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Holland, where, at Leyden, he took the degree of doctor of physic.
Returning to England about 1634; he settled, two years after, at Norwich; and the year following, 1637, was incorporated doctor of physic at Oxford. On account of his great reputation as a physician, he was subsequently made honorary fellow of the royal college of physicians in London. He was knighted in 1671, by Charles the Second, in his progress through Norwich, with singular marks of consideration; and died in 1689.
1. The first of his productions was the Religio Medici, or, The Religion of a Physician, written in 1635. This piece, having been communicated to various persons, became much corrupted by transcription, and in this state was surreptitiously printed, which induced the author to publish a correct copy of it from the original. It is divided into two parts; thie first containing liis confession of faith, all his curious religious opinions and feelings; the second a confession of his charity, i. e. all his human feelings.
I shall select a specimen or two from each.
On the Wisdom of God.
His (God's] actions are not begot with deliberation, his wisdom naturally knows what is best; his intellect stands ready fraught with the superlative and purest ideas of goodness; consultation and election, which are two motions in us, make but one in him, his actions springing from his power, at the first touch of his will. These are contemplations metaphysical ; my humble speculations have another method, and are content to trace and discover those expressions he hath left in his creatures, and the obvious effects of nature; ihere is no danger to profound these mysteries, no “ sanctum sanctorum" in philosophy. The world was made to be inhabited by beasts, but studied and contemplated by man: it is the debt of our reason we owe unto God, and the homage we pay for not being beasts; without this, the world is still as though it had not been, or as it was before the sixth day, when as yet there was not a creature that could conceive, or say there was a world. The wisdom of God receives small honour from those vulgar heads that rudely stare about, and 'with a gross rustieity admire his works. Those highly magnify him, whose judicious enquiry into his acts, and deliberate research into his creatures, re
rn the duty of a devout and learned ram tion.
The second part contains various passages, which elucidate the author's very curious, yet estimable character; and on that account will probably be the most generally interesting.
I thank God, amongst those millions of vices I do inherit and hold from Adam, I have escaped one, and that a mortal enemy to charity, the first and father sin, not only of man, but of the devil-pride ; a vice, whose jame is comprehended in a monoa syllable, but in its nature not circumscribed by a world. I have escaped it in a condition that can hardly avoid it. Those petty acquisitions and reputed perfections that advance and elevate the conceits of other men, add no feathers unto mine. I have seen a grammarian tour and plume himself over à single line in Horace, and shew more pride in the construction of one ode, than the author in the composure of the whole book. For my own part, besides the jargon and patois of several provinces, I understand no less than six languages; yet I protest I have no higher conceit of myself than had our fathers bear fore the confusion of Babel, when there was but one language in the world, and none to boast himself either linguist or critic. I have not only seen several countries, beheld the nature of their climes, the chorography of their provinces, topography of their
cities, but understood their several laws, customs, and policies; yet cannot all this persuade the dulness of my spirit unto such an opinion of myself as I behold in nimbler and conceited heads, that never looked a degree beyond their nests. I know the names, and somewhat more, of all the constellations in my horizon, yet I have seen a prating mariner that could only name the pointers and the north star, outtalk me, and conceit himself a whole sphere above
I know most of the plants of my country, and of those about me; yet methinks I do not know so many as when I did but know a handred, and had scarcely ever simpled further than Cheapside: for indeed, heads of capacity, and such as are not full with a handful, or easy measure of knowledge, think they know nothing till they know all; which being impossible, they fall upon the opinion of Socrates, and only know they know not any thing.
His opinion of the commerce between the sexes, for its oddity, is worth extracting.
I was never yet once, and commend their resolutions, who never marry twice. Not that I disallow of second marriage; as neither in all cases of polygamy, which considering some times, and the unequal number of both sexes, may be also necessary.
"The whole world was made for man, but the twelfth part of man for woman.
Man is the whole world, and the breath of God; woman the rib, and crooked piece of man. I could be content that we might procreate, like trees, without conjunction, or that there were any way to perpetuate the world without this trivial and vulgar way of coition; it is the foolishest act a wise man commits in all his life, nor is there any thing that will more deject his cooled imagination, when he shall consider what an odd and unworthy piece of folly he hath committed. I speak not in prejudice, nor am averse from that sweet sex, but naturally amorous of all that is beautiful. I can look a whole day with delight upon a handsome picture, though it be but of a horse. It is my temper, and I like it the better, to affect all harmony; and sure there is music even in the beauty, and the silent note which Cupid strikes, far sweeter than the sound of an instrument.
Now for my life, it is a miracle of thirty years, which to relate were not a history, but a piece of poetry, and would sound to common ears like a fable. For the world, I count it not an inn, but an hospital; and a place not to live, but to die in. The world