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Remedies against Impatience.
What is there in the world to distinguish virtues from dishonours, or the valour of Cæsar from the softness of the Egyptian eunuchs, or that can make any thing rewardable, but the labour and the danger the pain and the difficulty? Virtue could not be any thing but sensuality, if it were the entertainment of our senses and fond desires; and Apicius had been the noblest of all the Romans, if feeding a great appetite, and despising the severities of temperance, had been the work and proper employment of a wise man. But otherwise do fathers, and otherwise do mothers handle their children. These soften them with kisses and imperfect noises, with the pap and breastmilk of soft endearments; they rescue them from tutors, and snatch them from discipline; they desire to keep them fat and warm, and their feet dry, and their bellies full; and then the children govern, and cry, and prove fools and troublesome, so long as the feminine republic does endure. But fathers, because they design to have their children wise and valiant, apt for council or for arms, send them to severe go, vernments, and tie them to study, to hard labour, and afflictive contingencies. They rejoice when the bold boy strikes a lion with his hunting spear, and shrinks not when the beast comes to affright his
early courage. Softness is for slaves and beasts, for minstrels and useless persons, for such who cannot ascend higher than the state of a fair ox, or a ser'vant entertained for vainer offices. But the man that designs his son for noble employments, to honours and to triumphs, to consular dignities and presidencies of councils, loves to see him pale with study, or panting with labour, hardened with sufferance, or eminent by dangers. And so God dresses us for Heaven.
On the Practice of Patience.
At the first address and presence of sickness, stand still and arrest thy spirit, that it may without amazement or affright consider that this was that thou lookedst for, and wert always certain should happen, and that now thou art to enter into the actions of a new religion, the agony of a strange constitution; but at no hand suffer thy spirits to be dispersed with fear, or wildness of thought, but stay their looseness and dispersion by a serious consideration of the present and future employment. For so doth the Lybian lion, spying the fierce huntsman; he first beats himself with the strokes of his tail, and curls up his spirits, making them strong with union and recollection, till being struck with a
Mauritanian spear, he rushes forth into his defence and noblest contention; and either scapes into the secrets of his own dwelling, or else dies the bravest of the forest. Every man, when shot with an arrow from God's quiver, must then draw in all the auxiliaries of reason, and know that then is the time to try his strength, and to reduce the words of his religion into action, and consider that if he behaves himself weakly and timorously, he suffers never the less of sickness; but if he returns to health, he carries along with him the mask of a coward and a fool; and if he descends into his grave, he enters into the state of the faithless and unbelievers. him set his heart firm upon this resolution-I must bear it inevitably, and I will by God's grace do it nobly.
In the 5th chap. entitled, "Of the Contingencies and treating our Dead," our author introduces the well-known story of the Ephesian Matron, which he tells with such singular simplicity and beauty, that I may be excused from soliciting the pardon of the reader for inserting it.
The Ephesian woman, that the soldier told of in Petronius, was the talk of all the town, and the rarest example of a dear affection to her husband. She descended with the corpse into the vault, and there being attended with her maiden, resolved to weep to death, or die with famine or a distempered sorrow from which resolution, nor bis, nor her friends, nor the reverence of the principal citizens, who used the entreaties of their charity and their power, could dissuade her. But a soldier that watched seven dead bodies hanging upon the trees just over against this monument, crept in, and a while stared upon the silent and comely disorders of the sorrow: and having let the wonder awhile breathe out at each others' eyes, at last he fetched his supper and a bottle of wine, with purpose to eat and drink, and still to feed himself with that sad prettiness. His pity and first draught of wine made him bold and curious to try if the maid would drink: who, having many hours since felt her resolution faint as her wearied body, took his kindness; and the light returned into her eyes, and danced like boys in a festival: and fearing lest the pertinaciousness of her mistress' sorrows should cause her evil to revert, or her shame to approach, assayed whether she would endure to hear an argument to persuade her to drink and live. The violent passion had laid all her spirits in wildness
and dissolution, and the maid found them willing to be gathered into order at the arrest of any new object, being weary of the first, of which like leeches they had sucked their fill till they fell down and burst. The weeping woman took her cordial, and was not angry with her maid, and heard the soldier talk. And he was so pleased with the change, that he, who first loved the silence of the sorrow, was more in love with the music of her returning voice, especially which himself had strung and put in tune. And the man began to talk amorously, and the wo man's weak head and heart was soon possessed with a little wine, and grew gay, and talked and fell in love; and that very night, in the morning of her passion, in the grave of her husband, in the pomps of mourning, and in her funeral garments, married her new and stranger guest. For so the wild foragers of Lybia, being spent with heat, and dissolved by the two fond kisses of the sun, do melt with their common fires, and die with faintness, and descend with motions slow and unable to the little brooks that descend from heaven in the wilderness; and when they drink, they return into the vigour of a new life, and contract strange, marriages; and the lioness is courted by a panther, and she listens to his love, and conceives a monster that all men call unnatural, and the daughter of an equivocal passion and of a sudden refreshment. And so also was it in