Plate 11

"Whence the first and chiefest delight of man's life springs"


Moriae Encomium

Illustrated by Hans Holbein the Younger




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Holbein's illustration shown in Plate 11 from Moriae Encomium is associated with the following text drawn from

John Wilson's 1668 translation:


But, by the way, I hope that sex is not so foolish as to take offense at this, that I myself, being

a woman, and Folly too, have attributed folly to them. For if they weigh it right, they needs

must acknowledge that they owe it to folly that they are more fortunate than men. As first

their beauty, which, and that not without cause, they prefer before everything, since by its

means they exercise a tyranny even upon tyrants themselves; otherwise, whence proceeds

that sour look, rough skin, bushy beard, and such other things as speak plain old age in a

man, but from that disease of wisdom? Whereas women's cheeks are ever plump and

smooth, their voice small, their skin soft, as if they imitated a certain kind of perpetual youth.

Again, what greater thing do they wish in their whole lives than that they may please the

man? For to what other purpose are all those dresses, washes, baths, slops, perfumes, and

those several little tricks of setting their faces, painting their eyebrows, and smoothing their

skins? And now tell me, what higher lettersof recommendation have they to men than this

folly? For what is it they do not permit them to do? And to what other purpose than that of

pleasure? Wherein yet their folly is not the least thing that pleases; which so true it is, I think

no one will deny, that does but consider with himself, what foolish discourse and odd

gambols pass between a man and his woman, as often as he had a mind to be gamesome?

And so I have shown you whence the first and chiefest delight of man's life springs.



The associated French text from L'Eloge de la Folie (1728) follows:


Les Femmes ont l'agrément de la beauté, qu'elles ont raison de préferer à tout, & par les attaits

de laquelle elles tierannisent même les plus barbares Tirans.Un Homme a souvent dans les yeux

quelque chose d'effrayant, cette peau velue, cette forét de barbe; enfin, il porte, à la fleur de

l'âge, des marques prématurées de vieillesse. D'où vient cela? De la prudence. Au contraire, les

Femmes ont les joues unies, la voix toujours grêle, la peau délicate; on diroit que toute leur vie

n'est qu'une imitation continuelle de la jeunesse. Aussi les Femmes ne s'étudient-elles à rien tant,

qu'à plaire aux Hommes. N'est-ce pas là l'unique but des parures, du fard, du bain, de la frisure,

des essences, des senteurs, & de tant d'autres artifices qu'on met en œuvre pour faire valoir la

beauté? Voulex vous voir plus clairment, que la Folie fait l'ascendant des Femmes sur le

Hommes? Les Hommes accordent tout aux Femmes, dans la vue de volupté; & par conséquent,

les Femmes, ne réjouïssent les Hommes, que par la Folie. On ne peut nier cette conséquence,

pour peu qu'on refléchisse sur les fottises, sur les badineries qu'on Homme fait avec une Femme,

toutes les fois qu'il veut éteindre sa flame amoureuse.