Old Fortunatus was a play written in 1599 by Thomas Decker. It was based on an old German legend of a man with an inexhaustible purse. This quote is spoken by a character in that play, trying to decide between wisdom and riches, who makes an observation just as valid today as 400 years ago.
Shall I contract myself to wisdom’s love?
Then I lose riches; and a wise man, poor
Is like a sacred book that’s never read,
To himself he lives, and to all else seems dead.
This age thinks better of a gilded fool
Than of a threadbare saint in wisdom’s school.
If you are verse-impaired, a translation:
Should I study just because I love wisdom and learning? Maybe, but if I do that, I’ll lose the opportunity to make money. Besides, somebody who’s wise doesn’t get listened to if he’s poor. He just listens to himself, and yes, HE knows he’s smart, but he’s dead to everyone else. People today think a fool who’s rich is better than someone who’s wise but poor.
About the play>>
Source of quote – Old Fortunatus>>