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hath already fulfilled the prime and longest inten-
tion of his being; and one day lived after the perfect
rule of piety, is to be preferred before sinning immor-

Although he attained not unto the years of his prede-
cessors, yet he wanted not those preserving virtues
which confirm the thread of weaker constitutions. Cau-
telous chastity and crafty sobriety were far from him;
those jewels were paragon, without flaw, hair, ice, or
cloud in him; which affords me a hint to proceed in
these good wishes, and few mementoes unto you.

* Wisdom, cap. iv.

Tread softly and circumspectly in this funambulous
track and narrow path of goodness; pursue virtue
virtuously, be sober and temperate, not to preserve your
body in a sufficiency for wanton ends, not to spare your
purse, not to be free from the infamy of common trans-
gressors that way, and thereby to balance or palliate
obscure and closer vices, nor simply to enjoy health, by
all of which you may leaven good actions, and render
virtues disputable, but, in one word, that you may truly
serve God, which every sickness will tell you you cannot
well do without health. The sick man's sacrifice is but
a lame oblation. Pious treasures, laid up in healthful
days, excuse the defect of sick non-performance; without
which we must needs look back with anxiety upon the
last opportunities of health; and may have cause rather
to envy than pity the ends of penitent malefactors, who
go with clear parts unto the last act of their lives, and
in the integrity of their faculties return their spirit unto
God that gave it.

Consider whereabouts thou art in Cebe's table, or
that old philosophical pinax of the life of man;
whether thou art still in the road of uncertainties;
whether thou hast yet entered the narrow gate, got up
the hill and asperous way which leadeth unto the house
of sanity; or taken that purifying potion from the hand
of sincere erudition, which may send thee clear and pure
away unto a virtuous and happy life.

In this virtuous voyage let no disappointment cause
despondency, nor difficulty despair. Think not that
you are sailing from Lima to Manilla,* wherein
thou mayest tie up the rudder, and sleep before the
wind, but expect rough seas, flaws and contrary blasts;

* Through the Pacifick Sea with a constant gale from the east.

and 'tis well if by many cross tacks and veerings thou
arrivest at the port. Sit not down in the popular
seats and common level of virtues, but endeavour to
make them heroical. Offer not only peace-offerings but
holocausts unto God. To serve him singly to serve our-
selves were too partial a piece of piety, not like to place
us in the highest mansions of glory.

He that is chaste and continent not to impair his
strength or terrified by contagion will hardly be heroically
virtuous. Adjourn not that virtue until those years
when Cato could lend out his wife, and impotent satyrs
write satires against lust, but be chaste in thy flaming
days when Alexander dared not trust his eyes upon the
fair sisters of Darius, and when so many think that
there is no other way but Origen's.*

Be charitable before wealth make thee covetous, and
lose not the glory of the mitre. If riches increase, let
thy mind hold pace with them, and think it is not
enough to be liberal but munificent. Though a cup of
cold water from some hand may not be without its
reward, yet stick not thou for wine and oil for the
wounds of the distressed, and treat the poor as our
Saviour did the multitude to the reliques of some

Trust not unto the omnipotency of gold, or say not
unto it, thou art my confidence. Kiss not thy hand
when thou beholdest that terrestrial sun, nor bore thy
ear unto its servitude. A slave unto Mammon makes
no servant unto God. Covetousness cracks the sinews
of faith, numbs the apprehension of anything above
sense; and only affected with the certainty of things
present, makes a peradventure of things to come; lives
but unto one world, nor hopes but fears another: makes

* Who is said to have castrated himself.

their own death sweet unto others, bitter unto them-
selves, brings formal sadness, scenical mourning, and
no wet eyes at the grave.

If avarice be thy vice, yet make it not thy punish-
ment. Miserable men commiserate not themselves,
bowelless unto themselves, and merciless unto their
own bowels. Let the fruition of things bless the
possession of them, and take no satisfaction in dying
but living rich. For since thy good works, not thy
goods will follow thee; since riches are an appurtenance
of life, and no dead man is rich, to famish in plenty,
and live poorly to die rich, were a multiplying im-
provement in madness and use upon use in folly.

Persons lightly dipt, not grained, in generous honesty
are but pale in goodness and faint-hued in sincerity.
But be thou what thou virtuously art, and let not the
ocean wash away thy tincture. Stand majestically upon
that axis where prudent simplicity hath fixed thee;
and at no temptation invert the poles of thy honesty
that vice may be uneasy and even monstrous unto
thee; let iterated good acts and long confirmed habits
make virtue natural or a second nature in thee; and since
few or none prove eminently virtuous but from some
advantageous foundations in their temper and natural
inclinations, study thyself betimes, and early find what
nature bids thee to be or tells thee what thou mayest
be. They who thus timely descend into themselves,
cultivating the good seeds which nature hath set in them,
and improving their prevalent inclinations to perfection,
become not shrubs but cedars in their generation. And
to be in the form of the best of bad, or the worst of the
good, will be no satisfaction unto them.

Let not the law of thy country be the non ultra of
thy honesty, nor think that always good enough that
the law will make good. Narrow not the law of
charity, equity, mercy. Join gospel righteousness with
legal right. Be not a mere Gamaliel in the faith, but
let the Sermon on the Mount be thy Targum unto the
law of Sinai.

Make not the consequences of virtue the ends
thereof. Be not beneficent for a name or cymbal
of applause; nor exact and punctual in commerce for
the advantages of trust and credit, which attend the
reputation of just and true dealing: for such rewards,
though unsought for, plain virtue will bring with her,
whom all men honour, though they pursue not. To
have other by-ends in good actions sours laudable
performances, which must have deeper roots, motives,
and instigations, to give them the stamp of virtues.

Though human infirmity may betray thy heedless
days into the popular ways of extravagancy, yet, let
not thine own depravity or the torrent of vicious times
carry thee into desperate enormities in opinions, manners,
or actions. If thou hast dipped thy foot in the river,
yet venture not over Rubicon; run not into extremities
from whence there is no regression, nor be ever so closely
shut up within the holds of vice and iniquity, as not
to find some escape by a postern of recipiscency.

Owe not thy humility unto humiliation by adversity,
but look humbly down in that state when others look
upward upon thee. Be patient in the age of pride,
and days of will, and impatiency, when men live but by
intervals of reason, under the sovereignty of humour and
passion, when it is in the power of every one to trans-
form thee out of thyself, and put thee into short mad-
ness.* If you cannot imitate Job, yet come not short of
Socrates, and those patient Pagans, who tired the

* Irae furor brevis est.

tongues of their enemies, while they perceived they
spit their malice at brazen walls and statues.

Let age, not envy, draw wrinkles on thy cheeks; be
content to be envied, but envy not. Emulation may be
plausible, and indignation allowable, but admit no treaty
with that passion which no circumstance can make
good. A displacency at the good of others, because
they enjoy it although we do not want it, is an absurd
depravity sticking fast unto nature, from its primitive
corruption, which he that can well subdue were a
Christian of the first magnitude, and for ought I know
may have one foot already in heaven.

While thou so hotly disclaimest the devil, be not
guilty of Diabolism. Fall not into one name with that
unclean spirit, nor act his nature whom thou so much
abhorrest, that is, to accuse, calumniate, backbite,
whisper, detract, or sinistrously interpret others. Degen-
erous depravities and narrow-minded vices! not only
below St Paul's noble Christian, but Aristotle's true gen-
tleman.* Trust not with some that the Epistle of St
James is apocryphal, and so read with less fear that
stabbing truth that in company with this vice, "thy
religion is in vain." Moses broke the tables without
breaking the law, but where charity is broke the law
itself is shattered, which cannot be whole without love
that is "the fulfilling of it." Look humbly upon thy
virtues, and though thou art rich in some, yet think
thyself poor and naked without that crowning grace
which "thinketh no evil, which envieth not, which
beareth, believeth, hopeth, endureth all things."
With these sure graces while busy tongues are crying
out for a drop of cold water, mutes may be in happi-
ness, and sing the "Trisagium,"+ in heaven.

* See Aristotle's Ethics, chapter Magnanimity.
+ Holy, holy, holy.

Let not the sun in Capricorn* go down upon thy
wrath, but write thy wrongs in water, draw the curtain
of night upon injuries, shut them up in the tower of
oblivion,+ and let them be as though they had not been.
Forgive thine enemies totally, without any reserve of
hope that however God will revenge thee.

Be substantially great in thyself, and more than thou
appearest unto others; and let the world be deceived
in thee, as they are in the lights of heaven. Hang early
plummets upon the heels of pride, and let ambition
have but an epicycle or narrow circuit in thee.
Measure not thyself by thy morning shadow, but by
the extent of thy grave; and reckon thyself above
the earth, by the line thou must be contented with
under it. Spread not into boundless expansions either
to designs or desires. Think not that mankind liveth
but for a few; and that the rest are born but to serve
the ambition of those who make but flies of men, and
wildernesses of whole nations. Swell not into vehement
actions, which embroil and confound the earth, but be
one of those violent ones that force the kingdom of
heaven.# If thou must needs rule, be Zeno's king, and
enjoy that empire which every man gives himself:
certainly the iterated injunctions of Christ unto humility,
meekness, patience, and that despised train of virtues,
cannot but make pathetical impression upon those
who have well considered the affairs of all ages;
wherein pride, ambition, and vain-glory, have led

* Even when the days are shortest.
+ Alluding to the tower of oblivion, mentioned by Pro-
copius, which was the name of a tower of imprisonment among
the Persians; whoever was put therein was as it were buried
alive, and it was death for any but to name him.
# St Matt. xi.

up to the worst of actions, whereunto confusions,
tragedies, and acts, denying all religion, do owe their

Rest not in an ovation,* but a triumph over thy
passions. Chain up the unruly legion of thy breast;
behold thy trophies within thee, not without thee.
Lead thine own captivity captive, and be Caesar unto

Give no quarter unto those vices that are of thine
inward family, and, having a root in thy temper, plead
a right and propriety in thee. Examine well thy com-
plexional inclinations. Rain early batteries against
those strongholds built upon the rock of nature, and
make this a great part of the militia of thy life. The
politic nature of vice must be opposed by policy, and
therefore wiser honesties project and plot against sin;
wherein notwithstanding we are not to rest in generals,
or the trite stratagems of art; that may succeed with
one temper, which may prove successless with another.
There is no community or commonwealth of virtue,
every man must study his own economy and erect
these rules unto the figure of himself.

Lastly, if length of days be thy portion, make it not
thy expectation. Reckon not upon long life; but live
always beyond thy account. He that so often sur-
viveth his expectation lives many lives, and will scarce
complain of the shortness of his days. Time past is
gone like a shadow; make times to come present; con-
ceive that near which may be far off. Approximate
thy latter times by present apprehensions of them: be
like a neighbour unto death, and think there is but
little to come. And since there is something in us that
must still live on, join both lives together, unite them

* Ovation, a petty and minor kind of triumph.

in thy thoughts and actions, and live in one but for the
other. He who thus ordereth the purposes of this life,
will never be far from the next, and is in some manner
already in it, by a happy conformity and close appre-
hension of it.


1. It was a proverb, "Ubi tres medici duo athei."
2. A Latinised word meaning a taunt (impropero.)
3. The synod of Dort was held in 1619 to discuss the doctrines of
Arminius. It ended by condemning them.
4. Hallam, commenting on this passage, says - "That Jesuit must be a
disgrace to his order who would have asked more than such a con-
cession to secure a proselyte - the right of interpreting whatever
was written, and of supplying whatever was not" - Hist. Eng-
land, vol. ii. p. 74.
5. See the statute of the Six Articles (31 Hen. VIII. c. 14), which de-
clared that transubstantiation, communion in one kind, celibacy
of the clergy, vows of widowhood, private masses, and auricular
confession, were part of the law of England.
6. In the year 1606, when the Jesuits were expelled from Venice, Pope
Paul V. threatened to excommunicate that republic. A most
violent quarrel ensued, which was ultimately settled by the media-
tion of France.
7. Alluding to the story of OEdipus solving the riddle proposed by the
8. The nymph Arethusa was changed by Diana into a fountain, and
was said to have flowed under the sea from Elis to the fountain of
Arethusa near Syracuse. - Ov. Met. lib. v. fab. 8.
9. These heretics denied the immortality of the soul, but held that it
was recalled to life with the body. Origen came from Egypt to
confute them, and is said to have succeeded. (See Mosh. Eccl.
Hist., lib. i. c. 5. sec. 16.) Pope John XXII. afterwards
adopted it.
10. A division from the Greek [Greek omitted].
11. The brain.
12. A faint resemblance, from the Latin adumbro, to shade.
13. Alluding to the idea Sir T. Browne often expresses, that an oracle
was the utterance of the devil.
14. To fathom, from Latin profundis.
15. Beginning from the Latin efficio.
16. Galen's great work.
17. John de Monte Regio made a wooden eagle that, when the emperor
was entering Nuremburg, flew to meet him, and hovered over his
head. He also made an iron fly that, when at dinner, he was
able to make start from under his hand, and fly round the table.
- See De Bartas, 6me jour 1me semaine.
18. Hidden, from the Greek [Greek omitted].
19. A military term for a small mine.
20. The Armada.
21. The practice of drawing lots.
22. An account.
23. See Il. VIII. 18 -

"Let down our golden everlasting chain,
Whose strong embrace holds heaven, and earth, and main."
- Pope, Il. viii. 26.

24. An argument where one proposition is accumulated upon another,
from the Greek [Greek omitted], a heap.
25. Alluding to the second triumvirate - that of Augustus, Antony, and
Lepidus. Florus says of it, "Respublica convulsa est lacerataque."
26. Ochinus. He was first a monk, then a doctor, then a Capuchin friar,
then a Protestant: in 1547 he came to England, and was very
active in the Reformation. He was afterwards made Canon of
Canterbury. The Socinians claim him as one of their sect.
27. The father of Pantagruel. His adventures are given in the first book
of Rabelais, Sir Bevys of Hampton, a metrical romance, relating
the adventures of Sir Bevys with the saracens. - Wright and
Halliwell's Reliquiae Antiquae, ii. 59.
28. Contradictions between two laws.
29. On his arrival at Paris, Pantagruel visited the library of St. Victor:
he states a list of the works he found there, among which was
"Tartaretus." Pierre Tartaret was a French doctor who disputed
with Duns Scotus. His works were republished at Lyons, 1621.
30. Deucalion was king of Thessaly at the time of the deluge. He and
his wife Pyrrha, with the advice of the oracle of Themis, repeopled
the earth by throwing behind them the bones of their grand-
mother, - i.e., stones of the earth. - See Ovid, Met. lib. i.
fab. 7.
31. St. Augustine (De Civ. Dei, xvi. 7).
32. [Greek omitted] (St. Matt. xxvii. 5) means death by choking. Erasmus
translates it, "abiens laqueo se suspendit."
33. Burnt by order of the Caliph Omar, A.D. 640. It contained 700,000
volumes, which served the city for fuel instead of wood for six months.
34. Enoch being informed by Adam the world was to be drowned and
burnt, made two pillars, one of stone to withstand the water, and
one of brick to withstand the fire, and inscribed upon them all
known knowledge. - See Josephus, Ant. Jud.
35. A Franciscan friar, counsellor to the Inquisition, who visited the
principal libraries in Spain to make a catalogue of the books op-
posed to the Romish religion. His "index novus librorum pro-
hibitorum" was published at Seville in 1631.
36. Printing, gunpowder, clocks.
37. The Targums and the various Talmuds.
38. Pagans, Mahometans, Jews, Christians.
39. Valour, and death in battle.
40. Held 1414-1418.
41. Vergilius, bishop of Salzburg, having asserted the existence of
Antipodes, the Archbishop of Metz declared him to be a heretic,
and caused him to be burnt.
42. On searching on Mount Calvary for the true cross, the empress
found three. As she was uncertain which was the right one, she
caused them to be applied to the body of a dead man, and the
one that restored him to life was determined to be the true cross.
43. The critical time in human life.
44. Oracles were said to have ceased when Christ came, the reply to
Augustus on the subject being the last -

"Me puer Hebraeus divos Deus ipse gubernans
Cedere sede jubet tristemque redire sub Orcum
Aris ergo de hinc tacitus discedito nostris."

45. An historian who wrote "De Rebus Indicis." He is cited by Pliny,
Strabo, and Josephus.
46. Alluding to the popular superstition that infant children were carried
off by fairies, and others left in their places.
47. Who is said to have lived without meat, on the smell of a rose.
48. "Essentiae rationalis immortalis."
49. St. Augustine, De Civ. Dei, lib. x., cc. 9, 19, 32.
50. That which includes everything is opposed to nullity.
51. An inversion of the parts of an antithesis.
52. St. Augustine - "Homily on Genesis."
53. Sir T. Browne wrote a dialogue between two twins in the womb
respecting the world into which they were going!
54. Refinement.
55. Constitution another form of temperament.
56. The Jewish computation for fifty years.
57. Saturn revolves once in thirty years.
58. Christian IV., of Denmark, who reigned from 1588-1647.
59. AEson was the father of Jason. By bathing in a bath prepared for him
by Medaea with some magic spells, he became young again. Ovid
describes the bath and its ingredients, Met., lib. vii. fab. 2.
60. Alluding to the rabbinical tradition that the world would last for
6000 years, attributed to Elias, and cited in the Talmud.
61. Zeno was the founder of the Stoics.
62. Referring to a passage in Suetonius, Vit. J. Caesar, sec 87: -
"Aspernatus tam lentum mortis genus subitam sibi celeremque optaverat."
63. In holding

"Mors ultima poena est,
Nec metuenda viris."

64. The period when the moon is in conjunction and obscured by the sun.
65. One of the judges of hell.
66. To select some great man for our ideal, and always to act as if he
was present with us. See Seneca, lib. i. Ep. 11.
67. Sir T. Browne seems to have made various experiments in this
subject. D'Israeli refers to it in his "Curiosities of Literature."
Dr Power, a friend of Sir T. Browne, with whom he corresponded,
fives a receipt for the process.
68. The celebrated Greek philosopher who taught that the sun was a
mass of heated stone, and various other astronomical doctrines.
Some critics say Anaxarchus is meant here.
69. See Milton's "Paradise Lost," lib. I. 254 -

"The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven."

And also Lucretius -

"Hic Acherusia fit stultorum denique vita." - iii. 1023.

70. Keck says here - "So did they all, as Lactantius has observed at
large. Aristotle is said to have been guilty of great vanity in
his clothes, of incontinency, and of unfaithfulness to his master,
Alexander II."
71. Phalaris, king of Agrigentum, who, when Perillus made a brazen
bull in which to kill criminals, placed him in it to try its effects.
72. Their maxim was

"Nihil sciri siquis putat id quoque nescit,
An sciri possit quod se nil scire fatetur."

73. Pope Alexander III., in his declaration to the Doge, said, - "Que
la mer vous soit soumise comme l'epouse l'est a son epoux
puisque vous in avez acquis l'empire par la victorie." In com-
memoration of this the Doge and Senate went yearly to Lio, and
throwing a ring into the water, claimed the sea as their bride.
74. Appolonius Thyaneus, who threw a large quantity of gold into the
sea, saying, "Pessundo divitias ne pessundare ab illis."
75. The technical term in fencing for a hit -

"A sweet touch, a quick venew of wit."
Love's Labour Lost, act v. sc. 1.

76. Strabo compared the configuration of the world, as then known, to
a cloak or mantle (chlamys).
77. Atomists or familists were a Puritanical sect who appeared about 1575,
founded by Henry Nicholas, a Dutchman. They considered that the
doctrine of revelation was an allegory, and believed that they had
attained to spiritual perfection. - See Neal's Hist. of Puritans, 1. 273.
78. From the 126th psalm St Augustine contends that Solomon is
damned. See also Lyra in 2 Kings vii.
79. From the Spanish "Dorado," a gilt head.
80. Sir T. Browne treats of chiromancy, or the art of telling fortunes by
means of lines in the hands, in his "Vulgar Errors," lib. v. cap. 23.
81. Gypsies.
82. S. Wilkin says that here this word means niggardly.
83. In the dialogue, "judicium vocalium," the vowels are the judges,
and [Greek Sigma omitted] complains that T has deprived him of many letters that
ought to begin with [Greek Sigma omitted].
84. If Jovis or Jupitris.
85. The celebrated Roman grammarian. A proverbial phrase for the
violation of grammar was "Breaking Priscian's head."
86. Livy says, Actius Nevius cut a whetstone through with a razor.
87. A kind of lizard that was supposed to kill all it looked at -

"Whose baneful eye
Wounds at a glance, so that the soundest dye."
- De Bartas, 6me jour 1me sem.

88. Epimenides (Titus x. 12) -

[Greek omitted]

89. Nero having heard a person say, "When I am dead, let earth be
mingled with fire," replied, "Yes, while I live." - Suetonius,
Vit. Nero.
90. Alluding to the story of the Italian, who, having been provoked by
a person he met, put a poniard to his heart, and threatened to
kill him if he would not blaspheme God; and the stranger doing
so, the Italian killed him at once, that he might be damned, hav-

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Online LibraryThomas BrowneReligio Medici, Hydriotaphia, and the Letter to a Friend → online text (page 14 of 15)