THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY
BY DEMOCRITUS JUNIOR
DEMOCRITUS JUNIOR TO THE READER
GENTLE Reader, I presume thou wilt be very inquisitive to know what antic or personate actor this is, that so insolently intrudes upon this common theatre, to the world's view, arrogating another man's name; whence he is, why he doth it, and what he hath to say; although, as he said, Primum si noluero, non respondebo, quis coacturus est? I am a free man born, and may choose whether I will tell; who can compel me? If I be urged, 'twill as readily reply as that Egyptian in Plutarch when a curious fellow would needs know what he had in his basket, Quum vides velatam,
quid inquiris im rem absconditam? It was therefore covered, because he should not know what was in it. Seek not after that which is hid; if the contents please thee, "and be for thy use, suppose the Man in the Moon, or whom thou wilt to be the Author;" I would not willingly be known. Yet in some sort to give thee satisfaction, which is more than I need, I will show a reason, both of this usurped name, title, and subject.
And first of the name of Democritus; lest any man, by reason of it, should be deceived, expecting a pasquil, a satire, some ridiculous treatise (as I myself should have done): some prodigious tenet, or paradox of the earth's motion, of infinite worlds, in infinito vacuo, ex fortuita atomorum collisione, in an infinite waste, so caused by an accidental collision of motes in the sun, all which Democritus held, Epicurus and their master Lucippus of old maintained, and are lately revived by Copernicus, Brunus, and some others. Besides, it hath been always an ordinary custom, as Gellius observes, "for later writers and impostors, to broach many absurd and insolent fictions, under the name of so noble a philosopher as Democritus, to get themselves credit, and by that means the more to be respected," as artificers usually
do, Novo qui marmori ascribunt Praxitilum suo. 'Tis not so with me.
Non hic Centauros, non Gorgona, Harpyasquæ Invenies, hominem pagina nostra sapit.
No Centaurs here, or Gorgons look to find,
My subject is of man and human kind.
Thou thyself art the subject of my discourse.
Quicquid agunt homines, votum, timor, ira, volaptas, Gaudia, discursus, nostri farrago libelli.
Whate'er men do, vows, fears, in ire, in sport, Joys, wand'rings, are the sum of my report.
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My intent is no otherwise to use his name, than Mercurius Gallobelgicus, Mercurius Britannicus, use the name of Mercury, Democritus Christianus, &c.; although there be some other circumstances for which I have masked myself under this vizard, and some peculiar respect which I cannot so well express, until I have set down a brief character of this our Democritus, what he was, with an Epitome of his life.
Democritus, as he is described by Hippocrates and Laertius, was little wearish old man, very melancholy by nature, averse from company in his latter days, and much given to solitariness, a famous philosopher in his age, coævus with Socrates, wholly addicted to his studies at the last, and to a private life wrote many excellent works, a great divine, according to the divinity of those times, an expert physician, a politician, an excellent mathematician, as Diacosmus and the rest of his works do witness, he was much delighted with the studies of husbandry, saith Columella, and often I find him cited by Constantinus and others treating of that subject. He knew the natures, differences of all beasts, plants, fishes, birds; and, as some say, could understand the tunes and voices of them. In a word he was omnifariam doctus, a
general scholar, a great student; and to the intent he might better contemplate, I find it related by some, that he put out his eyes, and was in his old age voluntarily blind, yet saw more than all Greece besides, and writ of every subject, Nihil in toto optificio naturæ de quo non scripsit. A man of an excellent wit, profound conceit; and to attain knowledge the better in his younger years he travelled to Egypt and Athens, to confer with learned men, "admired of some, despised of others." After a wandering life, he settled at Abdera, a town in Thrace, and was sent for thither to be their law-maker, Recorder, or town-clerk as some will; or as others, he was there bred and born.
Howsoever it was, there he lived at last in a garden in the suburbs, wholly betaking himself to his studies and a private life, "saving that sometimes he would walk down to the haven, and laugh heartily at such variety of ridiculous objects, which there he saw." Such a one was Democritus.
But in the mean time, how doth this concern me, or upon what reference do I usurp this habit? I confess, indeed, that to compare myself unto him for aught I have yet said, were both impudency and arrogancy. I do not presume to make any parallel, Antistat mihi millibus trecentis, parvus sum, nullus sum, altum nec spiro, nec spero.
Yet thus much I will say of myself; and that I hope without all suspicion of pride, or self-conceit, I have lived a silent, sedentary, solitary, private life, mihi et musis in the University, as long almost as Xenocrates in Athens, ad senectam fere to learn wisdom as he did, penned up most part in my study. For I have been brought up a student in the most flourishing college of Europe, augustissimo collegio, and can brag with Jovius, almost, "in ea luce domicilii Vaticani, totius orbis celeberrimi, per 37 annos multa opportunaque didici;" for thirty years I have continued (having the use of as good libraries as ever he had) a scholar, and would be therefore loth, either by living as a drone, to be an unprofitable or unworthy member of so learned and noble a society, or to write that which should be any way dishonourable to such a royal and ample foundation. Something I have done, though by my profession a divine, yet turbine raptus ingenii, as he said, out of a running wit, an unconstant, unsettled mind, I had a great desire (not able to attain to a superficial skill in any) to have some smattering in all, to be aliquis in omnibus, nullus in singulis, which Plato commends,
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out of him Lipsius approves and furthers, "as fit to be imprinted in all curious wits, not to be a slave of one science, or dwell together in one subject, as most do, but to rove abroad, centum puer artium, to have an oar in every man's boat, to taste of every dish, and sip of every cup," which, saith Montaigne, was well performed by Aristotle, and his learned countryman Adrian Turnebus. This roving humour (though not with like success) I have ever had, and like a ranging spaniel, that barks at every bird he sees, leaving his game, I have followed all, saving that which I should, and may justly complain, and truly, qui ubique est, nusquam est, (he that is everywhere is nowhere) which Gesner did in modesty, that I have read many books, but to little purpose, for want of good method; I have confusedly tumbled over divers authors in our libraries, with small profit for want of art, order, memory, judgment. I never travelled but in map or card, in which my unconfined thoughts have freely expatiated, as having ever been especially delighted with the study of Cosmography. Saturn was lord of my geniture, culminating, &c., and Mars principal significator of manners, in partile
conjunction with my ascendant; both fortunate in their houses, &c. I am not poor, I am not rich; nihil est, nihil deest, I have little, I want nothing: all my treasure is in Minerva's tower. Greater preferment as I could never get, so am I not in debt for it, I have a competence (laus Deo) from my noble and munificent patrons, though I live still a collegiate student, as Democritus in his garden, and lead a monastic life, ipse mihi theatrum, sequestered from those tumults and troubles of the world, Et tanquam in specula positus, (as he said) in some high place above you all, like Stoicus Sapiens, omnia sæcula, præterita presentiaque videns, uno velut intuitu, I hear and see what is done abroad, how others run, ride, turmoil, and macerate themselves in court and country, far from those wrangling lawsuits, aulæ vanitatem, fori ambitionem, ridere mecum soleo: I laugh at all, only secure lest my suit go amiss, my ships perish, corn and cattle miscarry, trade decay, I have no wife nor children good or bad to provide for. A mere spectator of other men's fortunes and adventures, and how they act their parts, which methinks are diversely presented unto me as from a common theatre or scene. I hear new news every day, and those ordinary rumours of war, plagues, fires, inundations, thefts, murders, massacres, meteors, comets, spectrums, prodigies, apparitions, of towns taken, cities besieged in France, Germany, Turkey, Persia, Poland, &c., daily musters and preparations, and such like, which these tempestuous times afford, battles fought, so many men slain, monomachies, shipwrecks, piracies, and sea-fights; peace, leagues, stratagems, and fresh alarms. A vast confusion of vows, wishes, actions, edicts, petitions, lawsuits, pleas, laws, proclamations, complaints, grievances, are daily brought to our ears. New books every day, pamphlets, currantoes, stories, whole catalogues of volumes of all sorts, new paradoxes, opinions, schisms, heresies, controversies in philosophy, religion, &c.
Now come tidings of weddings, maskings, mummeries, entertainments, jubilees, embassies, tilts and tournaments, trophies, triumphs, revels, sports, plays: then again, as in a new shifted scene, treasons, cheating tricks, robberies, enormous villainies in all kinds, funerals, burials, deaths of princes, new discoveries, expeditions, now comical, then tragical matters. To-day we hear of new lords and officers created, tomorrow of some great men deposed, and then again of fresh honours conferred; one is let loose, another imprisoned; one purchaseth, another breaketh: he thrives, his neighbour turns bankrupt: now plenty, then again dearth and famine; one runs, another rides, wrangles, laughs, weeps, &c. Thus I daily hear, and such like, both private and public news, amidst the gallantry and misery of the world; jollity, pride, perplexities and cares, simplicity and villainy; subtlety, knavery, candour and integrity, mutually mixed and offering themselves; I rub on privus privatus; as I have
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still lived, so I now continue, statu quo prius, left to a solitary life, and mine own domestic discontents: saving that sometimes, ne quid mentiar, as Diogenes went into the city, and Democritus to the haven to see fashions, I did for my recreation now and then walk abroad, look into the world, and could not choose but make some little observation, non tam sagax observator, ac simplex recitator, (not so sagacious an observer as simple a narrator), not as they did, to scoff or laugh at all, but with a mixed passion.
"Bilem saepe, jocum vestri movere tumultus."
Ye wretched mimics, whose fond heats have been, How oft! the objects of my mirth and spleen.
I did sometime laugh and scoff with Lucian, and satirically tax with Menippus, lament with Heraclitus, sometimes again I was petulanti splene chachinno, (Per. a laugher with a petulant spleen) and then again, urere bilis jecur, I was much moved to see that abuse which I could not mend. In which passion howsoever I may sympathize with him or them, 'tis for no such respect I shroud myself under his name; but either in an unknown habit to assume a little more liberty and freedom of speech, or if you will needs know, for that reason and only respect which Hippocrates relates at large in his
Epistle to Damegetus, wherein he doth express, how coming to visit him one day, he found Democritus in his garden at Abdera, in the suburb; under a shady bower, with a book on his knees, busy at his study, sometimes writing, sometimes walking. The subject of his book was melancholy and madness; about him lay the carcasses of many several beasts, newly by him cut up and anatomised; not that he did contemn God's creatures, as he told Hippocrates, but to find out the seat of this atra bilis, or melancholy, whence it proceeds, and how it was engendered in men's bodies, to the intent he might better cure it in himself, and by his writings and observations teach others how to prevent and avoid it. Which good intent of his, Hippocrates highly commended: Democritus Junior is therefore bold to imitate, and because he left it
imperfect, and it is now lost, quasi succenturiator Democriti, to revive again, prosecute, and finish in this treatise.
You have had a reason of the name. If the title and inscription offend your gravity, were it a sufficient justification to accuse others, I could produce many sober treatises, even sermons themselves, which in their fronts carry more fantastical names.
Howsoever, it is a kind of policy in these days, to prefix a fantastical title to a book which is to be sold; for, as larks come down to a day-net, many vain readers will tarry and stand gazing like silly passengers at an antic picture in a painter's shop, that will not look at a judicious piece. And, indeed, as Scaliger observes, "nothing more invites a reader than an argument unlooked for, unthought of, and sells better than a scurrile pamphlet," tum maxime cum novitas excitat palatum. "Many men," saith Gellius, "are very conceited in their inscriptions," "and able (as Pliny quotes out of Seneca) to make him loiter by the way that went in haste to fetch a midwife for his daughter, now ready to lie down." For my part, I have honourable precedents for this which I have done: I will cite one for all, Anthony Zara, Pap. Episc., his Anatomy of Wit, in four sections, members, subsections, &c., to be read in our libraries.
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If any man except against the matter or manner of treating of this my subject, and will demand a reason of it, I can allege more than one; I write of melancholy, by being busy to avoid melancholy. There is no greater cause of melancholy than idleness, "no better cure than business," as Rhasis holds: and howbeit, stultus labor
est ineptiarum, to be busy in toys is to small purpose, yet hear that divine Seneca, aliud agere quam nihil, better do to no end, than nothing. I wrote therefore. and busied myself in this playing labour, otiosaq. diligentia ut vitarem torporem feriandi with Vectius in Macrobius, atq. otium in utile verterem negotium.
Simul et jucunda est idonea dicere vitae,Lectorem delectando simul atque monendo.
Poets would profit or delight mankind,
And with the pleasing have th' instructive join'd.
Profit and pleasure, then to mix with art, T'inform the judgment, nor offend the heart, Shall gain all votes.
To this end I write, like them, saith Lucian, that "recite to trees, and declaim to pillars for want of auditors:" as Paulus Ægineta ingenuously confesseth, "not that anything was unknown or omitted, but to exercise myself," which course if some took, I think it would be good for their bodies, and much better for their souls; or peradventure as others do, for fame; to show myself (Scire tuum nihil est, nisi te scire hoc sciat alter). I might be of Thucydides' opinion, "to know a thing and not to express it, is all one as if he knew it not." When I first took this task in hand, et quod ait ille, impellente genio negotium suscepi, this I aimed at; vel ut lenirem animum scribendo, to ease my mind by writing; for I had gravidum cor, foetum caput, a kind of imposthume in my head, which I was very desirous to be unladen of, and could imagine no fitter evacuation than this. Besides, I might not well refrain, for ubi dolor, ibi digitus, one must needs scratch where it itches. I was not a little offended with this malady, shall I say my Mistress "melancholy," my Ægeria, or my malus genius? and for that cause, as he that is stung with a scorpion, I would expel clavum clavo, comfort one sorrow with another, idleness with idleness, ut ex vipera Theriacum, make an antidote out of that which was the prime cause of my disease. Or as he did, of whom Felix Plater speaks, that thought he had some of Aristophanes' frogs in his belly, still crying Brecc ckex, coax, coax, oop, oop, and for that cause studied physic seven years, and travelled over most part of Europe to ease himself. To do myself good I turned over such physicians as our libraries would afford, or my private friends impart, and have taken this pains. And why not? Carden professeth he wrote his book, "De Consolatione" after his son's death, to comfort himself; so did Tully write of the same subject with like intent after his daughter's departure, if it be his at least, or some impostor's put out in his name, which Lipsius probably suspects. Concerning myself, I can peradventure affirm with Marius in Sallust, "that which others hear or read of, I felt and practised myself; they get their knowledge by books, I mine by melancholising." Experto crede Roberto. Something I can speak out of experience, ærumnabilis experientia me docuit; and with her in the poet, Haud ignara mali miseris succurrere disco (ido. Virg. "Taught by that Power that pities me, I learn to pity them"); I would help others out of a fellow-feeling; and, as that virtuous lady did of old, "being a leper herself, bestow all her portion to build an hospital for lepers," I will spend my time and knowledge, which are my greatest fortunes, for the common good of all.
Yea, but you will infer that this is actum agere, an unnecessary work, cramben bis coctam apponere [to serve up reheated cabbage], the same again and again in other words. To what purpose? "Nothing is omitted that may well be said," so thought Lucian in the like theme. How many excellent physicians have written just volumes and elaborate tracts of this subject? No news here; that which I have is stolen from others, Dicitque mihi mea pagina, fur es. If that severe doom of Synesius be true, "it is a greater offence to steal dead men's labours, than their clothes," what shall become of most writers? I hold up my hand at the bar among other; and am guilty of felony in this kind, habes confitentem reum, I am content to be pressed with the rest. 'Tis most true, tenet insanabile multos scribendi cacoethes, and "there is no end of writing of books," as the Wise-man found of old, in this scribbling age, especially wherein "the
number of books is without number, (as a worthy man saith) presses be oppressed," and out of an itching humour that every man hath to show himself desirous of fame and honour (scribimus indocti doctique --), he will write no matter what, and scrape together it boots not whence. "Bewitched with this desire of fame, etiam mediis in morbis, to the disparagement of their health, and scarce able to hold a pen, they must say something, "and get themselves a name," saith Scaliger, "though it be to the downfall and ruin of many others." To be counted writers, scriptores ut salutentur, to
be thought and held Polumathes and Polyhistors, apud imperitum vulgus ob ventosæ nomem artis, to get a paper kingdom: nulla spe quæstus sed ampla famæ, in this precipitate, ambitious age, nunc ut est sæculum, inter immaturam eruditionem, ambitiosum et præceps ('tis Scaliger's censure); and they that are scarce auditors, vix auditores, must be masters and teachers, before they be capable and fit hearers. They will rush into all learning, togatam armatam, divine, human authors, rake over all indexes and pamphlets for notes, as our merchants do strange havens for traffic, write
great tomes, Cum non sint re vera doctiores, sed loquaciores, whereas they are not thereby better scholars, but greater praters. They commonly pretend public good, but as a Gesner observes, 'tis pride and vanity that eggs them on; no news or aught worthy of note, but the same in other terms. Ne feriarentur fortasse typographi, vel ideo scribendum est aliquid ut se vixisse testentur. As apothecaries we make new mixtures every day, pour out of one vessel into another; and as those old Romans robbed all the cities of the world, to set out their bad-sited Rome, we skim off the cream of other men's wits, pick the choice flowers of their tilled gardens to set out our own sterile plots. Castrant alios ut libros suos per se graciles alieno adipe suffarciant (so Jovius inveighs). They lard their lean books with the fat of others' works. Ineruditi fures, &c.
A fault that every writer finds, as I do now, and yet faulty themselves, Trium literarum homines, all thieves; they pilfer out of old writers to stuff up their new comments, scrape Ennius dung-hills, and out of Democritus' pit, as I have done. By which means it comes to pass, "that not only libraries and shops are full of our putid papers, but every close-stool and jakes, Scribunt carmina quæ legunt cacantes [they write poems which are read while shitting]; they serve to put under pies, to lap spice in, and keep roast-meat from burning. "With us in France," saith Scaliger, "every man
hath liberty to write, but few ability. Heretofore learning was graced by judicious scholars, but now noble sciences are vilified by base and illiterate scribblers," that either write for vain-glory, need, to get money, or as parasites to flatter and collogue
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with some great men, they put out burras, quisquiliasque ineptiasque. Amongst so many thousand authors you shall scarce find one, by reading of whom you shall be any whit better, but rather much worse, quibus inficitur potius quam perficitur, by which he is rather infected than any way perfected.
------ Qui taila legit,
Quid didicit tandem, quid scit nisi somnia, nugas?
(What does anyone, who reads such works, learn or know but dreams and trifling things?)
So that oftentimes it falls out (which Callimachus taxed of old) a great book is a great mischief. Cardan finds fault with Frenchmen and Germans, for their scribbling to no purpose, non inquit ab edendo deterreo, modo novum aliquid inveniant, he doth not bar them to write, so that it be some new invention of their own; but we weave the same web still, twist the same rope again and again; or if it be a new invention, 'tis but some bauble or toy which idle fellows write, for as idle fellows to read, and who so cannot invent? "He must have a barren wit, that in this scribbling age can forge nothing. Princes show their armies, rich men vaunt their buildings, soldiers their manhood, and scholars vent their toys;" they must read, they must hear whether they will or no.
Et quodcumque semel chartis illeverit, omnes
Gestiet a furno redeuntes scire lacuqae,
Et pueros et anus --.
What once is said and writ, all men must know,
Old wives and children as they come and go.
"What a company of poets hath this year brought out," as Pliny complains to Sossius Sinesius. "This April every day some or other have recited." What a catalogue of new books all this year, all this age (I say), have our Frankfort Marts, our domestic Marts brought out? Twice a year, "Proferunt se nova ingena et ostentant," we stretch our wits out, and set them to sale, magno conatu nihil agimus. So that which Gesner much desires, if a speedy reformation be not had, by some Prince's Edicts and grave Supervisors, to restrain this liberty, it will run on ad infinitum. Quis tam avidus
librorum helluo, who can read them? As already, we shall have a vast Chaos and confusion of books, we are oppressed with them, dour eyes ache with reading, our fingers with turning. For my part I am one of the number nos numerus sumus, (we are mere ciphers): I do not deny it, I have only this of Macrobius to say for myself, Omne meum, nihil meum, 'tis all mine, and none mine. As a good housewife out of divers fleeces weaves one piece of cloth, a bee gathers wax and honey out of many flowers, and makes a new bundle of all, Floriferis ut apes in saltibus omnia libant, I have
laboriously collected this Cento out of divers writers, and that sine injuria, I have wronged no authors, but given every man his own; which Hierom so much commends in Nepotian; he stole not whole verses, pages, tracts, as some do now-a-days,
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concealing their author's names, but still said this was Cyprian's, that Lactantius, that Hillarius, so said Minutius Felix, so Victorinus, thus far Arnobius: I cite and quote mine authors (which, howsoever some illiterate scribblers account pedantical, as a cloak of ignorance, and opposite to their affected fine style, I must and wilt use) sumpsi, non surripui; and what Varro, lib. 6. de re rust. speaks of bees, minime maleficiæ nullius opus vellicantes faciunt deterius, I can say of myself, Whom have I injured? The matter is theirs most part, and yet mine, apparet unde sumptum sit (which Seneca approves), aliud tamen quam unde sumptum sit apparet, which nature doth with the aliment of our bodies incorporate, digest, assimilate, I do concoquere quod hausi, dispose of what I take. I make them pay tribute, to set out this my Maceronicon, the method only is mine own, I must usurp that of Wecker e Ter. nihil dictum quod non dictum prius, methodus sola artificem ostendit, we can say nothing but what hath been said, the composition and method is ours only, and shows a scholar. Oribasius, Aesius, Avicenna, have all out of Galen, but to their own method, diverso stilo, non diversa fide. Our poets steal from Homer; he spews, saith Aelian, they lick it up. Divines use Austin's words verbatim still, and our story-dressers, do as much; he that comes last is commonly best.
-- donec quid grandius aetas Postera sorsque ferat melior. --
(-- until a later age and a happier lot produce something more truly grand --)
Though there were many giants of old in Physic and Philosophy, yet I say with Didacus Stella, "A dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant may see farther than a giant himself;" I may likely add, alter, and see farther than my predecessors; and it is no greater prejudice for me to indite after others, than for Aelianus Montaltus, that famous physician, to write de morbis capitis after Jason Pratensis, Heurnius, Hildesheim, &c., many horses to run in a race, one logician, one rhetorician, after another. Oppose then what thou wilt,
Allatres licet usque nos et usque, Et Gannitibus improbis lacessas.
[You may rail at everything of ours and snarling scourge our inferior stuff]
I solve it thus. And for those other faults of barbarism, Doric dialect, extemporanean style, tautologies, apish imitation, a rhapsody of rags gathered together from several dung-hills, excrements of authors, toys and fopperies confusedly tumbled out, without art, invention, judgment, wit, learning, harsh, raw, rude, fantastical, absurd, insolent, indiscreet, ill-composed, indigested, vain, scurrile, idle, dull, and dry; I confess all ('tis partly affected), thou canst not think worse of me than I do of myself. 'Tis not worth the reading, I yield it, I desire thee not to lose time in perusing so vain a subject, I should be peradventure loth myself to read him or thee so writing; 'tis not operæ pretium. All I say is this, that I have precedents for it, which Isocrates calls, perfugium iis qui peccant, others as absurd, vain, idle, illiterate, &c.
Nonnulli alii idem fecerunt; others have done as much, it may be more, and perhaps thou thyself; Novimus et qui te, &c. We have all our faults; scimus, et hanc veniam,
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&c.; thou censurest me, so have I done others, and may do thee, Cedimus inque vicem
&c., 'tis lex talionis, quid pro quo. Go now, censure, criticise, scoff, and rail.
Nasuus sis usquelicet, sis denique nasus:
Non potes in nugas dicere plura meas,
Ipse ego quam dixi, &c.
Wert thou all scoffs and flouts, a very Momus,
Than we ourselves, thou canst not say worse of us.
Thus, as when women scold, have I cried whore first, and in some men's censures I am afraid I have overshot myself; Laudare se vani, vituperare stulti, as I do not arrogate, I will not derogate. Primus vestrum non sum, nec imus, I am none of the best, I am none of the meanest of you. As I am an inch, or so many feet, so many parasangs, after him or him, I may be peradventure an ace before thee. Be it therefore as it is, well or ill, I have essayed, put myself upon the stage; I must abide the censure, I may not escape it. It is most true, stylus virum arguit, our style bewrays us, and as
hunters find their game by the trace, so is a man's genius descried by his works, Multa melius ex sermone quam lineamentis, de moribus hominum judicamus; it was old Cato's rule. I have laid myself open (I know it) in this treatise, turned mine inside outward: I shall be censured, I doubt not; for, to say truth with Erasmus, nihil morosius hominum judiciis, there is naught so peevish as men's judgments; yet this is some comfort, ut palata, sic judicia, our censures are as various as our palates.
Tres mihi convivae prope dissentere videntur, Poscentes vario multum diversa palato, &c.
Three guests I have, dissenting at my feast, Requiring each to gratify his taste With different food.
Our writings are as so many dishes, our readers guests, our books like beauty, that which one admires another rejects; so are we approved as men's fancies are inclined. Pro captu lectoris habent sua fata libelli. That which is most pleasing to one is amaracum sui, most harsh to another. Quot homines, tot sententiæ, so many men, so many minds: that which thou condemnest he commends. Quod petis, id sane est invisum acidumque duobus. He respects matter, thou art wholly for words; he loves a loose and free style, thou art all for neat composition, strong lines, hyperboles, allegories; he desires a fine frontispiece, enticing pictures, such as Hieron. Natali the jesuit hath cut to the Dominicals, to draw on the reader's attention, which thou rejectest; that which one admires, another explodes as most absurd and ridiculous. If it
be not pointblank to his humour, his method, his conceit, si quid forsan omissum, quod is animo conceperit, si quæ dicito, &c. If aught be omitted, or added, which he likes, or dislikes, thou art mancipium paucæ lectionis, an idiot, an ass, nullus es, or
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plagiarius, a trifler, a trivant, thou art an idle fellow; or else it is a thing of mere industry, a collection without wit or invention, a very toy. Facilia sic putant omnes quæ jam facta, nec de salebris cogitant ubi via strata; so men are valued, their labours vilified by fellows of no worth themselves, as things of nought, who could not have done so much. Unusquisque abundat sensa suo, every man abounds in his own sense; and whilst each particular party is so affected, how should one please all?
Quid dem? quid non dem? Renuis tu quod jubet ille.
-- What courses must I chase?
What not? What both would order you refuse.
How shall I hope to express myself to each man's humour and conceit, or to give satisfaction to all? Some understand too little, some too much, qui similiter in legendos libros, atque in salutandos homimes irruunt, non cogitantes quales, sed quibus vestibus induti sint,[who read books in the same way as they salute men, not thinking of their qualities, but of the clothes they are dressed in] as Austin observes, not regarding what, but who write, orexin habet auctoris celebritas [he has an appetite for famous authors], not valuing the metal, but stamp that is upon it, Cantharum aspiciunt, non quid in eo [He looks at the goblet, not at what is in it]. If he be not rich, in great place, polite and brave, a great doctor, or full fraught with grand titles, though never so well qualified, he is a dunce; but, as Baronius hath it of Cardinal Caraffa's works, he is a mere hog that rejects any man for his poverty. Some are too partial, as friends to overween, others come with a prejudice to carp, vilify, detract, and scoff; (qui de me forsan, quicquid est, omni contemptu contemptius judicant) some as bees for honey, some as spiders to gather poison. What shall I do in this case? As a Dutch host, if you come to an inn in Germany, and dislike your fare, diet, lodging, &c., replies in a surly tone, "aliud tibi quæras diversorium," if you like not this, get you to another inn: I resolve, if you like not my writing, go read something else. I do not much esteem thy censure, take thy course, it is not as thou wilt, nor as will, but when we have both done, that of Plinius Secundus to Trajan will prove true, "Every man's witty labour takes not, except the matter, subject, occasion, and some commending favourite happen to it.' If I be taxed, exploded by thee and some such, I shall haply be approved and commended by others, and so have been (Expertus loquor), and may truly say with Jovius in like case, (absit verbo jactantia) heroum quorundam, pontificum, et virorum nobilium familiaritatem a amicitiam, gratasque gratias, et multorum bene laudatorum laudes sum in promeritus, as I have been honoured by some worthy men, so have I been vilified by others, and shall be. At the first publishing of this book, (which Probus of Persius' satires), editum librum continuo mirari homines, atque avide deripere coeperunt, I may in some sort apply to this my work. The first, second, and third editions were suddenly gone, eagerly read, and, as I have said, not much approved by some, as scornfully rejected by others. But it was Democritus his fortune, Idem admirationi et irrisioni habitus. 'Twas Seneca's fate, that superintenent of wit, learning, judgment, ad stuporem doctus [of astonishing learning], the best of Greek and Latin writers, in Plutarch's opinion; "that renowned corrector of vice," as Fabius terms him, "and painful omniscious philosopher, that writ so excellently and admirably well," could not please all parties, or escape censure.
How is he vilified by Caligula, Agellius, Fabius, and Lipsius himself, his chief propugner? In eo pleraque pernitiosa, saith the same Fabius, many childish tracts and
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sentences he hath, sermo illaboratus, too negligent often and remiss, as Agellius observes, oratio vulgaris et protrita, dicaces a ineptæ senentiæ, erudito plebeia, an homely shallow writer as he is. In partibus spinas et fastidia habet, saith Lipsius; and, as in all his other works, so especially in his epistles, aliæ in argutiis et ineptiis occupantur, intricatus alicubi, et parum compositus, sine copia rerum hoc fecit, he ambles up many things together immethodically, after the Stoics' fashion, parum ordinavit, multa accumulavit, &c. If Seneca be thus lashed, and many famous men that I could name, what shall I expect? How shall I that am vix umbra tanti philosophi, hope to please? "No man so absolute (Erasmus holds) to satisfy all, except antiquity, prescription, &c., set a bar." But as I have proved in Seneca, this will not always take place, how shall I evade? 'Tis the common doom of all writers, I must (I say) abide it; I seek not applause; Non ego ventosæ venor suffragia plebis; again, non sum adeo informis, I would not be vilified.
-- laudatus abunde.
Non fastiditus si tibi, lector, ero.
I fear good men's censures, and to their favourable acceptance I submit my labours,
-- et linguas mancipiorum Contemno.
As the barking of a dog, I securely contemn those malicious and scurrile obloquies, flouts, calumnies of railers and detractors; I scorn the rest. What therefore I have said, pro tenuitate mea, I have said.
One or two things yet I was desirous to have amended if I could, concerning the manner of handling this my subject, for which I must apologise, deprecari, and upon better advice give the friendly reader notice: it was not mine intent to prostitute my muse in English, or to divulge secreta Minervæ, but to have exposed this more contract in Latin, if I could have got it printed. Any scurrile pamphlet is welcome to oar mercenary stationers in English; they print all,
-- euduntque libellos
In quorum foliis vix simia nuda cacaret;
But in Latin they will not deal; which is one of the reasons Nicholas Car, in his oration of the paucity of English writers, gives, that so many flourishing wits are smothered in oblivion, lie dead and buried in this our nation. Another main fault is, that I have not revised the copy, and amended the style, which now flows remissly, as it was first conceived; but my leisure would not permit; Feci nec quod potui, nec quod volui, I confess it is neither as I would, nor as it should be.
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Cum relego scripsisse pudet, quia plurima cerno Me quoque quae fuerant judice digna lini.
When I peruse this tract which I have writ, I am abash'd, and much I hold unfit.
Et quod gravissimum [and what is worse], in the matter itself, many things I disallow at this present, which when I writ, non eadem est ætas, non mens; I would willingly retract much, &c., but 'tis too late, I can only crave pardon now for what is amiss.
I might indeed, (had I wisely done) observed that precept of the poet, -- nonumque prematur in annum, and have taken more care: or, as Alexander the physician would have done by lapis lazuli, fifty times washed before it be used, I should have revised, corrected and amended this tract; but I had not (as I said) that happy leisure, no amanuenses or assistants. Pancrates in wanting a servant as he went from Memphis to Coptus in Egypt, took a door bar, and after some superstitious words pronounced (Eucrates the relator was then present) made it stand up like a serving-man, fetch him water, turn the spit, serve in supper, and what work he would besides; and when he had done that service he desired, turned his man to a stick again.
I have no such skill to make new men at my pleasure, or means to hire them; no whistle to call like the master of a ship, and bid them run, &c. I have no such authority, no such benefactors, as that noble Ambrosius was to Origen, allowing him six or seven amanuenses to write out his dictates; I must for that cause do my business myself and was therefore enforced, as a bear doth her whelps, to bring forth this confused lump; I had not time to lick it into form, as she doth her young ones, but even so to publish it, as it was first written quicquid in buccam venit,[as it came into the mouth] in an extemporean style, as I do commonly all other exercises, effudi quicqaid dictavit genius meus, out of a confused company of notes, and writ with as small deliberation as I do ordinarily speak, without all affectation of big words, fustian phrases, jingling terms, tropes, strong lines, that like Acesta's arrows caught fire as they flew, strains of wit, brave heats, elogies, hyperbolical exornations, elegancies, &c., which many so much affect. I am auquæ potor,[a water drinker] drink no wine at all, which so much improves our modern wits, a loose, plain, rude writer, ficum voco ficum, et ligonem ligonem, and as free, as loose, idem calamo quod in mente, I call a spade a spade, animis hæc scribo, non auribus, I respect matter not words; remembering that of Cardan, verba propter res, non res propter verba [the word is for the thing, not the thing for the word]: and seeking with Seneca, quid scribam, non quemadmodum, rather what than how to write: for as Philo thinks, "He that is conversant about matter, neglects words, and those that excel in this art of
speaking, have no profound learning,
Verba nitent phaleris, at nullas verba medullas Intus habent --
(Words may be resplendent with ornament, but they contain no marrow within)
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Besides, it was the observation of that wise Seneca, "when you see a fellow careful about his worth, and neat in his speech, know this for a certainty that man's mind is busied about toys, there's no solidity in him." Non est ornamentum virile concinnitas: [elegance is not a manly distinction] as he said of a nightingale, vox es, præterea nihil, &c.[you are a voice, and nothing beyond that], I am therefore in this point a professed disciple of Apollonius, a scholar of Socrates, I neglect phrases, and labour wholly to inform my reader's understanding, not to please his ear; 'tis not my study or intent to compose neatly, which an orator requires, but to express myself readily and plainly as it happens. So that as a river runs sometimes precipitate and swift, then dull and slow; now direct, then per ambages;[windingly] now deep, then shallow; now muddy, then clear; now broad, then narrow; doth my style flow: now serious, then light; now comical, then satirical; now more elaborate, then remiss, as the present subject required, or as at that time I was affected. And if thou vouchsafe to read this treatise, it shall seem no otherwise to thee, than the way to an ordinary traveller, sometimes fair, sometimes foul; here champaign, there inclosed; barren in one place, better soil in another: by woods, groves, hills, dales, plains, &c. I shall lead thee per ardua montium, et lubrica vallium, et roscida cespitum, et glebosa camporum, [through high mountains, and smooth valleys, and dewy pastures, and earthy fields] and through variety of objects that which thou shalt like and surely dislike.
For the matter itself or method, if it be faulty, consider I pray you that of Columella, Nihil perfectum, aut a singulari consummatum industria, no man can observe all, much is defective no doubt, may be justly taxed, altered, and avoided in Galen, Aristotle, those great masters. Boni venatoris (one holds) plures feras capere, non omnes; he is a good huntsman, can catch some, not all; I have done my endeavour. Besides, I dwelt not in this study, Non hic sulcos ducimus, non hoc pulvere desudamus, I am but a smatterer, I confess, a stranger, here and there I pull a flower; I do easily grant, if a rigid censurer should criticise on this which I have writ, he should not find three sole faults, as Scaliger in Terence, but three hundred. So many as he hath done in Cardan's subtleties, as many notable errors as Gul. Laurembergius, a late professor of Rostocke, discovers in that anatomy of Laurentius, or Barocius the Venetian in Sacro boscus [the sacred grove]. And although this be a sixth edition, in which I should have been more accurate, corrected all those former escapes, yet it was magni laboris opus, so difficult and tedious, that as carpenters do find out of experience, 'tis much better build anew sometime; than repair an old house; I could as soon write as much more, as alter that which is written. If aught therefore be amiss (as I grant there is), I require a friendly admonition, no bitter
invective, Sint musis socii Charites, Furia omnis abesto [let Charity be the ally of the muses, and all the Furies go far away], otherwise, as in ordinary controversies, furem contentionis nectamus, sed cui bono? We may contend, and likely misuse each other, but to what purpose? We are both scholars, say,
-- Arcades ambo, Et cantare pares, et respondere parati
Both young Arcadians, both alike inspir'd To sing and answer as the song requir'd.
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If we do wrangle, what shall we get by it? Trouble and wrong ourselves, make sport to others. If I be convict of an error, I will yield, I will amend. Si quid bonis moribus, si quid veritati dissentaneum, in sacris vel humanis literis a me dictum sit, id nec dictum esto. In the mean time I require a favourable censure of all faults omitted, harsh compositions, pleonasms of word; tautological repetitions (though Seneca bear me out, numquam nimis dicitur, quod nunquam satis dicitur) perturbations of tenses, numbers, printers' faults, &c. My translations are sometimes rather paraphrases than
interpretations, non ad verbum, but as an author, I use more liberty, and that's only taken which was to my purpose. Quotations are often inserted in the text, which makes the style more harsh, or in the margin as it happened. Greek authors, Plato, Plutarch, Athenaeus, &c., I have cited out of their interpreters, because the original was not so ready. I have mingled sacra prophanis but I hope not prophaned, and in repetition of authors' names, ranked them per accidens, not according to chronology; sometimes Neotericks before Ancients, as my memory suggested. Some things are here altered, expunged in this sixth edition, others amended, much added, because many good authors in all kinds are come to my hands since, and 'tis no prejudice, no such indecorum, or oversight.
Nunqnam ita quicquam bene subducta ratione ad vitam fuit,
Quin res, aetas, usus, semper aliquid apponent novi
Aliquid moneant, ut illa quæ scire te credas, nescias,
Et quae tibi putaris prima, in exercendo ut repudias.
Ne'er was aught yet at first contrived so fit,
But use, age, or something would alter it;
Advise thee better, and, upon peruse,
Make thee not say, and what thou takest refuse.
But I am now resolved never to put this treatise out again, Ne quid nimis, I will not hereafter add, alter, or retract; I have done. The last and greatest exception is, that I, being a divine, have meddled with physic,
-- Tantumne est ab re tua otii tibi, Aliena ut cures, eaque nihil qua ad te attinent?
Which Menedemus objected to Chremes; have I so much leisure, or little business of mine own, as to look after other men's matters which concern me not?
What have I to do with physic? Quod medicorum est promittant medici. The Lacedemonians were once in counsel about state matters, a debauched fellow spake excellent well, and to the purpose, his speech was generally approved: a grave senator steps up, and by all means would have it repealed, though good, because dehonestabatur pessimo auctore, it had no better an author; let some good man relate the same, and then it should pass. This counsel was embraced, factum est, and it was registered forthwith. Et sic bona sententia mansit, malus auctor mutatus est. Thou
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sayest as much of me, stomachosus as thou art, and grantest, peradventure, this which I have written in physic, not to be amiss, had another done it, a professed physician, or so; but why should I meddle with this tract? Hear me speak. There be many other subjects, I do easily grant, both in humanity and divinity, fit to be treated of, of which had I written ad ostentationem only, to show myself I should have rather chosen, and in which I have been more conversant, I could have more willingly luxuriated, and better satisfied myself and others; but that at this time I was fatally driven upon this
rock of melancholy, and carried away by this by-stream, which, as a rillet, is deducted from the main channel of my studies, in which I have pleased and busied myself at idle hours, as a subject most necessary and commodious. Not that I prefer it before divinity, which I do acknowledge to be the queen of professions, and to which all the rest are as handmaids, but that in divinity I saw no such great need. For had I written positively, there be so many books in that kind, so many commentators, treatises, pamphlets, expositions, sermons, that whole teams of oxen cannot draw them; and had I been as forward and ambitions as some others, I might have haply printed a sermon at Paul's Cross, a sermon in St. Marie's Oxon, a sermon in Christ-Church, or a sermon before the right honourable, right reverend, a sermon before the right worshipful, a sermon in Latin, in English, a sermon with a name, a sermon without, a sermon, a sermon, &c. But I have been ever as desirous to suppress my labours in this kind, as others have been to press and publish theirs. To have written in controversy had been to cut off an hydra's head, lis litem generat, one begets another, so many duplications, triplications, and swarms of questions. In sacro bello hoc quod stili mucrone agitur, that having once begun, I should never make an end. One had much better, as Alexander, the sixth pope, long since observed, provoke a great prince than a begging friar, a Jesuit, or a seminary priest, I will add, for inexpugnabile genus hoc hominum, they are an irrefragable society, they must and will have the last word; and that with such eagerness, impudence, abominable lying, falsifying, and bitterness in their questions they proceed, that as he said, furorne cæcus, an rapit vis acrior, an culpa, responsum date? Blind fury, or error, or rashness, or what it is that eggs them, I know not, I am sure many times, which Austin perceived long since, tempestate contentionis serenitas charitatis obnubilatur, with this tempest of contention, the serenity of charity is overclouded, and there be too many spirits conjured up already in this kind in all sciences, and more than we can tell how to lay, which do so furiously rage, and keep such a racket, that as Fabius said, "It had been much better for some of then to have been born dumb, and altogether illiterate, than so far to dote to their own destruction."
At melius fuerat non scribere, namque tacere Tutum semper erit,--
'Tis a general fault, so Severinus the Dane complains in physic, "unhappy men as we are, we spend our days in unprofitable questions and disputations," intricate subtleties, de lana caprina[about goats' wool], about moonshine in the water, "leaving in the meantime those chiefest treasures of nature untouched, wherein the best medicines for all manner of diseases are to be found, and do not only neglect them ourselves, but hinder, condemn; forbid, and scoff at other; that are willing to inquire
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after them." These motives at this present have induced me to make choice of this medicinal subject.
If any physician in the mean time shall infer, Ne sutor ultra crepidam, and find himself grieved that I have intruded into his profession, I will tell him in brief, I do not otherwise by them, than they do by us. If it be for their advantage, I know many of their sect which have taken orders, in hope of a benefice, 'tis a common transition, and why may not a melancholy divine, that can get nothing but by simony, profess physic? Drusianus an Italian (Crusianus, but corruptly, Trithemius calls him) "because he was not fortunate in his practice, forsook his profession, and writ afterwards in divinity." Marcilius Ficinus was semel et simul; a priest and a physician at once, and T. Linacer in his old age took orders. The Jesuits profess both at this time, divers of them permissu superiorum, chirurgeons, panders, bawds, and midwives, &c. Many poor country-vicars, for want of other means, are driven to their shifts; to turn mountebank; quacksalvers, empirics, and if our greedy patrons hold us to such hard conditions, as commonly they do, they will make most of us work at some trade, as Paul did, at last turn taskers, maltsters, costermongers, graziers, sell ale as some have done, or worse. Howsoever in undertaking this task, I hope I shall commit no great error or indecorum, if all be considered aright, I can vindicate myself with Georgius, Braunus, and Hieronymus Hemingius, those two learned divines; who (to borrow a line or two of mine elder brother) drawn by a "natural love, the one of pictures and maps, prospectives and corographical delights, writ that ample theatre of cities; the other to the study of genealogies, penned theatrum genealogicum." Or else I can excuse my studies with Lessius the Jesuit in like case. It is a disease of the soul on which I am to treat, and as much appertaining to a divine as to a physician, and who knows not what an agreement there is betwixt these two professions? A good divine either is or ought to be a good physician, a spiritual physician at least, as our Saviour calls himself and was indeed, Mat, iv. 23; Luke, v. 18; Luke, vii. 8. They differ but in object, the one of the body, the other of the soul, and use divers medicines to cure: one amends animam per corpus, the other corpus per animam, as our Regius Professor of physic well informed us in a learned lecture of his not long since. One
helps the vices and passions of the soul, anger, lust, desperation, pride, presumption, &c., by applying that spiritual physic; as the other uses proper remedies in bodily diseases. Now this being a common infirmity of body and soul, and such a one that hath as much need of spiritual as a corporal cure, I could not find a fitter task to busy myself about, a more apposite theme, so necessary, so commodious, and generally concerning all sorts of men, that should so equally participate of both, and require a whole physician. A divine in this compound mixed malady can do little alone, a physician in some kinds of melancholy much less, both make an absolute cure.
Alterius sic altera poscit opem
-- when in friendship join'd
A mutual succour in each other find.
And 'tis proper to them both, and I hope not unbeseeming me, who am by my profession a divine, and by mine inclination a physician. I had Jupiter in my sixth
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house; I say with Beroaldus, non sum medicus, nec medicine prorsus expers, in the theory of physic I have taken some pains, not with an intent to practice, but to satisfy myself, which was a cause likewise of the first undertaking of this subject.
If these reasons do not satisfy thee, good reader, as Alexander Munificus that bountiful prelate, sometimes bishop of Lincoln, when he had built six castles, ad invidiam operis eluendam, saith Mr. Cambden, to take away the envy of his work (which very words Nubrigensis hath of Roger the rich bishop of Salisbury, who in king Stephen's time built Shirburn castle, and that of Devizes), to divert the scandal or imputation, which might be thence inferred, built so many religious houses. If this my discourse be overmedicinal, or savour too much of humanity, I promise thee that I will here after make thee amends in some treatise of divinity. But this I hope shall suffice, when you have more fully considered of the matter of this my subject, rem substratam, melancholy, madness, and of the reasons following, which were my chief motives: the generality of the disease, the necessity of the cure, and the commodity or common good that will arise to all men by the knowledge of it, as shall at large appear in the ensuing preface. And I doubt not but that in the end you will say with me, that to anatomise this humour aright, through all the members of this our Microcosmus, is
as great a task, as to reconcile those chronological errors in the Assyrian monarchy, find out the quadrature of a circle, the creeks and sounds of the north-east, or northwest passages, and all but as good a discovery as that hungry Spaniard's of Terra Australis Incognita, as great trouble as to perfect the motion of Mars and Mercury, which so crucifies our astronomers, or to rectify the Gregorian Kalender. I am so affected for my part, and hope as Theophrastus did by his characters, "That our posterity, O friend Policles, shall be the better for this which we have written, by correcting and rectifying what is amiss in themselves by our example; and applying
our precepts and cautions to their own use." And as that great captain Zisca would have a drum made of his skin when he was dead, because he thought the very noise of it would put his enemies to flight, I doubt not but that these following lines, when they shall be recited, or hereafter read, will drive away melancholy, (though I be gone) as much as Zisca's drum could terrify his foes. Yet one caution let me give by the way to my present, or my future reader, who is actually melancholy, that he read not the symptoms or prognostics in this following tract, lest by applying that which he reads to himself, aggravating, appropriating things generally spoken, to his own person (as melancholy men for the most part do), he trouble or hurt himself and get in conclusion more harm than good. I advise them therefore warily to peruse that tract, Lapides loquitur (so said Agrippa de occ. Phil.) et caveant lectores ne cerebrum iis excutiat.
The rest I doubt not they may securely read, and to their benefit. But I am overtedious, I proceed.
Of the necessity and generality of this which I have said, if any man doubt, I shall desire him to make a brief survey of the world, as Cyprian adviseth Donat, "supposing himself to be transported to the top of some high mountain, and thence to behold the tumults and chances of this wavering world, he cannot chuse but either laugh at, or pity it." S. Hierom out of a strong imagination, being in the wilderness, conceived with himself that he then saw them dancing in Rome; and if thou shalt either conceive, or climb to see, thou shalt soon perceive that all the world is mad, that it is melancholy, dotes; that it is (which Epichthonius Cosmopolites expressed not many years since in a map) made like a fool's head (with that motto, Caput helleboro dignum) a crazed head, cavea stultorum, a fool's paradise, or as Apollonius, a
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common prison of gulls, cheaters, flatterers, &c., and needs to be reformed. Strabo in the ninth book of his geography, compares Greece to the picture of a man, which comparison of his, Nic. Gerbelius in his exposition of Sophianus' map, approves; the breast lies open from those Acroceraunian hills in Epirus, to the Sunian promontory in Attica; Pagæ and Magæra are the two shoulders; that Isthmus of Corinth the neck; and Peloponnesus the head. If this allusion holds 'tis sure a mad head; Morea may be Moria, and to speak what I think, the inhabitants of modern Greece swerve as much
from reason and true religion at this day, as that Morea doth from the picture of a man. Examine the rest in like sort, and you shall find that kingdoms and provinces are melancholy, cities and families, all creatures, vegetal, sensible, and rational, that all sorts, sects, ages, conditions, are out of tune, as in Cebes' table, omnes errorem bibunt, before they come into the world, they are intoxicated by error's cup, from the highest to the lowest have need of physic, and those particular actions in Seneca, where father and son prove one another mad, may be general; Porcius Latro shall plead against us all. For indeed who is not a fool, melancholy, mad? -- Qui nil molitur inepte, who is not brain-sick? Folly, melancholy, madness, are but one disease, Delirium is a common name to all. Alexander, Gordonius, Jason Pratensis,
Savanarola, Guianerius, Montaltus, confound them as differing secundum magis et minus; so doth David, Psal. xxxvii. 5. "I said unto the fools, deal not so madly," and 'twas an old Stoical paradox, omnes stultos insanire, all fools are mad, though some madder than others. And who is not a fool, who is free from melancholy? Who is not touched more or less in habit or disposition? If in disposition, "ill dispositions beget habits, if they persevere," saith Plutarch, habits either are, or turn to diseases. 'Tis the same which Tully maintains in the second of his Tusculans, omnium insipientum
animi in morbo sunt, et perturbatorum, fools are sick, and all that are troubled in mind: for what is sickness, but as a Gregory Tholosanus defines it, "A dissolution or perturbation of the bodily league, which health combines:" and who is not sick, or illdisposed? in whom doth not passion, anger envy, discontent, fear and sorrow reign?
Who labours not of this disease? Give me but a little leave, and you shall see by what testimonies, confessions, arguments, I will evince it, that most men are mad, that they had as much need to go a pilgrimage to the Anticyrae (as in Strabo's time they did) as in our days they run to Compostella, our Lady of Sichem, or Lauretta, to seek for help; that it is like to be as prosperous a voyage as that of Guiana, and that there is much more need of hellebore than of tobacco.
That men are so misaffected, melancholy, mad, giddy-headed, hear the testimony of Solomon, Eccl. ii. 12. "And I turned to behold wisdom, madness and folly," &c. And ver. 23: "All his days are sorrow, his travel grief, and his heart taketh no rest in the night." So that take melancholy in what sense you will, properly or improperly, in disposition or habit, for pleasure or for pain, dotage, discontent, fear, sorrow, madness, for part, or all, truly, or metaphorically, 'tis all one. Laughter itself is madness according to Solomon, and as St. Paul hath it, "Worldly sorrow brings death." "The hearts of the sons of men are evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live," Eccl. ix. 3. "Wise men themselves are no better," Eccl. i. 18. "In the multitude of wisdom is much grief, and he that increaseth wisdom increaseth sorrow," chap. ii. 17. He hated life itself; nothing pleased him: he hated his labour, all, as he concludes is "sorrow, grief, vanity, vexation of spirit." And though he were the wisest man in the world, sanctuarium sapientiæ, and had wisdom in abundance, he will not vindicate himself; or justify his own actions. "Surely I am more foolish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man in me," Prov. xxx. 2. Be they Solomon's
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words, or the words of Agur, the son of Jakeh, they are canonical. David, a man after God's own heart, confesseth as much of himself; Psal. xxxvii. 21, 22. "So foolish was I and ignorant, I was even as a beast before thee." And condemns all for fools, Psal. liii.; xxxii. 9; xlix. 20. He compares them to "beasts, horses, and mules, in which there is no understanding." The Apostle Paul accuseth himself in like sort. 2 Cor. xi. 21. "I would you would suffer a little my foolishness, I speak foolishly." "The whole head is sick," saith Esay, "and the heart is heavy," cap. i. 5. And makes lighter of them than of oxen and asses, "the ox knows his owner," &c.: read Deut. xxxii. 6; Jer. iv.; Amos, iii. 1; Ephes. v. 6. "Be not mad, be not deceived, foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you?" How often are they branded with this epithet of madness and folly? No word so frequent amongst the fathers of the Church and divines; you may see what an opinion they had of the world, and how they valued men's action.
I know that we think far otherwise, and hold them most part wise men that are in authority, princes, magistrates, rich men, they are wise men born, all politicians and statesmen must needs be so, for who dare speak against them? And on the other, so corrupt is our judgment, we esteem wise and honest men fools. Which Democritus well signified in an epistle of his to Hippocrates: "the Abderites account virtue madness," and so do most men living. Shall I tell you the reason of it? Fortune and Virtue, Wisdom and Folly, their seconds, upon a time contended in the Olympics; every man thought that Fortune and Folly would have the worst, and pitied their cases; but it fell out otherwise. Fortune was blind and cared not where she stroke, nor whom, without laws, Andabatarum instar, &c. Folly, rash and inconsiderate, esteemed as little what she said or did. Virtue and Wisdom gave place, were hissed out, and exploded by the common people; Folly and Fortune admired, and so are all their followers ever since: knaves and fools commonly fare and deserve best in worldlings' eyes and opinions. Many good men have no better fate in their ages: Achish, 1 Sam. xxi. 14, held David for a mad man. Elisha and the rest were no otherwise esteemed. David was derided of the common people, Ps. ix. 7, "I am become a monster to many." And generally we are accounted fools for Christ, 1 Cor. xiv. "We fools thought his life madness, and his end without honour," Wisd. v. 4. Christ and his Apostles were censured in like sort, John x.; Mark iii.; Acts xxvi. And so were all Christians in Pliny's time, fuerunt et alii similis dementiæ, &c. And called not long after, Vesaniæ sectatores, eversores hominum, polluti novatores, fanatici, canes, malefici, venefici, Galilæi homunciones, &c. 'Tis an ordinary thing with us, to account honest, devout, orthodox, divine, religious, plain dealing men, idiots, asses, that cannot, or will not lie and dissemble, shift, flatter, accommodare se ad eum locum ubi nati sunt, make good bargains, supplant, thrive, patronis inservire; solennes ascendendi modos apprehendere, leges, mores, consuetudines recte observare, candide laudare, fortiter defendere, sententias amplecti, dubitare de nullis, credere omnia, accipere omnia, nihil reprendere, cæteraque qua promotionem ferunt et securitatem, qua sine ambage foelicem reddunt hominem et vere sapientem apud nos; that cannot temporise as other men do, hand and take bribes, &c. but fear God, and make a conscience of their doings. But the Holy Ghost that knows better how to judge, he calls them fools "The fool hath said in his heart," Psal. liii. 1. "And their ways utter their folly," Psal. xlix. 14. "For what can be more mad, than for a little worldly pleasure to procure unto themselves eternal punishment?" As Gregory and others inculcate unto us.
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Yea even all those great philosophers the world hath ever had in admiration, whose works we do so much esteem, that gave precepts of wisdom to others, inventors of Arts and Sciences, Socrates the wisest man of his time by the Oracle of
Apollo, whom his two scholars, Plato and Xenophon, so much extol and magnify with those honourable titles, "best and wisest of all mortal men, the happiest, and most just;" and as Alcibiades incomparably commends him; Achilles was a worthy man, but Bracides and others were as worthy as himself; Anterior and Nestor were as good as Pericles, and so of the rest; but none present, before, or after Socrates, nemo veterum neque eorum qui nunc sunt, were ever such, will match, or come near him.
Those seven wise men of Greece, those Britain Druids, Indian Brachmanni, Aethiopian Gymnosophists, Magi of the Persians, Apollonius, of whom Philostratus, Non doctus, sed natus sapiens, wise from his cradle, Epicurus so much admired by his scholar Lucretius:
Qui genus humanum ingenio superavit, et omnes
Perstrinxit stellas exortus ut aetherius sol.
Whose wit excell'd the wits of men as far,
As the sun rising doth obscure a star,
Or that so much renowned Empedocles.
Ut vix humana videatur stirpe creatus.
All those of whom we read such hyperbolical eulogiums, as of Aristotle, that he was wisdom itself in the abstract, a miracle of nature, breathing libraries, as Eunapius of Longinus, lights of nature, giants for wit, quintessence of wit, divine spirits, eagles in the clouds, fallen from heaven, gods, spirits, lamps of the world, dictators, Nulla ferant talem secla futura virum: monarchs, miracles, superintendents of wit and learning, oceanus, phoenix, atlas, monstrum, portentum hominis, orbis universi musæum, ultimus humanæ naturæ conatus, naturæ maritus.
-- merito cui doctior orbis
Submissis defert fascibus imperium.
As Ælian writ of Protagoras and Gorgias, we may say of them all, tantum a sapientibus abfuerunt, quantum a viris pueri, they were children in respect, infants, not eagles, but kites; novices, illiterate, Eunuchi sapientiæ. And although they were the wisest, and most admired in their age, as he censured Alexander, I do them, there were 10,000 in his army as worthy captains (had they been in place of command), as valiant as himself; there were myriads of men wiser in those days, and yet all short of what they ought to be. Lactantius, in his book of wisdom, proves them to be dizzards, fools, asses, mad men, so full of absurd and ridiculous tenets, and brain-sick positions, that to his thinking never any old woman or sick person doted worse. Democritus took all from Leucippus, and left saith he, "the inheritance of his folly to Epicurus," insanienti dum sapientiæ, &c. The like he holds of Plato, Aristippus, and the rest, making no difference, "betwixt them and beasts, saving that they could speak."
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Theodoret in his tract, De cur. grec. affect. manifestly evinces as much of Socrates, whom though that Oracle of Apollo confirmed to be the wisest man then living, and saved him from plague, whom 2000 years have admired, of whom some will as soon speak evil as of Christ, yet revera, he was an illiterate idiot, as Aristophanes calls him, irrisor et ambitiosu, as his master Aristotle terms him, scurra Atticus, as Zeno, an enemy to all arts and sciences, as Athaeneus, to philosophers and travellers, an opinionative ass, a caviller, a kind of pedant; for his manners, as Theod. Cyrensis describes him, a sodomite, an atheist, (so convict by Anytus) iracundus et ebrius, dicax, &c. a pot-companion, by Plato's own confession, a sturdy drinker; and that of all others he was most sottish, a very madman in his actions and opinions. Pythagoras was part philosopher, part magician, or part witch. If you desire to hear more of Apollonius, a great wise man, sometime paralleled by Julian the apostate to Christ, I refer you to that learned tract of Eusebias against Hierocles, and for them all to Lucian's Piscator, Icaromenippus, Necyomantia: their actions, opinions in general were so prodigious, absurd, ridiculous, which they broached and maintained, their books and elaborate treatises were fall of dotage, which Tully ad Atticum long since observed, delirant plerumque scriptores in libris suis, their lives being opposite to their words, they commended poverty to others, and were most covetous themselves, extolled love and peace, and yet persecuted one another with virulent hate and malice.
They could give precepts for verse and prose, but not a man of them (as Seneca tells then home) could moderate his affections. Their music did show us flebiles modos, &c. how to rise and fall, but they could not so contain themselves as in adversity not to make a lamentable tone. They will measure ground by geometry, set down limits, divide and subdivide, but cannot yet prescribe quantum homini satis, or keep within compass of reason and discretion. They can square circles, but understand not the state of their own souls, describe right lines and crooked, &c. but know not what is right in this life, quid in vita rectum sit, ignorant; so that as he said, nescio an Anticyram ratio illis destinet omnem, I think all the Anticyrae will not restore them to their wits, if these men now, that held Xenodotus' heart, Crates' liver, Epictetus' lanthorn, were so sottish, and had no more brains than so many beetles, what shall we think of the commonalty? what of the rest?
Yea, but will you infer, that is true of heathens, if they be conferred with christians, 1 Cor. iii. 19. "The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, earthly and devilish," as James calls it, iii. 15. "They were vain in their imaginations, and
their foolish heart was full of darkness," Rom. i. 21, 22. "When they professed themselves wise, became fools." Their witty works are admired here on earth, whilst their souls are tormented in hell fire. In some sense, Christiani Crassian, Christians are Crassians, and if compared to that wisdom, no better than fools. Quis est sapiens? Solus Deus, Pythagoras replies, "God is only wise," Rom. xvi. Paul determines "only good," as Austin well contends, "and no man living can be justified in his sight." "God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if any did understand," Psalm liii 2,3. but all are corrupt, err. Rom. iii. 12, "None doth good, no not one." Job aggravates this, iv. 18, "Behold he found no steadfastness in his servants, and laid folly upon his angel;" 19. "How much more on them that dwell in houses of clay?" In this sense we are all fools, and the Scripture alone is arx Minervæ, we and our writings are shallow and imperfect. But I do not so mean; even in our ordinary dealings we are no better than fools. "All our actions," as Pliny, told Trajan, "upbraid us of folly," our whole course of life is but matter of laughter: we are not soberly wise; and the world itself which ought at least to be wise by reason of his antiquity, as
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Hugo de Prato Florido will have it, semper stultizat, is every day more foolish than other; the more it is whipped, the worse it is, and as a child will still be crowned with roses and flowers. "We are apish in it, asini bipedes, and every place is full inversorum Apuleiorum, of metamorphosed and two-legged asses, inversorum Silenorum, childish, pueri instar bimuli, tremula patris dormientis in ulna. Jovianus Pontanus, Antonio Dial, brings in some laughing at an old man, that by reason of his age was a little fond, but as he admonisheth there, Ne mireris mi hospes de hoc sene, marvel not at him only, for tota hæc civitas delirat, all our town dotes in like sort, we are a company of fools. Ask not with him in the poet, Larvæ hunc intemperia insaniæque agitant senem? What madness ghosts this old man, but what madness ghosts us all? For we are ad unum omnes, all mad, semel insanivimus omnes, not once, but always so, et semel, et simul, et semper, ever and altogether as bad as he; and not senex bis puer, delira anus, but say it of us all, semper pueri, young and old, all dote, as Lactantius proves out of Seneca; and no difference betwixt us and children, saving that, majora ludimus, et grandioribus pupis, they play with babies of clouts and such toys, we sport with greater baubles. We cannot accuse or condemn one another, being faulty ourselves, deliramenta loqueris, you talk idly, or as Mitio upbraided Demea, insanis, auferte, for we are as mad our ownselves, and it is hard to say which is the worst. Nay, 'tis universally so, Vitam regit fortuna, non sapientia. (Fortune, not wisdom, governs our lives.)
When Socrates had taken great pains to find out a wise man, and to that purpose had consulted with philosophers, poets, artificers, he concludes all men were fools; and though it procured him both anger and much envy, yet in all companies he would openly profess it. When Supputius in Pontanus had travelled all over Europe to confer with a wise man, he returned at last without his errand, and could find none. Cardan concurs with him, "Few there are (for aught I can perceive) well in their wits."
So doth Tully, "I see every thing to be done foolishly and unadvisedly."
Ille sinistrorsum, hic dextrorsum, unus utrique
Error, sed variis illudit partibus omnes.
One reels to this, another to that wall;
'Tis the same error that deludes them all.
They dote all, but not alike, Μανια γαρ πατιν ομοα (mania gar patis omoa), not in the same kind, "One is covetous, a second lascivious, a third ambitious, a fourth envious," &c. as Damasippus the Stoic hath well illustrated in the poet,
Desipiunt omnes aeque ac tu.
And they who call you fool, with equal claim May plead an ample title to the name.
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'Tis an inbred malady in every one of us, there is seminarium stultitæ, a seminary of folly, "which if it be stirred up, or get ahead, will run in infinitum, and infinitely varies, as we ourselves are severally addicted," saith Balthazar Castilio: and cannot so easily be rooted out, it takes such fast hold, as Tully holds, alte radices stultitiæ, we are bred, and so we continue. Some say there be two main defects of wit, error, and ignorance, to which all others are reduced; by ignorance we know not things necessary, by error we know them falsely. Ignorance is a privation, error a positive act. From ignorance comes vice, from error, heresy, &c. But make how many kinds you will, divide and subdivide, few men are free, or that do not impinge on some one kind or other. Sic plerumque agitat stultos inscitia, (their wits are a wool-gathering.
So fools commonly dote,) as he that examines his own and other men's actions shall find.
Charon in Lucian, as he wittily feigns, was conducted by Mercury to such a place, where he might see all the world at once; after he had sufficiently viewed, and looked about, Mercury would needs know of him what he had observed: He told him that he saw a vast multitude and a promiscuous, their habitations like molehills, the men as emmets, "he could discern cities like so many hives of bees, wherein every bee had a sting, and they did nought else but sting one another, some domineering like hornets bigger than the rest, some like filching wasps, others as drones." Over their heads were hovering a confused company of perturbations, hope, fear, anger, avarice, ignorance, &c., and a multitude of diseases hanging, which they still pulled on their pates. Some were brawling, some fighting, riding, running, sollicite ambientes, callide litigantes, for toys and trifles, and such momentary things. Their towns and provinces mere factions, rich against poor, poor against rich, nobles against artificers, they against nobles, and so the rest. In conclusion, he condemned them all for madmen, fools, idiots, asses, O stulti, quænam hæc est amentia? O fools, O madmen, he exclaims, insana studia, insani labores, &c. Mad endeavours, mad actions, mad, mad, mad, O seclum insipiens & infacetum, a giddy-headed age. Heraclitus the philosopher, out of a serious meditation of men's lives, fell a weeping, and with continual tears bewailed their misery, madness, and folly. Democritus on the other side, burst out a laughing, their whole life seemed to him so ridiculous, and he was so far carried with this ironical passion, that the citizens of Abdera took him to be mad, and sent therefore ambassadors to Hippocrates, the physician, that he would exercise his skill upon him. But the story is set down at large by Hippocrates, in his epistle to Damogetus, which because it is not impertinent to this discourse, I will insert verbatim almost as it is delivered by Hippocrates himself, with all the circumstances belonging unto it.
When Hippocrates was now come to Abdera, the people of the city came flocking about him, some weeping, some entreating of him, that he would do his best.
After some little repast, he went to see Democritus, the people following him, whom he found (as before) in his garden in the suburbs all alone, "sitting upon a stone under a plane tree, without hose or shoe; with a book on his knees, cutting up several beasts, and busy at his study." The multitude stood gazing round about to see the congress.
Hippocrates, after a little pause, saluted him by his name, whom he resaluted, ashamed almost that he could not call him likewise by his, or that he had forgot it. Hippocrates demanded of him what he was doing: he told him that he was "busy in cutting up several beasts, to find out the cause of madness and melancholy."
Hippocrates commended his work, admiring his happiness and leisure. And why,
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quoth Democritus, have not you that leisure? Because, replied Hippocrates, domestic affairs hinder, necessary to be done for ourselves, neighbours, friends; expenses, disease, frailties and mortalities which happen; wife, children, servants, and such businesses which deprive us of our time. At this speech Democritus profusely laughed (his friends and the people standing by, weeping in the meantime, and lamenting his madness). Hippocrates asked the reason why he laughed. He told him, at the vanities and the fopperies of the time, to see men so empty of all virtuous actions, to hunt so far after gold, having no end of ambition; to take such infinite pains for a little glory, and to be favoured of men; to make such deep mines into the earth for gold, and many times to find nothing, with loss of their lives and fortunes. Some to love dogs, others horses, some to desire to be obeyed in many provinces, and yet themselves will know no obedience. Some to love their wives dearly at first, and after a while to forsake and hate them; begetting children, with much care and cost for their education, yet when they grow to man's estate, to despise, neglect, and leave them naked to the world's mercy. Do not these behaviours express their intolerable folly? When men live in peace, they covet war, detesting quietness, deposing kings, and advancing others in their stead, murdering some men to beget children of their wives. How many strange humours are in men! When they are poor and needy, they seek riches, and when they have them, they do not enjoy them, but hide them underground, or else wastefully spend them. O wise Hippocrates, I laugh at such things being done, but much more when no good comes of them, and when they are done to so ill purpose. There is no truth or justice found amongst them, for they daily plead one against another, the son against the father and the mother, brother against brother, kindred and friends of the same quality; and all this for riches, whereof after death they cannot be possessors.
And yet notwithstanding they will defame and kill one another, commit all unlawful actions, contemning God and men, friends and country. They make great account of many senseless things, esteeming them as a great part of their treasure, statues, pictures, and such like movables, dear bought, and so cunningly wrought, as nothing but speech wanteth in them, and yet they hate living persons speaking to them. Others affect difficult things; if they dwell on firm land they will remove to an island, and thence to land again, being no way constant to their desires. They commend courage and strength in wars, and let themselves be conquered by lust and avarice; they are, in brief, as disordered in their minds, as Thersites was in his body. And now, methinks, O most worthy Hippocrates, you should not reprehend my laughing, perceiving so many fooleries in men; for no man will mock his own folly, but that which he seeth in a second, and so they justly mock one another. The drunkard calls him a glutton whom he knows to be sober. Many men love the sea, others husbandry; briefly, they cannot agree in their own trades and professions, much less in their lives and actions.
When Hippocrates heard these words so readily uttered, without premeditation, to declare the world's vanity, full of ridiculous contrariety, he made answer, that necessity compelled men to many such actions, and divers wills ensuing
from divine permission, that we might not be idle; being nothing is so odious to them as sloth and negligence. Besides, men cannot foresee future events, in this uncertainty of human affairs; they would not so marry, if they could foretel the causes of their dislike and separation; or parents, if they knew the hour of their children's death, so tenderly provide for them; or an husbandman sow, if he thought there would be no increase; or a merchant adventure to sea, if he foresaw shipwreck; or be a magistrate, if presently to be deposed. Alas, worthy Democritus, every man hopes the best, and to that end he doth it, and therefore no such cause, or ridiculous occasion of laughter.
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Democritus hearing this poor excuse, laughed again aloud, perceiving he wholly mistook him, and did not well understand what he had said concerning perturbations and tranquillity of the mind. Insomuch, that if men would govern their actions by discretion and providence, they would not declare themselves fools as now they do, and he should have no cause of laughter; but (quoth he) they swell in this life as if they were immortal, and demigods, for want of understanding. It were enough to make them wise, if they would but consider the mutability of this world, and how it wheels about, nothing being firm and sure. He that is now above, to-morrow is beneath; he that sate on this side to-day, to-morrow is hurled on the other: and not considering these matters, they fall into many inconveniences and troubles, coveting things of no profit, and thirsting after them, tumbling headlong into many calamities.
So that if men would attempt no more than what they can bear, they should lead contented lives, and learning to know themselves, would limit their ambition, they would perceive then that nature hath enough without seeking such superfluities, and unprofitable things, which bring nothing with them but grief and molestation. As a fat body is more subject to diseases, so are rich men to absurdities and fooleries, to many casualties and cross inconveniences. There are many that take no heed what happeneth to others by bad conversation, and therefore overthrow themselves in the
same manner through their own fault, not foreseeing dangers manifest. These are things (O more than mad, quoth he) that give me matter of laughter, by suffering the pains of your impieties, as your avarice, envy, malice, enormous villainies, mutinies, unsatiable desires, conspiracies, and other incurable vices; besides your dissimulation and hypocrisy, bearing deadly hatred one to the other, and yet shadowing it with a good face, flying out into all filthy lusts, and transgressions of all laws, both of nature and civility. Many things which they have left off, after a while they fall to again, husbandry, navigation; and leave again, fickle and inconstant as they are. When they are young, they would be old; and old, young. Princes commend a private life; private men itch after honour: a magistrate commends a quiet life; a quiet man would be in his office, and obeyed as he is: and what is the cause of all this, but that they know not themselves? Some delight to destroy, one to build, another to spoil one country to enrich another and himself. In all these things they are like children, in whom is no judgment or counsel and resemble beasts, saving that beasts are better than they, as being contented with nature. When shall you see a lion hide gold in the ground, or a bull contend for better pasture? When a boar is thirsty, he drinks what will serve him, and no more; and when his belly is full, ceaseth to eat: but men are immoderate in both, as in lust -- they covet carnal copulation at set times; men always, ruinating thereby the health of their bodies. And doth it not deserve laughter to see an amorous fool torment himself for a wench; weep, howl for a mis-shapen slut, a dowdy sometime; that might have his choice of the finest beauties? Is there any remedy for this in physic? I do anatomise and cut up these poor beasts, to see these distempers, vanities, and follies, yet such proof were better made on man's body, if my kind nature would endure it: who from the hour of his birth is most miserable, weak, and sickly; when he sucks he is guided by others, when he is grown great practiseth unhappiness and is sturdy, and when old, a child again, and repenteth him of his life past. And here being interrupted by one that brought books, he fell to it again, that all were mad, careless, stupid. To prove my former speeches, look into courts, or private houses.
Judges give judgment according to their own advantage, doing manifest wrong to poor innocents to please others. Notaries alter sentence; and for money lose their deeds. Some make false monies; others counterfeit false weights. Some abuse their parents, yea corrupt their own sisters; others make long libels and pasquils, defaming
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men of good life, and extol such as are lewd and vicious. Some rob one, some another: magistrates make laws against thieves, and are the veriest thieves themselves.
Some kill themselves, others despair, not obtaining their desires. Some dance, sing, laugh, feast and banquet, whilst others sigh, languish, mourn and lament, having neither meat, drink, nor clothes. Some prank up their bodies, and have their minds full of execrable vices. Some trot about to bear false witness, and say anything for money; and though judges know of it, yet for a bribe they wink at it, and suffer false contracts to prevail against equity. Women are all day a dressing, to pleasure other men abroad, and go like sluts at home, not caring to please their own husbands whom they should.
Seeing men are so fickle, so sottish, so intemperate, why should not I laugh at those to whom folly seems wisdom, will not be cured, and perceive it not?
It grew late: Hippocrates left him; and no sooner was he come away, but all the citizens came about flocking, to know how he liked him. He told then in brief that notwithstanding those small neglects of his attire, body, diet, the world had not a wiser, a more learned, a more honest man, and they were much deceived to say that he was mad.
Thus Democritus esteemed of the world in his time, and this was the causes of his laughter: and good cause he had.
Olim jure quildem, nunc plus Democtrite ride;
Quin rides? vita haec nunc mage ridicula est.
Democritus did well to laugh of old.
Good cause he had, but now much more;
This life of ours is more ridiculous
Than that of his, or long before.
Never so much cause of laughter as now, never so many fools and madmen. 'Tis not one Democritus will serve turn to laugh in these days; we have now need of a "Democritus to laugh at Democritus;" one jester to flout at another, one fool to flare at another: a great stentorian Democritus, as big as that Rhodian Colossus. For now, as said in his time, totus mundus histrionem agit, the whole world plays the fool; we have a new theatre, a new scene, a new comedy of errors, a new company of personate actors, volupiæ sacra (as Calcagninus willingly feigns in his Apologues) are celebrated all the world over, where all the actors were madmen and fools, and every hour changed habits, or took that which came next. He that was a mariner to-day, is an apothecary to-morrow; a smith one while, a philosopher another, in his volupiæ ludis; a king now with his crown, robes, sceptre, attendants, by and by drove a loaded ass before him like a carter, &c. If Democritus were alive now, he should see strange alterations, a new company of counterfeit vizards, whifflers, Cumane asses, maskers, mummers, painted puppets, outsides, fantastic shadows, gulls, monsters, giddy-heads, butterflies. And so many of them are indeed (if all be true that I have read). For when Jupiter and Juno's wedding was solemnized of old the gods were all invited to the feast, and many noble men besides: Amongst the rest came Crysalus, a Persian prince, bravely attended, rich in golden attires, in gay robes, with a majestical presence, but
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otherwise an ass. The gods seeing him come in such pomp and state, rose up to give him place, ex habitus hominem metientes; but Jupiter perceiving what he was, a light, fantastic, idle fellow, turned him and his proud followers into butterflies: and so they continue still (for aught I know to the contrary) roving about in pied coats, and are called chrysalides by the wiser sort of men: that is, golden outsides, drones, flies, and things of no worth. Multitudes of such, &c.
"-- ubique invenies
Stultos avaros, sycophantes prodigos."
(You will meet covetous fools and prodigal sycophants everywhere)
Many additions, much increase of madness, folly, vanity, should Democritus observe, were he now to travel, or could get leave of Pluto to come see fashions, as Charon did in Lucian to visit our cities of Moronia Pia, and Moronia Foelix: sure I think he would break the rim of his belly with laughing. Si foret in terris rideret Democritus, seu. &c.
A satirical Roman in his time, thought all vice, folly, and madness were all at full sea, Omne in præcipiti vitium stetit.
Josephus the historian taxeth his countrymen Jews for bragging of their vices, publishing their follies, and that they did contend amongst themselves who should be most notorious in villanies; but we flow higher in madness, far beyond them,
"Mox daturi progeniem vitiosiorem"
And yet with crimes to us unknown,
Our sons shall mark the coming age their own,
and the latter end (you know whose oracle it is) is like to be worse. 'Tis not to be denied, the world alters every day, Ruunt urbes, regna transferuntur, &c. variantur habitus, leges innovantur, as Petrarch observes, we change language, habit; laws, customs, manners, but not vice; not diseases, not the symptoms of folly and madness, they are still the same. And as a river, we see, keeps the like name and place, but not water, and yet ever runs, Labitur et labetur in omne volubilis oevum; our times and persons alter, vices are the same, and ever will be; look how nightingales sang of old, cocks crowed, kine lowed, sheep bleated, sparrows chirped, dogs barked, so they do still: we keep our madness still, play the fools still, nec dum finitus Orestes; we are of the same humours and inclinations as our predecessors were; you shall find us all alike, much at one, we and our sons, et nati natorum, et qui nascuntur ab illis. And so shall our posterity continue to the last. But to speak of times present.
If Democritus were alive now, and. should but see the superstition of our age, our religious madness, as Meteran calls it, Religiosam insaniam, so many professed
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Christians, yet so few imitators of Christ; so much talk of religion, so much science, so little conscience; so much knowledge, so many preachers, so little practice; such variety of sects, such have and hold of all sides, -- obvia signis Sigma, &c., such absurd and ridiculous traditions and ceremonies: If he should meet Father Angelo, the Duke of Joyeux, going barefoot over the Alps to Rome, &c., a Capuchin, a Franciscan, a Pharisaical Jesuit, a man-serpent, a shave-crowned Monk in his robe, a begging Friar, or see their three-crowned Sovereign Lord the Pope, poor Peter's
successor, servus servorum Dei, to depose kings with his foot, to tread on emperors' neck; make them stand barefoot and bare-legged at his gate; hold his bridle and stirrup, &c. (O that Peter and Paul were alive to see this!) If he should observe a Prince creep so devoutly to kiss his toe, and those Red-cap Cardinals, poor parish priests of old, now Princes' companions; what would he say? Coelum ipsum petitur stultitia. Had he met some of our devout pilgrims going barefoot to Jerusalem, our lady of Lauretto, Rome, S. Iago, S. Thomas' Shrine, to creep to those counterfeit and maggot-eaten reliques; had he been present at a mass, and seen such kissing of Paxes, crucifixes, cringes, duckings, their several attires and ceremonies, pictures of saints, indulgences, pardon; vigils, fasting, feasts, crossing, knocking, kneeling at Ave- Marias, bells, with many such; jucunda rudi spectacula plebis (pleasing spectacles to the ignorant poor), praying in gibberish, and mumbling of beads. Had he heard an old woman say her prayers in Latin, their sprinkling of holy water, and going a procession,
"-- incedunt monachorum agmina mille;
Quid memorem vexilla, cruces, idolaque culta, &c."
Their breviaries, bulls, hallowed beans, exorcisms, pictures, curious crosses, fables, and baubles. Had he read the Golden Legend, the Turks' Alcoran, or Jews' Talmud, the Rabbins' Comments, what would he have thought? How dost thou think he might have been affected? Had he more particularly examined a Jesuit's life amongst the rest, he should have seen an hypocrite profess poverty, and yet possess more goods and lands than many princes, to have infinite treasures and revenues; teach others to fast, and play the gluttons themselves; like the watermen that row one way and look another. Vow virginity, talk of holiness, and yet indeed a notorious bawd, and famous fornicator, lascivum pecus, a very goat. Monks by profession, such as give over the world and the vanities of it, and yet a Machiavelian rout interested in all manner of state: holy men, peace makers, and yet composed of envy, lust, ambition, hatred, and malice; fire-brands, adulta patriæ pestis, traitors, assassinats, hæc itur ad astra, and this is to supererogate, and merit heaven for themselves and others. Had he seen on the adverse side, some of our nice and curious schismatics in another extreme, abhor all ceremonies, and rather lose their lives and livings, than do or admit anything Papists have formerly used, though in things indifferent, (they alone are the true Church, sal terræ, cum sint omnium insulsissimi). Formalists, out of fear and base flattery, like so many weather-cocks turn round, a rout of temporisers, ready to embrace and maintain all that is or shall be proposed in hope of preferment: another Epicurean company, lying at lurch like so many vultures, watching for a prey of Church goods, and ready to rise by the downfal of any: as Lucian said in like case, what dost thou think Democritus would have done, had he been spectator of these things?
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Or had he but observed the common people follow like so many sheep one of their fellows drawn by the horns over the gap, some for zeal, some for fear, quo se cunque rapit tempestas, to credit all, examine nothing, and yet ready to die before they will adjure any of those ceremonies to which they have been accustomed? others out of hypocrisy frequent sermons, knock their breasts, turn up their eyes, pretend zeal, desire reformation, and yet professed usurers, gripers, monsters of men, harpies, devils in their lives, to express nothing less.
What would he have said to see, hear, and read so many bloody battles, so many thousands slain at once, such streams of blood able to turn mills: unius ob noxam furiasque, or to make sport for princes, without any just cause, "for vain titles (saith Austin), precedency, some wench, or such like toy, or out of desire of domineering, vain glory, malice, revenge, folly, madness," (goodly causes all, ob quas universus orbis bellis et coedibus misceatur,) whilst statesmen themselves in the mean time are secure at home, pampered with all delights and pleasures, take their ease, and follow their lust; not considering what intolerable misery poor soldiers endure, their often wounds, hunger, thirst, &c., the lamentable cares, torments, calamities, and oppressions that accompany such proceedings, they feel not, take no notice of it. So wars are begun, by the persuasion of a few debauched, hair-brain, poor, dissolute, hungry captains, parasitical fawners, unquiet Hotspurs, restless innovators, green heads, to satisfy one man's private spleen, lust, ambition, avarice, &c.; tales rapiunt scelerata in proelia causæ. Flos hominum, proper men, well proportioned, carefully brought up, able both in body and mind, sound, led like so many beasts to the slaughter in the flower of their years, pride, and full strength, without all remorse and pity, sacrificed to Pluto, killed up as so many sheep, for devils' food, 40,000 at once.
At once, said I, that were tolerable, but these wars last always, and for many ages; nothing so familiar as this backing and hewing, massacres, murders, desolations -- ignoto coelum clangore remugit, they care not what mischief they procure, so that they may enrich themselves for the present; they will so long blow the coals of contention, till all the world be consumed with fire. The siege of Troy lasted ten years, eight months, there died 870,000 Grecians, 670,000 Trojans, at the taking of the city, and after were slain 276,000 men, women, and children of all sorts. Caesar killed a million, Mahomet the second Turk, 300,000 persons; Sicinius Dentatus fought in a hundred battles, eight times in single combat he overcame, had forty wounds before, was rewarded with 140 crowns, triumphed nine times for his good service. M. Sergius had 32 wounds; Scaeva, the Centurion, I know not how many; every nation had their Hectors, Scipios, Caesars, and Alexanders! Our Edward the Fourth was in 26 battles afoot: and as they do all, he glories in it, 'tis related to his honour. At the siege of Hierusalem, 1,100,000 died with sword and famine. At the battle of Cannae, 70,000
men were slain, as Polybius records, and as many at Battle Abbey with us; and 'tis no news to fight from sun to sun, as they did, as Constantine and Licinius, &c. At the siege of Ostend (the devil's academy) a poor town in respect, a small fort, but a great grave, 120,000 men lost their lives, besides whole towns, dorpes, and hospitals full of maimed soldiers; there were engines, fire-works, and whatsoever the devil could invent to do mischief with 2,500,000 iron bullets shot of 40 pounds weight, three or four millions of gold consumed. "Who (saith mine author) can be sufficiently amazed at their flinty hearts, obstinacy, fury, blindness, who without any likelihood of good success, hazard poor soldiers, and lead them without pity to the slaughter, which may justly be called the rage of furious beasts, that run without reason upon their own deaths: "quis malus genius, quæ furia, quæ pestis," &c.; what plague, what fury
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the Duke of Alva's tyrannies, our gunpowder machinations, and that fourth fury, as one calls it, the Spanish inquisition, which quite obscures those ten persecutions, -- sævit toto Mars impius orbe. Is not this mundus furiosus a mad world, as he terms it, insanum bellum? are not these mad men, as Scaliger concludes, qui in prælio acerba morte, insaniæ suæ memoriam perpetuo teste relinquunt posteritati; which leave so frequent battles, as perpetual memorials of their madness to all succeeding ages?
Would this, think you, have enforced our Democritus to laughter, or rather make him turn his tune, alter his tone, and weep with Heraclitus, or rather howl, roar, and tear his hair in commiseration, stand amazed; or as the poets feign, that Niobe was for grief quite stupefied, and turned to a stone? I have not yet said the worst, that which is more absurd and mad, in their tumults, seditions, civil and unjust wars, quod stulte suscipitur, impie geritur, misere finitur. Such wars I mean; for all are not to be condemned, as those fantastical anabaptists vainly conceive. Our Christian tactics are all out as necessary as the Roman acies, or Grecian phalanx; to be a soldier is a most noble and honourable profession (as the world is), not to be spared, they are our best walls and bulwarks, and I do therefore acknowledge that of Tully to be most true, "All our civil affairs, all our studies, all our pleading, industry, and commendation lies under the protection of warlike virtues, and whensoever there is any suspicion of tumult, all our arts cease;" wars are most behoveful, et bellatores agricolis civitati sunt utiliores, as Tyrius defends: and valour is much to be commended in a wise man; but they mistake most part, auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus virtutem vocant, &c. ('Twas Galgacus' observation in Tacitus) they term theft, murder, and rapine, virtue, by a wrong name, rapes, slaughters, massacres, &c. jocus et ludus, are pretty pastimes, as Ludovicus Vives notes. "They commonly call the most hair-brain blood-suckers, strongest thieves, the most desperate villains, treacherous rogues, inhuman murderers, rash, cruel and dissolute caitiffs, courageous and generous spirits, heroical and worthy captains, brave men at arms, valiant and renowned soldiers, possessed with a brute persuasion of false honour," as Pontus Huter in his Burgundian history complains. By means of which it comes to pass that daily so many voluntaries offer themselves, leaving their sweet wives, children, friends, for sixpence (if they can get it) a day, prostitute their lives and limb; desire to enter upon breaches, lie sentinel, perdue, give the first onset, stand in the fore front of the battle, marching bravely on, with a cheerful noise of drums and trumpets, such vigour and alacrity, so many banners streaming in the air, glittering armours, motions of plumes, woods of pikes, and swords, variety of colour; cost and magnificence, as if they went in triumph, now victors to the Capitol, and with such pomp, as when Darius' army marched to meet Alexander at Issus. Void of all fear they run into imminent dangers, cannon's mouth, &c., ut vulneribus suit ferrum hostium hebetent, saith Barletius, to get a name of valour, honour and applause, which lasts not neither, for it is but a mere flash this fame, and, like a rose, intra diem unum extinguitur, 'tis gone in an instant. Of 15,000 proletaries slain in a battle, scarce fifteen are recorded in history, or one alone, the General perhaps, and after a while his and their names are likewise blotted out, the whole battle itself is forgotten. Those Grecian orators, summa vi ingenii et eloquentiæ, set out the renowned overthrows at Thermopylæ, Salamis, Marathon, Micale, Mantinea, Cheronæa, Platæa. The Romans record their battle at Cannas, and Pharsalian fields, but they do but record, and we scarce hear of them. And yet this supposed honour, popular applause, desired of immortality by this means, pride and vain-glory spur them on many times rashly and unadvisedly, to make away themselves and multitudes of others. Alexander was sorry, because there were no more worlds for him to conquer; he is admired by some for it, animosa vox videtur, et
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regia, 'twas spoken like a Prince; but as wise Seneca censures him, 'twas vox iniquissima et stultissima, 'twas spoken like a Bedlam fool; and that sentence which the same Seneca appropriates to his father Philip and him, I apply to them all, Non minores fuere pestes mortalium quam inundatio, quam conflagratio, quibus, &c. they did as much mischief to mortal men as fire and water, those merciless elements when they rage. Which is yet more to be lamented, they persuade them this hellish course of life is holy, they promise heaven to such as venture their lives bello sacro, and that by these bloody wars, as Persians, Greeks, and Romans of old, as modern Turks do now their commons, to encourage them to fight, ut cadant infeliciter. "If they die in the field, they go directly to heaven, and shall be canonized for saints." (O diabolical invention!) put in the Chronicles, in perpetuam rei memoriam, to their eternal memory: when as in truth, as some hold, it were much better (since wars are the scourge of God for sin, by which he punisheth mortal men's peevishness and folly) such brutish stories were suppressed, because ad morum institutionem nihil habent, they conduce not at all to manners, or good life. But they will have it thus nevertheless, and so they put note of "divinity upon the most cruel and pernicious plague of human kind," adore such men with grand titles, degrees, statues, images, honour, applaud, and highly reward them for their good service, no greater glory than to die in the field. So Africanus is extolled by Ennius: Mars, and Hercules, and I know not how many besides of old, were deified; went this way to heaven, that were indeed bloody butchers, wicked destroyers, and troublers of the world, prodigious monsters, hell-hounds, feral plagues, devourers, common executioners of human kind, as Lactantius truly proves, and Cyprian to Donat, such as were desperate in wars, and precipitately made away themselves, (like those Celtes in Damascen, with ridiculous valour, ut dedecorosum putarent muro ruenti se subducere, a disgrace to run away for a rotten wall, now ready to fall on their heads,) such as will not rush on a sword's point, or seek to shun a cannon's shot, are base cowards, and no valiant men. By which means, Madet orbis mutuo sanguine, the earth wallows in her own blood, Sævit amor ferri scelerati insania belli; and for that, which if it be done in private, a man shall be rigorously executed, "and which is no less than murder itself; if the same fact be done in public in wars, it is called manhood, and the party is honoured for it." --
Prosperum et foelix scelus, virtue vocatur.
We measure all as Turks do, by the event, and most part, as Cyprian notes, in all ages, countries, places, sævitiæ magnitudo impunitatem sceleris acquirit, the foulness of the fact vindicates the offender. One is crowned for that for which another is tormented: Ille crucem sceleris pretium tulit, hic diadema; made a knight, a lord, an earl, a great duke, (as Agrippa notes) for which another should have hung in gibbets, as a terror to the rest,
-- "et tamen alter,
Si fecisset idem, caderet sub judice morum."
A poor sheep-stealer is hanged for stealing of victuals, compelled peradventure by necessity of that intolerable cold, hunger, and thirst, to save himself from starving: but a great man in office may securely rob whole provinces, undo thousands, pill and poll, oppress ad libitum, flea, grind, tyrannise, enrich himself by spoils of the commons, be
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uncontrollable in his actions, and after all, be recompensed with turgent titles, honoured for his good service, and no man dare find fault, or mutter at it.
How would our Democritus have been affected to see a wicked caitiff, or "fool, a very idiot, a funge, a golden ass, a monster of men, to have many good men, wise men, learned men to attend upon him with all submission, as an appendix to his riches, for that respect alone, because he hath more wealth and money, and to honour him with divine titles, and bombast epithets," to smother him with fumes and eulogies, whom they know to be a dizzard, a fool, a covetous wretch, a beast, &c., "because he is rich?" To see sub exuviis leonis onagrum, a filthy loathsome carcase, a Gorgon's head puffed up by parasites, assume this unto himself, glorious titles, in worth an infant, a Cuman ass, a painted sepulchre, an Egyptian temple? To see a withered face, a diseased, deformed, cankered complexion, a rotten carcass, a viperous mind, and Epicurean soul set out with orient pearls, jewels, diadems, perfumes, curious elaborate works, as proud of his clothes as a child of his new coats; and a goodly person, of an angel-like divine countenance, a saint, an humble mind, a
meek spirit clothed in rags, beg, and now ready to be starved? To see a silly contemptible sloven in apparel, ragged in his coat, polite in speech, of a divine spirit, wise? another neat in clothes, spruce, full of courtesy, empty of grace, wit, talk nonsense?
To see so many lawyers, advocates, so many tribunals, so little justice; so many magistrates, so little care of common good; so many laws, yet never more disorders; Tribunal litium segetem, the Tribunal a labyrinth, so many thousand suits in one court sometimes, so violently followed? To see injustissimum sæpe juri præsidentem, impium religioni, imperitissimum eruditioni, otiossissimum labori, monstrosum humanitati? to see a lamb executed, a wolf pronounce sentence, latro arraigned, and fur sit on the bench, the judge severely punish others, and do worse himself, eundem furtum facere et punire, rapinam plectere, quum sit ipse captor?
Laws altered, misconstrued, interpreted pro and con, as the Judge is made by friend; bribed, or otherwise affected as a nose of wax, good to-day, none to-morrow; or firm in his opinion, cast in his? Sentence prolonged, changed, ad arbitrium judicis, still the same case, "one thrust out of his inheritance, another falsely put in by favour, false forged deeds or wills." Incisæ leges negliguntur, laws are made and not kept; or if put in execution, they be some silly ones that are punished. As put case it be fornication, the father will disinherit or abdicate his child, quite cashier him (out, villain, begone, come no more in my sight); a poor man is miserably tormented with loss of his estate perhaps, goods, fortunes, good name, for ever disgraced, forsaken, and must do penance to the utmost; a mortal sin, and yet make the worst of it, nunquid aliud fecit, saith Tranio in the poet, nisi quodfaciunt summis nati generibus? he hath done no more than what gentlemen usually do. Neque novum, neque mirum, neque secus quam alii solent. For in a great person, right worshipful Sir, a right honourable Grandy, 'tis not a venial sin, no, not a peccadillo, 'tis no offence at all, a common and ordinary thing, no man takes notice of it; he justifies it in public, and peradventure brags of it,
"Nam quod turpe bonis, Titio, Seioque, decebat
Crispinum " --
For what would be base in good men, Titius, and Seius, became Crispinus.
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