Others made a virtue of necessity, and the best of a bad market, which seemed to me a very good piece of work.
Others made alchemy (i.e. sir-reverence) with their teeth, and clapping their hind retort to the recipient, made scurvy faces, and then squeezed.
Others, in a large grass plot, exactly measured how far the fleas could go at a hop, a step, and jump; and told us that this was exceedingly useful for the ruling of kingdoms, the conduct of armies, and the administration of commonwealths; and that Socrates, who first got philosophy out of heaven, and from idling and trifling made it profitable and of moment, used to spend half his philosophizing time in measuring the leaps of fleas, as Aristophanes the quintessential affirms.
I saw two gibroins by themselves keeping watch on the top of a tower, and we were told they guarded the moon from the wolves.
In a blind corner I met four more very hot at it, and ready to go to loggerheads. I asked what was the cause of the stir and ado, the mighty coil and pother they made. And I heard that for four livelong days those overwise roisters had been at it ding-dong, disputing on three high, more than metaphysical propositions, promising themselves mountains of gold by solving them. The first was concerning a he-ass’s shadow; the second, of the smoke of a lantern; and the third of goat’s hair, whether it were wool or no. We heard that they did not think it a bit strange that two contradictions in mode, form, figure, and time should be true; though I will warrant the sophists of Paris had rather be unchristened than own so much.
While we were admiring all those men’s wonderful doings, the evening star already twinkling, the queen (God bless her!) appeared, attended with her court, and again amazed and dazzled us. She perceived it, and said to us:
What occasions the aberrations of human cogitations through the perplexing labyrinths and abysses of admiration, is not the source of the effects, which sagacious mortals visibly experience to be the consequential result of natural causes. ’Tis the novelty of the experiment which makes impressions on their conceptive, cogitative faculties; that do not previse the facility of the operation adequately, with a subact and sedate intellection, associated with diligent and congruous study. Consequently let all manner of perturbation abdicate the ventricles of your brains, if anyone has invaded them while they were contemplating what is transacted by my domestic ministers. Be spectators and auditors of every particular phenomenon and every individual proposition within the extent of my mansion; satiate yourselves with all that can fall here under the consideration of your visual or auscultating powers, and thus emancipate yourselves from the servitude of crassous ignorance. And that you may be induced to apprehend how sincerely I desire this in consideration of the studious cupidity that so demonstratively emicates at your external organs, from this present particle of time I retain you as my abstractors. Geber, my principal Tabachin, shall register and initiate you at your departing.