« 前へ次へ »
propriety of description, or elegance of allusion, utterly undiscoverable to readers not skilled 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.
The next is a letter, On the fishes eaten by our Saviour with bis Difiiples, after his resurrection from ibe 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 in feets; 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 observation 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 Gothic original; the ancients neither hunted by the scent, nor seemed 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 confidered 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 R9 3
of ropalic or gradual verses, that is, of verses beginning with a word of one syllable, and proceeding by words of which each has a fyllable more than the former; as,
“ O deus, æternæ ftationis conciliator." AUSONIUS. and after this manner pursuing the hint, he mentions many other restrained methods of versifying, to which industrious ignorance has sometimes voluntarily subjected itself.
His next attempt is, On languages, and particularly tbe 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 obferves, 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 Spanith terminations; and Howel, who was eminently skilful in the three provincial languages, declares, that afrer 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 66 of numerals, auxiliary verbs, articles, pronouns, ad“ verbs, conjunctions, and prepositions, which are the “ distinguishing and lasting parts of a language, remain 66 with us from the Saxon."
To prove this position more evidently, he has drawn 1:p a fhort discourse of fix paragraphs, in Saxon and
English; of which every word is the famie 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, fufficiently 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 bills, mounts, or barrows, in England; in reply to an interrogatory letter of E. D. whom the writers of the Biographia Britannica suppose to bè, if rightly printed, W. D. or fir William Dugdale, one of Browne's correspondents. These are declared by Browne, in concurrence, I think, with all other antiquaries, to be for the most part funeral monuments. He proves, 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 monu“ ments 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 Cræsus 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 claufum, five Bibliotheca abscondita; in which the author amuses himself with imagining the existence of books and curiosities, either never in being, or irrecoverably loft.
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 writ
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 upon how great a variety of enquiries 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 proportionate to the skill of the antiquary
The other pieces are, “ Answers to Sir William Dugdale's enquiries about the fens; a letter concern.
ing Ireland; another relating to urns newly disco“ vered; some short strictures on different subjects; and “6 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 phy“ fick;" which, with the efsays 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, “ Vir“ tute et literis ornatiffimus ;-eminently embellished “ with literature and virtue:” and, in 1671, received, at Norwich, the honour of knighthood from Charles II. a prince, whọ, with many frailties and vices, had yet skill to discover excellence, and yirtue 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 seventyfixth year he was fiezed with a colic, which, after having tortured him about a week, put an end to his life at Norwich, on his birth-day, 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: * Browne's remains. Whitefoot.