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or striking. His page, like the earth after the deluge, appears to teem with a new creation. He seems frequently, too, to labour with thoughts too big for utterance, and which, in bursting into birth, expand his French into sublimity. Consequently, perhaps, there is everywhere in Montaigne a charm which most persons who read him find irresistible. He possesses, moreover, the art—if art it be—of investing whatever he touches with a sort of summer dress, green and refreshing, and of pouring over all a warm and bright sunshine, the most enviable, and least imitable gift of style.

Something, no doubt, of all this may be attributed to the circumstances under which he wrote his Essays. Living independently, like a petty prince, in his castle, having, ere he retired thither, shaken hands with all the vulgar objects of ambition, in order to be the more at leisure to clothe his pregnant thoughts with fitting language, he felt calm and self-satisfied, and pursued his studies with a more cheerful alacrity than accompanies the huntsman over the dawn-lit heather. Being perfectly at ease, he could play with his ideas, as he did with his cat, till they became so tame and familiar, so frisky and frolicsome, so full of antics and devilry, that to observe the method of their movements might have relaxed the hatchet-face of a Trappist into a smile. Nature, of course, furnished the basis of all this buoyancy and lightsomeness-but fortune likewise concurred-and the result has been a more than holiday pleasantry,

delightful as drinking Tokay, or sailing on the Bay of Naples.

But Sir Thomas Browne, though consciously or unconsciously he has borrowed much from Montaigne, -who, in that matter, it must be owned, set him the example, cannot, however, be said to have imbibed any great share of his vivacity. He is, on the contrary, as grave as if his father had been a sexton. In fact he tells us himself that he was born under Saturn, and had in him "a piece of that leaden planet." It was not, therefore, to be expected, though he ate expressly ad hoc, abundance of frogs and snails, during his southern travels, and relished them too, that he should be able entirely to shake the lead out of his pericranium; an achievement which a learned judge on the bench once declared to be beyond his prowess.

To speak seriously, Browne's animal spirits appear to have been sluggish, his passions weak, and his temper and disposition anything but social. He loved accordingly to wrap himself in silence— to brood alone over odd subjects-to perform, for his own private recreation, all the antics of dialectics -to tie and unite the knots of syllogisms-so that, in this species of legerdemain, he almost rivalled in skill and accomplishments that renowned personage who

66 ――

A rope of sand could twist
As tough as learned Sorbonist."

But all this was effected in sober sadness. He inherited, or acquired, the most entire command over

his risible muscles, and perhaps thought it a sin, or something very near it, to laugh. There is a smell of mouldering bones, a hue of corpses, in all his ideas. He attempted to solve the enigma of nature, the mystery of life and death, and failing, was filled with gloom. He approached, on tip-toe, the brink of creation, and peering over its battlements upon

"The vast and formless infinite,"

the view, which found him sad, rendered him still sadder.

But it does not follow that all this sombreness led to positive infelicity. There are persons in the world who find asafoetida a perfume; there are others to whom darkness, charnel-houses, coffins, death, administer pleasure; and Browne appears, at times, to have been one of these. His gloom had no acrimony, no misanthropy in it; though he now and then desires us to imagine the contrary. His digestive organs were in good order, and he had pleasant dreams; which one may predicate with still greater confidence of Homer, who would never have applied so many laudatory and endearing epithets to sleep, had not that half-brother of Death used the old rhapsodist kindly. "Let me not injure the felicity of others," says Sir Tho"if I say I am as happy as any-‘ruat cœlum, fiat voluntas tua,' salveth all; so that whatever happens, it is but what our daily prayers desire. In brief, I am ontent, and what should Providence add more? Surely this is it we call happiness,

mas,

and this do I enjoy, with this I am happy in a dream."

I am in some doubt, however, whether this anxious yearning after the shadow of happiness afforded by sleep, should not be considered as an indication that the contentment of which he boasts above, was scarcely fast anchored in his habits. He professes, indeed, to have been "as content to enjoy happiness in a fancy, as others in more apparent truth and reality;" but this implies a contrast between his own condition and theirs. And again, "there is surely a nearer apprehension of anything that delights us in our dreams, than in our waked senses; without this I were unhappy; for my awaked judgment discontents me, ever whispering unto me that I am from my friend; but my friendly dreams in night requite me, and make me think I am within his arms. I thank God for my happy dreams, as I do for my good rest."

But crotchets like these are usually the solace of minds ill at ease-of lovers divided from those they love-of parents, whose adored and lost ones sleep restores, and places once more on their knee -of the poor and persecuted by fortune, who, in their dreams, soar to that independence, which, waking, they perhaps shall never know. Our great poet, bereaved of a beloved wife, opens with Sleep's golden keys the dusky chambers of Persephone, and brings her back for a moment to light:—

"Methought I saw my late espoused saint

Brought to me, like Alcestis from the grave,
Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,

Rescued from death by force, though pale and faint. }
Mine, as whom washed from spot of child-bed taint
Purification in the old law did save

And such, as yet I trust once more to have
Full sight of her in heaven without restraint,
Came, vested all in white, pure as her mind:

Her face was veiled, yet to my fancied sight
Love, sweetness, goodness in her person shined
So clear, as in no face with more delight.
But, oh! as to embrace me she inclined,

I waked, she fled, and day brought back my night!"

But the idea is common among the poets. Campbell describes the imagination of the weary soldier, slumbering on the battle-field, hurrying homeward to the beloved friends and appy scenes of his youth, which, peradventure, were " to know him no more for ever;" and in a far different strain the vinous old Teian holds sharp remonstrance with the swallow, whose early twittering had deprived him of the company of his friend Bathyllus :

Τί μευ καλῶν ὀνείρων,
Ὑποθρίαισι φῶναις,
̓Αφήρπασας Βάθυλλον ;

which is exactly in the spirit of our dream-smitten physician, who, sad and solitary by day, obtains some compensation from Death's half-brother, and imagines himself within his friend's arms.

From what has already been said, it will be evident that we are not to look for that genial warmth in the Religio Medici which is so characteristic of our old friend Montaigne. The very same ideas, which appear so sharp, and glossy, and

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