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enigmas and riddles of the Trinity, incarnation, and resurrection. I can answer all the objections of Satan and my rebellious reason with that odd resolution I learnt of Tertullian, cerium est quia impossibile est." He rejoices that he was not an Israelite at the passage of the Red Sea, or an early Christian in the days of miracles; for then his faith, supported by his senses, would have had less merit. He loves to puzzle and confound his understanding with the thoughts that pass the limits of our intellectual powers: he rejoices in contemplating eternity, because nobody can "speak of it without a solecism," and to plunge his imagination into the abysses of the infinite. "When I cannot satisfy my reason," he says, "I love to recreate my fancy." He recreates it by soaring into the regions where the most daring metaphysical logic breaks down beneath us, and delights in exposing his reason to the rude test of believing both sides of a contradiction. Here, as everywhere, the strangest freaks of fancy intrude themselves into his sublime contemplations. A mystic, when abasing reason in the presence of faith, may lose sight of earthly objects in the splendor of the beatific vision. But Sir Thomas, even when he enters the holiest shrine, never quite loses his grasp of the grotesque. Wonder, whether produced by the sublime or the simply curious, has equal attraction for him. His mind is distracted between the loftiest mysteries of Christianity, and the strangest conceits of Talmudists or schoolmen. Thus, for example, whilst eloquently descanting on the submissiveness of his reason, he informs us (obviously claiming credit for the sacrifice of his curiosity) that he can read of the raising of Lazarus, and yet refrain from raising a "law case, whether his heir might lawfully detain his inheritance bequeathed unto him by his death, and he, though restored to life, have no plea or title unto his former possessions." Or we might take the inverse transition, from the absurd to the sublime, in his meditations upon hell. He begins by inquiring whether the everlasting fire is the same with that of our earth. "Some of our chymicks," it appears, "facetiously affirm that, at the last fire, all shall be crystallized and reverberated into glass," but, after playing for some time with this and other strange fancies, he says in a loftier strain, though
still with his old touch of humor—" Men speak too popularly who place it in those flaming mountains, which, to grosser apprehensions, represent hell. The hearts of men is the place the devils dwell in. I feel sometimes a hell within myself; Lucifer keeps his courts in my breast; Legion is revived in me. There was more than one hell in Magdalene, when there were seven devils; for every devil is a hell unto himself; he holds enough of torture in his own ubi, and needs not the misery of circumference to afflict him; and thus a distracted conscience here is a shadow or introduction into hell hereafter."
Sir Thomas's witticisms are like the grotesque carvings in a Gothic cathedral. It is plain that in his mind they have not the slightest tinge of conscious irreverence. They are simply his natural mode of expression; forbid him to be humorous and you might as well forbid him to speak at all. If the severity of our modern, taste is shocked at an intermixture, which seemed natural enough to his contemporaries, we may find an unconscious apology in a singularly fine passage of the Religio Medici. Justifying his love of church music, he says,—" Even that vulgar and tavern music, which makes one man merry, another mad, strikes in me a deep fit of devotion, and a profound contemplation of the first composer." That power of extracting deep devotion from "vulgar tavern music" is the great secret of Browne's eloquence. It is not wonderful, perhaps, that, with our associations, the performance seems of questionable taste; and that some strains of tavern music mix unpleasantly in the grander harmonies which they suggest. Few people find their religious emotions stimulated by the performance of a nigger melody, and they have some difficulty in keeping pace with a mind which springs in happy unconsciousness, or rather in keen enjoyment, of the contrast from the queer or commonplace to the most exalted objects of human thought.
One other peculiarity shows itself chiefly in the last pages of the Religio Medici. His worthy commentators have labored to defend Sir Thomas from the charge of vanity. He expatiates upon his universal charity; upon his inability to regard even vice as a fitting object for satire; upon his warm affection to his friend, whom he already loves better than himself, and whom, yet in a few months, he will regard with a love which will make his present feelings seem indifference; upon his absolute want of avarice or any kind of meanness; and, which certainly seems a little odd in the midst of these self-laudations, upon his freedom from the "first and father sin, not only of man but of the devil, pride." Good Dr. 'Watts was shocked at this "arrogant temerity," and Dr. Johnson appears rather to concur in the charge. And certainly, if we are to interpret his language in a matter-of-fact spirit, it must be admitted that a gentleman who openly claims for himself the virtues of charity, generosity, courage, and modesty, might be not unfairly accused of vanity. To no one, as we have already remarked, is such a matter-of-fact criticism less applicable. If a humorist was to be denied the right of saying with a serious face what he does not quite think, we should make strange work of some of the most charming books in the world. The Sir Thomas Browne of the Religio Medici is by no means to be identified with the every-day flesh-and-blood physician of Norwich. He is the ideal and glorified Sir Thomas, and represents rather what ought to have been than what was. We all have such doubles who visit us in our day-dreams, and sometimes cheat us into the belief that they are our real selves, but most of us luckily hide the very existence of such phantoms; for few of us, indeed, could make them agreeable to our neighbors. And yet the apology is scarcely needed. Bating some few touches, Sir Thomas seems to have claimed little that he did not really possess. And if he was a little vain, why should we be angry? Vanity is only offensive when it is sullen or exacting. When it merely amounts to an unaffected pleasure in dwelling on the peculiarities of a man's own character, it is rather an agreeable literary ingredient. Sir Thomas defines his point of view with his usual felicity. "The world that I regard," he says in the spirit of the imprisoned Richard II., "is myself: it is the microcosm of my own frame that I cast mine eye on; for the other, I use it but like my globe, and turn it round sometimes for my recreation." That whimsical inversion of the natural order is the key to the Religio Medici. We, for the nonce, are to regard Sir Thomas Browne as a world, and to study the marvels of
his microcosm instead of the outside wonders. And, to say the truth, it is a good and kindly world—a world full of the strangest combinations, where even the most sacred are allied with the oddest objects. Yet his imagination everywhere diffuses a solemn light such as that which falls through painted windows, and which somehow harmonizes the whole quaint assemblage of images. The sacred is made more interesting instead of being degraded by its association with the quaint; and on the whole, after a stay in this microcosm, we feel better, calmer, more tolerant, and a good deal more amused than when we entered it.
Passing from the portrait to the original, we may recognize, or fancy that we recognize, the same general features. Sir Thomas assures us that his life, up to the period of the Religio Medici, was a "miracle of thirty years, which to relate were not a history, but a piece of poetry, and would sound to common ears like a fable." Johnson, with his usual sense, observes that it is rather difficult to detect the miraculous element in any part of the story open to our observation. "Surely," he says, "a man may visit France and Italy, reside at Montpellier and Padua, and at last take his degree at Leyden, without anything miraculous." And although Southey endeavors to maintain that the miracle consisted in Browne's preservation from infidelity, it must be admitted that to the ordinary mind that result seems explicable by natural causes. We must be content with Johnson's explanation, that, in some sense, "all life is miraculous;" and, in short, that the strangeness consists rather in Browne's view of his own history, than in any unusual phenomena. Certainly, no man seems on the whole to have slipped down the stream of life more smoothly. After his travels he settled quietly at Norwich, and there passed forty-five years of scarcely interrupted prosperity. In the Religio Medici he indulges in some disparaging remarks upon marriage. "The whole world," he says, "was made for man; but the twelfth part of man for woman. Man is the whole world and the breath of God; woman the rib and crooked part of man." He wishes, after the fashion of Montaigne, that we might grow like the trees, and avoid this foolish and trivial ceremony; and, therefore—for such inferences are perfectly legitimate in the history of a humorist—he married a lady, of whom it is said that she was so perfect that " they seemed to come together by a kind of natural magnetism," had ten children, and lived very happily ever afterwards. It is not difficult, from the fragmentary notices that have been left to us, to put together some picture of his personal appearance. He was a man of dignified appearance, with a striking resemblance, as Southey has remarked, to Charles I., "always cheerful, but never merry," given to unseasonable blushing, little inclined to talk, but strikingly original when once launched in conversation; sedate in his dress, and obeying some queer medical crotchets as to its proper arrangement; always at work in the intervals of his "drudging practice ;" and generally a sober and dignified physician. From some letters which have been preserved we catch a view of his social demeanor. He was evidently an affectionate and liberal father, with good old orthodox views of the wide extent of the paternal prerogative. One of his sons was a promising naval officer, and sends home from beyond the seas accounts of such curiosities as were likely to please the insatiable curiosity of his parent. In his answers, the good Sir Thomas quotes Aristotle's definition of fortitude for the benefit of his gallant lieutenant, and argues elaborately to dissuade him from a practice which he believes to prevail in "the king's shipps, when, in desperate cases, they blow up the same." He proves by most excellent reasons, and by the authority of Plutarch, that such self-immolation is an unnecessary strain of gallantry; yet somehow we feel rather glad that Sir Thomas could not be a witness to the reception of this sensible, but, perhaps, rather superfluous advice, in the mess-room of the Marie Rose. It is more pleasant to observe the carefulness with which he has treasured up and repeats all the compliments to the lieutenant's valor and wisdom which have reached him from trustworthy sources. This son appears to have died at a comparatively early age; but with the elder son, Edward—who, like his father, travelled in various parts of Europe, and then became a distinguished physician—he maintained along correspondence, full of those curious details in which his soul delighted. His son, for example, writes from Prague that "in the mines at Brunswick is reported to
be a spirit; and another at the tin mine at Stackenwald, in the shape of a monke, which strikes the miners, playeth on the bagpipe, and many such tricks." They correspond, however, on more legitimate inquiries, and especially on the points to be noticed in the son's medical lectures. Sir Thomas takes a keen interest in the fate of an unlucky "oestridge" which found its way to London in 1681, and was doomed to illustrate some of the vulgar errors. The poor bird was induced to swallow a piece of iron weighing two and a half ounces, which, strange to say, it could not digest. It soon afterwards died "of a soden," whether from the severity of the weather or from the peculiar nature of its diet.
The one blot on his character is that he gave evidence in the well-known trial of the witches before Sir Matthew Hale in 1664, and thereby contributed to one of the latest instances of witch-murder in England. All that can be said is that his belief was a little too sincere, and that a doctrine pardonable enough in his speculative moods, should have startled him when exemplified in actual flesh and blood.
The great glory of his life was his receiving the honor of knighthood from Charles II. in 1671. Dr. Johnson is eloquent on the skill of his favorite monarch in discovering excellence, and his virtue in rewarding it, though, as a twinge of conscience compels him to add, "with such honorary distinctions at least as cost him nothing." The good doctor died in 1682, in the 77th year of his age, and met his end, as we are assured, in the spirit of his own writings. "There is," he says, "but one comfort left, that, though it be in the power of the weakest arm to take away life, it is not in the strongest to deprive us of death." Or, to take another passage, for his meditations were often amongst the tombs, he says, with his usual quaint and eloquent melancholy, "When I take a full view and circle of myself, without this reasonable moderator and equal piece of justice, death, I do conceive myself the miserablest person extant. Were there not another life that I hope for, all the vanities of this world should not entreat a moment's breath from me. Could the devil work my belief to imagine I could never die, I could not outlive that very thought. I have so abject a conceit of this common way of existence, this retaining to the sun and elements, I cannot think this to be a man, or to have according to the dignity of humanity. In expectation of a better, I can with patience embrace this life, yet, in my best meditations, do often defy death."
The man who wrote thus, and lived and died in the spirit of his words, was, by certain of our matter-of-fact friends, called an atheist. Why, it seems impossible to conjecture, unless toleration is considered to be an indication of unbelief. No man, at any rate, has breathed a more exalted religious sentiment into his writings, and it is impossible to study them without at once smiling at him and loving him.
A few remarks on his peculiar style may be added. Johnson, though generally appreciative, calls him "obscure," "rugged," and "pedantic." The last epithet is obviously more or less deserved. He has the propensity, common to the learned men of his day, to coin amazing Latinisms. Here, for example, are a few taken pretty much at random from his posthumous work, the Christian Morals:—"assuefaction," "minorates," "exantlation," "quodlibetically," "salvifically," "longevous," "exuperances." He says elsewhere that "omneity informed nullity into an essence" at the creation; and in discussing the interesting question of the mode of Haman's death, defines the obscure term "hanging" by the circumlocution, "illaqueation or pendulous suffocation." But setting aside such freaks, which belong nearly as much to his period as to his individual taste, he can hardly be called an obsure, and still less, a "rugged" writer. There are occasional faults of construction, it is true, which would naturally shock an Addisonian taste, and blemishes which would have been removed by a more careful polish. But he is generally intelligible without an effort; and "ruggedness" is a decidedly infelicitous epithet. His sentences move, it may be, with rather too elaborate a stateliness ; they are crammed with the remote allusions that are constantly thronging into his mind, and have a certain sententious and epigrammatic turn ; but they are full of a subtle and stately melody, bespeaking a fine musical ear. They have not the impetuous energy of a true rhetorician; they do not expand into the diffuse eloquence of Jeremy Taylor, nor are they animated by the indignant passion of Mil ■
ton; but they are the grave, quiet utterances of a meditative mind, and their form would be more suitable for a lecture-room than for a pulpit or the floor of a senate, and most suitable for a closet. He must be read in a corresponding spirit; one must stop often to appreciate the flavor of a quaint allusion, and lay down the book at intervals to follow out some sharply diverging line of thought. So read, in the quiet of a retired study, or beneath the dusty shelves of some ancient library— and books, to be thoroughly enjoyed, require appropriate scenery as well as appropriate moods—no congenial student will find fault with Sir Thomas's stately periods. Rather he will admit that the form is in admirable harmony with the matter; and that the sentences march to a most appropriate air. As a general description, it may perhaps be said that they are just too diffuse and too far-fetched to be aphorisms. The Christian Morals, for example, consists of a series of maxims, which fail for want of a little concentration. They are to the genuine aphorism what a nebulous system is to a sun. Every now and then we find some striking and genuine aphorism, as this, for example, which almost reminds us in language and policy of a modern French epigram—" Natural parts and good judgments rule the world; states are not governed by ergotisms ;" but as a rule, the thought has not quite enough specific gravity. He wants that concentrated force of mind which gives immortality to Bacon's essays.
But we have perhaps dwelt long enough upon Sir Thomas's peculiar qualities of style. Whatever they may be, he must certainly be ranked amongst the great masters of our language. If some shade of oblivion has passed over him, as we have drifted further from the order of thought in which he most delighted, the result is not surprising. Immortality, or, indeed, life beyond a couple of centuries, is given to few literary artists. If we are disposed to complain, Sir Thomas shall himself supply the answer, in a passage from the Hydriotaphia, which, though described by Hallam as the best written of his treatises, seems to be scarcely so characteristic as the Religio Medici. It contains, however, many eloquent passages, and here are some of his reflections on posthumous fame. The end of the world, he says, is approaching, and
"Charles V. can never hope to live within two Methuselahs of Hector." "And, therefore, useless inquietude for the diuturnity of our memories with present considerations seems a vanity out of date, and a superannuated piece of folly. We cannot hope to live as long in our names, as some have done in their persons. One face of Janus holds no proportion to the other. 'Tis too late to be ambitious. The great mutations of the world are acted, or time may be too short for our designs. To extend our memories by monuments, whose death we daily pray for, and whose duration we cannot hope
without injury to our expectations in the advent of the last day, were a contradiction to our beliefs. We, whose generations are ordained in this setting part of rime, are providentially taken off from such imaginations; and being necessitated to eye the remaining particle of futurity, are naturally constituted into thoughts of the next world, and cannot excusably decline the consideration of that duration, which maketh pyramids pillars of snow, and all tbaf s past a moment."
The argument is worthy of Dr. Cumming; the language and the sentiment, of Milton.
DARWINISM AND RELIGION.
At last Mr. Darwin'slong-promised work on "Man" is given to the world, and there is no longer any question as to the views which he entertains concerning the lineal descent of our race from the lower animals. To some, who have always "hoped against hope," from the previous silence maintained on this subject in successive editions of the "Origin of Species," this may come as a startling blow: but to the majority it will be nothing more than a direct statement of a conclusion which followed necessarily from the Darwinian theory. If the evolution hypothesis is to be received at all as regards the organic creation, there is no possibility of stopping short when we come to man, at least so far as his bodily structure is concerned. Professor Huxley, as long ago as 1863, pointed out that "man, in all parts of his organization, differs less from the higher apes than these do from the lower members of the same group ;" and the mass of overwhelming evidence brought forward in the present work to prove our intimate connection with the lower animals does but strengthen a conviction, slowly and reluctantly yielded to by all who accept any phase, whether Darwinian or otherwise, of the theory of evolution.
If Mr. Darwin, therefore, had confined his speculations to the bodily structure of mental faculties had become highly developed, images of all past actions and motives would be incessantly passing through the brain of each individual, and that feeling of dissatisfaction which invariably results from any unsatisfied instinct would arise as often as it was perceived
(p. 577) he said, "In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches. Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation."
Into these fields of speculation he enters boldly in the present work, and arrives at the conclusion that the mental powers of man, though so different in degree tcfthose of the higher animals, are yet the same in kind; while in the social instincts existing so strongly in many animals, he finds a basis for the moral sense or conscience of the human race. "The following proposition," he says, "seems to me in a high degree probable—namely, that any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts, would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as its intellectual powers had become as well developed, or nearly as well developed, as in man." For, firstly, the social instincts lead an animal to take pleasure in the society of its fellows, to feel a certain amount of sympathy with them, and to perform various services for them. But these feelings and services are by no means extended to all individuals of the same species, only to those of the same association. Secondly—As soon as the
man, his new work, though strengthening his previous theory by many new facts and arguments, would not have enunciated any novel or startling principle. But he had already hinted at another subject of inquiry when in the last edition of the "Origin"