Some little observation

I hear new news every day, and those ordinary rumours of war, plagues, fires, inundations, thefts, murders, massacres, meteors, comets, spectrums, prodigies, apparitions, of towns taken, cities besieged in France, Germany, Turkey, Persia, Poland, etc.

Daily musters and preparations, and such like, which these tempestuous times afford, battles fought, so many men slain, monomachies, shipwrecks, piracies, and sea-fights, peace, leagues, stratagems, and fresh alarms.

A vast confusion of vows, wishes, actions, edicts, petitions, lawsuits, pleas, laws, proclamations, complaints, grievances, are daily brought to our ears.

New books every day, pamphlets, currantoes, stories, whole catalogues of volumes of all sorts, new paradoxes, opinions, schisms, heresies, controversies in philosophy, religion, etc.

Now come tidings of weddings, maskings, mummeries, entertainments, jubilees, embassies, tilts and tournaments, trophies, triumphs, revels, sports, plays.

Then again, as in a new shifted scene, treasons, cheating tricks, robberies, enormous villanies in all kinds, funerals, burials, deaths of Princes, new discoveries, expeditions; now comical then tragical matters.

Today we hear of new Lords and officers created, tomorrow of some great men deposed, and then again of fresh honours conferred.

One is let loose, another imprisoned; one purchaseth, another breaketh: he thrives, his neighbour turns bankrupt; now plenty, then again dearth and famine; one runs, another rides, wrangles, laughs, weeps, etc.

Thus I daily hear, and such like, both private and public news.

Amdist the gallantry and misery of the world: jollity, pride, perplexities and cares, simplicity and villany.

Subtlety, knavery, candour and integrity, mutually mixed and offering themselves.

I rub on in a strictly private life; as I have still lived, so I now continue, as I was from the first, left to a solitary life, and mine own domestic discontents.

Saving that sometimes, not to tell a lie, as Diogenes went into the city, and Democritus to the haven, to see fashions, I did for my recreation now and then walk abroad, look into the world, and could not choose but make some little observation, not so wise an observer as a plain rehearser, not as they did to scoff or laugh at all, but with a mixed passion.

—Robert Burton, “Democritus Junior to the Reader”

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