Page images

very crude.


experiments concerning phytologie in his 6 and 7 centuries,

you may commend any of these heads to Dr. Short for his enlargments, it must proue a fauor which cannot more obleidge,

Yours most obseruant, Milk Streete, Sept, 20, 55.


For the most worthy, and his very much honoured

friend Thomas Browne, Dr. in Physicke, at his

house, these present, Norwich. Post Paid.

[Dr. Browne?] to Mr. Daniel King.


[1656.] DEAR FRIEND,

Though it will be acknowledged that you have fallen upon a most worthy subject, yet it may be started for a question, whether owe a greater duty, you unto your country, (whereof I also am a more unworthy member,) or your country unto you. For it may be truly said that therein you drew your first breath, that it hath been a fosterer of you and your father's father, nay more, that you had education there and that therefore cum animo rerertendi you owe all your pains and labour to illustrate, beautifie, and adorn the place. But though it be my way sometimes to put cases, yet should I be injurious to have made this quæry without a resolve; for I shall answer for you, that though you had your beginning in this countrey, yet like a plant removed you have elswhere grown up to more compleat man, and to that perfection which speaks itself in this work. Had you still kept at home, its more than probable you had not prospered so well in your own soyl nor born such pleasant fruit as herein your countrey-men may taste and refresh themselves withall, and therefore in that you hold out your hand to your own countrey-men and bend your studies, nay, I may say stoop and incline to do them grace, I may well conclude that your countrey owes more to you than you to it. By this work you have not onely done an honour to your countrey, but also raised a glorious monument of your own worth, upon which although I am not able to build turrets of silver to make it more famous and perspicuous, yet will I strew about it a few flowers pickt out of your own garden, this Royall Vale, which, like him qui suam iotam proffert, speaks my good will to draw on the reader to a due commendation of your imparted improvements. The first flower that offers itself to my hand is a violet (a lively emblem of yourself,) which, though it be odoriferous and as well usefull as pleasant, yet being small is usually covered with a great leaf; and so obscured that passers by cannot easily discern it, till the sense of smelling summon them to contemplate the virtue of it. There needs no claris to illustrate the parallell your worth hath vaild, till time, the next flower in this garden, makes a most pleasant discovery of it. I have a rose that is grown up above the pricks, shewing how your self hath been fenced and preserved amongst the briars, till your riper years should bloom this fragrancie, that it had been hard, nay pity too, any one should have nipt the bud without a bloody finger. The next are gillyflowers of various and most choice complexions; should I name them all I must be beholding France for some affected and fictitious terms to expresse their beauties. These, stuck in camomile, strewd round the foot pace of this monument will adde to the fragrancie, for the more spectators tread and trample, the greater perfume do they make.

Of these and other choice blossoms from your own garden, conglutinated with gratitude, will I also compose a coronet most worthily to adorn your temples, in token of praise for this Herculean labour in collecting and composing this book so eminently beneficiall to your country-men, which I hope will be acknowledged by all, as well as by Your old acquaintance and true friend,

THO. BROWN. To his endeared friend, Mr. Daniel King, the inge

nious author of that worthily to be commended work and accurate piece of the Geographicall and Historicall description of the Vale-Royall of England, or County Palatine of Chester, most artificially adorned with typographie and sculpture. Note.-I feel somewhat doubtful as to the identity of the writer of this letter with Sir Thomas Browne.—The style is certainly not like his:-nor did he spell his name without the final e. But as it is so spelt in some editions of his works

From Dr. Robinson to Dr. Browne.

(Ms. SLOAN. 3418. FOL. 80.]


I cannot but returne you infinite thankes for the enjoyment of your excellent society at Norwich. And since my fortune is not rich enough to present any thing in requitall of so large a favour, I shall presume to offer nothing but a serious confession how infinitely I cherish the remembrance of it; and how, to speak truth, I have since but lived upon the received emanations of your goodnesse, repositing the notions which then entertained my eare in a memory whose greatest honour it was to bee before furnished with some of your printed discourses. Which acquired ideas I despaire not to fix in mee to eternity, knowing that if any sullen lethargy could possibly prevaile to theire obliteration, my greatest happiness must needes vanish with them. And if I might be allowed the presumption (as who knowes how diffusive your goodnesse is) to hope for a continuation of this correspondence, I should esteeme my selfe beyond expression happy, that I might have such an oracle to appeale to in a day of difficulty.

Sir, in discourse with that worthy and learned gentleman Mr. Bacon of Gillingham, (who very nobly treated us in our returne) something did occurre concerning the nostoch Paracelsi, that gelatinous substance, which in the high-shoe physiology passes for the slough and reliques of a decayed starr. In which I did then deliver my private opinion (as I had done long since to Dr. Power, who seemes not to disapprove it) which I shall now briefly present to you, craving the boldnesse

published during his life-time, this may not be regarded as conclusive. On the other hand we know that he was acquainted with Mr. King, who had visited Norwich. And though not a native of Cheshire, he was descended from a Cheshire family, and might therefore call himself “a member” of that country. This letter was obligingly pointed out to me by Mr. Hunter, the accurate historian of HalJamshire,—but without any opinion of its authorship;—and I publish it, leaving the reader to decide for himself. Mr. Ormerod and Mr. Upcot mention it as letter signed, Tho. Brown."


to request your judicious and more mature decision of the point. I know not what to conjecture it with more probability to bee then the imperfect conception of sheep, produced perhaps of some spermatick matter supervenient to the true conception, and so by them after some little time excluded. My reasons are, it is never to bee found (at least by the best scrutiny that I could make) but in latter end of September, and the beginning of October, which is time enough after sheep's rutting (being much about the same time with that of deere) to eject any thing which might bee vitious or superfluous. Nor could I ever find it (although I have seene many of them) but in places where sheep were pastured. Besides, that it is an animal concretion is evincible from the variety of parts; some of them consisting manifestly of flesh, veines, membranes, and abundance of tough fibers. I once found it all over bloudy: it was indeed in a churchyard, but where the butchers (as afterwardes they affirmed to mee) had put in sheep the night before. There are I confesse other conjectures of this strange matter. Amongst which those that would have it relate to the philosophers mercury, may excuse our belief. And that certainly of Dr. Charleton (that it is the nocturnall pollution of some plethorick or wanton starr : or rather excrement blowne from the nosthrills of a rheumatick planett) savours more of the orator then the philosopher, a figurative locution, not a legitimate definition: and was I suppose rather intended to putt a metaphor upon the rack, then meant for a solid description of it. Helmonts conceipt is yet more passable, as carrying with it a greater verisimility; that it is nothing but a frog resolved by the frost into a slime. For (sayes hee) hang up a frog in a frosty night flante Borea, and it will bee turned into a gelly, which were worth our experiment if wee could find a frog this frosty time, or that they were not all retired to theire hybernall latitancy. But there are many difficulties attend this opinion not easily extricable at the first hearing. For 1. Neither is the time of the yeare when these substances are found cold enough nor frosty. 2. Neither is cold a proper instrument of resolution since wee experimentally find that nothing does more conduce to the conservation either of fish or flesh: witnesse your Iceland fish, which is preserved without any salt, only the humidity (which disposes every thing to putrefaction) frozen up; witnesse the stories of your Greenland venison killers, who affirme that unless they presently embowell theire deere, and fill the belly with snow, they will in two houres stink beyond all recovery. It seemes the flesh and fat being suddainly raised have not firmness or solidity enough to resist the putrefying heat of the bowells. 3. I have found this nostoch in several pieces interspersed here and there: which must be affirmed to bee many frogs surprised together in theire nocturnall march, at the same time, and by the breath of the same Boreas, which is not probable. 4. I have had entire pieces of it as big as two frogs, and upon some pieces more bloud then can bee conceived in three or foure. 5. This matter is not easily resoluble: for wee have exposed it foure dayes and yet found some part of it remaining, notwithstanding great raines that fell during that time.

I bave oftentimes mett with two other entities which seeme to bee of a congenerous substance with the aforenamed gellies, both of them to bee found in the salt water. One is flat and round, as broad as a mans palme, or broader, and as thick as the hand, cleare and transparent, convex on one side and somewhat like the gibbous part of the human liver, on the other side concave with a contrivance like a knott in the very middle thereof, but plainly with circular fibers about the verge or edge of it (where it is growne thin) which suffer manifest constriction and dilatation, which doe promote it's natation, which is also perceptible, and by which you may discerne it to advance towards the shore, or recede from it. About us they are generally called squalders, but are indeed evidently fishes although not described in any Ichthyology I have yet mett with. The distinction of theire parts is very obscure; yet the succus nutritius or alimentall liquor, discoverable on the convex part to run in peculiar channells, not pellusid but subflavous, not much vnlike the serum in the lymphæducts; wee have distilled these fishes, and find that they come over the helme in a cleare insipid water, and no residence or caput mortuum but a little sea-salt granulated in the bottome of the cucurbites.

« PreviousContinue »