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of another understanding; and industriously labour to win a proselyte, and eagerly catch at the slightest pretence to dignify their sect with a celebrated name.*

The others become friends to infidelity only by unskilful hostility : men of rigid orthodoxy, cautious conversation, and religious asperity. Among these, it is too frequently the practice, to make in their heat concessions to Atheism, or Deism, which their most confident advocates had never dared to claim or to hope. A sally of levity, an idle paradox, an indecent jest, an unseasonable objection, are sufficient, in the opinion of these men, to efface a name from the lists of Christianity, to exclude a soul from everlasting life. Such men are so watchful to censure, that they have seldom much care to look for favourable interpretations of ambiguities, to set the general tenor of life against single failures, or to know how soon any slip of inadvertency has been expiated by sorrow and retractation ; but let fly their fulminations, without mercy or prudence, against slight offences or casual temerities, against crimes never committed, or immediately repented.

The infidel knows well what he is doing. He is endeavouring to supply, by authority, the deficiency of his arguments; and to make his cause less invidious, by showing numbers on his side: he will, therefore, not change his conduct, till he reforms his principles. But the zealot should recollect, that he is labouring, by this frequency of excommunication, against his own cause; and voluntarily adding strength to the enemies of truth. It must always be the condition of a great part of mankind, to reject and embrace tenets upon the authority of those whom they think wiser than themselves; and, therefore, the addition of every name to infidelity, in some degree invalidates that argument upon which the religion of multitudes is necessarily founded.

Men may differ from each other in many religious opinions, and yet all may retain the essentials of Christianity; men may sometimes eagerly dispute, and yet not differ much from one another : the rigorous persecutors of error, should, therefore, enlighten their zeal with knowledge, and temper their orthodoxy with charity; that charity, without which orthodoxy is vain ; charity that “thinketh no evil," but "hopeth all things," and "endureth all things." Whether Browne has been numbered among the contemners

* Therefore no hereticks desire to spread Their wild opinions like these epicures. For so their stagg’ring thoughts are computed, And other men's assent their doubts assure.



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of religion, by the fury of its friends, or the artifice of its enemies, it is no difficult task to replace him among the most zealous professors of Christianity. He may, perhaps, in the ardour of his imagination, have hazarded an expression, which a mind intent upon faults may interpret into heresy, if considered apart from the rest of his discourse; but a phrase is not to be opposed to volumes : there is scarcely a writer to be found, whose profession was not divinity, that has so frequently testified his belief of the sacred writings, has appealed to them with such unlimited submission, or mentioned them with such unvaried reverence.

It is, indeed, somewhat wonderful, that he should be placed without the pale of Christianity, who declares, that “he assumes the honourable style of a Christian,” not because it is "the religion of his country,” but because “having in his riper years and confirmed judgment seen and examined all, he finds himself obliged, by the principles of grace, and the law of his own reason, to embrace no other name but this :" who, to specify his persuasion yet more, tells us, that "he is of the reformed religion; of the same belief our Saviour taught, the apostles disseminated, the fathers authorised,” and “the martyrs confirmed:” who, though “paradoxical in philosophy, loves in divinity to keep the beaten road;" and pleases himself, that "he has no taint of heresy, schism, or error:” to whom “where the Scripture is silent, the church is a text; where that speaks, 'tis but a comment;' and who uses not “ the dictates of his own reason, but where there is a joint silence of both :" who "blesses himself that he lived not in the days of miracles, when faith had been thrust upon him; but enjoys that greater blessing, pronounced to all that believe and saw not.” He cannot surely be charged with a defect of faith, who “ believes that our Saviour was dead, and buried, and rose again, and desires to see him in his glory :" and who affirms, that this is not much to believe;" that *s we have reason, we owe this faith unto history;" and that "they only had the advantage of a bold and noble faith, who lived before his coming; and, upon obscure prophecies and mystical types, could raise a belief. Nor can contempt of the positive and ritual parts of religion be imputed to him, who doubts, whether a good man would refuse a poisoned eucharist; and “who would violate his own arm, rather than a church.”p

The opinions of every man must be learned from himself:



P rather than, &c.] To the foregoing arguments in vindication of Browne's attachment to Christianity, may well be added his own resolutions for the guidance of his conduct, and the regulation of his heart.

concerning his practice, it is safest to trust the evidence of other Where these testimonies concur, no higher degree of historic certainty can be obtained; and they apparently concur to prov that Browne was a zealous adherent to the faith of Chris that he lived in obedience to his laws, and died in confidence

his mercy.

I should be glad to know the authority of the following assertio attributed to Dr. Johnson:-“I remember the remark of Sir Thoma Browne ,-'Do the Devils lie?' No; for then hell could not subsist. - Croker's Johnson, vol. iv. p. 152.


SCARCELY a trace remains of the earlier events of Browne's life ; nor are we possessed of any memorials whatever, from his own pen, respecting those travels and various adventures which preceded his residence at Norwich. An interesting piece of autobiography must, therefore, have perished; for it is impossible to suppose that he travelled without observing, or that he observed without recording. And, although (as Johnson has remarked) “he traversed no unknown seas or Arabian deserts,” Browne was not the man to have visited even “France and Italy, or resided at Montpellier and Padua,” without having stored his note-books with much that would have amply repaid the perusal. Besides which, his family connections were sufficient to have provided him with introductions to foreigners of character and eminence, of which he would eagerly have availed himself. To all these we should have been introduced, and everything worth remembering in his intercourse with them would have been preserved. It has, indeed, been conjectured, that “ he was an absent and solitary man ; " but I can by no means adopt this

I refer to a series of papers in the Athenæum, No. 93, 1829, entitled The Humourists, the first of which is devoted to Sir Thomas Browne; from which I subjoin the following passage :-"We have endeavoured to rescue Sir Thomas Browne from the imputation of being merely a curious thinker,' while we have ever admitted that the philosopher and the homourist are strangely blended in his character. Of his domestic manners and relations little is known. But we may conjecture, from various passages in his works, that the same melancholy enthusiasm and eternal speculation which appear in them, tinged, also, with sad and solemn colours, his daily habits. In all likelihood, he was an absent and solitary man, extracting the food of serious contemplation from all objects indifferently, and busied in perpetual abstractions. Ceremonious in observing times and seasons, as reverencing the inner mysteries of custom. Attached to old manners, as apprehending hidden wisdom in their properties, and as connecting him with remembrance and speculations on the past; curious, probably, in casting the fashion of uncertain evil, and, therefore, little inclined to innovation. He was at once Sir


opinion : on the contrary, I am persuaded, that his social deportment must have been distinguished by the kindliest courtesy ; and, though “free from loquacity,” he was too ardent in the pursuit of knowledge, not to have improved to the utmost every opportunity of increasing his stores, by conversation with those who were capable of enriching them. I am satisfied, in short, that had his earlier journals been preserved, they would have exhibited him to us as a traveller, in just as striking a point of view, as that in which “his diligence and curiosity," his originality of thought and fervour of feeling, and the creative richness of his fancy, have placed him under other characters.

Nor do we find either journals, or correspondence (except a very few letters on scientific or literary subjects), to guide us through the first twenty years of his residence at Norwich. To account for this almost total absence of autobiographical memoranda, I have sometimes felt inclined to suspect, that Browne might have occasionally indulged himself in the expression of opinions relating to the political aspect of affairs in his own country, which his subsequent position, especially when the civil war actually broke out led him to think it most prudent to suppress. For though a royalist, he was utterly averse to all that was arbitrary, especially in matters of religion ; and, therefore, might have seen much to disapprove in the measures of the court, as well as in the subsequent outrages of the popular party, which he was very likely, both in his private memoranda and in his confidential correspondence, to have denounced in terms which would have rendered him obnoxious to both parties, if “ the liberty of those times had committed them to the press.” But let this pass as an idle speculation : it is just as useless to regret the want of these materials, as it is to conjecture whether they ever existed, or what has become of them. We have them not; and must, therefore, proceed to do our best without them.

It appears, that when Browne left the university, he took up his first residence somewhere (we are not informed where) in Oxfordshire, and practised physick probably for about two years, from the end of 1629 or beginning of 1630. He then Roger de Coverley, directing the psalmody of the village church, and the melancholy humourist of Milton,

• Whose lamp at midnight hour
Is seen in some high lonely tower,
Where he may oft outwatch the bear
With thrice great Hermes, or unsphere
The spirit of Plato, to unfold
What worlds, or what vast regions hold
The immortal mind that hath forsook
Her mansion in this fleshly nook, &c.'"


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