A Man is then a certain monstrous beast compact together of parts two or three of great diversity.
Of a soul as of a certain goodly thing, and of a body as it were a brute or dumb beast. For certainly we so greatly excel not all other kinds of brute beasts in perfectness of body, but that we in all his natural gifts are found to them inferiors. In our minds verily we be so celestial and of godly capacity that we may surmount above the nature of angels, and be unite, knit and made one with God. If thy body had not been added to thee, thou hadst been a celestial or godly thing. If this mind had not been grafted in thee, plainly thou hadst been a brute beast.
These two natures between themselves so diverse, that excellent workman had coupled together with blessed concord: but the serpent the enemy of peace put them asunder again with unhappy discord: so that now they neither can be separate without very great torment and pain, neither live joined together without continual war. And plainly, after the common saying, each in the other holdeth the wolf by the ears, and either may say very well and accordingly to the other that proper and pleasant verse of Catullus, I neither can live with thee nor without thee. Such ruffling, wrangling and trouble they make between themselves with cumberous debate as things diverse, which indeed are but one. The body verily as he himself is visible, so delighteth he in things visible. As he is mortal, so followeth he things temporal. As he is heavy, so sinketh he downward. On the other part, the soul mindful of her celestial nature enforceth upward with great violence and with a terrible haste striveth and wrestleth with the heavy burden of the earthly body. She despiseth these things that are seen, for she knoweth them to be transitory, she seeketh true things of substance which be permanent and ever abiding, and because she is immortal and also celestial she loveth things immortal and celestial, and rejoiceth with things of like nature, except she be utterly drowned in the filth of the body and by contagiousness of him hath gone out of kind from her native gentleness.
And verily neither Prometheus, so much spoken of among poets, sowed this discord in us a portion of every beast mixed to our mind, neither our primitive and first making gave it, that is to say, it sprang not in us naturally, or nature gave it not to us in our first creation or nativity: but sin hath evil-corrupted and decayed that which was well created, sowing the poison of dissension between them that were honestly agreed, for before that time both the mind ruled the body without business, and the body obeyed without grudging. Now is it clean contrary. The order between them is so troubled, the affections or appetites of the body strive to go before reason, and reason is in a manner compelled to incline and follow the judgment of the body.
Thou mayst compare therefore a man properly to a commonalty, where is debate and part taking among themselves. Which commonalty for as much as it is made of sundry kinds of men gathered together, which be of diverse and contrary appetites: it cannot be avoided but that much strife shall arise therein, and parts taken often times, unless the chief rule and authority be in one. And he himself be such a fellow that will command nothing but that which shall be wholesome and profitable for the commonwealth. And for that cause it must needs be that he which is most wise should most bear rule. And he needs must obey that least perceiveth or understandeth. Now there is nothing more foolish than the rascal or vile commonalty. And therefore ought they to obey the officers and rulers, and bear no rule nor office themselves. The noble estates or such men which be most ancient of age, ought to be heard: but so that it lie only in the king’s arbitrament to make statutes and laws, whom it is meet to be advertised to be put in remembrance or counselled now and then. But it is not meet that he should be compelled, or that any man should be master or rule him.
And finally the king obeyeth no man but the law only. The law must be correspondent to the original decree of nature or the first example of honesty. Wherefore if this order subverted, the unruly commons, and that raging dregs of the city shall strive to go before the seniors: or if the chief lords shall despise the commandment of the king, then ariseth perilous sedition or division in our commonwealth, yea and except the provision, decree or authority of God succour, all the matter weigheth and inclineth to extreme mischief and to utter destruction.
In man reason beareth the room of a king. Thou mayest account for the chief lords certain affections and them of the body: but yet not all things so beastly. Of the which kind is natural reverence toward the father and mother, love to thy brethren, a benevolent mind toward thy friends and lovers, compassion upon them that be vexed with adversity or cumbered with sickness, fear of infamy, slander or loss of thy good name, desire of honest reputation, and such other like. But such affections or passions which be very greatly disagreeing from the decrees of reason, and which be cast down and must bow even to the vileness of brute beasts: think and reckon those to be as it were the most rascal and vile sort of the common people. Of which kind and sort be lechery, riot, envy, and such like diseases, which all without exception must be kept under in prison and with punishment as vile and bond servants, that they render to their master their task and work appointed to them if they can: but if not at the least they do no harm. Which things Plato perceiving by inspiration of God, wrote in his book called Timeus how the sons of gods had forged in man to their own likeness two kinds of souls, the one kind spiritual and immortal, the other as it were mortal, in danger to divers perturbations or motions of unquietness. Of which the first is voluptuousness (as he saith) the bait whereby men are allured and brought to ungraciousness or mischief. The next is sorrow or grief which letteth men, and driveth them from virtue or goodness. After that fear and presumptuous boldness, two mad counsellors: whom accompanieth indurate wrath, the desire of vengeance. Moreover flattering hope with beastly imagination and knowledge not governed of reason, and worldly love that layeth hands violently on all things. These be almost the words of Plato, and it was not unknown to him the felicity of this life to be put in refraining of such perturbations, for he writeth in the same work them for to live justly and blessedly, which should have overcome these appetites, and them for to live unjustly and miserably that should be overcome of the same. And to that soul which is like unto the nature of God, that is to say, unto reason, as unto a king, he appointed a place in the brain, as in the chief tower of our city: and as thou mayest see the highest part of our body, and next to heaven, and most far from the nature of a beast, as a thing verily which is both of a very thin bone, and neither laid with gross sinews nor flesh, but surely furnished and appointed within and also without, with powers of knowledge, that through the showing of them no debate should rise in our commonwealth, which he should not immediately perceive: but as touching the parts of the mortal soul, that is, to wit, the affections and appetites as every one of them is, either obedient, or else grudgeth against reason: so he removed them from him, for between the neck and the midriff he set that part of the soul, wherein is contained boldness, wrath or anger, a seditious affection verily and full of debate, which needs must be refrained: but he is not very brutish or beastly, and therefore he separates him in a mean space from the highest and lowest, lest if he had been too nigh to either of them, he would either have troubled the king’s quietness, or else corrupted with the contagiousness of them of the lowest sorts should with them also conspire against him. Last of all that power which desireth the voluptuous pleasure of meat and drink, whereby also we be moved to bodily lust, he banished utterly away far from the king’s palace down alow beneath the midriff in to the liver and the paunch, that as it were a certain wild beast untamed he should there stable and dwell at the rack, for because that power is accustomed to raise up motions most violent, and to be disobedient to the commandments of the king. What beastliness yea and what rebellion is in the lowest portion of this power, at the leastway the privy parts of thy body may teach thee, in which part chiefly this power of concupiscence rageth and tyranny reigneth, which also of all members only ever among maketh rebellion with uncleanly motions, the king crying the contrary, and that in vain. Thou seest then evidently how that this noble beast man, so goodly a thing above plainly and without any exception endeth in an unreasonable or brute beast. But that noble counsellor which sitteth like a king or a ruler in his high tower, having alway in remembrance his own beginning thinketh no filthy nor low thing. And he hath whereby he may be known from other a sceptre of ivory, because he doth command nothing but that which is right and good, in whose top writeth Homer to set an eagle, because that reason, mounting up to celestial things, beholdeth from above those things that be on the ground disdainfully, as it were with eagles’ eyes. In conclusion he is crowned with a crown of gold, for gold in the mystical letters most commonly betokeneth wisdom. And the circle betokeneth that the wisdom of the king should be perfect and pure in every part. These be the very gifts or virtues properly belonging to kings. First that they be very wise that they do not amiss by reason of error and lack of true knowledge. And that such things as they know to be good and right, those only to will and purpose to do, that they do nothing against the decree or judgment of reason inordinately, frowardly and corruptly. And whosoever lacketh any of these two points, count him to be not a king, that is to say a ruler, but a robber.