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company was very merry, facete, and juvenile and no man of his time did surpass him for
ready and dexterous interlarding his common discourses among them with verses from the poets, or sentences from classic authors; which being then all the fashion in the uni'versity, made his company the more acceptable.
“ The Anatomy of Melancholy," was composed, (says Granger) with a view of re-, ļieving his own melancholy ; bụt increased it to such a degree, that nothing could make him laugh, but going to the bridge-foot, and hearing the ribaldry of the bargemen, which rarely failed to throw him into a violent fit of laughter. Before he was overcome with this horrid disorder, he in the intervals of his vapours was esteemed one of the most facetious companions in the university.
Dr. Johnson says of this work, that“ it was the only book that ever took him out of bed two hours sooner than he wished to rise." And again, “it is, perhaps, overloaded with quotations; but there is great spirit and great power in what Burton says, when he writes from his own mind."
Wharton says of it, that “the writer's van
riety 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, clothed in an uncommon quaintness of style, have contributed to render it, even to modern readers, a valuable repository of amusement and information.
“ The Anatomy of Melancholy,” has been the source of infinite plagiarisms. The wits of queen Anne's reign, and the beginning of that of George the First, were much indebted to it; and more recently, the numerous plagiarisms of Sterne from this author have been successo fully pointed out by Dr. Ferriar.
John Selden, the famed antiquarian, was born in 1584, at a small village called Salvintor, near Tering, a sea-port in Sussex. He, received his early education at the free-school of Chichester, and in 1598, was admitted of Hart Hall, Oxford. In 1602, he entered at Clifford's Inn as student of the law; and two years after was admitted socius of the Inner Temple. Convinced, however, that his talents were not of that description which would enable him to shine at the bar, he directed his attention chiefly to the investigation of the origin of law.
He was chosen in 1623, member of parliament' for Lancaster; and on the accession of Charles I. the following year, was returned a burgess for Great-Bedwin in Wiltshire. In
the parliament the year after, he was of the committee for drawing up the articles of impeachment against the duke of Buckingham. He had the principal share, too, in all the previous steps which led to the famous “ Petition of Right;" but the particulars of his pub, lic character are well known, In 1643, he obtained the post of keeper of records in the Tower. On the usurpation of Cromwell, he retired from public affairs, confining himself almost entirely to literary pursuits. He died in 1654. The following is a list of his works.
1. A Treatise of the Civil Gavernment of our Island before the coming in of the Normans; written in 1606.
2. Jani Anglorum Facies altera,
3. England's Epinomis. These two last tracts were both printed in 1610, 8vo. The former was translated into English by Dr. Adam Lyttleton, author of the Anglo-Latin, &c. Dictionary, with copious notes, under the name of Redman Westcot, Gent. Lond. 1683, folio. They contain many curious remarks upon the English history, relative to the Nora man government.
4. De Duello ; or, Of Single Combat.
Eighteen Songs in Michael Drayton's Polyolbion, 1612, folio.
6. The Titles of Honour. On this book, bishop Nicholson remarks, that, “ as to what concerns our nobility and gentry, all that come within either of those lists, will allow, that Mr. Selden's “Titles of Honour,' ought to be perused for the gaining of a general notion of the distinction of a degree, from an emperor down to a country gentleman.”
7. Notes on the De Laudibus Legum Anglia of sir John Fortescue, and on sir Ralph Hengham's Sums, 1616, Svo.
8. Idolatry of the ancient Syrians, 1617. The Latin title is, De Diis Syris Syntagmata duo. This treatise was written as a commentary upon all the passages of the Old Testament where mention is made of any of the heathen gods, as Bel, Asteroth, &c. and consequently, besides the Assyrian, gives an account of the Arabian, Ægyptian, Persian, African, and European idolatry.
9. A Dissertation upon the State of the Jews, formerly living in England, 1617. This is contained in Purchas's Pilgrimage.
10. The History of Tithes: sub Tenore Verborum sequente, 1618. Having in this book