Context: Charity, says Browne, is much more than mere almsgiving; there are almost as many forms of charity as there are of doing good, and speaking well of others is one of them. How many, he says, offend against charity by characterizing an entire people by a single word: the foolish French or the proud Spanish. With one word we wound thousands. Browne says that he is not distressed to see people in their fits of folly and madness, because we must have vices if we are to have the corresponding virtues. And, indeed, no man can justly censure or condemn another, because no man can know another. His acquaintances think less of him than he himself does, and his friends more. Furthermore, no man can judge another, because no man knows himself. But how, he asks, can we expect charity towards others when we are uncharitable towards ourselves? Every man is his own fate and cuts the thread of his own life as Atropos, the Fate of Greek mythology, is supposed to do. The passage in Browne express it thus:
. . . But how shall we expect charity towards others, when we are uncharitable to ourselves? "Charity begins at home," is the voice of the world; yet is every man his greatest enemy, and, as it were, his own executioner.