Our villages are like molehills, and men as so many emmets, busy, busy still, going to and fro, in and out, and crossing one another’s projects, as the lines of several sea-cards cut each other in a globe or map. “Now light and merry,” but as one follows it) “by-and-by sorrowful and heavy; now hoping, then distrusting; now patient, tomorrow crying out; now pale, then red; running, sitting, sweating, trembling, halting,” etc. Some few amongst the rest, or perhaps one of a thousand, may be Pullus Jovis, in the world’s esteem, Gallinae filius albae, an happy and fortunate man, ad invidiam felix, because rich, fair, well allied, in honour and office; yet peradventure ask himself, and he will say, that of all others he is most miserable and unhappy.
When I first came to this quote, I pictured “emmets” as cute little prairie dog-like critters. But no. “Emmet” is Middle English for ant. So that brings this passage to an even grimmer level, if that’s possible.
I think we’ve been reading about how horrible people are for about eight subsections now. I can’t really discern much of a difference between them, but it’s a testament to Burton’s skill with words that he keeps finding increasingly devastating ways of describing how people suck.
I don’t know why on earth I have been drawing multiple illustrations per subsection for all of these “discontents.” I guess they bring out the masochist in me.
This post is part of a long, tedious, and very illustrated read-along of Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy. More info here and follow along on Facebook here. Illustrations posted via devon_isadevon on Instagram.