Symptoms from Education, Custom, Continuance of Time, our Condition, mixed with other Diseases, by Fits, Inclination, &c.

Symptoms from Education, Custom, Continuance of Time, our Condition, mixed with other Diseases, by Fits, Inclination, &c.

ANTHER great occasion of the variety of these symptoms proceeds from custom, discipline, education, and several inclinations, "this humour will imprint in melancholy men the objects most answerable to their condition of life, and ordinary actions, and dispose men according to their several studies and callings." If an ambitious man become melancholy, he forthwith thinks he is a king, an emperor, a monarch, and walks alone, pleasing himself with a vain hope of some future preferment, or present as he supposeth, and withal acts a lord's part, takes upon him to be some statesman or magnifico, makes congés, gives entertainment, looks big, &c. Francisco Sansovino records of a melancholy man in Cremona, that would not be induced to believe but that he was pope, gave pardons, made cardinals, &c. Christophorus a Vega makes mention of another of his acquaintance, that thought he was a king, driven from his kingdom, and was very anxious to recover his estate. A covetous person is still conversant about purchasing of lands and tenements, plotting in his mind how to compass such and such manors, as if he were already lord of, and able to go through with it; all he sees is his, re or spe, he hath devoured it in hope, or else in conceit esteems it his own: like him in Athenæus, that thought all the ships in the haven to be his own. A lascivious inamorato plots all the day long to please his mistress, acts and struts, and carries himself as if she were in presence, still dreaming of her, as Pamphilus of his Glycerium, or as some do in their morning sleep. Marcellus Donatus knew such a gentlewoman in Mantua, called Elionora Meliorina, that constantly believed she was married to a king, and "would kneel down and talk with him, as if he had been there present with his associates; and if she had found by chance a piece of glass in a muck-hill or in the street, she would say that it was a jewel sent from her lord and husband." If devout and religious, he is all for fasting, prayer, ceremonies, alms, interpretations, visions, prophecies, revelations, he is inspired by the Holy Ghost, full of the Spirit: one while he is saved, another while damned, or still troubled in mind for his sins, the devil will surely have him, &c. More of these in the third partition of love-melancholy. A scholar's mind is busied about his studies, he applauds himself for what he hath done, or hopes to do, one while fearing to be out in his next exercise, another while contemning all censures; envies one, emulates another; or else with indefatigable pains and meditation, consumes himself. So of the rest, all which vary according to the more remiss and violent impression of the object, or as the humour itself is intended or remitted. For some are so gently melancholy, that in all their carriage, and to the outward apprehension of others it can hardly be discerned, yet to them an intolerable burden, and not to be endured. Quædam occulta quædam manifesta, some signs are manifest and obvious to all at all times, some to few or seldom, or hardly perceived; let them keep their own counsel, none will take notice or suspect them. They do not express in outward show their depraved imaginations," as Hercules de Saxonia observes, "but conceal them wholly to themselves, and are very wise men, as I have often seen; some fear, some do not fear at all, as such as think themselves kings or dead, some have more signs, some fewer, some great, some less, some vex, fret, still fear, grieve, lament, suspect, laugh, sing, weep, chafe, &c. by fits (as I have said) or more during and permanent." Some dote in one thing, are most childish, and ridiculous, and to be wondered at in that, and yet for all other matters most discreet and wise. To some it is in disposition, to another in habit; and as they write of heat and cold, we may say of this humour, one is melancholicus ad octo, a second two degrees less, a third half-way. 'Tis superparticular, sesquialtera, sesquitertia, and superbipartiens tertias, quintas Melancholiæ, &c., all those geometrical proportions are too little to express it. "It comes to many by fits, and goes; to others it is continuate: many (saith Faventinus) in spring and fall only are molested, some once a year, as that Roman Galen speaks of: one, at the conjunction of the moon alone, or some unfortunate aspects, at such and such set hours and times, like the sea-tides, to some women when they be with child, as Plater notes, never otherwise: to others 'tis settled and fixed: to one led about and variable still by that ignis fatuus of phantasy, like an arthritis or running gout, 'tis here and there, and in every joint, always molesting some part or other; or if the body be free, in a myriad of forms exercising the mind. A second once peradventure in his life hath a most grievous fit, once in seven years, once in five years, even to the extremity of madness, death, or dotage, and that upon some feral accident or perturbation, terrible object, and that for a time, never perhaps so before, never after. A third is moved upon all such troublesome objects, cross fortune, disaster, and violent passions, otherwise free, once troubled in three or four years. A fourth, if things be to his mind, or he in action, well pleased, in good company, is most jocund, and of a good complexion: if idle, or alone, à la mort, or carried away wholly with pleasant dreams and phantasies, but if once crossed and displeased,

"Pectore concipiet nil nisi triste suo;"

"He will imagine naught save sadness in his heart;"

his countenance is altered on a sudden, his heart heavy, irksome thoughts crucify his soul, and in an instant he is moped or weary of his life, he will kill himself. A fifth complains in his youth, a sixth in his middle age, the last in his old age.

Generally thus much we may conclude of melancholy; that it is most pleasant at first, I say, mentis gratissimus error, (a most agreeable mental delusion) a most delightsome humour, to be alone, dwell alone, walk alone, meditate, lie in bed whole days, dreaming awake as it were, and frame a thousand fantastical imaginations unto themselves. They are never better pleased then when they are so doing, they are in paradise for the time, and cannot well endure to be interrupt; with him in the poet, pol me occidistis, amici, non servastis, ait? you have undone him, he complains if you trouble him: tell him what inconvenience will follow, what will be the event, all is one, canis ad vomitum, 'tis so pleasant he cannot refrain. He may thus continue peradventure many years by reason of a strong temperature, or some mixture of business, which may divert his cogitations: but at the last læsa imaginatio, his phantasy is crazed, and now habituated to such toys, cannot but work still like a fate, the scene alters upon a sudden, fear and sorrow supplant those pleasing thoughts, suspicion, discontent, and perpetual anxiety succeed in their places; so by little and little, by that shoeing-horn of idleness, and voluntary solitariness, melancholy this feral fiend is drawn on, et quantum vertice ad auras Æthereas, tantum radice in Tartara tendit, "extending up, by its branches, so far towards Heaven, as, by its roots it does down towards Tartarus;" it was not so delicious at first, as now it is bitter and harsh; a cankered soul macerated with cares and discuntents, tædium vitæ, impatience, agony, inconstancy, irresolution, precipitate them unto unspeakable miseries. They cannot endure company, light, or life itself, some unfit for action, and the like. Their bodies are lean and dried up, withered, ugly, their looks harsh, very dull, and their souls tormented, as they are more or less entangled, as the humour hath been intended, or according to the continuance of time they have been troubled.

To discern all which symptoms the better, Rhasis the Arabian makes three degrees of them. The first is, falsa cogitatio, false conceits and idle thoughts: to misconstrue and amplify, aggravating every thing they conceive or fear; the second is, falso cogitata loqui, to talk to themselves, or to use inarticulate incondite voices, speeches, obsolete gestures, and plainly to utter their minds and conceits of their hearts, by their words and actions, as to laugh, weep, to be silent, not to sleep, eat their meat, &c.: the third is to put in practice that which they think or speak. Savanarola, Rub. 11. Tract. 8. cap. 1. de ægritudine, confirms as much, "when he begins to express that in words, which he conceives in his heart, or talks idly, or goes from one thing to another," which Gordonius calls nec caput habentia nec caudam ("having neither head nor tail"), he is in the middle way: "but when he begins to act it likewise, and to put his fopperies in execution, be is then in the extent of melancholy, or madness itself." This progress of melancholy you shall easily observe in them that have been so affected, they go smiling to themselves at first, at length they laugh out; at first solitary, at last they can endure no company: or if they do, they are now dizzards, past sense and shame, quite moped, they care not what they say or do, all their actions, words, gestures, are furious or ridiculous. At first his mind is troubled, he doth not attend what is said, if you tell him a tale, he cries at last, what said you? but in the end he mutters to himself; as old women do many times, or old men when they sit alone, upon a sudden they laugh, whoop, halloo, or run away, and swear they see or hear players, devils, hobgoblins, ghosts, strike, or strut, &c., grow humorous in the end: like him in the poet, sæpe ducentos, sæpe decem servos ("at one time followed by two hundred servants, at another only by ten"), he will dress himself; and undress, careless at last, grows insensible, stupid, or mad. He howls like a wolf; barks like a dog, and raves like Ajax and Orestes, hears music and outcries, which no man else hears. As he did whom Amatus Lusitanus mentioneth cent. 3, cura. 55, or that woman in Springer, that spake many languages, and said she was possessed: that farmer in Prosper Calenus, that disputed and discoursed learnedly in philosophy and astromomy with Alexander Achilles his master, at Bologna, in Italy. But of these I have already spoken.

Who can sufficiently speak of these symptoms, or prescribe rules to comprehend them? as Echo to the painter in Ausonius, vane, quid afectas, &c., foolish fellow; what wilt? if you must needs paint me, paint a voice, et similem si vis pingere, pinge sonum; if you will describe melancholy, describe a phantastical conceit, a corrupt imagination, vain thoughts and different, which who can do? The four and twenty letters make no more variety of words in diverse languages, than melancholy conceits produce diversity of symptoms in several persons. They are irregular, obscure, various, so infinite, Proteus himself is not so diverse, you may as well make the moon a new coat, as a true character of a melancholy man; as soon find the motion of a bird in the air, as the heart of man, a melancholy man. They are so confused, I say, diverse, intermixed with other diseases. As the species be confounded (which I have shewed) so are the symptoms: sometimes with headache, cachexia, dropsy, stone; as you may perceive by those several examples and illustrations, collected by Hildesheim, spicel. 2, Mercurialis, consil. 118. cap. 6 and 11, with headache, epilepsy, priapismus. Trincavellius, consil. 12. lib. 1. consil. 49. with gout: caninus appetitus. Montanus, consil. 26, &c. 23, 234, 249, with falling-sickness, headache, vertigo, lycanthropia, &c. I. Cæsar Claudinus, consult. 4. consult. 89 and 116, with gout, agues, hæmorrhoids, stone, &c., who can distinguish these melancholy symptoms so intermixed with others, or apply them to their several kinds, confine them into method? 'Tis hard I confess, yet I have disposed of them as I could, and will descend to particularise them according to their species. For hitherto I have expatiated in more general lists or terms, speaking promiscuously of such ordinary signs, which occur amongst writers. Not that they are all to be found in one man, for that were to paint a monster or chimera, not a man: but some in one, some in another, and that successively, or at several times.

Which I have been the more curious to express and report; not to upbraid any miserable man, or by way of derision (I rather pity them), but the better to discern, to apply remedies unto them; and to show that the best and soundest of us all is in great danger; how much we ought to fear our own fickle estates, remember our miseries and vanities, examine and humiliate ourselves, seek to God, and call to Him for mercy, that needs not look for any rods to scourge ourselves, since we carry them in our bowels, and that our souls are in a miserable captivity, if the light of grace and heavenly truth doth not shine continually upon us: and by our discretion to moderate ourselves, to be more circumspect and wary in the midst of these dangers.

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