Talk:Thomas Browne

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Untitled[edit]

Welcome aboard! Feel free to add at will to the Thomas Browne and Hydriotaphia, Urn Burial articles, and to start new ones for his works that are still in the red. I took the liberty of making it so that your links would show up as linkable. -- IHCOYC 20:13 May 6, 2003 (UTC)

Why is the word 'curious' invariably, along with 'quaint' applied to Sir T.B.'s learning ? It is both Hermetic AND early inductive method of scientific enquiry based learning which Browne represents. Nothing curious there at all, just a clash of ancient and modern. Norwikian

From one point of view, just about anything that has to do with Hermeticism probably qualifies as "curious", if not "quaint." A lot of it has to do with contemporary reactions to the relics of scholastic reasoning from ancient authority that you do find in Browne. But when you move into discussions of gryphons, phoenixes, and unicorns, this sort of material would seem to me to qualify by most people's definitions. IHCOYC 03:46 30 May 2003 (UTC)

Many thanks IHCOYC for adding links to my article, by the way Browne published 2 Discourses in 1658 which have a close and intimate relationship to each other. To discuss them without reference to each other, as was the trend of the Victorians is completely erroneous. They were written as mirrors to each a fact which was not fully acknowledged until 1962 by Professor Huntley, just take a look at the polarities they contain in theme, imagery and symbolism . If you are interested in my interpretation check out the paper I delivered at the University of East Anglia last year at www.levity.alchemy. sir_thomas_browne

What Browne attempts to do in Pseudodoxia is to dispel popular 'vulgar errors' that Unicorns, Gryphons etc. etc. exist, in no way does he endorse their existence but attempts to prove by REASON and EXPERIENCE that these creatures DO NOT EXIST. As a pencilled remark in a book on Browne in Austin Uni. Texas states 'Jesus H.Christ can't anyone write about Browne without using this word!'(quaint)13:47 May 31 Norwikian

Hi IHCOYC ! I took out the duplication of the word 'curious'. I think I've read elsewhere the phrase 'curious learning and melancholia'. Actually Sir T.B. is a much a humourist, if you read him than melancholic yet another 19th c. received information perception which i am battling to eliminateNorwikian 20:38, 7 Oct 2003 (UTC)



This assessment was recently removed. It has been reinstated, as it is a sensible mainstream remark: Browne was a consummate literary craftsman who produced writings varied in genre which display his Christian faith, humanity and tolerance in an often intolerant age. Wetman 12:30, 24 Jan 2004 (UTC)

His important, if ambigious, place in intellectual history has been described as- An instance of scientific reason, lit up by mysticism, in the Church of England. Who is being quoted here? -FZ 16:29, 26 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I've done some edits: mostly, the erasure of things that were unnecessary or incorrect. I have changed the sentence that spoke of his "deep Christian faith." Scholars have become more and more aware of the ambiguous nature--the mix of skepticism and faith--in Browne's works, esp. his later ones. I'm more than willing to talk over any of my edits. -User: Hydrotaphia 17:32, 29 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Well it would most certainly help if you had a user page for a start. Actually as one of the foremost scholars in the past eight years on Browne i can assure you that Christianity was the bed-rock of Browne's mind-set, if anything he becomes more skeptical of scientfic acheivement and devouter in old age, why else would he bother penning his last work as the rather wooden, moralistic essay 'Christian Morals'? Please point me in the direction of any writings which claim otherwise. B's skepticism is only evident in Religio and Pseudo ,by the 1650's and 1660's however he's pretty hung-up on Millenarrium expectations, also the thorny subject of the influence of alchemy upon his philosophy is worth investigating. I believe that literary criticism HAS moved on since Dr. Johnson who lit. crits agree was heavily influenced by B's style. I've written nothing incorrect, suggest you look at my essay (link at page bottom) Yes Sir T.B. is rather difficult to understand upon first encounter and a complete and thorough reading of his works is needed several times to grasp the complexity of his thought (best not to rely upon others interpretations. I've not written anything on 'A letter to a friend' yet, perhaps you'd like to have a go at it ? Finally, are you intending to correct B's spelling with your user handle of Hydrotaphia ? I know of a work entitled Hydriotaphia, or was that just an oversight on your behalf ? Anyway thanks for some useful pointers just that i don't agree with much of your editing doesn't mean we can't have a good discussion here on this page about what and why we disagree ! I am always interested to hear what people make of this subtle thinker off their own bat, there are some dreadful derogatory lit. crits out there ! Can't quite fathom the point of why B. attracts so much hostility, surely it is better to speak positively of his acheivements, but i guess those who are difficult to read will always be a victim of received information All the best, email if you wish I'm looking for people to help celebrate the Quattrocentennary in 2005 in Norwich, interested ? Norwikian 12:21, 3 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Hi, Norwikian. Thanks for your response. My username is, I must admit, terribly embarrassing: it's nothing more than a typographical error. (Do you know whether one can change one's username, by the way?) By skepticism I wasn't referring to the Montaigne-like passages of the Religio or the Baconian tendencies in Pseudodoxia Epidemica. I was referring to Browne's masterpiece: Hydriotaphia and The Garden of Cyrus. Let me first deal with Christian Morals, however. I had thought--and please correct me if I'm wrong--that, because it was published posthumously, we can't be sure exactly when Browne wrote it. (At any rate, there's also the question of the purpose to which Browne wrote CM, and how that purpose would affect the content; but that I'll leave for a later conversation.) I don't think I would agree with you that literary criticism has "moved on" since Johnson, since criticism (like the arts, as Hazlitt would say) is not progressive. But if, as I think, your criticism of Johnson is that he was reading Browne by his own 18th-century lights--then, yes, I completely agree with you. But as a way of informing the Wikipedian reader of how the reception of Browne has changed over the past few centuries, don't you think the Johnson quote is at least somewhat useful? When I referred to Browne's skepticism, I was thinking of several things about Hydriotaphia and The Garden of Cyrus: (1) Skepticism as reflected in the very syntax of B's writing. (2) The echoes of Ecclesiastes throughout Hydriotaphia, but esp. in Chapter V. (3) The strange hints of doubt even in The Garden of Cyrus--e.g., the very last (sublime) sentence: "Or have slumbring thoughts at that time, when sleep it self must end, and as some conjecture all shall awake again?" I have always thought most of the academic criticism of Browne pretty badly done, I must admit. Much of it baptizes him in the healing waters of Christian humanism, without looking too closely at his words--which is strange, considering that much of this kind of criticism was written at the height of the New Criticism! One of the few really memorable books that deal with Browne--and this one only tangentially--is Robert Watson's book, "The Rest is Silence." There are probably only 5 pages there devoted to Browne, but they're good pages--more than I can say for much of the mid-century criticism of Browne. At any rate, let's continue this conversation. I'll try to set up a user page (as an electronic illiterate, I'm still trying to get used to Wikipedia). Also, let me emphasize that I reverence T.B.--and so, I can tell, do you. So, whatever else we may disagree on, we at least agree on that. And that, of course, is the most important thing. Again, thanks for your response. Hydrotaphia 17:58, 4 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Great to read your reply ! You are obviously an intelligent and articulate person as evident from your reply. Yes there is a large field left for modern lit. crit. of Browne, my main arguement being that Hermeticism influenced B. greatly and that alchemical thought and imagery pervades the pages of Urn/Garden. Whilst Urn IS highly skeptical ( the word conjecture being frequently employed) Cyrus is full of certainities ( the word discern being frequent) only at the very ultimate para's does doubt once more creep in as night, darkness and doubt creep into the tired doctor's thoughts. Christian Morals was probably written in 1670's, a direct result of having had his daughters read loud to him mountains of sermons, as an attempt to write a moralistic essay himself.. To set up your user page just write Hydriotaphia as your handle, click on it and page will open, i'm fairly computer illiterate too but the wiki gives you the opportunity to improve one's skills. Once you've got your user page set up i will be only too happy to discuss whatever about Sir T.B. who remains one of English literature's greatest undiscovered secrets, an influence on many, read by v. few these days, but as Virginia Woolf stated in 1923 'But why fly in the face of facts ? Few people love the writings of Sir THomas Browne but those that do are the salt of the earth'.Norwikian 10:17, 6 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Frank L. Huntley's point that "conjecture" is the central word of Hydriotaphia while "discern" is the central word of Garden of Cyrus has always seemed dubious to me (see the quote from Garden above). The two aren't as dichotomous as is sometimes argued, I think. At any rate, my user page is now set up, so let's definitely continue this conversation there. Thanks! Hydrotaphia 16:21, 10 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Images[edit]

these are images of Thomas Browne's marble (plaque on the wall) in IInd chamber of Winchester College. I am not sure if they are interesting enough to put in the main article - could someone please advise

2nd chamber, showing Thomas Browne's marble in the centre of the view
Thomas Browne's marble - text says "THOMAS BROWNE miles, medicus religiosus scholaris admissus 1616"

Gingekerr 22:16, 3 Feb 2005 (UTC)

POV, grammar[edit]

User:Hydrotaphias edit was valid, the sentence is POV and does not credit the origin of the POV and the Dr Johnson line is amngled snetence. GraemeLeggett 11:47, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

GraemeLeggett explained the reason behind my edit quite well. The sentence was ungrammatical and mangled, and while I quite agree with the point of view expressed—as you may gather from my name—it was still very much one point of view only. It should either be eliminated—as I shall do now, having expressed my reasons here—or should be attributed to a critic or identifiable group of critics. Hydriotaphia 15:43, 31 January 2006 (UTC)

It's OK with me, now that you explained it. Cheers, Ghirla | talk 09:49, 1 February 2006 (UTC)

Merge from Sir Thomas Browne on America[edit]

I was cleaning up the orphan article list and came across Sir Thomas Browne on America; its practically an orphan, is not well formatted, and is only linked to this article in a see also. If Browne's observations on America are interesting, wouldn't it be better to locate them as a section in this article? Thatcher131 01:32, 19 May 2006 (UTC)

It seems quite long to be added wholesale. Could it not be shortened? Joshua Mostafa (talk) 05:17, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

Seperation from above subject to prejudice[edit]

'It was his citation of a parallel case in Denmark that seemed to confirm the guilt of the accused, in the minds of the Jury.[2] . Two women were found guilty and executed for the crime of witchcraft, and the record of this trial was used by the magistrates at the Salem witch trials to prove the acceptability in court of spectral evidence. Discuss further the logic of this statement and its continued received prejudice. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 82.21.145.118 (talk) 14:15, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

What prejudice - obviously you received some so please do let me know. Me I came across three (3) records that he attended the trial and his input was such that it was worthy of note in both the witch trial and his entry to wikipedia. Please do input referenced statements that he did not attend the trial or make a link to a trial in Denmark. Edmund Patrick ( confer work) 18:21, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

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Can we say more on Browne's experiments on static electricity and magnetism[edit]

Pseudodoxia Epidemica says the 2nd book includes Browne's experiments with static electricity and magnetism. What did he do ? anything new ?, and what was the significance of his experiments ? Does he deserve to be called an English scientist ? - Rod57 (talk) 15:30, 1 December 2015 (UTC)

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