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character of auxiliary to the emperor, and having avowed no other reason for the war, might have honourably withdrawn his forces, and on his own principles have complied with terms of peace; but no terms were offered him; the queen pursued him with the utmost ardour of hostility, and the French left him to his own conduct and his own destiny.
His Bohemian conquests were already lost; and he was now chased back into Silesia, where, at the beginning of the year, the war continued in an equilibration by alternate losses and advantages. In April, the Elector of Bavaria seeing his dominions overrun by the Austrians, and receiving very little succour from the French, made a peace with the Queen of Hungary upon easy conditions, and the Austrians had more troops to employ against Prussia.
But the revolutions of war will not suffer human presumption to remain long unchecked. The peace with Bavaria was scarcely concluded, when the battle of Fontenoy was lost, and all the allies of Austria called upon her to exert her utmost power for the preservation of the Low Countries; and, a few days after the loss at Fontenoy, the first battle between the Prussians and the combined army of Austrians and Saxons was fought at Niedburgh, in Silesia.
The particulars of this battle were variously reported by the different parties, and published in the journals of that time; to transcribe them would be tedious and useless, because accounts of battles are not easily understood, and because there are no means of determining to which of the relations credit should be given. It is sufficient that they all end in claiming or allowing a complete victory to the King of Prussia, who gained all the Austrian artillery, killed four thousand, took seven thousand prisoners, with the loss, according to the Prussian narrative, of only sixteen hundred men.
He now advanced again into Bohemia, where, however, he made no great progress. The Queen
of Hungary, though defeated, was not subdued. She poured in her troops from all parts to the reinforcement of Prince Charles, and determined to continue the struggle with all her power. The king saw that Bohemia was an unpleasing and inconvenient theatre of war, in which he should be ruined by a miscarriage, and should get little by a victory. Saxony was left defenceless, and, if it was conquered, might be plundered.
He therefore published a declaration against the Elector of Saxony, and, without waiting for reply, invaded his dominions. This invasion produced another battle at Standentz, which ended, as the former, to the advantage of the Prussians. The Austrians had some advantage in the beginning; and their irregular troops, who are always daring, and are always ravenous, broke into the Prussian camp, and carried away the military chest. But this was easily repaired by the spoils of Saxony.
The Queen of Hungary was still inflexible, and hoped that fortune would at last change. She recruited once more her army, and prepared to invade the territories of Brandenburgh; but the King of Prussia's activity prevented all her designs. One part of his forces seized Leipsic, and the other once more defeated the Saxons; the King of Poland fled from his dominions, Prince Charles retired into Bohemia. The King of Prus sia entered Dresden as a conqueror, exacted very severe contributions from the whole country, and the Austrians and Saxons were at last compelled to receive from him such a peace as he would grant. He imposed no severe conditions except the payment of the contributions, made no new claim of dominions, and, with the Elector Palatine, acknowledged the Duke of Tuscany for emperor.
The lives of princes, like the histories of nations, have their periods. We shall here suspend our narrative of the King of Prussia, who was now at the height of human greatness, giving laws to his enemies, and courted by all the powers of Europe.
THOUGH the writer of the following ESSAYS* | 19th of October, 1605.* His father was a merseems to have had the fortune, common among chant, of an ancient family at Upton, in Cheshire. men of letters, of raising little curiosity after his Of the name or family of his mother I find no private life, and has, therefore, few memorials account. preserved of his felicities and misfortunes; yet, because an edition of a posthumous work appears imperfect and neglected, without some account of the author, it was thought necessary to attempt the gratification of that curiosity which naturally inquires by what peculiarities of nature or fortune eminent men have been distinguished, how uncommon attainments have been gained, and what influence learning had on its possessors, or virtue on its teachers.
SIR THOMAS BROWNE was born at London, in the parish of St. Michael, in Cheapside, on the
* "Christian Morals," first printed in 1756.-H.
Of his childhood or youth there is little known, except that he lost his father very early; that he was, according to the common † fate of orphans, defrauded by one of his guardians; and that he was placed for his education at the school of Winchester.
His mother, having taken three thousand pounds as the third part of her husband's property, left her son, by consequence, six thousand,
*Life of Sir Thomas Browne, prefixed to the Antiqui ties of Norwich.
Whitefoot's character of Sir Thomas Browne, in a marginal note.
Life of Sir Thomas Browne.
a large fortune for a man destined to learning at that time, when commerce had not yet filled the nation with nominal riches. But it happened to him, as to many others, to be made poor by opulence; for his mother soon married Sir Thomas Dutton, probably by the inducement of her fortune; and he was left to the rapacity of his guardian, deprived now of both his parents, and therefore helpless and unprotected.
He was removed in the beginning of the year 1623, from Winchester to Oxford, and entered a gentleman-commoner of Broadgate-hall, which was soon afterwards endowed, and took the name of Pembroke-college, from the Earl of Pembroke, then chancellor of the University. He was admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Arts, January 31st, 1626-7; being, as Wood remarks, the first min of eminence graduated from the new college, to which the zeal or gratitude of those that love it most can wish little better than that it may long proceed as it began.
Having afterwards taken his degree of Master of Arts, he turned his studies to physic,† and practised it for some time in Oxfordshire; but soon afterwards, either induced by curiosity, or invited by promises, he quitted his settlement, and accompanied his father-in-law, who had some employment in Ireland, in a visitation of the forts and castles, which the state of Ireland then made
formance, not to think that it might please others as much; he, therefore, communicated it to his friends, and receiving, I suppose, that exuberant applause with which every man repays the grant of perusing a manuscript, he was not very diligent to obstruct his own praise by recalling his papers, but suffered them to wander from hand to hand, till at last, without his own consent, they were, in 1642, given to a printer.
This has, perhaps, sometimes befallen others : and this, I am willing to believe, did really happen to Dr. Browne: but there is surely some reason to doubt the truth of the complaints so frequently made of surreptitious editions. A song, or an epigram, may be easily printed without the author's knowledge; because it may be learned when it is repeated, or may be written out with very little trouble; but a long treatise, however elegant, is not often copied by mere zeal or curiosity, but may be worn out in passing from hand to hand, before it is multiplied by a transcript. It is easy to convey an imperfect book, by a distant hand, to the press, and plead the circulation of a false copy as an excuse for publishing the true, or to correct what is found faulty or of fensive, and charge the errors on the transcriber's depravations.
This is a stratagem, by which an author panting for fame, and yet afraid of seeming to challenge it, may at once gratify his vanity, and preHe that has once prevailed on himself to break serve the appearance of modesty; may enter the his connexions of acquaintance, and begin a wan- lists, and secure a retreat: and this candour might dering life, very easily continues it. Ireland had, suffer to pass undetected as an innocent fraud, at that time, very little to offer to the observation but that indeed no fraud is innocent; for the conof a man of letters: he, therefore, passed into fidence which makes the happiness of society is France and Italy; made some stay at Montpel-in some degree diminished by every man whose lier and Padua, which were then the celebrated schools of physic; and returning home through Holland, procured himself to be created doctor of physic at Leyden.
When he began his travels, or when he concluded them, there is no certain account; nor do there remain any observations made by him in his passage through those countries which he visited. To consider, therefore, what pleasure or instruction might have been received from the remarks of a man so curious and diligent, would be voluntarily to indulge a painful reflection, and load the imagination with a wish, which, while it is formed, is known to be vain. It is, however, to be lamented, that those who are most capable of improving mankind, very frequently neglect to communicate their knowledge; either because it is more pleasing to gather ideas than to impart them, or because, to minds naturally great, few things appear of so much importance as to deserve the notice of the public.
About the year 1634, § he is supposed to have returned to London; and the next year to have written his celebrated treatise, called "Religio Medici," the religion of a physician, which he declares himself never to have intended for the press, having composed it only for his own exercise and entertainment. It, indeed, contains many passages, which, relating merely to his own person, can be of no great importance to the public; but when it was written, it happened to him as to others, he was too much pleased with his per
Wood's Athene Oxonienses.
Letter to Sir Kenelm Digby, prefixed to the "Religio Medici" fol. edit
practice is at variance with his words.
The "Religio Medici" was no sooner published than it excited the attention of the public, by the novelty of paradoxes, the dignity of sentiment, the quick succession of images, the multitude of abstruse allusions, the subtlety of disquisition, and the strength of language.
What is much read will be much criticised. The Earl of Dorset recommended this book to the perusal of Sir Kenelm Digby, who returned his judgment upon it, not in a letter, but a book; in which, though mingled with some positions fabulous and uncertain, there are acute remarks, just censures, and profound speculations; yet principal claim to admiration is, that it was written in twenty-four hours, of which part was spent in procuring Browne's book, and part in reading it.
Of these animadversions, when they were yet not all printed, either officiousness or malice informed Dr. Browne; who wrote to Sir Kenelm with much softness and ceremony, declaring the unworthiness of his work to engage such notice, the intended privacy of the composition, and the corruptions of the impression: and received an answer equally genteel and respectful, containing high commendations of the piece, pompous professions of reverence, meek acknowledgments of inability, and anxious apologies for the hastiness of his remarks.
The reciprocal civility of authors is one of the most risible scenes in the farce of life. Who would not have thought, that these two lumina ries of their age had ceased to endeavour to grow
Digby's Letter to Browne, prefixed to the "Religio Medici," fol. edit.
bright by the obscuration of each other? yet the animadversions thus weak, thus precipitate, upon a book thus injured in the transcription, quickly passed the press; and "Religio Medici" was more accurately published, with an admonition prefixed "to those who have or shall peruse the observations upon a former corrupt copy;" in which there is a severe censure, not upon Digby, who was to be used with ceremony, but upon the observator who had usurped his name; nor was this invective written by Dr. Browne, who was supposed to be satisfied with his opponent's apology; but by some officious friend, zealous for his honour, without his consent.
Browne has, indeed, in his own preface, endeavoured to secure himself from rigorous examination, by alleging, that "many things are delivered rhetorically, many expressions merely tropical, and therefore many things to be taken in a soft and flexible sense, and not to be called unto the rigid test of reason." The first glance upon this book will indeed discover examples of this liberty of thought and expression: "I could be content (says he) to be nothing almost to eternity, if I might enjoy my Saviour at the last." He has little acquaintance with the acuteness of Browne, who suspects him of a serious opinion, that any thing can be "almost eternal," or that any time beginning and ending is not infinitely less than infinite duration.
disposition to recollect his own thoughts and ac tions, will not conclude his life in some sort a miracle, and imagine himself distinguished from all the rest of his species by many discriminations of nature or of fortune.
The success of this performance was such, as might naturally encourage the author to new un dertakings. A gentleman of Cambridge, whose name was Merryweather, turned it not inele gantly into Latin; and from his version it was again translated into Italian, German Dutch and French; and at Strasburg the Latin translation was published with large notes, by Levinus Nicolaus Moltkenius. Of the English annotations, which in all the editions from 1644, accompany the book, the author is unknown.
Of Merryweather, to whose zeal Browne was so much indebted for the sudden extension of his renown, I know nothing, but that he published a small treatise for the instruction of young persons in the attainment of the Latin style. He printed his translation in Holland with some difficulty.f The first printer to whom he offered it carried it to Salmasius, "who laid it by (says he) in state for three months," and then discouraged its pub lication: it was afterwards rejected by two other printers, and at last was received by Hackius,
The peculiarities of this book raised the author, as is usual, many admirers and many enemies; but we know not of more than one professed anIn this book he speaks much, and, in the opi-swer, written under the title of “Medicus Menion of Digby, too much of himself; but with dicatus," by Alexander Ross, which was universuch generality and conciseness as affords very sally neglected by the world. little light to his biographer: he declares, that, besides the dialects of different provinces, he understood six languages; that he was no stranger to astronomy; and that he had seen several countries; but what most awakens curiosity is, his solemn assertion, that "his lifehas been a miracle of thirty years; which to relate were not history, but a piece of poetry, and would sound like a fable."
There is, undoubtedly, a sense in which all life is miraculous; as it is a union of powers of which we can image no connexion, a succession of motions of which the first cause must be supernatural; but life, thus explained, whatever it may have of miracle, will have nothing of fable; and, therefore, the author undoubtedly had regard to something, by which he imagined himself distinguished from the rest of mankind.
At the time when this book was published, Dr. Browne resided at Norwich, where he had settled in 1636, by the persuasion of Dr. Lushington, his tutor, who was then rector of Barnham West-gate in the neighbourhood. It is recorded by Wood, that his practise was very extensive, and that many patients resorted to him. In 1637 || he was incorporated doctor of physic in Oxford.
He married in 1641 Mrs. Mileham, of a good family in Norfolk; "a lady (says White foot) of such symmetrical proportion to her wor thy husband, both in the graces of her body and mind, that they seemed to come together by a kind of natural magnetism."
This marriage could not but draw the raillery of contemporary wits** upon a man who had just been wishing in his new book, "that we Of these wonders, however, the view that can might procreate like trees, without conjunction," be now taken of his life offers no appearance. and hadff lately declared, that "the whole world The course of his education was like that of was made for man, but only the twelfth part of others, such as put him little in the way of extra-man for woman ;" and, that “man is the whole ordinary casualties. A scholastic and academi- world, but woman only the rib or crooked part of cal life is very uniform; and has, indeed, more man," safety than pleasure. A traveller has greater opportunities of adventure; but Browne traversed no unknown seas, or Arabian deserts; and, surely, a man may visit France and Italy, reside at Montpellier and Padua, and at last take his degree at Leyden, without any thing miraculous, What it was that would, if it was related, sound so poetical and fabulous, we are left to guess; I believe without hope of guessing rightly. The wonders probably were transacted in his own mind; self-love, co-operating with an imagination vigorous and fertile as that of Browne, will find or make objects of astonishment in every man's life; and, perhaps, there is no human being, however hid in the crowd from the observation of his fellow mortals, who if he has leisure and
Whether the lady had been yet informed of these contemptuous positions, or whether she was pleased with the conquest of so formidable a rebel, and considered it as a double triumph, to at tract so much merit, and overcome so powerful prejudices, or whether, like most others, she mar ried upon mingled motives, between convenience and inclination; she had, however, no reason to repent for she lived happily with him one-andforty years, and bore him ten children, of whom
*Life of Sir Thomas Browne.
Life of Sir Thomas Browne.
** Howel's Letters.
Wood's Ath. Ox.
ff Religio Medici
one son and three daughters outlived their parents she survived him two years, and passed her widowhood in plenty, if not in opulence. Browne, having now entered the world as an author, and experienced the delights of praise and molestations of censure, probably found his dread of the public eye diminished; and therefore was not long before he trusted his name to the critics a second time; for in 1646* he printed "Enquiries into vulgar and common Errours ;" a work, which as it arose not from fancy and invention, but from observation and books, and contained not a single discourse of one continued tenor, of which the latter part arose from the former, but an enumeration of many unconnected particulars, must have been the collection of years, and the effect of a design early formed and long pursued, to which his remarks had been continually referred, and which arose gradually to its present bulk by the daily aggregation of new particles of knowledge. It is indeed to be wished that he had longer delayed the publication, and added what the remaining part of his life might have furnished: the thirty-six years which he spent afterwards in study and experience, would doubtless have made large additions to an "Enqui y into vulgar Errours." He published in 1673 the sixth edition, with some improvements; but I think rather with explication of what he had already written, than any new heads of disquisition. But with the work such as the author, whether hindered from continuing it by eagerness of praise, or weariness of labour, thought fit to give, we must be content; and remember, that in all sublunary things there is something to be wished, which we must wish in vain.
This book, like his former, was received with great applause, was answered by Alexander Ross, and translated into Dutch and German, and, not many years ago, into French. It might now be proper, had not the favour with which it was at first received filled the kingdom with copies, to reprint it with notes, partly supplemental, and partly emendatory, to subjoin those discoveries which the industry of the last age has made, and correct those mistakes which the author has committed not by idleness or negligence, but for want of Boyle's and Newton's philosophy.
and was surely plausible, even before it was confirmed by later observations.
The reputation of Browne encouraged some low writer to publish, under his name, a book called "Nature's Cabinet unlocked," translated, according to Wood, from the physics of Magirus; of which Browne took care to clear himself, by modestly advertising, that "if any man had been benefited by it, he was not so ambitious as to challenge the honour thereof, as having no hand in that work."
In 1658, the discovery of some ancient urns in Norfolk gave him occasion to write "Hyriotaphia, Urn-burial, or a Discourse of Sepulchral Urns," in which he treats, with his usual learning, on the funeral rites of the ancient nations; exhibits their various treatment of the dead; and examines the substances found in his Norfolcian urns. There is, perhaps, none of his works which better exemplifies his reading or memory. It is scarcely to be imagined, how many particu lars he has amassed together, in a treatise which seems to have been occasionally written; and for which, therefore, no materials could have been previously collected. It is indeed, like other treatises of antiquity, rather for curiosity than use; for it is of small importance to know which nation buried their dead in the ground, which threw them into the sea, or which gave them to the birds and beasts; when the practice of cremation began, or when it was disused; whether the bones of different persons were mingled in the same urn; what oblations were thrown into the pyre; or how the ashes of the body were distinguished from those of other substances. Of the uselessness of these inquiries Browne seems not to have been ignorant; and therefore concludes them with an observation which can never be too frequently recollected :
"All or most apprehensions rested in opinions of some future being, which, ignorantly or coldly believed, begat those perverted conceptions, cere monies, sayings, which christians pity or laugh at. Happy are they which live not in that disadvantage of time, when men could say little for futurity, but from reason; whereby the noblest mind fell often upon doubtful deaths, and melancholy dissolutions; with these hopes Socrates warmed his doubtful spirits against the cold potion; and Cato, before he durst give the fatal stroke, spent part of the night in reading the immortality of Plato, thereby confirming his waver
He appears indeed to have been willing to pay labour for truth. Having heard a flying rumour of sympathetic needles, by which, suspended over a circular alphabet, distant friends or lovers might correspond, he procured two such alphabets to being hand unto the animosity of that attempt. made, touched his needles with the same magnet, and placed them upon proper spindles: the result was, that when he moved one of his needles, the other, instead of taking by sympathy the same direction, "stood like the pillars of Hercules." That it continued motionless, will be easily believed; and most men would have been content to believe it, without the labour of so hopeless an experiment. Browne might himself have obtained the same conviction by a method less operose, if he had thrust his needles through corks, and set them afloat in two basons of water.
Notwithstanding his zeal to detect old errors, he seems not very easy to admit new positions, for he never mentions the motion of the earth but with contempt and ridicule, though the opinion which admits it was then growing popular,
Life of Sir Thomas Browne.
"It is the heaviest stone that melancholy can throw at a man, to tell him that he is at the end of his nature; or that there is no further state to come, unto which this seems progressional, and otherwise made in vain: without this accomplishment, the natural expectation and desire of such a state were but a fallacy in nature; unsatisfied considerators would quarrel at the justness of the constitution, and rest content that Adam had fallen lower, whereby, by knowing no other ori ginal, and deeper ignorance of themselves, they might have enjoyed the happiness of inferior creatures, who in tranquillity possess their constitutions, as having not the apprehension to deplore their own natures; and being framed below the circumference of these hopes of cognition of better things, the wisdom of God hath necessi
Wood, and Life of Sir Thomas Browne.
tated their contentment. But the superior in- | are circumscribed; that there are five kinds of gredient and obscured part of ourselves, whereto all present felicities afford no resting contentment, will be able at last to tell us we are more than our present selves: and evacuate such hopes in the fruition of their own accomplishments."
vegetable productions, five sections of a cone, five orders of architecture, and five acts of a play. And observing that five was the ancient conjugal, or wedding number, he proceeds to a speculation which I shall give in his own words: "The ancient numerists made out the conjugal number by two and three, the first parity and imparity, the active and passive digits, the material and formal principles in generative societies.”
These are all the tracts which he published. But many papers were found in his closet: "some of them, (says Whitefoot,) designed for the press, were often transcribed and corrected by his own hand, after the fashion of great and curious
To his treatise on "Urn-burial" was added "The Garden of Cyrus, or the quincunxial lozenge, or network plantation of the Ancients, artificially, naturally, mystically, considered." This discourse he begins with the "Sacred Garden," in which the first man was placed; and deduces the practice of horticulture from the earliest accounts of antiquity, to the time of the Persian Cyrus, the first man whom we actually know to have planted a quincunx; which, how-writers." ever, our author is inclined to believe of longer date, and not only discovers it in the description of the hanging gardens of Babylon, but seems willing to believe, and to persuade his reader, that it was practised by the feeders on vegetables before the flood.
Some of the most pleasing performances have been produced by learning and genius exercised upon subjects of little importance. It seems to have been in all ages the pride of wit, to show how it could exalt the low, and amplify the little. To speak not inadequately of things really and naturally great, is a task not only difficult but disagreeable; because the writer is degraded in his own eyes by standing in comparison with his subject, to which he can hope to add nothing from his imagination; but it is a perpetual triumph of fancy to expand a scanty theme, to raise glittering ideas from obscure properties, and to produce to the world an object of wonder to which nature had contributed little. To this ambition, perhaps, we owe the frogs of Homer, the gnat and the bees of Virgil, the butterfly of Spenser, the shadow of Wowerus, and the quincunx of Browne.
In the prosecution of this sport of fancy, he considers every production of art and nature in which he could find any decussation or approaches to the form of a quincunx; and, as a man once resolved upon ideal discoveries seldom searches long in vain, he finds his favourite figure in almost every thing, whether natural or invented, ancient or modern, rude or artificial, sacred or civil; so that a reader, not watchful against the power of his infusions, would imagine that decussation was the great business of the world, and that nature and art had no other purpose than to exemplify and imitate a quincunx.
To show the excellence of this figure he enumerates all its properties; and finds in it almost every thing of use or pleasure: and to show how readily he supplies what we cannot find, one instance may be sufficient: "though therein (says he) we meet not with right angles, yet every thombus containing four angles equal unto two right, it virtually contains two right in every
The fanciful sports of great minds are never without some advantage to knowledge. Browne has interspersed many curious observations on the form of plants, and the laws of vegetation; and appears to have been a very accurate observer of the modes of germination, and to have watched with great nicety the evolution of the parts of plants from their seminal principles.
He is then naturally led to treat of the number Five; and finds, that by this number many things
Of these, two collections have been published; one by Dr. Tenison, the other in 1722, by a nameless editor. Whether the one or the other selected those pieces which the author would have preferred, cannot be known; but they have both the merit of giving to mankind what was too valuable to be suppressed; and what might, without their interposition, have perhaps perished among other innumerable labours of learned men, or have been burnt in a scarcity of fuel, like the papers of Peireskius.
The first of these posthumous treatises contains "Observations upon several Plants mentioned in Scripture :" these remarks, though they do not immediately either rectify the faith, or refine the morals of the reader, yet are by no means to be censured as superfluous niceties, or useless speculations; for they often show some propriety of description, or elegance of allusion, utterly undiscoverable to readers not skilled in oriental botany; and are often of more important use, as they remove some difficulty from narratives, or some obscurity from precepts.
The next is, "Of Garlands, or coronary and garland Plants;" a subject merely of learned curiosity, without any other end than the pleasure of reflecting on ancient customs, or on the industry with which studious men have endeavoured to recover them.
The next is a letter, "On the Fishes eaten by our Saviour with his Disciples, after his Resur rection from the Dead:" which contains no deter minate resolution of the question, what thy were, for indeed it cannot be determined. All the information that diligence or learning could supply consists in an enumeration of the fishes produced in the waters of Judea.
Then follow, "Answers to certain Queries about Fishes, Birds, and Insects;" and "A Letter of Hawks, and Falconry ancient and modern:" in the first of which he gives the proper interpretation of some ancient names of animals, commonly mistaken; and in the other has some curious observations on the art of hawking, which he considers as a practice unknown to the ancients. I believe all our sports of the field are of Gothic original; the ancients neither hunted by the scent, nor seemed much to have practised horsemanship as an exercise; and though in their works there is mention of aucu pium and piscatio, they seem no more to have been considered as diversions than agriculture or any other manual labour.
In two more letters he speaks of the cymbals of the Hebrews, but without any satisfactory de termination; and of ropatic or gradual verses, that is, of verses beginning with a word of one syllable,