Notes on Sir Thomas Browne and Maria Edgeworth
as sources of epigraphs in The Secret Scripture (2008)

Sir Thomas Browne Maria Edgeworth
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Census of Recurrent Words in The Secret Scripture - as attached.

Sir Thomas Browne

The Engine of Owl-light (1987) The Secret Scripture (2008)

The Engine of Owl-light (1987): Barry chose as his epigraph a passage from Browne’s Urn Burial - viz., Hydriotaphia, Urn Burial, or a Brief Discourse of the Sepulchral Urns lately found in Norfolk (1658).

‘However, to palliate the shortness of our Lives, and somewhat to compensate our brief term in this World, it’s good to know as much as we can of it, and also so far as possibly in us lieth to hold a Theory of times past, as though we had seen the same. He who hath thus considered the World, as also how therein things long past have been answered by things present, how matters in one age have been acted, over in another, and how there is nothing new under the sun, may conceive himself in some manner to have lived from the beginning, and to be as old as the World; and if he should still live on, ’twould be but the same thing.’ (Cf. ‘No new thing ... &c.’ is from Ecclesiastes the Preacher/OT.)

Note: Contrary to the attribution, the above epigraph is actually from ‘Christian Morals’ - first published in Posthum. Works, 1712 and reprinted with a commissioned preface by Dr. Johnson in the Dodsley Edn. of 1756], Pt. II, Sect. XXIX. A copy of that text is to be found in editions of Browne's writings by Jeffreys (1825) and Wilkins (1835) but not in the edition of Religio Medici cited at some length in the text of The Sacred Scripture (2008) - as infra - where a volume of Religio Medici in that edition plays a significant part in the plot. Similarly, the epigraph from Browne on the front paper of The Sacred Scripture is likewise taken from Christian Morals - notwithstanding the fact that it is not included in the Sampson edition edited by Willis Bund in 1869 which is so copiously described there, and which can readily be identified with the title in the Colbeck Bibliography [infra]. And finally, Dr. Grene in the later novel quotes the from the epigraph to The Engine of Owl-light - ”to palliate the shortness of our lives” - and clearly attributes it to the Religio Medici where he purports to have read it while flicking through the opening pages. (The 1869 can be viewed at Internet Archive - online.)

Hence the ‘veritable gospel’ to which Roseanne refers in The Secret Scripture is not the only text by Browne within Barry’s grasp or possession, though the passage quoted by Dr Grene in that novel is indeed to be found at the opening of the 1869 edition Religio Medici edition so materially cited so materially there. One clue to the alternative source is the use of capital letters for substantives in the epigraph in The Engine of Owl-light since but same typographical rule has not been followed elsewhere - suggesting that it might have been introduced by Barry to confer an appearance of antiquity on the epigraph of that novel. The bibiographical question of sources - as distinct from the literary-textual one - cnnot be resolved without speaking with the author. [BS: 14.05.2017].

’Christian Morals’, in Sir Thomas Browne’s Works, ed. S. Wilkin (London 1825), Christian Morals, Pt. III [Part the Third]


    Browne 1
Browne 1
Available at Google Books - online; accessed 24.05.2017.
“Christian Morals” [1712] , in Sir Thomas Browne’s Works Including His Life And Correspondence, ed. by Simon Wilkin F.L.S., Vol. IV (London: William Pickering; Norwich: Josiah Fletcher 1835) - Sects. xxviii-xxxx.
Sect xxviii - That a greater number of angels remained in heaven, than fell from it, the school men will tell us; that the number of blessed souls will not come short of that vast number of fallen spirits, we have the favourable calculation of others. What age or century hath sent most souls unto heaven, he can tell who vouchsafeth that honour unto them. Though the number of the blessed must be complete before the world can pass away; yet since the world itself seems in the wane, and we have no such comfortable prognosticks of latter times; since a greater part of time is spun than is to come, and the blessed roll already much replenished; happy are those pieties, which solicitously look about, and hasten to make one of that already much filled and abbreviated list to come. (CM, Wilkins, 1835, Part III, p.13.)
Sect. xxix - Think not the time short in this world, the world itself not being long. The created world is but a small parenthesis in eternity, and a short interposition, for a time, between such a state of duration as was before it and may be after it. And if we should allow of the old tradition that the world should last six thousand years, it could scarce have the name of old, since the first man lived near a sixth part thereof, and seven Methuselahs would exceed its whole [113] duration. However to palliate the shortness of our lives and somewhat to compensate our brief term in this world, it’s good to know as much as we can of it; and also so far as possibly in us lieth to hold such a theory of times past, as though we had seen the same. He who hath thus considered the world, as also how therein things long past have been answered by things present; how matters in one age have been acted over in another and how there is nothing new under the sun; may conceive himself in some manner to have lived from the beginning and to be as old as the world; and if he should still live on ’twould be but the same thing. (Ibid., pp.113-14; my italics - BS.)
Sect xxx - Lastly; if length of days be thy portion make it not thy expectation. Reckon not upon long life; think every day the last, and live always beyond thy account. He that so often surviveth his expectation lives many lives, and will scarce complain of the shortness of his days. Time past is gone like a shadow; make time to come present. Approximate thy latter times by present apprehensions of them: be like a neighbour unto the grave, and think there is but little to come. And since there is something of us that will still live on, join both lives together and live in one but for the other. He who thus ordereth the purposes of this life, will never be far from the next; and is in some manner already in it, by a happy conformity, and close apprehension of it. And if as we have elsewhere declared,* any have been so happy, as personally to understand christian annihilation, extacy, exolution, transformation, the kiss of the spouse, and ingression into the divine shadow, according to mystical theology, they have already had an handsome anticipation of heaven; the world is in a manner over, and the earth in ashes unto them. (Idem.)

Notes: *[3] In his treatise of Urn burial. Some other parts of these essays are printed in a letter among Browne’s Posthumous Works. Those references to his own books prove these essays to be genuine Dr J[ohnson]. (p.114.) [End of Christian Morals]

Editor’s note (Simon Wilkin - 1835 Edn.): ‘The original edition of the Christian Morals by Archdeacon Jeffery [i.e., edited by] was printed at Cambridge in 1716 and is one of the rarer of Sir Thomas’s detached works Dodsley in 1756 brought out a new edition with additional notes and a life by Dr Johnson It has been said that Dr Johnson inserted in the Literary Magazine a review of the work but I have not been able to find it. The Sixth Volume of Memoirs of Literature contains a meagre account of the Posthumous Works but no notice of the Christian Morals. / The latter portion of the Letter to a Friend is incorporated in various parts of the Christian Morals except some passages which are given in notes to the present edition together with some various readings from MSS in the British Museum.’ (From Sir Thomas Browne’s Works Including His Life And Correspondence[,] Edited by Simon Wilkin FLS, Volume IV, London: William Pickering; Norwich: Josiah Fletcher 1835 - copy available at Google Books - online.)

—copy available at Google Books - online.

See also Christian Morals Published from the Original and Correct Manuscript of  the Author by John Jeffery, DD, Arch Deacon of Norwich, With Notes Added to the Second Edition by Dr Johnson / Third Edition Originally Published in 1716 (1845) - available online [search > shortness.]


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The Engine of Owl-light (1987) The Secret Scripture (2008)

Epigraph Text

The Secret Scripture (2008) also has an epigraph from Sir Thomas Browne (Christian Morals, written in the 1670s; pub. 1716) - together with another from Maria Edgeworth (Preface to Castle Rackrent, 1800). Roseanne, the central character of Scripture, owns a copy of Religio Medici [1643; 1645] and quotes from it explicitly - explaining that it was a ‘veritable gospel’ to her father.

—Epigraph page in The Secret Scripture (2008)
Epigraph from Sir Thomas Browne: ‘The greater imperfection is in our inward sight, that is, to be ghosts unto our own eyes.’ (Sir Thomas Browne, Christian Morals [sic Barry, 2008].)

Note that the epigraph from Christian Morals is correctly ascribed in the front papers to in The Secret Scripture [as above], although that work [Christian Morals] is not included in the edition issued by Sampson & Low (London 1869) which is copiously cited in the text of the novel - a

Note: The epigraph does indeed come from Christian Morals (1712; rep. with Life by Dr Johnson, 1756) - but note that Christian Morals is not included in the London edition of the works edited J. W. Willis Bund (London: Sampson & Low 1869) which is cited at some length as the volume which Roseanne McNulty has inherited from her father whose ’veritable gospel’ it was. A copy of that edition ‘the little volume’) is handed over to Dr. Grene and becomes, in that way, a crucial prop in the novel. See Dr. Grene's description of the edition and its contents under “Allusions to Thomas Browne in The Secret Scripture” - as infra > Item 5].

It seems to follow that Barry has had access to more than one printed source of the works of Browne. It is also to case, however, that the epigraph for The Engine of Owl-light which is said there to come from Browne's Hydrotaphia or Unr-buriall comes, in fact, from Christian Morals - and hence the same source as the epigraph to The Secret Scripture. On that basis it might be possible to infer that Barry has only seen Christian Morals in some edition of the works of Sir Thomas Browne other than the one published by Sampson in 1869. However, the extract from the first page of Medici Religio quoted by Dr. Grene in his perusal of the Sampson edition - as infra - makes it clear that this is indeed a work in the possession of the author.

Page images from Sir Thomas Browne’s Works, ed. S. Wilkin (London 1835), Christian Morals, Pt. III [Part the Third]
Browne 1

Browne 1


Transcription: Behold thyself with inward opticks and crystalline of they soul. Strange it is, that in the most perfect sense there should be so many fallacies, that we are fain to make a doctrine, and often to see by art. But the greatest imperfection is in our inward sight, that is, to be ghosts unto our own eyes and while we are sharp-sighted as to look through others, to be invisible unto ourselves; for the inward eyes are more fallacious than the outward.

Available at Google Books - online; accessed 24.05.2017.
Sect xiv: Live unto the dignity of thy nature, and leave it not disputable at last, whether thou hast been a man; or since thou art a composition of man and beast, how thou hast predominantly passed thy days, to state the denomination. Unman not, therefore, thyself by a bestial transformation, nor realize old fables. Expose not thyself by four footed manners unto monstrous draughts, and caricature representations. Think not after the old Pythagorean conceit, what beast thou mayst be after death. Be not under any brutal metempsychosis, while thou livest and walkest about erectly under the scheme of man. In thine own circumference, as in that of the earth, let the rational horizon be larger than the sensible, and the circle of reason than of sense: let the divine part be upward and the region of beast below; otherwise ’tis but to live invertedly, and with thy head unto the heels of thy antipodes. Desert not thy title to a divine particle and union with invisibles. Let true knowledge and virtue tell the lower world thou art a part of the higher. Let thy thoughts be of things which have not entered into the hearts of beasts; think of things long past and long to come: acquaint thyself with the choragium of the stars and consider the vast expansion beyond them. Let intellectual tubes give thee a glance of things which visive organs reach not. Have a glimpse of incomprehensibles; and thoughts of things, which thoughts but tenderly touch. Lodge immaterials in thy head; ascend unto invisibles; fill thy spirit with spirituals, with the mysteries of faith, the magnalities of religion, and thy life with the honour of God; without which, though giants in wealth and dignity, we are but dwarfs and pygmies in humanity, and may hold a pitiful rank in that triple division of mankind into heroes, men and beasts. For though human souls are said to be equal, yet is there no small inequality in their operations; some maintain the allowable station of men; many are far below it; and some have been so divine, as to approach the apogeum of their natures, and to be in the confinium of spirits. (p.104.)

Sect xv: Behold thyself by inward opticks and the crystalline of thy soul. Strange it is, that in the most perfect sense there should be so many fallacies that we are fain to make a doctrine, and often to see by art. But the greatest imperfection is in our inward sight, that is to be ghosts unto our own eyes; and while we are so sharp-sighted as to look through others, to be invisible unto ourselves; for the inward eyes are more fallacious than the outward. The vices we scoff at in other, laugh at us within ourselves. Avarice, pride, falsehood lie undiscerned and blindly in us, even to the age of blindness and therefore to see ourselves interiorly we are fain to borrow other men’s eyes wherein true friends are good informers and censurers no bad friends. Conscience only, that can see without light sits in the areopagy and dark tribunal of our hearts, surveying our thoughts and condemning their obliquities. Happy is that state of vision that can see without light, though all should look as before the creation, when there was not an eye to see or light, to actuate a vision: wherein, notwithstanding, obscurity is only imaginable respectively unto eyes; for unto God there was none: eternal light was ever; created light was for the creation, not himself; and as he saw before the sun, may still also see without it. In the city of the new Jerusalem there is neither sun nor moon; where glorified eyes must see by the archetypal sun [n8] or the light of God able to illuminate intellectual eyes and make unknown visions. Intuitive perceptions in spiritual beings, may, perhaps hold some analogy unto vision: but yet how they see us, or one another, what eye, what light, or what perception is required unto their intuition, is yet dark unto our apprehension; and even how they see God, or how unto our glorified eyes the beatifical vision will be celebrated, another world must tell us, when perception will be new, and we may hope to view invisibles. (pp.103-05; my italics - BS.)

See another edition as Sir Thomas Browne’s Works, ed. S. Wilkin, Vol. IV (London: Henry G. Bohn MDCCCLVII [1837]) - Christian Morals, Pt. III [Part the Third]; available at Internet Archive - online.]

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Page images from Religio Medici and Other Essays, ed. by D. Lloyd Roberts, MD, FRCP (Manchester: Sherratt & Hughes 1902)
Ghosts - Thos Browne

Ghosts - Thos Browne

Available at Internet Archive - online; accessed 24.05.2017.
[ See another edition as Sir Thomas Browne's Works, Vol IV: Repertorium - letter to a Friend - Christian Morals - Miscellaneous Tracts - and Unpublished Papers (London: William Pickering 1835 - online; accessed 08.06.2017. ]

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Epigraph Text

In-text allusions to Religio Medici in The Secret Scripture (2008)

1] [...] he [her father] loved to read the sermons of preachers long gone, because, he said, he could imagine sermons fresh for some vanished Sunday, and the words new in the mouths of the preachers. His own father had been a preacher. My father was a passionate man, I might almost say celestial-minded Presbyterian man, which was not a particularly fashionable quality in Sligo. The Sermons of John Donne he prized above all, but his veritable gospel was Religio Medici by Sir Thomas Browne, a book I still possess in all the flotsam and ruckus of my life, in a little battered volume. I have it here before me on my bed, with his name in black ink inside, Joe Clear, and the date 1888, and the town Southampton, for in his extreme youth he had been a sailor, sailing into every port of Christendom before he was seventeen. (The Secret Scripture, Faber & Faber 2008, p.6; do., in Kindle, loc. 13.)

Thomas Browne in Secret Scripture

The Secret Scripture (London: Faber 2008), p.6.

2]: I like Dr Grene despite his dusty despair because he brings to me always an echo of my father’s line of talk, filleted out of Sir Thomas Browne and John Donne. (Ibid., Kindle loc. 372; p.28.)
His [Dr Grene’s] talk has locked me in silence, I know not why. It wasn’t opening, easy, happy talk like my father’s, after all. I wanted to listen to him, but I did not want to answer now. That strange responsibility we feel towards others when they speak, to offer them the solace of an answer. Poor humans! And anyway he had not asked a question. He was merely floating there in the room, insubstantial, a living man in the midst of life, dying imperceptibly on his feet, like all of us. (p.26).

3] ‘I can’t see how you want all them books, missus, since you have no spectacles to read them.’
Then he swallowed again, swallowed.
I can see perfectly without spectacles but I did not say this. He was referring to the three volumes in my possession, my father’s copy of Religio Medici, The Hounds of Hell, and Mr Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. (p.30.)

4] My own story, anyone’s own story, is always told against me, even what I myself am writing here, because I have no heroic history to offer. There is no difficulty not of my own making. The heart and the soul, so beloved of God, are both filthied up by residence here, how can we avoid it? These seem not my thoughts at all, but maybe are borrowed out of old readings of Sir Thomas Browne. But they feel as if they are mine. They sound in my head like my own belling thoughts. It is strange. I suppose therefore God is the connoisseur of filthied hearts and soulds, and can see the old, first pattern of them, and cherish them for that.
He had better be in my case, or I may dwell with the devil shortly. (p.55.)
5] [...] Dr Grene lifted from the tale my father’s od copy of Religio Medici and looked at it idly enough. I was surprised when my father died to see that the book was printed in [97] 1867, although I knew he had it always for many years. His name, and the place Southampton, and the date 1888 were of course pencilled onto the flyleaf, but still I hoped maybe the book had been ut into his youthful hands by the hands of his own father, my grandfather a person of course hom I never met. It might have been. So that when I held it in my hands, there was as it were a history of hands surrounding the little volume, the hands of my own people. Because a lone person takes great comfort from her people, in the watches of the night, even the memory of them.
Because I knew the little book so well, I could guess that Dr. Grene was looking at. It was the picture of Sir Thomas Browne, with a beard. Perhaps as he looked at that beard, a very fierce jutting object in a round engraving, he may suddenly have been regretting the loss of his own. Sampson, Low, Son, and Marston were the printers. The Son was beautiful. The son of Sampson Low. Who was he, who was he? Did he labour under the whip of his father, or was he treated with gentleness and respect? J. W. Willis Bund supplied the notes. Names, names, all passed away, forgotten, mere birsong in the bushes of things. If J. W. Willis Bund can pass away forgotten, how much easier for me? We share in that at least.
Son. As little I know about my own son. The son of Roseanne Clear.
‘An old book,’ he said.
‘Whose name is that, Mrs McNulty, Joe Clear?’
Dr Grene now had a perplexed look on his face, a very deep thinking look, like a young boyy figuring out an arithmetic problem. If he had had a pencil he might have licked the head.
He had shaved his beard and ws no long hiding his face, so I felt suddenly I owed him something.
‘My father,’ I said.
‘He was an educated man then?’
‘He was indeed. He was a minister’s son. From Collooney.’
‘Collooney,’ he said. ‘Collooney suffered so in the troubles in the twenties,’ he said. ‘I am glad somehow that one time there was a man there that read the Religio Medici.’
The way he said the last two words slowly I knew he had never encountered the book before.
Dr Grene opened the book further, passing the introduction, and hunting mildly for the beginning of the book, as a person does.
‘“To the reader. Certainly that man were greedy of life, who should desire to live when all the world were at an end ...”’
Dr Grene gave a strange little laugh, not a true laugh at all, but a sort of miniature cry. Then he laid the book back where he had found it.
‘I see,’ he said, though I had said nothing. Perhaps he was talking to the old bearded face in the book, or to the book itself. Seventy-six, Thomas Browne was when he died, a youngster compared to me. He died on his birthday, as it sometimes happens, if rarely. I suppose Dr Grene is about sixty or so. I had never seen him quite so solemn as this day. (pp.98-99.)
[ See page-images of Religio Medici [... &c.] (London: Sampson Son & Marston 1869) - as infra. ]
6] ‘Well, well,’ he said, stirring to go at last, ‘I might bring up that document I mentioned tomorror or the next day, it might interest you to look it over.’
‘I cannot read as well as I used to. I read Thomas Browne, but then I know the writing off my heart mostly.’
‘We should get you a pair of reading glasses, Mrs McNulty - or should I say Ms Clear?’
‘Very well.’
Then for some reason he laughed, one of those little tinkling laughs that people laugh when a private thought has amused them, and occurs before they have time to stop it. (p.112.)
7] [Enaes McNulty speaks:] ‘[...] And I wanted to say, and not meaning anything by it, but you are also the most beautiful-looking person I ever saw, you and she both.’
Well, that was a lovely speech. And he didn’t mean anything by it, unless it was to speak the truth. I was suddenly flushed with a sort of pride, that I hadn’t felt for a long time. This man, and he didn’t know, spoke like my father when my father wished to say something important. There was a sort of strange old flounce to it, like out of a book, the very book I still guarded and cherished, old Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici. And he was a boy from the seventeeth century, so I don’t know how that lingo had crept into Eneas McNulty.

8] Roseanne did perk up when she saw me, and asked me to go to her table and find a book for her. It was a book called Religio Medici in that very old battered copy I have often noticed as I passed. She said it was her father’s favourite book, had she ever told me that, and I said, yes, I thought so. I said I thought she might even have showe me her father’s name in it once, yes.
‘I am a hundred years old,’ she said then, ‘and I want you to do something for me.’
‘What is it?’ I said, wondering at her now, coming back so courageously from her panic, if panic it was, and her voice [246] steady again now, even if her old features were aflame still from the damn rash. She looks like she has jumped throgh a bonfire, and dipped her face to the heat.
‘I want you to give this to my child,’ she said. ‘To my son.’
‘Your son?’ I said. ‘And Roseanne, where is your son?’
[...] Her child would be also an old person now surely, even if living? I suppose I might had asked here, Did you kill your child? I sppose I might have asked here that, if I had been made myself. No, that wasn’t a question that could be posed nicely, even I think professionally. And anyway she had given me answers to nothing really. Nothing that could alter my opinion of her status, medically speaking.
‘I think you will,’ she said, looking at me acutely. ‘I hope so anyhow.’
Then rather incongruously she took the book from my hands and then put it back into them,, and nodded her head, as if to say, be sure that you do do it.’ (pp.246-47.)

9] Yesterday afternoon coming in early and weary, I went rather fearlessly I thought to Bet’s rooom. I think I may have been moved beyond the stage of self-recrimination and guilt. [...; 253] An adequate, traitorous, unloving man? A presence oddly necessary, even with a floor and ceiling between? I didn’t know. Even as Bet I didn’t know Bet. But just for a few minutes also I had something of her strength, her niceness, her integrity. What a wonderful feeling.
My eye fell on her choice library of rose books, and I took up one up and started to read. I have to say it was very interesting, even poetic. [...] It was as if I were reading a letter from her, or was privileged to enter a subject that probably lined her mind like wallpaper. Rosa Gallica, a plain little rose like the one you see carved on medieval buildings as Rose Mundi, was the first. The late roses are huge tea roses that look in gardens like dancers’ bottoms in frilly knickers. What creatures we are, bringing a simple bloom to that over the centuries, and turning those mangy scavanging animals at the edge of our ancient camp fires into Borzois and poodles. The thing itself, the first thing, will never do us alone, we must be elaborating, improving, poeticising. “To palliate the shortness of our lives,” I suppose as Thomas Browne wrote in the book that Roseanne has given me to give to her son. Between Religio Medici and the Royal Horticulturall Society’s Roses have I pitched a tent of sorts. And that Bet needed and wanted to know all these things about roses suddenly filled me with happiness, and pride. [...] That was not only the best day I have had since she died, but one of the best days of my life. It was as if she had dipped something in her essence down from heaven and helped me. I was so bloody grateful to her.
Oh, and I forgot to say (but to whom am I saying it?) that while putting Roseanne’s book carefully aside, so I could concentrate on Bet’s volumes, a letter almost fell out of it. It was a very curious letter, in that the envelope seemed not to have [254] been opened, unless the damp of her room had somehow resealed it. [...] (pp..253-54.)

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Sir Thomas Browne, Religo Medici, Hydriotaphia, and the Letter to a Friend., ed. J. W. Willis Bund
(London: Sampson, Son, and Marston 1869)

Religio Medic 11969 Edn. t.p.
Religio Medici 1869 Edn. - letter
—Available in Internet Archive - online.
Text version
Religio Medici and Other Essays by Sir Thomas Browne, ed. D. Lloyd Roberts
(Manchester: Sherratt & Hughes 1902)
CERTAINLY that man were greedy of life who should desire to live when all the world were at an end; and he must needs be very im- patient who would repine at death in the society of all things that suffer under it. Had not almost every man suffered by the press, or were not the tyranny thereof become universal, I had not wanted reason for complaint: but in times wherein I have lived to behold the highest perversion of that excellent invention, the name of His Majesty defamed, the honour of Parliament depraved, the writings of both depravedly, anticipatively, counterfeitly imprinted: complaints may seem ridiculous in private persons; and men of my condition may be as incapable of affronts,, as hopeless of their reparations. And truly had not the duty I owe unto the importunity of friends, and the allegiance I must ever acknowledge unto truth, prevailed with me; the inactivity of my disposition might have made these sufferings continual, and time, that brings other things to light, should have satisfied me in the remedy of its oblivion. [xxxviii] But because things evidently false are not only printed, but many things of truth most falsely set forth; in this latter I could not but think myself engaged. For though we have no power to redress the former, yet in the other the reparation being within ourselves, I have at present represented unto the world a full and intended copy of that piece, which was most imperfectly and surreptitiously published before.

Available at Internet Archive - online.

Note also the follow page with the sole incident of ‘palliate’ in the volume - i.e., disproving that it includes “Christian Morals” among its contents. [There is no incident of ‘ghosts’ in this volume.]

Religio Medici 'palliate'

Religo Medici, Hydriotaphia, and the Letter to a Friend. By Sir Thomas Browne, Knt. with an introduction and notes by J. W. Willis Bund, M.A., LL.B, Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, of Lincoln's Inn, Barrister-at-Law. (London: Sampson, Son, and Marston / Crown Buildings Fleet Street 1869), 190pp. [Notes, 190ff.] + 14pp. [list of books]

Note that the edition does not include the “Christian Morals” from which an epigraph prefaced to The Secret Scripture - and there correctly attributed to it - has been taken. It follows that the epigraph has been taken from another collection of the works of Sir Thomas Browne such as Jeffreys (1825) and Wilkins (1835) since it cannot be met with here. A possible clue to the edition in question is the false attribution of the epigraph of The Engine of Owl-light (1987) to Urn-burial whereas it actually comes from Christian Morals - like this one. In that epigraph, the substantive nouns are reproduced with upper-case initials, either because they were so in an older original that the standard editions or because Barry has imposed the capitals to convey a sense of greater antiquity.

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Browne Bibliography: Colbeck Special Collections at the Library of the University of British Columbia:

Copious information about the edition in the book in the possession of Roseanne McNulty - central character of The Secret Scripture - is supplied on p.97ff. of that novel - viz., Religio Medici, published by Sampson, Son, and Low in 1869. The following listing of editions of that work held in the Colbeck Special Collection of British Columbia University Library suggests a clear ‘match’ with Item 13 below:
Norman Colbeck Special Collection (British Columbia U 1987)

See A Bookman's Catalogue Vol. 2 M-End: The Norman Colbeck Collection of Nineteenth-century and Edwardian Poetry and Belles Lettres in the Special Collections of the University of British Columbia, Vol. 2: M-End, ed. T. Bose, R. N. Colbeck (British Columbia UP 1987), p.1057.

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Benedict Anderson (Imagined Communities, 1983): Anderson quotes a passage from Browne’s Urn-Buriall, viz., - ‘Even the old ambitions had the advantage of ours, in the attempt of their vainglories [...] whereby the ancient Heroes have already out-lasted their Monuments and Mechanicall preservations [..., &c.]’, in Imagined Communities (1983; Verso 1991).
Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (1983)

Note: Anderson speaks of the “eerie splendour” of Browne's prose in phrases such as “probable Meridian of time”, “Mechanical preservations”, “such Mummies unto our memories”, and “two Methusela's of Hector”, which ‘can bring goose-flesh to the napes only of English readers.’ (p.147; as ill. above.)

Ref., Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism 1983; rev. edn. London Verso 1991; 2006, p.147; available as pdf online; accessed 05.06.2017) - with footnote reference: Hydriotaphia, Urne-Buriall, or, A Discourse of the Sepulchrall Urnes lately found in Norfolk, pp.72-73. On &145;the probable Meridian of time’ compare Bishop Otto of Freising.

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A Selection of Sentences and Aphorisms by Sir Thomas Browne

“The created World is but a small Parenthesis in Eternity.’

“I find there are many pieces in this one fabricke of man and that this frame is raised upon a masse of Antipathies [...] Thus is man that great and true Amphibium, whose nature is disposed to live not onlely like other creatures in divers elements, but in divided and distinguished worlds.’

“We carry with us the wonders, we seeke without us: There is all Africa, and her prodigies in us. .. the world that I regard as my selfe, it is the Microcosme of mine owne frame, that I cast my eye on.’

’Half our dayes we passe in the shadowe of the earth, and the brother of death exacteth a third part of our lives.’

“I am no way facetious, nor disposed for the mirth and galliardize of company; yet in one dreame I can compose a whole Comedy, behold the action, apprehend the jests, and laugh my selfe awake.’ (xxiii)

“I could never divide my self from any man upon the difference of an opinion, or be angry with his judgement for not agreeing with mee in that, from which perhaps within a few days I should dissent my life.’

“Man is a Noble Animal, splendid in ashes, and pompous in the grave, solemnizing Nativities and Deaths with equal lustre, nor omitting Ceremonies of bravery, in the infamy of his nature. Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible Sun within us.’

“The long habit of living indisposeth us for dying.’

“Men that look no further than their outsides, think health an appurtenance unto life, and quarrel with their constitutions for being sick; but I that have examined the parts of man, and know upon what tender filaments that fabric hangs, do wonder that we are not always so; and considering the thousand doors that lead to death, do thank my God that we can die but once.’

“We vainly accuse the fury of guns, and the new inventions of death; it is in the power of every hand to destroy us, and we are beholden unto every one we meet he doth not kill us.’

“No man can justly censure or condemn another, because indeed no man truly knows another.’

“I could be content that we might procreate like trees, without conjunction, or that there were any way to perpetuate the world without this trivial and vulgar act of coition; It is the foolishest act a wise man commits in all his life, nor is there anything that will more deject his cooled imagination, when he shall consider what an odd and unworthy piece of folly he hath committed.’ [Note: In spite of this, he married late and was happily married.]

“To ruminate upon evils, to make critical notes upon injuries, and be too acute in their apprehensions, is to add unto our own tortures, to feather the arrows of our enemies, to lash ourselves with the scorpions of our foes, and to resolve to sleep no more.

—Sundry sources.

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Maria Edgeworth

Sir Thomas Browne Maria Edgeworth

Maria Edgeworth: Barry employs an excerpt from the Preface to Castle Rackrent (1800) as an epigraph for The Secret Scripture (2008), along with another from Sir Thomas Browne [as supra].

Epigraph of Secret Scripture

The Preface of Castle Rackrent: ‘Of the numbers who study, or at least read history, how few derive any advantage from their labours! ... Besides, there is much uncertainty even in the best authenticated ancient and modern histories; and that love of truth, which in some minds is innate and immutable, necessarily leads to a love of secret memoirs and private anecdotes.’

—The Secret Scripture, 2008; front papers.

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[ Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent: An Hibernian Tale, taken from the facts and from the Manners of the Irish Squires before the Year 1782 [Third Edition] (London: J. Johnson, St. Paul’s Church-yard 1801), t.p. & pp.[iii]-iv]

Castle Rackrent (1) Castle Rackrent (1) Castle Rackrent (1)
[ Available at Internet Archive - online; accessed 05.06.2107. ]
Castle Rackrent (1801) Castle Rackrent (1801) Castle Rackrent (1801)

[ Available at Internet Archive - online; accessed 05.06.2107; for full-text version of the Preface to Castle Rackrent, see under Maria Edgeworth > Quotations - as attached. ]

[ . ]
[ See further pages-images from the Preface to Castle Rackrent (1801 Edn.) - as attached. For full-text version of the Preface, along with page images, see under Maria Edgeworth > Quotations - infra; or as attached. ]

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