Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
John Donne
Sit morbi fomes tibi cura ;
The Physitians consider the root
and occasion, the embers, and
coales, and fuell of the disease,
and seek to purge or correct

HOW ruinous a farme hath man taken, in taking himselfe! How ready is the house every day to fall downe, and how is all the ground overspread with weeds, all the body with diseases! where not onely every turfe, but every stone, beares weeds; not onely every muscle of the flesh, but every bone of the body, hath some infirmitie; every little flint upon the face of this soile, hath some infectious weede, every tooth in our head, such a paine as a constant man is afraid of, and yet ashamed of that feare, of that sense of the paine. How deare, and how often a rent doth Man pay for this farme! hee paies twice a day, in double meales, and how little time he hath to raise his rent! How many holy daies to call him from his labour! Every day is halfe-holy day, halfe spent in sleepe. What repararations, and subsidies, and contributions he is put to, besides his rent! What medicines, besides his diet! and what Inmates he is faine to take in, besides his owne families what infectious diseases, from other men! Adam might have had Paradise for dressing and keeping it; and then his rent was not improved to such a labour, as would have made his brow sweat; and yet he gave it over; how farre greater a rent doe wee pay for this farme, this body, who pay our selves, who pay the farme it selfe, and cannot live upon it! Neither is our labour at an end, when wee have cut downe some weed, as soone as it sprung up, corrected some violent and dangerous accident of a disease, which would have destroied speedily; nor when wee have pulled up that weed, from the very root, recovered entirely and soundly, from that particular disease; but the whole ground is of an ill nature, the whole soile ill disposed; there are inclinations, there is a propensenesse to diseases in the body, out of which without any other disorder, diseases will grow, and so wee are put to a continuall labour upon this farme, to a continuall studie of the whole complexion and constitution of our body. In the distempers and diseases of soiles, sourenesse, drinesse, weeping, any kinde of barrennesse, the remedy and the physicke, is, for a great part, sometimes in themselves; sometime[s] the very situation releeves them; the hanger of a hill, will purge and vent his owne malignant moisture; and the burning of the upper turfe of some ground (as health from cauterizing) puts a new and a vigorous youth into that soile, and there rises a kinde of Phnix out of the ashes, a fruitfulnesse out of that which was barren before, and by that, which is the barrennest of all, ashes. And where the ground cannot give itselfe Physicke, yet it receives Physicke from other grounds, from other soiles, which are not the worse, for having contributed that helpe to them, from Marle in other hils, or from slimie sand in other shoares: grounds helpe themselves, or hurt not other grounds, from whence they receive helpe. But I have taken a farme at this hard rent, and upon those heavie covenants, that it can afford it selfe no helpe; (no part of my body, if it were cut off, would cure another part; in some cases it might preserve a sound part, but in no case recover an infected) and, if my body may have any Physicke, any Medicine from another body, one Man from the flesh of another Man (as by Mummy, or any such composition,) it must bee from a man that is dead, and not, as in other soiles, which are never the worse for contributing their Marle, or their fat slime to my ground. There is nothing in the same man, to helpe man, nothing in mankind to helpe one another (in this sort, by way of Physicke) but that hee who ministers the helpe, is in as ill case, as he that receives it would have beene, if he had not had it; for hee from whose body the Physicke comes, is dead. When therefore I tooke this farme, undertooke this body, I undertooke to draine, not a marish, but a moat, where there was, not water mingled to offend, but all was water; I undertooke to perfume dung, where no one part, but all was equally unsavory; I undertooke to make such a thing wholsome, as was not poison by any manifest quality, intense heat, or cold, but poison in the whole substance, and in the specifique forme of it. To cure the sharpe accidents of diseases, is a great worke; to cure the disease it selfe is a greater; but to cure the body, the root, the occasion of diseases, is a worke reserved for the great Phisitian, which he doth never any other way, but by glorifying these bodies in the next world. 

Source :
Donne, John.  The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne.
Charles M. Coffin, Ed. New York: Modern Library, 1952. 454-456.
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