“As thou feedest beasts to feed on them, doest thou not fat thy flesh to fat the worms?”

August 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

I promised to particularize and set open the gates of bedlam, to leave madness as naked as ever sin left the first propagators of it and mankind. The epicure shall lead the ring, as the foreman of this mad morisco: —

(I.) THE EPICURE. — I would fain speak not only of him, but with him. Can you tend it, belly-god? The first question of my catechism shall be, ‘What is your name?’ ‘Epicure.’ ‘Epicure! what is that? Speak not so philosophically, but tell us, in plain dealing, what are you?’ ‘”A love of pleasure more than of God,” 2 Tim. iii. 4 . . . One that makes much of myself; born to live, and living to take mine ease. One that would make my belly my executor, and bequeath all my goods to consumption, for the consummation of my own delights.’ ‘Ho! a good fellow, a merry man, a madman! What is your summum bonum?’ ‘Pleasure.’ ‘Wherein consists it? Rehearse the articles of your belief.’ ‘I believe that delicacies, junkets, quotidian feasts, suckets, and marmalades are very delectable. I believe that sweet wines and strong drinks — the best blood of the grape, or sweat of the corn — are fittest for the belly. I believe that midnight revels, perfumed chambers, soft beds, close curtains, and a Delilah in mine arms, are very comfortable. I believe that glittering silks and sparkling jewels, a purse full of golden charms, a house neatly decked, gardens, orchards, fish-ponds, parks, warrens, and whatsoever may yield pleasurable stuffing to the corpse, is a very heaven upon earth. I believe that to sleep till dinner, and play till supper, and quaff till midnight, and to dally till morning, except there be some intermission to toss some painted papers, or to whirl about squared bones, with as many oaths and curses, vomited out in an hour, as would serve the devil himself for a legacy or stock to bequeath to any of his children: this is the most absolute and perfect end of man’s life.’

Now a deft creed, fit to stand in the devil’s catechism. Is not this madness, stark and staring madness? What is the flesh which thou pamperest with such indulgence? As thou feedest beasts to feed on them, doest thou not fat thy flesh to fat the worms? Go, Heliogabalus, to thy prepared muniments, the monuments of thy folly and madness; thy tower is polished with precious stones and gold, but to break thy neck from the top of it, if need be; thy halters enwoven with pearl, but to hang thyself, if need be; thy sword enamelled, hatched with gold, and embossed with margarites, but to kill thyself, if need be. Yet for all this, death prevents thy preparation, and thou must fall into thine enemy’s hands.

Thomas Adams (1612-1653), “Mystical Bedlam; or, The World of Madmen” [PDF]

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