Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy
Yea, but thou thinkest thou art more miserable than the rest, other men are happy but in respect of thee, their miseries are but flea-bitings to thine, thou alone art unhappy, none so bad as thyself. Yet if, as Socrates said, All men in the world should come and bring their grievances together, of body, mind, fortune, sores, ulcers, madness, epilepsies, agues, and all those common calamities of beggary, want, servitude, imprisonment, and lay them on a heap to be equally divided, wouldst thou share alike, and take thy portion? or be as thou art? Without question thou wouldst be as thou art.
Every man knows his own, but not others' defects and miseries; and 'tis the nature of all men still to reflect upon themselves, their own misfortunes, not to examine or consider other men's, not to compare themselves with others: To recount their miseries, but not their good gifts, fortunes, benefits, which they have, or ruminate on their adversity, but not once to think on their prosperity, not what they have, but what they want: to look still on them that go before, but not on those infinite numbers that come after.
Be content and rest satisfied, for thou art well in respect to others: be thankful for that thou hast, that God hath done for thee, he hath not made thee a monster, a beast, a base creature, as he might, but a man, a Christian, such a man; consider aright of it, thou art full well as thou art. Quicquid vult habere nemo potest, no man can have what he will, Illud potest nolle quod non habet, he may choose whether he will desire that which he hath not. Thy lot is fallen, make the best of it.
Go on then merrily to heaven. If the way be troublesome, and you in misery, in many grievances: on the other side you have many pleasant sports, objects, sweet smells, delightsome tastes, music, meats, herbs, flowers, &c. to recreate your senses.