« Prev The Soldier and Carthusian Next »



This Colloquy sets out to the Life, the Madness of young Men that run into the Wars, and the Life of a pious Carthusian, which without the love of Study, can't but be melancholy and unpleasant. The Manners of Soldiers, the Manners and Diet of Carthusians. Advice in chusing a Way of getting a Livelihood. The Conveniency of a single Life, to be at Leisure for Reading and Meditation. Wicked Soldiers oftentimes butcher Men for a pitiful Reward. The daily Danger of a Soldier's Life.


Sol. Good Morrow, my Brother.

Cart. Good Morrow to you, dear Cousin.

Sol. I scarce knew you.

Cart. Am I grown so old in two Years Time?

Sol. No; but your bald Crown, and your new Dress, make you look to me like another Sort of Creature.

Cart. It may be you would not know your own Wife, if she should meet you in a new Gown.

Sol. No; not if she was in such a one as yours.

Cart. But I know you very well, who are not altered as to your Dress; but your Face, and the whole Habit of your Body: Why, how many Colours are you painted with? No Bird had ever such a Variety of Feathers. How all is cut and slash'd! Nothing according to Nature or Fashion! your cut Hair, your half-shav'd Beard, and that Wood upon your upper Lip, entangled and standing out straggling like the Whiskers of a Cat. Nor is it one single Scar that has disfigured your Face, that you may very well be taken for one of the Samian literati, [q.d. burnt in the Cheek] concerning whom there is a joking Proverb.

Sol. Thus it becomes a Man to come back from the Wars. But, pray, tell me, was there so great a Scarcity of good Physicians in this Quarter of the World?

Cart. Why do you ask?

Sol. Because you did not get the Distemper of your Brain cur'd, before you plung'd yourself into this Slavery.

Cart. Why, do you think I was mad then?

Sol. Yes, I do. What Occasion was there for you to be buried here, before your Time, when you had enough in the World to have lived handsomely upon?

Cart. What, don't you think I live in the World now?

Sol. No, by Jove.

Cart. Tell me why.

Sol. Because you can't go where you list. You are confin'd in this Place as in a Coop. Besides, your bald Pate, and your prodigious strange Dress, your Lonesomeness, your eating Fish perpetually, so that I admire you are not turn'd into a Fish.

Cart. If Men were turn'd into what they eat, you had long ago been turn'd into a Hog, for you us'd to be a mighty Lover of Pork.

Sol. I don't doubt but you have repented of what you have done, long enough before now, for I find very few that don't repent of it.

Cart. This usually happens to those who plunge themselves headlong into this Kind of Life, as if they threw themselves into a Well; but I have enter'd into it warily and considerately, having first made Trial of myself, and having duly examined the whole Ratio of this Way of Living, being twenty-eight Years of Age, at which Time, every one may be suppos'd to know himself. And as for the Place, you are confined in a small Compass as well as I, if you compare it to the Extent of the whole World. Nor does it signify any Thing how large the Place is, as long as it wants nothing of the Conveniences of Life. There are many that seldom stir out of the City in which they were born, which if they were prohibited from going out, would be very uneasy, and would be wonderfully desirous to do it. This is a common Humour, that I am not troubled with. I fancy this Place to be the whole World to me, and this Map represents the whole Globe of the Earth, which I can travel over in Thought with more Delight and Security than he that sails to the new-found Islands.

Sol. What you say as to this, comes pretty near the Truth.

Cart. You can't blame me for shaving my Head, who voluntarily have your own Hair clipp'd, for Conveniency Sake. Shaving, to me, if it does nothing else, certainly keeps my Head more clean, and perhaps more healthful too. How many Noblemen at Venice shave their Heads all over? What has my Garment in it that is monstrous? Does it not cover my Body? Our Garments are for two Uses, to defend us from the Inclemency of the Weather, and to cover our Nakedness. Does not this Garment answer both these Ends? But perhaps the Colour offends you. What Colour is more becoming Christians than that which was given to all in Baptism? It has been said also, Take a white Garment; so that this Garment puts me in Mind of what I promised in Baptism, that is, the perpetual Study of Innocency. And besides, if you call that Solitude which is only a retiring from the Crowd, we have for this the Example, not only of our own, but of the ancient Prophets, the Ethnick Philosophers, and all that had any Regard to the keeping a good Conscience. Nay, Poets, Astrologers, and Persons devoted to such-like Arts, whensoever they take in Hand any Thing that's great and beyond the Sphere of the common People, commonly betake themselves to a Retreat. But why should you call this Kind of Life Solitude? The Conversation of one single Friend drives away the Tædium of Solitude. I have here more than sixteen Companions, fit for all Manner of Conversation. And besides, I have Friends who come to visit me oftner than I would have them, or is convenient Do I then, in your Opinion, live melancholy?

Sol. But you cannot always have these to talk with.

Cart. Nor is it always expedient: For Conversation is the pleasanter, for being something interrupted.

Sol. You don't think amiss; for even to me myself, Flesh relishes much better after Lent.

Cart. And more than that, when I seem to be most alone, I don't want Companions, which are by far more delightful and entertaining than those common Jesters.

Sol. Where are they?

Cart. Look you, here are the four Evangelists. In this Book he that so pleasantly commun'd with the two Disciples in the Way going to Emaus, and who by his heavenly Discourse caus'd them not to be sensible of the Fatigue of their Journey, but made their Hearts burn within them with a divine Ardour of hearing his sweet Words, holds Conversation with me. In this I converse with Paul, with Isaiah, and the rest of the Prophets. Here the most sweet Chrysostom converses with me, and Basil, and Austin, and Jerome, and Cyprian, and the rest of the Doctors that are both learned and eloquent. Do you know any such pleasant Companions abroad in the World, that you can have Conversation with? Do you think I can be weary of Retirement, in such Society as this? And I am never without it.

Sol. But they would speak to me to no Purpose, who do not understand them.

Cart. Now for our Diet, what signifies it with what Food this Body of ours is fed which is satisfied with very little, if we live according to Nature? Which of us two is in the best Plight? You who live upon Partridges, Pheasants and Capons; or I who live upon Fish?

Sol. If you had a Wife as I have, you would not be so lusty.

Cart. And for that Reason, any Food serves us, let it be never so little.

Sol. But in the mean Time, you live the Life of a Jew.

Cart. Forbear Reflections: If we cannot come up to Christianity, at least we follow after it.

Sol. You put too much Confidence in Habits, Meats, Forms of Prayer, and outward Ceremonies, and neglect the Study of Gospel Religion.

Cart. It is none of my Business to judge what others do: As to myself, I place no Confidence in these Things, I attribute nothing to them; but I put my Confidence in Purity of Mind, and in Christ himself.

Sol. Why do you observe these Things then?

Cart. That I may be at Peace with my Brethren, and give no Body Offence. I would give no Offence to any one for the Sake of these trivial Things, which it is but a very little Trouble to observe. As we are Men, let us wear what Cloaths we will. Men are so humoursome, the Agreement or Disagreement in the most minute Matters, either procures or destroys Concord. The shaving of the Head, or Colour of the Habit does not indeed, of themselves, recommend me to God: But what would the People say, if I should let my Hair grow, or put on your Habit? I have given you my Reasons for my Way of Life; now, pray, in your Turn, give me your Reasons for yours, and tell me, were there no good Physicians in your Quarter, when you listed yourself for a Soldier, leaving a young Wife and Children at Home, and was hired for a pitiful Pay to cut Men's Throats, and that with the Hazard of your own Life too? For your Business did not lie among Mushrooms and Poppies, but armed Men. What do you think is a more unhappy Way of living, for a poor Pay, to murder a Fellow Christian, who never did you Harm, and to run yourself Body and Soul into eternal Damnation?

Sol. Why, it is lawful to kill an Enemy.

Cart. Perhaps it may be so, if he invades your native Country: Nay, and it is pious too, to fight for your Wife, Children, your Parents and Friends, your Religion and Liberties, and the publick Peace. But what is all that to your fighting for Money? If you had been knocked on the Head, I would not have given a rotten Nut to redeem the very Soul of you.

Sol. No?

Cart. No, by Christ, I would not. Now which do you think is the harder Task, to be obedient to a good Man, which we call Prior, who calls us to Prayers, and holy Lectures, the Hearing of the saving Doctrine, and to sing to the Glory of God: Or, to be under the Command of some barbarous Officer, who often calls you out to fatiguing Marches at Midnight, and sends you out, and commands you back at his Pleasure, exposes you to the Shot of great Guns, assigns you a Station where you must either kill or be killed?

Sol. There are more Evils than you have mentioned yet.

Cart. If I shall happen to deviate from the Discipline of my Order, my Punishment is only Admonition, or some such slight Matter: But in War, if you do any Thing contrary to the General's Orders, you must either be hang'd for it, or run the Gantlope; for it would be a Favour to have your Head cut off.

Sol. I can't deny what you say to be true.

Cart. And now your Habit bespeaks, that you han't brought much Money Home, after all your brave Adventures.

Sol. As for Money, I have not had a Farthing this good While; nay, I have gotten a good Deal into Debt, and for that Reason I come hither out of my Way, that you might furnish me with some Money to bear my Charges.

Cart. I wish you had come out of your Way hither, when you hurried yourself into that wicked Life of a Soldier. But how come you so bare?

Sol. Do you ask that? Why, whatsoever I got of Pay, Plunder, Sacrilege, Rapine and Theft, was spent in Wine, Whores and Gaming.

Cart. O miserable Creature! And all this While your Wife, for whose Sake God commanded you to leave Father and Mother, being forsaken by you, sat grieving at Home with her young Children. And do you think this is Living, to be involved in so many Miseries, and to wallow in so great Iniquities?

Sol. The having so many Companions of my Wickedness, made me insensible of my Evil.

Cart. But I'm afraid your Wife won't know you again.

Sol. Why so?

Cart. Because your Scars have made you the Picture of quite another Man. What a Trench have you got here in your Forehead? It looks as if you had had a Horn cut out.

Sol. Nay, if you did but know the Matter, you would congratulate me upon this Scar.

Cart. Why so?

Sol. I was within a Hair's Breadth of losing my Life.

Cart. Why, what Mischief was there?

Sol. As one was drawing a Steel Cross-bow, it broke, and a Splinter of it hit me in the Forehead.

Cart. You have got a Scar upon your Cheek that is above a Span long.

Sol. I got this Wound in a Battel.

Cart. In what Battel, in the Field?

Sol. No, but in a Quarrel that arose at Dice.

Cart. And I see I can't tell what Sort of Rubies on your Chin.

Sol. O they are nothing.

Cart. I suspect that you have had the Pox.

Sol. You guess very right, Brother. It was the third Time I had that Distemper, and it had like to have cost me my Life.

Cart. But how came it, that you walk so stooping, as if you were ninety Years of Age; or like a Mower, or as if your Back was broke?

Sol. The Disease has contracted my Nerves to that Degree.

Cart. In Truth you have undergone a wonderful Metamorphosis: Formerly you were a Horseman, and now of a Centaur, you are become a Kind of semi-reptile Animal.

Sol. This is the Fortune of War.

Cart. Nay, 'tis the Madness of your own Mind. But what Spoils will you carry Home to your Wife and Children? The Leprosy? for that Scab is only a Species of the Leprosy; and it is only not accounted so, because it is the Disease in Fashion, and especially among Noblemen: And for this very Reason, it should be the more carefully avoided. And now you will infect with it those that ought to be the dearest to you of any in the World, and you yourself will all your Days carry about a rotten Carcass.

Sol. Prithee, Brother, have done chiding me. I have enough upon me without Chiding.

Cart. As to those Calamities, I have hitherto taken Notice of, they only relate to the Body: But what a Sort of a Soul do you bring back with you? How putrid and ulcered? With how many Wounds is that sore?

Sol. Just as clean as a Paris common Shore in Maburtus's Road, or a common House of Office.

Cart. I am afraid it stinks worse in the Nostrils of God and his Angels.

Sol. Well, but I have had Chiding enough, now speak to the Matter, of something to bear my Charges.

Cart. I have nothing to give you, but I'll go and try what the Prior will do.

Sol. If any Thing was to be given, your Hands would be ready to receive it; but now there are a great many Difficulties in the Way, when something is to be paid.

Cart. As to what others do, let them look to that, I have no Hands, either to give or take Money: But we'll talk more of these Matters after Dinner, for it is now Time to sit down at Table.

« Prev The Soldier and Carthusian Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection