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The Queen of Hungary was still inflexible, and hoped that fortune would at last change. She recruited once more her army, and prepared to invade the territories of Brandenburg; but the King of Prussia's activity prevented all her designs. One part of his forces seized Leipsic, and the other once more defeated the Saxons; the King of Poland fled from his dominions, Prince Charles retired into Bohemia. The King of Prussia entered Dresden as a conqueror, exacted very severe contributions from the whole country, and the Austrians and Saxons were at last compelled to receive from him such a peace as he would grant. He imposed no severe conditions except the payment of the contributions, made no new claim of dominions, and, with the Elector Palatine, acknowledged the Duke of Tuscany for emperor.
The lives of princes, like the histories of nations, have their periods. We shall here suspend our narrative of the King of Prussia, who was now at the height of human greatness, giving laws to his enemies, and courted by all the powers of Europe.
Though the writer of the following "Essays seems to have had the fortune, common among men of letters, of raising little curiosity after his private life, and has, therefore, few memorials preserved of his felicities and misfortunes; yet, because an edition of a posthumous work appears imperfect and neglected, without some account of the author, it was thought necessary to attempt the gratification of that curiosity which naturally inquires by what peculiarities of nature or fortune eminent men have been distinguished, how uncommon attainments have been gained, and what influence learning had on its possessors, or virtue on its teachers.
SIR THoMAS BROWNE was born at London, in the parish of St. Michael in Cheapside, on the 19th of October, 1605 f. His father was a merchant, of an ancient family at Upton in Cheshire. Of the name or family of his mother I find no account.
Of his childhood or youth there is little known, except that he lost his father very early ; that he was, according to the common f fate of orphans, defrauded by one of his guardians; and that he was placed for his education at the school of Winchester.
* “Christian Morals," first printed in 1756. H.
t Life of Sir Thomas Browne, prefixed to the Antiquities of Norwich.
! Whitefoot's character of Sir Thomas Browne, in a marginal note.
His mother, having taken “three thousand pounds as the third part of her husband's property, left her son, by consequence, six thousand, a large fortune for a man destined to learning at that time, when commerce had not yet filled the nation with nominal riches. But it happened to him, as to many others, to be made poorer by opulence; for his mother soon married Sir Thomas Dutton, probably by the inducement of her fortune; and he was left to the rapacity of his guardian, deprived now of both his parents, and therefore helpless and unprotected.
He was removed in the beginning of the year 1623 from Winchester to Oxford #, and entered a gentleman-commoner of Broadgate-Hall, which was soon afterwards endowed, and took the name of Pembroke-college, from the Earl of Pembroke, then chancellor of the University. He was admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Arts, January 31, 1626-7; being, as Wood remarks, the first man of eminence graduated from the new college, to which the zeal or gratitude of those that love it most can wish little better than that it may long proceed as it began.
Having afterwards taken his degree of Master of Arts, he turned his studies to physicki, and practised it for some time in Oxfordshire; but soon afterwards, either induced by curiosity, or invited by promises, he quitted his settlement, and accompanied his fatherin-law, who had some employment in Ireland, in a visitation of the forts and castles, which the state of Ireland then made necessary.
* Life of Sir Thomas Browne. f Wood's Athenae Oxonienses. : Wood. § Life of Sir Thomas Browne.
He that has once prevailed on himself to break his connections of acquaintance, and begin a wandering life, very easily continues it. Ireland had, at that time, very little to offer to the observation of a man of letters: he, therefore, passed * into France and Italy; made some stay at Montpellier and Padua, which were then the celebrated schools of physick; and returning home through Holland, procured himself to be created doctor of physick at Leyden.
When he began his travels, or when he concluded them, there is no certain account; nor do there remain any observations made by him in his passage through those countries which he visited. To consider, therefore, what pleasure or instruction might have been received from the remarks of a man so curious and diligent, would be voluntarily to indulge a painful reflection, and load the imagination with a wish, which, while it is formed, is known to be vain. It is, however, to be lamented, that those who are most capable of improving mankind, very frequently neglect to communicate their knowledge; either because it is more pleasing to gather ideas than to impart them, or because, to minds naturally great, few things appear of so much importance as to deserve the notice of the publick.
About the year 1634 it, he is supposed to have returned to London; and the next year to have written his celebrated treatise, called Religio Medici, “The religion of a physiciani,” which he declares himself never to have intended for the press, having composed it only for his own exercise and entertainment. It, indeed, contains many passages, which, relating merely to his own person, can be of no great importance to the publick: but when it was written, it happened to him as to others, he was too much pleased with his performance, not to think that it might please others as much; he, therefore, communicated it to his friends, and receiving, I suppose, that exuberant applause with which every man repays the grant of perusing a manuscript, he was not very diligent to obstruct his own praise by recalling his papers, but suffered them to wander from hand to hand, till at last, without his own consent, they were in 1642 given to a printer. This has, perhaps, sometimes befallen others; and this, I am willing to believe, did really happen to Dr. Browne: but there is surely some reason to doubt the truth of the complaint so frequently made of surreptitious editions. A song, or an epigram, may be easily printed without the author's knowledge; because it may be learned when it is repeated, or may be written out with very little trouble; but a long treatise, however elegant, is not often copied by mere zeal or curiosity, but may be worn out in passing from hand to hand, before it is multiplied by a transcript. It is easy to convey an imperfect book, by a distant hand, to the press, and plead the circulation of a false copy as an excuse for publishing the true, or to correct what is found faulty or offensive, and charge the errors on the transcriber's depravations. This is a stratagem, by which an author, panting for fame, and yet afraid of seeming to challenge it, may at once gratify his vanity, and preserve the ap
* Life of Sir Thomas Browne. t Biographia Britannica. : Letter to Sir Kenelm Digby, prefixed to the Religio Medici, fol. edit.