Notes and Questions on the NAEL Excerpts from Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici and Hydriotaphia or Urn Burial
For the final exam, write one essay on how style and meaning, function and form, are interrelated in the nonfiction prose of the NAEL selection of Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, or in the nonfiction prose of either Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici or Sir Thomas Browne's Hydriotaphia or Urn-Burial. (Note that all of Ch. 5 of Browne's Hydriotaphia must be included in the analysis; the remainder of paragraphs 1-4 is printed in the Notes and Questions on Sir Thomas Browne.) Essays should be typed or wordprocessed, and use MLA format (a Works Cited page is optional). As with the first essay on the excerpt from Lyly, (a) use MLA format, and (b) refer in parenthetical documentation-within your own sentences, in your essay--to sentences (using the abbreviation "sent.") and paragraphs (using the abbreviation "par."), rather than just page numbers in NAEL.
For essays about the interrelation of style and meaning, function and form, in the nonfiction prose selections in NAEL of Robert Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy and Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici or Hydriotaphia or Urn Burial, read the entries on each author in Harmon's and Holman's Handbook to Literature or Cuddon's Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms, as well as Prinsky's Checklist of Prose Style (on included in the assignment on the first six paragraphs of John Lyly's Euphues), and Prinsky's N&Q and lecture material on the NAEL excerpt of Sir Thomas More's History of Richard III, as well as the NAEL introductions to Burton and Browne. (If you have NAEL8, look at "Forms of Inquiry," p. 1550, plus the paragraph beginning "The Jacobean period also saw" on p. 1249, and the paragraph beginning "Several prose works" on pp. 1255-56, and the paragraph beginning "Seventeenth-century poetry, prose, and drama" on p. 1257; if you have NAEL7, look also at the introduction to the seventeenth-century prose selections, "The Science of Self and World," pp. 1528-29. If you have NAEL6, look at paragraphs 7-10 of Adams' and Logan's "Birth and Death of Literary Forms" in "The Early Seventeenth Century, 1603-1660: Introduction" [NAEL6 1077-78], and paragraphs 5-8 of Adams' and Logan's "Literary Modes of the Early Seventeenth Century" [NAEL6 1653-54].) Give phrasal credit within your essays to any ideas or details you derive from any aforementioned published sources (no need for a formal Works Cited page).
As with the analysis of the first six paragraphs of John Lyly's Euphues, don't overlook the use of figurative language, symbolism, and such poetic devices (cf. the entries on "prose" and "prose rhythm" in HTL or PDLT) as alliteration, assonance, consonance, or rhyme, though the writings by Burton and Browne are nonfiction prose. Also helpful are the discussions of nonfiction prose (from grammar and sentence, through paragraph and overall organization) in a good composition handbook (500 + pages, such as Harbrace College Handbook; Little, Brown Handbook; The New McGraw-Hill Handbook ; Scott, Foresman Handbook; Simon and Schuster Handbook; St. Martin's Handbook). Remember that grammar is expressive (e.g., active versus passive in framing a sentence, or one sentence structure versus another sentence structure). Also, look up discourse, oration, and speech in HTL or PDLT.
Notes and Questions on Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici and Hydriotaphia or Urn-Burial
N&Q on Religio Medici
1. Religio Medici is divided into two parts; Part 1 has sixty numbered sections (the NAEL selections are 1-5, 9, 15-16, 34, 59), while Part 2 has 15 numbered sections (the NAEL6 selection is 11; the NAEL7 selection is 1). What Browne is writing about in the opening of the work (sections 1-5) is the same subject as is dealt with in Richard Hooker's huge treatise Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (see the NAEL excerpt of this work by an author frequently designated as having the most polished nonfiction prose style of the sixteenth century): the Anglican Church's middle position between Catholicism on one side and Puritanism on the other side (both of these sides extreme, according to the temperate spokesmen of the Anglican Church). What might be suggested about a prose style with enumerated sections, especially with reference to the subject matter of Browne's treatise (his personal, physician's religion, including, in sections 1-5, his adherence to the Anglican Church, as well as his attitude toward Catholicism and Puritanism)?
2. (a) Where and how (and how frequently) do balance and antithesis occur in Browne's prose style, and how are these stylistic elements related to Browne's specific or general ideas, purposes, and tone in this work? (b) Where and how (and how frequently) does alliteration or assonance occur, or any other element of prose rhythm, and how might any of these be connected to Browne's specific or general ideas, purposes, and tone in this work? (c) How and where might any stylistic elements act in combination with each other? (d1) Effects of sentence length, sentence structure (as per my Checklist of Prose Style) and word order, sentence types (e.g., declarative, interrogative, exclamatory, imperative; loose, periodic), sentence openers (e.g., adverb, infinitive, noun/subject), figurative language, Latinate vs. Anglo-saxon derived words? (d2) How is the use by Browne of parenthetical qualification (whether in actual parenthesis marks or other structures, such as between dashes) revealing about his turn of mind (e.g., his purposes in the work or his sense of humor)?
3. (a) How do sentence length, parallelism, balance, antithesis, and hyperbole cooperate in section 4, to help convey Browne's ideas and views or position? (b) How does Browne pun in the first sentence of section 5? What facets of tone and attitude are suggested thereby, and how might these facets be important for Browne's specific or general ideas and purposes in this work? (c) How do comparable punning and tone to that referred to in section 5 occur also in the opening of section 9? (Note the recurrent pun in the English Renaissance on travel and travail in section 15.)
4. (a) How does Browne use an extended metaphor
(also used by Donne in his prose) in sections 15-16, and why does
this particular metaphor suit the subject matter Browne is meditatively
arguing about? (b) What humorously homely analogy or metaphor does Browne
use in section 16 to drive home one of his ideas? (c) How might Browne's
argument in section 59 apply, by implication, to the issue of the demeanor
of the conflict among the three main Christian denominations at odds in
Renaissance England? How does relativity or balance become
a motif in the NAEL excerpts from Religio Medici, including Part
2, section 1 or 11? (d) How do the figures of speech metaphor, allusion,
hyperbole, simile, and paradox recur in the excerpts? With what meanings
or significances individually? With what meanings or significances in patterns?
(e1) How do astronomical and mathematical imagery (in figurative language)
recur in the excerpts; what themes or ideas do the patterns help convey
or express, and how? (e2) How does Browne's use of mathematical imagery
compare and contrast with John Donne's in "Valediction: Forbidding Mourning"
and John Webster's in The Duchess of Malfi? (f) How does the figurative
language of wayfaring recur in, among other passages, Part 1, section 2;
Part 1, section 3; and Part 2, section 1? What ideas may be conveyed by
this motif or pattern? (g) Where, and with what cumulative significances,
do the following words recur in the excerpts (listed alphabetically): "cause";
"charity" (cf. "mercy," "merciful"); "constitution" (and "constitute");
"difference" (and "indifferent"); "faith"; "reason" ("reasons," "reasonable");
"reformed" ("reformation," "reformers"), "zeal" ("zeals")?
N & Q on Ch. 5 of Hydriotaphia, Urn Burial
Students who choose Ch. 5, must include the entirety of paragraphs 1-4 (omitted from the NAEL selection), printed below:
CHAPTER V [Paragraphs 1-4] of Sir Thomas Browne's Hydriotaphia [C.A. Patrides edition]
 Now since these dead bones have already outlasted the living ones of Methuselah, and in a yard under ground, and thin walls of clay, outworn all the strong and specious buildings above it; and quietly rested under the drums and tramplings of three conquests;1 what Prince can promise such diuturnity2 unto his reliques, or might not gladly say, Sic ego componi versus in ossa velim.?* Time which antiquates antiquities, and hath an art to make dust of all things, hath yet spared these minor monuments. In vain we hope to be known by open and visible conservatories* when to be unknown was the means of their continuation and obscurity their protection: If they dyed by violent hands, and were thrust into their Urns, these bones become considerable, and some old Philosophers would honor them,5 whose souls they conceived most pure, which were thus snatched from their bodies; and to retain a stranger propension6 unto them: whereas they weariedly left a languishing corpse, and with faint desires of reunion. If they fell by long and aged decay, yet wrapt up in the bundle of time, they fall into indistinction,7 and make but one blot with infants. If we begin to die when we live, and long life be but a prolongation of death, our life is a sad composition; we live with death, and die not in a moment. How many pulses made up the life of Methuselah, were work for Archimedes: common counters sum up the life of Moses his man.8 Our days become considerable like petty sums by minute accumulations; where numerous fractions make up but small round numbers; and our days of a span long make not one little finger.9
 If the nearness of our last necessity, brought a nearer conformity unto it, there were a happiness in hoary hairs, and no calamity in half senses. But the long habit of living indisposeth us for dying; when avarice makes us the sport of death; when even David grew politickly cruel; and Solomon could hardly be said to be the wisest of men.10 But many are too early old, and before the date of age. Adversity stretcheth our days, misery makes Alcmena's nights," and time hath no wings unto it. But the most tedious being is that which can unwish it self, content to be nothing, or never to have been, which was beyond the malcontent of Job, who cursed not the day of his life, but his Nativity: content to have so far been, as to have a title to future being, although he had lived here but in an hidden state of life, and as it were an abortion.12
 What song the Sirens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, though puzzling questions13 are not beyond all conjecture. What time the persons of these ossuaries entered the famous nations of the dead,14 and slept with princes and counsellours,15 might admit a wide solution. But who were the proprietaries of these bones, or what bodies these ashes made up, were a question above antiquarism. Not to be resolved by man, nor easily perhaps by spirits, except we consult the Provincial Guardians, or tutelary Observators.16 Had they made as good provision for their names as they have done for their reliques, they had not so grossly erred in the art of perpetuation. But to subsist in bones, and be but pyramidally extant, is a fallacy in duration. Vain ashes, which in the oblivion of names, persons, times, and sexes, have found unto themselves a fruitless continuation, and only arise unto late posterity as emblems of mortal vanities; antidotes against pride, vainglory, and madding vices. Pagan vainglories which thought the world might last forever had encouragement for ambition, and finding no Atropos unto the immortality of their names, were never damped with the necessity of oblivion. Even old ambitions had the advantage of ours in the attempts of their vainglories, who acting early and before the probable Meridian of time,17 have by this time found great accomplishment of their designs, whereby the ancient Heroes have already outlasted their monuments, and mechanical preservations. But in this latter scene of time we cannot expect such mummies unto our memories, when ambition may fear the prophecy of Elias,l8 and Charles the Fifth can never hope to live within two Methuselas of Hector*.
 And therefore
restless inquietude for the diuturnity of our memories unto present considerations
seems a vanity almost out of date and superannuated piece of folly. We
cannot hope to live so long in our names, as some have done in their persons;
one face of Janus holds no proportion unto the other. 'Tis too late
to be ambitious. The great mutations of the world are acted, or time may
be too short for our designs. To extend our memories by monuments, whose
death we daily pray for,20 and whose duration we cannot hope
without injury to our expectations in the advent of the last day, were
a contradiction to our beliefs. We whose generations are ordained in this
setting part of time, are providentially taken off from such imaginations.
And being necessitated to eye the remaining particle of futurity, are naturally
constituted unto thoughts of the next world, and cannot excusably decline
the consideration of that duration, which maketh pyramids pillars of snow,
and all that's past a moment.
[Notes (Browne add: marginal note added by Browne in a later edition; Browne marg.: a marginal note [ = footnote] by Browne) 1. i.e. the Anglo-Saxon, the Danish, and the Norman (always assuming the urns to have been Roman). On this paragraph cf. De Quincey's 'annotation', above, p. 38. 2. 'Long continuance' (Bullokar). 3. 'Thus, when naught is left of me but bones, would I be laid to rest' (Tibullus, III, ii, 26). 4. As above, p. 287, note 21. 5. So the Oracula magica with the scholia by Psellus and Gemistus Plethon (Browne marg.).6. 'proneness, propensity' (Blount).7. i.e. undistinguishableness.8. 'In the Psalm of Moses' (Browne marg.): i.e. Psalm 90.10. The reference to Archimedes involves his directions in The Sand Reckoner for numbering the grains of sand in the universe.9. 'According to the ancient Arithmetic of the hand wherein the little finger of the right hand contracted, signified an hundred. Pierius in Hieroglyph.' (Browne marg.).10. 2 Samuel 8.2 and i Kings u.i ff.11. 'One night as long as three' (Browne marg.) so that Zeus could enjoy her the more. 12. Job 3.1 ff. 15. 'The puzzling questions of Tiberius unto Grammarians' as reported by Suetonius, Tiberius,LXX (Browne add.).See also below, p.438,note22. 14. Odyssey, X, 526 (Browne add.). 15. Job 3.13-15 (Browne add.). 16. Cf. above, p. 101: 'not only whole Countries, but particular persons have their Tutelary, and Guardian Angels'. 17. About 1000 B.C., the mid-point of the world's history (see next note).18. 'That the world may last but six thousand years' (Browne marg.) -i.e. from 4000 B.C. to A.D. 2000. See also below, p. 439, note 31.19. 'Hector's fame lasting above two lives of Methuselah [2 X 969 or 1938 years], before that famous Prince was extant' (Browne marg.); so the fame 'of Charles V (b. 1500) can only extend some 500 years before the expected end of the world. 20. i.e. in the Lord's prayer, 'Thy Kingdom come'. 21. '0 The character of death' (Browne marg.). The Greek letter (theta (ff) is the initial of thanatos or death: 'a theta described upon the judges' tessera or ballot was a mark for death or capital punishment' (Samuel Johnson note.). 22. 'Old ones being taken up, and other bodies laid under them' (Browne marg.).23. Gruterus's Ancient Inscriptions (Browne marg.). 24. 'Which men show in several Countries, giving them what Names they please; and unto some the Names of the old 'Egyptian Kings out of Herodotus' (Browne suppl.).]
N & Q on Ch. 5 of Sir Thomas Browne's Hydriotaphia (see the note above about paragraphs 1-4, printed above, being required for the analysis)
(Apparent misprint in NAEL6: though printed as the first two paragraphs -- "Now since . . . " and "In vain we hope . . . " -- in the standard editions of Browne's Hydriotaphia, these are one paragraph; the first paragraph of Ch. 5, that is, runs from "Now since" through "little finger.")
1. The Greek word hydriotaphia means "urn burial": like Robert Burton, Sir Thomas Browne frequently translates for readers with small (or no) Latin or Greek (as Ben Jonson somewhat severely said in one of the assigned poems, about Shakespeare). Hydriotaphia has five chapters; the NAEL6 selection is the whole fifth, concluding chapter, comprised of 17 paragraphs (see the note, above, about the misparagraphing of the opening paragraphs in NAEL6); the NAEL7 selection is pars. 1 (excerpted; see the whole paragraph, printed above) and 5-17 (see the remainder, printed above). What aspects of prose style help Browne make this chapter feel like a conclusion or peroration (look up the parts of a speech, oration, or discourse in HTL in PDLT)?
2. (a) How do the same questions on facets of prose on Religio Medici, above, apply also for this selection? (b) Where and how are certain key words repeated, to become motifs (e.g., alphabetically, "diuturnity," "duration" [also "durations"], Methuselah, "name" [also "names"], "oblivion," "pyramid," "vain" [also "vainly," "vainglory," "vanity"])? How do they have the same effect as a key repeated word in Donne's Meditation 17? How is there an allusion in some of these motifs to the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible? (c) Where and how does paradox recur in this selection? Allusion? Metaphor? Personification? Pun? How are these figures of speech used to convey meaning both individually as well as cumulatively in patterns? (d) How does Browne, as in Religio Medici manage to balance humor and a very serious topic?
3. (a) How do the urns lead Browne to a meditation on basically three main comparison-contrast subjects, topics, or issues? (b) Suggestiveness of all the sentences beginning with the word (what part of speech?) If in the opening paragraphs of Ch. 5? (c) Suggestiveness of the pervasiveness of the infinitive in Browne's prose in Ch. 5? (d) The meaningfulness, both individually and collectively (in patterns) of Browne's use of antithesis? (e) Where does Browne use the rhetorical figure of the rhetorical question, and with what meanings, both individually and collectively in patterns?
4. (a) Where do Classical and Biblical allusion
recur in Ch. 5, and with what meanings, both individually and collectively
in patterns? (b) Where does figurative language drawing on or refering
to mathematics occur in Ch. 5, and with what meanings, both individually
and collectively in patterns?
Sentences and Paragraphs in Browne's Religio Medici
Part 1, Sec. 1 - "For my religion" (sent. 1); "Not that I" (sent. 2); "Neither doth herein" (sent. 3)
Part 1, Sec. 2 - "But because the" (sent. 1); "Now the accidental" (sent. 2)
Part 1, Sec. 3 - "Yet have I" (sent. 1); "We have reformed" (sent. 2); "I could never" (sent. 3); "Holy water and" (sent. 4); "I am, I" (sent. 5); "My common conversation" (sent. 6); "I should violate" (sent. 7); "At the sight" (sent. 8); "I cannot laugh" (sent. 9); "I could never" (sent. 10); "Whilst, therefore, they" (sent. 11); "At a solemn" (sent 12); "There are questionless" (sent. 13)
Part 1, Sec. 4 - "As there were"
Part 1, Sec. 5 - "But -- to difference" (sent. 1); "Whatsoever is beyond" (sent. 2); "I condemn not" (sent. 3); "In brief, where" (sent. 4); "It is an" (sent. 5); "It is as" (sent. 6); "I confess there" (sent. 7); "By his sentence" (sent. 8); "It is the" (sent. 9); "Those unusual satires" (sent. 10)
Part 1, Sec. 6 - "I could never" (sent. 1); "I have no" (sent. 2); "Where we desire" (sent. 3); "Every man is" (sent. 4); "Many, from the" (sent. 5); "A man may" (sent. 6): "'Tis therefore far" (sent. 7); "If therefore there" (sent. 8); "In philosophy, where" (sent. 9); "By this means" (sent. 10); "I must confess" (sent. 11); "For indeed heresies" (sent. 12); "One general council" (sent. 13); "It may be" (sent. 14); "To see ourselves" (sent. 15); "Every man is" (sent. 16); "Men are lived" (sent. 17); "There was none" (sent. 18)
Part 1, Sec. 9 - "As for those" (sent. 1); "Methinks there be" (sent. 2); "The deepest mysteries" (sent. 3); "I love to" (sent. 4); "'Tis my solitary" (sent. 5); "I can answer" (sent. 6); "I desire to" (sent. 7); "Some believe the" (sent. 8); "Now, contrarily, I" (sent. 9); "I would not" (sent. 10); "'Tis an easy" (sent. 11); "I believe he" (sent. 12); "Nor is this" (sent. 13); "As we have" (sent. 14)
Part 1, Sec. 15 - "I could never" (sent. 1); "We carry with" (sent. 2); "We are that" (sent. 3)
Part 1, Sec. 16 - "Thus are there" (sent. 1); "Those that never" (sent. 2); "This was the" (sent. 3); "Surely the heathens" (sent. 4); "Nor do I" (sent. 5); "To make a" (sent. 6): "Now this course" (sent. 7); "Thus he sweetened" (sent. 8); "Yet this rule" (sent. 9); "And thus I" (sent. 10); "I hold there" (sent. 11); "I cannot tell" (sent. 12); "There is therefore" (sent. 13); "To speak yet" (sent. 14); "Now, nature is" (sent. 15); "Were the world" (sent. 16); "In brief, all" (sent. 17)
Part 1, Sec. 34 - "These are certainly" (sent. 1); "We are only" (sent. 2); "That we are" (sent. 3); "For first we" (sent. 4); "Next we live" (sent. 5); "Thus is man" (sent. 6); "For though there" (sent. 7); "Though divines have," (sent. 8)
Part 1, Sec. 59 - "Again, I am" (sent. 1); "I am as" (sent. 2); "And truly, though" (sent. 3); "That which is" (sent. 4); "Before Abraham was" (sent. 5); "And in this sense" (sent. 6); "Though my grave" (sent. 7)
Part 2, Sec. 1 - "Now for that" (sent. 1); "For I am" (sent. 2); "I wonder not" (sent. 3); "I could digest" (sent. 4); "I cannot start" (sent. 5); "I feel not" (sent. 6); "I was born" (sent. 7); "I am no" (sent. 8); "All places, all" (sent. 9); "I have been" (sent. 10); "In brief, I" (sent. 11); "If there be" (sent. 12); "It is no" (sent. 13); "Neither in the" (sent. 14); "But as in" (sent 15); "Let us speak" (sent. 16); "Though the corruption" (sent. 17)
Sentences and Paragraphs in Browne's Hydriotaphia, or Urn Burial, Ch. 5
Par. 1 - "Now since these" (sent. 1); "Time, which antiquates" (sent. 2); "In vain we" (sent. 3); "If they died" (sent. 4); "If they fell" (sent. 5); "If we begin" (sent. 6); "How many pulses" (sent. 7); "Our days become" (sent. 8)
Par. 2 - "If the nearness" (sent. 1); "But the long" (sent. 2); "But many are" (sent. 3); "But the most" (sent. 4)
Par. 3 - "What song the" (sent. 1); "What time the" (sent. 2); "But who were" (sent. 3); "Had they made" (sent. 4); "Vain ashes, which" (sent. 5); Pagan vainglories which" (sent. 6); "Even old ambitions" (sent. 7); "But in this" (sent. 8)
Par. 4 - "And, therefore, restless" (sent. 1); "We cannot hope" (sent. 2); "'Tis too late" (sent. 3); "To extend our" (sent. 4); "We whose generations" (sent. 5)
Par. 5 - "Circles and right" (sent. 1); "There is no" (sent. 2); "Gravestones tell truth" (sent. 3); "Generations pass while" (sent. 4); "To be read by" (sent. 5)
Par. 6 - "To be content that" (sent. 1); "Who cares to" (sent. 2); "To be nameless" (sent. 3); "The Canaanitish woman" (sent. 4); "And who had" (sent. 5)
Par. 7 - "But the iniquity" (sent. 1); "Who can but" (sent. 2); "Herostratus lives that" (sent. 3); "Time hath spared" (sent. 4); "IN vain we" (sent. 5)' "Who knows whether" (sent. 6); "Without the favor" (sent. 7)
Par. 8 - "Oblivion is not" (sent. 1); "Twenty-seven names" (sent. 2); "The number of" (sent. 3); "The night of" (sent. 4); "Every hour adds" (sent. 5); "And since death" (sent. 6)
Par. 9 - "Darkness and light" (sent. 1); "Sense endureth no" (sent 2); "To weep into" (sent. 3); "Afflictions induce callosities" (sent. 4); "To be ignorant" (sent. 5); "A great part" (sent. 6); "Others, rather than" (sent. 7); "Egyptian ingenuity was" (sent. 8); "The Egyptian mummies" (sent. 9); "Mummy is become" (sent. 10)
Par. 10 - "In vain do" (sent. 1); "The various cosmography" (sent. 2); "While we look" (sent. 3)
Par. 11 - "There is nothing" (sent. 1); "Whatever hath no" (sent. 2); "But the sufficiency" (sent. 3); "God, who can" (sent. 4); "Wherein there is" (sent. 5); "But man is" (sent. 6)
Par. 12 - "Life is a" (sent. 1); "A small fire" (sent. 2)
Par. 13 - "Five languages secured" (sent. 1); "The man of" (sent. 2); "Enoch and Elias" (sent. 3); "If in the decretory" (sent. 4); "When many that" (sent. 5)
Par. 14 - "While some have" (sent. 1); "Even Sulla, that" (sent. 2); "Happy are they" (sent. 3)
Par. 15 - "Pyramids, arches, obelisks" (sent. 1); "But the most" (sent. 2)
Par. 16 - "Pious spirits who" (sent. 1)"And if any" (sent. 2)
Par. 17 - "To subsist in" (sent. 1); "But all this" (sent. 2); "To live indeed" (sent. 3)