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Browne
Browne
65

Montpellier and Podiia, where were flourishing schools of medicine ; and on his return through Holland was created doctor of medicine at Leyden circ. 1633. His name is not found in the list of Leyden students, for the Thomas Browne who graduated on 22 Aug. 1644 (see Peacock's £n/den Students) must certainly have been another person ; but the register is in a faulty state. Having concluded his travels, he established himself as a physician at Shipden Hall, near Halifax. In 1637 he removed to Norwich. Wood states that he was induced to take this step by the persuasions of Dr. Thomas Lushington, formerly his tutor, then rector of Burnham Westgate, Norfolk ; but, according to the author of the life prefixed to ' Posthumous Works,' 1712, he migrated at the solicitations of Sir Nicholas Bacon of Gillingham. Sir [or Dr.] Justinian Lewyn, and Sir Charles le Gros of Crostwick. Probably both statements are correct. A few months after he had settled at Norwich, Browne was incorporated doctor of medicine at Oxford on 10 July 1637. His fame was now established, and ' he was much resorted to for his skill in physic' (Whitefoot). In 1641 he married Dorothy, fourth daughter of Edward Mileham of Burlingham St. Peter. She bore twelve children (of whom one son and three daughters survived their parents), and died three years after her husoand. Whitefoot describes her as 'a lady of such symmetrical proportion to her worthy husband, both in the graces of her body and mind, that they seemed to come together by a kind of natural magnetism.'

The famous treatise 'Religio Medici' was surreptitiously published in 1642. It was probably written in 1635, during Browne's residence at Shipden Hall. Ho states, in the preface to the first authorised edition, pubbshed in 1643 : '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.' In pt. i. § xli he says : 'As yet I have not seen one revolution of Saturn, nor hath my pulse beat thirty years;' and again, in pt. ii. § xi., we find: *Now for my life it is a miracle of thirty years.' The authors manuscript was passed among his private friends, by whom frequent transcripts were mode with more or less inaccuracy, and at length two surreptitious editions in octavo were printed in 1642 by Andrew Crooke. There is some doubt as to which of these editions is to be entitled the editio princeps (see Greenhill's Introduction to the facsimile of the first edition of 'Religio Medici,' 1883). In 1643 appeared the first authorised edition, with a preface, in which Browne informs us that he had 'represented into the world a full and intended copy of that piece which was most imperfectly and surreptitiously published before.' By transcription the work had become 'successively corrupted, until it arrived in a most depraved copy at the press.' The alterations in the authorised edition mainly consist of corrections of textual errors; but Browne also took occasion to modify various positive assertions. The treatise, on its appearance in 1642, immediately secured attention. It was commended by the Earl of Dorset to the notice of Sir Kenelm Digby, who reviewed it in a lengthy paper of 'Observations.' Hearing that these 'Observations' hud been put to press, Browne sent Digby a courteous letter (dated 3 March 1642-3), in which he stated that the treatise was unworthy of such notice, that it had been intended as a private exercise, and that the surreptitious edition was corrupt; and he concluded with a request that the 'Observations' should not be published until the authorised edition appeared. On 20 March Digby replied that on the receipt of Browne's letter he had at once sent instructions to the printer not to proceed with the 'Observations,' which were hastily put together in one sitting — the reading of the treatise and the composition of the ' Observations ' having occupied only the space of twenty-four hours. Notwithstanding Digby's instructions to the printer, the animadversions (pp. 124, 8vo) were published without delay. When the authorised edition of 'Religio Medici' appeared there was prefixed an admonition (signed 'A. B.') : 'To such as have or shall peruse the "Observations" upon a former corrupt copy of this book,' in which Digby is severely reprehended. The admonition is written much in Browne's style, and there is reason to doubt whether it was prefixed (as 'A. B.' professes) 'without the author's knowledge.' In the preface Browne endeavours to secure himself against criticism by observing that 'many things are delivered rhetorically, many expressions merely tropical, and therefore many things to be taken in a soft and flexible sense, and not to be called unto the rigid test of reason.' It is clear that he was not without misgivings as to how his treatise would be received. Wilkin protests against the view favoured by Dr. Johnson, that Browne procured the anonymous publication of the treatise in 1642 in order to try its success with the public before openly acknowledging the authorship. The authorised edition, in any case, was issued by the publisher of the surreptitious edition. The probability is that, though Browne did not