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his face when in repose indicated as remained identical in doctrine and much, and so do his poems, taken as a discipline with the church of Jeremy whole. But he had a keen enough Taylor, of Ussher, of Mant. And all sense of fun. He was a great novel agree that he succeeded ; friends and reader, and there are a good many of foes honoured him for his steadfasthis bons mots on record. One, which ness and moderation, and probably the being of a clerical character may Irish Church owes more to him than be quoted here, comes from Canon to any man of his time. At length Cureton. Mr. Cureton, then rector of his health failed. He felt that there St. Margaret's, was to preach in his was no more work left for him to regular rotation at the Abbey on a do in Ireland, and he returned to certain saint's day. In those days England, to the scenes connected with the boys of Westminster School used so many happy years, having realised to attend service on holy days, after what he so often expressed in his which there was a holiday. Mr. poetry, that sorrow and anxiety are Cureton was looking over his sermon amongst God's greatest purifiers. So at breakfast time, when his son long as he was able, he loved best to accosted him with much anxiety of be in the Abbey and the precincts, to manner, “Father, is yours a long stroll in the cloisters, to be in the sermon to-day ?” “No, Jemmy, not choir at prayers. And ever there was very.” “But how long? Please tell upon his face a sweet and patient me.” “Well, about twenty minutes, gentleness. The last time I saw him I should say, Jemmy. Why are you he was talking brightly and happily so anxious ? ” “Because, father, the at the door of his publishers. “What boys say they will thrash me infernally an affectionate face the old archbishop if you are more than half an hour!" has," I said to the head of the firm In the course of the morning Cureton afterwards. “ All the years that we met the Dean and told him. “ Dear, have published for him,” was the dear," responded Trench, with his answer, “he has always been the usual sad, far-off look, “what a pity same, and we have had nothing but Wordsworth has no sons in the consideration from him.” school.” Old worshippers at the It was wise and thoughtful of Dean Abbey will remember how merciless Bradley to choose the centre of the good Canon Wordsworth was. We nave for his grave. Thirty years ago never got off under an hour, some- no attempt had been made to utilise times an hour and a half.
this nave for religious purposes. SightThe years which he spent as Arch- seers strolled about in it, and gaped bishop of Dublin were years of labour, admiringly at ugly monuments, and of anxiety, but not of unhappiness. that was all. It was Dean Trench He knew when he accepted the Irish who resolved to use the great space for Primacy that the storm was impending. worship, and in the end of 1857 the His melancholy and shyness might have experiment was tried. The vast crowds marked him off as one of the most that flock thither show that the experiunfit men in the world for such a crisis, ment succeeded, and the example thus but he astonished his friends by his set has since been followed in most of courage, his calmness and wisdom. the cathedrals in England. Let those He did his best to parry the blow, but crowds, as Sunday after Sunday they when it fell he resolutely set to work tread the stone that covers him, be his to preserve the ancient historic tradi monument. tions of his church, to see that it
SIR THOMAS BROWNE.
English prose literature towards the end of the seventeenth century, in the hands of Dryden and Locke, was becoming, as that of France had become at an earlier date, a matter of design and skilled practice, highly conscious of itself as an art, and, above all, correct. Up to that time it had been on the whole, singularly informal and unprofessional, and by no means the literature of what we understand by the “man of letters." Certain great instances there bad been of literary structure, or architecture—The Ecclesiastical Polity,' • The Leviathan' —but for the most part that literature is eminently occasional, closely determined by the eager practical aims of contemporary politics and theology, or else due to a man's own native instinct to speak because he cannot help speaking. Hardly aware of the habit, he likes talking to himself; and when he writes (still in undress) he does but take the “ friendly reader" into his confidence. The type of this literature, obviously, is not Locke or Gibbon, but, above all others, Sir Thomas Browne; as Jean Paul is a good instance of it in German literature, always in its developments so
ich later than the English and as the best instance of it in French literature, in the century preceding Browne, is Montaigne, from whom indeed, in a great measure, all those tentative writers, or essayists, derive.
It was a result, perhaps, of the individualism and liberty of personal development, which, even in a Roman Catholic, were effects of the Reformation, that there was so much in Montaigne of the “subjective," as people say, of the singularities of personal character. Browne, too, bookish as he really is, claims to give his readers a matter, “not picked
from the leaves of any author, but bred amongst the weeds and tares” of his own brain. The faults of such literature are what we all recognise in it: unevenness, alike in thought and style ; lack of design; and then, caprice—the lack of authority; after the full play of which, there is so much to refresh one in the reasonable transparency of Hooker, representing thus early the tradition of a classical clearness in English literature, anticipated by Latimer and More, and to be fulfilled afterwards in Butler and Hume. But then, in recompense for that looseness and whim, in Sir Thomas Browne, for instance, we have in those “quaint” writers, as they themselves understood the term-coint, adorned, but adorned with all the curious ornaments of their own predilection, provincial or archaic, certainly unfamiliar, and selected without reference to the taste or usages of other people—the charm of an absolute sincerity, with all the ingenuous and racy effect of what is circumstantial and peculiar in their growth.
“The whole creation is a mystery and particularly that of man. At the blast of His mouth were the rest of the creatures made, and at His bare word they started out of nothing. But in the frame of man He played the sensible operator, and seemed not so much to create as to make him. When He had separated the materials of other creatures, there consequently resulted a form and soul : but having raised the walls of man, He was driven to a second and harder creation of a substance like Himself, an incorruptible and immortal soul.”
There is the manner of Sir Thomas Browne, in exact expression of his mind !--minute and curious in its thinking, but with an effect, on the sudden, of a real sublimity or depth. His style is certainly an unequal one.
It has the monumental aim which the good luck to find in any more charmed, and perhaps influenced, John- formal kind of literature. son—a dignity that can be attained It is, in truth, to the literary puronly in such mental calm as follows pose of the humourist, in the oldlong and learned pondering on the fashioned sense of the term, that this high subjects Browne loves to deal method of writing naturally allies with. It has its garrulity, its various itself—of the humourist to whom all levels of painstaking, its mannerism, the world is but a spectacle in which pleasant of its kind or tolerable, to- nothing is really alien from himself, gether with much to us intolerable, of who has hardly a sense of the distincwhich he was capable on a lazy sum tion between great and little among mer afternoon down at Norwich. And things that are at all, and whose halfall is so oddly mixed, showing, in its pitying, half-amused sympathy is called entire ignorance of self, how much he, out especially by the seemingly small and the sort of literature he repre- interests and traits of character in the sents, really stood in need of technique, things or the people around him. Cerof a formed taste in literature, of a tainly, in an age stirred by great literary architecture.
causes, like the age of Browne in And yet perhaps we could hardly England, of Montaigne in France, that wish the result different in him, any is not a tyre to which one would wish more than in the books of Burton and to reduce all men of letters. Still, in Fuller, or some other similar writers an age apt also to become severe, or of that age-mental abodes we might even cruel (its eager interest in those liken, after their own manner, to the great causes turning sour on occasion) little old private houses of some his, the character of the humourist may toric town grouped about its grand well find its proper influence in that public structures, which, when they serene power, and the leisure it has have survived at all, posterity is loth for conceiving second thoughts, on the to part with. For, in their absolute tendencies, conscious or unconscious, sincerity, not only do these authors of the fierce wills around it. Someclearly exhibit themselves (“the unique thing of such a humourist was Browne peculiarity of the writer's mind” being, -not callous to men and their foras Johnson says of Browne, “faithfully tunes; certainly not without opinions reflected in the form and matter of his of his own about them; and yet, unwork"), but even more than mere disturbed by the civil war, by the professionally instructed writers they fall, and then the restoration, of the belong to, and reflect, the age they monarchy, through that long quiet lived in. In essentials, of course, even life (ending at last on the day himself Browne is by no means so unique had predicted, as if at the moment he among his contemporaries, and so sin- had willed) in which “all existence," gular, as he looks. And then, as the as he says, “bad been but food for very condition of their work, there is contemplation.” an entire absence of personal restraint Johnson, in beginning his “Life of in dealing with the public, whose Browne,' remarks that Browne "seems humours they come at last in a great to have had the fortune, common measure to reproduce. To speak more among men of letters, of raising little properly, they have no sense of a curiosity after their private life.” "public" to deal with at all-only Whether or not, with the example of a full confidence in the "friendly Johnson himself before us, we can reader," as they love to call him, think just that, it is certain that Hence their amazing pleasantry, their Browne's works are of a kind to indulgence in their own conceits; but directly stimulate curiosity about himhence also those unpremeditated wild- self-about himself, as being maniflowers of speech we should never have festly so large a part of those works; and as a matter of fact we know a abominable murder. In spite of what great deal about his life, uneventful is, perhaps, an affectation of the as in truth it was. To himself, in sceptical mood, he is a Churchman deed, his life at Norwich, as he lets too ; one of those who entered fully us know, seemed wonderful enough. into the Anglican position, so full of “Of these wonders,” says Johnson, sympathy with those ceremonies and “ the view that can now be taken of observances which “misguided zeal his life offers no appearance." But terms superstition,” that there were “ we carry with us," as Browne writes, some Roman Catholics who thought " the wonders we seek without us," that nothing but custom and educaand we may note, on the other hand, tion kept him from their communion. a circumstance which his daughter, At the Restoration he rejoices to see Mrs. Lyttleton, tell us of his child- the return of the comely Anglican hood :“His father used to open his order in old episcopal Norwich, with breast when he was asleep, and kiss its ancient churches; the antiquity, it in prayers over him, as 'tis said of in particular, of the English Church Origen's father, that the Holy Ghost being, characteristically, one of the would take possession there.” It was things he most valued in it, vindicatperhaps because the son inherited an ing it, when occasion came, against aptitude for a like profound stirring of the “unjust scandal” of those who sentiment in the taking of his life, that made that Church a creation of Henry uneventful as it was, commonplace as it the Eighth. As to Romanists—he seemed to Johnson, to Browne himself makes no scruple to “enter their it was so full of wonders, and so churches in defect of ours." He canstimulates the curiosity of his more not laugh at, but rather pities, “the careful reader of to-day. “What fruitless journeys of pilgrims — for influence,” says Johnson again, "learn there is something in it of devotion.” ing has had on its possessors may be He could never “ hear the Ave Mary! doubtful." Well! the influence of his bell without an oraison.” At a solemn great learning, of his constant re- procession he has " wept abundantly." search, on Browne, was its imaginative How English, in truth, all this really influence, that it completed his outfit is! It reminds one how some of as a poetic visionary, stirring all the the most popular of English writers, strange “conceit” of his nature to in many a half-conscious expression, its depths.
have witnessed to a susceptibility in He himself dwells, in connection the English mind itself, in spite of the with the first publication (extorted Reformation, to what is affecting in by circumstances) of the Religio religious ceremony. Only, in religion Medici,' on the natural “inactivity as in politics, Browne had no turn for of his disposition;" and he does, as disputes; was suspicious of them, inI have said, pass very quietly through deed ; knowing, as he says with true an exciting time. Born in the year acumen, that “a man may be in as of the Gunpowder Plot, he was not, just possession of truth as of a city, in truth, one of those clear and clari. and yet be forced to surrender,” even fying souls which, in an age alike of in controversies not necessarily malpractical and mental confusion, can adroit-an image in which we may lay down as by anticipation the bases trace a little contemporary colouring. of reconstruction, like Bacon or The Enquiries into Vulgar Errors' Hooker. His mind has much of the was published in the year 1646 ; a perplexity which was part of the year which found him very hard on atmosphere of the time. Not that he “the vulgar." His suspicion in the is without his own definite opinions abstract of what Bacon calls Idola on events. For him, Cromwell is a Fori, the Idols of the Market-place usurper, the death of Charles an takes a special emphasis from the course of events about him; “being him." For his multifarious experierroneous in their single numbers, ments he must have had his laboratory. once huddled together they will be The old window-stanchions had become error itself.” And yet, congruously magnetic, proving, as he thinks, that with a dreamy sweetness of character iron “acquires verticity” from long we may find expressed in his very lying in one position. Once we find features, he seems not greatly con- him re-tiling the place. It was then, cerned at the temporary suppression perhaps, that he made the observation of the institutions he values so much. that bricks and tiles also acquire He seems to possess some inward “magnetic alliciency"-one's whole Platonic reality of them-church or house, one might fancy; as indeed, he monarchy—to hold by in idea, quite holds the earth itself to be a vast beyond the reach of Round-head or lode-stone. unworthy Cavalier. In the power of The very faults of his literary work, what is inward and inviolable in his its desultoriness, the time it costs his religion, he can still take note ;-"In readers, that slow Latinity which Johnmy solitary and retired imagination son imitated from him, those lengthy (neque enim cum porticus aut me lectulus leisurely terminations which busy posaccepit, desum mihi,) I remember I am terity will abbreviate, all breathe of not alone, and therefore forget not to the long quiet of the place. Yet he contemplate Him and His attributes is by no means indolent. Besides wide who is ever with me."
book-learning, experimental research His father, a merchant of London, at home, and indefatigable observawith some claims to ancient descent, tion in the open air, he prosecutes the left him early in possession of ample ordinary duties of a physician ; conmeans. Educated at Winchester and trasting himself indeed with other Oxford, he visited Ireland, France and students, “whose quiet and unmolested Italy; and in the year 1633, at the doors afford no such distractions." To age of twenty-eight, became Doctor of most men of mind sensitive as his, his Medicine at Leyden. Three years chosen studies would have seemed full later he established himself as a phy- of melancholy, turning always, as they sician at Norwich for the remainder did, upon death and decay. It is of his life, having married a lady, well, perhaps, that life should be somedescribed as beautiful and attractive, thing of a “meditation upon death": and affectionate also, as we may judge to many, certainly, Browne's would from her letters, and postscripts to have seemed too like a life-long followthose of her husband, in an orthographying of one's own funeral. A true of a homeliness amazing even for that museum is seldom a cheerful place— age. Dorothy Browne bore him ten oftenest induces the feeling that children, six of whom he survived nothing could ever have been young;
Their house at Norwich, even then and to Browne the whole world is a an old one it would seem, must have museum ; all the grace and beauty it grown, through long years of acquisi- has being of a somewhat mortified tion, into an odd cabinet of antiquities kind. Only, for him, (poetic dream,
-antiquities properly so called; his or philosophic apprehension, it was old Roman, or Romanised, British this which never failed to evoke his urns, from Walsingham or Brampton, wonderful genius for exquisitely imfor instance; and those natural objects passioned speech,) over all those ugly which he studied somewhat in the anatomical preparations, as though temper of a curiosity-hunter or anti- over miraculous saintly relics, there quary. In one of the old church was the perpetual flicker of a surviving yards of Norwich he makes the first spiritual ardency, one day to re-assert discovery of adipocere, of which grim itself.-stranger far than any fancied substance" a portion still remains with dylic gravelights!