THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY
BY DEMOCRITUS JUNIOR
SUBSECT. XV.-- Love of Learning, or overmuch study. With a Digression on the misery of Scholars, and why the Muses are Melancholy.
LEONARTUS FUSCHIUS, Instit. lib. iii. sect. 1. cap. 1, Foelix Plater, lib. iii. de mentis alienat., Herc. de Saxonia, Tract. post. de melanch. cap. 3, speak of a peculiar fury, which comes by overmuch study. Fernelius, lib. 1, cap. 18, "puts study, contemplation, and continual meditation, as an especial cause of madness: and in his 86 consul. cites the same words. Jo. Arculanus, in lib. 9, Rhasis ad Almansorem, cap. 16, amongst other causes reckons up studium vehemens: so doth Levinus Lemnius, lib. de occul. nat. mirac. lib. 1, cap. 16. "Many men (saith he) come to this malady by continual study, and nightwaking, and of all other men, scholars are most subject to it:" and such Rhasis adds, "that have commonly the finest wits." Cont. lib. 1, tract. 9. Marsilius Ficinus, de sanit. tuenda, lib. 1, cap. 7, puts melancholy amongst one of those five principal plagues of students, 'tis a common Maul unto them all, and almost in some measure an inseparable companion. Varro belike for that cause calls Tristes Philosophos et severos, severe, sad, dry, tetric, are common epithets to scholars: and Patritius therefore, in the instutition of princes, would not have them to be great students. For (as Machiavel holds) study weakens their bodies, dulls the spirits, abates their strength and courage; and good scholars are never good soldiers, which a certain Goth well perceived, for when his countrymen came into Greece, and would have burned all their books, he cried out against it, by no means they should do it, "leave them that plague, which in time will consume all their vigour, and martial spirits."
The Turks abdicated Cornutus the next heir from the empire, because he was so much given to his book: and 'tis the common tenet of the world, that learning dulls and diminisheth the spirits, and so per consequens produceth melancholy.
Two main reasons may be given of it, why students should be more subject to this malady than others. The one is, they live a sedentary, solitary life, sibi et musis, free from bodily exercise, and those ordinary disports which other men use: and many times if discontent and idleness concur with it, which is too frequent, they are precipitated into this gulf on a sudden: but the common cause is overmuch study; too much learning (as Festus told Paul) hath made thee mad; 'tis that other extreme which effects it. So did Trincavellius, lib. 1., consil. 12 and 13, find by his experience, in two of his patients, a young baron, and another that contracted this malady by too vehement study. So Forestus, observat. l. 10, observ. 13, in a young divine in Louvaine, that was mad, and said "he had a bible in his head:" Marsilius Ficinus de sanit. tuend. lib. 1, cap. 1, 3, 4, and lib. 2, cap. 16, gives many reasons, "why students dote more often than others." The first is their negligence; "other men look to their tools, a painter will wash his pencils, a smith will look to his hammer, anvil, forge; a husbandman will mend his plough-irons, and grind his hatchet, if it be dull; a falconer or huntsman will have an especial care of his hawks, hounds, horses, dogs, &c., a musician will string and unstring his lute, &c.; only scholars neglect that instrument, their brain and spirits (I mean) which they daily use, and by which they range overall the world, which by much study is consumed." Vide (saith Lucian) ne funiculum nimis intendendo, aliquando abrumpas: "See thou twist not the rope so hard, till at length it break." Ficinus in his fourth chap. gives some other reasons; Saturn and Mercury, the
- 256 -
patrons of learning, they are both dry planets: and Origanus assigns the same cause, why Mercurialists are so poor, and most part beggars; for that their president Mercury had no better fortune himself. The destinies of old put poverty upon him as a punishment; since when, poetry and beggary are Gemelli, twin-born brats, inseparable companions;
"And to this day is every scholar poor;
Gross gold from them runs headlong to the boor:"
Mercury can help them to knowledge, but not to money. The second is contemplation, "which dries the brain and extinguisheth natural heat; for whilst the spirits are intent to meditation above in the head, the stomach and liver are left destitute, and thence come black blood and crudities by defect of concoction, and for want of exercise the superfluous vapours cannot exhale," &c. The same reasons are repeated by Gomesius, lib. 4, cap. 1. de sale, Nymannus orat. de imag. Jo. Voschius, lib. 2, cap. 5, de peste: and something more they add, that hard students are commonly troubled with gouts, catarrhs, rheums, cachexia, bradiopepsia, bad eyes, stone and colic, crudities, oppilations, vertigo, winds, consumptions, and all such diseases as come by overmuch sitting; they are most part lean, dry, ill-coloured, spend their fortunes, lose their wits, and many times their lives, and all through immoderate pains, and extraordinary studies. If you will not believe the truth of this, look upon great Tostatus and Thomas Aquinas's works, and tell me whether those men took pains? Peruse Austin, Hierom, &c., and many thousands besides.
"Qui cupit optatam cursu contingere metam,
Multa tulit, fecitque puer, sudavit et alsit."
"He that desires this wished goal to gain,
Must sweat and freeze before he can attain,"
and labour hard for it. So did Seneca, by his own confession, ep. 8. "Not a day that I spend idle, part of the night I keep mine eyes open, tired with waking and now slumbering to their continual task." Hear Tully pro Archia Poeta: "whilst others loitered, and took their pleasures, he was continually at his book," so they do that will be scholars, and that to the hazard (I say) of their healths, fortunes, wits, and lives.
How much did Aristotle and Ptolemy spend? unius regni precium they say, more than a king's ransom; how many crowns per annum, to perfect arts, the one about his History of Creatures, the other on his Almagest? How much time did Thebet Benchorat employ, to find out the motion of the eighth sphere? forty years and more, some write: how many poor scholars have lost their wits, or become dizzards, neglecting all worldly affairs and their own health, wealth, esse and bene esse, to gain knowledge, for which, after all their pains, in this world's esteem they are accounted ridiculous and silly fools, idiots, asses, and (as oft they are) rejected, contemned, derided, doting, and mad. Look for examples in Hildesheim, spicel. 2, de mania et delirio: read Trincavellius, l. 3. consil. 36, et c. 17. Montanus, consil. 233. Garceus de
Judic. genit. cap. 33. Mercurialis consil. 86, cap. 25. Prosper Calculus in his Book de atra bile; Go to Bedlam and ask. Or if they keep their wits, yet they are esteemed scrubs and fools by reason of their carriage "after seven years' study"
- 257 -
"-- statua taciturnius exit,
Plerumque et risu populum quatit."
"He becomes more silent than a statue, and generally excites people's laughter."
Because they cannot ride a horse, which every clown can do; salute and court a gentlewoman, carve at table, cringe and make congés, which every common swasher can do, hos populus ridet, &&c., they are laughed to scorn, and accounted silly fools by our gallants. Yea, many times, such is their misery, they deserve it: a mere scholar, a mere ass.
"Obstipo capite, et figentes lumnine terram.
Murmura cum secum, et rabiosa silentia rodunt,
Atque experrecto trutinantur verbs labello,
Ægroti veteris meditantes somnia, gigni
De nihilo nihilum; in nihilum nil posse reverti."
"-- who lean awry
Their heads, piercing the earth with a fixt eye;
When by themselves, they gnaw their murmuring,
And furious silence, as 'twere balancing
Each word upon their outstretched lip, and when
They meditate the dreams of old sick men,
As, 'Out of nothing, nothing can be brought:
And that which is, can ne'er be turn'd to nought.'"
Thus they go commonly meditating unto themselves,thus they sit, such is their action and gesture. Fulgosus, l. 8, c. 7, makes mention how Th. Aquinas, supping with king Lewis of France, upon a sudden knocked his fist upon the table, and cried, conclusum est contra Manichæos; his wits were a wool-gathering, as they say, and his head busied about other matters, when he perceived his error, he was much abashed. Such a story there is of Archimedes in Vitruvius, that having found out the means to know how much gold was mingled with the silver in king Hiero's crown, ran naked forth
from the bath and cried ευρηχα, [eureka] I have found: "and was commonly so intent to his studies, that he never perceived what was done about him: when the city was taken, and the soldiers now ready to rifle his house, he took no notice of it." St. Bernard rode all day long by the Lemnian lake, and asked at last where he was, Marullus, lib. 2, cap. 4. It was Democritus's carriage alone that made the Abderites suppose him to have been mad, and sent for Hippocrates to cure him: if he had been in any solemn company, he would upon all occasions fall a laughing. Theophrastus saith
as much of Heraclitus, for that he continually wept, and Laertius of Menedemus Lampsacus, because he ran like a madman, saying, "he came from hell as a spy, to tell the devils what mortal men did." Your greatest students are commonly no better, silly, soft fellows in their outward behaviour, absurd, ridiculous to others, and no whit experienced in worldly business; they can measure the heavens, range over the world, teach others wisdom, and yet in bargains and contracts they are circumvented by every base tradesman. Are not these men fools? and how should they be otherwise,
but as so many sots in schools, when (as he well observed) they neither hear nor see such things as are commonly practised abroad? how should they get experience, by
- 258 -
what means? "I knew in my time many scholars," saith Æneas Sylvius (in an epistle of his to Gasper Scitick, chancellor to the emperor), "excellent well learned, but so rude, so silly, that they had no common civility, nor knew how to manage their domestic or public affairs." "Paglarensis was amazed, and said his farmer had surely cozened him, when he heard him tell that his sow had eleven pigs, and his ass had but one foal." To say the best of this profession, I can give no other testimony of them in general, than that of Pliny of Isæus; "He is yet a scholar, than which kind of men there is nothing so simple, so sincere, none better, they are most part harmless, honest, upright, innocent, plain-dealing men."
Now, because they are commonly subject to such hazards and inconveniences as dotage, madness, simplicity, &c., Jo. Voschius would have good scholars to be highly rewarded in some extraordinary respect above other men, "to have greater privileges than the rest, that adventure themselves and abbreviate their lives for the public good." But our patrons of learning are so far now-a-days from respecting the muses, and giving that honour to scholars, or reward which they deserve, and are allowed by those indulgent privileges of many noble princes, that after all their pains taken in the universities, cost and charge, expenses, irksome hours, laborious tasks, wearisome days, dangers, hazards (barred interim from all pleasures which other men have, mewed up like hawks all their lives), if they chance to wade through them, they shall in the end be rejected, contemned, and which is their greatest misery, driven to their shifts, exposed to want, poverty, and beggary. Their familiar attendants are,
"Pallentes morbi, luctus, curæque laborque
Et metu, et malesuada fames, et turpis egestas,
Terribiles visit formæ -- "
"Grief, labour, care, pale sickness, miseries,
Fear, filthy poverty, hunger that cries,
Terrible monsters to be seen with eyes."
if there were nothing else to trouble them, the conceit of this alone were enough to make them all melancholy. Most other trades and professions, after some seven years' apprenticeship, are enabled by their craft to live of themselves. A merchant adventures his goods at sea, and though his hazard be great, yet if one ship return of four, he likely makes a saving voyage. An husbandman's gains are almost certain; quibus ipse Jupiter nocere non potest (whom Jove himself can't harm), (tis Cato's hyperbole, a great husband himself); only scholars methinks are most uncertain, unrespected, subject to all casualties and hazards. For first, not one of a many proves to be a scholar, all are not capable and docile, ex omni ligno non fit Mercurius: we can make majors and officers every year, but not scholars: kings can invest knights and barons, as Sigismund the emperor confessed; universities can give degrees; and Tu quod es, e populo quilibet esse potest; but he nor they, nor all the world, can give learning, make philosophers, artists, orators, poets; we can soon say, as Seneca well notes, O virum bonum, O divitem, point at a rich man, a good, a happy man, a prosperous man, sumptuose vestitum, Calamistratum, bene olentem, magno temporis impendio constat hæc laudatio, o virum literarum, but 'tis not so easily performed to find out a learned man. Learning is not so quickly got, though they may be willing to take pains, to that end sufficiently informed, and liberally maintained by their patrons and parents, yet few can compass it. Or if they be docile, yet all men's wills are not
- 259 -
answerable to their wits, they can apprehend, but will not take pains; they are either seduced by bad companions, vel in puellani impingunt, vel in poculum (they fall in with women or wine), and so spend their time to their friends' grief and their own undoings. Or put case they be studious, industrious, of ripe wits, and perhaps good capacities, then how many diseases of body and mind must they encounter? No labour in the world like unto study. It may be, their temperature will not endure it, but striving to be excellent to know all, they lose health, wealth, wit, life and all. Let him yet happily escape all these hazards, æreis intestinis, with a body of brass, and is now consummate and ripe, he hath profited in his studies, and proceeded with all applause: after many expenses, he is fit for preferment, where shall he have it? he is as far to seek it as he was (after twenty years' standing) at the first day of his coming to the University. For what course shall he take, being now capable and ready? The most parable and easy, and about which many are employed, is to teach a school, turn lecturer or curate, and for that he shall have falconer's wages, ten pound per annum, and his diet, or some small stipend, so long as he can please his patron or the parish; if they approve him not (for usually they do but a year or two), as inconstant as they that cried "Hosanna" one day, and "Crucify him" the other; serving-manlike, he must go look a new master; if they do, what is his reward?
"Hoc quoque te manet ut puero elementa docentum
Occupet extremis in vicris alba senectus.
"At last thy snow-white age in suburb schools,
Shall toil in teaching boys their grammar rules."
Like an ass, he wears out his time for provender, and can show a stum rod, togam
tritam et laceram, saith Hædus, an old torn gown, an ensign of his infelicity, he hath
his labour for his pain, a modicum to keep him till he be decrepit, and that is all.
Grammaticus non est foelix, &c. If he be a trencher chaplain in a gentleman's house, as
it befel Euphormio, after some seven years' service, he may perchance have a living to
the halves, or some small rectory with the mother of the maids at length, a poor
kinswoman, or a cracked chambermaid, to have and to hold during the time of his life.
But if he offend his good patron, or displease his lady mistress in the mean time,
"Ducetur Planta velut ictus ab Hereule Cacus,
Poneturque foras, si quid tentaverit nuquam
as Hercules did by Cacus, he shall be dragged forth of doors by the heels, away with him. If he bend his forces to some other studies, with an intent to be a secretis to some nobleman, or in such a place with an ambassador, he shall find that these persons like apprentices one under another, and in so many tradesmen's shops, when the master is dead, the foreman of the shop commonly steps in his place. Now for poets, rhetoricians, historians, philosophers, &c.; they are like grasshoppers, sing they must in summer, and pine in the winter, for there is no preferment for them. Even so they
were at first, if you will believe that pleasant tale of Socrates, which he told fair Phædrus under a plane-tree, at the banks of the river Iseus; about noon when it was hot, and the grasshoppers made a noise, he took that sweet occasion to tell him a tale,
- 260 -
how grasshoppers were once scholars, musicians, poets, &c, when the Muses were born, and lived without meat and drink, and for that cause were turned by Jupiter into grasshoppers. And may be turned again, In Tythoni Cicadas, aut Liciorum ranas, for any reward I see they are like to live: or else in the meantime, I would they could live as they did, without any viaticum, like so many manucodiatæ, those Indian birds of paradise, we commonly call them, those I mean that live with the air and dew of heaven, and need no other food? for being as they are, their "rhetoric only serves them
to curse their bad fortunes," and many of them for want of means are driven to hard shifts; from grasshoppers they turn humble-bees and wasps, plain parasites, and make the muses, mules, to satisfy their hunger-starved paunches, and get a meal's meat. To say truth, 'tis the common fortune of most scholars, to be servile and poor, to complain pitifully, and lay open their wants to their respectless patrons, as Cardan doth, as Xilander and many others: and which is too common in those dedicatory epistles, for hope of gain, to lie, flatter, and with hyperbolical eulogiums and commendations, to magnify and extol an illiterate unworthy idiot, for his excellent virtues, whom they should rather, as Machiavel observes, vilify and rail at downright for his most notorious villainies and vices. So they prostitute themselves as fiddlers, or mercenary tradesmen, to serve great men's turns for a small reward. They are like Indians, they have store of gold, but know not the worth of it: for I am of Synesius's opinion, "King Hiero got more by Simonides' acquaintance, than Simonides did by his;" they have their best education, good institution, sole qualification from us, and when they have done well, their honour and immortality from us: we are the living tombs, registers, and as so many trumpeters of their fames: what was Achilles without Homer? Alexander without Arrian and Curtius? who had known the Cæsars, but for Suetonius and Dion?
Vixerunt fortes ante Agamemnona
Multi: sed omnes illachrymabiles
Urgentur, ignotique longa
Nocte, carent quia vate sacro."
"Before great Agamemnon reign'd,
Reign'd kings as great as he, and brave,
Whose huge ambition's now contain'd
In the small compass of a grave:
In endless night they sleep, unwept, unknown,
No bard they had to make all time their own."
they are more beholden to scholars, than scholars to them; but they undervalue themselves, and so by those great men are kept down. Let them have that encyclopædian, all the learning in the world; they must keep it to themselves, "live in base esteem, and starve, except they will submit," as Budaius well hath it, "so many good parts, so many ensigns of arts, virtues, be slavishly obnoxious to some illiterate potentate, and live under his insolent worship, or honour, like parasites," Qui tanquam mures alienum panem comedunt. For to say truth, artes hæ non sunt lucrativæ, as Guido Bonat that great astrologer could foresee, they be not gainful arts these, sed esurientes et famelicæ, but poor and hungry.
- 261 -
"Dat Galenus opes, dat Justinianus honores,
Sed genus et species cogitur ire pedes;"
"The rich physician, honour'd lawyers ride,
While the poor scholar foots it by their side."
Poverty is the muses' patrimony, and as that poetical divinity teacheth us, when Jupiter's daughters were each of them married to the gods, the muses alone were left solitary, Helicon forsaken of all suitors, and I believe it was, because they had no portion.
"Calliope longum cælebs cur vixit in ævum?
Nempe nihil dotis, quad numeraret, erat."
"Why did Calliope live so long a maid?
Because she had no dowry to be paid."
Ever since all their followers are poor, forsaken and left unto themselves. Insomuch, that as Petronius argues, you shall likely know them by their clothes. "There came," saith he, "by chance into my company, a fellow not very spruce to look on, that I could perceive by that note alone he was a scholar, whom commonly rich men hate: I asked him what he was, he answered, a poet: I demanded again why he was so ragged, he told me this kind of learning never made any man rich."
"Qui Pelago credit, magno se foenore tollit.
Qui pugnas et rostra petit, præcingitur auro:
Vilis adulator picto jacet ebrius ostro,
Sola pruinosis horret facandia pannis."
"A merchant's gain is great, that goes to sea
A soldier embossed all in gold;
A flatterer lies fox'd in brave array;
A scholar only ragged to behold."
All which our ordinary students, right well perceiving in the universities, how unprofitable these poetical, mathematical, and philosophical studies are, how little respected, how few patrons; apply themselves in all haste to those three commodious professions of law, physic, and divinity, sharing themselves between them, rejecting these arts in the meantime, history, philosophy, philology, or lightly passing them over, as pleasant toys fitting only table-talk, and to furnish them with discourse. They are not so behoveful: he that can tell his money hath arithmetic enough: he is a true geometrician, can measure out a good fortune to himself; a perfect astrologer that can cast the rise and fall of others, and mark their errant motions to his own use. The best optics are, to reflect the beams of some great men's favour and grace to shine upon him. He is a good engineer, that alone can make an instrument to get preferment. This was the common tenet and practice of Poland, as Cromerus observed not long since, in the first book of his history; their universities were generally base, not a philosopher, a mathematician, an antiquary, &c., to be found of any note amongst them, because they had no set reward or stipend, but every man betook himself to
- 262 -
divinity, hoc solum in votis habens, opimam sacerdotium, a good personage was their aim. This was the practice of some of our near neighbours, as Lipsius inveighs, "they thrust their children to the study of law and divinity, before they be informed aright, or capable of such studies." Scilicet omnibus artibus antistat spes lucri, et formosior et cumulus auri, quam quicquid Græci Latinique delirantes scripserunt. Ex hoc numero deinde veniunt ad gubernacula reipub. intersunt et præsunt consiliis regum, o pater o patria? so he complained, and so may others. For even so we find, to serve a great man, to get an office in some bishop's court (to practise in some good town), or compass a benefice, is the mark we shoot at, as being so advantageous, the highway to preferment.
Although many times, for aught I can see, these men fail as often as the rest in their projects, and are as usually frustrate of their hopes. For let him be a doctor of the law, an excellent civilian of good worth, where shall he practise and expatiate? Their fields are so scant, the civil law with us so contracted with prohibitions, so few causes, by reason of those all-devouring municipal laws, quibus Nihil illiteratius, saith Erasmus, an illiterate and a barbarous study (for though they be never so well learned in it, I can hardly vouchsafe them the name of scholars, except they be otherwise
qualified), and so few courts are left to that profession, such slender offices, and those commonly to be compassed at such dear rates, that I know not how an ingenious man should thrive amongst them. Now for physicians, there are in every village so many mountebanks, empirics, quacksalvers, paracelsians, as they call themselves, Caucifici et sanicidæ, so Clenard terms them, wizards, alchemists, poor vicars, cast apothecaries, physicians' men, barbers, and good wives, professing great skill, that I make great doubt how they shall be maintained, or who shall be their patients.
Besides, there are so many of both sorts, and some of them such harpies, so covetous, so clamorous, so impudent; and as he said, litigious idiots,
"Quibus loquacis affatim arrogantiæ est,
Peritæ parum aut nihil,
Nec ulla mica literarii salis,
Loquuteleia turba, litium strophæ,
Maligna litigantium cohors, togati vultures,
Lavernæ alumni, Agyrtæ," &c.
"Which have no skill but prating arrogance,
No learning, such a purse-milking nation;
Gown'd vultures, thieves, and a litigious rout
Of cozeners, that haunt this occupation," &c.
that they cannot well tell how to live one by another, but as he jested in the Comedy of Clocks, they were so many, major pars populi aridi reptant fame, they are almost starved a great part of them, and ready to devour their fellows. Et noxia callidite se corripere, such a multitude of pettifoggers and empirics, such impostors, that an honest man knows not in what sort to compose and behave himself in their society, to carry himself with credit in so vile a rout, scientiæ nomen, tot sumptibus partum et vigiliis, profiteri dispudeat, postquam, &c.
Last of all come to our divines, the most noble profession and worthy of double honour, but of all others the most distressed and miserable. If you will not
- 263 -
believe me, hear a brief of it, as it was not many years since publicly preached at Paul's cross, by a grave minister then, and now a reverend bishop of this land: "We that are bred up in learning, and destinated by our parents to this end, we suffer our childhood in the grammar-school, which Austin calls magnam tyrannidem, et grave malum, and compares it to the torments of martyrdom; when we come to the university, if we live of the college allowance, as Phalaris objected to the Leontines, πανταν ενδεις πλην λιμου χαι φοβου [pantan endeis plen limoy kai phoboy], needy of all things but hunger and fear, or if we be maintained but partly by our parents' cost, do expend in unnecessary maintenance, books and degrees, before we come to any perfection, five hundred pounds, or a thousand marks. If by this price of the expense of time, our bodies and spirits, our substance and patrimonies, we cannot purchase those small rewards, which are ours by law, and the right of inheritance, a poor parsonage, or a vicarage of £50 per annum, but we must pay to the patron for the lease of a life (a spent and out-worn life) either in annual pension, or above the rate of a copyhold, and that with the hazard and loss of our souls, by simony and perjury, and the forfeiture of all our spiritual preferments, in esse and posse, both present and to come. What father after a while will be so improvident to bring up his son to his great charge, to this necessary beggary? What Christian will be so irreligious, to bring up his son in that course of life, which by all probability and necessity, coget ad turpia, enforcing to sin, will entangle him in simony and perjury, when as the poet said, Invitatus ad hæc aliquis de ponte negabit: "a beggar's brat taken from the bridge where he sits a begging, if he knew the inconvenience, had cause to refuse it." This being thus, have not we fished fair all this while, that are initiate divines, to find no better fruits of our labours, hoc est cur palles, cur quis non prandeat hoc est? do we
macerate ourselves for this? Is it for this we rise so early all the year long? "leaping(as he saith) out of our beds, when we hear the bell ring as if we had heard a thunderclap." If this be all the respect, reward and honour we shall have, frange leves calamos, et scinde Thalia libellos; let us give over our books, and betake ourselves to some other course of life; to what end should we study? Quid me litterulas stulti docuere parentes, what did our parents mean to make us scholars, to be as far to seek of preferment after twenty years' study, as we were at first: why do we take such pains? Quid tantum inanis Juvat impallescere chartis? If there be no more hope of reward, no better encouragement, I say again, Frange leves calamos, et scinde Thalia libellos; let's turn soldiers, sell our books, and buy swords, guns, and pikes, or stop bottles with them, turn our philosopher's gowns, as Cleanthes once did, into millers' coats, leave all, and rather betake ourselves to any other course of life, than to continue longer in this misery. Præstat dentiscalpia radere, quam literariis monumentis magnatum favorem emendicare.
Yea, but methinks I hear some man except at these words, that though this be true which I have said of the estate of scholars, and especially of divines, that it is miserable and distressed at this time, that the church suffers shipwreck of her goods, and that they have just cause to complain; there is a fault, but whence proceeds it? If the cause were justly examined, it would be retorted upon ourselves, if we were cited at that tribunal of truth, we should be found guilty, and not able to excuse it. That there is a fault among us, I confess, and were there not a buyer, there would not be a seller: but to him that will consider better of it, it will more than manifestly appear that the fountain of these miseries proceeds from these griping patrons. In accusing them, I do not altogether excuse us; both are faulty, they and we: yet in my judgment, theirs is the greater fault, more apparent causes, and much to be condemned. For my part, if it be not with me as I would, or as it should, I do ascribe the cause, as Cardan
- 264 -
did in the like case; meo infortunio potias quam illorum sceleri, to mine own infelicity rather than their naughtiness; although I have been baffled in my time by some of them, and have as just cause to complain as another: or rather indeed to mine own negligence; for I was ever like that Alexander in Plutarch, Crassus his tutor in philosophy, who, though he lived many years familiarly with rich Crassus, was even as poor when from, (which many wondered at) as when he came first to him; he never asked, the other never gave him any thing; when he travelled with Crassus he
borrowed a hat of him, at his return restored it again. I have had some such noble friends acquaintance and scholars, but most part (common courtesies and ordinary respects excepted), they and I parted as we met, they gave me as much as I requested, and that was -- And as Alexander ab Alexandro, Genial. dier. l. 6. c. 16. made answer to Hieronimus Massainus, that wondered, quum plures ignavos et ignobiles ad dignitates et sacerdotia promotos quotidie videret, when other men rose, still he was in the same state, eodem tenore et fortuna cui mercedem laborum studioromque deberi putaret, whom he thought to deserve as well as the rest. He made answer, that he was content with his present estate, was not ambitious, and although objurgabundus suas segnitiem accusaret, cum obscuræ sortis homines ad sacerdotia et pontificatus evectos, &c., he chid him for his backwardness, yet he was still the same: and for my part (though I be not worthy perhaps to carry Alexander's books) yet by some overweening and well-wishing friends, the like speeches have been used to me; but I replied still with Alexander, that I had enough, and more peradventure than I deserved; and with Libanius Sophista, that rather chose (when honours and offices by the emperor were offered unto him) to be talis Sophista, quam talis Magistratus. I had as lief be still Democritus junior, and privus privatus, si mihi jam daretur optio, quam talis fortasse Doctor, talis Dominus.-- Sed quorsum hæc? For the rest 'tis on both sides facinus detestandum, to buy and sell livings, to detain from the church, that which God's and men's laws have bestowed on it; but in them most, and that from the covetousness and ignorance of such as are interested in this business; I name covetousness in the first place, as the root of all these mischiefs, which, Achanlike, compels them to commit sacrilege, and to make simoniacal compacts, (and what not) to their own ends, that kindles God's wrath, brings a plague, vengeance, and a heavy visitation upon themselves and others. Some out of that insatiable desire of filthy lucre, to be enriched, care not how they come by it per fas et nefas, hook or crook, so they have it. And others when they have with riot and prodigality embezzled their estates, to recover themselves, make a prey of the church, robbing it, as Julian
the apostate did, spoil parsons of their revenues (in keeping half back as a great man amongst us observes): "and that maintenance on which they should live:" by means whereof, barbarism is increased, and a great decay of christian professors: for who will apply himself to these divine studies, his son, or friend, when after great pains taken, they shall have nothing whereupon to live? But with what event do they these things-
"Opesque totis viribus venamini
At inde messis accidit miserrima."
They toil and moil, but what reap they? They are commonly unfortunate families that use it, accursed in their progeny, and, as common experience evinceth, accursed themselves in all their proceedings. "With what face (as he quotes out of Aust.) can they expect a blessing or inheritance from Christ in heaven, that defraud Christ of his
- 265 -
inheritance here on earth?" I would all our simoniacal patrons, and such as detain tithes, would read those judicious tracts of Sir Henry Spelman, and Sir James Sempill, knights; those late elaborate and learned treatises of Dr. Tilflye, and Mr. Montague, which they have written of that subject. But though they should read, it would be to small purpose, clames licet et mare coelo confundas; thunder, lighten, preach hell and damnation, tell them 'tis a sin, they will not believe it; denounce and terrify, they have cauterised consciences, they do not attend, as the enchanted adder, they stop their ears. Call them base, irreligious, profane, barbarous, pagans, atheists, epicures, (as some of them surely are) with the bawd in Plautus, Euge, optime, they cry and applaud themselves with that miser, simul ac nummos contemplor in arca: say what you will, quocunque modo rem: as a dog barks at the moon, to no purpose are your sayings: Take your heaven, let them have money. A base, profane, epicurean, hypocritical rout: for my part, let them pretend what zeal they will, counterfeit religion, blear the world's eyes, bombast themselves, and stuff out their greatness with church spoils, shine like so many peacocks; so cold is my charity, so defective in this behalf, that I shall never think better of them, than that they are rotten at core, their bones are full of epicurean hypocrisy, and atheistical marrow, they are worse than heathens. For as Dionysius Halicarnasseus observes, Antiq. Rom. lib. 7. Primum locum, &c. "Greeks and Barbarians observe all religious rites, and dare not break them for fear of offending their gods; but our simoniacal contractors, our senseless Achans, our stupified patrons, fear neither God nor devil, they have evasions for it, it is no sin, or not due jure divino, or if a sin, no great sin, &c. And though they be daily punished for it, and they do manifestly perceive, that as he said, frost and fraud come to foul ends; yet as Chrysostom follows it, Nulla ex poena sit correctio, et quasi adversis malitia hominum provocetur, crescit quotidie quod puniatur: they are rather worse than better,-- iram atque animos a crimine sumunt, and the more they are corrected, the more they offend: but let them take their course, Rode, caper, vites, go on still as they begin, 'tis no sin, let them rejoice secure, God's vengeance will overtake them in the end, and these ill-gotten goods, as an eagle's feathers, will consume the rest of their substance; it is aurum Tholosanum, and will produce no better effects. "Let them lay it up safe, and make their conveyances never so close,
lock and shut door," saith Chrysostom, "yet fraud and covetousness, two most violent thieves, are still included, and a little gain evil gotten will subvert the rest of their goods." The eagle in Æsop, seeing a piece of flesh, now ready to be sacrificed, swept it away with her claws, and carried it to her nest; but there was a burning coal stuck to it by chance, which unawares consumed her young ones, nest, and all together. Let our simoniacal church-chopping patrons, and sacrilegious harpies, look for no better success.
A second cause is ignorance, and from thence contempt, successit odium in literas ab ignorantia vulgi; which Junius well perceived: this hatred and contempt of learning proceeds out of ignorance; as they are themselves barbarous, idiots, dull, illiterate, and proud, so they esteem of others. Sint Mecænates, non deerunt, Flacce, Marones: Let there be bountiful patrons, and there will be painful scholars in all sciences. But when they contemn learning, and think themselves sufficiently qualified, if they can write and read, scramble at a piece of evidence, or have so much
Latin as that emperor had, qui nescit dissimulare, nescit virere, (he that cannot dissemble, cannot live) they are unfit to do their country service, to perform or undertake any action or employment, which may tend to the good of a commonwealth, except it be to fight, or to do country justice, with common sense, which every yeoman can likewise do. And so they bring up their children, rude as
- 266 -
they are themselves, unqualified, untaught, uncivil most part. Quis e nostra juventute legitime instituitur literis? Quis oratores aut philosophos tangit? quis historium legit, illam rerum agendarum quasi animam? præcipitant parentes vota tua, &c. 'twas Lipsius' complaint to his illiterate countrymen, it may be ours. Now shall these men judge of a scholar's worth, that have no worth, that know not what belongs to a student's labours, that cannot distinguish between a true scholar and a drone? or him that by reason of a voluble tongue, a strong voice, a pleasing tone, and some trivially
polyanthean helps, steals and gleans a few notes from other men's harvests, and so makes a fairer show, than he that is truly learned indeed: that thinks it no more to preach, than to speak. "or to run away with an empty cart;" as a grave man said; and thereupon vilify us, and our pains; scorn us, and all learning. Because they are rich, and have other means to live, they think it concerns them not to know, or to trouble themselves with it; a fitter task for younger brothers, or poor men's sons, to be pen and inkhorn men, pedantical slaves, and no whit beseeming the calling of a gentleman, as Frenchmen and Germans commonly do, neglect therefore all human learning, what have they to do with it? Let mariners learn astronomy; merchants, factors study arithmetic; surveyors get them geometry; spectacle-makers optics; landleapers geography; town-clerks rhetoric, what should he do with a spade, that hath no ground to dig; or they with learning, that hath no use of it? thus they reason, and are not ashamed to let mariners, apprentices, and the basest servants, be better qualified than themselves. In former times, kings, princes, and emperors, were the only scholars,
excellent in all faculties.
Julius Cæsar mended the year, and writ his own Commentaries,
"-- media inter prælia semper,
Stellarum coelique plagis, superisque vacavit."
Antonius, Adrian, Nero, Seve. Jul &c. Michael the emperor, and Isacius, were so much given to their studies, that no base fellow would take so much pains: Orion, Perseus, Alphonsus, Ptolomeus, famous astronomers; Sabor, Mithridates,
Lysimachus, admired physicians: Plato's kings all: Evax, that Arabian prince, a most expert jeweller, and an exquisite philosopher; the kings of Egypt were priests of old, chosen and from thence,-- Idem rexi hominum, Phoebique
sacerdos: but those heroical times are past; the Muses are now banished in this bastard age, ad sordida tuguriola, to meaner persons, and confined alone almost to universities. In those days, scholars were highly beloved, honoured, esteemed; as old Ennius by Scipio Africanus, Virgil by Augustus; Horace by Mecænas: princes' companions; dear to them, as Anacreon to Polycrates; Philoxenus to Dionysius, and highly rewarded. Alexander sent Xenocrates the Philosopher fifty talents, because he was poor, visu rerum, aut eruditione præstantes viri, mensis olim regum adhibiti, as Philostratus relates of Adrian and Lampridius of Alexander Severus: famous clerks came to these princes' courts, velut in Lycæum, as to a university, and were admitted to their tables, quasi divum apulis accumbentes; Archilaus, that Macedonian king, would not willingly sup without Euripides (amongst the rest he drank to him at supper one night and gave him a cup of gold for his pains), delectatus poetæ suavi sermone; and it was fit it should be so; because, as Plato in his Protagoras well saith, a good philosopher as much excels other men, as a great king doth the commons of his country; and again, quoniam illis nihil deest, et minime egere solent, et disciplinas quas profitentur, soli a contemptu
- 267 -
vindicare possunt, they needed not to beg so basely, as they compel scholars in our times to complain of poverty, or crouch to a rich chuff for a meal's meat, but could vindicate themselves, and those arts which they professed. Now they would and cannot: for it is held by some of them, as an axiom, that to keep them poor,will make them study; they must be dieted, as horses to a race, not pampered, Alendos volunt, non saginandos, ne meloris mentis flammula
extinguatur; a fat bird will not sing, a fat dog cannot hunt, and so by this depression of theirs, some want means, others will, all want encouragement, as being forsaken almost; and generally contemned. 'Tis an old saying, Sint Mecænates, non deerunt, Flacce, Marones: and 'tis a true saying still. Yet oftentimes, I may not deny it, the main fault is in ourselves. Our academics too frequently offend in neglecting patrons, as Erasmus well taxeth,or making ill choice of them; negligimus oblatos aut amplectimur parum aptos, or if we get a good one, non studemus mutuis officiis favorem ejus alere, we do not ply and follow him as we should. Idem mihi accidit Adolescenti (saith Erasmus) acknowledging his fault, et gravissimi peccavi, and so may I say myself; I have offended in this, and so peradveuture have many others. We did not spondere magnatum favoribus, qui coeperunt nos amplecti, apply ourselves with that readiness we should: idleness, love of liberty, immodicus amor libertatis effecit ut diu cum perfidis amicis, as he confesseth, et pertinaci paupertate colluctarer, bashfulness, melancholy, timorousness, cause many of us to be too backward and remiss. So some offend in one extreme, but too many on the other, we are most part too forward, too solicitous, too ambitious, too impudent; we commonly complain deesse Mæcenates, of want of encouragement, want of means, when as the true defect is in our own want of work, our insufficiency: did Mæcenas take notice of Horace or Virgil till they had shown themselves first? or had Bavius and Mevius any patrons? Egregium specimen dent, saith Erasmus, let them approve themselves worthy first, sufficiently qualified for learning and manners, before they presume or impudently intrude and put themselves on great men as too many do, with such base flattery, parasitical, colloguing, such hyperbolical elogies they do usually insinuate, that it is a shame to hear and see.
Immodicæ laudes conciliant invidiam, potius quam laudem, and vain commendations derogate from truth, and we think in conclusion, non melius de laudato, pejus de laudante, ill of both, the commender and commended. So we offend, but the main fault is in their harshness, defect of patrons. How beloved of old, and how much respected was Plato to Dionysius? How dear to Alexander was Aristotle, Demeratus to Philip, Solon to Croesus, Anexarcus and Trebatius to Augustus, Cassius to Vespasian, Plutarch to Trajan, Seneca to Nero, Simonides to Hiero? how honoured?
"Sed hæc prius fuere, nunc recondita
those days are gone; Et spes, et ratio studiorum in Cæsare tantum: (All our hopes and inducements to study are centred in Cæsar ) as he said of old, we may truly say now, he is our amulet, our sun, our sole comfort and refuge, our Ptolemy, our common Mæcenas, Jacobus munificus, Jacobus pacificus, mysta Musarum; Rex Platonicus: Grande decus, columenque nostrum: a famous scholar himself; and the sole patron, pillar, and sustainer of learning: but his worth in this kind is so well known, that as Paterculus of Cato, Jam ipsum laudare nefas sit: and which Pliny to Trajan, seria te carmina, honorque æternus annalium, non hæc brevis et pudenda prædicatio colet.
But he is now gone, the sun of ours set, and yet no night follows, Sol occubit, nox
- 268 -
nulla sequuta est. We have such another in his room, aureus alter, Avulsus, simili frondescit virga metallo, and long may he reign and flourish amongst us.
Let me not be malicious, and lie against my genius, I may not deny, but that we have a sprinkling of our gentry, here and there one, excellently well learned, like those Fuggeri in Germany; Dubartus, Du Plessis, Sadael, in France; Picus Mirandula, Schottus, Barotius, in Italy; Apparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto. But they are but few in respect of the multitude, the major part (and some again excepted, that are indifferent) are wholly bent for hawks and hounds, and carried away many times with intemperate lust, gaming and drinking. If they read a book at any time (si quod est interim otii a venatu, poculis, alea, scortis) 'tis an English Chronicle, St. Huon of Bordeaux, Amadis de Gaul, &c., a play book, or some pamphlet of news, and that at such seasons only, when they cannot stir abroad, to drive away time, their sole discourse is dogs, hawks, horses, and what news? If some one have been a traveller in Italy, or as far as the emperor's court, wintered in Orleans, and can court his mistress in broken French, wear his clothes neatly in the newest fashion, sing some choice outlandish tunes, discourse of lords, ladies, towns, palaces, and cities, he is complete and to be admired: otherwise he and they are much at one; no difference between the master and the man, but worshipful titles: wink and choose betwixt him that sits down (clothes excepted) and him that holds the trencher behind him: yet these men must be our patrons, our governors too sometimes, statesmen, magistrates, noble, great, and wise by inheritance.
Mistake me not (I say again) Vos, O Patritius sanguis, you that are worthy senators, gentlemen, I honour your names and persons, and with all submissiveness, prostrate myself to your censure and service. There are amongst you, I do ingenuously confess, many well-deserving patrons, and true patriots, of my knowledge, besides many hundreds which I never saw, no doubt, or heard of; pillars of our commonwealth, whose worth, bounty, learning, forwardness, true zeal in religion, and good esteem of all scholars, ought to be consecrated to all posterity; but of your rank, there are a debauched, corrupt, covetous, illiterate crew again, no better than stocks, merum pecus (testor Deum, non mihi videri dignos ingenui hominis appellatione), barbarous Thracians, et quis ille thrax qui hoc neget? a sordid, profane, pernicious company, irreligious, impudent and stupid, I know not what epithets to give them, enemies to learning, confounders of the church, and the ruin of a commonwealth; patrons they are by right of inheritance, and put in trust freely to dispose of such livings to the church's good; but (hard taskmasters they prove) they take away their straw and compel them to make their number of bricks, they commonly respect their own ends, commodity is the steer of all their actions, and him they present in conclusion, as a man of greatest gifts, that will give most; no penny, no pater-noster,
as the saying is. Nisi preces auro fulcias, amplius irritas: Ut Cerberus offa, their attendants and officers must be bribed, feed, and made, as Cerberus is with a sop by him that goes to hell. It was an old saying, Omnia Romæ venalia (all things are venal at Rome), 'tis a rag of Popery, which will never be rooted out, there is no hope, no good to be done without money. A clerk may offer himself; approve his worth, learning, honesty, religion, zeal, they will commend him for it; but probitas laudatur et alget. If he be a man of extraordinary parts, they will flock afar off to hear him, as they did in Apuleius, to see Psyche: multi mortales confluebant ad videndum sæculi decus, speculum gloriosum, laudatur ab omnibus, spectatur ab omnibus, nec quisquam non rex, non regius, cupidus eius nuptiarum petitor accedit; miratur quidem divinam formam omnes, sed ut simulacrum fabre politum mirantur; many
- 269 -
mortal men came to see fair Psyche the glory of her age, they did admire her, commend, desire her for her divine beauty, and gaze upon her; but as on a picture; none would marry her, quod indotata, fair Psyche had no money. So they do by learning;
"-- didicit jam dives avarus
Tantum admirari, tantum laudare disertos,
Ut pueri Junonis avem --"
"Your rich men have now learn'd of latter days
T'admire, commend, and come together
To hear and see a worthy scholar speak,
As children do a peacock's feather."
He shall have all the good words that may be given, a proper man, and 'tis pity he hath no preferment, all good wishes, but inexorable, indurate as he is, he will not prefer him, though it be in his power, because he is indotatus, he hath no money. Or if he do give him entertainment, let him be never so well qualified, plead affinity, consanguinity, sufficiency, he shall serve seven years, as Jacob did for Rachel, before he shall have it. If he will enter at first, he must get in at that Simoniacal gate, come off soundly and put in good security to perform all covenants, else he will not deal with, or admit him. But if some poor scholar, some parson chaff, will offer himself; some trencher chaplain, that will take it to the halves, thirds, or accept of what he will give, he is welcome; be conformable, preach as he will have him, he likes him before a million of others; for the best is always best cheap: and then as Hierom said to Cromatius, patella dignum operculum, such a patron, such a clerk; the care is well supplied, and all parties pleased. So that is still verified in our age, which Chrysostom complained of in his time, Qui opulentiores sunt, in ordinem parasitorum cogunt eos, et ipsos tanquam canes ad mensas suas enutriunt, eorumque impudentes Ventres iniquarum coenarum reliquiis differtiunt, iisdem pro arbitrio abutentes: Rich men keep these lecturers, and fawning parasites, like so many dogs at their tables, and filling their hungry guts with the offals of their meat, they abuse them at their pleasure, and make them say what they propose. "As children do by a bird or a butterfly in a string, pull in and let him out as they list, do they by their trencher chaplains, prescribe, command their wits, let in and out as to them it seems best." If the patron be precise, so must his chaplain be; if he be papistical, his clerk must be so too, or else be turned out. These are those clerks which serve the turn, whom they commonly entertain, and present to church livings, whilst in the meantime we that are
University men, like so many hide-bound calves in a pasture, tarry out our time, wither away as a flower ungathered in a garden, and are never used; or as so many candles, illuminate ourselves alone, obscuring one another's light, and are not discerned here at all the least of which, translated to a dark room, or to some country benefice, where it might shine apart, would give a fair light, and be seen over all.
Whilst we lie waiting here as those sick men did at the Pool of Bethesda, till the Angel stirred the water, expecting a good hour, they step between, and beguile us of our preferment. I have not yet said, if after long expectation, much expense, travel, earnest suit of ourselves and friends, we obtain a small benefice at last; our misery begins afresh, we are suddenly encountered with the flesh, world, and devil, with a new onset; we change a quiet life for an ocean of troubles, we come to a ruinous
- 270 -
house, which before it be habitable, must be necessarily to our great damage repaired; we are compelled to sue for dilapidations, or else sued ourselves, and scarce yet settled, we are called upon for our predecessor's arrearages; first-fruits, tenths, subsidies, are instantly to be paid, benevolence, procurations, &c., and which is most to be feared, we light upon a cracked title, as it befel Clenard, of Brabant, for his rectory and charge of his Beginæ; he is no sooner inducted, but instantly sued, coepimusque (saith he) strenue litigare, et implacabili bello confligere: at length, after ten years' suit, as long as Troy's siege, when he had tired himself and spent his money, he was fain to leave all for quietness' sake, and give it up to his adversary. Or else we are insulted over, and trampled on by domineering officers, fleeced by those greedy harpies to get more fees; we stand in fear of some precedent lapse; We fall amongst refractory, seditious sectaries, peevish puritans, perverse papists, a lascivious rout of atheistical Epicures, that will not be reformed, or some litigious people (those wild beasts of Ephesus must be fought with) that will not pay their dues without much repining, or compelled by long suit; Laici clericis oppido infesti, an old axiom, all they think well gotten that is had from the church, and by such uncivil, harsh dealings, they make their poor minister weary of his place, if not his life; and put case they be quiet honest men, make the best of it, as often it falls out, from a polite and terse academic, he must turn rustic, rude, melancholise alone, learn to forget, or else, as many do, become maltsters, graziers, chapmen, &c. (now banished from the academy, all commerce of the muse; and confined to a country village, as Ovid was from Rome to Pontus), and daily converse with a company of idiots and clowns.
As for ourselves (for neither are we free from this fault) the same guilt, the same crime, may be objected against us: for it is through our fault, negligence, and avarice, that so many and such shameful corruptions occur in the church (both the
temple and the Deity are offered for sale), that such sordidness is introduced, such impiety committed, such wickedness, such a mad gulf of wretchedness and irregularity -- these I say arise from all our faults, but more particularly from ours of the University. We are the nursery in which those ills are bred with which the state is afflicted; we voluntarily introduce them, and are deserving of every opprobrium and suffering, since we do not afterwards encounter them according to our strength. For what better can we expect when so many poor, beggarly fellows, men of every order, are readily and without election, admitted to degrees? Who, if they can only commit to memory a few definitions and divisions, and pass the customary period in the study of logics, no matter with what effect, whatever sort they prove to be, idiots, triflers, idlers, gamblers, sots, sensualists,
"-- mere ciphers in the book of life
Like those who boldly woo'd Ulysses' wife;
Born to consume the fruits of earth: in truth,
As vain and idle as Pheacia's youth;"
only let them have passed the stipulated period in the university, and professed themselves collegians: either for the sake of profit, or through the influence of their friends, they obtain a presentation; nay, sometimes even accompanied by brilliant eulogies upon their morals and acquirements; and when they are about to take leave, they are honoured with the most flattering literary testimonials in their favour, by those who undoubtedly sustain a loss of reputation in granting them. For doctors and
- 271 -
professors (as an author says) are anxious about one thing only, viz., that out of their various callings they may promote their own advantage, and convert the public loss into their private gains. For our annual officers wish this only, that those who commence, whether they are taught or untaught is of no moment, shall be sleek, fat, pigeons, worth the plucking. The Philosophastic are admitted to a degree in Arts, because they have no acquaintance with them. And they are desired to be wise men, because they are endowed with no wisdom, and bring no qualification for a degree, except the wish to have it. The Theologastic (only let them pay) thrice learned, are promoted to every academic honour. Hence it is that so many vile buffoons, so many idiots everywhere, placed in the twilight of letters, the mere ghosts of scholars,
wanderers in the market place, vagrants, barbels, mushrooms, dolts, asses, a growling herd, with unwashed feet, break into the sacred precincts of theology, bringing nothing along with them but an impudent front, some vulgar trifles and foolish scholastic technicalities, unworthy of respect even at the crossing of the highways.
This is the unworthy, vagrant, voluptuous race, fitter for the hog-sty (haram) than the altar (aram), that basely prostitute divine literature; these are they who fill the pulpits, creep into the palaces of our nobility after all other prospects of existence fail them, owing to their imbecility of body and mind, and their being incapable of sustaining any other parts in the commonwealth; to this sacred refuge they fly, undertaking the office of the ministry, not from sincerity, but as St. Paul says, huckstering the word of God. Let not any one suppose that it is here intended to detract from those many exemplary men of which the Church of England may boast, learned, eminent, and of spotless fame, for they are more numerous in that than in any other church of Europe: not from those most learned universities which constantly send forth men endued with every form of virtue. And these seminaries would produce a still greater number of inestimable scholars hereafter if sordidness did not obscure the splendid light, corruption interrupt, and certain truckling harpies and beggars envy them their usefulness. Nor can any one be so blind as not to perceive this -- any so stolid as not to understand it -- any so perverse as not to acknowledge how sacred Theology has been contaminated by those notorious idiots, and the celestial Muse treated with profanity. Vile and shameless souls (says Luther) for the sake of gain, like flies to a milk-pail, crowd round the tables of the nobility in expectation of a church living, any office, or honour, and flock into any public hall or city ready to accept of any employment that may offer.
"A thing of wood and wires by others played."
Following the paste as the parrot, they stutter out any thing in hopes of reward: obsequious parasites, says Erasmus, teach, say, write, admire, approve, contrary to their conviction, anything you please, not to benefit the people but to improve their own fortunes. They subscribe to any opinions and decisions contrary to the word of God, that they may not offend their patron but retain the favour of the great, the applause of the multitude, and thereby acquire riches for themselves; for they approach Theology, not that they may perform a sacred duty, but make a fortune: not to promote the interest of the church, but to pillage it: seeking, as Paul says, not the things which are of Jesus Christ, but what may be their own: not the treasure of their Lord, but the enrichment of themselves and their followers. Nor does this evil belong
- 272 -
to those of humbler birth and fortunes only, it possesses the middle and higher ranks, bishops excepted.
"O Pontiffs, tell the efficacy of gold in sacred matters!" Avarice often leads the highest men astray, and men, admirable in all other respects: these find a salvo for simony; and, striking against this rock of corruption, they do not shear but flay the flock; and, wherever they teem, plunder, exhaust, raze, making shipwreck of their reputation, if not of their souls also. Hence it appears that this malady did not flow from the humblest to the highest classes, but vice versa, so that the maxim is true although spoken in jest --"he bought first, therefore has the best right to sell." For a Simoniac, (that I may use the phraseology of Leo) has not received a favour: since he has not received one he does not possess one; and since he does not possess one he cannot confer one. So far indeed are some of those who are placed at the helm from promoting others, that they completely obstruct them, from a consciousness of the means by which themselves obtained the honour. For he who imagines that they emerged from their obscurity through their learning, is deceived; indeed, whoever supposes promotion to be the reward of genius, erudition, experience, probity, piety, and poetry (which formerly was the case, but now-a-days is only premised) is evidently deranged. How or when this malady commenced, I shall not further inquire; but from these beginnings, this accumulation of vices, all her calamities and miseries have been brought upon the Church; hence such frequent acts of simony, complaints, fraud, impostures -- from this one fountain spring all its its conspicuous iniquities. I shall not press the question of ambition and courtly flattery, lest they may be chagrined about luxury, base examples of life, which offend the honest, wanton drinking parties, &c. Yet, hence is that academic squalor, the muses now look sad, since every low fellow ignorant of the arts, by those very arts rises, is promoted, and grows rich, distinguished by ambitious titles, and puffed up by his numerous honours:
he just shows himself to the vulgar, and by his stately carriage displays a species of majesty, a remarkable solicitude, letting down a flowing beard, decked in a brllliant toga resplendent with purple, and respected also on account of the splendour of his household and number of his servants. There are certain statues placed in sacred edifices that seem to sink under their load, and almost to perspire, when in reality they are void of sensation, and do not contribute to the stony stability, so these men would wish to look like Atlases, when they are no better than statues of stone, insignificant
scrubs, funguses, dolts, little different from stone statues. Meanwhile really learned men, endowed with all that can adorn a holy life, men who have endured the heat of mid-day, by some unjust lot obey these dizzards, content probably with a miserable salary, known by honest appellations, humble, obscure, although eminently worthy, needy, leading a private life without honour, buried alive in some poor benefice, or incarcerated for ever in their college chambers, lying hid ingloriously. But I am unwilling to stir this sink any longer or any deeper: hence those tears, this melancholy habit of the muses; hence (that I may speak with Secellius, is it that religion is brought into disrepute and contempt, and the priesthood abject: (and since this is so, I must speak out and use the filthy witticism of the filthy) a foetid crowd, poor, sordid, melancholy, miserable, despicable, contemptible.
- 273 -