Thursday, November 22, 2012



Rowland Watkyns (1614?-1664), "Sickness," in his Flamma Sine Fumo: or, Poems Without Fictions (London: Printed for William Leake, 1662), p. 67-68:
Omnes sani facilè aegrotis consilium damus.

Ask me no more, Which is the greatest wealth,
Our rich possessions, liberty, or health?
For riches, freedome, without health to me
Make but sad musick without harmony.
Rust eateth Iron: and the finest cloth        5
Is spoil'd, and fretted by the envious moth;
Through sickness strength and beauty fade away,
As when a cloud obscures the fairest day;
Each sickness is Gods prison; and more sad
Than any which cruel Tyrants had.        10
When the sore gout doth but possess the toe,
Where is thy former liberty to go?
A golden Crown can no great comfort be,
When th' head is troubled with a plethorie.
Call for delicious Quails, Canary Wine,        15
The finest Bread, or Manna more divine;
These to thy palate will distastful prove,
When nothing can thee to disgestion move,
Much more diseases will in man appear,
Than there be dayes existent in the year.        20
O health, O perfect health, the gift of God,
When we grow wanton, sickness is his rod:
When I am sick or well, grant, Lord, I may
Remember thee, and not forget to pray.
The Latin motto (which means "We all, when healthy, readily give advice to those who are sick") recalls Terence, Andria 309: "facile omnes quom valemu' recta consilia aegrotis damus," which is #1205 in Renzo Tosi, Dictionnaire des sentences latines et grecques, tr. Rebecca Lenoir (Grenoble: Jérôme Millon, 2010), p. 825. Tosi doesn't list Watkyns' variant of the motto, but he does give an English version: "It is easy for a man in health to preach patience to the sick."

A "plethorie" (line 14) is an "overabundance of one or more humours, esp. blood" (Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. plethora). According to Alan Rudrum, "Watkyns, Rowland (c.1614–1664)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Watkyns "may have practised as a physician while he was deprived of his living."

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