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men." The words of his personal friend Mr. Whitefoot are perhaps those which ought to be relied upon in forming an opinion of the inmost sentiments of a mind so honorable though flighty as his, who candidly says of himself, "When I cannot satisfy my reason, I love to humor my fancy."--ii. 14.
"In his religion he continued in the same mind which he had declared in his first book, written when he was about thirty years old,—his Religio Medici, wherein he fully assented to that of the Church of England, preferring it before any in the world, as did the learned Grotius. He attended the public service very constantly, when he was not withheld by his practice; never missed the Sacrament in his parish, if he were in town; read the best English sermons he could hear of, with liberal applause, and delighted not in controversies."-i. xvl.
The hardest and most painful hits that Browne ever received on account of the Religio Medici were those, probably, which were given by the envious sneers of Sir Kenelm Digby. The tone of the "Observations" is conveyed by a single sentence from them "Assuredly one cannot err in taking this author for a very fine ingenious gentleman, but, for how deep a scholar, I leave unto them to judge that are abler than I am." (ii. 129.) And the wounds were now and then envenomed by the insertion of a minute point of stinging truth: "What should I say of his making so particular a narration of personal things and private thoughts of his own, which I make account is the chief end of his writing this discourse?" Digby is thankful that he is not as other men are, superstitious and credulous, even as this
"On metaphysic jade to prance, Step high, and ne'er a foot advance." The attempt of the soul thoroughly to grasp itself and its relations to a higher order of beings involves an utter impossibility. It is
as if a watchmaker were resolved to con-
"What do you read, my lord?
-not half so entertaining, and perhaps not so edifying as the "slanders-that old men have gray beards; that their faces are lack of wit, together with most weak hams." wrinkled; and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams." Browne's "words" are neither better nor worse than many others of the same sample. He might well say, that "with the wisdom of God he recreates his understanding-with The satisfachis eternity he confounds it." tory results which he attained may be believed attributable to his making the study of the wisdom and the works of God a corrective of his passion for the solitary recreation of "posing his apprehension with involved enigmas" (ii. 13)-the same which are related to have been found baffling in another sphere-where more potent intelligences
Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate;
Let us contrast two not far disjacent passages of the Religio Medici:
"The world was made to be inhabited by beasts, but studied and contemplated by man: 'tis the debt of reason we owe unto God, and the
homage we pay for not being beasts. Without | this, the world is still as though it had not been, or as it was before the sixth day, when as yet there was not a creature that could conceive or say there was a world. The wisdom of God receives small honor from those vulgar heads that rudely stare about, and with a gross rusticity admire his works. Those only magnify him, whose judicious inquiry into his acts and deliberate research into his creatures, return the duty of a devouthended in its unity, and that is a perfect trinity. and learned admiration. Every essence, created or uncreated, hath its final cause, and some positive end both of essence and operation. This is the cause I grope after in the works of nature; on this hangs the providence of God. To raise so beauteous a structure as the world and the creatures thereof was but his art; but their sundry and divided operations, with their predestinated ends, are from the treasury of his wisdom."-ii. 18-20.
God; for there is in us not three, but a trinity of souls; because there is in us, if not three distinct | souls, yet differing faculties, that can and do subsist apart in different subjects, and yet in us are thus united as to make but one soul and substance. If one soul were so perfect as to inform three distinct bodies, that were a petty trinity. Conceive the distinct number of three, not divided nor separated by the intellect, but actually compre
The reader will perceive that this is the theme and the principle, the working out of which has produced some of the noblest works that adorn our literature. The subject, too, is inexhaustible; as we increase in knowledge, so will it in richness and power. But what are we-what are we like to bethe wiser and the better for such speculations as are about to be quoted?
"Who can speak of eternity without a solecism, or think thereof without an ecstasy? Time we may comprehend; 'tis but five days older than ourselves, and hath the same horoscope with the world; but, to retire so far back as to apprehend a beginning to give such an infinite start forwards as to conceive an end-in an essence that we affirm hath neither the one nor the other, it puts my reason to St. Paul's sanctuary; my philosophy dares not say the angels can do it.... In eternity there is no distinction of tenses; and therefore that terrible term predestination, which hath troubled so many weak heads to conceive and the wisest to explain, is in respect to God no prescious determination of our estates to come, but a definitive blast of his will already fulfilled, and at the instant that he first decreed it; for to eter. nity, which is indivisible, and altogether, the last trump is already sounded, the reprobates in the flame, and the blessed in Abraham's bosom. St. Peter speaks modestly, when he saith, a thousand years to God are but as one day: for, to speak like a philosopher, those continued instances of time, which flow into a thousand years, make not to him one moment. What to us is to come, to
his eternity is present; his whole duration being but one permanent point, without succession, parts, flux, or division.
"There is no attribute that adds more difficulty to the mystery of the Trinity, where, though in a relative way of Father and Son, we must deny a priority. I wonder how Aristotle could conceive the world eternal, or how he could make good two eternities. His similitude of a triangle comprehended in a square, doth somewhat illustrate the trinity of our souls, and that the triple unity of
I have often admired the mystical way of Pythag oras, and the secret magic of numbers. Beware of philosophy, is a precept not to be received in too large a sense: for, in this mass of nature, there is a set of things that carry in their front, though not in capital letters, yet in stenography and short characters, something of divinity; which, to wiser reasons, serve as luminaries in the abyss of knowledge, and, to judicious beliefs, as scales and rundles to mount the pinnacles and highest pieces of divinity. The severe schools shall never laugh me out of the philosophy of Hermes, that this visible world is but a picture of the invisible, wherein as a portrait, things are not truly, but in equivocal shapes, and as they counterfeit some real substance in that invisible fabric."ii. 15–17.
The ear is tickled by well-contrasted words, and the mind is amused by a phantasmagoria of sublime visions; but, is not the time approaching when efforts to explain the inexplicable will cease to be dignified by the title of wisdom, or even by the more modest appellation of philosophy?
It is, we believe, a feeling of this kind, and an understood, if not a formally pronounced verdict of public opinion, which has given to the Pseudodoxia Epidemica, or Enquiries into Vulgar and Common Errors, the palm of popularity and the praise of usefulness beyond all the other works of Sir Thomas Browne. Nor do we see it necessay, to suppose, with Messrs. Wilkin and Basil Montagu, that the work "is not to be ascribed to the mental activity of its author alone," and that "we are not to regard it solely as the result of his own native and irrepressible thirst for knowledge, and of that unrelenting spirit of investigation which led him to scrutinize every position before he admitted it." (ii. 161.) On the contrary, he felt with Sir Hamon L'Estrange that "naturalists readily follow one another, as wild geese fly;" other "learned discourses" professing a similar object, were yet unsatisfactory to his mind; and, therefore, he determined to investigate matters for himself, notwithstanding the consciousness that "a work of this nature is not to be performed upon one legg; and should smell of oyle, if duly and deservedly handled."-ii. 179.
Such a work was manifestly one of the | cessively bewitching and bewitched. They desiderata of literature
"And, therefore, we are often constrained to stand alone against the strength of opinion, and to meet the Goliah and giant of authority with contemptible pebbles and feeble arguments drawn from the scrip and slender stock of ourselves."
Lord Bacon's opinions as to the use of doubts could be of little service to him. He waged a bolder warfare: "For," he says,
"knowledge is made by oblivion; and, to purchase a clear and warrantable body of truth, we must forget and part with much we know. We hope it will not be unconsidered, that we find no open track, or constant manuduction in this labyrinth, but are oftentimes fain to wander in the America and untravelled parts of truth."
are both in life, though happily parted from our residence, and from each other, by a running stream.
In the Pseudodoxia Browne revels with delight, abandoning himself sometimes to a reckless orgie of quips and cranks and learned whimsies, to be patterned only in Shakspeare, and yet maintaining throughout a method in his madness. It strikes the
reader as being the most sincere of his productions. In the others, he is constantly thinking what may be said upon a subject (of which the hints for his son Edward's lectures and his common-place book are signal proof): here, he is only anxious to have said his say, and eased his mind.
With what gallantry does he vindicate the Hebrew race from the calumny of emitting "a kind of fulsome scent,-as Mr. Fulham with the hazard of life, till he removed into experimented in Italye at a Jewish meeting, the fresh air!"
It is no just reproach against Browne, and no disqualification for his task of sweeping 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 he 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 cercolors; that pleasant smells are not confined unto tificates for the evill for divers to be touched vegetables, but found in divers animals, and some by His Majestie" (i. 259); that more richly than in plants; and, though the 66 he was problem of Aristotle inquires why no animal persuaded of the reality of apparitions, and of smells sweet beside the pard, yet later discoverdiabolical 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. lxxxii.) 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, the fœtor 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 Forby shows the recent existence of the belief. Nay, more than that; we ourselves have had two washerwomen who were suc
* We have conversed with an old woman in Norfolk who gets confirmed over and over again-as often as she can contrive it-it does her so much good!
fevers-and sometimes also in gross and humid
Then follow store of good reasons, which | of families. Not persons merely, but their are shrewdly clenched by this conclusion :—
"And, lastly, were this true, yet our opinion is not impartial; for unto converted Jews, who are of the same seed, no man imputeth this unsavory odor; as though, aromatized by their conversion, they lost their scent with their religion, and smelt no longer than they savored of the Jew.”—iii. 41.
In another place the editor is scarcely less courageous than his author. Browne gives a chapter "Of the Pictures of Mermaids," without informing us of his own private belief respecting them. But Mr. Wilkin, in a note, says:—
"Unconvinced even by Sir Humphry Davy's grave arguments to prove that such things cannot be, and undismayed by his special detection of the apes and salmon in poor Dr. Philip's undoubted original,' I persist in expecting one day to have the pleasure of beholding-A MERMAID!”—iii. 143.
So far we have seen Sir Thomas before the public, on the stage. The correspondence and journals which Mr. Wilkin's diligence has produced give us a glimpse behind the scenes; and an interesting peep it is into private life and country manners of old. The establishment of the "London season" by the facilities of travelling, has spoiled the "seasons" of our large provincial towns, or rather has prevented their having any true season at all. In Browne's days, many of the leading county families had their town houses in Norwich, where they wintered and kept Christmas in aristocratic style. Several of these yet remain under humbler occupancy. In Edward Browne's Journal, we find:
'January 1 [1663-4].-I was at Mr. Howard's, who kept his Christmas at the Duke's Palace, so magnificently as the like hath scarce been seen. They had dancing every night, and gave entertainments to all that would come; hee built up a roome with the bravest hangings I ever saw; his candlesticks, snuffers, tongues, fire-shovels, and irons were silver; a banquet was given every night after dancing; and three coaches were employed to fetch ladies every afternoon, the greatest of which would holde fourteen persons, and cost five hundred pound, without the harnasse, which cost six score more.
"January 4.-I went to Mr. Howard's dancing at night; our greatest beautys were Mdm. Elizabeth Cradock, Eliz. Houghton, Ms. Philpot, Ms. Yallop; afterwards to the banquet, and so home. Sic transit gloria mundi!”
very names, appear and are gone, like the summer wavelets on the sandy beach. Those which do remain, retaining anything of their The same result is derived from the inspecancient position, are rarest among the rare. tion of other local lists:
"Even this fragment (of the Index of Harl. MS. Cod. 1109) is not without its value. It shows how many Norfolk families, once entitled to bear arms, are now totally extinct; for where are we to look for the Bolks, Burgullions, Batwellins, Bashpooles, Buttrys, Catts, &c.? That man shall not abide in honor is further manifest from the fact, that many of these names are now only to be met with in the cottage or the union-house."Hart, iii. 41.
The correspondence shows that, with all his learned whims, Sir Thomas was not forgetful of the main chance. Good patients are carefully recommended; and a shrewd hint at the same time conveyed to his son, Dr. Edward, the practitioner "in Salisburie Court, next the Golden Balls," and also a lecturer on his art in London :—
"DEAR SONNE, My worthy friend Mr. Desne Astley going to London, hee civilly asking mee whether I would send vnto you, I would not omitt to send this letter. Hee hath had a lingering anguish distemper, which hath made him weake. There was some ecceptions last time by his lady, that when shee had visited your wife the visit was not returned."
"One Mrs. Towe, Madame Repps' daughter, of Maltshall, who liveth in London, will come unto you. Shee is a very good woeman, and comface. plains of her eyes, and some breaking out of her Lett her knowe that I writ unto you when shee commeth. I think shee liveth in Guildhall Street. If one Mr. Jones, of the Middle Temple, a young man splenicall and hypochondr. cometh unto you, lett him knowe that I mentioned him unto you."
"Mr. Payne, lately an alderman of Norwich, who lives in St. Gyles, his daughter, Mrs. Doughtie, will go to London the next weeke and consult you about the waters and some other infirmities. Shee is a good woeman, and hath a sober, honest gentleman of this countrie to her husband, of whom I will write further in my next, God willing."
The son was equally anxious to secure the fees thus in prospect. "I have not yet heard of the gentleman or gentlewoman you wrote me word of." (i. 227.) He appears, long after his establishment in London, to have received pecuniary aid from his father, as Transit, 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
better health and safetie; though hypochond and splenetick persons are not long from complayning, yet they may bee good patients, and may bee borne withal, especially if they bee good natured. A bill is inclosed; espargnez nous autant que vous pourres, car je suis agé, et aye beaucoup d'anxieté et peine de sustenir ma famille."—i. 269.
The italics are his own. Later still he writes :
"God send you wisedome and providence, to make a prudent use of the moneys you have from me, beside what you gett otherwise. Least repentence come to late upon you, consider that accidental charges may bee alwayes coming upon you, and the folly of depending or hoping to much upon time-turnes yet to come."-i. 297.
Still he was no niggard, either practically or theoretically. The liberal style in which he brought up his family speaks for the one; his opinion may be gathered from the following confidence to his son :
"I am sorry to find that the King of England (Charles II.) is fayne to reduce his howsehold expences to twelve thousand pounds p. annum, especially hee having a farre greater revenue than any of his predecessors. God keepe all honest men from penury and want; men can bee honest no longer than they can give every one his due: in fundo parsimonia seldome recovers or restores a man. This rule is to bee earned by all, utere divitiis tanquam moriturus, et idem tanquam vieturus parcito divitiis. So maye bee avoyded sordid avarice and improvident prodigality; so shall not a man deprive himself of God's blessings, nor throwe away God's mercies; so may hee be able to do good, and not suffer the worst of evils."--i. 307.
One more proof of his sagacity in public matters must be given. He was not unlikely to foresee what attempts would be made in the reign of James II., nor willing that his grandchild should be entrapped by the insidious aggressors of those days, so he puts these two sentences together in a letter to Edward: "The players are at the Red Lyon, hard by; and Tom goes sometimes to see a playe. Ut filia tua educetur in religione Anglicana etiam atq. etiam cura."-i.
Browne is continually sending to his son odd curiosities and choice scraps, to stick into his lectures in London. Thus, in "the discourse de aure," may be mentioned how a horse-leech got into the ear of a person of Naples, and how "Severinus found out a good remedie for it."*. When the ungues
* Leeches are not desirable inmates either of one's person, or one's parlor. On the front of an old I
are to be treated of, in another lecture, care is taken to have it stated that Hippocrates was so curious as to prescribe "the rule in cutting the nayle, that it be not longer or shorter than the topp of the finger. That barbers of old used to cutt men's nayles is to be gathered from Marshal: lib. iii. ep. 74." The savans of the College of Surgeons will appreciate the ambition of Browne and his son to be the first to describe the zoological arrivals of the day :
"A greater part of our newes is of the King of Fez and Morocco's ambassadour, with his presents of lyons and oestridges. [This diplomatic African, as we learn from Evelyn, was the fashionable dark-skinned lion of the day.] There being so many oestridges brought over, 'tis likely some of them will be brought about to showe, hither, as soone as to other parts out of London. If any of them dye, I beleeve it will bee dissected; they have odde feet and strong thighes and legges. Perhaps the king will put 3 or 4 into St. James' Park, and give away the rest to some nobleman.' --i. 325.
One of these unhappy bipeds passes into the possession of Dr. Edward, and then father and son go to work with their experiments, about as considerately as old Hopkins the witch-finder would treat the first aged dame that he happened to accost :—
Feb. 3 [1681-2].
"DEAR SONNE,-I beleeve you must bee carefull of your ostridge, this returne of cold wether, least it perish by it being bredd in so hot a countrey, and perhaps not seene snowe before, or very seldome, so that I beleeve it must be kept under covert, and have strawe to sitt upon, and water have it observed how it sleepeth, and whether not sett by it to take of, both day and night. Must with the head under the wing, especially in cold weather; whether it bee a watchfull and quickhearing bird, like a goose in many circumstances. It seems to eat any thing that a goose will feed on, and to love the same green hearbs, lettuce, endive, sorrell, &c. You will bee much at a losse and easie supply by cabbadges, which I forgott to for hearbes this winter, but you may have cheape mention in my last, and graines, all kinds of graines and brinne, or furfure, alone or mixed with water or other liquor. To geese they give oates, &c., moistened with beere, butt sometimes they are inebriated with it. If you give any iron, it may be wrapped up in doue or past; perhaps it it will eat a worme, or a very small eel; whether will not take it up alone. You may trie whether it drincks water. it will drinck milk; and observe in what manner Aldrov. and Johnstonus write, that a goose will not eat bay leaves, and that they
house at Wymondham in Norfolk is carved the motto,
"Nec mihi glis adsit servus, nec hospes hirudo."