[Milton-L] A Milton quote

Aaron Shapiro aaronshapiro1 at gmail.com
Mon Dec 1 18:29:35 EST 2008


Perhaps this sentence in the *Apology *inspired a somewhat cryptic assertion
made by Sir Thomas Browne in the following year:

"His life has been a miracle of thirty years; which to relate were not
history but a piece of poetry, and would sound like a fable."

            -Preface to *Religio Medici *(1643)
This sentence in turn provoked a characteristically tenacious inquiry from
Dr. Johnson:
**

Of these wonders, however, the view that can be now taken of his life offers
no appearance. The course of his education was like that of others, such as
put him little in the way of extraordinary casualties. A scholastick and
academical life is very uniform; and has, indeed, more safety than pleasure.
A traveller has greater opportunities of adventure; but Browne traversed no
unknown seas, or Arabian desarts; and, surely, a man may visit France and
Italy, reside at Montpellier and Padua, and at last take his degree at
Leyden, without any thing miraculous. What it was, that would, if it was
related, sound so poetical and fabulous, we are left to guess; I believe,
without hope of guessing rightly. The wonders probably were transacted in
his own mind: self-love, co-operating with an imagination vigorous and
fertile as that of Browne, will find or make objects of astonishment in
every man's life: and, perhaps, there is no human being, however hid in the
crowd from the observation of his fellow-mortals, who, if he has leisure and
disposition to recollect his own thoughts and actions, will not conclude his
life in some sort a miracle, and imagine himself distinguished from all the
rest of his species by many discriminations of nature or of fortune.

-"Life of Sir Thomas Browne" (1756)
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