« 上一頁繼續 »
TO MY WORTHY AND HONOURED FRIEND, THOMAS LE GROS, OF CROSTWICK, ESQUIRE
When the Funerall pyre was out, and the last valediction over, men took a lasting adieu of their interred Friends, little expecting the curiosity of future ages should comment upon their ashes, and, having no old experience of the duration of their Reliques, held no opinion of such after-considerations.
But who knows the fate of his bones, or how often he is to be buried ? who hath the Oracle of his ashes, or whither they are to be scattered? The Reliques of many lie like the ruines of Pompeys,l in all parts of the earth; And when they arrive at your hands, these may seem to have wandred far, who in a directa and Meridian Travel, have but few miles of known Earth between yourself and the Pole.
That the bones of Theseus should be seen again in Athens was not beyond conjecture, and hopeful expectation ; but that these should arise so opportunely to serve your self, was an hit of fate and honour beyond prediction
We cannot but wish these Urnes might have the effect of Theatrical vessels, and great Hippodrome Urnes4 in Rome ; to resound the acclamations and honour due unto you.
But these are sad and sepulchral Pitchers, which have no joyful voices ; silently expressing old mortality, the ruines of forgotten times, and can only speak with life, how long in this corruptible frame, some parts may be uncor
1 Pompeios juvenes Asia, atque Europa, sed ipsum terrâ tegit Libyos. 2 Little directly, but Sea between your house and Greenland. 3 Brought back by Cimon Plutarch.
4 The great Urnes in the Hippodrome at Rome conceived to resound the voices of people at their shows.
rupted; yet able to outlast bones long unborn, and noblest pyle among us.
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 Ægyptian3 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 Horatio Townshend, my honored Friend.
2 Abiit ad plures.
The Epistle Dedicatory 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, 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, 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.
2 In the time of Henry the second.--Camden. 3 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 hath 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 bath proved the smartest grave; which in forty dayes swallowed almost mankinde, and the living creation; Fishes not wholly escaping, except the Salt Ocean
1 The rich Mountain of Peru.