chapter  XII
9 Pages

Of the Outward Ornaments

WE that do live in these parts under the authority of our Princes and civilized commonwealths have two great tyrants of our life, to whom the people of the New World have not been yet subjected, the excesses of the belly and the ornament of body, and briefly all that which belongeth to bravery, which if we should cast off' it would be a mean to recall the golden age, and to take away the calamity which we see in most part of men. For he which possesseth much, making small expense, would be liberal, and would succour the needy, whereunto he is hindered, willing not only to maintain but also to augment his train, and to make show of himself, very often at the costs of the poor people whose blood he sucketh: Qui devorant plebem meam sicut escam panis, saith the Psalmist.111 I leave that which belongeth to food, not being my purpose to speak of it in this chapter. I leave also the excesses which consisteth in household implements, sending the reader back to Pliny [lib. xxxiii., cap. II], who hath spoken amply of the Roman pomps and superfluity, as of vessels after the Furvienne and Clodienne fashion, of bedsteads after the Deliaque fashion, and of tables all wrought with gold and silver embossed; where also he setteth out a slave Drusillanus Rotundus, who, being treasurer of the higher Spain, caused a forge to be made for to work a piece of silver-plate of five quintals' weight, accompanied with eight other, all weighing half a quintal. I will only speak of the matachias of our savages, and say that, if we did content ourselves with their simplicity, we should avoid many troubles that

we put ourselves unto to have superfluities, without which we might live contentedly (because Nature is satisfied with little) and the coveting whereof makes us very often to decline from the right way, and to Stray from the path of juStice. The excesses of men do consiSt the moSt part in things which I have said I will omit, which notwithStanding I will not leave untouched if it come to purpose. But ladies have always had this reputation, to love excesses in that which concerneth the decking of their bodies; and all the moraliSts who have made profession to repress vices have mentioned them, where they have found a large subject to speak of. Clement of Alexandria [the first book Padag., cap. 10], making a long numeration of women's trinkets (which he hath the moSt part taken out of the Prophet Isaiah), saith in the end that he is weary to speak so much of it, and that he marvelleth that they are not killed with so great a weight.