Editorial Notes This electronic edition of 'The Twelve Degrees of Humility and Pride' has been prepared from the 1929 translation by Barton R. V. Mills, M. A



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CHAPTER XII
The third degree -- Unseasonable merriment. (The opposite of the tenth degree of humility -- refraining from frequent and light laughter.)
It is characteristic of the proud that they always look out for pleasure and shun sadness, in accordance with the saying: The heart of fools is where there is mirth. (1) So it is that the monk who has already descended two degrees of pride and through inquisitiveness has arrived at levity, when he sees the joy for which he is always on the look out constantly interrupted by the distress which he feels at the sight of good in others, chafes under the sense of humiliation and takes refuge in a suggestion of unreal comfort. Henceforth he restrains his inquisitiveness on that side on which his own worthlessness and his neighbour's excellence are shown to him, and turns his whole attention to the other side. He may thus mark only too carefully those things in which he seems to be the better man, and may hide those in which others surpass him, and so may put away all thought of sorrow and remain always merry. It thus happens that silly merriment soon gains sole possession of the man whom joy and sorrow alternately claim.
1. Eccles. vii. 5.
I set this before you as the third degree of pride; now note the marks by which you may detect it, either in yourself or in anyone else. You seldom or never hear a man of this kind groan, or see him shed tears. You will think, if you consider, that his faults are either forgotten or forgiven. His gestures are those of a buffoon, his look that of a coxcomb, his step that of a dandy. He is always making jokes, and never loses a chance of laughing. He cuts out of his mind all discreditable and therefore distressing recollections, and concentrates his mental vision on his real or pretended merits. As he thinks of nothing but what is pleasant without considering whether it is lawful, he can neither restrain laughter nor hide his unseasonable merriment. A bladder swells when it is full of wind, but if a small hole is pricked in it and it is squeezed, it creaks as it collapses, and the air does not rush out at once, but is gradually expelled and gives out frequent intermittent sounds. In like manner when a monk has filled his mind with vapid and vulgar thoughts, the flood of folly which cannot, owing to the rule of silence, find full and free vent, is thrown but from his narrow jaws in guffaws of laughter. He constantly hides his face as if ashamed, compresses his lips, and clenches his teeth. He laughs loudly without meaning to do so, and even against his will. And when he has stopped his mouth with his fists he is frequently heard to sneeze.




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