Burton’s Anatomy (excerpt)— Ansgar Allen

. .— in , improperly so called, .

for a pint of honey thou shalt find a gallon of gall
for a dram of pleasure a pound of pain
for an inch of mirth an ell of moan
these miseries encompass our life
get thee gone hence if thou canst not brook it
there is no way to avoid it, but to arm thyself
with patience, to oppose thyself unto it, constantly
to bear it. into a labyrinth of singular moderation
and well-composed carriage

digestion hindered, sleep gone, spirits obscured
his heart heavy, misaffected
wind, crudity, on a sudden overtake him
and he himself overcome like a broken-winged goose
droops and pines away, and is brought at last
to the philosophers, seized, or plunged
more or less into this infernal gulf, or waded deeper
howsoever pleasing at first, or displeasing
violent and tyrannizing over those they seize
these men are grown to an habit it will hardly be removed

. .— of the , , .

divide them into profitable and excrementitious
begotten of the more feculent part, and purged
from the spleen, brought up to the brain
and diffused by the nerves

. .— .

bones are begotten of the thickest of the seed
some say there be 304, some 307, or 313 in man’s body
no nerves in them, and without sense
gristle is a substance softer than bone
harder than the rest
their subserving tendons proceed from the brain
and carry the animal spirits

the softer serve the senses
first the optic nerves
the second move the eyes; the third serve the tongue
the fourth the palate; the fifth belong to the ears
the sixth is most ample, and runs over the bowels
the seventh proceeding from the marrow in the back
long and hollow
convey the vital spirit

to discern which, they say
the anatomist was wont to cut up men alive
from which the rest are derived, the root of all
fetch air to refrigerate the heart. carrying blood
and natural spirits; they feed all the parts
emulgent strings, white and solid
composed of the most thick and unctuous matter
skin covers the rest

. .— the and her .

the perfection of philosophers, and the essence
of other things, as neoteric philosophers confess
hath been much controverted

carcasses bleed at the sight of such arguments
for some defect of organs rational men
may be vegetal

as the poet extinguished by death
for want of matter, as a lamp
for defect of oil to maintain it



. .— age a cause.

in all ages there should be (as usually there is)
once in 600 years, a transmigration of nations
as a deluge to alter our complexions

our generation is corrupt
our fathers bad
and we are like to be worse



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


as wine savours of the cask wherein it is kept
the soul receives a tincture from the body
clogged with gross humours, and retentions

. .— of particular , causes.

flatuous melancholy
the most grievous and frequent
for he that doth not his duty
in purging as he ought
from the nether mouth of the ventricle

. .— of from the whole .

seest in what a brittle state thou art
how soon thou mayst be dejected
how many sudden accidents may procure thy ruin
what a small tenure of happiness
thou hast in this life
how weak and silly a creature thou art
know thyself, acknowledge thy present misery
and make right use of it


. .— of -.

writers putting signs in the brain as moist cures
more windy than the rest, superfluous cogitations
by the reason of scoffers themselves, they learn without
a teacher
those feral passions speak strange languages
from the brain’s distempered heat


Ansgar Allen is the author of several books, including the novellas, Wretch (Schism) and The Sick List (2021).

Burton’s Anatomy, available at: schismpress.tumblr.com/neuronics