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guished from those of other substances. Of the uselessness of all these enquiries, Browne seems not to have been ignorant; and, therefore, concludes them with an observation which can never be too frequently recollected.
“All or most apprehensions rested in opinions of some future being, which ignorantly or coldly believed, begat those perverted conceptions, ceremonies, sayings, which Christians pity or laugh at. Happy are they, which live not in that disadvantage of time, when men could say little for futurity, but from reason ; whereby the noblest minds fell often upon doubtful deaths, and melancholy dissolutions: with these hopes Socrates warmed his doubtful spirits, against the cold potion; and Cato, before he durst give the fatal stroke, spent part of the night in reading the immortality of Plato, thereby confirming his wavering hand unto the animosity of that attempt.
“ It is the heaviest stone that melancholy can throw at man, to tell him he is at the end of his nature; or that there is no further state to come, unto which this seems progressional, and otherwise made in vain : without this accomplishment, the natural expectation and desire of such a state, were but a fallacy in nature; unsatisfied considerators would quarrel the justice of their constitution, and rest content that Adam had fallen lower, whereby, by knowing no other original, and deeper ignorance of themselves, they might have enjoyed the happiness of inferior creatures, who in tranquillity possess their constitutions, as having not the apprehension to deplore their own natures; and being framed below the circumference of these hopes or cognition of better things, the wisdom of God hath necessitated their contentment. But the superior ingredient and obscured part of ourselves, whereto all present felicities afford no resting contentment, will be able at last to tell us we are more than our present selves; and evacuate such hopes in the fruition of their own accomplishments."
To his treatise on Urnburial was added the Garden of Cyrus, or the Quincunxial Lozenge, or Network Plantation of the Ancients, Artificially, Naturally, Mystically considered. This discourse he begins ?X seu with the Sacred Garden, in which the first man was placed; and deduces the practice of horticulture from the earliest accounts of antiquity to the time of the Persian Cyrus, the first man whom we actually know to have planted a Quincunx ; which, however, our author is inclined to believe of longer date, and not only discovers it in the description of the hanging gardens of Babylon, but seems willing to believe, and to persuade his reader, that it was practised by the feeders on vegetables before the flood.
Some of the most pleasing performances have been Х produced by learning and genius exercised upon subjects of little importance. It seems to have been, in all
ages, the pride of wit, to shew how it could exalt lovy? the low, and amplify the little.) To speak not inadequately of things really and naturally great, is a task not only difficult but disagreeable ; because the writer is degraded in his own eyes by standing in comparison with his subject, to which he can hope to add nothing from his imagination : but it is a perpetual triumph of fancy to expand a scanty theme, to raise glittering ideas from obscure properties, and to produce to the
Mystically Considered.] He with- with apprehension and distrust, the Custood the Copernican hypothesis-on vierian System of Geology-as opposing precisely the same ground on which some the statements of Scripture.—See vol. ii, modern naturalists are disposed to regard, p. 164, and the Supplementary Memoir.
world an object of wonder to which nature had contributed little. To this ambition, perhaps, we owe the Frogs of Horner, the Gnat and the Bees of Virgil, the Butterfly of Spenser, the Shadow of Wowerus, and the Quincunx of Browne.
In the prosecution of this sport of fancy, he considers every production of art and nature, in which he could find any decussation or approaches to the form of a Quincunx ; and as a man once resolved upon ideal discoveries, seldom searches long in vain, he finds his favourite figure in almost every thing, whether natural or invented, ancient or modern, rude or artificial, sacred and civil; so that a reader, not watchful against the power of his infusions, would imagine that decussation was the great business of the world, and that nature and art had no other purpose than to exemplify and imitate a Quincunx.
To shew the excellence of this figure, he enumerates all its properties; and finds in it almost every thing of use or pleasure: and to shew how readily he supplies what he cannot find, one instance may be sufficient; “though therein (says he) we meet not with right angles, yet every rhombus containing four angles equal unto two right, it virtually contains two right in every one."
The fanciful sports of great minds are never without some advantage to knowledge. Browne has interspersed many curious observations on the form of plants, and the laws of vegetation; and appears to have been a very accurate observer of the modes of germination, and to have watched with great nicety the evolution of the parts of plants from their seminal principles.
He is then naturally led to treat of the number five; and finds, that by this number many things are circumscribed ; that there are five kinds of vegetable productions, five sections of a cone, five orders of architecture, and five acts of a play. And observing that five was the ancient conjugal or wedding number, he proceeds to a speculation which I shall give in his own words; "the ancient numerists made out the conjugal number by two and three, the first parity and imparity, the active and passive digits, the material and formal principles in generative societies.”
These are all the tracts which he published: but many papers were found in his closet, “ some of them, (says Whitefoot) designed for the press, were often transcribed and corrected by his own hand, after the fashion of great and curious writers.”
Of these, two collections have been published; one by Dr. Tenison, the other in 1722 by a nameless editor.9 Whether the one or the other selected those pieces which the author would have preferred, cannot now be known: but they have both the merit of giving to mankind what was too valuable to be suppressed; and what might, without their interposition, have, perhaps, perished among other innumerable labours of learned men, or have been burnt in a scarcity of fuel like the papers of Pereskius.
The first of these posthumous treatises contains “observations upon several plants mentioned in Scripture.” These remarks, though they do not immediately either rectify the faith, or refine the morals of the reader, yet are by no means to be censured as superfluous niceties or useless speculations; for they often shew some propriety of description, or elegance of allusion, utterly undiscoverable to readers not skilled
editor.] John Hase, Richmond Herald.See Preface to Repertorium, vol. iv, p. 3.
in oriental botany; and are often of more important use, as they remove some difficulty from narratives, or some obscurity from precepts.
The next is “ of garlands, or coronary and garland plants;" a subject merely of learned curiosity, without any other end than the pleasure of reflecting on ancient customs, or on the industry with which studious men have endeavoured to recover them. 1
The next is a letter, “ on the fishes eaten by our Saviour with his disciples, after his resurrection from the dead;" which contains no determinate resolution of the question, what they were, for indeed it cannot be determined. All the information that diligence or learning could supply, consists in an enumeration of the fishes produced in the waters of Judea.
Then follow "answers to certain queries about fishes, birds, and insects ;” and “a letter of hawks and falconry, ancient and modern :" in the first of which he gives the proper interpretation of some ancient names of animals, commonly mistaken; and in the other has some curious observations on the art of hawking, which he considers as a practice unknown to the ancients. I believe all our sports of the field are of Gothick original; the ancients neither hunted by the scent, nor seem much to have practised horsemanship as an exercise; and though, in their works, there is mention of“ aucupium” and “piscatio,” they seem no more to have been considered as diversions, than agriculture or any other manual labour.
In two more letters he speaks of "the cymbals of the Hebrews,” but without any satisfactory determination; and of “ropalick or gradual verses,” that is,
recover them.] To which Browne's in his projected work on horticulture, and attention was turned by the enquiries of to whom this essay was enclosed, in a Evelyn, who applied to him for assistance letter.-See Correspondence, p. 379.