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ENGLISH MEN OF LETTERS
SIR THOMAS BROWNE
LONDON: MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED
Copyright in the United States of America, 1905
SIR THOMAS BROWNE has been particularly fortunate in his editors, but there are two among them whose names can never be mentioned by his admirers without gratitude. Each had something of the spirit and the temperament of Browne himself. Simon Wilkin (1790-1862) was a paper-maker and then a printer in Norwich. His tastes were those of a naturalist and an antiquary, and about 1823 he was attracted to the writings of the great local celebrity. He found them in confusion, and he presently began to entertain the idea of collecting and editing them. This task, in the course of twelve years, he accomplished with the help of Thomas Amyot (1775-1850), another enthusiastic Norwich antiquary. Wilkin's edition, in four
. volumes, appeared in 1835-36, and few English classics have been more admirably presented to the public.
The other great benefactor to the lovers of Sir Thomas Browne is William Alexander Greenhill (18141894), who was a physician and a scholar, like Browne himself. Greenhill, an Oxford man, who had been the friend of Newman and Clough, Jowett and Stanley, settled at Hastings in 1851, and soon afterwards began to devote himself to the elucidation of Browne's text. For this kind of work he had nothing less than genius.