This I confess, about seven years past, with some others of affinity thereto, for my private exercise and satisfaction, I had at leisurable hours composed; which being communicated unto one, it became common unto many, and was by transcription successively corrupted, until it arrived in a most depraved copy at the press.
He that shall peruse that work, and shall take notice of sundry particulars and personal expressions therein, will easily discern the intention was not publick: and, being a private exercise directed to myself, what is delivered therein was rather a memorial unto me, than an example or rule unto any other: and therefore, if there be any singularity therein correspondent unto the private conceptions of any man, it doth not advantage them; or if dissentaneous thereunto, it no way over- throws them.
It was penned in such a place, and with such disadvantage, that (I protest), from the first setting of pen unto paper, I had not the assistance of any good book, whereby to promote my invention, or relieve my memory; and therefore there might be many real lapses therein, which others might take notice of, and more that I suspected myself.
It was set down many years past, and was the sense of my conceptions at that time, not an immutable law unto my advancing judgment at all times; and therefore there might be many things therein plausible unto my passed apprehension, which are not agreeable unto my present self. There are many things delivered rhetorically, many expressions therein merely tropical, and as they best illustrate my intention; and therefore also there are many things to be taken in a soft and flexible sense, and not to be called unto the rigid test of reason.
Lastly, all that is contained therein is in submission unto maturer discernments; and, as I have declared, shall no further father them than the best and learned judgments shall authorize them: under favour of which considerations, I have made its secrecy publick, and committed the truth thereof to every ingenuous reader.
What a delicious prose style - and especially that expression, which might be taken as a plea from all daily bloggers, and indeed all those whose ideas change, evolve, over time:
There are many things delivered rhetorically, many expressions therein merely tropical, and as they best illustrate my intention; and therefore also there are many things to be taken in a soft and flexible sense, and not to be called unto the rigid test of reason.
I am, of course, myself, a doctor - so this blog is a Religio Medici; but it is long since I was employed to treat patients. Indeed, I practiced full time for only two years. I left clinical medicine for many reasons, including insufficient stamina as a major one - but one reason was that I could never be clear why I was keeping people alive, and what I was keeping people alive for.
Therefore I moved into research, and then into English Literature and Philosophy, under the idea that Art or Philosophy might justify life, and clarify what it was all for.
They never did; and it was not until many years later, and indeed just the past few years, that I understood what it was all about - and therefore how, potentially, medicine might properly be practiced.
Because, without a knowledge (or intuition) of the purpose of Life, nothing can be done well - certainly not medicine, which becomes merely a kicking the can further down the road (extending life, a bit) in hope that somewhere down the line somebody will work out why...
More on Thos. Browne at: http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=religio