24 janv. 2020



When I go musing all alone,
Thinking of divers things
When I build castles in the air,
Void of sorrow and void of fear,
Pleasing myself with phantasms sweet
Methinks the time runs very fleet.
All my joys to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as melancholy.

When I lie waking all alone,
Recounting what I have ill done,
My thoughts on me then tyrannise,
Fear and sorrow me surprise,
Whether I tarry still or go,
Methinks the time moves very slow.
All my griefs to this are jolly,
Naught so sad as melancholy.

When to myself I act and smile,
With pleasing thoughts the time beguile.
By a brook side or wood so green,
Unheard, unsought for, or unseen,
A thousand pleasures do me bless,
And crown my soul with happiness.
All my joys besides are folly,
None so sweet as melancholy.

When I lie, sit, or walk alone,
I sigh, I grieve, making great mone,
In a dark grove, or irksome den,
With discontents and Furies then,
A thousand miseries at once
Mine heavy heart and soul ensonce,
All my griefs to this are jolly,
None so sour as melancholy.

Methinks I hear, methinks I see,
Sweet music, wondrous melody,
Towns, palaces, and cities fine;
Here now, then there; the world is mine,
Rare beauties, gallant ladies shine,
Whate'er is lovely or divine.
All other joys to this are folly,
None so sweet as melancholy.

Methinks I hear, methinks I see
Ghosts, goblins, fiends; my fantasy
Presents a thousand ugly shapes,
Headless bears, black men, and apes,
Doleful outcries, and fearful sights,
My sad and dismal soul affrights.
All my griefs to this are jolly,
None so damn'd as melancholy.

Methinks I court, methinks I kiss,
Methinks I now embrace my mistress
O blessed days, O sweet content,
In Paradise my time is spent.
Such thoughts may still my fancy move,
So may I ever be in love.
All my joys to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as melancholy.

When I recount love's many frights,
My sighs and tears, my waking nights,
My jealous fits; O mine hard fate
I now repent, but 'tis too late.
No torment is so bad as love,
So bitter to my soul can prove.
All my griefs to this are jolly,
Naught so harsh as melancholy.

Friends and companions get you gone
'Tis my desire to be alone;
Ne'er well but when my thoughts and I
Do domineer in privacy.
No Gem, no treasure like to this,
'Tis my delight, my crown, my bliss
All my joys to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as melancholy.

'Tis my sole plague to be alone,
I am a beast, a monster grown,
I will no light nor company,
I find it now my misery.
The scene is turn'd, my joys are gone,
Fear, discontent, and sorrows come.
All my griefs to this are jolly,
Naught so fierce as melancholy.

I'll not change life with any King,
I ravisht am: can the world bring
More joy, than still to laugh and smile,
In pleasant toys time to beguile?
Do not, O do not trouble me,
So sweet content I feel and see.
All my joys to this are folly,
None so divine as melancholy.

I'll change my state with any wretch,
Thou canst from gaol or dunghill fetch;
My pain past cure, another hell,
I may not in this torment dwell!
Now desperate I hate my life,
Lend me a halter or a knife;
All my griefs to this are jolly,
Naught so damn'd as melancholy.



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.
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
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,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
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.
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
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
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,
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,
&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
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
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
[and I despise the tongues of huxters]
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.
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)
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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."
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 ambitiosus, 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 Crassiani, 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
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,     (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.
'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
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,
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.
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
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
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
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
"-- 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
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
brought so devilish, so brutish a thing as war first into men's minds? Who made so
soft and peaceable a creature, born to love, mercy, meekness, so to rave, rage like
beasts, and run on to their own destruction? how may nature expostulate with
mankind, Ego te divinum animal finxi, &c.? I made thee an harmless, quiet, a divine
creature: how may God expostulate, and all good men? yet, horum facta (as one
condoles) tantum admirantur, et heroum numero habent: these are the brave spirits,
the gallants of the world, these admired alone, triumph alone, have statues, crowns,
pyramids, obelisks to their eternal fame, that immortal genius attends on them, hac
itur ad astra. When Rhodes was besieged, fossæ urbis cadaveribus repletæ sunt, the
ditches were full of dead carcasses: and as when the said Solyman, the great Turk,
beleaguered Vienna, they lay level with the top of the walls. This they make a sport
of; and will do it to their friends and confederates, against oaths, vows, promises, by
treachery or otherwise; -- dolus an virtus? quis in hoste requirat? leagues and laws of
arms, (silent leges inter arma,) for their advantage, omnia jura, divina, humana,
proculcata plerumque sunt; God's and men's laws are trampled under foot, the sword
alone determines all; to satisfy their lust and spleen, they care not what they attempt,
say, or do, Rara fides, probitas quo viris qui rastra sequuntur. Nothing so common as
to have "father fight against the son, brother against brother, kinsman against
kinsman, kingdom against kingdom, province against province, christians against
christians:" a quibus nec unquam cogitatione fuerunt læsi, of whom they never had
offence in thought, word or deed. Infinite treasures consumed, towns burned,
flourishing cities sacked and ruinated, quodque animus meminisse horret, goodly
countries depopulated and left desolate, old inhabitants expelled, trade and traffic
decayed, maids deflowered, Virgines nondum thalamis jugatæ, et comis nondum
positis ephoebi; chaste matrons cry out with Andromache, Concubitum mox ægar pati
ejus, qui interemit Hectorem, they shall be compelled peradventure to lie with them
that erst killed their husbands: to see rich, poor, sick, sound, lords, servants, eodem
omnes incommodo macti, consumed all or maimed, &c. Et quicquid gaudens scelere
animus audet, a perversa mens, saith Cyprian, and whatsoever torment, misery,
mischief; hell itself; the devil, fury and rage can invent to their own ruin and
destruction; so abominable a thing is war, as Gerbelius concludes, adeo foeda et
abominanda res est bellum, ex quo hominum cædes, vastationes. &c., the scourge of
God, cause, effect, fruit and punishment of sin, and not tonsura humani generis, as
Tertullian calls it, but ruina. Had Democritus been present at the late civil wars in
France, those abominable wars -- bellaque matribus detestata, "where, in less than
ten years, ten thousand men were consumed, saith Cullignias, 20 thousand churches
overthrown; nay, the whole kingdom subverted (as Richard Dinoth adds). So many
myriads of the commons were butchered up, with sword, famine, war, tanto odio
utrinque ut barbari ad abhorrendum lanienam obstupescerent, with such feral hatred,
the world was amazed at it: or at our late Pharsalian fields in the time of Henry the
Sixth, betwixt the houses of Lancaster and York, a hundred thousand men slain, one
writes; another, ten thousand families were rooted out, "That no man can but marvel,
saith Comineus, at that barbarous immanity, feral madness, committed between men
of the same nation, language, and religion." Quis furor, O cives? "Why do the
Gentiles so furiously rage," saith the Prophet David, Psal. ii. 1. But we may ask, why
do the Christians so furiously rage? "Arma volunt, quare poscunt, rapiuntque
juventus?" Unfit for Gentiles, much less for us so to tyrannize, as the Spaniard in the
West Indies, that killed up in 42 years (if we may believe Bartholomeus a Casa, their
own bishop) 12 millions of men, with stupend and exquisite torments; neither should I
lie (said he) if I said 50 millions. I omit those French massacres, Sicilian evensongs,
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
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
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
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.
Many poor men, younger brothers, &c., by reason of bad policy and idle education
(for they are likely brought up in no calling), are compelled to beg or steal, and then
hanged for theft; than which, what can be more ignominious, non minus enim turpe
principi multa supplicia, quam medico multa funera, 'tis the governor's fault.
Libentius verberant quam docent, as schoolmasters do rather correct their pupils, than
teach them when they do amiss. "They had more need provide there should be no
more thieves and beggars, as they ought with good policy, and take away the
occasions, than let them run on, as they do to their own destruction: root out likewise
those causes of wrangling, a multitude of lawyers, and compose controversies, lites
lustrales et seculares, by some more compendious means." Whereas now for every
toy and trifle they go to law, mugit litibus insanum forum, et sævit invicem
discordantium rabies, they are ready to pull out one another's throats; and for
commodity "to squeeze blood," saith Hierom, "out of their brother's heart," defame,
lie, disgrace, backbite, rail, bear false witness, swear, forswear, fight and wrangle,
spend their goods, lives, fortunes, friends, undo one another, to enrich an harpy
advocate, that preys upon them both, and cries Eia Socrates, Eia Xantippe; or some
corrupt Judge, that like the Kite in Æsop, while the mouse and frog fought, carried
both away. Generally they prey one upon another as so many ravenous birds, brute
beasts, devouring fishes, no medium, omnes hic aut captantur aut captant; aut
cadavera qua lacerantur, aut corvi qui lacerant, either deceive or be deceived; tear
others or be torn in pieces themselves; like so many buckets in a well, as one riseth
another falleth, one's empty, another's full; his ruin is a ladder to the third; such are
our ordinary proceedings. What's the market? A place, according to Anacharsis,
wherein they cozen one another, a trap; nay, what's the world itself? A vast chaos, a
confusion of manners, as fickle as the air, domicilium insanorum [a mad house], a
turbulent troop full of impurities, a mart of walking spirits, goblins, the theatre of
hypocrisy, a shop of knavery, flattery, a nursery of villany, the scene of babbling, the
school of giddiness, the academy of vice; a warfare, ubi velis nolis pugnandum, aut
vincas aut succumbas, in which kill or be killed; wherein every man is for himself, his
private ends, and stands upon his own guard. No charity, love, friendship, fear of God,
alliance, affinity, consanguinity, christianity, can contain them, but if they be any
ways offended, or that string of commodity be touched, they fall foul. Old friends
become bitter enemies on a sudden for toys and small offences, and they that erst
were willing to do all mutual offices of love and kindness, now revile and persecute
one another to death, with more than Vatinian hatred, and will not be reconciled. So
long as they are behoveful, they love, or may bestead each other. but when there is no
more good to be expected, as they do by an old dog, hang him up or cashier him:
which Cato counts a great indecorum, to use men like old shoes or broken glasses,
which are flung to the dunghill; he could not find in his heart to sell an old ox, much
less to turn away an old servant: but they instead of recompense, revile him, and when
they have made him an instrument of their villiany, as Bajazet the second Emperor of
the Turks did by Acomethes Bassa, make him away, or instead of reward, hate him to
death, as Silius was served by Tiberius. In a word every man for his own ends. Our
summum bonum is commodity, and the goddess we adore Dea moneta, Queen money,
to whom we daily offer sacrifice, which steers our hearts, hands, affections, all: that
most powerful goddess, by whom we are reared, depressed, elevated, esteemed the
sole commandress of our actions, for which we pray, run, ride, go, come, labour, and
contend as fishes do for a crumb that falleth into the water. It's not worth, virtue,
(that's bonum theatrale,) wisdom, valour, learning, honesty, religion, or any
sufficiency for which we are respected, but money, greatness, office, honour,
authority; honesty is accounted folly; knavery, policy; men admired out of opinion,
not as they are, but as they seem to be: such shifting, lying, cogging, plotting,
counterplotting, temporizing, flattering, cozening, dissembling, "that of necessity one
must highly offend God if he be conformable to the world," Cretizare cum Crete, "or
else live in contempt, disgrace and misery." One takes upon him temperance, holiness,
another austerity, a third an affected kind of simplicity, when as indeed he, and he,
and he, and the rest are "hypocrites, ambidexters," out-sides, so many turning pictures,
a lion on the one side, a lamb on the other. How would Democritus have been affected
to see these things!
To see a man turn himself into all shapes like a camelion, or as Proteus, omnia
transformans sese in miracula rerum, to act twenty parts and persons at once, for his
advantage, to temporize and vary like Mercury the Planet, good with good; bad with
bad; having a several face, garb, and character for every one he meets; of all religions,
humours, inclinations; to fawn like a spaniel, mentitis et mimicis obsequiis, rage like a
lion, bark like a cur, fight like a dragon, sting like a serpent, as meek as a lamb, and
yet again grin like a tiger, weep like a crocodile, insult over some, and yet others
domineer over him, here command, there crouch, tyrannize in one place, be baffled in
another, a wise man at home, a fool abroad to make others merry.
To see so much difference betwixt words and deeds, so many parasangs
betwixt tongue and heart, men like stage-players act variety of parts, give good
precepts to others, soar aloft, whilst they themselves grovel on the ground.
To see a man protest friendship, kiss his hand, quem mallet truncatum videre,
smile with an intent to do mischief, or cozen him whom he salutes, magnify his friend
unworthy with hyperbolical eulogiums; his enemy albeit a good man, to vilify and
disgrace him, yea all his actions, with the utmost that livor and malice can intent.
To see a servant able to buy out his master, him that carries the mace more
worth than the magistrate, which Plato, lib. 11, de leg., absolutely forbids, Epictetus
abhors. A horse that tills the land fed with chaff, an idle jade have provender in
abundance; him that makes shoes go barefoot himself, him that sells meat almost
pined; a toiling drudge starve, a drone flourish.
To see men buy smoke for wares, castles built with fools' heads, men like apes
follow the fashions in tires, gestures, actions: if the king laugh, all laugh;
"Rides? majore cachinno
Concutitur, flet si lachrymas conspexit amici."
(Juvenal: Do you laugh? He is shaken with much greater laughter: he weeps also
when he has beheld the tears of his friend)
Alexander stooped, so did his courtiers; Alphonsus turned his head, and so did his
parasites. Sabina Poppea, Nero's wife, wore amber-coloured hair, so did all the
Roman ladies in an instant, her fashion was theirs.
To see men wholly led by affection, admired and censured out of opinion
without judgment: an inconsiderate multitude, like so many dogs in a village, if one
bark all bark without a cause: as fortune's fan turns, if a man be in favour, or
commanded by some great one, all the world applauds him; if in disgrace, in an
instant all hate him, and as at the sun when he is eclipsed, that erst took no notice,
now gaze and stare upon him.
To see a man wear his brains in his belly, his guts in his head, an hundred oaks
on his back, to devour a hundred oxen at a meal, nay more, to devour houses and
towns, or as those anthropophagi, to eat another.
To see a man roll himself up like a snowball, from base beggary to right
worshipful and right honourable titles, unjustly to screw himself into honours and
offices; another to starve his genius, damn his soul to gather wealth, which he shall
not enjoy, which his prodigal son melts and consumes in an instant.
To see the χαχοζηλιαν [chachozelian] of our times, a man bend all his forces,
means, time, fortunes, to be a favourite's favourite's favourite, &c., a parasite's
parasite's parasite, that may scorn the servile world as having enough already.
To see an hirsute beggar's brat, that lately fed on scraps, crept and whined,
crying to all, and for an old jerkin ran of errands, now ruffle in silk and satin, bravely
mounted, jovial and polite, now scorn his old friends and familiars, neglect his
kindred, insult over his betters, domineer over all.
To see a scholar crouch and creep to an illiterate peasant for a meal's meat; a
scrivener better paid for an obligation; a falconer receive greater wages than a student;
a lawyer get more in a day than a philosopher in a year, better reward for an hour,
than a scholar for a twelvemonth's study; him that can paint Thais, play on a fiddle,
curl hair, &c, sooner get preferment than a philologer or a poet.
To see a fond mother, like Æsop's ape, hug her child to death, a witol wink at
his wife's honesty, and too perspicuous in all other affairs; one stumble at a straw, and
leap over a block; rob Peter, and pay Paul; scrape unjust sums with one hand,
purchase great manors by corruption, fraud and cozenage, and liberally to distribute to
the poor with the other, give a remnant to pious uses, &c. Penny wise, pound foolish;
blind men judge of colours; wise men silent, fools talk; find fault with others, and do
worse themselves; denounce that in public which he doth in secret; and which
Aurelius Victor gives out of Augustus, severely censure that in a third, of which he is
most guilty himself.
To see a poor fellow, or an hired servant venture his life for his new master
that will scarce give him his wages at year's end; A country colone toil and moil, till
and drudge for a prodigal idle drone, that devours all the gain, or lasciviously
consumes with phantastical expences; A noble man in a bravado to encounter death.
and for a small flash of honor to cast away himself; A worldling tremble at an
executor, and yet not fear hell-fire; To wish and hope for immortality, desire to be
happy, and yet by all means avoid death, a necessary passage to bring him to it.
To see a fool-hardy fellow like those old Danes, qui decollari malunt quam
verberari, die rather than be punished, in a sottish humour embrace death with
alacrity, yet scorn to lament his own sins and miseries, or his dearest friends'
To see wise men degraded, fools preferred, one govern towns and cities, and
yet a silly woman overrides him at home; Command a province, and yet his own
servants or children prescribe laws to him, as Themistocles' son did in Greece; "What
I will (said he) my mother will, and what my mother will, my father doth." To see
horses ride in a coach, men draw it; dogs devour their masters; towers build masons;
children rule; old meu go to school; women wear the breeches; sheep demolish towns,
devour men, &c. And in a word, the world turned upside downward. O viveret
To insist in every particular were one of Hercules' labours, there's so many
ridiculous instances, as motes in the sun. Quantum est in rebus inane! (How much
vanity there is in things!) And who can speak of all? Crimine ab uno disce omnes,
take this for a taste.
But these are obvious to sense, trivial and well known, easy to be discerned.
How would Democritus have been moved, had he seen the secrets of their hearts? If
every man had a window in his breast, which Momus would have had in Vulcan's
man, or that which Tully so much wished it were written in every man's forehead,
Quid quisque de republica sentiret, what he thought; or that it could be effected in an
instant, which Mercury did by Charon in Lucian, by touching of his eyes, to make him
discern semel et simul rumores et sussuros.
Spes hominum cæcas, morbos, votumque labores,
Et passim toto volitantes aethere curas."
"Blind hopes and wishes, their thoughts and affairs,
Whispers and rumours, and those flying cares."
That he could cubiculorum obductus foras recludere et secreta cordium penetrare,
which Cyprian desired, open doors and locks, shoot bolts, as Lucian's Gallus did with
a feather of his tail: or Gyges' invisible ring, or some rare perspective glass, or
Otacousticon, which would so multiply species, that a man might hear and see all at
once (as Martianus Capella's Jupiter did in a spear which he held in his hand, which
did present unto him all that was daily done upon the face of the earth), observe
cuckolds' horns, forgeries of alchemists, the philosopher's stone, new projectors, &c.,
and all those works of darkness, foolish vows, hopes, fears and wishes, what a deal of
laughter would it have afforded? He should have seen windmills in one man's head,
an hornet's nest in another. Or had he been present with Icaromenippus in Lucian at
Jupiter's whispering place, and heard one pray for rain, another for fair weather; one
for his wife's, another for his father's death, &c.; "to ask that at God's hand which they
are abashed any man should hear:" How would he have been confounded? Would he,
think you, or any man else, say that these men were well in their wits? Hæc sani esse
hominis quis sanus juret Orestes? Can all the hellebore in the Anticurae cure these
men? No sure, "an acre of hellebore will not do it."
That which is more to be lamented, they are mad like Seneca's blind woman,
and will not acknowledge, or seek for any cure of it, for pauci vident morbum suum,
omnes amant. If our leg or arm offend us, we covet by all means possible to redress it;
and if we labour of a bodily disease, we send for a physician; but for the diseases of
the mind we take no notice of them: Lust harrows us on the one side; envy, anger,
ambition on the other. We are torn in pieces by our passions, as so many wild horses,
one in disposition, another in habit; one is melancholy, another mad; and which of us
all seeks for help, doth acknowledge his error, or knows he is sick? As that stupid
fellow put out the candle because the biting fleas should not find him; he shrouds
himself in an unknown habit, borrowed titles, because nobody should discern him.
Every man thinks with himself, Egomet videor mihi sanus, I am well, I am wise, and
laughs at others. And 'tis a general fault amongst them all, that which our forefathers
have approved, diet, apparel, opinions, humours, customs, manners, we deride and
reject in our time as absurd. Old men account juniors all fools, when they are mere
dizzards; and as to sailors, -- terræque urbesque recedunt -- they move, the land
stands still, the world hath much more wit, they dote themselves. Turks deride us, we
them; Italians, Frenchmen, accounting them light headed fellows; the French scoff
again at Italians, and at their several customs; Greeks have condemned all the world
but themselves of barbarism, the world as much vilifies them now; we account
Germans heavy, dull fellows, explode many of their fashions; they as contemptibly
think of us; Spaniards laugh at all, and all again at them. So are we fools and
ridiculous, absurd in our actions, carriage; diet, apparel, customs, and consultations;
we scoff and point one at another, when as in conclusion all are fools, "and they the
veriest asses that hide their ears most." A private man if he be resolved with himself,
or set on an opinion, accounts all idiots and asses that are not affected as he is, -- nil
rectum, nisi quod placuit sibi, ducit, that are not so minded, (quodque volunt homines
se bene velle putant,) all fools that think not as he doth: he will not say with Atticus,
Suam quisque sponsam, mihi meam, let every man enjoy his own spouse; but his
alone is fair, suus amor, &c., and scorns all in respect of himself, will imitate none,
hear none but himself as Pliny said, a law and example to himself. And that which
Hippocrates, in his epistle to Dionysius, reprehended of old, is verified in our times,
Quisque in alio superfluum esse censet, ipse quod non habet nec curat, that which he
hath not himself; or doth not esteem he accounts superfluity, an idle quality, a mere
foppery in another: like Æsop's fox, when he had lost his tail, would have all his
fellow foxes cut off theirs. The Chinese say, that we Europeans have one eye, they
themselves two, all the world else is blind: (though Scaliger accounts them brutes too,
merum pecus,) so thou and thy sectaries are only wise, others indifferent, the rest
beside themselves, mere idiots and asses. Thus not acknowledging our own errors and
imperfections, we securely deride others, as if we alone were free, and spectators of
the rest, accounting it an excellent thing, as indeed it is, Aliena optimum frui insania,
to make ourselves merry with other men's obliquities, when as he himself is more
faulty than the rest, mutato nomine, de te fabula narratur, he may take himself by the
nose for a fool; and which one calls maximum stultitiæ specimen, to be ridiculous to
others, and not to perceive or take notice of it, as Marsyas was when he contended
with Apollo, non intelligens se deridiculo haberi, saith Apuleius; 'tis his own cause,
he is a convicted madman, as Austin well infers "in the eyes of wise men and angels
he seems like one, that to our thinking walks with his heels upwards." So thou
laughest at me, and I at thee, both at a third; and he returns that of the poet upon us
again, Hei mihi, insanire me aiunt, quum ipsi ultro insaniant. We accuse others of
madness, of folly, and are the veriest dizzards ourselves. For it is a great sign and
property of a fool (which Eccl. x. 3, points at) out of pride and self-conceit to insult,
vilify, condemn, censure, and call other men fools (Non videmus manticæ quod a
tergo est) to tax that in others of which we are most faulty; teach that which we follow
not ourselves: For an inconstant man to write of constancy; a profane liver prescribe
rules of sanctity and piety; a dizzard himself make a treatise of wisdom; or with
Sallust to rail downright at spoilers of countries, and yet in office to be a most
grievous poler himself. This argues weakness, and is an evident sign of such parties'
indiscretion. Peccat uter nostrum cruce dignius? "Who is the fool now?" Or else
peradventure in some places we are all mad for company, and so 'tis not seen, Satietas
erroris et dementia, pariter absurditatem st admirationem tollit. 'Tis with us, as it was
of old (in Tully's censure at least) with C. Pimbria in Rome, a bold, hair-brain, mad
fellow, and so esteemed of all, such only excepted, that were as mad as himself: now
in such a case there is no notice taken of it.
"Nimirum insanus paucus videatur; eo quod
Maxima pars hominum morbo jactatur eodem."
"When all are mad, where all are like opprest
Who can discern one mad man from the rest?"
But put case they do perceive it, and some one be manifestly convicted of
madness, he now takes notice of his folly, be it in action, gesture, speech, a vain
humour he hath in building, bragging, jangling, spending, gaming, courting,
scribbling, prating, for which he is ridiculous to others, on which he dotes, he doth
acknowledge as much: yet with all the rhetoric thou hast, thou canst not so recall him,
but to the contrary notwithstanding, he will persevere in his dotage. 'Tis amabilis
insania, et mentis gratissimus error, so pleasing, so delicious, that he cannot leave it.
He knows his error, but will not seek to decline it, tell him what the event will be,
beggary, sorrow, sickness, disgrace, shame, loss, madness, yet "an angry man will
prefer vengeance, a lascivious his whore, a thief his booty, a glutton his belly, before
his welfare." Tell an epicure, a covetous man, an ambitious man, of his irregular
course, wean him from it a little, pol me occidistis amici, he cries anon, you have
undone him, and as the "dog to his vomit," he returns to it again; no persuasion will
take place, no counsel, say what thou canst,
"Clames licet et mare coelo
--- Confundas, surdo narras,"
(Although you call out, and confound the sea and sky, you still address a deaf man)
demonstrate as Ulysses did to Elpenor and Gryllus, and the rest of his companions,
"those swinish men," he is irrefragable in his humour, he will be a hog still; bray him
in a mortar, he will be the same. If he be in an heresy, or some perverse opinion,
settled as some of our ignorant Papists are, convince his understanding, show him the
several follies and absurd fopperies of that sect, force him to say, veris vincor, make it
as clear as the sun, he will err still, peevish and obstinate as he is; and as he said si in
hoc erro, libenter erro, nec hunc errorem auferri mihi volo; I will do as I have done,
as my predecessors have done, and as my friends now do: I will dote for company.
Say now, are these men mad or no, Heus age responde? are they ridiculous? cedo
quemvis arbitrum, are they sanæ mentis, sober, wise, and discreet? have they common
sense? -- uter est insanior horum? (Hor. 2 ser. Which of these is the more mad?) I am
of Democritus' opinion for my part, I hold them worthy to be laughed at; a company
of brain-sick dizzards, as mad as Orestes and Athamas, that they may go "ride the
ass," and all sail along to the Anticyrae, in the "ship of fools" for company togther. I
need not much labour to prove this which I say otherwise than thus, make any solemn
protestation, or swear, I think you will believe me without an oath; say at a word, are
they fools? I refer it to you, though you be likewise fools and madmen yourselves, and
I as mad to ask the question; for what said our comical Mercury?
"Justum ab injustis petere insipientis est.
I'll stand to your censure yet, what think you?"
But forasmuch as I undertook at first, that kingdoms, provinces, families, were
melancholy as well as private men, I will examine them in particular, and that which I
have hitherto dilated at random, in more general terms, I will particularly insist in,
prove with more special and evident arguments, testimonies, illustrations, and that in
brief. Nunc accipe quare desipiant omnes æque ac tu. My first argument is borrowed
from Solomon, an arrow drawn out of his sententious quiver, Pro. iii. 7, "Be not wise
in thine own eyes." And xxvi. 12, "Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? more
hope is of a fool than of him." Isaiah pronounceth a woe against such men, chap. v.
21, "that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight." For hence we
may gather, that it is a great offence, and men are much deceived that think too well
of themselves, an especial argument to convince them of folly. Many men (saith
Seneca) "had been without question wise, had they not had an opinion that they had
attained to perfection of knowledge already, even before they had gone half way," too
forward, too ripe, præproperi, too quick and ready, cito prudentes, cito pii, cito
mariti, cito patres, cito sacerdotes, cito omnes offici capaces et curiosi, they had too
good a conceit of themselves, and that marred all; of their worth, valour, skill, art,
learning, judgment, eloquence, their good parts; all their geese are swans, and that
manifestly proves them to be no better than fools. In former times they had but seven
wise men, now you can scarce find so many fools. Thales sent the golden Tripos,
which the fishermen found, and the oracle commanded to be "given to the wisest, to
Bias, Bias to Solon," &c. If such a thing were now found, we should all fight for it, as
the three goddesses did for the golden apple, we are so wise: we have women
politicians, children metaphysicians; every silly fellow can square a circle, make
perpetual motions, find the philosopher's stone, interpret Apocalypses, make new
Theories, a new system of the world, new logic, new Philosophy, &c. Nostra utique
regio, saith Petronius, "our country is so full of deified spirits, divine souls, that you
may sooner find a god than a man amongst us," we think so well of ourselves, and
that is an ample testimony of much folly.
My second argument is grounded upon the like place of Scripture, which
though before mentioned in effect, yet for some reasons is to be repeated (and by
Plato's good leave, I may do it, δις το χαλον ρηθεν ουδεν βλαπτει [dis to chalon
rethen oyden blaptei]. "Fools (saith David) by reason of their transgressions," &c.
Psal. cvii. 17. Hence Musculus infers all transgressors must needs be fools. So we
read Rom. ii. "Tribulation and anguish on the soul of every man that doeth evil;" but
all do evil. And Isaiah, lxv. 14, "My servants shall sing for joy, and ye shall cry for
sorrow of heart, and vexation of mind." 'Tis ratified by the common consent of all
philosophers. "Dishonesty (saith Cardan) is nothing else but folly and madness."
Probus quis nobiscum vivit? Shew me an honest man, Nemo malus qui non stultus,"
'tis Fabius' aphorism to the same end. If none honest, none wise, then all fools. And
well may they be so accounted: for who will account him otherwise, Qui iter adornat
in occidentem, quum properaret in orientem? that goes backward all his life,
westward, when he is bound to the east? or hold him a wise man (saith Musculus)
"that prefers momentary pleasures to eternity, that spends his master's goods in his
absence, forthwith to be condemned for it?" Nequiquam sapit qui sibi non sapit, who
will say that a sick man is wise, that eats and drinks to overthrow the temperature of
his body? Can you account him wise or discreet that would willingly have his health,
and yet will do nothing that should procure or continue it? Theodoret, out of Plotinus
the Platonist, "holds it a ridiculous thing for a man to live after his own laws, to do
that which is offensive to God,, and yet to hope that he should save him: and when he
voluntarily neglects his own safety, and contemns the means, to think to be delivered
by another:" who will say these men are wise?
A third argument may be derived from the precedent, all men are carried away
with passion, discontent, lust, pleasures, &c.; they generally hate those virtues they
should love, and love such vices they should hate. Therefore more than melancholy,
quite mad, brute beasts, and void of reason, so Chrysostom contends; "or rather dead
and buried alive," as Philo Judeus concludes it for a certainty, "of all such that are
carried away with passions, or labour of any disease of the mind." "Where is fear and
sorrow," there Lactantius stiffly maintains, "wisdom cannot dwell
-- qui cupiet, metuet quoque porro,
Qui metuens vivit, liber mihi non erit unquam'"
(He who is desirous, is also fearful, and he who lives in fear can never be free.)
Seneca and the rest of the stoics are of opinion, that where is any the least
perturbation, wisdom may not be found. "What more ridiculous," as Lactantius urges,
"than to hear how Xerxes whipped the Hellespont," threatened the Mountain Athos,
and the like? To speak ad rem, who is free from passion? Mortalis nemo est quem non
attingat dolor, morbusve, as Tully determines out of an old poem, no mortal men can
avoid sorrow and sickness, and sorrow is an inseparable companion from melancholy.
Chrysostom pleads farther yet, that they are more than mad, very beasts, stupified, and
void of common sense: "For how (saith he) shall I know thee to be a man, when thou
kickest like an ass, neighest like a horse after women, ravest in lust like a bull,
ravenest like a bear, stingest like a scorpion, rakest like a wolf, as subtle as a fox, as
impudent as a dog? Shall I say thou art a man, that hast all the symptoms of a beast?
how shall I know thee to be a man? by thy shape? That affrights me more, when I see
a beast in likeness of a man."
Seneca calls that of Epicurus, magnificam vocem, an heroical speech, "A fool
still begins to live," and accounts it a filthy lightness in men, every day to lay new
foundations of their life, but who doth otherwise? One travels, another builds; one for
this, another for that business, and old folks are as far out as the rest; O dementem
senectutem, Tully exclaims. Therefore young, old, middle age, all are stupid, and dote.
Æneas Sylvius, amongst many other, sets down three special ways to find a
fool by. He is a fool that seeks that he cannot find: he is a fool that seeks that, which
being found will do him more harm than good: he is a fool, that having variety of
ways to bring him to his journey's end, takes that which is worst. If so, methinks most
men are fools; examine their courses, and you shall soon perceive what dizzards and
mad men the major part are.
Beroaldus will have drunkards, afternoon men, and such as more than
ordinarily delight in drink, to be mad. The first pot quencheth thirst, so Panyasis the
poet determines in Atheneaus, secunda gratiis, horis et Dyonisio: the second makes
merry, the third for pleasure, quarta ad insaniam, the fourth makes them mad. If this
position be true, what a catalogue of mad men shall we have? what shall they be that
drink four times four? Nonne supra omnem furorem, supra omnem insaniam reddunt
insanissimos? I am of his opinion, they are more than mad! much worse than mad.
The Abderites condemned Democritus for a mad man, because he was
sometimes sad, and sometimes again profusely merry. Hac Patria (saith Hippocrates)
ob risum furere et insanire dicunt, his countrymen hold him mad because he laughs;
and therefore "he desires him to advise all his friends at Rhodes, that they do not
laugh too much, or be over sad." Had those Abderites been conversant with us, and
but seen what fleering and grinning there is in this age, they would certainly have
concluded, we had been all out of our wits.
Aristotle in his ethics holds foelix idemque sapiens, to be wise and happy, are
reciprocal terms, bonus idemque sapiens honestus. 'Tis Tully's paradox, "wise men are
free, but fools are slaves," liberty is a power to live according to his own laws, as we
will ourselves: who hath this liberty? who is free?
-- "sapiens sibique imperiosus,
Quem neque pauperis, neque mors, neque vincula terrent,
Responsare cupidinibus, contemnere honores
Fortis, et in seipso totus teres atque rotandus."
He is wise that can command his own will,
Valiant and constant to himself still,
Whom poverty nor death, nor bands can fright,
Checks his desires, scorns honours, just and right."
But where shall such a man be found? if no where, then e diametro, we are all slaves,
senseless, or worse. Nemo malus foelix. But no man is happy in this life, none good,
therefore no man wise. Rari quippe boni -- For one virtue you shall find ten vices in
the same party; pauci Promethei, multi Epimethei. We may peradventure usurp the
name, or attribute it to others for favour, as Carolus Sapiens, Philippus Bonus,
Lodovicus Pius, &c., and describe the properties of a wise man, as Tully doth an
orator, Xenophon Cyrus, Castilo a courtier, Galen temperament, an aristocracy is
described by politicians. But where shall such a man be found?
"Vir bonus et sapiens, qualem vix repperit unum
Millibus e multis hominum consultus Apollo."
"A wise, a good man in a million,
Apollo consulted could scarce find one."
A man is a miracle of himself, but Trismegistus adds, Maximum miraculum homo
sapiens, a wise man is a wonder: multi Thirsigeri, pauci Bacchi.
Alexander when he was presented with that rich and costly casket of king
Darius, and every man advised him what to put in it, he reserved it to keep Homer's
works, as the most precious jewel of human wit, and yet Scaliger upbraids Homer's
muse, Nutricem insanæ sapientiæ, a nursery of madness, impudent as a court lady,
that blushes at nothing. Jacobus Mycillus, Gilbertus Cognatus, Erasmus, and almost
all posterity admire Lucian's luxuriant wit, yet Scaliger rejects him in his censure, and
calls him the Cerberus of the muses. Socrates, whom all the world so much magnified,
is by Lactantius and Theodoret condemned for a fool. Plutarch extols Seneca's wit
beyond all the Greeks, nulli secundus, yet saith of himself "when I would solace
myself with a fool, I reflect upon myself and there I have him." Cardan, in his
Sixteenth Book of Subtilties, reckons up twelve super-eminent, acute philosophers,
for worth, subtlety, and wisdom: Archimedes, Galen, Vitruvius, Architas Tarentinus,
Euclid, Geber, that first inventor of Algebra, Alkindus the Mathematician, both
Arabians, with others. But his triumviri terrarum far beyond the rest, are Ptolomaeus,
Plotinus, Hippocrates. Scaliger exercitat. 224, scoffs at this censure of his, calls some
of them carpenters and mechanicians, he makes Galen fimbriam Hippocratis, a skirt
of Hippocrates: and the said Cardan himself elsewhere condemns both Galen and
Hippocrates for tediousness, obscurity, confusion. Paracelsus will have them both
mere idiots, infants in physic and philosophy. Scaliger and Cardan admire Suisset the
Calculator, qui pene modum excessit humani ingenii, and yet Lod. Vives calls them
nugas Suisseticas: and Cardan, opposite to himself in another place, contemns those
ancients in respect of times present, Majoresque nostros ad presentes collatos juste
pueros appellari. In conclusion, the said Cardan and Saint Bernard will admit none
into this catalogue of wise men, but only prophets and apostles; how they esteem
themselves, you have heard before. We are worldly-wise, admire ourselves, and seek
for applause: but hear Saint Bernard, quanto magis foras es sapiens, tanto magis intus
stultus efficeris, &c. in omnius es prudens, circa teipsum insipiens: the more wise
thou art to others, the more fool to thyself. I may not deny but that there is some folly
approved, a divine fury, a holy madness, even a spiritual drunkenness in the saints of
God themselves; sanctam insaniam Bernard calls it (though not as blaspheming
Vorstius, would infer it as a passion incident to God himself, but), familiar to good
men, as that of Paul, 2 Cor. "he was a fool," &c. and Rom. ix. he wisheth himself to
be anathematized for them. Such is that drunkenness which Ficinus speaks of; when
the soul is elevated and ravished with a divine taste of that heavenly nectar, which
poets deciphered by the sacrifice of Dionysius, and in this sense with the poet,
insanire lubet, as Austin exhorts us, ad ebrietatem se quisque paret, let's all be mad
and drunk. But we commonly mistake, and go beyond our commission, we reel to the
opposite part, we are not capable of it, and as he said of the Greeks, Vos Græci
semper pueri, vos Britanni, Galli, Germani, Itali &c., you are a company of fools.
Proceed now a partibus ad totum, or from the whole to parts, and you shall
find no other issue, the parts shall be sufficiently dilated in this following Preface. The
whole must needs follow by a sorites or induction. Every multitude is mad, bellua
multorum capitum, (a many-headed beast,) precipitate and rash without judgment,
stultum animal, a roaring rout. Roger Bacon proves it out of Aristotle, Vulgus dividi in
oppositum contra sapientes, quod vulgo videtur verum, falsum est; that which the
commonalty accounts true, is most part false, they are still opposite to wise men, but
all the world is of this humour (vulgus), and thou thyself art de vulgo, one of the
commonalty; and he, and he, and so are all the rest; and therefore, as Phocion
concludes, to be approved in nought you say or do, mere idiots and asses. Begin then
where you will, go backward or forward, choose out of the whole pack, wink and
choose, you shall find them all alike, "never a barrel better herring."
Copernicus, Atlas his successor, is of opinion, the earth is a planet, moves and
shines to others, as the moon doth to us. Digges, Gilbert, Keplerus, Origanus, and
others, defend this hypothesis of his in sober sadness, and that the moon is inhabited;
if it be so that the earth is a moon, then are we also giddy, vertiginous and lunatic
within this sublunary maze.
I could produce such arguments till dark night: if you should hear the rest,
"Ante diem clauso component vesper Olympo:"
"Through such a train of words if I should run,
The day would sooner than the tale be done:"
but according to my promise, I will descend to particulars. This melancholy extends
itself not to men only, but even to vegetals and sensibles. I speak not of those
creatures which are saturnine, melancholy by nature, as lead, and such like minerals,
or those plants, rue, cypress, &c. and hellebore itself; of which Agrippa treats, fishes,
bird, and beasts, hares, conies, dormice, &c., owls, bats, nightbirds, but that artificial,
which is perceived in them all. Remove a plant, it will pine away, which is especially
perceived in date trees, as you may read at large in Constantine's husbandry, that
antipathy betwixt the vine and the cabbage, vine and oil. Put a bird in a cage, he will
die for sullenness, or a beast in a pen, or take his young ones or companions from
him, and see what effect it will cause. But who perceives not these common passions
of sensible creatures, fear, sorrow, &c. Of all other, dogs are most subject to this
malady, insomuch some hold they dream as men do, and through violence of
melancholy run mad; I could relate many stories of dogs that have died for grief; and
pined away for loss of their masters, but they are common in every author.
Kingdoms, provinces, and politic bodies are likewise sensible and subject to
this disease, as Boterus in his politics hath proved at large. "As in human bodies (saith
he) there be divers alterations proceeding from humours, so there be many diseases in
a commonwealth, which do as diversely happen from several distempers," as you may
easily perceive by their particular symptoms. For where you shall see the people civil,
obedient to God and princes, judicious, peaceable and quiet, rich, fortunate, and
flourish, to live in peace, in unity and concord, a country well tilled, many fair built
and populous cities, ubi incolæ nitent, as old Cato said, the people are neat, polite and
terse, ubi bene, beateque vivunt, which our politicians make the chief end of a
commonwealth; and which Aristotle Polit. lib. 3, cap. 4, calls Commune bonum,
Polybius lib. 6, optabilem et selectum statum, that country is free from melancholy; as
it was in Italy in the time of Augustus, now in China, now in many other flourishing
kingdoms of Europe. But whereas you shall see many discontents, common
grievances, complaints, poverty, barbarism, beggary, plagues, wars, rebellions,
seditions, mutinies, contentions, idleness, riot, epicurism, the land lie untilled, waste,
full of bogs, fens, deserts, &c., cities decayed, base and poor towns, villages
depopulated, the people squalid, ugly, uncivil; that kingdom, that country, must needs
be discontent, melancholy, hath a sick body, and had need to be reformed.
Now that cannot well be effected, till the causes of these maladies be first
removed, which commonly proceed from their own default, or some accidental
inconvenience: as to be situated in a bad clime, too far north, sterile, in a barren place,
as the desert of Lybia, deserts of Arabia, places void of waters, as those of Lop and
Belgian in Asia, or in a bad air, as at Alexandretta, Bantam, Pisa, Durazzo, S. John de
Ulloa, &c., or in danger of the sea's continual inundations, as in many places of the
Low Countries and elsewhere, or near some bad neighbours, as Hungarians to Turks,
Podolians to Tartars, or almost any bordering countries, they live in fear still and by
reason of hostile incursions are oftentimes left desolate. So are cities, by reason of
wars, fires, plagues, inundations, wild beasts, decay of trades, barred havens, the sea's
violence, as Antwerp may witness of late. Syracuse of old, Brundisium in Italy, Rye
and Dover with us, and many that at this day suspect the sea's fury and rage, and
labour against it as the Venetians to their inestimable charge. But the most frequent
maladies are such as proceed from themselves, as first when religion and God's
service is neglected, innovated or altered, where they do not fear God, obey their
prince, where atheism, epicurism, sacrilege, simony, &c., and all such impieties are
freely committed, that country cannot prosper. When Abraham came to Gerar, and
saw a bad land, he said, sure the fear of God was not in that place. Cyprian Echovius,
a Spanish chorographer, above all other cities of Spain, commends "Borcino, in which
there was no beggar, no man poor, &c., but all rich, and in good estate, and he gives
the reason, because they were more religious than their neighbours:" why was Israel
often spoiled by their enemies, led into captivity, &c., but for their idolatry, neglect of
God's word, for sacrilege, even for one Achan's fault? And what shall we expect that
have such multitudes of Achans, church robbers, simoniacal patrons, &c., how can
they hope to flourish, that neglect divine duties, that live most part like Epicures?
Other common grievances are generally noxious to a body politic; alteration of
laws and customs, breaking privileges, general oppressions, seditions, &c., observed
by Aristotle, Bodin, Boterus, Junius, Arniscus, &c. I will only point at some of the
chiefest. Impotentia gubernandi, ataxia, confusion, ill-government, which proceeds
from unskilful, slothful, griping, covetous, unjust, rash, or tyrannizing magistrates,
when they are fools, idiots, children, proud, wilful, partial, indiscreet, oppressors,
giddy heads, tyrants, not able or unfit to manage such offices: many noble cities and
flourishing kingdoms by that means are desolate, the whole body groans under such
heads, and all the members must needs be disaffected, as at this day those goodly
provinces in Asia Minor, &c. groan under the burden of a Turkish government; and
those vast kingdoms of Muscovia, Russia, under a tyrannizing duke. Who ever heard
of more civil and rich populous countries than those of Greece, Asia Minor,
abounding with all wealth, multitudes of inhabitants, force, power, splendour and
magnificence? and that miracle of countries, the Holy Land, that in so small a
compass of ground could maintain so many towns, cities, produce so many fighting
men? Egypt another paradise, now barbarous and desert, are almost waste, by the
despotical government of an imperious Turk, intolerabili servitutis jugo premitur (one
saith) not only fire and water, goods or lands, sed ipse spiritus ab insolentissimi
victoris pendet nutu, such is their slavery, their lives and souls depend upon his
insolent will and command. A tyrant that spoils all wheresoever he comes, insomuch
that an historian complains, "if an old inhabitant should now see them, he would not
know them, if a traveller or stranger, it would grieve his heart to behold them."
Whereas Aristotle notes, Novæ exactiones, nova onera imposita, new burdens and
exactions daily come upon them, like those of which Zosimus, lib. 2, so grievous, ut
viri uxores, patres filios prostituerent ut exactoribus e questu, &c., they must needs be
discontent, hinc civitatum gemitus et ploratus, as Tully holds, hence come those
complaints and tears of cities, poor, miserable, rebellious, and desperate subjects, as
Hippolitus adds; and as a judicious countryman of ours observed not long since, in a
survey of that great Duchy of Tuscany, the people lived much grieved and discontent,
as appeared by their manifold and manifest complainings in that kind. "That the state
was like a sick body which had lately taken physic, whose humours are not yet well
settled, and weakened so much by purging, that nothing was left but melancholy."
Whereas the princes and potentates are immoderate in lust, hypocrites,
epicures, of no religion, but in shew: Quid hypocrisi fragilius? what so brittle and
unsure? what sooner subverts their estates than wandering and raging lusts, on their
subjects' wives, daughters? to say no worse. That they should facem præferre, lead the
way to all virtuous actions, are the ringleaders often times of all mischief and
dissolute courses, and by that means their countries are plagued, "and they themselves
often ruined, banished, or murdered by conspiracy of their subjects, as Sardanapalus
was, Dionysius, junior, Heliogabalus, Periander, Pisistratus, Tarquinius, Timocrates,
Childericus, Appius Claudius, Andronicus, Galeacius Sforsia, Alexander Medices,"
Whereas the princes or great men are malicious, envious, factious, ambitious,
emulators, they tear a commonwealth asunder, as so many Guelfs and Gibelines
disturb the quietness of it, and with mutual murders let it bleed to death; our histories
are too full of such barbarous inhumanities, and the miseries that issue from them.
Whereas they be like so many horse-leeches, hungry, griping, corrupt,
covetous, avaritiæ mancipia, ravenous as wolves, for as Tully writes: qui proeest
prodest, et qui pecudibus proeest, debet eorum utilitati inservire: or such as prefer
their private before the public good. For as he said long since, res privatæ publicis
semper offficere. Or whereas they be illiterate, ignorant, empirics in policy, ubi deest
facultas virtus (Aristot. pol. 5, cap. 8,) et scientia, wise only by inheritance, and in
authority by birth-right, favour, or for their wealth and titles; there must needs be a
fault, a great defect: because as an old philosopher affirms, such men are not always
fit. "Of an infinite number, few noble are senators, and of those few, fewer good, and
of that small number of honest, good, and noble men, few that are learned, wise,
discreet, and sufficient, able to discharge such places, it must needs turn to the
confusion of a state."
For as the Princes are, so are the people; Qualis Rex, talis grex: and which
Antigonus right well said of old, qui Macedoniæ regent erudit, omnea etiam subditos
erudit, he that teaches the king of Macedon, teaches all his subjects, is a true saying
"For Princes are the glass, the school, the book,
Where subjects' eyes do lean, do read, do look."
--- "Velocius et citius nos
Corrumpunt vitiorum exempla domestica, magnis
Cum subeant animos auctoribus." ---
(Vicious domestic examples operate more quickly on us when suggested to our minds
by high authorities)
Their examples are soonest followed, vices entertained, if they be profane, irreligious,
lascivious, riotous, epicures, factious, covetous, ambitious, illiterate, so will the
commons most part be, idle, unthrifts, prone to lust, drunkards, and therefore poor and
needy (η πενια στασιν εμποιει χαι χαχουργιαν [e penia stasin empoiei chai
chachoyrgian] , for poverty begets sedition and villany) upon all occasions ready to
mutiny and rebel, discontent still, complaining, murmuring, grudging, apt to all
outrages, thefts, treason; murders, innovations, in debt, shifters, cozeners, outlaws,
Profligatæ famæ ac vitæ. It was an old politician's aphorism, "They that are poor and
bad envy rich, hate good men, abhor the present government, wish for a new, and
would have all turned topsy turvy." When Catiline rebelled in Rome, he got a
company of such debauched rogues together, they were his familiars and coadjutors,
and such have been your rebels most part in all ages, Jack Cade, Tom Straw, Kette,
and his companions.
Where they be generally riotous and contentious, where there be many
discords, many laws, many lawsuits, many lawyers and many physicians, it is a
manifest sign of a distempered, melancholy state, as Plato long since maintained: for
where such kind of men swarm, they will make more work for themselves, and that
body politic diseased, which was otherwise sound. A general mischief in these our
times, an insensible plague, and never so many of them: "which are now multiplied
(saith Mat. Geraldus, a lawyer himself,) as so many locusts, not the parents, but the
plagues of the country, and for the most part a supercilious, bad, covetous, litigious
generation of men. Crumenimulga natio, &c. a purse-milking nation, a clamorous
company, gowned vultures, qui ex injuria vivent a sanguine civium, thieves and
seminaries of discord; worse than any polers by the highway side, auri accipitres, auri
exterebronides, pecuniarum hamiolæ, quadruplatores, curice harpagones, fori
tintinabula, monstra hominum, mangones, &c., that take upon them to make peace,
but are indeed the very disturbers of our peace, a company of irreligious harpies,
scraping, griping catchpoles, (I mean our common hungry pettifoggers, rabulas
forenses, love and honour in the meantime all good laws, and worthy lawyers, that are
so many oracles and pilots of a well-governed commonwealth.) Without art, without
judgment, that do more harm, as Livy said, quam bella externa, fames, morbive, than
sickness, war; hunger, diseases; "and cause a most incredible destruction of a
commonwealth," saith Sesellius, a famous civilian sometimes in Paris, as ivy doth by
an oak, embrace it so long, until it hath got the heart out of it, so do they by such
places they inhabit; no counsel at all, no justice, no speech to be had, nisi eum
premulseris, he must be fed still, or else he is as mute as a fish, better open an oyster
without a knife. Experto crede (saith Salisburiensis) in manus eorum millies incidi, et
Charon immitis, qui nulli pepercit unquam, his longe clementior est; "I speak out of
experience, I have been a thousand times amongst them, and Charon himself is more
gentle than they; he is contented with his single pay, but they multiply still, they are
never satisfied," besides they have damnificas linguas, as he terms it, nisi funibus
argenteis vincias, they must be fed to say nothing, and get more to hold their peace
than we can to say our best. They will speak their clients fair, and invite them to their
tables, but as he follows it, "of all injustice there is none so pernicious as that of theirs,
which when they deceive most, will seem to be honest men." They take upon them to
be peacemakers, et fovere causas humilium, to help them to their right, patrocinantur
afflictis, but all is for their own good, ut loculos pleniorum exhauriant, they plead for
poor men gratis, but they are but as a stale to catch others. If there be no jar, they can
make a jar, out of the law itself find still some quirk or other, to set them at odds, and
continue causes so long, lustra aliquot, I know not how many years before the cause
is heard, and when 'tis judged and determined by reason of some tricks and errors, it is
as fresh to begin, after twice seven years some times, as it was at first; and so they
prolong time, delay suits till they have enriched themselves, and beggared their
clients. And, as Cato inveighed against Isocrates' scholars, we may justly tax our
wrangling lawyers, they do consenescere in litibus, are so litigious and busy here on
earth, that I think they will plead their client's causes hereafter, some of them in hell.
Simlerus complains amongst the Suissers of the advocates in his time, that when they
should make an end, they began controversies, and "protract their causes many years,
persuading them their title is good, till their patrimonies be consumed, and that they
have spent more in seeking than the thing is worth, or they shall get by the recovery."
So that he that goes to law, as the proverb is, holds a wolf by the ears, or as a sheep in
a storm runs for shelter to a brier, if he prosecute his cause he is consumed, if he
surcease his suit he loseth all; what difference? They had wont heretofore, saith
Austin, to end matters, per communes arbitros; and so in Switzerland (we are
informed by Simlerus), "they had some common arbitrators or daysmen in every
town, that made a friendly composition betwixt man and man, and he much wonders
at their honest simplicity, that could keep peace so well, and end such great causes by
that means. At Fez in Africa, they have neither lawyers nor advocates; but if there be
any controversies amongst them, both parties plaintiff and defendant come to their
Alfakins or chief judge, "and at once without any farther appeals or pitiful delays, the
cause is heard and ended." Our forefathers, as a worthy chorographer of ours
observes, had wont pauculis cruculis aureis, with a few golden crosses, and lines in
verse, make all conveyances, assurances. And such was the candour and integrity of
succeeding ages, that a deed (as I have often seen) to convey a whole manor, was
implicite contained in some twenty lines or thereabouts; like that scede or Sytala
Laconica, so much renowned of old in all contracts, which Tully so earnestly
commends to Atticus, Plutarch in his Lysander, Aristotle polit.: Thucydides, lib. 1.
Diodorus and Suidas approve and magnify, for that laconic brevity in this kind; and
well they might, for, according to Tertullian, certa sunt paucis, there is much more
certainty in fewer words. And so was it of old throughout: but now many skins of
parchment will scarce serve turn; he that buys and sells a house, must have a house
full of writings, there be so many circumstances, so many words, such tautological
repetitions of all particulars, (to avoid cavillation they say;) but we find by our woful
experience, that to subtle wits it is a cause of much more contention and variance, and
scarce any conveyance so accurately penned by one, which another will not find a
crack in, or cavil at; if any one word be misplaced, any little error, all is disannulled.
That which is a law to-day, is none to-morrow; that which is sound in one man's
opinion, is most faulty to another; that in conclusion, here is nothing amongst us but
contention and confusion, we bandy one against another. And that which long since
Plutarch complained of them in Asia, may be verified in our times. "These men here
assembled, come not to sacrifice to their gods, to offer Jupiter their first-fruits, or
merriments to Bacchus; but an yearly disease, exasperating Asia, hath brought them
hither, to make an end of their controversies and lawsuits." 'Tis multitudo perdentium
et pereuntium, a destructive rout that seek one another's ruin. Such most part are our
ordinary suitors, termers, clients, new stirs every day, mistakes, error; cavils, and at
this present, as I have heard in some one court, I know not how many thousand
causes: no person free, no title almost good, with such bitterness in following, so
many slights, procrastinations, delays, forgery, such cost (for infinite sums are
inconsiderately spent), violence and malice, I know not by whose fault, lawyers,
clients, laws, both or all: but as Paul reprehended the Corinthians long since, I may
more positively infer now: "There is a fault amongst you, and I speak it to your
shame, Is there not a wise man amongst you, to judge between his brethren? but that a
brother goes to law with a brother." And Christ's counsel concerning lawsuits, was
never so fit to be inculcated as in this age: "Agree with thine adversary quickly," &c.
Matth. v. 25.
I could repeat many such particular grievances, which must disturb a body
politic. To shut up all in brief, where good government is, prudent and wise princes,
there all things thrive and prosper, peace and happiness is in that land: where it is
otherwise, all things are ugly to behold, incult, barbarous, uncivil, a paradise is turned
to a wilderness. This island amongst the rest, our next neighbours the French and
Germans, may be a sufficient witness, that in a short time by that prudent policy of the
Romans, was brought from barbarism; see but what Caesar reports of us, and Tacitus
of those old Germans, they were once as uncivil as they in Virginia, yet by planting of
colonies and good laws, they became from barbarous outlaws, to be full of rich and
populous cities, as now they are, and most flourishing kingdoms. Even so might
Virginia, and those wild Irish have been civilized long since, if that order had been
heretofore taken, which now begins, of planting colonies, &c. I have read a discourse,
printed anno 1612. "Discovering the true causes why Ireland was never entirely
subdued, or brought under obedience to the crown of England, until the beginning of
his Majesty's happy reign." Yet if his reasons were thoroughly scanned by a judicious
politician, I am afraid he would not altogether be approved, but that it would turn to
the dishonour of our nation, to suffer it to lie so long waste. Yea, and if some
travellers should see (to come nearer home) those rich, united provinces of Holland,
Zealand &c., over against us; those neat cities and populous towns, full of most
industrious artificers, so much land recovered from the sea, and so painfully preserved
by those artificial inventions, so wonderfully approved, as that of Bemster in Holland,
ut nihil huic par aut simile inveniat in toto orbe, saith Bertius the geographer, all the
world cannot match it, many navigable channels from place to place, made by men's
hands, etc. and on the other side so many thousand acres of our fens lie drowned, our
cities thin, and those vile, poor, and ugly to behold in respect of theirs, our trades
decayed, our still running rivers stopped, and that beneficial use of transportation,
wholly neglected, so many havens void of ships and towns, so many parks and forests
for pleasure, barren heaths, so many villages depopulated, &c. I think sure he would
find some fault.
I may not deny but that this nation of ours, doth bene audire apud exteros, is a
most noble, a most flourishing kingdom, by common consent of all geographers,
historians, politicians, 'tis unica velut arx,(The citadel par excellence) and which
Quintius in Livy said of the inhabitants of Peloponnesus, may be well applied to us,
we are testudines testa sua inclusi, like so many tortoises in our shells safely defended
by an angry sea, as a wall on all sides. Our island hath many such honourable
eulogiums; and as a learned countryman of ours right well hath it, "Ever since the
Normans first coming into England, this country both for military matters, and all
other of civility, hath been paralleled with the most flourishing kingdoms of Europe
and our Christian world," a blessed, a rich country, and one of the fortunate isles: and
for some things preferred before other countries, for expert seamen, our laborious
discoveries, art of navigation, true merchants, they carry the bell away from all other
nations, even the Portugals and Hollanders themselves; "without all fear," saith
Boterus, "furrowing the ocean winter and summer, and two of their captains, with no
less valour than fortune, have sailed round about the world? We have besides many
particular blessings, which our neighbours want, the Gospel truly preached, church
discipline established, long peace and quietness free from exactions, foreign fears,
invasions, domestical seditions, well manured, fortified by art, and nature, and now
most happy in that fortunate union of England and Scotland, which our forefathers
have laboured to effect, and desired to see. But in which we excel all others, a wise,
learned, religious king, another Numa, a second Augustus, a true Josiah; most worthy
senators, a learned clergy, an obedient commonalty, &c. Yet amongst many roses,
some thistles grow, some bad weeds and enormities, which much disturb the peace of
this body politic, eclipse the honour and glory of it, fit to be rooted out, and with all
speed to be reformed.
The first is idleness, by reason of which we have many swarms of rogues, and
beggars, thieves, drunkards, and discontented persons (whom Lycurgus in Plutarch
calls morbos reipublicæ, the boils of the commonwealth), many poor people in all our
towns. Civitates ignobiles as Polydore calls them, base built cities, inglorious, poor,
small, rare in sight, ruinous, and thin of inhabitants. Our land is fertile we may not
deny, full of all good things, and why doth it not then abound with cities, as well as
Italy, France, Germany, the Low-countries? because their policy hath been otherwise,
and we are not so thrifty, circumspect, industrious. Idleness is the malus genius of our
nation. For as Boterus justly argues, fertility of a country is not enough, except art and
industry be joined unto it, according to Aristotle, riches are either natural or artificial;
natural, are good land, fair mines, &c. artificial, are manufactures, coins, &c. Many
kingdoms are fertile, but thin of inhabitants, as that Duchy of Piedmont in Italy, which
Leander Albertus so much magnifies for corn, wine, fruits, &c., yet nothing near so
populous as those which are more barren. "England," saith he, "London only
excepted, hath never a populous city, and yet a fruitful country." I find 46 cities and
walled towns in Alsatia, a small province in Germany, 50 castles, an infinite number
of villages, no ground idle, no not rocky places, or tops of hills are untilled, as
Munster informeth us. In Greichgea, a small territory on the Necker, 24 Italian miles
over, I read of 20 walled towns, innumerable villages, each one containing 150 houses
most part, besides castles and noblemen's palaces. I observe in Turinge, in Dutchland
(twelve miles over by their scale) 12 counties, and in them 144 cities, 2000 villages,
144 towns, 250 castles. In Bavaria, 34 cities, 46 towns, &c. Portugallia interamnis, a
small plot of ground, hath 1460 parishes, 130 monasteries, 200 bridges. Malta, a
barren island, yields 20,000 inhabitants. But of all the rest, I admire Lues
Guicciardine's relations of the Low-countries. Holland hath 26 cities, 400 great
villages. Zeland, 10 cities, 102 parishes. Brabant, 26 cities, 102 parishes. Flanders, 28
cities, 90 towns, 1154 villages, besides abbeys, castles, &c. The Low-countries
generally have three cities at least for one of ours, and those far more populous and
rich: and what is the cause, but their industry and excellency in all manner of trades?
Their commerce, which is maintained by a multitude of tradesmen, so many excellent
channels made by art and opportune havens, to which they build their cities; all which
we have in like measure, at at least may have. But their chiefest loadstone which
draws all manner of commerce and merchandise, which maintains their present estate,
is not fertility of soil, but industry that enricheth them, the gold mines of Peru, or
Nova Hispania may not compare with them. They have neither gold nor silver of their
own, wine nor oil, or scarce any corn growing in those united provinces, little or no
wood, tin, lead, iron, silk, wool, any stuff almost, or metal; and yet Hungary,
Transylvania, that brag of their mines, fertile England cannot compare with them. I
dare boldly say, that neither France, Tarentum, Apulia, Lombardy, or any part of Italy,
Valentia in Spain, or that pleasant Andalusia, with their excellent fruits, wine and oil,
two harvests, no not any part of Europe is so flourishing, so rich, so populous, so full
of good ships, of well-built cities, so abounding with all things necessary for the use
of man. 'Tis our Indies, an epitome of China, and all by reason of their industry, good
policy, and commerce. Industry is a loadstone to draw all good things; that alone
makes countries flourish, cities populous, and will enforce by reason of much manure,
which necessarily follows, a barren soil to be fertile and good, as sheep, saith Dion,
mend a bad pasture.
Tell me, politicians, why is that fruitful Palestina, noble Greece, Egypt, Asia
Minor, so much decayed, and (mere carcases now) fallen from that they were? The
ground is the same, but the government is altered, the people are grown slothful, idle,
their good husbandry, policy, and industry is decayed. Non fatigata aut effoeta humus,
as Columella well informs Sylvinus, sed nostra fit inertia, &c. (the soil is not tired or
exhausted, but has become barren through our sloth). May a man believe that which
Aristotle in his politics, Pausanias, Stephanus, Sophianus, Gerbelius relate of old
Greece? I find heretofore 70 cities in Epirus overthrown by Paulus Æmilius, a goodly
province in times past, now left desolate of good towns and almost inhabitants. 62
cities in Macedonia in Strabo's time. I find 30 in Laconia, but now scarce so many
villages, saith Gerbelius. If any man from Mount Taygetus should view the country
round about, and see tot delicias, tot urbes per Peloponnesum dispersas, so many
delicate and brave built cities with such cost and exquisite cunning, so neatly set out
in Peloponnesus, he should perceive them now ruinous and overthrown, burnt, waste,
desolate, and laid level with the ground. Incredibile dictu, &c. And as he laments,
Quis talia fando Temperet a lachrymis? Quis tam durus aut ferreus? (Not even the
hardest of our foes could hear / Nor stern Ulyssses tell without a tear), so he
prosecutes it. Who is he that can sufficiently condole and commiserate these ruins?
Where are those 4000 cities of Egypt, those 100 cities in Crete? Are they now come to
two? What saith Pliny and Ælian of old Italy? There were in former ages 1166 cities:
Blondus and Machiavel, both grant them now nothing near so populous, and full of
good towns as in the time of Augustus (for now Leander Albertus can find but 300 at
most), and if we may give credit to Livy, not then so strong and puissant as of old:
"They mustered 70 Legions in former time; which now the known world will scarce
yield." Alexander built 70 cities in a short space for his part, our Sultans and Turks
demolish twice as many, and leave all desolate. Many will not believe but that our
island of Great Britain is now more populous than ever it was; yet let them read Bale,
Leland and others, they shall find it most flourished in the Saxon Heptarchy, and in
the Conqueror's time was far better inhabited than at this present. See that Domesday
Book, and show me those thousands of parishes, which are now decayed, cities
ruined, villages depopulated, &c. The lesser the territory is, commonly, the richer it is.
Parvus sed bene cultus ager. [a small but well cultivated field] As those Athenian,
Lacedæmonian, Arcadian, Aelian, Sycionian, Messenian, &c., commonwealths of
Greece make ample proof; as those imperial cities and free states of Germany may
witness, those Cantons of Switzers, Rheti, Grisons, Walloons, Territories of Tuscany,
Luke and Senes of old, Piedmont, Mantua, Venice in Italy, Ragusa, &c.
That prince therefore, as Boterus adviseth, that will have a rich country, and
fair cities, let him get good trades, privileges, painful inhabitants, artificers, and suffer
no rude matter unwrought, as tin, iron, wool, lead, &c., to be transported out of his
country, -- a thing in part seriously attempted amongst us, but not effected. And
because industry of men, and multitude of trade so much avails to the ornament and
enriching of a kingdom; those ancient Massilians would admit no man into their city
that had not some trade. Selym the first Turkish emperor procured a thousand good
artificers to be brought from Taurus to Constantinople. The Polanders indented with
Henry Duke of Anjou, their new chosen king, to bring with him an hundred families
of artificers into Poland. James the First, in Scotland (as Buchanan writes), sent for
the best artificers he could get in Europe, and gave them great rewards to teach his
subjects their several trades. Edward the Third, our most renowned king, to his eternal
memory, brought clothing first into this island, transporting some families of artificers
from Gaunt hither. How many goodly cities could I reckon up, that thrive wholly by
trade, where thousands of inhabitants live singular well by their fingers' ends! As
Florence in Italy by making cloth of gold; great Milan by silk, and all curious works;
Arras in Artois by those fair hangings; many cities in Spain, many in France,
Germany, have none other maintenance, especially those within the land. Mecca in
Arabia Petræa, stands in a most unfruitful country, that wants water, amongst the
rocks (as Vertomanus describes it), and yet it is a most elegant and pleasant city, by
reason of the traffic of the east and west. Ormus in Persia is a most famous mart-town,
hath nought else but the opportunity of the haven to make it flourish. Corinth, a noble
city (Lumen Graeciae, Tully calls it) the Eye of Greece, by reason of Oenchreas and
Lecheus those excellent ports, drew all that traffic of the Ionian and Ægean seas to it;
and yet the country about it was curva et superciliosa, as Strabo terms it, rugged and
harsh. We may say the same of Athens, Actium, Thebes, Sparta, and most of those
towns in Greece. Nuremberg in Germany is sited in a most barren soil, yet a noble
imperial city, by the sole industry of artificers, and cunning trades, they draw the
riches of most countries to them, so expert in manufactures, that as Sallust long since
gave out of the like, Sedem animæ in extremis digitis habent, their soul, or intellectus
agens, was placed in their fingers' end; and so we may say of Basil, Spire, Cambray,
Frankfort, &c. It is almost incredible to speak what some write of Mexico and the
cities adjoining to it, no place in the world at their first discovery more populous, Mat.
Riccius, the Jesuit, and some others, relate of the industry of the Chinese most
populous countries, not a beggar or an idle person to be seen, and how by that means
they prosper and flourish. We bate the same means, able bodies, pliant wits, matter of
all sorts, wool, flax, iron, tin, lead, wood, &c., many excellent subjects to work upon,
only industry is wanting. We send our best commodities beyond the seas, which they
make good use of to their necessities, set themselves a work about, and severally
improve, sending the same to us back at dear rates, or else make toys and baubles of
the tails of them, which they sell to us again, at as great a reckoning as the whole. In
most of our cities, some few excepted, like Spanish loiterers, we live wholly by
tippling-inns and ale-houses. Malting are their best ploughs, their greatest traffic to
sell ale. Meteran and some others object to us, that we are no whit so industrious as
the Hollanders: "Manual trades (saith he) which are more curious or troublesome, are
wholly exercised by strangers: they dwell in a sea full of fish, but they are so idle,
they will not catch so much as shall serve their own turns, but buy it of their
neighbours." Tush Mare liberum, they fish under our noses, and sell it to us when they
have done, at their own prices.
--- "Pudet haec opprobria nobis
Et dici potuisse, et non potuisse refelli."
I am ashamed to hear this objected by strangers, and know not how to answer
Amongst our towns, there is only London that bears the face of a city, Epitome
Britanniæ, a famous emporium, second to none beyond seas, a noble mart: but sola
crescit, decrescentibus aliis; and yet in my slender judgment, defective in many
things. The rest (some few excepted) are in mean estate, ruinous most part, poor, and
full of beggars, by reason of their decayed trades, neglected or bad policy, idleness of
their inhabitants, riot, which had rather beg or loiter, and be ready to starve, than
I cannot deny but that something may be said in defence of our cities, that they
are not so fair built, (for the sole magnificence of this kingdom, concerning buildings,
hath been of old in those Norman castles and religious houses,) so rich, thick sited,
populous, as in some other countries; besides the reasons Cardan gives, Subtil. Lib.
11. we want wine and oil, their two harvests, we dwell in a colder air, and for that
cause must a little more liberally feed of flesh, as all northern countries do: our
provisions will not therefore extend to the maintenance of so many; yet
notwithstanding we have matter of all sorts, an open sea for traffic, as well as the rest,
goodly havens. And how can we excuse our negligence, our riot, drunkenness, &c.,
and such enormities that follow it? We have excellent laws enacted, you will say,
severe statutes, houses of correction, &c., to small purpose it seems; it is not houses
will serve, but cities of correction; our trades generally ought to be reformed, wants
supplied. In other countries they have the same grievances, I confess, but that doth not
excuse us, wants, defects, enormities, idle drones, tumults, discords, contention, lawsuits,
many laws made against them to repress those innumerable brawls and lawsuits,
excess in apparel, diet, decay of tillage, depopulations, especially against
rogues, beggars, Egyptian vagabonds (so termed at least) which have swarmed all
over Germany, France, Italy, Poland, as you may read in Munster, Cranzius. and
Aventinus; as those Tartars and Arabians at this day do in the eastern countries: yet
such has been the iniquity of all ages, as it seems to small purpose. Nemo in nostra
civitate mendicus esto, (let no-one in our city be a beggar) saith Plato: he will have
them purged from a commonwealth, "as a bad humour from the body," that are like so
many ulcers and boils, and must be cured before the melancholy body can be eased.
What Carolus Magnus, the Chinese, the Spaniards, the Duke of Saxony, and
many other states have decreed in this case, read Arniseus, cap. 19; Boterus, libro 8,
cap. 2; Osorius de Rebus gest. Eman. lib. 11. When a country is overstocked with
people, as a pasture is oft overlaid with cattle, they had wont in former times to
disburden themselves, by sending out colonies, or by wars, as those old Romans; or
by employing them at home abut some public buildings, as bridges, road-ways, for
which those Romans were famous in this island; as Augustus Cæsar did in Rome, the
Spaniards in their Indian mines, as at Potosi in Peru, where some 30,000 men are still
at work, 6000 furnaces ever boiling, &c. aqueducts, bridges, havens, those stupend
works of Trajan, Claudius, at Ostium, Diociesiani Therma, Fucinus Lacus, that
Piræum in Athens, made by Themistocles, amphitheatrums of curious marble, as at
Verona, Civitas Philippi, and Heraclea in Thrace, those Appian and Flaminian ways,
prodigious works all may witness; and rather than they should be idle, as those
Egyptian Pharaohs, Maris, and Sesostris did, to task their subjects to build
unnecessary pyramids, obelisks, labyrinths, channels, lakes, gigantic works all, to
divert them from rebellion, riot, drunkenness, Quo scilicet alantur, et ne vagando
laborare desuescant. (Buscoldus discursu polit. cap. 2 "whereby they are supported,
and do not become vagrants by being less accustomed to labour.")
Another eye-sore is that want of conduct and navigible rivers, a great blemish
as Boterus, Hippolitus a Collibus, and other politicians hold, if it be neglected in a
commonwealth. Admirable cost and charge is bestowed in the Low-countries on this
behalf in the duchy of Milan, territory of Padua, in a France, Italy, China, and so
likewise about corrivations of water to moisten and refresh barren grounds, to drain
fens, bogs, and moors. Massinissa made many inward parts of Barbary and Numidia
in Africa, before his time incult and horrid, fruitful and bartable by this means. Great
industry is generally used all over the eastern countries in this kind, especially in
Egypt, about Babylon and Damascus, as Vertomannus and Gotardus Arthus relate;
about Barcelona, Segovia, Murcia, and many other places of Spain, Milan in Italy; by
reason of which their soil is much impoverished, and infinite commodities arise to the
The Turks of late attempted to cut that Isthmus betwixt Africa and Asia, which
Sesostris and Darius, and some Pharaohs of Egypt had formerly undertaken, but with
ill success, as Diodonis Siculus records, and Pliny, for that Red-sea being three cubits
higher than Egypt, would have drowned all the country, coepto destiterant, they left
off; yet as the same Diodorus writes, Ptolemy renewed the work many years after, and
absolved it in a more opportune place.
That Isthmus of Corinth was likewise undertaken to be made navigable by
Demetrius, by Julius Caesar, Nero, Domitian, Herodes Atticus, to make a speedy
passage, and less dangerous, from the Ionian and Ægean seas; but because it could not
be so well affected, the Peloponnesians built a wall like our Picts' wall about
Schænute, where Neptune's temple stood, and in the shortest cut over the Isthmus, of
which Diodorus, lib. 11. Herodotus, lib. 8. Vran. Our latter writers call it Hexamilium,
which Aniurath the Turk demolished, the Venetians, anno 1453, repaired in 15 days
with 30,000 men. Some, saith Acosta, would have a passage cut from Panama to
Nombre de Dios in America; but Thuanus and Serres the French historians speak of a
famous aqueduct in France, intended in Henry the Fourth's time, from the Loire to the
Seine, and from Rhodanus to the Loire. The like to which was formerly assayed by
Domitian the emperor, from Arar to Moselle, which Cornelius Tacitus speaks of in the
13th of his annals, after by Charles the Great and others. Much cost hath in former
times been bestowed in either new making or mending channels of rivers, and their
passages, (as Aurelianus did by Tiber to make it navigable to Rome, to convey corn
from Egypt to the city, vadum alvei tumentis effodit saith Vopiscus, et Tiberis ripas
extruxit, he cut fords, made banks, &c.) decayed havens, which Claudius the emperor,
with infinite pains and charges, attempted at Ostia, as I have said, the Venetians at this
day to preserve their city; many excellent means to enrich their territories, have been
fostered, invented in most provinces of Europe, as planting some Indian plants
amongst us, silk-worms, the very mulberry leaves in the plains of Granada yield
30,000 crowns per annum to the king of Spain's coffers, besides those many trades
and artificers that are busied about them in the kingdom of Granada, Murcia, and all
over Spain. In France a great benefit is raised by salt, &c., whether these things might
not be as happily attempted with us, and with like success, it may be controverted,
silk-worms (I mean), vines, fir trees, &c. Cardan exhorts Edward the Sixth to plant
olives, and is fully persuaded they would prosper in this island. With us, navigable
rivers are most part neglected; our streams are not great, I confess, by reason of the
narrowness of the island, yet they run smoothly and even, not headlong, swift, or
amongst rocks and shelves, as foaming Rhodanus and Loire in France, Tigris in
Mesopotamia, violent Durius in Spain, with cataracts and whirlpools, as the Rhine,
and Danubius, about Shaffausen, Lausenburgh, Linz, and Cremmes, to endanger
navigators; or broad shallow, as Neckar in the Palatinate, Tibris in Italy; but calm and
fair as Arar in France, Hebrus in Macedonia, Eurotas in Laconia, they gently glide
along, and might as well be repaired many of them (I mean Wye, Trent, Ouse,
Thamisis at Oxford, the defect of which we feel in the mean time) as the River of Lee
from Ware to London. B. Atwater of old, or as some will Henry I., made a channel
from Trent to Lincoln, navigable; which now, saith Mr. Camden, is decayed, and
much mention is made of anchors, and such like monuments found about old
Verulamium, good ships have formerly come to Exeter, and many such places, whose
channels, havens, ports, are now barred and rejected. We contemn this benefit of
carriage by waters, and are therefore compelled in the inner parts of this island,
because portage is so dear, to eat up our commodities ourselves, and live like so many
boars in a sty, for want of vent and utterance.
We have many excellent havens, royal havens, Falmouth, Portsmouth,
Milford, &c. equivalent if not to be preferred to that Indian Havanna, old Brindusium
in Italy, Aulis in Greece, Ambracia in Acarnia, Suda in Crete, which have few ships in
them, little or no traffic or trade, which have scarce a village on them, able to bear
great cities, sed viderint politici. I could here justly tax many other neglects, abuses,
errors, defects among us, and in other countries, depopulations, riot, drunkenness, &c.
and many such, quæ nunc in aurem susurrare non tibet. But I must take heed, ne quid
gravius dicam, that I do not overshoot myself, Sus Minervam, I am forth of my
element, as you peradventure suppose; and sometimes veritas odium parit, as he said,
"verjuice and oatmeal is good for a parrot." For as Lucian said of an historian, I say of
a politician. He that will freely speak and write, must be for ever no subject, under no
prince or law, but lay out the matter truly as it is, not caring what any can, will, like or
We have good laws, I deny not, to rectify such enormities, and so in all other
countries, but it seems not always to good purpose. We had need of some general
visitor in our age, that should reform what is amiss; a just army of Rosie-crosse men,
for they will amend all matters (they say), religion, policy, manners, with arts;
sciences, &c. Another Attila, Tamerlane, Hercules, to strive with Achelous, Augeæ
stabulum purgare, to subdue tyrants, as he did Diomedes and Busris: to expel thieves,
as he did Cacus and Lacinius: to vindicate poor captives, as he did Hesione: to pass
the torrid zone, the deserts of Lybia, and purge the world of monsters and Centaurs: or
another Theban Crates to reform our manners, to compose quarrels and controversies,
as in his time he did, and was therefore adored for a god in Athens. "As Hercules
purged the world of monsters, and subdued them, so did he fight against envy, lust,
anger, avarice, &c. and all those feral vices and monsters of the mind? it were to be
wished we had some such visitor, or if wishing would serve, one had such a ring or
rings, as Timolaus desired in Lucian, by virtue of which he should be as strong as
10,000 men, or an army of giants, go invisible, open gates and castle doors, have what
treasure he would, transport himself in an instant to what place he desired, alter
affections, cure all manner of diseases, that he might range over the world, and reform
all distressed states and persons, as he would himself. He might reduce those
wandering Tartars in order, that infest China on the one side, Muscovy, Poland, on the
other; and tame the vagabond Arabians that rob and spoil those eastern countries, that
they should never use more caravans, or janizaries to conduct them. He might root out
barbarism out of America, and fully discover Terra Australis Incognita, find out the
north-east and north-west passages, drain those mighty Mæotian fens, cut down those
vast Hircinian woods, irrigate those barren Arabian deserts, &c. cure us of our
epidemical diseases, scorbutum, plica, morbus Neapolitanus, &c., end all our idle
controversies, cut off our tumultuous desires, inordinate lusts, root out atheism,
impiety, heresy, schism, and superstition, which now so crucify the world, catechise
gross ignorance, purge Italy of luxury and riot, Spain of superstition and jealousy,
Germany of drunkenness, all our northern country of gluttony and intemperance,
castigate our hard-hearted parents, masters, tutors; lash disobedient children, negligent
servants, correct these spendthrifts and prodigal sons, enforce idle persons to work,
drive drunkards off the alehouse, repress thieves, visit corrupt and tyrannizing
magistrates, &c. But as L. Licinius taxed Timolaus, you may us. These are vain,
absurd and ridiculous wishes not to be hoped: and must be as it is, Bocchalinus may
cite commonwealths to come before Apollo, and seek to reform the world itself by
commissioners, but there is no remedy, it may not be redressed, desinent homines tum
demum stultescere quando esse destinet, so long as they can wag their beards, they
will play the knaves and fools.
Because, therefore, it is a thing so difficult, impossible, and far beyond
Hercules' labours to be performed; let them be rude, stupid, ignorant, incult, lapis
super lapidem sedeat, and as the apologist will, resp. tussi, et graveolentia laboret,
mundus vitio, let them be barbarous as they are, let them tyrannize, epicurize, oppress,
luxuriate, consume themselves with factions, superstitions, lawsuits, wars and
contentions, live in riot, poverty, want, misery; rebel, wallow as so many swine in
their own dung, with Ulysses' companions, stultos jubeo esse libenter. I will yet, to
satisfy and please myself, make an Utopia of mine own a new Atlantis, a poetical
commonwealth of mine own, in which I will freely domineer, build cities, make laws,
statutes, as I list myself. And why may I not? -- Pictoribus atque poetis, &c. You
know what liberty poets ever had, and besides, my predecessor Democritus was a
politician, a recorder of Abdera, a law maker as some say; and why may not I
presume so much as he did? Howsoever I will adventure. For the site, if you will
needs urge me to it, I am not fully resolved, it may be in Terra Australis Incognita,
there is room enough (for of my knowledge neither that hungry Spaniard, nor
Mercurius Britannicus, have yet discovered half of it) or else one of those floating
islands in Mare del Zur, which like the Cyanian isles in the Euxine sea, alter their
place, and are accessible only at set times, and to some few persons; or one of the
Fortunate isles, for who knows yet where, or which they are? there is room enough in
the inner parts of America, and northern coasts of Asia. But I will choose a site,
whose latitude shall be 45 degrees (I respect not minutes) in the midst of the
temperate zone, or perhaps under the equator, that paradise of the world, ubi semper
virens laurus, &c. where is a perpetual spring: the longitude for some reasons I will
conceal. Yet "be it known to all men by these presents," that if any honest gentle man
will send in so much money, as Cardan allows an astrologer for casting a nativity, he
shall be a share; I will acquaint him with my project, or if any worthy man will stand
for any temporal or spiritual office or dignity, (for as he said of his archbishops of
Utopia, 'tis sanctus ambitus, and not amiss to be sought after,) it shall be freely given
without all intercessions, bribes, letters, &c. his own worth shall be the best
spokesman; and because we shall admit of no deputies or advowsons, if he be
sufficiently qualified, and as able as willing to execute the place himself, he shall have
present possession. It shall be divided into 12 or 13 provinces, and those by hills,
rivers, road-ways, or some more eminent limits exactly bounded. Each province shall
have a metropolis, which shall be so placed as a centre almost in a circumference, and
the rest at equal distances, some Italian miles asunder, or thereabout, and in them shall
be sold all things necessary for the use of man; statis horis et diebus, no market
towns, markets or fairs, for they do but beggar cities (no village shall stand above 6, 7,
or 8 miles from a city) except those emporiums which are by the sea side, general
staples, marts, as Antwerp, Venice, Bergen of old, London, &c. cities most part shall
be situated upon navigable rivers or lakes, creeks, havens; and for their form, regular,
round, square, or long square, with fair, broad, and straight streets, houses uniform,
built of brick and stone, like Bruges, Brussels, Rhegium Lepidi, Berne in Switzerland,
Milan, Mantua, Crema, Cambalu in Tartary, described by M. Polus, or that Venetian
palma. I will admit very few or no suburbs, and those of baser building, walls only to
keep out man and horse, except it be in some frontier towns, or by the sea side, and
those to be fortified after the latest manner of fortification, and situated upon
convenient havens, or opportune places. In every so built city, I will have convenient
churches, and separate places to bury the dead in, not in churchyards; a citadella (in
some, not all) to command it, prisons for offenders, opportune market-places of all
sorts, for corn, meat, cattle, fuel, fish, commodious courts of justice, public halls for
all societies, bourses, meeting places, armouries, in which shall be kept engines for
quenching of fire, artillery gardens, public walks, theatres, and spacious fields allotted
for all gymnastic sports, and honest recreations, hospitals of all kinds, for children,
orphans, old folks, sick men, mad men, soldiers, pest houses, &c. not built precario,
or by gouty benefactors, who, when by fraud and rapine they have extorted all their
lives, oppressed whole provinces, societies, &c. give something to pious uses, build a
satisfactory alms-house, school or bridge, &c. at their last end or before perhaps,
which is no otherwise than to steal a goose, and stick down a feather, rob a thousand
to relieve ten; and those hospitals so built and maintained, not by collections,
benevolences, donaries, for a set number, (as in ours,) just so many and no more at
such a rate, but for all those who stand in need, be they more or less, and that ex
publico ærario, and so still maintained, non nobis solum nati sumus, &c. I will have
conduits of sweet and good water, aptly disposed in each town, common granaries, as
at Dresden in Misnia, Stetein in Pomerland, Noremberg, &c. Colleges of
mathematicians, musicians, and actors, as of old at Labedum in Ionia, alchymists,
physicians, artists, and philosophers: that all arts and sciences may sooner be
perfected and better learned; and public historiographers, as amongst those ancient
Persians, qui in commentarios referebant quæ memoratu digna gerebantur, informed
and appointed by the state to register all famous acts, and not by each insufficient
scribbler, partial or parasitical pedant, as in our times. I will provide public schools of
all kinds, singing, dancing, fencing, &c. especially of grammar and language; not to
be taught by those tedious precepts ordinarily used, but by use, example,
conversation, as travellers learn abroad, and nurses teach their children: as I will have
all such places, so will I ordain public governors, fit officers to each place, treasurers,
aediles, questors, overseers of pupils, widows' goods, and all public houses, &c. and
those once a year to make strict accounts of all receipts, expenses, to avoid confusion,
et sic fiet ut non absumant (as Pliny to Trajan,) quod pudeat dicere. They shall be
subordinate to those higher officers and governors of each city, which shall not be
poor tradesmen, and mean artificers, but noblemen and gentlemen, which shall be tied
to residence in those towns they dwell next, at such set times and seasons: for I see no
reason (which Hippolitus complains of) "that it should be more dishonourable for
noblemen to govern the city than the country, or unseemly to dwell there now, than of
old." I will have no bogs, fens, marshes, vast woods, deserts, heaths, commons, but all
inclosed; (yet not depopulated, and therefore take heed you mistake me not) for that
which is common, and every man's, is no man's; the richest countries are still
inclosed, as Essex, Kent, with us, &c. Spain, Italy; and where inclosures are least in
quantity, they are best husbanded, as about Florence in Italy, Damascus in Syria, &c.
which are liker gardens than fields. I will not have a barren acre in all my territories,
not so much as the tops of mountains: where nature fails, it shall be supplied by art:
lakes and rivers shall not be left desolate. All common highways, bridges, banks,
corrivations of waters, aqueducts, channels, public works, building, &c. out of a stock,
curiously maintained and kept in repair; no depopulations, engrossings, alterations of
wood, arable, but by the consent of some supervisors that shall be appointed for that
purpose, to see what reformation ought to be had in all places, what is amiss, how to
help it, et quid quaqueferat regio, et quid quaque recuset, what ground is aptest for
wood, what for corn, what for cattle, gardens, orchards, fishponds, &c. with a
charitable division in every village, (not one domineering house greedily to swallow
up all, which is too common with us) what for lords, what for tenants; and because
they shall be better encouraged to improve such lands they hold, manure, plant trees,
drain, fence. &c., they shall have long leases, a known rent, and known fine to free
them from those intolerable exactions of tyrannizing landlords. These supervisors
shall likewise appoint what quantity of land in each manor is fit for the lord's
demesnes, what for holding of tenants, how it ought to be husbanded, ut magnetis
equis, Minyæ gens cognita remis, how to be manured, tilled, rectified, hic segetes
veniunt, illic foelicius uvæ, arborei foetus alibi, atque injussa virescunt Gramina, and
what proportion is fit for all callings, because private professors are many times idiots,
ill husbands, oppressors, covetous, and know not how to improve their own, or else
wholly respect their own, and not public good.
Utopian parity is a kind of government, to be wished for, rather than effected,
Respub. Christianopolitana, Campanella's city of the Sun, and that new Atlantis, witty
fictions, but mere chimeras and Plato's community in many things is impious, absurd
and ridiculous, it takes away all splendour and magnificence. I will have several
orders, degrees of nobility, and those hereditary, not rejecting younger brothers in the
mean time, for they shall be sufficiently provided for by pensions, or so qualified,
brought up in some honest calling, they shall be able to live of themselves. I will have
such a proportion of ground belonging to every barony, he that buys the land shall buy
the barony, he that by riot consumes his patrimony, and ancient demesnes, shall
forfeit his. As some dignities shall be hereditary, so some again by election, or by gift
(besides free offices, pensions, annuities,) like our bishoprics, prebends, the Basso's
palaces in Turkey, the procurators houses and offices in Venice, which, like the
golden apple, shall be given to the worthiest, and best deserving both in war and
peace, as a reward of their worth and good service, as so many goals for all to aim at,
(honos alit artes) and encouragernents to others. For I hate these severe, unnatural,
harsh, German, French, and Venetian decrees, which exclude plebeians from honours,
be they never so wise, rich, virtuous, valiant, and well qualified, they must not be
patricians, but keep their own rank, this is naturæ bellum inferre, odious to God and
men, I abhor it. My form of government shall be monarchical.
--- "nunquam libertas gratior extat,
Quam sub Rege pio," &c.
(Liberty is never more gratifying than under a pious king)
Few laws, but those severely kept, plainly put down, and in the mother tongue, that
every man may understand. Every city shall have a peculiar trade or privilege, by
which it shall be chiefly maintained: and parents shall teach their children one of three
at least, bring up and instruct them in the mysteries of their own trade. In each town
these several tradesmen shall be so aptly disposed, as they shall free the rest from
danger or offence: fire-trades, as smiths, forge-men, brewers, bakers, metal-men, &c.,
shall dwell apart by themselves: dyers, tanners, felmongers, and such as use water in
convenient places by themselves: noisome or fulsome for bad smells, as butchers'
slaughter houses, chandlers, curriers, in remote places, and some back lanes.
Fraternities and companies, I approve of as merchants' bourses, colleges of druggists,
physicians, musicians, &c., but all trades to be rated in the sale of wares, as our clerks
of the market do bakers and brewers; corn itself what scarcity soever shall come, not
to exceed such a price. Of such wares as are transported or brought in, if they be
necessary, commodious, and such as nearly concern man's life, as corn, wood, coal,
&c., and such provision we cannot want, I will have little or no custom paid, no taxes;
but for such things as are for pleasure, delight, or ornament, as wine, spice, tobacco,
silk, velvet, cloth of gold, lace, jewels, &c., a greater impost. I will have certain ships
sent out for new discoveries every year, and some discreet men appointed to travel
into all neighbouring kingdoms by land, which shall observe what artificial inventions
and good laws are in other countries, customs, alterations, or aught else, concerning
war or peace, which may tend to the common good. Ecclesiastical discipline, penes
Episcopos, subordinate as the other. No impropriations, no lay patrons of church
livings, or one private man, but common societies, corporations, &c., and those
rectors of benefices to be chosen out of the Universities, examined and approved, as
the literati in China. No parish to contain above a thousand auditors. If it were
possible, I would have such priests as should imitate Christ, charitable lawyers should
love their neighbours as themselves, temperate and modest physicians, politicians
contemn the world, philosophers should know themselves, noblemen live honestly,
tradesmen leave lying and cozening, magistrates, corruption, &c., but this is
impossible, I must get such as I may. I will therefore have of lawyers, judges,
advocates, physicians, chirurgeons, &c., a set number, and every man, if it be
possible, to plead his own cause, to tell that tale to the judge which he doth to his
advocate, as at Fez in Africa, Bantam, Aleppo, Ragusa, suam quisque causam dicere
tenetur. Those advocates, chirurgeons, and physicians, which are allowed to be
maintained out of the common treasury, no fees to be given or taken upon pain of
losing their places; or if they do, very small fees, and when the cause is fully ended.
He that sues any man shall put in a pledge, which if it be proved be hath wrongfully
sued his adversary, rashly or maliciously, he shall forfeit, and lose. Or else before any
suit begin, the plaintiff shall have his complaint approved by a set delegacy to that
purpose; if it be of moment he shall be suffered as before, to proceed, if otherwise
they shall determine it. All causes shall be pleaded suppresso nomine, the parties'
names concealed, if some circumstances do not otherwise require. Judges and other
officers shall be aptly disposed in each province, villages, cities, as common
arbitrators to hear causes, and end all controversies, and those not single, but three at
least on the bench at once, to determine or give sentence, and those again to sit by
turns or lots, and not to continue still in the same office. No controversy to depend
above a year, but without all delays and further appeals to be speedily dispatched, and
finally concluded in that time allotted. These and all other inferior magistrates to be
chosen as the literati in China or by those exact suffrages of the Venetians, and such
again not to be eligible, or capable of magistracies, honours, offices, except they be
sufficiently qualified for learning, manners, and that by the strict approbation of
reputed examiners: first scholars to take place, then soldiers; for I am of Vigetius his
opinion, a scholar deserves better than a soldier, because Unius ætatis sunt quæ
fortiter fiunt, quæ vero pro utilate Reipub. scribuntur, æterna: a soldier's work lasts
for an age, a scholar's for ever. If they misbehave themselves, they shall be deposed,
and accordingly punished, and whether their offices be annual or otherwise, once a
year they shall be called in question, and give an account; for men are partial and
passionate, merciless, covetous, corrupt, subject to love, hate, fear, favour, &c., omne
sub regno graviore regnum: like Solon's Areopagites, or those Roman Censors, some
shall visit others, and the visited invicem themselves, shall oversee that no prowling
officer, under colour of authority, shall insult over his inferiors, as so many wild
beasts, oppress, domineer, flea, grind, or trample on, be partial or corrupt, but that
there be æquabile jus, justice equally done, live as friends and brethren together; and
which Sesellius would have and so much desires in his kingdom of France, "a
diapason and sweet harmony of kings, princes, nobles, and plebeians so mutually tied
and involved in love, as well as laws and authority, as that they never disagree, insult
or encroach one upon another." If any man deserves well in his office he shall be
--- "quis enim virtutem amplectitur ipsam,
Præmia si tollas?" ---
"For who would cultivate virtue itself, if you were to take away the reward?"
He that invents anything for public good in any art or science, writes a treatise, or
performs any noble exploit, at home or abroad, he shall be accordingly enriched,
honoured, and preferred. I say with Hannibal in Ennius, Hostem qui feriet erit mihi
Carthaginiensis, let him be of what condition he will, in all offices, actions, he that
deserves best shall have best.
Tilianus in Philonius, out of a charitable mind no doubt, wished all his books
were gold and silver, jewels and precious stones, to redeem captives, set free
prisoners, and relieve all poor distressed souls that wanted means; religiously done, I
deny not, but to what purpose? Suppose this were so well done, within a little after,
though a man had Orcesus' wealth to bestow, there would be as many more.
Wherefore I will suffer no beggars, rogues, vagabonds, or idle persons at all, that
cannot give an account of their lives how they maintain themselves. If they be
impotent, lame, blind, and single, they shall be sufficiently maintained in several
hospitals, built for that purpose; if married and infirm, past work, or by inevitable
loss, or some such like misfortune cast behind, by distribution of corn, house-rent
free, annual pensions or money, they shall be relieved, and highly rewarded for their
good service they have formerly done; if able, they shall be enforced to work. "For I
see no reason (as he said) why an epicure or idle drone, a rich glutton, a usurer, should
live at ease and do nothing, live in honour, in all manner of pleasure; and oppress
others, when as in the meantime a poor labourer, a smith, a carpenter, an husbandman
that hath spent his time in continual labour, as an ass to carry burdens to do the
commonwealth good, and without whom we cannot live, shall be left in his old age to
beg or starve, and lead a miserable life worse than a jument." As all conditions shall
be tied to their task, so none shall be overtired, but have their set times of recreations
and holidays, indulgere genio, feasts and merry meetings, even to the meanest
artificer, or basest servant, once a week to sing or dance, (though not all at once) or do
whatsoever he shall please; like that Saccarum festum amongst the Persians, those
Saturnals in Rome, as well as his master. If any be drunk, he shall drink no more wine
or strong drink in a twelvemonth after. A bankrupt shall be Catademiatus in
Amphitheatro, publicly shamed, and he that cannot pay his debts, if by riot or
negligence, he have been impoverished, shall be for a twelvemonth imprisoned, if in
that space his creditors be not satisfied, he shall be hanged. He that commits sacrilege
shall lose his hands; he that bears false witness, or is of perjury convicted, shall have
his tongue cut out, except he redeem it with his head. Murder, adultery, shall be
punished by death, but not theft, except it he some more grievous offence, or
notorious offenders: otherwise they shall be condemned to the galleys, mines, be his
slaves whom they have offended, during their lives. I hate all hereditary slaves, and
that duram Persarum legem as Brisonius calls it; or as Ammianus, impendio
formidatas et abominandas leges, per quas ob noxeim unius, omnis propinquitas
perit, hard law that wife and children, friends and allies, should suffer for the father's
No man shall marry until he be 25, no woman till she be 20, nisi aliter
dispensatum fuerit. If one die, the other party shall not marry till six months after; and
because many families are compelled to live niggardly, exhaust and undone by great
dowers, none shall be given at all, or very little, and that by supervisors rated, they
that are foul shall have a greater portion; if fair, none at all, or very little: howsoever
not to exceed such a rate as those supervisors shall think fit. And when once they
come to those years, poverty shall hinder no man from marriage, or any other respect,
but all shall be rather enforced than hindered, except they be dismembered, or
grievously deformed, infirm, or visited with some enormous hereditary disease, in
body or mind; in such cases upon a great pain, or mulct, man or woman shall not
marry, other order shall be taken for them to their content. If people overabound, they
shall be eased by colonies.
No man shall wear weapons in any city. The same attire shall be kept, and that
proper to several callings, by which, they shall be distinguished. Luxus funerum shall
be taken away, that intempestive expense moderated, and many others. Brokers,
takers of pawns, biting usurers, I will not admit; yet because hic cum hominibus non
cum diis agitur, we converse here with men, not with gods, and for the hardness of
men's hearts, I will tolerate some kind of usury. If we were honest, I confess, si probi
essemus, we should have no use of it, but being as it is, we must necessarily admit it.
Howsoever most divines contradict it, dicimus inficias, sed vox ea sola reperta est, it
must be winked at by politicians. And yet some great doctors approve of it, Calvin,
Bucer, Zanchius, P. Martyr, because by so many grand lawyers, decrees of emperors,
princes' statutes, customs of commonwealths, churches' approbations, it is permitted,
&c. I will therefore allow it. But to no private persons, nor to every man that will, to
orphans only, maids, widows, or such as by reason of their age, sex, education,
ignorance of trading, know not otherwise how to employ it; and those so approved,
not to let it out apart, but to bring their money to a common bank which shall be
allowed in every city, as in Genoa, Geneva, Nuremberg, Venice, at 5, 6, 7, not above
8 per centum, as the supervisors, or ærarii præfecti shall think fit. And as it shall not
be lawful for each man to be an usurer that will, so shall it not be lawful for all to take
up money at use, not to prodigals and spendthrifts, but to merchants, young
tradesmen, such as stand in need, or know honestly how to employ it, whose
necessity, cause and condition the said supervisors shall approve of.
I will have no private monopolies, to enrich one man, and beggar a multitude,
multiplicity of offices, of supplying by deputies, weights and measures, the same
throughout, and those rectified by the Primum mobile, and sun's motion, threescore
miles to a degree according to observation, 1000 geometrical paces to a mile, five foot
to a pace, twelve inches to a foot, &c. and from measures known it is an easy matter
to rectify weights, &c. to cast up all, and resolve bodies by algebra, stereometry. I
hate wars if they be not ad populi salutem, upon urgent occasion, "odimus accipitrem,
quia semper vivit in armis," (we hate the hawk, because he always lives in battle)
offensive wars, except the cause be very just, I will not allow of. For I do highly
magnify that saying of Hannibal to Scipio, in Livy, "It had been a blessed thing for
you and us, if God had given that mind to our predecessors, that you had been content
with Italy, we with Africa. For neither Sicily nor Sardinia are worth such cost and
pains, so many fleets and armies, or so many famous Captains' lives." Omnia prius
tentanda, fair means shall first be tried. Peragit tranquilla potestas, Quod violenta
nequit. I will have then proceed with all moderation: but hear you, Fabius my general,
not Minutius, nam qui Consilio nititur plus hostibus nocet, quam qui sine ainimi
ratione viribus: And in such wars to abstain as much as is possible from depopulation;
burning of towns, massacring of infants, &c. For defensive wars, I will have forces
still ready at a small warning, by land and sea, a prepared navy, soldiers in procinctu,
et quam Bonfinius apud Hungaros suos vult, virgam ferream, and money, which is
nervus belli, still in a readiness, and a sufficient revenue, a third part as in old Rome
and Egypt, reserved for the commonwealth; to avoid those heavy taxes and
impositions, as well to defray this charge of wars, as also all other public defalcations,
expenses, fees, pensions, reparations, chaste sports, feasts, donaries, rewards, and
entertainments. All things in this nature especially I will have maturely done, and with
great deliberation: ne quid temere, ne quid remisse at timide fiat; sed quo feror
hospes? To prosecute the rest would require a volume. Manum de tabella, I have been
over tedious in this subject; I could have here willingly ranged, but these straits
wherein I am included will not permit.
From commonwealths and cities, I will descend to families, which have as
many corsives and molestations, as frequent discontents as the rest. Great affinity
there is betwixt a political and economical body; they differ only in magnitude and
proportion of business (so Scaliger writes) as they have both likely the same period, as
a Bodin and Peucer hold, out of Plato, six or seven hundred years, so many times they
have the same means of their vexation and overthrows; as namely, riot, a common
ruin of both, riot in building, riot in profuse spending, riot in apparel, &c. be it in what
kind soever, it produceth the same effects. A corographer of ours speaking obiter of
ancient families, why they are so frequent in the north, continue so long, are so soon
extinguished in the south, and so few, gives no other reason but this, luxus omnia
dissipavit, riot hath consumed all, fine clothes and curious buildings came into this
island, as he notes in his annals, not so many years since; non sine dispendio
hospitalitatis, to the decay of hospitality. Howbeit many times that word is mistaken,
and under the name of bounty and hospitality, is shrouded riot and prodigality, and
that which is commendable in itself well used, hath been mistaken heretofore, is
become by his abuse, the bane and utter ruin of many a noble family. For some men
live like the rich glutton, consuming themselves and their substance by continual
feasting and invitations, with Axilon in Homer, keep open house for all comers,
giving entertainment to such as visit them, keeping a table beyond their means, and a
company of idle servants (though not so frequent as of old) are blown up on a sudden;
and as Actæon was by his hounds, devoured by their kinsmen, friends, and multitude
of followers. It is a wonder that Paulus Jovius relates of our northern countries, what
an infinite deal of meat we consume on our tables; that I may truly say, 'tis not
bounty, not hospitality, as it is often abused, but riot and excess, gluttony and
prodigality; a mere vice; it brings in debt, want, and beggary, hereditary diseases,
consumes their fortunes, and overthrows the good temperature of their bodies. To this
I might here well add their inordinate expense in building, those fantastical houses,
turrets, walks, parks, &c., gaming, excess of pleasure, and that prodigious riot in
apparel, by which means they are compelled to break up house, and creep into holes.
Sesellius in his commonwealth of France, gives three reasons why the French nobility
were so frequently bankrupts: "First, because they had so many law-suits and
contentions one upon another, which were tedious and costly; by which means it came
to pass, that commnnly lawyers bought them out of their possessions. A second cause
was their riot, they lived beyond their means, and were therefore swallowed up by
merchants." (La Nove, a French writer, yields five reasons of his countrymens'
poverty, to the same effect almost, and thinks verily if the gentry of France were
divided into ten parts, eight of them would be found much impaired, by sales,
mortgages, and debts, or wholly sunk in their estates.) "The last was immoderate
excess in apparel, which consumed their revenues." How this concerns and agrees
with our present state, look you. But of this elsewhere. As it is in a man's body, if
either head, heart, stomach, liver, spleen, or any one part be misaffected, all the rest
suffer with it: so is it with this economical body. If the head be naught, a spendthrift, a
drunkard, a whoremaster, a gamester, how shall the family live at ease? Ipsa si cupiat
salus serrate prorsus, non potest, hanc familiam, as Demea said in the comedy, Safety
herself cannot save it. A good, honest, painful man many times hath a shrew to his
wife, a sickly, dishonest, slothful, foolish, careless woman to his mate, a proud,
peevish flirt, a liquorish, prodigal quean, and by that means all goes to ruin: or if they
differ in nature, he is thrifty, she spends all, he wise, she sottish and soft; what
agreement can there be? what friendship? Like that of the thrush and swallow in
Æsop, instead of mutual love, kind compellations, whore and thief is heard, they fling
stools at one another's heads. Quæ intemperies vexat hanc familiam? All enforced
marriages commonly produce such effects, or if on their behalfs it be well, as to live
and agree lovingly together, they may have disobedient and unruly children, that take
ill courses to disquiet them, "their son is a thief, a spendthrift, their daughter a
whore;" a step-mother, or a daughter-in-law, distempers all; or else for want of means,
many torturers arise, debts, dues, fees, dowries, jointures, legacies to be paid,
annuities issuing out, by means of which, they have not wherewithal to maintain
themselves in that pomp as their predecessors have done, bring up or bestow their
children to their callings, to their birth and quality, and will not descend to their
present fortunes. Oftentimes, too, to aggravate the rest, concur many other
inconveniences, unthankful friends, decayed friends, bad neighbours, negligent
servants, servi furaces, versipelles, callidi, occlusa sibi mille clavibus reserant,
furtimque; raptant, consumunt, liguriunt; casualties, taxes, mulcts, chargeable offices,
vain expenses, entertainments, loss of stock, enmities, emulations, frequent
invitations, losses, suretyship, sickness, death of friends, and that which is the gulf of
all, improvidence, ill husbandry, disorder and confusion, by which means they are
drenched on a sudden in their estates, and at unawares precipitated insensibly into an
inextricable labyrinth of debts, cares, woes, want, grief, discontent and melancholy
I have done with families, and will now briefly run over some few sorts and
conditions of men. The most secure, happy, jovial, and merry in the world's esteem
are princes and great men, free from melancholy: but for their cares, miseries,
suspicions, jealousies, discontents, folly and madness, I refer you to Xenophon's
Tyrannus, where king Hieron discourseth at large with Simonides the poet, of this
subject. Of all others they are most troubled with perpetual fears, anxieties, insomuch
that, as he said in Valerius, if thou knewest with what cares and miseries this robe
were stuffed, thou wouldst not stoop to take it up. Or put case they be secure and free
from fears and discontents, yet they are void of reason too oft, and precipitate in their
actions, read all our histories, quos de stultis prodidere stulti, Iliades, Æneides,
Annales, and what is the subject?
"Stultorum regum, et populorum continet æstus,"
The giddy tumults and the foolish rage
Of kings and people.
How mad they are, how furious, and upon small occasions, rash and inconsiderate in
their proceedings, how they doat, every page almost will witness,
"--- delirant reges, plectuntur Achivi."
When doating monarchs urge
Unsound resolves, their subjects feel the scourge.
Next in place, next in miseries and discontents, in all manner of hair-brain
actions, are great men, procul a Jove, procul a fulmine, the nearer the worse. If they
live in court, they are up and down, ebb and flow with their princes' favours, Ingenium
vultu statque caditque suo, now aloft, to-morrow down, as Polybius describes them,
"like so many casting counters, now of gold, to-morrow of silver, that vary in worth as
the computant will; now they stand for units, to-morrow for thousands; now before
all, and anon behind." Beside, they torment one another with mutual factions,
emulations: one is ambitious, another enamoured, a third in debt, a prodigal, overruns
his fortunes, a fourth solicitous with cares, gets nothing, &c. But for these men's
discontents, anxieties, I refer you to Lucian's Tract, de mercede conductis, Æneas
Sylvius (libidinis et stultitiæ servos, he calls them), Agrippa, and many others.
Of philosophers and scholars priscæ sapientiæ dictatores, I have already
spoken in general term; those superintendents of wit and learning, men above men,
those refined men, minions of the muses,
--- "mentemque habere queis bonam
Et esse corculis datum est." ---
These acute and subtle sophisters, so much honoured, have as much need of hellebore
as others. -- O medici mediam pertundite venam. Read Lucian's Piscator, and tell how
he esteemed them; Agrippa's Tract of the vanity of Sciences; nay, read their own
works, their absurd tenets, prodigious paradoxes, et risum teneatis amici? You shall
find that of Aristotle true, nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementia, they have
a worm as well as others; you shall find a fantastical strain, a fustian, a bombast, a
vainglorious humour, an affected style, &c., like a prominent thread in an uneven
woven cloth, run parallel throughout their works. And they that teach wisdom,
patience, meekness, are the veriest dizzards, hairbrains, and most discontent. "In the
multitude of wisdom is grief; and he that increaseth wisdom, increaseth sorrow." I
need not quote mine author; they that laugh and contemn others, condemn the world
of folly, deserve to be mocked, are as giddyheaded, and lie as open as any other.
Democritus, that common flouter of folly, was ridiculous himself; barking Menippus,
scoffing Lucian, satirical Lucilius Petronius, Varro, Persius. &c., may be censured
with the rest, Loripedem rectus derideat, Æthiopiem albus. Bale, Erasmus, Hospinian,
Vives, Kemnisius, explode as a vast ocean of obs and sols, school divinity. A
labyrinth of intricable questions, unprofitable contentions, incredibilem delirationem,
one calls it, if school divinity be so censured, subtilis Scotus lima veritatis, Occam
irrefragabiiis, cujus ingenium vetera omnia ingenia subvertit, &c. Baconthrope, Dr.
Resolutus, and Corculum Theologia, Thomas himself, Doctor Seraphicus, cui dictavit
Angelus, &c. What shall become of humanity? Ars stulta, what can she plead? What
can her followers say for themselves? Much learning, cere-diminuit-brum, hath
cracked their sconce, and taken such root, that tribus Anticyris caput insanabile,
hellebore itself can do no good, nor that renowned lanthorn of Epictetus, by which if
any man studied, he should be as wise as he was. But all will not serve; rhetoricians,
in ostentationem loquacitatis multa agitant, out of their volubility of tongue, will talk
much to no purpose, orators can persuade other men what they will, quo volunt, unde
volunt, move, pacify, &c., but cannot settle their own brains, what saith Tully? Malo
indesertam prudentiam, quam loquacem stultitiam; and as Seneca seconds him, a wise
man's oration should not be polite or solicitous. Fabius esteems no better of most of
them, either in speech, action, gesture, than as men beside themselves, insanos
declamatores; so doth Gregory, Non mihi sapit qui sermone, sed qui factis sapit.
Make the best of him, a good orator is a turncoat, an evil man, bonus orator pessimus
vir, his tongue is set to sale, he is a mere voice, as he said of a nightingale, dat sine
mente sonum, an hyperbolical liar, a flatterer, a parasite and as Ammianus Marcellinus
will, a corrupting cozener, one that doth more mischief by his fair speeches, than he
that bribes by money; for a man may with more facility avoid him that circumvents by
money, than him that deceives with glozing terms; which made Socrates so much
abhor and explode them. Fracastorius, a famous poet, freely grants all poets to be
mad; so doth Scaliger; and who doth not? Aut insanit homo, aut versus facit (He's mad
or making verses), Hor. Sat. vii. 1. 2. Insanire lubet, i.e. versus componere. Virg. 3
Ecl.; So Servius interprets it, all poets are mad, a company of bitter satirists,
detractors, or else parasitical applauders: and what is poetry itself but as Austin holds,
Vinum erroris ab ebriis doctoribus propinatum? You may give that censure of them
in general, which Sir Thomas More once did of Germanus Brixius' poems in
--- "vehuntur
In rate stultitiæ, sylvam habitant Furiæ."
("They are borne in the bark of folly, and dwell in the grove of madness")
Budæus, in an epistle of his to Lupsetus, will have civil law to be the tower of
wisdom; another honours physic, the quintessence of nature; a third tumbles them
both down, and sets up the flag of his own peculiar science. Your supercilious critics,
grammatical triflers, note-makers, curious antiquaries, find out all the ruins of wit,
ineptiarum delicias, amongst the rubbish of old writers; Pro stultis habent nisi aliquid
sufficiant invenire, quod in aliorum scriptis vertant vitio, all fools with them that
cannot find fault; they correct others, and are hot in a cold cause, puzzle themselves to
find out how many streets in Rome, houses, gates, towers, Homer's country, Æneas's
mother, Niobe's daughters, an Sappho publica fuerit? ovum prius extiterit an gallina!
&c. et alia quæ dediscenda essent scire, si scires, as Seneca holds. What clothes the
senators did wear in Rome, what shoes, how they sat, where they went to the
closestool, how many dishes in a mess, what sauce, which for the present for an
historian to relate, according to Lodovic. Vives, is very ridiculous, is to them most
precious elaborate stuff, they admired for it, and as proud, as triumphant in the
meantime for this discovery, as if they had won a city, or conquered a province; as
rich as if they had found a mine of gold ore. Quosvis auctores absurdis commentis
suis percacant et stercorant, one saith, they bewray and daub a company of books and
good authors, with their absurd comments, correctorum sterquilinia Scaliger calls
them, and show their wit in censuring others, a company of foolish note-makers,
humble-bees, dors, or beetles, inter stercora ut plurimum versantur, they rake over all
those rubbish and dunghills, and prefer a manuscript many times before the Gospel
itself; thesaurum criticum, before any treasure, and with their deleaturs, alii legunt
sic, meus codex sic habet, with their postremæ editiones, annotations, castigations,
&c., make books dear, themselves ridiculous, and do nobody good, yet if any man
dare oppose or contradict, they are mad, up in arms on a sudden, how many sheets are
written in defence, how bitter invective; what apologies? Epiphillides hæ sunt ut meræ
nugæ. But I dare say no more of, for, with, or against them, because I am liable to
their lash as well as others. Of these and the rest of our artists and philosophers, I will
generally conclude they are a kind of madmen, as Seneca esteems of them, to make
doubts and scruples, how to read them truly, to mend old authors, but will not mend
their own lives, or teach us ingenia sanare, memoriam officiorum ingerere, ac fidem
in rebus humanis retinere, to keep our wits in order, or rectify our manners. Numquid
tibi clemens videtur, si istus operam impenderit? Is not he mad that draws lines with
Archimedes, whilst his house is ransacked, and his city besieged, when the whole
world is in combustion, or we whilst our souls are in danger, (mors sequitur, vita
fugit) to spend our time in toys, idle questions, and things of no worth?
That lovers are mad, I think no man will deny, Amare simul et sapetur ispi
Jovi non datur; Jupiter himself cannot intend both at once.
"Non bene conveniunt, nec in una sede morantur
Majestas et amor."
("Majesty and Love do not agree well, nor dwell together.")
Tully, when he was invited to a second marriage, replied, he could not simul
amare et sapere, be wise and love both together. Est orcus ille, vis est immedicabilis,
et rabies insana, love is madness, a hell, an incurable disease; impotentem et insanam
libidinem Seneca calls it, an impotent and raging lust. I shall dilate this subject apart;
in the meantime let lovers sigh out the rest.
Nevisanus the lawyer holds it for an axiom, "most women are fools,"
consilium foeminis invalidum; Seneca, men, be they young or old; who doubts it, youth
is mad as Elius in Tully, Stulti adolescentuli, old age little better, deliri senes, &c.
Theophrastus, in the 107th year of his age, said he then began to be wise, tum sapere
coepit, and therefore lamented his departure. If wisdom come so late, where shall we
find a wise man? Our old ones doat at threescore-and-ten. I would cite more proofs,
and a better author, but for the present, let one fool point at another. Nevisanus hath as
hard an opinion of rich men, "wealth and wisdom cannot dwell together," stultitiam
patiuntur opes, and they do commonly infatuare cor hominis, besot men; and as we
see it, "fools have fortune:" Sapientia non invenitur in terra suaviter viventium. For
beside a natural contempt of learning, which accompanies such kind of men, innate
idleness (for they will take no pains), and which Aristotle observes, ubi mens plurima,
ibi minima fortuna, ubi plurima fortuna, ibi mens perexigua, great wealth and little
wit go commonly together: they have as much brains some of them in their heads as
in their heels; besides this inbred neglect of liberal sciences, and all arts, which should
excolere mentem, polish the mind, they have most part some gullish humour or other,
by which they are led; one is an Epicure, an Atheist, a second a gamester, a third a
whore-master (fit subjects all for a satirist to work upon);
"Hic nuptarum insanit amoribus, hic puerorum."
One burns to madness for the wedded dame;
Unnatural lusts anothers heart inflame.
One is mad of hawking, hunting, cocking; another of carousing, horse-riding,
spending; a fourth of building, fighting, &c., Insanit veteres statuat Damasippus
emendo, Damasippus hath an humour of his own, to be talked of: Heliodorus the
Carthaginian, another. In a word, as Scaliger concludes of them all, they are Statuæ
erectæ stultitiæ, the very statues or pillars of folly. Choose out of all stories him that
hath been most admired, you shall still find, multa ad laudem, multa ad
vituperationem magnifica, as Berosus of Semiramis; omnes mortales militia triumphis
divitiis, &c., tum et luxu, coede, coeterisque vitiis antecessit, as she had some good, so
had she many bad parts.
Alexander, a worthy man, but furious in his anger, overtaken in drink: Cæsar
and Scipio valiant and wise, but vain-glorious, ambitious: Vespasian a worthy prince,
but covetous: Hannibal, as he had mighty virtues, so had he many vices; unam
virtutem mille vitia comitantur, as Machiavel of Cosmo de Medici, he had two distinct
persons in him. I will determine of them all, they are like these double or turning
pictures; stand before which you see a fair maid, on the one side an ape, on the other
an owl; look upon them at the first sight, all is well, but further examine, you shall
find them wise on the one side, and fools on the other; in some few things
praiseworthy, in the rest incomparably faulty. I will say nothing of their diseases,
emulations, discontents, wants, and such miseries: let poverty plead the rest in
Aristophanes' Plutus.
Covetous men, amongst others, are most mad. They have all the symptoms of
melancholy, fear, sadness, suspicion, &c., as shall be proved in its proper place.
"Danda est hellebori multo pars maxima avaris."
Misers make Anticyra their own;
Its hellebore reserv'd for them alone.
And yet methinks prodigals are much madder than they, be of what condition
they will, that bear a public or private purse; as Dutch writer censured Richard the
rich duke of Cornwall, suing to be emperor, for his profuse spending, qui effudet
pecuniam ante pedes principium Electorum sicut aquam, that scattered money like
water; I do censure them, Stulta Anglia (saith he) quæ tot denariis sponte est privata,
stulti principes Alemnaniæ, qui nobiles jus suum pro pecunia vendiderunt;
spendthrifts, bribers, and bribetakers are fools, and so are all they that cannot keep,
disburse, or spend their moneys well.
I might say the like of angry, peevish, envious, ambitious; Anticyræ melior
sorbere meracas; Epicures, Atheists, Schismatics, Heretics; hi omnes habent
imaginationem læsam (saith Nymannus) "and their madness shall be evident." 2 Tim.
iii. 9. Fabatus, an Italian, holds seafaring men all mad; "the ship is mad, for it never
stands still; the mariners are mad, to expose themselves to such imminent dangers: the
waters are raging mad, in perpetual motion: the winds are as mad as the rest, they
know not whence they come, whither they would go: and those men are maddest of
all that go to sea; for one fool at home, they find forty abroad." He was a madman that
said it, and thou peradventure as mad to read it. Foelix Platerus is of opinion all
alchemists are mad, out of their wits; Atheneus saith as much of fiddlers, et musarum
luscinias, Musicians, omna tibicines insaniunt; ubi semel efflant, avolat illico mens, in
comes music at one ear, out goes wit at another. Proud and vain-glorious persons are
certainly mad; and so are lascivious; I can feel their pulses beat hither; horn-mad
some of them, to let others lie with their wives, and wink at it.
To insist in all particulars, were an Herculean task, to reckon up insanas
substructiones, insanos labores, insanum luxum, mad labours, mad books,
endeavours, carriages, gross ignorance, ridiculous actions, absurd gestures; insanum
gulam, insaniam villarum, insana jurgia, as Tullyterins them, madness of villages,
stupend structures; as those Ægyptian Pyramids, Labyrinths and Sphinxes, which a
company of crowned asses, ad ostentationem opum, vainly built, when neither the
architect nor king that made them, or to what use and purpose, are yet known: to insist
in their hypocrisy, inconstancy, blindness, rashness, dementam temeritatem, fraud,
cozenage, malice, anger, impudence, ingratitude, ambition, gross superstition,
tempora infecta et adulatione sordida, as in Tiberius' times, such base flattery,
stupend, parasitic fawning and colloguing, &c., brawls, conflicts, desires, contentions,
it would ask an expert Vesalius to anatomize every member.
Shall I say? Jupiter himself, Apollo, Mars, &c., doated; and monsterconquering
Hercules that subdued the world, and helped others, could not relieve
himself in this, but mad he was at last. And where shall a man walk, converse with
whom, in what province, city, and not meet with Signiur Deliro, or Hercules Furens,
Mænades, and Corybantes? Their speeches say no less. E fungis nati homines, or else
they fetched their pedigree from those that were struck by Samson with the jaw-bone
of an ass. Or from Deucalion and Pyrrha's stones, for durum genus sumus, marmorei
sumus, we are stony-hearted, and savour too much of the stock, as if they had all
heard that enchanted horn of Astolpho, that English duke in Ariosto, which never
but all his auditors were mad, and for fear ready to make away with
themselves; or landed in the mad haven in the Euxine sea of Daphnis insana, which
had a secret quality to dementate; they are a company of giddyheads, afternoon men,
it is Midsummer moon still, and the dog-days last all the year long, they are all mad.
Whom shall I then except? Ulricus Huttenus Nemo, nam nemo omnibus horis sapit,
Nemo nascitur sine vitiis, Crimine Nemo caret, Nemo sorte sua vivit contentus, Nemo
in amore sapit, Nemo bonus, Nemo sapiens, Nemo est ex omne parte insanus, &c. (No
one is wise at all hours -- no one one born without faults -- no one free from crime --
no one content with his lot -- no one in love wise -- no good, or wise man perfectly
happy) and therefore: Nicholas Nemo, or Monsieur No-body, shall go free, Quid
valeat nemo, Nemo referre potest? But whom shall I except in the second place? such
as are silent, vir sapit qui pauca loquitur; no better way to avoid folly and madness,
than by taciturnity. Whom in a third? all senators, magistrates; for all fortunate men
are wise, and conquerors valiant, and so are all great men, non est bonum ludere cum
diis, they are wise by authority, good by their office and place, his licet impune
pessimos esse (some say) we must not speak of them, neither is it fit; per me sint
ommia protinus alba, I will not think amiss of them. Whom next? Stoics? Sapiens
Stoicus, and he alone is subject to no perturbations, as Plutarch scoffs at him, "he is
not vexed with torments, or burnt with fire, foiled by his adversary, sold of his enemy:
though he be wrinkled, sand-blind, toothless, and deformed; yet he is most beautiful,
and like a god, a king in conceit, though not worth a groat." "He never doats, never
mad, never sad, drunk, because virtue cannot be taken away," as Zeno holds, "by
reason of strong apprehension," but he was mad to say so. Anticyræ coelo huic est
opus aut dolabra, he had need to be bored, and so had all his fellows, as wise as they
would seem to be. Chrysippus himself liberally grants them to be fools as well as
others, at certain times, upon some occasions, amitti virtutem ait per ebrietatem, aut
atrabilarium morbum, it may be lost by drunkenness or melancholy, he may be
sometimes crazed as well as the rest: ad summum sapiens nisi quum pituita molesta. I
should here except some Cynics, Menippus, Diogenes, that Theban Crates; or to
descend to these times, that omniscious, only wise fraternity of the Rosicrucians,
those great theologues, politicians, philosophers, physicians, philologers, artists, &c.
of whom S. Bridget, Albas Joacchimus, Leicenbergius, and such divine spirits have
prophesied, and made promise to the world, if at least there be any such (Hen.
Neuhusius makes a doubt of it, Valentinus Ancireas and others) or an Elias artifex
their Theophrastian master; whom though Libavius and many deride and carp at, yet
some will have to be "the renewer of all arts and sciences," reformer of the world, and
now living, for so Johannes Montanus Strigoniensis, that great patron of Paracelsus,
contends, and certainly avers "a most divine man," and the quintessence of wisdom
wheresoever he is; for he, his fraternity, friends, &c. are all "betrothed to wisdom," if
we may believe their disciples and followers. I must needs except Lipsius and the
Pope, and expunge their name out of the catalogue of fools. For besides that
parasitical testimony of Dousa,
"A Sole exoriente Mæotidas usque paludes,
Nemo est qui justo se æquiparare queat."
"From the rising sun to the Mæotid Lake, there was not one that could fairly be put in
comparison with them."
Lipsius saith of himself, that he was humani generis quidem pedagogus voce et stylo,
a grand signior, a master, a tutor of us all, and for thirteen years he brags how he
sowed wisdom in the Low Countries, as Ammonius the philosopher sometimes did in
Alexandria, cum humanitate literas et sapientiam cum prudentia: antistes sapientiæ,
he shall be Sapientum Octavus. The Pope is more than a man, as his parats often make
him, a demi-god, and besides his holiness cannot err, in Cathedra belike: and yet
some of them have been magicians, Heretics, Atheists, children, and as Platina saith
of John 22. Etsi vir literatus, multa stoliditatem et lævitatem præ se ferentia egit,
stolidi et socordis vir ingenii, a scholar sufficient, yet many things he did foolishly,
lightly. I can say no more than in particular, but in general terms to the rest, they are
all mad, their wits are evaporated, and as Ariosto feigns 1. 34. kept in jars above the
"Some lose their wits with love, some with ambition,
Some following Lords and men of high condition.
Some in fair jewels rich and costly set,
Others in Poetry their wits forget,
Another thinks to be an Alchemist,
Till all be spent, and that his number's mist."
Convicted fools they are, madmen upon record; and I am afraid past cure many of
them, crepunt inguina, the symptoms are manifest, they are all of Gotam parish:
"Quum furor haud dubius, quum sit manifesta phrenesis,"
(Since madness is indisputable, since frenzy is obvious.)
what remains then but to send for Lorarios, those officers to carry them all together
for company to Bedlam, and set Rabelais to be their physician.
If any man shall ask in the meantime, who I am that so boldly censure ethers,
tu nullane habes vitia? have I no faults? Yes, more than thou hast, whatsoever thou
art. Nos numerus sumus, I confess it again, I am as foolish, as mad as any one.
"Insanus vobis video; non deprecor ipse,
Quo minus insanus," --
I do not deny it, demens do populo dematur. My comfort is, I have more fellows, and
those of excellent note. And though I be not so right or so discreet as I should be, yet
not so mad, so bad neither, as thou perhaps takest me to be.
To conclude, this being granted, that all the world is melancholy, or mad,
doats, and every member of it, I have ended my task, and sufficiently illustrated that
which I took upon me to demonstrate at first. At this present I have no more to say;
His sanam mentem Democritus, I can but wish myself and them a good physician, and
all of us a better mind.
And although for the abovenamed reasons, I had a just cause to undertake this
subject, to point at these particular species of dotage, that so men might acknowledge
their imperfections, and seek to reform what is amiss; yet I have a mere serious intent
at this time; and to omit all impertinent digressions, to say no more of such as are
improperly melancholy, or metaphorically mad, lightly mad, or in disposition, as
stupid, angry, drunken, silly, sottish, sullen, proud, vain-glorious, ridiculous, beastly,
peevish, obstinate, impudent, extravagant, dry, doting, dull, desperate, harebrain, &c.,
mad, frantic, foolish, heteroclites, which no new hospital can hold, no physic help;
my purpose and endeavour is, in the following discourse to anatomize this humour of
melancholy, through all its parts and species, as it is an habit, or an ordinary disease,
and that philosophically, medicinally, to show the causes, symptoms, and several
cures of it, that it may be the better avoided. Moved thereunto for the generality of it,
and to do good, it being a disease so frequent, as Mercurialis observes, "in these our
days; so often happening," saith Laurentius; "in our miserable times," as few there are
that feel not the smart of it. Of the same mind is Ælian Montalius, Melancthon, and
others; Julius Caesar Claudinus calls it the "fountain of all other diseases, and so
common in this crazed age of ours, that scarce one in a thousand is free from it, and
that splenetic hypochondriacal wind especially, which proceeds from the spleen and
short ribs. Being then a disease so grievous, so common, I know not wherein to do a
more general service, and spend my time better, than to prescribe means how to
prevent and cure so universal a malady, an epidemical disease, that so often, so much
crucifies the body and mind.
If I have overshot myself in this which hath been hitherto said, or that it is,
which I am sure some will object, too fantastical, "too light and comical for a Divine,
too satirical for one of my profession;" I will presume to answer with Erasmus, in like
case, 'tis not I, but Democritus, Democritus dixit: you must consider what it is to
speak in one's own or another's person, an assumed habit and name; a difference
betwixt him that affects or acts a prince's, a philosopher's, a magistrate's, a fool's part,
and him that is so indeed; and what liberty those old satirists have had; it is a cento
collected from others; not I, but they that say it.
"Dixero si quid forte jocosius, hoc mihi juris
Cum venia dabis."--
Yet some indulgence I may justly claim,
If too familiar with another's fame.
Take heed, you mistake me not. If I do a little forget myself, I hope you will
pardon it. And to say truth, why should any man be offended, or take exceptions at it?
"Licuit, semperque licebit,
Parcere personis, dicere de vitiis."
It lawful was of old, and still will be,
To speak of vice, but let the name go free.
I hate their vices, not their persons. If any be displeased, or take aught unto himself,
let him not expostulate or cavil with him that said it (so did Erasmus excuse himself to
Dorpius, si parva licet componere magnis) and so do I; "but let him be angry with
himself that so betrayed and opened his own faults in applying it to himself:" if he be
guilty and deserve it, let him amend, whoever he is and not be angry. "he that hateth
correction is a fool," Prov. xii. 1. If he be not guilty, it concerns him not; it is not my
freeness of speech, but a guilty conscience, a galled back of his own that makes him
"Suspicione si quis errabit suo,
Et rapiet ad se, quod erit commune omnium,
Stulte nudabit animi conscientiam."
("If any one shall err through his own suspicion, and shall apply to himself what is
common to all, he will foolishly betray a consciousness of guilt")
I deny not this which I have said savours a little of Dcmocritus; Quamvis ridentem
dicere verum quid vetat; one may speak in jest, and yet speak truth. It is somewhat
tart, I grant it; acriora orexim excitant embammata, as he said, sharp sauces increase
appetite, nec cibus ipse juvat morsu frandatus aceti. Object then and cavil what thou
wilt, I ward all with Democritus's buckler, his medicine shall salve it; strike where
thou wilt, and when: Democritus dixit, Democritus will answer it. It was written by an
idle fellow, at idle times, about our Saturnalian or Dyonisian feasts, when as he said,
nullum libertati periculum est, servants in old Rome had liberty to say and do what
them list. When our countrymen sacrificed to their goddess Vacuna, and sat tippling
by their Vacunal fires, I writ this, and published this ουτις ελεγεν [oytis elegen], it is
neminis nihil. The time, places persons, and all circumstances apologise for me, and
why may I not then be idle with others? speak my mind freely? If you deny me this
liberty, upon these presumptions I will take it: I say again, I will take it.
"Si quis est qui dictum in se inclementius
Existimavit esse, sic existimet."
If any man take exceptions, let him turn the buckle of his girdle, I care not. I owe thee
nothing (Reader), I look for no favour at thy hands, I am independent, I fear not.
No, I recant, I will not, I care, I fear, I confess my fault, acknowledge a great
"--- motos praestat componere fluctus."
(--- let's first assuage the troubled waves.)
I have overshot myself; I have spoken foolishly, rashly, unadvisedly, absurdly, I have
anatomized mine own folly. And now methinks upon a sudden I am awaked as it were
out of a dream; I have had a raving fit, a fantastical fit, ranged up and down, in and
out, I have insulted over the most kind of men, abused some, offended others,
wronged myself; and now being recovered, and perceiving mine error, cry with
Orlando, Solvite me, pardon (o boni) that which is past, and I will make you amends
in that which is to come; I promise you a more sober discourse in my following
If through weakness, folly, passion, discontent, ignorance, I have said amiss,
let it be forgotten and forgiven. I acknowledge that oft Tacitus to be true, Asperæ
facetiæ ubi nimis ex vero traxere, acrem sui memoriam relinquunt, a bitter jest leaves
a sting behind it: and as an honourable man observes, "They fear a satirist's wit, he
their memories." I may justly suspect the worst; and though I hope I have wronged no
man, yet in Medea's words I will crave pardon.
--- Illud jam voce extrema peto,
Ne si qua noster dubius effudit dolor,
Maneant in animo verba, sed melior tibi
Memoria nostri subeat, hac irae data
Obliterentur --- "
And in my last words this I do desire,
That what in passion I have said, or ire,
May be forgotten, and a better mind
Be had of us, hereafter as you find.
I earnestly request every private man, as Scaliger did Cardan not to take offence. I
will conclude in his lines, Si me cognitum haberes, non solum donares nobis has
facetias nostras, sed etiam indignum duceres, tam humanum animum, lene ingenium,
vel minimam suspicionem deprecari oportere. If thou knewest my modesty and
simplicity, thou wouldst easily pardon and forgive what is here amiss, or by thee
misconceived. If hereafter anatomizing this surly humour, my hand slip, as an
unskilful prentice I lance too deep, and cut through skin and all at unawares, make it
smart, or cut awry, pardon a rude hand, an unskilful knife, 'tis a most difficult thing to
keep an even tone, a perpetual tenor, and not sometimes to lash out; difficile est
Satyram non scribere, there be so many objects to divert, inward perturbations to
molest, and the very best may sometimes err; aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus
(sometimes that excellent Homer takes a nap), it is impossible not in so much to
overshoot; -- opere in longo fas est obrepere somnum. But what needs all this? I hope
there will no such cause of offence be given; if there be, "Nemo aliquid recognoscit,
nos mentimur omnia" ("Let not anyone take all these to himself, they are all fictions").
I'll deny all (my last refuge), recant all, renounce all I have said, if any man except,
and with as much facility excuse, as he can accuse; but I presume of thy good favour,
and gracious acceptance (gentle reader). Out of an assured hope and confidence
thereof, I will begin.