Saturday, May 18, 2013


He is His Own Companion

Anonymous, The Prayse of Private Life, I.4, in The Letters and Epigrams of Sir John Harington, together with The Prayse of Private Life, ed. Norman Egbert McClure (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1930), pp. 330-331:
The Solytarie Man contented with fewe meates (and fewer Servantes) haveinge the day before eaten moderately at his owne table and there meanly, yet cleanely furnished, ornefieth his Howse with no greater pompe then his owne presence. In steede of tumulte, he hath a small compaine, in steede of noyes, he useth silence, for want of familiers he is accompanied with himselfe. He is his owne companion: with himselfe he enterteyneth himself, and so he and himselfe doe eate together. His house is made of claye, the walles cleane, and poorely cladd. His buildinge not framed of stone, but of wood, covered with noe coste. There are noe roofes of silver or goulde, neyther be the Flores covered with carpetts or silke, yet maye he from thence behould the Heaven, which prospecte excelleth all others. Hee treadeth upon the Earth, not on purple silke: his Musike noe more then sweete Psalmes, with giving thanks to God, his purveyor noe other then a poore Baker, his Cooke a sillie woman. What they offer him thereof he eateth moderately, accomptinge yt pretious. All other Cates caught in woodes or farr fetched from fieldes and Rivers he doth not desire. Such is his fare, thankfull to God and Man: contented he is with common foode, not bought with money nor provided with muche payne: esteeminge his fare, not by the cost, but his owne appetite. He envieth noe man, nor hateth any bodie, but contente with his fortune, holdeth himselfe secure. He feareth nothinge, nor desireth any thinge. His cuppes are of earth and free from poyson. He knoweth true riches is to desire nothinge, and the most mightie commaunde to obay noe bodie. His life is pleasant and peaceable.
Id., I.13 (p. 339):
For everie Man ignorant of letters and wantinge a companion to conferr with, knoweth not what to saie unto himselfe. But the learned Man, at all tymes, and in all places, can intertayne himselfe with readinge, or rumynatinge upon somewhat he had formerly founde in bookes. Therefore Solitude without learning is to those men not lesse displeasinge then exile, imprisonment and torture. But to him that is learned, everie place is as his owne countrie, libertie and delight.

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