Thomas Schall - Lauten

OBJECTIONS AGAINST THE IMMORTALITIE OF THE SOULE.

BUT now these Epicures begin to smile,
And say, my doctrine is more false then true;
And that I fondly doe my selfe beguile,
While these receiu’d opinions I ensue.

OBJECTION I.

FOR what, say they, doth not the Soule waxe old?
How comes it then that agèd men doe dote;
And that their braines grow sottish, dull and cold,
Which were in youth the onely spirits of note?

What? are not Soules within themselues corrupted?
How can there idiots then by nature bee?
How is it that some wits are interrupted,
That now they dazeled are, now clearely see?

ANSWERE.

THESE questions make a subtill argument,
To such as thinke both sense and reason one;
To whom nor agent, from the instrument,
Nor power of working, from the work is known.

But they that know that wit can shew no skill,
But when she things in Sense’s glasse doth view;
Doe know, if accident this glasse doe spill,
It nothing sees, or sees the false for true.

For, if that region of the tender braine,
Where th’ inward sense of Fantasie should sit,
And the outward senses gatherings should retain,
By Nature, or by chance, become vnfit;

Either at first vncapable it is,
And so few things, or none at all receiues;
Or mard by accident, which haps amisse
And so amisse it euery thing perceiues.

Then, as a cunning prince that vseth spyes,
If they returne no newes doth nothing know;
But if they make aduertisement of lies,
The Prince’s Counsel all awry doe goe.

Euen so the Soule to such a body knit,
Whose inward senses vndisposed be,
And to receiue the formes of things vnfit;
Where nothing is brought in, can nothing see.

This makes the idiot, which hath yet a mind,
Able to know the truth, and chuse the good;
If she such figures in the braine did find,
As might be found, if it in temper stood.

But if a phrensie doe possesse the braine,
It so disturbs and blots the formes of things;
As Fantasie prooues altogether vaine,
And to the Wit no true relation brings.

Then doth the Wit, admitting all for true,
Build fond conclusions on those idle grounds;
Then doth it flie the good, and ill pursue,
Beleeuing all that this false spie propounds.

But purge the humors, and the rage appease,
Which this distemper in the fansie wrought;
Then shall the Wit, which never had disease,
Discourse, and iudge discreetly, as it ought

So, though the clouds eclipse the sunne’s faire light,
Yet from his face they doe not take one beame;
So haue our eyes their perfect power of sight,
Euen when they looke into a troubled streame.

Then these defects in Senses’ organs bee,
Not in the soule or in her working might;
She cannot lose her perfect power to see,
Thogh mists and clouds do choke her window light.

These imperfections then we must impute,
Not to the agent but the instrument;
We must not blame Apollo, but his lute,
If false accords from her false strings be sent

The Soule in all hath one intelligence;
Though too much moisture in an infant’s braine,
And too much drinesse in an old man’s sense,
Cannot the prints of outward things retaine:

Then doth the Soule want worke, and idle sit,
And this we childishnesse and dotage call;
Yet hath she then a quicke and actiue Wit,
If she had stuffe and tooles to worke withall:

For, giue her organs fit, and obiects faire;
Giue but the aged man, the young man’s sense;
Let but Medea, Æsons youth repaire,
And straight she shewes her wonted excellence.

As a good harper stricken farre in yeares,
Into whose cunning hand the gowt is fall
All his old crotchets in his braine he beares,
But on his harpe playes ill, or not at all.

But if Apollo takes his gowt away,
That hee his nimble fingers may apply;
Apollo’s selfe will enuy at his play,
And all the world applaud his minstralsie.

Then dotage is no weaknesse of the mind,
But of the Sense; for if the mind did waste,
In all old men we should this wasting find,
When they some certaine terme of yeres had past:

But most of them, euen to their dying howre,
Retaine a mind more liuely, quicke, and strong;
And better vse their vnderstanding power,
Then when their braines were warm, and lims were yong.

For, though the body wasted be and weake,
And though the leaden forme of earth it beares;
Yet when we heare that halfe-dead body speake,
We oft are rauisht to the heauenly spheares.

OBJECTION II.

YET, say these men, If all her organs die,
Then hath the soule no power her powers to vse;
So, in a sort, her powers extinct doe lie,
When vnto act shee cannot them reduce.

And if her powers be dead, then what is shee?
For sith from euery thing some powers do spring,
And from those powers, some acts proceeding bee,
Then kill both power and act, and kill the thing.

ANSWERE.

DOUBTLESSE the bodie’s death when once it dies,
The instruments of sense and life doth kill;
So that she cannot vse those faculties,
Although their root rest in her substance still.

But (as the body liuing) Wit and Will
Can iudge and chuse, without the bodie’s ayde;
Though on such obiects they are working still,
As through the bodie’s organs are conuayde:

So, when the body serues her turne no more,
And all her Senses are extinct and gone,
She can discourse of what she learn’d before,
In heauenly contemplations, all alone.

So, if one man well on a lute doth play,
And haue good horsemanship, and Learning’s skill;
Though both his lute and horse we take away,
Doth he not keep his former learning still?

He keepes it doubtlesse, and can vse it to[o];
And doth both th’ other skils in power retaine;
And can of both the proper actions doe,
If with his lute or horse he meet againe.

So though the instruments (by which we liue
And view the world,) the bodie’s death doe kill;
Yet with the body they shall all reuiue,
And all their wonted offices fulfill.

OBJECTION III.

BUT how, till then, shall she herselfe imploy?
Her spies are dead which brought home newes before;
What she hath got and keepes, she may enioy,
But she hath meanes to vnderstand no more.

Then what do those poore soules, which nothing get?
Or what doe those which get, and cannot keepe?
Like buckets bottomlesse, which all out-let
Those Soules, for want of exercise, must sleepe.

ANSWERE.

SEE how man’s Soule against it selfe doth striue:
Why should we not haue other meanes to know?
As children while within the wombe they liue,
Feed by the nauill: here they feed not so.

These children, if they had some vse of sense,
And should by chance their mothers’ talking heare;
That in short time they shall come forth from thence,
Would feare their birth more then our death we feare.

They would cry out, ‘If we this place shall leaue,
Then shall we breake our tender nauill strings;
How shall we then our nourishment receiue,
Sith our sweet food no other conduit brings?’

And if a man should to these babes reply,
That into this faire world they shall be brought;
Where they shall see the Earth, the Sea, the Skie,
The glorious Sun, and all that God hath wrought:

That there ten thousand dainties they shall meet,
Which by their mouthes they shall with pleasure take;
Which shall be cordiall too, as wel as sweet,
And of their little limbes, tall bodies make:

This would they thinke a fable, euen as we
Doe thinke the story of the Golden Age;
Or as some sensuall spirits amongst vs bee,
Which hold the world to come, a fainèd stage:

Yet shall these infants after find all true,
Though then thereof they nothing could conceiue;
As soone as they are borne, the world they view,
And with their mouthes, the nurses’-milke receiue.

So, when the Soule is borne (for Death is nought
But the Soule’s birth, and so we should it call)
Ten thousand things she sees beyond her thought,
And in an vnknowne manner knowes them all.

Then doth she see by spectacles no more,
She heares not by report of double spies;
Her selfe in instants doth all things explore,
For each thing present, and before her, lies.

OBJECTION IV.

BUT still this crue with questions me pursues:
If soules deceas’d (say they) still liuing bee;
Why do they not return, to bring vs newes
Of that strange world, where they such wonders see?

ANSWERE.

FOND men! If we beleeue that men doe liue
Vnder the Zenith of both frozen Poles,
Though none come thence aduertisement to giue;
Why beare we not the like faith of our soules?

The soule hath here on Earth no more to doe,
Then we haue businesse in our mother’s wombe;
What child doth couet to returne thereto?
Although all children first from thence do come?

But as Noah’s pidgeon, which return’d no more,
Did shew, she footing found, for all the Flood;
So when good soules, departed through Death’s dore,
Come not againe, it shewes their dwelling good.

And doubtlesse, such a soule as vp doth mount,
And doth appeare before her Maker’s Face;
Holds this vile world in such a base account,
As she looks down, and scorns this wretched place.

But such as are detruded downe to Hell,
Either for shame, they still themselues retire;
Or tyed in chaines, they in close prison dwell,
And cannot come, although they much desire.

OBJECTION V.

WELL, well, say these vaine spirits, though vaine it is
To thinke our Soules to Heauen or to Hell do goe,
Politike men haue thought it not amisse,
To spread this lye, to make men vertuous so.

ANSWERE.

DOE you then thinke this morall vertue good?
I thinke you doe, euen for your priuate gaine;
For Common-wealths by vertue euer stood,
And common good the priuate doth containe.

If then this vertue you doe loue so well,
Haue you no meanes, her practise to maintaine;
But you this lye must to the people tell,
That good Soules liue in ioy, and ill in paine?

Must vertue be preseruèd by a lye?
Vertue and Truth do euer best agree;
By this it seemes to be a veritie,
Sith the effects so good and vertuous bee.

For, as the deuill father is of lies,
So vice and mischiefe doe his lyes ensue;
Then this good doctrine did not he deuise,
But made this lye, which saith it is not true.

THE GENERALL CONSENT OF ALL.

FOR how can that be false, which euery tongue
Of euery mortall man affirmes for true?
Which truth hath in all ages been so strong,
As lodestone-like, all hearts it euer drew.

For, not the Christian, or the Iew alone,
The Persian, or the Turke, acknowledge this;
This mysterie to the wild Indian knowne,
And to the Canniball and Tartar is.

This rich Assyrian drugge growes euery where;
As common in the North, as in the East;
This doctrine does not enter by the eare,
But of it selfe is natiue in the breast.

None that acknowledge God, or prouidence,
Their Soule’s eternitie did euer doubt;
For all Religion takes her root from hence,
Which no poore naked nation liues without.

For sith the World for Man created was,
(For onely Man the vse thereof doth know)
If man doe perish like a withered grasse,
How doth God’s Wisedom order things below?

And if that Wisedom still wise ends propound,
Why made He man, of other creatures King?
When (if he perish here) there is not found
In all the world so poor and vile a thing?

If death do quench vs quite, we haue great wrong,
Sith for our seruice all things else were wrought;
That dawes, and trees, and rocks, should last so long,
When we must in an instant passe to nought.

But blest be that Great Power, that hath vs blest
With longer life then Heauen or Earth can haue;
Which hath infus’d into our mortall breast
Immortall powers, not subiect to the graue.

For though the Soule doe seeme her graue to beare,
And in this world is almost buried quick;
We haue no cause the bodie’s death to feare,
For when the shell is broke, out comes a chick.

Sir John Davies