Sir Thomas Browne: A Man of Achievement in Literature

Go to book overview
Save to active project

CHAPTER II
DOMESTIC CORRESPONDENCE

THE letters between Sir Thomas Browne and his family allow us an intimate knowledge of his domestic relationships; they also throw light by contrast upon the conscious art of his published prose. He did not write these letters for posterity and most of them are singularly artless; only rarely is there anything in their style to recall the master of English prose who wrote Religio Medici, Urne-Buriall and The Garden of Cyrus. He may admonish his sons about spelling and punctuation, telling Edward, 'Write not sceleton with a K' [Letter 150], and Tom, 'Remember to make Commas as, and full points at the end of the sentance thus.' [Letter 9]. Nevertheless, his own punctuation is, by modern standards, as erratic as his own spelling. The advice just quoted follows, without full-stop, immediately after:

. . .; you may goe from Orleance to Paris by Coach, and from Paris to Rouen by Coach; you must intrust yr trunk with Mr Bendish at Rochell or with Mr Dade at Bourdeaux to be sent by the Vintage Ships to Yarmouth, and must travail only with a Portmanteaux or Valis and one sute of Cloths, for it will be hard to carry more; be directed herein by some English friend; have a Care of yr Draughts and observations, remember . . .,

etc., and the only full-stop is the exemplary one, quoted above. Not only is Browne here using the semi-colon, not the full-stop, to separate his sentences, but he is paying no attention to balance or harmony of phrasing. Furthermore, topics follow one another just as they happen to arise in his mind. In another letter to Tom political news is followed, without full-stop, by: 'Good boy do not trouble thyself to send us anything, either wine or Bacon.' Then the boy's offer of presents calling to mind his probable shortage of money, his father goes straight on with: 'I would

-25-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Sir Thomas Browne: A Man of Achievement in Literature
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 255

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?