Robert Burton

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Robert Burton (1577-02-08 - 1640-01-25) was an English scholar at Oxford University (Brasenose College), whose chief claim to fame is for writing The Anatomy of Melancholy.

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The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621)

  • All my joys to this are folly
    Naught so sweet as melancholy.
    • The Author's Abstract

Democritus Junior to the Reader

  • I had a heavy heart and an ugly head, a kind of impostume in my head, which I was very desirous to be unladen of.
  • They lard their lean books with the fat of others' works.
  • We can say nothing but what hath been said. Our poets steal from Homer... Our story-dressers do as much; he that comes last is commonly best.
  • I say with Didacus Stella, a dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant may see farther than a giant himself.
  • Old friends become bitter enemies on a sudden for toys and small offenses.
  • Penny wise, pound foolish.
  • Like Aesop's fox, when he had lost his tail, would have all his fellow foxes cut off theirs.
  • All poets are mad.

Part I

  • Every man hath a good and a bad angel attending on him in particular, all his life long.
    • Section 2, member 1, subsection 2, A Digression of the nature of Spirits, bad Angels, or Devils, and how they cause Melancholy.
  • No rule is so general, which admits not some exception.
    • Section 2, member 2, subsection 3, Custom of Diet, Delight, Appetite, Necessity, how they cause or hinder.
  • Idleness is an appendix to nobility.
    • Section 2, member 2, subsection 6. Immoderate Exercise a cause, and how. Solitariness, Idleness.
  • Why doth one man's yawning make another yawn?
    • Section 2, member 3, subsection 2, Of the Force of Imagination.
  • Every other sin hath some pleasure annexed to it, or will admit of an excuse; envy alone wants both. Other sins last but for awhile; the gut may be satisfied, anger remits, hatred hath an end, envy never ceaseth.
    • Section 2, member 3, subsection 7, Envy, Malice, Hatred, Causes.
  • [Ambitious men] may not cease, but as a dog in a wheel, a bird in a cage, or a squirrel in a chain, so Budaeus compares them; they climb and climb still, with much labour, but never make an end, never at the top.
    • Section 2, member 3, subsection 11, Concupiscible Appetite, as Desires, Ambition, Causes
  • [The rich] are indeed rather possessed by their money than possessors.
    • Section 2, member 3, subsection 12, Covetousness, a Cause.
  • Were it not that they are loath to lay out money on a rope, they would be hanged forthwith, and sometimes die to save charges.
    • Section 2, member 3, subsection 12, Covetousness, a Cause.
  • A mere madness, to live like a wretch and die rich.
    • Section 2, member 3, subsection 12, Covetousness, a Cause.
  • I may not here omit those two main plagues and common dotages of human kind, wine and women, which have infatuated and besotted myriads of people; they go commonly together.
    • Section 2, member 3, subsection 13, Love of Gaming, &c. and pleasures immoderate; Causes.
  • They are proud in humility; proud that they are not proud.
    • Section 2, member 3, subsection 14, Philautia, or Self-love, Vainglory, Praise, Honour, Immoderate Applause, Pride, overmuch Joy, etc., Causes.
  • We can make majors and officers every year, but not scholars.
    • Section 2, member 3, subsection 15, Love of Learning, or overmuch study. With a Digression of the misery of Scholars, and why the Muses are Melancholy.
  • One was never married, and that's his hell; another is, and that's his plague.
    • Section 2, member 4, subsection 7, A heap of other Accidents causing Melancholy, Death of Friends, Losses, etc.

Part II

  • Who cannot give good counsel? 'Tis cheap, it costs them nothing.
    • Section 2, member 3, Air rectified. With a digression of the Air.
  • Many things happen between the cup and the lip.
    • Section 2, member 3, Air rectified. With a digression of the Air.
  • All places are distant from heaven alike.
    • Section 2, member 4, Exercise rectified of Body and Mind.
  • The commonwealth of Venice in their armory have this inscription: "Happy is that city which in time of peace thinks of war."
    • Section 2, member 6, Perturbations of the mind rectified. From himself, by resisting to the utmost, confessing his grief to a friend, etc.
  • Every man, as the saying is, can tame a shrew but he that hath her.
    • Section 2, member 6, Perturbations of the mind rectified. From himself, by resisting to the utmost, confessing his grief to a friend, etc.
  • Tobacco, divine, rare, superexcellent tobacco, which goes far beyond all the panaceas, potable gold, and philosopher's stones, a sovereign remedy to all diseases...but as it is commonly abused by most men, which take it as tinkers do ale, 'tis a plague, a mischief, a violent purger of goods, lands, health, hellish, devilish and damned tobacco, the ruin and overthrow of body and soul.
    • Section 4, member 2, subsection 1, Purging Simples upward.

Part III

  • Birds of a feather will gather together.
    • Section 1, member 1, subsection 2, Love's Beginning, Object, Definition, Division.
  • No cord nor cable can so forcibly draw, or hold so fast, as love can do with a twined thread.
    • Section 2, member 1, subsection 2, How Love tyranniseth over men. Love, or Heroical Melancholy, his definition, part affected.
  • Diogenes struck the father when the son swore, because he taught him no better.
    • Section 2, member 1, subsection 5, The last and best Cure of Love-Melancholy, is to let them have their Desire.
  • For ignorance is the mother of devotion, as all the world knows, and these times can amply witness.
    • Section 4, member 1, subsection 2, Causes of Religious melancholy. From the Devil by miracles, apparitions, oracles. His instruments or factors, politicians, Priests, Impostors, Heretics, blind guides. In them simplicity, fear, blind zeal, ignorance, solitariness, curiosity, pride, vainglory, presumption, &c. his engines, fasting, solitariness, hope, fear, etc.
  • The fear of some divine and supreme powers keeps men in obedience.
    • Section 4, member 1, subsection 2, Causes of Religious melancholy. From the Devil by miracles, apparitions, oracles. His instruments or factors, politicians, Priests, Impostors, Heretics, blind guides. In them simplicity, fear, blind zeal, ignorance, solitariness, curiosity, pride, vainglory, presumption, &c. his engines, fasting, solitariness, hope, fear, etc.
  • One religion is as true as another.
    • Section 4, member 2, subsection 1, Religious Melancholy in defect; parties affected, Epicures, Atheists, Hypocrites, worldly secure, Carnalists; all impious persons, impenitent sinners, etc.
  • Melancholy and despair, though often, do not always concur; there is much difference: melancholy fears without a cause, this upon great occasion; melancholy is caused by fear and grief, but this torment procures them and all extremity of bitterness.
    • Section 4, member 2, subsection 3, Causes of Despair, the Devil, Melancholy, Meditation, Distrust, Weakness of Faith, Rigid Ministers, Misunderstanding Scriptures, Guilty Consciences, etc.
  • A good conscience is a continual feast.
    • Section 4, member 2, subsection 3, Causes of Despair, the Devil, Melancholy, Meditation, Distrust, Weakness of Faith, Rigid Ministers, Misunderstanding Scriptures, Guilty Consciences, etc.
  • Our conscience, which is a great ledger book, wherein are written all our offenses...grinds our souls with the remembrance of some precedent sins, makes us reflect upon, accuse and condemn ourselves.
    • Section 4, member 2, subsection 3, Causes of Despair, the Devil, Melancholy, Meditation, Distrust, Weakness of Faith, Rigid Ministers, Misunderstanding Scriptures, Guilty Consciences, etc.
  • What physic, what chirurgery, what wealth, favor, authority can relieve, bear out, assuage, or expel a troubled conscience? A quiet mind cureth all them, but all they cannot comfort a distressed soul: who can put to silence the voice of desperation?
    • Section 4, member 2, subsection 4, Symptoms of Despair, Fear, Sorrow, Suspicion, Anxiety, Horror of Conscience, Fearful Dreams and Visions.
  • Be not solitary, be not idle.
    • Section 4, member 2, subsection 6, Cure of Despair by Physic, Good Counsel, Comforts, etc.

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