“The second cruellest action, apart from hanging a man, is telling him or reporting that the prisoner, the condemned man, had a hearty breakfast. It’s so cruel that it must have been an English invention, that whole phrase.
I think the first edition of The Anatomy of Melancholy is in the library here. I have a theory, and we can talk about this over the meal, but it is often reputed that he committed suicide [Robert Burton,1577-1640]. I cannot imagine that he did. he saw melancholy in the way that I see it, as a capacity to distort time and to think up different situations in which time present, time past and time future, which is largely the theme of the exhibition, are mixed up, but mixed up to the advantage and delight of the f!reader and also the author.
…His reputed last words were: “be not solitary, be not idle”. Now those are not the last words of a man about to top himself. Nor would he have a hearty breakfast.”
Cedric Price in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist:
II - Time and Food
The Kitchen lecture at Sir John Soane’s Museum,
London, February 2000