A Dialogue between Melancholy and Mirth

As I sat1 musing by myself alone,
My thoughts brought2 several things to3 work upon.
Some did large houses build, and stately towers,
And some made4 orchards, gardens, and fine bowers;
Some did5 in arts and sciences delight,                                      5
And some6 in contradiction, reason’s fight;
Some governed like as kings do7 rule a state,
And some8 as republics, which monarchs9 hate;
Some privy-counsellors and judges were,10
And some, as lawyers, pleaded at the bar;11                             10
Some priests, which do preach peace and godly life;
Others tumultuous were,12 and full of strife;
Some were13 debauched, did swagger, wench,14 and swear,
And some poor thoughts did15 tremble out of fear;
Some jealous were,16 and all things did17 suspect,                  15
Others so18 careless, every thing neglect;
Some thoughts turned shepherds, nymphs,19 and shepherdesses,
So kind, as they did give each other20 kisses;
Th’expressed all21 sorts of lovers and their passions,
And several22 ways of courtship, and fine fashions;               20
Some took23 strong towns, won battles in the field,24
And those that lost were forced to them to yield;25
Some were26 heroic, generous, and free,
And some so base, to27 crouch with flattery;
Some dying were, half in the grave did28 lie,                             25
And some, repenting, did29 for sorrow cry;
The mind oppressed with grief, thoughts mourners be,30
All clothed31 in black, no light of joy could see;32
Some with despair did33 rage, were34 almost mad,
And some so merry nothing made35 them sad;                        30
And many more, which were too long to tell;
For several thoughts36 in several places dwell.
At last came two which were in various dress;37
One melancholy, th’other did mirth express.38
Melancholy was all in black array,                                              35
And Mirth was all in colors fresh and gay.

Mirth laughing came, and running to39 me, flung
Her fat white arms; about my neck she40 hung,
Embraced and kissed me oft, and stroked my cheek,
Saying41 she would no other lover seek.                                    40
“I’ll sing you songs, and please you every day,
Invent new sports to pass the time away.
I’ll keep your heart, and guard it from that thief
Dull melancholy care, or sadder grief,
And make your eyes with mirth to overflow,                            45
With springing blood your cheeks soon42 fat shall grow.
Your legs shall nimble be, your body light,
And all your spirits like to birds in flight.
Mirth shall digest your meat and make you strong,
Shall give you health, and your short days prolong.               50
Refuse me not, but take me to your wife,
For I shall make you happy all your life.
But43 Melancholy, she will44 make you lean:
Your cheeks shall hollow grow, your jaws be45 seen;
Your eyes shall buried be within your head,                            55
And look as pale as if you were quite dead.
She’ll make you start at every noise you hear,
And visions strange shall in your eyes appear.
Your stomach cold and raw, digesting nought,
Your liver dry, your heart with sorrow fraught,                      60
Shriveled your skin, brows cloudy, and46 blood thick,
Your long lank sides, and back to47 belly stick.
Thus would it be if you to her were wed;
Nay,48 better far it were that you were dead.
Her voice is low, and gives a49 hollow sound.                           65
She hates the light, and is in darkness50 found,
Or sits51 with blinking lamps or tapers small,
Which various shadows make against a wall.
She loves nought else but noise, which discord makes,52
As croaking frogs whose dwelling is in lakes,53                      70
The ravens hoarse, and so the mandrake’s groan,
And shrieking owls, which in night fly alone,54
The tolling bell, which for the dead rings out,
A mill where rushing waters run about,
The roaring winds, which shake the cedars tall,                     75
Plow up the seas, and beat the rocks withal.
She loves to walk in the still moonshine night,
Where55 in a thick, dark grove she takes delight.
In hollow caves, houses thatched, or lowly cell56
She loves to live, and there alone to dwell.57                            80
Her ears are stopped with thoughts, her eyes purblind,
For all she hears or sees is in the mind.
But in her mind, luxuriously she lives;
Imagination several pleasures gives.
Then leave her to herself, alone to dwell;                                 85
Let you and I in mirth and pleasure swell,
And drink long lusty draughts from Bacchus’s58 bowl,
Until our brains on vaporous waves do roll.
Let’s joy ourselves in amorous delights;
There’s none so happy as the carpet-knights.”                         90

Melancholy, with sad and sober face,
Complexion pale, but of a comely grace,
With modest countenance, thus softly59 spake:
“May I so happy be, your love to take?
True, I am dull, yet by me you shall know                                95
More of yourself, and so much wiser60 grow.
I search the depth and bottom of mankind,
Open the eye of ignorance that’s blind.
I travel far and view the world about;
I walk with reason’s staff to find truth out.                              100
I watchful am, all dangers for to shun,61
And do prepare ’gainst evils that may come.62
I hang not on inconstant Fortune’s wheel,
Nor yet with unresolving doubts do reel.
I shake not with the terrors of vain fears,                                 105
Nor is my mind filled with unuseful cares.
I do not spend my time like idle Mirth,
Which only happy is just at her birth,
And63 seldom lives so long as64 to be old,
But if she doth, can no affections hold.                                      110
For in short time she troublesome will65 grow,
Though at the first she makes a pretty show.
She loves to make a noise and keep66 a rout,
And with dislike most commonly goes out.
Mirth good for nothing is, like weeds doth67 grow,                 115
Or such plants as68 cause madness, reason’s foe.69
Her face with laughter crumples on a heap,
Which makes great wrinkles and plows furrows deep.70
Her eyes do water, and her skin turns red;
Her mouth doth gape, teeth bare, like one that’s dead.          120
Her sides do stretch as set upon a71 last,
Her stomach heaving up as if she’d cast.
Her veins do swell, joints seem to be72 unset;
Her pores are open, whence streams73 out a sweat.
She fulsome is, and gluts the senses all,                                     125
Offers herself, and comes before a call.
Seeks company out,74 hates to be alone,
Though on unsent-for guests affronts are thrown.75
Her house is built upon the golden sands,
Yet no foundation hath76 whereon it stands.                            130
A palace ’tis, where comes77 a great resort;
It makes a noise, and gives a loud report.
Yet underneath the roof, disasters lie,
Beat78 down the house, and many killed79 thereby.
I dwell in groves that gilt are with the sun,                               135
Sit on the banks by which clear waters run.
In summers hot, down in a shade I lie;
My music is the buzzing of a fly,
Which in the sunny beams does80 dance all day,
And harmlessly does pass its81 time away.                                140
I walk in meadows where grows fresh green grass;
In82 fields where corn is high I often83 pass,
Walk up the hills, where round I prospects see:
Some brushy woods, and some all champaigns84 be.
Returning back, I in fresh pastures85 go,                                   145
To hear how sheep do bleat, and cows do86 low.
They gently feed, no evil think upon,87
Have no designs to do another wrong.88
In winter cold, when nipping frosts come on,
Then I do89 live in a small house alone.                                     150
The littleness doth make it warm, being close;90
No wind nor91 weather cold can there have force.92
Although ’tis plain, yet cleanly ’tis within,
Like to a soul that’s pure and clear from sin.
And there I dwell in quiet and still peace,                                 155
Not filled with cares for93 riches to increase.
I wish nor seek for vain and fruitless pleasures;
No riches are, but what the mind entreasures.
Thus am I solitary, live94 alone,
Yet better loved the more that I am known.                              160
And though my face b’ill favored at first sight,
After acquaintance it will95 give delight.
For I am like a shade: who sits in me,
He shall not96 wet, nor yet sunburnèd be.
I keep off blustering storms from doing hurt,                          165
When Mirth is often smutched with dust and dirt.
Refuse me not, for I shall constant be,
Maintain your credit, keep up97 dignity.”

  1. sat] was 1664, 1668
  2. brought] on 1653
  3. to] did 1653
  4. And some made] Making 1653
  5. Some did] And some 1653
  6. And some] Some wars 1653
  7. Some governed like as kings do] And some, as Kings, do governe, 1653
  8. And some] Some 1653
  9. monarchs] all Monarches 1653
  10. Some privy-counsellors and judges were,] Others, as Lawyers, pleading at the Bar, 1653
  11. And some, as lawyers, pleaded at the bar;] Some privie Counsellours, and Judges are. 1653
  12. were,] are, 1653
  13. were] are 1653
  14. did swagger, wench,] do wench, swagger, 1653
  15. did] do 1653
  16. were] are, 1653
  17. did] do 1653
  18. Others so] And others 1664, 1668
  19. Some thoughts turned shepherds, nymphs,] Some Nymphs, Shepheards, 1653
  20. So kind, as they did give each other] Some so kind, as one another 1653
  21. Th’expressed all] All 1653; They express’d all 1668
  22. And several] Severall 1653
  23. took] take 1653
  24. won battles in the field,] and Battels win, 1653; won Battels in the Fields; 1668
  25. And those that lost were forced to them to yield;] Few do loose, but all must yeild to him. 1653
  26. were] are 1653
  27. to] do 1653
  28. were, half in the grave did] are, and in the Grave half 1653
  29. did] which 1653
  30. thoughts mourners be,] all Thoughts were Sad, 1664; all Thoughts were sad, 1668
  31. All clothed] And Mourn’d 1664; And mourn’d 1668
  32. could see;] can see. 1653; they had; 1664; they had: 1668
  33. did] do 1653
  34. were] are 1653
  35. made] makes 1653
  36. For several thoughts] Thoughts severall bee, 1653
  37. which were in various dress;] which diversly were Dress’d, 1664; which diversly were dress’d; 1668
  38. did mirth express.] Mirth express’d; 1664; Mirth, express’d. 1668
  39. and running to] running unto 1653
  40. she] there 1664, 1668
  41. Saying] Telling me, 1653
  42. soon] they 1653
  43. But] If you take 1653
  44. she will] shee’l 1653
  45. be] all 1653
  46. Shriveled your skin, brows cloudy, and] Your shriveled skin, and Cloudy Browes, 1653
  47. long lank sides, and back to] Sides be Lank, your Back to th’ 1664; Sides be lank, your Back to th’ 1668
  48. Nay,] But 1653
  49. a] an 1664, 1668
  50. and is in darkness] in darknesse onely 1653
  51. sits] set 1653
  52. discord makes,] discords make, 1653
  53. whose dwelling is in lakes,] which do dwell in the Lake. 1653
  54. in night fly alone,] fly i’th’Night alone; 1664; flye i’th’Night alone. 1668
  55. Where] And 1664, 1668
  56. houses thatched, or lowly cell] thatch’t Houses, and low Cells 1664; Thatch’d Houses, and Low Cells, 1668
  57. to dwell.] she Dwells. 1664; she dwells. 1668
  58. Bacchus’s] Bacchus 1653
  59. thus softly] soft speech thus 1653
  60. and so much wiser] so wiser you shall 1653
  61. I watchful am, all dangers for to shun,] All Dangers to avoid, I watch with Care, 1664, 1668
  62. prepare ’gainst evils that may come.] ’gainst Evils that may come, prepare; 1664; ’gainst Evils, that may come, prepare. 1668
  63. And] Which 1653
  64. so long as] for 1653
  65. will] doth 1664, 1668
  66. She loves to make a noise and keep] But yet shee makes a noise, and keepes 1653
  67. doth] do 1653
  68. Or such plants as] Such Plants 1653
  69. reason’s foe.] Reason doth not know. 1653
  70. makes great wrinkles and plows furrows deep.] plowes deep Furroughes, making wrinckles great. 1653
  71. a] the 1653
  72. joints seem to be] her joints seem as 1664, 1668
  73. whence streams] streaming 1653
  74. out,] and 1664, 1668
  75. Though on unsent-for guests affronts are thrown.] Unsent-for Guests Affronts are throwne upon. 1653
  76. hath] has 1664; has, 1668
  77. where comes] and of 1664, 1668
  78. Beat] Beates 1653
  79. killed] kills 1653
  80. Which in the sunny beams does] Which in the Sunny Beames do 1653; Which Flys do in the Sun-beams 1664; Which Flyes, do in the Sun-beams 1668
  81. does pass its] do passe their 1653; do pass their 1664, 1668
  82. In] Or 1653
  83. I often] in which I 1653
  84. champaigns] Champians 1653
  85. I in fresh pastures] in the fresh Pasture 1653
  86. how sheep do bleat, and cows do] the bleating Sheep, and Cowes to 1653
  87. no evil think upon,] and do no Evil know, 1664, 1668
  88. to do another wrong.] each other Wrong to do. 1664; each other wrong to do. 1668
  89. I do] do I 1653
  90. The littleness doth make it warm, being close;] Which being Little and Close doth make it warm, 1664; Which being Close and Little, makes it warm, 1668
  91. nor] or 1664, 1668
  92. there have force.] do it harm; 1664; do it harm. 1668
  93. for] how 1664, 1668
  94. live] and live 1653
  95. will] shall 1653
  96. He shall not] Shall not come 1653
  97. keep up] and your 1664, 1668