Robert Burton (8 February 1577 – 25 January 1640) was an English writer and fellow of Oxford University, best known for his encyclopedic book The Anatomy of Melancholy.
Born in 1577 to a comfortably well-off family of the landed gentry, Burton attended two grammar schools and matriculated into Brasenose College, Oxford in 1593, age 15. Burton’s education at Oxford was unusually lengthy, possibly drawn out by an affliction of melancholy, and including an early transfer to Christ Church. Burton received an MA and BD, and by 1607 was qualified as a tutor. From as early as 1603, Burton indulged early literary interests at Oxford, including some Latin poems, a now-lost play performed before and panned by King James I himself, and his only surviving play: an academic satire called Philosophaster. This work, though less well regarded than Burton’s masterpiece, has notably “received more attention than most of the other surviving examples of university drama”.
Burton’s most famous work and greatest achievement was The Anatomy of Melancholy. First published in 1621, it was reprinted with additions from Burton no fewer than five times. A digressive and labyrinthine work, Burton wrote as much to alleviate his own melancholy as to help others. The final edition came to more than 500,000 words total. The book is permeated by quotations from and paraphrases of many authorities, both classical and contemporary, amounting to the culmination of a lifetime’s worth of erudition.
Burton died in 1640. His large personal library was split between the Bodleian and Christ Church.
Source – Wikipedia.
25 Robert Burton Quotes (The Anatomy of Melancholy):
- A dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant may see farther than a giant himself.
2. Thou canst not think worse of me than I do of myself.
3. One religion is as true as another.
4. That which others hear or read of, I felt and practised myself; they get their knowledge by books, I mine by melancholizing.
5. Let thy fortune be what it will, ’tis thy mind alone that makes thee poor or rich, miserable or happy.
6. He that increaseth wisdom, increaseth sorrow.
7. Worldly wealth is the Devil’s bait; and those whose minds feed upon riches recede, in general, from real happiness, in proportion as their stores increase, as the moon, when she is fullest, is farthest from the sun.
8. Old friends become bitter enemies on a sudden for toys and small offenses.
9. The men who succeed are the efficient few. They are the few who have the ambition and will power to develop themselves.
10. What cannot be cured must be endured.
11. To enlarge or illustrate this power and effect of love is to set a candle in the sun.
12. It is an old saying, “A blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword”; and many men are as much galled with a calumny, a scurrile and bitter jest, a libel, a pasquil, satire, apologue, epigram, stage-plays, or the like, as with any misfortune whatsoever.
13. Wine is strong, the king is strong, women are strong, but truth overcometh all things.
14. If you like not my writing, go read something else.
15. Every man for himself, the devil for all.
16. We love neither God nor our neighbor as we should. Our love in spiritual things is “too defective, in worldly things too excessive, there is a jar in both.” We love the world too much; God too little; our neighbor not at all, or for our own ends.
17. Let thy fortune be what it will, ’tis thy mind alone that makes thee poor or rich, miserable or happy.
18. Melancholy can be overcome only by melancholy.
19. A good conscience is a continual feast, but a galled conscience is as great a torment as can possibly happen, a still baking oven (so Pierius in his Hieroglyph compares it), another hell.
20. The eyes are the harbingers of love, and the first step of love is sight.
21. No cord or cable can draw so forcibly, or bind so fast, as [love] can do with a single thread.
22. A quiet mind cureth all.
23. Be not solitary, be not idle
24. [E]very man hath liberty to write, but few ability. Heretofore learning was graced by judicious scholars, but now noble sciences are vilified by base and illiterate scribblers, that either write for vain-glory, need, to get money, or as Parasites to flatter and collogue with some great men, they put out trifles, rubbish and trash. Among so many thousand Authors you shall scarce find one by reading of whom you shall be any whit better, but rather much worse; by which he is rather infected than any way perfected.
25. If heaven be so fair,the sun so fair, how much fairer shall He be that made them fair? For by the greatness and beauty of the creatures, proportionally the maker of them is seen.