Robert Burton.

The anatomy of melancholy : what it is, with all the kinds, causes, symptoms, prognostics, and several cures of it : in three partitions, with their several sections, members, and subsections, philosophically, medically, historically opened and cut up : with a satirical preface, conducing to the fol online

. (page 1 of 48)
Online LibraryRobert BurtonThe anatomy of melancholy : what it is, with all the kinds, causes, symptoms, prognostics, and several cures of it : in three partitions, with their several sections, members, and subsections, philosophically, medically, historically opened and cut up : with a satirical preface, conducing to the fol → online text (page 1 of 48)
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The work now restored to public notice has had an ex-
traordinary fate. At the time of its original publication it
obtained a great celebrity, which continued more than half
a century. During that period few books were more read,
or more deservedly applauded. It was the delight of the
learned, the solace of the indolent, and the refuge of the
uninformed. It passed through at least eight editions, by
which the bookseller, as Wood records, got an estate ; and,
notwithstanding the objection sometimes opposed against it,
of a quaint style, and too great an accumulation of authori-
ties, the fascination of its wit, fancy, and sterling sense, have
borne down all censures, and extorted praise from the first
writers in the English language. The grave Johnson has
nra.ifl<^d it in thfi warmest terms, and the ludicrous Sternb
arts of it into his own popular per-
[ not disdain to build two of his finest
of inferior writers have embellished
3S not their own, culled from a per-
ad not the justice even to mention,
he frivolity of fashion, suspended, in
5 which had lasted near a century;
leration affected indifference towards
th was only looked into by the plun-
poachers in obscure volumes. The

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vi Advertisement.

plagiarisms of TVistram Shandy, so successfiillj brought to
light bj Db. Febbiar, at length drew the attention of the
public towards a writer, who, though then little known,
might, without impeachment of modesty, lay daim to every
mark of respect ; and inquiry proved, beyond a doubt, that
the calls of justice had been little attended to by others, as
well as the facetious YoBick. Wood observed, more than
a century ago, that several authors had unmerdfiiUy stolen
matter from Button without any acknowledgment The
time, however, at length arrived, when the merits of the
Anatomy of Melancholy were to receive their due praise.
The book was again sought for and read, and again it be-
came an applauded performance. Its exceUences once more
stood confessed, in the increased price which every copy
offered for sale pro4uced ; and the increased demand pointed
out the necessity of a new edition. This is now presented to
the public in a manner not disgraceful to the memory of the
author; and the publisher relies with confidence, that so
valuable a repository of amusement and information, will
continue to hold the rank to which it has been restored,
firmly supported by its own merit, and safe from the infiu-
ence and blight of any fiiture caprices of fashion. To open
its valuable mysteries to those who have not had the advan-
tage of a classical education, translations of the countless
quotations from ancient writers which occur in the work, are
now for the first time given, and obsolete orthography is in
all instances modernised.

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RoBBBT Burton was the son of Ralph Burton, of an ancient
and genteel family at Lindley, in Leicestershire, and was bom
there on the 8th of February, 1576.* He received the first radi-
ments of learning at the free school of Sutton Coldfield, in Waiv
wickshire^t from whence he was, at the age of seventeen, in the
long vacation, 1598, sent to Brazen Nose College, in the condition
of a conmioner, where he made a considerable progress in logic
and philosophy. In 1599 he was elected student of Christ Chnrchf
and, for form sake, was put under the tuition of Dr. John Ban-
croft, afterwards Bishop of Oxford. In 1614 he was admitted to
the reading of the Sentences, and on the 29th of November, 1616,

• ma elder brother wm William Bnr-
tim, the Leloestenliire antiquarr, bom
24th August, 1575, educated at Sutton
Coldfield, admitted commoner, or gentle-
man commoner, of Brazen Noee (k»llege,
1591 ; at the Inner Temple, 20th May,
1598; B.A. 22d June, 1594; and after-
wards a barrister and reporter in the
Court of Common Pleas. '^But his
natural genius," sajs Wood, "leading
him to the studies of heraldry, genealo-
^es, and antiquitiee, he became exedlent
m those obscure and intricate matters;
and, look upon him as a gentleman, was
■eoounted. by all that knew him, to be
the best of his time for those studies, as

may appear by his * Description of Leices-
tershire.' » His weak constitution not
permitting him to follow business, he re-
tired into the country, and his greatest
woric, '^The Description of Ldeester-
shire," was published in folio, 1622. He
died at Falde, after suflforing much in
the civil war, 6th April. 16&, and was
buried in the parish church belonging
thereto, called Hanbury.

t This is Wood's account. His will
says, Nuneaton; but a passage in this
work [toL ii. p. 159,] mentions Sutton
Coldfield : probably he may have been at
both aohoou.

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8 Account of the Author,

had the vicarage of St Thomas, in the west suburb of Oxford,
conferred on him by the dean and canons of Christ Church, which,
with the rectory of Segrave, in Leicestershire, given to him in
the year 1686, by George, Lord Berkeley, he kept, to use the
words of the Oxford antiquary, with much ado to his dying day.
He seems to have been first beneficed at Walsby, in Lincolnshire,
through the munificence of his noble patroness, Frances, Count-
ess Dowager of Exeter, but resigned the same, as he tells us, for
some special reasons. At his vicarage he is remarked to have
always given the sacrament in wafers. Wood's character of him
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 melan-
choly 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 ancients of Christ Church often say, that his com-
pany was very merry, facete, and juvenile; and no man in his
time did surpass him for his ready and dexterous interlarding his
common discourses among them with verses from the poets, or
sentences from classic authors ; which being then all the fashion
in the University, made his company the more acceptable." He
appears to have been a universal reader of all kinds of books, and
availed himself of his multifarious studies in a very extraordinary
manner. From the information of Hearne, we learn that John
Bouse, the Bodleian librarian, furnished him with choice books for
the prosecution of his work. The subject of his labour and amuse-
ment, seems to have been adopted from the infirmities of his own
habit and constitution. Mr. Granger says, ** He composed this
book with a view of relieving his own melancholy, but increased
it to such a degree, that nothing could make him laugh, but going
to the bridge-foot and hearing the ribaldry of the bargemen, which
rarely failed to throw him into a violent fit of laughter. Before
he was overcome with this horrid disorder, he, in the intervals of
his vapours, was esteemed one of the most facetious companions in
the University.""

His residence was chiefly at Oxford ; where, in his chamber in
Christ Church College, he departed this life, at or very near the
time which he had some years before foretold, from the calculation
of his own nativity, and which, says Wood, " being exact, several

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Aceauni of the Author, 9

of the students did not forbear to whisper among themselyes, that
rather than there should be a mistake in the calculation, he sent
up his soul to heaven through a slip about his neck." Whether
this suggestion is founded in truth, we have no other evidence
than an obscure hint in the epitaph hereafler inserted, which was
written by the author himself, a short time before his death. His
body, with due solemnity, was buried near that of Dr. Robert
Weston, in the north aisle which joins next to the choir of the
Cathedral of Christ Church, on the 27th of January, 1689>40.
Over his grave was soon after erected a comely monument, on
the upper pillar of the said aisle, with his bust, painted to the
life. On ^e right hand is the following calculation of hit
nativity : —

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10 Account of the Author,

and under the bust, this inscription of his own compontioa >^

Paacis notns, paacioribns ignotus,

Hio jaoet Democrkui junior

Gui Titam dedit et mortem
Ob. 8 Id. Jan. A. C. mdczzxiz.

Arms: — Aznre on a bend O. between three dogs' heads O. a
crescent G.

A few months before lus death, he made lus will, of which the
following is a copy : —

Extracted from thb Bboistrt of thx Prbbooatitb Court


In Nomine Dei Amen, Angnst 1&^ One thousand six hundred thirty
nine because there be so many casualties to which our life is subject
besides quarrelling and contention which happen to our Successors after
our Death by reason of unsettled Estates I Robert Burton Student of
Christohurch Oxon. though my means be but small have thought good
by this my last Will and Testament to dispose of that little which I have
and being at this present I thank God in perfect health of Bodie and Mind
and if this Testament be not so formal according to the nice and strict
terms of Law and other Circumstances peradventure required of which I
am ignorant I desire howsoever this my Will may be accepted and stand
good according to my true Intent and meaning First I bequeath Animam
Deo Corpus Terras whensoever it shall please God to call me I give my
Land in Higham which my good Father Balphe Burton of Lindly in the
County of Leicester Esquire gave me by Deed of Gift and that which I
have annexed to that Farm by purchase since, now leased for thirty-eight
pounds per Ann. to mine Elder Brother William Burton of Lindly Esquire
during his life and after him to his Heirs I make my said Brother William
likewise mine Executor as well as paying such Annuities and Legacies
out of my Lands and Goods as are hereafter specified I give to my nephew
Cassibilan Burton twenty pounds Annuity per Ann. out of my Land in
Higham during his life to be paid at two equall payments at our Lady
Day in Lent and Michaelmas or if he be not paid within fourteen Days
after the said Feasts to distrain on any part of the Ground on or any of
my Lands of Inheritance Item I give to my sister Katberine Jackson dur-
ing her life eight pounds per Ann. Annuity to be paid at the two Feasts
equally as above said or else to distrain on the Ground if she be not paid
after fourteen days at Lindly as the other tome U out of the said Land
Item I give to my Servant John Upton the Annuity of Forty Shillings out
of my said Farms during his life (if till then my Servant) to be paid on
Michaelmas day in Lindley each year or else after fourteen days to dis-
train Now for my goods I thus dispose them First I give an C^ pounds to



Account of the Avihor. 1 1

Christ Church in Oxford where I have so long lived to buy five^poundi
Lands per Ann. to be Yearly bestowed on Books for the Library Item 1
give an hundredth pound to the University Library of Oxford to be be-
stowed to purchase five pound Land per Ann. to be paid out Yearly on
Books as Mrs. Brooks formerly gave an hundred pounds to buy Land to
the same purpose and the Rent to the same use I give to my Brother
George Burton twenty pounds and my watch I give to my Brother Ralph
Burton five pounds Item I give to the Parish of Seagrave in Leicestershire
where I am now Rector ten pounds to be given to certain Feoffees to the
perpetual good of the said Parish Oxon * Item I give to my Niece Eugenia
Burton One hundredtli pounds Item I give to my Nephew Richard Burton
now Prisoner in London an hundredth pound to redeem him Item I give
to the Poor of Higham Forty Shillings where my Land is to the Poor of
Nuneaton where I was once a Grammar Scholar three pound to my Cousin
Purfey of Wadlake [Wadley] my Cousin Purfey of Calcott my Cousin
Hales of Coventry my Nephew Bradshaw of Orton twenty shillings a piece
for a small remembrance to Mr. Whitehall Rector of Cherkby myne own
Chamber Fellow twenty shillings I desire my Brother George and my
Cosen Purfey of Calcott to be the Overseers of this part of my Will I give
moreover five pounds to make a small Monument for my Mother where
she is buried in London to my Brother Jackson forty shillings to my Ser-
vant John Upton forty shillings besides his former Annuity if he be my
Servant till I die if he be till then my Servant f— ROBERT BURTON—
Charles Russell Witness — John Pepper Witness.

An Appendix to this my Will if I die in Oxford or whilst I am of Christ
Church and with good Mr. Paynes August the Fifteenth 1639.

I Give to Mr. Doctor Fell Dean of Christ Church Forty Shillings to the
Eight Canons twenty Shillings a piece as a small remembrance to the poor
of St. Thomas parish Twenty Shillings to Brasenose Library five pounds
to Mr. Rowse of Oriell CoUedge twenty Shillings to Mr. Heywood xxs. to
Dr. Metcalfe xxs. to Mr. Sherley aas. If I have any Books the University
Library hath not, let them take them If I have any Books our own Library
hath not, let them take them I give to Mrs. Fell all my English Books of
Husbandry one excepted to her Daughter Mrs. Kathe-

rine Fell my Six Pieces of Silver Plate and six Silver Spoons to Mrs lies
my Gerards Herball to Mrs. Morris my Country Farme Translated out of
French 4. and all my English Physick Books to Mr. Whistler the Recorder
of Oxford I give twenty shillings to all my fellow Students M" of Arts a
Book in fol. or two a piece as Master Morris Treasurer or Mr Dean shall
appoint whom I request to be the Overseer of this Appendix and give him
for his pains Atlas Geografer and Ortelius Theatrum Mond' I give to John
Fell the Dean's Son Student my Mathematical Instruments except my
two Crosse Staves which I give to my Lord of Donnol if he be then of the
Hoase To Thomas lies Doctor lies his Son Student Saluntch on Paurrhelia

• 8o in the BeglstM* t So In the Register.

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12 Account of the Author.

and Lncian's Works in 4 Tomes If any books be left let my Executors dis-
pose of them with all such Books as are written with my own hands and
half my Melancholy Copy for Crips hath the other half To Mr. Jones
Chaplin and Chanter my Surveying Books and Instruments To the Ser-
vants of the House Forty Shillings ROB. BURTON— Charles RusseU
Witness — John Pepper Witness — This Will was shewed to me by the
Testator and acknowledged by him some few days before his death to
be his last WiU Ita Tester John Morris S Th D. Prebendari* Eccl Chri»
Oxon Feb. 8, 1689.

Probatum fuit Testamentum suprascriptum, &c. ll^ 1640 Juramento
Willmi Burton Fris' et Executoris cui &c. de bene et fideliter ad-
ministrand. &c. coram Mag'ris Nathanaele Stephens Rectore Eccl.
de Drayton, et Edwardo Farmer, Clericis, vigore commissionist


The only work our author executed was that now reprinted,
which probably was the principal employment of his life. Dr.
Ferriar says, it was originally published in the year 1617; but
this is evidently a mistake ; * the first edition was that printed in
4to, 1621, a copy of which is at present in the collection of John
Nichols, Esq., the indefatigable illustrator of the History ofLeweS'
tersMre ; to whom, and to Isaac Reed, Esq., of Staple Inn, this
account is greatly indebted for its accuracy. The other impres-
sions of it were in 1624, 1628, 1632, 1638, 1651-2, 1660, and 1676,
which last, in the title-page, is called the eighth edition.

The copy from which the present is reprinted, is that of 1651-2 :
at the conclusion of which is the following address : —


" Be pleased to know (Courteous Reader) that since the last Impression
of this Book, the ingenuous Author of it is deceased, leaving a Copy of it
exactly corrected, with several considerable Additions by his own hand ;
this Copy he committed to my care and custody, with directions to have
those Additions inserted in the next Edition; which in order to his com-
mand, and the Publicke Good, is faithfully performed in this last Impres-

H. a (i. 6. HEN. CRIPPa,)

•<)righiatiiig,perbapfl,insnote,p.448, printed in 1676, there seems very little

0th edit. (vol. iii, p. 29, of the piesent), in reason to doubt that, la the note aboT«

which a book is qaoted as having been alluded to. either 1624 has been a mis*

" printed at Paris, 1624, Menen yean after print for 1628, or seven years for thret

Burton's first edition." As, ho^rever, years. The numerous typographical er-

the editions after that of 1621, are regu- rata in other parts of the work strongly

Uriy marked in suocef sion to the eighth, aid this latter suppoeition.

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Account of the Author. 13

The following testimonies of varions authors will serve to show
die estimation in which this work has been held : —

* The An ATOMT OF Mblancbolt, wherein the author hath piled np
variety of mnch excellent learning. Scarce any book of philology in
onr land hath, in so short a time, passed so many editions." — Ftiler^$
Worthies, fol. 16.

" 'Tis a book so fnll of variety of reading, that gentlemen who have
toet their time, and are pnt to a pnsh for invention, may fhmish them-
selves with matter fbr common or scholastical disconrse and writing.*' —
Woo^s Athena Oxotdensis, vol. i. p. 628, 2d edit.

" If you never saw Bubton upon Mklancholt, printed 1676, 1 pray
look into it, and read the ninth page of his Preface, ^Democritns to
the Beader.* There is something there which tonches the point we are
upon; bnt I mention the author to yon, as the pleasantest, the most
learned, and the most full of sterling sense. The wits of Queen Anne's
reign, and the beginning of George the First, were not a little beholden to
him." — Archbishop Herrvng^t Letters, 12mo, 1777, p. 149.

** Burton's Anatokt or Melancholy, he (Dr. Johnson) said, was
the only book that ever took him out of bed two hours sooner than he
wished to rise."— -BtowpeCj Ufe of Johnson, vol. i. p. 580, 8vOw edit.

** Burton's Anatomt of Melancholy is a valuable book," said Dr.
Johnson. " It is perhaps, overloaded with quotation. But there is great
spirit and great power in what Burton says when he writes from his own
mind,"— iWi voL ii. p. 825.

** It win be no detraction from- the powers of Milton's original genius
and invention, to remark, that he seems to have borrowed the subject
of VAUegro and II Penseroso together with some particular thoughts,
expressions, and rhymes, more especially the idea of a contrast between
these two dispositions, from a forgotten poem prefixed to the first edition
of Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, entitled, * The Author's Ab-
stract of Melancholy; or, A Dialogue between Pleasure and Pain.' Here
pain is melancholy. It was written, as I conjecture, about the year 1600.
I will make no apology for abstracting and citing as much of this poem
as will be sufficient to prove, to a discerning reader, how far it had taken
possession of Milton's mind. The measure will appear to be the same ;
and that our author was at least an attentive reader of Burton's book, may
be already concluded from the traces of resemblance which I have incl-
tentally noticed in passing through the VAUegro and II Penseroso.'**-^
After extracting the lines, Mr. Warton adds, " as to the very elaborate
work to which these visionary verses are no unsuitable introduction, the
writer's variety of learning, his quotations from scarce and curious books,
his pedantry sparkling with rude wit and shapeless elegance, miscella*

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14 Account of the Author.

neous matter, intermixture of agreeable tales and illustrations, and,
perhaps, above all, the singularities of his feelings, clothed in an un
common quaintness of style, have contributed to render it, even to modem
readers, a valuable repository of amusement and information.*' — WarUm^a

Online LibraryRobert BurtonThe anatomy of melancholy : what it is, with all the kinds, causes, symptoms, prognostics, and several cures of it : in three partitions, with their several sections, members, and subsections, philosophically, medically, historically opened and cut up : with a satirical preface, conducing to the fol → online text (page 1 of 48)