Examples of the blindness of covetousness

January 30, 2022 • 2 min

From Four Last Things, by St. Thomas More, page 83
By St. Thomas More

But the covetous man, because he never ceaseth to dote upon his goods, and is ever alike greedy thereupon, whoso giveth him advice to be liberal, seemeth to preach to a glutton for fasting, when his belly is empty and gapeth for good meat. Scantily can death cure them when he cometh.

I remember me of a thief once cast at Newgate, that cut a purse at the bar, when he should be hanged on the morrow. And when he was asked why he did so, knowing that he should die so shortly, the desperate wretch said that it did his heart good to be lord of that purse one night yet.

And in good faith methinketh, as much as we wonder at him, yet see we many that do much like, of whom we nothing wonder at all. I let pass old priests that sue for advowsons of younger priests’ benefices. I let pass old men that hover and gape to be executors to some that be younger than themselves, whose goods, if they would fall, they reckon would do them good to have in their keeping yet one year ere they die.

But look if ye see not some wretches that scant can creep for age, his head hanging in his bosom, and his body crooked, walk pit-pat upon a pair of patens with the staff in the one hand and the paternoster in the other hand, the one foot almost in the grave already, and yet never the more haste to part with anything, nor to restore that he hath evil gotten, but as greedy to get a groat by the beguiling of his neighbour as if he had seven score years to live.

The man that is purblind cannot see far from him. And as to look on death we be for the most part purblind, all the many, for we cannot see him till he come very near us. But these folk be not purblind but stark blind, for they cannot see him when he cometh so near that he putteth almost his finger in their eye.

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