"The minde is sometimes a Bull, sometimes a Serpent, and sometimes a flame of fire"

— Tubbe, Henry (1618-1655)

Place of Publication
Printed for Robert Gibbs
"The minde is sometimes a Bull, sometimes a Serpent, and sometimes a flame of fire"
Metaphor in Context
Me thinks the very name of Man should perswade us to a peaceful quietnesse: but if natural Reason cannot prevaile, yet the respect we have unto Religion the profession of a Christian should work effectually. When I hear the name of Man, I am taken with delight as conceiving him the Subject of peace; but when I read the title of a Christian, my hope is confirmed beyond expectation; yet amongst Christians we finde that discord which the Heathens would have blushed to own. The Market, the Court, the Exchange, the Hall, the Church, all places are filled with contention. Such a general deluge of distraction hath overwhelmed the world, The earth is so besprinkled with the bloody Characters of ruine, that peace cannot find a place to keep her foot-steps dry. I look upon the City and there hope to finde an agreement, where all are guarded with the same Walls, and governed with the same Laws, and (as men in one ship) embarqued in the same common danger. But (oh shame!) How are all things here corrupted with strife and debate: Every house a Bethlem, a cage of madnesse, where every man in a distempered rage corrects his fellow? I saile out of this tempest to the Court as to a certaine Haven of Rest. Sure this is the Palace of peace: Here are men of wisdome and state: Here is the very heart of the people, and the eye of the Common-wealth: Here are his Vice-gerents who is the Prince of peace. The Court is the abstract of government and order; a place free from all tumultuary violence and unruly dissention; and all things promise fairly; courteous language, sweet imbraces, chearful meetings, and other offices of civility and humanity are placed within this circle. And yet (alas!) all this is not the shadow of true peace; but painted bravery, and meer hypocrisie. The true discerning spirit may behold under this mask, divided factions, secret enmity, undermining treachery. Ambition and envy, self-love, and pride, grow up in this rank ground like ill weeds that can never be rooted out notwithstanding the best endeavours of a good Prince. That which I thought the habitation of peace proves a nursery of distraction, a stage of confusion, a seminary of discord; a curious brave modell of folly and madness; where contention, scorne and contempt play their wanton revels under the disguise of Love. I will go to the Schools of the learned. Learning makes us men, Philosophy more then men, Divinity Saints. Surely amongst such I cannot misse of peace; but these have their Warre too, though lesse bloody, yet not lesse cruel. One School fights with another. In the same Academy the Orator and the Logician are together by the ears. He thinks all the Majesty of Eloquence is dilated upon the palme of his hand; And the other thinks all the strength of reason is contracted into his fist: and in this posture they enter the lists. What strange and different opinions do we finde in several Authours? and that not for the substance but ceremonies, not for the kernel but the shell of learning: a letter, a syllable, a point makes the difference: fighting and scolding, as if Religion and their souls lay at stake:and are not more angry with themselves than with others that admire them not, conceiving every man bound to attend their loud noise with fearful reverence. The height of disputation swells into a chollerick rage; and if the matter scape the daggers point, yet there are words which cut like a razor; a sharp style that will fetch blood from the very soul, and destroy a good name. Their subtill distinction serve for no other use but to divide themselves. Whether shall I go at last, there is but one harbour left, Religion. Now certainly I am not farre from my beloved Port. I see the very Emblems and colours of peace, civil garments; I hear the very sound of peace, the name of brother and sonne, terms of charity and community, sweet compellations, and peaceful salutations, willing instructions, and courteous admonitions. Yet even among these I meet with such Impostors as make all this but a glorious shew, a rare outside. There is no where so much intemperance and immoderation as in matters of judgement concerning Religion. Hence it is that we find such miserable distractions in the Christian world. The hearts of men divide as well as their faces; and 'tis hard to finde two as of equal form, so of one opinion. A self-conceited pride rules in every breast, and no man will be bound to forsake the conceits of his own brain. Difference in affection breeds division in doctrine, and variety of opinions drown the power of love and peace. I will venture once again and search amongst the Matrimonial assemblies for a paire of Turtles, an husband and a wife that will not be separated: whose love is contracted to one family, to one fortune, to one bed: who are become one nature in a twofold habit; the same person in a divided skinne, a mutual representation of one heart in two souls. Here, affection sits like a Prince attended with his Royal progeny, the most lovely object that can be represented to the sight; yet as in all other Relations, so likewise here, some difference hath crept in, which oftentimes proceeds to an absolute divorce, or else continues in a raging jealousie and mortal division. I have but one wish more: this is the last step of my desires, that I may enjoy a resting place in the breast but of one man, or feel some sense of quietnesse and tranquility in my own heart. I am denied this happinesse. The same man fights with himself. Reason warres with the affection; and passion with passion. We finde such a contradiction of humours in some men that they can turne into any forme. The minde is sometimes a Bull, sometimes a Serpent, and sometimes a flame of fire; and then the musick of the soule is quite out of tune; the Bells ring backward as in some general conflagration. Piety drives one way, Desire another. Ambition, anger, &c. a various lust divides the four quarters of this little world. This is our wilful misery. And yet we are bold to usurp the stile and title of a Christian, although we do agree in every thing from the most absolute pattern, and prime Authour of Christianity. Look upon the whole volume of his life: what can we finde written there but a doctrine of goodwill, and stedfast reconciliation? what do all his precepts and parables found of, but peace and charitable forbearance? and no wonder, for by the judgement of a Poet, peace is the best of things; by the sentence of a Prophet, the work of righteousness; by the decree of an Apostle, the greatest vertue; for this is that charity which like a true Doctor of peace he prefers before the tongues of men and Angels, before the gift of Prophecy, above all mysteries, and all knowledge, and all faith.
(pp. 92-102, in. 49-54)

Only 1 entry in ESTC (1659).

Meditations Divine & Morall by H.T. (London: Printed for Robert Gibbs, 1659). <Link to ESTC><Link to EEBO>
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.