Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > Antiquaries > Christian Morals
  A Letter to a Friend Browne’s letters  


The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

X. Antiquaries.

§ 8. Christian Morals.

Of such reflections and precepts, Christian Morals is entirely composed; and these ingredients, no doubt, have accounted for a recent tendency to depreciate them, the later nineteenth and earlier twentieth centuries being, as is well known, in no need of religious and ethical instruction. But readers who are not merely of, or for, their own age, may, perhaps, still find profit and pleasure in the treatise. Its most remarkable characteristic, from the strictly literary point of view, is an exaggeration of Browne’s habit of Latinising (“Upon a curricle in this world depends a long course in the next”; “Trust not too much unto suggestions from the reminiscential amulets”), while there is a certain deficiency of his finer cadences and more harmonious rhetoric. Yet, these last traits appear not unfrequently in such splendid phrases as “Acquaint thyself with the Chroagium of the Stars,” “Behold thyself by inward opticks and the Crystalline of thy Soul.” And, if a more ungenerous interpretation may assign both exaggeration and deficiency to failing powers, it is no irrational charity to prefer the hypothesis of a simple want of revision and “making up.” At any rate, the tractate is no unworthy evensong to a day’s work of hardly surpassed quality.   21

  A Letter to a Friend Browne’s letters  
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