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 31 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 31 of 48)
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idle person,** the soul is contaminated. In a commonwealth,
where is no public enemy, there is likely civil wars, and they
rage upon themselves ; this body of ours, when it is idle, and
knows not how to bestow itself, macerates and vexeth itself
with cares, griefs, false fears, discontents, and suspicions ; it
tortures and preys upon his own bowels, and is never at rest.
Thus much I dare boldly say, " He or she that is idle, be
they of what condition they will, never so rich, so well allied,
fortunate, happy, let them have all things in abundance and
felicity that heart can wish and desire, all contentment, so
long as he or she or they are idle, they shall never be
pleased, never well in body and mind, but weary still, sickly
still, vexed still, loathing still, weeping, sighing, grieving,
suspecting, offended with the world, with every object, wish-
ing themselves gone or dead, or else carried away with some
foolish fantasy or other. And this is the true cause that so
many great men, ladies, and gentlewomen, labour of this dis-
ease in country and city ; for idleness is an appendix to
nobility; they count it a disgrace to work, and spend all
their days in sports, recreations, and pastimes, and will there-
fore take no pains ; be of no vocation ; they feed liberally,
fare well, want exercise, action, employment (for to work, I
say, they may not abide), and company to their desires, and
thence their bodies become full of gross humours, wind, crudi-
ties ; their minds disquieted, dull, heavy, &c., care, jealousy,
fear, of some diseases, sullen fits, weeping fits seize too * famil-
iarly on them. For what will not fear and fantasy work in

1 Seneca. * Moeroi^iii udmi. et ma- tnalas cogitationes. Sen. * Now thJi
oiem, Plnturoh calls it. * Sicnt in 1^, now that ann, now thdr head, heart,
•tagno generantur Termea, alo et otioeo &c.



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Mem. 2, sabs. 6.] Idleness^ a Cause* 325

an idle body? what distempers will they not cause? whet
the children of * Israel murmured against Pharaoh in Egypt,
he commanded his officers to double their task, and let them
get straw themselves, and - yet make their fiill number of
bricks ; for the sole cause why they mutiny, and are evil at
ease is, " they are idle." When you shall hear and see so
many discontented persons in all places where you come,
80 many several grievances, unnecessary complaints, fear,
suspicions,! the best means to redress it is to set them awork,
so to busy their minds ; for the truth is, they are idle. Well
they may build castles in the air for a time, and soothe up
themselves with fantastical and pleasant humours, but in the
end they will prove as bitter as gaD, they shall be still I say
discontent, suspicious, ^ fearful, jealous, sad, fretting and vex-
ing of themselves ; so long as they be idle, it is impossible to
please them, Otto qui nescit tUty plus hcbbet negotii quam qui
negotium in negotiOy as that ^ Agellius could observe : He
that knows not how to spend his time, hath more business,
care, grief, anguish of mind, than he that is most busy in the
midst of all his business, Otiosus animus nescit quid volet :
An idle person (as he follows it) knows not when he is well,
what he would have, or whither he would go, Quum iUuc
ventum est iUinc lubet, he is tired out with everything, dis-
pleased with all, weary of his life ; Nee bene domi, nee militice
neither at home nor abroad, errata et prceter vitam vivitur,
he wanders and lives besides himself. In a word, What the
mischievous effects of laziness and idleness are, I do not find
anywhere more accurately expressed, than in these verses of
Philolaches in the % Comical Poet, which for their elegancy
] will in part insert.

" Novanim »dinm esse arbitror similem ego hominem,
Qaando hio natus est: Ei rei argamenta dicam.
iBdes quando sunt ad amussim expolitsB,
Quisque landat fabmm, atqne ezemplam, expetit, &o.

•Exod. T. t (For they eannot well Pigrum d^eit timor. Heautontimora-

leU what aneth them, or what they would menon. 3Ub.l9,o. 10. t Plantaa,

hare themielves) my heart, my head, my Prol. Hostel,
husband* my son, kc. i Prov. zriii.



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826 Causes of Melancholy. I Part, l mc. t

At ubi ill6 migrat nequam homo indiligensquef &c.
Tempestas venit, confringit tegalas, imbrioesque,
Putrifacit aer operam fabri, &c.
Dioam nt homines similes esse adinm arbitremini,
Fabri parentes fundamentura sQbstrauot liberomm,
Expoliuntf decent literas, nee parcunt smnptul,
Ego autem sub fabrorum potestate frugi fui,
Postqaam autem migravi in ingenium meom,
Perdidi operam fabrorum illicb, oppidb,
Venit iguavia, ea mihi tempestas fuit,
Adventuque suo grandinem et imbrem attolit,
Dla mihi virtutem detnrbavit, &c.'*

^ A young man is like a fair new house, the carpenter leaves
it well built, in good repair, of solid stuff; but a bad tenant
lets it rain in, and for want of reparation, Mi to decaj. See.
Our parents, tutors, friends, spare no cost to bring us up in
our youth, in all manner of virtuous 'education ; but when
we are lefl to ourselves, idleness as a tempest drives all
virtuous motions out of our minds, ei nihili sumus, on n
sudden, by sloth and such bad ways, we come to nought;^
Cousin-german to idleness, and a concomitant cause, which
goes hand in hand with it, is ^ nimia soUtudo, too much soli-
tariness, by the testimony of all physicians, cause and symp
tom both ; but as it is here put for a cause it is either coact,
enforced, or else voluntarily. Enforced solitariness is com^
mohly seen in students, monks, friars, aochorites, that by
their order and course of life must abandon all company,
society of other men, and betake themselves to a private
cell ; Otto supersHtioso sechtsi, as Bale and Hospinian well
term it, such as are the Carthusians of our time, that eat no
flesh (by their order), keep perpetual silence, never go
abroad. Such as live in prison, or some desert place, and
cannot have company, as many. <^ our country gentlemen do
in solitary houses, they must either- be alone vrithout com-
panions, or live beyond their means, and entertain all comers
as so m&nj hosts, or else converse with their servants and
hinds, such as are unequal, inferior to them, and of a con*

> PItOf Montaltus, Mercnrialifl, &e.



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Mem. 2, subs. 6.] Idleness, a Cause. 327

ti^arj disposition ; or else as some do, to avoid solitarinessi
spend their time with lewd fellows in taverns, and in ale-
houses, and thence addict themselves to some unlawful dis
ports, or dissolute courses. Divers again are cast upon this
rock of solitariness for want of means, or out of a strong
apprehension of some infirmitj, disgrace, or through hashful-
ness, rudeness, simplicity, tJiey cannot apply themselves to
otliers* company. NuUum solum infdici grcUius soUtvdiney
ubi nuHus sit qui miseriam exprohret; this enforced solitari-
ness takes place, and produceth his effect soonest in such as
have spent their time jovially, peradventure in all honest
recreations, in good company, in some great family or popu-
lous city, and are upon a sudden confined to a desert coun-
try cottage far off, restrained of their liberty, and barred from
their ordinary associates ; solitariness is very irksome to
such, most tedious, and a sudden cause of great incon-
venience.

Voluntary solitariness is that which is familiar with melan-
choly, and gently brings on like a siren, a shoeing-horn, or
some sphinx to this irrevocable gulf, * a primary cause, Piso
calls it ; most pleasant it is at first, to such as are melancholy
given, to lie in bed whole days, and keep their chambers, to
walk alone in some solitary grove, betwixt wood and water,
by a brook side, to meditate upon some delightsome and
pleasant subject, which shall affect them most ; amabilis in-
sania, et mentis gratissimus error ; a most incomparable de-
light it is so to melancholize, and build castles in the air, to
go smiling to themselves, acting an infinite variety of parts,
which they suppose and strongly imagine they represent, or
that they see acted or done ; Blanda qtndem ah initio^ saith
L<^mnius, to conceive abd meditate of such pleasant things,
sometimes, * " present, past, or to come," as Rhasis speaks.
So delightscHne these toys are at first, they could spend whole
days and nights without sleep, even whole years alone in

1 A qnibus malum, Telut k prlmaria ounda rertim pnesentium, prnteritarmn,
'ttoaa. oooaaion«m oaetam «st * Ju- et ftitunnun meditotlo.



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328 Causes of Melancholy, [Part. I. seo. a

sucli contemplations, and fantastical meditations, which are
tike unto dreams, and they will hardly be drawn from them,
or willingly interrupt, so pleasant their vain conceits are, that
they hinder their ordinary tasks and necessary business, they
cannot address themselves to them, or almost to any study or
employment, these fantastical and bewitching thoughts so
covertly, so feelingly, so urgently, so continually set upon,
creep in, 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 a heath with a Puck in the night,
they run earnestly on in this labyrinth of anxious and solic-
itous melancholy meditations, and cannot well or willingly
refrain, or easily leave off, winding and unwinding them-
selves, 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, stibrusttctis ptidar, discontent, cares,
and weariness of life surprise 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, hceret lateri lethaUs
arundo (the arrow of death still remains in the side), tJiey
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 commended, ^ Hierom, Chrysostom, Cyprian, Aus-
tin, in whole tracts, which Petrarch, Erasmus, Stella, and

iFacilis descensus Averni: Sed revo- dinem Paradisum: solum scorpionibm

care gradum, supensqne evadere ad infectum, sacco amictus, huml Cubans

auras. Hie labor, hoc opus est. Virg. aqua et herbis rictitans, Romania pr«

* Hieronimus ep. 72. dixit oppida et tullt delicils.
urbes yiderl ribi tetroe carceres. solitu*



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Mem. 2, bubs. 6.] Idleness, a Cause. 329

others, so much magnify in their books ; a paradise, a heaven
on earth, if it be used aright, good for the body, and better
for the soul ; as many of those old monks used it, to divine
contemplations, as Simulus a courtier in Adrian's time, Dio-
clesian the emperor, retired themselves, &c., in that sense,
Vatia solus sett vivere, Vatia lives alone, which the Bomans
were wont to say, when they commended a country life. Or
to the bettering of their knowledge, as Democritus, Cleanthus,
and those excellent philosophers have ever done, to sequester
themselves from the tumultuous world, or as in Pliny's villa
Laurentana, Tully*s Tusculan, Jovius's 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, conscr
crated to pious uses ; some monasteries and collegiate cells
might have been well spared, and their revenues otherwise em-
ployed, here and there one, in good towns or cities at least
for men and women of all sorts and conditions to live in, to
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 had done, freely and
truly to serve God. For these men are neither solitary, nor
idle, as the poet made answer to the husbandman in ^sop,
that objected idleness to him ; he was never so idle as in his
company; or that Scipio Africanus in *Tully, Nunquam
minus solus, quam cum soltts ; nunqiuzm minus otiosus, quam

» Offlc. 8



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330 Causes of Melancholy, [Part. 1. seo. 9L

quum esset otiostis ; 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 medi-
tation coming into Socrates's mind by chance, he stood still
musing, eodem vestigia cogitalnindus, from morning to noon,
and when as then he had not yet finished his meditation,
perstabat cogitansy he so continued till the evening, the sol-
diers (for he then followed the camp) observed him with
admiration, and on set purpose watched all night, but he
persevered immovable ad exartum soUs, till the sun rose in
the morning, and then saluting the sun went his ways. In
what humour constant Socrates did thus, I know not, 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 oHosum otium^ it is far other-
wise with these men, according to Seneca, Omnia nobis mala
solitudo persuadet ; this solitude undoeth us, pugnat cum vitd
sociali ; 'tis a destructive solitariness. These men are devils
alone, as the saying is. Homo solus aut Deusy aut Damon:
a man alone, is ^ther a saint or a devil, mens efvs aut tan-'
guescit, aut tumescit ; and * Vm soli in this sense, woe be to
him that is so alone. These wretches do frequently degener-
ate from men, and of sociable creatures become beasts, mon-
sters, inhumane, ugly to behold, Misanthropi ; they do even
loathe themselves, and hate the ccmipany of men, as so many
Timons, Nebuchadnezzars, by too much indulging to these
pleasing humours, and through their own default So that
which MercuriaHs, consiL 11, sometimes expostulated with
his melancholy patient, may be justly applied to every soli-»
tary and idle person in particular. ^Natura de te mdetv^
conqueri posse, S^c, " Nature may justly complain of thee,
that whereas she gave thee a good wholesome temperature, a



* Eccl. 4 1 Natura de te videtur con- tempsisti modo, vemm corrupisti, se*

' *^ * " ' "• * * peratumn

ribua, &o.



atteri posse qnod cum ab ea tomperatts- dasid, prodidisti,' optimam temperatumn
nmum corpus adeptus sis, tain prae- otio, orapuUL, et aJtis vitas erronbn



clarum i Deo ac utile donum, non con-



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Mem. 2, subs. 7.] Sleeping and Waking, Causes. 331

sound body, and Grod hath given thee so divine and excel-
lent 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 per-
verted 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." Perditio tua exte ; thou hast
lost thyself wilftiUy, cast away thyself, " thou thyself art the
efficient cause of thine own misery, by not resisting such vain
cogitations, but giving way unto them."

SuBSECT. Vn. — Sleeping and Waking, Causes*

What I have formerly said of exercise, I may now repeat
of sleep. Nothing better than moderate sleep, nothing worse
than it, if it be in extremes, or unseasonably used. It is a
received opinion, that a melancholy man cannot sleep over-
much ; Somnus supra modum prodest, as an only antidote,
and nothing offends them more, or causeth this malady
sooner, than waking, yet in some cases sleep may do more
harm than good, in that phlegmatic, swinish, cold, and slug-
gish melancholy which Melancthon speaks of, that thinks of
waters, sighing most part, &c. * It dulls the spirits, if over- ,
much, and senses ; fiUs the head fuU of gross humours ; caus-
eth distillations, rheums, great store of excrements in the
brain, and all the other parts, as * Fuchsius speaks of them,
that sleep like so many dormice. Or if it be used in the
daytime, upon a full stomach, the body ill-composed to rest,
or after hard meats, it increaseth fearful dreams, incubus
night walking, crying out, and much unquietness ; such sleep
prepares the body, as • one observes, " to many perilous dis-
eases." But as I have said, waking overmuch, is both a
symptom, and an ordinary cause. " It causeth dryness of the
brain, ft'enzy, dotage, and makes the body dry, lean, hard,

» Path, lib, oup. 17. Pernel. corpus bro et alUs partibus conserrat. * Jo

InfHgidat, omnes senstis, mentisque vires Ratzius lib, de rebus 6 non natoralibiit.

torpore debllitat. s lib. 2, sect 2, Proparat corbus talis somnus ad mulf

sap. 4 Magnam excrementorum Tim cere- taa perioulosas segritudines.



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832 Causes of Melancholy. [Part. I. sec. 2

aod ugly to behold," as * Lemnius hath it. ^ The temperji-
ture of the brain is corrupted by it, the humours adust, the
eyes made to sink into the head, eholer increased, and the
whole body inflamed ; " and, as may be added out of Galen
3, lie sanitate ttiendd, Avicenna 3, 1. * " It overthrows the
natural heat, it causeth crudities, hurts concoction," and what
not? Not without good cause therefore Crato consiL 21, lib.
2 ; Ilildesheim, sptcel. 2, de Ddir. et Manic^ Jacchinus,
Arculanus on Rhasis, Guianerius and Mercurialis, reckon up
this overmuch waking as a principal cause.



MEMB. HL

SuBSECT. I. — Passions and Perturbations of the Mindy how
they cause MeUmcholy,

As that gymnosophist in • Plutarch made answer to Alex-
ander (demanding which spake best), Every one of his fel-
lows did speak better than other; so I may say of these
causes ; to him that shall require which is the greatest, every
one is more grievous than the other, and this of passion the
greatest of all. A most frequent and ordinary cause of
melancholy, ^fulmen perturbationum (Piccolomineus calls it)
this thunder and lightning of perturbation, which causeth
such violent and speedy alterations in this our microcosm,
and many times subverts the good estate and temperature of
it. For as the body works upon the mind by his bad hu-
mours, troubling the spirits, sending gross fumes into the
brain, and so per consequens disturbing the soul, and all
the faculties of it,

1 Instit. ad Titam optimam cap. 26, profnndos reddit ocnlos, ealorem auget.
cerebro docitatem adfert, phrenesin et * Naturalem ealorem dissipat, Isesft con-
delirium, corpa aridum iacit, sqnali- coctione cmditates ftdt. Attenuant jo-
dum, Btrigosum, humores admit, tempe- renum vigilatn corpora noctes. * Viti
ramontum cerebri corrumpit, maciem Alexan. * Grad. 1, c. 14
inducit : ezsiccat corpus, bilem accendjt.



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Mem. 8, subs. 1.] Perturbations of the Mind. 33S

* " Corpus onustum,
Hestemis yitiis animum quoque prasgravat una,**

with fear, sorrow, &c., which are ordinary symptoms of this
disease ; so on the other side, the mind most effectually works
upon the body, producing by his passions and perturbations
miraculous alterations, as melancholy, despair, cruel diseases,
and sometimes death itself. Insomuch that it is most true
which Plato saith in his Charmides, omnia corporis mcda ah
animd procedere ; all the * mischiefs of the body proceed
from the soul ; and Democritus in ^ Plutarch urgeth, Dam"
natum iri animam d corpore, if the body should in this be-
half bring an action against the soul, surely the soul would be
cast and convicted, that by her supine negligence had caused
such inconveniences, having authority over the body, and
using it for an instrument, as a smith does his hammer (saith
•Cyprian), imputing all those vices and maladies to the
mind. Even so do * Philostratus, non coinquinaiur corpus,
nisi consensu animce ; the body is not corrupted, but by the
soul. Lodovicus Vives will have such turbulent commotions
proceed from ignorance and indiscretion.* All philosophers
impute the mi^^.enes of the body to the soul, that should have
governed it better, by command of reason, and hath not done
it. The Stoics are altogether of opinion (as • Lipsius and
' Piccolomineus record), that a wise man should be d.nadiic,
without all manner of passions and perturbations whatsoever,
as • Seneca reports of Cato, the ' Greeks of Socrates, and *^ lo.
Aubanus of a nation in Africa, so free from passion, or rather
so stupid, that if they be wounded with a sword, they will
only look back. ^^Lactantius 2 instit, will exclude "fear
from a wise man ; " others except all, some the greatest
passions. But let them dispute how they will, set down
in Thesi, give precepts to the contrary; we find that of

•Hor. " The body oppressed by jester- lony lib. 1. » Lib. de anim. ab incon-

day's vices weighs down the spirit also." siderantia, et ignorantia omnes anlmi

> Perturbationes clavi sunt, quibus cor- motus. « De Physiol. Stoic. ^ Grad.

pori animus sen patibutoafllgitur. Jamb. 1, c. 32. " Epist. 104. * ^lianus.

de mixt. > Lib. de sauitat. tuend. lo Lib. 1. cap. 6, si quis ense percusseiit

» Prolog, de virtute Chrlsti; Quae utitur eos, tantum respiciunt. n Terror in

torpore. ut &ber malleo. « Vita Apol- sapiente esse non debet.



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384 Causes of Melancholy. [I'art. I. sec. a

1 Lemnius true by common experience ; " No mortal man is
free from tbese perturbations ; or if he be so, sure he is either
a god, or a block.'* They are bom and bred with us, we
have them from our parents by inheritance. A parentibus
hahi'mus malum hunc assem, saith ^Pelezius, Nascitur und
nobiscum, altturque, 'tis propagated from Adam, Cain wtis
melancholy, *as Austin hath it, and who is not? Grood
discipline, education, philosophy, divinity (I cannot deny),
may mitigate and restmin these passions in some few men at
some times, but most part they domineer, and are so violent,
• that as a torrent (torrens velut aggere rupto) bears down all
before, and overflows his banks, stemit agros, ,stemit sata^
(lays waste the fields, prostrates the crops,) they overwhelm
reason, judgment, and pervert the temperature of the body ;
Fertur * equis auriga, nee audit cwrrus hahenax. Now such
a man (saith * Austin), " that is so led, in a wise man's eye,
is no better than he that stands upon his head." It is
doubted by some, Gramoresne morbi a perturhatiortthus, an
ah humorihus, whether humours or perturbations c^use the
more grievous maladies. But we find that of our Saviour,
Mat XX vi. 41, most true, " The spirit is willing, the flesh is
weak," we cannot resist ; and this of ® Philo Judaeus, " Per-
turbations often oiFend the body, and are most frequent
causes of melancholy, turning it out of the hinges of his
health." Vives compares them to '"Winds upon the sea,
some only move as those great gales, but others turbulent
quite overturn the ship." Those which are light, easy, and
more seldom, to our thinking, do us little harm, and
are therefore contemned of us ; yet if they be reiterated,



1 re occult, nat. mir. 1. 1. o. 16. cal. passiones maxtm^ eorpns ofifendiint

'Nemo mortalium qui affectibus non du- et animam, et frequenUssiinaB canssa

catur: qui non movetur, aut aaxum, melanclioUffi, dimoyentes ab ingenio e<

aut deus est. ^ Instit. 1. 2, de hu- sanitate pristina. 1 8, de anima. 7 Frsd*

manorum affect, morborumque curat, na et stimuli animi, yelut in mari quse-

• Epist. 105. s Granatensis. ♦ Virg. dam aurse leves, quasdam placidn, quae-

ft De civit. Dei, I. 14, c. 9, qualis in dam turbulentae: sic in corpora qusa-

oculis homiaum qui inversis pedibus dam affectiones excitant tantum, qusedam



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 31 of 48)