From Robert Burton's prologue to his Anatomy of Melancholy, writing pseudonymously as "Democritus Junior"—perhaps the first academic blogger, or the second, after Montaigne.
Gentle reader, I presume thou wilt be very inquisitive to know what antic or personate actor this is, that so insolently intrudes upon this common theatre to the world's view, arrogating another man's name; whence he is why he doth it, and what he hath to say. Although, as he said, Primum si noluero, non respondebo, quis coacturus est? I am a free man born, and may choose whether I will tell; who can compel me? If I be urged, I will as readily reply as that Egyptian in Plutarch, when a curious fellow would needs know what he had in his basket. Quum vides velatam, quid inquiris in rem absconditam? It was therefore covered, because he should not know what was in it. Seek not after that which is hid; if the contents please thee, "and be for thy use, supppose the Man in the Moon, or whom thou wilt, to be the author"; I would not willingly be known. Yet in some sort to give thee satisfaction, which is more than I need, I will show a reason, both of this usurped name, title, and subject. And first of the name of Democritus, lest any man by reason of it should be deceived, expecting a pasquil, a satire, some ridiculous treatise (as I myself should have done), some prodigious tenent, or paradox of the earth's motion, of infinite worlds, in infinito vacuo, ex fortuita atomorum collisione, in an infinite waste, so caused by an accidental collision of motes in the sun, all which Democritus held, Epicurus and their master Leucippus of old maintained, and are lately revived by Copernicus, Brunus, and some others. Besides, it hath been always an ordinary custom, as Gellius observes, "for later writers and impostors to broach many absurd and insolent fictions under the name of so noble a philosopher as Democritus, to get themselves credit, and by that means the more to be respected," as artificers usually do, Novo qui marmori ascribunt Praxitelen suo. 'Tis not so with me,
Thou thyself art the subject of my discourse.
Non hic Centauros, non Gorgonas, Harpyasque
Invenies, hominem pagina nostra sapit.
No Centaurs here, or Gorgons look to find,
My subject is of man and humankind
My intent is no otherwise to use his name, than Mercurius Gallobelgicus, Mercurius Britannicus, use the name of Mercury, Democritus Christianus, etc.; although there be some other circumstances for which I have masked myself under this vizard, and some perculiar respects which I cannot so well express, until I have set down a brief character of this our Democritus, what he was, with an epitome of his life.
Quicquid agunt homines, votum, timor, ira, voluptas,
Gaudia, discursus, nostri farrago libelli
Whate'er men do, vows, fears, in ire, in sport,
Joys, wand'rings, are the sum of my report.
Democritus, as he is described by Hippocrates and Laertius, was a little wearish old man, very melancholy by nature, averse from company in his better days, and much given to solitariness, a famous philosopher in his age, coaevus with Socrates, wholly addicted to his studies at the last, and to a private life: writ many excellent works, a great divine, according to the divinity of those times, an expert physician, a politician, an excellent mathematician, as Diacosmus and the rest of his works do witness. He was much delighted with the studies of husbandry, saith Columella, and often I find him cited by Constantinus and others treating of that subject. He knew the natures, differences of all beasts, plants, fishes, birds; and, as some say, could understand the tunes and voices of them. In a word, he was omnifariam doctus, a general scholar, a great student; and to the intent he might better contemplate, I find it related by some, that he put out his eyes, and was in his old age voluntarily blind, yet saw more than all Greece besides, and writ of every subject, Nihil in toto opificio naturae, de quo non scripsit. A man of an excellent wit, profound conceit; and to attain knowledge the better in his younger years he travelled to Egypt and Athens, to confer with learned men, "admired of some, despised of others." After a wandering life, he settled at Abdera, a town in Thrace, and was sent for thither to be their law-maker, recorder, or town clerk as some will; or as others, he was there bred and born. Howsoever it was, there he lived at last in a garden in the suburbs, wholly betaking himself to his studies and a private life, "saving that sometimes he would walk down to the haven, and laugh heartily at such variety of ridiculous objects, which there he saw." Such a one was Democritus.
But in the meantime, how doth this concern me, or upon what reference do I usurp his habit? I confess, indeed, that to compare myself unto him for aught I have yet said, were both impudency and arrogancy. I do not presume to make any parallel, antistat mihi millibus trecentis, parvus sum, nullus sum, altum nec spiro, nec spero. Yet thus much I will say of myself, and that I hope without all suspicion of pride, or self-conceit, I have lived a silent, sedentary, solitary, private life, mihi et musis in the university, as long almost as Xenocrates in Athens, ad senectam fere to learn wisdom as he did, penned up most part in my study. For I have been brought up a student in the most flourishing college of Europe, augustissimo collegio, and can brag with Jovius, almost, in ea luce domicilii Vaticani, totius orbis celeberrimi, per 37 annos multa opportunque didici; for thirty years I have continued (having the use of of as good libraries as he ever had) a scholar, and would be therefore loath, either by living as a drone to be an unprofitable or unworthy member of so learned and noble a society, or to write that which should be anyway dishonourable to such a royal and ample foundation. Something I have done, though by my profession a divine, yet turbine raptus ingenii, as he said, out of a running wit, an unconstant, unsettled mind, I had a great desire (not able to attain to a superficial skill in any) to have some smattering in all, to be aliquis in omnibus, nullus in singulis, which Plato commends, out of him Lipsius approves and furthers, "as fit to be imprinted in all curious wits, not to be a slave of one science, or dwell altogether in one subject, as most do, but to rove abroad, centum puer artium, to have an oar in every man's boat, to taste of every dish, and to sip every cup," which saith Montaigne, was well performed by Aristotle and his learned countryman Adrian Turnebos. This roving humour though not with like success) I have ever had, and like a ranging spaniel, that barks at every bird he sees, leaving his game, I have followed all, saving that which I should, and may justly complain, and truly, qui ubique est, nusquam est, which Gesner did in modesty, that I have read many books, but too little purpose, for want of good method; I have confusedly tumbled over divers authors in our libraries, with small profit for want of art, order, memory, judgment. I never travelled but in map or card, in which my unconfined thoughts have freely expatiated, as having ever been especially delighted with the study of cosmography. Saturn was lord of my geniture, culminating, etc., and Mars principal significator of manners, in partile conjunction with mine ascendant; both fortunate in their houses, etc. I am not poor, I am not rich: nihil est, nihil deest. I have little, I want nothing: all my treasure is in Minerva's tower. Greater preferment as I could never get, so am I not in debt for it, I have a competency (laus Deo) from my noble and munificent patrons, though I live still a colegiate student, as Democritus did in his garden, and lead a monastic life, ipse mihi theatrum, sequestered from those tumults and troubles of the world, et tantam in specula positus (as he said), in some high place above you all, like Stoicus sapiens, omnia saecula praeterita praesentique videns, uno velut intuitu, I hear and see what is done abroad, how others run, ride, turmoil, and macerate themselves in court and country, far from those wrangling lawsuits, aulae vanitatem, fori ambitionem, ridere mecum soleo, I laugh at all: "only secure lest my suit go amiss, my ships perish," corn and cattle miscarry, trade decay, "I have no wife nor children good or bad to provide for." A mere spectator of other men's fortunes and adventures, and how they act their parts, which methinks are diversely presented unto me, as from a common theatre or scene. 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 alarums. 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 of all kinds, funerals, burials, deaths of princes, new discoveries, expeditions: now comical, then tragical matters. To-day we hear of new lords and offices created, to-morrow 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; amidst the gallantry and misery of the world—jollity, pride, perplexitites and cares, simplicity and villainy; subtlety, knavery, candour and integrity, mutually mixed and offering themselves—I rub on privus privatus; as I have still lived, so I now continue, statu quo prius, left to a solitary life and mine own domestic discontents: saving that sometimes, ne quid mentiar, 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.