Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Anatomy of Melancholy

It's been long since I posted an extract from The Melancholy Book. ("spleen weak by nature, and not able to discharge his office" LOL!)


As before, the cause of this kind of melancholy is inward or outward. Inward, [2449]when the liver is apt to engender such a humour, or the spleen weak by nature, and not able to discharge his office. A melancholy temperature, retention of haemorrhoids, monthly issues, bleeding at nose, long diseases, agues, and all those six non-natural things increase it. But especially [2450]bad diet, as Piso thinks, pulse, salt meat, shellfish, cheese, black wine, &c. Mercurialis out of Averroes and Avicenna condemns all herbs: Galen, lib. 3, de loc. affect. cap. 7, especially cabbage. So likewise fear, sorrow, discontents, &c., but of these before. And thus in brief you have had the general and particular causes of melancholy.

Now go and brag of thy present happiness, whosoever thou art, brag of thy temperature, of thy good parts, insult, triumph, and boast; thou seest in what a brittle state thou art, how soon thou mayst be dejected, how many several ways, by bad diet, bad air, a small loss, a little sorrow or discontent, an ague, &c.; how many sudden accidents may procure thy ruin, what a small tenure of happiness thou hast in this life, how weak and silly a creature thou art. Humble thyself, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, 1 Peter, v. 6, know thyself, acknowledge thy present misery, and make right use of it. Qui stat videat ne cadat. Thou dost now flourish, and hast bona animi, corporis, et fortunae, goods of body, mind, and fortune, nescis quid serus secum vesper ferat, thou knowest not what storms and tempests the late evening may bring with it. Be not secure then, be sober and watch, [2451]fortunam reverenter habe, if fortunate and rich; if sick and poor, moderate thyself. I have said.

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