12 December, 2006

My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is

Charlotte Mason says toward the end of her volume Towards a Philosophy of Education'
(on the bottom of page 321):

"Only as he has been and is nourished upon books is a man able to "live his life." A great deal of mechanical labour is necessarily performed in solitude; the miner, the farm-labourer, cannot think all the time of the block he is hewing, the furrow he is ploughing; how good that he should be figuring to himself the trial scene in the Heart of Midlothian, the "high-jinks" in Guy Mannering, that his imagination should be playing with 'Ann Page' or 'Mrs. Quickly,' or that his labour goes the better "because his secret soul a holy strain repeats." People, working people, do these things. Many a one can say out of a rich experience, "My mind to me a kingdom is"; many a one cries with (Robert) Browning's 'Paracelsus,' "God! Thou art mind! Unto the master-mind, Mind should be precious. Spare my mind alone!" We know how "Have mynde" appears on the tiles paving the choir of St. Cross; but "mynde," like body, must have its meat."

I thought at first that she was referencing Shakespeare, but alas, my first guess wrong! It is just about the same time period, however. I think she references these as examples of being alone, BUT not that that is always a good thing. Handling things alone and being completely self sufficient is not a good thing, hence the references, I believe. she goes on to stress that "The mind must have its meat," then when one is alone working, the mind will be thinking of literary things, stories, even Holy things. Her main beef, pardon the pun, is that (as she says on page 330):

"...our fault, our exceeding great fault, is that we keep our own minds and the minds of our children shamefully underfed."

So here I include the whole poem by Sir Edward Dyer, d 1607
My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is

Sir Edward Dyer (d. 1607)

MY mind to me a kingdom is;
Such present joys therein I find,
That it excels all other bliss
That earth affords or grows by kind:
Though much I want that most would have, (5)
Yet still my mind forbids to crave.

No princely pomp, no wealthy store,
No force to win the victory,
No wily wit to salve a sore,
No shape to feed a loving eye; (10)
To none of these I yield as thrall;
For why? my mind doth serve for all.

I see how plenty surfeits oft,
And hasty climbers soon do fall;
I see that those which are aloft (15)
Mishap doth threaten most of all:
They get with toil, they keep with fear:
Such cares my mind could never bear.

Content I live, this is my stay;
I seek no more than may suffice; (20)
I press to bear no haughty sway;
Look, what I lack my mind supplies.
Lo, thus I triumph like a king,
Content with that my mind doth bring.

Some have too much, yet still do crave; (25)
I little have, and seek no more.
They are but poor, though much they have,
And I am rich with little store;
They poor, I rich; they beg, I give;
They lack, I leave; they pine, I live. (30)

I laugh not at another’s loss,
I grudge not at another’s gain;
No worldly waves my mind can toss;
My state at one doth still remain:
I fear no foe, I fawn no friend; (35)
I loathe not life, nor dread my end.

Some weigh their pleasure by their lust,
Their wisdom by their rage of will;
Their treasure is their only trust,
A cloak├Ęd craft their store of skill; (40)
But all the pleasure that I find
Is to maintain a quiet mind.

My wealth is health and perfect ease,
My conscience clear my chief defence;
I neither seek by bribes to please, (45)
Nor by deceit to breed offence:
Thus do I live; thus will I die;
Would all did so as well as I!

I believe her (brief) references to these in her writing are negative references of how NOT to be. She does that a lot in her writing.

Now for the
Paracelsus reference.
(from the linked website above)

"Paracelsus is a study of intellectual pride and its humbling. The philosopher, conscious of his mission to arouse society with 'new revealings,' places entire confidence in his individual powers, and thereby repudiates both the guidance of tradition and the support of love, as personified by Festus and Michal. Festus repeatedly warns him of the danger of trying to do without human sympathy: 'How can that course be safe which from the first/ Produces carelessness to human love?'; and again: 'But do not cut yourself from human weal!' Paracelsus, however, sets off alone on his wanderings, strong in the conviction that he is sufficient unto himself and that ultimate truth has its seat in the depths of his inner consciousness.

Paracelsus is divided into five sections to suggest the stages in the hero's tragic progress. In the second part there begins for Paracelsus the betrayal by the intellect, although he continues to insist that this is the supreme faculy:

"God! Thou art mind! Unto the master-mind
"Mind should be precious.
Spare my mind alone!
All else I will endure. . . ""

Yet another stanza says:

"My nature cannot lose her first imprint;
I still must hoard and heap and class all truths
With one ulterior purpose: I must know!"

and then the realization that his failure may be attributable to pride of intellect:

"... were man all mind-he gains A station little enviable. From God[75/76]
Down to the lowest spirit ministrant,
Intelligence exists which casts our mind
Into immeasurable shade. No, no:
Love, hope, fear, faith-these make humanity;
These are its sign and note and character,
And these I have lost!"

This is one I need to explore more deeply. Makes my brain hurt sometimes :-)


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