Introduction | Religio Medici | Urn-Burial | Letter to a Friend | Notes


1. It was a proverb, "Ubi tres medici duo athei."

2. A Latinised word meaning a taunt (impropero.)

3. The synod of Dort was held in 1619 to discuss the doctrines of Arminius. It ended by condemning them.

4. Hallam, commenting on this passage, says--"That Jesuit must be a disgrace to his order who would have asked more than such a concession to secure a proselyte--the right of interpreting whatever was written, and of supplying whatever was not"--Hist. England, vol. ii. p. 74.

5. See the statute of the Six Articles (31 Hen. VIII. c. 14), which declared that transubstantiation, communion in one kind, celibacy of the clergy, vows of widowhood, private masses, and auricular confession, were part of the law of England.

6. In the year 1606, when the Jesuits were expelled from Venice, Pope Paul V. threatened to excommunicate that republic. A most violent quarrel ensued, which was ultimately settled by the mediation of France.

7. Alluding to the story of OEdipus solving the riddle proposed by the Sphynx.

8. The nymph Arethusa was changed by Diana into a fountain, and was said to have flowed under the sea from Elis to the fountain of Arethusa near Syracuse.--Ov. Met. lib. v. fab. 8.

9. These heretics denied the immortality of the soul, but held that it was recalled to life with the body. Origen came from Egypt to confute them, and is said to have succeeded. (See Mosh. Eccl. Hist., lib. i. c. 5. sec. 16.) Pope John XXII. afterwards adopted it.

10. A division from the Greek dichotomia.

11. The brain.

12. A faint resemblance, from the Latin adumbro, to shade.

13. Alluding to the idea Sir T. Browne often expresses, that an oracle was the utterance of the devil.

14. To fathom, from Latin profundis.

15. Beginning from the Latin efficio.

16. Galen's great work.

17. John de Monte Regio made a wooden eagle that, when the emperor was entering Nuremburg, flew to meet him, and hovered over his head. He also made an iron fly that, when at dinner, he was able to make start from under his hand, and fly round the table. --See De Bartas, 6me jour 1me semaine.

18. Hidden, from the Greek krypto.

19. A military term for a small mine.

20. The Armada.

21. The practice of drawing lots.

22. An account.

23. See Il. VIII. 18--

    "Let down our golden everlasting chain,
    Whose strong embrace holds heaven, and earth, and main."
    --Pope, Il. viii. 26.

24. An argument where one proposition is accumulated upon another, from the Greek soreites, a heap.

25. Alluding to the second triumvirate--that of Augustus, Antony, and Lepidus. Florus says of it, "Respublica convulsa est lacerataque."

26. Ochinus. He was first a monk, then a doctor, then a Capuchin friar, then a Protestant: in 1547 he came to England, and was very active in the Reformation. He was afterwards made Canon of Canterbury. The Socinians claim him as one of their sect.

27. The father of Pantagruel. His adventures are given in the first book of Rabelais, Sir Bevys of Hampton, a metrical romance, relating the adventures of Sir Bevys with the saracens.--Wright and Halliwell's Reliquiæ Antiquæ, ii. 59.

28. Contradictions between two laws.

29. On his arrival at Paris, Pantagruel visited the library of St. Victor: he states a list of the works he found there, among which was "Tartaretus." Pierre Tartaret was a French doctor who disputed with Duns Scotus. His works were republished at Lyons, 1621.

30. Deucalion was king of Thessaly at the time of the deluge. He and his wife Pyrrha, with the advice of the oracle of Themis, repeopled the earth by throwing behind them the bones of their grandmother,--i.e., stones of the earth.--See Ovid, Met. lib. i. fab. 7.

31. St. Augustine (De Civ. Dei, xvi. 7).

32. apenxato (St. Matt. xxvii. 5) means death by choking. Erasmus translates it, "abiens laqueo se suspendit."

33. Burnt by order of the Caliph Omar, A.D. 640. It contained 700,000 volumes, which served the city for fuel instead of wood for six months.

34. Enoch being informed by Adam the world was to be drowned and burnt, made to pillars, one of stone to withstand the water, and one of brick to withstand the fire, and inscribed upon them all known knowledge.--See Josephus, Ant. Jud.

35. A Franciscan friar, counsellor to the Inquisition, who visited the principal librares in Spain to make a catalogue of the books opposed to the Romish religion. His "index novus librorum prohibitorum" was published at Seville in 1631.

36. Printing, gunpowder, clocks.

37. The Targums and the various Talmuds.

38. Pagans, Mahometans, Jews, Christians.

39. Valour, and death in battle.

40. Held 1414-1418.

41. Vergilius, bishop of Salzburg, having asserted the existence of Antipodes, the Archbishop of Metz declared him to be a heretic, and caused him to be burnt.

42. On searching on Mount Calvary for the true cross, the empress found three. As she was uncertain which was the right one, she caused them to be applied to the body of a dead man, and the one that restored him to life was determined to be the true cross.

43. The critical time in human life.

44. Oracles were said to have ceased when Christ came, the reply to Augustus on the subject being the last--

    "Me puer Hebræus divos Deus ipse gubernans
    Cedere sede jubet tristemque redire sub Orcum
    Aris ergo de hinc tacitus discedito nostris."

45. An historian who wrote "De Rebus Indicis." He is cited by Pliny, Strabo, and Josephus.

46. Alluding to the popular superstition that infant children were carried off by fairies, and others left in their places.

47. Who is said to have lived without meat, on the smell of a rose.

48. "Essentiæ rationalis immortalis."

49. St. Augustine, De Civ. Dei, lib. x., cc. 9, 19, 32.

50. That which includes everything is opposed to nullity.

51. An inversion of the parts of an antithesis.

52. St. Augustine--"Homily on Genesis."

53. Sir T. Browne wrote a dialogue between two twins in the womb respecting the world into which they were going!

54. Refinement.

55. Constitution another form of temperament.

56. The Jewish computation for fifty years.

57. Saturn revolves once in thirty years.

58. Christian IV., of Denmark, who reigned from 1588-1647.

59. Æson was the father of Jason. By bathing in a bath prepared for him by Medæa with some magic spells, he became young again. Ovid describes the bath and its ingredients, Met., lib. vii. fab. 2.

60. Alluding to the rabbinical tradition that the world would last for 6000 years, attributed to Elias, and cited in the Talmud.

61. Zeno was the founder of the Stoics.

62. Referring to a passage in Suetonius, Vit. J. Cæsar, sec 87:-- "Aspernatus tam lentum mortis genus subitam sibi celeremque optaverat."

63. In holding

    "Mors ultima poena est,
    Nec metuenda viris."

64. The period when the moon is in conjunction and obscured by the sun.

65. One of the judges of hell.

66. To select some great man for our ideal, and always to act as if he was present with us. See Seneca, lib. i. Ep. 11.

67. Sir T. Browne seems to have made various experiments in this subject. D'Israeli refers to it in his "Curiosities of Literature." Dr Power, a friend of Sir T. Browne, with whom he corresponded, gives a receipt for the process.

68. The celebrated Greek philosopher who taught that the sun was a mass of heated stone, and various other astronomical doctrines. Some critics say Anaxarchus is meant here.

69. See Milton's "Paradise Lost," lib. I. 254--

    "The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven."
And also Lucretius--
    "Hic Acherusia fit stultorum denique vita."--iii. 1023.

70. Keck says here--"So did they all, as Lactantius has observed at large. Aristotle is said to have been guilty of great vanity in his clothes, of incontinency, and of unfaithfulness to his master, Alexander II."

71. Phalaris, king of Agrigentum, who, when Perillus made a brazen bull in which to kill criminals, placed him in it to try its effects.

72. Their maxim was

    "Nihil sciri siquis putat id quoque nescit,
    An sciri possit quod se nil scire fatetur."

73. Pope Alexander III., in his declaration to the Doge, said,--"Que la mer vous soit soumise comme l'epouse l'est a son epoux puisque vous in avez acquis l'empire par la victorie." In commemoration of this the Doge and Senate went yearly to Lio, and throwing a ring into the water, claimed the sea as their bride.

74. Appolonius Thyaneus, who threw a large quantity of gold into the sea, saying, "Pessundo divitias ne pessundare ab illis."

75. The technical term in fencing for a hit--

    "A sweet touch, a quick venew of wit."
    Love's Labour Lost, act v. sc. 1.

76. Strabo compared the configuration of the world, as then known, to a cloak or mantle (chlamys).

77. Atomists or familists were a Puritanical sect who appeared about 1575, founded by Henry Nicholas, a Dutchman. They considered that the doctrine of revelation was an allegory, and believed that they had attained to spiritual perfection.--See Neal's Hist. of Puritans, 1. 273.

78. From the 126th psalm St Augustine contends that Solomon is damned. See also Lyra in 2 Kings vii.

79. From the Spanish "Dorado," a gilt head.

80. Sir T. Browne treats of chiromancy, or the art of telling fortunes by means of lines in the hands, in his "Vulgar Errors," lib. v. cap. 23.

81. Gypsies.

82. S. Wilkin says that here this word means niggardly.

83. In the dialogue, "judicium vocalium," the vowels are the judges, and S complains that T has deprived him of many letters that ought to begin with S.

84. If Jovis or Jupitris.

85. The celebrated Roman grammarian. A proverbial phrase for the violation of grammar was "Breaking Priscian's head."

86. Livy says, Actius Nevius cut a whetstone through with a razor.

87. A kind of lizard that was supposed to kill all it looked at--

    "Whose baneful eye
    Wounds at a glance, so that the soundest dye."
    --De Bartas, 6me jour 1me sem.

88. Epimenides (Titus x. 12)-- "Kretes aei pseustai kaka theria gasteres argai."

89. Nero having heard a person say, "When I am dead, let earth be mingled with fire," replied, "Yes, while I live."--Suetonius, Vit. Nero.

90. Alluding to the story of the Italian, who, having been provoked by a person he met, put a poniard to his heart, and threatened to kill him if he would not blaspheme God; and the stranger doing so, the Italian killed him at once, that he might be damned, having no time to repent.

91. A rapier or small sword.

92. The battle here referred to was the one between Don John of Austria and the Turkish fleet, near Lepanto, in 1571. The battle of Lepanto (that is, the capture of the town by the Turks) did not take place till 1678.

93. Several authors say that Aristotle died of grief because he could not find out the reason for the ebb and flow of the tide in Epirus.

94. Who deny that there is such a thing as science.

95. A motto on a ring or cup. In an old will, 1655, there is this passage: "I give a cup of silver gilt to have this posy written in the margin:-- "When the drink is out, and the bottom you may see, Remember your brother I. G."

96. The opposition of a contrary quality, by which the quality it opposes becomes heightened.

97. Adam as he was created and not born.

98. Meaning a world, as Atlas supported the world on his shoulders.

99. Merriment. Johnson says that this is the only place where the word is found.

100. Said to be a cure for madness.

101. Patched garments.

102. A game. A kind of capping verses, in which, if any one repeated what had been said before, he paid a forfeit.


1. Just.

2. Destruction.

3. A chemical vessel made of earth, ashes, or burnt bones, and in which assay-masters try their metals. It suffers all baser ones when fused and mixed with lead to pass off, and retains only gold and silver.

4. This substance known to French chemists by the name "adipo-cire," was first discovered by Sir Thomas Browne.

5. From its thickness.

6. Euripides.

7. Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Egyptian, Arabic defaced by the Emperor Licinius.


1. Will not survive until next spring.

2. Wasting.

3. An eminent Italian Physician, lecturer in the University of Pavia, died 1576. He was a most voluminous medical writer.

4. An eminent doctor and scholar who passed his time at Venice and Padua studying and practising medicine, died 1568.

5. Charles V. was born 24th February, 1500.

6. Francis I. of France was taken prisoner at the battle of Pavia, 24th February, 1525.

7. One of the greatest Protestant generals of the seventeenth century. He died at Zara, 1626.

8. An inflation, or swelling, from the French bouffee*.

9. August 20th, 1526. He was defeated by Solyman II., and suffocated in a brook, by a fall from his horse, during the retreat.

10. The caul.

11. Money-seeking.

12. Cacus stole some of Hercules' oxen, and drew them into his cave backward to prevent any traces being discovered. Ovid Fast, 1. 554.

13. Narrow, like walking on a rope.

14. A Greek philosophical writer. This Pinax is a representation of a table where the whole human life with its dangers and temptations is symbolically represented.

15. Picture.

16. The course taken by the Spanish Treasure ships. See Anson Voyages.

17. A recommencement.

    "Dulcique senex vicinus Hymetto
    Qui partem acceptæ sava inter vincia cicutæ
    Accusatori nollet dare,"--Juv. Sat. xiii. 185.

19. A small revolution made by one planet in the orbit of another.

Introduction | Religio Medici | Urn-Burial | Letter to a Friend | Notes

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