As of all other melancholy, some doubt whether this malady may be cured or no, they think 'tis like the gout, or Switzers, whom we commonly call Walloons, those hired soldiers, if once they take possession of a castle, they can never be got out.
"Qui timet ut sua sit, ne quis sibi subtrahat illam,
Ille Machaonia vix ope salvus est."
"This is the cruel wound against whose smart,
No liquor's force prevails, or any plaister,
No skill of stars, no depth of magic art,
Devised by that great clerk Zoroaster,
A wound that so infects the soul and heart,
As all our sense and reason it doth master;
A wound whose pang and torment is so durable,
As it may rightly called be incurable."
Yet what I have formerly said of other melancholy, I will say again, it may be cured or mitigated at least by some contrary passion, good counsel and persuasion, if it be withstood in the beginning, maturely resisted, and as those ancients hold, "the nails of it be pared before they grow too long." No better means to resist or repel it than by avoiding idleness, to be still seriously busied about some matters of importance, to drive out those vain fears, foolish fantasies and irksome suspicions out of his head, and then to be persuaded by his judicious friends, to give ear to their good counsel and advice, and wisely to consider, how much he discredits himself, his friends, dishonours his children, disgraceth his family, publisheth his shame, and as a trumpeter of his own misery, divulgeth, macerates, grieves himself and others; what an argument of weakness it is, how absurd a thing in its own nature, how ridiculous, how brutish a passion, how sottish, how odious; for as Hierome well hath it, Odium sui facit, et ipse novissime sibi odio est, others hate him, and at last he hates himself for it; how harebrain a disease, mad and furious. If he will but hear them speak, no doubt he may be cured. Joan, queen of Spain, of whom I have formerly spoken, under pretence of changing air was sent to Complutum, or Alcada de las Heneras, where Ximenius the archbishop of Toledo then lived, that by his good counsel (as for the present she was) she might be eased. "For a disease of the soul, if concealed, tortures and overturns it, and by no physic can sooner be removed than by a discreet man's comfortable speeches." I will not here insert any consolatory sentences to this purpose, or forestall any man's invention, but leave it every one to dilate and amplify as he shall think fit in his own judgment: let him advise with Siracides cap. 9. 1. "Be not jealous over the wife of thy bosom;" read that comfortable and pithy speech to this purpose of Ximenius, in the author himself, as it is recorded by Gomesius; consult with Chaloner lib. 9. de repub. Anglor. or Cúlia in her epistles, &c. Only this I will add, that if it be considered aright, which causeth this jealous passion, be it just or unjust, whether with or without cause, true or false, it ought not so heinously to be taken; 'tis no such real or capital matter, that it should make so deep a wound. 'Tis a blow that hurts not, an insensible smart, grounded many times upon false suspicion alone, and so fostered by a sinister conceit. If she be not dishonest, he troubles and macerates himself without a cause; or put case which is the worst, he be a cuckold, it cannot be helped, the more he stirs in it, the more he aggravates his own misery. How much better were it in such a case to dissemble or contemn it? why should that be feared which cannot be redressed? multæ tandem deposuerunt (saith Vives) quum flecti maritos non posse vident, many women, when they see there is no remedy, have been pacified; and shall men be more jealous than women? 'Tis some comfort in such a case to have companions, Solamen miseris socios habuisse doloris; Who can say he is free? Who can assure himself he is not one de præterito, or secure himself de futuro? If it were his case alone, it were hard; but being as it is almost a common calamity, 'tis not so grievously to be taken. If a man have a lock, which every man's key will open, as well as his own, why should he think to keep it private to himself? In some countries they make nothing of it, ne nobiles quidem, saith Leo Afer, in many parts of Africa (if she be past fourteen) there's not a nobleman that marries a maid, or that hath a chaste wife; 'tis so common; as the moon gives horns once a month to the world, do they to their husbands at least. And 'tis most part true which that Caledonian lady, Argetocovus, a British prince's wife, told Julia Augusta, when she took her up for dishonesty, "We Britons are naught at least with some few choice men of the better sort, but you Romans lie with every base knave, you are a company of common whores." Severus the emperor in his time made laws for the restraint of this vice; and as Dion Nicæus relates in his life, tria millia mæchorum, three thousand cuckold-makers, or naturæ monetam adulterantes, as Philo calls them, false coiners, and clippers of nature's money, were summoned into the court at once. And yet, Non omnem molitor quæ fluit undam videt, "the miller sees not all the water that goes by his mill:" no doubt, but, as in our days, these were of the commonalty, all the great ones were not so much as called in question for it. Martial's Epigram I suppose might have been generally applied in those licentious times, Omnia solus habes, &c., thy goods, lands, money, wits are thine own, Uxorem sed habes Candide cum populo; but neighbour Candidus your wife is common: husband and cuckold in that age it seems were reciprocal terms; the emperors themselves did wear Actæon's badge; how many Cæsars might I reckon up together, and what a catalogue of cornuted kings and princes in every story? Agamemnon, Menelaus, Philippus of Greece, Ptolomeus of Egypt, Lucullus, Cæsar, Pompeius, Cato, Augustus, Antonius, Antoninus, &c., that wore fair plumes of bull's feathers in their crests. The bravest soldiers and most heroical spirits could not avoid it. They have been active and passive in this business, they have either given or taken horns. King Arthur, whom we call one of the nine worthies, for all his great valour, was unworthily served by Mordred, one of his round table knights: and Guithera, or Helena Alba, his fair wife, as Leland interprets it, was an arrant honest woman. Parcerem libenter (saith mine author) Heroinarum læsæ majestati, si non historiæ veritas aurem vellicaret, I could willingly wink at a fair lady's faults, but that I am bound by the laws of history to tell the truth: against his will, God knows, did he write it, and so do I repeat it. I speak not of our times all this while, we have good, honest, virtuous men and women, whom fame, zeal, fear of God, religion and superstition contains: and yet for all that, we have many knights of this order, so dubbed by their wives, many good women abused by dissolute husbands. In some places, and such persons you may as soon enjoin them to carry water in a sieve, as to keep themselves honest. What shall a man do now in such a case? What remedy is to be had? how shall he be eased? By suing a divorce? this is hard to be effected: si non caste, tamen caute they carry the matter so cunningly, that though it be as common as simony, as clear and as manifest as the nose in a man's face, yet it cannot be evidently proved, or they likely taken in the fact: they will have a knave Gallus to watch, or with that Roman Sulpitia, all made fast and sure,
"Ne se Cadurcis destitutam fasciis,
Nudam Caleno concumbentem videat."
"she will hardly be surprised by her husband, be he never so wary." Much better then to put it up: the more he strives in it, the more he shall divulge his own shame: make a virtue of necessity, and conceal it. Yea, but the world takes notice of it, 'tis in every man's mouth: let them talk their pleasure, of whom speak they not in this sense? From the highest to the lowest they are thus censured all: there is no remedy then but patience. It may be 'tis his own fault, and he hath no reason to complain, 'tis quid pro quo, she is bad, he is worse: "Bethink thyself, hast thou not done as much for some of thy neighbours? why dost thou require that of thy wife, which thou wilt not perform thyself?" Thou rangest like a town bull, "why art thou so incensed if she tread awry?"
"Be it that some woman break chaste wedlock's laws,
And leaves her husband and becomes unchaste:
Yet commonly it is not without cause,
She sees her man in sin her goods to waste,
She feels that he his love from her withdraws,
And hath on some perhaps less worthy placed.
Who strike with sword, the scabbard them may strike,
And sure love craveth love, like asketh like."
Ea semper studebit, saith Nevisanus, pares reddere vices, she will quit it if she can. And therefore, as well adviseth Siracides, cap. ix. 1. "teach her not an evil lesson against thyself," which as Jansenius, Lyranus, on his text, and Carthusianus interpret, is no otherwise to be understood than that she do thee not a mischief. I do not excuse her in accusing thee; but if both be naught, mend thyself first; for as the old saying is, a good husband makes a good wife.
Yea but thou repliest, 'tis not the like reason betwixt man and woman, through her fault my children are bastards, I may not endure it; Sit amarulenta, sit imperiosa prodiga, &c. Let her scold, brawl, and spend, I care not, modo sit casta, so she be honest, I could easily bear it; but this I cannot, I may not, I will not; "my faith, my fame, mine eye must not be touched," as the diverb is, Non patitur tactum fama, fides, oculus. I say the same of my wife, touch all, use all, take all but this. I acknowledge that of Seneca to be true, Nullius boni jucunda possessio sine socio, there is no sweet content in the possession of any good thing without a companion, this only excepted, I say, "This." And why this? Even this which thou so much abhorrest, it may be for thy progeny's good, better be any man's son than thine, to be begot of base Irus, poor Seius, or mean Mevius, the town swineherd's, a shepherd's son: and well is he, that like Hercules he hath any two fathers; for thou thyself hast peradventure more diseases than a horse, more infirmities of body and mind, a cankered soul, crabbed conditions, make the worst of it, as it is vulnus insanabile, sic vulnus insensibile, as it is incurable, so it is insensible. But art thou sure it is so? res agit ille tuas? "doth he so indeed?" It may be thou art over-suspicious, and without a cause as some are: if it be octimestris partus, born at eight months, or like him, and him, they fondly suspect he got it; if she speak or laugh familiarly with such or such men, then presently she is naught with them; such is thy weakness; whereas charity, or a well-disposed mind, would interpret all unto the best. St. Francis, by chance seeing a friar familiarly kissing another man's wife, was so far from misconceiving it, that he presently kneeled down and thanked God there was so much charity left: but they on the other side will ascribe nothing to natural causes, indulge nothing to familiarity, mutual society, friendship: but out of a sinister suspicion, presently lock them close, watch them, thinking by those means to prevent all such inconveniences, that's the way to help it; whereas by such tricks they do aggravate the mischief. 'Tis but in vain to watch that which will away.
"Nec custodiri si velit ulla potest;
Nec mentem servare potes, licet omnia serves;
Omnibus exclusis, intus adulter erit."
"None can be kept resisting for her part;
Though body be kept close, within her heart
Advoutry lurks, t'exclude it there's no art."
Argus with a hundred eyes cannot keep her, et hunc unus sæpe fefellit amor, as in Ariosto,
"If all our hearts were eyes, yet sure they said
We husbands of our wives should be betrayed."
Hierome holds, Uxor impudica servari non potest, pudica non debet, infida custos castitatis est necessitas, to what end is all your custody? A dishonest woman cannot be kept, an honest woman ought not to be kept, necessity is a keeper not to be trusted. Difficile custoditur, quod plures amant; that which many covet, can hardly be preserved, as Salisburiensis thinks. I am of Æneas Sylvius' mind, "Those jealous Italians do very ill to lock up their wives; for women are of such a disposition, they will most covet that which is denied most, and offend least when they have free liberty to trespass." It is in vain to lock her up if she be dishonest; et tyrranicum imperium, as our great Mr. Aristotle calls it, too tyrannical a task, most unfit: for when she perceives her husband observes her and suspects, liberius peccat, saith Nevisanus. Toxica Zelotypo dedit uxor múcha marito, she is exasperated, seeks by all means to vindicate herself, and will therefore offend, because she is unjustly suspected. The best course then is to let them have their own wills, give them free liberty, without any keeping.
"In vain our friends from this do us dehort,
For beauty will be where is most resort."
If she be honest as Lucretia to Collatinus, Laodamia to Protesilaus, Penelope to her Ulysses, she will so continue her honour, good name, credit, Penelope conjux semper Ulyssis ero; "I shall always be Penelope the wife of Ulysses." And as Phocias' wife in Plutarch, called her husband "her wealth, treasure, world, joy, delight, orb and sphere," she will hers. The vow she made unto her good man; love, virtue, religion, zeal, are better keepers than all those locks, eunuchs, prisons; she will not be moved:
"At mihi vel tellus optem prius ima dehiscat,
Aut pater omnipotens adigat me fulmine ad umbras,
Pallentes umbras Erebi, noctemque profundam,
Ante pudor quam te violem, aut tua jura resolvam."
"First I desire the earth to swallow me.
Before I violate mine honesty,
Or thunder from above drive me to hell,
With those pale ghosts, and ugly nights to dwell."
She is resolved with Dido to be chaste; though her husband be false, she will be true: and as Octavia writ to her Antony,
"These walls that here do keep me out of sight,
Shall keep me all unspotted unto thee,
And testify that I will do thee right,
I'll never stain thine house, though thou shame me."
Turn her loose to all those Tarquins and Satyrs, she will not be tempted. In the time of Valence the Emperor, saith St. Austin, one Archidamus, a Consul of Antioch, offered a hundred pounds of gold to a fair young wife, and besides to set her husband free, who was then sub gravissima custodia, a dark prisoner, pro unius noctis concubitu: but the chaste matron would not accept of it. When Ode commended Theana's fine arm to his fellows, she took him up short, "Sir, 'tis not common:" she is wholly reserved to her husband. Bilia had an old man to her spouse, and his breath stunk, so that nobody could abide it abroad; "coming home one day he reprehended his wife, because she did not tell him of it: she vowed unto him, she had told him, but she thought every man's breath had been as strong as his." Tigranes and Armena his lady were invited to supper by King Cyrus: when they came home, Tigranes asked his wife, how she liked Cyrus, and what she did especially commend in him? "she swore she did not observe him; when he replied again, what then she did observe, whom she looked on? She made answer, her husband, that said he would die for her sake." Such are the properties and conditions of good women: and if she be well given, she will so carry herself; if otherwise she be naught, use all the means thou canst, she will be naught, Non deest animus sed corruptor, she hath so many lies, excuses, as a hare hath muses, tricks, panders, bawds, shifts, to deceive, 'tis to no purpose to keep her up, or to reclaim her by hard usage. "Fair means peradventure may do somewhat." Obsequio vinces aptius ipse tuo. Men and women are both in a predicament in this behalf, no sooner won, and better pacified. Duci volunt, non cogi: though she be as arrant a scold as Xanthippe, as cruel as Medea, as clamorous as Hecuba, as lustful as Messalina, by such means (if at all) she may be reformed. Many patient Grizels, by their obsequiousness in this kind, have reclaimed their husbands from their wandering lusts. In Nova Francia and Turkey (as Leah, Rachel, and Sarah did to Abraham and Jacob) they bring their fairest damsels to their husbands' beds; Livia seconded the lustful appetites of Augustus: Stratonice, wife to King Diotarus, did not only bring Electra, a fair maid, to her good man's bed, but brought up the children begot on her, as carefully as if they had been her own. Tertius Emilius' wife, Cornelia's mother, perceiving her husband's intemperance, rem dissimulavit, made much of the maid, and would take no notice of it. A new-married man, when a pickthank friend of his, to curry favour, had showed him his wife familiar in private with a young gallant, courting and dallying, &c. Tush, said he, let him do his worst, I dare trust my wife, though I dare not trust him. The best remedy then is by fair means; if that will not take place, to dissemble it as I say, or turn it off with a jest: hear Guexerra's advice in this case, vel joco excipies, vel silentio eludes; for if you take exceptions at everything your wife doth, Solomon's wisdom, Hercules' valour, Homer's learning, Socrates' patience, Argus' vigilance, will not serve turn. Therefore Minus malum, a less mischief, Nevisanus holds, dissimulare, to be Cunarum emptor, a buyer of cradles, as the proverb is, than to be too solicitous. "A good fellow, when his wife was brought to bed before her time, bought half a dozen of cradles beforehand for so many children, as if his wife should continue to bear children every two months." Pertinax the Emperor, when one told him a fiddler was too familiar with his empress, made no reckoning of it. And when that Macedonian Philip was upbraided with his wife's dishonesty, cum tot victor regnorum ac populorum esset, &c., a conqueror of kingdoms could not tame his wife (for she thrust him out of doors) , he made a jest of it. Sapientes portant cornua in pectore, stulti in fronte, saith Nevisanus, wise men bear their horns in their hearts, fools on their foreheads. Eumenes, king of Pergamus, was at deadly feud with Perseus of Macedonia, insomuch that Perseus hearing of a journey he was to take to Delphos, set a company of soldiers to intercept him in his passage; they did it accordingly, and as they supposed left him stoned to death. The news of this fact was brought instantly to Pergamus; Attalus, Eumenes' brother, proclaimed himself king forthwith, took possession of the crown, and married Stratonice the queen. But by-and-by, when contrary news was brought, that King Eumenes was alive, and now coming to the city, he laid by his crown, left his wife, as a private man went to meet him, and congratulate his return. Eumenes, though he knew all particulars passed, yet dissembling the matter, kindly embraced his brother, and took his wife into his favour again, as if on such matter had been heard of or done. Jocundo, in Ariosto, found his wife in bed with a knave, both asleep, went his ways, and would not so much as wake them, much less reprove them for it. An honest fellow finding in like sort his wife had played false at tables, and borne a man too many, drew his dagger, and swore if he had not been his very friend, he would have killed him. Another hearing one had done that for him, which no man desires to be done by a deputy, followed in a rage with his sword drawn, and having overtaken him, laid adultery to his charge; the offender hotly pursued, confessed it was true; with which confession he was satisfied, and so left him, swearing that if he had denied it, he would not have put it up. How much better is it to do thus, than to macerate himself, impatiently to rave and rage, to enter an action (as Arnoldus Tilius did in the court of Toulouse, against Martin Guerre his fellow-soldier, for that he counterfeited his habit, and was too familiar with his wife) , so to divulge his own shame, and to remain for ever a cuckold on record? how much better be Cornelius Tacitus than Publius Cornutus, to condemn in such cases, or take no notice of it? Melius sic errare, quam Zelotypiæ curis, saith Erasmus, se conficere, better be a wittol and put it up, than to trouble himself to no purpose. And though he will not omnibus dormire, be an ass, as he is an ox, yet to wink at it as many do is not amiss at some times, in some cases, to some parties, if it be for his commodity, or some great man's sake, his landlord, patron, benefactor, (as Calbas the Roman saith Plutarch did by Mæcenas, and Phayllus of Argos did by King Philip, when he promised him an office on that condition he might lie with his wife) and so let it pass:
"pol me haud púnitet,
Scilicet boni dimidium dividere cum Jove,"
"it never troubles me" (saith Amphitrio) "to be cornuted by Jupiter," let it not molest thee then; be friends with her;
"Tu cum Alcmena uxore antiquam in gratiam
"Receive Alcmena to your grace again;" let it, I say, make no breach of love between you. Howsoever the best way is to contemn it, which Henry II. king of France advised a courtier of his, jealous of his wife, and complaining of her unchasteness, to reject it, and comfort himself; for he that suspects his wife's incontinency, and fears the Pope's curse, shall never live a merry hour, or sleep a quiet night: no remedy but patience. When all is done according to that counsel of Nevisanus, si vitium uxoris corrigi non potest, ferendum est: if it may not be helped, it must be endured. Date veniam et sustinete taciti, 'tis Sophocles' advice, keep it to thyself, and which Chrysostom calls palæstram philosophiæ, et domesticum gymnasium a school of philosophy, put it up. There is no other cure but time to wear it out, Injuriarum remedium est oblivio, as if they had drunk a draught of Lethe in Trophonius' den: to conclude, age will bereave her of it, dies dolorem minuit, time and patience must end it.
"The mind's affections patience will appease,
It passions kills, and healeth each disease."