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EXTRACTED FROM A COMMONPLACE BOOK, WHICH BELONGED TO
ROBERT BURTON, THE FAMOUS AUTHOR OF THE ANATOMY ОР MELANCHOLY.
I, DEMOCRITUS, Junior, have put my finishing pen to a tractate De Melancholia, this day, December 5, 1620. First, I blesse the Trinity, which hath given me health to prosecute my worthlesse studies thus far, and make supplication, with a Laus Deo, if in any case these my poor labours may be found instrumental to weede out black melancholy, carking cares, harte-grief, from the mind of man. Sed hoc
I turn now to my book, i nunc liber, goe forth, my brave Anatumy, child of my brain-sweat, and yee, candidi lectores, lo! here I give him up to you, even do with him what you please, my masters. Some, I suppose, will applaud, commend, cry him up, (these are my friends,) hee is a flos rarus, forsooth, a none-such, a phenix, (concerning whom see Plinius and Mandeuille, though Fienus de monstris doubteth at large of such a bird, whom Montaltus confuting argueth to have been a man male scrupulositatis, of a weak and cowardlie faith: Christopherus a Vega is with him in this). Others, again, will blame, hiss, reprehende in many things, cry down altogether my collections, for crude, inept, putid, post cænum scripta, Coryate could write better upon a full meul, verbose, inerudite, and not sufficiently abounding in authorities, dogmata, sentences of learneder writers which have been before me, when as that first-named sort clean otherwise judge of my labours to bee nothing else but a messe of opinions, a vortex attracting indiscriminate, gold, pearls, hay, straw, wood, excrement, an exchange, tavern, marte, for foreigners to congregate, Danes, Swedes, Hollanders, Lombards, so many strange faces, dresses, salutations, languages, all which Wolfius behelde with great content upon the Venetian Rialto, as he describes diffusedly in his book the world's Epitome, which Sannazar so bepraiseth, e contra our Polydore can see nothing in it; they call me singular, a pedant, fantastic, words of reproach in this age which is all too meteoric and light for my humour.
One cometh to me sighing, complaining. He expected universal remedies in my Anatomy; so many cures as there are distemperatures among men. I have not put his affection in my cases. Hear
My fine sir is a lover, an inamorato, a Pyramus, a Romeo; he walks seven years disconsolate, moping, because he cannot enjoy his miss, insanus amor is his melancholy, the man is mad; delirat, he dotes; all this while his Glycera is rude, spiteful, not to be entreated, churlish, spits at him, yet exceeding fair, gentle eyes, (which is a beauty,) hair lustrous and smiling, the trope is none of mine, Æneas Sylvius hath erines ridentes—in conclusion she is wedded to his rival, a boore, a Corydon, a rustic, omnino ignarus, he can scurce construe Corderius, yet haughty, fantastic, opiniâtre. The lover travels, goes into foreign parts, peregrinates, amoris ergo, sees manners, customs, noi English, converses with pilgrims, lying travellers, monks, hermits, those cattle, pedlers, travelling gentry, Egyptians, natural wonders, unicorns, (though Aldobrandus will have them to be figments,) satyrs, semi-viri, apes, monkeys baboons, curiosities artificial, pyramides, Virgilius his tomt, relicks, bones, which are nothing but ivory as Melunction judges, though Cornutus leaneth to think them bones of dogs, cats, (why not men ?) which subtill priests vouch to have been saints, martyrs, heu Pietas! By that time he has ended his course, fugit hora, seven other years are expired, gone by, time is he should return, he taketh ship for Britaine, much desired of his friends, favebant venti, Neptune is curteis, after some weekes at sea he landeth, rides post to town, greets his family, kinsmen, compotores, those jokers his friends that were wont to tipple with him at alehouses ; these wonder now to see the change, quantum mutatus, the man is quite another thing, he is disenthralled, manumitted, he wonders what so bewitched him, he can now both see, hear, smell, handle, converse with his mistress, single by reason of the death of his rival, a widow having children, grown willing, prompt, amorous, showing no such great dislike to second nuptials, he might have her for asking, no such thing, his mind is changed, he loathes his former meat, had liever eat ratsbane, aconite, his humour is to die a bachelour; marke the conclusion. In this humour of celibate seven other years are consumed in idleness, sloth, world's pleasures, which fatigate, satiate, induce wearinesse, vapours, tædium vitæ : When upon a day, behold a wonder, redit Amor, the man is as sick as ever, ho
is commenced lover upon the old stock, walks with his hand thrust in his bosom for negligence, moping he leans his head, face yellow, beard flowing and incomposite, eyes sunken, anhelus, breath wheezy and asthmatical, by reason of over-much sighing: society he abhors, solitude is but a hell, what shall he doe? all this while his mistresse is forward, coming, amantissima, ready to jump at once into his mouth, her he hateth, feels disgust when she is but mentioned, thinks her ugly, old, a painted Jesabeel, Alecto, Megara, and Tisiphone all at once, a Corinthian Lais, a strumpet, only not handsome; that which he affecteth so much, that which drives him mad, distracted, phrenetic, beside himself, is no beauty which lives, nothing in rerum natura, (so he might entertain a hope of a cure), but something which is not, can never be, a certain fantastic opinion or notional image of his mistresse, that which she wu8, and that which hee thought her to be, in former times, how beautiful! torments him, frets him, follows him, makes him that he wishes to die.
This Caprichio, Sir Humourous, hee cometh to me to be cured. I counsel marriage with his mistresse, according to Hippocrates his method, together with milk diet, herbs, aloes, and wild parsley, good in such cases, though Avicenna preferreth some sorts of wild fowl, teals, widgeons, becca ficos, which men in Sussex eat. He flies out in a passion, ho! ho ! and falls to calling me names, dizzard, ass, lunatic, moper, Bedlamite, Pseudo-Democritus. I smile in his face, bidding him be patient, tranquil ; to no purpose, he still rages, I think this man must fetch his remedies from Utopia, Fairy Land, Islands in the Moone, &c.
** Much disputacyons of fierce wits amongst themselves, in logomachies, subtile controversies, many dry blows given on either side, contentions of learned men, or such as would be so thought, as Bodinus de Periodis saith of such an one, arrident amici ridet mundus, in English, this man his cronies they cocker him up, they flatter him, he would fayne appear somebody, meanwhile the world thinks him no better than a dizzard, a ninny, a sophist.
Philosophy running mad, madness philosophizing, much idle-learned inquiries, what truth is ? and no issue, fruit, of all these noises, only huge books are written, and who is the wiser ? **** Men sitting in the doctor's chair, we marvel how they got there, being homines intellectûs palverulenti, as Trincauellius notes ; they care not so they may raise a dust to smother the
parvus lissimi as Lemnius, whom Alcuin herein taxeth of a crude Latinism; dwarfs, minims, the least little men, these spend their time, and it is odds but they lose their time and wits too into the bargain, chacing of nimble and retiring Truth: her they prosecute, her still they worship, libant, they make libations, spilling the wine, as those old Romans in their sacrificials, Cerealia, May-games: Truth is the game all these hunt after, to the extreme perturbacyon and drying up of the moistures, humidum radicale exsiccant as Galen, in his counsels to one of these wear-wits, brain-moppers, spunges, saith. **** and for all this nunquam metam attingunt, and how should they? they bowle awry, shooting beside the marke ; whereas it should appear, that Truth absolute on this planet of ours is scarcely to be found, but in her stede Queene Opinion predominates, governs, whose shifting and ever mutable Lampas, me seemeth, is man's destinie to follow, she præcurseth, she guideth him, before his uncapable eyes she frisketh her tender lights, which entertayne the child-man, untill what time his sight be strong to endure the vision of Very Truth, which is in the heavens, the vision beatifical, as Anianus expounds in his argument against certain mad wits which helde God to be corporeous; these were dizzards, fools, gothamites. and if Very Truth be extant indeede on earth, as some hold she it is which actuates men's deeds, purposes, ye may vaine look for her in the learned universities, halls, colleges. Truth is no doctoresse, she takes no degrees at Paris or Oxford, amongst great clerks, disputants, subtile Aristotles, men nodosi ingenii, able to take Lully by the chin, but oftentimes to such an one as myself, an Idiota or common person, no great things, melancholizing in woods where waters are, quiet places by rivers, fountains; whereas the silly man expecting no such matter, thinketh only how best to delectate and refresh his mynde continually with Natura her pleasaunt scenes, woods, waterfalls, or Art her statelie gardens, parks, terraces, Belvideres, on a sudden the goddesse herself Truth has appeared, with a shyning lyghte, and a sparklyng countenance, so as yee may not be able lightly to resist her.
This morning, May 2, 1662, having first broken my fast apon eggs and cooling salades, mellows, water-cresses, those herbes, according to Villanovus his prescription, who disal
lows the use of meat in a morning as gross, fat, hebetant, feral, altogether fitter for wild beasts than men, e contra commendeth this herb-diete for gentle, humane, active, conducing to contemplation in most men, I betook myselfe to the nearest fields. (Being in London I commonly dwell in the suburbes, as 'airest, quietest, loci musis propriores, free from noises of caroches, waggons, mechanick, and base workes, workshoppes, also sights, pageants, spectacles of outlandish birds, fishes, crocodiles, Indians, mermaids, adde quarrels, fightings, wranglings of the common sort, plebs, the rabble, duelloes with fists, proper to this island, at which the stilettoed and secrete Italian laughs.) Withdrawing myselfe from these buzzing and illiterate vanities, with a bezo las manos to the city, I begin to inhale, draw in, snuff up, as horses dilatus naribus snort the fresh aires, with exceeding great delight, when suddenly there crosses me a procession sad, heavy, dolourous, tristfull, melancholick, able to change mirth into dolour, and overcast a clearer atmosphere than possibly the neighbourhoods of so great a eitty can afford. An old man, a poore man deceased, is borne on men's shoulders to a poore buriall, without solemnities of hearse, mourners, plumes, mute persone, those personate actors that will weep if yee shew them a piece of silver ; none of those customed civilities of children, kinsfolk, dependants, following the coffin; he died a poore man, his friends assessores opum, those cronies of his that stuck by him so long as he had a penny, now leave him, forsake him, shun him, desert him; they think it much to follow his putrid and stinking carcase to the grave; his children, if he had any, for commonly the case stands thus, this poore man his son dies before him, he survives, poore, indigent, base, dejected, miserable, &c., or if he have any which survive him, sua negotia agunt, they mind their own business, forsooth, cannot, will not, find time, leisure, inclination, extremum munus perficere, to follow to the pit their old indulgent father, which loved them, stroked them, caressed them, cockering them up, quantum potuit, as farre as his means extended, while they were babes, chits, minims, hee may rot in his grave, lie stinking in the sun for them, have no buriall at all, they care not. Oh nefas! Chiefly I noted the coffin to have been without a pall, nothing but a few planks, of cheapest wood that could be had, naked, having none of the ordinary symtomata of a funerall, those locularii which bare the body having on diversely-coloured coats, and none black : (one of these reported the deceased to have been an almsman seven yeares, a pauper, harboured and fed in the workhouse of St. Giles-in-the-Fields, to whose proper burying-ground he was now going for interment.) All which when I behelde, hardly