Francisco de Quevedo: Metal against metal: Learning causes peace to be sought after
Francisco de Quevedo
From La hora de todos y la Fortuna con seso (1635)
Translated by Roger L’Estrange
Monarchies are upheld by the same arts that erect them. They have always been raised by soldiers…Kings hold their dominions by the sword; not by their books…The ignorance of the people is the great security of princes. Learning, which instructs, makes them mutinous. Learned subjects rather conspire than obey; rather examine their sovereign than respect him. No sooner do they understand, than they despise him. No sooner can they know what liberty is, than they desire it. They can judge whether he that reigns is worthy to rule…Learning causes peace to be sought after, because it stand in need of it. When a nation affects scholars and writers, goose quills take the place of swords and muskets. Ink in writing is more meritorious than blood spilt.
Artillery was not long since invented (to take off lives before secured by distance, to overthrow the strongest walls, and to bestow victories by aim, not by true courage) but presently was printing invented in opposition to cannon: it is metal against metal, ink against powder, and letters against bullets.
“You must observe that America is a rich beautiful harlot, and since she was false to her husbands, she will never be true to her bullies. Christians say that heaven punished the Indies, because they adored idols: and we Indians say that heaven will punish the Christians because they adore the Indies. You think you carry gold and silver, and you only carry well-coloured envy and precious misery. You take from us that you may for have for others to take from you. That which makes you our enemies, makes you enemies to one another.”