ↀ II

1See how great a thing I have promised to myself from your indulgence. I do not doubt that I shall have more power over you than your grief, though there is nothing that has more power over the wretched. And so, that I may not join battle with it immediately, I shall first uphold it, and be lavish with what will encourage it; I shall expose and tear open all the wounds that have already closed over. 2But someone will say: "What sort of consolation is this, to recall ills that are blotted out and to set the mind, when it is scarcely able to bear one sorrow, in full view of all its sorrows? "But let him reflect that whenever diseases become so malignant that they grow strong in spite of treatment they are then commonly treated by opposite methods. And so to the stricken mind I shall exhibit all its distresses, all its garbs of woe; my purpose will be not to heal by gentle measures, but to cauterize and cut. And what shall I gain? I shall cause a heart that has been victorious over so many afflictions to be ashamed to bewail one wound the more upon a body so marked with scars. 3Let those, therefore, whose pampered minds have been weakened by long happiness, weep and moan continuously, and faint away at the threat of the slightest injury; but let those whose years have all been passed in a succession of calamities endure even the heaviest blows with strong and unwavering resolution. Constant misfortune brings this one blessing, that those whom it always assails, it at last fortifies.

4To you Fortune has never given any respite from the heaviest woes; she did not except even the day of your birth. You lost your mother as soon as you had been born, nay, while you were being born, and entering life you became, as it were, an outcast. You grew up under a stepmother, but by your complete obedience and devotion as great as can be seen even in a daughter you forced her to become a true mother; nevertheless every child has paid a great price even for a good stepmother. My most loving uncle, an excellent and very brave man, you lost just when you were awaiting his arrival, and, lest Fortune by dividing her cruelty should make it lighter, within thirty days you buried your dearest husband, who had made you the proud mother of three children. 5This blow was announced when you were already mourning, when, too, all of your children were absent, just as if your misfortunes had been concentrated into that period purposely in order that your grief might find nothing to rest upon. I pass over the countless dangers, the countless fears which you have endured, though they assailed you without cessation. But lately into the self-same lap from which you had let three grandchildren go, you took back the bones of three grandchildren. Less than twenty days after you had buried my son, who died in your arms and amid your kisses, you heard that I had been snatched from you. This misfortune you had still lacked - to mourn the living.

<ↀI - ↀIII>