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jects of little importance. It seems to have been in all ages the pride of wit, to shew how it could exalt the low, and amplify the little. To speak not inadequately of things really and naturally great, is a task not only difficult but disagreeable because the writer is degraded in his own eyes by standing in comparison with his subject, to which he can hope to add nothing from his imagination: but it is a perpetual triumph of fancy to expand a scanty theme, to raise glittering ideas from obscure properties, and to produce to the world an object of wonder to which nature had contributed little. To this ambition, perhaps, we owe the frogs.of Horner, the gnat and the bees of Virgil, the butterfly of Spenser, the shadow of Wowerus, and the quincunx of Browne.
In the prosecution of this sport of fancy, he considers every production of art and nature in which he could find any decussation or approaches to the form of a quincunx; and as a man once resolved upon ideal discoveries seldom fearches long in vain, he finds his favourite figure in almost every thing, whether natural or invented, ancient or modern, rude or artificial, facred and civil, so that a reader, not watchful against the power of his infusions, would imagine that decussation was the great business of the world, and that nature and art had no other purpose than to exemplify and imitate a quincunx.
To fhew the excellence of this 'figure he 'enumerates all its properties; and finds in it almost every thing of use or plca[ure: and to shew how readily he fupplies what he cannot find, one instance may be sufficient : “ though therein (says hc) we meet not with “ right angles, yet every rhombus containing four
“ angles equal unto two right, it virtually contains “ two right in every one."
The fanciful sports of great minds are never without some advantage to knowledge. Browne has interfperfed many curious observations on the form of plants, and the laws of vegetation ; and appears to have been a very accurate observer of the modes of germination, and to have watched with great nicety the evolution of the parts of plants from their seminal principles.
He is then naturally led to treat of the number Five; and finds, that by this number many things are circumscribed; that there are five kinds of vegetable productions, five sections of a cone, five orders of architecture, and five acts of a play. And observ. ing that five was the ancient conjugal, or wedding number, he proceeds to a speculation which I shall give in his own words; “ the ancient numerists made “ out the conjugal number by two and three, the “ first parity and imparity, the active and passive
digits, the material and formal principles in gene66 rative societies."
These are all the tracts which he published. But many papers were found in his closet : " fome of “ them, (says Whitefoot,) designed for the press,
were often transcribed and corrected by his own “ hand, after the fashion of great and curious « writers."
Of these, · two collections have been , published; one by Dr. Tennison, the other in 1722 by a namelefs editor. Whether the one or the other selected those pieces which the author quld have preferred, cannot be known: but they ha e both the merit of giving to mankind what was too valuable to be suppressed ; and what might, without their interpofition, have perhaps perished among other innumerable labours of learned men, or have been burnt in a scarcity of fuel like the papers of Peirecius.
The first of these pofthumous treatises contains Observations upon several plants mentioned in Scripture : these remarks, though they do not immediately either rectify the faith, or refine the morals of the reader, yet are by no means to be censured as fuperfluous niceties, or useless speculations ; for they often shew fome propriety of description, or elegance of allusion, utterly undiscoverable to readers not skilled in Oriental botany; and are often of more important use, as they remove some difficulty from narratives, or some obscurity from precepts.
The next is, of garlands, or coronary and garland plants ; a subject merely of learned curiosity, without any other end than the pleasure of reflecting on ancient customs, or on the industry with which studious men have endeavoured to recover them.
The next is a letter, On the fishes eaten by our Saviour with his Disciples, after his resurrection from the dead; which contains no determinate resolution of the question, what they were, for indeed it cannot be determined. All the information that diligence or learning could supply consists in an enumeration of the fishes produced in the waters of Judea.
Then follow, Answers to certain queries about fishes, birds, and insects ; and A letter of horks and falconry ancient and modern : in the firit of which he gives the proper interpretation of somé ancient names of animals, commonly mistaken; and in the other has some curious observations on the art of hawkins, which he
considers as a practice unknown to the ancients. I believe all our sports of the field are of Gothick original; the ancients neither hunted by the scent, nor feemed much to have practised horsemanship as an exercise ; and though in their works, there is mention of aucupium and piscatio, they seem no more to have been considered as diversions, than agriculture or any other manual labour.
In two more letters he speaks of the cymbals of the Hebrews, but without any satisfactory determination and of ropalic or gradual verses, that is, of verses beginning with a word of one fyllable, and proceeding by words of which each has a syllable more than the former; as,
“ O deus, æternæ ftationis conciliator." AUSONIUS and after this manner pursuing the hint, he mentions many other restrained methods of versifying, to which industrious ignorance has sometimes voluntarily sub
His next attempt is, On languages, and particularly the Saxon tongue. He discourses with great learning and generally with great justness, of the derivation and changes of languages; but, like other men of multifarious learning, he receives some notions with out examination. Thus he observes, according to the popular opinion, that the Spaniards have retained so much Latin, as to be able to compose sen. tences that shall be at once grammatically Latin and Castilian: this will appear very unlikely to a man that considers the Spanish terminations; and Howel, who was eminently skilful in the three provincial lan. guages, declares, that after many essays he never could effect it.
The principal design of this letter is to shew the affinity between the modern English and the ancient Saxon ; and he obferves, very rightly, that “ though
we have borrowed many substantives, adjectives, « and fome verbs, from the French; yet the great
body of numerals, auxiliary verbs, articles, pronouns, adverbs, conjunctions, and prepositions, which are the distinguishing and lasting parts of a language, remain with us from the Saxon.”
To prove this position more evidently, he has drawn up a short discourse of fix paragraphs, in Saxon and English ; of which every word is the same in both languages, excepting the terminations and orthography. The words are, indeed, Saxon, but the phraseology is English ; and, I think, would not have been understood by Bede or Elfric, notwithstanding the confidence of our author. He has, however, fufficiently proved his position, that the English re. fembles its parental language more than any modern European dialect.
There remain five tracts of this collection yet unmentioned ; one, Of artificial hills, mounts, or bare rows, in England; in reply to an interrogatory letter of E. D. whom the writers of the Biographia Britannica suppose to be, if rightly printed, W. D. or fir William Dugdale, one of Browne's correspondents. These are declared by Browne, in concurrence, I think, with all other antiquaries, to be for the most part funeral monuments. He proves, that both the Dánes and Saxons buried their men of eminence under piles of earth, “ which admitting “ (says he) neither ornament, epitaph, nor inscriper tion, may, if earthquakes spare them, outlast Vol. XII.