Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > Antiquaries > Browne’s letters
  Christian Morals Thomas Fuller  


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

X. Antiquaries.

§ 9. Browne’s letters.

A few words may, perhaps, be added about his letters. It should surely not surprise anyone, though it has actually seemed to surprise some of the very elect, that the style of these is in the greatest apparent contrast to that of the printed works. About Browne, there was no pose whatever. When he appeared in public, he showed respect to himself, and to the public at the same time, by assuming the garments of ceremony. He did not “talk book” to his children and his friends. His letters to his son Tom, of whose actual end, as has been said, we do not know anything, though it was certainly premature, are delightfully easy, full of matter, not in any way derogating from the fatherly character, but, while maintaining this, still the letters of friend to friend. To Edward, they are the same, with an additional touch of the colleague—the fellow-experimenter and student. With his learned acquaintances he is a little more formal, though not much, and, naturally, less playful. But, throughout, he shows how entirely equal he was to either function of prose composition; and that, if he had lived in the next generation and had been disposed rather to adopt the “middle,” than the sublime, style of that composition, he could have been little less skilful at it than Addison or Steele. It is fortunate that he did not so live for, as it is, we have both them and him. But the correspondence is a special warning not to limit our classifications too rashly; and, especially, not to think that a great bender of the bow must always bend it.   22

  Christian Morals Thomas Fuller  
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