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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 suburbs, under a shady bower, with a book on his knees, busy at his study, sometime writing, sometime 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 anatomized; 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, 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 treatiset
The following passage, which describes the commencement of melancholy, is exceedingly beautiful, rational, and just. Vol. i. p. 126.
Voluntary solitariness is that which is familiar with melancholy, and gently brings on, like a Siren, 1 shooing-horn, or some sphinx, to this irrevocable gulf: a primary cause Piso calls it; most pleasant it is at first, to such as are melancholy given, to lie in bed whole days, and keep their chambers, to walk alone in some solitary grove, betwixt wood and water, by a brook side, to meditate upon some delightsome and pleasant subject, which shall affect them most; amabilis insania, and mentis gratissimus error. A most incomparable delight it is so to me lancholize, and build castles in the air; to go smiling to themselves, acting an infinite variety of parts, which they suppose, and strongly imagine they represent, or that they see acted or done. Blanda quidem ab initio, saith Lemnius, to conceive and meditate of such pleasant things sometimes, present, past, or to come, as Rhasis speaks. So delightsome these toys are at first, they could spend whole days and nights without sleep, even whole years alone in such contemplations and fantastical meditations, which are like unto dreams: and they will hardly be drawn from them, or willingly interrupt. So pleasant their vain conceits are, that they hinder their ordinary tasks and necessary business; they cannot address themselves to them, or almost to any study or employment: these fantastical and bewitching thoughts so covertly, so feelingly, so urgently, so continually, set upon, creep in, insinuate, possess, overcome, distract, and detain them; they cannot, I say, go about their more necessary business, stave off or extricate themselves, but are ever musing, melancholizing, and carried along, as he (they say) that is led round about an heath with a puck in the night. They run earnestly on in this labyrinth of anxious and solicitous melancholy meditations, and cannot well or willingly refrain, or easily leave off winding and unwinding themselves, as so many clocks, and still pleasing their humours, until at last the scene is turned upon a sudden, by some bad object; and they, being now habituated to such vain meditations and solitary places, can endure no company, can ruminate of nothing but harsh and distasteful subjects. Fear, sorrow, suspicion, subrusticus pudor, discontent, cares, and weariness of life, surprize them in a moment; and they can think of nothing else: continually suspecting, no sooner are their eyes open, but this infernal plague of melancholy seizeth on them, and terrifies their souls, representing some dismal object to their minds, which now, by no means, no labour, no persuasions, they can avoid; hæret lateri lethalis arundo; they may not be rid of it; they cannot resist. I may not deny, but that there is some profitable meditation, contemplation, and kind of solitariness, to be embraced, which the fathers so highly
commended. Hierom, Chrysostome, Cyprian, Austin, in whole tracts, which Petrarch, Erasmus, Stella, and others, so much magnify in their books. A paradise, au heaven on earth, if it be used aright, good for the body, and better for the soul; as many of these old monks used it, to divine contemplation; as Simulus, a courtier in Adrian's time, Dioclesian the emperor, retired themselves, &c. In that sense, Vatia solus scit titere; Vatia lives alone; which the Romans were wont to say, when they commended a country life; or to the bettering of their knowledge, as Democritus, Clanthes, and those excellent philosophers, have ever done, to sequester themselves from the tumultuous world; or as in Pliny's Villa Laurentana, Tully's Tuscula, Jovius' study, that they might better vacare studiis et Deo ; serve God and follow their studies. Methinks, therefore, our too zealous innovators were not so well advised in that general subversion of abbeys and religious houses, promiscuously to fling down all. They might have taken away those
gross abuses crept in amongst them, rectified such inconveniences, and not so far to have raved and raged against those fair buildings, and everlasting monuments of our forefathers' devotion, consecrated to pious uses. Some monasteries and collegiate cells might have been well spared, and their revenues otherwise employed, here and there one, in good towns or cities at least, for men and women of all sorts and conditions to live in, tu sequester themselves from the cares and tumults of the world, that were not desirous or fit to marry, or otherwise willing to be troubled with common affairs, and know not well where to bestow themselves, to live apart in, for more conveniency, good education, better company sake; to follow their studies (1) say) to the perfection of arts and sciences, common good, and, as some truly devoted monks of old bad done, freely and truly to serve God: for these men are neither solitary, nor idle, as the poet made answer to the husbandman in Æsop, that objected idleness to him ; he was never so idle as in his company; or that Scipio Africanus, in Tully, nunquam minus solus, quam quum solus ; nunquam minus otiosus quam quum esset otiosus; never less solitary than when he was alone, never more busy than when he seemed to be most idle. It is reported by Plato, in his dialogue De Amore, in that prodigious commendation of Socrates, how a deep meditation coming into Socrates' mind by chance, he stood still musing, eodem vestigio cogitabundus, from morning to noon; and when, as then he had not yet finished his meditation, perstabat cogitans, he so continued till the evening; the soldiers (for he then followed the camp) observed him with admiration, and on set purpose watched all night; but he persevered immoveable ad exortum solis, till the sun rose in the morning,