Изображения страниц



We find by proof that into every age

In Phoebus' art some glistering star did shine, Who, worthy scholars to the Muses sage,

Fulfill’d their countries with their works divine.

So Homer was a sounding trumpet fine Amongst the Greeks, into his learned days ;

So Virgil was among the Romans syne
A sprite sublim'd, a pillar of their praise !
So lofty Petrarch his renown did blaze

In tongue Italic, in a sugar'd style,
And to the circled skies his name did raise :

For he, by poems that he did compile,
Led in triùmph Love, Chastness, Death, and Fame :
But thou triùmphs o'er Petrarch's proper name !

Signed “ J. Rex.” ROBERT BURTON,

OTHERWISE known by the name of Democritus junior, was born in 1576, of an ancient and genteel family, at Lindley, in Leicestershire. In 1593, he was entered a commoner at Brazennose College, in 1599 elected student of Christ-Church, and in 1616 made vicar of St. Thomas's, Oxford, which preferment, with the rectory of Segrave in Leicestershire, “he kept,” says Wood, “ with much ado to his dying day.” The same writer adds, “ He was an exact mathematician, a curious calculator of nativities, a general-read scholar, a thro'-paced philologist, and one that understood the surveying of lands well ;and though“ a melancholy and humorous person,” yet“ of great honesty, plain-dealing, and charity.” Wood had also heard some of the antients of Christ-Church often say, “that his company was very merry, facete, and juvenile." His “ Anatomy of Melancholy,” a very singular work, in which Dr. Ferriar has detected the source of many of Sterne's most admired passages, was first published in 4to, 1621, and, after subsequently passing through seven editions in folio, has been lately republished. Wood says the bookseller got an estate by it ; and that "'tis a book so full of variety of reading, that gentlemen who have lost their time, and are put to a push for invention, may furnish themselves with matter for common or scholastical discourse and writing.” From what he farther observes, it should seem that Sterne was not without precedent in his depredations upon Burton. “Several authors have unmercifully stolen matter from the said book without any acknowledgment, particularly one Will. Greenwood,” &c., “who, as others of the like humour do, sometimes takes his quotations without the least mention of Democritus junior.” Dr. Johnson thought highly of the “ Anatomy of Melancholy;" see Boswell's Life ; and Mr. War. ton, in his notes to Milton's minor poems, p. 94, second edition, supposes that great poet “to have borrowed the subject of L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, together with some particular thoughts, expressions, and rhymes,” from the subsequent specimen. “ As to the very elaborate work,” says Mr. Warton, “ 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.”

Burton was fond of poetry, and left behind him a very curious poetical and miscellaneous library, out of which he bequeathed to the Bodleian all the books not already contained in it. He died in 1639, (very near the time of his own calculation,) and was buried in Christ-Church Cathedral, where his bust may be seen, as well as a short Latin inscription, his own composition, on a monument erected by the care of his brother William, the antiquary and historian of Leicestershire,

The Abstract of Melancholy.
(Prefixed to “ The Anatomy of Melancholy.")
When I go musing all alone,
Thinking of divers things foreknown,
When I build castles in the air,
Void of sorrow, and void of fear,

Pleasing myself with phantasms sweet,
Methinks the time runs very fleet.

All my joys to this are folly,
Nought so sweet as melancholy.

When I lie waking, all alone,
Recounting what I have ill done,
My thoughts on me then tyrannise,
Fear and sorrow me surprise ;
Whether I tarry still, or go,
Methinks the time moves very slow.

All my griefs to this are jolly,
Nought so sad as melancholy.

When to myself I act, and smile,
With pleasing thoughts the time beguile,
By a brook-side, or wood so green,
Unheard, unsought-for, or unseen,
A thousand pleasures do me bless,
And crown my soul with happiness.

All my joys besides are folly,
None so sweet as melancholy.

When I lie, sit, or walk alone,
I sigh, I grieve, making great moan,
In a dark grove, or irksome den,
With discontents and furies, then
A thousand miseries at once
Mine heavy heart and soul ensconce.

All my griefs to this are jolly,
None so sour as melancholy.

Methinks I hear, methinks I see
Sweet music, wondrous melody,
Towns, palaces, and cities fine,
Here now, then there, the world is mine ;
Rare beauties, gallant ladies shine,
Whate'er is lovely or divine.

All other joys to this are folly,
None so sweet as melancholy.

Methinks I hear, methinks I see
Ghosts, goblins, fiends :my fantasy
Presents a thousand ugly shapes,
Headless bears, black men, and apes.
Doleful outcries, and fearful sights,
My sad and dismal soul affrights.

All my griefs to this are jolly,
None so damn'd as melancholy.

Methinks I court, methinks I kiss,
Methinks I now embrace my miss :
O blessed days, O sweet content !
In Paradise my time is spent !
Such thoughts may still my fancy move,
So may I ever be in love !

All my joys to this are folly,
Nought so sweet as melancholy.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »