Against Sorrow for Death of Friends or otherwise, vain Fear, &c.

Against Sorrow for Death of Friends or otherwise, vain Fear, &c.

     Death and departure of friends are things generally grievous, Omnium quæ in humana vita contingunt, luctus atque mors sunt acerbissima, the most austere and bitter accidents that can happen to a man in this life, in æternum valedicere, to part for ever, to forsake the world and all our friends, 'tis ultimum terribilium, the last and the greatest terror, most irksome and troublesome unto us, Homo toties moritur, quoties amittit suos. And though we hope for a better life, eternal happiness, after these painful and miserable days, yet we cannot compose ourselves willingly to die; the remembrance of it is most grievous unto us, especially to such who are fortunate and rich: they start at the name of death, as a horse at a rotten post. Say what you can of that other world, Montezuma that Indian prince, Bonum est esse hic, they had rather be here. Nay many generous spirits, and grave staid men otherwise, are so tender in this, that at the loss of a dear friend they will cry out, roar, and tear their hair, lamenting some months after, howling "O Hone," as those Irish women and Greeks at their graves, commit many indecent actions, and almost go beside themselves. My dear father, my sweet husband, mine only brother's dead, to whom shall I make my moan? O me miserum! Quis dabit in lachrymas fontem, &c. What shall I do?

"Sed totum hoc studium luctu fraterna mihi mors
Abstulit, hei misero frater adempte mihi?"

"My brother's death my study hath undone,
Woe's me, alas my brother he is gone."

Mezentius would not live after his son:

"Nunc vivo, nec adhuc homines lucemque relinquo,
Sed linquam"------

(Virgil. "I live now, nor as yet relinquish society and life, but I shall resign them.")

And Pompey's wife cried out at the news of her husband's death,

"Turpe mori post te solo non posse dolore,
Violenta luctu et nescia tolerandi,"

(Lucan. "Overcome by grief, and unable to endure it, she exclaimed, 'Not to be able to die through sorrow for thee were base.'")

as Tacitus of Agrippina, not able to moderate her passions. So when she heard her son was slain, she abruptly broke off her work, changed countenance and colour, tore her hair, and fell a roaring downright.

------"subitus miseræ color ossa reliquit,
Excussi manibus radii, revolutaque pensa:
Evolat infelix et fśmineo ululatu
Scissa comam"------

"The colour suddenly fled her cheek, the distaff forsook her hand, the reel revolved, and with dishevelled locks she broke away, wailing as a woman."

Another would needs run upon the sword's point after Euryalus' departure,

"Figite me, si qua est pietas, in me omnia tela
Conjicite o Rutili;"------

Virg. Æn. 10. "Transfix me, O Rutuli, if you have any piety: pierce me with your thousand arrows."

O let me die, some good man or other make an end of me. How did Achilles take on for Patroclus' departure? A black cloud of sorrows overshadowed him, saith Homer. Jacob rent his clothes, put sackcloth about his loins, sorrowed for his son a long season, and could not be comforted, but would needs go down into the grave unto his son, Gen. xxxvii. 37. Many years after, the remembrance of such friends, of such accidents, is most grievous unto us, to see or hear of it, though it concern not ourselves but others. Scaliger saith of himself, that he never read Socrates' death, in Plato's Phaedon, but he wept: Austin shed tears when he read the destruction of Troy. But howsoever this passion of sorrow be violent, bitter, and seizeth familiarly on wise, valiant, discreet men, yet it may surely be withstood, it may be diverted. For what is there in this life, that it should be so dear unto us? or that we should so much deplore the departure of a friend? The greatest pleasures are common society, to enjoy one another's presence, feasting, hawking, hunting, brooks, woods, hills, music, dancing, &c. all this is but vanity and loss of time, as I have sufficiently declared.

------"dum bibimus, dum serta, unguenta, puellas
Poscimus, obrepit non intellecta senectus."

"Whilst we drink, prank ourselves, with wenches dally,
Old age upon's at unawares doth sally."

     As alchemists spend that small modicum they have to get gold, and never find it, we lose and neglect eternity, for a little momentary pleasure which we cannot enjoy, nor shall ever attain to in this life. We abhor death, pain, and grief, all, yet we will do nothing of that which should vindicate us from, but rather voluntarily thrust ourselves upon it. "The lascivious prefers his whore before his life, or good estate; an angry man his revenge: a parasite his gut; ambitious, honours; covetous, wealth; a thief his booty; a soldier his spoil; we abhor diseases, and yet we pull them upon us." We are never better or freer from cares than when we sleep, and yet, which we so much avoid and lament, death is but a perpetual sleep; and why should it, as Epicurus argues, so much affright us? "When we are, death is not: but when death is, then we are not:" our life is tedious and troublesome unto him that lives best; "'tis a misery to be born, a pain to live, a trouble to die:" death makes an end of our miseries, and yet we cannot consider of it; a little before Socrates drank his portion of cicuta, he bid the citizens of Athens cheerfully farewell, and concluded his speech with this short sentence; "My time is now come to be gone, I to my death, you to live on; but which of these is best, God alone knows." For there is no pleasure here but sorrow is annexed to it, repentance follows it. "If I feed liberally, I am likely sick or surfeit: if I live sparingly my hunger and thirst is not allayed; I am well neither full nor fasting; if I live honest, I burn in lust;" if I take my pleasure, I tire and starve myself, and do injury to my body and soul. "Of so small a quantity of mirth, how much sorrow? after so little pleasure, how great misery?" 'Tis both ways troublesome to me, to rise and go to bed, to eat and provide my meat; cares and contentions attend me all day long, fears and suspicions all my life. I am discontented, and why should I desire so much to live? But a happy death will make an end of all our woes and miseries; omnibus una meis certa medela malis; why shouldst not thou then say with old Simeon since thou art so well affected, "Lord now let thy servant depart in peace:" or with Paul, "I desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ"? Beata mors quæ ad beatam vitam aditum aperit, 'tis a blessed hour that leads us to a blessed life, and blessed are they that die in the Lord. But life is sweet, and death is not so terrible in itself as the concomitants of it, a loathsome disease, pain, horror, &c. and many times the manner of it, to be hanged, to be broken on the wheel, to be burned alive. Servetus the heretic, that suffered in Geneva, when he was brought to the stake, and saw the executioner come with fire in his hand, homo viso igne tam horrendum exclamavit, ut universum populum perterrefecerit, roared so loud, that he terrified the people. An old stoic would have scorned this. It troubles some to be unburied, or so:

------"non te optima mater
Condet humi, patriove onerabit membra sepulchro;
Alitibus linguere feris, et gurgite mersum
Unda feret, piscesque impasti vulnera lambent."

"Thy gentle parents shall not bury thee,
Amongst thine ancestors entomb'd to be,
But feral fowl thy carcass shall devour,
Or drowned corps hungry fish maws shall scour."

As Socrates told Crito, it concerns me not what is done with me when I am dead; Facilis jactura sepulchri: I care not so long as I feel it not; let them set mine head on the pike of Tenerife, and my quarters in the four parts of the world,--pascam licet in cruce corvos, let wolves or bears devour me;-- Cælo tegitur qui non habet urnam, the canopy of heaven covers him that hath no tomb. So likewise for our friends, why should their departure so much trouble us? They are better as we hope, and for what then dost thou lament, as those do whom Paul taxed in his time, 1 Thes. iv. 13. "that have no hope"? 'Tis fit there should be some solemnity.

"Sed sepelire decet defunctum, pectore forti,
Constantes, unumque diem fletui indulgentes."

(Il. 9 Homer. "It is proper that, having indulged in becoming grief for one whole day, you should commit the dead to the sepulchre.")

Job's friends said not a word to him the first seven days, but let sorrow and discontent take their course, themselves sitting sad and silent by him. When Jupiter himself wept for Sarpedon, what else did the poet insinuate, but that some sorrow is good

"Quis matrem nisi mentis inops in funere nati
Flere vetat?"------

who can blame a tender mother if she weep for her children? Beside, as Plutarch holds, 'tis not in our power not to lament, Indolentia non cuivis contingit, it takes away mercy and pity, not to be sad; 'tis a natural passion to weep for our friends, an irresistible passion to lament and grieve. "I know not how" (saith Seneca) "but sometimes 'tis good to be miserable in misery: and for the most part all grief evacuates itself by tears,"

------"est quædam flere voluptas,
Expletur lachrymis egeriturque dolor:"

     "yet after a day's mourning or two, comfort thyself for thy heaviness," Eccles. xxxviii. 17. Non decet defunctum ignavo quæstu prosequi; 'twas Germanicus' advice of old, that we should not dwell too long upon our passions, to be desperately sad, immoderate grievers, to let them tyrannise, there's indolentiæ, ars, a medium to be kept: we do not (saith Austin) forbid men to grieve, but to grieve overmuch. "I forbid not a man to be angry, but I ask for what cause he is so? Not to be sad, but why is he sad? Not to fear, but wherefore is he afraid?" I require a moderation as well as a just reason. The Romans and most civil commonwealths have set a time to such solemnities, they must not mourn after a set day, "or if in a family a child be born, a daughter or son married, some state or honour be conferred, a brother be redeemed from his bands, a friend from his enemies," or the like, they must lament no more. And 'tis fit it should be so; to what end is all their funeral pomp, complaints, and tears? When Socrates was dying, his friends Apollodorus and Crito, with some others, were weeping by him, which he perceiving, asked them what they meant: "for that very cause he put all the women out of the room, upon which words of his they were abashed, and ceased from their tears." Lodovicus Cortesius, a rich lawyer of Padua (as Bernardinus Scardeonius relates) commanded by his last will, and a great mulct if otherwise to his heir, that no funeral should be kept for him, no man should lament: but as at a wedding, music and minstrels to be provided; and instead of black mourners, he took order, "that twelve virgins clad in green should carry him to the church." His will and testament was accordingly performed, and he buried in St. Sophia's church. Tully was much grieved for his daughter Tulliola's death at first, until such time that he had confirmed his mind with some philosophical precepts, "then he began to triumph over fortune and grief, and for her reception into heaven to be much more joyed than before he was troubled for her loss." If a heathen man could so fortify himself from philosophy, what shall a Christian from divinity? Why dost thou so macerate thyself? 'Tis an inevitable chance, the first statute in Magna Charta, an everlasting Act of Parliament, all must die.

"Constat æterna positumque lege est,
Ut constet genitum nihil."

It cannot be revoked, we are all mortal, and these all commanding gods and princes "die like men:" -- involvit humile pariter et celsum caput, aquatque summis infima. "O weak condition of human estate," Sylvius exclaims: Ladislaus, king of Bohemia, eighteen years of age, in the flower of his youth, so potent, rich, fortunate and happy, in the midst of all his friends, amongst so many physicians, now ready to be married, in thirty-six hours sickened and died. We must so be gone sooner or later all, and as Calliopeius in the comedy took his leave of his spectators and auditors, Vos valete et plaudite, Calliopeius recensui, must we bid the world farewell (Exit Calliopeius), and having now played our parts, for ever be gone. Tombs and monuments have the like fate, data sunt ipsis quoque fata sepulchris, kingdoms, provinces, towns, and cities have their periods, and are consumed. In those flourishing times of Troy, Mycenae was the fairest city in Greece, Græciæ cunctæ imperitabat, but it, alas, and that "Assyrian Nineveh are quite overthrown:" the like fate hath that Egyptian and Boeotian Thebes, Delos, commune Græciæ, conciliabulum, the common council-house of Greece, and Babylon, the greatest city that ever the sun shone on, hath now nothing but walls and rubbish left. Quid Pandioniæ restat nisi nomen Athenæ? (Ovid. "What of ancient Athens but the name remains?") Thus Pausanias complained in his times. And where is Troy itself now, Persepolis, Carthage, Cizicum, Sparta, Argos, and all those Grecian cities? Syracuse and Agrigentum, the fairest towns in Sicily, which had sometimes 700,000 inhabitants, are now decayed: the names of Hieron, Empedocles, &c., of those mighty numbers of people, only left. One Anacharsis is remembered amongst the Scythians; the world itself must have an end; and every part of it. Cæteræ igitur urbes sunt mortales, as Peter Gillius concludes of Constantinople, hæc sane quamdiu erunt homines, futura mihi videtur immortalis; but 'tis not so: nor site, nor strength, nor sea nor land, can vindicate a city, but it and all must vanish at last. And as to a traveller great mountains seem plains afar off, at last are not discerned at all; cities, men, monuments decay,--nec solidis prodest sua machina terris, the names are only left, those at length forgotten, and are involved in perpetual night.

      "Returning out of Asia, when I sailed from Aegina toward Megara, I began" (saith Servius Sulpicius, in a consolatory epistle of his to Tully) "to view the country round about. Aegina was behind me, Megara before, Piraeus on the right hand, Corinth on the left, what flourishing towns heretofore, now prostrate and overwhelmed before mine eyes? I began to think with myself, alas, why are we men so much disquieted with the departure of a friend, whose life is much shorter? When so many goodly cities lie buried before us. Remember, O Servius, thou art a man; and with that I was much confirmed, and corrected myself." Correct then likewise, and comfort thyself in this, that we must necessarily die, and all die, that we shall rise again: as Tully held; Jucundiorque multo congressus noster futurus, quam insuavis et acerbus digressus, our second meeting shall be much more pleasant than our departure was grievous.

     Aye, but he was my most dear and loving friend, my sole friend,

"Quis deciderio sit pudor aut modus
Tam chari capitis?"------

"And who can blame my woe?"

Thou mayst be ashamed, I say with Seneca, to confess it, "in such a tempest as this to have but one anchor," go seek another: and for his part thou dost him great injury to desire his longer life. "Wilt thou have him crazed and sickly still," like a tired traveller that comes weary to his inn, begin his journey afresh, "or to be freed from his miseries; thou hast more need rejoice that he is gone." Another complains of a most sweet wife, a young wife, Nondum sustulerat flavum Proserpina crinem, such a wife as no mortal man ever had, so good a wife, but she is now dead and gone, læthæoque jacet condita sarcophago. I reply to him in Seneca's words, if such a woman at least ever was to be had, "He did either so find or make her; if he found her, he may as happily find another;" if he made her, as Critobulus in Xenophon did by his, he may as good cheap inform another, et bona tam sequitur, quam bona prima fuit; he need not despair, so long as the same master is to be had. But was she good? Had she been so tried peradventure as that Ephesian widow in Petronius, by some swaggering soldier, she might not have held out. Many a man would have been willingly rid of his: before thou wast bound, now thou art free; "and 'tis but a folly to love thy fetters though they be of gold." Come into a third place, you shall have an aged father sighing for a son, a pretty child;

"Impube pectus quale vel impia
Molliret Thracum pectora."

------"He now lies asleep,
Would make an impious Thracian weep."

Or some fine daughter that died young, Nondum experta novi gaudia prima tori. Or a forlorn son for his deceased father. But why? Prior exiit, prior intravit, he came first, and he must go first. Tu frustra pius, heu, &c. What, wouldst thou have the laws of nature altered, and him to live always? Julius Caesar, Augustus, Alcibiades, Galen, Aristotle, lost their fathers young. And why on the other side shouldst thou so heavily take the death of thy little son?

"Num quia nec fato, merita nec morte peribat,
Sed miser ante diem"------

he died before his time, perhaps, not yet come to the solstice of his age, yet was he not mortal? Hear that divine Epictetus, "If thou covet thy wife, friends, children should live always, thou art a fool." He was a fine child indeed, dignus Apollineis lachrymis, a sweet, a loving, a fair, a witty child, of great hope, another Eteoneus, whom Pindarus the poet and Aristides the rhetorician so much lament; but who can tell whether he would have been an honest man? He might have proved a thief, a rogue, a spendthrift, a disobedient son, vexed and galled thee more than all the world beside, he might have wrangled with thee and disagreed, or with his brothers, as Eteocles and Polynices, and broke thy heart; he is now gone to eternity, as another Ganymede, in the flower of his youth, "as if he had risen," saith Plutarch, "from the midst of a feast" before he was drunk, "the longer he had lived, the worse he would have been," et quo vita longior, (Ambrose thinks) culpa numerosior, more sinful, more to answer he would have had. If he was naught, thou mayst be glad he is gone; if good, be glad thou hadst such a son. Or art thou sure he was good? It may be he was an hypocrite, as many are, and howsoever he spake thee fair, peradventure he prayed, amongst the rest that Icaro Menippus heard at Jupiter's whispering place in Lucian, for his father's death, because he now kept him short, he was to inherit much goods, and many fair manors after his decease. Or put case he was very good, suppose the best, may not thy dead son expostulate with thee, as he did in the same Lucian, "why dost thou lament my death, or call me miserable that am much more happy than thyself? what misfortune is befallen me? Is it because I am not so bald, crooked, old, rotten, as thou art? What have I lost, some of your good cheer, gay clothes, music, singing, dancing, kissing, merry-meetings, thalami lubentias, &c., is that it? Is it not much better not to hunger at all than to eat: not to thirst than to drink to satisfy thirst: not to be cold than to put on clothes to drive away cold? You had more need rejoice that I am freed from diseases, agues, cares, anxieties, livor, love, covetousness, hatred, envy, malice, that I fear no more thieves, tyrants, enemies, as you do." Ad cinerem et manes credis curare sepultos? "Do they concern us at all, think you, when we are once dead?" Condole not others then overmuch, "wish not or fear thy death." Summum nec optes diem nec metuas; 'tis to no purpose.

"Excessi e vitæ ærumnis facilisque lubensque
Ne perjora ipsa morte dehinc videam."

"I left this irksome life with all mine heart,
Lest worse than death should happen to my part."

      Cardinal Brundusinus caused this epitaph in Rome to be inscribed on his tomb, to show his willingness to die, and tax those that were so both to depart. Weep and howl no more then, 'tis to small purpose; and as Tully adviseth us in the like case, Non quos amisimus, sed quantum lugere par sit cogitemus: think what we do, not whom we have lost. So David did, 2 Sam. xxii., "While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept; but being now dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him again? I shall go to him, but he cannot return to me." He that doth otherwise is an intemperate, a weak, a silly, and indiscreet man. Though Aristotle deny any part of intemperance to be conversant about sorrow, I am of Seneca's mind, "he that is wise is temperate, and he that is temperate is constant, free from passion, and he that is such a one, is without sorrow," as all wise men should be. The Thracians wept still when a child was born, feasted and made mirth when any man was buried: and so should we rather be glad for such as die well, that they are so happily freed from the miseries of this life. When Eteoneus, that noble young Greek, was so generally lamented by his friends, Pindarus the poet feigns some god saying, Silete homines, non enim miser est, &c. be quiet good folks, this young man is not so miserable as you think; he is neither gone to Styx nor Acheron, sed gloriosus et senii expers heros, he lives for ever in the Elysian fields. He now enjoys that happiness which your great kings so earnestly seek, and wears that garland for which ye contend. If our present weakness is such, we cannot moderate our passions in this behalf, we must divert them by all means, by doing something else, thinking of another subject. The Italians most part sleep away care and grief, if it unseasonably seize upon them, Danes, Dutchmen, Polanders and Bohemians drink it down, our countrymen go to plays: do something or other, let it not transpose thee, or by "premeditation make such accidents familiar," as Ulysses that wept for his dog, but not for his wife, quod paratus esset animo obfirmato, (Plut. de anim. tranq.) "accustom thyself, and harden beforehand by seeing other men's calamities, and applying them to thy present estate;" Prævisum est levius quod fuit ante malum. I will conclude with Epictetus, "If thou lovest a pot, remember 'tis but a, pot thou lovest, and thou wilt not be troubled when 'tis broken: if thou lovest a son or wife, remember they were mortal, and thou wilt not be so impatient." And for false fears and all other fortuitous inconveniences, mischances, calamities, to resist and prepare ourselves, not to faint is best: Stultum est timere quod vitari non potest, 'tis a folly to fear that which cannot be avoided, or to be discouraged at all.

"Nam quisquis trepidus pavet vel optat,
Objecit clypeum, locoque motus
Nectit qua valeat trahi catenam."

"For he that so faints or fears, and yields to his passion, flings away his own weapons, makes a cord to bind himself, and pulls a beam upon his own head."


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