Robert Burton


English Clergyman, Writer and Scholar at Oxford University

Author Quotes

When I lie waking all alone, Recounting what I have ill done, My thoughts on me then tyrannize, Fear and sorrow me surprise, Whether I tarry still or go, Methinks the time moves very slow, All my griefs to this are jolly, Naught so sad as melancholy. 'Tis my sole plague to be alone, I am a beast, a monster grown,I will no light nor company, I find it now my misery. The scene is turn'd, my joys are gone, Fear, discontent, and sorrows come. All my griefs to this are folly, Naught so fierce as melancholy.

When they are at Rome, they do there as they see done.

What can't be cured must be endured.

What is life, when wanting love? Night without a morning; love's the cloudless summer sun, nature gay adorning.

When he will he shall have nay.

What a glut of books! Who can read them?

We have an innate tendency to characterize the unexpected and unlikely according to our worldview.

We want to be known for having original ideas, inspired hunches, and gut feelings that make a difference. Indeed, a "well-honed sixth sense"' is considered a measure of the good clinician. But being a good doctor also requires sticking with the best medical evidence, even if it contradicts your personal experience. We need to distinguish between gut feeling and testable knowledge, between hunches and empirically tested evidence.

We can say nothing but what hath been said. Our poets steal from Homer. ... Our story-dressers do as much; he that comes last is commonly best.

We can make mayors and officers every year, but not scholars.

Truth is the shattered mirror strewn In myriad bits; while each believes his little bit the whole to own.

To think well of every other man's condition, and to dislike our own, is one of the misfortunes of human nature. "Pleased with each other's lot, our own we hate."

Tobacco, divine, rare, superexcellent tobacco, which goes far beyond all the panaceas, potable gold, and philosophers stones, a sovereign remedy to all diseases but as it is commonly abused by most men, which take it as tinkers do ale, 'Tis a plague, a mischief, a violent purger of goods, lands, health; hellish, devilish and damned tobacco, the ruin and overthrow of body and soul.

Titles, indeed, may be purchased; but virtue is the only coin that makes the bargain valid.

To enlarge or illustrate this power and effect of love is to set a candle in the sun.

'Tis a hydra's head contention; the more they strive the more they may: and as Praxiteles did by his glass, when he saw a scurvy face in it, brake it in pieces; but for that one he saw many more as bad in a moment.

'Tis the beginning of hell in this life, and a passion not to be excused. Every other sin hath some pleasure annexed to it, or will admit of an excuse: envy alone wants both.

They have cheveril consciences that will stretch.

There are true graces, which, as Homer feigns, are linked and tied hand in hand, because it is by their influence that human hearts are so firmly united to each other.

There is no such thing as happiness, only lesser shades of melancholy.

They had their lean books with the fat of others' works.

The world produces for every pint of honey a gallon of gall, for every dram of pleasure a pound of pain, for every inch of mirth an ell of moan; and as the ivy twines around the oak, so does misery and misfortune encompass the happy man. Felicity, pure and unalloyed felicity, is not a plant of earthly growth; her gardens are the skies.

The rich Physician, honor'd Lawyers ride, Whilst the poor Scholar foots it by their side.

The miller sees not all the water that goes by his mill.

The passions and desires, like the two twists of a rope, mutually mix one with the other, and twin inextricably round the heart; producing good if moderately indulged; but certain destruction if suffered to become inordinate.

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English Clergyman, Writer and Scholar at Oxford University