Don Ferrante, plague and the great conjunction

`There`s the true reason only too plainly, after all,` said he; `and even they are compelled to acknowledge it, who maintain that other empty proposition besides . . . Let them deny, if they can, that fatal conjunction of Saturn with Jupiter. And when was it ever heard say that influences may be propagated . . . And would these gentlemen deny the existence of influences? Will they deny that there are stars, or tell me that they are placed up there for no purpose, like so many pin – heads stuck into a pin – cushion? . . . But what I cannot understand about these doctors is this; to confess that we are under so malignant a conjunction, and then to come and tell us, with eager face, `Don`t touch this, and don`t touch that, and you`ll be safe!` As if this avoiding of material contact with terrestrial bodies could hinder the virtual effect of celestial ones! And such anxiety about burning old clothes! Poor people! will you burn Jupiter, will you burn Saturn?`

His fretus, that is to say, on these grounds, he used no precautions against the pestilence; took it, went to bed, and went to die, like one of Metastasio`s heroes, quarrelling with the stars.

And that famous library of his? Perhaps it is still there, distributed around his walls.

La c’è pur troppo la vera cagione, – diceva; – e son costretti a riconoscerla anche quelli che sostengono poi quell’altra così in aria… La neghino un poco, se possono, quella fatale congiunzione di Saturno con Giove. E quando mai s’è sentito dire che l’influenze si propaghino…? E lor signori mi vorranno negar l’influenze? Mi negheranno che ci sian degli astri? O mi vorranno dire che stian lassù a far nulla, come tante capocchie di spilli ficcati in un guancialino?… Ma quel che non mi può entrare, è di questi signori medici; confessare che ci troviamo sotto una congiunzione così maligna, e poi venirci a dire, con faccia tosta: non toccate qui, non toccate là, e sarete sicuri! Come se questo schivare il contatto materiale de’ corpi terreni, potesse impedir l’effetto virtuale de’ corpi celesti! E tanto affannarsi a bruciar de’ cenci! Povera gente! brucerete Giove? brucerete Saturno?

His fretus, vale a dire su questi bei fondamenti, non prese nessuna precauzione contro la peste; gli s’attaccò; andò a letto, a morire, come un eroe di Metastasio, prendendosela con le stelle.

E quella sua famosa libreria? È forse ancora dispersa su per i muriccioli.

Alessandro Manzoni- I Promessi Sposi

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