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unhappy, think them unsufficient to ease their grieved minds, and comfort their misery; yet I will go on; for this must needs do some good to such as are happy, to bring them to a moderation, and make them reflect and know themselves, by seeing the unconstancy of humane felicity, others misery: and to such as are distressed, if they will but attend and consider of this, it cannot choose but give some content and comfort. 'Tis true, no medicine can cure all diseases: some affections of the mind are altogether incurable: yet these helps of art, physick, and philosophy, must not be contemned. Arrianus and Plotinus are stiffe in the contrary opinion, that such precepts can do little good. Boëthius himself cannot comfort in some cases: they will reject such speeches, like bread of stones:
Insana stultæ mentis hæc solatia.
Words adde no courage (which Catiline once said to his
Nullum medicamentum omnes sanare potest; sunt affectus animi qui prorsus sunt insanabiles; non tamen artis opus sperni debet, aut medicinæ, aut philosophiæ. b Sallust. Verba virtutem non addunt, nec imperatoris oratio facit e timido fortem. Job, cap. 16. f Lib. 2. Essays, cap. 6.
d Epist. 12. lib. 1.
Discontents and grievances are either generall or particular; generall are wars, plagues, dearths, famine, fires, inundations, unseasonable weather, epidemical diseases, which afflict whole kingdoms, territories, cities: or peculiar to private men, *as cares, crosses, losses, death of friends, poverty, want, sickness, orbities, injuries, abuses, &c. generally all discontent: homines quatimur fortunæ salo: no condition free: quisque suos patimur manes. Even in the midst of our mirth and jollity, there is some grudging, some complaint; as he saith, our whole life is a glucupicron, a bitter-sweet passion, hony and gall mixt together; we are all miserable and discontent; who can deny it? If all, and that it be a common calamity, an inevitable necessity, all distressed, then, as Cardan infers, who art thou, that hopest to go free? Why dost thou not grieve, thou art a mortall man, and not governor of the world?
Ferre, quam sortem patiuntur omnes,
e if it be common to all, why should one man be more disquieted then another? If thou alone wert distressed, it were indeed more irksome, and less to be indured: but, when the calamity is common, comfort thyself with this, thou hast more fellows: Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris :
'tis not thy sole case; and why shouldst thou be so impatient? fI, but alas we are more miserable then others: what shall we do? Besides private miseries, we live in perpetuall fear, and danger of common enemies; we have Bellonas whips, and pittifull out-cryes, for epithalamiums; for pleasant musick, that fearfull noise of ordnance, drums, and warlike trumpets, still sounding in our eares; instead of nuptiall torches, we have firing of towns and cities: for triumphs, lamentations; for joy, teares. & So it is, and so it was, and ever will be. He that refuseth to see and hear, to suffer this, is not fit to live in this world, and knows not the common condition of all men, to whom, so long as they live, with a reciprocall course, joyes
a Alium paupertas, alium orbitas, hunc morbi, illum timor, alium injuriæ, hunc insidiæ, illum uxor, filii, distrahunt. Cardan. b Boëthius, 1. 1. met. 5.
c Apuleius, 4. florid. Nihil homini tam prospere datum divinitus, quin ei admixtum sit aliquid difficultatis ; in amplissimâ quâque lætitiâ subest quædam querimonia, conjugatione quâdam mellis et fellis. d Si omnes premantur, quis tu es, qui solus evadere cupis ab eâ lege quæ neminem præterit? Cur te non immortalem factum, et universi orbis regem fieri, non doles? e Puteanus, ep. 75.
Neque cuiquam præcipue dolendum eo quod accidit universis. Gallobelgicus, lib. 3, Anno 1598, de Belgis. Sed eheu! inquis; euge! quid agemus? ubi pro epithalamio Bellona flagellum, pro musicâ harmoniâ terribilium lituorum et tubarum audias clangorem, pro tædis nuptialibus, villarum, pagorum, urbium videas incendia; ubi pro jubilo lamenta, pro risu fletus, aërem complent. Ita est profecto; et quisquis hæc videre abnuis, huic sæculo parum aptus es; aut potius nostrorum omnium conditionem ignoras, quibus reciproco quodam nexu læta tristibus, tristia lætis, invicem succedunt.
and sorrows are annexed, and succeed one another. It is inevitable; it may not be avoided; and why then shouldst thou be so much troubled?
Grave nihil est homini quod fert necessitas,
as a Tully deems out of an old poet: that which is necessary, cannot be grievous. If it be so, then comfort thyself in this, that, whether thou wilt or no, it must be indured: make a vertue of necessity, and conform thy self to undergo it.
c Si longa est, levis est : si gravis est, brevis est :
if it be long, 'tis light; if grievous, it cannot last; it will away; dies dolorem minuit, and, if nought else, yet time will wear it out; custome will ease it: doblivion is a common medicine for all losses, injuries, griefes, and detriments whatsoever; and, when they are once past, this commodity comes of infelicity, it makes the rest of our life sweeter unto us; fatque hæc olim meminisse juvabit: the privation and want of a thing many times makes it more pleasant and delightsome then before it was. We must not think, the happiest of us all, to escape here without some misfortunes,
g Usque adeo nulla est sincera voluptas,
Heaven and earth are much unlike: those heavenly bodies indeed are freely carried in their orbes without any impediment or interruption, to continue their course for innumerable ages, and make their conversions: but men are urged with many difficulties, and have divers hindrances, oppositions, still crossing, interrupting their endeavours and desires; and no mortall man is free from this law of nature. We must not therefore hope to have all things answer our expectation, to have a continuance of good success and fortunes: Fortuna nunquam perpetuo est bona. And, as Minutius Felix the Roman consul told that insulting Coriolanus, drunk with his good fortunes, look not for that success thou hast hitherto had: it never yet happened to any man since the beginning of the world, nor ever will, to have all things according to his desire, or to whom
a In Tusc. e vetere poëtâ. b Cardan. lib. 1. de consol. Est consolationis genus non leve, quod a necessitate fit, sive feras, sive non feras, ferendum est tamen. Seneca. a Omni'dolori tempus est medicina; ipsum luctum exstinguit; injurias delet; omnis mali oblivionem adfert. e Habet hoc quoque commodum omnis infelicitas; suaviorem vitam, cum abierit, relinquit. f Virg. g Ovid. h Lorchan. Sunt namque infera superis, humana terrenis, longe disparia. Etenim beatæ mentes feruntur libere, et sine ullo impedimento: stellæ, æthereique orbes, cursus et conversiones suas jam sæculis innumerabilibus constantissime conficiunt : verum homines magnis angustiis. Neque hac naturæ lege est quisquam mortalium solutus. Dionysius Halicar. lib. 8. Non enim unquam contigit, nec post homines natos invenies quemquam, cui omnia ex animi sententiâ successerint, ita ut nullâ in re fortuna sit ei adversata,
fortune was never opposite and adverse. Even so it fell out to him as he foretold; and so to others, even to that happiness of Augustus: though he were Jupiters almoner, Plutos treasurer, Neptunes admiral, it could not secure him. Such was Alcibiades fortune, Narsetes, that great Gonsalvus, and most famous mens, that, as a Jovius concludes, it is almost fatall to great princes, through their own default or otherwise circumvented with envy and malice, to lose their honours, and die contumeliously. 'Tis so, still hath been, and ever will be:
-nihil est ab omni
Parte beatum :
There's no perfection is so absolute,
Whatsoever is under the moon is subject to corruption, alteration; and, so long as thou livest upon earth, look not for other. Thou shalt not here finde peaceable and chearfull dayes, quiet times, but rather cloudes, stormes, calumnies: such is our fate. And, as those errant planets, in their distinct orbes, have their severall motions, sometimes direct, stationary, retrograde, in apogeo, perigeo, orientall, occidentall, combust, ferall, free, and, as our astrologers will, have their fortitudes. and debilities, by reason of those good and bad irradiations, conferred to each others site in the heavens, in their terms, houses, case, detriments, &c. so we rise and fall in this world, ebbe and flow, in and out, reared and dejected, lead a troublesome life, subject to many accidents and casualties of fortunes, variety of passions, infirmities, as well from our selves as others.
Yea, but thou thinkest thou art more miserable then the rest; other men are happy in respect of thee; their miseries are but flea-bitings to thine; thou alone art unhappy; none so bad as thy self. Yet if, as Socrates said, all the men in the world should come and bring their grievances together, of body, minde, fortune, sores, ulcers, madness, epilepsies, agues, and all those common calamities of beggery, want, servitude, imprisonment, and lay them on a heap to be equally divided, wouldst thou share alike, and take thy portion, or be as thou art? Without question, thou wouldst be as thou art. If some Jupiter should say, to give us all content,
a Jam faciam quod vultis; eris tu, qui modo miles,
.a Vit. Gonsalvi, lib. ult. Ut ducibus fatale sit clarissimis, aut culpâ suâ aut secus, circumveniri malitiâ et invidiâ, imminutâque dignitate per contumeliam mori. terris purum illum ætherem non invenies, et ventos serenos; nimbos potius, procellas, calumnias. Lips. cent. misc. ep. 8. Si omnes homines sua mala suasque curas in unum cumulum conferrent, æquis divisuri portionibus, &c. lib. 1.
d Hor. ser.
Vos hinc, mutatis discedite partibus. Eia!
Well, be't so then: you, master souldier,
A country gentleman; go you to this,
That side you; why stand ye? It's well as 'tis.
a Every man knowes his own, but not others defects and miseries; and 'tis the nature of all men still to reflect upon themselves, their own misfortunes, not to examine or consider other mens, not to confer themselves with others; to recount their miseries, but not their good gifts, fortunes, benefits, which they have; to ruminate on their adversity, but not once to think on their prosperity, not what they have, but what they want ; to look still on them that go before, but not on those infinite numbers that come after; whereas many a man would think himself in heaven, a petty prince, if he had but the least part of that fortune which thou so much repinest at, abhorrest, and accountest a most vile and wretched estate. How many thousands want that which thou hast! how many myriades of poor slaves, captives, of such as work day and night in cole-pits, tin-mines, with sore toil to maintain a poor living, of such as labour in body and minde, live in extreme anguish, and pain, all which thou art free from!
O fortunatos nimium, bona si sua nôrint!
Thou art most happy if thou couldst be content, and acknowledge thy happiness. Rem carendo, non fruendo, cognoscimus: when thou shalt hereafter come to want that which thou now loathest, abhorrest, and art weary of, and tired with, when 'tis past, thou wilt say thou wert most happy; and, after a little misse, wish with all thine heart, thou hadst the same content again, might'st lead but such a life; a world for such a life: the remembrance of it is pleasant. Be silent then; rest satisfied; desine, intuensque in aliorum infortunia, solare mentem; comfort thy self with other mens misfortunes; and, as the moldiwarpe in Æsop told the fox, complaining for want of a tail, and the rest of his companions, tacete, quando me oculis captum videtis; you complaine of toies; but I am blinde; be quiet; I say to thee, be thou satisfied. It is recorded of the hares, that with a generall consent they went to drown themselves, out of a feeling of their misery: but, when they
a Quod unusquisque propria mala novit, aliorum nesciat, in caussâ est, ut se inter alios miserum putet. Cardan. lib. 3. de consol. Plutarch. de consol. ad Apollob Quam multos putas qui se cœlo proximos putarent, totidem regulos, si de fortunæ tuæ reliquiis pars iis minima contingat. Boëth. de consol. lib. 2. pros. 4. Hesiod. Esto quod es; quod sunt alii, siue quemlibet esse. Quod non es, nolis ; quad potes esse, velis.
d Æsopi fab.