Page images



ous utterances of Forby's examples, such as Mr. Wilkin is a very treasury of provincial muckup for muck-heap, sidus for sideways, antiquities, manners, and natural history. wammel-cheese for one meal (of milk) cheese, of the edition of Sir Thomas Browne, shunt for should not, cup for come up, and which cost Mr. Wilkin the labor of nearly k’ye thinder for look ye yonder. Howstrew?” twelve years, Southey often expressed his (How is it true ?) asks a skeptical listener: very warm approbation—and more than once "Strewsgodsin'evn !" is the profane reply. he promised a reviewal, but died re infectâ. But Shakspeare uses dup for do ope. Dof were not the multiplicity of the laureate's and don are still great staples with the mod- tasks so well known, we might wonder, as ern-antique melodramatists. “But all these,” well as regret, that he did not execute his says Forby, "are tight, compact condensa. protest. Mis mind would have thoroughly tions of two, or at most three short words. sympathized with Browne's in all that related Some are on a larger scale.” Take this. A to the dulce est desipere in loco. Both of girl employed on a task commonly allotted to them would assuredly interpret locus to be boys, called herself a galcobawa word which any passage or subject around which it was might puzzle the most learned East Anglian their pleasure to gambol and curvet. The philologist. It was found to mean a girl. “Doctor," in one of his freakish moods, cow-boy.

would receive with an approving grin, rather Although it is now more than two hund-than sift with stern criticism, Sir Thomas's red years since Browne settled in Norwich, speculation whether painters and sculptors his name is still inseparable from much that are not wrong in representing Adam with must ever be of interest to both the city and the usual umbilical dimple—“ seeing that he the county. Besides his examples of the was not born of woman, and, therefore, respectable if not venerable Icenic phraseol. could not be impressed with the scar that is ogy, there is his “ Account of Birds found in so ornamental to all the rest of mankind. Norfolk” (iv. 313), enabling the naturalist to Nor would he have quarrelled with the list discover what species have been driven off of empirical remedies for the gout, which by cultivation and increased population. Browne drew up for the use of those“ Thus “Cranes are often seen here in hard satisfied with the many rational medicines ;" winters, especially about the champian and such as “Wear shoes made of a lion's

“ fieldy part ;” now, they never make their ap- skin,” and “ Try the way of transplantation ; pearance. His Ichthyological Discourse is give poultices taken from the part unto dogs, worth referring to, if only for the record, and let a whelp lie in bed with you;” por “Salmon no common fish in our rivers, though with “Musæum Clausum, containing rarities many are taken in the Ouse; in the Bure, or of several kinds, scarce or never seen by any North river ; in the Waveny, or South river ; man now living :” the very first of which, as in the Norwich river but seldom, and in the a fair specimen, iş “A poem of Ovidius winter. But four years ago, fifteen were Naso, written in the Getick language; found taken at Trowse Mill, at Christmas.”(iv.384.) wrapt up in wax, at Sabaria, on the frontiers It is of some interest to know that two hund- of Hungary, where there remains a tradition red years have not altered the character of that he died in his return towards Rome from certain local species. “Oysters, exceeding Tomos, either after his pardon or the death large, about Burnham and Hunstanton, of Augustus.”—'Tis sweet to trifle now and whereof many are eaten raw ; the shells be- then: Southey’s trifling with Browne would ing broken with cleavers ; the greater part have been a perfect Saturnalia of learned pickled,* and sent weekly to London and misrule. other parts.” That he made even a brief list Sir Thomas, then, though born in London of Fossil Remains (iv. 454) shows that he (1605), belongs eminently to East Anglia. was in advance of an age which supposed After a liberal education at Winchester and such things to be Nature's abortive failures. Oxford, he settled at Norwich as a physiHis Hydriotaphia arose out of “The Sepulcian, in 1636, and retained an extensive chral Urns lately found in Norfolk.” The practice in the city and county to the end of Vulgar Errors have been enriched by native his life. In 1641 he married "Mrs. Dorothy materials; and the correspondence given by Mileham, of a good family in Norfolk." In

1642, his Religio Medici was surreptitiously * As thus : "Two neat pickles may be contrived, printed, and therefore there appears to us a the one of oysters stewed in their own vinegar, with slight anachronism in Dr. Johnson's remarks thyme, lemon-peel, onion, mace, pepper; adding Rhenish wine, elder vinegar, three or four pickled

“ This marriage could not but draw the cucumbers,"-iv. 453.

raillery of contemporary wits upon a man, who had just been wishing in his new book Of those productions which take high rank that we might procreate like trees without in a formal list of opera omnia, the Garden of conjunction;" and, “Whether the lady had Cyrus (1658) is the least inviting, though been yet informed of these contemptuous posi-eminently characteristic of its author, as is tions, or whether she was pleased with the at once shown by the second title, viz. “ The conquest of so formidable a rebel, and con- Quincuncial Lozenge, or Net-work Plantation sidered it as a double triumph to attract so of the Ancients, artificially, naturally, mysmuch merit, and overcome so powerful pre-tically, considered.” Even Mr. Wilkin conjudices ; or whether, &c. &c.” The corre- fesses that it has, by general consent, been spondence shows that Mrs. Dorothy, amidst regarded as one of the most fanciful of his her domestic duties, was not likely to care works, and that the most eminent even of two straws about what her man thought or his admirers have treated it as a mere sport wrote on such matters, so be it he did but of the imagination. There are, as Coleridge keep the pot boiling respectably, and provid- says, “quincunxes in heaven above, quined “sheus," "cotts," " briches,” and “man. cunxes in earth below, quincunxes in the mind to-gowns” for the little Brownes, whether of man, quincunxes in tones, in optic nerves, cuttings or seedlings, which she presented in roots of trees, in leaves, in everything."

, him with in not slow succession. In author- The quinary theory of created things, as ship she would allow him to be eccentric; propounded by some few modern naturalists, but if, in family matters, he resembled other would have been a great God-send to every-day, good-sort of doctors, she was sat- Browne; and Mr. Wilkin is seriously inclined isfied and happy. The splendid Success of the Religio Med- point of view than a mere jeu d'esprit

. ici most likely took Browne by surprise. “How far," he asks, " has he anticipated in Though possessed of a modest sense of his this work those who have conducted their own ability and a respectable independence inquiries in the midst of incomparably greater of spirit, he was far above the arrogance of light and knowledge ?” (iii. 380.) But we vanity. It may be believed that most writers may safely surmise, that the pentangular who eventually attained great popularity, speculations of Messrs. Mackleay, Vigors, although they might have some instinctive and Swainson are just as capable of practical consciousness of the power within them, / use and strict application, as are the decuswere yet unable to guess exactly how, or sated whimsies of the amiable physician and when, it would receive a public recognition. philosopher of Norwich. They just let their inspiration have its utter- The Garden of Cyrus is so styled because

Nor (in many cases at least) could they subsequently tell with precision what “all stories do look upon Cyrus as the first splendid it was in their writings which had fastened and regular planter. According whereto Xenoon them so universal a sympathy.

The phon (in Economico) described his gallant planbond of attachment between an author and

tation at Sardis, thus rendered by Strobæus

Arbores pari intervallo silas, rectos ordines, et his reader may be too subtle for analysis. omnia perpulchrè in quincuncem directa. That Perhaps, granting even a superabundance of is, the rows and orders so handsomely disposed, genius, with all the acquired skill of practice, or five trees so set together, that a regular angudisappointment would be the fate of him larity, and thorough prospect, was left on every who determined to sit down and compose, side ; owing this name not only to the quintuple resolutely, a book which should take, as de- number of trees, but the figure declaring that cidedly and confessedly as the Pilgrim's

number, which, being double at the angle, makes Progress, Robinson Crusoe, or the Religio tion, or fundamental figure.

up the letter X :—that is the emphatical decussaMedici.

Now, though, in some ancient and modern All Browne's subsequent works were writ- practice, the area, or decussated plot, might be a ten in Norwich ; and not a few minor pieces, perfect square, answerable to a Tuscan pedestal, besides those already mentioned, are specially and the quinquernio or cinque point of a dye, local. In 1671, he was knighted by Charles wherein by diagonal lines the intersection was II., when on a visit at the ancient palace large growing trees—and we must not deny our

rectangular-accommodable unto plantations of (always so styled) of the Howards in Nor- selves the advantage of this order; yet shall we wich. Eleven years later he was seized with chiefly insist upon that of Curtius and Porta in a colic, which, after having tortured him their brief description hereof. Wherein the deabout a week, put an end to his life, on his cussis is made within in a longilateral square, birthday, Oct. 19, 1682—anno ætat. 76. He with opposite angles, acute and obtuse at the indid lie buried in the church of St. Peter tersection, and so upon progression making a Mancroft.

rhombus or lozenge fguration.”-iii. 388.



[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

With this lozenge as his sole semaphore "crambe verities and questions over-queand guide, Browne starts at full gallop on ried," and informs us that "the noble Antohis literary steeple-chase ; if he balts a mo- ninus doth in some sense call the soul itself ment for refreshment, it can only be at the a rhombus.” This proposition is the sum of sign of the Chequers. He gets more and all things, and therefore, as he says, "'tis more excited by the game, but diamonds are time to close the five ports of knowledge trumps at every hand. He finds even the on this transcendental matter. But we canGarden of Eden laid out in the Dutch style, not even walk away from his symmetrical and probably full of quincunxes. “Since in garden without being reminded, finally, that

". Paradise itself the tree of knowledge was *the incession or local motion of animals is placed in the middle of the garden, what made with analogy unto this figure, by deever was the ancient figure, there wanted cussative diametrals, quincuncial lines, and not a centre and rule of decussation.” iii. angles;" and that even in the motion of man 393. Of course not; where there's a will the legs do move quincuncially by single there's a way to lozenges,

angles with some resemblance of a V, meas

ured by successive advancement from each “The net-works and nets of antiquity were foot, and the angle of indenture greater or little different in the form from ours at present. less, according to the extent or brevity of the As for that famous net-work of Vulcan, which stride." inclosed Mars and Venus, and caused that unextinguishable laugh in heaven-since the gods Cyrus is the Hydriotaphia-originally pub

Far more valuable than the Garden of themselves could not discern it, we shall not pry into it.

Heralds have not omitted this lished also in 1658. This “Discourse of order or imitation thereof

, while they symbolically the Sepulchral Urns lately found in Noradorn their scutcheons with mascles, fusils, and folk” is made the homely ribbon on which saltyres, and while they dispose the figures of er pearls of learning and bright gems of fancy mines, and varied coats in this quincuncial method. The same is not forgot by lapidaries, while they

are profusely strung. The disinterment of a cut their gems pyramidally, or by æquicrural tria few earthen vessels, containing the ashes of angles. Perspective pictures in their base, hori

our Roman conquerors, is the spell which zon, and lines of distances, cannot escape these calls up a complete kaleidoscope of sparkling rhomboidal decussations. Sculptors, in their visions, the changes and contrasts of which strongest shadows, after this order do draw their are inexhaustible. “ Time,” he says, “which double hatches.”-iii, 396.

reveals old things in heaven, makes new discoveries in earth, and even earth itself a

discovery. That great antiquity America And so on, ad infinitum it might be. Browne lay buried for thousands of years, and a large stops only because he chooses to stop, not part of the earth is still in the urn to us. because he has run himself dry. There are When a writer is thus able to stretch forth digressions, it is true, but not of wide circuit. his tentacula in a thousand directions, it is, We do not regret them when they contain quite impossible to follow him, or to compress passages like the following:

him within the limits of a Review. From

many treatises the cream may be skimmed ; Light that makes some things seen, makes but when an essay is all cream, a taste here some invisible; were it not for darkness and the and there is the only way to convey an idea shadow of the earth, the noblest part of the crea- of the dish. tion bad remained unseen, and the stars in heaven as invisible as on the fourth day, when they were created above the horizon with the sun, or there

6. That carnal interment was of the elder date, was not an eye to behold them. The greatest the old examples of Abraham and the patriarchs mystery of religion is expressed by adumbration,

are sufficient to illustrate. God himself, that and in the noblest part of Jewish types we find buried but one, was pleased to make choice of this the cherubim shadowing the mercy-seat. Life way, collectible from Scripture expression, and itself is but the shadow of death, and souls de the hot contest between Satan and the Archangel parted but shadows of the living. All things fall about discovering the body of Moses. Others, by under this name. The sun itself is but the dark preferring the fiery resolution, politically declined simulacrum, and the light but the shadow of

the malice of enemies. Which consideration led God."-iii. 436.

Sylla unto this practice ; who having thus served

the body of Marius, could not but fear a retaliaBut the moment the clock strikes five in

tion upon his own. any way, Browne is back again amidst his sylva of pentagons and lozenges. He nauseates Browne litttle suspected (in 1658) how


[ocr errors]

shortly Cromwell was to afford a new in- “ The particulars of future being must needs stance of posthumous indignity. Again :

be dark unto ancient theories, which Christian

philosophy yet determines but in a cloud of opin. “ Christians dispute how their bodies should lie

A dialogue between two infants in the in the grave. In urnal interment they clearly womb, concerning the state of this world, might escaped this controversy. To be gnawed out of handsomely illustrate our ignorance of the next, our graves, to have our skulls made drinking

whereof methinks we yet discourse in Plato's den, bowls, and our bones turned into pipes, to delight and are but embryo philosophers. and sport our enemies, are tragical abominations

“Happy are they which live not in that disadescaped in burning burials.”

vantage of time, when men could say little for

futurity, but from reason; whereby the noblest But on the other hand :

minds fell often upon doubtful deaths and melan

choly dissolutions. With hopes, Socrates warmed “When Alexander opened the tomb of Cyrus, | Cato, before he durst give the fatal stroke, spent

his doubtful spirits against that cold potion; and the remaining bones discovered his proportion, whereof urnal fragments afford but a bad conjec- part of the night in reading Plato, thereby conture, and have this disadvantage, that they leave tirming his wavering hand unto the animosity of us ignorant of most personal discoveries."--p. 479.

the attempt. It is the heaviest stone that Melan.

choly can throw at a man, to tell him he is at the The passage is almost prophetic of the end of his nature; or that there is no further state fate of Browne's own remains. Strange spe- otherwise made in vain.”

to come, unto which this seems progressional, and cialties touching cremation are also given in great abundance:

The Christian Morals (posthumous, 1716), “ To burn the bones of the king of Edom for though searched out by an archbishop and lime, seems no irrational ferity; but to drink of published by an archdeacon, hardly answer to the ashes of dead relations a passionate prodi- the title which stands at their head. Those gality

who refer to them for Christian morality, “Some bones make best skeletons, some bodies will find much that they did not go for, and quick and speediest ashes. Who would expect a be disappointed of much which they did quick flame from hydropical Heraclitus ? The poisoned soldier (in Plutarch), when his belly expect. The treatise is not even a formal brake, put out two pyres. Though the funeral specimen of sound Gentile ethics, but a compyre of Patroclus took up an hundred foot, a piece pendium of sensible maxims of worldly wisof an old boat burnt Pompey; and if the burthen dom, such as might have come from a less of Isaac were sufficient for an holocaust, a man insincere Chesterfield or a less cynical Rochemay carry his own pyre.”

foucauld. “Good admonitions,” says Sir

Thomas, “knock not always in vain ;" but The Hydriotaphia contains many passages his taps are as feeble as the didactic lesson of of a higher tone:

grandmamma: "Now, dear Johnny, be sure “ Oblivion is not to be hired. The greater part you be a good little boy!" Browne himself had must be content to be as though they had not a well-regulated, fully-employed mind, with been; to be found in the register of God, not in passions of but slight intensity, and seems the record of man. Twenty-seven names make scarcely to have known the force of the up the first story before the flood, and the recorded ejaculation, “ The good that I would I do names ever since contain not one living century. not: but the evil which I would not, that I The number of the dead long exceedeth all that do. O wretched man that I am! who shall shall live. “Who cares to subsist like Hippocrates' pa

deliver me from the body of this death ?” tients, or Achilles' horses in Homer, under naked nominations, without deserts and noble acts, « Rest not in an ovation, but a triumph over thy which are the balsam of our memories, the entele- passions. Let anger walk hanging down the chia and soul of our subsistences ? To be name. head; let malice go manacled and envy fettered less in worthy deeds exceeds an infamous history. after thee. Behold within thee the long train of The Canaanitish woman lives more happily witħ- thy trophies, not without thee. Make the quarout a name than Herodias with one. And who relling Lapithytes sleep and Centaurs within lie had not rather have been the good thief than quiet. Chain up the unruly legion of thy breast. Pilate?

Lead thine own captivity captive, and be Cæsar “ Were the happiness of the next world as within thyself. closely apprehended as the felicities of this, it “Be not a Hercules furens abroad and a polwould be a martyrdom to live; and unto such as troon within thyself. To chase our enemies out consider none hereafter, it must be more than of the field, and be led captive by our vices; to death to die, which makes us amazed at those au- beat down our foes, and fall down to our concudacities that durst be nothing and return into their piscences, are solecisms in moral schools, and no chaos again.

laurel attends them. To well manage our affec

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

tions and wild horses of Plato, are the highest of Jonathan, to fall beside the mark. Too many Circenses ; and the noblest digladiation is in the there be to whom a dead enemy smells well, and theatre of ourselves; for therein our inward an- who find musk and amber in revenge. But patient tagonists, not only, like common gladiators, with meekness takes injuries like pills, not chewing but ordinary weapons and down-right blows make at swallowing them down, laconically suffering, and us; but also, like retiary and laqueary combat- silently passing them over; while angered pride ants, with nets, frauds, and entanglements, fall makes a noise, like Homerican Mars, at every upon us.”-iv. 70.

scratch of offences. Since women do most delight

in revenge, it may seem but feminine manhood It is true, he adds, that in such combats to be vindictive. If thou must needs have thy “not the armor of Achilles, but the armature revenge of thine enemy, with a soft tongue break of St. Paul, gives the glorious day, and tri- his bones, heap coals of fire on his head, forgive umphs, not leading up to capitols, but to the him, and enjoy it. If thou hast not mercy for highest heavens, but he immediately falls others, yet be not cruel unto thyself. To rumiback into the old strain—“Let right reason be ries, and be too acute in their apprehensions, is to

nate upon evils, to make critical notes upon injuthy Lycurgus!" &c.; and the treatise proceeds add unto our own tortures, to feather the arrows as a pleasing hint-book for decent conduct, of our enemies, to lash ourselves with the scorand not in the least as a manual of Christian pions of our foes, and to resolve to sleep no more; morals, or a foundation of Christian strength. for injuries long dreamt on take away at last all The Letter to a Friend, to which this is in

rest, and he sleeps but like Regulus who busieth

his head about them." tended as a corollary and supplement, is far more edifying, as well as far more touching

The Religio Medici, though written much and beautiful. With this knowledge of what Browne's earlier, was first published, as we have seen,

, Christian Morals are not, they are well by a pirate in 1642. Its precise tendency worth looking into now and then for the time to this ; its ability has been unanimous

and object have puzzled the world from that shrewd, honest, practical notions they con; ly acknowledged. By some the writer has As in his other works, metaphors and been stigmatized as an infidel

, by others illustrations are produced in such rapid suc

lauded as a Roman Catholic under the comcession, as almost to fatigue the reader's attention. It is a Chinese feast of a hundred pulsory disguise of a member of the Church attention. It is a Chinese feast of a hundred of England. Meanwhile the book attained at little dishes, served in a hundred different Rome the honors of the Index Expurgatorius. ways, yet all rather stimulant than satisfy: Mr. Wilkin refers those who do not perceive ing. One of his less decorated passages is

in it its own vindication to the eloquent and as follows:

conclusive observations of the author's great " When thou lookest upon the imperfections of admirer and biographer, Dr. Johnson ;* others, allow one eye for what is laudable in while the annotator to the edition of 1656, them, and the balance they have from some ex

Mr. Thomas Keck, asserts that no more is cellency which may render them considerable. meant by the title Religio Medici, or en

“ Since goodness is exemplary in all, if others deavored to be proved in the book, " than have not our virtues, let us not be wanting in that (contrary to the opinion of the unlearntheirs; nor, scorning them for their vices whereof we are free, be condemned by their virtues wherein ed) physicians have religion as well as other we are deficient. For perfection is not, like light, centred in any one body; but, like the dis- * “It is, indeed, somewhat wonderful that he persed seminalities of vegetables at the creation, should be placed without the pale of Christianity, scattered through the whole mass of the earth, no

who declares that he assumes the honorable style

of a Christian, not because it is the religion of his place producing all, and almost all some. So that 'tis well if a perfect man can be made out of country, but because, having in his riper years and many men, and, to the perfect eye of God, even

confirmed judgment seen and examined all, he finds

himself obliged, by the principles of grace and the out of mankind.”

law of his own reason, to embrace no other name but

this ;' who, to specify his persuasion yet more, tells The following may be taken as a good us that he is of the reformed religion; of the same specimen both of the style and temper of the belief our Saviour taught, the Apostles disseminated, writer :

the fathers authorized, and the martyrs confirmed;'

who, though 'paradoxical in philosophy, loves in “ Make not one in the Historia Horribilis; flay self, that he has no taint of heresy, schism, or

divinity to keep the beaten road,' and pleases himnot thy servant for a broken glass; supererogate error; to whom, where the Scripture is silent, the not in the worst sense. Be not stoically mistaken church is a text; where that speaks, 'tis but a comin the equality of sins, nor commutatively iniqui- ment;' and who uses not the dictates of his own tons in the valuations of transgressions. Let thy ar- reason but where there is a joint silence of both.'". rows of revenge fly short, or be aimed, like those | Life by Johnson.

« PreviousContinue »