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“ The finger of God," he says, “ hath left an in the end often justifies the means; and the breadth scription on all his works, not graphical or com- and sincerity of a purpose may suggest temporary posed of letters, but of their several forms, con expedients, which viewed by themselves, are wholly stitutions, parts and operations, which aptly joined unsatisfactory. “ Circumstances alter cases," is together do make one word iliat doth express their an old proverb. The philosopher differs from the natures. And truly I have observed that those vulgar in the extent as well as the acuteness of professed eleemosynaries, though in a crowd or his vision. “ I have,” says Sir Thomas, " one multitude, do yet direct and place their petitions on common and authentick philosophy I learned in the a few and selected persons; there is surely a physi. schools, whereby I discourse and satisfy the reaognomy which those experienced and master men- son of other men; another more reserved, and dicants observe, whereby they instantly discover a drawn from experience, whereby I content mine merciful aspect; for there are mystically in our own." The most objectionable of modern tyranfaces certain characters which carry in them the nies is that of the press. In the United States, motto of our souls." One of the most popular boasting the greatest political freedom at present books of the day is “ Proverbial Philosophy," and enjoyed, a man who can purchase a few types may one of the most effective of its chapters is that de-assail effectually the reputation of his neighbor, voted to compensation. In the Religio Medici we who, were he to utter the same scandal, would be have an eloquent suggestion in the identical vein. amenable socially to the laws of honor; and juris“ 'Tis, I confess, the common fate of men of sin- prudence has provided no sufficient remedy for gular gifts of mind, to be destitute of those of for- libel. In the preface to the very treatise we are tune which doth not in any way deject the spirit now considering, it is said :-"Had not almost of wiser judgements, who thoroughly understand every man suffered by the press, or were not the the justice of this proceeding, and being enriched tyranny therefore become universal, I had not with higher donatives cast a more careless eye on wanted reason for complaint ; but in times wherein those vulgar parts of felicity. 'Tis not partiality I have lived to behold the highest perversion of but equity in God who deals with us but as our that excellent invention, complaints may seem rinatural parents ; those that are able of body and diculous in private persons, and men of my conmind he leaves to their deserts, to those of weaker dition may be as incapable of affronts as hopeless merits he imparts a larger portion, and pieces out of their reparations." The idea of progress has the defect of one by the access of another.” Self- become so general and intense, that it has degenerareliance has been the favorite doctrine of recent ted into cant. How manfully it is recognized in writers. Carlyle, Channing, Emerson and others our author's introduction of his work! “It” (the urge it on every occasion with ingenuity and elo- Religio) “ was sat down many years past, and was quence. Sir Thomas Browne is not a less deter- the sense of my conceptions at that time, not an mined, though more concise advocate. “We carry," immutable law unto my advancing judgement al he declares,“ with us the wonders we seek; there is all times; and therefore there might be many things all Africa and her prodigies in us; we are that bold plausible unto my past apprehension which are not and adventurous piece of nature, which he that agreeable onto my present self.”. studies wisely learns in a compendium what others An axiom of late metaphysicians is the sufilabor at in a divided piece and endless volume.” ciency of the mind and conscience independent of
The cardinal points of faith to every sensitive outward well-being; and “to repose on our own thinker are, that life is only realized through a com-consciousness is defined by not a few as the test of plete exercise of mind and heart, and that there is harmonious development.” Sir Thomas Browne an enduring and progressive principle in the soul yielded the “private station," not from any restless which makes this just activity infinitely desirable. love of fame, but through the presence of external This has been finely uttered by the author of the inducemenis. Had not the duty I owe unto the Religio Medici. " There is surely a piece of di- importunity of friends, and the allegiance I must vinity in us, something that was before the ele- ever acknowledge unto truth, prevailed with me, ments and owes no homage unto the sun. Every the inactivity of my disposition might have made man truly lives so long as he acts his nature, or these sufferings continual ; and time, that brings some way makes good the faculties of himself.” other things to light, should have satisfied me in
Long ago the Mantuan poet wrote “ Felix qui the remedy of its oblivion." potuit rerum cognoscere causas”—a phrase which Io his personal history, there is little either adlingers in the memory of every reader who has a venturous or peculiar. He was born in London, large organ of causality, although the rest of his in St. Michael's Parish, Cheapside, October 19th, knowledge of Latin has evaporated. And why is 1605; and educated at Winchester School and Oxhe happy who knows the causes of things ? Be- ford. In his youth he travelled extensively and cause the selfish instincts aitribute a personal and the reminiscences of this period, which incidentally direct motive to conduct which is regulated by feel appear in his treatises, evince the constant exer: ings of far more intense and extensive scope; because cise of liberal curiosity in regard to the arts and
manners of different localities. He remained for tience “ founded upon a Christian philosophy and the longest intervals, at Montpelier and Padua- sound faith in God." the two most celebrated schools of medicine then An unreasonable draft is often made upon the existing in Europe. He took a degree at Leyden ; conversational powers of men of reflection. Their and boally settled at Norwich, where he died at acquaintances are impatient at their silence. They the age of seventy-six.
are expected at all times to be entertaining ; and to Of minor facts relating to his career, there is hold themselves in readiness to be called out for ibe usaal paucity which attends the life of a scholar. the diversion of the company--as Chinese jugglers He was knighted by Charles II., and during the go through their antics. Lighter minds do not seem political commotions of the age, lived apart, occu-to realize that occasional silence is to such men as pied with his books, experiments and domestic en- necessary as sleep; and that the reason they talk jorments. It is interesting to know that he was well at all, is because a certain amount of thinking visited by Evelyn. Of his family, little has been re- precedes their utterance. Sir Thomas Browne corded. One of his sons distinguished himself as seems to have regulated his intercourse upon ra3 brave sailor in the navy; and another became tional principles. “He was excellent company," celebrated as a physician and is mentioned as in we are told, “ with more light than heat in the attendance on the death-bed of Rochester. Of the temper of his brain ; sometimes difficult to be endaughter's character, we may form an idea by a gaged in discourse, but always singular therein, single trait which is preserved of her,-that “she never trite or vnlgar.” Strong passions form an loved to be alone"-a disposition indicative of the essential part of a vigorous character; and we philosophical temperament of her father, whose question the system which deems virtue to consist memory she appears to have deeply venerated. in their utier denial. The constitution of man in
It is said that the wits of the day made them- dicates their wise regulation—not their entire subselves quite merry on the occasion of our philoso- version as the desirable process. This we suppher's marriage, deeming the event altogether in- pose to be the kind of self-control ascribed to consistent with bis avowed preference of celibacy our philosopher. “ He had no despotical power and his wish that mankind might "procreate like over his affections and passions, but as large a potrees.” Their view of the subject was exceeding- litical power over them as any stoic.” ly narrow. Sir Thomas Browne acted, as well as There is an economy of animal spirits whereby Wrole, upon honest conviction. He never professed the buoyancy of the feelings may be indefinitely what he did not believe; and was above the vani- prolonged. The thoughtless usually suffer desponty of claiming any sentiment, however beautiful, dency from the reaction instead of the absence of or following any custom, however approved, the natural gaiety. The reflective, on the contrary, sanction of which he had never experienced. When know how to prize the prolonged ripple of the the Religio Medici was written, his innate love had stream above the temporary gush of the fountain; not been called forth because he did not encounter and we are not, therefore, surprised at the declajis appropriate object. He was singularly true to ration of a contemporary, that the mood of Sir himself, and never forced or perverted nature, but Thomas was “cheerful rather than merry." listened reverently for her spontaneous oracles; The style of Sir Thomas Browne may be thought when these revealed to him what Croly finely calls to lack grace by those whose taste has been exclu* passion made essential,” he obeyed its impulse. sively formed upon the more polished models of a That it was on the principle of genuine sympathy, later day. There is, however, a rare charm in its that he entered upon this relation, is evident from grave and sincere flow. We feel that a manly the testimony of Whitefoot, who says : “ In 1641, soul expresses itself by the very vigor of the phrabe married a lady of such symmetrical proportions ses. It is an honest style, unmarred by daintiness to her worthy husband, that they seemed to come or affectation. Some words are obsolete, some together by a kind of natural magnetism." paragraphs introverted; but a majestic simplicity
There is a cynical tone in Dr. Johnson's life of like that of Milton, quaint and fanciful compariSir Thomas Browne, and its injustice is only coun- sons, such as besprinkle the homilies of Jeremy tenanced by the adverse spirit manifested in the Taylor, and a dignified and conscious reclitude of extracts from Whitefoot-hisintimate friend, whose lone-the robust manliness of the age of Elizacordial encomiums are obviously as truthful as they beth-give energy and attractiveness to almost are affectionate. The philosopher's character, as every page. One of his editors aptly calls bim thus delincated, seems to accord perfectly with " a stately Montaigne.” A selection of aphorisms the kindliness and serene wisdom of his writing. would best illustrate Sir Thomas Browne's style. Among other characteristics which they suggest, For philosophical writing we can imagine no and which his biographer confirms, are such a tho- more appropriate diction. Take, for instance, a rough modesty that he never lost “an habitual few of his striking illustrations of the insufficiency blush,” simplicity of dress, household and social of knowledge-how clear, ingenious, yet effective liberality, parsimony only of his time ; and a pa-'is the language : “ For my own part beside the
jargon and patois of several provinces, I understand centration which, while it did not check benerono less than six languages; yet I protest I have no lence, kept back ever the most precious of giftshigher conceit of myself than had our fathers be- himself. And with all Schiller's own generosityfore the construction of Babel, when there was but a disturbing element so marred the serenity of his one language in the world, and none to boast him- consciousness, that he welcomed death, because as self either linguist or critic. I have not only seen it approached he felt "calmer and calmer.” The several countries, beheld the nature of their climes, practical insight of Macaulay recognized the inevithe chiography of their provinces, topography of table contingency, to which we allude, when he their cities, but understood their several laws, cus- passes from the men of action to the poets-detoms and policies; yet cannot all this persuade claring of the latter, as Dr. Johnson did of the the dulness of my spirit unto such an opinion of whole human race, that they are never wholly sane. myself, as I behold in nimbler and conceited heads An overplus of the imaginative faculty leads to that never looked a degree beyond their nests. I an erroneous estimate of actual things; keen senknow the names, and somewhat more, of all the sibilities barb the arrows of life ; and habits of constellations of my horizon ; yet I have seen a constant reflection give a morbid hue to the most prating mariner that could only name the pointers ordinary experience; and yet one or the other of and the north star, out-talk me, and conceit himself those characteristics belongs by nature to the class a whole sphere above me.' I know most of the plants we designate as men of genius. So generally adof my country and of those about me; yet me- mitted is this fact that we instinctively separate thinks I do not know so many as when I did but the products of such minds from the individuals ; know a bundred, and had scarcely ever simpled fur- we enjoy their works, but deem the authors bat ther than Cheapside."
partially reliable. It is as if what is really true In more rhetorical passages, there is a like ab- and healthy in them instead of appearing in lifesence of all the tricks of fine writing, and a dignified as is the law of human nature in general-embodease that rises to eloquence as it were unawares. ied itself in a form of art--leaving the man someWhat can be more devout in feeling or earnest in what deficient, perplexed or weakened in his relaprofession than the following, “ I am sure there is a tions to the actual--as the pearl is bred at the excommon spirit that plays within us, yet makes no pense of vitality and the flame of combustion. Perpart of us; and that the Spirit of God, the fire haps the tender reverence in which noble souls hold and scintillation of that noble and mighty essence, this species of men, springs in a measure from pity, which is the life and radical heat of spirits, and as chivalry towards women is occasioned by a sense those essences that know not the virtue of the sun; of their weakness as well as admiration of their a fire quite contrary to the fire of hell. This is that charms. Doubtless works of absolute genius are gentle heat that brooded on the waters, and in six the greatest evidences of the power and enduring days hatched the world; this is that irradiation destiny of the human mind; but in their very na. that dispells the mists of hell, the clouds of hor- ture—they spring from the excess of a special develror, fear, sorrow, despair; and preserves the region opment—from overflowing sensibility-profound of the mind in serenity; whosoever feels not the reflection or exuberant fancy. The true felicity of warm gale and gentle ventilation of this spirit intellectual life—the mind that is a kingdom in the (though I feel his pulse,) I dare not say lives; for sense of the brave old English poet-in a word truly without this, to me there is no heat under the sufficient by its integrity and genial resources tropic, nor any light, though I dwelt in the body of is not so well illustrated by men of remarkable the sun."
genius, as by those of more balanced powers and There is a class of independent thinkers who catholic tastes, who observe as much as they revindicate the integrity of the human mind. Ge- flect, and are capable of finding mental pabulum in nius works mysteriously ; her children often seem the ordinary course of life and the regular transiunconscious agents rather than voluntary creators. tions of nature. The freedom and insight of the There is a feverish unrest, a spasmodic vitality in true philosopher induces nobility of soul; and this is their mental being, which leads the calm observer beautifully manifest in the character of Sir Thomas of life to consider their destiny quite undesirable. Browne. His charity is all embracing and a sense A deep melancholy broods over their highest tri- of the natural dignity of man endeared to his heart umphs; their course though glorious is erratic, the lowliest of the race. Self, through the breadth and a sense of misplaced feeling, incomplete hu- of his calm wisdom,“ passed in music out of sight." manity-of a peculiarity which isolates while it Charles Lamb said of books, that Shafirsbury was distinguishes--a gift that dooms at the same time not too fine for him nor Tom Jones 100 low. Thus that it enriches--assures us that even great en- Sir Thomas regarded men, discerning ever a redowments have their attendant shadows. Sehil- deeming feature or ground of interest. He could ler with all his admiration of Goethe was repelled scarce retain his prayers for a friend at the ringing by his systematic egotism. He could not love him of a bell; and declares himself of a “constitution as he wished, because of that determined self-con'so general, that it consorts and sympathizes with all things.” It would be difficult to find in the The pursuit of truth, not the attainment of an whole range of English literature a more humane ideal, the knowledge of the actual rather than the and generous utterance than that contained in the enjoyment of the illusive is the aim of such minds. opening of the second part of the Religio Medici. The ruling passion is liberal curiosity. They It is a quaint elaboration of the maxim of Terence, question the facts of each day not to force them and a prosaic expression of Burns', “ a man's a into the support of a cherished theory or to exman for a' that." How noble his sentiments in re- aggerate and embellish them by the light of their gard to mental acquirements and in what pitiful own imagination, but simply to assay them in the contrasts appears the miser-like economy of ideas balance of truth, to glean from them whatever which narrows the converse of modern authors ! genuine import they afford, or arrange them among " I intend no monopoly, but a community in learn- unexplained problems for future combination and ing; I study not for my own sake onlv, but for inference. The mental position ordained by this theirs who study not for themselves. I envy no very constitution is that of inquiry. The truth atman who knows more than myself, but pity them tained is only one of a series of progressive conthat know less. I instruct no man as an exercise victions which, like the different elevations of a of my knowledge, or with an intent rather to keep mountain-range, open new and successive vistas. alive in mine own head than beget and propagate The philosopher does not climb the heights of it in his ; and in the midst of all my endeavors knowledge to collect rare pebbles to arrange into there is but one thought that dejects me, that my brilliant pictures for immediate effect, as Sheridan acquired parts must perish with myself, nor can be gathered fragments of wit for his comedies and legacied among my honored friends.” These noble figures for his rhetoric; nor to pick wild flowers for sympathies which distinguish the genuine philo-elegiac garlands, such as Gray wove to cast on the sophic character, are not at all incompatible with sepulchre, but to reach a more bracing atmosphere, discrimination of taste and individuality of feeling. behold more vast prospects, and draw nearer to the Perhaps they throw the mind more directly back stars! upon primal resources and detach conscious identity from outward relations more thoroughly than sympathies apparently less diffuse. This "general and indifferent temper” in Browne, was allied to marked peculiarities both of disposition and opinion. He was no radical believer in human equali
THE OLD IRON POKER. ty as the phrase is generally regarded. He had gone too near the heart of nature not to have faith in what he terms “ a nobility without heraldry ;" | The heart has some heirloom enshrined in its core, and, like all thoughtful observers, was sceptical as
Which ost to contemplate it turns from the throng, to the miracles attributed to education and circum- And as each loved feature is viewed o'er and o’er, stances in their influence on character. What de
It swells into rapture and breaks into song;
And thus pleasing mem’ry now leads me to stray serves that name he thought inborn, original and
'Mid the scenes dearly loved in my youth's sunny prime, prevailing; and hence deemed it a “happiness to And as each treasured object I pause to survey, grow up from the seeds of nature, rather than the The heart feels a union unsevered by time: inoculation and enforced graff of education."
But of all youth's mementos I still most admire Sir Thomas Browne knew how to reconcile fidel-The old iron poker which stands by the fire ! ity in detail to excursiveness. Opinion plumed This alone of the relics of time long ago, instead of clipping the wings of his thought. He Has grown old without change in its form or its place, felt that in all the facts of humanity there was a while others have taught me this lesson to know, ger at least of truth which sanctioned to his eye
That time changes all in its swist onward pace : even her incongruous aspects and superstitious er
The cottage is gone which my infancy knew,
The grove has been selled by the woodman's strong arms, rors. He begins his confession of faith by an- My friends are all sleeping beneath the old yew, bouncing himself a christian, but adds that pity And the home of my childhood is stript of its charms, rather than hate fills his heart towards Turks, In- But thou still appearest as when my grandsire fidels and Jews—" rather contenting myself to en- First placed thee, old poker, to stand by the fire !; joy that happy style than maligning those who re. Ah! thou art the same as in youth's early hour fuse so glorious a title.” In accordance with this
I saw thee installed in thy corner of stone, spirit he thought "a resolved conscience could And learned my first lesson from thy glowing power, adore her creator anywhere;” that "it is the meth- That all was not golden though brightly it shone ! od of charity to suffer without reaction,” and that o! others may sing of their friends, wealth and lovers, " there is yet, after all the decrees of councils and
And breathe forth their praises in soul-stirring song, the nicelies of the schools, many things untoucht,
And upward may soar where the wild eagle hovers
Their notes as the waves of the ocean prolongunimagined, wherein the liberty of an honest rea- But I will still sing, while a thought can inspire, 300 may play and expatiate with security." of the old iron poker which stands by the fire !
BY SIDNEY DYER.
led me mightily. But there is no greater enemy to BETTIE, SALLIE AND MOLLIE. all affectation than that same Mr. Scott: if he ever (To the Messenger.)
writes another novel, I shan't be surprised at his
ridiculing American girls, in it, for giving each Mr. Messenger,
other Scotch names. Why, sir, one of them has Have you noticed the way our girls have lately even called my son Sam, Sammie. got, of altering such good old names as Betty
Your friend, and Sally, to Bettie and Sallie ? First it began
DOROTHY DUMPLING. with Beltie-it was Bettie this, and Betlie that, everywhere. Said my husband to me, they'll soon
P. S. If you print this, please put the spelling be writing Sallie, and I should not be surprised if and stops right. they came at last to Mollie. We all laughed at the notion of “Mollie," and thought affectation never would go that far. But it was not a month before our newspaper published that Mr. David Dickson was married to Miss Sallie Dobbs. And in a lit
GREEK ODES-AGAIN. tle while afier, comes out a notice of Mr. John Smith's marriage to Miss Mollie Muggins. Then In relation to some passages in the article on it was Sallie, and Mollie, and Bettie, every thing. Greek Odes, in our December No., we have reLet any Mary, or Elizabeth, go to a boarding, ceived the following note: school, and about the third or fourth letter written
(To the Editor of the Messenger.) home would be signed Mollie So-and-so, or Bettie Such-a-one.
" Philadelphia, Dec. 17, 1847. My daughter Dolly had two or three correspon- " Dear Sir, dents at Mrs. Knowall's great school, (Skimsurface “Never having had the advantages of a classAcademy :) one was Pattie Bunch, another was ical education, I always endeavor to pick up what Sallie Grigg, and a third was Bettie Johnson. All information I can respecting ancient authors from their lives, at home, they had been Martha, Sarah translations and reviews. In this I have been freand Betsey. Their letters were full of other quently aided by your most excellent publication. names, disguised like their own. Presently they You will, therefore, I am sure, excuse the liberty began to direct to “Miss Dollie Dumpling.” As which I now take with you in regard to an article soon as I and my old man saw that, we told her which appeared in your last number. You therethat if we ever caught her signing her name so, or in state that Sir William Jones' fine ode, beginning if she did not write back to her friends and make • What Constitutes a State ? is imitated from them quit such foolery about her, she should not • Alcman,' and that the Hymn, in honor of Harwrite to them, or take their letters out of the post-modius and Aristogiton, is the production of " Cal. office; and that she should be called either Doro-limachus.' Now, in looking into the volume of thy or Dull, and sign her name so too. The girl the ancient poets of Greece and Rome, lately pabo had shewn some fondness for the new-fangled folly. lished in this city, I see those poems ascribed, the Not long before I had found our black maid, Sukey, first to · Alcæus," and the latter to Callistratus." carrying a note directed in my daughter's hand, to As I have no means myself of determining which “ Miss Beckie Jones"-by Sukie.”
of the above statements is the correct one, and as Sometime ago, an opposite affectation was all the authorities on both sides are thought by many the rage. Then, it was, to make names as fine as persons to be nearly equal, will you have the kind. possible. Nothing would do but some name end- ness to afford me, (as well as some others of your ing in ina- Angelina, Seraphina, Celestina, and so readers here,) further information and evidence on on; which they called Angeleena, Serapheena, the subject ? and Celesteena. Then our Dolly caught the pre- Trusting that you will pardon this trouble, vailing fever, and was always writing her own I am, Dear Sir, with greatest respect, name Dorothea, and getting her acquaintance to
Yours, do the like. We put a stop to this, also, by threat
A CONSTANT READER. ening to let her be called nothing but plain Doll, unless she would be content with Dolly, or Dor- In answer to our gentlemanly questioner, whose othy.
modesty and deference, we suspect, veil much I am told, sir, that the girls got the present non- more learning than he claims credit for,—we have sense from Scotch books, in which old English to say, names that end in y are tortured into ending with 1. " That our only authority for ascribing the oriie. I like some of those books as much as any ginal of Sir William Jones' ode to Alcman, is its body. Dolly and son Sam have read me a good being quoted as Alcman's in one among a volume deal from a Mr. Burns and a Mr. Scott, that pleas-'of letters, written from London, by William Austin,