The Anatomy of Melancholy "Happy Is The City Which In Time Of Peace Thinks Of War"

Robert Burton

"Happy Is The City Which In Time Of Peace Thinks Of War"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The only published work by Robert Burton, after a lifetime of scholarly labor, was The Anatomy of Melancholy, a pseudoscientific and philosophic treatise on human happiness. It went into a number of revisions, beginning in 1624. The title page of the first printing gave as the author's name "Democritus, Jr." But a note to the reader revealed the real identity of the author. Partition II discusses remedies for the various causes of melancholy. For instance, a philosophic look at the situation can cure discontent. In the next Member, Burton declares that the best cure for most of man's other passions and feelings is foresight and preparedness. Meditate ahead of time about what is likely to come! He preaches the doctrine of preparedness both by man and by a nation against the woes of life that are bound to occur. Then the calamity will be less painful and troublesome. He cites classical authors, Virgil and Seneca, to prove his point. The couplets that in Burton's original appeared in Latin, have been translated into English.

No labor comes at unawares to me,
For I have long before cast what may be. (Virgil)
'T is not the first, this wound so sore;
I have suffered worse before. (Seneca)
The Commonwealth of Venice in their Armoury have this inscription, Happy is the city which in time of peace thinks of war; a fit Motto for every man's private home, happy is the man that provides for a future assault. . . .