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The Pleasure-house is dust :--behind, before,
This is no common waste, no common gloom;
Shall here put on her beauty and her bloom.
That what we are, and have been, may be known;
These monuments shall all be overgrown.
Taught both by what she shows, and what conceals,
248.-REMEDIES OF DISCONTENTS.
BURTON. [We give an extract from The Anatomy of Melancholy,' the book of which Dr. Johnson said that it was the only book that took him out of his bed two hours before he wished to rise. This was higher praise than that of Byron, who called this book - the most amusing and instructive medley of quotations and classical anecdotes I ever perused." If Burton had only poured forth his singular feelings in his quaint and sometimes eloquent language, and had less skilfully or less profusely intermingled his scholarship, the book must still have been regarded as a remarkable work. As it is, there is nothing like it in our language. We have made no attempt to give a literal translation of the quotations; for the author himself often does so, and almost invariably repeats the sentiment in English, so that his meaning cannot be mistaken. Robert Burton was born at Lindley, Leicestershire, in 1576, and was a student of Christchurch, Oxford, in which college he died in 1640.]
Discontents and grievances are either general or particular; general are wars, plagues, dearths, famine, fires, inundations, unseasonable weather, epidemical diseases which afflict whole kingdoms, territories, cities: or peculiar to private men, as cares, crosses, losses, death of friends, poverty, want, sickness, orbities, injuries, abuses, &c. Generally all discontent, homines quatimur fortunæ salo. No condition free, quisque suos patimur manes. Even in the midst of our mirth and jollity, there is some grudging, some complaint; as he saith, our whole life is a glucupicron, a bitter sweet passion, honey and gall mixed together; we are all miserable and discontent, who can deny it? If all, and that it be a common calamity, an inevitable necessity, all distressed, then, as Cardan infers, Who art thou that hopest to go free? Why dost thou not grieve thou art a mortal man, and not governor of the world? Ferre, quam sortem patiuntur omnes, Nemo recuset. If it be common to all, why should one man be more disquieted than another ? If thou alone wert distressed, it were indeed more irksome and less to be endured ; but when the calamity is common, comfort thyself with this, thou hast more fellows, Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris, 'tis not thy sole case, and why shouldst thou be so impatient? Ay, but alas ! we are more miserable than others, what shall we do? Besides private miseries, we live in perpetual fear, and danger of common enemies; we have Bellona’s whips, and pitiful out-cries, for epithalamiums ; for pleasant music, that fearful noise of ordnance, drums, and warlike trumpets still sounding in our ears ; instead of nuptial torches, we have firing of towns and cities ; for triumphs, lamentations; for joy, tears. So it is, and so it was, and ever will be. He that refuseth to see and hear, to suffer this, is not fit to live in this world, and knows not the common condition of all men, to whom, so long as they live, with a reciprocal course, joys and sorrows are annexed, and succeed one another. It is inevitable, it may not be avoided, and why then shouldst thou be so much troubled? Grave nihil est homini quod fert necessitas, as Tully deems out of an old poet, that which is necessary cannot be grievous. If it be so, then comfort thyself with this, that whether thou wilt or no, it must be endured ; make a virtue of necessity, and conform thyself to undergo it. Si longa est, levis est ; si gravis est, brevis est. If it be long, 'tis light; if grievous, it cannot last. It will away, dies dolorem minuit, and if nought else, yet time will wear it out; custom will ease it; oblivion is a common medicine for all losses, injuries, griefs, and detriments whatsoever, and, when they are once past, this commodity comes of infelicity, it makes the rest of our life sweeter unto us. Atque hæc olim meminisse juvabit, the privation and want of a thing many times makes it more pleasant and delightsome than before it was. We must not think, the happiest of us all, to escape here without some misfortunes
- Usque adeò nulla est sincera voluptas,
Solicitum aliquid lætis intervenit.-- Heaven and earth are much unlike ; those heavenly bodies, indeed, are freely carried in their orbs without any impediment or interruption, to continue their course for innumerable ages, and make their conversions : but men are urged with many difficulties, and have divers hindrances, oppositions, still crossing, interrupting their endeavours and desires, and no mortal man is free from this law of nature. We must not, therefore, hope to have all things answer our own expectation, to have a continuance of good success and fortunes, Fortuna nunquam perpetuò est bona. And as Minutius Felix, the Roman Consul, told that insulting Coriolanus, drunk with his good fortunes, look not for that success thou hast hitherto had. It never yet happened to any man since the beginning of the world, nor ever will, to have all things according to his desire, or to whom fortune was never opposite and adverse. Even so it fell out to him as he foretold. And so to others, even to that happiness of Augustus; though he were Jupiter's almoner, Pluto's treasurer, Neptune's admiral, it could not secure him. Such was Alcibiades' fortune, Narsetes, that great Gonsalvus, and most famous men's, that, as Jovius concludes, it is almost fatal to great princes, through their own default or otherwise circumvented with envy and malice, to lose their honours, and die contumeliously. 'Tis so, still hath been, and ever will be, Nihil est ab omni parte beatum,
There's no protection is so absolute,
That some impurity doth not pollute. Whatsoever is under the moon is subject to corruption, alterations; and so long as thou livest upon earth look not for other. Thou shalt not here find peaceable and cheerful days, quiet times, but rather clouds, storms, calumnies, such is our fate. And as those errant planets, in their distinct orbs, have their several motions, sometimes direct, stationary, retrograde, in apogeo, perigeo, oriental, occidental, combust, feral, free, and as our astrologers will have their fortitudes and debilities, by reason of those good and bad irradiations, conferred to each other's site in the heavens, in their terms, houses, case, detriments, &c.; so we rise and fall in this world, ebb and flow, in and out, reared and dejected, lead a troublesome life, subject to many accidents and casualties of fortunes, variety of passions, infirmities, as well from ourselves as others.
Yea, but thou thinkest thou art more miserable than the rest, other men are happy in respect of thee, their miseries are but flea-bitings to thine, thou alone art unhappy, none so bad as thyself. Yet, if as Socrates said: All the men in the world should come and bring their grievances together, of body, mind, fortune, sores, ulcers, madness, epilepsies, agues, and all those common calamities of beggary, want, servitude, imprisonment, and lay them on a heap to be equally divided,
wouldst thou share alike, and take thy portion, or be as thou art ? Without question thou wouldst be as thou art. If some Jupiter should say, to give us all content
Jam faciam quod vultis; eris tu, qui modò miles,
Well, be't so then: you, master soldier,
That side you; why stand ye? It's well as 'lis. Every man knows his own but not others' defects and miseries ; and 'tis the nature of all men still to reflect upon themselves, their own misfortunes, not to examine or consider other men's, not to confer themselves with others : to recount their miseries, but not their good gifts, fortunes, benefits, which they have ; to ruminate on their adversity, but not once to think on their prosperity, not what they have, but what they want : to look still on them that go before, but not on those infinite numbers that come after ; whereas many a man would think himself in heaven, a petty prince, if he had but the least part of that fortune which thou so much repinest at, abhorrest, and accountest a most vile and wretched estate. How many thousands want that which thou hast? How many myriads of poor slaves, captives, of such as work day and night in coal-pits, tin-mines, with sore toil to maintain a poor living, of such as labour in body and mind, live in extreme anguish and pain, all which thou art free from ? O fortunatos nimiun bona si sua norint ; thou art most happy if thou couldst be content, and acknowledge thy happiness ; Rem carendo, non fruendo, cognoscimus; when thou shalt hereafter come to want that which thou now loathest, abhorrest, and art weary of, and tired with, when 'tis past, thou wilt say thou wast most happy: and, after a little miss, wish with all thine heart thou hadst the same content again, mightst lead but such a life, a world for such a life; the remembrance of it is pleasant. Be silent then, rest satisfied, desine, intuensque in aliorum infortunia, solare mentem; comfort thyself with other men's misfortunes, and as the moldiwarpe in Æsop told the fox complaining for want of a tail, and the rest of his companions, tacete, quando me oculis captum videtis ; you complain of toys, but I am blind, be quiet. I say to thee be thou satisfied. It is recorded of the hares that with a general consent they went to drown themselves, out of a feeling of their misery ; but when they saw a company of frogs more fearful than they were, they began to take courage and comfort again. Confer thine estate with others. Similes aliorum respice casus, mitius ista feres. Be content, and rest satisfied ; for thou art well in respect of others ; be thankful for that thou hast, that God hath done for thee, he hath not made thee a monster, a beast, a base creature, as he might, but a man, a Christian, such a man ; consider aright of it, thou art full well as thou art. Quicquid vult, habere nemo potest, no man can have what he will: Illud potest nolle, quod non habet, he may choose whether he will desire that which he hath not: Thy lot is fallen, make the best of it. If we should all sleep at all times (as Endymion is said to have done), who then were happier than his fellow? Qur life is but short, a very dream, and while we look about, immortalitas adest, eternity is at hand. Our life is a pilgrimage on earth, which wise men pass with great alacrity. If thou be in woe, sorrow, want, distress, in pain, or sickness, think of that of our apostle, God chastiseth them whom he loveth : They that sow in tears, shall reap in joy, Psal. cxxvi. 6. As the furnace proveth the potter's vessel, so doth temptation try men's thoughts, Eccl. xxv. 5. 'Tis for thy good: Periisses, nisi periisscs : Hadst thou not been so visited thou hadst been utterly undono; as gold
in the fire, so men are tried in adversity. Tribulatio ditat: and, which Camerarius hath well shadowed in an emblem of a thresher and, corn :
Si tritura absit, paleis sunt abdita granu,
By crosses from the world's chaff are we boru. 'Tis the very same which Chrysostome comments, Hom. 2, in 3 Mat. Corn is not separated but by threshing, nor men from worldly impediments but by tribulation. 'Tis that which Cyprian ingeminates, Serm. 4, de Immort. "Tis that which Hierom, which all the Fathers inculcate, so we are catechised for eternity. 'Tis that which the proverb insinuates, Nocumentum documentum. 'Tis that which all the world rings into our ears. Deus unicum habet filium sine peccato, nullum sine flagello: God, saith Austin, hath one son without sin, none without correction. An expert seaman is tried in a tempest, a runner in a race, a captain in a battle, a valiant man in adversity, a Christian in temptation and misery. Basil, Hom. 8. We are sent as so many soldiers into this world, to strive with it, the flesh, the devil ; our life is a warfare, and who knows it not ? Non est ad astra mollis è terris via : and therefore poradventure this world here is made troublesome unto us, that, as Gregory notes, we should not be delighted by the way, and forget whither we are going.
Ite, nunc fortes, ubi celsa magni
Sidcra donat. Go on then merrily to heaven. If the way be troublesome, and you in misery, in many grievances ; on the other side you have many pleasant sports, objects, sweet smells, delightsome tastes, music, meats, herbs, flowers, &c., to recreate your senses. Or put case, thou art now forsaken of the world, dejected, contemned, yet comfort thyself, as it was said to Agar in the wilderness, God sees thee; He takes notice of thee: there is a God above that can vindicate thy cause, that can relieve thee. And surels, Seneca thinks, he takes delight in seeing thee. The gods are well pleased when they see great men contending with adversity, as we are to see men fight, or a man with a beast. But these are toys in respect, Behold, saith he, a spectacle worthy of God : a good man contented with his estate. A tyrant is the best sacrifice to Jupiter, as the ancients held, and his best object a contented mind. For thy part then rest satisfied, cast all thy care on him, thy burden on him, rely on him, trust in him, and he shall nourish thee, care for thee, give thee thine heart's desire ; say with David, God is our hope and strength, in troubles ready to be found, Psal. xlvi. 1. For they that trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Sion, which cannot be removed, Psal. cxxiv. 1, 2. As the mountains are about Jerusalem, so is the Lord about his people, from henceforth and for ever.
249.—THE GOOD PARSON.
To sixty more, but that he lived too fast:
The tithes, his parish freely paid, he took ; But never sued, or cursed with bell or book. With patience bearing wrong, but offering none; Since every man is free to lose his own. The country churls, according to their kind (Who grudge their dues, and love to be behind), The less he sought his offerings, pinch'd the more, And praised a priest contented to be poor.
Yet of his little he had some to spare, To feed the famish’d, and to clothe the barc; For mortified he was to that degree, A poorer than himself he would not see. “True priests," he said, “and preachers of the word, Were only stewards of their sovereign Lord ; Nothing was theirs; but all the public store; Intrusted riches, to relieve the poor. Who, should they steal, for want of his relief, He judged himself accomplice with the thief."