Perturbations of the mind rectified. From himself, by resisting to the utmost, confessing his grief to a friend, &c.

Perturbations of the mind rectified. From himself, by resisting to the utmost, confessing his grief to a friend, &c.

     Whosoever he is that shall hope to cure this malady in himself or any other, must first rectify these passions and perturbations of the mind: the chiefest cure consists in them. A quiet mind is that voluptas, or summum bonum of Epicurus, non dolere, curis vacare, animo tranquillo esse, not to grieve, but to want cares, and have a quiet soul, is the only pleasure of the world, as Seneca truly recites his opinion, not that of eating and drinking, which injurious Aristotle maliciously puts upon him, and for which he is still mistaken, male audit et vapulat, slandered without a cause, and lashed by all posterity. "Fear and sorrow, therefore, are especially to be avoided, and the mind to be mitigated with mirth, constancy, good hope; vain terror, bad objects are to be removed, and all such persons in whose companies they be not well pleased." Gualter Bruel. Fernelius, consil. 43. Mercurialis, consil. 6. Piso, Jacchinus, cap. 15. in 9. Rhasis, Capivaccius, Hildesheim, &c., all inculcate this as an especial means of their cure, that their "minds be quietly pacified, vain conceits diverted, if it be possible, with terrors, cares," "fixed studies, cogitations, and whatsoever it is that shall any way molest or trouble the soul," because that otherwise there is no good to be done. "The body's mischiefs," as Plato proves, "proceed from the soul: and if the mind be not first satisfied, the body can never be cured." Alcibiades raves (saith Maximus Tyrius) and is sick, his furious desires carry him from Lyceus to the pleading place, thence to the sea, so into Sicily, thence to Lacedaemon, thence to Persia, thence to Samos, then again to Athens; Critias tyranniseth over all the city; Sardanapalus is lovesick; these men are ill-affected all, and can never be cured, till their minds be otherwise qualified. Crato, therefore, in that often-cited Counsel of his for a nobleman his patient, when he had sufficiently informed him in diet, air, exercise, Venus, sleep, concludes with these as matters of greatest moment, Quod reliquum est, animæ accidentia corrigantur, from which alone proceeds melancholy; they are the fountain, the subject, the hinges whereon it turns, and must necessarily be reformed. "For anger stirs choler, heats the blood and vital spirits; sorrow on the other side refrigerates the body, and extinguisheth natural heat, overthrows appetite, hinders concoction, dries up the temperature, and perverts the understanding:" fear dissolves the spirits, infects the heart, attenuates the soul: and for these causes all passions and perturbations must, to the uttermost of our power and most seriously, be removed. Aelianus Montaltus attributes so much to them, "that he holds the rectification of them alone to be sufficient to the cure of melancholy in most patients." Many are fully cured when they have seen or heard, &c., enjoy their desires, or be secured and satisfied in their minds; Galen, the common master of them all, from whose fountain they fetch water, brags, lib. 1. de san. tuend., that he, for his part, hath cured divers of this infirmity, solum animis ad rectum institutis, by right settling alone of their minds.

     Yea, but you will here infer, that this is excellent good indeed if it could be done; but how shall it be effected, by whom, what art, what means? hic labor, hoc opus est. 'Tis a natural infirmity, a most powerful adversary, all men are subject to passions, and melancholy above all others, as being distempered by their innate humours, abundance of choler adust, weakness of parts, outward occurrences; and how shall they be avoided? The wisest men, greatest philosophers of most excellent wit, reason, judgment, divine spirits, cannot moderate themselves in this behalf; such as are sound in body and mind, Stoics, heroes, Homer's gods, all are passionate, and furiously carried sometimes; and how shall we that are already crazed, fracti animis, sick in body, sick in mind, resist? we cannot perform it. You may advise and give good precepts, as who cannot? But how shall they be put in practice? I may not deny but our passions are violent, and tyrannise of us, yet there be means to curb them; though they be headstrong, they may be tamed, they may be qualified, if he himself or his friends will but use their honest endeavours, or make use of such ordinary helps as are commonly prescribed.

     He himself (I say); from the patient himself the first and chiefest remedy must be had; for if he be averse, peevish, waspish, give way wholly to his passions, will not seek to be helped, or be ruled by his friends, how is it possible he should be cured? But if he be willing at least, gentle, tractable, and desire his own good, no doubt but he may magnam morbi deponere partem, be eased at least, if not cured. He himself must do his utmost endeavour to resist and withstand the beginnings. Principiis obsta, "Give not water passage, no not a little," Ecclus. xxv. 27. If they open a little, they will make a greater breach at length. Whatsoever it is that runneth in his mind, vain conceit, be it pleasing or displeasing, which so much affects or troubleth him, "by all possible means he must withstand it, expel those vain, false, frivolous imaginations, absurd conceits, feigned fears and sorrows; from which," saith Piso, "this disease primarily proceeds, and takes his first occasion or beginning, by doing something or other that shall be opposite unto them, thinking of something else, persuading by reason, or howsoever to make a sudden alteration of them." Though he have hitherto run in a full career, and precipitated himself, following his passions, giving reins to his appetite, let him now stop upon a sudden, curb himself in; and as Lemnius adviseth, "strive against with all his power, to the utmost of his endeavour, and not cherish those fond imaginations, which so covertly creep into his mind, most pleasing and amiable at first, but bitter as gall at last, and so headstrong, that by no reason, art, counsel, or persuasion, they may be shaken off." Though he be far gone, and habituated unto such fantastical imaginations, yet as Tully and Plutarch advise, let him oppose, fortify, or prepare himself against them, by premeditation, reason, or as we do by a crooked staff, bend himself another way.

"Tu tamen interea effugito quæ tristia mentem
Solicitant, procul esse jube curasque metumque
Pallentum, ultrices iras, sint omnia læta."

"In the meantime expel them from thy mind,
Pale fears, sad cares, and griefs which do it grind,
Revengeful anger, pain and discontent,
Let all thy soul be set on merriment."

     Curas tolle graves, irasci crede profanum. If it be idleness hath caused this infirmity, or that he perceive himself given to solitariness, to walk alone, and please his mind with fond imaginations, let him by all means avoid it; 'tis a bosom enemy, 'tis delightsome melancholy, a friend in show, but a secret devil, a sweet poison, it will in the end be his undoing; let him go presently, task or set himself a work, get some good company. If he proceed, as a gnat flies about a candle, so long till at length he burn his bodv, so in the end he will undo himself: if it be any harsh object, ill company, let him presently go from it. If by his own default, through ill diet, bad air, want of exercise, &c., let him now begin to reform himself. "It would be a perfect remedy against all corruption, if," as Roger Bacon hath it, "we could but moderate ourselves in those six non-natural things." "If it be any disgrace, abuse, temporal loss, calumny, death of friends, imprisonment, banishment, be not troubled with it, do not fear, be not angry, grieve not at it, but with all courage sustain it." (Gordonius, lib. 1. c. 15. de conser. vit.) Tu contra audentior ito. If it be sickness, ill success, or any adversity that hath caused it, oppose an invincible courage, "fortify thyself by God's word, or otherwise," mala bonis persuadenda, set prosperity against adversity, as we refresh our eyes by seeing some pleasant meadow, fountain, picture, or the like: recreate thy mind by some contrary object, with some more pleasing meditation divert thy thoughts.

     Yea, but you infer again, facile consilium damus aliis, we can easily give counsel to others; every man, as the saying is, can tame a shrew but he that hath her; si hic esses, aliter sentires; if you were in our misery, you would find it otherwise, 'tis not so easily performed. We know this to be true; we should moderate ourselves, but we are furiously carried, we cannot make use of such precepts, we are overcome, sick, male sani, distempered and habituated to these courses, we can make no resistance; you may as well bid him that is diseased not to feel pain, as a melancholy man not to fear, not to be sad: 'tis within his blood, his brains, his whole temperature, it cannot be removed. But he may choose whether he will give way too far unto it, he may in some sort correct himself. A philosopher was bitten with a mad dog, and as the nature of that disease is to abhor all waters, and liquid things, and to think still they see the picture of a dog before them: he went for all this, reluctante se, to the bath, and seeing there (as he thought) in the water the picture of a dog, with reason overcame this conceit, quid cani cum balneo? what should a dog do in a bath? a mere conceit. Thou thinkest thou hearest and seest devils, black men, &c., 'tis not so, 'tis thy corrupt fantasy; settle thine imagination, thou art well. Thou thinkest thou hast a great nose, thou art sick, every man observes thee, laughs thee to scorn; persuade thyself 'tis no such matter: this is fear only, and vain suspicion. Thou art discontent, thou art sad and heavy; but why? upon what ground? consider of it: thou art jealous, timorous, suspicious; for what cause? examine it thoroughly, thou shalt find none at all, or such as is to be contemned; such as thou wilt surely deride, and contemn in thyself, when it is past. Rule thyself then with reason, satisfy thyself, accustom thyself, wean thyself from such fond conceits, vain fears, strong imaginations, restless thoughts. Thou mayst do it; Est in nobis assuescere (as Plutarch saith), we may frame ourselves as we will. As he that useth an upright shoe, may correct the obliquity, or crookedness, by wearing it on the other side; we may overcome passions if we will. Quicquid sibi imperavit animus obtinuit (as Seneca saith) nulli tam feri affectus, ut non disciplina perdomentur, whatsoever the will desires, she may command: no such cruel affections, but by discipline they may be tamed; voluntarily thou wilt not do this or that, which thou oughtest to do, or refrain, &c., but when thou art lashed like a dull jade, thou wilt reform it: fear of a whip will make thee do, or not do. Do that voluntarily then which thou canst do, and must do by compulsion; thou mayst refrain if thou wilt, and master thine affections. "As in a city" (saith Melancthon) "they do by stubborn rebellious rogues, that will not submit themselves to political judgment, compel them by force; so must we do by our affections. If the heart will not lay aside those vicious motions, and the fantasy those fond imaginations, we have another form of government to enforce and refrain our outward members, that they be not led by our passions." If appetite will not obey, let the moving faculty overrule her, let her resist and compel her to do otherwise. In an ague the appetite would drink; sore eyes that itch would be rubbed; but reason saith no, and therefore the moving faculty will not do it. Our fantasy would intrude a thousand fears, suspicions, chimeras upon us, but we have reason to resist, yet we let it be overborne by our appetite; "imagination enforceth spirits, which, by an admirable league of nature, compel the nerves to obey, and they our several limbs:" we give too much way to our passions. And as to him that is sick of an ague, all things are distasteful and unpleasant, non ex cibi vitio saith Plutarch, not in the meat, but in our taste: so many things are offensive to us, not of themselves, but out of our corrupt judgment, jealousy, suspicion, and the like: we pull these mischiefs upon our own heads.

     If then our judgment be so depraved, our reason overruled, will precipitated, that we cannot seek our own good, or moderate ourselves, as in this disease commonly it is, the best way for ease is to impart our misery to some friend, not to smother it up in our own breast: aliter vitium crescitque tegendo, &c., and that which was most offensive to us, a cause of fear and grief, quod nunc te coquit, another hell; for strangulat inclusus dolor atque exæstuat intus, grief concealed strangles the soul; but when as we shall but impart it to some discreet, trusty, loving friend, it is instantly removed, by his counsel happily, wisdom, persuasion, advice, his good means, which we could not otherwise apply unto ourselves. A friend's counsel is a charm, like mandrake wine, curas sopit; and as a bull that is tied to a fig-tree becomes gentle on a sudden (which some, saith Plutarch, interpret of good words), so is a savage, obdurate heart mollified by fair speeches. "All adversity finds ease in complaining" (as Isidore holds), "and 'tis a solace to relate it," Αγαθη δε παραιφασις εστιν εταιρου [Agathe de paraiphasis estin etairou]. Friends' confabulations are comfortable at all times, as fire in winter, shade in summer, quale sopor fessis in gramine, meat and drink to him that is hungry or athirst; Democritus's collyrium is not so sovereign to the eyes as this is to the heart; good words are cheerful and powerful of themselves, but much more from friends, as so many props, mutually sustaining each other like ivy and a wall, which Camerarius hath well illustrated in an emblem. Lenit animum simplex vel sæpe narratio, the simple narration many times easeth our distressed mind, and in the midst of greatest extremities; so diverse have been relieved, by exonerating themselves to a faithful friend: he sees that which we cannot see for passion and discontent, he pacifies our minds, he will ease our pain, assuage our anger; quanta inde voluptas, quanta securitas, Chrysostom adds, what pleasure, what security by that means! "Nothing so available, or that so much refresheth the soul of man." Tully, as I remember, in an epistle to his dear friend Atticus, much condoles the defect of such a friend. "I live here" (saith he) "in a great city, where I have a multitude of acquaintance, but not a man of all that company with whom I dare familiarly breathe, or freely jest. Wherefore I expect thee, I desire thee, I send for thee; for there be many things which trouble and molest me, which had I but thee in presence, I could quickly disburden myself of in a walking discourse." The like, peradventure, may he and he say with that old man in the comedy,

"Nemo est meorum amicorum hodie,
Apud quem expromere occulta mea audeam."

("I have not a single friend this day, to whom I dare to disclose my secrets.")

     and much inconvenience may both he and he suffer in the meantime by it. He or he, or whosoever then labours of this malady, by all means let him get some trusty friend, Semper habens Pylademque aliquem qui curet Orestem, a Pylades, to whom freely and securely he may open himself. For as in all other occurrences, so it is in this, Si quis in c?lum ascendisset, &c. as he said in Tully, if a man had gone to heaven, "seen the beauty of the skies," stars errant, fixed, &c., insuavis erit admiratio, it will do him no pleasure, except he have somebody to impart what he hath seen. It is the best thing in the world, as Seneca therefore adviseth in such a case, "to get a trusty friend, to whom we may freely and sincerely pour out our secrets; nothing so delighteth and easeth the mind, as when we have a prepared bosom, to which our secrets may descend, of whose conscience we are assured as our own, whose speech may ease our succourless estate, counsel relieve, mirth expel our mourning, and whose very sight may be acceptable unto us." It was the counsel which that politic Comineus gave to all princes, and others distressed in mind, by occasion of Charles Duke of Burgundy, that was much perplexed, "first to pray to God, and lay himself open to him, and then to some special friend, whom we hold most dear, to tell all our grievances to him; nothing so forcible to strengthen, recreate, and heal the wounded soul of a miserable man."

 

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