John Donne
Medicamina scribunt.
Upon their Consultation,
they prescribe.

THEY have seene me, and heard mee, arraign’d mee in these fetters, and receiv’d the evidence; I have cut up mine Anatomy, dissected my selfe, and they are gon to read upon me. O how manifold, and perplexed a thing, nay, how wanton and various a thing is ruine and destruction! God presented to David three kinds, War, Famine, and Pestilence; Satan left out these, and brought in, fires from heaven, and windes from the wilderness. [As] if there were no ruine but sickness wee see, the Masters of that Art, can scarce number, nor name all sicknesses; every thing that disorders a faculty, and the function of that is a sicknesse: The names wil not serve them which are given from the place affected, the Plurisie is so; nor from the effect which it works, the falling sicknes is so; they cannot have names enow, from what it does, nor where it is, but they must extort names from what it is like, what it resembles, and but in some one thing, or els they would lack names; for the Wolf, and the Canker, and the Polypus are so; and that question, whether there be more names or things, is as perplexd in sicknesses, as in any thing else; except it be easily resolvd upon that side, that there are more sicknesses than names. If ruine were reduc’d to that one way, that Man could perish noway but by sickness yet his danger were infinit; and if sicknes were reduc’d to that one way, that there were no sicknes but a fever, yet the way were infinite still; for it would overrode, and oppress any naturall, disorder and discompose any artificiall Memory, to deliver the names of severall fevers; how intricate a worke then have they, who are gone to consult, which of these sicknesses mine is, and then which of these fevers, and then what it would do, and then how it may be countermand. But even in ill, it is a degree of good, when the evil wil admit consultation. In many diseases, that which is but an accident, but a symptom of the main disease, is so violent, that the Phisician must attend the cure of that, though hee pretermit (so far as to intermit) the cure of the disease it self. Is it not so in States too? somtimes the insolency of those that are great, put[s] the people into commotions; the great disease, and the reatest danger to the Head, is the insolency of the great ones; and yet, they execute Martial law, they come to present executions upon the people, whose commotion was indeed but a symptom, but an accident of the maine disease; but this sympton, grown so violent, would allow no, time for a consultation. Is it not so in the accidents of the diseases of our mind too? Is it not evidently so in our affections, in our passions? If a cholerick man be ready to strike, must I goe about to puree his choler, or to breake the blow? But where there is room for consultation, things are not desperate. They consult; so there is nothing rashly, inconsideratly done; and then they prescribe, they write, so there is nothing covertly, disguisedly, unavowedly done. In bodily diseases it is not alwaies so; sometimes, as soon as the Phisicians foote is in the chamber, his knife is in the patients arme; the disease would not allow a minutes forbearing of blood, nor prescribing of other remedies. In States and matter of government it is so too; they are somtimes surprizd with such accidents, as that the Magistrat asks not what may be done by law, but does that, which must necessarily be don in that case. But it is a degree of good, in evill, a degree that carries hope and comfort in it, when we may have recourse to that which is written, and that the proceedings may be apert, and ingenuous, and candid, and avowable, for that gives satisfaction, and acquiescence. They who have received my Anatomy of my selfe, consult, and end their consultation in prescribing, and in prescribing Phisick; proper and convenient remedy: for if they should come in again, and chide mee, for some disorder, that had occasioned, and inducd, or that had hastned and exalted this sickness or if they should begin to write now rules for my dyet, and exercise when I were well, this were to antidate, or to postdate their Consultation, not to give Phisicke. It were rather a vexation, than a reliefe, to tell a condemnd prisoner, you might have liv’d if you had done this; and if you can get pardon, you shal do wel, to take this, or this course hereafter. I am glad they know (I have hid nothing from them) glad they consult, (they hide nothing from one another) glad they write (they hide nothing from the world) glad that they write and prescribe Phisick, that there are remedies for the present case. 

Source :
Donne, John.  The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne.
Charles M. Coffin, Ed. New York: Modern Library, 1952. 426-428.
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