« Browne, Robert Browne, Sir Thomas Brownists »

Browne, Sir Thomas

BROWNE, SIR THOMAS: Author of the Religio Medici; b. in Cheapside, London, Oct. 19, 1605; d. at Norwich Oct. 19, 1682. He attended Winchester College and Broadgate Hall (Pembroke College), Oxford (B.A., 1626; M.A., 1629); studied medicine and practised in Oxfordshire; traveled in Ireland, France, and Italy, continued his medical studies at Montpellier and Padua, and received his degree of doctor of medicine at Leyden about 1633; settled at Norwich in 1637, where he gained much repute as a physician and still more as a man of universal knowledge. The Religio Medici was probably written about 1635 and not intended for publication; two unauthorized editions appeared in 1642, which led to an edition with the author's approval, but anonymous, in 1643. The work is peculiar from its blending of deep religious feeling and skeptical views. "It appears to have been composed as a tour de force of intellectual agility, an attempt to combine daring skepticism with implicit faith in revelation." The style is metaphorical and artificial, with many Latinized words, but striking and impressive. Browne also published: Pseudodoxia Epidemica, or Enquiries into very Many Received Tenets and commonly Presumed Truths, which Examined prove but Vulgar and Common Errors (London, 1646); Hydriotaphia or Urnburial and The Garden of Cyrus (1658); many of his manuscripts were published posthumously. The best edition of his complete works is by Simon Wilkin (4 vols., London, 1835–36; reprinted, abridged, by Bohn, 3 vols., 1851–52). The Religio Medici, with A Letter to a Friend upon Occasion of the Death of his Intimate Friend (first published 1690) and Christian Morals (1716), and the Hydriotaphia and Garden of Cyrus, have been carefully edited by W. A. Greenhill (London, 1881 and 1896); and the Religio Medici is ed. with introduction by C. H. Herford (New York, 1907).

Bibliography: A rather extended sketch of Browne's life and writings is given in DNB, vii. 64–72, where the literature and list of works is given at some length. Consult also E. Gosse, in English Men of Letters, London, 1905.

« Browne, Robert Browne, Sir Thomas Brownists »
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