Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The long habit of living

More Sir Thomas Browne, this time from Urne-Burial, because it seems to suit the mood of the day--dark and cold, overcast with events, both national and personal. Browne draws from several sources here, first of all from the sermons of Donne and Jeremy Taylor:

"If we begin to die when we live, and long life be but a prolongation of death, our life is a sad composition; We live with death, and die not in a moment. . . . If the nearnesse of our last necessity brought a nearer conformity unto it, there were a happinesse in hoary hairs, and no calamity in half senses. But the long habit of living indisposeth us for dying . . . .

"Darknesse and light divide the course of time, and oblivion shares with memory a great part even of our living beings; we slightly remember our felicities, and the smartest stroaks of affliction leave but short smart upon us. Sense endureth no extremities, and sorrows destroy us or themselves. To weep into stones are fables. Afflictions induce callosities, miseries are slippery, or fall like snow upon us, which notwithstanding is no unhappy stupidity. To be ignorant of evils to come, and forgetfull of evils past, is a mercifull provision in nature . . . . Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible Sun within us."

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