Robert Burton


English Clergyman, Writer and Scholar at Oxford University

Author Quotes

Every man for himself, his own ends, the Devil for all.

He that will not when he may, when he will he shall have nay.

It is most true, stylus virum arguit, our style bewrays us.

As he said in Machiavel, omnes eodem patre nati, Adam's sons, conceived all and born in sin, etc. "We are by nature all as one, all alike, if you see us naked; let us wear theirs and they our clothes, and what is the difference?"

Every man hath a good and a bad angel attending on him in particular, all his life long.

Health indeed is a precious thing, to recover and preserve which we undergo any misery, drink bitter potions, freely give our goods: restore a man to his health, his purse lies open to thee

Italy, a paradise for horses, hell for women, as the proverb goes.

As that great captain, Ziska, would have a drum made of his skin when he was dead, because he thought the very noise of it would put his enemies to flight.

Every man hath liberty to write, but few ability. Heretofore learning was graced by judicious scholars, but now noble sciences are vilified by base and illiterate scribblers, that either write for vain-glory, need, to get money, or as Parasites to flatter and collogue with some great men, they put out trifles, rubbish and trash. Among so many thousand Authors you shall scarce find one by reading of whom you shall be any whit better, but rather much worse; by which he is rather infected than any way perfected? What a catalogue of new books this year, all his age (I say) have our Frankfurt Marts, our domestic Marts, brought out. Twice a year we stretch out wits out and set them to sale; after great toil we attain nothing?What a glut of books! Who can read them? As already, we shall have a vast Chaos and confusion of Books, we are oppressed with them, our eyes ache with reading, our fingers with turning. For my part I am one of the number?one of the many?I do not deny it.

Hinc quam sic calamus s‘vior ense, patet. The pen worse than the sword.

Let me not live, saith Aretine's Antonia, if I had not rather hear thy discourse than see a play.

As the rose-tree is composed of the sweetest flowers and the sharpest thorns; as the heavens are sometimes fair and sometimes overcast, alternately tempestuous and serene; so is the life of man intermingled with hopes and fears, with joys and sorrows, with pleasures and with pains.

Every man, as the saying is, can tame a shrew but he that hath her.

Hope ye unhappy ones; ye happy ones, fear.

Let the world have their Maygames, wakes, whetsunales, their dancings and concerts; their puppet-shows, hobby horses, tabors, bagpipes, balls, barley-breaks, and whatever sports and recreations please them best, provided they be followed with discretion.

At their first coming they are generally entertained by Pleasure and Dalliance, and have all the content that possibly may be given, so long as their money lasts; but when their means fail they are contemptibly thrust out at a back door headlong, and there left to Shame, Reproach, Despair.

Every other sin hath some pleasure annexed to it, or will admit of an excuse; envy alone wants both. Other sins last but for awhile; the gut may be satisfied, anger remits, hatred hath an end, envy never ceaseth.

How much more cruel the pen may be than the sword.

Let the world have their May-games, wakes,? and whatsoever sports and recreations please them, provided they be followed with discretion.

Be fearful only of thyself, and stand in awe of none more than thine own conscience.

Every schoolboy hath that famous testament of Grunnius Corocotta Porcellus at his fingers' end.

I am not poor, I am not rich; nihil est, nihil deest, I have little, I want nothing: all my treasure is in Minerva?s tower...I live still a collegiate student...and lead a monastic life, ipse mihi theatrum [sufficient entertainment to myself], sequestered from those tumults and troubles of the world...aulae vanitatem, fori ambitionem, ridere mecum soleo [I laugh to myself at the vanities of the court, the intrigues of public life], I laugh at all.

Let thy fortune be what it will, 'tis thy mind alone that makes thee poor or rich, miserable or happy.

A good conscience is a continual feast, but a galled conscience is as great a torment as can possibly happen, a still baking oven (so Pierius in his Hieroglyph compares it), another hell.

Be not solitary, be not idle.

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English Clergyman, Writer and Scholar at Oxford University