Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

epitaph, nor inscription, may, if carthquakes spare them, outlast other monuments : obelisks have their term, and pyramids will tumble; but these mountainous monuments may stand, and are like to have the same period with the earth."

In the next, he answers two geographical questions; one concerning Troas, mentioned in the Acts and Epistles of St. Paul, which he determines to be the city built near the ancient Ilium : and the other concerning the Dead Sea, of which he gives the same account with other writers.

Another letter treats Of the Answers of the Oracle of Apollo, at Delphos, to Croesus king of Lydia. In this tract nothing deserves notice, more than that Browne considers the oracles as evidently and indubitably supernatural, and founds all his disquisition upon that postulate. He wonders why the physiologists of old, having such means of instruction, did not inquire into the secrets of nature : but judiciously concludes, that such questions would probably have been vain;

“ for in matters cognoscible, and formed for our disquisition, our industry must be our oracle, and reason our Apollo."

The pieces that remain are, A Prophecy concerning the future State of several Nations ; in which Browne plainly discovers his expectation to be the same with that entertained lately with more confidence by Dr. Berkeley, “that America will be the seat of the fifth empire," and Museum clausum, sive Bibliotheca abscondita ; in which the author amuses himself with imagining the existence of books and curiosities, either never in being, or irrecoverably lost.

These pieces I have recounted as they are ranged in Tenison's collection, because the editor has given no account of the time at which any of them were written. Some of them are of little value, more than as they gratify the mind with the picture of a great scholar, turning his learning into amusement; or show upon how great à variety of inquiries the same mind has been successfully employed.

The other collection of his posthumous pieces, published in octavo, London, 1722, contains Repertorium; or some Account of the Tombs and Monuments in the Cathedral of Norwich ; where, as Tenison observes, there is not matter propor. tionate to the skill of the antiquary.

The other pieces are, “ Answers to Sir William Dugdale's inquiries about the fens; a letter concerning Ireland ; another relating to urns newly discovered; some short strictures on different subjects; and a letter to a friend on the death of his intimate friend,” published singly by the author's son in 1690.

There is inserted, in the “ Biographia Britannica, a letter containing instructions for the study of physick ;” which, with the essays here offered to the publick, completes the works of Dr. Browne.

To the life of this learned man, there remains little to be added, but that in 1665 he was chosen honorary fellow of the college of physicians, as a man,

“Virtute et literis ornatissimus ;-eminently embellished with literature and virtue:" and, in 1671, received, at Norwich, the honour of knighthood from Charles II. a prince, who, with many frailties and vices, had yet skill to discover excel. lence, and virtue to reward it with such honorary distinctions at least as cost him nothing, yet, conferred by a king so judicious and so much beloved, had the power of giving merit new lustre and greater popularity.

Thus he lived in high reputation, till in his seventy-sixth year he was seized with a colick, which, after having tortured him about a week, put an end to his life at Norwich, on his birthday, October 19, 1682 *. Some of his last words were expressions of submission to the will of God, and fearlessness of death.

He lies buried in the church of St. Peter, Mancroft, in Norwich, with this inscription on a mural monument, placed on the south pillar of the altar :

M. S.
Hic situs est THOMAS BROWNE, M. D.

Et miles.
Anno 1605, Londini natus;
Generosa familia apud Upton

In agro Cestriensi oriundus.
Schola primum Wintoniensi, postea

In Coll. Pembr.
Apud Oxonienses bonis literis

Haud leviter imbutus ;
In urbe hâc Nordovicensi medicinam
Arte egregia, et fælici successu professus;

Scriptis quibus tituli, Religio MEDICI
ET PSEUDODOXIA EPIDEMICA aliisque

Per orbem notissimus.
Vir prudentissimus, integerrimus, doctissimus;

Obiit Octob, 19, 1682. Pie posuit moestissima conjux

Da. Doroth. Br.

* Browne's remains. Whitefoot.

6, yet

, much lustre

Near the foot of this pillar
Lies Sir Thomas Browne, kt. and doctor in physick,
Author of Religio Medici, and other learned books,

Who practised physick in this city 46 years,
And died Oct. 1682, in the 77th year of his

age.
In memory of whom,
Dame Dorothy Browne,who had bin his affectionate
Wife 47 years, caused this monument to be

Erected.

in his colich week birth work f God

Mar.

imura e altar:

).

Besides his lady, who died in 1685, he left a son and three daughters. Of the daughters nothing very remarkable is known; but his son, Edward Browne, requires a particular mention.

He was born about the year 1642; and, after having passed through the classes of the school at Norwich, became bachelor of physick at Cambridge; and, afterwards removing to Merton College in Oxford, was admitted there to the same degree, and afterwards made a doctor. In 1668 he visited part of Germany; and in the year following made a wider excursion into Austria, Hungary, and Thessaly; where the Turkish sultan then kept his court at Larissa. He afterwards passed through Italy. His skill in natural history made him particularly attentive to mines and metallurgy. Upon his return he published an account of the countries through which he had passed; which I have heard commended by a learned traveller, who has visited many places after him, as written with scrupulous and exact veracity, such as is scarcely to be found in any other book of the same kind. But whatever it may contribute to the instruction of a naturalist, I cannot recommend it as likely to give much

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

pleasure to common readers; for whether it be that the world is very uniform, and therefore he who is resolved to adhere to truth will have few novelties to relate; or that Dr. Browne was, by the train of his studies, led to inquire most after those things by which the greatest part of mankind is little affected; a great part of his book seems to contain very unimportant accounts of his passage from one place where he saw little, to another where he saw no more.

Upon his return, he practised physick in London; was made physician first to Charles II. and afterwards, in 1682, to St. Bartholomew's Hospital. About the same time he joined his name to those of many other eminent men, in " a translation of Plutarch's lives." He was first censor, then elect, and treasurer of the college of physicians; of which in 1705 he was chosen president, and held his office till in 1708 he died in a degree of estimation suitable to a man so variously accomplished, that king Charles had honoured him with this panegyrick, that “he was as learned as any of the college, and as well-bred as any of the

[ocr errors]

court."

Of every great and eminent character, part breaks forth into publick view, and part lies hid in domestick privacy. Those qualities, which have been exerted in any known and lasting performances, may, at any distance of time, be traced and estimated; but silent excellencies are soon forgotten; and those minute peculiarities which discriminate every man from all others, if they are not recorded by those whom personal knowledge enables to observe them, are irrecoverably

« ZurückWeiter »