231. To the above shall be added three Memorable Relations. The First:
I once heard shouts which gurgled up from the lower regions as though through water; one on the left, OH, HOW JUST! another on the right, OH, HOW LEARNED! and a third from behind, OH, HOW WISE! And because I fell to thinking as to whether there were just, learned, and wise men even in hell, I felt a desire to see whether there are such men there. It was then said to me out of heaven, "You shall see and hear." In spirit I then went out of the house and saw before me an open hole. Drawing near, I looked down it and lo, a ladder. Descending by this, I saw at the bottom plains overgrown with trees intermingled with thorns and nettles, and I asked whether this was hell. They said, "It is the lower earth which is next above hell."
Following the cries in order, I then went to the first cry, OH, HOW JUST! and saw an assembly of those who in the world had been judges with an eye to friendship and bribes; then to the second cry, OH, HOW LEARNED! and saw an assembly of those who in the world had been reasoners; then to the third cry, OH, HOW WISE! and saw an assembly of those who in the world had been confirmers.
 From the latter I turned back to the first cry, where were judges with an eye to friendship and bribes who were being proclaimed as just. At one side I saw something like an amphitheater built of brick and roofed over with black tiles, and it was told me that they called it the Tribunal. It had three entrances on the north side and three on the west, but none on the south side or on the east, a sign that their judgments were not judgments of justice but arbitrary decisions. In the middle of the amphitheater was seen a fire-place, into which the servants of the hearth were throwing logs full of sulfur and pitch, the flickering lights from which presented on the plastered walls pictured images of birds of evening and night. This fire-place and the flickerings of the light into the forms of these images were representations of their judgments, in that they could illumine the facts of any case with colored paints, and induce upon them appearances in accordance with their inclinations.
 After half an hour, I saw men, old and young, enter, wearing long robes and cloaks. Putting off their caps, they took their seats at the tables to sit in judgment. I then heard and perceived how, with a view to friendship, they skillfully and ingeniously bent and twisted their judgments into the appearance of justice, and this even to the point that they themselves viewed what was unjust no otherwise than as just, and conversely, what was just as unjust. Their persuasions in these respects were apparent from their faces, and they came to the ear from their speeches. From the enlightenment which was then given me from heaven, I perceived the several judgments, as to whether or not they were judgments of justice; and I saw how assiduously they covered over what was unjust and induced upon it the appearance of what is just; and how they selected from the laws one that favored them and, by skilful reasonings, forced the others to their side. Following the judgments, the decisions were conveyed outside to the judges' clients, friends, and favorers, and these, in return for their favors, were shouting all along a lengthy road, OH, HOW JUST! OH, HOW JUST!
 After this, I spoke of the matter with angels of heaven, telling them something of what I had seen and heard; and the angels said: "Such judges appear to others as gifted with the most penetrating acuteness of understanding, when yet they do not see the least thing of what is just and equitable. If you take away their friendship for a party in a suit, they sit in judgment mute as statues and say merely "I agree, I adjust myself to this or that judgment." The reason is because all their judgments are prejudices, and prejudice together with favor follows the case from beginning to end. Hence they see nothing but what favors their friend. Everything which is against him they set aside, and if they again take it up, they involve it in reasonings, as a spider its captives in the threads of its web, and distort it.* Hence it is that, when not following the thread of their prejudice, they see nothing of justice. They have been explored as to whether they can, and it was found that they cannot. The inhabitants of your world will wonder at this, but tell them that it is a truth explored by angels of heaven. Because these judges see nothing of what is just, we in heaven view them, not as men, but as monsters whose heads are made of matters of friendship, their bodies of matters of injustice, their feet of matters of confirmation, and the soles of their feet of matters of justice; and if the latter do not favor their friend, they throw them to the ground and trample them under foot. But you yourself will see how they appear to us from heaven, for their end is at hand."
 Then, behold, the ground suddenly yawned open, the tables fell one upon another, and the judges together with the whole amphitheater were swallowed up and cast into caverns and imprisoned.
The angels then said to me, "Do you wish to see them there?" And lo, they were seen with faces as of polished steel, their bodies from the neck to the loins like sculptures carved of stone and dressed in leopard skins, and their feet like serpents. And I saw the law-books which they had laid upon the tables, turned to playing-cards. Instead of sitting in judgment, they are now given the task of making vermilion into rouge, wherewith to deck the faces of harlots and thus transform them into beauties.
 After seeing this, I wished to go to the two other assemblies the one where they were mere reasoners and the other where they were mere confirmers, but it was told me, "Rest a while; angel companions will be given you from the society next above them. Through these, light will be given you by the Lord and you will see marvels."
* The Latin is et consumunt (and consume it), but this plainly refers to the spider and the fly.