There is an adventurer who discovers more that is truly surprising, than the one who penetrates jungles, crosses deserts, and keeps the company of caravans; for all ‘Africa, and her prodigies' cannot have an effect on the placid, unplumbed nature, other than to store up images in his mind; but the true and successful introvert, who sits with his fishing-pole on the edge of a stream and plunges in imagination through the ripples of water into the depths of himself, who walks in silence like the beasts and simultaneously wanders the labyrinths of his soul, who sits in corners when others are gay and is moved to passion when others are dull, because he attends only to movements within him,—this man is the true adventurer. He discovers, not continents, but motives, and if he should journey to Ultima Thule and back, he does not achieve wealth, honor and renown, which any man can possess, but a more perfect self-knowledge, which few desire. If he journeys to escape what is unpleasant in others, he discovers at the end the same in himself. If he journeys for love of himself, he discovers at the end, that love of such a creature is perversion. And the man who completes the journey and confronts his truest nature is faced with this choice: whether to completely remodel himself, and scourge out what is false, or to whirl constantly through all the ineffective methods of forgetfulness. Sir Thomas Browne is that prodigy of literature, whose prose, unsurpassed in manner or meaning by English writers, does not stem from an unhappy childhood, lost love, physical weakness, unshared vision, or enforced solitude. It stems, in fact, from the inward journey I have just described. Some time around 1630 he provisioned his vessel, weighed anchor, and embarked in the vessel of his first book Religio Medici .
[...] And he is not much use to others who has never considered himself. To those who complete the inward journey, and do not, in the words of Dr. Johnson, who are capable of improving mankind; very frequently neglect to communicate their knowledge . these we may award the title, as to Sir Thomas, of the truest benefactors, by example, of mankind. Works Cited: Browne, Sir Thomas: The Works of Sir Thomas Browne, ed. Geoffrey Keynes, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [...]
[...] http://www.projectgutenburg.com, 2000) Gosse, Edmund: Sir Thomas Browne, from English Men of Letters series, (London: Macmillan & Co. 1905) Bibliography Descarte, Rene: Meditationes de Prima Philosophia (1641; and its 2nd ed., with Objectiones Septimae, 1642; Six Metaphysical Meditations; Wherein It Is Proved That There Is a God, 1680) Browne, Sir Thomas: (1. Urne-Buriall, or, A Discourse of the Sepulchrall Urnes lately found in Norfolk (1658) (2. A Letter to a Friend, Upon occasion of the Death of his Intimate Friend (posthumous 1690) Pascal, Blaise: Pensées de M. [...]
[...] So Thomas Browne concluded in his twenty-fifth year, to the applause of his contemporaries and posterity. But Browne, in revealing this conclusion, discusses a multitude of other matters, and states plainly and eloquently his view on many of the future subjects of his prose. Once again, this indicates the introspective origin of his reflections, truly reflections in every meaning of the word: Religio, in the manner of a person's private meditation, is like a beam of light bouncing in a box of mirrors—it remains in the box, and strikes that container's gleaming interior again and again, but always in a different place, at a different angle. [...]
[...] vessel, weighed anchor, and embarked in the vessel of his first book Religio Medici. carry within us the wonders, we seeke without us . he wrote in Religio, are that bold and adventurous piece of nature, which he that studies wisely learns in a compendium, what others labour at in a divided piece and endless volume.” While this is a doubtful generalization for mankind, it is undoubtedly true for Sir Thomas; and it is a credit to him that he found it so, when others with more reason for daring introspection pass it by. [...]
[...] Before summarizing his views on the subject of faith and reason, it is important to my argument to note, that Sir Thomas did not write this book—or any other for that matter—for the public which embraced it. In the preface to the first authorized edition (which was, unfortunately for Browne, also the second) he wrote, italics mine, “This I confesse, about seven yeares past, with some others of affinitie thereto, for my private exercise and satisfaction, I had at leisurable hours composed He was not writing a treatise on the subject to gain him honor in the scholarly or literary community; he was not pushing a doctrine on the public; he was deciding for himself whether he could remain a Christian and a university graduate. [...]
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