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ter as in " The Spanish Friar," to the end of the chapter. The merit of this happy conception—for happy it has been pronounced by the general voice of critics, from one generation to another—we are at a loss to imagine; though we are very far from being of the faction, who would hunt down tragi-comedy as a monster, to which criticism should give no quarter: on the contrary, we are disposed to think that it is the only species of the drama, which is calculated to afford a just description of human life. There—all is not gloom—nor all sunshine—pleasant smiling vallies peep forth amidst utter desolation, the dreariest waste, and the most inaccessible rocks neighbour a fertile soil, as the ripe and blushing strawberry frequently pillows itself on a bed of snow, by the side of which it often grows on the lofty mountains of Switzerland. All is unequal, all diversified. The smile and the tear are for ever chasing each other on the face of man. The hero of the court may be the hero of the tavern, and the armed warrior who kills his thousands, may scare pacific passengers in the streets in his drunken frolics. In this light, Shakespear saw man, and his tragi-comedy is merely the history of human life.
Of the comedies of Dryden we have said nothing, and all we shall say is this, that they are forced and exaggerated exhibitions of an attempt at comic wit, wrung from a brain which being ill adapted for a successful effort, took refuge in obscenity, and was fain to season its dulness with coarse and indecent allusions. In reckoning up the number of plays from which we have extracted passages, and those which we havenot mentioned, we cannot but lament, that Dryden should have dribbled away his genius in so large a number of successless attempts. Had nis talent been concentrated in the production of two or three, or even half a dozen, after his judgment had been matured, and his taste purified from the defilement of the age, we might perhaps have numbered so many more among the noblest monuments of English genius; but diffused as it is over five times that number, it was hardly enough to instil into one or two, a spirit that should suffice to preserve them from the corruptions of time. Their unnatural, tawdry, and sometimes disgusting forms, sleep like neglected lumber, in the corner of that temple, where we place the immortal works of the admired masters of the preceding age, and he who would drag them forth, wipe off the accumulated dust of centuries, and set them up, each on his pedestal, would produce an effect as strange and incongruous, as though he had introduced the grotesque and savage abortions of Otaheite among the divinely inspired forms of ancient genius. Without intending any such dishonour to the illustrious group of our dramatic writers, we have adventured
an examination of this heap of lumber, for the benefit of less daring or curious investigators; and when we have, in the course of our survey, chanced to espy a limb of more exquisite proportion than common, or a feature of more than ordinary beauty, in selecting these relics of his genius into a group, we conceive we have been doing a kinder office to his memory, than were we to make a portentous exhibition of the whole of his forgotten dramas.
Art. X. A MS. Volume of Sir Thomas Browne's Letters to
We are not satisfied with the published works of a great writer; we like to see him face to face, and to examine the more minute lineaments of his mental physiognomy. We are desirous of beholding him in the midst of his family, that we may observe his temper and disposition, and the circumstances which ruffle the former, or the little kindnesses and attentions displayed in the latter. It is not enough to hear a set speech; we must also hear his familiar conversation. When w^ contemplate him in his guarded moments, we are apt to think him too much above us, and are glad to find him, on a nearer approach, a little more upon our own level. The manuscript letters of Sir Thomas Browne we thought must be interesting—we expected to be made acquainted with a few more of the singularities of his extraordinary mind—we promised ourselves, indeed, great discoveries, and we set to work to read his letters with eagerness. Our eagerness, however, met with some check—we did not get on quite so rapidly as we expected—we found that before we could engage in the pleasant occupation of selection, we must exercise our patience in deciphering the most difficult and singular handwriting we have ever met with, even in old MSS. To this task we applied ourselves, and succeeded in partially decyphering, amongst others, the letters which succeed; in which our readers will discover something of the kind of speculation in which Sir Thomas Browne delighted. It is pleasant to see the terms of equality on which the father corresponded with his son, and the affection which he shows for him. The letters we have extracted, we think, possess sufficient interest to warrant us in making them public; and if, in the progress of our investigation, we find others which are of sufficient importance to be also published, they will be given in our subsequent numbers. Some parts of the letters which did not appear in the least remarkable, and related only to trifling
circuniptaijc.es whigh happen to eyery one, we have taken thejiberty to omit, and have inclosed the unintelligible words in brackets.
"Oct. 15, \6Q0. D. S.
I am glad to hear you are all in health this sickly time ***** I am also glad that Mr. John 's daughter is recovered, who is a good young gentlewoman, and very deare unto her parents; when you see them remember me unto them. 1 think you are in the right when you say that physitians coaches in London are more for state than for business, there being so many wayes whereby they may be assisted at lesser charge and care in London. The Thames and hackney coaches being no small help, besides the great number of coaches kept by private gentlemen in and about London. When I read
G s Travells in America many yeares ago, I was much surprized to
finde there twentie thousand coaches in Mexico—perhaps there may be in London halfe that number. When Queene Elizabeth came to Norwich, J 578, she came on horsebacke from Ipswich, by the high road to Norwich, in the summer time, but she had a coach or two in her trayne. She rid through Norwich unto the Bishop's palace, where she stayed a week, and went sometimes a hunting on horseback, and up to Musfold Hill often, to see wrestling and shooting. When I was a youthe many persons travelled with three horses, but now there'is a new face of things. * * *
God bless you all.
¥. D. F.
• • . D. S. * * * *
I am glad you have put an end to that laboure, though I am not sorry that you undertook it.—We are glad to understand by my daughter Browne's letter, that my daughter-in-law is delivered of a sonne—the blessing of God bee upon you both, and send health— The vessel of cider sent you from Guernzey was waik, it came not put of Normandy, but from Guernzey, though it was not of my sonne and daughter's making—they might have made much,' there tyeing plentie of apples, butt they made butt 2 or 3 hoggesheads for their own use.—Your sister tells me that they have plentie of large oysters like [ ] oysters about Guernzey, and alt ho we [rocky]
they have 1 understand acquired a peculiar waye of disposing and selling of them, that they are not decayed before they bee eaten— they bring them in their hands into vessels that may containe a vast quantitie, and when they come to a competent distance from land they ancher and cast all the oysters overboard into the sea, and when the tide goes away and the ground bare, the people come to buy them, and the owners stand on drye ground and sell them— and when the tide comes in the buyers retire, and come again at the next ebbe and buye, and so every ebbe until all sould: so the oysters are kept securely and well tasted, being so often under the salt seawater—and if they load a vessel of a [large size] full they might sell them while they were good, being thus ordered, although it should take some time to sell them all.—This seems a good contrivance, and such as I have not heard of in England. * * *
Y. D. P.
Dr. Edward Browne.
. .• > . "July 14.
You have done very well to obtayne the manuscript or book, which you mention you had from my Lord of A 's househow you came to ktiovve of it, or obtayne the use of it, 1 know not; but I believe you might if you would putt forward, obtayne such a favor of my Lord himself, who when he was at Norwich asked for you. Hee was at Montpelier about the time when you were there. Now yon have the booke by you, it will be fitt to make the best use you canne of it—for perhaps it must be returned unto the French ambassadour, or if hee [ ], unto my Lord; 'tis like he will expect it agayne from you in a short time, therefore bestowe most of your vacant time about it—transcribe all you can out of it, and drawe out the most material cutts yourself, by [tracing] or otherwise, which you can do weli enough—for I would not have it out of your hands, and I do not desire that Moreland should have any thing to do with it—hee will drawe out of it for himself and his owne use, so all will who take notice of it. Nor would I have you to showe it to any, or very fewe, and such as are not like to make use thereof. B——— (as I sent you word) hath lately published anatomical observations upon many animals, and probably of many in this booke. Transcribe what you can out of it, and sett downe the names of the animals, and the singular and peculiar observations upon any. The cutts being so, [large] 'tis probable there are not many.
* * *
if you did not keep the skull of the Dolphin you cutt up I will, God willing, send you one—tis likely the cutts are not of common animals at least not altogether, butt of such strange animals as have been brought to Paris or some of the King's houses.—When you see the Elephant, observe whether hee bendeth his knees before and behind, inward, different from other quadrupeds as [ ] observeth, and whether his belly bee the softest and smoothest part the [ ] are not exterior and outward but inwardly inflected as Aristotle sayth—Perhaps the booke hath the dissection of the Camell—it were tjood to observe of what that bunch in the back consisteth, whether the back bone or spine riseth up into it or it be a lump of flesh on the spine * * * I thought good to mention these hints—my hedgehog being putt into my yard hee got away with 2 young ones but I look to find them agayne.
# * *
Edward Browne. God bless you all. v D F
I received yours and cannot but comend you for taking notice of the comet, and for giving so [good] a description—how you found it, and for having drawne a figure thereof—it was the first account of it that came to Norwich, though some report there was, that it had been seen, and therefore your description in what manner you saw it was the more welcome, and [ ] the bookseller would
needs write it out that you might gratifie his friends and customers
with your account thereof. T 's letters mention it; but to little
or no purpose, or any information. We have had somewhat cloudy and foggy evenings, so that we heard no more of it, and this day was clear and frostie, and the sunne silvery bright, but we could Hot get [a sight of] it was so inistie before this night, while I am writing, which is betwe/en seven and eight o'clock. I never saw a larger and [longer] tayle of a comet 3ince 1618, when I was at schoole. I believe it will be much observed and discussed, and accounts given bf it by the learned, and observed beyond sea.