Page images
PDF
EPUB

men.” The words of his personal friend Mr. “On metaphysic jade to prance, Whitefoot are perhaps those which ought to

Step high, and ne'er a foot advance." be relied upon in forming an opinion of the inmost sentiments of a "mind so honorable The attempt of the soul thoroughly to grasp though flighty as his, who candidly says of itself and its relations to a higher order of himself, " When I cannot satisfy my reason, beings involves an utter impossibility. It is

as if a watchmaker were resolved to conI love to humor my fancy."--ii. 14.

struct a watch that would regulate, and set, “ In his religion he continued in the same mind and wind up itself. The floating straw, carwhich he had declared in his first book, written ried along by the stream, demands to reguwhen he was about thirty years old, --his Religio late the force and direction of the current. Medici, wherein he fully assented to that of the An Irishman might liken the philosopher Church of England, preferring it before any in who would obey the goale cellutov with the the world, as did the learned Grotius. He attended the public service very constantly, when he degree of intimate and transcendental knowwas not withheld by his practice ; never missed ledge that has been attempted by certain the Sacrament in his parish, if he were in town; celebrities and unintelligibilities, to the Herread the best English sermons he could hear of, culean Paddy, who, by some sleight of with liberal applause, and delighted not in con- hand, took himself up in his own arms, lifted troversies.”-i. xvl.

himself from the ground, and then ran away The hardest and most painful hits that not made a creature that can comprehend

with himself. Brown truly said, “ God hath Browne ever received on account of the him ; 'tis a privilege of his own nature Religio Medici were those, probably, which were given by the envious sneers of Sir pressions in reference to topics many degrees

(ii. 16); but he might have used similar exKenelm Digby. The tone of the “ Observa-| lower than the nature of the Godhead. tions” is conveyed by a single sentence from them : Assuredly one cannot err in taking “ What do you read, my lord ? this author for a very fine ingenious gentle

Words, words, words!" man, but, for how deep a scholar, I leave unto them to judge that are abler than I am." —not half so entertaining, and perhaps not (ii. 129.) And the wounds were now and

so edifying as the “slanders—that old men then envenomed by the insertion of a minute have gray beards ; that their faces are point of stinging truth : “What should I say wrinkled; and that they have a plentiful of his making so particular a narration of lack of wit, together with most weak hams.” personal things and private thoughts of his Browne's "words” are neither better nor own, which I make account is the chief end of

worse than many others of the same sample. his writing this discourse ?Digby is

He might well say, that “with the wisdom thankful that he is not as other men are,

of God he recreates his understanding-with superstitious and credulous, even as this bis eternity he confounds it.” The satisfacBrowne:

tory results which he attained may be be

lieved attributable to his making the study “I acknowledge ingenuously our physician's of the wisdom and the works of God a corexperience hath the advantage of my philosophy rectite of his passion for the solitary recreain knowing there are witches. And I confess Í doubt as much of the efficacy of those magical tion of “posing, his apprehension with inrules he speaketh of, as also of finding out of volved enigmas” (ii. 13)—the same which mysteries by the courteous revelation of spir- are related to have been found baflling in its.”-ii. 29.

another sphere-where more potent intelli

gences And yet he, Digby, soberly explains why "terrene souls appear oftenest in cemeteries

“ reasoned high and charnel-houses” (ii. 131), and that to the Of providence, foreknowledge, will

, and fate; peradventure may be reduced

Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute; the strange effect which is frequently seen in

(Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy!)

And found no end, in wandering mazes lost." England, when, at the approach of the murderer, the slain body suddenly bleedeth

Let us contrast two not far disjacent pasáfresh.”-i. 135.

The re-perusal of these deep debates be sages of the Religio Medici tween Browne and his assailants emboldens us to the confession that we never greatly beasts, but studied and contemplated by man: 'tis

“ The world was made to be inhabited by cared

the debt of reason we owe unto God, and the

same cause

66

homage we pay for not being beasts. Without | God; for there is in us not three, but a trinity of this, the world is still as though it had not been, souls; because there is in us, if not three distinct or as it was before the sixth day, when as yet souls, yet differing faculties, that can and do subthere was not a creature that could conceive or sist apart in different subjects, and yet in us are say there was a world. The wisdom of God re- thus united as to make but one soul and substance. cives small honor from those vulgar heads that if one soul were so perfect as to inform three disrudely stare about, and with a gross rusticity ad- tinct bodies, that were a petty trinity. Conceive mire his works. Those only magnify him, whose the distinct number of three, not divided nor judicious inquiry into his acts and deliberate re- separated by the intellect, but actually compresearch into his creatures, return the duty of a devout hended in its unity, and that is a perfect trinity. and learned admiration. Every essence, created I have often admired the mystical way of Pythag. or uncreated, bath its final cause, and some posi- oras, and the secret magic of numbers. Betive end both of essence and operation. This is ware of philosophy, is a precept not to be received the cause I grope after in the works of nature; in too large a sense : for, in this mass of nature, m this hangs the providence of God. To raise so there is a set of things that carry in their front, beauteous a structure as the world and the crea- though not in capital letters, yet in stenography tures thereof was but his art; but their sundry and and short characters, something of divinity; which, divided operations, with their predestinated ends, to wiser reasons, serve as luminaries in the abyss are from the treasury of his wisdom.”—-ii. 18-20. of knowledge, and, to judicious beliefs, as scales

and rundles to mount the pinnacles and highest The reader will perceive that this is the pieces of divinity. The severe schools shall theme and the principle, the working out of never laugh me out of the philosophy of Hermes, which has produced some of the noblest that this visible world is but picture of the in works that adorn our literature. The sub-visible, wherein as a portrait, things are not truly,

but in equivocal shapes, and as they counterfeit ject, too, is inexhaustible; as we increase in some real substance in that invisible fabric."knowledge, so will it in richness and power. ii. 15–17. But what are we—what are we like to bethe wiser and the better for such speculations as are about to be quoted ?

The ear is tickled by well-contrasted

words, and the mind is amused by a phan“Who can speak of eternity without a solecism, tasmagoria of sublime visions ; but, is not or think thereof without an ecstasy ? Time we

the time approaching when efforts to explain may comprehend; 'tis but five days older than the inexplicable will cease to be dignified by ourselves, and hath the same horoscope with the the title of wisdom, or even by the more world; but, to retire so far back as to apprehend modest appellation of philosophy ? a beginning-to give such an infinite start fur. wards as to conceive an end-in an essence that and an understood, if not a formally pro

It is, we believe, a feeling of this kind, we affirm hath neither the one nor the other, it puts my reason to St. Paul's sanctuary; my philos

nounced verdict of public opinion, which has ophy dares not say the angels can do it. : ...

In given to the Pseudodoria Epidemica, or eternity there is no distinction of tenses; and Enquiries into Vulgar and Common Errors, therefore that terrible term predestination, which the palm of popularity and the praise of hath troubled so many weak heads to conceive usefulness beyond all the other works of Sir and the wisest to explain, is in respect to God no Thomas Browne. Nor do we see it necesprescious determination of our estates to come, but a definitive blast of his will already, fulfilled, and Basil Montagu, that the work “is not to be

sary to suppose, with Messrs. Wilkin and at the instant that he first decreed it; for to eter. nity, which is indivisible, and altogether, the last ascribed to the mental activity of its author trump is already sounded, the reprobates in the alone,”---and that “we are not to regard flame, and the blessed in Abraham's bosom. St. it solely as the result of his own native and Peter speaks modestly, when he saith,' a thousand irrepressible thirst for knowledge, and of years to God are but as one day; for, to speak that unrelenting spirit of investigation which like a philosopher, those continued instances of led him to scrutinize every position before be time, which flow into a thousand years, make not admitted it.” (ii. 161.) On the contrary, to him one moment. What to us is to come, to his eternity is present; his whole duration being he felt with Sir Hamon L'Estrange that but one permanent point, without succession, parls,

“ naturalists readily follow one another, as flur, or division.

wild geese fly;" other "learned discourses" “ There is no attribute that adds more difficulty professing a similar object, were yet unsatisto the mystery of the Trinity, where, though in a factory to his mind; and, therefore, he derelative way of Father and Son, we must deny a priority, I wonder how Aristotle could conceive notwithstanding the consciousness that “a

termined to investigate matters for himself, the world eternal, or how he could make good two work of this nature is not to be performed eternities. His similitude of a triangle comprehended in a square, doth somewhat illustrate the upon one legg; and should smell of oyle, if trinity of our souls, and that the triple unity of duly and deservedly handled.”—ii. 179.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Such a work was manifestly one of the cessively bewitching and bewitched. They desiderala of literature

are both in life, though happily parted from

our residence, and from each other, by a “ And, therefore, we are often constrained to running stream. stand alone against the strength of opinion, and

In the Pseudodoxia Browne revels with to meet the Goliah and giant of authority with delight, abandoning himself sometimes to a contemptible pebbles and feeble arguments drawn

reckless orgie of quips and cranks and from the scrip and slender stock of ourselves." learned whimsies, to be patterned only in

Shakspeare, and yet maintaining throughout Lord Bacon's opinions as to the use of doubts a method in his madness. It strikes the could be of little service to him. He waged reader as being the most sincere of his proa bolder warfare : "For," he says,

ductions. In the others, he is constantly

thinking what may be said upon a subject " knowledge is made by oblivion ; and, to pur- (of which the hints for his son Edward's chase a clear and warrantable body of truth, we lectures and his common-place book are sigmust forget and part with much we know. We nal proof): here, he is only anxious to have hope it will not be unconsidered, that we find no open track, or constant manuduction in this laby

said bis say, and eased his mind. rinth, but are oftentimes fain to wander in the With what gallantry does he vindicate the America and untravelled parts of truth.”

Hebrew race from the calumny of emitting

“a kind of fulsome scent,-as Mr. Fulham It is no just reproach against Browne, and with the hazard of life, till he removed into

experimented in Italye at a Jewish meeting, no disqualification for his task of sweeping the fresh air !" away vulgar errors, that he was not himself wholly free from those of his own age, or the “ That Jews stink naturally, that is, that in ages immediately preceding it ;—that be their race and nation there is an evil savor, is a was, as Mr. Wilkin states, “a stout ad- received opinion we know not how to admit, herent to the falling fortunes of the Ptole- although we concede many points which are of maic astronomy ;'--that he believed eels affinity hereto. We will acknowledge that certain might be bred on or in the back of a cod-odors attend on animals, no less than certain fish ;"—that he did not refuse to “send cer

colors ; that pleasant smells are not confined unto tificates for the evill for divers to be touched vegetables, but found in divers animals, and some

more richly than in plants; and, though the by His Majestie” (i. 259); that “he was problem of Aristotle inquires why no animal persuaded of the reality of apparitions, and of smells sweet beside the pard, yet later discover, diabolical illusions;" and affirms, “from his ies add divers sorts of monkeys, the civet cat and own knowledge, the certainty of witchcraft.” gazela, from which our musk proceedeth. We (i. Ixxxii.) As to the king's evil, it must be confess that beside the smell of the species there remembered that people would be touched; may be individual odors, and every man may have -also that the king was accompanied by so perceptible unto man who hath this sense but

a proper and peculiar savor, which, although not sundry “chirurgeons and physitians ;” and weak, is yet sensible unto dogs, who hereby can finally, that the church had provided a regu- single out their masters in the dark. We will lar and very solemn ritual for the occasion, not deny that particular men have sent forth a which was used, no doubt,' when Queen pleasant savor, as Theophrastus and Plutarch Anne touched Samuel Johnson, and was

report of Alexander the Great, and Tzetzes and only dropt from our Prayer Book when the also emit an unsavory odor we have no reason to

Cardan do testify of themselves. That some may first Hanoverian king dropt the practice--deny ; for this may happen from the quality of resigning it to the purer blood of the exiled what they have taken, ihe fætor whereof may Stuarts. But more—it is true, though discover itself by sweat, &c., as being unmasterscarcely credible, that there exist (in 1851) able by the natural heat of man, not to be rustics who believe in the physical benefit dulcified by concoction beyond an unsavory conderived from the rite of Confirmation.*

dition; the like may come to pass from putrid And as to the witchcraft--the Appendix to fevers--and sometimes also in gross and humid

humors, as is often discoverable in malignant Forby shows the recent existence of the be-bodies, even in the latitude of sanity—the natural lief. Nay, more than that; we ourselves heat of the parts being insufficient for a perfect have had two washerwomen who were suc- and thorough digestion, and the errors of one

concoction not rectifiable by another. But * We have conversed with an old woman in Nor- that an unsavory odor is gentilitious or national folk who gets confirmed over and over again-asunto Jews, if rightly understood, we cannot well often as she can contrive it-it does her so much concede, nor will the information of reason or good!

sense induce it.”-iii. 36.

[ocr errors]

6

Then follow store of good reasons, which of families. Not persons merely, but their are shrewdly clenched by this conclusion :- very names, appear and are gone, like the

summer wavelets on the sandy beach. Those “ And, lastly, were this true, yet our opinion is which do remain, retaining anything of their not impartial; for unto converted Jews, who are of the same seed, no man imputeth this unsavory The same result is derived from the inspec

ancient position, are rarest among the rare. odor; as though, aromatized by their conversion, they lost their scent with their religion, and smelt tion of other local lists :no longer than they savored of the Jew.”—jii. 41.

“Even this fragment (of the Index of Harl. In another place the editor is scarcely less MS. Cod. 1109) is not without its value. It shows courageous than his author. Browne gives arms, are now tolally extinct; for where are we

how Norfolk families, once entitled to bear a ebapter “Of the Pictures of Mermaids,"

to look for the Bolks, Burgullions, Batwellins, without informing us of his own private Bashpooles, Buttrys, Catts, &c.? That man shall belief respecting them. But Mr. Wilkin, in not abide in honor is further manifest from the a note, says :

fact, that many of these names are now only to be

met with in the cottage or the union-house."“ Unconvinced even by Sir Humphry Davy's Hart, iii. 41. grave arguments to prove that such things cannot be, and undismayed by his special detection of the

The correspondence shows that, with all apes and salmon in poor Dr. Philip's undoubted his learned whims, Sir Thomas was not for. original,' I persist in expecting one day to have getful of the main chance. Good patients the pleasure of beholding—A MERMAID !"-iii. 143. are carefully recommended ; and a shrewd

hint at the same time conveyed to his son, So far we have seen Sir Thomas before Dr. Edward, the practitioner “in Salisburie the public, on the stage. The correspond. Court, next the Golden Balls,” and also a ence and journals which Mr. Wilkin's dili- lecturer on bis art in London :gence has produced give us a glimpse behind the scenes; and an interesting peep it is into "DEAR SONNE,—My worthy friend Mr. Desme private life and country manners of old. The Astley going to London, hee civilly asking mee establishment of the “ London season” by whether I would send vnto you, I would not omitt to the facilities of travelling, has spoiled the send this letter. Hee hath had a lingering anguish

distemper, which hath made him weake. There " seasons” of our large provincial towns, or

was some ecceptions last time by his lady, that when rather has prevented their having any true shee had visited your wife the risit was not reseason at all. In Browne's days, many of turned." the leading county families had their town “One Mrs. Towe, Madame Repps' daughter, houses in Norwich, where they wintered and of Maltshall, who liveth in London, will come kept Christmas in aristocratic style.

Several unto you. Shee is a very good woeman, and comof these yet remain under humbler occupancy. | face. Lett her knowe that I writ unto you when

plains of her eyes, and some breaking out of her In Edward Browne's Journal, we find :

shee commeth, I think shee liveth in Guildhall

Street. If one Mr. Jones, of the Middle Temple, " January 1 (1663–4].--I was at Mr. Howard's, a young man splenicall and hypochondr. cometh who kept his Christmas at the Duke's Palace, so unto you, lett him knowe that I mentioned him magnificently as the like hath scarce been seen.

unto you. They had dancing every night, and gaveæenter- “Mr. Payne, lately an alderman of Norwich, tainments to all that would come ; hee built up a who lives in St. Gyles, his daughter, Mrs. Doughroome with the bravest hangings I ever saw; his tie, will go to London the next weeke and consult candlesticks, snuffers, tongues, fire-shovels, and you about the waters and some other infirmities. irons were silver; a banquet was given every Shee is a good woeman, and hath a sober, honest night after dancing; and three coaches were em- gentleman of this countrie to her husband, of ployed to fetch ladies every afternoon, the greatest of whom I will write further in my next, God which would holde fourleen persons, and cost five willing." hundred pound, without the harnasse, which cost six score more.

The son was equally anxious to secure the " January 4.- I went to Mr. Howard's dancing fees thus in prospect. “I have not yet heard at night; our greatest beautys were Mdm. Eliza of the gentleman or gentlewoman you wrote beth Cradock, Eliz. Houghton, Ms. Philpot, Ms. Yallop ; afterwards to the banquet, and so home.

me word of.” (i. 227.) He appears, long Sic transit gloria mundi !"

after his establishment in London, to have

received pecuniary aid from his father, as Transil, indeed! A glance through Kirk-well as good patients and hints for their patrick's pages brings strongly to mind the management. The senior says :transitory nature not

only of individuals, but “I beleeve my lady O. Bryan is by this time in

G

a

better health and safetie; though hypochond and are to be treated of, in another lecture, care splenetick persons are not long from complayning, is taken to have it stated that Hippocrates yet they may bee good patients, and may bee borne withal, especially if they bee good natured. cutting the nayle

, that it be not longer or

was so curious as to prescribe “the rule in A bill is inclosed; espargnez nous autant que vous pourres, car je suis agé, et aye beaucoup

shorter than the top of the finger. That d'anxieté el peine de sustenir ma famille.—i. 269.

barbers of old used to cutt men's nayles is to

be gathered from Marshal: lib. iïi. ep. 74." The italics are his own. Later still he The savans of the College of Surgeons writes :

will appreciate the ambition of Browne and

his son to be the first to describe the zoolog“God send you wisedome and providence, to ical arrivals of the day :make a prudent use of the moneys you have from me, beside what you gett otherwise. Least re

“ A greater part of our newes is of the King of pentence come to late upon you, consider that Fez and Morocco's ambassadour, with his presents accidental charges may bee alwayes coming upon of lyons and oestridges. [This diplomatic Afriyou, and the folly of depending or hoping to much

can, as we learn from Evelyn, was the fashionable upon time-turnes yet to come.”-i. 297.

dark-skinned lion of the day.). There being so

many oestridges brought over, 'tis likely some of Still he was no niggard, either practically them will be brought about to showe, hither, as or theoretically. The liberal style in which soone as to other parts out of London. If any of he brought up his family speaks for the one; them/dye, I beleeve it will bee dissected; they his opinion may be gathered from the follow- have odde feet and strong thighes and legges. ing confidence to his son:

Perhaps the king will put 3 or 4 into St. James'
Park, and give away the rest to some nobleman."

--i. 325.
“I am sorry to find that the King of England
(Charles II.) is fayne to reduce his howsehold ex-
pences to twelve thousand pounds p. annum, es-

One of these unhappy bipeds passes into pecially hee having a farre greater revenue than the possession of Dr. Edward, and then any of his predecessors. God keepe all honest father and son go to work with their expermen from penury and want; men can bee honest iments, about as considerately as old Hopno longer than they can give every one his due : kins the witch-finder would treat the first aged in fundo parsimonia seldome recovers or restores dame that he happened to accost :

This rule is to bee earned by all, utere divitiis tanquam moriturus, el idem tanquam victu

Feb. 3 (1681-2). rus parcito divitiis. So maye bee avoyded sordid avarice and improvident prodigality; so shall not

“ DEAR SONNE,—I beleeve you must bee carea man deprive himself of God's blessings, nor

full of your ostridge, this returne of cold wether, throwe away God's mercies ; so may hee be able least it perish by it being bredd in so hot a counto do good, and not suffer the worst of evils."-i trey, and perhaps not seene snowe before, or very 307.

seldome, so that I beleeve it must be kept under

covert, and have strawe to sitt upon, and water One more proof of his sagacity in public have it observed how it sleepeth, and whether not

sett by it to take of, both day and night. Must matters must be given. He was not unlikely with the head under the wing, especially in cold to foresee what attempts would be made in weather ; whether it bee a watchfull and quickthe reign of James II., nor willing that his hearing bird, like a goose in many circumstances, grandchild should be entrapped by the insid- It seems to eat any thing that a goose will feed ious aggressors of those days, so he puts on, and to love the same green hearbs, lettuce, enthese two sentences together in a letter to dive, sorrell

, &c. You will bee much at a losse Edward : “ The players are at the Red Ly- and easie supply by cabbadges, which I forgott to

for hearbes this winter, but you may have cheape on, hard by; and Tom goes sometimes to

mention in my last, and graines, all kinds of see a playe. Ul filia tua educetur in reli- graines and brinne, or furfure, alone or mixed gione Anglicana etiam atq. etiam cura.”-i. with water or other liquor. To geese they give 293.

oates, &c., moistened with beere, butt sometimes Browne is continually sending to his son they are inebriated with it. If you give any iron, odd curiosities and choice scraps, to stick

may be wrapped up in dove or past ; perhaps it into his lectures in London. Thus, in “ the it will eat a worme, or a very small eel; whether

will not take it up alone. You may trie whether discourse de aure," may be mentioned how a

it will drinck milk; and observe in what manner horse-leech got into the ear of a person of it drincks water. Aldrov. and Johnstonus write, Naples, and how “Severinus found out a that a goose will not eat bay leaves, and that they good remedie for it." *

a man.

it

house at Wymondham in Norfolk is carved the * Leeches are not desirable inmates either of motto, one's person, or one's parlor. On the front of an old "Nec mihi glis adsit servus, nec hospes hirudo."

When the ungues

« PreviousContinue »