« AnteriorContinuar »
their whole felicity is lost in the confusions of their unnatural disorder. When Cyrus had espied Astyages and his fellows coming drunk from a banquet loaden with variety of follies and filthiness, their legs failing them, their eyes red and staring, cozened with a moist cloud and abused by a doubled object, their tongues full of sponges, and their heads no wiser, he thought they were poisoned, and he had reason: for what malignant quality can be more venomous and hurtful to a man than the effect of an intemperate goblet, and a full stomach ? It poisons both the soul and body. All poisons do not kill presently, and this will in process of time, and hath formidable effects at present.
But therefore methinks the temptations, which men meet withal from without, are in themselves most unreasonable and soonest confuted by us. He that tempts me to drink beyond my measure, civilly invites me to a fever; and to lay aside my reason as the Persian women did their garments and their modesty at the end of feasts : and all the question then will be, Which is the worse evil, to refuse your uncivil kindness, or to suffer a violent head-ache, or to lay up heaps big enough for an English surfeit? Creon in the tragedy said well;
Κρείσσον δέ μοι νυν πρός σ' απέχθεσθαι, γύναι,
“Η μαλθακισθέν9' ύστερον μέγα στένεινή, “ It is better for me to grieve thee, O stranger, or to be affronted by thee, than to be tormented by thy kindness the next day and the morrow after;" and the freedman of Do-' mitius, the father of Nero, suffered himself to be killed by his lord: and the son of Praxaspes by Cambyses, rather than they would exceed their own measures up to a full intemperance, and a certain sickness and dishonour. For, as Plutarch said well, to avoid the opinion of an uncivil man, or being clownish, to run into a pain of thy sides or belly, into madness or a head-ache, is the part of a fool and a coward, and of one that knows not how to converse with men, citra pocula et nidorem,' in any thing but in the famelic smells of meat and vertiginous drinkings.
Ebrius el petulans, qui nullom forte cecidit,
Eur. Med. Porson. 292.
• Juv. 3. 280.
“A drunkard and a glutton feels the torments of a restless night, although he hath not killed a man;" that is, just like murderers and persons of an affrighting conscience; so wakes the glutton, so broken, and sick, and disorderly are the slumbers of the drunkard. Now let the epicure boast his pleasures, and tell how he hath swallowed the price of provinces, and gobbets of delicious flesh, purchased with the reward of souls ; let him brag “furorem illum conviviorum, et fædissimum patrimoniorum exitium culinam," "of the madness of delicious feasts, and that his kitchen hath destroyed his patrimony;" let him tell that he takes in every day,"
Quantum Sauseia bibebat, As much wine as would refresh the sorrows of forty languishing prisoners; or let him set up his vainglorious triumph,
Ut quod · multi Damalin meri
• Bassum Threicia' vicit' amystide''; That he hath knocked down Damalis with the twenty-fifth bottle, and hath outfeasted Anthony or Cleopatra's luxury; it is a goodly pleasure and himself shall bear the honour.
Rarum ac memorabile magni Gultoris exemplam, conducendusque magister". But for the honour of his banquet he hath some ministers attending that he did not dream of, and in the midst of his loud laughter, the gripes of his belly, and the fevers of the brain, "Pallor et genæ pendulæ, oculorum ulcera, tremulæ manus, furiales somni, inquies nocturna," as Pliny reckons them, “paleness and hanging cheeks, ulcers of the eyes, and trembling hands, dead or distracted sleeps," these speak aloud, that to-day you eat and drink, that to-morrow you die,' and die for ever.
It is reported concerning Socrates, that when Athens was destroyed by the plague, he in the midst of all the danger escaped untouched by sickness, because by a spare and severe diet, he had within him no tumult of disorderly humours, no factions in his blood, no loads of moisture prepared for charnel-houses, or the sickly hospitals; but a vigorous heat, and a well-proportioned radical moisture; he had enough for health and study, philosophy and religion, for the temples and the academy, but no superfluities to be spent in groans and sickly nights : and all the world of gluttons is hugely convinced of the excellency of temperance in order to our moral felicity and health, because when themselves have left virtue, and sober diet, and counsels, and first lost their temperance, and then lost their health, they are forced to go to temperance and abstinence, for their cure. “Vilis enim tenuisque mensa (ut loquuntur pueri) sanitatis mater est',” then a thin diet and an humble body, fasting and emptiness, and arts of scattering their sin and sickness, is in season; but by the same means they might preserve their health, by which they do restore it; but when they are well, if they return to their full tables and oppressing meals, their sickness was but like Vitellius' vomiting, that they might eat again; but so they may entail a fit of sickness upon every full moon, till both their virtue and themselves decrease into the corruptions and rottenness of the grave. But if they delight in sharp fevers and horrid potions, in sour palates and heaps of that which must be carried forth, they may reckon their wealthy pleasures to be very great and many, if they will but tell them one by one with their sicknesses and the multitude of those evils they shall certainly feel, before they have thrown their sorrows forth. “These men (as St. Paul's expression is) heap up wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the day of God's most righteous judgments.” Strange therefore it is, that for the stomach, which is scarce a span long, there should be provided so many furnaces and ovens, huge fires and an army of cooks, cellars swimming with wine, and granaries sweating with corn; and that into one belly should enter the vintage of many nations, the spoils of distant provinces, and the shell-fishes of several seas. When the heathens feasted their gods, they gave nothing but a fat ox, a ram, or a kid; they poured a little wine upon the altar, and burned a handful of gum: but when they feasted themselves, they had many vessels filled with Campanian wine, turtles of Liguria, Sicilian beeves, and wheat from Egypt, wild boars from Illyrium, and Grecian sheep, variety, and load, and cost, and curiosity : and so do we. It is so little we spend in religion, and so very much upon ourselves, so little to the poor, and so with
p Jur. 9. 117. Rupert. 9 Hor. Od. 1. 36. 13.
Juv. 2. 114.
out measure to make ourselves sick, that we seem to be in love with our own mischief, and so passionate for necessity and want, that we strive all the ways we can to make ourselves need more than nature intended. I end this consideration with the saying of the cynic; It is to be wondered at, that men eat so much for pleasure's sake : and yet for the same pleasure should not give over eating, and betake themselves to the delights of temperance, since to be healthful and holy is so great a pleasure. However, certain it is, that no man ever repented, that he arose from the table sober, healthful, and with his wits about him; but very many have repented, that they sat so long, till their bellies swelled, and their health, and their virtue, and their God, is departed from them.
2. A CONSTANT full table is less pleasant than the temperate provisions of the virtuous, or the natural banquets of the poor. Χάρις τη μακαρία φύσει, ότι τα αναγκαία εποίησεν ευπόριστα, τα δε δυσπόριστα ουκ αναγκαία, said Epicurus ; “ Thanks be to the God of nature, that he hath made that which is necessary,'to be ready at hand, and easy to be had; and that which cannot easily be obtained, is not necessary it should be at all;" which in effect is to say, It cannot be constantly pleasant : for necessity and want make the appetite, and the appetite makes the pleasure; and men are infinitely mistaken when they despise the poor man's table, and wonder how he can endure that life, that is maintained without the exercise of pleasure, and that he can suffer his day's labour, and recompense it with unsavoury herbs, and potent garlic, with watercresses, and bread coloured like the ashes that gave it hardness : he hath a hunger that gives it deliciousness; and we may as well wonder that a lion eats raw flesh, or that a wolf feeds upon the turf; they have an appetite proportionable to this meat; and their necessity, and their hunger, and their use, and their nature, are the cooks that dress their provisions, and make them delicate:
and yet if water and pulse, natural provisions, and the simple diet, were not pleasant, as indeed they are not to them who have been nursed up and accustomed to the more delicious, έπειτα πλουτών ουκ έθ' ήδεται φακών, yet it is a very great pleasure to reduce our appetites to nature, and to make our reason rule our stomach, and our desires comply with our fortunes, and our fortunes be proportionable to our per
“ Non est voluptas aqua et polenta (said a philosopher); sed summa voluptas est, posse ex his capere voluptatem,” • It is an excellent pleasure to be able to take pleasure in worts and water,' in bread and onions ; for then a man can never want pleasure when it is so ready for him, that nature hath spread it over all its provisions. Fortune and art give delicacies; nature gives meat and drink; and what nature gives, fortune cannot take away; but every change can take away what only is given by the bcunty of a full fortune; and if in satisfaction and freedom from care, and security and proportions to our own natural appetite, there can be pleasure, then we may know how to value the sober and natural tables of the virtuous and wise, before that state of feastings which a war can lessen, and a tyrant can take away, or the pirates may intercept, or a blast may spoil, and is always contingent, and is so far from satisfying, that either it destroys the appetite, and capacity of pleasure, or increases it beyond all the measures of good things.
He that feasts every day, feasts no day ; črpúpnoev, Bote un folùv tpvpậv xpóvov. And bowever you treat yourselves, sometimes you' will need to be refreshed beyond it; but what will you have for a festival, if you wear crowns every day? even a perpetual fulness will make you glad to beg pleasure from emptiness, and variety from poverty or an humble table.
Plerumque gratæ principibus vices.
Sollicitam explicuere frontem! But, however, of all things in the world a man may best and most easily want pleasure, which if you have enjoyed, it passes away at the present, and leaves nothing at all behind it, but sorrow and sour remembrance. No man felt a greater pleasure in a goblet of wine than Lysimachus, when he
+ Hor. Od. 3. 29. 16.