CHAPTER XIII The fourth degree -- Boastfulness. (The opposite of the ninth degree of humility. Reticence until questioned.) But when vanity increases, and the bladder begins to be inflated, it becomes necessary to loosen the belt and allow a larger outlet for the air, otherwise the bladder will burst. So the monk who is unable to discharge his superabundant store of unseemly merriment by laughter or by gesture, breaks forth with the words of Elihu, My belly is as new wine which wanteth vent, which bursteth the new vessels. (1) He must speak out or break down. For he is full of matter to speak of, and the spirit of his bowels constraineth him. (2) He hungers and thirsts for hearers, at whom he may throw his banalities, to whom he may pour out his feelings, and let them know what a fine fellow he is. But when he has found his opportunity of speaking -- if the conversation turns on literary matters, old and new points are brought forward; he airs his ideas in loud and lofty tone. He interrupts his questioner and answers before he is asked. 1. Job xxxii. 19.
2. Ibid. v. 18. He himself puts the question and gives the answer, nor does he even allow the person to whom he is talking to finish his remarks. When the striking of the silence gong puts a stop to conversation, he complains that a full hour is not a sufficient allowance, and asks for indulgence that he may go on with his gossip after the time for it is over -- not to add to the knowledge of any one else, but to boast of his own. He has the power but not the purpose of giving useful information. His care is not to teach you or to learn from you things which he does not know, but that the extent of his learning may be made known. If the subject under discussion is religion, he is forward with his vision and his dreams. He upholds fasting, prescribes vigils, and maintains the paramount importance of prayer. He enlarges at great length but with excessive conceit on patience, humility and all the virtues in turn, with the intention that you on hearing him should say, Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh, (1) and that a good man out of his good treasure bringing forth good things. If the talk turns on light subjects he becomes more loquacious, because he is on more familiar ground. 1. Matt. xii. 34, 35. If you hear the torrent of his conceit you may say that his mouth is a fount of such buffoonery as to move even strict and sober monks to light laughter. To put it shortly, mark his swagger in his chatter. In this you have the name and description of the fourth degree of pride. Remember the description and avoid the reality. With this warning, go on to the fifth degree which I call eccentricity.