Discontent, Cares, Miseries, &c. Causes.

Discontent, Cares, Miseries, &c. Causes.

DISCONTENTS, cares, crosses, miseries, or whatsoever it is, that shall cause any molestation of spirits, grief, anguish, and perplexity, may well be reduced to this head (preposterously placed here in some men's judgments they may seem), yet in that Aristotle in his Rhetoric defines these cares, as he doth envy, emulation, still by grief I think I may well rank them in this irascible row; being that they are as the rest, both causes and symptoms of this disease, producing the like inconveniences, and are most part accompanied with anguish and pain. The common etymology will evince it, Cura, quasi cor uro, Dementes curæ, insomnes curæ, damnosæ curæ, tristes, mordaces, carnifices, &c., biting, eating, gnawing, cruel, bitter, sick, sad, unquiet, pale, tetric, miserable, intolerable cares, as the poets call them, worldly cares, and are as many in number as the sea sands. Galen, Fernelius, Felix Plater, Valescus de Taranta, &c., reckon afflictions, miseries, even all these contentions, and vexations of the mind, as principal causes, in that they take away sleep, hinder concoction, dry up the body, and consume the substance of it. They are not so many in number, but their causes be as divers, and not one of a thousand free from them, or that can vindicate himself; whom that Ate dea,

"Per hominum capita molliter ambulans,
Plantas pedum teneras habens:"

"Over men's heads walking aloft,
With tender feet treading so soft,"

 

Homer's Goddess Ate hath not involved into this discontented rank, or plagued with some misery or other. Hyginus, fab. 220, to this purpose hath a pleasant tale. Dame Cura by chance went over a brook, and taking up some of the dirty slime, made an image of it; Jupiter eftsoons coming by, put life to it, but Cura and Jupiter could not agree what name to give him, or who should own him; the matter was referred to Saturn as judge, he gave this arbitrement: his name shall be Homo ab humo, Cura eum possideat quamdiu vivrat, Care shall have him whilst he lives, Jupiter his soul, and Tellus his body when he dies. But to leave tales. A general cause, a continuate cause, an inseparable accident, to all men, is discontent, care, misery: were there no other particular affliction (which who is free from?) to molest a man in this life, the very cogitation of that common misery were enough to macerate, and make him weary of his life; to think that he can never be secure, but still in danger, sorrow, grief, and persecution. For to begin at the hour of his birth, as Pliny doth elegantly describe it, "he is born naked, and falls a whining at the very first, he is swaddled and bound up like a prisoner, cannot help himself; and so he continues to his life's end." Cujusque feræ pabulum, saith Seneca, impatient of heat and cold, impatient of labour, impatient of idleness, exposed to fortune's contumelies. To a naked mariner Lucretius compares him, cast on shore by shipwreck, cold and comfortless in an unknown land: no estate, age, sex, can secure himself from this common misery. "A man that is born of a woman is of short continuance, and full of trouble." Job xiv. 1, 22. "And while his flesh is upon him he shall be sorrowful, and while his soul is in him it shall mourn." "All his days are sorrow and his travels griefs; his heart also taketh not rest in the night," Eccles. ii. 23. and ii. 11. "All that is in it is sorrow and vexation of spirit." Ingress, progress, regress, egress, much alike: blindness seizeth on us in the beginning, labour in the middle, grief in the end, error in all. What day ariseth to us without some grief; care, or anguish? Or what so secure and pleasing a morning have we seen, that hath not been overcast before the evening? One is miserable, another ridiculous, a third odious. One complains of this grievance, another of that. Aliquando nervi, aliquando pedes vexant, (Seneca) nunc distillatio, nunc hepatis morbus; nunc deest, nunc superest sanguis: now the head aches, then the feet, now the lungs, then the liver, &c. Huic sensus exuberat, sed est pudori degener sanguis, &c. He is rich, but base born; he is noble, but poor; a third hath means, but he wants health peradventure, or wit to manage his estate; children vex one, wife a second, &c. Nemo facile cum conditione sua concordat, no man is pleased with his fortune, a pound of sorrow is familiarly mixed with a dram of content, little or no joy, little comfort, but evervwhere danger, contention, anxiety, in all places: go where thou wilt, and thou shalt find discontents, cares, woes, complaints, sickness, diseases, incumbrances, exclamations: "If thou look into the market, there (saith Chrysostom) is brawling and contention; if to the court, there knavery and flattery, &c.; if to a private man's house, there's cark and care, heaviness," &c. As he said of old, Nil homine in terra spirat miserum magis alma? No creature so miserable as man, so generally molested, "in miseries of body, in miseries of mind, miseries of heart, in miseries asleep, in miseries awake, in miseries wheresoever he turns," as Bernard found, Nunquid tentatio est vita humana super terram? A mere temptation is our life (Austin, confess. lib. 10, cap. 28), catena perpetuorum malorum, et quis potest molestias et difficultates pati? Who can endure the miseries of it? "In prosperity we are insolent and intolerable, dejected in adversity, in all fortunes foolish and miserable." In adversity I wish for prosperity, and in prosperity I am afraid of adversity. What mediocrity may be found? Where is no temptation? What condition of life is free? Wisdom hath labour annexed to it, glory envy; riches and cares, children and incumbrances, pleasure and diseases, rest and beggary, go together: as if a man were therefore born (as the Platonists hold) to be punished in this life for some precedent sins. Or that, as Pliny complains, "Nature may be rather accounted a step-mother, than a mother unto us, all things considered: no creature's life so brittle, so full of fear, so mad, so furious; only man is plagued with envy, discontent, griefs, covetousness, ambition, superstition." Our whole life is an Irish sea, wherein there is nought to be expected but tempestuous storms and troublesome waves, and those infinite,

"Tantum malorum pelagus aspicio,
Ut non sit inde enatandi copia,"

(Euripides. "I perceive such an ocean of troubles before me, that no means of escape remain.")

no halcyonian times, wherein a man can hold himself secure, or agree with his present estate; but as Boethius infers, "There is something in every one of us which before trial we seek, and having tried abhor: we earnestly wish, and eagerly covet, and are eftsoons weary of it." Thus between hope and fear, suspicions, angers, Inter spemque metumque, timores inter et iras, betwixt falling in, falling out, &c., we bangle away our best days, befool out our times, we lead a contentious, discontent, tumultuous, melancholy, miserable life; insomuch, that if we could foretell what was to come, and it put to our choice, we should rather refuse than accept of this painful life. In a word, the world itself is a maze, a labyrinth of errors, a desert, a wilderness, a den of thieves, cheaters, &c., full of filthy puddles, horrid rocks, precipitiums, an ocean of adversity, an heavy yoke, wherein infirmities and calamities overtake, and follow one another, as the sea waves; and if we scape Scylla, we fall foul on Charybdis, and so in perpetual fear, labour, anguish, we run from one plague, one mischief, one burden to another, duram servientes servitutem, and you may as soon separate weight from lead, heat from fire, moistness from water, brightness from the sun, as misery, discontent, care, calamity, danger, from a man. Our towns and cities are but so many dwellings of human misery. "In which grief and sorrow (as he right well observes out of Solon) innumerable troubles, labours of mortal men, and all manner of vices, are included, as in so many pens." Our villages are like mole-hills, and men as so many emmets, busy, busy still, going to and fro, in and out, and crossing one another's projects, as the lines of several sea-cards cut each other in a globe or map. "Now light and merry, but (as one follows it) by-and-by sorrowful and heavy; now hoping, then distrusting; now patient, to-morrow crying out; now pale, then red; running, sitting, sweating, trembling, halting," &c. Some few amongst the rest, or perhaps one of a thousand, may be Pullus Jovis, in the world's esteem, Gallinæ filius albæ, an happy and fortunate man, ad invidiam felix, because rich, fair, well allied, in honour and office; yet peradventure ask himself, and he will say, that of all others, he is most miserable and unhappy. A fair shoe, Hic soccus novus, elegans, as he said, sed nescis ubi urat, but thou knowest not where it pincheth. It is not another man's opinion can make me happy: but as Seneca well hath it, "He is a miserable wretch that doth not account himself happy; though he be sovereign lord of a world, he is not happy, if he think himself not to be so; for what availeth it what thine estate is, or seem to others, if thou thyself dislike it?" A common humour it is of all men to think well of other men's fortunes, and dislike their own: Cui placet alterius, sua nimirum est odio sors; but qui fit Mæcenas, &c., how comes it to pass, what's the cause of it? Many men are of such a perverse nature, they are well pleased with nothing, (saith Theodoret) "neither with riches nor poverty, they complain when they are well and when they are sick, grumble at all fortunes, prosperity and adversity; they are troubled in a cheap year, in a barren, plenty or not plenty, nothing pleaseth them, war nor peace, with children, nor without." This for the most part is the humour of us all, to be discontent, miserable, and most unhappy, as we think at least; and show me him that is not so, or that ever was otherwise. Quintus Metellus his felicity is infinitely admired amongst the Romans, insomuch that as Paterculus mentioneth of him, you can scarce find of any nation, order, age, sex, one for happiness to be compared unto him: he had, in a word, Bona animi, corporis et fortunæ, goods of mind, body, and fortune, so had P. Mutianus, Crassus. Lampsaca, that Lacedemonian lady was such another in Pliny's conceit, a king's wife, a king's mother, a king's daughter: and all the world esteemed as much of Polycrates of Samos. The Greeks brag of their Socrates, Phocion, Aristides; the Psophidians in particular of their Aglaus, Omni vita felix, ab omni periculo immunis (which by the way Pausanias held impossible); the Romans of their Cato, Curius, Fabricius, for their composed fortunes, and retired estates, government of passions, and contempt of the world: yet none of all these were happy, or free from discontent, neither Metellus, Crassus, nor Polycrates, for he died a violent death, and so did Cato; and how much evil doth Lactantius and Theodoret speak of Socrates, a weak man, and so of the rest. There is no content in this life, but as he said, "All is vanity and vexation of spirit;" lame and imperfect. Hadst thou Sampson's hair, Milo's strength, Scanderbeg's arm, Solomon's wisdom, Absalom's beauty, Cr?sus's wealth, Pasetis obulum, Cæsar's valour, Alexander's spirit, Tully's or Demosthenes' eloquence, Gyges' ring, Perseus' Pegasus, and Gorgon's head, Nestor's years to come, all this would not make thee absolute, give thee content and true happiness in this life, or so continue it. Even in the midst of all our mirth, jollity, and laughter, is sorrow and grief; or if there be true happiness amongst us, 'tis but for a time,

"Desinit in piscem mulier formosa superne:"

"A handsome woman with a fish's tail."

a fair morning turns to a lowering afternoon. Brutus and Cassius, once renowned, both eminently happy, yet you shall scarce find two, (saith Paterculus) Quos fortuna maturius destituerit, whom fortune sooner forsook. Hannibal, a conqueror all his life, met with his match, and was subdued at last, Occurrit forti, qui mage fortis erit. One is brought in triumph, as Cæsar into Rome, Alcibiades into Athens, coronis aureis donatus, crowned, honoured, admired; by-and-by his statues demolished, he hissed out, massacred, &c. Magnus Gonsalva, that famous Spaniard, was of the prince and people at first honoured, approved; forthwith confined and banished. Admirandas actiones, graves plerumque sequuntur invidiæ, et acres calumniæ: 'tis Polybius his observation, grievous enmities, and bitter calumnies, commonly follow renowned actions. One is born rich, dies a beggar; sound to-day, sick tomorrow; now in most flourishing estate, fortunate and happy, by-and-by deprived of his goods by foreign enemies, robbed by thieves, spoiled, captivated, impoverished as they of "Rabbah, put under iron saws, and under iron harrows, and under axes of iron, and cast into the tile kiln,"

"Quid me felicem toties jactastis amici,
Qui cecidit, stabili non erat ille gradu."

He that erst marched like Xerxes with innumerable armies, as rich as Cr?sus, now shifts for himself in a poor cock-boat, is bound in iron chains, with Bajazet the Turk, and a footstool with Aurelian, for a tyrannising conqueror to trample on. So many casualties there are, that as Seneca said of a city consumed with fire, Una dies interest inter maximam civitatem et nullam, one day betwixt a great city and none: so many grievances from outward accidents, and from ourselves, our own indiscretion, inordinate appetite, one day betwixt a man and no man, And which is worse, as if discontents and miseries would not come fast enough upon us: homo homini dæmon, we maul, persecute, and study how to sting, gall, and vex one another with mutual hatred, abuses, injuries; preying upon and devouring as so many ravenous birds; and as jugglers, panders, bawds, cozening one another; or raging as wolves, tigers, and devils, we take a delight to torment one another; men are evil, wicked, malicious, treacherous, and naught, not loving one another, or loving themselves, not hospitable, charitable, nor sociable as they ought to be, but counterfeit, dissemblers, ambidexters, all for their own ends, hard-hearted, merciless, pitiless, and to benefit themselves, they care not what mischief they procure to others. Praxinoe and Gorgo in the poet, when they had got in to see those costly sights, they then cried bene est, and would thrust out all the rest: when they are rich themselves, in honour, preferred, full, and have even that they would, they debar others of those pleasures which youth requires, and they formerly have enjoyed. He sits at table in a soft chair at ease, but he doth not remember in the meantime that a tired waiter stands behind him, "an hungry fellow ministers to him full, he is athirst that gives him drink (saith Epictetus) and is silent whilst he speaks his pleasure: pensive, sad, when he laughs." Pleno se proluit auro: he feasts, revels, and profusely spends, hath variety of robes, sweet music, ease, and all the pleasures the world can afford, whilst many an hunger-starved poor creature pines in the street, wants clothes to cover him, labours hard all day long, runs, rides for a trifle, fights peradventure from sun to sun, sick and ill, weary, full of pain and grief; is in great distress and sorrow of heart. He loathes and scorns his inferior, hates or emulates his equal, envies his superior, insults over all such as are under him, as if he were of another species, a demi-god, not subject to any fall, or human infirmities. Generally they love not, are not beloved again: they tire out others' bodies with continual labour, they themselves living at ease, caring for none else, sibi nati; and are so far many times from putting to their helping hand, that they seek all means to depress, even most worthy and well deserving, better than themselves, those whom they are by the laws of nature bound to relieve and help, as much as in them lies, they will let them caterwaul, starve, beg, and hang, before they will any ways (though it be in their power) assist or ease: unnatural are they for the most part, so unregardful; so hard-hearted, so churlish, proud, insolent, so dogged, of so bad a disposition. And being so brutish, so devilishly bent one towards another, how is it possible but that we should be discontent of all sides, full of cares, woes, and miseries?

If this be not a sufficient proof of their discontent and misery, examine every condition and calling apart. Kings, princes, monarchs, and magistrates seem to be most happy, but look into their estate, you shall find them to be most encumbered with cares, in perpetual fear, agony, suspicion, jealousy that as he said of a crown, if they knew but the discontents that accompnay it, they would not stoop to take it up. Quem mihi regem dabis, (saith Chrysostom) non curis plenum? What king canst thou show me, not full of cares? "Look not on his crown, but consider his afflictions; attend not his number of servants, but multitude of crosses." Nihil aliud potesas culminis, quam tempestas mentis, as Gregory seconds him; sovereignty is a tempest of the soul: Sylla-like, they have brave titles but terrible fits: splendorem titulo, cruciatum animo, which made Demosthenes vow, si vel ad tribunal, vel ad interitum duceretur: if to be a judge, or to be condemned, were put to his choice, he would be condemned. Rich men are in the same predicament; what their pains are, stulta nesciunt, ipsi sentiunt: they feel, fools perceive not, as I shall prove elsewhere, and their wealth is brittle, like children's rattles: they come and go, there is no certainty in them: those whom they elevate, they do as suddenly depress, and leave in a vale of misery. The middle sort of men are as so many asses to bear burdens; or if they be free, and live at ease, they spend themselves, and consume their bodies and fortunes with luxury and riot, contention, emulation, &c. The poor I reserve for another place, and their discontents.

For particular professions, I hold as of the rest, there's no content or security in any; on what course will you pitch; how resolve? to be a divine, 'tis contemptible in the world's esteem; to be a lawyer, 'tis to be a wrangler; to be a physician, pudet lotii, 'tis loathed; a philosopher, a madman; an alchymist, a beggar; a poet, esurit, an hungry jack; a musician, a player; a schoolmaster, a drudge; an husbandman, an emmet; a merchant, his gains are uncertain; a mechanician, base; a chirurgeon, fulsome; a tradesman, a liar; a tailor, a thief; a serving-man, a slave; a soldier, a butcher; a smith, or a metalman, the pot's never from's nose; a courtier, a parasite, as he could find no tree in the wood to hang himself; I can show no state of life to give content. The like you may say of all ages; children live in a perpetual slavery, still under that tyrannical government of masters; young men, and of riper years, subject to labour, and a thousand cares of the world, to treachery, falsehood and cozenage,

"-- Incedit per ignes,
Suppositos cineri doloso,"

"-- you incautious tread
On fires, with faithless ashes overhead,"

old are full of aches in their bones, cramps and convulsions, silicernia, dull of hearing, weak sighted, hoary, wrinkled, harsh, so much altered as that they cannot know their own face in a glass, a burthen to themselves and others, after 70 years, "all is sorrow" (as David hath it), they do not live but linger. If they be sound, they fear diseases; if sick, weary of their lives: Non est vivere sed valere, vita. One complains of want, a second of servitude, another of a secret or incurable disease; of some deformity of body, of some loss, danger, death of friends, shipwreck, persecution, imprisonment, disgrace, repulse, contumely, calumny, abuse, injury, contempt, ingratitude, unkindness, scoffs, flouts, unfortunate marriage, single life, too many children, no children, false servants, unhappy children, barrenness, banishment, oppression, frustrate hopes and ill success, &c.

"Talia de genere hoc adeo sunt multa, loquacem ut
Delassare valent Fabium.--"

"But every various instance to repeat
Would tire even Fabius of incessant prate."

Talking Fabius will be tired before he can tell half of them; they are the subject of whole volumes, and shall (some of them) be more opportunely dilated elsewhere. In the meantime thus much I may say of them, that generally they crucify the soul of man, attenuate our bodies, dry them, wither them, shrivel them up like old apples, make them as so many anatomies (ossa atque pellus est totus, ita curis macet), they cause tempus f?dum et squalidum, cumbersome days, ingrataque tempora, slow, dull, and heavy times: make us howl, roar, and tear our hairs, as sorrow did in Cebes' table, and groan for the very anguish of our souls. Our hearts fail us as David's did, Psal. xl. 12, "for innumerable troubles that compassed him;" and we are ready to confess with Hezekiah, Isaiah lviii. 17, "behold, for felicity I had bitter grief;" to weep with Heraclitus, to curse the day of our birth with Jeremy, xx. 14, and our stars with Job: to hold that axiom of Silenus, "better never to have been born, and the best next of all, to die quickly:" or if we must live, to abandon the world, as Timon did; creep into caves and holes, as our anchorites; cast all into the sea, as Crates Thebanus; or as Theombrotus Ambrociato's 400 auditors, precipitate ourselves to be rid of these miseries.

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