THE SOUL’S SICKNESS
A Discourse — Divine, Moral, and Physical.
SICKNESSES in men’s souls are bred like diseases in natural, or corruptions in civil bodies; with so insensible a progress, that they are not discerned till they be almost desperate. We can better brook our maladies than our remedies. In the head and other corporal parts there are many diseases, which I will not contend to find out; desiring only to slay, not all, but enough. I will borrow so much timber out of Galen’s wood, as shall serve me for a scaffold to build up my moral discourse.
Headache and Brain-sickness. — Headache is diverse, say physicians, according to the causes:— There is a headache called the megrim, henzi-crania, possessing lightly one side of the head, and distinguished by a seam that runs along in the skull. There is a disease in the soul not unlike this, and they that labour of it are called brain-sick men. They may have some pretty understanding in part of their heads, but the other part is strangely sick of crotchets, singularities, and toyish inventions; wherein because they frolic themselves, they think all the world fools that admire them not. They are ever troubling themselves with unnecessary thoughtfulness of long or short, white or black, round or square; confounding their wits with geometrical dimensions, and studying of measure out of measure. A square cap on another man’s head puts their head out of square, and they turn their brains into cotton with storming against a garment of linen. New Albutii, to moot the reasons, why if a cup fell down it brake; if a sponge, it brake not; why eagles fly, and not elephants. There be such students in the schools of Rome:— what shall be done with an ass, if he get into the church, to the font uncovered, and drink the water of baptism. Upon the strange hap of a clerk’s negligence, and a thirsty ass’s entering the church, which are uncertain, they make themselves asses in certain. Or if a hungry mouse filch the body of our Lord, &c. Brave wits to invent mouse-traps. These curiosities in human, but much more in divine things, prove men brain-sick.
The cause of the megrim is the ascending of many vaporous humours, hot or cold, by the veins or arteries. The cause of this spiritual megrim, or brain-sickness, is the unkindly concurrence of ignorance, arrogance, and affectation, like foggy clouds, obscuring and smothering the true light of their sober judgments; and bearing their affections like a violent wind upon one only point of the compass, new-fangled opinion:— they hate not to be observed, and had rather be notorious than not notable. Opinion is a foot too much, which spoils the verse. New physic may be better than old, so may new philosophy; our studies, observation, and experience perfecting theirs; beginning, not at the Gamoth, as they did, but, as it were, at the Ela:— but hardly new divinity; not that an ancient error should be brought out against a new truth. A new truth! Nay, an old newly come to light; for error cannot wage antiquity with truth. His desire is to be cross to regularity; and should he be enjoined a hat, a cap would extremely please him; were he confined to extemporal and enthusiastical labours, he would commend premeditation and study, which now he abhors, because they are put on him. He is unwise in being so bitter against ceremonies; for therein he is palpably against himself, himself being nothing else but ceremony. He loves not the beaten path; and because every fool, saith he, enters at the gate, he will climb over the wall. Whiles the door of the church stands open, he contends to creep through the window, John 10:1. The brain-sick are no less than drunk with opinion; and that so strangely, that sleep, which helps other drunkards, doth them no good. Their ambitious singularity is often so violent that if it be not restrained it grows to a kind of frenzy, and so the megrim turns into the staggers. Herein, because we will not credit their positions, nor receive their crotchets in our set music, they reel into the Low Countries.
Inconstancy, a kind of Staggers. — There is a disease in the soul called inconstancy, not unfitly shadowed to us by a bodily infirmity, possessing the superior part of man — vertigo, a swimming in the head, a giddiness, or the staggers. The disease in the body is described to be an astonishing and dusking of the eyes and spirits, that the patient thinks all that he seeth to turn round, and is suddenly compassed with darkness. The parallel to it in the soul is inconstancy, a motion without rule, a various aspect, a diversifying intention. The inconstant man is like a Pourcontrell; if he should change his apparel so fast as his thought, how often in a day would he shift himself! He would be a Proteus too, and vary kinds. The reflection of every man’s news melts him, whereof he is as soon glutted. As he is a noun, he is only adjective, depending on every novel persuasion; as a verb, he knows only the present tense. To-day he goes to the quay to be shipped for Rome, but before the tide come, his tide is turned. One party think him theirs, the adverse theirs:— he is with both, with neither, not an hour with himself. Because the birds and beasts be at controversy, he will be a bat, and get him both wings and teeth. He would come to heaven, but for his halting:— two opinions, like two watermen, almost pull him a-pieces, when he resolves to put his judgment into a boat, and go some whither; presently he steps back, and goes with neither. It is a wonder if his affections, being but a little lukewarm water, do not make his religion stomach-sick. Indifference is his ballast, and opinion his sail:— he resolves not to resolve. He knows not what he doth hold. He opens his mind to receive motions, as one opens his palm to take a handful of water — he bath very much, if he could hold it. He is sure to die, but not what religion to die in; he demurs like a posed lawyer, as if delay could remove some impediments. He is drunk when he riseth, and reels in a morning fasting. He knows not whether he should say his Pater nosier in Latin or English, and so leaves it and his prayers unsaid. He makes himself ready for an appointed feast:— by the way he hears of a sermon, he turns thitherward; yet betwixt the church gate and church door he thinks of business, and retires home again. In a controverted point he holds with the last reasoner he either heard or read; the next diverts him; and his opinion dwells with him perhaps so long as the teacher of it is in his sight. He will rather take dross for gold, than try it in the furnace. He receives many judgments, retains none, embracing so many faiths that he is little better than an infidel. Thus his breast is full of secret combats, contradictions, affirmations, negatives; and, whiles he refuseth to join with others, he is divided in himself, and yet will rather search excuses for his unstaidness, than ground for his rest. He loathes manna after two days’ feeding, and is almost weary of the sun for perpetual shining. If the temple-pavements be ever worn with his visitant feet, he will run far to a new teacher; and rather than be bound to his own parish, he will turn recusant. He will admire a new preacher till a quarter of the sand is out; but if the church doors be not locked up, he cannot stay out the hour. What he promiseth to a collection to-day, he forgets, or at least denies, the next morning.
The signs of this disease in the body are a mist and darkness coming upon every light occasion. If he see a wheel turning round, or a whirlpool, or any such circular motion, he is affected with giddiness. The symptoms of the spiritual staggers are semblable. He turns with those that turn, and is his neighbour’s chameleon. He hates staidness as an earthen dullness. He prosecutes a business without fear or wit; and rejecting the patience to consult, falls upon it with a peremptory heat:— but like water once hot, is soonest frozen, and instantly he must shift his time and his place; neither is he so weary of every place, as every place is weary of him. He affects an object with dotage, and as superstitiously courts it as an idolater his gilded block. But it is a wonder if his passionate love outlive the age of a wonder — nine days. He respects in all things novelty above goodness; and the child of his own brains within a week he is ready to judge a bastard. He salutes his wits after some invented toy, as a serving-man kisseth his hand; when instantly on another plot arising, he kicks the former out of doors. He pulls down this day what he builded the other, now disliking the site, now the fashion, and sets men on work to his own undoing.
For the curing of this bodily infirmity many remedies are prescribed:— odoriferous smells in weakness, the opening of a vein in better strength, cupping glasses applied to the hinder part of the head, with scarification, gargarisms, and sternutatory things together with setting the feet in hot r baths, &c. To cure this spiritual staggers, let the patient be purged with repentance for his former unsettledness; let him take an ounce of faith to firm his brains; let his repose be on the Scriptures, and thence fetch decision of all doubts; let a skilful physician order him a good minister. Let him stop his ears to rumours, and fix his eyes on heaven, to be kept from distracting objects. Let him keep the continual diet of prayer for the Spirit of illumination; and thus he may be re. covered.
Envy, a Consumption. — Envy fitly succeeds anger, for it is nothing else but inveterate wrath. The other was a frantic fit, and this is a consumption; a languishing disease in the body, the beginning of dissolution, a broaching of the vessel, not to be stopped till all the liquor of life is run out. What the other table is in the body, I list not to define, by reason that this spiritual sickness is a consumption of the flesh also, and a pining away of the spirits; now since they both have relation to the body, their comparison would be confusion. Envy is the consumption I singularly deal withal; which though I cannot cure, I will hopefully minister to.
The cause of envy is others’ prosperity, or rather an evil eye shot upon it. The angry man hath not himself, the envious must have no neighbour. He battens at the maligned’s misery; and if such a man riseth, he falls as if he were planet-struck. I know not whether he could endure to be in paradise with a superior. He hates to be happy with any company. Envy sits in a man’s eyes, and wheresoever through those windows it spies a blessing, it is sickness and death unto it. He is even quarrelling with God that his neighbour’s field bears better corn, and thinks himself poor if a near dweller be richer. He will dispraise God’s greatest blessings if they fall besides himself, and grow sullen, so far as he dares, with the prince that shall promote a better deserver. There is no law perfect, if he was not at the making it. He undertakes a great work, and when he cannot accomplish it, he will give leave to none other.
Idleness, the Lethargy. — Idleness in the soul is a dangerous disease, as the lethargy in the body. The very name of lethargy speaks the nature, for it is compounded of a jBp, forgetfulness, and finis) slothful; and so consequently is defined to be a dull oblivion. The idle man is a piece of base heavy earth, and moulded with muddy and standing water. He lies in bed the former half of the day, devising excuses to prevent the afternoon’s labour. He cannot endure to do anything by himself that may be done by attorney. He forestalls persuasion inducing him to any work, by forecasting the unprofitableness; he holds business man’s cruellest enemy, and a monstrous devourer of time. His body is so swollen with lazy humours, that he moves like a tun upon two pottle pots. He is tempted to covetous, for no other reason but to be able to keep servants; whom he will rather trust than step out to oversee. Neither summer nor winter scape the blame of his laziness; in the one it is too hot, in the other too cold, to work. Summer bath days too long, winter nights too cold; he must needs help the one with a nap at noon, the other with a good fire. He was very fit to be a monk:— spare him an early mass, and he will accept it; yet howsoever, he will rather venture the censure than forsake a lazy calling.
The cause of the lethargy is abundant phlegm, overmuch cooling the brain, and thereby provoking sleep; which putrefied in the brain, causeth a fever. The cause of idleness is indulgence to the flesh, a forgetfulness of the end of our creation, a wilful digression from man, for the lazy wretch is a dormouse in a human husk. To man motion is natural, the joints and eyes are made to move; and the mind is never asleep, as if it were set to watch the body. Sleep is the image of death, saith the poet; and therefore the church-sleeper is a dead corpse, set in his pew like a coffin, as if the preacher were to make his funeral sermon. He sings out harvest like the grasshopper; therefore may at Christmas dance for and without his dinner. He riseth at noon to breakfast, which he falls to unwashed, and removes not out of his chair without a sleep. Whilst he sleeps, the enemy over-sows the field of his heart with tares. He is a patient subject for the devil to work on, a cushion for him.
Covetousness. — Our spiritual dropsy. Covetousness is a disease bred in the soul, through defect of faith and understanding. It properly resides in the inferior powers of the soul, the affections; but ariseth from the errors of the superior intellectual faculty:— neither conceiving aright of God’s all-sufficient help, nor of the world’s all-deficient weakness.
Religion gives riches, and riches forget religion. Thus do our affections wheel about with an un-constant motion. Poverty makes us religious, religion rich, and riches irreligious. The covetous man is like a two-legged hog:— whiles he lives, he is ever rooting in the earth, and never doth good till he is dead; like a vermin, of no use till uncased. Himself is a monster, his life a riddle; his face (and his heart) is prone to the ground; his delight is to vex himself. It is a question whether he takes more care to get damnation, or to keep it; and so is either a Laban or a Nabal, two infamous churls in the Old Testament, spelling one another’s name backward. He keeps his god under lock and key, and sometimes, for the better safety, in his unclean vault. He is very eloquently powerful amongst his poor neighbours; who, for awful fear, listen to Pluto as if he were Plato.
His heart is like the East Indian ground, where all the mines be so barren, that it bears neither grass, herb, plant, nor tree. The lightness of his purse gives him a heavy heart, which yet filled, doth fill him with more cares. His medicine is his malady; he would quench his avarice with money, and this inflames it, as oil feeds the lamp, and some harish drinks increase thirst. His proctor in the law, and protector against the law, is his money. His alchemy is excellent, he can project much silver, and waste none in smoke. His rhetoric is how to keep him out of the subsidy. His logic is to prove heaven in his chest. His mathematics, to measure the goodness of anything by his own profit. His arithmetic is in addition and multiplication, much in subtraction, nothing in division. His physic is to minister gold to his eye, though he starve his body. Sculfitura is his Scrifitura; and he hath so many gods as images of coin. He is an ill harvest-man, for he is all at the rake, nothing at the pitchfork. The devil is a slave to God, the world to the devil, the covetous man to the world; he is a slave to the devil’s slave, so that his servant is like to have a good office. He foolishly buries his soul in his chest of silver, when his body must be buried in the mould of corruption. When the fisher offers to catch him with the net of the gospel, he strikes into the mud of avarice, and will not be taken. He sells his best grain, and feeds himself on mouldy crusts; he returns from plough, if he remembers that his cupboard was left unlocked. If once in a reign he invites his neighbours to dinner, he whiles the times with frivolous discourses, to hinder feeding; sets away the best dish, affirming it will be better cold; observes how much each guest eateth, and when they are risen and gone, falleth to himself, what for anger and hunger, with a sharp appetite. If he smells of gentility, you shall have at the nether end of his board a great pasty uncut up, for it is filled with bare bones:— somewhat for show, but most to keep the nether mess from eating. He hath sworn to die in debt to his belly. He deducts from a servant’s wages the price of a halter, which he cut to save his master, when he had hung him self at the fall of the market. He lends nothing, nor returns borrowed, unless it be sent for; which if he cannot deny, he will delay, in hope to have it forgotten. To excuse his base and sordid apparel, he commends the thriftiness of King Henry, how cheap his clothes were. His fist is like the prentices earthen box, which receives all, but lets out nothing till it be broken. He is in more danger to be sand-blind than a goldsmith. Therefore some call him avidum, a non videndo. He must rise in the night with a candle to see his corn, though he stumble in the straw, and fire his barn. He hath a lease of his wits, during the continuance of his riches:— if any cross starts away them, he is mad instantly. He would slay an ass for his skin; and, like Hermocrates dying, bequeath his own goods to himself. His case is worse than the prodigal’s; for the prodigal shall have nothing hereafter, but the covetous hath nothing in present.
Fri de and the Pleurisy. — The pleurisy is defined to be an inward inflammation; Pride is a pursy affection of the soul without law, for it is rebellious; without measure, for it delights in extremes; without reason, for it doth all things with precipitation. The proud man is bitten of the mad dog, the flatterer, and so runs on a garget. This spiritual disease ariseth from a blown opinion of one’s self:— which opinion is either from ignorance of his own emptiness, and so, like a tumbler full of nothing but air, makes a greater sound than a vessel of precious liquor; or from arrogance of some good, which the owner knows too well. He never looks short of himself, but always beyond the mark, and offers to shoot further than he looks; but ever falls two bows short — humility and discretion.
The symptoms of the pleurisy are difficult breathing, a continual fever, a vehement prickling on the affected side. The proud man is known by his gait, which is peripatetically, strutting like some new churchwarden. He thinks himself singularly wise, but his opinion is singular, and goes alone. In the company of good wits, he fenceth in his ignorance with the hedge of silence, that observation may not climb over to see his follies. He would have his judgment for wearing his apparel pass unmended, not uncommended. He shifts his attire on some solemn day, twice at least in twelve hours; but cannot shift himself out of the mercer’s books once in twelve months. His greatest envy is the next gentleman’s better clothes; which if he cannot better or equalise, he wears his own neglected. His apparel carries him to church without devotion; and he riseth up at the Creed to join with the rest in confession, not of his faith, but his pride; for sitting down hides much of his bravery. He feeds with no cheerful stomach, if he sit not at the upper end of the table and be called young master; where he is content to rise hungry, so the observant company weary him with drinking to:— on this condition he gives his obligation for the shot. He loves his lying glass beyond any true friend; and tells his credulous auditors how many gentlewomen have run mad for him, when if a base female servant should court him, I dare wager he proves no Adonis.
This fault is well mended when a man is well minded, — that is, when he esteems of others better than himself. Otherwise a proud man is like the rising earth in mountainous places:— this swells up monk, as he mentee; and the more either earth advanceth itself, perpetually they are the more barren. He lives at a high sail, that the puffy praises of his neighbours may blow him into the enchanted island, vainglory. He shines like a glow-worm in a dark village, but is a crude thing when he comes to the court. If the plethora swells him in the vein of valour, nothing but well-beating can hold him to a man. If ever he goes drunk into the field, and comes off with a victorious parley, he would swell to a son of Anak.
Palsy and Timorous justification. — The former sick were fumidi, these are timidi; they were bold to all evil, these are fearful to all good. This spiritual disease is a cowardly fearfulness and a distrustful suspicion both of actions and men.
The signs of the palsy are manifest; of this not very close and reserved. He conceives what is good to be done, but fancies difficulties and dangers, like to knots in a bulrush, or rubs in a smooth way. He would bowl well at the mark of integrity, if he durst venture it. He hath no journey to go, but either there are bugs, or he imagines them. Had he a pardon for his brother, (being in danger of death,) and a hare should cross him in the way, he would no further, though his brother hanged for it. He owes God some good-will, but he dares not show it. When a poor plaintiff calls him for a witness, he dares not reveal the truth, lest he offend the great adversary. He is a new Nicodemus, and would steal to heaven if nobody might see him. He makes a good motion bad by his fearfulness and doubting; and he calls his trembling by the name of con-science. He is like that collier, that passing through Smithfield, and seeing some on the one side hanging, he demands the cause; answer was made, for denying the supremacy to King Henry:— on the other side some burning, he asks the cause; answered, for denying the real presence in the sacrament:— Some, quoth he, hanged for Papistry, and some burned for Protestancy? Then hoit on, a God’s name:— I’ll be neither. His religion is primarily his prince’s, subordinately his landlord’s. Neither deliberates he more to take a new religion, to rise by it, than he fears to keep his old, lest he fall by it. All his care is for a ne noceat. He is a busy inquirer of all Parliament acts, and quakes as they are read, lest he be found guilty. He is sick, and afraid to die, yet holds the potion in a trembling hand, and quakes to drink his recovery. His thoughts are an ill balance, and will never be equally poised. He is a light vessel, and every great man’s puff is ready to overturn him. Whiles Christ stands on the battlements of heaven, and beckons him thither by his word, his heart answers, I would fain be there, but that some troubles stand in my way. He would ill with Peter walk to him on the pavement of the sea, or thrust out his hand with Moses, to take up a crawling serpent, or hazard the loss of himself to find his Saviour. His mind is ever in suspicion, in suspension, and dares not give a confident determination either way. Resolution and his heart are utter enemies; and all his philosophy is to be a sceptic. Whether is worse, to do an evil action with resolution that it is good, or a good action with dubitation that it is evil, somebody tell me. I am sure neither is well, for an evil deed is evil, whatsoever the agent think; and for the other, ‘Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.’ Negatively, this rule is certain and infallible:— ‘It is good to forbear the doing of that which we are not sure is lawful to be done.’ Affirmatively, the work being good, labour thy understanding so to think it.
Immoderate Thirst and Ambition. — There is a disease in the body called immoderate thirst; which is after much drinking, desired and answered, a still sensible dryness. By this I would (I suppose, not unfittingly) express that spiritual disease, ambition, — a proud soul’s thirst, when a draught of honour causeth a drought of honour; and like Tully’s strange soil, much rain of promotion falling from his heaven, the court, makes him still as dry as dust. He is a most rank churl, for he drinks often, and yet would have no man pledge him.
The signs of the disease are best discerned by the patient’s words. The cause of ambition is a strong opinion of honour; how well he could become a high place, or a high place him. He professeth a new quality, called the art of climbing; wherein he teacheth others by pattern, not so much to aspire, as to break their necks.
No stair pleaseth him if there be a higher; and yet, ascended to the top, he complains of lowness. He is not so soon laid in his bed of honour but he dreams of a higher preferment, and would not sit on a seat long enough to make it warm. His advancement gives him a fresh provocation, and he now treads on that with a disdainful foot, which erewhile he would have kissed to obtain. He climbs falling towers, and the hope to scale them swallows all fear of toppling down. He is himself an intelligencer to greatness, yet not without under-officers of the same rank. You shall see him narrow-eyed with watching, affable and open-breasted like Absalom, full of insinuation so long as he is at the stair-foot; but when authority hath once spoken kindly to him, with ‘Friend, sit up higher,’ he looks rougher than Hercules; so big as if the river of his blood would not be banked within his veins. Like a great wind, he blows down all friends that stand in his way to rising. Policy is his post-horse, and he rides all upon the spur, till he come to Nonesuch. His greatest plague is a rival.
He is a child in his gaudy desires, and great titles are his rattles, which still his crying till he see a new toy. He kisses his wits, as a courtier his hand, when any wished fortune salutes him; and it tickles him that he hath stolen to promotion without God’s knowledge. Ambition is the rack whereon he tortureth himself. The court is the sea wherein he desires to fish; but the net of his wit and hope breaks, and there he drowns himself. To cure the immoderate thirst of ambition, let him take from God this prescript:— He that exalteth himself shall be brought low; but he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.’ That he who sets himself down in the lower room hears the master of the feast’s invitation, Friend, sit up higher.’ That the first step to heaven’s court is humility:— Matt. 5:3, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ That he who walks on plain ground is in little danger to fall; if he do fall, he riseth with small hurt; but he that climbs high is in more danger of falling, and if he fall, of killing. That the great blasts of powerful envy overthrow oaks and cedars, that oppose their huge bodies, and pass through hollow willows, or over little shrubs, that grow under the wall. That the honours of this world have no satisfactory validity in them. The poor labourer would be a farmer; the farmer, after two or three dear years, aspires to a yeoman; the yeoman’s son must be a gentleman. The gentleman’s ambition flies justice-height. He is out of square with being a squire, and shoots at knighthood. Once knighted, his dignity is nothing, except worth a noble title. This is not enough, the world must count him a count, or he is not satisfied. He is weary of his earldom, if there be a duke in the land. That granted, he thinks it base to be a subject; nothing now contents him but a crown. Crowned, he vilifies his own kingdom for narrow bounds, whiles he hath greater neighbours; he must be Csared to a universal monarch. Let it be granted, is he yet content? No; then the earth is a molehill, too narrow for his mind, and he is angry for lack of elbow-room.
The Putrid Fever, or Hypocrisy. — For the signs of this fever they be not externally discerned. The hypocrite is exceedingly rotten at core, like a Sodom apple, though an ignorant passenger may take him for sound. He looks squint-eyed, aiming at two things at once:— the satisfying his own lusts, and that the world may not be aware of it. He is on Sunday like the Rubric, or Sunday-letter, zealously red; but all the week you may write his deeds in black. He fries in words, freezeth in works; speaks by ells, doth good by inches. He is a rotten tinder, shining in the night:— an ignis fatuus, looking like a fixed star; a ‘painted sepulchre,’ that conceals much rottenness; a crude glow-worm shining in the dark; a stinking dunghill covered over with snow; a fellow of a bad course, and good discourse; a loose-hung mill, that keeps great clacking, but grinds no grist; a lying hen, that cackles when she bath not laid. He is like some tap-house that hath upon the painted walls written, ‘Fear God, be sober, watch and pray,’ &c., when there is nothing but swearing and drunkenness in the house. His tongue is hot as if he had eaten pepper, which works coldly at the heart. He burns in the show of forward profession; but it is a poor fire of zeal, that will not make the pot of charity seethe. He is in company holy and demure, but alone demurs of the matter; so shuts out the devil at the gate, and lets him in at the postern.
His words are precise, his deeds concise; he prays so long in the church, that he may with less suspicion prey on the church; which he doth the more peremptorily, if his power be answerable. If his place will afford it, his grace will without question. He bears an earnest affection to the temple, as a hungry man to his meat, only to devour it. Some are so charitable, that having got the tithe-corn from the church, they reserve from the presented incumbent their petty tithes also; like monstrous thieves, that having stolen the whole piece, ask for the remnants. Nay, it is not enough that they devour our parsonages, but they also devour our persons with their contumelious slanders. Advantage can make his religion play at fast and loose, for he only so long grows full of devotion, as he may grow full by devotion. His arguments are weak or strong, according to his cheer; and he discourses best after dinner. Self-conceit swells him, and popular applause bursts him. He never gives the law good words but when it bath him upon the hip. Like a kind hen, he feeds his chickens fat, starves himself. He forceth formal preciseness, like a porter, to hold the door, whiles devils dance within. He gives God nothing but show, as if he would pay him his reckoning with chalk; which increaseth. the debt. If ever his alms smell of bounty, he gives them in public. He that desires more to be seen of men than of God commend me to his conscience by this token, he is a hypocrite. He is false in his friendship, heartless in his zeal, proud in his humility. He rails against interludes, yet is himself never off the stage; and condemns a mask, when his whole life is nothing else. He sends a beggar from his gate bountifully feasted with Scripture sentences; and (though he likes them not) so much of the statutes as will serve to save his money. But if everyone were of his profession, charity’s hand would no longer hold up poverty’s head. What his tongue spoke, his hands recant; and he weeps when he talks of his youth, not that it was wicked, but that it is not. His tongue is his dissimulation’s lacquery, and runs continually on that errand:— he is the stranger’s saint, his neighbour’s sycophant, his own politician; his whole life being nothing else but a continual scribbling after the set copy of hypocrisy.
Vainglory. — You shall easily know a vain-glorious man. He stands so pertly, that you may know he is not laden with fruit. If you would drink of his wisdom, knock by a sober question at the barrel, and you shall find by the sound his wits are empty. In all companies, like chaff, he will be uppermost; he is some surfeit in nature’s stomach, and cannot be kept down. A goodly cypress tree, fertile only of leaves. He drinks to none beneath the salt; and it is his grammar-rule without exception, not to confer with an inferior in public. His impudence will overrule his ignorance to talk of learned principles, which come from him like a treble part in a bass voice, too big for it. Living in some under-stair office, when he would visit the country, he borrows some gallant’s cast suit of his servant, and therein, player-like, acts that part among his besotted neighbours. When he rides his master’s great horse out of ken, he vaunts of him as his own, and brags how much he cost him. He feeds upon others’ courtesy, others’ meat; and (whether more?) either fats him. At his inn he calls for chickens at spring, and such things as cannot be had; whereat angry, he sups, according to his purse, with a red herring. Far enough from knowledge, he talks of his castle, (which is either in the air, or enchanted,) of his lands, which are some pastures in the fairy-ground, invisible, nowhere. He offers to purchase lordships, but wants money for the earnest. He makes others’ praises as introductions to his own, which must transcend; and calls for wine, that he may make known his rare vessel of deal at home:— not forgetting to tell you, that a Dutch merchant sent it him for some extraordinary desert. He is a wonder everywhere:— among fools for his bravery, among wise men for his folly. He loves a herald for a new coat, and hires him to lie upon his pedigree. All nobility, that is ancient, is of his alliance; and the great man is but of the first head, that doth not call him cousin. In his hall, you shall see an old rusty sword hung up, which he swears killed Glendower in the hands of his grandsire. He fathers upon himself some villainies, because they are in fashion; and so vilifies his credit to advance it. If a new famous courtesan be mentioned, he deeply knows her; whom indeed he never saw. He will be ignorant of nothing, though it be a shame to know it. His barrel hath a continual spigot, but no tunnel; and like an unthrift, he spends more than he gets. His speech of himself is ever historical, histrionically. He is indeed admiration’s creature, and a circumstantial mountebank.
The Busybody moots more questions in an hour than the seven wise men could resolve in seven years. There is a kind of down or curdle on his wit, which is like a gentlewoman’s train, more than needs. He would sing well, but that he is so full of crotchets. His questions are like a plume of feathers, which fools would give anything for, wise men nothing. He hath a greater desire to know where hell is, than to scape it; to know what God did before he made the world, than what he will do with him when it is ended; his neighbours’ estate to a penny and wherein he fails he supplies by intelligence from their flattered servants:— he would serve well for an informer to the subsidy-book. He delays every passenger with inquiry of news; and because the country cannot satiate him, he travels every term to London for it:— whence returning without his full load, himself makes it up by the way. He buys letters from the great city with capons; which he wears out in three days, with perpetual opening them to his companions. If he hears but a word of some state act, he professeth to know it and the intention, as if he had been of the council. He hears a lie in private, and hastes to publish it; so one knave gulls him, he innumerable fools, with the ‘strange fish at Yarmouth,’ or the serpent in Sussex.’ He can keep no secret in, without the hazard of his buttons. He loves no man a moment longer than either he will tell him, or hear of him, news. If the spirit of his tongue be once raised, all the company cannot conjure it down. He teaches his neighbour to work unsent for, and tells him of some dangers without thanks. He comments upon every action, and answers a question ere it be half propounded. Alcibiades having purchased a dog at an unreasonable price, cut off his tail, and let him run about Athens; whiles every man wondered at his intent, he answered that his intent was their wonder, for he did it only to be talked of. The same author reports the like of a gawish traveller that came to Sparta, who standing in the presence of Lacon a long time upon one leg, that he might be observed and admired, cried at the last, ‘0 Lacon, thou canst not stand so long upon one leg.’ ‘True,’ said Lacon; but every goose can.’
Flattery. — The main cause of flattery is a kind of self-love:— for he only commends others to mend himself. The communis terminus, where all his frauds, dissimulations, false phrases and praises, his admirations and superlative titles, meet, is his purse. His tongue serves two masters, his great one’s ear, his own avarice.
He is after the nature of a barber; and first trims the head of his master’s humour, and then sprinkles it with court-water. He scrapes out his diet in courtesies; and cringeth to his glorious object, as a little cur to a mastiff, licking his hand, not with a healing, but poisoning tongue. Riches make many friends:— truly, they are friends to the riches, not to the rich man. A great proud man, because he is admired of a number of hang-byes, thinks he bath many friends. So the ass that carried the goddess thought all the knees bowed to her, when they reverenced her burden. They play like flies in his beams, whiles his wealth warms them. Whilst, like some great oak, he stands high and spreads far in the forest, innumerable beasts shelter themselves under him, feeding like hogs on his acorns; but when the axe of distress begins to tell him, there is not one left to hinder the blow. Like burrs, they stick no longer on his coat than there is a nap on it. These kites would not flock to him, but that he is a fat carcase. Sejanus, whom the Romans worship in the morning as a semi-god, before night they tear a-pieces. Even now stoops, and presently strokes. You may be sure he is but a gallipot, full of honey, that these wasps hover about; and when they have fed themselves at his cost, they give him a sting for his kindness.
The flatterer is young gallants’ schoolmaster, and enters them into book learning. Your cheating tradesman can no more be without such a factor than a usurer without a broker. The fox in the fable, seeing the crow highly perched, with a good morsel in his mouth, flattered him that he sung well, with no scant commendations of his voice; whereof the crow proud, began to make a noise, and let the meat fall:— the foolish bird seeing now himself deceived, soon left singing, and the fox fell to eating. I need not moral it. The instrument, his tongue, is tuned to another’s ear; but, like a common fiddler, he dares not sing an honest song. He lifts up his patron at the tongue’s end, and sets him in a superlative height; like a Pharos, or the eye of the country, when he is indeed the eye-sore. He swears to him that his commending any man is above a justice of peace’s letter, and that the eyes of the parish wait upon him for his grace. He insinuates his praise, most from others’ report; wherein, very rankly, he wrongs three at once; he belies the named commender; the person to whom this commendation is sent; and most of all himself, the messenger. Whilst he supplies a man with the oil of flattery, he wounds his heart; like thunder, which breaks the bone without scratching the skin. He seldom speaks so pompously of his friend, except he be sure of porters to carry it him. He is the proud man’s earwig, and having once gotten in, imposthumes his head.
Conclusion. — Innumerable are the body’s infirmities:— introilus unus, innumeri exitus, there being but one means of coming into the world, infinite of going out; and sickness is death’s liege ambassador. But they are few and scant, if compared to the soul’s, which being a better piece of timber, hath the more tiredness breeding in it; as the fairest flower bath the most cantharides attending on it.
There be three things, say physicians, that grieve the body:— First, the cause of sickness, a contra-natural distemper, which lightly men bring on themselves, though the sediments rest in our sin-corrupted nature. Secondly, sickness itself. Thirdly, the coincidents that either fellow it or follow it. In the soul there be three grievances:— First, original pravity, a natural rivopia — proclivity to evil, contradiction to good. Secondly, actual sin, the main sickness. Thirdly, the concomitant effects, which are punishments corporal and spiritual, temporal and eternal. For all sin makes work, either for Christ or Satan:— for Christ, to expiate by his blood, and the efficacy of that once performed, ever available passion; or for the devil, as God’s executioner to plague. Many remedies are given for many diseases; the sum is this — the best physician is Christ Jesus, the best physic the Scriptures. Ply the one, fly to the other. Let this teach thee, he must cure thee that ‘express image of his Father’s person, and brightness of his glory,’ Heb. 1:3, in whom the graces of God shine without measure. Oft have you seen in one heaven many stars; behold in this sun, as in one star, many heavens; for ‘in him dwelleth all fullness,’ Col. 1:19. Let us fly by our faithful prayers to this physician, and entreat him for that medicine that issued out of his side, ‘water and blood,’ to cure all our spiritual maladies. And when in mercy he hath cured us, let our diet be a conversation led after the canon of his sacred truth; that whatsoever become of this frail vessel, our flesh, floating on the waves of this world, the passenger, our soul, may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Amen.
CAMBRIDGE:— PRINTED BY J.CLAY, M.A. AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS.