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rupted; yet able to outlast bones long unborn, and noblest pyle among us.1
We present not these as any strange sight or spectacle unknown to your eyes, who have beheld the best of Urnes and noblest variety of Ashes; Who are yourself no slender master of Antiquities, and can daily command the view of so many Imperiall faces; Which raiseth your thoughts unto old things, and consideration of times before you, when even living men were Antiquities; when the living might exceed the dead, and to depart this world, could not be properly said, to go unto the greater number. And so run up your thoughts upon the ancient of dayes, the Antiquaries truest object, unto whom the eldest parcels are young, and earth itself an Infant; and without Ægyptiano account makes but small noise in thousands.
We were hinted by the occasion, not catched the opportunity to write of old things, or intrude upon the Antiquary. We are coldly drawn unto discourses of Antiquities, who have scarce time before us to comprehend new things, or make out learned Novelties. But seeing they arose as they lay, almost in silence among us, at least in short account suddenly passed over ; we were very unwilling they should die again, and be buried twice among us.
Beside, to preserve the living, and make the dead to live, to keep men out of their Urnes, and discourse of humane fragments in them, is not impertinent unto our profession; whose study is life and death, who daily behold examples of mortality, and of all men least need artificial mementos, or coffins by our bedside, to minde us of our graves.
'Tis time to observe Occurrences, and let nothing remarkable escape us ; The Supinity of elder dayes hath left so much in silence, or time hath so martyred
1 Worthily possessed by that true Gentleman, Sir Horatia Townshend, my honored Friend.
3 Abiit ad plures.
the Records, that the most industrious headsi do find no easie work to erect a new Britannia.
'Tis opportune to look back upon old times, and contemplate our Forefathers. Great examples grow thin, and to be fetched from the passed world. Simplicity flies away, and iniquity comes at long strides upon us. We have enough to do to make up ourselves from present and passed times, and the whole stage of things scarce serveth for our instruction. A compleat peece of vertue must be made from the Centos of all ages, as all the beauties of Greece could make but one handsome Venus.
When the bones of King Arthur were digged up,2 the old Race might think, they beheld therein some Originals of themselves; Unto these of our Urnes none here can pretend relation, and can only behold the Reliques of those persons who in their life giving the Laws unto their predecessors, after long obscurity, now lye at their mercies. But, remembring the early civility they brought upon these Countreys, and forgetting long passed mischiefs; We mercifully preserve their bones, and pisse not upon their ashes.
In the offer of these Antiquities we drive not at ancient Families, so long out-lasted by them; We are farre from erecting your worth upon the pillars of your Fore-fathers, whose merits you illustrate. We honour your old Virtues, conformable unto times before you, which are the Noblest Armoury. And, having long experience of your friendly conversation, void of empty Formality, full of freedome, constant and Generous Honesty. I look upon you as a Gemme of the Old Rock, 8 and must professe myself even to .. Urne and Ashes, Your ever faithful Friend and Servant,
THOMAS BROWNE. Norwich, May 1. 1 Wherein Mr. Dugdale hath excellently well endeavoured, and worthy to be countenanced by ingenuous and noble persons.
In the time of Henry the second.-Camden. * Adamas de rupe veteri præstantissimus,
CHAPTER I In the deep discovery of the Subterranean world, a shallow part would satisfie some enquirers; who, if two or three yards were open about the surface, would not care to rake the bowels of Potosi," and regions towards the Centre. Nature hath furnished one part of the Earth, and man another. The treasures of time lie high, in Urnes, Coynes, and Monuments, scarce below the roots of some vegetables. Time bath endlesse rarities, and shows of all varieties; which reveals old things in heaven, makes new discoveries in earth, and even earth itself a discovery. That great Antiquity America lay buried for a thousand years; and a large part of the earth is still in the Urne unto us.
Though if Adam were made out of an extract of the Earth, all parts might challenge a restitution, yet few have returned their bones farre lower then they might receive them; not affecting the graves of Giants, under hilly and heavy coverings, but content with lesse than their owne depth, have wished their bones might lie soft, and the earth be light upon them; Even such as hope to rise again, would not be content with centrall interrment, or so desperately to place their reliques as to lie beyond discovery, and in no way to be seen again ; which happy contrivance hath made communication with our forefathers, and left unto our view some parts, which they never beheld themselves.
Though earth hath engrossed the name yet water hath proved the smartest grave; which in forty dayes swallowed almost mankinde, and the living creation; Fishes not wholly escaping, except the Salt Ocean
The rich Mountain of Peru.
were handsomely contempered by a mixture of the fresh Element. »
Many have taken voluminous pains to determine the state of the soul upon disunion; but men have been most phantasticail in the singular contrivances of their corporall dissolution : whilst the sobrest Nations have rested in two wayes, of simple inhumation and burning.
That carnall interment or burying was of the elder date, the old examples of Abraham and the Patriarchs are sufficient to illustrate; And were without competition, if it could be made out, that Adam was buried near Damascus, or Mount Calvary, according to some Tradition. God himself, that buried but one, was pleased to make choice of this way, collectible from Scripture-expression, and the hot contest between Satan and the Arch-Angel, about discovering the body of Moses. But the practice of Burning was also of great Antiquity, and of no slender extent. For (not to derive the same from Hercules) noble descriptions there are hereof in the Grecian Funerals of Homer, in the formall Obsequies of Patroclus, and Achilles ; and somewhat elder in the Theban warre, and solemn combustion of Meneceus, and Archemorus, contemporary unto Jair the Eighth Judge of Israel. Confirmable also among the Trojans, from the Funerall Pyre of Hector, burnt before the gates of Troy, And the burning of Penthesilea,1 the Amazonean Queen : and long continuance of that practice, in the inward Countries of Asia ; while as low as the Reign of Julian, we find that the King of Chioniaburnt the body of his Son, and interred the ashes in a silver Urne.
The same practice extended also farre West,3 and besides Herulians, Getes, and Thracians, was in use with most of the Celta, Sarmatians, Germans, Gauls, Danes, iQ. Calaber, lib. i.
2 Ğumbrates king of Chionia a Countrey near Persia.Ammianus Marcellinus.
3 Arnold. Montan, not, in Cæs. Commentar. L. L. Gyraldus Kirkmannus.
Swedes, Norwegians ; not to omit some use thereof among Carthaginians and Americans : Of greater Antiquity among the Romans then most opinion, or Pliny seems to allow. For (beside the old Table Laws of burning or burying within the City,l of making the Funerall fire with plained wood, or quenching the fire with wine.) Manlius the Consul burnt the body of his Son: Numa by special clause of his Will, was not burnt but buried; and Remus was solemnly buried, according to the description of Ovid.2
Cornelius Sylla was not the first whose body was burned in Rome, but of the Cornelian family; which, being indifferently, not frequently used before; from that time spread, and became the prevalent practice. Not totally pursued in the highest runne of Cremation; For when even Crows were funerally burnt, Poppaa the wife of Nero found a peculiar grave enterment. Now as all customes were founded upon some bottome of Reason, so there wanted not grounds for this; according to severall apprehensions of the most rationall dissolution. Some being of the opinion of Thales, that water was the originall of all things, thought it most equall to submit unto the principle of putrefaction, and conclude in a moist relentment. Others conceived it most natural to end in fire, as due unto the master principle in the composition, according to the doctrine of Heraclitus. And therefore heaped up large piles, more actively to waft them toward that Element, whereby they also declined a visible degeneration into worms, and left a lasting parcell of their composition.
Some apprehended a purifying virtue in fire, refining the grosser commixture, and firing out the Æthereall particles so deeply immersed in it. And such as by tradition or rationall conjecture held any hint of the
1 12 Tabul. part i. de jure sacro. Hominem mortuum in urbe ne sepelito, neve urito, tom. 2. Rogum asciâ ne polito, to. 4. Item vigeneri Annotat. in Livium, et Alex ab Alex cum Tira. quello. Roscinus cum dempstero. * 2 Ultimo prolato subdita flamma rogo. De Fast. lib. iv. cum Car. Neapol. Anaptyxi.