Help from friends by counsel, comfort, fair and foul means, witty devices, satisfaction, alteration of his course of life, removing objects, &c.

Help from friends by counsel, comfort, fair and foul means, witty devices, satisfaction, alteration of his course of life, removing objects, &c.

     When the patient of himself is not able to resist, or overcome these heart-eating passions, his friends or physician must be ready to supply that which is wanting. Suæ erit humanitatis et sapientiæ (which Tully enjoineth in like case) siquid erratum, curare, aut improvisum, sua diligentia corrigere. They must all join; nec satis medico, saith Hippocrates, suum fecisse officium, nisi suum quoque ægrotus, suum astantes, &c. First, they must especially beware, a melancholy discontented person (be it in what kind of melancholy soever) never be left alone or idle: but as physicians prescribe physic, cum custodia, let them not be left unto themselves, but with some company or other, lest by that means they aggravate and increase their disease; non oportet ægros humjusmodi esse solos vel inter ignotos, vel inter eos quos non amant aut negligunt, as Rod. a Fonseca, tom. 1. consul. 35. prescribes. Lugentes custodire solemus (saith Seneca) ne solitudine male utantur; we watch a sorrowful person, lest he abuse his solitariness, and so should we do a melancholy man; set him about some business, exercise or recreation, which may divert his thoughts, and still keep him otherwise intent; for his fantasy is so restless, operative and quick, that if it be not in perpetual action, ever employed, it will work upon itself, melancholise, and be carried away instantly, with some fear, jealousy, discontent, suspicion, some vain conceit or other. If his weakness be such that he cannot discern what is amiss, correct, or satisfy, it behoves them by counsel, comfort, or persuasion, by fair or foul means, to alienate his mind, by some artificial invention, or some contrary persuasion, to remove all objects, causes, companies, occasions, as may any ways molest him, to humour him, please him, divert him, and if it be possible, by altering his course of life, to give him security and satisfaction. If he conceal his grievances, and will not be known of them, "they must observe by his looks, gestures, motions, fantasy, what it is that offends," and then to apply remedies unto him: many are instantly cured, when their minds are satisfied. Alexander makes mention of a woman, "that by reason of her husband's long absence in travel, was exceeding peevish and melancholy, but when she heard her husband was returned, beyond all expectation, at the first sight of him, she was freed from all fear, without help of any other physic restored to her former health." Trincavellius, consil. 12. lib. 1. hath such a story of a Venetian, that being much troubled with melancholy, "and ready to die for grief, when he heard his wife was brought to bed of a son, instantly recovered." As Alexander concludes, "If our imaginations be not inveterate, by this art they may be cured, especially if they proceed from such a cause." No better way to satisfy, than to remove the object, cause, occasion, if by any art or means possible we may find it out. If he grieve, stand in fear, be in suspicion, suspense, or any way molested, secure him, Solvitur malum, give him satisfaction, the cure is ended; alter his course of life, there needs no other physic. If the party be sad, or otherwise affected, "consider" (saith Trallianus) "the manner of it, all circumstances, and forthwith make a sudden alteration," by removing the occasions, avoid all terrible objects, heard or seen, "monstrous and prodigious aspects," tales of devils, spirits, ghosts, tragical stories; to such as are in fear they strike a great impression, renewed many times, and recall such chimeras and terrible fictions into their minds. "Make not so much as mention of them in private talk, or a dumb show tending to that purpose: such things" (saith Galateus) "are offensive to their imaginations." And to those that are now in sorrow, Seneca "forbids all sad companions, and such as lament; a groaning companion is an enemy to quietness." "Or if there be any such party, at whose presence the patient is not well pleased, he must be removed: gentle speeches, and fair means, must first be tried; no harsh language used, or uncomfortable words; and not expel, as some do, one madness with another; he that so doth, is madder than the patient himself:" all things must be quietly composed; eversa non evertenda, sed erigenda, things down must not be dejected, but reared, as Crato counselleth; "he must be quietly and gently used," and we should not do anything against his mind, but by little and little effect it. As a horse that starts at a drum or trumpet, and will not endure the shooting of a piece, may be so manned by art, and animated, that he cannot only endure, but is much more generous at the hearing of such things, much more courageous than before, and much delighteth in it: they must not be reformed ex abrupto, but by all art and insinuation, made to such companies, aspects, objects they could not formerly away with. Many at first cannot endure the sight of a green wound, a sick man, which afterward become good chirurgeons, bold empirics: a horse starts at a rotten post afar off, which coming near he quietly passeth. 'Tis much in the manner of making such kind of persons, be they never so averse from company, bashful, solitary, timorous, they may be made at last with those Roman matrons, to desire nothing more than in a public show, to see a full company of gladiators breathe out their last.

     If they may not otherwise be accustomed to brook such distasteful and displeasing objects, the best way then is generally to avoid them. Montanus, consil. 229. to the Earl of Montfort, a courtier, and his melancholy patient, adviseth him to leave the court, by reason of those continual discontents, crosses, abuses, "cares, suspicions, emulations, ambition, anger, jealousy, which that place afforded, and which surely caused him to be so melancholy at the first:" Maxima quæque domus servis est plena superbis; a company of scoffers and proud jacks are commonly conversant and attend in such places, and able to make any man that is of a soft, quiet disposition (as many times they do) ex stulto insanum, if once they humour him, a very idiot, or stark mad. A thing too much practised in all common societies, and they have no better sport than to make themselves merry by abusing some silly fellow, or to take advantage of another man's weakness. In such cases as in a plague, the best remedy is cito longe tarde: (for to such a party, especially if he be apprehensive, there can be no greater misery) to get him quickly gone far enough off, and not to be overhasty in his return. If he be so stupid that he do not apprehend it, his friends should take some order, and by their discretion supply that which is wanting in him, as in all other cases they ought to do. If they see a man melancholy given, solitary, averse from company, please himself with such private and vain meditations, though he delight in it, they ought by all means seek to divert him, to dehort him, to tell him of the event and danger that may come of it. If they see a man idle, that by reason of his means otherwise will betake himself to no course of life, they ought seriously to admonish him, he makes a noose to entangle himself, his want of employment will be his undoing. If he have sustained any great loss, suffered a repulse, disgrace, &c., if it be possible, relieve him. If he desire aught, let him be satisfied; if in suspense, fear, suspicion, let him be secured: and if it may conveniently be, give him his heart's content; for the body cannot be cured till the mind be satisfied. Socrates, in Plato, would prescribe no physic for Charmides' headache, "till first he had eased his troubled mind; body and soul must be cured together, as head and eyes."

"Oculum non curabis sine toto capite,
Nec caput sine toto corpora,
Nec totum corpus sine anima."

(E græco. "You shall not cure the eye, unless you cure the whole head also; nor the head, unless the whole body; nor the whole body, unless the soul besides.")

     If that may not be hoped or expected, yet ease him with comfort, cheerful speeches, fair promises, and good words, persuade him, advise him. "Many," saith Galen, "have been cured by good counsel and persuasion alone." "Heaviness of the heart of man doth bring it down, but a good word rejoiceth it," Prov. xii. 25. "And there is he that speaketh words like the pricking of a sword, but the tongue of a wise man is health," ver. 18. Oratio, namque saucii animi est remedium, a gentle speech is the true cure of a wounded soul, as Plutarch contends out of Aeschylus and Euripides: "if it be wisely administered it easeth grief and pain, as diverse remedies do many other diseases." 'Tis incantationis instar, a charm, æstuantis animi refrigerium, that true Nepenthe of Homer, which was no Indian plant, or feigned medicine, which Epidamna, Thonis' wife, sent Helena for a token, as Macrobius, 7. Saturnal. Goropius Hermat. lib. 9. Greg. Nazianzen, and others suppose, but opportunity of speech: for Helena's bowl, Medea's unction, Venus's girdle, Circe's cup, cannot so enchant, so forcibly move or alter as it doth. A letter sent or read will do as much; multum allevor quum tuas literas lego, I am much eased, as Tully wrote to Pomponius Atticus, when I read thy letters, and as Julianus the Apostate once signified to Maximus the philosopher; as Alexander slept with Homer's works, so do I with thine epistles, tanquam Pæoniis medicamentis, easque assidue tanquam, recentes et novas iteramus; scribe ergo, et assidue scribe, or else come thyself; amicus ad amicum venies. Assuredly a wise and well- spoken man may do what he will in such a case; a good orator alone, as Tully holds, can alter affections by power of his eloquence, "comfort such as are afflicted, erect such as are depressed, expel and mitigate fear, lust, anger," &c. And how powerful is the charm of a discreet and dear friend? Ille regit dictis animos et temperat iras. What may not he effect? As Chremes told Menedemus, "Fear not, conceal it not, O friend! but tell me what it is that troubles thee, and I shall surely help thee by comfort, counsel, or in the matter itself." Arnoldus, lib. 1. breviar. cap. 18. speaks of a usurer in his time, that upon a loss, much melancholy and discontent, was so cured. As imagination, fear, grief, cause such passions, so conceits alone, rectified by good hope, counsel, &c., are able again to help: and 'tis incredible how much they can do in such a case, as Trincavellius illustrates by an example of a patient of his; Porphyrius, the philosopher, in Plotinus's life (written by him), relates, that being in a discontented humour through insufferable anguish of mind, he was going to make away himself: but meeting by chance his master Plotinus, who perceiving by his distracted looks all was not well, urged him to confess his grief: which when he had heard, he used such comfortable speeches, that he redeemed him e faucibus Erebi, pacified his unquiet mind, insomuch that he was easily reconciled to himself, and much abashed to think afterwards that he should ever entertain so vile a motion. By all means, therefore, fair promises, good words, gentle persuasions, are to be used, not to be too rigorous at first, "or to insult over them, not to deride, neglect, or contemn," but rather, as Lemnius exhorteth, "to pity, and by all plausible means to seek to redress them:" but if satisfaction may not be had, mild courses, promises, comfortable speeches, and good counsel will not take place; then as Christophorus a Vega determines, lib. 3. cap. 14. de Mel. to handle them more roughly, to threaten and chide, saith Altomarus, terrify sometimes, or as Salvianus will have them, to be lashed and whipped, as we do by a starting horse, that is affrighted without a cause, or as Rhasis adviseth, "one while to speak fair and flatter, another while to terrify and chide, as they shall see cause."

     When none of these precedent remedies will avail, it will not be amiss, which Savanarola and Aelian Montaltus so much commend, clavum clavo pellere, "to drive out one passion with another, or by some contrary passion," as they do bleeding at nose by letting blood in the arm, to expel one fear with another, one grief with another. Christophorus a Vega accounts it rational physic, non alienum a ratione: and Lemnius much approves it, "to use a hard wedge to a hard knot," to drive out one disease with another, to pull out a tooth, or wound him, to geld him, saith Platerus, as they did epileptical patients of old, because it quite alters the temperature, that the pain of the one may mitigate the grief of the other; "and I knew one that was so cured of a quartan ague, by the sudden coming of his enemies upon him." If we may believe Pliny, whom Scaliger calls mendaciorum patrem, the father of lies, Q. Fabius Maximus, that renowned consul of Rome, in a battle fought with the king of the Allobroges, at the river Isaurus, was so rid of a quartan ague. Valesius, in his controversies, holds this an excellent remedy, and if it be discreetly used in this malady, better than any physic.

     Sometimes again by some feigned lie, strange news, witty device, artificial invention, it is not amiss to deceive them. "As they hate those," saith Alexander, "that neglect or deride, so they will give ear to such as will soothe them up. If they say they have swallowed frogs or a snake, by all means grant it, and tell them you can easily cure it;" 'tis an ordinary thing. Philodotus, the physician, cured a melancholy king, that thought his head was off, by putting a leaden cap thereon; the weight made him perceive it, and freed him of his fond imagination. A woman, in the said Alexander, swallowed a serpent as she thought; he gave her a vomit, and conveyed a serpent, such as she conceived, into the basin; upon the sight of it she was amended. The pleasantest dotage that ever I read, saith Laurentius, was of a gentleman at Senes in Italy, who was afraid to piss, lest all the town should be drowned; the physicians caused the bells to be rung backward, and told him the town was on fire, whereupon he made water, and was immediately cured. Another supposed his nose so big that he should dash it against the wall if he stirred; his physician took a great piece of flesh, and holding it in his hand, pinched him by the nose, making him believe that flesh was cut from it. Forestus, obs. lib. 1. had a melancholy patient, who thought he was dead, "he put a fellow in a chest, like a dead man, by his bedside, and made him rear himself a little, and eat: the melancholy man asked the counterfeit, whether dead men use to eat meat? He told him yea; whereupon he did eat likewise and was cured." Lemnius, lib. 2. cap. 6. de 4. complex, hath many such instances, and Jovianus Pontanus, lib. 4. cap. 2. of Wisd. of the like; but amongst the rest I find one most memorable, registered in the French chronicles of an advocate of Paris before mentioned, who believed verily he was dead, &c. I read a multitude of examples of melancholy men cured by such artificial inventions.

 

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