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judged.—$ 3. Avoid dogmatism ; let well-weighed considera-
It seems advisable first to give some account of each of the works contained in this volume, and next to explain what has been attempted in this edition.
A.-1. The history of the Religio Medici is not a little curious. It was written about 1635,' while the Author was living at Shipden Hall, near Halifax, after his return from his travels on the Continent, and before he finally settled at Norwich. He tells us that it was not intended for publication, but was “composed at leisurable hours for his private exercise and satisfaction ; ” and that after the MS. had been lent to his friends, and " by transcription successively corrupted," it was printed without his knowledge or consent, and without his name attached to it, in 1642 (p. 4). There seems to be no reason to doubt the truth of this statement, though Johnson is evidently inclined to disbelieve it, or at least to consider Browne's case (if true) to be a remarkable exception to the general rule with respect to surreptitious editions. Though it was published anonymously, the little book seems to have attracted so much attention that it was reprinted in the course of a few months; and thus Browne was in a manner compelled to issue “a full and intended copy,” which appeared (still anonymously) in the following year. In the meantime the work in its uncorrected form had been brought to the notice of Sir Kenelm Digby, who in the course of twentyfour hours (part of which time was spent in procuring a copy of the book,) wrote some Observations," which were immediately sent to the press,? notwithstanding Browne's remonstrance and suggestion that the writer should at least wait for the appearance of the authorized edition.
1 See Notes on p. 66, 1. 4: 115, 22.
Though the work was considerably altered before it was ready for the public,3 it was carelessly printed, and indeed it would almost seem as if the Author, when he
i The chief reason for his scepticism is the fact that a long treatise, how. ever elegant, is not often copied by mere zeal or curiosity” (p. xii. ed. Bohn); but in Browne's case Johnson was not aware that at least five MS. copies of the Religio Medici were in existence; viz. one in the Bodleian Library (MSS. Rawl. Miscell. 162), another (imperfect) in the British Museum (MSS. Lansdowne, 489), and three in private collections.-(Gardiner's Preface, p. vi. note.)
2 Digby's letter to the Earl of Dorset was written in December, and in the following March the report of his intended publication reached Browne at Norwich.
3 It is curious to notice that in several passages the unau: horized editions are directly contradicted by the corrected one; viz. p. 14. 1. 4: 22. 8: 39. 14: 89. 22: 114. 23.
had once given it to the world in an authentic form, took no
more interest in the subject," little anticipating that it was to be his chief title to literary immortality.?
It was very soon translated into Latin, by which means it was brought to the notice of scholars on the Continent, and was afterwards translated into several European languages. Upon the whole it was well received, but was by some persons much misunderstood, and gave occasion to great and most undeserved misrepresentation of the author's religious opinions. After the first authorized edition it was reprinted at least eight times during the author's life. Most of these editions profess to be corrected and amended," but this appears to be probably in every case, except. 1678 (K) and 1682 (L), a mere form of words without any distinct meaning, as some of the
1 He did not even take the trouble to see that the “Errata,” which had been specially noticed on a separate leaf, were corrected in subsequent editions, so that some of them remained in the text as late as 1835, when Wilkin laments that they had not been brought to his notice in time to allow of his using them for the correction of his own text. (See Errata to vol. iii.) On the other hand, the last two editions published during his life have four short additions which could hardly have been introduced into the text without his authority. (See p. 54. 1. 7:56. 27: 94. 3 : 123. 30.)
2 He never put his name to the book, and in one of his Common Place Books written late in life he speaks of it slightingly, as “a piece of mine, published long ago ” (vol. iii. p. 354. 1. 29, ed. Bohn).
3 See Wilkin's Preface to Rel. Med. The following Note (which deserves preservation on account of its monstrous ignorance and absurdity) was copied by the present Editor from one of the copies in the National Library at Paris: “Th. Brown, un des plus déclaréz ennemis de toute Religion, et que l'Univers. d'Oxford avoit autrefois chassé pour ses débauches, avant sa mort écrit une lettre pleine de sentimens de pénitence : elle est imprimée dans un Recueil postume de ses dialogues.” The Note was said to have been written by Clément, formerly Garde de la Bibl. du Roi, who died 1700-1710.