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chaos of thoughts and forms, often abortive, still more often barbarous, sometimes grand. But from this supe: fluity something lasting and great is produced, namely science, and we have only to examine more closely into one


or Sir Thomas browne, prose is so tion will stand out Imagine, at the much run over by poetry, that it covers same time, what ai ld this form of ts narrative with images, and hides mind has on objects, how many facts ideas under its pictures. They load it condenses in each concepticn; what their style with flowery comparisons, a mass of personal judgments, foreign which produce one another, and mount authorities, suppositions, guesses, im one above another, so that sense dis- aginations, it spreads over every sub appears, and ornament only is visible.ject; with what venturesome and crea In short, they are generally pedants, tive fecundity it engenders both truth st ll stiff with the rust of the school; and conjecture. It is an extraordinary they divide and subdivide, propound theses, definitions; they argue solidly and heavily, and quote their authors in Latin, and even in Greek; they square their massive periods, and learnedly knock their adversaries down, and their readers too, as a natural conse- or two of these works to see the new quence. They are never on the prose-creation emerge from the blocks and level, but always above or below the debris. above by their poetic genius, below by the weight of their education and the barbarism of their manners. But they think seriously and for themselves; Two writers especially display this they are deliberate; they are convinced state of mind. The first, Robert Burand touched by what they say. Even ton, a clergyman and university recluse, in the compiler we find a force and who passed his life in libraries, and loyalty of spirit, which give confidence dabbled in all the sciences, as learnand cause pleasure. Their writings ed as Rabelais, having an inexhaustiare like the powerful and heavy en- ble and overflowing memory; unequal, gravings of their contemporaries, the moreover, gifted with enthusiasm, and maps of Hofnagel for instance, so harsh spasmodically gay, but as a rule sad and so instructive; their conception and morose, to the extent of confessing is sharp and clear; they have the gift in his epitaph that melancholy made of perceiving every object, not under up his life and his death; in the first a general aspect, like the classical place original, liking his own common writers, but specially and individually. sense, and one of the earliest models It is not man in the abstract, the citi- of that singular English mood which, zen as he is everywhere, the countryman withdrawing man within himself, deas such, that they represent, but James velops in him, at one time imagina. or Thomas, Smith or Brown, of such tion, at another scrupulosity, at ana parish, from such an office, with such other oddity, and makes of him, accordand such attitude or dress, distinct from ing to circumstances, a poet, an ecall others; in short, they see, not the centric, a humorist, a madman, or a idea, but the individual. Imagine the puritan. He read on for thirty years, disturbance that such a disposition put an encyclopædia into his head, produces in a man's head, how the and now, to amuse and relieve himself regular order of ideas becomes deranged takes a folio of blank paper. Twenty by it; how every object, with the in-lines of a poet, a dozen lines of a trea finite medley of its forms, properties, appendages, will thenceforth fasten itself by a hundred points of contact unforeseen to other objects, and bring before the mind a series and a family; what boldness language will derive .rom it; what familiar, picturesque, absurd words, will break forth in succession; how the dash, the unforeseen, the originality and inequality of inven

tise on agriculture, a folio page of heraldry, a description of rare fishes, a paragraph of a sermon on patience the record of the fever fits of hypochondria, the history of the particle that, a scrap of metaphysics, this is what passes through his brain in a quarter of an hour: it is a carnival of ideas and phrases, Greek, Latin, German, French, Italian, philosophical, geor et

rical, medical, poetical, astrological, musical, pedagogic, heaped one on the other; an enormous medley, a prodigious mass of jumbled quotations, jostling thoughts, with the vivacity and the transport of a feast of unreason.

"This roving humour (though not with like success) I have ever had, and, like a ranging spaniel that barks at every bird he sees, leaving his game, I have followed all, saving that which I should, and may justly complain, and truly, qui ubique esi, nusquam est, which Gesner did in modesty, that I have read many books, but to little purpose, for want of good method, I have confusedly tumbled over divers authors in our libraries with small profit, for want of art, order, memory, judgment. I never travelled but in map or card, in which my unconfined dl oughts have freely expatiated, as having ever been especially delighted with the study of cosmography. Saturn was lord of my geniture, culminating, etc., and Mars principal significator of manners, in partile conjunction with mine ascendent; both fortunate in their houses, etc. I am not poor, I am not rich; nihil est, nihil deest; I have little; I want nothing: all my treasure is in Minerva's tower. Greater preferment as I could never get, so am I not in debt for it. I have a competency (laus Deo) from my noble and munificent patrons. Though I live still a collegiat student, as Democritus in his garden, and lead a monastique life, ipse mihi theatrum, sequestred from those tumults and troubles of the world, et tanquam in speculâ positus (as he said), in some high place above you all, like Stoicus sapiens, omnia sæcula præterita præsentiaque videns, uno velut intuitu, I hear and see what is done abroad, how others run, ride, turmoil, and macerate themselves in court and countrey. Far from these wrangling lawsuits, aula vanitatem, fori ambitionem, ridere mecum soleo: I laugh at all, only secure, lest my suit go amiss, my ships perish, corn and cattle miscarry, trade decay; I have no wife nor children, good or bad, to provide for; a mere spectator of other men's fortunes and adventures, and how they act their parts, which methinks are diversely presented unto me, as from a common theatre or scene. I hear news every day: and those ordinary rumours of war, plagues, fires, inundations, thefts, murders, massacres, meteors, comets, spectrums, prodigies, apparitions; of towns taken, cities besieged in France, Germany, Turkey, Persia, Poland, etc., daily musters and preparations, and such like, which these tempestuous times afford, battles fought, so many men slain, monomachies, shipwracks, piracies, and seafights, peace, leagues, stratagems and fresh alarms a vast confusion of vows, wishes, actions, edicts, petitions, lawsuits, pleas, laws, proclamations, complaints, grievances, are daily brought to our ears: new books every day, pamphlets, currantoes, stories, whole catalogues of volumes of all sorts, new paradoxes opinions, schisms, heresies, controversies in philosophy, religion, etc. Now come tidings of weddings, maskings, mummeries, entertainments, jubilies, embassies, tilts and tournaments, trophies, triumphs, revels, sports, playes:

then again, as in a new shifted scene, treasons cheating tricks, robberies, enormous villanie in all kinds, funerals, burials, death of princes new discoveries, expeditions; now comical, then tragical matters. To-day we hear of new lords and officers created, to-morrow of some great men deposed, and then again of freal: honours conferred: one is let loose, another imprisoned: one purchaseth, another breaketh: he thrives, his neighbour turns bankrupt; now plenty, then again dearth and famine; one runs, another rides, wrangles, laughs, weeps, etc. Thus I daily hear, and such like, bork private and publick news."

"For what a world of books offers itself, in all subjects, arts, and sciences, to the sweet content and capacity of the reader? In arithmetick, geometry, perspective, optick, astrono my, architecture, sculptura, pictura, of which so many and such elaborate treatises are of late written in mechanicks and their mysteries, military matters, navigation, riding of horses, fencing, swimming, gardening, planting, grea* tomes of husbandry, cookery, faulconry, hunting, fishing, fowling, etc., with exquisite pic tures of all sports, games, and what not. In musick, metaphysicks, natural and moral philosophy, philologie, in policy, heraldry, genealogy, chronology, etc., they afford great tomes, or those studies of antiquity, etc., et quid sub tilius arithmeticis inventionibus? quid jucun dius musicis rationibus? quid divinius astron omicis? quid rectius geometricis demonstra tionibus? What so sure, what so pleasant? He that shall but see the geometrical tower of Garezenda at Bologne in Italy, the steeple and clock at Strasborough, will admire the effects of art, or that engine of Archimedes to remove the earth itself, if he had but a place to fasten his instrument. Archimedis cochlea, and rare devises to corrivate waters, musick instruments, and trisyllable echoes again, again, and again repeated, with miriades of such. What vas tomes are extant in law, physick, and divinity for profit, pleasure, practice, speculation, in verse or prose, etc.! Their names alone are the subject of whole volumes; we have thou sands of authors of all sorts, many great libraries, full well furnished, like so many dishes of meat, served out for several palates, and he is a very block that is affected with none of them. Some take an infinite delight to study the very languages where in these books are writtenHebrew, Greek Syriack, Chalde, Arabick, etc. Methinks it wou I well please any man to look upon a geographical map (suavi animum delec tatione allicere, ob incredibilem rerum varie tatem et jucunditatem, et ad pleniorem sui cog nitionem excitare), chorographical, topograph ical delineations; to behold, as it were, al the remote provinces, towns, cities of the world, and never to go forth of the limits of his study, to measure, by the scale and compasse, their extent, distance, examine their site. Charles the Great (as Platina writes) had three faire silver tables, in one of which superficies was a large map of Constantinople, in the second Rome neatly en graved, in the third an exquisite description of the whole world; and much delight he took in thei What greater pleasure can there now be, than

Anatomy of Melancholy, 12th ed. 182. vols.: Democritus to the Reader, i. 4.

ew those elaborate maps of Ortelius, Mercat or, Hondius, etc.? to peruse those books of ities put out by Braunus and Hogenbergius? to read those exquisite descriptions of Maginus, Munster, Herrera, Laet, Merula, Boterus, Leander Albertus, Camden, Leo Afer, Adricomius, Nic. Gerbelius, etc.? those famous expeditions of Christopher Columbus, Americus Vespucius, Marcus Polus the Venetian, Lod. Vertomannus, Aloysius Cadamustus, etc.? those accurate diaries of Portugals, Hallanders, of Bartison, Oliver a Nort, etc., Hacluit's Voy ges, Pet. Martyr's Decades, Benzo, Lerius, inschoten's relations, those Hodæporicons of Jod. Meggen, Brocarde the Monke, Bredenbach as, Jo. Dublinius, Sands, etc., to Jerusalem, Egypt, and other remote places of the world? those pleasant itineraries of Paulus Hentzerus, Jodocus Sincerus, Dux Polonus, etc.? to read Bellonius observations, P. Gillius his survayes; those parts of America, set out, and curiously cut in pictures, by Fratres a Bry? To see a well cut herbal, hearbs, trees, flowers, plants, all vegetals, expressed in their proper colours to the life, as that of Matthiolus upon Dioscorides, Delacampius, Lobel, Bauhinus, and that last voluminous and mighty herbal of Besler of Noremberge; wherein almost every plant is to his own bignesse. To see birds, beasts, and fishes of the sea, spiders, gnats, serpents, flies, etc., all creatures set out by the same art, and truly expressed in lively colours, with an exact description of their natures, vertues, qualities, etc., as hath been accurately performed by Elian, Gesner, Ulysses Aldrovandus, Bellonius, Rondoletius, Hippolytus

Salvianus, etc.' 99

He is never-ending; words, phrases, overflow, are heaped up, overlap each other, and flow on, carrying the reader along, deafened, stunned, half-drowned, unable to touch ground in the delige. Burton is inexhaustible. There are no ideas which he does not iterate under fifty forms; when he has exhausted his own, he pours out upon us other men's-the classics, the rarest authors, known only by savants-authors rarer still, known only to the learned; he borrows from all. Underneath these deep caverns of erudition and science, there is one blacker and more unknown than all the others, filled with forgotten authors, with rackjaw names, Besler of Nuremberg, Adiicomius, Linschoten, Brocarde, Bredenbachius. Amidst all these antediluvian monsters, bristling with Latin terminations, he is at his ease; he sports with them, laughs, skips from one to the other, drives them all abreast. He is like old Proteus, the sturdy rover, who

*Anatomy of Melancholy, i. part 2, sec. 2, Mem. 4, p. 420, et passim.

in cne hour, with his team of hippopot ami, makes the circuit of the ocean.

What subject does he take? Melan choly, his own individual mood; and he takes it like a schoolman. None of St. Thomas Aquinas' treatises is more regularly constructed than his. This torrent of erudition flows in geometrically planned channels, turning off at right angles without deviating by a line. At the head of every part you will find a synoptical and analytical table, with hyphens, brackets, each division begetting its subdivisions, each subdivision its sections, each section its subsections of the malady in general, of melancholy in particular, of its nature, its seat, its varieties, causes, symptoms, prognosis; of its cure by permissible means, by forbidden means, by dietetic means, by pharmaceutical


After the scholastic process,

he descends from the general to the particular, and disposes each emotion and idea in its labelled case. In this framework, supplied by the middle age, he heaps up the whole, like a man of the Renaissance,-the literary de scription of passions and the medica: description of madness, details of the hospital with a satire on human follies, physiological treatises side by side with personal confidences, the recipes of the apothecary with moral counsels, remarks on love with the history of The discrimination of evacuations. ideas has not yet been effected; doctor and poet, man of letters and savant, he is all at once; for want of dams, ideas pour like different liquids into the same vat with strange spluttering and bubbling, with an unsavory smell and odd effect. But the vat is full, and from this admixture are produced potent compounds which no preceding age has known.


For in this mixture there is an ef fectual leaver, the poeti. sentiment, which stirs up and animates the vast erudition, which will not be confined to dry catalogues; which interpreting every fact, every object, disentangles or divines a mysterious soul within it, and agitates the whole mind of man, by representing to him the restless

world within and without him as a grand enigma. Let us conceive a kindred mind to Shakspeare's, a scholar and an observer instead of an actor and a poet, who in place of creating is occupied in comprehending, but who, like Shakspeare, applies himself to living things, penetrates their internal structure, puts himself in communication with their actual laws, imprints in himself fervently and scrupulously the smallest details of their outward appearance; who at the same time extends his penetrating surmises beyond the region of observation, discerns behind visible phænomena some world obscure yet sublime, and trembles with a kind of veneration before the vast, indistinct, but peopled darkness on whose surface our little universe hangs quivering. Such a one is Sir Thomas Browne, a naturalist, a philosopher, a scholar, a physician, and a moralist, almost the last of the generation which produced Jeremy Taylor and Shakspeare. No thinker bears stronger witness to the wandering and inventive curiosity of the age. No writer has better displayed the brilliant and sombre imagination of the North. No one has spoken with a more eloquent emotion of death, the vast night of forgetfulness, of the all-devouring pit, of human vanity, which tries to create an ephemeral immortality out of glory or sculptured stones. No one has revealed, in more glowing and original expressions, the poetic sap which flows through all the minds of the age.

"But the iniquity of oblivion blindly scattereth her poppy, and deals with the memory of men without distinction to merit of perpetuity. Who can but pity the founder of the syramids? Herostratus lives that burnt the emple of Diana, he is almost lost that built it. Time hath spared the epitaph of Adrian's norse, confounded that of himself. In vain we compute our felicities by the advantage of our good names, since bad have equal duration; and Thersites is like to live as long as Aganemnon. Who knows whether the best of men be known, or whether there be not more remarkable persons forgot than any that stand remembered in the known account of time? Without the favour of the everlasting register, the first man had been as unknown as the last, and Methuselah's long life had been his only chronicle.

"Oblivion is not to be hired. The greater part must be content to be as though they had non, to be found in the register of God, act : the record of man. Twenty-seven

names make up the first story before the foo and the recorded names ever since conta:n no long exceedeth all that shall live. The nigh one living century. The number of the dead of time far surpasseth the day, and who knows when was the equinox? Every hour adds unte the current arithmetick which scarce stands one moment. And since death must be the Lucina of life, and even Pagans could doubt, whether thus to live were to die; si ce our longest sun sets at right declensions, and makes but winter arches, and therefore it car not be long before we lie down in darkness and have our light in ashes; since the brothe of death daily haunts us with dying mementos and time, that grows old in itself, Bids us hop no long duration ;-diuturnity is a dream, and folly of expectation.

Darkness and light divide the course of time, and oblivion shares with memory a great part even of our living beings; we slightly reof affliction leave but short smart upon us. member our felicities, and the smartest strokes Sense endureth no extremities, and sorrows destroy us or themselves. To weep into stones are fables. Afflictions induce callosities; miseries are slippery, or fall like snow upon us, which notwithstanding is no unhappy stu pidity. To be ignorant of evils to come, and forgetful of evils past, is a merciful provision of nature, whereby we digest the mixture of our few and evil days; and our delivered senses not relapsing into cutting remembrances, our sorrows are not kept raw by the edge of repetitions. All was vanity, feeding the wind and folly. The Egyptian mummies, which Cambyses or time hath spared, avarice now consume:!. Mummy is become merchandise, Mizriam cures wounds, and Pharaoh Man is a noble is sold for balsams. grave, solemnizing nativities and deaths with animal, splendid in ashes, and pompous in the equal lustre, nor omitting ceremonies of bravery in the infancy of his nature.. Pyramids, arches, obelisks, were but the irregularities of magnanimity." * vain glory, and wild enormities of ancient

These are almost the words of a poet, and it is just this poet's imagination which urges him onward into science.t Face to face with the productions of nature he abounds in conjectures, comparisons; he gropes about, proposing explanations, making trials, extending his guesses like sc many flexible and vibrating feelers into the four corners of the globe. into the most distant regions of fancy and truth. As he looks upon the tree like and foliaceous crusts which are formed upon the surface of freezing liquids, he asks himself if this be not regeneration of vegetable essences, dis

* The Works of Sir Thomas Browne, eȧ. Wilkin, 1852, 3 vols. Hydriosaphia, iii. ch. ▾ 44, et passim.

See Milsand, Etude sur Sir Thoma Browne, Revue der Deux Monde, 1858.

solved in the liquid. At the sight of curdling blood or milk, he inquires whether there be not something analogous to the formation of the bird in the egg, or to that coagulation of chaos which gave birth to our world. In presence of that impalpable force which makes liquids freeze, he asks if apoplexy and cataract are not the effects of a like power, and do not indicate also the presence of a congealing agency. He is in presence of nature as an artist, a man of letters in presence of a living countenance, marking every feature, every movement of physiognomy, so as to be able to divine the passions and the inner disposition, ceaselessly correcting and undoing his interpretations, kept in agitation by thought of the invisible forces which operate beneath the visible envelope. The whole of the middle age and of antiquity, with their theories and imaginations, Platonism, Cabalism, Christian theology, Aristotle's substantial forms, the specific forms of the alchemists, all human speculations, entangled and transformed one within the other, meet simultaneously in his brain, so as to open up to him vistas of this unknown world. The accumulation, the pile, the confusion, the fermentation and the inner swarming, mingled with vapors and flashes, the tumultuous overloading of his imagination and his mind, oppress and agitate him. In this expectation and emotion his curiosity takes hold of every thing; in reference to the least fact, the most special, the most obsolete, the most chimerical, he conceives a chain of complicated investigations, calculating now the ark could contain all creatures, with their provision of food; how Perpenna, at a banquet, arranged the guests so as to strike Sertorius; what trees must have grown on the banks of Acheron, supposing that there were any; whether quincunx plantations had not their origin in Eden, and whether the numbers and geometrical figures contained in the lozenge-form are not met with in all the productions of nature and art. You may recognize here the exuberance and the strange caprices of an inner development too ample and too strong. Archæology, chematry, history, nature, there is nothing in

which he is not pass nately interested, which does not caust his memory and his inventive powers o overflow, which does not summon up within him the idea of some force, certainly admirable, possibly infinite. But what completes his picture, what signalizes the advance of science, is the fact that his imagination provides a counterbalance against itself. He is as fertile in doubts as he is in explanations. If he sees a thou. sand reasons which tend to one view, he sees also a thousand which tend to the contrary. At the two extremities of the same fact, he raises up to the clouds, but in equal piles, the scaffolding of contradictory arguments. Hav. ing made a guess, he knows that it is but a guess; he pauses, ends with a perhaps, recommends verification. His writings consist only of opinions, given as such; even his principal work is a refutation of popular errors. In the main, he proposes questions, suggests explanations, suspends his judgments, nothing more; but this is enough: when the search is so eager, when the paths in which it proceeds are SO numerous, when it is so scrupulous in securing its hold, the 'ssue of the pur suit is sure; we are mt a few steps from the truth.


In this band of scholars, dreamers, and inquirers, appears the most com. prehensive, sensible, originative of the minds of the age, Francis Bacon, a great and luminous intellect, one of the finest of this poetic progeny, who, like his predecessors, was naturally dis posed to clothe his ideas in the most splendid dress: in this age, a thought did not seem complete until it had assumed form and color. But what distinguishes him from the others is, that with him an image only serves to concentrate meditation. He reflected long, stamped on his mind all the parts and relations of his subject; he is master of it, and then, instead of exposing this complete idea in a graduated chain of reasoning, he embodies it in a comparison so expressive, exact, lucid, that behind the figure we perceive all the details of e idea, like liquor in a fine crystal vase. Judge by a single example:

his style

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