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shewed to me by the Testator and acknowledged by him some few days before his death to be his last Will Ita Testor John Morris S Th D Prebendari'. Eccl Chri' Oxon Feb. 3. 1639.
Probatum fuit Testamentum suprascriptum, &c. 11°
1640 Juramento Willmi Burton Fris' et Executoris cui &c. de bene et fideliter administrand. &c. coram Magʻris Nathanaele Stephens Rectore Eccl. de Drayton, et Edwardo Farmer, Clericis, vigore
commissionis, &c. 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 of Leicestershire ; to whom, and to Isaac REED, Esq. of Staple Inn, this account is greatly indebted for its accuracy. The other impressions 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 re-printed, is that of 1651-2; at the conclusion of which is the following address.
“ TO THE READER. “ 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 consider able Additions by his own hand; this Copy he committed to my care and custody, with directions to have those Additions in. serted in the next Edition ;, which in order to his command, and the Publicke Good, is faithfully performed in this last linpression.”
* Originating, perhaps, in a note, p. 448, 6th edit. (vol. ij. p. 212 of the present), in which a book is quoted as having been “printed at Paris 1624, seven years after Burton's First Edition.” As, however, the editions after that of 1621 are regularly marked in succession, to the 8th, printed in 1676, there seems very little reason to doubt that, in the note above alluded to, either 1624 has been a misprint for 1628, or seven years for three years. The numerous typographical errata in other parts of the work strongly aid this latter supposition.
The The following testimonies of various authors, will serve to shew the estimation in which this work has been held.
“ The Anatomy of Melancholy, wherein the author hath piled up variety of much excellent learning. Scarce any book of philology in our land hath, in so short a time, passed so many editions.
Fuller's Worthies, fol. 16.
“ "Tis a book so full of variety of reading, that gentlemen who have lost their time, and are put to a push for invention, inay furnish theinselves with matter for common or scholastical discourse and writing.”
Wood's Athene Oxonienses, vol. i. p. 628. 2d edit.
never saw BURTON UPON MELANCHOLY, printed 1676, I pray look into it, and read the ninth page of his Preface, “ Dennocritus to the Reader." There is something there which touches the point we are upon; but I mention the author to you, 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 Ist. were not a little beholden to him.”
Archbishop Herring's Letters, 12mo. 1777. p. 149. “ BURTON'S ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY, he (Dr. Johnson) said, was the only book that ever took him out of bed two hours sooner than he wished to rise.”
Boswell's Life of Johnson, vol. i. p. 580. 8vo. edit.
“ BURTON'S ANATOMY 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.”
Ibid. vol. ii. p. 325.
“ It will be no detraction from the powers of Milton's original genius and invention, to remark, that he seeins to have borrowed the subject of L'Allegro and I 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 Buro TON'S ANATOMIE OF MELANCHOLY, entitled, “ The Author's Abstract 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 suffici
ent 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 incidentally noticed in passing through the L'Allegro and Il 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, miscellaneous matter, intermixture of agreeable tales and illustrations, and, perhaps, above all, the singularities of his feelings, cloathed in an uncommon quaintness of style, have contributed to render it, even to modern readers, a valuable repository of amusement and information."
Warton's Milton, 2d edit. p. 94.
“ THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY is a book which has been universally read and admired. This work is, for the most part, what the author himself styles it, “a cento;" but it is a very ingenious one. His quotations, which abound in every page, are pertinent; but if he had made more use of his invention and less of his common place book, his work would perhaps have been more valuable than it is. He is generally free from the affected language and ridiculous metaphors which disgrace most of the books of this time.”
Granger's Biographical History. “ Burton's ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY, a book once the favourite of the learned and the witty, and a source of surreptitious learning, though written on a regular plan, consists chiefly of quotations: the author has honestly terined it a cento. collects, under every division, the opinions of a multitude of writers, without regard to chronological order, and has too often the modesty to decline the interposition of his own sentiments. Indeed the bulk of his materials generally overwhelins him. In the course of his folio he has contrived to treat a great variety of topics, that seem very loosely connected with the general subject, and, like Bayle, when he starts a favourite train of quotations, he does not scruple to let the digression outrun the principal question. Thus, from the doctrines of religion to military discipline, from inland navigation to the morality of dancing schools, every thing is discussed and determined." Ferriar's hlustrations of Sterne, p. 58.
“The archness which BURTON displays occasionally, and his indulgence of playful digressions from the most scrious discussions, often give his style an air of familiar conversation, notwithstanding the laborious collections which supply his text. He was capable of writing excellent poetry, but he seems to have cultivated this talent too little. The English verses prefixed to his book, which possess beautiful imagery, and great sweetness of versification, have been frequently published. His Latin elegiac verses addressed to his book, shew a very agreeable turn for raillery."
Ibid. p. 58.
“ When the force of the subject opens his own vein of prose, we discover valuable sense and brilliant expression. Such is his account of the first feelings of melancholy persons, written, probably from his own experience. (See vol. i. p. 126, 127. of the present edition.)"
Ibid. p. 60.
" During a pedantic age, like that in which Burton's production appeared, it must have been eminently serviceable to writers of many descriptions. Hence the unlearned might furnish themselves with appropriate scraps of Greek and Latin, whilst men of letters would find their enquiries shortened, by knowing where they might look for what both ancients and moderns had advanced on the subject of human passions. I confess my inability to point out any other English author who has so largely dealt in apt and original quotation.”
Manuscript note of the late George Steevens, Esq. in
his copy of THE ANATOMY OF MELANCHOLY.
TO THE READER.
ITLE Reader, I presume thou wilt be very inquisitive to know what antick or personate actor this is, that so insolently intrudes upon this common theatre, to the world's view, arrogating another man's name; whence he is, why he doth it, and what he hath to say; Although, as a he said, Primum si noluero, non respondebo, quis coacturus est? I am a free man born, and may chuse whether I will tell; who can compel me? If I be urged, I will as readily reply as that Egyptian in Plutarch, when a curious fellow would needs know what he had in his basket, Quum vides velatam, quid inquiris in rem absconditam? It was therefore covered,' because he should not know what was in it. Seek not after that which is hid; if the contents please thee, “cand be for thy use, suppose the Man in the Moon, or whom thou wilt to be the Author;" I would not willingly be known. Yet in some sort to give thee satisfaction, which is more then I need, I will shew a reason, both of this usurped name, title, and subject. And first of the name of Democritus ; lest any man, by reason of it, should be deceived, expecting a pasquil, a satyre, some ridiculous treatise (as I my self should have done), some prodigious tetent, or paradox of the earths motion, of infinite worlds, in infinito vacuo, ex fortuità atomorum collisione, in an infinite waste, so caused by an accidental collision of motes in the sun, all which Democritus held, Epicurus and their Master Lucippus of old maintained, and are lately revived by Copernicus, Brunus, and some others. Besides, it
• Seneca in ludo in mortem Claudii Cæsaris. Lib. de curiositate.
Modò hæc tibi usui sint, quemvis authorem fingito. Wecker.