Disease is an “affection [affectus] of the body contrary to nature,” an ill habit (habitus contra naturam) that dissolves “that league” which joins bodies to souls: what disease is, writes Robert Burton in The Anatomy of Melancholy (1651 [1621]), “almost every Physician defines.” But how many diseases there are “is a question not yet determined.” 1 Pliny suggests three hundred, but “elsewhere he saith, morborum infinita multitudo, their number is infinite.” During his own illness in late 1623, John Donne agreed: physicians can “scarce number, nor name all sicknesses.” 2 But Burton was certain that “in our days … the number is much augmented” and that the fault is our own. Even in a world superabundant with disease, we are our own ruin, he continues, since we pervert the gifts of God—strength and learning, art and health. If “you will particularly know how, and by what means” such perversion arises, “consult Physicians, and they will tell you, that it is in offending in some of those six non-natural things,” air, motion and rest, food and drink, excretion and retention, sleep and waking, and the passions of the soul ( Intemperance or excess in any one of the non-natural categories subvents disease, but Burton, like many of his contemporaries, was sharply apprehensive about the passions. Madness, weakness, “want of government,” “our facility … in yielding to several lusts, in giving way to every passion and perturbation of the mind” overthrow our constitutions. By intemperance, by the improper moderation of the passions, we “degenerate into beasts,” we are pricked with disease.