The Anatomy of Melancholy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 2,057 pages of information about The Anatomy of Melancholy.
house out at the windows into the street, or into the sea, as they supposed; thus they continued mad a pretty season, and being brought before the magistrate to give an account of this their fact, they told him (not yet recovered of their madness) that what was done they did for fear of death, and to avoid imminent danger:  the spectators were all amazed at this their stupidity, and gazed on them still, whilst one of the ancientest of the company, in a grave tone, excused himself to the magistrate upon his knees, O viri Tritones, ego in imo jacui, I beseech your deities, &c. for I was in the bottom of the ship all the while:  another besought them as so many sea gods to be good unto them, and if ever he and his fellows came to land again, [2394]he would build an altar to their service.  The magistrate could not sufficiently laugh at this their madness, bid them sleep it out, and so went his ways.  Many such accidents frequently happen, upon these unknown occasions.  Some are so caused by philters, wandering in the sun, biting of a mad dog, a blow on the head, stinging with that kind of spider called tarantula, an ordinary thing if we may believe Skeuck. l. 6. de Venenis, in Calabria and Apulia in Italy, Cardan, subtil. l. 9. Scaliger exercitat. 185. Their symptoms are merrily described by Jovianus Pontanus, Ant. dial. how they dance altogether, and are cured by music. [2395]Cardan speaks of certain stones, if they be carried about one, which will cause melancholy and madness; he calls them unhappy, as an [2396]_adamant, selenites_, &c. “which dry up the body, increase cares, diminish sleep:”  Ctesias in Persicis, makes mention of a well in those parts, of which if any man drink, [2397]"he is mad for 24 hours.”  Some lose their wits by terrible objects (as elsewhere I have more [2398]copiously dilated) and life itself many times, as Hippolitus affrighted by Neptune’s seahorses, Athemas by Juno’s furies:  but these relations are common in all writers.

[2399] “Hic alias poteram, et plures subnectere causas,
        Sed jumenta vocant, et Sol inclinat, Eundum est.”

       “Many such causes, much more could I say,
        But that for provender my cattle stay: 
        The sun declines, and I must needs away.”

These causes if they be considered, and come alone, I do easily yield, can do little of themselves, seldom, or apart (an old oak is not felled at a blow) though many times they are all sufficient every one:  yet if they concur, as often they do, vis unita fortior; et quae non obsunt singula, multa nocent, they may batter a strong constitution; as [2400]Austin said, “many grains and small sands sink a ship, many small drops make a flood,” &c., often reiterated; many dispositions produce an habit.


SUBSECT.  I.—­Continent, inward, antecedent, next causes and how the body works on the mind.

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The Anatomy of Melancholy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.