صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

"drudging practice, he was fcarce patient of any "diverfion from his ftudy; fo impatient of floth "and idleness, that he would fay, he could not do "nothing.

"Sir Thomas understood most of the European languages; viz. all that are in Hutter's Bible, which he "made. ufe of. The Latin, and Greek he understood "critically; the Oriental languages, which never were. "vernacular in this part of the world, he thought the "use of them would not answer the time and pains of "learning them; yet had so great a veneration for the "matrix of them, viz. the Hebrew, confecrated to the "oracles of God, that he was not, content to be "totally ignorant of it; though, very little of his fci-. "ence is to be found in any books of that primitive> language. And though much is faid to be written " in the derivative idioms of that tongue, efpecially "the Arabick, yet he was fatisfied with the tranfla.. "tions, wherein he found nothing admirable.



“In his religion he continued in the fame mind, "which he had declared in his first book, written when› 66 he was but thirty years old, his Religio Medici, where.. "in he fully affented to that of the church of England, preferring it before any in the world, as did the learned, "Grotius. He attended the publick fervice very con.. ftantly, when he was not with-held by his practice; 66 never miffed the facrament in his parish, if he were "in town; read the best English fermons he could "hear of, with liberal applaufe; and delighted not in "controverfies. In his laft ficknefs, wherein he con-. "tinued about a week's time, enduring great pain of "the colic, befides a continual fever, with as much


without any


patience as hath been feen in any man,.,



[ocr errors]

cr pretence of Stoical apathy, animofity, or vanity of "not being concerned thereat, or fuffering no impeachment of happiness-Nihil agis, dolor.


"His patience was founded upon the Chriftian phi"losophy, and a found faith of God's providence, and "a meek and holy fubmiffion, thereunto, which he ex"preffed in few words. I vifited him near his end, "when he had not strength to hear or speak much; "the last words which I heard from him were, be"fides fome expreffions of dearnefs, that he did freely "fubmit to the will of God, being without fear: he "had oft triumphed over the king of terrors in others, ❝and given many repulfes in the defence of patients; "but, when his own turn came, he submitted with a “meek, rational, and religious courage.

"He might have made good the old faying of Dat "Galenus opes, had he lived in a place that could have "afforded it. But his indulgence and liberality to his "children, especially in their travels, two of his "fons in divers countries, and two of his daughters "in France, fpent him more than a little. He "was liberal in his houfe-entertainments and in his "charity; he left a comfortable, but no great estate, "both to his lady and children, gained by his own in66 duftry.


"Such was his fagacity and knowledge of all hiftory, antient and modern, and his obfervations therefo fingular, that it hath been faid, by them "that knew him beft, that if his profeffion, and place "of abode, would have fuited his ability, he would "have made an extraordinary man for the privy-coun"cil, not much inferior to the famous Padre Paulo, "the late oracle of the Venetian state.



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


"Though he were no prophet, nor fon of a prophet, yet in that faculty which comes nearest it he ex"celled, i. e. the stochastick, wherein he was feldom "mistaken, as to future events, as well publick as private; but not apt to discover any prefages or fuper"ftition."

[ocr errors]

It is obfervable, that he who in his earlier years had read all the books against religion, was in the latter part of his life averfe from controverfies. To play with important truths, to disturb the repose of established tenets, to fubtilize objections, and elude proof, is too often the sport of youthful vanity, of which maturer experience commonly repents. There is a time when every man is weary of raifing difficulties only to task himself with the folution, and desires to enjoy truth without the labour or hazard of conteft. There is, perhaps, no better method of encountering these troublesome irruptions of fcepticism, with which inquifitive minds are frequently harraffed, than that which Browne declares himself to have taken: "If there arife


any doubts in my way, I do forget them; or at least "defer them, till my better fettled judgment, and "more manly reason, be able to refolve them: for I "perceive, every man's reafon is his beft Oedipus, "and will, upon a reasonable truce, find a way to "loose those bonds, wherewith the fubtilties of er"ror have enchained our more flexible and tender "judgments."

The foregoing character may be confirmed and enlarged by many paffages in the Religio Medici; in which it appears, from Whitefoot's teftimony, that the author, though no very fparing panegyrift of himself, has VOL. IV. Rr


[ocr errors]

not exceeded the truth, with respect to his attainments or visible qualities.

There are, indeed, fome interior and fecret virtues, which a man may fometimes have without the knowledge of others; and may fometimes affume to himfelf, without fufficient reafons for his opinion. It is charged upon Browne, by Dr. Watts, as an instance of arrogant temerity, that, after a long detail of his attainments, he declares himself to have escaped " the "first and father-fin of pride." A perufal of the Religio Medici will not much contribute to produce a belief of the author's exemption from this father-fin: pride is a vice, which pride itfelf inclines every man to find in others, and to overlook in himself.

As easily may we be mistaken in estimating our own courage, as our own humility; and therefore, when Browne fhews himself persuaded, that "he could lofe "an arm without a tear, or with a few groans be "quartered to pieces," I am not fure that he felt in himself any uncommon powers of endurance; or, indeed, any thing more than a fudden effervefcence of imagination, which, uncertain and involuntary as it is, he miftook for fettled refolution.

"That there were not many extant, that in a noble 66 way feared the face of death lefs than himself;" he might likewife believe at a very eafy expence, while death was yet at a distance; but the time will come to every human being, when it must be known how well he can bear to die; and it has appeared, that our author's fortitude did not defert him in the great hour of trial.

It was observed by fome of the remarkers on the Religio Medici, that "the author was yet alive, and

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

might grow worfe as well as better;" it is therefore happy, that this fufpicion can be obviated by a testimony given to the continuance of his virtue, at a time when death had fet him free from danger of change, and his panegyrift from temptation to flat


But it is not on the praifes of others, but on his own writings, that he is to depend for the esteem of posterity; of which he will not eafily be deprived while learning fhall have any reverence among men: for there is no fcience in which he does not discover fome skill; and scarce any kind of knowledge, profane or facred, abftrufe or elegant, which he does not appear to have cultivated with fuccefs.

His exuberance of knowledge, and plenitude of ideas, fometimes obftruct the tendency of his reafoning, and the clearness of his decifions: on whatever fubject he employed his mind, there ftarted up immediately fo many images before him, that he loft one by grafping another. His memory fupplied him with fo many illustrations, parallel or dependent notions, that he was always ftarting into collateral confiderations: but the fpirit and vigour of his purfuit always gives delight; and the reader follows him, without reluctance, through his mazes, in themselves flowery and pleasing, and ending at the point originally in view.

To have great excellences and great faults, magne virtutes nec minora vitia, is the poefy," fays our author, "of the beft natures." This poefy may be properly applied to the ftyle of Browne: it is vigorous, but rugged; it is learned, but pedantick; it is deep, but obfcure; it ftrikes, but does not please; it commands, but does not allure: his tropes are harsh, and Rr 2


« السابقةمتابعة »