbage.” Therefore naught have I further to add, but take my leave, under the firm conviction, that
Sapientia prima est, stultitia caruisse.
In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, several works written in Latin, issued from foreign presses, similar in title and composition to the plan of the present publication; the intention of which is to lash the reigning vices and follies of mankind. These productions have, for the most part, been inspected by the editor, but the work which obviously appears to have given the idea for the several sections now under consideration, is the Ship of Fools, translated into English verse by one Alexander Barclay, priest, and printed in folio. Of this work, numerous editions issued from the press; the earliest of which was printed by Pinson, in 1509; vid. Herbert's edition of Ames, vol. i. p. 253, from which it should seem, that Alexander Barclay had only completed his translation the preceding year, as in a subsequent folio edition, bearing date 1570, the following
lines appear :
“Thus endeth the Ship of Fools, translated out of Latin, French and Dutch, into Englishe, by Alexander Barclay, priest, at that time chaplin in the coledge of St. Mary Ottery, in the countie of Devon. An. Dom. 1508.”
In the commencement of that volume, the reader is informed, that Stultifera Navis was originally the labour of one Sebastian Brant, a Dutchman, and Doctor of both Laws, in the county of Almayne, who composed the book in his native tongue, endeavouring as much as possible to vie with the ancient Roman satirists; not to omit the effusions of Dante and Francis Petrarch, the heroic poets whom it is alleged, he also took for his models. From the original Dutch, the Ship of Fools was then translated into Latin, by James Locher, a disciple of Brant's, and was afterwards' rendered into