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IV

The first kind also will I shortly pass over, too. For the tribulation that a man willingly taketh himself, which no man putteth upon him against his own will, is, you know as well as I (for it was somewhat touched the last day), such affliction of the flesh or expense of his goods as a man taketh himself or willingly bestoweth in punishment of his own sin and for devotion to God.

Now, in this tribulation needeth he no man to comfort him. For no man troubleth him but himself, who feeleth how far forth he may conveniently bear, and of reason and good discretion shall not pass that—and if any doubt arise therein, it is counsel that he needeth and not comfort. And so the courage that kindleth his heart and enflameth it for God's sake and his soul's health shall, by the same grace that put it in his mind, give him such comfort and joy therein that the pleasure of his soul shall surpass the pain of his body.

Yea, and while he hath in heart also some great heaviness for his sin, yet when he considereth the joy that shall come of it, his soul shall not fail to feel then that strange state which my body felt once in a great fever.

VINCENT: What strange state was that, uncle?

ANTHONY: Forsooth, cousin, even in this same bed, it is now more than fifteen years ago, I lay in a tertian fever. And I had passed, I believe, three or four fits, when afterward there fell on me one fit out of course, so strange and so marvellous that I would in good faith have thought it impossible. For I suddenly felt myself verily both hot and cold throughout all my body; not in one part the one and in another part the other—for it would have been, you know, no very strange thing to feel the head hot while the hands were cold—but the selfsame parts, I say, so God save my soul, I sensibly felt (and right painfully, too) all in one instant both hot and cold at once.

VINCENT: By my faith, uncle, this was a wonderful thing, and such as I never heard happen to any other man in my days. And few men are there out of whose mouths I could have believed it.

ANTHONY: Courtesy, cousin, peradventure hindereth you from saying that you believe it not yet of my mouth, neither! And surely, for fear of that, you should not have heard it of me neither, had there not another thing happed me soon thereafter.

VINCENT: I pray you, what was that, good uncle?

ANTHONY: Forsooth, cousin, this: I asked a physician or twain, who then considered how this should be possible, and they both twain told me that it could not be so, but that I was fallen into some slumber and dreamed that I felt it so.

VINCENT: This hap, hold I, little caused you to tell that tale more boldly!

ANTHONY: No, cousin, that is true, lo. But then happed there another: A young girl here in this town, whom a kinsman of hers had begun to teach physic, told me that there was such a kind of fever indeed.

VINCENT: By our Lady, uncle, save for the credence of you, the tale would I not yet tell again upon that hap of the maid! For though I know her now for such that I durst well believe her, it might hap her very well at that time to lie, because she would that you should take her for learned.

ANTHONY: Yea, but then happed there yet another hap thereon, cousin, that a work of Galen, "De differentiis febrium," is ready to be sold in the booksellers' shops, in which work she showed me then the chapter where Galen saith the same.

VINCENT: Marry, uncle, as you say, that hap happed well. And that maid had, as hap was, in that one point more learning than had both your physicians besides—and hath, I believe, at this day in many points more.

ANTHONY: In faith, so believe I too. She is very wise and well learned, and very virtuous too.

But see now what age is: lo, I have been so long in my tale that I have almost forgotten for what purpose I told it. Oh, now I remember me: As I say, just as I myself felt my body then both hot and cold at once, so he who is contrite and heavy for his sin shall have cause to be both glad and sad, and shall indeed be both twain at once. And he shall do as I remember holy St. Jerome biddeth—"Both be thou sorry," saith he, "and be thou also of thy sorrow joyful."

And thus, as I began to say, to him that is in this tribulation—that is, in fruitful heaviness and penance for his sin—shall we need to give none other comfort than only to remember and consider well the goodness of God's excellent mercy, that infinitely surpasseth the malice of all men's sins. By that mercy he is ready to receive every man, and did spread his arms abroad upon the cross, lovingly to embrace all those who will come. And by that mercy he even there accepted the thief at his last end, who turned not to God till he might steal no longer, and yet maketh more feast in heaven for one who turneth from sin than for ninety-nine good men who sinned not at all.

And therefore of that first kind of tribulation will I make no longer tale.

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