Nov 07 2015

Two Elizabethans on Wisdom vs. Riches

Published by at 9:42 am under English Literature,Simple living,Uncategorized

From The Sixth Booke of the Faerie Qveene, Canto IX, Stanza XXX (1590), by Edmund Spenser.

It is the mynd, that maketh good or ill,
That maketh wretch or happie, rich or poore:
For some, that hath abundance at his will,
Hath not enough, but wants in greatest store;
And other, that hath litle, askes no more,
But in that litle is both rich and wise.
For wisedome is most riches; fooles therefore
They are, which fortunes doe by vowes deuize,
Sith each vnto himselfe his life may fortunize.

And from Pericles, Prince of Tyre (1607), by William Shakespeare.

CERIMON
I hold it ever,
Virtue and cunning were endowments greater
Than nobleness and riches: careless heirs
May the two latter darken and expend;
But immortality attends the former,
Making a man a god. ‘Tis known, I ever
Have studied physic, through which secret art,
By turning o’er authorities, I have,
Together with my practise, made familiar
To me and to my aid the blest infusions
That dwell in vegetives, in metals, stones;
And I can speak of the disturbances
That nature works, and of her cures; which doth give me
A more content in course of true delight
Than to be thirsty after tottering honour,
Or tie my treasure up in silken bags,
To please the fool and death.

(The word cunning is used here with its older meaning of dexterity or knowing.)

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