Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

feelingly, so urgently, so continually, set upon, creep iti, insinuate, possess, overcome, distract, and detain them; they cannot, I say, go about their more necessary business, stave off or extricate themselves, but are ever musing; melancholizing; and carried along; as he (they say) that is led round about an heath with a puck in the night. They run earnestly on in this labyrinth of anxious and solicitous melancholy meditations, and cannot well or willingly refrain, or easily leave off winding and unwinding themselves, as so many clocks, and still pleasing their humours, until at last the scene is turned upon a sudden, by some bad object; and they, being.now habituated to such vain meditations and solitary places, can endure no company, can ruminate of nothing but harsh and distasteful subjects. Fear, sorrow, suspicion, subrusticus pudor, discontent, cares, and weariness of life, surprize them in a moment; and they can think of nothing else: continually suspecting, no sooner are their eyes open, but this infernal plague of melancholy seizeth on them, and terrifies their souls, representing some dismal object to their minds, which now, by no means, no labour, no persuasions, they can avoid'; hæret lateri lethalis arundo; they may not be rid of it; they cannot resist. I may not deny, but that there is some profitable meditation, contemplation, and kind of solitariness, to be embraced, which the fathers so highly

Hh 2

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

comniended. Hierom, Chrysostome, Cyprian, Austin, in whole tracts, which Petrarch, Erasmus, Stella, and others, so much magnify in their books. A paradise, au heaven on earth, if it be used aright, good for the body, and better for the soul; as many of these old monks used it, to divine contemplation; as Simulus, a courtier in Adrian's time, Dioclesian the emperor, retired themselves, &c. In that sense, Vatia solus scit vivere; Vatia lives alone; which the Romans were wont to say, when they commended a country life; or to the bettering of their knowledge, as Democritus, Clanthes, and those excellent philosophers, have ever done, to sequester themselves from the tumultuous world; or as in Pliny's Villa Laurentana, Tully's Tuscula, Jovius' study, that they might better vacare studiis et Deo ; serve God and follow their studies. Methinks, therefore, our too zealous innovators were not so well advised in that general subversion of abbeys and religious houses, promiscuously to fling down all. They might have taken away those gross

abuses crept in amongst them, rectified such inconveniences, and not so far to have raved and raged against those fair buildings, and everlasting monuments of our forefathers' devotion, consecrated to pious uses. Some monasteries and collegiate cells might have been well spared, and their revenues otherwise employed, here and there one, in good towns or cities at least, for men and women

of all sorts and conditions to live 11, iv sequester themselves from the cares and tumults of the world, that were not desirous or fit to marry, or otherwise willing to be troubled with common affairs, and know not well where to bestow themselves, to live apart in, for more conveniency, good education, better company sake; to follow their studies (I say) to the perfection of arts and sciences, common good, and, as some truly devoted monks of old bad done, freely and truly to serve God: for these men are neither solitary, nor idle, as the poet made answer to the husbandman in Æsop, that objected idleness to him; he was never so idle as in his company; or that Scipio Africanus, in Tully, nunquam minus solus, quam quum solus ; nunquum minus otiosus quam quum esset otiosus; never less solitary than when he was alone, never more busy than when he seemed to be most idle. It is reported by Plato, in his dialogue De Amore, in that prodigious commendation of Socrates, how a deep meditation coming into Socrates' mind by chance, he stood still musing, eodem vestigio cogitabundus, from morning to noon; and when, as then he had not yet finished his meditation, perstubat cogitans, he so continued till the evening; the soldiers (for he then followed the camp) observed him with admiration, and on set purpose watched all night; but he persevered immoveable ad exurtum solis, till the sun rose in the morning, and then, saluting the sun, went his ways. In what humour constant Socrates did thus I know pot, or how he might be affected; but this would be pernicious to another man; what intricate business might so really possess him, I cannot easily guess; but this is otiosum otium ; it is far otherwise with these men, according to Seneca: omnia nobis mala solitudo persuadet ; this solitude undoeth us; pugpat cum ritå sociali ; 'tis a destructive solitariness. These men are devils, alone, as the saying is, homo solus aut deus, aut dæmon ; a man alone, is either a saint or a devil; meus ejus aut languescit, aut tumescit ; and va soli ! in this sense, woe be to him that is so alone! These wretches do frequently degenerate from men, and, of sociable creatures, become beasts, monsters, inhumane, ugly to behold, misanthropi ; they do even loathe themselves, and hate the company of men, as so many Timons, Nebuchadnezzars, by too much indulging to these pleasing bumours, and through their own default. So that which Mercurialis (corisil. 11.) sometimes expostulated with his melancholy patient, may be justly applied to every solitary and idle person in particular:“Natura de te videtur conqueri posse," fc. Nature may justly complain of thee, that, whereas she gave thee a good wholesome temperature, a sound body, and God hath given thee so divine and excellent a soul, so many good parts and profitable gifts ; thou hast not only contemned and rejected, but hast corrupted them, polluted them, overthrown their temperature, and perverted those gifts with riot, idleness, solitariness, and many other ways; thou art a traitor to God and nature, an enemy to thyself and to the world. Perditive tua ex te; thou hast lost thyself wilfully, cast away thyself; thou thyself art the efficient cause of thine own misery, by not resisting such vain cogitations, but giving way unto them.

“ The Anatomy of Melancholy," was first printed in quarto, 1621, and afterwards in folio. It passed through so many editions that the bookseller, as we are informed by Wood, got an estate by it.

The character of Burton, as drawn by Wood, is,” that he was an exact mathematician, a curious calculator of nativities, a general read scholar, a thorough-paced philologist, and one that understood the surveying of lands well. As he was by many accounted a severe student, a devourer of authors, a melancholy and humorous person; so by others, who knew him well, a person of great honesty, plain dealing, and charity. I have heard some of the an-. cients of Christ Church often say, that his

« ForrigeFortsæt »