The Proverbs Of John Heywood "Fear May Force A Man To Cast Beyond The Moon"

John Heywood

"Fear May Force A Man To Cast Beyond The Moon"

Context: A young friend has asked the author if he should marry for love or money. The author has answered that marriage is a serious step. He has mustered all the "plain pithy proverbs" which have served "both old and young" to caution them to approach marriage slowly and cautiously. The friend, however, has urged against these admittedly correct sayings "other parables of like weighty weight/ Which haste me to wedding, as ye shall hear straight." He then argues that love is sufficient unto itself, if the love is "peerless." The author then argues that in this love-marriage there might be "no lack of liking, but lack of living." The friend responds, "What time I lack not her, I lack nothing." He then continues by saying that those who are afraid to venture will gain nothing. The expression "to cast beyond the moon," meaning to be overly afraid, was rather widely used in Elizabethan times, by Lyly in Euphues (1597) and by Thomas Heywood in A Woman Killed with Kindness (1603). The friend rounds out his argument thus:

That much is my bow bent to shoot at these marks,
And kill fear: when the sky falleth we shall have larks.
All perils that fall may, who feareth they fall shall,
Shall so fear all thing, that he shall let fall all;
And be more fraid than hurt, if the things were doone;
Fear may force a man to cast beyond the moon;
Who hopeth in God's help, his help cannot start:
Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.