Saturday, 28 April 2007
Robin George Collingwood (February 22, 1889 – January 9, 1943) was a British philosopher and historian. He was the son of W. G. Collingwood. Collingwood was born at Cartmel Fell in Lancashire, and educated at Rugby School and the University of Oxford.
Collingwood was a latter day idealist (though he disliked the label), a Waynflete Professor of Metaphysical Philosophy at the University of Oxford. He was the only pupil of F. J. Haverfield to survive World War I. Important influences were the Italian Idealists of the time, Croce, Gentile and de Ruggiero, the last of whom in particular was a close friend as well. Other important influences were Kant, Vico, F. H. Bradley, J. A. Smith, and Ruskin, who was a mentor to his father W. G. Collingwood, professor of fine arts at Reading University, also an important influence.
Collingwood is most famous for The Idea of History, a work collated soon after his death from various sources by his pupil, T. M. Knox. The book came to be a major inspiration for postwar philosophy of history in the English-speaking world. It is extensively cited in works on historiography, leading one commentator to ironically remark that Collingwood is coming to be "the best known neglected thinker of our time".
Collingwood held that historical understanding occurs when an Historian undergoes the very same thought processes as did the historical personage whom he or she is studying and that in some sense, "recollection" of past thought by an Historian is the very same "thinking" as that of the historical personage. This doctrine, presented in the section of "The Idea of History" entitled "History as the Recollection of Past Experience" invites examination of the act/object distinction for thought. That is, Collingwood considered whether two different people can have the same thought qua act of thinking and not just qua content, writing that "there is no tenable theory of personal identity" preventing such a doctrine.
In aesthetics, Collingwood held that any artwork is essentially an expression of emotion. His principal contribution is The Principles of Art. In arguing for the expression theory he followed Croce. He portrayed art as a necessary function of the human mind, and considered it collaborative, i.e., a collective and social activity. In politics Collingwood was a liberal (in a British, centrist sense), ready to defend an over-idealised image of nineteenth-century liberal practice.
Collingwood was a serious historian and archaeologist of Roman Britain, a leading authority on the subject. In Oxford he refused to specialize in either of the two areas of philosophy or history, taking an honours degree in both areas. His philosophy of history was completely integrated as part of his actual historical work, and his classic "Roman Britain" is very instructive when read as an example of his philosophy of history.
Thursday, 26 April 2007
From the introduction 1970 edition John Michell
… “some four years ago there stood revealed the original sighting pegs used by the earliest track makers in marking out their travel ways.” The revelation took place when Watkins was 65 years old. Riding across the hills near Bredwardine in his native country, he pulled up his horse to look out over the landscape below. At that moment he became aware of a network of lines standing out like glowing wires all over the surface of the country, intersecting at the sites of churches, old stones and other spots of traditional sanctity. The vision is not recorded in The Old Straight Track, but throughout his life Watkins privately maintained that he had perceived in a single flash and, for all his subsequent study, he added nothing to his conviction, save only the realisation of the particular significance of beacon hills as terminal points in the alignments.
Some notes on how to look for leys.
Evidence to work on:
1. what the earth reveals – earth works, mounds, dykes, stones etc
2. place-names and words
3. folk-lore, legends
What to look for
1. ancient mounds, whether called tumulus, tump, barrow, cairn, or other name.
2. ancient unworked stones – not those marked “boundary stone.”
3. moats, and islands in ponds or lakelets.
4. traditional or holy wells
5. beacon points
6. cross roads with place-names, ancient wayside crosses, zig-zags in roads possibly indicate a crossing of leys
7. churches of ancient foundation, and hermitages
8. ancient castles and old “castle” place-names
The alignment across miles of country of a great number of objects, sites of objects of prehistoric antiquity. Ignoring the modern roads, tracks etc that can change from century to century …
What to do
Ideally Alfred recommends two drawing boards (with a map for each and so covering more ground). A method of securing each map to the board, an adjustable T square to enable the angle of the ley to be transferred from one map to the next, a transparent circular protractor for taking orientations, and a box of glass-headed (?) pins used by photographers. A sighting or prismatic compass for fieldwork used in conjunction with the movable head of the square are invaluable aids.
Pin down the map square on the drawing board with the T-square passing through identical degree marks on the edges, latitude for leys running east and west, but longitude for leys north and south. The edges of the maps are not truly in line with the degree lines, and must not be the guide.
With a compass mark a small circle around the “points” on the map, stick pins into the centre of each point and place a straight edge against this and move to see if three other ringed points (or two and an existing straight road or track) can be found to align. If so, rule a pencil line (provisionally) through the points. You may then find on that line fragments here and there of ancient roads and footpaths; also bits of modern roads conforming toit. Extend the line into adjoining maps, and you may find new sighting pits on it, and it will usually terminate at both ends in a natural hill or mountain peak.
When you find a good ley on the map, go over it in the field, and fragments and traces of the trackways may be found, always in straight lines, once seen recognised with greater eases in future.
Make a rule to work on sighting points and not tempting as it sometimes is, to take a straight bit of road or track as evidence. Such a straight strtch should be treated as a suggestion for a trial. If supported by three or four points, it becomes corroborative evidence. Three points alone do not prove a ley, four being the minimum. But three point evidence - or one point and straight road – might find support in an adjoining map. Where close detail is required as required as in villages and towns, the one-inch scale is far too small, and the six-inch scale is necessary. The angle of the ley is transferred to it from the one-inch map with the aid of the movable head square. If you travel along the actual sighting line you may find fragments of the road showing as a straight trench in untilled land, although these are few and far between, as the plough obliterates it all. The line usually crosses a river at a known ford or ferry. Remember that if evidence were plentiful and easy to find the ley system would have been discovered long ago, that ancient tracks and roads ( and most barrows and mark stones) have disappeared whenever the plough touches, and that bits to be found are few and far between.
In map work certain characterises constantly occur. The ley seeks out ancient camps, and often borders them or passes through a mound in the earthwork. It is impracticable to ring camps as they are not points (ring the mounds). A bit of a zig-zag in a road is almost invariably at the point where an ancient track crossed “at the zig”. Keep your eyes open when cycling or motoring on a bit of straight road for any hill pint or mound, church or castle on a bank which is not only straight in fornt, but keeps fixed in the same position as your travel; for such an observation almost certainly leads to the discovery of a ley through the point on the road.
A genuine ley hits the cross-roads or road junctions as if by magic. And it treats them as points, because mark stones once (if not now) existed at them, for it seldom lies on the present roads which cross there. Where two or three field paths converge at a pint, such a point is often on a ley for such points and cross track points remain unchanged down the ages when the tracks have perhaps all changed in psotition. It is almost laughable to find where a ley cross roads
Monday, 23 April 2007
Friday, 13 April 2007
Peirce's Quincuncial Projection
While working at the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, the American philosopher (actually polymath) Charles Sanders Peirce disclosed his projection in 1879, having been inspired by H.A. Schwarz's 1869 conformal transformation of a circle onto a polygon of n sides. In the normal aspect, Peirce's projection presents the northern hemisphere in a square; the other hemisphere is split into four triangles symmetrically surrounding the first one, akin to star-like projections. In effect, the whole map is a square, inspiring Peirce to call his projection quincuncial, after the arrangement of five items in a cross.
About the man:
Charles Sanders Peirce (pronounced purse), (September 10, 1839 – April 19, 1914) was an American polymath, physicist, and philosopher, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Although Peirce was educated as a chemist and was employed as a scientist for 30 years, it is for his contributions to logic, mathematics, philosophy, and the theory of signs, or semiotics, that he is largely appreciated today. The philosopher Paul Weiss, writing in the Dictionary of American Biography for 1934, called Peirce "the most original and versatile of American philosophers and America's greatest logician" (Brent, 1).
Peirce was largely ignored during his lifetime, and the secondary literature was scant until after World War II. Much of his huge output is still unpublished. Although he wrote mostly in English, he published some popular articles in French as well. An innovator in fields such as mathematics, research methodology, the philosophy of science, epistemology, and metaphysics, he considered himself a logician first and foremost. While he made major contributions to formal logic, "logic" for him encompassed much of what is now called the philosophy of science and epistemology. He, in turn, saw logic as a branch of semiotics, of which he is a founder. In 1886, he saw that logical operations could be carried out by electrical switching circuits, an idea used decades later to produce digital computers.
Debut album from Texan singer-songwriter, produced by The Earlies released September 2004
Born in the southern US town of Memphis, Tennessee, on the day that President Ronald Reagan was shot in an assassination attempt, Micah (pronounced my-kah) Paul Hinson was raised in a Christian fundamentalist household. As a teenager, Hinson and his family moved to Abilene, Texas, where he became a member of the local music scene. It is here, where Micah first met his then muse a Vogue cover model and widow of a notable local rock star. Introduced to her, and in turn Valium and other narcotics, it was not long before Micahs muse turned into the Black Widow as he now refers to her, and he hit a horrible twist of events. In the Spring of 2000, he was caught forging prescriptions and was sent to county jail I ended up losing my car, my home, all my money, my instruments and recording equipment, and basically my entire family.
At the age of 19, Micah found himself homeless and penniless, wandering from pillar to post, sleeping on friends floors. He was eventually forced to declare himself bankrupt and moved into a motel and acquired a mundane telemarketing job. During this period, Micah still managed to write around 30 songs on borrowed instruments and equipment.
In the winter of 2003, with help from his old friends from Texas, The Earlies, Micah revisited these songs from his lost period to record his debut album, Micah P. Hinson and the Gospel of Progress. As producers and arrangers of the record (under their Names On Records guise), The Earlies trademark of lush strings, beautiful keyboards and eerie backdrops harmonise perfectly with Micahs honest and exposed style (be sure to check out the lap steel, accordion and piano interplay on Beneath the Rose and the Jack Nietzsche-esque jangling psychedelic soul of At Last, Our Promises).
Some collaborations are simply destined for greatness. However, the record never loses sight of Micahs own unique voice his twisted, dark tales of love and loss are matched only by a cracked vocal and songwriting that belies his mere 22 years. Drawing inspiration from his young, yet eventful life, Micah has managed to create a truly timeless sounding record. With the simplest of bittersweet lyrics, he evokes the strongest of emotions.
Edith OEnone Somerville and Martin Ross (aka Edith's cousin Violet Florence Martin)
...Literature, particularly Irish literature, at the turn of the century, took on a new voice. Authors began to make political statements regarding the class system and society. Edith Oenone Somerville and Martin Ross (a pseudonym), were leaders of this literary movement in Ireland, and leaders for women in society.
Edith Oenone Somerville was born on the island of Corfu, off the Greek coast, on May 2, 1858. She was a child of the Somerville family of Castletownshend, "a lovely southwest Cork seacoast village dominated by four or five Anglo-Irish Big House families and their extensive social life,"(Charlotte, xiii.). One of her siblings, her brother, Admiral Boyle Townshend Somerville, was an accomplished sailor, as well as an author of many books himself.
Edith's cousin, Violet Florence Martin, was born on June 11, 1862, at Ross House in County Galway. In 1889, Violet adopts the pseudonym of Martin Ross, which "was not used exclusively for authorship" (Charlotte, xiii.). Edith and Martin (Violet will be referred to as Martin from this point), originally met on January 17, 1886 at Castletownshend, fourteen years after Martin and her mother moved to Dublin from Galway. The move came after Martin's "father died and her brother, on succeeding to the estate, closed their Big House and moved to London, leaving his mother and younger siblings," to fend for themselves in tough times (Charlotte, xii). This change in fortune, however, affected both Edith and Martin.
When the two young women met, they began a lifelong journey of culture, society and, of course literature. They fit together perfectly in their first work, The Buddh Dictionary, a dictionary of terms created throughout the years by their family. As Edith Somerville describes it:
"Our respective stars then collided, struck sympathetic sparks. We...discovered in one another a comfortable agreement of outlook in matters artistic and literary...." The pleasure they experienced writing together and their need to earn money...soon prompted them to embark on a more ambitious effort. (Charlotte, xiii)
Following a few short efforts, Somerville and Ross publish An Irish Cousin, their first novel, in 1889. The novel began as an effort "begun in idleness and without conviction," (Charlotte, xiii.) but turned into the passionate beginning of a literary career for the young duo...
Alfred Watkins - The Old Straight Track - Alignment of Mounds
Admiral Boyle Somerville ("Archaelogia," Vik. LXXIII, p.216), makes it clear that two barrows in the Isle of South Uist, namely, Barp Frobost and North Frobost Barp, lie "on the exact Meridian line (north and south) which passes through the conspicuous (and carried) summits of two hills, Reineval and Askervien."
http://www.britishembassy.gov.uk British Embassy: Muscat - Anecdotes
...Mrs. Cox, the daughter of Surgeon General Hamilton of the Royal Army Medical Corps in India, kept “a troop of apes” living by the stairs to scare off unwanted callers. When Vice-Admiral Boyle Somerville visited Muscat in 1902 he met these colorful characters who “gnashed their teeth, yearningly, on the unfortunate visitor; they leapt and danced at the full extent of their straining waist-chains, clucking and gibbering at him, or hideously shrieking battle, murder, and sudden death; they seized the handrail – mercifully a stout one, and they could only just reach it – and shook it in impotent fury. In brief, they put the wind up you. Mrs. Cox had in 1895 in India kept two monkeys, Toto and Teddy who were “always getting loose and making hay around the place” but whether it was these two that Somerville encountered we do not know...
Royal Anthropological Institute - http://www.therai.org.uk
...There are Council minute books and publications, and a huge variety of letters covering several Committees, Awards, Lectures and all matters concerning the Institute. These are divided into subject areas, and there is a comprehensive index, which is being added to continuously, as more material is archived. This is available for consultation, and the archives can be viewed by appointment, except for material produced in the last thirty years.
The Manuscript collection covers material not available in published form, and includes donations of papers left to the Institute. Examples include the papers of:
• M.E. Durham
• N.G. Munro
• R.S. Rattray
• M.W. Smith
• E.H. Man
• M.L. Tildesley
• Sir E. im Thurn
• Vice Admiral Boyle T. Somerville
• E. Dayrell
• A.B. Deacon
• M.W. Hilton-Simpson
• C.W. Hobley
The material includes field-notes, letters, sketch-books, diaries, cuttings and photographs, hand-written vocabularies, genealogies, prize essays, and notes, both hand-written and typed, on subjects covering every field of anthropology. This material is also indexed and may be examined by appointment. There are some copying restrictions, but notes may be taken.
Enquiries should be made to the Archives Officer, Sarah Walpole, by phone on +44 (0)20 7387 0455, fax on +44 (0)20 7388 8817, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The initial Cornish recordings which were carried out subsequent to crawling through the ancient holed stone at Men-an-Tol are documented on Full Moon June. From that point, the main intent of XETB has been to use the genius locii of places, local folklore, psychogeography and intuitional observations etc. as the starting point of what I call ‘ether-folk’. With the exception of the aforementioned release and The Suffolk Workings other excursions by XETB have been closer to home, concentrating on the Ridings of Yorkshire.
For Sir Francis Galton's machine for demonstrating the normal distribution named "quincunx", see bean machine.
Five dots forming a quincunx
Five dots forming a quincunx
A quincunx is the arrangement of five units in the pattern corresponding to the five-spot on dice, playing cards, or dominoes. The quincunx is named after the Roman coin of the same name.
The significance of the quincunx pattern originates in Pythagorean mathematical mysticism. This pattern lies at the heart of the Pythagorean tetraktys, a pyramid of ten dots. To the Pythagoreans the number five held particular significance and the quincunx pattern represented this significance.
Quincunx patterns occur in many contexts:
* A quincunx was the standard tactical formation for elements of a Roman legion.
* A quincunx is a standard pattern for planting an orchard, especially in France.
* Quincunxes are used in modern computer graphics as a supersampling pattern for anti-aliasing. Quincunx antialiasing samples scenes at the corners and centers of each pixel. These five sample points, in the shape of a quincunx, are combined to produce each displayed pixel. However, samples at the corner points are shared with adjacent pixels, so the number of samples needed is only twice the number of displayed pixels. 
* The spots on the 5th side of a (playing) die form a quincunx.
* In astrology (and less commonly in astronomy), a quincunx (also known as an inconjunct) is an astrological aspect of five-twelfths of a circle, or 150°, between two objects (the Sun, Moon, planets or signs).
* The points on each face of a unit cell of a face-centred cubic lattice form a quincunx.
* A quincuncial map is a conformal map projection that maps the poles of the sphere to the centre and four corners of a square, thus forming a quincunx.
* In architecture, a quincuncial plan, also defined as a "cross inscribed in a square", is the plan of an edifice composed of nine bays. The central and the four angular ones are covered with domes or groin vaults; the other four are surmounted by barrel vaults.
The English physician Sir Thomas Browne in his philosophical discourse The Garden of Cyrus (1658) elaborates upon evidence of the quincunx pattern in art, nature and mystically as 'evidence' of intelligent design.
The triangle represents the sacred Trinity. The apex pointing upward stands for the ascent to heaven, fire, and the active male principle. When the apex is pointed downwards, it symbolizes grace pouring from heaven, water, and the passive female principle (Taoist spirit of the valley). Two equilateral triangles, one with apex up and the other down, represents fire & water— superimposed so as to form a 6-pointed star (Solomon's seal or the Judaic Star of David), and is used as a symbol of the human soul.
Dante completed La Vita Nuova (1294) when he was 29 years old. Yet he felt that his love sonnets still did not do justice to honor the beauty and blessedness of his dear Beatrice. So he vowed to write a poem to honor his beloved that has never been written of any woman. Dante fulfilled this promise 27 years later just before his death, when he finished La Commedia (1321)— the greatest love poem about the soul's ascent from Inferno to Purgatory to Paradise. What's insightful about this journey is that the poet Virgil took Dante only up to the heights of Mount Purgatory. From that point onward, only Beatrice could guide Dante to Paradise. Here Dante would learn about universal gravitation as he flies through the heavenly spheres, sharing with us his celestial vision, and concluding Paradiso with “ by Love that moves the sun, the moon, and the other stars.” I find it fascinating that Goethe echoed Dante's vision with “Eternal Feminine, leads us above” when he concluded his epic drama Faust just before his death (1832). Lao Tzu also advises us “to cling to the feminine” in the Tao Te Ching XXVIII (6th century B.C.). Perhaps the male principle (yang or animus) as represented by Virgil or logic could take our intellect only so far, and we need to harness the feminine principle (yin or anima) as represented by Beatrice or intuition to penetrate the realm beyond space-time so we could experience the transcendence and blessedness of paradise.
Tuesday, 3 April 2007
...Every individual being, from the atom up to the most hightly organised of living bodies and the most exalted of finite minds, may be thought of, in Rene Guenon's phrase, as a point where a ray of the primordial Godhead meets one of the differentiated, creaturely emanations of that same Godhead's creative energy. The creature, as creature, may be very far from God, in the sense that it lacks the intelligence to dicover the nature of the divine Ground of its being. But the creature in its eternal essence - as the meeting place of creatureliness and primordial Godhead - is one of the infinite number of points where divine Reality is wholly and eternally present. Because of this, rational beings can come to the unitive knowledge of the divine Ground, non-rational and inanimate beings may reveal to rational beings the fullness of God's presence within their material forms. The poet's or the painter's vision of the divine in nature, the worshipper's awareness of a holy presence in the sacrament, symbol or image - these are not entirely subjective. True, such perceptions cannot be had by all percievers, for knowledge is a function of being; but the thing known is independent of the mode and nature of the knower. What the poet and painter see, and try to record for us, is actually there, waiting to be apprehended by anyone who has the right kind of faculties. Similarly, in the image or the sacramental object, the divine Ground is wholly present. Faith and devotion prepare the worshipper's mind for perceiving the ray of Godhead at its point of intersection with the particular fragment of matter before him. Incidentally, by being worshipped, such symbols become the centres of a field of force. The longings, emotions and imaginations of those who kneel and, for generations, have knelt before the shrine create, as it were, an enduring vortex in the psychic medium, so that the image lives with a secondary, inferior divine life projected on to it by its worshippers, as well as with the primary divine life which, in common with all other animate and inanimate beings, it possesses in virtue of its relation to the divine Ground. The religious experience of sacrementalists and image worshippers may be perfectly genuine and objective; but it is not always or necessarily an experience of God or the Godhead. It may be, and perhaps in most cases it actually is, an experience of the field of force generated by the minds of past and present worshippers and projected on to the sacramental object where it sticks, so to speak, in a condition of what may be called second-hand objectivity, waiting to be perceived by minds suitably attuned to it. How desirable this kind of experience really is will have to be discussed in another sections...
...'To its heights we can always come.' For those of us who are still splashing about in the lower ooze, the phrase has a rather ironical ring. Nevertheless, in the light of even the most distant acquaintance with t he heights and the fullness, it is possible to understand what its author means. To discover the Kingdom of God exclusively within oneself is easier than to discover it, not only there, but also in the outer world of minds and things and living creatures. It is easier because the heights within reveal themselves to those who are ready to exclude from their pruview all that lies without. And though this exclusion may be a painful and mortifactory process, the fact remains that it is less arduous than the process of inclusion, by which we come to know the fullness as well as the heights of spiritual life. Where there is exclusive concentration on the heights within, temptations and distractions are avoided and there is a general denial and suppression. But when the hope is to know God inclusively - to realise the divine Ground in the world as well as in the soul, temptations and distractions must not be avoided, but submitted to and used as opportunities for advance; there must be no suppression of outward-turning activities, but a transformation of them so that they become sacramental. Mortification becomes more searching and more subtle; there is need of unsleeping awareness and, on the levels of thought, feeling and conduct, the constant exersise of something like an artist's tact and taste....
Monday, 2 April 2007
Unfolded out of the folds of the woman man comes unfolded, and is always to come unfolded,
Unfolded only out of the superbest woman of the earth is to come the superbest man of the earth,
Unfolded out of the friendliest woman is to come the friendliest man,
Unfolded only out of the perfect body of a woman can a man be form'd of perfect body,
Unfolded only out of the inimitable poems of woman can come the poems of man, (only thence have my poems come;)
Unfolded out of the strong and arrogant woman I love, only thence can appear the stong and arrogant man I love,
Unfolded by brawny embraces from the well-muscled woman I love, only thence come the brawny embraces of the man,
Unfolded out of the folds of the woman's brain come all the folds of the man's brain, duly obendient,
Unfolded out of the justice of the woman all justice is unfolded,
Unfolded out of the sympathy of the woman is all sympathy;
A man is a great thing upon the earth and through eternity, but every jot of the greatness of man is unfolded out of woman;
First the man is shaped in the woman, he can then be shaped in himself.
Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist, journalist, and humanist. Proclaimed the "greatest of all American poets" by many foreign observers a mere four years after his death, he is viewed as the first urban poet. His works have even been translated into more than 25 languages. Whitman is among the most influential and controversial poets in the American canon. His work has been described as a "rude shock" and "the most audacious and debatable contribution yet made to American literature." He largely abandoned the metrical structures of European poetry for an expansionist freestyle verse—"irregular" but "beautifully rhythmic"— which represented his philosophical view that America was destined to reinvent the world as emancipator and liberator of the human spirit. As Whitman wrote in Leaves of Grass (By Blue Ontario's Shore), "Rhymes and rhymers pass away— . . . America justifies itself, give it time . . ."
So, so break off this last lamenting kiss,
Which sucks two souls, and vapours both away,
Turn thou ghost that way, and let me turn this,
And let ourselves benight our happiest day,
We asked none leave to love; nor will we owe any
So cheap a death, as saying, Go;
Go: and if that work have not quite killed thee,
Ease me with death, by bidding me go too.
Oh, if it have, let my word work on me,
And a just office on a murderer do.
Except it be too late, to kill me so,
Being double dead, going, and bidding, go.
John Donne (IPA pronunciation: [dʌn]), 1572 – March 31, 1631) was a Jacobean poet and preacher, representative of the metaphysical poets of the period. His works, notable for their realistic and sensual style, include sonnets, love poetry, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs, satires and sermons. His poetry is noted for its vibrancy of language and immediacy of metaphor, compared with that of his contemporaries.
Donne came from a Roman Catholic family, and so he experienced persecution until his conversion to the Anglican Church. Despite his great education and poetic talents, he lived in poverty for several years, relying heavily on wealthy friends. In 1615 he became an Anglican priest and in 1621 Dean of St Paul's. His literary works reflect these trends, with love poetry and satires from his youth, and religious sermons during his later years.
Introduction by John Addington Symonds, page xxvix
Sir Thomas Browne's brain was like a crucible for reducing heterogeneous and various experience to the potable gold of abstruse imagination. The world he mostly thought of was the world of his own mind; the material globe he used at times for his recreation. When he affronts Death, his "abject conceit of this common way of existence, this retaining to the sun and elements." The gorgeous tombs and sculptured urns of princes make him exclaim in scorn, that "to subsist in bones, and be but pyramidally extant, is a fallacy in duration." When he casts his eyes backward over years gone by, he sighs because "it is too late to be ambitious. The great mutations of the world are acted, or time may be too short for our designs." Between the world of facts and the world of dreams he sees no difference, except that perhaps the sleeping is more real than the waking.
"There is an equal delusion in both, and the one doth but seem to be an emblem or picture of the other; we are somewhat more than ourselves in our sleep, and the slumber of the body seems to be but the waking of the soul." In measuring himself, he takes the universe for his standard: "The earth is a point, not only in respect of the heavens above us, but of that heavenly or celestial part within us... That surface that tells the heavens it hath an end, cannot persuade me I have any." Although with obvious sincerity and feeling candour he assures us that he has no taint of pride, yet he stands thus haughtily upon the pedestal of human dignity: "There is surely a piece of divinity in us; something that was before the elements, and owes no homage unto the sun."
We need not wonder why a thinker of this stamp, to whom mystery was as the breath of his intellectual nostrils, and the apprehension of the divine in man and nature as his daily food, should have written: " Now for my life, it is a miracle of thiry years, which, to relate, were not a history , but a piece of poetry, and would sound to common ears like a fable." We need not speculate with Dr. Johnson what there could have been in the young physician's unevenrful career to justify this "solomn assertion." Extremes meet, and Walt Whitman's "ever recurring miracle of the grass" tallies Sir Thomas Browne's enthusiastic comtemplation of his manhood -
"To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every inch of space is a miracle,
Every spear of grass - the frames, limbs, organ, of men and women, and all that concerns them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles."
This is the utterence of a mind cast in the same mystical, yet sanely realistic, mould as Sir Thomas Browne's. Only Browne retained something of exclusiveness, something derived from the past age of feudalism, a tincture of that humanistic conception of man's worth, which implied contempt for the illiterate vulgar. Browne was emphatically a mental aristocrat; and this perhaps may be transmitted to the reader as the surest key-word to his writngs.