I cannot without great wonder, nay more, disbelief, hear it being attributed to natural bodies as a great honor and perfection that they are impassable, immutable, inalterable, etc.: as conversely, I hear it esteemed a great imperfection to be alterable, generable, and mutable. It is my opinion that the earth is very noble and admirable by reason of the many and different alterations, mutations, and generations which incessantly occur in it. And if, without being subject to any alteration, it had been one great heap of sand, or a mass of jade, or if, since the time of the deluge, the waters freezing which covered it, it had continued an immense globe of crystal, wherein nothing had ever grown, altered, or changed, I should have esteemed it a wretched lump of no benefit to the Universe, a mass of idleness, and in a word superfluous, exactly as if it had never been in Nature. The difference for me would be the same as between a living and a dead creature. I say the same concerning the Moon, Jupiter, and all the other globes of the Universe. The more I delve into the consideration of the vanity of popular discourses, the more empty and simple I find them. What greater folly can be imagined than to call gems, silver, and gold noble, and earth and dirt base? For do not these persons consider that if there were as great a scarcity of earth as there is of jewels and precious metals, there would be no king who would not gladly give a heap of diamonds and rubies and many ingots of gold to purchase only so much earth as would suffice to plant a jessamine in a little pot or to set a tangerine in it, that he might see it sprout, grow up, and bring forth such goodly leaves, fragrant flowers, and delicate fruit? It is scarcity and plenty that makes things esteemed and despised by the vulgar, who will say that there is a most beautiful diamond, for it resembles a clear water, and yet would not part from it for ten tons of water. These men who so extol incorruptibility, inalterability, and so on, speak thus, I believe, out of the great desire they have to live long and for fear of death, not considering that, if men had been immortal, they would not have come into the world. These people deserve to meet with a Medusa's head that would transform them into statues of diamond and jade, that so they might become more perfect than they are.
Death and Dying