Wednesday, 16 May 2012


There's a ditty I was, as a kid, fond of: 'How happy is the moron!/He doesn't give a damn./I wish I were a moron..../My God, perhaps I am!'  Here's Ben Jonson's slightly more up-market version of the same idea (Nano and Castrone sing this lyric in Volpone):
Fools, they are the only nation
Worth men's envy, or admiration:
Free from care or sorrow-taking,
Selves and others merry making:
All they speak or do is sterling.
Your fool he is your great man's darling,
And your ladies' sport and pleasure;
Tongue and bauble are his treasure.
E'en his face begetteth laughter,
And he speaks truth free from slaughter;
He's the grace of every feast,
And sometimes the chiefest guest;
Hath his trencher and his stool,
When wit waits upon the fool:
O, who would not be
He, he, he?
The thing is, folly strikes me as much more likely to be productive of sadness, sometimes excessive and suicidal sadness, than blithe lobotomised happiness. Surely it's always been that way?

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