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and circumstances, which make all the difference of moral or immoral in actions, just suits the sort of talent which some of my acquaintances pride themselves upon. Wagers !—I thank Heaven, I was never mercenary, nor could consent to prostitute a gift (though but a left-handed one) of Nature, to the enlarging of my worldly substance; prudent as the necessities which that fatal gift have involved me in might have made such a prostitution to appear in the eyes of an indelicate world.
Rather let me say, that to the satisfaction of that talent which was given me, I have been content to sacrifice no common expectations; for such I had from an old lady, a near relation of our family, in whose good graces I had the fortune to stand, till one fatal evening You have seen, Mr. Reflector, if you have ever passed your time much in country towns, the kind of suppers which elderly ladies in those places have lying in petto in an adjoining parlour, next to that where they are entertaining their periodically-invited coevals with cards and muffins. The cloth is usually spread some half hour before the final rubber is decided, whence they adjourn to sup upon what may emphatically be called nothing. A sliver of ham, purposely contrived to be transparent, to show the china dish through it, neighbouring a slip of invisible brawn, which abuts upon something they call a tartlet, as that is bravely supported by an atom of marmalade, flanked in its turn by a grain of potted beef, with a power of such dishlings, minims of hospitality, spread in defiance of human nature, or rather with an utter ignorance of what it demands. Being engaged at one of these card-parties, I was obliged to go a little before supper-time, (as they facetiously called the point of time in which they are taking these shadowy refections,) and the old lady, with a sort of fear shining through the smile of courteous hospitality that beamed in her countenance, begged me to step into the next room and take something before I went out in the cold-a proposal which lay not in my nature to deny. Indignant at the airy prospect I saw before me, I set to, and in a thrice despatched the whole meal intended for eleven persons, fish, flesh, fowl, pastry-to the sprigs of garnishing parsley, and the last fearful custard that quaked upon the board. I need not describe the consternation, when in due time the dowagers adjourned from their cards. Where was the supper? and the servants' answer, Mr. had eat it all.
That freak, however, jested me out of a good three hundred pounds a year, which I afterward was informed for a certainty the old lady meant to leave me. I mention it not in illustration of the unhappy faculty which I am possessed of; for any unluckly wag of a schoolboy, with a tolerable appetite,
could have done as much without feeling any hurt after itonly that you may judge whether I am a man likely to set my talents to sale, or to require the pitiful stimulus of a wager.
I have read in Pliny, or in some author of that stamp, of a reptile in Africa, whose venom is of that hot, destructive quality, that wheresoever it fastens its tooth, the whole substance of the animal that has been bitten in a few seconds is reduced to dust, crumbles away, and absolutely disappears : it is called from this quality the annihilator. Why am I forced to seek, in all the most prodigious and portentous facts of Natural History, for creatures typical of myself. I am that snake, that annihilator: "wherever I fasten, in a few seconds-"
Oh happy sick men, that are groaning under the want of that very thing, the excess of which is my torment! Oh fortunate, too fortunate, if you knew your happiness, invalids! What would I not give to exchange this fierce concoctive and digestive heat-this rabid fury which vexes me, which tears and torments me—for your quiet, mortified, hermit-like, subdued, and sanctified stomachs--your cool, chastened inclinations, and coy desires for food!
To what unhappy figuration of the parts intestine I owe this unnatural craving, I must leave to the anatomists and the physicians to determine: they, like the rest of the world, have doubtless their eye upon me; and as I have been cut up alive by the sarcasms of my friends, so I shudder when I contemplate the probability that this animal frame, when its restless appetites shall have ceased their importunity, may be cut up also (horrible suggestion!) to determine in what system of solids or fluids this original sin of my constitution lay lurking. What work will they make with their acids and alkalines, their serums and coagulums, effervescences, viscious matter, bile, chyle, and acrimonious juices, to explain that cause which Nature, who willed the effect to punish me for my sins, may no less have determined to keep in the dark from them, to punish them for their presumption.
You may ask, Mr. Reflector, to what purpose is my appeal to you: what can you do for me? Alas! I know too well that my case is out of the reach of advice-out of the reach of consolation. But it is some relief to the wounded heart to impart its tale of misery; and some of my acquaintance, who may read my case in your pages under a borrowed name, may be induced to give it a more humane consideration than I could ever yet obtain from them under my own. Make them, if possible, to reflect, that an original peculiarity of constitution is no crime; that not that which goes into the mouth
desecrates a man, but that which comes out of it—such as sarcasm, bitter jests, mocks, and taunts, and ill-natured observations; and let them consider, if there be such things (which we have all heard of) as pious treachery, innocent adultery, &c., whether there may not be also such a thing as innocent gluttony.
I shall only subscribe myself
EXTRACTED FROM A COMMONPLACE BOOK, WHICH BELONGED TO ROBERT BURTON, THE FAMOUS AUTHOR OF THE ANATOMY OF
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 magis volo quam
I turn now to my book, i nunc liber, goe forth, my brave Anatomy, 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 phoenix, (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 canum scripta, Coryate could write better upon a full meal, 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 beprais
eth, 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 you his case. 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 scarce construe Corderius, yet haughty, fantastic, opiniâtre. The lover travels, goes into foreign parts, peregrinates, amoris ergo, sees manners, customs, not 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 tomb, 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 vita: When upon a day, behold a wonder, redit Amor, the man is as sick as ever, he