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of verses beginning with a word of one syllable, and proceeding by words of which each has a syllable more than the former; as,
“ O Deus, æternæ stationis conciliator.”—AUSONIUS.
and, after his manner, pursuing the hint, he mentions many other restrained methods of versifying, to which them thens industrious ignorance has sometimes voluntarily subjected itself.
His next attempt is “on languages, and particularly the Saxon tongue.” He discourses with great learning, and generally with great justness, of the derivation and changes of languages; but, like other men of multifarious learning, he receives some notions without examination. Thus he observes, according to the popular opinion, that the Spaniards have retained so much Latin, as to be able to compose sentences that shall be at once grammatically Latin and Castilian : this will appear very unlikely to a man that considers the Spanish terminations; and Howell, with who was eminently skilful in the three provincial lan
Hennale guages, declares, that after many essays he never could effect it.
The principal design of this letter, is to shew the affinity between the modern English and the ancient Saxon ; and he observes, very rightly, that “though we have borrowed many substantives, adjectives, and some verbs, from the French ; yet the great body of numerals, auxiliary verbs, articles, pronouns, adverbs, conjunctions, and prepositions, which are the distinguishing and lasting parts of a language, remain with us from the Saxon.' To
prove this position more evidently, he has drawn up a short discourse of six paragraphs, in Saxon and
English ; of which every word is the same in both languages, excepting the terminations and orthography. The words are, indeed, Saxon, but the phraseology is English; and, I think, would not have been understood by Bede or Ælfric, notwithstanding the confidence of our author. He has, however, sufficiently proved his position, that the English resembles its parental language, more than any modern European dialect.
There remain five tracts of this collection yet unmentioned; one “ of artificial hills, mounts, or burrows, in England;” in reply to an interrogatory letter of E. D. whom the writers of Biographia Britannica suppose to be, if rightly printed, W. D. or Sir William Dugdale, one of Browne's correspondents. These are declared by Browne, in concurrence, I think, with all other antiquarians, to be for the most part funeral monuments. He
that both the Danes and Saxons buried their men of eminence under piles of earth,“ which admitting (says he) neither ornament, epitaph, nor inscription, may, if earthquakes 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 Crasus 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 enquire into the secrets of nature: but judiciously concludes, that such questions would probably have been vain ; “for, in matters cognoscible, and formed for our disquision, 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 shew opon how great a variety of enquiries the same mind has been successfully employed.
The other collection of his posthumous pieces, published in octavo, Lond. 1722,3 contains “Repertorium; or some account of the tombs and monuments in the cathedral of Norwich ; " where, as Tenison observes,
? postulate.] His perfect conviction confession of the devil hinself, in his oraof the Satanic influence exerted in oracles cle to Augustus. is strongly expressed in a passage of his 3 1722.] This date was taken from a Religio Medici, vol. ii, p. 42, respecting copy which had a reprint title. The the ground of his belief of their cessation book was published in 1712.-See Preat the coming of Jesus Christ ;--- viz. the face to vol. iv.
there is not matter proportionate to the skill of the antiquary
The other pieces are, “Answers to Sir William Dugdale's enquiries about the fens; a letter concerning Iceland; 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 public, 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 excellence, 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,5
* Life, &c.—Whitefoot.
4 in 1665, fc.] Rather in 1664.- railes at the east end of the chancel." See Supplementary Memoir.
Wood, 4to. Le Neve says the cathe5 He lies buried, fc.] “Within the dral, vol. iv, 38.-See next page.