Again, it is to be known that each thing which becomes corrupt is thus corrupted by some change or alteration, and each thing which is changed or altered must be conjoined with the cause of the change, even as the Philosopher expresses it in the seventh chapter of the book on Physics and in the first chapter on Generation. These things being propounded, I proceed thus, and I say that riches, as another man believed, cannot possibly bestow Nobility, and to prove how great is the difference between them I say that they are unable to take Nobility away from him who possesses it. To bestow it they have not the power, since by nature they are vile, and because of their vileness they are opposed to Nobility. And here by vileness one means baseness, through degeneracy, which is directly opposite to Nobility: for the one opposite thing cannot be the maker of the other, neither is it possible to be, for the reason given above, which is briefly added to the text, saying, “No painter gives a form That is not of his knowing.” Wherefore no painter would be able to depict any figure or form if he could not first design what such figure or form ought to be.
Again, riches cannot take it away, because they are so far from Nobility; and, for the reason previously narrated, that which alters or corrupts anything must be conjoined with that thing, and therefore it is subjoined: “No tower leans above a stream That far away is flowing,” which means nothing more than to accord with that which has been previously said, that riches cannot take Nobility away, saying that Nobility is, as it were, an upright tower and riches a river flowing swiftly in the distance.
It now remains only to prove how vile riches are, and how disjoined and far apart they are from Nobility; and this is proved in two little parts of the text, to which at present it is requisite to pay attention, and then, those being explained, what I have said will be evident, namely, that riches are vile and far apart from Nobility, and hereby the reasons stated above against riches will be perfectly proved.
I say then, “How vile and incomplete Wealth is,” and to make evident what I intend to say it is to be known that the vileness or baseness of each thing is derived from the imperfection of that thing, and Nobility from its perfection: wherefore in proportion as a thing is perfect, it is noble in its nature; in proportion as it is imperfect, it is vile. And therefore, if riches are imperfect, it is evident that they are vile or base. And that they are imperfect, the text briefly proves when it says: “However great the heap may be, It brings no peace, but care;” in which it is evident, not only that they are imperfect, but most imperfect, and therefore they are most vile; and Lucan bears witness to this when he says, speaking of those same riches: “Without strife or contention or opposition, the Laws would perish, and you, Riches, the basest part of things, you move or are the cause of Battles.” It is possible briefly to see their imperfection in three things quite clearly: firstly, in the indiscriminate manner in which they fall to a person’s lot; secondly, in their dangerous increase; thirdly, in their hurtful possession.