Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room, June 2012

rbr newsletter 2012 6

Sir THOMAS BROWNE (1605-1682). A true and full coppy of that which was most imperfectly and Surreptitiously printed before under the name of Religio Medici. [London]: 1643.

Browne was not only a noted physician, but one of the great English writers and philosophers of the 17th century. His works deal more with moral and philosophical issues than medicine, as in this, his masterpiece and most popular work. In the book he sets forth his personal religious philosophy and the tenets by which he lived. Browne’s simple and concise essays were widely read, commented upon, and criticized. His book has deeply influenced many individuals and retains its appeal even after three centuries. This first authorized edition contains the curious allegorical engraving by William Marshall which depicts a man falling headfirst into the sea from the rock of faith. A hand emerging from nearby clouds catches him by the arm and saves him from the sea.