CHAPTER XIV The fifth degree -- Eccentricity. (The opposite of the eighth degree of humility, observance of the general rule of the monastery.) A man who prides himself on being better than his fellow-men thinks it a disgrace if he does not do something more than they do, whereby his superiority may be apparent. Therefore the general rule of the monastery and the example of its senior members are not enough for him. Yet his anxiety is not to be, but to be seen to be better than they. His effort is not to lead a better life but visibly to surpass others, so that he may be able to say, I am not as the rest of men. (1) He takes more credit to himself for having once gone without a meal while others were having theirs, than he does in having shared in a fast of seven days. 1. Luke xviii. 11. One little private prayer of his own seems to him more commendable than the recitation of all the Psalms set for an entire night. At mealtime he has a habit of casting his eyes all round the tables, and if he sees anyone eating less than himself, he is annoyed at being outdone. He begins severely to cut down the amount of food which he had hitherto recognized as his necessary ration, because he is more afraid of loss of credit than of the pangs of hunger. If he catches sight of anyone more shrunken and sallow than himself, he cannot rest under what he considers to be a disgrace. And, since he cannot see his own face and the aspect under which he presents himself to onlookers, he examines his hands and arms which he can see, beats his breast, taps his shoulders and loins, and from the more or less attenuated condition of his limbs forms an opinion as to the paleness or colour of his face. But while active in all his private devotions, he is indolent in public worship. He keeps vigil while in bed, and goes to sleep in his stall. He sleeps all night while others are chanting the early Psalms. When the vigil is over, and the other monks are resting in the cloister, he alone lingers in the oratory. He coughs and spits, and the ears of those sitting outside are filled with the sighs and groans from his corner. By his silly and singular action he has established a high reputation with his more simple brethren, who quite approve what they, see of his doings, though they do not detect their motive, and, by the commendation which they bestow on him, they aid and abet the wretched man's mistake.