The Anatomy of Melancholy "All Places Are Distant From Heaven Alike"

Robert Burton

"All Places Are Distant From Heaven Alike"

Context: As an early forerunner of Freud, the vicar Burton, who dabbled in every field of learning, spent much of his life writing a thick book that might be called "An Analysis of Morbid Psychology." But there was no body of applied science on which Burton could draw, so he took from every sort of source to produce a series of informal essays on ways of curing man's dissatisfaction with the universe. In the first two of his three Partitions, he considered first the causes and then the cures of melancholy. Section 3 of Partition II concerns remedies for discontent. No one should be unhappy at servitude, for everybody is subservient to some one: nobles to their king, lovers to their mistresses, and rich men to their gold. Imprisonment is not sufficient cause for discontent, since all life is a prison. Nor should one who is banished or forced to change his residence feel himself a slave at the orders of a master. His new place of residence is attractive to some one who considers the newcomer lucky to be there. A man can travel as quickly to Heaven from one place as from another.

. . . There is a base Nation in the north (saith Pliny), called Chauci, that live amongst rocks and sands by the seaside, feed on fish, drink water: and yet these base people account themselves slaves in respect, when they come to Rome . . . so it is. Fortune favors some to live at home to their further punishment: 't is want of judgment. All places are distant from Heaven alike, the Sun shines happily as warm in one city as in another, and to a wise man there is no difference of climes, . . .