28 juli 2009


Hij sprak ook voor mij (Democritus Jr)


     "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.

Hier is de opening van Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy (*) (en zie ook mijn M.E., depressies en woonsituatie), die begint met redenen voor zijn alias:


GENTLE Reader, I presume thou wilt be very inquisitive to know what antic 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 he said, Primum si noluero, non respondebo, quis coacturus est? I am a free man born, and may choose whether I will tell; who can compel me? If I be urged, 'twill 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 im 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, "and 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 than I need, I will show 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 satire, some ridiculous treatise (as I myself should have done): some prodigious tenet, or paradox of the earth's motion, of infinite worlds, in infinito vacuo, ex fortuita 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 hath been always an ordinary custom, as Gellius observes, "for later writers and impostors, to broach many absurd and insolent fictions, under the name of so noble a philosopher as Democritus, to get themselves credit, and by that means the more to be respected," as artificers usually do, Novo qui marmori ascribunt Praxitilum suo. 'Tis not so with me.

Non hic Centauros, non Gorgona, Harpyasquæ
Invenies, hominem pagina nostra sapit.

No Centaurs here, or Gorgons look to find,
My subject is of man and human kind.

Thou thyself art the subject of my discourse.

Quicquid agunt homines, votum, timor, ira, volaptas,
Gaudia, discursus, nostri farrago libelli.

Whate'er men do, vows, fears, in ire, in sport,
Joys, wand'rings, are the sum of my report.

My intent is no otherwise to use his name, than Mercurius Gallobelgicus, Mercurius Britannicus, use the name of Mercury, Democritus Christianus, &c.; although there be some other circumstances for which I have masked myself under this vizard, and some peculiar respect which I cannot so well express, until I have set down a brief character of this our Democritus, what he was, with an Epitome of his life.

Democritus, as he is described by Hippocrates and Laertius, was little wearish old man, very melancholy by nature, averse from company in his latter days, and much given to solitariness, a famous philosopher in his age, coævus with Socrates, wholly addicted to his studies at the last, and to a private life wrote many excellent works, a great divine, according to the divinity of those times, an expert physician, a politician, an excellent mathematician, as Diacosmus and the rest of his works do witness, he was much delighted with the studies of husbandry, saith Columella, and often I find him cited by Constantinus and others treating of that subject. He knew the natures, differences of all beasts, plants, fishes, birds; and, as some say, could understand the tunes and voices of them. In a word he was omnifariam doctus, a general scholar, a great student; and to the intent he might better contemplate, I find it related by some, that he put out his eyes, and was in his old age voluntarily blind, yet saw more than all Greece besides, and writ of every subject, Nihil in toto optificio naturæ de quo non scripsit. A man of an excellent wit, profound conceit; and to attain knowledge the better in his younger years he travelled to Egypt and Athens, to confer with learned men, "admired of some, despised of others." After a wandering life, he settled at Abdera, a town in Thrace, and was sent for thither to be their law-maker, Recorder, or town-clerk as some will; or as others, he was there bred and born. Howsoever it was, there he lived at last in a garden in the suburbs, wholly betaking himself to his studies and a private life, "saving that sometimes he would walk down to the haven, and laugh heartily at such variety of ridiculous objects, which there he saw." Such a one was Democritus.

But in the mean time, how doth this concern me, or upon what reference do I usurp this habit? I confess, indeed, that to compare myself unto him for aught I have yet said, were both impudency and arrogancy. I do not presume to make any parallel, Antistat mihi millibus trecentis, parvus sum, nullus sum, altum nec spiro, nec spero. Yet thus much I will say of myself; and that I hope without all suspicion of pride, or self-conceit, I have lived a silent, sedentary, solitary, private life, mihi et musis in the University, as long almost as Xenocrates in Athens, ad senectam fere to learn wisdom as he did, penned up most part in my study. For I have been brought up a student in the most flourishing college of Europe, augustissimo collegio, and can brag with Jovius, almost, "in ea luce domicilii Vaticani, totius orbis celeberrimi, per 37 annos multa opportunaque didici;" for thirty years I have continued (having the use of as good libraries as ever he had) a scholar, and would be therefore loth, either by living as a drone, to be an unprofitable or unworthy member of so learned and noble a society, or to write that which should be any way dishonourable to such a royal and ample foundation. Something I have done, though by my profession a divine, yet turbine raptus ingenii, as he said, out of a running wit, an unconstant, unsettled mind, I had a great desire (not able to attain to a superficial skill in any) to have some smattering in all, to be aliquis in omnibus, nullus in singulis, which Plato commends, out of him Lipsius approves and furthers, "as fit to be imprinted in all curious wits, not to be a slave of one science, or dwell together in one subject, as most do, but to rove abroad, centum puer artium, to have an oar in every man's boat, to taste of every dish, and sip of every cup," which, saith Montaigne, was well performed by Aristotle, and his learned countryman Adrian Turnebus. This roving humour (though not with like success) I have ever had, and like a ranging spaniel, that barks at every bird he sees, leaving his game, I have followed all, saving that which I should, and may justly complain, and truly, qui ubique est, nusquam est, (he that is everywhere is nowhere) which Gesner did in modesty, that I have read many books, but to little purpose, for want of good method; I have confusedly tumbled over divers authors in our libraries, with small profit for want of art, order, memory, judgment. I never travelled but in map or card, in which my unconfined thoughts have freely expatiated, as having ever been especially delighted with the study of Cosmography. Saturn was lord of my geniture, culminating, &c., and Mars principal significator of manners, in partile conjunction with my ascendant; both fortunate in their houses, &c. I am not poor, I am not rich; nihil est, nihil deest, I have little, I want nothing: all my treasure is in Minerva's tower. Greater preferment as I could never get, so am I not in debt for it, I have a competence (laus Deo) from my noble and munificent patrons, though I live still a collegiate student, as Democritus in his garden, and lead a monastic life, ipse mihi theatrum, sequestered from those tumults and troubles of the world, Et tanquam in specula positus, (as he said) in some high place above you all, like Stoicus Sapiens, omnia sæcula, præterita presentiaque videns, uno velut intuitu, I hear and see what is done abroad, how others run, ride, turmoil, and macerate themselves in court and country, far from those wrangling lawsuits, aulæ vanitatem, fori ambitionem, ridere mecum soleo: I laugh at all, only secure lest my suit go amiss, my ships perish, corn and cattle miscarry, trade decay, I have no wife nor children good or bad to provide for. A mere spectator of other men's fortunes and adventures, and how they act their parts, which methinks are diversely presented unto me as from a common theatre or scene. I hear new news every day, and those ordinary rumours of war, plagues, fires, inundations, thefts, murders, massacres, meteors, comets, spectrums, prodigies, apparitions, of towns taken, cities besieged in France, Germany, Turkey, Persia, Poland, &c., daily musters and preparations, and such like, which these tempestuous times afford, battles fought, so many men slain, monomachies, shipwrecks, piracies, and sea-fights; peace, leagues, stratagems, and fresh alarms. A vast confusion of vows, wishes, actions, edicts, petitions, lawsuits, pleas, laws, proclamations, complaints, grievances, are daily brought to our ears. New books every day, pamphlets, currantoes, stories, whole catalogues of volumes of all sorts, new paradoxes, opinions, schisms, heresies, controversies in philosophy, religion, &c. Now come tidings of weddings, maskings, mummeries, entertainments, jubilees, embassies, tilts and tournaments, trophies, triumphs, revels, sports, plays: then again, as in a new shifted scene, treasons, cheating tricks, robberies, enormous villainies in all kinds, funerals, burials, deaths of princes, new discoveries, expeditions, now comical, then tragical matters. To-day we hear of new lords and officers created, to-morrow of some great men deposed, and then again of fresh honours conferred; one is let loose, another imprisoned; one purchaseth, another breaketh: he thrives, his neighbour turns bankrupt: now plenty, then again dearth and famine; one runs, another rides, wrangles, laughs, weeps, &c. Thus I daily hear, and such like, both private and public news, amidst the gallantry and misery of the world; jollity, pride, perplexities and cares, simplicity and villainy; subtlety, knavery, candour and integrity, mutually mixed and offering themselves; I rub on privus privatus; as I have still lived, so I now continue, statu quo prius, left to a solitary life, and mine own domestic discontents: saving that sometimes, ne quid mentiar, as Diogenes went into the city, and Democritus to the haven to see fashions, I did for my recreation now and then walk abroad, look into the world, and could not choose but make some little observation, non tam sagax observator, ac simplex recitator, (not so sagacious an observer as simple a narrator), not as they did, to scoff or laugh at all, but with a mixed passion.

"Bilem saepe, jocum vestri movere tumultus."

Ye wretched mimics, whose fond heats have been,
How oft! the objects of my mirth and spleen.

I did sometime laugh and scoff with Lucian, and satirically tax with Menippus, lament with Heraclitus, sometimes again I was petulanti splene chachinno, (Per. a laugher with a petulant spleen) and then again, urere bilis jecur, I was much moved to see that abuse which I could not mend. In which passion howsoever I may sympathize with him or them, 'tis for no such respect I shroud myself under his name; but either in an unknown habit to assume a little more liberty and freedom of speech, or if you will needs know, for that reason and only respect which Hippocrates relates at large in his Epistle to Damegetus, wherein he doth express, how coming to visit him one day, he found Democritus in his garden at Abdera, in the suburb; under a shady bower, with a book on his knees, busy at his study, sometimes writing, sometimes walking. The subject of his book was melancholy and madness; about him lay the carcasses of many several beasts, newly by him cut up and anatomised; not that he did contemn God's creatures, as he told Hippocrates, but to find out the seat of this atra bilis, or melancholy, whence it proceeds, and how it was engendered in men's bodies, to the intent he might better cure it in himself, and by his writings and observations teach others how to prevent and avoid it. Which good intent of his, Hippocrates highly commended: Democritus Junior is therefore bold to imitate, and because he left it imperfect, and it is now lost, quasi succenturiator Democriti, to revive again, prosecute, and finish in this treatise.

You have had a reason of the name. If the title and inscription offend your gravity, were it a sufficient justification to accuse others, I could produce many sober treatises, even sermons themselves, which in their fronts carry more fantastical names. Howsoever, it is a kind of policy in these days, to prefix a fantastical title to a book which is to be sold; for, as larks come down to a day-net, many vain readers will tarry and stand gazing like silly passengers at an antic picture in a painter's shop, that will not look at a judicious piece. And, indeed, as Scaliger observes, "nothing more invites a reader than an argument unlooked for, unthought of, and sells better than a scurrile pamphlet," tum maxime cum novitas excitat palatum. "Many men," saith Gellius, "are very conceited in their inscriptions," "and able (as Pliny quotes out of Seneca) to make him loiter by the way that went in haste to fetch a midwife for his daughter, now ready to lie down." For my part, I have honourable precedents for this which I have done: I will cite one for all, Anthony Zara, Pap. Episc., his Anatomy of Wit, in four sections, members, subsections, &c., to be read in our libraries.

If any man except against the matter or manner of treating of this my subject, and will demand a reason of it, I can allege more than one; I write of melancholy, by being busy to avoid melancholy. There is no greater cause of melancholy than idleness, "no better cure than business," as Rhasis holds: and howbeit, stultus labor est ineptiarum, to be busy in toys is to small purpose, yet hear that divine Seneca, aliud agere quam nihil, better do to no end, than nothing. I wrote therefore. and busied myself in this playing labour, otiosaq. diligentia ut vitarem torporem feriandi with Vectius in Macrobius, atq. otium in utile verterem negotium.

Simul et jucunda est idonea dicere vitae,
Lectorem delectando simul atque monendo.

Poets would profit or delight mankind,
And with the pleasing have th' instructive join'd.
Profit and pleasure, then to mix with art,
T'inform the judgment, nor offend the heart,
Shall gain all votes. 

To this end I write, like them, saith Lucian, that "recite to trees, and declaim to pillars for want of auditors:" as Paulus Ægineta ingenuously confesseth, "not that anything was unknown or omitted, but to exercise myself," which course if some took, I think it would be good for their bodies, and much better for their souls; or peradventure as others do, for fame; to show myself (Scire tuum nihil est, nisi te scire hoc sciat alter). I might be of Thucydides' opinion, "to know a thing and not to express it, is all one as if he knew it not." When I first took this task in hand, et quod ait ille, impellente genio negotium suscepi, this I aimed at; vel ut lenirem animum scribendo, to ease my mind by writing; for I had gravidum cor, fœtum caput, a kind of imposthume in my head, which I was very desirous to be unladen of, and could imagine no fitter evacuation than this. Besides, I might not well refrain, for ubi dolor, ibi digitus, one must needs scratch where it itches. I was not a little offended with this malady, shall I say my Mistress "melancholy," my Ægeria, or my malus genius? and for that cause, as he that is stung with a scorpion, I would expel clavum clavo, comfort one sorrow with another, idleness with idleness, ut ex vipera Theriacum, make an antidote out of that which was the prime cause of my disease. Or as he did, of whom Felix Plater speaks, that thought he had some of Aristophanes' frogs in his belly, still crying Brecc ckex, coax, coax, oop, oop, and for that cause studied physic seven years, and travelled over most part of Europe to ease himself. To do myself good I turned over such physicians as our libraries would afford, or my private friends impart, and have taken this pains. And why not? Carden professeth he wrote his book, "De Consolatione" after his son's death, to comfort himself; so did Tully write of the same subject with like intent after his daughter's departure, if it be his at least, or some impostor's put out in his name, which Lipsius probably suspects. Concerning myself, I can peradventure affirm with Marius in Sallust, "that which others hear or read of, I felt and practised myself; they get their knowledge by books, I mine by melancholising." Experto crede Roberto. Something I can speak out of experience, ærumnabilis experientia me docuit; and with her in the poet, Haud ignara mali miseris succurrere disco(ido. Virg. "Taught by that Power that pities me, I learn to pity them"); I would help others out of a fellow-feeling; and, as that virtuous lady did of old, "being a leper herself, bestow all her portion to build an hospital for lepers," I will spend my time and knowledge, which are my greatest fortunes, for the common good of all.

Schitterend! En dit zijn alleen de eerste paar alineaas van 2.8 MB van zijn overige tekst over en rondom zijn onderwerp in html. O ja, voor het geval het u niet opviel: Het Latijn wordt (vrijwel) voortdurend (vrij) vertaald, dus ook dat krijgt u zo maar mee! (**)

Zie ook (bijvoorbeeld) mijn Het raadsel van de Nederlandse literatuur,Het àllermooiste uit de Nederliteratuur en 30 favoriete schrijvers: Burton moet dan wel de 31ste zijn - tenzij u meent dat Burton niet schrijven kon, natuurlijk.

Wat een mens al niet kan leren op z'n 59ste, met hulp van het internet, want van het boek weet ik al sinds 1970 op z'n laatst.

En de editie waar ik naar link is uitstekend, in html althans (en de andere bekeek ik niet, want persoonlijk prefereer ik meestal html boven pdf, en open source boven hidden source).

(*) Na 8 eerdere bestanden van in totaal 163 (ik kon er drie niet neerladen)

(**) Ik geef toe 2 jaar avondgymnasium (beta) gedaan te hebben, en kan dus niet goed beoordelen wat u van Burton's Engels vindt zonder enige kennis van Latijn. Wellicht oogt dat heel anders, en als het Grieks was, dat ik ook kreeg op dat gymnasium, van meneer Waleson, die een aardige en intelligente man was, dan was het voor mij een stuk moeilijker, en mogelijk irritant.

Hoe het zij: Burton's Engels is prachtig.

Maarten Maartensz

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