Obrázky na stránke

was the employment but of one sitting; and there was not twenty-four hours between my receiving my Lord of Dorset's Letter that occasioned what I said, and the finishing my answer to him; and yet part of that time was taken up in procuring your book, which he desired me to read, and give him an account of; for till then I was so unhappy as never to have heard of that worthy Discourse. If that letter ever come to your view, you will see the high value I set upon your great parts: and if it should be thought I have been something too bold in differing from your sense, I hope I shall easily obtain pardon, when it shall be considered, that his Lordship assigned it me as an exercitation to oppose in it, for entertainment, such passages as I might judge capable thereof; wherein what liberty I took is to be attributed to the security of a private letter, and to my not knowing (nor my Lord's) the person whom it concerned.

But Sir, now that I am so happy as to have that knowledge, I dare assure you, that nothing shall ever issue from me, but savouring of all honour, esteem, and reverence, both to yourself, and that worthy production of yours. If I had the vanity to give myself reputation by entering the lists, in publick, with so eminent and learned a man as you are, yet I know right well, I am no ways able to do it; it would be a very unequal congress: I pretend not to learning: those slender notions I have are but disjointed pieces I have by chance gleaned up here and there : to encounter such a sinewy opposite, or make animadversions upon so smart a piece as yours is, requireth a solid stock and exercise in school-learning. My superficial besprinkling will serve only for a private letter, or a familiar discourse with lady-auditors. With longing I expect the coming abroad of the true copy of that book, whose false and stolen one hath already given me so much delight. And so, assuring you I shall deem it a great good fortune to deserve your favour and friendship, I kiss your hand, and rest,

Your most humble servant,


March 20, 1642.

-Religio Medici was more accurately published, with an admonition prefixed to those who have or shall peruse the observations upon a former corrupt copy ;' in which there is a severe censure, not upon Digby, who was to be used with ceremony, but upon the Observator who had usurped his name: nor was this invective written by Dr. BROWNE, who was supposed to be satisfied with his opponent's apology; but by some officious friend zealous for his honour, without his consent.Dr. Johnson's Life of Sir T. Browne.

To such as have, or shall peruse

the Observations upon a former corrupt copy of this book.

THERE are some men that Politian speaks of, Cui quam recta manus, tam fuit et facilis : and it seems the author to the Observations upon this book would arrogate as much to himself, for they were, by his own confession, but the conceptions of one night; a hasty birth; and so it proves: for what is really controllable he generally omitteth, and what is false upon the errour of the copy, he doth not always take notice of; and wherein he would contradict, he mistaketh, or traduceth the intention, and (besides a parenthesis sometimes upon the author) only meddleth with those points from whence he takes an hint to deliver his prepared conceptions. But the gross

of his book is made out by discourses collateral, and digressions of his own, not at all emergent from this discourse; which is easily perceptible unto the intelligent reader. Thus much I thought good to let thee understand without the author's knowledge, who, slighting the refute, hath inforcedly published (as a sufficient confutation) his own book: and in this I shall not make so bold with him, as the observator hath done with that noble knight, whose name he hath wrongfully prefixed, as I am informed, to slight animadversions : but I leave him to repentance, and thee to thy satisfaction.


Yours, A. B.


CERTAINLY that man were greedy of life, who should desire to live when all the world were at an end; and he must needs be very impatient, who would repine at death in the society of all things that suffer under it. Had not almost every man suffered by the press, or were not the tyranny thereof become universal, I had not wanted reason for complaint: but in times wherein I have lived to behold the highest perversion of that excellent invention, the name of his Majesty defamed, the honour of Parliament depraved, the writings of both depravedly, anticipatively, counterfeitly, imprinted: complaints may seem ridiculous in private persons; and men of my condition may be as incapable of affronts, as hopeless of their reparations. And truly had not the duty I owe unto the importunity of friends, and the allegiance I must ever acknowledge unto truth, prevailed with me; the inactivity of my disposition might have made these sufferings continual, and time, that brings other things to light, should have satisfied me in the remedy of its oblivion. But, because things evidently false are not only printed, but many things of truth most falsely set forth; in this latter I could not but think myself engaged: for, though we have no power to redress the former, yet in the other the reparation being within ourselves, I have at present represented unto the world a full and intended copy of that piece, which was most imperfectly and surreptitiously published before.

This I confess, about seven years past, with some others of affinity thereto, for my private exercise and satisfaction, I had

at leisurable hours composed; which being communicated unto one, it became common unto many, and was by transcription successively corrupted, until it arrived in a most depraved copy at the press. He that shall peruse that work, and shall take notice of sundry particulars and personal expressions therein, will easily discern the intention was not publick: and, being a private exercise directed to myself, what is delivered therein was rather a memorial unto me, than an example or rule unto any other: and therefore, if there be any singularity therein correspondent unto the private conceptions of any man, it doth not advantage them; or if dissentaneous thereunto, it no way overthrows them. It was penned in such a place, and with such disadvantage, that (I protest), from the first setting of pen unto paper, I had not the assistance of any good book, whereby to promote my invention, or relieve my memory; and therefore there might be many real lapses therein, which others might take notice of, and more than I suspected myself. It was set down many years past, and was the sense of my conceptions at that time, not an immutable law unto my advancing judgement at all times; and therefore there might be many things therein plausible unto my passed apprehension, which are not agreeable unto my present self. There are many things delivered rhetorically, many expressions therein merely tropical, and as they best illustrate my intention; and therefore also there are many things to be taken in a soft and flexible sense, and not to be called unto the rigid test of reason. Lastly, all that is contained therein is in submission unto maturer discernments; and, as I have declared, [I] shall? no further father them than the best and [most] learned' judgements shall authorize them: under favour of which considerations, I have made its secrecy publick, and committed the truth thereof to every ingenuous reader.


1 [1] shall &c. .... [most] learned &c.] Conjecturally inserted, and therefore inclosed within brackets ;- a distinction which will be carefully observed throughout the present edition, in the (very few) instances which may occur of the slightest deviation from preceding editions.--Ed.

[ocr errors]

Religio Medici

For my religion, though there be several circumstances that might persuade the world I have none at all,-as the general scandal of my profession, the natural course of my studies, -the indifferency of my behaviour and discourse in matters of religion (neither violently defending one, nor with that common ardor and contention opposing another),-yet, in despite hereof, I dare without usurpation assume the honorable style of a christian. Not that I merely owe this title to the font, my education, or the clime wherein I was born, as being bred up either to confirm those principles my parents instilled into my unwary understanding, or by a general consent proceed in the religion of my country; but that having, in my

1.... scandal of my profession,] Phy- upon it was, that in the tenth age Pope sicians do commonly bear ill in this behalf. Silvester the Second passed for a magiIt is a common speech, Ubi tres medici, cian, because he understood geometry and duo athei. The reasons why those of that natural philosophy. Baron. Annal. 990. profession (I declare myself that I am And Apuleius, long before him, labored of none, but causarum actor mediocris, to the same suspicion, upon no better ground. use Horace his phrase) may be thought He was accused, and made a learned apoto deserve that censure, the author ren- logy for himself; and in that hath laid dereth, $ 19.--K.

down what the ground is of such accusa..... the natural course of my stu- tions. Apul. in Apolog. And it is possidies,] The vulgar lay not the imputation ble that those that look upon the second of atheism only upon physicians, but causes scattered, may rest in them, and upon philosophers in general; who, for go no farther, as my Lord Bacon, in one that they give themselves to understand of his Essays, observeth ; but our authe operations of nature, calumniate them, thor tells us there is a true philosophy, as though they rested in the second causes, from which no man becomes an atheist, without any respect to the first. Here- $ 48.-K. VOL. II.


« PredošláPokračovať »