Anatomy of Melancholy, by Robert Burton

Lectori Male Feriato.

Tu vero cavesis edico quisquis es, ne temere sugilles Auctorem hujusce operis, aut cavillator irrideas. Imo ne vel ex aliorum censura tacite obloquaris (vis dicam verbo) nequid nasutulus inepte improbes, aut falso fingas. Nam si talis revera sit, qualem prae se fert Junior Democritus, seniori Democrito saltem affinis, aut ejus Genium vel tantillum sapiat; actum de te, censorem aeque ac delatorem 817aget econtra (petulanti splene cum sit) sufflabit te in jocos, comminuet in sales, addo etiam, et deo risui te sacrificabit.

Iterum moneo, ne quid cavillere, ne dum Democritum Juniorem conviciis infames, aut ignominiose vituperes, de te non male sentientem, tu idem audias ab amico cordato, quod olim vulgus Abderitanum ab 818 Hippocrate, concivem bene meritum et popularem suum Democritum, pro insano habens. Ne tu Democrite sapis, stulti autem et insani Abderitae.

819Abderitanae pectora plebis habes.

Haec te paucis admonitum volo (male feriate Lector) abi.

To the Reader at Leisure.

Whoever you may be, I caution you against rashly defaming the author of this work, or cavilling in jest against him. Nay, do not silently reproach him in consequence of others' censure, nor employ your wit in foolish disapproval, or false accusation. For, should Democritus Junior prove to be what he professes, even a kinsman of his elder namesake, or be ever so little of the same kidney, it is all over with you: he will become both accuser and judge of you in your spleen, will dissipate you in jests, pulverise you into salt, and sacrifice you, I can promise you, to the God of Mirth.

I further advise you, not to asperse, or calumniate, or slander, Democritus Junior, who possibly does not think ill of you, lest you may hear from some discreet friend, the same remark the people of Abdera did from Hippocrates, of their meritorious and popular fellow-citizen, whom they had looked on as a madman; “It is not that you, Democritus, that art wise, but that the people of Abdera are fools and madmen.” “You have yourself an Abderitian soul;” and having just given you, gentle reader, these few words of admonition, farewell.

Heraclite fleas, misero sic convenit aevo,

Nil nisi turpe vides, nil nisi triste vides.

Ride etiam, quantumque lubet, Democrite ride

Non nisi vana vides, non nisi stulta vides.

Is fletu, his risu modo gaudeat, unus utrique

Sit licet usque labor, sit licet usque dolor.

Nunc opes est (nam totus eheu jam desipit orbis)

Mille Heraclitis, milleque Democritis.

Nunc opus est (tanta est insania) transeat omnis

Mundus in Anticyras, gramen in Helleborum.

Weep, O Heraclitus, it suits the age,

Unless you see nothing base, nothing sad.

Laugh, O Democritus, as much as you please,

Unless you see nothing either vain or foolish.

Let one rejoice in smiles, the other in tears;

Let the same labour or pain be the office of both.

Now (for alas! how foolish the world has become),

A thousand Heraclitus', a thousand Democritus' are required.

Now (so much does madness prevail), all the world must be

Sent to Anticyra, to graze on Hellebore.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52