Chapter 12An Apologie of Raymond Sebond
Knowledge is without all contradiction, a most profitable and chiefe ornament: Those who despise it declare evidently their sottishnes: Yet doe not I value it at so excessive a rate, as some have done; namely Herillus the philosopher, who grounded his chiefe felicitie upon it, and held that it lay in her power to make us happy and wise: which I can not beleeve, nor that which others have saide, that Knowledge is the mother of all vertue, and that all vice proceedeth of ignorance. Which if it be, it is subject to a large interpretation. My house hath long since ever stoode open to men of understanding, and is very well knowne to many of them: for, my father, who commaunded the same fiftie yeeres and upward, set on fire by that new kinde of earnestnes, wherewith king Francis the first embraced Letters, and raised them unto credite, did with great diligence, and much cost, endevour to purchase the acquaintance of learned men: receiving and entertaining them as holy persons, and who had some particular inspiration of divine wisedome; collecting their sentences and discourses, as if they had beene Oracles; and with so much more reverence and religious regard, by how much lesse authoritie he had to judge of them: for, hee had no knowledge of Letters, no more than his predecessors before him. As for me, I love them indeede, but yet I worship them not. Amongst others, Peter Bunel (a man in his time, by reason of his learning, of high esteeme) having sojourned a few dayes at Montaigne with my father, and others of his coate, being ready to departe thence, presented him with a booke entituled Theologia naturalis; siue liber creaturarum magistri Raimondi de Sebonda. And forsomuch as the Italian and Spanish tongues were very familiar unto him, and that the booke was written in a kinde of latinized Spanish, whereof diverse wordes had Latine terminations; he hoped, that with little ayde, he might reape no small profite by it, and commended the same very much unto him, as a booke most profitable, and fitting the dayes in which he gave it him. It was even at what time the new-fangles of Luther beganne to creepe in favor, and in many places to shake the foundation of our ancient beliefe. Wherein he seemed to be well advised, as he who by discourse of reason foresaw, that this budding diesease would easily turne to an execrable Atheisme: For, the vulgar many, wanting the facultie to judge of things by themselves, suffering it selfe to be carried away by fortune, and led-on by outward apparances, if once it be possessed with the boldnesse to despise, and malapertnesse to impugne the opinions, which tofore it held in awefull reverence (as are those wherein consisteth their salvation) and that some articles of their religion be made doubtfull and questionable, they will soone and easily admit an equall uncertainty in all other partes of their beliefe, as they that had no other grounded authoritie or foundation, but such as are now shaken and weakened, and imediately reject (as a tyrannicall yoke) all impressions, they had in former times received by the aucthoritie of lawes, or reverence of ancient custome,
Nam cupidè conculcatur nimis anté metutum
That which we fear’d before too much, We gladly scorne when tis not such.
undertaking thenceforward to allow of nothing, except they have first given their voice and particular consent to the same. My father, a few dayes before his death, lighting by chance upon this booke, which before he had neglected, amongst other writings commanded mee to translate the same into French. It is easie to translate such aucthors, where nothing but the matter is to be represented; but hard and dangerous, to undertake such as have added much to the grace and elegancie of the language, namely to reduce them into a weaker and poorer tongue. It was a strange taske, and new occupation for mee: but by fortune being then at leisure, and unable to gainesay the commandement of the best father that ever was; I came ere long (as well as I could) to an end of it: wherein he tooke singular delight, and commanded the same to be printed, which accordingly was after his decease performed. I found the conceits of the author to be excellent, the contexture of his worke well followed, and his Project full of pietie. Now forasmuh as diverse ammuse themselves to reade-it, and especially Ladies, to whom we owe most service, it hath often beene my hap to help them, when they were reading it, to discharge the booke of two principall objections, which are brought against the same. His drift is bold, and his scope adventrous; for, he undertaketh by humane and naturall reasons, to establish and verifie all the articles of Christian religion against Atheists. Wherein (to say truth) I finde him so resolute and so happy, as I deeme it a thing impossible to doe better in that argument, and thinke that none equaleth him. Which booke seeming to me both over-rich and exquisite, being written by an aucthor, whose name is so little knowne, and of whom, all we know, is, that he was a Spaniard, who about two hundred yeeres since professed Phisicke in Thoulouse. I demanded once of Adrianus Turnebus (a man who knew all things) what such a booke might be, who answered, that he deemed the same to be some Quintessence, extracted from out Saint Thomas Aquinas: For, in good truth, onely such a spirit fraught with so infinite erudition, and so ful of admirable subtilitie, was capable of such and so rare imaginations. So it is, that whosoever be the authour or deviser of it (the title whereof ought not without further reason to be taken from Sebonde) he was a very sufficient-worthie man, and endowed with sundry other excellent qualities. The first thing he is reproved for, in his Booke, is, that Christians wrong themselves much, in that they ground their beliefe upon humane reasons, which is conceived but by faith, and by a particular inspiration of God. Which objection seemeth to containe some zeale of pietie; by reason whereof we ought with so much more mildnes and regarde, endevour to satisfie them that propose it. It were a charge, more befitting a man conversant, and sutable to one acquainted with the holy Scriptures, than me, who am altogether ignorant in them. Neverthelesse I thinke, that even as to a matter so divine and high, and so much exceeding all humane understanding, as is this Veritie, wherwith it hath pleased the goodnes of God to enlighten us, it is most requisite, that he affoorde and lend us his helpe. And that, with an extraordinarie and priviledged favour, that so we may the better conceive and entertaine the same: For, I suppose that meanes meerely humane can no way be capable of it; which if they were, so many rare and excellent mindes, and so plenteously stored with naturall faculties, as have beene in times past, would never by their discourse, have mist the attaining of this knowledge. It is faith onely, which lively and assuredly embraceth the high mysteries of our Religion. And no man can doubt, but that it is a most excellent and commendable enterprise, properly to accommodate and fit to the service of our faith, the naturall helpes and humane implements which God hath bestowed upon-us. And no question is to be made, but that it is the most honourable employment we can put them unto; and that there is no occupation or intent more worthy a good Christian, than by all meanes, studies and imaginations, carefully to endevour, how to embellish, amplifie and extend the trueth of his beliefe and religion. It is not enough for us to serve God in spirite and soule, we owe him besides, and wee yeelde unto him a corporall worshipping; we applie our limmes, our motions, and all externall things, to honour him. The like ought to be done, and we should accompany our faith with all the reason we possesse: Yet alwayes with this proviso, that we thinke it doth not depend of-us, and that all our strength and arguments can never attaine to so supernaturall and divine a knowledge: Except it seize upon us, and as it were enter into us by an extraordinarie infusion: And unlesse it also enter into us, not onely by discourse, but also by humane meanes, she is not in her dignitie, nor in her glorie. And verely I feare therfore, that except this waie, we should not enjoy-it. Had we fast-holde on God, by the enterposition of a lively faith; had we hold-fast on God by himselfe, and not by us; had wee a divine foundation, then should not humane and worldly occasions have the power so to shake and totter-us, as they have. Our holde would not then yeeld to so weake a batterie: The love of noveltie; the constraint of Princes; the good successe of one partie; the rash and casuall changing of our opinions, should not then have the power to shake and alter our beliefe. We should not suffer the same to be troubled at the will and pleasure of a new argument, and at the perswasion, no, not of all the rhetorike that ever was: we should withstand these boistrous billowes with an inflexible and unmoveable constancie:
Illisos fluctus rupes, ut uasta refundit, Et uarias circùm latrantes dissipat undas Mole sua.
As huge rocks doe regorge th’invective waves, And dissipate the billowes brawling braves, Which these gainst those still bellowe out, Those being big and standing out.
If this raie of Divinitie did in any sort touch us, it would everie where appeare: Not only our words, but our actions, would beare some shew and lustre of it. Whatsoever should proceede from us, might be seene inlightned with this noble and matchles brightnes. We should blush for shame, that in humane sects, there was never any so factious, what difficultie or strangenesse soever his doctrine maintained, but would in some sort conforme his behaviors and square his life unto it: Whereas so divine and heavenly an institution never markes christians but by the tongue. And will you see whether it be so? Compare but our maners unto a Turke, or a Pagan, and we must needes yeeld unto them: Whereas in respect of our religions superioritie, we ought by much, yea by an incomparable distance, out-shine them in excellencie: And well might a man say, Are they so just, so charitable, and so good? Then must they be Christians. All other outward shewes and exterior apparences are common to all religions: As hope, affiance, events, ceremonies, penitence and martyrdome. The peculiar badge of our truth should be vertue; As it is the heavenliest and most difficult marke, and worthiest production of Verity itself. And therfore was our good Saint Lewis in the right, when that Tartarian king, who was become a Christian, intended to come to Lions, to kisse the Popes feet, and there to view the sanctitie, he hoped to find in our lives and maners, presently to divert and disswade him from it, fearing lest our dissolute maners, and licentious kind of life, might scandalize him, and so alter his opinion fore-conceived of so sacred a religion. Howbeit the contrary happened to another, who for the same effect being come to Rome and there viewing the disolutenesse of the Priests and people of those dayes, was so much the more confirmed in our religion; considering with himself what force and divinity it must of consequence have, since it was able, amidst so many corruptions, and so viciously-poluted hands, to maintaine her dignitie and splendor. Had we but one onely graine of faith, wee should then be able to remoove mountaines from out their place. saith the holy Writ. Our actions being guided, and accompanied with divinitie, should not then be meerely humane, but even as our beliefe, containe some wonder-causing thing. Brevis est institutio uitæ honestæ beatæque, si credas. The institution of an honest and blessed life is but short, if a man beleeve. Some make the worlde beleeve, that they beleeve the things they never do. Others (and they are the greater number) perswade themselves they doe so, as unable to conceive what it is to beleeve. We thinke it strange if in warres, which at this time doe so oppresse our state, we see the events to floate so strangely, and with so common and ordinarie a manner to change and alter: The reason is, we adde nothing unto it but our owne. Justice, which is on the one side, is used but for a cloake and ornament; she is indeede alleadged, but nor received, nor harboured, nor wedded. She is as in the mouth of a Lawyer, and not as she ought in the heart and affection of the partie. God oweth his extraordinarie assistance unto faith and religion, and not to our passions. Men are but directors unto-it, and use religion for a shew: It ought to be cleane contrarie. Doe but marke if we doe not handle it as it were a peece of waxe, from our so right and so firme a rule, to drawe so many contrary shapes. When was this better seene than now-adaies in France? Those which have taken it on the left, and those who have taken it on the right hand; Such as speake the false, and such who speake the truth of it, do so alike employ and fit the same to their violent and ambitious enterprises, proceede unto it with so conformable a proceeding in riotousnes and injustice, that they make the diversitie they pretend in their opinions doubtfull, and hard to be believed, in a thing from which depends the conduct and law of our life. Can a man see from one same Schoole and Discipline, more united and alike customes and fashions to proceede? View but the horrible impudencie wherewith we tosse divine reasons to and fro, and how irreligiously wee have both rejected and taken them againe, according as fortune hath in these publike stormes transported us from place to place. This so solemne proposition; Whether it be lawfull for a subject, for the defence of religion, to rebell and take armes against his Prince: Call but to minde, in what mouthes but a twelve-moneth agoe the affirmative of the same was the chiefe piller of the one parte; the negative was the maine-underproppe of the other: And listen now from whence commeth the voice and instruction of one and other: and whether armes clatter and clang lesse for this, than for that cause. And we burne those men, which say, that trueth must be made to abide the yoke of our neede: And how much worse doth France, than speake it? Let us confesse the trueth; he that from out this lawfull army should cull out, first those who follow it for meere zeale of a religious affection, than such as only regard the defence and protection of their countries lawes, or service of their Prince; whether hee could ever erect a compleate company of armed men. How comes-it to passe, that so few are found, who have still held one same wil and progresse in our publike revolutions, and that we see them now and then but faintly, and sometimes, as fast as they can headlong to runne into the action? And the same men, now by their violence and rashnesse, and now through their slownes, demissnes and heavines, to spoile, and as it were overthrow our affaires, but that they are thrust into them by casuall motives, and particular considerations, according to the diversities wherewith they are moved? I plainely perceive, we lend nothing unto devotion but the offices that flatter our passions. There is no hostilitie so excellent, as that which is absolutely Christian. Our zeale worketh wonders, when ever it secondeth our inclination toward hatred, crueltie, ambition, avarice, detraction, or rebellion. Towards goodnes, benignitie, or temperance, it goeth but slowly, and against the haire, except miraculously, some rare complexion leade him unto it, it neither runnes nor flieth to it. Our religion was ordained to roote out vices, but it shrowdeth, fostreth and provoketh them. As commonly we say, We must not make a foole of God. Did we believe in him, I say not through faith, but with a simple beliefe, yea (I speake it to our confusion) did we but believe and know him, as wee doe another storie, or as one of our companions, we should then love him above all other things, by reason of the infinite goodnes, and unspeakable beauty that is, and shines in him: Had he but the same place in our affections, that riches, pleasures, glory and our friends have: The best of us doth not so much feare to wrong him, as he doth to injurie his neighbour, his kinsman, or his maister. Is there so simple a minde, who on the one side having before him the object of one of our vicious pleasures, and on the other to his full viewe, perfect knowledge and assured perswasion, the state of an immortall glorie, that would enter into contention of one for the other? And if we often refuse it through meere contempt: for, what envie draws us to blaspheming, unlesse it be at all adventures, the envy it selfe of the offence? The Philosopher Antisthenes, when he was initiated in the mysteries of Orpheus, the priest, saying, unto him, that such as vowed themselves to that religion, should after death receive eternall and perfect felicities, replied, if thou believe-it, why dost thou not die thy self? Diogenes more roughly (as his manner was,) and further from our purpose, answered the priest, who perswaded him to be one of his order, that so he might come unto, and attaine the happinesse of the other world: Wilt thou have me believe, that those famous men Agesilaus and Epaminondas, shall be miserable, and that thou, who art but an asse, and dost nothing of any worth, shalt be happy, because thou art a Priest? Did we but receive these large promises of everlasting blessednes with like authoritie, as we do a philosophicall discourse, we should not then have death in that horror as we have:
Non iam se moriens dissolui conquereretur, Sed magis ire foras, uestémque relinquere ut anguis Gauderet, prælonga senex aut cornua ceruus.
He would not now complaine to be dissolved dying, But rather more rejoice, that now he is forth-flying, Or as a Snake his coate out-worne, Or as olde Harts, doth cast his horne.
I will be free, would we say, and be with Jesus Christ. The forcible power of Platoes discourse, of the immortalitie of the soule, provoked diverse of his Schollers unto death, that so they might morespeedily enjoy the hopes he told them of. Al which is a most evident token, that we receive our religion, but according to our fashion, and by our own hands, and no otherwise than other religions are received. We are placed in the countrie, where it was in use; either we regarde her antiquitie, or the authoritie of those who have maintained the same; let us either feare the menaces, wherewith she threatneth all mis-beleevers, or let us followe her promises. These considerations ought to be applied and employed to our beleefe, but as Subsidiaries: they be humane bondes. Another countrie, other testimonies, equall promises: alike menaces, mighe semblably imprint a cleane contrary religion in us: we are christians by the same title, as we are either Perigordins or Germans. And as Plato saith, There are few so confirmed in Atheisme, but some great danger will bring unto the knowledge of Gods divine power. The parte doth not touch or concerne a good Christian: It is for mortall and worldly religions, to be received by a humane convoy. What faith is that like to be, which cowardnesse of heart doth plant, and weaknesse establish in us! A goodly faith, that believes that which it beleeveth, onely because it wanteth the courage not to unbeleeve the same. A vicious passion, as that of inconstancie and astonishment is, can it possibly ground any regular production in our mindes or soules? They establish (saith he) by the reason of their judgement, that whatsoever is reported of hell, or of after-comming paines, is but a fiction; but the occasion to make triall of it, offering it selfe, at what time age or sickenesse doth sommon them to death: the terrour of the same, through the horrour of their future condition, dooth then replenish them with an other kinde of beleefe. And because such impressions make mens hearts fearefull, hee by his lawes, inhibiteth all instruction of such threats, and the perswasion, that any evill may come unto man from the Gods, except for his greater good, and for a medicinable effect, whensoever he falleth into-it. The report of Bias, that being infected with the Athiesmes of Theodorus, he had for a long time made but a mockerie of religious men; but when death did once seize upon him, he yeelded unto the extreamest superstions: As if the Gods would either be remooved, or come againe, according to Bias businesse. Plato and these examples conclude, that wee are brought to beleeve in God, either by reason, or by compulsion. Atheisme being a proposition, as unnaturall and monstrous as it is harde and uneasie to be established in any mans minde, how insolent and unruly soever hee may be. Many have beene seene, to have conceived, either through vanitie or fiercenesse, strange and seld-knowne opinions, as if they would become reformers of the world, by affecting a profession onely in countenaunce: who though they be sufficiently foolish, yet are they not powerfull enough, to ground or settle it in their consciences. Yet will not such leave to list-up their joyned hands to heaven, give them but a stoccado on their breast: and when feare shall have supprest, or sickenesse vanquished this licentious fervour of a wavering minde, then will they suffer themselves gently to be reclaimed, and discreetly to be perswaded, to give credite unto true beliefe and publike examples. A decree seriously digested is one thing, and these shallow and superficiall impressions another, which, bredde by the dissolutnesse of a loose spirite, do rashly and uncertainely floate up and downe the fantasie of a man. Oh men most braine-sicke and miserable, that endevour to be worse than they can! The errour of Paganisme, and the ignorance of our sacred trueth, was the cause of this great soules-fall; but onely great in worldely greatnes, also in this next abuse, which is, that children and olde men, are found to be more susceptible or capable of religion, as if it were bredde and had her credite from our imbecilitie. The bond which should binde our judgement, tie our will, enforce and joyne our soules to our Creator, should be a bond taking his doubling and forces, not from our considerations, reasons and passions, but from a divine and supernaturall compulsion, having but one forme, one countenaunce, and one grace; which is the authoritie and grace of God. Now our heart being ruled, and our soule commaunded by faith, reason willeth, that shee drawe all our other partes to the service of her intent, according to their power and facultie. Nor is it likely, but that this vast worldesframe must beare the impression of some markes, therein imprinted by the hand of this great-wondrous Architect, and that even in all things therein created, there must be some image, somewhat resembling, and having coherencie with the woorkeman that wrought and framed them. Hee hath left imprinted in these high and mysterious workes, the characters of his divinitie: and onely our imbecilitie is the cause, wee can nor discover, nor reade them. It is that which himselfe telleth us, That by his visible operations, hee dooth manifest those, that are invisible to us. Sebond hath much travelled about this woorthie studie, and sheweth us, That there is no parcell of this worlde, that either belyeth or shameth his Maker. It were a manifest wronging of Gods goodnesse, if all this universe did not consent and simpathize with our beliefe. Heaven, earth, the elements, our bodies, our soule; yea all things-else, conspire and agree unto-it: onely the meanes how to make use of them must be found out: They will instruct us sufficiently, be wee but capable to learne and apt to understand. For, this world is a most holy Temple, into which man is brought, there to beholde statues and images, not wrought by mortall hand, but such as the secret thought of God hath made sensible, as the Sunne, the Starres, the Waters and the Earth, thereby to represent the intelligible unto us. The invisible things of God (saieth Saint Paul) doe evidently appeare by the creation of the worlde, judging of his eternall Wisedome and Divinitie by his workes.
Atque adeo faciem cœli non inuidet orbi, Ipse deus, uultúsque suos corpúsque recludit, Semper uoluendo: séque ipsum inculcat & offert Ut bene cognosci possit, doceátque uidendo Qualis eat, doceâtque suas attendere leges.
God to the world doth not heav’ns face envie, But by still mooving it doth notifie His face and essence, doth himselfe applie, That he may well be knowne, and teach by seeing, How he goes, how we should marke his decreeing.
Now our reason and humane discourse, is as the lumpish and barren matter; and the grace of God is the forme thereof. T’is that, which giveth both fashion and worth unto it. Even as the vertuous actions of Socrates and Cato, are but frivolous and unprofitable, because they had not their end, and regarded not the love and obedience of the true creator of all things; and namely, because they were ignorant of the true knowledge of God: So is it of our imaginations and discourse; they have a kind of body, but a shapelesse masse, without light or fashion, unlesse faith and the grace of God be joyned thereunto. Faith, giving as it were a tincture and lustre unto Sebonds arguments, makes them the more firme and solide: They may well serve for a direction and guide to a yong learner, to lead and set him in the right way of this knowledge. They in some sorte fashion and make him capable of the grace of God, by meanes whereof our beliefe is afterward atchieved and made perfect. I know a man of authority, brought up in letters, who confessed unto me, that he was reclaimed from out the errours of mis-beleeving by the Arguments of Sebond. And if it happen, they bee dispoiled of this ornament, and of the helpe and approbation of faith, and taken but for meere humane fantazies, yet to combate those, that headlong are fallen into the dreadfull error, and horrible darkenesse of irreligion, even then, shall they be found as firme and forcible, as any other of that condition, that may bee opposed against them. So that wee shall stand upon termes to say unto our parties,
Si melius quid habes, accerse, uel imperium fer.
If you have any better, send for me, Or else that I bidde you contented be.
Let them either abide the force of our proofes, of shew us some others, uppon some other subject, better compact and more full. I have in a maner unawares halfe engaged my selfe in the second objection, to which I had purposed to frame an answer for Sebond. Some say his Arguments are weake, and simple to verifie what he woulde, and undertake to front him easily. Such fellowes must somewhat more roughly be handled: for they are more dangerous, and more malicious then the first. Man doth willingly apply other mens sayings to the advantage of the opinions he hath fore-judged in himselfe. To an Atheist all writings make for Atheisme. He with his owne Venome infecteth the innocent matter. These have some preoccupation of judgement that makes their taste wallowish, and tastelesse, to conceive the reasons of Sebond. As for the rest, they thinke to have faire play offered them, if they have free libertie to combate our religion with meere worldly weapons; which they durst not charge, did they beholde hir in hir Majestie, full of aucthoritie and commaundement. The meanes I use to suppresse this frenzie, and which seemeth the fittest for my purpose, is to bruze, to crush, and trample this pride and fiercenesse of man under-foote: and violently to pull out of their hands, the silly weapons of their reason, to make them stoope, and bite and snarle at the ground, under the aucthoritie and reverence of Gods Majestie. Only to hir belongeth science and wisedome, it is she alone can judge of hir selfe, and from her wee steale whatsoever we repute, value, and count our selves to be.
Οὐ γαρ ἐᾶ φρονέιν ὁ Θεὸς μέγα ἂλλον ἣ ἑωυτὸν.
Of greater, better, wiser minde than he, God can abide no mortall man should be.
Let us suppresse this over-weening, the first foundation of the tyrannie of the wicked spirit: Deus superbis resistit: humilibus autem dat gratiam. God resisteth the proude, but giveth grace to the humble. Plato saith, That intelligence is in all the Gods, but little or nothing at all in men. Meane-while it is a great comfort unto a Christian man, to see our mortall implements, and fading tooles, so fitly sorted to our holy and divine faith; that when they are employed to the mortall and fading subjects of their Nature, they are never more forciblie, nor more joyntlie appropriated unto them. Let us then see whether man hath any other stronger reasons in his power, then Sebondes, and whether it lie in him, by argument or discourse, to come to any certainty. For, Saint Augustine, pleading against these kind of men, because he would upbraide them with their injustice, in that they hold the partes of our beliefe to be false, and that our reason faileth in establishing them. And to shew, that many things may bee, and have beene, whereof our discourse can never ground the nature and the causes; He proposeth and setteth downe before them certaine knowen and undoubted experiments, wherin man confesseth to see nothing; which hee doth, as all things else, with a curious and ingenious serch. More must be done, and they must be taught, that to convince the weakenesse of their reason; we neede not goe farre to cull out rare examples: And that it is so defective and blinde, as there is no facilitie so cleare, that is cleare enough unto hir; that easie and uneasie is all one to hir; that all subjects equally, and Nature in Generall disavoweth hir jurisdiction, and interposition. What preacheth truth unto us, when it biddeth us flie and shunne worldly philosophie; when it so often telleth us, that al our wisdome is but folly before God; that of al vanities, man is the greatest; that man, who presumeth of his knowledge, doth not yet know what knowledge is: and that man, who is nothing, if he but thinke to be something, seduceth and deceiveth himselfe? These sentences of the Holy-Ghost, doe so lively and manifestly expresse, what I would maintaine, as I should neede no other proofe against such as with all submission and obeysance would yeeld to his authoritie. But these will needs be whipt to their owne cost, and cannot abide their reason to be combated, but by it self. Let us now but consider man alone, without other help, armed but with his owne weapons, and unprovided of the grace and knowledge of God, which is all his honour, all his strength, and all the ground of his being. Let us see what hold-fast, or free-hold he hath in this gorgeous, and goodly equipage. Let him with the utmost power of his discourse make me understand, uppon what foundation, hee hath built those great advantages and ods, he supposeth to have over other creatures. Who hath perswaded him, that this admirable mooving of heavens-vaults; that the eternal light of these lampes so fiercely rowling over his head; that the horror-moving and continuall motion of this infinite vaste Ocean, were established, and continue so manie ages for his commoditie and service? Is it possible to imagine any thing so ridiculous, as this miserable and wretched creature, which is not so much as maister of himselfe, exposed and subject to the offences of all things, and yet dareth call himselfe Maister and Emperour of this Universe? In whose power it is not to know the least part of it much lesse to commaund the same. And the priviledge, which he so fondly challengeth, to be the onely absolute creature in this huge worlds-frame, perfectly able to know the absolute beautie, and severall partes thereof, and that hee is onely of power to yeeld the great Architect thereof, due thankes for it, and to keep account both of the receipts and layings out of the world. Who hath sealed him this patent? Let him shew us his letters of priviledge, for so noble and so great a charge. Have they beene granted onely in favour of the wise? Then concerne they but a few. Are the foolish and wicked worthie of so extraordinarie a favour? Who being the worst part of the world, should they be preferred before the rest? Shal we beleeve him; Quorum igitur causa quis dixerit effectum esse mundum? Eorum scilicet animantium, quæ ratione utuntur. Hi sunt dii & homines, quibus profectò nihil est melius. For whose cause then shall a man say, that the worlde was made? In sooth, for those creatures sake, which have the use of reason: Those are Gods and men, then whom assuredly nothing is better. We shal never sufficiently baffle the impudency of this conjoining. But seely wretch, what hath he in him worthy such an advantage? To consider the incorruptible life of the celestiall bodies, their beautie, greatnesse, and agitation, continued with so just and regular a course:
cum suspicimus magni cœlestia mundi Templa super, stellisque micantibus Æthera fixum, Et uenit in mentem Lunæ Solisque uiarum.
When we of this great world the heavenlie-temples see Above-vs, and the skies with shine-starres fixt to be, And marke in our discourse, Of Sunne and Moone the course.
To consider the power and domination, these bodies have, not onely uppon our lives, and condition of our fortune.
Facta etenim & uitas hominum suspendit ab astris.
For on the stars he doth suspend Of men, the deedes, the lives, and end.
But also over our dispositions and inclinations, our discourses and wills, which they rule, provoke, and moove at the pleasure of their influences, as our reason findes and teacheth us.
speculatáque longé Deprendit tacitis dominantia legibus astra. Et totum alterna mundum ratione moueri. Fatorúmque uices cersis discernere signis.
By speculation it from far discern’s, How star’s by secret laws do guide our sterns, And this whole world is moov’d by entercourse And by sure signes of fates to know the course.
Seeing that not a man alone, nor a King only, But Monarchies and Empires, yea, and all this world below is mooved at the shaking of one of the least heavenly motions.
Quantaque quàm parui faciant discrimina motus: Tantum est hoc regnum quod regibus imperat ipsis.
How little motions make, how different affection: So great this kingdome is, that hath Kings in subjection.
If our vertue, vices, sufficiencie and knowledge, and the same discourse wee make of the power of the Planets, and the comparison betweene them and us, commeth as our reason judgeth by their meane and through their favour.
furit alter amore, Et pontum tranare potest & uertere Troiam, Alterius sors est scribendis legibus apta: Ecce patrem nati perimunt, natósque parentes, Mutuáque armati coeunt in uulnera fratres, Non nostrum hoc bellum est, coguntur tanta mouere, Inque suas ferri pœnas, lacer andáque membra, Hoc quoque fatale est sic ipsum expendere fatum.
One with love madded, his love to enjoy, Can crosse the seas, and over-turne all Troy; Anothers lot is to set lawes severe. Loe sonnes kill fathers, fathers sonnes destroy, Brothers for mutuall woundes their armes doe beare, Such warre is not our owne, forc’t are we to it, Drawne to our owne paines, our owne limbes to teare; Fates so t’observe t’is fatal, we must doe-it,
If we hold that portion of reason, which we have, from the distribution of heaven, how can she make us equall unto it? How can she submit his essence and conditions unto our knowledge? Whatsoever we behold in those huge bodies doth affright us: Quæ molitio, quæ ferramenta, qui uectes, quæ machinæ, qui ministri tanti operis fuerunt? What workemanship? What yron-braces? What maine-beames, what engines? What Masons and Carpenters, were to so great a worke? Why doe we then deprive them of soule, of life, and of discourse? Have we discoverd or knowne any unmoveable or insensible stupiditie in them? We, who have no commerce but of obedience with them? Shall we say, we have seene the use of a resonable soule, in no other creature, but in man? What? Have we seene any thing comparable to the Sunne? Leaveth he to be, because we have seene nothing semblable unto it? And doth he leave his moving, because his equall is no where to be found? If that which we have not seene, is not, our knowledge is wonderfull abridged? Quæ sunt tantæ animi angustiæ? What narrownes of my heart is such? Be they not dreames of humane vanitie, to make a celestiall earth, or world of the Moone? As Anaxagoras did? And therein to plant worldly habitations, and as Plato and Plutarke doe, errect their colonies for our use? And to make of our knowne earth a bright-shining-planet? Inter cætera mortalitatis incommoda, & hoc est caligo mentium: nec tantùm necessitas errandi, sed errorum amor. Among other discommodities of our mortalitie this is one, there is darkenes in our mindes, and in us not onely necessitie of erring, but a love of errors. Corruptibile corpus aggrauat animam, & deprimit terrena inhabitatio sensum multa cogitantem. Our corruptible body doth over lode our soule, and our dwelling on earth weighes downe our sence, that is set to thinke of many matters. Presumption is our naturall and originall infirmitie. Of all creatures, man is the most miserable and fraile, and therewithall the proudest and disdainefullest. Who perceiveth and seeth himselfe placed here, amidst their filth and mire of the world, fast tide and nailed to the worst, most senceles, and drooping part of the world, in the vilest corner of the house, and farthest from heavens-coape, with those creatures, that are the worst of the three conditions; and yet dareth imaginarily place himselfe above the circle of the Moone, and reduce heaven under his feete. It is through the vanitie of the same imagination, that he dare equall himselfe to God, that he ascribeth divine conditions unto himselfe, that he selecteth and separateth himselfe from out the ranke of other creatures; to which his fellow-brethren and compeeres, he cuts out and shareth their parts, and allotteth them what portions of meanes or forces he thinkes good. How knoweth he by the vertue of his understanding the inward and secret motions of beasts? By what comparison from them to us doth he conclude the brutishnes, he ascribeth unto them? When I am playing with my Cat, who knowes whether she have more sporte in dallying with me, then I have in gaming with hir? We entertaine one another with mutuall apish trickes, If I have my houre to begin or to refuse, so hath she hirs. Plato in setting forth the golden age under Saturne, amongst the chiefe advantages that man had then, reporteth the communication he had with beasts, of whom enquiring and taking instruction, he knew the true qualities, and differences of every one of them: by, and from whom he got an absolute understanding and perfect wisedome, whereby he led a happier life, then we can doe. Can we have a better proofe to judge of mans impudencie, touching beasts? This notable Author was of opinion, that in the greatest part of the corporall forme, which nature hath bestowed on them, she hath onely respected the use of the Prognostications, which in his daies were thereby gathered. That defect which hindreth the communication betweene them and us, why may it not as well be in us, as in them? It is a matter of divination to guesse in whom the fault is, that we understand not one another. For, we understand them no more then they us. By the same reason, may they as well esteeme us beasts, as we them. It is no great marvell if we understand them not: no more doe we the cornish, the Welch, or Irish. Yet have some boasted that they understood them, as Apollonius Thyaneus, Melampus, Tiresias, Thales and others. And if it be (as Cosmographers reporte) that there are nations, who receive and admit a Dogge to be their King, it must necessarily follow, that they give a certaine interpretation to his voice and moving. We must note the paritie that is betweene us. We have some meane understanding of their senses, so have beasts of ours, about the same measure. They flatter and faune upon us, they threat, and entreate us, so doe we them. Touching other matters, we manifestly perceive, that there is a full and perfect communication amongst them, and that not onely those of one same kinde understand one another, but even such as are of different kindes,
Et mutæ pecudes, & denique secla ferarum Dissimiles fuerunt uoces uariásque cluere Cùm metus aut dolor est, aut cùm iam gaudia gliscunt.
Whole heard’s (though dombe) of beasts, both wilde and tame Use divers voices, diffrent sounds to frame, As joy, or griefe, or feare, Upspringing passions beare.
By one kinde of barking of a Dogge, the Horse knoweth he is angrie; by another voice of his, he is nothing dismaide. Even in beasts, that have no voice at all, by the reciprocall kindenes, which we see in them, we easily inferre, there is some other meane of entercommunication: their jestures treate, and their motions discourse.
Non alia longè ratione atque ipsa uidetur Protrahere ad gestum, pueros infantia linguæ.
No otherwise, then, for they cannot speake, Children are drawne by signes their mindes to breake.
And why not, as well as our dombe-men dispute, argue, and tell histories by signes? I have seene some so readie, and so excellent in it, that (in good sooth) they wanted nothing to have their meaning perfectly understoode. Doe we not daily see lovers with the lookes and rowling of their eyes, plainely shew when they are angrie or pleased, and how they entreate, and thanke one another, assigne meetings, and expresse any passion?
E’l silentio ancor suole Hauer prieghi & parole.
Silence also hath a way, Words and praiers to convay.
What doe we with our hands? Doe we not sue and entreate, promise and performe, call men unto vs, and discharge them, bid them farwell, and be gone, threaten, pray, beseech, deny, refuse, demaund, admire, number, confesse, repent, feare, be ashamed, doubt, instruct, commaund, encite, encourage, sweare, witnes, accuse, condemne, absolve, injurie, despise, defie, despight, flatter, aplaude, blesse, humble, mocke, reconcile, recommend, exalt, shewgladnes, rejoyce, complaine, waile, sorrowe, discomfort, dispaire, cry-out, forbid, declare silence and astonishment? And what not? With so great variation, and amplifying, as if they would contend with the tongue. And with our head, doe we not envite and call to-us, discharge and send away, avowe, disavowe, be-lie, welcome, honour, worship, disdaine, demaund, direct, rejoyce, affirme, deny, complaine, cherish, blandish, chide, yeeld, submit, brag, boast, threaten, exhort, warrant, assure, and enquire? What do we with our eye-lids? And with our shoulders? To conclude, there is no motion, nor jesture, that doth nor speake, and speakes in a language, very easie, and without any teaching to be understoode: nay, which is more, it is a language common and publike to all: whereby it followeth (seeing the varietie, and severall use it hath from others) that this must rather be deemed the proper and peculier speech of humane nature. I omit that, which necessitie in time of neede; doth particularly instruct and sodainely teach such as neede-it; and the alphabets upon fingers, and grammars by jestures; and the sciences, which are onely exercised and expressed by them: and the nations Plinie reporteth to have no other speech. An Ambassador of the Cittie of Abdere, after he had talked a long time unto Agis King of Sparta, said thus unto him: O King, what answer wilt thou that I beare backe unto our cittizens? Thus (answered he) that I have suffered thee to speake all thou wouldest, and as long as thou pleasedst, without ever speaking one word. Is not this a kinde of speaking silence, and easie to be understoode? And as for other matters; what sufficiencie is there in us, that we must not acknowledge from the industrie and labors of beasts? Can there be a more formall, and better ordred policie, divided into so severall charges and offices, more constantly entertained, and better maintained, then that of Bees? Shall we imagine, their so orderly disposing of their actions, and mannaging of their vacations, have so proporcioned and formall a conduct without discourse, reason and forecast?
His quidam signis atque hæc exempla sequuti, Esse apibus partem divinæ mentis, & haustus Æthereos dixere.
Some by these signes, by these examples moved, Said that in Bees there is and may be proved Some taste of heav’nly kinde, Parte of celestiall minde.
The Swallows, which at the approch of spring-time, we see to prie, to search, and ferret al the corners of our houses; is it without judgement they seeke, or without discretion, they chuse from out a thousand places, that which is fittest for them, to builde their nests and lodge in? And in that prettie-cunning contexture, and admirable framing of their houses, would birds rather fit themselves with a round, then a square figure, with an obtuse, then a right angle, except they knewe both the comodities and effects of them? Would they (suppose you) first take water, and then clay, unlesse they guessed that the hardnes of the one is softned by the moistnes of the other? Would they floore their pallace with mosse or downe, except they fore-sawe, that the tender partes of their yong-ones, shall thereby lie more soft and easie? Would they shroud and shelter themselves from stormie weather, and builde their cabbins toward the East, unlesse they knew the different conditions of windes, and considered that some are more healthfull and safe for them, then some others? Why doth the Spider spin hir artificiall webbe thicke in one place, and thin in another? And now useth one, and then another knot, except she had an imaginarie kinde of deliberation, fore-thought and conclusion? We perceive by the greater part of their workes, what excellencie beasts have over us, and how weake our art and short our cunning-is, if we goe about to imitate them. We see notwithstanding, even in our grosest workes, what faculties we employ in them, and how our minde employeth the uttermost of hir skill and forces in them: why should we not thinke as much of them? Wherefore doe we attribute the workes, which excell what ever we can performe, either by nature or by arte, unto a kinde of unknowne, naturall and servill inclination? Wherein unawars, we give them a great advantage over-us, to inferre, that nature, led by a certaine loving-kindnes, leadeth and accompanieth them (as it were by the hand) unto all the actions and commodities of their life; and that she forsaketh and leaveth us to the hazard of fortune; And by art to quest, and finde-out those things, that are behoovefull and necessarie for our preservation: and therewithall denieth us the meanes, to attaine by any institution and contention of spirit, to the naturall sufficiencie of brute beasts: So that their brutish stupiditie, doth in all comodities exceede, whatsoever our divine intelligence can effect. Verely, by this accoumpt, we might have just cause and great reason, to terme hir a most injust and partiall stepdame: But there is no such thing, our policie is not so deformed and disordered. Nature hath generally imbraced all hir creatures: And there is not any, but she hath amply stored with all necessarie meanes for the preservation of their being: For, the daily plaintes, which I often heare men make (when the licence of their conceites, doth sometimes raise them above the clowdes, and then headlong tumbling them downe, even to the Antipodes) exclaiming, that man is the onely forsaken, and out-cast creature, naked on the bare earth, fast-bound and swathed, having nothing to cover and arme himselfe withall, but the spoile of others; whereas Nature hath clad and mantled all other creatures; some with shelles, some with huskes, with rindes, with haire, with wooll, with stings, with bristels, with hides, with mosse, with fethers, with skales, with fleeces, and with silke, according as their qualitie might neede, or their condition require: And hath fenced and armed them, with clawes, with nailes, with talents, with hoofes, with teeth, with stings, and with hornes, both to assaile others, and to defend themselves: And hath more-over instructed them in every thing fit and requisit for them, as to swim, to runne, to creepe, to flie, to roare, to bellow, and to sing: where as man onely (Oh silly-wretched man) can neither goe, nor speake, nor shift, nor feede himselfe, unlesse it be to whine and weepe onely, except he be taught.
Tum porro, puer ut sæuis proiectus ab undis Nauita, nudus humi iacet infans indigus omni Vitali auxilio, cùm primùm in luminis oras Nexibus ex aluo matris natura profudit, Uagitúque locum lugubri complet, ut æquum est Cui tantùm in vita restet transire malorum: At variæ crescunt pecudes, armenta, feræque, Nec crepitacula eis opus est, nec cuiquam adhibenda est Alma nutricis blanda atque infracta loquela: Nec uarias quærunt uestes pro tempore cæli: Deníque non armis opus est, non mœnibus altis Queis sua tutentur, quando omnibus omnia largè Tellus ipsa parit, naturáque dædala rerum.
An infant, like a shipwracke ship-boy cast from Sease, Lies naked on the ground, and speechlesse, wanting all The helpes of vitall spirit, when nature with small ease Of throw’s, to see first light, from hir wombe lets him fall, Then, as is meete, with morn’full cries he filles the place, For whom so many ills remaine in his lives race. But divers heards of tame and wilde beasts foreward spring, Nor neede they rattles, nor of nurces cockring-kinde The flattring-broken speech their lulluby neede sing. Nor seeke they divers coats, as divers seasons binde. Lastly no armour neede-they, nor high-rear’d wall Whereby to guarde their owne, since all things unto all Worke-maister nature doth produce, And the earth largely to their use.
Such complaints are false: There is a greater equalitie, and more uniforme relation in the policie of the world. Our skinne is as sufficiently provided with hardnes against the injuries of the wether, as theirs: Witnes divers nations, which yet never knew the use of clothes. Our ancient Gaules were but slightly appareled, no more are the Irish-men, our neighbors, in so colde a climate: Which we may better judge by our selves; for, all those parts of our body, we are pleased to leave bare to winde and wether, are by experience found able to endure it: If there be any weake part in us, which in likelyhoode should seeme to feare cold, it ought to be the stomake, where disgestion is made: Our forefathers used to have it bare, and our Ladies (as daintie-nice as they be) are many times seene to go open-breasted, as lowe as their navill. The bandles and swathes about our children are no more necessarie: And the mothers of Lacedemonia, brought-up theirs in all libertie and loosenes of moving their limmes without swathing or binding. Our whining, our puling and our weeping is common to most creatures, and divers of them are often seene to waile and grone a long time after their birth, forsomuch as it is a countenance fitting the weaknes wherein they feele themselves. As for the use of eating, and feeding, it is in us, as in them, naturall and without teaching.
Sentit enim uim quisque suam quam possit abuti.
For every one soone-understanding is Of his owne strength, which he may use a misse.
Who will make question, that a child having attained the strength to feede himselfe, could not quest for his meate, and shift for his drinke? The earth without labor or tilling doth sufficiently produce and offer him as much as he shall neede. And if not at all times, no more doth she unto beasts; witnes the provision, we see the Antes and other silly creatures, to make against the cold and barren seasons of the yeare. The nations, that have lately bin discovered, so plenteously stored with all maner of naturall meate and drinke, without care or labor, teach us, that bread is not our onely foode: And that without toyling, our common mother nature, hath with great plentie stored us with whatsoever should be needefull for us, yea, as it is most likely, more ritchly, and amply, then now a daies she doth, that we have added so much art unto it:
Et tellus nitidas fruges uinetáque læta Sponte sua primùm mortalibus ipsa creauit, Ipsa dedit dulces fœtus, & pabula læta, Quæ nunc uix nostro grandescunt aucta labore, Conterimúsque boues & uires agricolarum.
The earth it selfe at first of th’owne accord Did men rich vineyards, and cleane fruite affoord. It gave sweete of-springs foode from sweeter soyle Which yet scarse greater growe for all our toyle, Yet tire therein we doe, Both plowmens strength and Oxen too.
The gluttonous excesse, and intemperate lavishnes of our appetite exceeding al the inventions, we endevor to finde-out, wherewith to glut and cloy the same. As for armes and weapons, we have more, that be naturall unto us, then the greatest part of other beasts: We have more severall motions of limbs, and naturally, without teaching: We reape more serviceable use of them, then they do: Those which are trained up to fight naked, are seene headlong to cast themselves into the same hazards and dangers, as we doe. If some beasts excell us in this advantage, we exceede many others: And the industrie to enable, the skill to fortifie, and the wit to shelter and cover our body by artificiall meanes, we have it by a kinde of naturall instinct and teaching. Which to prove; the Elephant doth whet and sharpen his teeth, he useth in warre (for he hath some he onely useth for that purpose) which he heedfully spareth, and never puts them to other service: When Bulls prepare themselves to fight, they raise, scatter, and with their feete, cast the dust about them: The wilde Boare whets his tuskes; when the Ichneumon is to grapple with the Crocodile, he walloweth his bodie in the mire, then lets the same drie and harden upon him, which he doth so often, that at last the same becomes as hard and tough as any well compact crust, which serveth him in steade of a Cuirace. Why shall we not say, that it is as naturall for us to arme our selves with wood and yron? As for speech, sure it is, that if it be not naturall, it is not necessary. I beleeve neverthelesse, that if a child, bred in some uncouth solitarines, far from haunt of people (though it were a hard matter to make triall of it) would no doubt have some kinde of words to expresse, and speach to utter his conceits: And it is not to be imagined, that nature hath refused us that meane, and barred us that helpe, which she hath bestowed upon many and divers other creatures: For, what is that facultie, we see in them, when they seeme to complaine, to rejoyce, to call one unto another for help, and bid one another to loving copulation (as commonly they doe) by the use of their voice, but a kinde of speech? And shall not they speake among themselves, that speake and utter their minde unto us, and we to them? How many waies speake we unto our Dogges, and they seeme to understand and answere-us? With another language, and with other names speake we unto, and call them, then we doe our Birds, our Hogges, our Oxen, our Horses, and such like; and according to their different kindes we change our Idiome.
Cosi per entro loro schiera bruna S’ammusa l’una con l’altra formica, Forse à spiar lor via, & lor fortuna.
So Ants amidst their sable-colored band One with another mouth to mouth conferre, Hap’ly their way, or state to understand.
Me seemeth that Lactantius doth not onely attribute speech unto beasts, but also laughing. And the same difference of tongues, which according to the diversitie of countries is found amongst us, is also found amongst beasts of one same kinde. Aristotle to that purpose alleageth the divers calles or purres of Partriges, according to the situation of their place of breeding:
variæque volucres Longè alias alio iaciunt in tempore voces, Et partim mutant cum tempestatibus unà Raucisonos cantus.
And divers birds, send-forth much divers sounds At divers times, and partly change the grounds, Of their hoarce-sounding song, As seasons change a-long.
But it would be knowne, what language such a child should speake: and what some report by divination, hath no great likelyhood. And if against this opinion, a man would alleage unto me, that such as are naturally deafe, speake not at all: I answere, that it is not onely because they could not receive the instruction of the world by their eares, but rather, in asmuch as the sense of hearing, whereof they are deprived, hath some affinitie with that of speaking, both which with a naturall kinde of ligament or seame, hold and are fastned together: In such sort, as what we speake, we must first speake it unto our selves, and before we utter and send the same forth to strangers, we make-it inwardly to sound unto our eares. I have saide all this, to maintaine the coherencie and resemblance, that is in all humane things, and to bring us unto the generall throng. We are neither above nor under the rest: what ever is under the coape of heaven (saith the wise man) runneth one law and followeth one fortune.
Indupedita suis fatalibus omnia uinclis.
All things enfolded are, In fatall bonds as fits their share.
Some difference there is, there are orders and degrees; but all is under the visage of one same nature.
res quæque suo ritu procedit, & omnes Fœdere naturæ certo discrimina seruant.
All things proceede in their course, natures all Keepe difference, as in their league doth fall.
Man must be forced, and marshalled within the listes of this policie. Miserable man with all his wit cannot in effect goe beyond it: he is embarred, and engaged, and as other creatures of his rancke are, he is subjected in like bondes, and without any prerogative, or essentiall pre-excellencie, what ever Priviledge he assume unto himselfe, he is of very meane condition. That which is given by opinion or fantasie hath neither body nor taste. And if it be so, that he alone, above al other Creatures, hath this liberty of imagination, and this licence of thoughts, which represent unto him, both what is, and what is not, and what him pleaseth, falsehood and truth; it is an advantage bought at a very high rate, and whereof he hath litle reason to glorie: For thence springs the chiefest source of al the mischiefs that oppresse-him, as sinne, sickenesse, irresolution, trouble and despaire. But to come to my purpose, I say therefore, there is no likely-hood, we should imagine, the beastes doe the very same things by a naturall inclination, and forced genuitie, which we doe of our owne free-wil and industrie. Of the very same effects we must conclude alike faculties; and by the richest effects infer the noblest faculties, and consequently acknowledge, that the same discourse and way, wee hold in working, the very same, or perhappes some other better, doe beasts hold. Wherefore shal we imagine that natural compulsion in them, that prove no such effect our selves? Since it is more honourable to be addressed to act, and tyed to worke orderly, by and through a naturall and unavoideable condition, and most approaching to Divinitie, then regularly to worke, and act, by, and through a casuall and rash libertie, and it is safer to leave the reignes of our conduct unto nature, then unto our selves. The vanitie of our presumption maketh us rather to be beholding, and as it were endebted unto our owne strength, for our sufficiency, then unto hir liberalitie; and enrich other creatures with naturall giftes, and yeeld those unto them, that so we may en-noble and honour our selves with gifts: as me thinketh, by a very simple humour: For, I would prize graces, and value gifts, that were altogether mine owne, and naturall unto me, as much as I would those, I had begged, and with a long prentishippe, shifted-for. It lyeth not in our power to obtaine a greater commendation, then to be favored both of God and Nature. By that reason, the Foxe, which the inhabitants of Thrace use when they will attempt to march upon the yce of some frozen river, and to that end let hir go loose afore them, should we see hir running alongest the river side, approch hir eare close to the yce, to listen whether by any farre or neere distance, she may heare the noyse or roaring of the water, running under the same, and according as she perceiveth the ice thereby to be thicke or thinne, to goe either forward or backeward; might not we lawfully judge, that the same discourse possesseth hir head, as in like case it would ours? And that it is a kinde of debating-reason and consequence, drawen from naturall sense? Whatsoever maketh a noyse moveth; whatsoever mooveth, is not frozen, whatsoever is not frozen, is liquide; whatsoever is liquide, yeelds under any weight? for to impute that only to a quicknes of the sense of hearing, without discourse or consequence, is but a fond conceipt, and cannot enter into my imagination. The like must be judged of so many wiles, and inventions, wherwith beasts save themselves from the snares, and scape the baits we lay to entrap them. And if we will take hold of any advantage tending to that purpose, that it is in our power to seize upon them, to employ them to our service, and to use them at our pleasure; it is but the same oddes we have one upon another. To which purpose wee have our slaves or bond-men; and were not the Climacides, certaine women in Syria, which creeping on al foure, upon the ground, served the Ladies in steed of footstoles or ladders to get up into their coches? Where the greater part of free men for very slight causes, abandon both their life and being, to the power of others. The wives and Concubines of the Thracians strive and contend, which of them shalbe chosen, to bee slaine over hir husbands or lovers tombe. Have tyrants ever failed to find many men vowed to their devotion? Where some for an over-plusse, or superergation have added this necessity, that they must necessarily accompany them, as well in death, as in life. Whole hostes of men have thus tyed themselves unto their Captaines. The tenor of the oath ministred unto the schollers, that entered and were admitted the rude schoole of Roman Gladiators, emplied these promises: which was this. We vow and sweare, to suffer our selves, to be enchained, beaten, burned and killed with the sword, and endure whatsoever any lawfull fenser ought to endure for his maister: most religiously engaging both our bodie and soule to the use of his service:
Ure meum si uis flamma caput, & pete ferro Corpus, & intorto uerbere terga seca.
Burne tyrant (if thou wilt) my head with fire, with sword My body strike, my backe cut with hard-twisted cord.
Was not this a very strict covenant? Yet were there some yeares ten thousand found, that entered and lost themselves in those schooles. When the Scithians buried their King, they, strangled over his dead body, first, the chiefest and best beloved of his Concubines, then his Cup-bearer, the Master of his hors, his Chamberlaine, the Usher of his Chamber, and his master cooke. And in his anniversary killed fiftie horse, mounted with fifty Pages, whom before, they had slaine with thrusting sharpe stakes into their fondament, which going up along their chine-bone, came out at their throte. Whom thus mounted; they set in orderly ranckes about the tombe. The men that serve-us, doe it better cheape, and for a lesse curious, and favourable entreating, then wee use unto birdes, unto horses, and unto dogges. What carke and toyle, apply we not our selves unto for their sakes? Me thinkes, the vilest and basest servants, will never doe that so willingly for their Maisters, which Princes are glad to doe for their beastes. Diogenes seeing his kinsfolkes, to take care how they might redeeme him out of thraldome; they are fooles (said he) for, it is my Maister, that governeth, keepeth feedeth and serveth mee: And such as keepe or entertaine beasts, may rather say they serve them, than that they are served of them. And if they have that naturall greater magnanimity, that never Lyon was ever seene to subject himselfe unto another Lyon, nor one Horse unto another Horse, for want of hart. As we hunt after beastes, so Tygers and Lyons hunt after men, and have a like exercise one upon another: the Hounds over the Hare; the Pike or Luce over the Tench; the Swallowes over the Grasse-hoppers, and the Sparrow-hawkes over Blacke-birds and Larkes.
serpente ciconia pullos Nutrit, & inventa per deuia rura lacerta, Et leporem aut capream famulae Iovis, & generosae In saltu uenantur aues.
The storke hir yong-ones feedes with serpents pray, And lyzerts found somewhere out of the way. Joves servants-Eagles, hawkes of nobler kinde, In forrests hunt, a hare or kidde to finde.
We share the fruites of our prey with our dogges and hawkes, as a meede of their paine and reward of their industry. As about Amphipolis in Thrace, faulkners, and wilde hawks divide their game equally: And as about the Mæotide-fennes, if fishers doe not very honestly leave behind them an even share of their fishings for the Woolves that range about those coasts, they presently runne and teare their nets. And, as we have a kinde of fishing, rather managed by sleight, then strength, as that of hooke and line about our angling roddes, so have beasts amongst themselves. Aristotle reporteth, that the Cuttle-Fish, casteth along gut out of hir throte, which like a line shee sendeth forth, and at her pleasure pulleth it in againe, according as she perceiveth some little Fish come neere hir, who being close-hidden in the gravell or stronde, letteth him nibble or bite the end of it, and then by little and little drawes it in unto hir, untill the Fish be so neere, that with a sodaine leape she may catch-it. Touching strength, there is no Creature in the world, open to so many wrongs and injuries as man: He neede not a Whale, an Elephant, nor a Crocodile, nor any such other wilde beast, of which one alone is of power to defeate a great number of men: seely lice are able to make Silla give over his Dictatorship: The hart and life of a mighty and triumphant Emperor, is but the break-fast of a seely-little Worme. Why say we, that skill to discerne, and knowledge to make choyse (gotten by art, and acquired by discourse) of things good for this life, and availefull against sicknesse, and so distinguish of those which are hurtfull, and to know the vertue of Reubarbe, qualitie of Oake ferne, and operation of Polipodie, is only peculiar unto man? When we see the Goates of Candia, being shotte with an arrow, to choose from out a million of simples, the hearbe Dittamy or Garden-ginger, and therewith cure themselves; and the Tortoise having eaten of a Viper, immediatly to seek for Origan, or wild Marjeran, to purge hirselfe: the Dragon to run and cleare his eies with fenel: the Cranes with their bils to minister glisters of sea-water unto themselves; the Elephants to pul out, not only from themselves and their fellowes, but also from their maisters (witnesse that of King Porus, whom Alexander defeated) such javelines or dartes, as in fight have beene thirled or shot at them; so nimbly and so cunningly, as our selves could never do it so easily, and with so little paine: Why say wee not likewise that that is science, and prudence in them? For, if to depresse them, some would alleadge, it is by the onely instruction and instinct of Nature, they know-it; that will not take the name of science, and title of prudence from them; it is rather to ascribe it unto them, then to us, for the honour of so assured a schoole-mistris. Chrysippus, albeit in other things as disdainful a judge of the condition of beasts, as any other Philosopher, considering the earnest movings of the dog, who comming into a path, that led three severall wayes, in search or quest of his Maister, whom hee had lost, or in pursuite of some prey, that hath escaped him, goeth senting first one way, and then another, and having assured himself of two, because he findeth not the tracke of what he hunteth-for, without more adoe, furiously betakes himselfe to the third; he is enforced to confesse, that such a dogge must necessarily discourse thus with himselfe. I have followed my Maisters footing hitherto, hee must of necessity passe by one of these three wayes; it is neither this nor that, then consequently hee is gone this other. And by this conclusion or discourse assuring himselfe, comming to the third path, hee useth his sense no more, nor soundes-it any longer, but by the power of reason suffers himselfe violently to be carryed through-it. This meere logicall tricke, and this use of divided and conjoyned propositions, and of the sufficient numbring of parts: Is it not as good, that the dog know it by himselfe, as by Trapezontius his logicke? Yet are not beastes altogether unapt to be instructed after our maner. We teach Blacke-birds, Starlines, Ravens, Piots, and Parots to chat; and that facilitie we perceive in them, to lend us their voyce so supple, and their wind so tractable, that so wee may frame and bring-it to a certaine number of letters and silables, witnesseth, they have a kind of inward reason, which makes them so docile, and willing to learne. I thinke every man is cloid and wearied, which seeing so many apish and mimmike trickes, that juglers teach their Dogges, as the dances, where they misse not one eadence of the sounds or notes they heare: Marke but the divers turnings, and severall kinds of motions, which by the commandement of their bare wordes they make them performe: But I wonder not a little at the effect, which is ordinary amongst us; and that is, the dogs which blinde men use, both in Cittie and Country: I have observed how sodainly they will stoppe when they come before some dores, where they are wont to receive almes; how carefully they will avoyde the shocke of Cartes and Coaches, even when they have roome enough to passe by them selves. I have seene some, going along a Towne-ditch, leave a plaine and even path, and take a worse, that so they might draw their Maister from the ditch. How could a man make the dog conceive, his charge was only to looke to his maisters safetie, and for his service to despise his owne commoditie and good? And how should he have the knowledge, that such a path would be broade inough for him, but not for a blinde man? Can all this be conceived without reason? We must not forget what Plutarke affirmeth to have seene a dog in Rome doe, before the Emperour Vespasian the father, in the Theatre of Marcellus. This Dogge served a jugler, who was to play a fiction of many faces, and sundry countenances, where he also was to act a part. Amongst other things, he was for a long while to counterfet and faine himselfe dead, because he had eaten of a certaine drugge: having swallowed a peece of bread, which was supposed to be the drug, he began sodainly to stagger and shake, as if he had beene giddie, then stretching and laying himselfe along, as stiffe as if hee were starke-dead, suffered himselfe to be dragged and haled from one place to another, according to the subject and plot of the play, and when he knew his time, first he began faire and softly to stirre, as if he were rouzed out of a dead slumber, then lifting up his head, hee looked and stared so gastly, that all the by-standers were amazed. The Oxen, which in the Kings gardens of Susa were taught to water them, and to draw water out of deepe Welles, turned certaine great wheeles, to which were fastned great buckets (as in many places of Languedoke is commonly seene) and being every one appoynted to draw just a hundred turnes a day, they were so accustomed to that number, as it was impossible by any compulsion to make them draw one more, which taske ended they would sodainly stoppe. Wee are growne striplings before we can tell a hundred; and many Nations have lately beene discovered, that never knew what numbers meant. More discourse is required to teach others, then to be taught. And omitting what Democritus judged and prooved, which is, that beastes have instructed us in most of our arts: As the spider to weave and sew, the swallow to build, the swanne, and the nightingale Musicke, and divers beasts, by immitating them, the Arte of Physike: Aristotle is of opinion, that Nightingales teach their yoong-ones to sing, wherein they employ both long time and much care: whence it followeth, that those which we keepe tame in cages, and have not had leasure to goe to their parents schoole, loose much grace in their singing. Wherby we may conclude, they are much amended by discipline and study. And amongst those that runne wilde, their song is not all one, nor alike. Ech one hath learnt either better or worse, according to his capacitie. And so jealous are they in their prentise-ship, that to excell one another, they will so stoutly contend for the maistry, that many times, such as are vanquished, die; their winde and strength sooner failing, then their voyce. The yoong-ones wil very sadly sit recording their lesson, and are often seene laboring how to imitate certain songnotes: The Scholler listneth attentivelie to his Maisters Lesson, and carefully yeeldeth accoumpt of it; now one and then another shall holde his peace: Marke but how they endevour to amend their faultes, and how the elder striveth to reproove the yoongest. Arrius protesteth to have seene an Elephant, who on every thigh having a cimball hanging, and one fastned to his truncke, at the sound of which, all other Elephants daunced in a round, now rising aloft, then lowting full lowe at certaine cadences, even as the instrument directed them, and was much delighted with the harmonie. In the great shewes of Rome, Elephants were ordinarily seene, taught to moove and daunce at the sound of a voyce, certaine dances, wherein were many strange shifts, enter-changes, caprings, and cadences, very hard to be learned. Some have beene noted to konne and practise their lessons, using much studie and care, as being loath to be chidden and beaten of their maisters. But the tale of the Piott is very strange, which Plutarke confidently witnesseth to have seene: This Jay was in a Barbers shop of Rome, and was admirable in counterfaiting with hir voyce whatsoever she heard: It fortuned one day, that certaine Trumpeters staied before this shop, and there sounded a good while; and being gone, all that day, and the next after, the Piott beganne to be very sadde, silent, and melancholie, whereat all men marvelled, and surmized that the noyse or clang of the Trumpets had thus affrighted and dizzied her, and that with her hearing she had also lost her voyce. But at last they found, shee was but in a deepe studie, and dumpish retracting into her selfe, exercising her minde, and preparing her voyce, to represent the sound, and expresse the noyse of the Trumpets shee had heard: And the first voyce she uttered was that, wherein she perfectly expressed their straines, their clozes, and their changes; having by her new prentiship altogether quitte, and as it were, scorned what-ever she could prattle before. I will not omit to aleadge another example of a dogge, which Plutarke also saith to have seene (as for any order or methode, I know very well I do but confound it, which I observe no more in ranging these examples, than I doe in all the rest of my businesse) who being in a ship, noted that this Dogge was in great perplexitie how to get some oyle out of a deepe pitcher, which by reason of it’s narrow mouth, he could not reach with his tongue, gotte him presently some pibble-stones, and put so many into the jarre, that he made the oyle come up so neare the brimme, as hee could easily reach and licke some. And what is that but the effect of a very subtile spirite? It is reported, that the Ravens of Barbarie will doe the like, when the water they would drinke is too lowe. This action doth somewhat resemble that, which Juba a King of that nation relateth of their Elephants; that when through the wiles of those who chase them, any one chanceth to fall into certaine deepe pittes, which they prepare for them, and to deceive them, they cover over with reedes, shrubbes, and boughs, his fellowes will speedily with all diligence bring great store of stones and peeces of timber, that so they may helpe to recover him out againe. But this beast hath in many other effects, such affinitie with mans sufficiencie, that would I particularly trace out what experience hath taught, I should easily get an affirmation of what I so ordinarily maintaine, which is, that there is more difference found betweene such and such a man, than betweene such a beast and such a man. An Elephants keeper in a private house of Siria, was wont every meale to steale away halfe of the alowance which was alotted him; it fortuned one day, his maister would needes feede him himselfe, and having poured that just measure of barly, which for his allowance he had prescribed him, into his manger: the Elephant sternely eying his maister, with his truncke divided the provender in two equall partes, and laide the one aside, by which he declared the wrong his keeper did him. An other having a keeper, who to encrease the measure of his provender, was wont to mingle stones with it, came one day to the pot which with meate in it for his keepers dinner was seething over the fire, and filled it up with ashes. These are but particular effects; But that which all the world hath seene, and all men knowe, which is, that in all the armies that came out of the East, their chiefest strength consisted in their Elephants, by whom they reaped, without comparison, farre-greater effects, than nowadayes we doe by our great ordonance, which in a maner holdes their place in a ranged battell (such as have any knowledge in ancient Histories may easily guesse it to be true)
si quidem Tyrio servire solebant Annibali, & nostris ducibus, regíque Molosso Horum maiores, & dorso ferre cohortes, Partem aliquam belli, & euntem in prælia turmam.
Their elders usde great Hannibal to steede Our Leaders, and Molossian Kings at neede, And on their backe to beare strong-guarding Knights, Part of the warre, and troupes addrest to fights.
A man must needes rest assured of the confidence they had in these beasts, and of their discourse, yeelding the front of a battell unto them; where the least stay they could have made, by reason of the hugenesse and weight of their bodies, and the least amazement that might have made them turne head upon their owne men, had bin sufficient to loose all. And few examples have bin noted, that ever it fortuned they turned uppon their owne troupes, whereas we head-long throng one upon another, and so are put to rowt: They had charge given them, not onely of one simple mooving, but of many and severall parts in the combate: As the Spaniards did to their dogges in their new conquest of the Indiaes, to whom they gave wages, and imparted their booties; which beasts shewed as much dexteritie in pursuing, and judgement in staying their victorie, in charging, or retreating, and as occasion served in distinguishing their friends from their enemies, as they did earnestnesse and eagernesse: wee rather admire and consider strange than common things: without which I should never so long have ammused my selfe about this tedious catalogue. For, in my judgement he that shall neerely checke, what we ordinarily see in those beasts that live amongst us, shall in them finde as wonderful effects, as those, which with so much toile are collected in farre countries, and passed-ages. It is one same nature, which stil doth keepe her course. He that throughly should judge her present estate, might safely conclude, both what shall happen, and what is past. I have seene amongst us, men brought by sea from distant countries, whose language, because we could in no wise understand, and that their fashions, their countenance, and their clothes did altogether differ from ours; who of us did not deeme them brutish and savage? who did not impute their mutenesse unto stupiditie or beastlines, and to see them ignorant of the French tongue, of our kissing the handes, of our low-lowting courtesies, of our behaviour and carriage, by which, without contradiction, humane nature ought to take her patterne? Whatsoever seemeth strange unto us, and we understand not, we blame and condemne. The like befalleth us in our judging of beasts. They have diverse qualities, which somewhat simbolize with ours: from which, we may comparatively drawe some conjecture, but of such as are peculiar unto them, what know wee what they are? Horses, Dogges, Oxen, Sheepe, Birdes, and the greater number of sensitive creatures that live amongst us, knowe our voyce, and by it suffer themselves to be directed. So did the Lamprey which Crassus had, and came to him when he called it; so do the Eeles that breede in Arethusaes fountaine. And my selfe have seene some fish-pondes, where, at a certaine crie of those that kept them, the fish would presently come to shoare, where they were wont to be fed.
nomen habent, & ad magistri Uocem quisque sui uenit citatus.
They have their proper names, and every one Comes at his maisters voyce, as call’d upon
By which we may judge, and conclude, that Elephants have some apprehension of religion, forsomuch as after diverse washings and purifications, they are seene to lift up their truncke, as we doe our armes, and at certaine houres of the day, without any instruction, of their owne accorde, holding their eies fixed towardes the Sunne-rising, fall into a long meditating contemplation: yet, because we see no such apparance in other beasts, may wee righly conclude, that they are altogether voyde of religion, and may not take that in payment, which is hidden from-us. As we perceive something in that action, which the philosopher Cleanthes well observed, because it somewhat drawes neere unto ours. Hee saw (as himselfe reporteth) a company of Emmets go from their nest, bearing amongst them the bodie of a dead Ant, toward another Emmets nest, from which many other Ants came, as it were to meete them by the way to parlie with them, who after they had continued together awhile, they which came last, returned backe, to consult (as you may imagine) with their fellow-cittizens, and because they could hardly come to any capitulation; they made two or three voyages to and fro: In the end, the last come, brought unto the other a worme from their habitation, as for a ransome of the dead, which worme the first company tooke upon their backes, and carried it home, leaving the dead body unto the other. Loe-heere the interpretation that Cleanthes gave it: Witnessing therby, that those which have no voice at all, have neverthelesse mutuall commerce, and enterchangeable communication, whereof if we be not partakers, it is onely our fault; and therefore doe we fondly to censure-it.1 Many holde opinion, that in the last and famous sea-fight, which Antonie lost against Augustus, his Admirall-gallie was in her course staied by that little fish, the Latines call Remora, and the English a Sucke-stone, whose propertie is, to stay any ship he can fasten himselfe unto. And the Emperour Caligula, sailing with a great fleete along the coast of Romania, his owne gally was sodainly staied by such a fish, which he caused to be taken sticking fast to the keele moodily raging, that so little a creature had the power to force both sea and windes, and the violence of all his oares, onely with her bill sticking to his gallie (for it is a kind of shel-fish) and was much more amazed when he perceived the fish, being brought aboord his ship, to have no longer that powerfull vertue, which it had, being in the Sea. A certaine cittizen of Cyzique, whilom purchased unto himselfe the reputation to be an excellent Mathematitian, because he had learn’t the qualitie of the hedge-hogge, whose propertie is to build his hole or denne, open diverse wayes, and toward several windes, and fore-seeing rising storms, he presently stoppeth the holes that way; which thing the foresaid cittizen heedefully observing, would in the Cittie foretell any future storme, and what winde should blowe. The Cameleon taketh the colour of the place wherein hee is. The fish called a Pourcontrell, or Many-feete, changeth himselfe into what colour he list, as occasion offereth it selfe; that so he may hide himselfe from what he feareth, and catch what he seeketh-for. In the Cameleon it is a change proceeding of passion, but in the Pourcontrell a change in action; we our selves do often change our colour, and alter our countenance, through sodaine feare, choler, shame and such like violent passions, which are wont to alter the hew of our faces: but it is by the effect of sufferance, as in the Cameleon. The jandise hath power to make us yelow, but it is not in the disposition of our willes. The effects we perceive in other creatures, greater than ours, witnesse some more excellent facultie in them, which is concealed from us; as it is to be supposed, diverse others of their conditions and forces are, whereof no apparance or knowledge commeth to us. Of all former prædictions, the ancientest and most certaine were such as were drawne from the flight of birdes: we have nothing equall unto it, nor so admirable. The rule of fluttering, and order of shaking their wings, by which they conjecture the consequences of things to ensue, must necessarily be directed to so noble an operation by some excellent and supernaturall meane: For, it is a wresting of the letter, to attribute so wondrous effects, to any naturall decree, without the knowledge, consent, or discourse of him, that causeth and produceth them, and is a most false opinion: Which to prove, the Torpedo or Cramp-fish hath the property to benumme and astonish, not only the limbs of those that touch it, but also theirs, that with any long pole or fishing line touch any part therof, she doth transmit and convey a kinde of heavie-numming into the handes of those that stirre or handle the same: Moreover, it is averred, that if any matter be cast upon them, the astonishment is sensiblie felt to gaine upward untill it come to the handes, and even through the water it astonisheth the feeling-sence. Is not this a wonderfull power? Yet is it not altogether unprofitable for the Cramp-fish, shee both knowes and makes use of it: for, to catch prey she pursueth, she is seene to hide herselfe under the mudde, that, other fishes swimming over her, strucken and benummed with her exceeding coldenesse, may fall into her clawes. The Cranes, Swallowes and other wandring birdes, changing their abode, according to the seasons of the yeare, shew evidently the knowledge they have of their fore-divining facultie, and often put the same in use. Hunters assure us, that to chuse the best dogge, and which they purpose to keepe from our a litter of other yoong whelpes, there is no better meane than the damme her selfe: for, if they be remooved from-out their kennell, him that she first brings thither againe, shall alwayes proove the best; or if one but encompasse her kennell with fire, looke which of her whelpes she first seeketh to save, is undoubtedly the best: wherby it appeareth, they have a certaine use of prognosticating, that we have not; or els some hidden vertue, to judge of their yoong-ones, different and more lively then ours. The maner of all beasts breeding, engendering, nourishing, working, mooving, living and dying, being so neere to ours, what ever we abridge from their mooving-causes, and adde to our condition above theirs, can no way depart from our reasons discourse. For a regiment of our health, Phisitions propose the example of beasts manner of life, and proceeding unto us: for this common saying is alwayes in the peoples mouth:
Tenez chauds les pieds & la teste, Au demeurant vivez en beste.
Keepe warme (t’is meete) thy head and feete: In all the rest, live like a beast.
Generation is the chiefest naturall action: we have a certaine disposition of some members, fittest for that purpose; neverthelesse, they bidde us range our selves unto a brutish situation and disposition, as most effectuall:
more ferarum, Quadrupedúmque magis ritu, plerúmque putantur Concipere uxores: quia sic loca sumere possunt, Pectoribus positis, sublatis semina lumbis.
And reject those indiscreete and insolent motions, which women have so luxuriously found out, as hurtfull: conforming them to the example and use of beastes of their sexe, as more modest and considerate.
Nam mulier prohibet se concipere, atque repugnat, Clunibus ipsa uiri Venerem si læta retractet, Atque exossato ciet omni pectore fluctus. Eiicit enim sulci recta regione uiáque Vomerem, atque locis avertit feminis ictum.
If it be justice to give every one his due, beasts which serve, love, and defend their benefactors, pursue and outrage strangers, and such as offend them, by so doing they represent some shew of our justice, as also in reserving a high kind of equalitie in dispensing of what they have to their yoong-ones. Touching friendship, without all comparison, they professe it more lively and shew it more constantly, then men. Hircanus a Dogge of Lysimachus the King, his maister being dead, without eating or drinking would never come from off his bed, and when the dead corpes was remooved thence, he followed-it, and lastly flung himselfe into the fire, where his maister was burned. As did also the dogge of one called Pyrrhus, who after hee was dead, would never bouge from his maisters cowch, and when he was remooved, suffered himselfe to be carried away with him, and at last flung himselfe into the fire wherein his maister was consumed. There are certaine inclinations of affection, which without counsell of reson arise somtimes in us, proceeding of a casual temerity, which some call Sympathie: beasts as well as men are capable of it. We see horses take a kind of acquaintance one of another, so that often, travelling by the high-way, or feeding together, wee have much adoe to keepe them asunder, wee see them bend and applie their affections to some of their fellowes colours, as if it were upon a certaine visage; and when they meete with any such, with signes of joy, and demonstration of good-will, to joine and accost them, and to hate aud shunne some other formes and colours. Beastes, as well as wee, have choise in their loves, and are very nice in chusing of their mates. They are not altogether voide of our extreame and unappesable jealousies. Lustfull desires are either naturall, and necessary, as eating and drinking; or else naturall and not necessary, as the acquaintance of males and females: or else neither necessary nor naturall: Of this last kinde are almost all mens: For, they are all superfluous and artificiall. It is wonderfull to see with how little, nature will be satisfied, and how little she hath left for-us to be desired. The preparations in our kitchins, doe nothing at all concerne hir lawes. The Stoikes say, that a man might very well sustaine himselfe with one Olive a day. The delicacie of our wines, is no parte of hir lesson, no more is the surcharge and relishing, which we adde unto our letcherous appetites.
neque illa Magno prognatum deposcit consule cunnum.
These strange lustfull longings, which the ignorance of good, and a false opinion have possest-us with, are in number so infinite, that in a maner they expell all those which are naturall: even as if there were so many strangers in a Cittie, that should either banish and expell all the naturall inhabitants thereof, or utterly suppresse their ancient power and aucthoritie, and absolutely usurping the same, take possession of it. Brute beastes are much more regulate then we; and with more moderation containe themselves within the compasse, which nature hath prescribed them: yet not so exactly, but that they have some coherencie with our riotous licenciousnesse. And even as there have beene found certaine furious longings and unnaturall desires, which have provoked men unto the love of beastes, so have diverse times some of them beene drawne to love us, and are possessed with monstrous affections from one kinde to another: witnesse the Elephant, that in the love of an hearb-wife, in the Cittie of Alexandria, was corivall with Aristophanes the Grammarian; who in all offices pertaining to an earnest woer and passionate suter, yeelded nothing unto him: For, walking through the fruite-market, hee would here and there snatch-up some with his truncke, and carry them unto her: as neere as might be he would never loose the sight of her: and now and then over her band put his truncke into hir bosome, and feele her breasts. They also reporte of a Dragon, that was exceedingly in love with a yong maiden; and of a Goose in the Cittie of Asope, which dearely loved a yong childe: also of a Ramme that belonged to the Musitian Glausia. Doe we not dayly see Munkies ragingly in love with women, and furiously to pursue them? And certaine other beastes given to love the males of their owne sex? Oppianus and others reporte some examples, to shew the reverence and manifest the awe, some beastes in their marriages, beare unto their kindred: but experience makes us often see the contrary:
nec habetur turpe iuuencæ Ferre patrem tergo: fit equo sua filia coniux: Quásque creauit, init pecudes caper: ipsáque cuius Semine concepta est, ex illo concipit ales.
To beare hir Sire the Heifer shameth not: The Horse takes his owne Fillies maidenhead: The Goate gets them with yong, whom he begot: Birds breede by them, by whom themselves were bred.
Touching a subtile pranke and wittie tricke, is there any so famous as that of Thales the Philosophers Mule, which, laden with salte, passing through a river chanced to stumble, so that the sackes she carried were all wet, and perceiving the salte (because the water had melted it) to grow lighter, ceased not, as soone as she came neere any water, together with her loade to plunge herselfe therein, untill hir maister, being aware of her craft, commanded hir to be laden with wooll, which being wet became heavier; the Mule finding her selfe deceived, used her former policie no more. There are many of them, that lively represent the visage of our avarice, who with a greedy kind of desire endevour to surprise whatsoever comes within their reach, and though they reape no commoditie, nor have any use of it, to hide the same very curiously. As for husbandry, they exceede us, not onely in foresight to spare, and gather together for times to come, but have also many parts of the skill belonging thereunto. As the Ants, when they perceive their corne to grow mustie, and graine to be sowre, for feare it should rot and putrifie, spread the same abroad before their neastes, that so it may aire and drie. But the caution they use in gnawing, and prevention they imploy in paring their graines of wheate, is beyond all imagination of mans wit: Because wheate doth not alwaies keepe drie nor wholesome, but moisten, melt and dissolve into a kinde of whey, namely when it beginneth to bud, fearing it should turne to seede, and loose the nature of a storehouse, for their sustenance, they pare and gnawe-off the end whereat it wonts to bud. As for warre, which is the greatest and most glorious of all humane actions, I would faine know, if we will use it for an argument of some prerogative, or otherwise for a testimonie of our imbecilitie and imperfection, as in truth, the science wee use to defeate and kill one another, to spoile and utterly to overthrow our owne kinde, it seemeth, it hath not much to make it selfe to be wished-for in beastes, that have it not.
quando leoni Fortioreripuit uitam leo, quo nemore unquam Expirauit aper maioris dentibus apri?
When hath a greater lion damnifide A lions life? in what wood ever di’de, A bore by tusks and gore, Of any greater bore?
Yet are not they altogether exempted from it: witnesse the furious encounters of bees, and the hostile enterprises of the Princes and Leaders of the two contrary Armies.
sæpe duobus Regibus incessit magno discordia motu, Continuóque animos uulgi & trepidantia bello Corda licet longè præsciscere.
Oft-times twixt two no great Kings great dissention With much adoe doth set them at contention; The vulgare mindes strait may you see from farre, And hearts that tremble at the thought of warre.
I never marke this divine description, but mee thinkes I reade humane foolishnesse and wordly vanitie painted in it. For, these motions of warre, which out of their horror and astonishent breede this tempest of cries, and clang of sounds in us:
Fulgur ubi ad cælum se tollit, totáque circum Ære renidescit tellus, subtérque uirum ui Excitur pedibus sonitus, clamoréque montes Icti reiectant uoces ad sidera mundi.
Where lightning raiseth it selfe to the skies, The earth shines round with armour, soundes doe rise By mens force under feete, wounded with noyse The hilles to heav’n reverberate their voyce.
This horror-causing aray of so many thousands of armed men, so great furie, earnest fervor, and undaunted courage, it would make one laugh to see by how many vaine occasions it is raised and set on fire, and by what light meanes it is againe suppressed and extinct.
Paridis propter narratur amorem Græcia Barbariæ diro collisa duello.
For Paris lustfull love (as Stories tell) All Greece to direfull warre with Asia fell.
The hatred of one man, a spight, a pleasure, a familiar suspect, or a jealousie, causes, which ought not to moove two scolding fish-wives to scratch one another, is the soule and motive of all this hurly-burly. Shall we beleeve them that are the principall authors and causes therof? Let us but hearken unto the greatest and most victitorious Emperour, and the mightiest that ever was, how pleasantly he laughs, and wittily he plaies, at so many battells and bloody fights, hazarded both by sea and land, at the blood and lives of five hundred thousand souls, which followed his fortune, and the strength and riches of twoo partes of the world consumed and drawne drie for the service of his enterprises:
Quòd futuit Glaphyran Antonius, hanc mihi pœnam Fuluia constituit, se quoqe uti futuam. Fuluiam ego ut futuam? quid si me Manius oret Pædicem, faciam? non puto, si sapiam. Aut futue, aut pugnemus, ait: quid si mihi uita Charior est ipsa mentula? Signa canant.
(I use my Latine somewhat boldly, but it is with that leave which you have given mee,) This vaste huge bodie hath so many faces and severall motion, which seeme to threat both heaven and earth.
Quàm multi Lybico uoluuntur marmore fluctus Sæuus ubi Orion hybernis conditur undis: Uel cùm sole novo densæ torrentur aristæ, Aut Hermi campo, aut Lyciæ flauentibus aruis, Scuta sonant, pulsúque pedum tremit excita tellus.
As many waves, as rowle in Affricke marble-soundes, When fierce Oryon hides in Winter waves his head: Or when thicke-eares of Corne are parch’t by Sunne new-spredde. In Hermus fruitfull fields, or Lyciaes yellow grounds, With noyse of shields and feete, the trembling earth so soundes.
This many-headded, divers-armed, and furiously-raging monster, is man; wretched, weake and miserable man: whom if you consider well, what is he, but a crawling, and ever-moving Antes-neast?
It nigrum campis agmen:
The sable-coloured band, Marches along the Land.
A gust of contrarie winds, the croking of a flight of Ravens, the false pase of a Horse, the casuall flight of an Eagle, a dreame, a sodaine voyce, a false signe, a mornings mist, an evening fogge, are enough to overthrow, sufficient to overwhelme, and able to pul him to the ground. Let the Sunne but shine hote uppon his face, he faintes and swelters with heate: Cast but a little dust in his eyes, as to the Bees mentioned by our Poet, all our ensignes, all our legions, yea great Pompey himselfe in the forefront of them is overthrowne and put to route: For as I remember it was he whom Sertorius vanquished in Spaine, with al these goodly armes,which also served Eumenes against Antigonus, and Surena against Crassus:
Hi motus animorum, atque hæc certamina tanta, Pulueris exigui iactu compressa quiescent.
These stomake-motions, these contentions great, Clam’d with a little dust, strait loose their heate.
Let-us but uncouple some of our ordinary flies, and let loose a few gnats amongst them, they shall have both the force to scatter, and courage to consume him. The Portugalls not long since beleagring the Citty of Tamby, in the territory of Xiatine, the inhabitants thereof, brought great store of Hives, (whereof they have plentie) upon their walls: And with fire drove them so forcible upon their enemies, who as unable to abide their assaults, and endure their stingings, left their enterprize. Thus by this new kinde of helpe was the liberty of the Towne gained, and victory purchased; with so happy successe, that in their retreating, there was not one townes-man found wanting. The soules of Emperours and Coblers are all cast in one same mold. Considering the importance of Princes actions, and their weight, wee perswade our selves, they are brought forth by some as weighty and important causes; wee are deceived: They are mooved, stirred and remooved in their motions, by the same springs and wardes, that we are in ours. The same reason that makes us chide and braule, and fall out with anie of our neighbours, causeth a warre to follow betweene Princes; The same reason that makes us whippe or beate a lackey, maketh a Prince (if he apprehend it) to spoyle and waste a whole Province. They have as easie a will as we, but they can doe much more. A like desires perturbe both a skinne-worme, and an Elephant. Touching trust and faithfulnesse, there is no creature in the worlde so treacherous as man. Our histories report the earnest pursuite and sharpe chase, that some Dogges have made for the death of their masters. King Pirrhus finding a Dog, that watched a dead man, and understanding he had done so three daies and nights together, commanded the corps to be enterred, and took the Dog along with him. It fortuned one day (as Pirrhus was survaying the Generall Musters of his Army) the Dog perceiving in that multitude, the man who had murthered his maister, loud-barking, and with great rage ranne furiously uppon him; by which signes he furthered and procured his maisters revenge, which by way of justice, was shortly executed. Even so did the Dogge belonging to Hesiodus, surnamed the wise, having convicted the children of Ganister of Naupacta, of the murther committed on his Maisters Person. Another Dogge being appoynted to watch a temple in Athens, having perceived a sacrelegious theefe, to carry away the fairest jewels therein, barked at him so long as he was able, and seeing he could not awaken the Sextons or Temple-keepers, followed the theefe, whither-soever he went; daie-light being come, he kept himselfe a loofe-off, but never lost the sight of him: if he offered him meate, he utterly refused it; but if any passenger chanced to come by, on them he fawned, with waging his taile, and tooke whatever they offered him; If the theefe staied to rest himselfe, he also stayed in the same place: The newes of this Dogge being come to the Temple-keepers, they as they went along, enquiring of the Dogges haire and colour, pursued his tracke so long, that at last they found both the Dog and the theefe in the Citty of Cromion, whom they brought backe to Athens, where for his offence he was severely punished. And the judges in acknowledgement of the Dogges good office, at the Citties charge appoynted him for his sustenaunce a certaine dayly measure of corne, and enjoyned the Priestes of the Temple, carefully to looke unto him. Plutarke affirmeth this storie to be most true, and to have happened in his time. Touching gratitude and thankfulnesse, (for me thinks we have neede to further this word greatly) this onely example shall suffice, of which Appion reporteth to have been a spectator himselfe. One day (saith he) that the Senate of Rome, (to please and recreate the common people) caused a great number of wild beasts to be baited, namely huge great Lions, it so fortuned, that there was one amongst the rest, who by reason of his furious and stately carriage, of his unmatched strength, of his great limmes, and of his loude, and terror-causing roaring, drew all by-standers eyes to gaze uppon him. Amongest other slaves, that in sight of all the people were presented to encounter with these beasts, there chanced to be one Androdus of Dacia, who belonged unto a Roman Lord, who had been Consull. This huge Lyon, having eyed him a farre off, first made a sodaine stoppe, as strucken into a kinde of admiration, then with a mylde and gentle countenance, as if he would willingly have taken acquaintance of him, faire and softly approached unto him: Which done, and resting assured he was the man he tooke him for, begunne fawningly to wagge his taile, as dogges doe that fawne upon their new-found maisters, and licke the poore and miserable slaves handes, and thighs, who through feare was almost out of his wits and halfe dead. Androdus at last taking hart of grace; and by reason of the Lyons myldenesse having rouzed up his spirits, and wishly fixing his eies upon him, to see whether he could call him to remembrance; it was to all beholders a singular pleasure to observe the love, the joy, and blandishments, ech endevored to enter-shew one another. Whereat the people raising a loud crie, and by their shouting and clapping of handes seeming to be much pleased; the Emperor willed the slave to bee brought before him, as desirous to understand of him the cause of so strange and seld-seene an accident: Who related this new, and wonderfull story unto him.
My maister (said he) being Proconsull in Affrica, forsomuch as he caused me every day to be most cruelly beaten, and held me in so rigorous bondage, I was constrained, as being weary of my life, to runne away: And safely to scape from so iminent a person, and who had so great aucthoritie in the countrie, I thought it best to get me into the desert, and most unfrequented wildernesses of that region, with a full resolution, if I could not compasse the meanes to sustaine my selfe, to finde one way or other, with violence to make my selfe away. One day, the Sunne about noone-tide being extreamly hote, and the scorching heate thereof intolerable, I fortuned to come unto a wilde-unhanted cave, hidden amongst crags, and almost inaccessible, and where I imagined no footing had ever beene; therein I hid my selfe: I had not long beene there, but in comes this Lion, with one of his pawes sore hurt, and bloody-goared, wailing for the smart, and groaning for the paine he felt; at whose arrivall, I was much dismaide, but he seeing mee lie close-cowring in a corner of his denne, gently made his approaches unto me, holding forth his goared paw toward me, and seemed with shewing the same humbly to sue, and suppliantly to beg for help at my hands. I, moved with ruth, taking it into my hand, pulled out a great splint, which was gotten into-it, and shaking-off all feare, first I wrung and crusht his sore, and caused the filth and matter, which therein was gathered, to come forth; then, as gently as for my hart I could, I cleansed, wiped, and dried the same. He feeling some ease in his griefe, and his paine to cease, still holding his foote betweene my hands, beganne to sleepe and take some rest. Thence forward hee and I lived together, the full space of three yeares in his denne, with such meate as he shifted-for: For, what beastes he killed, or what prey soever he tooke, he ever brought home the better parte, and shared-it with me, which for want of fire, I rosted in the Sunne, and therewith nourished my selfe all that while. But at last wearied with this kinde of brutish life, the Lion being one day gone to purchase his wonted prey, I left the place, hoping to mend my fortunes, and having wandred up and downe three dayes, I was at last taken by certaine Souldiers, which from Africa brought me into this Cittie to my maister againe, who imediately condemned me to death, and to be devoured by wilde beasts. And as I now perceive, the same Lion was also shortly after taken, who as you see hath now required me of the good-turne I did him, and the health which by my meanes he recovered. Behold here the historie, Androdus reported unto the Emperour, which after he caused to be declared unto all the people, at whose generall request, he was forthwith set at libertie, and quit of his punishment, and by the common consent of all, had the Lion bestowed upon him. Appion saith further, that Androdus was dayly seene to leade the Lion up and downe the streetes of Rome, tied onely with a little twine, and walking from taverne to taverne, receive such mony was given him, who would gently suffer himselfe to be handled, touched, decked, and strowed with flowers, all over and over, many saying when they met him: yonder is the Lion that is the mans hoste, and yonder is the man that is the Lions Phisitian. We often mourne and weepe, for the losse of those beastes we love, so doe they many times for the losse of us.
Post bellator equus positis insignibus Æthon It lacrimans, guttísque humectat grandibus ora.
Next Æthon horse of warre, all ornaments laide downe, Goes weeping, with great drops bedewe’s his cheekes adowne.
As some of our nations have wives in common, and some in severall, each man keeping himselfe to his owne; so have some beastes; yet some there are, that observe their marriages, with as great respect as we doe ours. Touching the mutuall societie, and reciprocall confederation, which they devise amongst themselves, that so they may be fast combined together, and in times of neede helpe one another, it is apparant, that if Oxen, Hogs, and other beastes being hurt by us, chance to crie, all the heard runnes to ayde him, and in his defense will joine all together. The fish, called of the Latines Escara, having swallowed the fishers hooke, his fellowes will presently flocke about him, and nibble the line in sunder; and if any of them happen to be taken in a bow-net, some of his fellowes turning his head away, wil put his taile in at the necke of the net, who with his teeth fast-holding the same, never leave him, untill they have pulled him out. The barble fishes, if one of them chance to be engaged, will set the line against their backes, and with a finne they have, toothed like a sharpe saw, presently saw and fret the same asunder. Concerning particular offices, which wee for the benefit of our life, draw one from an other, many like examples are found amongst them. It is assuredly believed, that the Whale never swimmeth, unlesse she have a little fish going before her, as her vangard, it is in shape like a gudgeon, and both the Latines and we, call-it the Whales-guide; for, she doth ever follow him, suffering her selfe, as easily to be led and turned by him, as a ship is directed and turned by a stearne: for requitall of which good turne, whereas all things else, be it beast, fish, or vessell, that comes within the horrible Chaos of this monstrous mouth, is presently lost and devoured, this little fish, doth safely retire himselfe therein, and there sleepes very quietly, and as long as hee sleepes, the whale never stirres; but as soone as he awaketh and goeth his way, wherever hee takes his course she alwayes followeth him, and if she fortune to loose him, she wanders here and there, and often striketh upon the rocks, as a ship that hath nor mast nor rudder. This, Plutarke witnesseth to have seen in the Iland of Anticyra. There is such a like societie betweene the little bird called a Wren, and the Crocodill: For, the Wren serveth as a sentinell to so great a monster: And if the Ichneumon, which is his mortall ennemie approach to fight with him, the little birdlet, lest he might surprise him whilst he sleepeth, with his singing, and pecking him with his bill, awakens him, and gives him warning of the danger he is in. The bird liveth by the scraps, and feedeth upon the leavings of that monster, who gently receiveth him into his mouth, and suffers him to pecke his jawes and teeth for such mammockes of flesh as sticke betweene them: and if he purpose to close his mouth, he dooth first warne him to be gone, faire and easie closing it by little and little, without any whit crushing or hurting him. The shell-fish called a Nacre, liveth even so with the Pinnothere, which is a little creature like unto a Crabfish, and as his porter or usher waites upon him, attending the opening of the Nacre, which he continually keepes gaping, until he see some little fish enter in, fit for their turne, then he creepes into the Nacre, and leaves not pinching his quicke flesh, untill hee makes him close his shell, and so they both together fast in their hold, devour their prey. In the maner of the Tunnies life, may be discovered a singular knowledge of the three parts of the Mathematikes. First for Astrologie, it may well be said that man doth learne it of them: For, wheresoever the winter Solstitium doth take them, there do they stay themselves, and never stirre till the next Æquinoctium, and that is the reason why Aristotle doth so willingly ascribe that arte unto them: Then for Geometrie and Arithmetike, they alwayes frame their shole of a Cubike figure, every way square: and so forme a solide, close and wel-ranged battailon, encompassed round about of six equall sides. Thus orderly marshaled, they take their course and swim whither their jorney tends as broad and wide behind as before: So that he that seeth and telleth but one ranke, may easily number all the troope, forsomuch as the number of the depth is equall unto the bredth, and the bredth unto the length. Touching magnanimitie and haughtie courage, it is hard to set it forth more lively, and to produce a rarer patterne, then that of the Dog, which from India was sent unto Alexander: to whom was first presented a Stag, then a wilde Boare, and then a Beare, with each of which he should have foughten, but he seemed to make no accompt of them, and would not so much as remoove out of his place for them, but when he saw a Lion; he presently rowzed himselfe, shewing evidently he meant onely so noble a beast worthy to enter combate with him. Concerning repentance and acknowledging of faults committed, it is reported, that an Elephant having through rage of choller slaine his governor, conceived such an extreame inward griefe, that he would never afterward touch any food, and suffered himselfe to pine to death. Touching clemencie, it is reported of a Tigre (the fiercest and most inhumane beast of all) who having a Kid given her to feed upon, endured the force of gnawing hunger, two dayes togither, rather then she would hurt him; the third day with maine strength brake the cage, wherein she was kept-pent, and went elsewhere to shift for feeding; as one unwilling to seize upon the seely Kid her familiar and guest. And concerning privileges of familiaritie and sympathie, caused by conversation, is it not oft seen, how some make Cats, Dogs and Hares so tame, so gentle and so milde, that without harming one another they shal live and continue togither? But that which experience teacheth sea-faring men, especially those that come into the seas of Sicilie, of the qualitie and condition of the Halcyon bird, or as some call it Alcedo or kings-fisher, exceedes all mans conceit. In what kinde of creature did ever nature so much preferre both their hatching, sitting, brooding and birth? Poets faine, that the Iland of Delos, being before wandring and fleeting up and downe, was for the delivery of Latona made firme and settled. But Gods decree hath beene, that all the watry wildernesse should be quiet and made calme, without raigne, wind or tempest, during the time the Halcyon sitteth and bringeth forth hir yoong-ones, which is much about the Winter Solstitium, and shortest day in the yeare: By whose Priviledge even in the hart and deadest time of Winter we have seven calme dayes, and as many nightes to saile without any danger. Their Hennes know no other Cocke but their owne: They never forsake him al the dayes of their life; and if the Cocke chaunce to be weake and crazed, the Henne will take him upon hir neck, and carry him with hir, wheresoever she goeth, and serve him even untill death. Mans witte could never yet attaine to the full knowledge of that admirable kind of building or structure, which the Halcion useth in contriving of her neast, no, nor devise what it is-of.
Plutarke, who hath seene and handled many of them, thinkes it to be made of certaine fish-bones, which she so compacts, and conjoyneth together, enterlasing some long, and some crosse-wayes, adding some fouldings and roundings to it, that in the end she frameth a round kinde of vessell, readie to floate and swim upon the water: which done she carrieth the same where the Sea-waves beate most; there the Sea gentlie beating upon it, shews her how to daube and patch up the parts not well closed, and how to strengthen those places, and fashion those ribbes, that are not fast, but stirre with the Sea-waves: And on the other side, that which is closely wrought, the Sea beating on it, doth so fasten and conjoyne together, that nothing, no, not stone or yron, can any way loosen, divide or break the same, except with great violence; and what is most to be wondred at, is the proportion and figure of the concavitie within; for, it is so composed and proporcioned, that it can receive or admit no manner of thing, but the Bird that built-it; for, to all things else, it is so impenetrable, close and hard, that nothing can possiblie enter in: no, not so much as the Sea-water. Loe-heer a most plaine description of this building, or construction taken from a very good Author: yet me thinkes, it doth not fully and sufficiently resolve us of the difficultie in this kinde of Architecture. Now from what vanitie can it proceede, we should so willfully contemne, and disdainefully interprete those effects, which we can neither imitate nor conceive? But to follow this equalitie or correspondencie betweene us and beasts somewhat further; the priviledge whereof our soule vants to bring to hir condition whatsoever it conceiveth, and to dispoile what of mortall and corporall qualities belongs unto it, to marshall those things, which she deemed worthy hir acquaintance, to disrobe and deprive their corruptible conditions, and to make them leave as superfluous and base garments, thicknes, length, deapth, weight, colour, smell, roughnes, smoothnes, hardnes, softnes and all sensible accidents else, to fit and appropriate them to hir immortall and spirituall condition: so that Rome and Paris, which I have in my soule; Paris which I imagine; yea, I imagine and conceive the same without greatnes and place, without stone and morter, and without wood: Then say I unto my selfe, the same priviledge seemeth likewise to be in beasts: for, a Horse accustomed to heare the sound of trumpets, the noyse of shot, and the clattering of armes, whom we see to snort, to startle, and to neigh in his sleepe, as he lyes a long upon his litter, even as he were in the hurly-burly; it is most certaine, that in his minde he aphrehends the sound of a drum without any noyse, and an armie without armes or bodie.
Quippe uidebis equos fortes, cùm membra iacebunt In somnis, sudare tamen, spiraréque sæpe, Et quasi de palma summas contendere uires.
You shall see warlike Horses, when in sleepe Their lims lie, yet sweate, and a snorting keepe, And stretch their utmost strength, As for a goale at length.
That Hare, which a grey-hound imagineth in his dreame, after whom as he sleepeth we see him bay, quest, yelp and snort, stretch out his taile, shake his legges and perfectly represent the motions of his course; the same is a Hare without bones, without haire.
Venantúmque canes in molli sæpe quiete, Iactant crura tamen subitò, uocèsque repente Mittunt, & crebras reducunt naribus auras, Vt uestigia si teneant inuenta ferarum: Expergefactíque, sequuntur inania sæpe Ceruorum simulacra, fugæ quasi dedita cernant: Donec discussis redeant erroribus ad se.
Ofttimes the hunters dogs in easie rest Stir their legs, sodainly, open, and quest, And send from nostrels thicke-thicke snuffing sent, As if on traille they were of game full-bent: And wakned so, they follow shaddowes vaine Of deere in chase, as if they fled amaine: Till, their fault left, they turne to sense againe.
Those watching-Dogs, which in their sleepe we sometimes see to grumble, and then barking to startle sodainly out of their slumber, as if they perceived some stranger to arive: that stranger which their minde seemeth to see, is but an imaginarie man, and not perceived; without any demension, colour, or being:
Consueta domi catulorum blanda propago Degere, sæpe leuem ex oculis uolucrémque soporem Discutere, & corpus de terra corripere instant, Proinde quasi ignotas facies atque ora tueantur.
The fawning kinde of whelpes, at home that liv’s, From eyes to shake light-swift sleepe often striv’s, And from the ground their starting body hie, As if some unknowne stranger they did spie.
Touching corporall beautie, before I goe any further, it were necessarie I knew whether we are yet agreed about hir description. It is very likely that we know not well, what beautie either in nature or in generall, since we give so many, and attribute so divers formes to humaine beautie, yea and to our beautie: Of which if there were any natural or lively description, we should generally knowe it, as we doe the heate of fire. We imagine and faine hir formes, as our fantazies leade us.
Turpis Romano Belgicus ore color.
A Dutch-froes collour hath no grace, Seene in a Romane Ladies face.
The Indians describe it blacke and swarthy, with blabberd-thicke lippes, with a broade and flat nose, the inward gristle whereof they loade with great-gold-rings, hanging downe to their mouth, and their neather-lippes with great circlets beset with precious stones, which cover all their chinnes, deeming it an especiall grace to shew their teeth to the rootes. In Peru, the greatest eares are ever esteemed the fairest, which with all art and industrie, they are continually stretching out; and a man (who yet liveth) sweareth to have seene in a province of the East-Indias the people so carefull to make them great, and so to loade them with heavie jewels, that at ease he could have thrust his arme through one of their eare-holes. There are other nations, who endevor to make their teeth as blacke as jet, and skorne to have them white; and in other places they die them red. Not onely in the province of Baske, but in other places, women are accounted fairest when their heads are shaven; and which is strange, in some of the northerly frozen-countries, as Plinie affirmeth. Those of Mexico, esteeme the littlenes of their foreheads, as one of the chiefest beauties, and whereas they shave their haire over all their body besides, by artificiall meanes they labor to norish and make it growe onely in their foreheads; and so love to have great dugs, that they strive to have their children sucke over their shoulders. So would we set forth ilfavordnes. The Italians proportion-it big and plum; The Spaniards spynie and lanke, and amongst us one would have hir white, another broune, one soft and delicate, another strong and lustie: some desire wantonnes and blithnes, and other some sturdines and majestie to be joyned with it. Even as the preheminence in beautie, which Plato ascribeth unto the Sphericall figure, the Epicurians referre the same unto the Piramidall and square; and say they cannot swallow a God made rounde like a bowle. But howsoever it is, nature hath no more priviledged us in that, then in other things, concerning her common lawes. And if we imparcially enter into judgement with our selves, we shall finde, that if there be any creature or beaste lesse favored in that, then we, there are others (and that in great numbers) to whom nature hath beene more favorable then to us. A multis animalibus decore uincimur. We are excelled in comelines, By many living creatures: Yea of terestriall creatures, that live with us. For, concerning those of the Sea, omitting their figure, which no proportion can containe, so much doth it differ, both in collour, in neatnes, in smoothnes and in disposition, we must give place unto them: which in all qualities we must likewise do to the airy ones. And that prerogative, which Poets yeeld unto our upright stature, looking towards heaven whence hir beginning is,
Pronáque cùm spectent animalia cætera terram, Os homini sublime dedit, cælúmque videre Iussit, & erectos ad sydera tollere uultus.
Where other creatures on earth looke and lie, A loftie looke God gave man, bad him prie On heav’n, rais’d his high count’nance to the skie.
is meerely poetical, for there are many little beasts, that have their sight directly fixed towards heaven: I finde the Camels and the Estridges necke much more raised and upright, then ours. What beasts have not their face aloft and before, and looke not directly opposit, as we; and in their naturall posture descrie not as much of heaven and earth, as man doth? And what qualities of our corporall constitution, both in Plato and Cicero cannot fit and serve a thousand beasts? Such as most resemble man are the vilest and filthiest of all the rout: As for outward apparance and true shape of the visage, it is the Munkie or Ape:
Simia quàm similis, turpissima bestia, nobis!
An Ape, a most il-favored beast, How like to us in all the rest?
as for inward and vitall parts, it is the Hog. Truely, when I consider man all naked (yea, be-it in that sex, which seemeth to have and chalenge the greatest share of eye-pleasing beautie) and view his defects, his naturall subjection, and manifold imperfections; I finde we have had much more reason to hide and cover our nakednes, then any creature else. We may be excused for borrowing those which nature had therein favored more then us, with their beauties to adorne us, and under their spoiles of wooll, of haire, of fethers, and of silke to shroude us. Let us moreover observe, that man is the onely creature, whose wants offends his owne followes, and he alone that in naturall actions must withdrawe and sequester himselfe from those of his owne kinde. Verely it is an effect worthie consideration, that the skilfullest maisters of amorous dalliances appoint for a remedie of venerian passions, a free and full survay of the body which one longeth and seekes-after: and that to coole the longing and aswage the heate of friendship, one neede but perfectly view and throughly consider what he loveth.
Ille quòd obscœnas in aperto corpore partes Viderat, in cursu qui fuit, hæsit amor.
The love stoode still, that ranne in full careere, When bare it sawe parts that should not appeare.
And although this remedie may happily proceede from a squeamish and cold humor: yet is it a wonderfull signe of our imbecilitie, that the use and knowledge should so make us to be cloyd one of another. It is not bashfulnes so much, as art and foresight makes our Ladies so circumspect and unwilling to let us come into their closets before they are fully readie, and throughly painted, to come abroade, and shew themselves;
Nec ueneres nostras hoc fallit, quò magis ipsæ Omnia summopere hos uitæ post scænia celant, Quos retinere uolunt adstrictóque esse in amore.
Our Mistrisses knowe this, which mak’s them not disclose Parts to be plaid within, especially from those Whom they would servants hold, and in their love-bands close.
Whereas in other creatures, there is nothing but we love, and pleaseth our senses: so that even from their excrements and ordure, we draw not only dainties to eat, but our richest ornaments and perfumes. This discourse of beautie toucheth only our common order, and is not so sacrilegious as it intendeth or dareth to comprehend those divine, supernaturall, and extraordinarie beauties, which sometimes are seene to shine amongst-us, even as starres under a corporall and terestriall vaile. Moreover that part of natures favors, which we impart unto beasts, is by our owne confession much more advantageous unto them. We assume unto our selves imaginarie and fantasticall goods, future and absent goods, which humane capacitie can no-way warrant unto hir selfe; or some other, which by the overweening of our owne opinion, we falcely ascribe unto ourselves; as reason, honor and knowledge; and to them as their proper share we leave the essentiall, the maneagable, and palpable goods, as peace, rest, securitie, innocencie, and health: Health I say, which is the goodliest and ritchest present, nature can impart unto us. So that even Stoike Philosophie dareth to affirme, that if Heraclitus and Pherecydes could have changed their wisedome with health, and by that meanes, the one to have rid himselfe of the dropsie, and the other of the lowsie-evill, which so sore tormented them, they would surely have done-it: whereby they also yeelde so much more honor unto wisedome, by comparing and counterposing the same unto health, then they doe in this other proposition of theirs, where they say, that if Circes had presented Ulisses with two kindes of drinke, the one to turne a wiseman into a foole, the other to change a foole into a wiseman, he would rather have accepted that of folly, then have beene pleased, that Circes should transforme his humaine shape into a beasts. And they say, that wisedome hir selfe would thus have spoken unto him: Meddle not with me, but leave me rather then thou shouldest place me under the shape and body of an Asse. What? This great and heavenly wisedome? Are Philosophers contented then, to quit-it for a corporall and earthly vaile? Why then it is not for reasons sake, nor by discourse, and for the soule, we so much excell beasts: it is for the love we beare unto our beauty, unto our faire hew, and goodly disposition of limbs, that we reject, and set our understanding at nought, our wisedome, and what else we have. Well, I allow of this ingenious and voluntarie confession: surely they knew those parts, we so much labor to pamper, to be meere fantazies. Suppose, beasts had al the vertue, the knowledge, the wisedome and sufficiencie of the Stoikes, they should still be beasts; nor might they ever be compared unto a miserable, wretched, and senseles man. For, when all is done, whatsoever is not as we are, is not of any worth. And God to be esteemed of us, must (as we will shew anonne) drawe somewhat neere-it. Whereby it appeareth, that it is not long of a true discourse, but of a foolish-hardines, and selfe-presuming obstinacie, we preferr our selves before other creatures, and sequester our selves from their condition and societie. But to returne to our purpose, we have for our part inconstancie, irresolution, uncertainty, sorrow, superstition, carefulnes for future things (yea after our life) ambition, covetousnes, jelousie, envie, inordinate, mad and untamed appetites, warre, falsehood, disloyaltie, detraction, and curiositie. Surely we have strangely overpaid this worthie discourse, whereof we so much glorie, and this readines to judge, or capacitie to know, if we have purchased the same with the price of so infinit passions, to which we are uncessantly enthralled. If we be not pleased (as Socrates is) to make this noble prerogative over beasts, to be of force, that whereas nature hath prescribed them certaine seasons, and bowndes for their naturall lust and voluptuousnes, she hath given-us at all hours and occasions the full reines of them. Vt uinum ægrotis, quia prodest rarò, nocet sæpissimè, melius est non adhibere omnino, quàm, spe dubiæ salutis in apertam perniciem incurrere: Sic, haud scio, an melius fuerit humano generi motum istum celerem, cogitationis acumen, solertiam, quem rationem uocamus, quoniam pestifera sint multis, admodum paucis salutaria, non dari omnino, quàm tam munificè & tam largè dari. As it is better not to use wine at all in sicke persons, because it seldome doth them good, but many times much hurt, then in hope of doubtfull health to runne into undoubted danger; so doe I not knowe, whither it were better that this swift motion of the thought, this sharpnes, this conceitednes, which we cal reason, should not at all be given to mankinde (because it is pernicious unto many, and healthfull to very few) then that it should be given so plentifully and so largely. What good or commoditie may we imagine this farre-understanding of so many things brought ever unto Varro, and to Aristotle? Did it ever exempt, or could it at any time free them from humane inconveniences? Were they ever discharged of those accidents that incidently follow a seelie labouring man? Could they ever draw any ease for the gout from logike? And howbeit they knew the humor engendring the same to lodge in the joynts, have they felt-it the lesse? Did they at any time make a covenant with death, although they knew full well that some nations rejoyce at hir comming? as also of Cuckoldship, because they knew women to be common in some countries? But contrariwise having both held the first ranke in knowledge, the one amongst the Romanes, the other among the Græcians, yea and at such times wherein sciences florished most, we could never learne, they had any speciall excellencie in their life. Wee see the Græcian hath beene put to his plunges in seeking to discharge himselfe from some notable imputations in his life. Was it ever found that sensualitie, and health, are more pleasing unto him that understands Astrologie and Grammar?
(Illiterati num minus nerui rigent?
As stiffe unlearned sinnewes stand, As theirs that much more understand.)
or shame and povertie lesse importunate and vexing?
Scilicet & morbis, & debilitate carebis, Et luctum, & curam effugies, & tempora vitæ Longa tibi posthæc fato meliore dabuntur.
Thou shalt be from disease and weaknesse free, From moane, from care, long time of life to thee Shall by more friendly fate affoorded be.
I have in my dayes seene a hundred Artificers, and as many laborers, more wise and more happy, then some Rectors in the university, and whom I would rather resemble. Me thinkes Learning hath a place amongest things necessarie for mans life, as glory, noblenesse, dignitie, or at most as riches, and such other qualities, which indeed steade the same; but a far-off, and more in conceipt, than by Nature. We have not much more need of offices, of rules, and lawes how to live in our common-wealth, than the Cranes and Antes have in theirs. Which notwithstanding, we see how orderly, and without instruction they maintaine themselves. If man were wise he would value every thing according to it’s worth, and as it is either more profitable, or more necessarie for life. Hee that shall number us by our actions and proceedings, shall doubtlesse finde many more excellent-ones amongest the ignorant, then among the wiser sorte: I meane in all kinde of Vertues. My opinion is, that ancient Rome brought forth many men of much more valour and sufficiencie, both for peace and warre, then this late learned Rome, which with all her wisedome hath overthrowne her erst-flourishing estate. If all the rest were alike, then should honestie and innocencie at least belong to the auncient; for she was exceedingly well placed with simplicitie. But I will shorten this discourse, which happily would drawe me further then I would willingly followe: yet this much I will say more, that onely humilitie and submission is able to make a perfect honest man. Every one must not have the knowledge of his duetie referred to his owne judgement, but ought rather to have it prescribed unto him, and not be allowed to chuse it at his pleasure and free-will: otherwise according to the imbecilitie of our reasons, and infinite variety of our opinions, wee might paradventure forge and devise such duties unto our selves, as would induce us (as Epicurus saith) to endevor to destroy and devoure one another. The first law that ever God gave unto man, was a Law of pure obedience. It was a bare and simple commandement, whereof man should enquire and know no further: forasmuch, as to obey is the proper duty of a reasonable soule, acknowledging a heavenly and superiour benefactor. From obeying and yeelding unto him proceede all other vertues; even as all sinnes derive from selfe-over-weening. Contrary-wise, the first temptation that ever seized on humane Nature was disobedience, by the Divels instigation, whose first poison, so farre insinuated it selfe into us, by reason of the promises he made us of wisedome and knowledge, Eritis sicut dii scientes bonum & malum. You shalbe like Gods, knowing both good and evill. And the Syrens, to deceive Ulysses, and alluring him to fal into their daungerous and confounding snares offer to give him the full fruition of Knowledge. The opinion of Wisedome is the plague of man. That is the occasion why ignorance is by our religion recommended unto us, as an instrument fitting beleefe, and obedience. Cauete, nequis uos decipiat per Philosophiam & inanes seductiones, secundum elementa mundi. Take heed, lest anie man deceive you by Philosophie and vaine seducements, according to the rudiments of the world. All the Phylosopers of all the sects that ever were, do generally agree in this point, that the chiefest felicitie or summum bonum consisteth in the peace and tranquilitie of the soule and body: but where shall we finde-it?
Ad summum sapiens uno minor est Ioue, dives, Liber, honoratus, pulcher, Rex denique Regum: Praecipuè sanus, nisi cùm pituita molesta est.
In summe, who wise is knowne, is lesse then Jove alone, Rich, honorable, free, faire, King of Kings, Chiefely in health, but when fleagme trouble brings.
It seemeth verely, that Nature for the comfort of our miserable and wretched condition, hath allotted us no other portion but presumption. It is therefore (as Epictetus saith) that man hath nothing that is properly his owne, but the use of his opinions. Our hereditary portion is nothing but smoke and winde. The Gods (as saith Phylosophie) have health in true essence, and sicknesse in conceipt. Man cleane contrary, possesseth goods in imagination, and evils essentially. We have had reason to make the powers of our imagination to bee of force: For, all our felicities are but in conceipt, and as it were in a dreame. Heare but this poore and miserable creature vaunte himselfe. There is nothing (saith Cicero) so delightfully and pleasant as the knowledge of Letters; of Letters I say, by whose meanes the infinitie of things, the incomprehensible greatnesse of nature, the heavens, the earth, and all the seas of this vast universe, are made knowne unto us. They have taught us religion, moderation, stowtnesse of courage, and redeemed our soule out of darknesse, to make her see, and distinguish of all things, the high as well as the lowe, the first as the last, and those betweene both. It is they that store and supply us with all such things as may make us live happily and well, and instruct us how to passe our time without sorrow or offence. Seemeth not this goodly Orator to speake of the Almighties and everliving Gods condition? And touching effectes, a thousand poore seely women in a country towne have lived, and live a life much more reposed, more peaceable, and more constant, then ever he did,
Deus ille fuit Deus, inclyte Memmi, Qui princeps uitæ rationem inuenit eam, que Nunc appellatur sapientia, quíque per artem, Fluctibus è tantis uitam tantísque tenebris, In tam tranquillo & tam clara luce locauit.
Good sir, it was God, God it was, first found, That course of mans life, which now is renown’d By name of wisedome; who by arte reposde, Our life in so cleare light, calme so composde, From so great darknesse, so great waves opposde.
Observe what glorious and noble words these be: yet but a slight accident brought this wisemans understanding to a farre worse condition, than that of a simple sheepheard: notwithstanding this divine Teacher, and this heavenly wisedome. Of like impudence is the promise of Democritus his Booke. I will now speake of all things: And that fond title which Aristotle gives us of mortall gods, and that rash judgement of Chrysippus, that Dion was as vertuous as God: And my Seneca saith, he acknowledgeth that God hath given him life, but how to live well, that he hath of himselfe. Like unto this other, In uirtute uerè gloramur, quod non contingeret, si id donum à Deo, non à nobis haberemus. We rightly vaunt us of vertue, which we should not doe, if we had it of God, not of our selves. This also is Senecaes, that the wise man hath a fortitude like unto Gods; but inhumane weaknesse, wherein he excelleth him. There is nothing more common, than to meete with such passages of temerity: There is not any of us that wil be so much offended to see himselfe compared to God, as he will deeme himselfe wronged to be depressed in the ranke of other creatures. So much are wee more jealous of our owne interest, than of our Creators. But we must treade this foolish vanitie under foote, and boldly shake off, and lively reject those fond-ridiculous foundations, whereon these false opinions are built. So long as man shall be perswaded to have meanes or power of himselfe, so long will he deny, and never acknowledge what he oweth unto his Maister: he shall alwayes (as the common saying is) make shift with his owne: Hee must be stripped into his shirt. Let us consider some notable example of the effect of Philosophie. Possidonius having long time beene grieved with a painefull-lingering disease, which with the smarting-paine made him to wring his hands, and gnash his teeth, thought to scorne griefe, with exclayming and crying out against-it: Doe what thou list, yet will I never say that thou arte perill or paine. Hee feeleth the same passions that my lackey dooth, but hee boasteth himselfe, that at least he conteineth his tongue under the lawes of his sect. Re succumbere non oportebat uerbis gloriantem: It was not for him to yeelde in deedes, who had so braved it in words. Arcesilas lying sicke of the gowt, Carneades comming to visite him, and seeing him to frowne, supposing he had been angry, was going away againe, but he called him backe, and shewing him his feet and brest, said unto him, there is nothing come from thence hither. This hath somewhat a better garbe; for hee feeleth himselfe grieved with sicknesse, and would faine be ridde of it, yet is not his heart vanquished or weakened thereby, the other stands upon his stifnesse (as I feare) more verball then essentiall. And Dionysius Heracleotes being tormented with a violent smarting in his eies, was at last perswaded to quitte these Stoicke resolutions.
Be it supposed that Learning and Knowledge should worke those effects they speake of, that is, to blunt and abate the sharpnes of those accidents or mischances, that followe and attend us; doth she any more than what ignorance effecteth much more evidently and simply? The Philosopher Pyrrho being at sea, and by reason of a violent storme in great danger to be cast away, presented nothing unto those that were with him in the ship, to imitate but the securitie of an hog which was aboarde, who nothing at all dismaide, seemed to behold and out-stare the tempest. Philosophie after all her precepts gives us over to the examples of a Wrestler or of a Muletier, in whom we ordinarily perceive much lesse feeling of death, of paine, of griefe, and other inconveniences, and more undanted constantie, then ever Learning or Knowledge could store a man withall, unlesse he were borne, and of himselfe through some naturall habitude, prepared unto it. What is the cause, the tender members of a childe, or limbes of a horse are much more easily, and with lesse paine cut and incised then ours, if it be not ignorance? How many, onely through the power of imagination, have falne into dangerous diseases? We ordinarily see diverse that will cause themselves to be let blood, purged, and dieted, because they would be cured of diseases, they never felt but in conceit, when essentiall and true maladies faile us, then Science and Knowledge lends-us hirs: This colour or complexion (saith she) presageth some rhumatike defluxion will ensue you: This soultring-hot season menaceth you with some febricitant, commotion; this cutting of the vitall line of your left hand warneth you of some notable and approaching indisposition. And at last she will roundly addresse her selfe unto perfect health; saying, this youthly vigor and sodaine joy can not possibly stay in one place, her blood and strength must be abated, for feare it turne you to some mischiefe. Compare but the life of a man subject to these-like imaginations, unto that of a day-labouring swaine, who followes his naturall appetites, who measureth all things onely by the present sense, and hath neither learning nor prognostications, who feeleth no disease but when he hath it: whereas the other hath often the stone imaginarily, before he have it in his reines: As if it were not time enough to endure the sicknesse when it shall come, he doth in his fansie prevent the same, and headlong runneth to meete with it. What I speake of Phisicke, the same may generally bee applied and drawne to all maner of learning. Thence came this ancient opinion of those Philosophers, who placed chiefe felicitie in the acknowledging of our judgements weaknesse. My ignorance affoords me as much cause of hope as of feare: and having no other regiment for my health, then that of other mens examples, and of the events, I see elsewhere in like occasions, whereof I finde some of all sortes: And relie upon the comparisons, that are most favourable unto me. I embrace health with open armes, free, plaine, and full; and prepare my appetite to enjoy-it, by how much more, it is now lesse ordinary and more rare unto mee: so farre is it from mee, that I with the bitternesse of some new and forced kinde of life, trouble her rest, and molest her ease. Beastes doe manifestly declare unto us, how many infirmities our mindes agitation brings us. That which is told us of those that inhabite Bresill, who die onely through age, which some impute to the clearenesse and calmenesse of their aire, I rather ascribe to the calmenesse and clearenesse of their mindes, voyde and free from all passions, cares, toiling, and unpleasant labours, as a people that passe their life in a wonderfull kinde of simplicitie and ignorance, without letters, or lawes, and without Kings, or any religion. Whence comes it (as we dayly see by experience) that the rudest and grossest clownes, are more tough-strong, and more desired in amorous executions? And that the love of a Muletier is often more acceptable, then that of a perfumed-quaint courtier? But because in the latter, the agitation of his minde doth so distract, trouble and weary the force of his body; as it also troubleth and wearieth it selfe, who doeth belie, or more commonly cast the same downe even into madnesse, but her owne promptitude, her point, her agilitie, and to conclude her proper force? Whence proceedes the subtilest follie, but from the subtilest wisdome? As from the extreamest friendships proceede the extreamest enmities, and from the soundest healths, the mortallest diseases; so from the rarest and quickest agitations of our mindes ensue the most distempered and outragious frenzies. There wants but halfe a pegs turne to passe from the one to the other. In mad mens actions, we see how fitly folly suteth and meets with the strongest operations, of our minde. Who knowes not how unperceivable the neighbourhood betweene folly with the liveliest elevations of a free minde is; and the effects of a supreame and extraordinary vertue? Plato affirmeth, that melancholy minds are more excellent and disciplinable; So are there none more inclinable unto follie. Diverse spirits are seene to be overthrowne by their owne force, and proper nimblenesse. What a start hath one of the most judicious, ingenious, and most fitted unto the ayre of true ancient poesie, lately gotten by his owne agitation and selfe-gladnesse, above all other Italian Poets that have bin of a long time? Hath not he wherewith to be beholding unto this his killing vivacitie? unto this clearenesse, that hath so blinded him? unto his exact and farre-reaching apprehension of reason, which hath made him voyde of reason? unto the curious and laborious pursute of Sciences, that have brought him unto sottishnesse? unto this rare aptitude to the exercises of the minde, which hath made him without minde or exercise? I rather spited then pittied him, when I saw him at Ferrara, in so pitteous a plight, that he survived himselfe; missacknowledging both himselfe and his labours, which unwitting to him, and even to his face, have beene published both uncorrected and maimed. Will you have a man healthy, will you have him regular, and in constant and safe condition? overwhelme him in the darke pit of idlenesse, and dulnesse. We must be besotted ere we can become wise, and dazled before we can be led. And if a man shall tell me, that the commoditie to have the appetite cold to griefes, and wallowish to evills, drawes this incommoditie after-it, it is also consequently the same, that makes us lesse sharpe and greedy to the enjoying of good, and of pleasures: It is true, but the miserie of our condition beareth, that wee have not so much to enjoy, as to shun, and that extreame voluptuousnes doth not so much pinch us as a light smart: Segnius homines bona quàm mala sentiunt. Men have a duller feeling of a good turne, then of an ill, we have not so sensible a feeling of perfect health, as we have of the least sicknesse.
pungit In cute uix summa uiolatum plagula corpus, Quando ualere nihil quemquam mouet. Hoc iuuat unum Quod me non torquet latus aut pes; cætera quisquam Uix queat aut sanum sese, aut sentire ualentem.
A light stroke that dooth scarse the top-skinne wound, Greeves the gall’d body, when in health to be, Doth scarse move any: onely ease is found, That neither side nor foote tormenteth me: Scarse any in the rest can feele he’s sound.
Our being in health, is but the privation of being ill. See wherefore the sect of Philosophie, that hath most preferred sensualitie, hath also placed the same but to indolencie or unfeeling of paine. To have no infirmitie at all is the chiefest possession of health, that man can hopefor (as Ennius said:)
Nimium boni est cui nihil est mali.
He hath but too much good, Whom no ill hath withstood.
For, the same tickling and pricking, which a man doth feele in some pleasures, and seemes beyond simple health, and indolencie, this active and moving sensualitie, or as I may terme-it, itching and tickling pleasure aymes but to be free from paine, as her chiefest scope. The lustfull longing which allures us to the acquaintance of women, seekes but to expell that paine, which an earnest and burning desire doth possesse-us-with, and desireth but to alay-it, there by to come to rest, and be exempted from this fever; And so of others. I say therefore, that if simplicitie directeth-us to have no evil, it also addresseth us, according to our condition to a most happy estate. Yet ought it not to be imagined so dull and heavie, that it be altogether senseles. And Crantor had great reason to withstand the unsensiblenesse of Epicurus, if it were so deepely rooted, that the approching and birth of evills might gainesay-it. I commend not that unsensiblenesse, which is neither possible nor to be desired. I am well pleased not to be sicke, but if I be, I will know that I am so; and if I be cautherized or cut, I will feele-it. Verely, he that should roote out the knowledge of evil, should therewithall extirp the knowledge of voluptuousnes, and at last bring man to nothing. Istud nihil dolere, non sine magna mercede contingit immanitatis in animo, stuporis in corpore. This very point, not to be offended or grieved with any thing, befalls not freely to a man, without either inhumanitie in his minde, or senselesnesse in his body. Sicknesse is not amisse unto man, comming in hir turne: Nor is he alwayes to shunne paine, nor ever to follow sensualitie. It is a great advantage for the honour of ignorance, that Science it selfe throwes-us into hir armes, when she findes her selfe busie to make us strong against the assaults of evills: she is forced to come to this composition; to yeeld-us the bridle, and give-us leave to shrowd our selves in hir lap, and submit our selves unto hir favor, to shelter us against the assaults and injuries of fortune. For, what meaneth she else, when she perswades us to withdraw our thoughts from the evills that possesse-us, and entertaine them with fore-gon pleasures, and steade-us as a comfort of present evills with the remembrance of fore-past felicities, and call a vanished content to our help, for to oppose it against that which vexeth us? Levationes ægritudinum in avocatione à cogitanda molestia, & revocatione ad contemplandas uoluptates ponit. Eases of griefes he reposeth either in calling from the thought of offence, or calling to the contemplations of some pleasures. Unlesse it be, that where force failes her she will use policie, and shew a tricke of nimblenesse and turne away, where the vigor both of her body and armes shall faile her. For, not onely to a strict Philosopher, but simply to any setled man, when he by experience feeleth the burning alteration of a hote-fever, what currant paiment is it to pay him with the remembrance of the sweetnesse of Greeke wine? It would rather empaire his bargaine.
Che ricordarsi il ben doppia la noia.
For to thinke of our joy, Redoubles our annoy.
Of that condition is this other counsell, which Philosophie giveth, onely to keepe forepast felicities in memorie, and thence blot out such griefes as we have felt; as if the skill to forget were in our power: and counsell, of which we have much lesse.
Suauis est laborum præteritorum memoria.
Of labours overpast, Remembrance hath sweete taste.
What? shall philosophie, which ought to put the weapons into my hands, to fight against fortune; which should harden my courage, to suppresse and lay at my feete all humane adversities; will she so faint, as to make me like a fearefull cunny creepe into some lurking-hole, and like a craven to tremble and yeeld? For, memory representeth unto us, not what we chuse, but what pleaseth her. Nay, there is nothing so deeply imprinteth any thing in our remembrance, as the desire to forget the same: It is a good way to commend to the keeping, and imprint any thing in our minde, to solicite her to loose the same. And that is false. Est situm in nobis, ut & adversa, quasi perpetua oblivione obruamus, & secunda iucundè & suaviter meminerimus. This is engraffed in us, or at least in our power, that we both bury in perpetuall oblivion things past against us, and record with pleasure and delight whatsoever was for us.
And this is true, Memini etiam quæ nolo; obliuisci non possum quæ volo. I remember even those things I would not; and can not forget what I would. And whose counsell is this? his, Qui se unus sapientem profiteri sit ausus. Who onely durst professe himselfe a wise man.
Qui genus humanum ingenio superauit, & omnes Præstrinxit stellas, exortus uti ætherius sol.
Who from all mankinde bare for wit the prize, And dimm’d the starres as when skies Sunne doth rise.
To emptie and diminish the memorie, is it not the ready and onely way to ignorance?
Iners malorum remedium ignorantia est.
Of ills a remedie by chance, And very dull is ignorance.
We see diverse like precepts, by which we are permitted to borrow frivolous apparances from the vulgar sorte, where lively and strong reason is not of force sufficient: alwayes provided, they bring us content and comfort. Where they can not cure a sore, they are pleased to stupifie and hide the same. I am perswaded they will not denie me this, that if they could possibly adde any order or constancie to a mans life, that it might thereby be still maintained in pleasure and tranquillitie, by, or through any weaknesse or infirmitie of judgement, but they would accept-it.
potare, & spargere flores Incipiam, patiárque uel inconsultus haberi.
I will beginne to strew flowers, and drinke free, And suffer witlesse, thriftlesse, held to bee.
There should many Philosophers be found of Lycas his opinion: This man in all other things being very temperate, and orderly in his demeanors, living quietly and contentedlie with his family, wanting of no duty or office both toward his owne houshold and strangers, very carefully preserving himselfe from al hurtful things: notwithstanding through some alteration of his senses or spirites, he was so possessed with this fantasticall conceipt or obstinate humour, that he ever and continually thought to be amongst the Theaters, where he still saw all manner of spectacles, pastimes, sportes, and the best Comedies of the worlde. But being at last by the skill of Physitions cured of this maladie, and his offending humour purged, he could hardly be held from putting them in sute, to the end they might restore him to the former pleasures and contents of his imagination.
polme occidistis amici, Non seruastis, ait, cui fic extorta uoluptas, Et demptus per uim menti gratissimus error.
You have not sav’d me, friends, but slaine me quite, (Quoth he) from whom so reft is my delight, And errour purg’d, which best did please my spright.
Of a raving like unto that of Thrasylaus, sonne unto Pythodorus, who verily believed, that all the ships that went out from the haven of Pyrre, yea and all such as came into-it, did onely travell about his businesse, rejoycing when any of them had made a fortunate voyage, and welcommed them with great gladnesse: His brother Crito, having caused him to bee cured, and restored to his better senses, he much bewailed and grieved the condition wherein he had formerly lived in such joy, and so voyde of all care and griefe. It is that, which that ancient Greeke verse saith; That not to be so advised brings many commodities with-it:
Εν τῷ φρονεῖν γαρ μηδὲν, ᾓδιστος βίος,
The sweetest life I wis, In knowing nothing is.
And as Ecclesiastes witnesseth: In much wisedome, much sorrow: And who getteth knowledge, purchaseth sorrow and griefe. Even that, to which Philosophie doeth in generall tearmes allow this last remedie, which she ordaineth for all manner of necessities; that is, to make an end of that life, which we can not endure. Placet? pare: Non placet? quacunque uis exi. Pungit dolor? uel fodiat sanè: si nudus es, da iugulum: sin tectus armis vulcaniis, id est fortitudine, resiste. Doth it like you? obey: doth it not like you? get out as you will: doth griefe pricke you? and let it perce you to: if you be naked, yeeld your throate: but if you be covered with the armour of Vulcan, that is, with fortitude, resist. And that saying used of the Græcians in their banquets, which they apply unto it, Aut bibat, aut abeat: Either let him carouse, or carry him out of the house: which rather fitteth the mouth of a Gascoine, then that of Cicero, who very easily doth change the letter B into V,
Uivere si recte nëscis, decede peritis Lusisti satis, edisti satis, atque bibisti: Tempus abire tibi est, ne potum largius æquo Rideat, & pulset lasciva decentius ætas.
Live well you cannot, them that can give place, Well have you sported, eaten well, dronke well: ’Tis time you part; least wanton youth with grace Laugh-at, and knocke you that with swilling swell.
what is it but a confession of his insufficiencie, and a sending one backe not onely to ignorance, there to be shrowded, but unto stupiditie it selfe, unto unsensiblenes and not being?
Democritum postquàm matura uetustas Admonuit memorem, motus languescere mentis: Sponte sua letho caput obuius obtulit ipse.
When ripe age put Democritus in minde, That his mindes motions fainted, he to finde His death went willing, and his life resign’d.
It is that which Anthistenes said, that a man must provide himselfe either of wit to understand, or of a halter to hange himselfe: And that which Chrysippus alleaged upon the speech of the Poet Tyrtæus,
De la vertu, ou de mort approcher.
Or vertue to approch, Or else let death encroch.
And Crates said, that love was cured with hunger, if not by time; and in him that liked not these two meanes, by the halter. That Sextius, to whom Seneca and Plutarke give so much commendation, having given over all things else and betaken himselfe to the studie of Philosophie, seeing the progresse of his studies so tedious and slowe, purposed to cast himselfe into the Sea; Ranne unto death for want of knowledge: Reade here what the law, saith upon this subject. If peradventure any great inconvenience happen, which cannot be remedied, the haven is not farre-off, and by swimming may a man save himselfe out of his body, as out of a leaking boate: for, it is feare to die, and not desire to live, which keepes a foole joyned to his body. As life through simplicitie becommeth more pleasant, So (as I erewhile began to say) becommeth-it more innocent and better. The simple and the ignorant (saith Saint Paul) raise themselves up to heaven, and take possession of it; whereas we, with all the knowledge we have, plunge our selves downe to the pit of hel. I rely neither upon Valentinianus (a professed enemie to knowledge and learning) nor upon Licinius (both Romane Emperors) who named them the venime and plague of al politike estates: Nor on Mahomet, who (as I have heard) doth utterly interdict all manner of learning to his subjects. But the example of that great Lycurgus, and his authoritie ought to beare cheefe sway, and the reverence of that divine Lacedemonian-policie so great, so admirable, and so long time florishing in all vertue and felicitie, without any institution or exercise at all of letters. Those who returne from that new world, which of late hath bin discovered by the Spaniards, can witnes unto us, how those nations being without Magistrates or lawe, live much more regularly and formally then we, who have amongst us more officers and lawes, then men of other professions, or actions.
Di citatorie piene & di libelli, D’esamine, di carte, & di procure Hanno le mani e’l seno, & gran fastelli Di chiose, di consigli & di letture, Per cui le faculà de’ poverelli Non sono mai ne le città sicure, Hanno dietro & dinanzi & d’ambo i lati, Notai, procuratori, & advocati.
Their hands and bosoms with writts and citations, With papers, libells, proxies, full they beare, And bundels great of strict examinations, Of glosses, counsels, readings here and there. Whereby in townes poore men of occupations Possesse not their small goods secure from feare, Before, behinde, on each sides Aduocates, Proctors, and Notaries hold up debates.
It was that, which a Roman Senator said, that their predecessors had their breath stinking of garlike, and their stomake perfumed with a good conscience: and contrarie, the men of his times, outwardly smelt of nothing but sweete odours, but inwardly they stunke of all vices: Which in mine opinion, is as much to say, they had much Knowledge and Sufficiencie, but great want of honestie. Incivilitie, ignorance, simplicitie, and rudnes, are commonly joyned with innocencie: Curiositie, suttletie, and knowledge, are ever followed with malice: Humilitie, feare, obedience, and honestie (which are the principal instruments for the preservation of humane societie) require a single docile soule and which presumeth little of hir selfe: Christians have a peculier knowledge, how curiositie is in a man a naturall, and originall infirmitie. The care to encrease in wisedome and knowledge was the first overthrowe of man-kinde: It is the way whereby man hath headlong cast himselfe downe into eternall damnation. Pride is his losse and corruption: It is pride, that misleadeth him from common waies; that makes him to embrace all newfangles, and rather chuse to be chiefe of a stragling troupe, and in the path of perdition, and be regent of some erronious sect, and a teacher of falsehood, then a disciple in the schoole of truth, and suffer himselfe to be led and directed by the hand of others in the readie-beaten high way. It is happily that, which the ancient Greeke proverbe implyeth; ἠ δεισιδαιμονία καθάπερ πατρὶ τῷ τυφῷ πείθεται. Superstition obayeth pride as a father. Oh overweening, how much doest thou hinder vs? Socrates being advertised, that the God of wisedome, had attributed the name of wise unto him, was thereat much astonished, and diligently searching and rouzing up himself, and ransaking the very secrets of his heart, found no foundation or ground for his divine sentence. He knew some that were as just, as temperate, as valiant and as wise as he, and more eloquent, more faire, and more profitable to their countrie. In fine he resolved, that he was distinguished from others, and reputed wise, only because he did not so esteeme himselfe: And that his God deemed the opinion of science and wisedome a singular sottishnes in man; and that his best doctrine was the doctrine of ignorance, and simplicitie his greatest wisdome. The sacred writ pronounceth them to be miserable in this world, that esteeme themselves. Dust and ashes (saith he) what is there in thee, thou shouldest so much glorie-of? And in an other place. God hath made man like unto a shadowe, of which who shall judge, when the light being gone, it shall vanish away? Man is a thing of nothing. So farre are our faculties from conceiving that high Deytie, that of our Creators workes, those beare his marke best, and are most his owne, which we understand least. It is an occasion to induce Christians to beleeve, when they chance to meete with any incredible thing, that it is so much the more according unto reason, by how much more it is against humane reason. If it were according unto reason, it were no more a wonder; and were it to be matched, it were no more singular. Melius scitur Deus nesciendo. God is better knowne by our not knowing him. Saith Saint Augustine: And Tacitus, Sanctius est ac reverentius de actis deorum credere quàm scire: It is a course of more holines and reverence, to holde beliefe, then to have knowledge of Gods actions. And Plato deemes it to be a vice of impietie, over-curiously to enquire after God, after the world, and after the first causes of things. Atque illum quidem parentem huius uniuersitatis inuenire, difficile: & quum iam inueneris, indicare in uulgus, nesas. Both it is difficult to finde out the father of this universe, and when you have found him, it is unlawfull to reveale him to the vulgar: Saith Cicero, wee easily pronounce puissance, truth and justice; they be words importing some great matter, but that thing wee cannot possibly see-it, nor conceive or apprehend the same, we say that God feareth, that God will be angrie, and that God loveth.
Immortalia mortali sermone notantes,
Who with tearmes of mortalitie Note things of immortality.
They be all agitations and motions, which according to our forme can have no place in God, nor we imagine them according to his. It only belongs to God to know himselfe, and interprete his owne workes; and in our tongues he doth it improperly, to descend and come downe to us, that are, and lie groveling on the ground. How can wisedome beseeme him, who is the choyse betweene good and evill, seeing no evill doth touch him? How reason and intelligence, which we use to com from obscure to apparant things, seeing there is no obscure thing in God? Justice which distributeth unto everie man, what belongs unto him, created for the societie and conversation of man, how is she in God? How temperance, which is the moderation of corporall sensualities, which have no place at all in his Godhead? Fortitude patiently to endure sorrowes, labours and dangers, appertaineth a little unto him.2 And therfore Aristotle holdes him to be equally exempted from vertue and from vice. Neque gratia, neque ira teneri potest, quòd quæ talia essent, imbecilla essent omnia. Nor can hee bee possessed with favour and anger; for all that is so, is but weake. The participation which wee have of the knowledge of truth, whatsoever she is, it is not by our owne strength we have gotten it; God hath sufficiently taught it us, in that he hath made choyse of the simple, common and ignorant, to teach us his wonderful secrets. Our faith hath not beene purchased by us: it is a gift proceeding from the liberalitie of others. It is not by our discourse or understanding, that wee have received our religion, it is by a forraine aucthoritie, and commaundement. The weaknesse of our judgement, helpes us more than our strength to compasse the same, and our blindnesse more then our cleare-sighted eyes. It is more by the meanes of our ignorance, then of our skil, that we are wise in heavenly knowledge. It is no marvaile if our natural and terrestriall means cannot conceive the supernaturall, or apprehend the celestial knowledge: Let us adde nothing of our owne unto it, but obedience and subjection: For, (as it is written,) I will confound the Wisedome of the wise, and destroy the understanding of the prudent, where is the Wise? Where is the Scribe? Where is the disputer of this world. Hath not God made the wisdome of this world foolishnesse? For, seeing the world by wisedome knew not God in the wisdome of God, it hath pleased him, by the vanitie of preaching, to save them that beleeve, yet must I see at last, whether it be in mans power to finde what he seeks-for: and if this long search, wherein he hath continued so many ages, hath enriched him with any new strength or solide truth. I am perswaded, if he speake in conscience, he will confesse, that al the benefite he hath gotten by so tedious a pursute, hath bin, that he hath learned to know his owne weaknesse. That ignorance which in us was naturall, we have with long studie confirmed and averred. It hath happened unto those that are truly learned, as it happeneth unto eares of corne, which as long as they are empty, grow and raise their head aloft, upright and stout; but if they once become full and bigge, with ripe Corne, they begin to humble and droope downeward. So men having tried, and sounded all, and in all this Chaoes, and huge heap of learning and provision of so infinite different things, and found nothing that is substantiall, firme and steadie, but all vanitie, have renounced their presumption, and too late knowen their naturall condition. It is that, which Velleius upbraides Cotta and Cicero withall, that they have learnt of Philo, to have learned nothing. Pherecydes, one of the seaven wise, writing to Thales even as he was yeelding up the Ghost; I have (saith he) appoynted my friends, as sone as I shalbe layed in my grave, to bring thee al my writings. If they please thee, and the other Sages, publish them; if not conceale them. They containe no certaintie, nor do they any whit satisfie me. My profession is not to know the truth, nor to attaine-it. I rather open, than discover things. The wisest that ever was, being demaunded what he knew, answered, he knew that he knew nothing. He verified what som say, that the greatest part of what we know, is the least part of what we know not: that is, that that which we think to know, is but a parcel, yea and a small particle of our ignorance. We know things in a dreame (saith Plato) and we are ignorant of them in truth. Omnes penè ueteres nihil cognosci, nihil percipi, nihil sciri posse dixerunt: angustos sensus, imbecilles animos, breuia curricula uitæ. Almost all the ancients affirmed nothing may be knowne, nothing perceived, nothing understood: that our senses are narrow, our minds are weake, and the race of our life is short. Cicero himself, who ought all he had unto learning, Valerius saith, that in his age he beganne to disesteeme letters: And whilst he practised them, it was without bond to any speciall body, following what seemed probable unto him, now in the one, and now in the other Sect; ever holding himselfe under the Academies doubtfulnesse. Dicendum est, sed ita ut nihil affirmem: quæram omnia, dubitans plerumque, & mihi diffidens. Speake I must, but so as I avowch nothing, question al things, for the most part in doubt and distrust of my selfe. I should have too much a doe, if I would consider man after his owne fashion, and in grose: which I might doe by his owne rule, who is wont to judge of truth, not by the weight or value of voyces but by the number. But leave we the common people,
Qui uigilans stertit,
Who snoare while they are awake.
Mortua cui uita est, propè iam uiuo atque uidenti:
Whose life is dead while yet they see, And in a maner living be.
Who feeleth not himselfe, who judgeth not himselfe, who leaves the greatest part of his naturall parts idle. I wil take man even in his highest estate. Let us consider him in this small number of excellent and choyse men, who having naturally beene endowed with a peculiare and exquisite wit, have also fostred and sharpened the same with care, with studie and with arte, and have brought and strained unto the highest pitch of wisdome, it may possibly reach unto. They have fitted their soule unto all senses, and squared the same to all byases; they have strengthned and under-propped it with all forraine helpes, that might any way fitte or steade hir, and have enriched and adorned hir with whatsoever they have beene able to borrow, either within or without the world for hir avayle: It is in them, that the extreame height of humane Nature doth lodge. They have reformed the worlde with policies and lawes. They have instructed the same with artes and sciences, as also by example of their wonderfull manners and life. I will but make accoumpt of such people, of their witnes and of their experience. Let us see how farre they have gone, and what holdfast they have held by. The maladies and defects, which we shal finde in that colledge, the world may boldly allow them to be his. Whosoever seekes for any thing, commeth at last to this conclusion, and saith, that either he hath found it, or that it cannot be found, or that he is still in pursuit after-it. Al Philosophie is divided into these three kindes. Hir purpose is to seeke out the truth, the knowledge and the certainty. The Peripathetikes, the Epicurians, the Stoickes and others have thought they had found it. These have established the Sciences that we have, and as of certaine notions have treated of them; Clitomachus, Carneades and the Academikes, have dispaired the finding of it, and judged that truth could not bee conceived by our meanes. The end of these, is weakenesse and ignorance. The former had more followers, and the wortheist Sectaries. Pyrrho, and other Sceptikes, or Epechistes, whose doctrine or manner of teaching, many auncient learned men have thought to have beene drawne from Homer, from the seaven wise men, from Archilochus and Euripides, to whome they joyne Zeno, Democritus and Xenophanes, say, that they are still seeking after trueth. These judge that those are infinitely deceived, who imagine they have found-it, and that the second degree is over-boldly vaine in affirming that mans power is altogether unable to attaine unto it. For, to stablish the measure of our strength, to know and distinguish of the difficulty of things, is a great, a notable and extreame science, which they doubt whether man be capable therof or no.
Nil sciri quisquis putat, id quóque nescit, An sciri possit, quo se nil scire fatetur.
Who thinke’s nothing is knowne, knowes not that, whereby hee, Grauntes he knowes nothing, if it knowne may bee.
That ignorance, which is knowne judged and condemned, is not an absolute ignorance: For, to be so, she must altogether be ignorant of her selfe. So that the profession of the Phyrronians is ever to waver, to doubt and to enquire; never to be assured of any thing, nor to take any warrant of himselfe. Of the three actions or faculties of the soule, that is to say, the imaginative, the concupisciple, and the consenting, they allow and conceive the two former; the last, they hold and defend to be ambiguous, without inclination or approbation, either of one or other side, be it never so light, Zeno in jesture painted forth his imagination upon this division of the soules faculties: the open and out-stretched hand was apparaunce; the hand halfe-shutte, and fingers somewhat bending, consent: the fist close, comprehension: if the fist of the left-hand were closely clinched together, it signified Science. Now this situation of their judgement, straight and inflexible, receiving all objects with application or consent, leades them unto their Ataraxie; which is the condition of a quiet and setled life, exempted from the agitations, which we receive by the impression of the opinion and knowledge, we imagine to have of things; whence proceede, feare, avarice, envie, immoderate desires, ambition, pride, superstition, love of novelties, rebellion, disobedience, obstinacie, and the greatest number of corporall evils: yea by that means they are exempted from the jealousie of their owne discipline, for they contend but faintly: They feare nor revenge, nor contradiction in the disputations. When they say, that heavy things descend downeward, they would be loath to be believed, but desire to be contradicted, therby to engender doubt, and suspence of judgement, which is their end and drift. They put forth their propositions, but to contend with those, they imagine wee holde in out conceipt. If you take theirs, then will they undertake to maintaine the contrary: all is one to them, nor will they give a penny to chuse. If you propose that snow is blacke, they wil argue on the other side, that it is white. If you say it is neither one nor other, they will maintaine it to be both. If by a certaine judgement, you say that you can not tell, they will maintaine that you can tell. Nay, if by an affirmative axiome, you sweare that you stand in some doubt, they will dispute, that you doubt not of it, or that you cannot judge or maintaine, that you are in doubt. And by this extreamitie of doubt, which staggreth it-selfe, they seperate and devide themselves from many opinions, yea from those, which divers wayes have maintained both the doubt and the ignorance. Why shall it not be graunted then (say they) as to Dogmatists or Doctrine-teachers, for one to say greene, and another yellow, so for them to doubt? Is there any thing can be proposed unto you, eyther to allow or refuse, which may not lawfully be considered as ambiguous and doubtfull? And whereas others be carryed either by the custome of their Cuntrie, or by the institution of their Parents, or by chaunce, as by a Tempest, without choyse or judgement, yea sometimes before the age of discretion, to such or such another opinion, to the Stoike or Epicurian Sect, to which they finde themselves more engaged, subjected or fast tyed, as to a prize they cannot let goe: Ad quamcúmque disciplinam, uelut Tempestate, delati, ad eam tanquam ad saxum, adhærescunt. Being carryed as it were by a Tempest, to any kind of doctrine, they sticke close to it, as it were to a rocke. Why shal not these likewise be permitted, to maintaine their liberty, and consider of things without dutie or compulsion? Hoc liberiores, & solutiores, quod integra illis est iudicandi potestas. They are so much the freer and at liberty, for that their power of judgement is kept entire. Is it not some advantage for one to finde himselfe disingaged from necessitie, which brideleth others? Is it not better to remaine in suspence, then to entangle himselfe in so many errours, that humane fantasie hath brought forth? Is it not better for a man to suspend his owne perswasion, than to meddle with these sedicious and quarellous divisions? What shall I chuse? Mary, what you list, so you chuse. A very foolish answer: to which it seemeth neverthelesse, that all Dogmatisme arriveth; by which it is not lawfull for you to bee ignorant of that we know not. Take the best and strongest side, it shall never be so sure, but you shall have occasion to defend the same, to close and combate a hundred and a hundred sides? Is it not better to keep out of this confusion? You are suffered to embrace as your honour and life Aristotles opinion, upon the eternitie of the soule, and to belie and contradict whatsoever Plato saith concerning that; and shal they be interdicted to doubt of it? If it be lawfull for Panæcius to maintaine his judgement about Auruspices, Dreames, Oracles and Prophecies, whereof the Stoickes make no doubt at all: Wherfore shall not a wiseman dare that in al things, which this man dareth in such as he hath learned of his Maisters? Confirmed and established by the Generall consent of the Schoole whereof he is a Sectarie and a Professor? If it be a Childe that judgeth, he wottes not what it is; if a learned man, he is fore-stalled. They have reserved a great advantage for themselves in the combate, having discharged themselves of the care how to shrowd themselves. They care not to be beaten, so they may strike againe: And all is fish that comes to net with them: If they overcome, your proposition halteth; if you, theirs is lame; if they prove that nothing is knowne, it is very well: If they cannot prove it, it is good alike: Vt quum in eadem re paria contrariis in partibus momenti inueniuntur, facilius ab utraque parte assertio sustiniatur. So as when the same matter the like weight and moment is found on divers partes, we may the more easilie with-hold avowching on both partes. And they suppose to finde out more easily, why a thing is false, then true; and that which is not, than that which is: and what they believe not, than what they believe. Their maner of speech, is, I confirme nothing: It is no more so than thus, or neither: I conceive it not; Apparances are every-where alike: The Law of speaking pro or contra is all one. Nothing seemeth true, that may not seeme false. Their Sacramental word is, ἐπέχω, which is as much to say, as I uphold and stirre not. Behold the burdons of their songs, and other such-like. Their effects is, a pure, entire and absolute surceasing and suspence of judgement. They use their reason, to enquire and to debate; and not to stay and choose. Whosoever shall imagine a perpetual confession of ignorance, and a judgement upright and without staggering, to what occasion soever may chance; That man conceives the true Phyrrhonisme. I expound this fantazie as plaine as I can, because many deeme it hard to be conceived: And the Authours themselves represent it somewhat obscurely and diversly. Touching the actions of life, in that they are after the common sort. They are lent and applyed to naturall inclinations, to the impulsion and constraint of passions, to the constitutions of lawes and customes, and to the tradition of Artes: Non enim nos Deus ista scire, sed tantumodo uti uoluit. For God would not have us know these things, but onely use them.
By such meanes they suffer their common-actions to be directed, without any conceit or judgement, which is the reason that I cannot wel sort unto this discourse, what is said of Pyrrho. They faine him to be stupide and unmoovable, leading a kind of wylde and unsociable life, not shunning to be hitte with Cartes, presenting himselfe unto downefalles, refusing to conforme himselfe to the lawes. It is an endearing of his discipline. He would not make himselfe a stone or a blocke, but a living, discoursing and reasoning man, enjoying all pleasures and naturall commodities, busying himselfe with, and using all his corporall and spirituall partes, in rule and right. The fantasticall and imaginarie, and false priviledges, which man hath usurped unto himselfe, to sway, to appoint, and to establish, he hath absolutely renounced and quit them. Yet is there no Sect, but is enforced to allow hir wise Secter, in chief to follow diverse things nor comprized nor perceived, nor allowed, if he will live. And if hee take shipping, he followes his purpose, not knowing whether it shalbe profitable or no; and yeeldes to this, that the shippe is good, that the pilote is skilfull, and that the season is fit; circumstances only probable; After which he is bound to goe, and suffer himselfe to be remooved by apparances, alwayes provided they have no expresse contrarietie in them. Hee hath a body, he hath a soule, his senses urge him forward, his mind mooveth him. Although he finde not this proper and singular marke of judging in himselfe, and that hee perceive hee should not engage his consent, seeing some falshood may be like unto this truth: He ceaseth not to direct the offices of his life fully and commodiously. How many arts are there, which professe to consist more in conjecture, than in the science? That distinguish not betweene truth and falshood, but onely follow seeming? There is both truth and false (say they) and there are meanes in us to seeke it out, but not to stay it when wee touch it. It is better for us to suffer the order of the world to manage us without further inquisition. A mind warranted from prejudice, hath a marvellous preferment to tranquility. Men that censure and controule their judges, do never duly submit themselves unto them. How much more docile and tractable are simple and uncurious mindes found both towardes the lawes of religion and politike decrees, then these over-vigilant and nice-wits, teachers of divine and humane causes? There is nothing in mans invention, wherein is so much likelyhood, possibilitie and profite. This representeth man bare and naked, acknowledging his naturall weakenesse, apt to receive from above some strange power, disfurnished of all humane knowledge, and so much the more fitte to harbour divine understanding, disannulling his judgement, that so he may give more place unto faith: Neither misbeleeving nor establishing any doctrine or opinion repugnant unto common lawes and observances, humble, obedient, disciplinable, and studious; a sworne enemy to Heresie, and by consequence exempting himselfe from all vaine and irreligious opinions, invented and brought up by false Sects. It is a white sheet prepared to take from the finger of God, what form soever it shal please him to imprint therin. The more we addresse and commit our selves to God, and reject our selves, the better it is for us. Accept (saith Ecclesiastes) in good part things both in shew and taste, as from day to day they are presented unto thee, the rest is beyond thy knowledge. Dominus nouit cogitationes hominum, quoniam uanæ sunt. The Lord knowes the thoughts of men, that they are vayne. See how of three generall Sects of Philosophie, two make expresse profession of doubt and ignorance; and in the third, which is the Dogmatists, it is easie to be discerned, that the greatest number have taken the face of assurance; onely because they could set a better countenance on the matter. They have not so much gone about to establish any certainty in us, as to shew how farre they had waded in seeking out the truth, Quàm docti fingunt magis quàm norunt. Which the learned doe rather conceit, than know.
Tymaeus, being to instruct Socrates, of what hee knowes of the Gods, of the world and of men, purposeth to speake of it, as one man to another; and that it sufficeth, if his reasons be as probable as another mans: For, exact reasons are neither in his hands, nor in any mortal man; which one of his Sectaries hath thus imitated: Ut potero, explicabo: nec tamen, ut Pythius Apollo, certa ut sint & fixa, que dixero: sed, ut homunculus, probabilia coniectura sequens. As I can, I will explaine them; yet not as Apollo giving oracles, that all should bee certaine and sette doune, that I say, but as a meane man, who followes likelihoode by his conjecture. And that upon the discourse of the contempt of death; a naturall and popular discourse. Elsewhere he hath translated-it, upon Platoes very words. Si fortè, de Deorum natura ortúque mundi disserentes, minus quod habemus in animo consequimur, haud erit mirum. Æquum est enim meminisse, & me, qui disseram, hominem esse, & vos qui iudicetis: ut, si probabilia dicentur, nihil ultrà requiratis. It will be no marvell, if arguing of the nature of Gods and originall of the world, we scarsely reach to that which in our mind we comprehend; for it is meet we remember, that both I am a man, who am to argue, and you who are to judge, so as you seeke no further, if I speake but things likely. Aristotle ordinarily hoardeth us up a number of other opinions, and other beliefes, that so he may compare his unto it, and make us see how farre he hath gone further, and how neere he comes unto true-likelyhood; For trueth is not judged by authoritie, nor by others testimonie. And therefore did Epicurus religiously avoyde to aleadge any in his compositions. He is the Prince of Dogmatists, and yet we learne of him, that, to know much, breedes an occasion to know3 more. He is often seene, seriously to shelter himselfe under so inextricable obscuritie, that his meaning cannot be perceived. In effect, it is a Pyrrhonisme under a resolving forme. Listen to Ciceroes protestation, who doth declare us others fantasies by his owne. Qui requirunt, quid de quaque re ipsi sentiamus; curiosius id faciunt, quàm necesse est. Hæc in philosophiæ ratio, contra omnia disserendi, nullámque rem apertè iudicandi, profecta à Socrate, repetitata ab Arcesila, confirmata à Carneade usque ad nostram uiget ætatem. Hi sumus, qui omnibus ueris falsa quædam adiuncta esse dicamus, tanta similitudine, ut iniis nulla insit certè iudicandi & assentiendi nota. They that would know what we conceit of every thing, use more curiositie than needes. This course in Philosophie to dispute against all things, to judge expresly of nothing, derived from Socrates, renewed by Arcesila, confirmed by Carneades, is in force till our time: we are those that averre some falshoode entermixt with every trueth, and that with such likenesse, as there is no sette note in those things for any assuredly to give judgement or assent. Why hath not Aristotle alone, but the greatest number of Philosophers affected difficultie, unlesse it be to make the vanity of the subject to prevaile, and to ammuse the curiositie of our minde, seeking to feede it, by gnawing so raw and bare a bone? Clytomachus affirmed, that he could never understand by the writings of Carneades, what opinion he was of. Why hath Epicurus interdicted facilitie unto his Sectaries? And wherefore hath Heraclitus beene surnamed σκοτεινὸς, a darke misty clowded fellow? Difficultie is a coine, that wisemen make use-of, as juglers doe with passe and repasse, because they will not display the vanitie of their arte, and wherewith humane foolishnesse is easily apaide.
Clarus ob obscurum linguam, magis inter inanes. Omnia enim stolidi magis admirantur amántque, Inuersis quæ sub uerbis latitantia cernunt.
For his darke speech much prais’d, but of th’unwise; For fooles doe all still more admire and prize, That under words turn’d topsie-turvy lies.
Cicero reproveth some of his friends, because they were wont to bestow more time about Astrologie, Law, Logike, and Geometrie, then such Arts could deserve; and diverted them from the devoirs of their life, more profitable and more honest. The Cyrenaike Philosophers equally contemned naturall Philosophie and Logicke. Zeno in the beginning of his bookes of the Commonwealth, declared all the liberall Sciences to be unprofitable. Chrisippus said, that which Plato and Aristotle had written of Logike, they had written the same in jest and for exercise sake; and could not believe that ever they spake in good ernest of so vain and idle a subject. Plutark saith the same of the Metaphisikes; Epicurus would have said it of Rethorike, of Gramar, of Poesie, of the Mathematiks, and (except natural Philosophie) of al other sciences: And Socrates of all; but of the Arte of civill manners and life. Whatsoever he was demanded of any man, he would ever first enquire of him, to give an accompt of his life, both present and past: which he would-seriously examine and judge-of: Deeming all other apprentiships as subsequents and of superarogation in regard of that. Parum mihi placeant ea literæ quæ ad uirtutem doctoribus nihil profuerunt. That learning pleaseth me but a little, which nothing profiteth the teachers of it unto vertue. Most of the Artes have thus beene contemned by knowledge it selfe: For they thought it not amisse to exercise their mindes in matters, wherein was no profitable soliditie. As for the rest, some have judged Plato a Dogmatist, others a Skeptike or a doubter, some a Dogmatist in one thing, and some a Skeptike in another. Socrates, the fore-man of his Dialogues doth ever aske and propose his disputation; yet never concluding, nor ever satisfying: and saith, he hath no other Science, but that of opposing. Their author Homer hath equally grounded the foundations of all Sects of Philosophie, thereby to shew, how indifferent he was which way we went. Some say, that of Plato arose ten diverse Sects. And as I thinke, never was instruction wavering and nothing avouching, if his be not. Socrates was wont to say, that when Midwives beginne once to put in practise the trade to make other women bring forth children, themselves become barren. That he by the title of wise, which the gods had conferred upon him, had also in his man-like and mental love shaken off the faculties of begetting: Being wel pleased to afford al help and savor to such as were engendrers; to open their nature, to suple their passages, to ease the issue of their womb, to judge thereof, to baptise the same, to foster it, to strengthen it, to swathe it, and to circumcise it; exercising and handling his wit to the perrill and fortune of others So is it with most Authors of this third kind, as the auncients have well noted by the writings of Anaxagoras, Democritus, Parmenides, Xenophanes, and others. They have a maner of writing doubtfull both in substance and intent, rather enquiring then instructing: albeit heere and there, they enterlace their stile with dogmaticall cadences. And is not that as wel seene in Seneca, and in Plutarke? How much doe they speake sometimes of one face, and sometimes of another, for such as looke neere unto it? Those who reconcile Lawyers, ought first to have reconciled them every one unto himselfe. Plato hath (in my seeming) loved this manner of Philosophying, Dialogue wise in good ernest, that thereby he might more decently place in sundrie mouths the diversitie and variation of his owne conceits. Diversly to treate of matters, is as good and better as to treate them conformably; that is to say, more copiously and more profitably. Let us take example by our selves. Definite sentences make the last period of dogmaticall and resolving speech: yet see we, that those which our parlaments present unto our people, as the most exemplare and fittest to nourish in him the reverence he oweth to this dignitie, especially by reason of the sufficiencie of those persons, which exercise the same, taking their glory, not by the conclusion, which to them is dayly, and is common to all judges, as much as the debating of diverse, and agitations of contrary reasonings of law causes will admit. And the largest scope for reprehensions of some Philosophers against others, draweth contradictions and diversities with it, wherein every one of them findeth himselfe so entangled, either by intent to shew the wavering of mans minde above all matters, or ignorantly forced by the volubilitie and incomprehensiblenesse of all matters: What meaneth this burden? In a slippery and gliding place let us suspend our beliefe, For as Euripides saith,
Les œuvres de Dieu en diverses Façons, nous donnent des traverses.
Gods workes doe travers our imaginations, And crosse our workes in divers different fashions.
Like unto that, which Empedocles was wont often to scatter amongst his bookes, as moved by a divine furie and forced by truth. No no, we feele nothing, we see nothing; all things are hid from us: There is not one, that we may establish, how and what it is: But returning to this holy word. Cogitationes mortalium timidæ & incertæ ad inuentiones nostræ, & prouidentiæ. The thoughts of mortal men are feareful, our devices and foresights are uncertaine. It must not be thought strange, if men disparing of the goale, have yet taken pleasure in the chase of it; studie being in it selfe a pleasing occupation, yea so pleasing, that amid sensualities, the Stoikes forbid also that, which comes from the exercise of the minde, and require a bridle to it, and finde intemperance in over much knowledge. Democritus having at his table eaten some figges, that tasted of honny, began presently in his minde, to seeke out whence this unusuall sweetnes in them might proceede; and to be resolved, rose from the board, to view the place where those figges had beene gathered. His maide-servant noting this alteration in hir maister, smilingly saide unto him, that hee should no more busie himselfe about it; the reason was, shee had laide them in a vessell, where honny had beene, whereat he seemed to be wroth, in that shee had deprived him of the occasion of his intended search, and robbed his curiositie of matter to worke upon. Away (quoth hee) unto her, thou hast much offended mee; yet will I not omitte to finde-out the cause, as if it were naturally so. Who perhaps would not have missed to finde some likely or true reason, for a false and supposed effect. This storie of a famous and great Philosopher dooth evidently represent unto us this studious passion, which so doth ammuse us in pursuite of things, of whose obtaining wee dispaire. Plutarke reporteth a like example of one, who would not bee resolved of what hee doubted, because hee would not loose the pleasure hee had in seeking it: As another, that would not have his Phisitian remove the thirst hee felt in his ague, because hee would not loose the pleasure he tooke in quenching the same with drinking. Satius est superuacua discere, quàm nihil. It is better to learne more then we neede, then nothing at all, Even as in all feeding, pleasure is alwayes alone and single; and all we take that is pleasant, is not ever nourishing and wholesome: So likewise, what our minde drawes from learning leaveth not to be voluptuous, although it neither nourish nor be wholesome. Note what their saying is: The consideration of nature is a foode proper for our mindes, it raiseth and puffeth us up, it makes us by the comparison of heavenly and high things to disdaine base and low matters: the search of hidden and great causes is very pleasant, yea unto him that attaines nought but the reverence and feare to judge of them, These are the very words of their profession. The vaine image of this crazed curiositie, is more manifestly seene in this other example, which they for honour-sake have so often in their mouths. Eudoxus wished, and praid to the Gods, that he might once view the Sunne neere at hand, to comprehend his forme, his greatnesse and his beautie, on condition he might imediately be burnt and consumed by it. Thus with the price of his owne life would he attaine a Science, whereof both use and possession shal therewith bee taken from him; and for so sodaine and fleeting knowledge, loose and forgoe all the knowledges he either now hath, or ever hereafter may have. I can not easily be perswaded, that Epicurus, Plato, or Pithagoras have sold us their Atomes, their Ideas, and their Numbers for ready payment. They were overwise to establish their articles of faith upon things so uncertaine and disputable. But in this obscuritie and ignorance of the world, each of these notable men hath endevoured to bring some kinde of shew or image of light; and have busied their mindes about inventions, that might at least have a pleasing and wilie apparance, provided (notwithstanding it were false) it might be maintained against contrary oppositions: Vnicuiquæ ista pro ingenio finguntur, non ex Scientiæ ui. These things are conceited by every man as his wit serves, not as his knowledge stretches and reaches. An ancient Philosopher being blamed for professing that Philosophie, whereof, in his judgement hee made no esteeme; answered, that that was true Philosophizing. They have gone about to consider all, to ballance all, and have found that it was an occupation fitting the naturall curiositie which is in us. Some things they have written for the behoofe of common societie, as their religions: And for this consideration was it reasonable, that they would not throughly unfold common opinions, that so they might not breede trouble in the obedience of lawes and customes of their countries. Plato treateth this mysterie in a very manifest kinde of sport. For, where he writeth according to himselfe, he prescribeth nothing for certaintie: When he institutes a Law-giver, he borroweth a very swaying and avouching kind of stile: Wherein he boldly entermingleth his most fantasticall opinions; as profitable to perswade the common sorte, as ridiculous to perswade himselfe: Knowing how apt we are to receive all impressions, and chiefly the most wicked and enormous. And therefore is he very carefull in his lawes that nothing bee sung in publike but Poesies; the fabulous fictions of which tend to some profitable end: being so apt to imprint all manner of illusions in mans minde, that it is injustice not to feede them rather with commodious lies, then with lies either unprofitable or damageable. He flatly saith in his Common-wealth, that for the benefit of men, it is often necessarie to deceive them. It is easie to distinguish, how some Sects have rather followed truth, and some profit; by which the latter have gained credit. It is the miserie of our condition, that often, what offers it selfe unto our imagination for the likelyest: presents not it selfe unto it for the most beneficiall unto our life. The boldest sects, both Epicurian, Pyrrhonian and new Academike, when they have cast their acoumpt, are compelled to stoope to the civill law. There are other subjects, which they have tossed, some on the left and some on the right hand, each one laboring and striving to give it some semblance, were it right or wrong: For, having found nothing so secret, whereof they have not attempted to speake, they are many times forced to forge divers feeble and fond conjectures: Not that themselves tooke them for a ground-worke, nor to establish a truth, but for an exercise of their studie. Non tam id sensisse, quod dicerent, quàm exercere ingenia materiæ difficultate uidentur uoluisse. They seeme not so much to have thought as they said, as rather willing to exercise their wits in the difficulty of the matter. And if it were not so taken, how should we cloke so great an inconstancie, varietie and vanitie of opinions, which we see to have beene produced by these excellent and admirable spirits? As for example, What greater vanitie can there be, then to goe about by our proportions and conjectures to guesse at God? And to governe both him and the world according to our capacities and lawes? And to use this small scantlin of sufficiencie, which he hath pleased to impart unto our naturall condition, at the cost and charges of divinitie? And because we cannot extend our sight so farre as his glorious throne, to have removed him downe to our corruption and miseries? Of all humaine and ancient opinions concerning religion, I thinke that to have had more likelyhood and excuse, which acknowledged and confessed God to be an incomprehensible power, chiefe beginning and preserver of all things; all goodnes, all perfection; accepting in good part the honor and reverence which mortall men did yeeld him, under what usage, name and manner soever it was.
Iupiter omnipotens rerum, regúmque, Deúmque, Progenitor, genitríxque.
Almightie Jove, is parent said to be Of things, of Kings, of Gods, both he and she.
This zeale hath universally beene regarded of heaven with a gentle and gracious eye. All Policies have reaped some fruite by their devotion: Men, and impious actions have everywhere had correspondent events. Heathen histories acknowledge dignitie, order, justice, prodigies, and oracles, employed for their benefite and instruction, in their fabulous religions: God of his mercy daining peradventure, to foster by his temporall blessings the budding and tender beginnings of such a brute knowledge, as naturall reason gave them of him, athwart the false images of their deluding dreames: Not only false, but impious and injurious are those, which man hath forged and devised by his owne invention. And of al religions Saint Paul found in credite at Athens, that which they had consecrated unto a certaine hidden and unknowne divinitie, seemed to be most excusable, Pithagoras shadowed the truth somewhat neerer, judging that the knowledge of this first cause and Ens entium must be undefined, without any prescription or declaration. That it was nothing else but the extreame indevor of our imagination, toward perfection, every one amplifying the Idea thereof, according to his capacitie. But if Numa undertooke to conforme the devotion of his people to this project, to joyne the same to a religion meerely mentall, without any prefixt object, or materiall mixture; he undertooke a matter to no use. Mans minde could never be maintained, if it were still floting up and downe in this infinite deepe of shapeles conceites. They must be framed unto hir to some image, according to hir modell. The majestie of God hath in some sort suffered it selfe to be circumscribed to corporall limits: His supernaturall and celestiall Sacraments, beare signes of our terrestriall condition. His adoration is exprest by offices and sensible words; for, it is man that beleeveth and praieth. I omit other arguments, that are employed about this subject. But I could hardly be made beleeve, that the sight of our Crucifixes, and pictures of that pittifull torment, that the ornaments and cerimonious motions in our Churches, that the voices accomodated and suted to our thoughts-devotions, and this stirring of our senses, doth not greatly enflame the peoples soules, with a religious passion, of wondrous beneficiall good. Of those, to which they have given bodies, as necessitie required amid this generall blindnes; as for me, I should rather have taken part with those who worshipped the sunne.
la lumiere commune, L’oeil du monde: & si Dieu au chef porte des yeux, Les rayons du Solil sont ses yeux radieux Qui donnent vie à tous, nous maintiennent & gardent, Et les faicts des humains en ce monde regardent: Ce beau, ce grand Soleil, qui nons fait les saysons, Selon qu’il entre ou sort de ses douze maysons: Qui remplit l’univers de ses vertus cognues, Qui d’un traict de ses yeux nous dissipe les nues: L’esprit, l’ame du monde, ardant & flamboyant, En la cource d’un jour tout le Ciel tournoyant, Plein d’immense grandeur, rond, vagabond & ferme: Lequel tient dessoubs luy tout le monde pour terme, En repos sans repos, oysif, & sans sejour, Fils aisné de nature, & le pere du jour.
The common light, The worlds eye: and if God beare eyes in his cheefe head, His most resplendent eyes, the Sunne-beames may be said, Which unto all give life, which us maintaine and guarde, And in this world of men, the workes of men regarde, This great, this beauteous Sunne, which us our seasons makes, As in twelve houses, he ingresse or egresse takes, Who with his Vertues knowne, doth fill this universe With one cast of his eyes doth us all clowdes disperse, The spirit, and the soule of this world, flaming, burning, Round about heav’n in course of one dayes journey turning. Of endlesse greatnesse full, round, mooveable and fast: Who all the world for boundes beneathe himselfe hath pla’st: In rest, without rest, and still more staide, without stay, Of Nature th’eldest Childe, and father of the day.
Forasmuch as besides this greatnesse and matchlesse beautie of his, it is the only glorious piece of this vaste-worldes-frame, which we perceive to be furthest from us: And by that meane so little knowen, as they are pardonable, that entered into admiration, and reverence of it. Thales, who was the first to enquire and finde out this matter, esteemed God to bee a spirite, who made all things of water. Anaximander thought, the Gods did dy, and were new borne at divers seasons: and that the worlds were infinite in number. Anaximenes deemed the ayre to be a God, which was created immense, and alwaies mooving. Anaxagoras was the first that held the description and manner of all things, to be directed by the power and reason of a spirit infinit. Alcmæon hath ascribed Divinity unto the Sunne, unto the Moone, unto Starres, and unto the Soule. Pithagoras hath made God, a spirit dispersed through the Nature of all things, whence our soules are derived. Parmenides, a Circle circumpassing the heavens, and by the heate of light maintaining the world. Empedocles said, the foure Natures, wherof all things are made, to be Gods. Protagoras, that he had nothing to say, whether they were or were not, or what they were. Democritus would sometimes say, that the images and their circuitions were Gods, and othertimes this Nature, which disperseth these images; and then our knowledge and inteligence. Plato scattereth his beliefe after diverse semblances. In his Tymeus, he saith, that the worlds-father could not be named. In his Lawes, that his being must not be enquired-after. And else-where in the saide bookes, he maketh the worlde, the heaven, the starres, the earth and our soules, to be Gods; and besides, admiteth those that by auncient institutions have beene received in every Common-wealth. Xenophon reporteth a like difference of Socrates his discipline. Sometimes that Gods forme ought not to be enquired after; then he makes him inferre, that the Sunne is a God, and the Soule a GOD: othertimes, that there is but one, and then more. Speusippus Nephew unto Plato, makes God to be a certaine power, governing all things, and having a soule. Aristotle saith sometimes, that it is the spirite, and sometimes the world; othertimes he appoynteth another ruler over this world, and sometimes he makes God to be the heate of heaven. Xenocrates makes eight; five named amongest the planets, the sixth composed of all the fixed starres, as of his owne members; the seaventh and eight, the Sunne and the Moone. Heraclides Ponticus doth but roame among his opinions, and in fine depriveth God of sense, and makes him remoove and transchange himselfe from one forme to another; and then saith, that it is both heaven and earth. Theophrastus in all his fantazies wandereth still in like irresolutions, attributing the worldes superintendency now to the intelligence, now to the heaven, and now to the starres. Straio, that it is Nature, having power to engender, to augment and to diminish, without forme or sense. Zeno, the naturall Lawe, commaunding the good, and prohibiting the evil; which Lawe is a breathing creature; and remooveth the accustomed Gods, Jupiter, Juno and Vesta. Diogenes Appolloniates, that it is Age. Xenophanes makes God, round, seeing, hearing not breathing, and having nothing common with humane Nature. Aristo deemeth the forme of God to bee incomprehensible, and depriveth him of senses, and wotteth not certainly whether he bee a breathing soule or something else. Cleanthes, sometimes reason, othertimes the World, now the soule of Nature, and other-while the supreame heate, enfoulding and containing all. Persæus Zenoes disciple hath beene of opinion, that they were surnamed Gods, who had brought some notable good or benefite unto humane life, or had invented profitable things. Chrysippus, made a confused huddle of all the foresaide sentences, and amongest a thousand formes of the Gods, which he faineth, hee also accoumpteth those men, that are immortalized. Diagoras and Theodorus, flatly denyed, that there were anie Gods: Epicurus makes the Gods bright-shining, transparent and perflable, placed as it were betweene two Forts, betweene two Worldes, safely sheltered from all blowes; invested with a humane shape, and with our members, which unto them are of no use.
Ego Deûm genus esse semper duxi, & dicam cælitum, Sed eos non curare opinor, quid agat humanum genus.
I still thought and will say, of Gods there is a kinde; But what our mankinde doth, I thinke they nothing minde.
Trust to your Phylosophie, boast to have hit the naile on the head, or to have found out the beane of this Cake, to see this coile and hurly-burly of so many Phylosophical wits. The trouble or confusion of worldly shapes and formes, hath gotten this of mee, that customes and conceipts differing from mine, doe not so much dislike me, as instruct me; and at what time I conferre or compare them together, they doe not so much puffe me up with pride, as humble me with lowlinesse. And each other choyse, except that, which commeth from the expresse hand of God, seemeth to me a choyse of small prerogative or consequence. The Worlds policies are no lesse contrary one to another in this subject, than the schooles: Wherby we may learne, that Fortune hirself is no more divers, changing and variable, than our reason, nor more blinde and inconsiderate. Things most unknowne are fittest to bee deified. Wherefore, to make gods of our selves (as antiquitie hath done,) it exceedeth the extreame weakenesse of discourse. I would rather have folowed those that worshipped the Serpent, the Dogge and the Oxe, forsomuch as their Nature and being is least knowen to us; and we may more lawfully imagine what we list of those beasts, and ascribe extraordinarie faculties unto them. But to have made Gods of our condition, whose imperfections we should know, and to have attributed desire, choller, revenge, marriages, generation, alliances, love and jealousie, our limmes and our bones, our infirmities, our pleasures, our deaths and our Sepulchres unto them, hath of necessity proceeded from a meere and egregious sottishnesse, or drunkennesse of mans wit.
Quæ procul usque adeo diuina ab numine distant Inque Deûm numero quæ sint indigna uideri.
Which from Divinitie so distant are, To stand in rancke of Gods unworthie farre.
Formæ, ætates, uestitus, ornatus noti sunt: genera, coniugia, cognationes, omniáque traducta ad similitudinem imbecillitatis humanæ: nam & perturbatis animis inducuntur, accipimus enim Deorum cupiditates, ægritudines, iracundias. Their shapes, their ages, their apparrell, their furnitures are knowen; their kindes, their marriages, their kindred, and all translated to the likenesse of mans weakenesse: For they are also brought in with mindes much troubled: for we reade of the lustfulnes, the grievings, the angrinesse of the Gods. As to have ascribed Divinitie, not onely unto faith, vertue, honour, concord, liberty, victory and pietie; but also unto voluptuousnesse, fraude, death, envy, age, and misery; yea unto feare, unto ague, and unto evill fortune, and such other iniuries and wrongs to our fraile and transitory life.
Quid iuuat hoc, templis nostros inducere mores? O curvæ in terris animæ & cælestium inanes!
What boots it, into temples to bring manners of our kindes? O crooked soules on earth, and voyd of heavenly minds.
The Ægyptians with an impudent wisedome forbad upon paine of hanging, that no man should dare to say, that Seraphis and Isis their Gods, had whilom beene but men, when all knew they had beene so. And their images or pictures drawne with a finger acrosse their mouthes, imported (as Varro saith) this misterious rule unto their priests, to conceale their mortall ofspring, which by a necessarie reason disanulled all their veneration. Since man desired so much to equall himselfe to God, it had beene better for him (saith Cicero) to drawe those divine conditions unto himselfe, and bring them downe to earth, then to send his corruption, and place his miserie above in heaven: but to take him aright, he hath divers waies, and with like vanitie of opinion, done both the one and other. When Philosophers blazon and display the Hierarchie of their gods, and to the utmost of their skil, indevor to distinguish their aliances, their charges, and their powers. I cannot beleeve they speake in good earnest, when Plato decifreth unto us the orchard of Pluto, and the commodities or corporall paines which even after the ruine and consumption of our bodies, waite for us, and applyeth them to the apprehension or feeling we have in this life.
Secreti celant colles, & myrtea circùm Sylva tegit, curæ non ipsa in morte relinquunt.
Them paths aside conceale, a mirtle grove Shades them round; cares in death doe not remove.
When Mahomet promiseth unto his followers a paradise all tapistred, adorned with gold and precious stones, peopled with exceeding beauteous damsels, stored with wines and singular cates. I well perceive they are but scoffers, which sute and applie themselves unto our foolishnesse, thereby to enhonnie and allure us to these opinions and hopes fitting our mortall appetite. Even so are some of our men falne into like errours by promising unto themselves after their resurection a terrestriall and temporall life, accompanied with all sorts of pleasures and worldly commodities. Shall wee thinke that Plato, who had so heavenly conceptions, and was so wel acquainted with Divinitie, as of most he purchased the surname of Divine, was ever of opinion, that man (this seely and wretched creature man) had any one thing in him, which might in any sorte be applied, and suted to this incomprehensible and unspeakable power? or ever imagined, that our languishing hold-fasts were capable, or the vertue of our understanding of force, to participate or be partakers, either of the blessednesse, or eternall punishment? He ought in the behalfe of humane reason be answered: If the pleasures, thou promisest us in the other life, are such as I have felt heere below, they have nothing in them common with infinitie. If al my five naturall senses were even surcharged with joy and gladnesse, and my soule possessed with all the contents and, delights, it could possibly desire or hope-for (and wee know what it either can wish or hope-for) yet were it nothing. If there bee any thing that is mine, then is there nothing that is Divine; if it be nothing else, but what may appertaine unto this our present condition, it may not be accompted-of, All mortall mens contentment is mortal. The acknowledging of our parents, of our children and of our friends, if it can not touch, move or tickle us in the other world, if wee still take hold of such a pleasure, we continue in Terrestrial and transitorie commodities. We can not worthily conceive of these high, mysterious, and divine promises; if wee can but in any sorte conceive them, and so imagine them aright; they must be thought to bee inimaginable, unspeakeable and incomprehensible, and absolutely and perfectly other then those of our miserable experience. No eye can behold, (saith Saint Paul) The happe that God prepareth for his elect, nor can it possibly enter the heart of man. And if to make us capable of it (as thou saith Plato by thy purifications) our being is reformed and essence changed, it must be by so extreame and universall a change, that according to philosophicall-doctrine, we shall be no more our selves:
Hector erat tunc cùm bello certabat, at ille Tractus ab Æmonio non erat Hector equo.
Hector he was, when he in fight us’d force; Hector he was not drawne by th’Æemonian horse.
it shall be some other thing, that shall receive these recompences.
quod mutatur, dissoluitur, interit ergo: Traiiciuntur enim partes atque ordine migrant.
What is chang’d, is dissolv’d, therefore dies: Translated parts in order fall and rise.
For, in the Metempsycosis, or transmigration of soules of Pithagoras, and the change of habitation, which he imagined the soules to make; shall we thinke that the Lion in whom abideth the soule of Cæsar, doth wed the passions which concerned Cæsar, or that it is he? And if it were hee, those had some reason, who debating this opinion against Plato, object that the sonne might one day bee found committing with his mother under the shape of a Mules body, and such-like absurdities. And shall wee imagine, that in the transmigrations which are made from the bodies of some creatures into others of the same kinde, the new succeeding-ones are not other, then their predecessors were? Of a Phenixes cinders, first (as they say) is engendred a worme, and then another Phenix; who can imagine that this second Phenix be no other and different from the first? Our Silk-wormes are seene to die, and then to wither drie, and of that body breedeth a Butter-flie, and of that a worm, were it not rediculous to thinke, the same to be the first Silkeworme? what hath once lost his being, is no more.
Nec si materiam nostram collegerit ætas Post obitum, rursúmque redegerit, ut sita nunc est Atque iterum nobis fuerint data lumina uitæ, Pertineat quidquam tamen ad nos id quoque factum, Interrupta semel cùm sit repetentia nostra.
If time should recollect, when life is past, Our stuffe, and it replace, as now tis plac’t, And light of life were granted us againe, Yet nothing would that deede to us pertaine, When interrupted were our turne-againe.
And Plato, when in an other place thou saist, that it shall be the spirituall parte of man that shal enjoy the recompences of the other life, thou tellest of things of as small likelihood.
Scilicet auulsis radicibus ut nequit ullam Dispicere ipse oculus rem seorsum corpore toto.
Ev’n as no eye, by th’root’s pull’d-out can see Ought in whole body severall to bee.
For, by this reckoning, it shall no longer be man, nor consequently us, to whom this enjoying shall appertaine; for we are builte of two principall essentiall partes, the separation of which, is the death and consummation of our being.
Inter enim iacta est vitai causa, uagèque Deerrarunt passim motus ab sensibus omnes.
A pause of life is interpos’d; from sense All motions strayed are, farre wandring thence.
we doe not say, that man suffereth, when the wormes gnaw his body and limbes whereby he lived, and that the earth consumeth them.
Et nihil hoc ad nos, qui coitu coniugióque Corporis atque animæ consistimus uniter apti.
This nought concern’s us, who consist of union, Of minde and body joyn’d in meete communion.
Moreover, upon what ground of their justice, can the Gods reward man and be thankefull unto him after his death, for his good and vertuous actions, since themselves adressed and bred them in him? And wherefore are they offended, and revenge his vicious deedes, when themselves have created him with so defective a condition, and that but with one twinkling of their will, they may hinder him from sinning? Might not Epicurus with some shew of humane reason object that unto Plato, if he did not often shrowd himselfe under this sentence; That it is unppossible by mortall nature to establish any certaintie of the immortall? She is ever straying, but especially when she medleth with divine matters. Who feeles it more evidently then we? For, although we have ascribed unto her, assured and infallible principles, albeit wee enlighten her steps with the holy lampe of that truth, which God hath beene pleased to imparte unto us, we notwithstanding see dayly, how little soever she stray from the ordinarie path, and that she start or stragle out of the way, traced and measured out by the church, how soone she looseth, entangleth and confoundeth her selfe; turning, tossing and floating up and downe, in this vaste, troublesome and tempestuous sea of mans opinions, without restraint or scope. So soone as she looseth this high and common way, shee devideth and scattereth her selfe a thousand diverse wayes. Man can be no other then he is, nor imagine but according to his capacitie: It is greater presumption (saith Plutarke) in them that are but men, to attempt to reason and discourse of Gods, and of demie-Gods, then in a man meerely ignorant of musicke, to judge of those that sing; or for a man, that was never in warres, to dispute of Armes and warre, presuming by some light conjecture, to comprehend the effects of an arte altogether beyond his skill. As I thinke, Antiquitie imagined it did something for divine Majestie, when shee compared the same unto man, attiring her with his faculties, and enriching her with his strange humours, and most shamefull necessities: offering her some of our cates to feede upon, and some of our dances, mummeries, and enterludes to make her merry, with our clothes to apparrell her; and our houses to lodge her, cherishing her with the sweete odors of incense, and sounds of musicke, adorning her with garlands and flowers, and to draw her to our vicious passions, to flatter her justice with an inhumane revenge, gladding her with the ruine and dissipation of things, created and preserved by her. As Tiberius Sempronius, who for a sacrifice to Vulcane, caused the rich spoiles and armes, which he had gotten of his enemies in Sardinia, to be burned: And Paulus Emilius, those he had obtained in Macedonia, to Mars and Minerva. And Alexander comming to the Ocean very angry, cast in favour of Thetis many great rich vessels of gold into the Sea, replenishing moreover her Altars with a butcherly slaughter, not onely of innocent beastes, but of men, as diverse nations, and amongst the rest, ours were wont to doe. And I thinke none hath beene exempted from shewing the like Essayes.
Sulmone creatos Quatuor hic iuuenes totidem, quos educat Vfens, Viventes rapit, inferias quos immolet umbris.
Foure yong-men borne of Sulmo, and foure more Whom Ufens bred, he living over-bore, Whom he to his deere friend, A sacrifice might send.
The Getes deeme themselves immortall, and their death but the beginning of a jorney to their God Zamolxis. From five to five yeares, they dispatch some one among themselves toward him, to require him of necessarie things. This deputie of theirs is chosen by lottes; And the manner to dispatch him, after they have by word of mouth instructed him of his charge, is, that amongst those which assist his ellection, three holde so many javelins upright, upon which the others by meere strength of armes, throwe him; if he chance to sticke upon them in any mortall place, and that he die sodainly, it is to them an assured argument of divine favor; but if he escape, they deeme him a wicked and execrable man, and then chuse another. Amestris mother unto Xerxes, being become aged, caused at one time 14. yoong striplings of the noblest houses of Persia (following the religion of hir countrie) to be buried all alive, thereby to gratifie some God of under-earth. Even at this day the Idols of Temixitan are cimented with the blood of yong children, and love no sacrifice but of such infant and pure soules: Oh justice greedie of the blood of innocencie.
Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum.
Religion so much mischeefe could Perswade, where it much better should.
The Carthaginians were wont to sacrifice their owne children unto Saturne, and who had none, was faine to buy some: and their fathers and mothers were enforced in their proper persons, with cheerefull and pleasant countenance to assist that office. It was a strange conceite, with our owne affliction to goe about to please and appay divine goodnes. As the Lacedemonians, who flattered and wantonized their Diana, by torturing of yong boyes, whom often in favor of hir they caused to be whipped to death. It was a savage kinde of humor, to thinke to gratifie the Architect with the subversion of his architecture: and to cancell the punishment due unto the guiltie, by punishing the guiltles, and to imagine that poore Iphigenia, in the port of Aulides, should by hir death and sacrifice discharge and expiate, towards God, the Grecians armie of the offences, which they had committed.
Et casta incestè nubendi tempore in ipso Hostia concideret mactatu mœsta parentis.
She, a chast offring, griev’d incestuously By fathers stroke, when she should wed, to die.
And those two noble and generous soules of the Decii, father and sonne, to reconcile, and appease the favor of the Gods, towards the Romanes affaires, should headlong cast their bodies athwart the thickest throng of their enemies. Quæ fuit tanta Deorum iniquitas, ut placari populo Romano non possint, nisi tales uiri occidissent? What injustice of the Gods was so great, as they could not be appeased, unlesse such men perished? Considering that it lies not in the offender to cause himselfe to be whipped, how and when he list, but in the judge, who accoumpteth nothing a right punishment, except the torture he appointeth; and cannot impute that unto punishment, which is in the free choise of him that suffereth. The divine vengeance presupposeth our full dissent, for his justice and our paine. And ridiculous was that humor of Polycrates, the Tyrant of Samos, who to interrupt the course of his continuall happines, and to recompence-it, cast the richest and most precious jewell he had into the Sea, deeming that by this purposed mishappe he should satisfie the revolution and vicissitude of fortune; which to deride his folly, caused the very same jewel, being found in a fishes-belly, to returne to his hands againe. And to what purpose are the manglings and dismembrings of the Coribantes, of the Menades, and now a daies of the Mahometans, who skarre, and gash their faces, their stomake and their limmes, to gratifie their profit: seeing the offence consisteth in the will, not in the breast, nor eyes, nor in the genitories, health, shoulders, or throte? Tantus est perturbatæ mentis & sedibus suis pulsæ furor, ut sic dii placentur, quemadomodum ne homines quidem sæuiunt. So great is the furie of a troubled minde put from the state it should be in, as the Gods must be so pacified, as even men would not be so outragious. This naturall contexture doth by hir use not onely respect us, but also the service of God, and other mens: it is injustice to make it miscarie at our pleasure, as under what pretence soever it be to kill our selves. It seemeth to be a great cowardise and manifest treason, to abuse the stupide and corrupt the servile functions of the body, to spare the diligence unto the soule how to direct them according unto reason. Ubi iratos deos timent, qui sic propitios habere merentur. In regiæ libidinis uoluptatem castrati sunt quidam; sed nemo sibi, ne uir esset, iubente domino, manus intulit. Where are they afeard of Gods anger, who in such sorte deserve to have his favor; some have beene guelded for Princes lustfull pleasure: but no man at the Lords command, hath laid hands on himselfe, to be lesse then a man. Thus did they replenish their religion and stuffe it with divers bad effects.
sæpius olim Religio peperit scelerosa atque impia facta.
Religion hath oft-times in former times. Bred execrable facts, ungodly crimes.
Now can nothing of ours, in what manner soever, be either compared or referred unto divine nature, that doth not blemmish or defile the same with as much imperfection. How can this infinit beautie, power and goodnes admit any correspondencie or similitude with a thing so base and abject as we are, without extreame interest and manifest derogation from his divine greatnes? Infirmum Dei fortius est hominibus; & stultum Dei sapientius est hominibus, The weaknes of God is stronger then men: and the foolishnesse of God is wiser then men. Stilpo the Philosopher, being demanded, whether the Gods rejoyce at our honors and sacrifices; you are indiscreet (said he) let us withdrawe our selves apart, if you speake of such matters. Notwithstanding we prescribe him limits, we lay continuall siege unto his power by our reasons. (I call our dreames and our vanities reason, with the dispensation of Philosophie, which saith, that both the foole and the wicked doe rave and dote by reason; but that it is a reason of severall and particular forme) we will subject them to the vaine and weake apparances of our understanding; he who hath made both us and our knowledge. Because nothing is made of nothing: God was not able to frame the world without matter. What? Hath God delivered into our handes the keyes, and the strongest wardes of his infinite puissance? Hath hee obliged him-selfe not to exceede the boundes of our knowledge? Suppose, oh man, that herein thou hast beene able to marke some signes of his effectes: Thinkest thou, he hath therein employed all he was able to doe, and that he hath placed all his formes and Ideas, in this piece of worke? Thou seest but the order and policie of this litle little cell wherein thou art placed: The question is, whither thou seest-it: His divinitie hath an infinit jurisdiction farre beyond that: This piece is nothing in respect of the whole.
omnia cùm cælo terráque maríque, Nil sunt ad summam summati totius omnem
All things that are, with heav’n, with Sea, and land, To th’whole summe of th’whole summe, as nothing stand.
This law thou aleagest is but a municipall law, and thou knowest not what the universall is. Take hold of that, to which thou are subject, but fasten not on him, he is neither thy companion, nor thy brother, nor thy fellow-cittizen, nor thy copesmate. If he in any sort have communicated himselfe unto thee, it is not to debase himselfe, or stoope to thy smallnes, nor to give thee the rod of controulment of his power. Mans body cannot soare up unto the clowdes, this is for thee. The Sunne uncessantly goeth his ordinarie course: The bounds of the Seas and of the earth can not be confounded: The water is ever fleeting, wavering, and without firmenes: A walle without breach or flawe, inpenetrable unto a solid body: Man cannot preserve his life amidst the flames, he cannot corporally be both in heaven and on earth, and in a thousand places together and at once. It is for thee that he hath made these rules; it is thou they take hold-off. He hath testified unto Christians, that when ever it pleased him he hath out-gone them all. And in truth, omnipotent as he is, wherefore should he have restrained his forces unto a limited measure? In favour of whom should he have renounced his priviledge? Thy reason hath in no one other thing more likelyhood and foundation, then in that which perswadeth thee a pluralitie of worlds.
Terrámque & solem, lunam, mare, cætera quæ sunt, Non esse unica, sed numero magis innumerali.
The earth, the Sunne, the Moone, the Sea and all In number numberles, not one they call.
The famousest wits of former ages have beleeved it, yea and some of our moderne, as forced thereunto by the apparance of humane reason. For as much as whatsoever we see in this vast worldes-frame, there is no one thing alone, single and one:
cùm in summa res nulla sit una, Unica quæ gignatur, & unica soláque crescat:
Whereas in generall summe, nothing is one, To be bred onely one, growe onely one.
and that all severall kindes are multiplied in some number: Whereby it seemeth unlikely, that God hath framed this piece of work alone without a fellow; and that the matter of this forme hath wholy beene spent in this onely Indiuiduum;
Quare etiam atque etiam tales fateare necesse est, Esse alios alibi congressus materiaï, Qualis hic est auido complexu quem tenet Æther.
Wherefore you must confesse, againe againe, Of matter such like meetings elsewhere raigne As this, these skies in greedy gripe containe.
Namely if it be a breathing creature, as it’s motions make it so likely, that Plato assureth it, and divers of ours eyther affirme it, or dare not impugne it; no more then this olde opinion, that the Heaven, the Starres and other members of the World, are Creatures composed both of body and soule; mortall in respect of their composition, but immortall by the creators decree. Now, if there be divers Worldes, as Democritus, Epicurus and well-neere all Phylosophie hath thought; what know wee, whether the principles and the rules of this one concerne or touch likewise the others? Happily they have another semblance and another policie. Epicurus imagineth them either like or unlike. We see an infinite difference and varietie in this world, only by the distance of places. There is neyther Corne, nor Wine; no nor any of our beastes seene in that new corner of the World, which our fathers have lately discovered: All things differ from ours. And in the old time, marke but in how many parts of the world, they had never knowledge nor of Bacchus nor of Ceres. If any credit may be given unto Plinie or to Herodotus, there is in some places a kind of men that have very little or no resemblance at all with ours. And there be mungrell and ambiguous shapes, betweene a humane and brutish Nature. Some Cuntries there are, where men are borne headlesse, with eyes and mouthes in their breasts; where al are Hermaphrodites; where they creepe on all foure; Where they have but one eie in their forehead, and heads more like unto a dog than ours; Where from the Navill downewards they are halfe fish, and live in the water; Where women are brought a bed at five yeares of age, and live but eight; Where their heads and the skinne of their browes are so hard, that no yron can pierce them, but wil rather turne edge; Where men never have beardes. Other Nations there are, that never have use of fire; Others whose sperme is of a blacke colour. What shall we speake of them, who naturally change themselves into Woolves, into Coults, and then into Men againe? And if it bee (as Plutark saith) that in some part of the Indiaes, there are men without mouthes, and who live only by the smell of certaine sweete odours; how many of our descriptions be then false? Hee is no more risible; nor perhappes capable of reason and societie: The direction and cause of our inward frame, should for the most part be to no purpose. Moreover, how many things are there in our knowledge, that opugne these goodly rules, which we have allotted and prescribed unto Nature? And we undertake to joyne GOD himselfe unto hir. How manie things doe we name miraculous and against Nature? Each man and every Nation doth it according to the measure of his ignorance. How many hidden proprieties and quintessences doe we dayly discover? For us to goe according to Nature, is but to follow according to our understanding, as farre as it can follow, and asmuch as we can perceive in it. Whatsoever is beyond it, is monstrous and disordered. By this accoumpt all shall then be monstrous, to the wisest and most sufficient; for even to such, humane reason hath perswaded, that she had neither ground nor footing, no not so much as to warrant snow to be white: And Anaxagoras said, it was blacke; Whether there be any thing or nothing; Whether there be knowledge or ignorance; Which Metrodorus Chius denyed, that any man might say. Or whether we live as Euripides seemeth to doubt, and call in question, whether the life we live be a life or no, or whether that which we call death be a life:
Τὶς δ᾽οἶδεν ἐι ζῇν τοῦθ’ὃ κέκληται θανεῖν, Τὸ ζῆν δὲ θνείσκειν ἒστι.
Who knowes if thus to live, be called death, And if it be to dy, thus to draw breath?
And not without apparance. For, wherefore doe we from that instant take a title of being, which is but a twinckling in the infinit course of an eternall night, and so short an interruption of our perpetuall and naturall condition? Death possessing what-ever is before and behinde this moment, and also a good part of this moment. Some others affirme, there is no motion, and that nothing stirreth; namely those which follow Melissus. For, if there be but one, neither can this sphericall motion serve him, nor the mooving from one place to another, as Plato prooveth, that there is neither generation nor corruption in nature. Protagoras saith, there is nothing in Nature, but doubt: That a man may equally dispute of all things: and of that also, whether all things may equally be disputed-of: Mansiphanes saide, that of things which seeme to bee, no one thing, is no more, then it is not. That nothing is certaine, but uncertaintie. Parmenides, that of that which seemeth, there is no one thing in Generall. That there is but one Zeno, that one selfe same is not: And that there is nothing. If one were, he should eyther be in another, or in himselfe: if he be in another, then are they two: If he be in himselfe, they are also two, the comprizing and the comprized. According to these rules or doctrines, the Nature of things is but a false or vaine shadow. I have ever thought, this manner of speach in a Christian, is full of indiscretion and irreverence; God cannot dy, God cannot gaine-say himselfe, God cannot doe this or that. I cannot allow, a man should so bound Gods heavenly power under the Lawes of our word. And that apparance, which in these propositions offers it selfe unto us, ought to bee represented more reverently and more religiously. Our speach hath his infirmities and defects, as all things else have. Most of the occasions of this worlds troubles are Grammatical. Our sutes and processes proceed but from the canvasing and debating the interpretation of the Lawes, and most of our wars from the want of knowledge in state-counsellors, that could not clearely distinguish and fully expresse the Covenants, and Conditions of accords, betweene Prince and Prince. How many weighty strifes, and important quarrels, hath the doubt of this one silable, Hoc, brought forth in the world? examine the plainest sentence, that logike it selfe can present unto us. If you say, it is faire-Weather, and in so saying, say true; it is faire Weather then. Is not this a certaine forme of speech? Yet will it deceive us: That it is so; Let us follow the example: If you say, I lie, and that you say true, you lie then. The Arte, the reason, the force of the conclusion of this last, are like unto the other; notwithstanding we are entangled. I see the Pyrhonian Phylosophers, who can by no manner of speech expresse their General conceit: for, they had neede of a new language. Ours is altogether composed of affirmative propositions, which are directly against them. So that, when they say, I doubt, you have them fast by the sleeve, to make them avow, that at least you are assured and know, that they doubt. So have they beene compelled to save themselves by this comparison of Physicke, without which their conceite would be inexplicable and intricate. When they pronounce, I know not, or I doubt, they say, that this proposition transportes it selfe together with the rest, even as the Rewbarbe doeth, which scowred ill humours away, and therewith is carryed away himself. This conceipt is more certainly conceived by an interrogation: What can I tell? As I beare it in an Imprese of a paire of ballances. Note how some prevaile with this kinde of unreverent and unhallowed speach. In the disputations, that are now-adayes in our religion, if you overmuch urge the adversaries, they will roundly tell you, that it lieth not in the power of GOD to make his body, at once to be in Paradise and on earth, and in many other places together. And how that ancient skoffer made profitable use of it. At least (saith he) it is no small comfort unto man, to see that GOD cannot doe all things; for, he cannot kill himselfe if he would, which is the greatest benefite we have in our condition; he cannot make mortal men immortall, nor raise the dead to life againe, nor make him that hath lived, never to have lived, and him, who hath had honors, not to have had them having no other right over what is past, but of forgetfulnes. And that this societie betweene God and Man, may also be combined with some pleasant examples, he cannot make twise ten, to be but twenty. See what he saith, and which a Christian ought to abhor, that ever such and so profane words should passe his mouth: Whereas on the contrarie part, it seemeth that fond men endevour to finde out this foolish-boldnesse of speech, that so they may turne and winde God almighty according to their measure.
cras uel atra Nube polum pater occupato, Vel sole puro, non tamen irritum Quodcúmque retro est efficiet, neque Diffinget infectúmque reddet Quod fugiens semel hora uexit.
To morrow let our father fill the skie, With darke clowdes, or with cleare Sunne, he thereby Shall not make voyde what once is overpast: Nor shall he undoe, or in new molde cast, What time hath once caught; that flyes hence so fast.
When we say, that the infinitie of ages, as well past as to come, is but one instant with God; that his wisedome, goodnesse and power, are one selfe-same thing with his essence; our tongue speakes-it, but our understanding can no whitte apprehend it. Yet will our selfe-overweening sift his divinitie through our searce: whence are engendred all the vanities and errours wherewith the world is so full-fraught, reducing and weighing with his uncertaine balance, a thing so farre from his reach, and so distant from his weight. Mirum quò procedat improbitas cordis humani, paruulo aliquo inuitata successu. It is a wonder, whether the perverse wickednesse of mans heart will proceede, if it be but called-on with any little successe. How insolently doe the Stoikes charge Epicurus, because he holds, that to be perfectly good and absolutely happy, belongs but onely unto God; and that the wiseman hath but a shadow and similitude thereof? How rashly have they joyned God unto destinie? (Which at my request, let none that beareth the surname of a Christian, doe at this day) And Thales, Plato, and Pithagoras have subjected him unto necessitie. This over-boldnesse, or rather bold-fiercensse, to seeke to discover God, by and with our eyes, hath beene the cause, that a notable man of our times hath attributed a corporall forme unto divinitie, and is the cause of that which dayly hapneth unto us, which is, by a particular assignation, to impute all important events to God: which because they touch us, it seemeth they also touch him, and that he regardeth them with more care and attention, then those that are but slight and ordinary unto us. Magna dii curant, parua negligunt. The Gods take some care for great things, but none for litle. Note his example; hee will enlighten you with his reason. Nec in regnis quidem reges omnia minima curant. Nor doe Kings in their Kingdomes much care for the least matters. As if it were all one to that King, either to remove an Empire, or a leafe of a tree: and if his providence were otherwise exercised, inclining or regarding no more the successe of a battel, then the skip of a flea. The hand of his government affords it selfe to all things after a like tenure, fashion and order; our interest addeth nothing unto it: our motions and our measures concerne him nothing and move him no whit. Deus ita artifex magnus in magnis, ut minor non sit in paruis. God is so great a workeman in great things, as he is no lesse in small things. Our arrogancie, setteth ever before us this blasphemous equalitie; because our occupations charge-us. Strato hath presented the Gods with all immunitie of offices, as are their Priests. He maketh nature to produce and preserve all things, and by hir weights and motions to compact all parts of the world, discharging humane nature from the feare of divine judgements. Quod beatum æternumque sit, id nec habere, negotii quicquam, nec exhibere alteri. That which is blessed and eternall, nor is troubled it selfe, nor troubleth others. Nature willeth that in all things alike, there be also like relation. Then the infinite number of mortall men, concludeth a like number of immortall: The infinite things that kill and destroy, presuppose as many that preserve and profit. As the soules of the Gods, sanse tongues, sanse eyes and sanse eares, have each one in themselves a feeling of that which the other feele, and judge of our thoughts; so mens soules, when they are free and severed from the body, either by sleepe or any distraction; divine, prognosticate and see things, which being conjoyned to their bodies, they could not see. Men (saith Saint Paul) when they professed themselves to bee wise, they became fooles, for they turned the glory of the incorruptible God to the similitude of the image of a corruptible man. Marke I pray you a little the jugling of ancient Deifications. After the great, solemne and prowd pompe of funeralls, when the fire began to burne the top of the Piramide, and to take hold of the bed or hearce wherein the dead corps lay, even at that instant, they let flie an Eagle, which taking her flight aloft upward, signified that the soule went directly to Paradise. We have yet a thousand medailes and monuments, namely of that honest woman Faustina, wherein that Eagle is represented, carrying a cocke-horse up towards heaven those Deified soules. It is pitty we should so deceive our selves with our owne foolish devises and apish inventions,
Quod finxere timent.
Of that they stand in feare, Which they in fancie beare.
as children will be afeard of their fellowes visage, which themselves have besmeared and blackt. Quasi quicquam infœlicius sit homine, cui sua figmenta dominantur. As though any thing were more wretched then man over whom his owne imaginations beare sway and domineere. To honour him whom we have made, is farre from honouring him that hath made us. Augustus had as many Temples as Jupiter, and served with as much religion and opinion of myracles. The Thrasians, in requitall of the benefites they had received of Agesilaus, came to tell him how they had canonized him. Hath your nation (said he) the power to make those whom it pleaseth, Gods: Then first (for example sake) make one of your selves, and when I shall have seene what good hee shall have thereby, I will then thanke you for your offer. Oh sencelesse man, who can not possibly make a worme, and yet will make Gods by dozens. Listen to Trismegistus when he praiseth our sufficiencie: For man to finde out divine nature, and to make it, hath surmounted the admiration of all admirable things. Loe heere arguments out of Philosophies schooles it selfe,
Nosse cui Diuos & cæli numina soli, Aut soli nescire datum.
If God be, he is a living creature; if he be a living creature, hee hath sense; and if hee have sense, he is subject to corruption. If he be without a body, he is without a soule, and consequently without action: and if he have a body, he is corruptible. Is not this brave? we are incapable to have made the world, then is there some more excellent nature, that hath set her helping hand unto it. Were it not a sottish arrogancie, that we should thinke our selves, to be the perfectest thing of this Universe? Then sure there is some beetter thing, And that is God. When you see a rich and stately mansion-house, although you know not who is owner of it, yet will you not say, that it was built for Rats. And this more then humane frame, and divine composition, which we see, of heavens-pallace, must we not deeme it to be the mansion of some Lord, greater then our selves? Is not the highest ever the most worthy? And we are seated in the lowest place. Nothing that is without a soule and voide of reason, is able to bring forth a living soule capable of reason. The world doth bring us forth, then the world hath both soule and reason. Each part of us, is lesse then our selves, we are parte of the world, then the world is stored with wisedome and with reason, and that more plenteously, then we are. It is a goodly thing to have a great government. Then the worlds government belongeth to some blessed and happy nature. The starres annoy us not, then the starres are full of goodnesse. We have neede of nourishment, then so have the Gods, and feede themselves with the vapours arising here below. Worldly goodes, are not goods unto God. Then are not they goodes unto us. To offend and to bee offended, are equall witnesses of imbecilitie; Then it is folly to feare God. God is good by his owne nature, man by his industrie, which is more? Divine wisedome and mans wisedome, have no other distinction, but that the first is eternall. Now lastingnesse it not an accession unto wisedome. Therefore are we fellowes. We have life, reason and libertie, we esteeme goodnesse, charitie and justice; these qualities are then in him. In conclusion the building and destroying the conditions of divinitie, are forged by man according to the relation to himselfe. Oh what a patterne, and what a modell! Let us raise, and let us amplifie humane qualities as much as we please. Puffe-up thy selfe poore man, yea swell and swell againe.
non si te ruperis, inquit.
Swell till you breake, you shall not be, Equall to that great one, quoth he.
Profectò non Deùm, quem cogitare non possunt, sed semetipsos pro illo cogitantes, non illum, sed seipsos, non illi, sed sibi comparant. Of a truth, they conceiting, not God, whom they cannot conceive, but themselves in steade of God, doe not compare him, but themselves, not to him, but themselves. In naturall things the effects doe but halfe referre their causes. What this? It is above natures order, it’s condition is to high, to farre out of reach, and overswaying to endure, that our conclusions should seize upon, or fetter the same. It is not by our meanes we reach unto it, this train is too low, We are no nearer heaven on the top of Senis mount, then in the botome of the deepest Sea: Consider of it, that you may see with your Astrolabe. They bring God even to the carnall acquaintance of women, to a prefixed number of times, and to how many generations. Paulina, wife unto Saturninus, a matron of great reputation in Rome, supposing to lie with the God Serapis, by the maquerelage of the Priests of that Temple, found hir selfe in the armes of a wanton lover of hirs. Varro the most subtill, and wisest Latin Author, in his bookes of divinitie writeth, that Hercules his Sextaine, with one hand casting lottes for himselfe, and with the other for Hercules, gaged a supper and a wench against him: if he won, at the charge of his offrings, but if he lost, at his owne cost. He lost and paid for a supper and a wench: Hir name was Laurentina: Who by night saw that God in hir armes, saying moreover unto hir, that the next day, the first man she met withall, should heavenly pay hir hir wages. It fortuned to be one Taruncius, a very rich yong-man, who tooke hir home with him, and in time leaft hir absolute heire of all he had. And she, when it came to hir turne, hoping to doe that God some acceptable service, leaft the Romane people heire generall of all hir wealth: And therefore had she divine honors attributed unto hir. As if it were not sufficient for Plato to descend originally from the Gods, by a two-fold line, and to have Neptune for the common Author of his race. It was certainly beleeved at Athens, that Ariston desiring to enjoy faire Perictyone, he could not, and that in his dreame he was warned by God Apollo, to leave hir untouch’t and unpoluted, untill such time as she were brought a bed. And these were the father and mother of Plato. How many such-like cuckoldries are there in histories, procured by the Gods against seely mortall men? And husbands most injuriously blazoned in favor of their children? In Mahomets religion, by the easie beleefe of that people are many Merlins found; That is to say fatherles children: Spirituall children, conceived and borne devinely in the wombs of virgins, and that in their language beare names, importing as much. We must note, that nothing is more deare and precious to any thing, then it’s owne being (the Lyon, the Eagle and the Dolphin esteeme nothing above their kind) each thing referreth the qualities of all other things unto hir owne conditions, which we may either amplifie or shorten; but that is all: for besides this principle, and out of this reference, our imagination cannot goe, and guesse further: and it is unpossible it should exceede that, or goe beyond it: Whence arise these ancient conclusions. Of all formes, that of man is the fairest: Then God is of this forme. No man can be happie without vertue, nor can vertue be without reason; And no reason can lodge but in a humane shape: God is then invested with a humane figure. Ita est informatum anticipatum mentibus nostris, ut homini, quum de Deo cogitet, forma occurrat humana. The prejudice forestaled in our mindes is so framed, as the forme of man comes to mans mind, when he is thinking of God. Therefore Xenophanes said pleasantly, that if beasts frame any Gods unto themselves, (as likely it is they doe) they surely frame them like unto themselves, and glorifie themselves as we doe. For, why may not a Goose say thus? All parts of the world behold me, the earth serveth me to treade upon, the Sunne to give me light, the starres to inspire we with influence: this commoditie I have of the windes, and this benefit of the waters; there is nothing that this worlds-vaulte doth so favorably looke upon, as me selfe; I am the favorite of nature: Is it not man that careth for me, that keepeth me, lodgeth me, and serveth me? For me it is he soweth, reapeth, and grindeth: If he eate me, so doth man feede on his fellow, and so doe I on the wormes, that consume and eate him. As much might a Crane say, yea and more boldly, by reason of hir flights-libertie, and the possession of this goodly and high-bownding region. Tam blanda conciliatrix, & tam sui est lena ipsa natura. So flattring a broker, and bawde (as it were) is nature to it selfe, Now by the same consequence, the destenies are for us, the world is for us; it shineth, and thundreth for us: Both the creator and the creatures are for us: It is the marke and point whereat the universitie of things aymeth. Survay but the register, which Philosophie hath kept these two thousand yeares and more, of heavenly affaires. The Gods never acted, and never spake, but for man: She ascribeth no other consultation, nor imputeth other vacation unto them. Loe how they are up in armes against us.
domitósque Herculea manu Telluris iuuenes, unde periculum Fulgens contremuit domus Saturni ueteris.
And yong earth-gallants tamed by the hand Of Hercules, whereby the habitation Of old Saturnus did in peril stand, And, shyn’d it ne’re so bright, yet fear’d invasion.
See how they are partakers of our troubles, that so they may be even with us, forsomuch as so many times we are partakers of theirs.
Neptunus muros magnóque emota tridenti Fundamenta quatit, totámque à sedibus urbem Eruit: hîc Iuno Scæa sæuissima portas Prima tenet.
Neptunus with his great three-forked mace Shak’s the weake walle, and tottering foundation, And from the site the Cittie doth displace, Fierce Juno first holds-ope the gates t’invasion.
The Caunians, for the jelousie of their owne Gods domination, upon their devotion-day arme themselves, and running up and downe, brandishing and striking the ayre with their glaives, and in this ernest manner they expell all foraine, and banish all strange Gods from out their territorie. Their powers are limited according to our necessitie. Some heale Horses, some cure men, some the plague, some the scalde, some the cough, some one kinde of scabbe, and some another: Adeo minimis etiam rebus praua religio inserit Deos: This corrupt religion engageth and inferteth Gods even in the least matters: Some make grapes to growe, and some garlike; Some have the charge of bawdrie and uncleanes, and some of marchandise: To every kinde of trades-man a God. Some one hath his province and credit in the East, and some in the West:
hîc illius arma Hîc currus fuit
His armor heere His chariots there apeare.
O sancte Apollo, qui umbilicum certum terrarum obtines.
Sacred Apollo, who enfoldest, The earths set navell, and it holdest.
Pallada Cecropidæ, Minoya Creta Dianam, Vulcanum tellus Hipsipylæa colit. Iunonem Sparte, Pelopeiadésque Mycenæ, Pinigerum Fauni Mænalis ora caput: Mars Latio uenerandus.
Th’Athenians Pallas; Minos-Candie coaste Diana; Lemnos Vulcan honor’s most. Mycene and Sparta, Juno thinke divine; The coaste of Maenalus Faune crown’d with pine; Latium doth Mars adore Besmeared with blood and goare.
Some hath but one borough or familie in his possession: Some lodgeth alone, and some in companie, either voluntarily or necessarily.
Iunctáque sunt magno templa nepotis avo.
To the great grand-sires shrine, The nephews temples doe combine.
Some there are so seely and popular (for their number amounteth to six and thirtie thousand) that five or six of them must be shufled up to gether to produce an eare of corne, and thereof they take their severall names. Three to a dore; one to be the boardes, one to be the hinges, and the third to the threshold. Foure to a childe, as protectors of his bandells, of his drinke, of his meate and of his sucking. Some are certaine, others uncertane, some doubtfull; and some that come not yet into paradise.
Quos, quoniam cæli nondum dignamur honore, Quas dedimus certè terras, habitare sinamus.
Whom for as yet with heav’n we have not graced, Let them on earth by our good graunt be placed.
There are some Phisitians, some poeticall, and some civill, some of a meane condition, betweene divine and humane nature, mediators and spokes-men betweene us and God: worshipped in a kinde of second or diminutive order of adoration: infinite in titles and offices: some good, some bad; some old and crazed, and some mortall. For Chrisippus thought, that in the last conflagration or burning of the world, all the Gods should have an end, except Jupiter. Man faineth a thousand pleasant societies betweene God and him. Nay is he not his countrieman?
Iovis incunabula Creten.
The Ile of famous Crete, For Jove a cradle meete.
Behold the excuse, that Scævola chiefe Bishop, and Varro, a great Divine in their dayes, give us upon the consideration of this subject. It is necessary (say they) that man be altogether ignorant of true things, and beleeve many false. Quum ueritatem qua liberetur, inquirat: credatur ei expedire, quod fallitur. Since they seeke the truth, whereby they may be free, let us beleeve it is expedient for them, to be deceived. Mans eie cannot perceive things, but by the formes of his knowledge. And we remember not the downefall of miserable Phaeton, forsomuch as he undertooke to guide the reins of his fathers steedes, with a mortall hand. Our minde doth still relaps into the same depth, and by hir owne temeritie doth dissipate and bruise it selfe. If you enquire of Philosophy, what matter the Sun is composed-of? What wil it answer, but of yron and stone, or other stuffe for his use? Demand of Zeno, what Nature is? A fire (saith he) an Artist, fit to engender, and proceeding orderly. Archimedes maister of this Science, and who in trueth and certaintie assumeth unto him-selfe a precedencie above all others, saith, the Sunne is a God of enflamed yron. Is not this a quaint imagination, produced by the inevitable necessitie of Geometricall demonstrations? Yet not so unavoidable and beneficiall, but Socrates hath beene of opinion, that it sufficed to know so much of it as that a man might measure out the land, he either demised or tooke to rent: and that Polyænus, who therein had beene a famous and principall Doctor, after he had tasted the sweet fruites of the lazie, idle and delicious gardens of Epicurus, did not contemne them, as full of falsehood and apparant vanitie. Socrates in Xenophon, upon this point of Anaxagoras, allowed and esteemed of antiquitie, well seene and expert above all others in heavenly and divine matters, saith, that he weakened his braines much, as all men doe, who over nicely and greedily will search out those knowledges, which hang not for their mowing, nor pertaine unto them. When he would needes have the Sunne to be a burning stone, he remembered not, that a stone doth not shine in the fire; and which is more, that it consumes therein. And when he made the Sunne and fire to be all one, he forgot, that fire doth not tanne and blacke those he looketh upon; that wee fixly looke upon the fire, and that fire consumeth and killeth all plants and hearbs. According to the advise of Socrates and mine, The wisest judging of heaven, is not to judge of it at all. Plato in his Timeus, being to speake of Doemons and Spirits, saith, it is an enterprise farre exceeding my skill and abilitie: we must beleeve what those ancient forefathers have said of them, who have said to have beene engendred by them. It is against reason not to give credite unto the children of the Gods, although their sayings be neither grounded upon necessary, nor likely reasons, since they tell us, that they speake of familiar and houshold matters. Let us see, whether we have a little more insight in the knowledge of humane and naturall things. Is it not a fond enterprise, to those unto which, by our owne confession, our learning cannot possibly attaine, to devise and forge them another body, and of our owne invention to give them a false forme, as is seene in the planetary motions, unto which because our minde cannot reach, nor imagine their naturall conduct, we lend them something of ours, that is to say, materiall, grose and corporall springs and wards:
temo aureus, aurea summæ Curuatura rotæ, radiorum argenteus ordo.
The axetree gold, the wheeles whole circle gold, The ranke of raies did all of silver hold.
you would say, we have had coach-makers, carpenters, and painters, who have gone up thither, and there have placed engines with diverse motions, and ranged the wheelings, the windings, and enterlacements of the celestiall bodies diapred in colours, according to Plato, about the spindle of necessitie.
Mundus domus est maxima rerum, Quam quinque altitonæ fragmine zonæ Cingunt, per quam limbus pictus bis sex signis, Stellimicantibus, altus in obliquo æthere, lunæ Bigas acceptat.
The world, of things the greatest habitation, Which five high-thundering Zones by separation Engirde, through which a scarfe depainted faire With twice six signes star-shining in the aire. Obliquely raisde, the waine O’re th’Moone doth entertaine.
They are all dreames, and mad follies. Why will not nature one day be pleased to open hir bosome to us, and make us perfectly see the meanes and conduct of her motions, and enable our eyes to judge of them? Oh good God, what abuses, and what distractions should we finde in our poore understanding, and weake knowledge! I am deceived, if she hold one thing directly in it’s point; and I shall parte hence more ignorant of all other things, then mine ignorance. Have I not seene this divine saying in Plato, that nature is nothing but an ænigmaticall poesie? As a man might say, an overshadowed and darke picture, enter-shining with an infinite varietie of false lights, to exercise our conjectures Latent ista omnia crassis occultata & circumfusa tenebris wt nulla acies humani ingenii tanta sit, quæ penetrare in cælum, terram intrare possit. All these things lie hid so veiled and environed with mistie darknesse, as no edge of man is so piersant, as it can passe into heaven, or dive into the earth. And truely, Philosophie is nothing else but a sophisticated poesie: whence have these ancient authors all their authorities, but from Poets? And the first were Poets themselves, and in their Arte treated the same. Plato is but a loose Poet. All high and more then humane Sciences are decked and enrobed with a Poeticall stile. Even as women, when their naturall teeth faile them, use some of yvory, and insteade of a true beautie, or lively colour, lay-on some artificiall hew; and as they make trunke-sleeves of wire and whale-bone bodies, backes of lathes, and stiffe bumbasted verdugals, and to the open-view of all men paint and embellish themselves with counterfeit and borrowed beauties; so doth learning (and our law hath, as some say, certaine lawfull fixions on which it groundeth the trueth of justice) which in liew of currant payment and presupposition, delivereth us those things, which shee her selfe teacheth us to be meere inventions: For, these Epicycles, Excentriques, and Concentriques, which Astrologie useth to direct the state and motions of her starres, shee giveth them unto us, as the best she could ever invent, to fit and sute unto this subject: as in all things else, Philosophie presenteth unto us, not that which is, or shee beleeveth, but what shee inventeth, as having most apparance, likelihood, or comelinesse. Plato upon the discourse of our bodies-estate, and of that of beastes: That what we have said, is true, we would be assured of it, had we but the confirmation of some oracle, to confirme-it. This onely we warrant, that it is the likeliest we could say. It is not to heaven alone, that she sendeth her cordages, her engines, and her wheeles: Let us but somewhat consider, what she saith of our selves, and of our contexture. There is no more retrogradation, trepidation, augmentation, recoiling and violence in the starres and celestiall bodies, then they have fained and devised in this poore seely little body of man. Verily they have thence had reason to name it Microcosmos, or little world, so many severall parts and visages have they employde to fashion and frame the same. To accommodate the motions which they see in man, the diverse functions and faculties, that we feele in our selves; Into how many severall parts have they divided our soule? Into how many seats have they placed her? Into how many orders, stages, and stations have they divided this wretched man, beside the naturall and perceptible? and to how many distinct offices and vacation? They make a publike imaginary thing of it. It is a subject, which they hold and handle: they have all power granted them, to rip him, to sever him, to range him, to joine and reunite him together againe, and to stuffe him, every one according to his fantasie, and yet they neither have not possesse him. They cannot so order or rule him, not in trueth onely, but in imagination, but still some cadence or sound is discovered, which escapeth their architecture, bad as it is, and bocht together with a thousand false patches, and fantasticall peeces. And they have no reason to bee excused: For, to Painters, when they pourtray the heaven, the earth, the seas, the hills, the scattered Ilands, we pardon them if they but represent us with some slight apparance of them; and as of things unknowne we are contented with such fained shadowes: But when they draw us, or any other subject that is familiarly knowne unto vsu to the life, then seeke we to draw from them a perfect and exact representation of theirs or our true lineaments, or colours; and scorne if they misse never so little. I commend the Milesian wench, who seeing Thales the Philosopher continually ammusing himselfe in the contemplation of heavens-wide-bounding vault, and ever holding his eyes aloft, laid something in his way to make him stumble, thereby to warne and put him in minde, that he should not ammuse his thoughts about matters above the clowds, before he had provided for, and well considered those at his feete. Verily she advised him well, and it better became him, rather to looke to himselfe then to gaze on heaven; For, as Democritus by the mouth of Cicero saith,
Quod est ante pedes, nemo spectat: cæli scrutantur plagas,
No man lookes, what before his feete doth lie, They seeke and search the climates of the skie.
But our condition beareth, that the knowledge of what we touch with our hands, and have amongst us, is as farre from us and above the clowds, as that of the starres: As saieth Socrates in Plato, That one may justly say to him who medleth with Philosophie, as the woman said to Thales, which is, he seeth nothing of that which is before him. For, every Philosopher is ignorant of what his neighbour doth, yea he knowes not what himselfe doth, and wots not what both are, whether beastes or men. These people who thinke Sebondes reasons to be weake and lame, who know nothing themselves, and yet will take upon them to governe the world and know all:
Quæ mare compescant causæ, quid temperet annum, Stellæ sponte sua, iussæue uagentur & errent: Quid premat obscurum Lunæ, quid proferat orbem, Quid uelit & possit rerum concordia discors:
What cause doth calme the sea, what cleares the yeare, Whether starres forc’t, or of selfe-will appeare: What makes the Moones darke Orbe to wax or wane, What friendly fewd of things both will and can.
Did they never sound amid their books, the difficulties that present themselves to them, to knowe their owne being? We see very well, that our finger stirreth, and our foote moveth, that some parts of our body, move of themselves without our leave, and other some that stir but at our pleasure: and we see that certaine apprehensions engender a blushing-red collour, others a palenes; that some imagination doth onely worke in the milt, another in the braine; some one enduceth us to laugh, another causeth us to weep; some astonisheth and stupifieth all our senses, and staieth the motion of all our limmes: at some object the stomake riseth, and at some other the lower parts. But how a spiritual impression causeth or worketh such a dent or flaw in a massie and solid body or subject, and the nature of the ligament, and compacting of these admirable springs and wards, man yet never knew: Omnia incerta ratione, & in naturæ maiestate abdita. All uncertaine in reason, and hid in the majestie of nature, Saith Plinie and Saint Augustine, Modus, quo corporibus adhærent spiritus, omnino mirus est, nec comprehendi ab homine potest, & hoc ipse homo est. The meane is clearely wonderfull, whereby spirits cleave to our bodies, nor can it be comprehended by man, and that is very man. Yet is there no doubt made of him: For mens opinions are received after ancient beliefes, by authoritie and upon credit; as if it were a religion and a lawe. What is commonly held of it, is received as a gibrish or fustian tongue. This truth with all hir framing of arguments, and proporcioning of proofes, is received as a firme and solid body, which is no more shaken, which is no more judged. On the other side, every one, the best he can, patcheth-up and comforteth this received beliefe, with al the meanes his reason can afford him, which is an instrument very supple, plyable, and yeelding to al shapes. Thus is the world filled with toyes, and overwhelmed in lies and leafings The reason that men doubt not much of things, is that common impressions are never throughly tride and sifted, their ground is not sounded, nor where the fault and weaknes lyeth: Men onely debate and question of the branch, not of the tree: They aske not whether a thing be true, but whether it was understood or ment thus and thus. They enquire not whether Galen hath spoken any thing of worth, but whether thus, or so, or otherwise. Truely there was some reason, this bridle or restraint of our judgements libertie, and this tyrannie over our beliefes should extend it selfe even to schooles and arts. The God of scholasticall learning, is Aristotle: It is religion to debate of his ordinances, as of those of Lycurgus in Sparta. His doctrine is to us as a canon law, which peradventure is as false as another. I know not why I should or might not, as soon, and as easily accept, either Platoes Ideas, or Epicurus his Atomes and indivisible things, or the fulnes and emptines of Leucippus and Democritus, or the water of Thales, or of Anaximanders infinite of nature, or the aire of Diogenes, or the numbers or proportion of Pythagoras, or the infinitie of Parmenides, or the single-one of Musæus, or the water and fire of Apollodorus, or the similarie and resembling parts of Anaxagoras, or the discord and concord of Empedocles, or the fire of Heraclitus, or any other opinion (of this infinit confusion of opinions and sentences, which this goodly humane reason, by hir certaintie and cleare-sighted vigilancie brings forth in whatsoever it medleth withall) as I should of Aristotles conceite, touching this subject of the principles of naturall things; which he frameth of three parts, that is to say, matter, forme, and privation. And what greater vanitie can there be, then to make inanitie it selfe the cause of the production of things? Privation is a negative: With what humor could he make it the cause and beginning of things that are? Yet durst no man move that but for an exercise of Logike: Wherein nothing is disputed to put it in doubt, but to defend the Author of the Schoole from strange objections: His authoritie is the marke, beyond which it is not lawefull to enquire. It is easie to frame what one list upon allowed foundations: For, according to the lawe and ordinance of this positive beginning, the other parts of the frame are easily directed without cracke or danger. By which way we finde our reason well grounded, and we discourse without rub or let in the way: For our maisters preoccupate and gaine afore-hand as much place in our beliefe, as they neede to conclude afterward what they please, as Geometricians doe by their graunted questions: The consent and approbation which we lend them, giving them wherewith to draw us, either on the right or left hand, and at their pleasure to winde and turne us. Whosoever is believed in his presuppositions, he is our master, and our god: He will lay the plot of his foundations so ample and easie, that, if hee list, hee will carrie us up, even unto the clowdes. In this practise or negotiation of learning, we have taken the saying of Pythagoras for currant paiment; which is, that every expert man ought to be believed in his owne trade. The Logitian referreth himselfe to the Grammarian for the signification of words: The Rethoritian borroweth the places of arguments from the Logitian: The Poet his measures from the Musition: The Geometrician his proportions from the Arithmetitian: The Metaphisikes take the conjectures of the phisikes for a ground. For, every art hath hir presupposed principles, by which mans judgement is brideled on all parts. If you come to the shocke or front of this barre, in which consists the principall error, they imediatly pronounce this sentence; That there is no disputing against such as deny principles. There can be no principles in men, except divinitie hath revealed them unto them: All the rest, both beginning, midle, and end, is but a dreame and a vapor. Those that argue by presupposition, we must presuppose against them, the verie same axiome, which is disputed-of. For, each humane presupposition, and every invention, unles reason make a difference of it, hath as much authoritie as another. So must they all be equally balanced, and first the generall and those that tyrannize us. A perswasion of certaintie, is a manifest testimonie of foolishnes, and of extreame uncertaintie. And no people are lesse Philosophers and more foolish, then Platoes Phylodoxes, or lovers of their owne opinions. We must knowe whether fire be hot, whether snowe be white, whether in our knowledge there be any thing hard or soft. And touching the answeres, whereof they tell old tales, as to him who made a doubt of heate, to whom one replied, that to try he should cast himselfe into the fire; to him that denied the yse to be cold, that he should put some in his bosome; they are most unworthie the profession of a Philosopher. If they had leaft us in our owne naturall estate, admitting of strange apparances, as they present themselves unto us by our senses, and had suffred us to follow our naturall appetites, directed by the condition of our birth, they should then have reason to speake so. But from them it is, that we have learn’t to become judges of the world; it is from them we hold this conceit, that mans reason is the generall controuller of all that is, both without and within heavens-vault; which embraceth al, and can doe all, by meanes whereof, all things are knowne and discerned. This answere were good among the Caniballs, who without any of Aristotles precepts, or so much as knowing the name of Phisike, enjoy most happily, a long, a quiet, and a peaceable life. This answere might happily availe more, and be of more force, then all those they can borrow from their reason and invention. All living creatures, yea beasts and all. Where the commaundement of the naturall lawe is yet pure and simple, might with us be capable of this answere; but they have renownced it. They shall not neede to tell mee, it is true, for you both heare and see, that it is so: They must tell mee, if what I thincke I feele, I feele the same in effect; and if I feele it, then let them tell mee, wherefore I feele it, and how and what: Let them tell me the name, the beginning, the tennons, and the abuttings of heat and of cold, with the qualities of him that is agent, or of the patient; or let them quit me their profession, which is neither to admit, nor approve any thing, but by the way of reason: It is their touchstone, to try all kindes of Essayes. But surely it is a touchstone full of falsehoode, errors, imperfection and weaknes: which way can we better make triall of it, then by it selfe? If she may not be credited speaking of hir selfe, hardly can she be fit to judge of strange matters: If she knowe any thing, it can be but hir being and domicile. She is in the soule, and either a part or effect of the same. For, the true and essentiall reason (whose name we steale by false signes) lodgeth in Gods bosome: There is hir home, and there is hir retreat, thence she takes hir flght, when Gods pleasure is that we shall see some glimpes of it: Even as Pallas issued out of hir fathers head, to communicate and empart hir selfe unto the world. Now let us see what mans reason hath taught us of hir selfe and of the soule: Not of the soule in generall, whereof well nigh all Philosophie maketh both the celestiall and first bodies partakers; nor of that which Thales attributed even unto things, that are reputed without soule or life, drawne thereunto by the consideration of the Adamant stone: But of that which appertaineth to us, and which we should knowe best.
Ignoratur enim qu sit natura animai, Nata sit, an contrà nascentibus insinuetur, Et simul intereat nobiscum morte dirempta, An tenebras orci uisat, uastásque lacunas, An pecudes alias diuinitus insinuet se.
What the soules nature is, we doe not knowe If it be bred, or put in those are bred, Whether by death divorst with us it goe, Or see the darke vast lakes of hell be lowe, Or into other creatures turne the head.
To Crates and Dicæarchus it seemed that there was none at all; but that the body stirred thus with and by a naturall motion: To Plato, that it was a substance moving of it selfe: To Thales, a Nature without rest; To Asclepiades, an exercitation of the senses: To Hesiodus and Anaximander, a thing composed of earth and water: To Parmenides, of earth and fire: To Empedocles of blood:
Sanguineam uomit ille animam
His soule of purple-bloud he vomits out.
To Possidonius, Cleanthes and Galen, a heat, or hote complexion:
Igneus est ollis uigor, & cælestis origo:
A firy vigor and cælestiall spring, In their originall they strangely bring.
To Hippocrates, a spirite dispersed through the body: To Varro, an aire received-in at the mouth, heated in the lunges, tempered in the heart, and dispersed through al parts of the body: To Zeno, the quintessence of the foure elements: To Heraclides Ponticus, the light: To Zenocrates, and to the Ægyptians, a mooving number: To the Chaldeans, a vertue without any determinate forme.
Habitum quendam uitalem corporis esse, Harmoniam Græci quam dicunt.
There of the body is a vitall frame, The which the Greekes a harmony doe name.
And not forgetting Aristotle, that which naturally causeth the bodie to move, who calleth it Entelechy, or perfection mooving of it selfe (as cold an invention as any other) for he neyther speaketh of the essence, nor of the beginning, nor of the soules nature; but onely noteth the effects of it: Lactantius, Seneca, and the better part amongst the Dogmatists, have confessed, they never understood what it was: And after all this rable of opinions: Harum sententiarum quæ uera sit, Deus aliquis uiderit, which of these opinions is true, let some God look unto it, (saith Cicero.) I know by my selfe (quoth Saint Bernarde) how God is incomprehensible, since I am not able to comprehend the parts of mine owne being: Heraclitus, who held that every place was full of Soules and Demons, maintained neverthelesse, that a man could never goe so farre towards the knowledge of the soule, as that he could come unto it; so deep and mysterious was hir essence. There is no lesse dissention nor disputing about the place, where she should be seated. Hypocrates and Herophilus place it in the ventricle of the braine: Democritus and Aristotle, through all the body:
Vt bona sæpe ualetudo cùm dicitur esse Corporis, & non est tamen hæc pars ulla ualentis.
As health is of the body saide to be, Yet is no part of him, in health we see.
Epicurus in the stomacke.
Hic exultat enim pauor ac metus, hæc loca circùm Lætitiæ mulcent.
For in these places feare doth domineere, And neere these places joy keepes merry cheere.
The Stoickes, within and about the hart: Erasistratus, joyning the membrane of the Epicranium: Empedocles, in the bloud: as also Moises, which was the cause he forbad the eating of beastes bloud, unto which their soule is commixed: Galen thought that every part of the body had his soule: Strato hath placed it betweene the two upper eye-lids: Qua facie quidem sit animus aut ubi habitet, nec quærendum quidem est. We must not so much as enquire, what face the mindes beares or where it dwels: Saith Cicero. I am wel pleased to let this man use his owne words: For why should I alter the speech of eloquence it self? since there is smal gaine in stealing matter from his inventions: They are both little used, not verie forcible, and little unknowne. But the reason why Chrysippus, and those of his Sect, will proove the soule to bee about the hart, is not to be forgotten. It is (saith he) because when we will affirme or sweare any thing, we lay our hand upon the stomacke; And when we will pronounce, ἐγὼ, which signifieth, my selfe, we put downe our chinne toward the stomacke. This passage ought not to be passt-over without noting the vanity of so great a personage: For, besides that his considerations are of themselves very slight, the latter prooveth but to the Græcians, that they have their soule in that place. No humane judgement is so vigilant or Argos-eied, but somtimes shall fall a sleep or slumber. What shall we feare to say? Behold the Stoickes, fathers of humane wisedome, who devise that the soule of man, overwhelmed with any ruine, laboureth and panteth a long time to get out, unable to free hir selfe from that charge, even as a Mouse taken in a trappe. Some are of opinion, that the world was made, to give a body in lieu of punishment, unto the spirits, which through their fault were fallen from the puritie, wherin they were created: The first creation having beene incorporeal. And that according as they have more or lesse elonged themselves from their spirituallitie, so are they more or lesse merilie and Giovially, or rudely and Saturnally incorporated: Whence proceedeth the infinite varietie of so much matter created. But the spirite, who for his chastizement was invested with the body of the sunne, must of necessitie have a very rare and particular measure of alteration. The extreamities of our curious search turne to a glimmering and all to a dazeling. As Plutarke saith, of the off-spring of Histories, that after the manner of Cardes or Mappes, the utmost limmits of knowen Countries, are set downe to be ful of thicke marrish grounds, shady forrests, desart and uncouth places. See here wherefore the grosest and most Childish dotings, are more commonly found in these which treate of highest and furthest matters; even confounding and overwhelming themselves in their owne curiositie and presumption. The end and beginning of learning are equally accoumpted foolish. Marke but how Plato taketh and raiseth his flight aloft in his Poeticall clowdes, or clowdy Poesies. Behold and read in him the gibbrish of the Gods. But what dream’d or doted he on, when he defined man, to be a creature with two feete, and without feathers; giving them that were disposed to mock at him, a pleasant and scopefull occasion to doe-it? For, having plucked-off the fethers of a live capon, they named him the man of Plato. And by what simplicitie did the Epicureans first imagine, that the Atomes or Mothes, which they termed to be bodies, having some weight and a naturall mooving downeward, had framed the world; untill such time as they were advised by their adversaries, that by this description, it was not possible, they should joyne and take hold one of another; their fall being so downe-right and perpendicular, and every way engendring Parallell lines? And therefore was it necessarie, they should afterwarde adde a casuall moving, sideling unto them: And moreover to give their Atomes crooked and forked tailes, that so they might take holde of any thing and claspe themselves. And even then, those that pursue them with this other consideration, do they not much trouble them? If Atomes have by chance formed so manie sorts of figures, why did they never meet together to frame a house or make a shooe? Why should we not likewise believe that an infinit number of greek Letters confusedly scattred in some open place, might one day meet and joine together to the contexture of th’Iliads? That which is capable of reason (saith Zeno) is better than that which is not. There is nothing better then the world: then the world is capable of reason. By the same arguing Cotta maketh the world a Mathematician, and by this other arguing of Zeno, he makes him a Musition and an Organist. The whole is more than the part: We are capable of Wisedome, and we are part of the World: Then the World is wise. There are infinite like examples seene, not only of false but foolish arguments, which cannot hold, and which accuse their authors not so much of ignorance as of folly, in the reproches that philosophers charge one another-with, about the dis-agreeings in their opinions and Sects. He that should fardle-up a bundle or huddle of the fooleries of mans wisdome, might recount wonders. I willingly assemble some (as a shew or patterne) by some meanes or byase, no lesse profitable then the most moderate instructions. Let us by that judge, what we are to esteem of man, of his sense and of his reason; since in these great men, and who have raised mans sufficiencie so high, there are found so grose errors, and so apparant defects. As for me, I would rather believe, that they have thus casually treated learning, even as a sporting childes babie, and have sported themselves with reason, as of a vain and frivolous instrument, setting forth all sorts of inventions, devises and fantasies, somtimes more outstretched, and somtimes more loose. The same Plato, who defineth man like unto a Capon, saith elsewhere in Socrates, that in good sooth, he knoweth not what man is; and that of al parts of the world, there is none so hard to be known. By this variety of conceits and instability of opinions, they (as it were) leade us closely by the hand to this resolution of their irresolution. They make a profession not alwaies to present their advise manifest and unmasked: they have oft conceiled the same under the fabulous shadows of Poesie, and somtimes under other vizards. For, our imperfection admitteth this also, that raw meats are not alwaies good for our stomacks: but they must be dried, altred and corrupted, and so do they, who somtimes shadow their simple opinions and judgements; And that they may the better sute themselves unto common use, they many times falsifie them. They will not make open profession of ignorance, and of the imbecilitie of mans reason, because they will not make children, afraid: But they manifestly declare the same unto us under the shew of a troubled Science and unconstant learning. I perswaded some body in Italy, who laboured very much to speak Italian, that alwaies provided, he desired but to be understoode, and not to seek to excell others therin, he shuld only employ and use such words as came first to his mouth, whether they were Latine, French, Spanish, or Gascoine, and that adding the Italian terminations unto them, hee should never misse to fall upon some idiome of the Countrie, eyther Tuscan, Roman, Venetian, Piemontoise or Neapolitan; and amongst so many several formes of speech to take hold of some one. The very same I say of Philosophie. She hath so manie faces, and so much varietie, and hath said so much, that all our dreames and devises are found in hir. The fantasie of man can conceive or imagine nothing, be it good or evil, that is not to be found in hir: Nihil tam absurdè dici potest, quod non dicatur ab aliquo Phylosophorum. Nothing may be spoken so absurdly, but that it is spoken by some of the Phylosophers. And therefore doe I suffer my humours or caprices more freely to passe in publike; Forasmuch as though they are borne with, and of me, and without any patterne; well I wot, they will be found to have relation to some auncient humour, and some shal be found, that will both knowe and tell whence and of whom I have borrowed them. My customes are naturall; when I contrived them, I called not for the helpe of any discipline: And weake and faint as they are, when I have had a desire to expresse them, and to make them appeare unto the Worlde a little more comely and decent, I have somewhat indevored to aide them with discourse, and assist them with examples. I have wondred at my selfe, that by meere chance I have mette with them, agreeing and sutable to so many ancient examples and Phylosophicall discourses. What regiment my life was-of, I never knew nor learned but after it was much worne and spent. A new unpremeditated Phylosopher and a casuall. But to returne unto our soule, where Plato hath seated reason in the brayne; anger in the hart; lust in the liver; it is very likely, that it was rather an interpretation of the soules motions, then any division or separation he ment to make of it, as of a body into many members. And the likelyest of their opinion is, that it is alwaies a soule, which by hir rationall faculty, remembreth hir selfe, comprehendeth, judgeth, desireth and exerciseth all hir other functions, by divers instruments of the body, as the Pilote ruleth and directeth his shippe according to the experience he hath of it; now stretching, haling or loosing a cable, sometimes hoysing the Mayne-yard, remooving an ower, or stirring the rudder, causing severall effects with one only power: And that she abideth in the brayne, appeareth by this, that the hurts and accidents, which touch that part, doe presently offend the faculties of the soule, whence she may without inconvenience descend and glide through other parts of the body:
medium non deserit unquam Cœli Phœbus iter: radiis tamen omnia lustrat.
Never the Sunne forsakes heav’ns middle waies, Yet with his raies he light’s all, all survaies.
as the Sunne spreadeth his light and infuseth his power from heaven, and therewith filleth the whole World.
Cætera pars animæ per totum dissita corpus Paret, & ad numen mentis noménque mouetur.
Th’other part of the soule through all the body sent Obeyes, and mooved is, by the mindes governement.
Some have saide, that there was a generall soule, like unto a great body, from which all particular soules were extracted, and returned thither, alwaies reconjoyning and entermingling themselves unto that Universall matter:
Deum námque ire per omnes Terrásque tractúsque maris cælúmque profundum: Hinc pecudes; armenta, uiros, genus omne ferarum, Quémque sibi tenues nascentem arcessere uitas, Scilicet huc reddi deinde, ac resoluta referri Omnia: nec morti esse locum
For God through all the earth to passe is found, Through all Sea-currents, through the heav’n profound, Heere hence men, heardes and all wylde beasts that are, Short life in birth each to themselves doe share. All things resolved to this poynt restor’d Returne, nor any place to death affoord.
others, that they did but reconjoyne and fasten themselves to it againe: others, that they were produced by the divine substance: others, by the Angels, of fire and aire: some from the beginning of the world; and some, even at the time of need: others, make them to descend from the round of the Moone, and that they returne to it againe. The common sort of antiquitie, that they are begotten from Father to Sonne, after the same manner and production, that all other naturall things are; arguing so by the resemblances, which are betweene Fathers and Children.
Instillata patris uirtus tibi.
Thy fathers Vertues be. Instilled into thee.
Fortes creantur fortibus & bonis,
Of valiant Sires and good, There comes a valiant brood.
and that from fathers we see descend unto children, not only the marks of their bodies, but also a resemblance of humours, of complexions, and inclinations of the soule.
Denique cur acrum uiolentia triste leonum Seminium sequitur, dolus uulpibus, & fuga ceruis A patribus datur, & patrius pauor incitat Artus Si non certa suo quia semine seminióque Vis animi pariter crescit cum corpore toto?
Why followes violence the savage Lyons race? Why craft the Foxes? Why to deere to flie apace? By parents is it given, when parents feare incites? Unlesse because a certaine force of inward spirits With all the body growes, As seede and seede-spring goes?
That divine justice is grounded thereupon, punishing the fathers offences upon the children; for so much as the contagion of the fathers vices, is in some sort printed, in childrens soules, and that the misgovernment of their will toucheth them. Moreover, that if the soules came from any other place, then by a naturall consequence, and that out of the body they should have beene some other thing, they should have some remembrance of their first being: Considering the naturall faculties, which are proper unto him, to discourse, to reason, and to remember.
si in corpus nascentibus insinuatur, Cur super anteactam ætatem meminisse nequimus, Nec uestigia gestarum rerum ulla tenemus?
If our soule at our birth be in our body cast, Why can we not remember ages over-past, Nor any markes retaine of things done first or last?
For, to make our soules-condition, to be of that worth we would, they must all be presupposed wise, even when they are in their naturall simplicitie and genuine puritie. So should they have beene such, being freed from the corporall prison, as well before they entred the same, as we hope they shall be, when they shall be out of it. And it were necessarie they should (being yet in the body) remember the said knowledge (as Plato said) that what wee learn’t, was but a new remembring of that, which we had knowne before: A thing that any man may by experience maintaine to be false and erronious. First, because we doe not precisely remember what we are taught, and that if memorie did meerely execute hir function, she would at least suggest us with something besides our learning. Secondly, what she knewe being in hir puritie, was a true understanding, knowing things as they are, by hir divine intelligence: Whereas here, if she be instructed, she is made to receive lies and apprehend vice, wherein she cannot employ hir memorie; this image and conception, having never had place in hir. To say, that the corporall prison, doth so suppres hir naturall faculties, that they are altogether extinct in hir: first, is cleane contrarie to this other beliefe, to acknowledge hir forces so great, and the operations which men in this transitorie life feele of it, so wonderfull as to have thereby concluded this divinitie, and fore-past eternitie, and the immortalitie to come:
Nam si tantopere est animi mutata potestas, Omnis ut actarum exciderit retinentia rerum, Non ut opinor ea ab letho iam longior errat.
If of our minde the power be so much altered, As of things donne all hold, all memorie is fled, Then (as I gesse) it is not farre from being dead.
Moreover, it is here with us, and no where else, that the soules powers and effects, are to be considered; all the rest of her perfections, are vaine and unprofitable unto hir: it is by her present condition, that all hir immortallitie must be rewarded and paide, and she is onely accomptable for the life of man: It were injustice to have abridged her of her meanes and faculties, and to have disarmed her against the time of hir captivitie and prison, of hir weaknesse and sicknesse, of the time and season where she had beene forced and compelled to draw the judgement and condemnation of infinite and endlesse continuance, and to relie upon the consideration of so short a time, which is peradventure of one or two houres, or if the worst happen, of an age, (which have no more proportion with infinitee, then a moment) definitively to appoint and establish of all her being, by that instant of space. It were an impious disproportion to wrest an eternall reward in consequence of so short a life. Plato, to save himselfe from this inconvenience, would have future payments limited to a hundred yeares continuance, relatively unto a humane continuance: and many of ours have given them temporall limites. By this they judged, that her generation followed the common condition of humane things: As also her life, by the opinion of Epicurus and Democritus, which hath most beene received, following these goodly apparances. That her birth was seene, when the body was capable of her; her vertue and strength was perceived as the corporall encreased; in her infancie might her weaknesse bee discerned, and in time her vigor and ripenesse, then her decay and age, and in the end her decrepitie:
gigni pariter cum corpore, & unà Crescere seutimus, paritérque senescere mentem.
The minde is with the body bred, we doe behold, It joyntly growes with it, with it it waxeth old.
They perceived her to be capable of diverse passions, and agitated by many languishing and painefull motions, wherethrough she fell into wearinesse and griefe, capable of alteration and change, of joy, stupefaction and languishment, subject to her infirmities diseases, and offences, even as the stomacke or the foote,
mentem sanari, corpus ut ægrum Cernimus, & flecti medicina posse videmus:
We see as bodies sicke are cured, so is the minde, We see, how Phisicke can it each way turne and winde.
dazled and troubled by the force of wine; removed from her seate by the vapours of a burning feaver; drowzie and sleepie by the application of some medicaments, and rouzed up againe by the vertue of some others.
corpeream naturam animi esse necesse est, Corporeis quoniam telis ictúque laborat.
The nature of the minde must needes corporeall bee, For with corporeall darts and strokes it’s griev’d we see.
She was seene to dismay and confound all her faculties by the onely biting of a sicke-dogge, and to containe no great constancie of discourse, no sufficiencie, no vertue, no philosophicall resolution, no containing of her forces, that might exempt her from the subjection of these accidents: The spittle or slavering of a mastive dog shed upon Socrates his hands, to trouble all his wisdome, to distemper his great and regular immaginations, and so to vanquish and annull them, that no signe or shew of his former knowledge was left in him:
uis animaï Conturbatur, & diuisa seorsum Disiectatur eodem illo distracta ueneno.
The soules force is disturbed, seperated, Distraught by that same poison, alienated.
And the said venome to finde no more resistance in his soule, then in that of a childe of foure yeares old, a venome able to make all Philosophie (were she incarnate) become furious and mad: So that Cato, who scorned both death and fortune, could not abide the sight of a looking glasse, or of water; overcome with horrour, and quelled with amazement, if by the contagion of a mad dog, he had falne into that sicknesse, which Phisitians call Hydroforbia, or feare of waters.
uis morbi distracta per artus Turbat agens animam, spumantes æquore salso Ventorum ut ualidis feruescunt uiribus undæ.
The force of the disease dispierst through joynts offends, Driving the soule, as in salt seas the wave ascends, Foming by furious force which the winde raging lends.
Now concerning this point, Philosophie hath indeede armed man for the enduring of all other accidents, whether of patience, or if it bee overcostly to be found, of an infallible defeture, in convaying her selfe, altogether from the sense: but they are meanes, which serve a soule, that is her owne, and in her proper force, capable of discourse and deliberation: not to this inconvenience, or4 with a Philosopher, a soule becommeth the soule of a soole troubled, vanquished and lost, which diverse occasions may produce, as in an overviolent agitation, which by some vehement passion, the soule may beget in her selfe: or a hurt in some part of the body; or an exhalation from the stomake, casting us into some astonishment, dazleing, or giddinesse of the head:
morbis in corporis auius errat Sæpe animus, dementit enim, deliráque fatur, Interdúmque graui Lethargo fertur in altum Æternúmque soporem, oculus nutúque cadenti.
The minde in bodies sicknesse often wandring strayes: For it enraged rave’s, and idle talke outbrayes: Brought by sharpe Lethargie sometime to more then deepe, While eyes and eye-liddes fall into eternall sleepe.
Philosophers have in mine opinion but slightly harp’t upon this string, no more then an other of like consequence. They have ever this Dilemma in their mouth, to comfort our mortall condition. The soule is either mortall or immortall: if mortall, she shall be without paine: if immortall, she shall mend. They never touch the other branch: What, if she empaire and be worse? And leave the menaces of future paines to Poets. But thereby they deale themselves a good game. They are two omissions, which in their discourses doe often offer themselves unto me. I come to the first againe: the soule looseth the use of that Stoicall chiefe felicitie, so constant and so firme. Our goodly wisedome must necessarily in this place yeeld her selfe, and quit her weapons. As for other matters, they also considered by the vanitie of mans reason, that the mixture and societie of two so different parts, as is the mortall and the immortall is inimaginable:
Quippe etenim mortale æterno iungere, & unà Consentire putare, & fungi mutua posse, Desipere est. Quid enim diuersius esse putandum est, Aut magis inter se disiunctum discrepitánsque, Quàm mortale quod est, immortali atque perenni Iunctum in concilio sæuas tolerare procellas?
For what immortall is, mortall to joyne unto, And thinke they can agree, and mutuall duties doe, Is to be foolish: For what thinke we stranger is, More disagreeable, or more disjoyn’d, then this, That mortall with immortall endles joyn’d in union, Can most outragious stormes endure in their communion?
Moreover they felt their soule to be engaged in death, as well as the body;
simul æuo fessa fatiscit,
It joyntly faint’s in one, Wearied as age is gone.
Which thing (according to Zeno) the image of sleepe doth manifestly shew unto us. For he esteemeth, that it is a fainting and declination of the soule, aswell as of the body. Contrahi animum, & quasi labi putat atque decidere. He thinkes the minde is contracted, and doth as it were slide and fall downe. And that (which is perceived in some) it’s force and vigor maintaineth it selfe even in the end of life, they referred and imputed the same to the diversitie of diseases, as men are seene in that extremitie, to maintaine, some one sense, and some another, some their hearing, and some their smelling, without any alteration; and there is no weaknes or decay seen so universall, but some entire and vigorous parts will remaine.
Non alio pacto quàm si pes cùm dolet ægri, In nullo caput interea sit fortè dolore.
No otherwise, then if, when sick-mans foote doth ake, Meane time perhaps his head no fellow-feeling take.
Our judgements sight referreth it selfe unto truth, as doth the Owles eyes unto the shining of the Sunne, as saith Aristotle. How should we better convince him, then by so grosse blindnes, in so apparant a light? For, the contrarie opinion of the soules immortalitie, which Cicero saith, to have first beene brought in (at least by the testimonie of bookes) by Pherecydes Syrius, in the time of King Tullus (others ascribe the invention thereof to Thales, and other to others) it is the part of humane knowledge treated most sparingly and with more doubt. The most constant Dogmatists (namely in this point) are enforced to cast themselves under the shelter of the Academikes wings. No man knowes what Aristotle hath established upon this subject, no more then all the auncients in Generall, who handle the same with a verie wavering beliefe: rem gratissimam promittentium magis quàm probantium. Who rather promise then approve a thing most acceptable. He hath hidden himselfe under the clowdes of intricate and ambiguous wordes, and unintelligible senses, and hath left his Sectaries as much cause to dispute upon his judgement, as upon the matter. Two things made this his opinion plausible to them: the one, that without the imortality of soules, there should no meanes be left to ground or settle the vaine hopes of glory; a consideration of wonderfull credite in the world: the other (as Plato saith) that it is a most profitable impression, that views, when they steale away from out the sight and knowledge of humane justice, remaine ever as a blancke before divine Justice, which even after the death of the guiltie, will severely pursue them. Man is ever possessed with an extreame desire to prolong his being, and hath to the uttermost of his skill provided for it, Toombs and Monuments are for the preservation of his body, and glory for the continuance of his name. He hath employed all his wit to frame him selfe a-new, (as impacient of his fortune) and to underproppe or uphold himselfe by his inventions. The soule by reason of hir trouble and imbecilitie, as unable to subsist of hir selfe, is ever and in all places questing and searching comforts, hopes, foundations and forraine circumstances, on which she may take hold and settle hir-selfe. And how light and fantasticall soever his invention doth frame them unto him, hee notwithstanding relieth more surely upon them, and more willingly, than upon himselfe: But it is a wonder to see how the most obstinat in this so just and manifest perswasion of our spirits immortalitie, have found themselves short and unable to establish the same by their humane forces. Somnia sunt non docentis, sed optantis. These are dreames not of one that teacheth, but wisheth what he would have: said an ancient writer. Man may by his owne testimony know, that the truth hee alone discovereth, the same he oweth unto fortune and chaunce; since even when she is falne into his handes, he wanteth wherewith to lay hold on hir, and keepe hir; and that this reason hath not the power to prevaile with it. All things produced by our owne discourse and sufficiencie, as well true as false, are subject to uncertainty and disputation. It is for the punishment of our temerity, and instruction of our misery and incapacity, that God caused the trouble, downefall and confusion of Babels Tower. Whatsoever we attempt without his assistance, whatever we see without the lampe of his grace, is but vanity and folly: With our weaknesse wee corrupt and adulterate the very essence of truth (which is uniforme and constant) when fortune giveth us the possession of it. What course soever man taketh of himselfe, it is Gods permission that he ever commeth to that confusion, whose image he so lively representeth unto us, by the just punishment, wherewith he framed the presumptuous over-weening of Nembroth, and brought to nothing the frivelous enterprises of the building of his high-towring Pyramides, or Heaven-menacing towre. Perdam sapientiam sapientium, & prudentiam prudentium reprobabo. I will destroy the wisedome of the wise, and reprove the providence of them that are most prudent. The diversitie of tongues and languages, wherewith he disturbed that worke, and overthrew that prowdly-raisd Pile; what else is it, but this infinit altercation, and perpetuall discordance of opinions and reasons, which accompanieth and entangleth the frivolous frame of mans learning, or vaine building of humane science? Which he doth most profitably. Who might containe us, had we but one graine of knowledge? This Saint hath done me much pleasure: Ipsa utilitatis occultatio, aut humilitatis exercitatio est, aut elationis attritio. The very concealing of the profit, is either an exercise of humilitie, or a beating downe of arrogancie. Unto what point of presumption and insolencie, doe we not carry our blindnes & foolishnes? But to returne to my purpose: Verily there was great reason, that we should be beholding to God alone, and to the benefit of his grace, for the truth of so noble a beliefe, since from his liberality alone we receive the fruite of immortalitie, which consisteth in enjoying of eternall blessednesse. Let us ingenuously confesse, that onely God and faith, hath told it us: For, it is no lesson of Nature, nor comming from our reason. And hee that shall both within and without narrowly sift, and curiously sound his being and his forces without this divine priviledge; he that shall view and consider man, without flattering him, shall nor finde nor see eyther efficacie or facultie in him, that tasteth of any other thing but death and earth. The more we give, the more we owe; and the more wee yeeld unto God, the more Christian-like doe we. That which the Stoike Phylosopher said, he held by the casuall consent of the peoples voyce; had it not beene better he had held it of God? Cùm de animorum æternitate disserimus, non leue momentum apud nos habet consensus hominum, aut timentium inferos, aut coleutium. utor hac publica persuasione. When wee discourse of the immortality of soules, in my conceit the consent of those men is of no small authority, who eyther feare or adore the infernal powers. This publike perswasion I make use-of. Now the weaknesse of humane Arguments upon this subject, is very manifestly knowen by the fabulous circumstances they have added unto the traine of this opinion, to finde out what condition this our immortalitie was of. Let us omit the Stoickes, Usuram nobis largiuntur, tamquam cornicibus; diu mansuros aiunt animos, semper, negant: They grant us use of life, as it unto Ravens: they say our soules shall long continue, but they deny, they shall last ever. Who gives unto soules a life beyond this, but finite. The most universall, and received fantasie, and which endureth to this day, hath bin that, whereof Pythagoras is made Authour; not that he was the first inventor of it, but because it received much force and credite, by the Authority of his approbation; Which is, that soules at their departure from us, did but passe and rowle from one to an other body, from a Lyon to a Horse, from a Horse to a King, uncessantly wandring uppe and downe, from House to Mansion. And himselfe saide, that he remembered to have bin Aethalides, then Euphorbus, afterwarde Hermotimus, at last from Pyrrhus to have passed into Pythagoras: having memorie of himselfe, the space of two hundred and sixe yeares: some added more, that the same soules doe sometimes ascend up to haven, and come downe againe:
O Pater ánne aliquas ad cœlum hinc ire putandum est Sublimes animas, iterúmque ad tarda reuerti Corpora? Quæ lucis miseris tam dira cupido?
Must we thinke (Father) some soules hence doe goe, Raized to heav’n, thence turne to bodies slow? Whence doth so dyre desire of light on wretches growe?
Origin makes them eternally to go and come from a good to a bad estate. The opinion that Varro reporteth is, that in the revolution of foure hundred and forty yeares, they reconjoine themselves unto their first bodies. Chrysipus, that that must come to passe after a certayne space of time unknowne, and not limmited. Plato (who saith that he holds this opinion from Pinarus, and from ancient Poezie,) of infinite Vicissitudes of alteration, to which the soule is prepared, having no paines nor rewards in the other World, but temporall, as hir life in this is but temporall, concludeth in hir a singular knowledge of the affaires of heaven, of hell, and here below, where she hath passed, repassed, and sejourned in many voyages; a matter in his remembrance. Behold hir progresse else-where: He that hath lived well, reconjoyneth himselfe unto that Starre or Planet, to which he is assigned: Who evill, passeth into a Woman: And if then hee amend not himselfe, he transchangeth himselfe into a beast, of condition agreeing to his vicious customes, and shall never see an end of his Punishments, untill he returne to his naturall condition, and by vertue of reason hee have deprived himselfe of those grose, stupide, and elementary qualities, that were in him. But I will not forget the objection, which the Epycureans make unto this transmigration from one body to another: Which is verie pleasant. They demaund, what order there should bee, if the throng of the dying, should be greater then that of such as be borne. For, the soules remooved from their abode would throng and strive together, who should get the best seat in this new case: And demaund besides, what they would passe their time about, whilst they should stay, untill any other mansion were made ready for them: Or contrarie-wise, if more creatures were borne, then should dy; they say, bodies should bee in an ill taking, expecting the infusion of their soule, and it would com to passe, that some of them should dy, before they had ever bin living.
Denique connubia ad ueneris, partúsque ferarum, Esse animas præsto deridiculum esse uidetur, Et spectare immortales mortalia membra Innumero numero, certaréque praeproperanter Inter se, quæ prima potissimaque infinuetur.
Lastly, rediculous it is, soules should be presst To Venus meetings, and begetting of a beast: That they to mortall limes immortall be addrest In number numberlesse, and over-hastie strive Which of them first and cheefe should get in there to live.
Others have staid the soule in the deceased bodies, therwith to animate serpents, wormes and other beasts, which are said to engender from the corruption of our members, yea and from our ashes: Others, devide it in two parts one mortall, another immortall: Others make it corporeall, and yet notwithstanding immortall: Others, make it immortal, without any science or knowledge. Nay there are some of ours, who have deemed that of condemned mens soules divels were made: As Plutarke thinkes, that Gods are made of those soules which are saved: For, there be few things that this authour doth more resolutely averre, then this; holding every where else an ambiguous and doubtfull kind of speech. It is to be imagined and firmlie believed (saith he) that the soules of men, vertuous both according unto nature and Gods divine Justice, become of Men, Saints, and of Saints, Demi-Gods and after they are once perfectly, as in sacrifices of purgation, cleansed and purified, being delivered from all passibility and mortalitie, they become of Demy-Gods (not by any civill ordinance, but in good truth, and according to manifest reason) perfect and very-very Gods; receiving a most blessed and thrise glorious end. But whosoever shall see him, who is notwithstanding, one of the most sparing and moderate of that faction, so undantedly to skirmish, and will heare him relate his wonders upon this subject, him I refer to his discourse of the Moone, and of Socrates his demon where as evidently as in any other place, may be averred, that the mysteries of Phylosophy have many strange conceits, common with those of Poesie; mans understanding loosing it selfe, if it once goe about to sound and controule all things to the vtmost ende; as tired and troubled by a long and wearysome course of our life, we returne to a kind of doting child-hood. Note here the goodly and certaine instructions, which concerning our soules-subject we drawe from humane knowledge. There is no lesse rashnesse in that which shee teacheth us touching our corporall parts. Let us make choyse but of one or two examples, else should we loose our selves in this troublesome and vaste Ocean of Physicall errors. Let us know whether they agree but in this one, that is to say, of what matter men are derived and produced one from another. For, touching their first production, it is no marvel if in a thing so high and so ancient, mans wit is troubled and confounded. Archelaus the Physition, to whom (as Aristoxenus affirmeth) Socrates was Disciple and Minion, assevered that both men and beastes had beene made of milkie slyme or mudde, expressed by the heate of the earth. Pithagoras saith, that our seed is the scumme or froth of our best blood. Plato the distilling of the marrow in the backe-bone, which he argueth thus, because that place feeleth first the wearinesse which followeth the sweete-Generall businesse.
Alcmaeon, a part of the braines-substance, which to prove, he saith, their eyes are ever most troubled, that over-intemperately addict themselves to that exercise. Democritus, a substance extracted from all partes of this corporall Masse. Epicurus extracted from the last soule and the body: Aristotle, an excrement drawne from the nourishment of the blood, the last scattereth it selfe in our severall members; others, blood, concocted and disgested by the heate of the genitories; which they judge, because in the extreame, earnest and forced labours many shed drops of pure blood; wherein some apparance seemeth to be, if from so infinite a confusion any likelihood may bee drawne. But to bring this seede to effect, how many contrary opinions make they of it? Aristotle and Democritus hold, that women have no sperme, that it is but a sweate, which by reason of the pleasure, and frication they cast forth, and availeth nothing in generation.
Galen, and his adherents, contrariwise affirme, that there can bee no generation, except two seedes meete together. Behold the Phisitians, the Philosophers, the Lawyers, and the Divines pell-mell together by the eares with our women about the question and disputation, how long women beare their fruite in their wombe. And as for me, by mine owne example I take their part, that maintaine, a woman may goe eleven months with childe. The world is framed of this experience; there is no meane woman so simple, that cannot give her censure upon all these contestations, although we could not agree. This is sufficient to verifie, that in the corporall parte, man is no more instructed of himselfe, then in the spirituall. We have proposed himselfe to himselfe, and his reason to reason, to see what she can tell us of it. Me thinkes I have sufficiently declared, how little understanding she hath of herselfe. And he who hath no understanding of himselfe, what can he have understanding-of? Quasi verò mensuram ullius rei possit agere, qui sui nesciat. As though he could take measure of any thing that knowes not his owne measure. Truely Protagoras told us prettie tales, when he makes man the measure of all things, who never knew so much as his owne. If it be not he, his dignitie wil never suffer any other creature to have this advantage over him. Now he being so contrary unto himselfe, and one judgement so uncessantly subverting another, this favourable proposition was but a jest, which induced us necessarily to conclude the nullitie of the Compasse and the Compasser. When Thales judgeth the knowledge of man very hard unto man, he teacheth him the knowledge of all other things to be impossible unto him. You for whom I have taken the paines to enlarge so long a worke (against my custome) will not shunne to maintaine your Sebond, with the ordinary forme of arguing, whereof you are dayly instructed, and will therein exercise both your minde and studie: For, this last tricke of fence, must not be employed but as an extreame remedie. It is a desperate thrust, gainst which you must forsake your weapons, to force your adversary to renounce his; and a secret sleight, which must seldome and very sparingly be put in practise. It is great fond-hardinesse to loose your selfe for the losse of another. A man must not die to revenge himselfe, as Gobrias did: who being closely by the eares with a Lord of Persia, Darius chaunced to come in with his rapier in his hand, who feared to strike, for feare hee should hurt Gobrias, hee called unto him, and bade him smite boldly although he should hit both. I have heard, armes, and conditions of single combates being desperate, and which he that offered them, put both himselfe and his enemy in danger of an end, inevitable to both, reproved as unjust and condemned as unlawfull. The Portugales tooke once certaine Turkes prisoners in the Indian seas, who impatient of their captivitie, resolved with themselves (and their resolution succeeded) by rubbing some nailes or spikes one against another, and causing sparkles of fire to fall amongst the barrells of powder (which lay not farre from them) with intent to consume both themselves, their maisters, and the ship. We but touch the skirts, and glance at the last closings of Sciences, wherein extreamitie, as well as in vertue, is vicious. Keepe your selves in the common path, it is not good to be so subtile, and so curious. Remember what the Italian proverb saith,
Chi troppo s’assottiglia, si scavezza.
Who makes himselfe too fine, Doth breake himselfe in fine.
I perswade you in your opinions and discourses, as much as in your customes, and in every other thing, to use moderation and temperance, and avoide all newfangled inventions and strangenesse. All extravagant wayes displease me. You, who by the authoritie and preheminence, which your greatnesse hath laide upon you, and more by the advantages, which the qualities that are most your owne, bestow on you, may with a nod commaund whom you please, should have laide this charge upon some one, that had made profession of learning, who might otherwise have disposed and enriched this fantasie. Notwithstanding here have you enough to supply your wants of it. Epicurus said of the lawes, that the worst were so necessary unto us, that without them, men would enter-devoure one another. And Plato verifieth, that without lawes we should live like beastes. Our spirit is a vagabond, dangerous, and fond-hardy implement; It is very hard to joine order and measure to it. In my time, such as have any rare excellencie above others, or extraordinary vivacitie, we see them almost all so lavish and unbrideled in licence of opinions and maners, as it may be counted a wonder to find any one settled and sociable. There is great reason why the spirite of man should be so strictly embarred. In his studie, as in all things else he must have his steps numbered and ordered. The limites of his pursuite must be cut out by arte. He is brideled and fettered with, and by religions, lawes, customes, knowledge, precepts, paines and recompences, both mortall and immortall; yet we see him, by meanes of his volubilitie and dissolution, escape all these bonds. It is a vaine body, that hath no way about him to be seized on, or cut-off: a diverse and deformed body, on which neither knot nor hold may be fastened. Verily there are few soules, so orderly, so constant, and so well borne, as may be trusted with their owne conduct, and may with moderation, and without rashnesse, saile in the libertie of their judgements beyond common opinions. It is more expedient to give some body the charge and tuition of them. The spirit is an outragious glaive, yea even to his owne possessor, except he have the grace, very orderly and discreetely to arme himselfe therewith. And there is no beast, to whom one may more justly apply a blinding-borde, to keepe her sight in, and force her looke to her footing, and keepe from straying here and there, without the rutte which use and lawes trace hir out. Therefore shall it bee better for you to close and bound your selves in the accustomed path; howsoever it be, then to take your flight to this unbridled licence. But if any one of these new Doctors shall undertake, to play the wise or ingenious before you, at the charge of his and your health: to rid you of this dangerous plague, which dayly more and more spreds it selfe in your Courts, this preservative will in any extreame necessitie be a let, that the contagion of this venome, shall neither offend you nor your assistance. The liberty then, and the jollitie of their ancient spirites brought forth many different Sects of opinions, in Philosophie and humane Sciences: every one undertaking to judge and chuse, so he might raise a faction. But now that men walke all one way: Qui certis quibusdam destinatisque sententiis addicti & consecrati sunt, ut etiam, quæ non probant, cogantur defendere: Who are addicted and consecrated to certaine set and fore-decreed opinions, so as they are enforced to maintaine those things which they prove or approve not: And that we receive Artes by civill authoritie and appointment: So that schooles have but one patterne, alike circumscribed discipline and institution; no man regardeth more what coynes weigh and are worth; but every man in his turne receiveth them according to the value, that common approbation and succession allotteth them: Men dispute no longer of the alloy, but of the use. So are all things spent and vented alike. Physicke is received as Geometrie: and jugling trickes, enchantments, bonds, the commerce of deceased spirits, prognostications, domifications, yea, even this ridiculous, wit and wealth-consuming pursuite of the Philosophers stone, all is employd and uttered without contradiction. It sufficeth to know, that Mars his place lodgeth in the middle of the hands triangle; that of Venus in the Thumme, and Mercuries in the little finger: and when the table-line cutteth the teachers rising, it is a signe of cruelty: When it faileth under the middle finger, and that the naturall Mediane-line makes an angle with the vitall,5 it doth evidently denote, that she will not be very chaste. I call your selfe to witnes if with this Science onely, a man may not passe with reputation and favour among all companies. Theophrastus was wont to say, that mans knowledge, directed by the sense, might judge of the causes of things, unto a certain measure, but being come to the extreame and first causes, it must necessarily stay, and be blunted or abated; either by reason of it’s weaknesse, or of the things difficultie. It is an indifferent and pleasing kinde of opinion, to thinke, that our sufficiencie may bring us to the knowledge of some things, and hath certaine measures of power, beyond which it is temeritie to employ it. This opinion is plausible and brought in by way of composition: but it is hard to give our spirit any limites, being very curious and greedie, and not tied to stay rather at a thousand, then fiftie paces. Having found by experience, that if one had mist to attaine unto some one thing, another hath come unto it; and that which one age never knew, the age succeeding hath found out: and that Sciences and Artes are not cast in a mould, but rather by little and little formed and shaped by often handling and pollishing them over: even as Beares fashion their yong whelps by often licking them: what my strength can not discover, I cease not to sound and trie: and in handling and kneading this new matter, and with removing and chafing it, I open some facilitie for him that shall followe me, that with more ease hee may enjoy the same, and so make it more facile, more supple and more pliable:
ut hymettia sole Cera remollescit, tractatáque pollice multas Uertitur in facies, ipsóque fit utilis usu.
As the best-Bees-waxe melteth by the Sunne, And handled, into many formes doth runne, And is made aptly fit, For use by using it.
As much will the second doe for the third, which is a cause that difficultie doth not make me despaire, much lesse my unabilitie: for it is but mine owne. Man is as well capable of all things, as of some. And if (as Theophrastus saith) he avow the ignorance of the first causes and beginnings, let him hardly quit all the rest of his knowledge. If his foundation faile him, his discourse is overthrowne. To dispute hath no other scope, and to enquire no other end but the principles: If this end stay not his course, he casteth himselfe into an infinite irresolution. Non potest aliud alio magis minúsque comprehendi, quoniam omnium rerum una est definitio comprehendendi. One thing can neither more nor lesse be comprehended then another, since of all things there is one definition of comprehending. Now is it likely, that if the soule knew any thing, she first knew her selfe: and if she knew any without and besides her selfe, it must be her vaile and body before any thing else. If even at this day the Gods of Physicke are seene to wrangle about our Anatomie,
Mulciber in Troiam, pro Troia stabat Apollo,
Apollo stoode forTroy, Vulcan Troy to destroy.
When shall wee expect that they will be agreede? We are neerer unto our selves, then is whitenesse unto snow, or weight unto a stone. If man know not himselfe, how can he know his functions and forces? It is not by fortune that some true notice doth not lodge with us, but by hazard. And forasmuch as by the same way, fashion and conduct, errors are received into our soule, shee hath not wherewithall to distinguish them, nor whereby to chuse the truth from falsehood. The Academikes received some inclination of judgement, and found it over raw, to say, it was no more likely, snow should bee white then blacke, and that wee should be no more assured of the moving of a stone, which goeth from our hand, then of that of the eight Spheare. And to avoide this difficultie and strangenesse, which in trueth can not but hardly lodge in our imagination, howbeit they establish, that we were no way capable of knowledge, and that truth is engulfed in the deepest Abisses, where mans sight can no way enter; yet avowed they some things to bee more likely and possible then others, and received this facultie in their judgement, that they might rather encline to one apparance then to an other. They allowed her this propension, interdicting her all resolution. The Pyrrhonians advise is more hardy, and therewithall more likely. For, this Academicall inclination, and this propension rather to one then another proposition, what else is it, then a reacknowledging of some apparant truth, in this than in that? If our understanding be capable of the forme, of the lineaments, of the behaviour and face of truth; it might as well see it all compleate, as but halfe, growing and imperfect. For, this apparance of verisimilitude, which makes them rather take the left then the right hand, do you augment it; this one ounce of likelyhood, which turnes the ballance, doe you multiplie it, by a hundred, nay by a thousand ounces; it will in the end come to passe, that the ballance will absolutely resolve and conclude one choise and perfect truth. But how doe they suffer themselves to be made tractable by likelihood if they know not truth? How know they the semblance of that, whereof they understand not the essence? Either we are able to judge absolutely, or we cannot. If our intellectuall and sensible faculties are without ground or footing, if they but hull up and downe and vant, for nothing suffer wee our judgement to bee carried away to any parte of their operation, what apparance soever it seemeth to present us with. And the surest and most happy situation of our understanding should bee that, where without wavering or agitation it might maintaine it selfe setled, upright and inflexible. Inter uisa, uera, aut falsa, ad animi assensum, nihil interest. There is no difference betwixt true and false visions, concerning the mindes assent. That things lodge not in us in their proper forme and essence, and make not their entrance into us, of their owne power and authoritie, wee see it most evidently. For, if it were so, we should receive them all alike: wine would bee such in a sicke mans mouth, as in a healthie mans. He whose fingers are chopt through cold, and stiffe or benummed with frost, should find the same hardnesse in the wood or yron he might handle, which another doth. Then strange subjects yeelde unto our mercie, and lodge with us according to our pleasure. Now if on our part we receive any thing without alteration; if mans hold-fasts were capable and suficiently powerfull, by our proper meanes to seize on truth, those meanes being common to all; this truth would successively remove it selfe from one to an other. And of so many things as are in the world, at least one should be found, that by an universall consent should be believed of all. But that no proposition is seene, which is not controversied and debated amongst us, or that may not be, declareth plainly, that our judgment doth not absolutely and cleerely seize on that which it seizeth: for my judgement cannot make my fellowes judgement to receive the same: which is a signe, that I have seized upon it by some other meane then by a naturall power in me or other men. Leave we aparte this infinite confusion of opinions, which is seene amongst Philosophers themselves, and this universall and perpetuall disputation, in and concerning the knowledge of things.
For it is most truly presupposed, that men (I meane the wisest, the best borne, yea and the most sufficient) do never agree; no not so much that heaven is over our heads: For, they who doubt of all, doe also doubt of this: and such as affirme, that wee cannot conceive any thing, say we have not conceived whether heaven be over our heads: which two opinions are in number (without any comparison) the most forcible. Besides this diversity and infinite division, by reason of the trouble, which our owne judgement layeth upon our selves, and the uncertainty which every man finds in himselfe, it may manifestly be perceived, that this situation is very uncertaine and unstaid. How diversly judge we of things? How often change we our fantasies? What I hold and believe this day, I believe and hold with all my beleefe; all my implements, springs and motions, embrace and claspe this opinion, and to the utmost of their power warrant the same: I could not possibly embrace any verity, nor with more assurance keepe it, then I doe this. I am wholy and absolutely given to it: but hath it not been my fortune, not once, but a hundred, nay a thousand times, nay dayly, to have embraced som other thing, with the very same instruments and condition, which upon better advise I have, afterward judged false? A man should at least become wise, at his owne cost, and learne by others harmes. If under this colour I have often found my self deceived, if my touchstone be commonly found false, and my ballance un-even and unjust; What assurance may I more take of it at this time, then at others? Is it not folly in me, to suffer my selfe so often to be beguiled and couzned by one guide? Neverthelesse, let fortune remoove us five hundered times from our place, let hir doe nothing but uncessantly empty and fill, as in a vessell, other and other opinions in our minde, the present and last is alwaies supposed certaine and infallible. For this must a man leave goods, honour, life, state, health and all:
posterior res illa reperta Perdit; & immutat sensus ad pristina quæque.
The later thing destroyes all found before And alters sense at all things lik’t of yore.
Whatsoever is tould us, and what ever we learne, we should ever remember, it is man, who delivereth, and man that receiveth: It is a mortall hand, that presents it, and a mortall hand, that receives it. Onely things which come to us from heaven, have right and authoritie of perswasion and markes of truth: Which we neither see with our eyes, nor receive by our meanes: this sacred and great image would be of no force in so wretched a mansion, except God prepare it to that use and purpose, unlesse God by his particular grace and supernaturall favor, reforme and strengthen the same. Our fraile-deffective condition ought at least make us demaene our selves more moderately, and more circumspectly in our changes. We should remember, that whatsoever we receive in our understanding, we often receive false things, and that it is by the same instruments, which many times contradict and deceive themselves. And no marvell if they contradict themselves, being so easie to encline, and upon very slight occasions subject to waver and turne. Certaine it is, that our apprehension, our judgement, and our soules faculties in generall, doe suffer according to the bodies motions and alterations, which are continuall. Have we not our spirits more vigilant, our memorie more readie, and our discourses more lively in time of health, then in sickenes? Doth not joy and blithnes make us receive the subjects, that present themselves unto our soule, with another kinde of countenance, then lowring vexation, and drooping melancholy doth? Doe you imagine, that Catullus or Saphoes verses, delight and please an old covetous chuffe-pennie wretch, as they doe a lustie and vigorous yong-man? Cleomenes the sonne of Anaxandridas being sicke, his friends reproved him, saying he had new strange humors, and unusuall fantasies: It is not unlikely (answered he) for, I am not the man I was wont to be in time of health: But being other, so are my fantasies and my humors. In the rabble case-canvasing of our plea-courts, this by-word. Gaudeat de bona fortuna, Let him joy in his good fortune, Is much in use, and is spoken of criminall offendors, who happen to meete with judges in some milde temper, or well-pleased moode. For, it is most certaine that in times of condemnation, the judges doome or sentence is sometimes perceived to be more sharpe, mercilesse and forward, and at other times more tractable, facile and enclined to shadow or excuse an offence, according as he is well or ill pleased in minde. A man that commeth out of his house troubled with the paine of the goute, vexed with jelousie, or angrie that his servant hath robbed him, and whose mind is overcome with griefe, and plunged with vexation, and distracted with anger, there is not question to be made but his judgement is at that instant much distempred, and much transported that way. That venerable Senate of the Areopagites, was wont to judge and sentence by night, for feare the sight of the suters might corrupt justice. The ayre it selfe, and the clearenes of the firmament, doth forebode us some change and alteration of weather, as saith that Greeke verse in Cicero,
Tales sunt hominum mentes, quali pater ipse Iuppiter, auctifera lustrauit lampade terras.
Such are mens mindes, as with encreasefull light Our father Jove survayes the world in sight.
It is not onely fevers, drinkes and great accidents, that over-whelme our judgment: The least things in the world wil turne it topsi-turvie. And although we feele it not, it is not to be doubted, if a continuall ague may in the end suppresse our minde, a tertian will also (according to hir measure and proportion) breede some alteration in it. If an Apoplexie doth altogether stupifie, and extinguish the sight of our understanding, it is not to be doubted but a cold and rhume will likewise dazle the same. And by consequence, hardly shall a man in all his life finde one houre, wherein our judgement may alwaies be found in his right byase, our body being subject to so many continuall alterations, and stuft with so divers sortes of ginnes and motions, that, giving credit to Phisitions, it is very hard to finde one in perfect plight, and that doth not alwaies mistake his marke and shute wide. As for the rest, this disease is not so easily discovered, except it be altogether extreame and remedilesse; forasmuch as reason marcheth ever crooked, halting and broken-hipt; and with falsehoode as with truth; And therefore it is very hard to discover hir mistaking, and disorder. I alwaies call reason, that apparance or shew of discourses, which every man deviseth or forgeth in himselfe: That reason, of whose condition, there may be a hundred, one contrarie to another, about one selfe same subject: It is an instrument of lead and waxe, stretching, pliable, and that may be fitted to all byases, and squared to all measures: There remaines nothing but the skill and sufficiencie to knowe how to turne and winde the same. How well soever a judge meaneth, and what good minde so ever he beareth, if diligent eare be not given unto him (to which few ammuse themselves) his inclination unto friendship, unto kindred, unto beautie, and unto revenge, and not onely matters of so weightie consequence, but this innated and casuall instinct, which makes us to favour one thing more then another, and encline to one man more then to another, and which without any leave of reason, giveth us the choise, in two like subjects, or some shadow of like vanitie, may insensibly insinuate in his judgement the commendation and applause, or disfavor and disalowance of a cause, and give the ballance a twitch. I, that nearest prie into my selfe, and who have mine eyes uncessantly fixt upon me, as one that hath much else to doe else where,
quis sub arcto Rex gelidae metuatur oræ, Quid Tyradatem terreat, unicè Securus,
Onely secure, who in cold coast Under the North-pole rules the roast, And there is feard; or what would fright, And Tyredates put to flight.
dare very hardly report the vanitie and weaknesse I feele in my selfe. My foote is so staggering and unstable, and I finde it so readie to trip, and so easie to stumble; and my sight is so dimme and uncertaine, that fasting I find my selfe other then full-fed: If my health applaud me, or but the calmenes of one faire day smile upon me, then am I a lustie gallant; but if a corne wring my toe, then am I pouting, unpleasant and hard to be pleased. One same pace of a horse is sometimes hard, and sometimes easie unto mee; and one same way, one time short, another time long and wearisome; and one same forme, now more, now lesse agreeable and pleasing to me: Sometimes I am apt to doe any thing, and other times fit to doe nothing: What now is pleasing to me, within a while after will be painfull. There are a thousand indiscreete and casuall agitations in mee. Either a melancholie humour possesseth me, or a chollerike passion swayeth me, which having shaken-off, sometimes forwardnes and peevishnes hath predominancie, and othertimes gladnes and blithnes over rule me. If I chance to take a booke in hand, I shall in some passages perceive some excellent graces, and which ever wound me to the soule with delight; but let me lay it by, and reade him another time; let me turne and tosse him as I list, let me apply and manage him as I will, I shall finde it an unknowne and shapeles masse. Even in my writings, I shall not at all times finde the tracke, or ayre of my first imaginations; I wot not my selfe what I would have said, and shall vexe and fret my selfe in correcting and giving a new sense to them, because I have peradventure forgotten or lost the former, which happily was better. I doe but come and goe; my judgement doth not alwaies goe forward, but is ever floting, and wandering,
uelut minuta magno Deprensa nauis in mari uesanientæ uento.
Much like a pettie skiffe, that’s taken short In a grand Sea, when windes doe make mad sport.
Many times (as commonly it is my hap to doe) having for exercise and sport-sake undertaken to maintaine an opinion contrarie to mine, my minde applying and turning it selfe that way, doth so tie me unto it, as I finde no more the reason of my former conceit, and so I leave it. Where I encline, there I entertaine my selfe, howsoever it be, and am caried away by mine owne waight. Every man could neere-hand say as much of himselfe, would he but looke into himselfe as I doe. Preachers knowe, that the emotion, which surpriseth them, whilst they are in their earnest speech, doth animate them towards beliefe, and that being angrie we more violently give our selves to defend our proposition, emprint it in our selves, and embrace the same with more vehemencie and approbation, then we did, being in our temperate and reposed sense. You relate simply your case unto a Lawyer, he answers faltring and doubtfully unto it, whereby you perceive it is indifferent unto him to defend either this, or that side, all is one to him: Have you paid him well, have you given him a good baite or fee, to make him earnestly apprehend it, beginnes he to be interessed in the matter, is his will moved, or his minde enflamed? Then will his reason be moved, and his knowledge enflamed withall. See then an apparant and undoubted truth presents it selfe to his understanding; wherein he discovers a new light, and beleeves it in good sooth, and so perswades himselfe. Shall I tell you? I wot not whether the heate of proceeding of spight and obstinacie, against the impression and violence of a magistrate, and of danger; or the interest of reputation, have induced some man, to maintaine, even in the firery flames the opinion, for which amongst his friends, and at libertie, he would never have beene moved, nor have ventred his fingers end. The motions and fittes which our soule receiveth by corporall passions, doe greatly prevaile in hir, but more hir owne; with which it is so fully possest, as happily it may be maintained, she hath no other way, or motion, then by the blast of hir windes, and that without their agitation, she should remaine without action, as a ship at Sea, which the winds have utterly forsaken. And he who should maintaine that, following the Peripatetike faction, should offer us no great wrong, since it is knowne, that the greatest number of the soules-actions, proceede and have neede of this impulsion of passion; valor (say they) cannot be perfected without the assistance of choller,
Semper Aiax fortis, fortissimus tamen in furore.
Ajax ever valor had, Most then, when he was most mad.
Nor doth any man runne violently enough upon the wicked, or his enemies, except he be throughly angrie; and they are of opinion, that an Advocate or counseller at the barre, to have the cause goe one his side, and to have justice at the judges hands doth first endevor to provoke him to anger. Longing-desires mooved Themistocles, and urged Demosthenes, and have provoked Philosophers, to long travels, to tedious watchings, and to lingring peregrinations: And leade us to honors, to doctrine, and to health; all profitable respects. And this demissnese of the soule, in suffering molestation and tediousnes, serveth to no other purpose, but to breede repentance, and cause penitence in our consciences; and for our punishment to feele the scourge of God, and the rod of politike correction. Compassion serveth as a sting unto clemencie, and wisedome to preserve and governe our selves, is by our owne feare rouzed up; and how many noble actions, by ambition, how many by presumption? To conclude, no eminent or glorious vertue, can be without some immoderate and irregular agitation. May not this be one of the reasons, which moved the Epicurians, to discharge God of all care and thought of our affaires: Forsomuch as the verv effects of his goodnes, cannot exercise themselves towards us, without disturbing his rest, by meanes of the passions, which are as motives and solicitations, directing the soule to vertuous actions? Or have they thought otherwise and taken them as tempests, which shamfully debauch the soule from hir rest and tranquilitie? Vt maris tranquillitas intelligitur, nulla, ne minima quidem, aura fluctus commouente: Sic animi quietus & placatus status cernitur, quum perturbatio nulla est, qua moveri queat. As we conceive the Seas calmenesse, when not so much as the least pirling wind doth stirre the waves, so is a peaceable reposed state of the minde then seene, when there is no perturbation, whereby it may be moved. What differences of sense and reason, what contrarietie of immaginations, doth the diverfitie of our passions present unto us? What assurance may we then take of so unconstant and wavering a thing, subject by it’s owne condition to the power of trouble, never marching but a forced and borrowed pace? If our judgement be in the hands of sickenes it selfe, and of perturbation; if by rashnes and folly it be retained to receive the impression of things, what assurance may we expect at his hands? Dares nos Philosophie thinke, that men produce their greatest effects, and nearest approching to divinitie, when they are besides themselves, furious, and madde? We amend our selves by the privation of reason, and by hir drooping. The two naturall waies, to enter the cabinet of the Gods, and there to fore-see the course of the destinies, are furie and sleepe. This is very pleasing to be considered. By the dislocation, that passions bring unto our reason, we become vertuous; by the extirpation, which either furie or the image of death bringeth us, we become Prophets and Divines. I never beleeved it more willingly. It is a meere divine inspiration, that sacred truth hath inspired in a Philosophicall spirit, which against his proposition exacteth from him; that the quiet state of our soule, the best-settled estate, yea the healthfullest that Philosophie can acquire unto it, is not the best estate. Our vigilancie is more drouzie, then sleepe it selfe: Our wisedome lesse wise, then folly; our dreames of more worth then our discourses. The worst place we can take, is in our selves. But thinkes it not, that we have the foresight to marke, that the voyce, which the spirit uttereth, when he is gone from man, so cleare-sighted, so great, and so perfect, and whilst he is in man, so earthly, so ignorant, and so overclouded, is a voyce proceeding from the spirit, which is in earthly, ignorant, and overclouded man; and therefore a trustles and not to be-beleeved voyce? I have no great experience in these violent agitations, being of a soft and dull complexion; the greatest part of which, without giving it leasure to acknowledge hir selfe, doe sodainly surprise our soule. But that passion, which in yoong-mens hartes is said, to be produced by idlenes, although it march but leasurly, and with a measured progresse, doth evidently present to those, that have assaid to oppose themselves against hir endevor, the power of the conversion and alteration, which our judgement suffereth. I have sometimes enterprised to arme my selfe with a resolution to abide, resist, and suppresse the same. For, I am so farre from being in their ranke, that call and allure vices, that unlesse they entertaine me, I scarcely follow them. I felt it, mauger my resistance, to breed, to growe, and to augment; and in the end being in perfect health, and cleare-sighted, to seize-upon and possesse me; in such sort, that, as in dronkennes, the image of things, began to appeare unto me, otherwise then it was wont: I sawe the advantages of the subject, I sought after, evidently to swell and growe greater, and much to encrease by the winde of my imagination; and the difficulties of my enterprise to become more easie and plaine; and my discourse and conscience to shrinke and draw-backe. But that fire being evaporated all on a sodaine, as by the flashing of a lightning my soule to reassume an other sight, another state, and other judgement. The difficultie in my retreate seemed great and invincible, and the very same things of another taste and shew than the fervencie of desire had presented them unto me. And which more truely, Pyrrho cannot tell. We are never without some infirmity. Fevers have their heat, and their colde: From the effects of a burning passion, we fall into the effects of a chilling passion. So much as I had cast my selfe foreward, so much do I draw my selfe backe.
Qualis ubi alterno procurrens gurgite pontus, Nunc ruit ad terras scopulísque superiacit undam, Spumeus, extremámque sinu perfundit arenam, Nunc rapidus retro atque æstu reuoluta resorbens Saxa fugit, littúsque uado labente relinquit.
As th’ocean flowing, ebbing in due course, To land now rushes, foming throw’s his sourse On rockes, there with bedew’s the utmost sand, Now swift return’s, the stones rould backe from strand By tide resuck’s, foord failing leaves the land.
Now by the knowledge of my volubilitie, I have by accidence engendred some constancie of opinions in my selfe; yet have not so much altered my first and naturall ones. For, what apparance soever there be in noveltie, I doe not easily change, for feare I should loose by the bargaine: And since I am not capable to chuse, I take the choise from others; and keepe my selfe in the seate, that God hath placed me in. Else could I hardly keepe my selfe from continuall rowling. Thus have I by the grace of God preserved my selfe whole (without agitation or trouble of conscience) in the ancient beliefe of our religion, in the middest of so many sects and divisions, which our age hath brought forth. The writings of the ancient fathers (I meane the good, the solide, and the serious) doe tempt, and in a manner remove me which way they list. Him that I heare seemeth ever the most forcible. I finde them everieone in his turne to have reason, although they contrarie one another. That facilitie, which good wittes have to prove any thing they please, likely; and that there is nothing so strange, but they will undertake to set so good a glosse on it, as it shall easily deceive a simplicitie like unto mine, doth manifestly shew the weakenes of their proofe. The heavens and the planets, have moved these three thousand yeares, and all the world hath taught us so, untill Cleanthes the Samian, or else (according to Theophrastus) Nicetas the Syracusian, tooke upon him to maintaine, it was the earth, that moved, by the oblique circle of the Zodiake, turning about hir axell-tree. And in our daies Copernicus hath so well grounded this doctrine, that hee doth very orderly fit it to all Astrologicall consequences. What shall we reape by it, but only that we neede not care, which of the two it be? And who knoweth whether a thousand yeares hence a third opinion will rise, which happily shall overthrow these two præcedent.
Sic uoluenda ætas commutat tempora rerum, Quodque fuit pretio, sit nullo denique honore, Porro aliud succedit, & è contemptibus exit, Inque dies magis appetitur, florétque repertum Laudibus, & miro est mortales inter honore.
So age to be past over alter’s times of things: What earst was most esteem’d, At last nought-worth is deem’d: An other then succed’s, and from contempt upsprings, Is daily more desir’d, flowreth as found but then With praise and wondrous honor amongst mortall men.
So when any new Doctrine is represented unto us, we have great cause to suspect it, and to consider, how before it was invented, the contrarie unto it was in credite; and as that hath beene reversed by this latter, a third invension may paradventure sueceede in after-ages, which in like sort shall front the second. Before the principles, which Aristotle found out, were in credite, other principles contented mans reason, as his doe now content us. What learning have these men, what particular priviledge, that the course of our invention should rely only upon them, and that the possession of our beliefe, shal for ever hereafter belong to them? They are no more exempted from being rejected, then were their fore-fathers. If any man urge me with a new Argument, it is in me to imagine, that if I cannot answere it, another can. For, to believe all apparances, which we cannot resolve, is meere simplicitie. It would then follow, that all the common sort (whereof we are all part) should have his beliefe turning and winding like a weather-cocke: For, his soule being soft, and without resistance, should uncessantly be enforced to receive new and admit other impressions: the latter ever defacing the precedents trace. He that perceiveth himselfe weake, ought to answer, according to law termes, that he will conferre with his learned counsel, or else referre himselfe to the wisest, from whom he hath had his prentiseship. How long is it since Physicke came first into the World? It is reported that a new start-up fellow, whom they call Paracelsus, changeth and subverteth all the order of ancient, and so long time-received rules, and maintaineth that untill this day it hath only served to kill people. I thinke he will easily verifie it. But I suppose it were no great wisedome to hazard my life upon the triall of his new-fangled experience. We must not believe al men, saith the precept, since every man may say al things. It is not long since, that one of these professours of novelties, and Physicall reformations told me, that all our forefathers had notoriously abuzed themselves in the nature and motions of the windes, which, if I would listen unto him, he would manifestly make me perceve. After I had with some patience given attendance to his Arguments, which were indeed full of likely-hood, I demaunded of him, whether they that failed according to Theophrastus his Lawes, went westward, when they bent their course eastward? Or whether they failed sideling, or backeward? It is fortune, answered he, but so it is they tooke their marke amisse: To whom I then replyed, that I had rather follow the effects, then his reason. They are things that often shocke together: and it hath beene told me, that in Geometrie (which supposeth to have gained the high point of certainty amongst al sciences) there are found unavoidable Demonstrations, and which subvert the truth of all experience: As James Peletier tolde me in mine owne house, that he had found out two lines, bending their course one towards another, as if they would meete and joyne together; neverthelesse hee affirmed, that even unto infinity, they could never come to touch one another. And the Pyrrhonians use their Arguments, and Reason, but to destroy the apparance of experience: And it is a wonder to see how farre the supplenesse of our reason, hath in this designe followed them, to resist the evidence of effects: For, they affirme, that wee moove not, that we speake not, that there is no weight, nor heate, with the same force of arguing, that we averre the most likelyest things. Ptolomey, who was an excellent man, had established the boundes of the world; All ancient Phylosophers have thought they had a perfect measure thereof, except it were certaine scattered Ilandes, which might escape their knowledge: It had bin to Pyrrhonize a thousand yeeres agoe, had any man gone about to make a question of the arte of Cosmography: and the opinions that have beene received thereof, of all men in Generall: It had beene flat heresie to avouch, that there were Antipodes. See how in our age an infinite greatnesse of firme land hath beene discovered, not an Iland onely, nor one particular country, but a parte in greatnesse verie neere equall unto that which wee knewe. Our moderne Geographers cease not to affirme, that now all is found, and all is discovered;
Nam quod adest præsto, placet, & pollere uidetur,
For, what is present heere Seemes strong, is held most deare.
The question is now, if Ptolomey was heretofore deceived in the grounds of his reason, whether it were not folly in me, to trust what these late followes say of it, and whether it bee not more likely, that this huge body, which we terme the World, is another maner of thing, than we judge it. Plato saith, that it often changeth his countenaunce, that the Heaven, the Starres, and the Sunne do sometimes re-enverse the motion we perceive in them, changing the East into West. The Ægyptian Priests, told Herodotus, that since their first King, which was eleaven thousand and odde yeares (when they made him see the pictures of all their former Kings, drawne to the life in statues) the Sunne had changed his course foure times: That the sea and the earth do enterchangeably change one into another; that the worldes birth is undetermined: The like said, Aristotle and Cicero. And some one amongst us averreth, that it is altogether eternall, mortall, and new reviving againe, by many Vicissitudes, calling Salomon and Esay to witnesse: to avoyde these oppositions, that God hath sometimes beene a Creatour without a creature: that he hath beene idle; that hee hath unsaide his idlenesse, by setting his hand to this worke, and that by consequence he is subject unto change. In the most famous Schooles of Greece, the World is reputed a God, framed by another greater and mightier God, and is composed of a body and a soule, which abideth in his centre, spreading it selfe by Musicall numbers unto his circumference, divine, thrise-happy, very great, most wise and eternall. In it are other Gods, as the Sea, the earth, and planets, which mutually entertaine one another, with an harmonious and perpetuall agitation and celestial dance; somtimes meeting, othertimes elonging themselves, now hiding then shewing themselves, and changing place, now forward, now backward. Heraclitus firmely maintained, that the Worlde was composed of fire, and by the destinies order, it should one day burst forth into flames, and be so consumed into cinders, and another day it should be new borne againe. And Apuleius of men saith; sigillatim mortales, cunctim perpetui: severally mortall, altogether everlasting. Alexander writ unto his mother the narration of an Ægyptian Priest, drawne from out their monuments, witnessing the antiquitie of that Nation, infinite; and comprehending the birth and progresse of their countries to the life. Cicero and Diodorus, said in their daies, that the Chaldeans kept a register of foure hundred thousand and odde yeares. Aristotle, Plinie, and others, that Zoroastes lived sixe thousand yeares before Plato. And Plato saith that those of the citty of Sais, have memories in writing of eight thousand yeares, and that the towne of Athens, was built a thousand yeares before the citty of Sais. Epicurus, that at one same time, all things that are, looke how we see them, they are all alike, and in the same fashion, in divers other Worldes, which he would have spoken more confidently, had he seene the similitudes and correspondencies, of this new-found world of the West-Indiaes, with ours, both present and past, by so many strange examples. Truly, when I consider what hath followed our learning by the course of this terrestriall policie, I have diverse times wondred at my self, to see in so great a distance of times and places, the simpathy or jumping of so great a number of popular and wilde opinions, and of extravagant customes and beliefes, and which by no meanes seeme to hold with our naturall discourse. Mans spirit is a wonderful worker of miracles. But this relation hath yet a kind of I wot not what more Eteroclite: which is found both in names, and in a thousand other things. For, there were found Nations, which (as farre as we know) had never heard of us, where circumcision was held in request; where great states and common wealths were maintained onely by Women, and no men: Where our fasts and Lent was represented, adding therunto the abstinence from women; where our crosses were severall waies in great esteeme; In some places they adorned and honored their sepulchres with them, and elswhere, especially that of Saint Andrew, they employed to shield themselves from nightly visions, and to lay them uppon childrens couches, as good against enchauntments and witch-crafts: In another place, they found one made of Wood, of an exceeding height, worshipped for the God of rayne: which was thrust very deepe into the ground: There was found a very expresse and lively image of our Penitentiaries: the use of Myters, the Priestes single life; the Arte of Divination by the entrailes of sacrificed beastes; the abstinence from all sorts of flesh and fish, for their food; the order amongst Priests in saying of their divine service, to use, a not vulgar, but a particular tongue; and this erronious and fond conceipt, that the first God was expelled his throane by a yoonger brother of his: That they were at first created with all commodities, which afterward by reason of their sinnes were abridged them: That their territory hath beene changed; that their natural condition hath beene much impaired: That they have heeretofore beene drowned by the inundation of Waters come from heaven; that none were saved but a few families, which cast themselves into the crackes or hollowes of high Mountaines, which crackes they stopped very close, so that the Waters could not enter in, having before shutte therein many kinds of beasts: That when they perceived the Raine to cease, and Waters to fal, they first sent out certaine dogs which returning clean-washt, and wet, they judged that the waters were not yet much falne; and that afterward sending out some other, which seeing to returne all muddy and foule, they issued forth of the mountaines, to repeople the world againe, which they found replenished onely with Serpents. There were places found, where they used the perswasion of the day of judgement, so that they grew wondrous wroth and offended with the Spaniards, who in digging and searching of riches in their graves, scattered here and there the bones of their deceased friends; saying that those dispersed bones could very hardly be reconjoyned together againe. They also found where they used traffike by exchange, and no otherwise; and had Faires and Markets for that purpose: They found dwarfes, and such other deformed creatures, used for the ornament of Princes tables: They found the use of hawking and fowling, according to the Nature of their birdes: tyrannicall subsidies, and grievances uppon subjects; delicate in pleasant gardens; dancing, tumbling; leaping and jugling, musike of instruments, armories, dicing-houses, tennesse-courtes, and casting of lottes, or mumne-chaunce, wherein they are often so earnest and moody, that they will play themselves and their liberty: using no other physicke but by charmes: the manner of writing by figures: believing in one first man, universall father of all people: The adoration of one God, who heretofore lived man, in perfect Virginitie, fasting, and penance, preaching the law of Nature, and the ceremonies of religion; and who vanished out of the world, without any naturall death: The opinion of Gyants; the use of drunkennesse, with their manner of drinks, and drincking and pledging of healths: religious ornaments, painted over with bones and dead-mens sculs; surplices, holy-Water, and holy-Water sprinckles: Women and Servaunts, which strivingly present themselves to be burned or enterred with their deceased husbands, or maisters: a law that the eldest or first-borne child shall succeede and inherite all; where nothing is reserved for punies, but obedience: a custome to the promotion of certaine officers of great authority, and where he that is promoted takes upon him a new name, and quitteth his owne: Where they use to cast lime upon the knees of new-borne children, saying unto him; from dust thou camest, and to dust thou shalt returne againe: the Arts of Augures or prediction. These vaine shadowes of our religion, which are seene in some of these examples, witnes the dignitie and divinity thereof. It hath not onely in some sort insinuated it selfe among all the infidell Nations, on this side by some imitations, but amongst those barbarous Nations beyond, as it were by a common and supernaturall inspiration: For, amongest them was also found the beliefe of Purgatory, but after a new forme: For, what we ascribe unto fire, they impute unto cold, and imagine that soules are both purged and punished by the rigor of an extreame coldnes. This example putteth me in minde of another pleasant diversitie: For, as there were some people found, who tooke pleasure to unhood the end of their yard, and to cut-off the fore-skin, after the manner of the Mahometans and Jewes, some there were found, that made so great a conscience to unhoode it, that with little strings, they carryed their fore-skin very carefully out-stretched and fastened above, for feare that end should see the ayre. And of this other diversity also, that as we honour our Kings, and celebrate our Holy-daies with decking and trimming our selves with the best habilliements we have; in some regions there, to shew all disparity and submission to their king, their subjects present themselves unto him in their basest and meanest apparrell; and entring into his pallace, they take some old torne garment, and put it over their other attyre, to the end all the glory and ornament may shine in their Soveraigne and Maister.
But let us goe on: If nature enclose within the limites of hir ordinary progresse, as all other things, so the beliefes, the judgements and the opinions of men; if they have their revolutions, their seasons, their birth and their death, even as Cabiches: If heaven doeth moove, agitate and rowle them at his pleasure, what powerfull and permanent authorite doe we ascribe unto them? If by uncontroled experience we palpably touch, that the forme of our being depends of the aire, of the climate, and of the soile wherein we are borne, and not onely the hew, the stature, the complexion and the countenance, but also the soules faculties: Et plaga cœli non solúm ad robur corporum, sed etiam animorum facit. The climate helpeth not onely for strength of body, but of mindes, saieth Vegetius: And that the Goddesse foundresse of the Citie of Athens, chose a temperature of a countrie, to situate it in, that might make the men wise, as the Ægyptian priests taught Solon: Athenis tenuæ cœlum: ex quo etiam acutiores putantur Attici: crassum Thebis: itaque pingues Thebani, & ualentes: About Athens is a thinne aire, whereby those countriemen are esteemed the sharper-witted: About Thebes the aire is grose, and therefore the Thebans were grose and strong of constitution. In such maner that as fruites and beastes doe spring up diverse and different; So men are borne, either more or lesse warlike, martiall, just, temperate and docile: here subject to wine, there to theft and whoredome; here enclined to superstition, there addicted to mis-believing; here given to libertie, there to servitude; capable of some one Arte or Science; grose-witted or ingenious: either obedient or rebellious; good or badde, according as the inclination of the place beareth, where they are seated; and being remooved from one soile to another (as plants are) they take a new complexion: which was the cause, that Cirus would never permit the Persians to leave their barren, rough and craggie countrie, for to transport themselves into another, more gentle, more fertile, and more plaine: saying that fat and delicious countries, make men wanton and effeminate; and fertile soiles yeeld infertile spirites. If sometimes we see one arte to florish, or a beliefe, and sometimes another, by some heavenly influence; some ages to produce this or that nature, and to encline mankinde to this or that biase: mens spirits one while flourishing, another while barren, even as fields are seene to be; what becomes of all those goodly prerogatives, wherewith we still flatter our selves? Since a wise man may mistake himselfe; yea many men, and whole nations; and as wee say, mans nature either in one thing or other, hath for many ages together mistaken her selfe. What assurance have we that at any time she leaveth her mistaking, and that she continueth not even at this day, in hir errour? Me thinkes amongst other testimonies of our imbecilities, this one ought not to be forgotten, that by wishing it-selfe, man cannot yet finde out what he wanteth; that not by enjoying our possessing, but by imagination and full wishing, we can not all agree in one, that wee most stand in neede-of, and would best content us. Let our imagination have free libertie to cut out and sewe at her pleasure, shee cannot so much as desire what is fittest to please and content her.
quid enim ratione timemus Aut cupimus? quid tam dextro pede concipis, ut te Conatus non pœniteat, uotique peracti?
By reason what doe we feare, or desire? With such dexteritie what doest aspire, But thou eftsoones repentest it, Though thy attempt and vow doe hit?
That is the reason why Socrates, never requested the Gods to give him any thing, but what they knew to be good for him. And the publike and private prayer of the Lacedemonians, did meerely implie, that good and faire things might be granted them, vuiting the election and choise of them to the discretion of the highest power,
Coniugium petimus partúmque uxoris, at illi Notum qui pueri, qualisque futura sit uxor.
We wish a wife, wifes breeding: we would know, What children; shall our wife be sheepe or shrow?
And the Christian beseecheth God, that his will may be done, least he should fall into that inconvenience, which Poets faine of King Midas: who requested of the Gods, that whatsoever hee toucht, might bee converted into gold: his prayers were heard, his wine was gold, his bread gold, the fethers of his bed, his shirt and his garments were turned into gold, so that he found himselfe overwhelmed in the injoying of his desire, and being enrich’t with an intolerable commoditie, he must now unpray his prayers:
Attonitus nouitate mali, diuésque misérque, Effugere optat opes, & quæ modò uouerat, odit.
Wretched and rich, amaz’d at so strange ill, His riches he would flie, hates his owne will.
Let me speake of my selfe; being yet very yong. I besought fortune above all things, that she would make me a knight of the order of Saint Michell, which in those dayes was very rare, and the highest tipe of honour the French Nobilitie aymed at. She very kindely granted my request; I had it. In liew of raising and advancing me from my place, for the attaining of it, she hath much more graciously entreated me, she hath abased and depressed it, even unto my shoulders and under. Cleobis and Biton, Trophonius and Agamedes, the two first having besought the Gods, the two latter their God, of some recompence worthie their pietie, received death for a rewarde: So much are heavenly opinions different from ours, concerning what we have neede-of. God might grant us riches, honours, long life and health, but many times to our owne hurt: For, whatsoever is pleasing to us, is not alwayes healthfull for us; If in liew of former health, he send us death, or some worse sicknesse: Virga tua & baculus tuus ipsa me consolata sunt: Thy rod and thy staffe hath comforted me. He doth it by the reasons of his providence, which more certainely considereth and regardeth what is meete for us, then we our selves can doe, and wee ought to take it in good parte, as from a most wise and thrice-friendlie-hand.
si concilium uis Permittes ipsis expendere numinibus, quid Conueniat nobis, rebúsque sit utile nostris: Charior est illis homo quàm sibi.
If you will counsell have, give the Gods leave To weigh, what is most meete we should receive, And what for our estate most profit were: To them, then to himselfe man is more deare.
For, to crave honours and charges of them, is to request them to cast you in some battle, or play at hazard, or some such thing, whereof the event is unknowne to you, and the fruite uncertaine. There is no combate amongst Philosophers so violent and sharpe, as that which ariseth upon the question of mans chiefe felicitie: from which (according to Varroes calculation) arose two hundred and foure score Sects. Qui autem de summo bono dissentit, de tota Philosophiæ ratione disputat. But he that disagrees about the chiefest felicitie, calles in question the whole course of Philosophie.
Tres mihi conuiuæ propè dissentire uidentur, Poscentes uario multum diuersa palato. Quid dem? quid non dem? renuis tu quod iubet alter: Quod petis, id sanè est inuisum accidúmque duobus.
Three guests of mine doe seeme almost at ods to fall, Whilst they with diverse taste for diverse things doe call: What should I give? What not? You wil not, what he will: What you would to them twaine, is hatefull, sowre and ill.
Nature should thus answer their contestations, and debates. Some say, our felicitie consisteth, and is in Vertue: Others in voluptuousnesse: Others in yeelding unto Nature: Some others in learning: others in feeling no maner of paine or sorrow: Others for a man never to suffer himselfe to be carryed away by apparances: and to this opinion seemeth this other of ancient Pithagoras to encline,
Nil admirari propè res est una, Numici, Soláque quæ possit facere & seruare beatum.
Sir, nothing t’admire is th’only thing, That may keepe happy, and to happy bring.
which is the end and scope of the Pyrrhonian Sect. Aristotle ascribeth unto magnanimitie, to admire and wonder at nothing. And Archesilaus said, that sufferance, and an upright and inflexible state of judgement, were true felicities; whereas consents and applications, were vices and evils. True it is, that where he establisheth it for a certaine Axiome, he straied from Pyrrhonisme. When the Pirrhonians say, that Ataraxy is the chiefe felicity, which is the immobilitie of judgement, their meaning is not to speak it affirmatively, but the very wavering of their minde, which makes them to shun precipices and downefalls, and to shrowd themselves under the shelter of Calmenes, presents this fantasie unto them, and makes them refuse another. Oh how much doe I desire, that whilst I live, eyther some other learned men, or Justus Lipsius, the most sufficient and learned man now living; of a most polished and judicious wit, true Cosin-germane to my Turnebus, had both will, health and leisure enough, sincerely and exactly, according to their divisions and formes, to collect into on volume or register, as much as by us might be seene, the opinions of ancient Philosophie, concerning the subject of our being and customs, their controversies, the credite, and partaking of factions and sides, the application of the Authors and Sectators lives, to their precepts, in memorable and exemplarie accidents. O what a worthie and profitable labor would it be! Besides, if it be from our selves, that we drawe the regiment of our customes, into what a bottomlesse confusion doe we cast our selves? For, what our reason perswades us to be most likely for it, is generally for every man to obey the lawes of his countrie, as is the advise of Socrates, enspired (saith he) by a divine perswasion. And what else meaneth she thereby, but onely that our devoire or duety hath no other rule, but casuall? Truth ought to have a like and universall visage throughout the world. Law and justice, if man knewe any, that had a body and true essence, hee would not fasten it to the condition of this or that countries customes. It is not according to the Persians or Indians fantazie, that vertue should take hir forme. Nothing is more subject unto a continuall agitation, then the lawes. I have since I was borne, seene those of our neighbors the English-men changed and rechanged three or foure times, not onely in politike subjects, which is, that some will dispence of constancie, but in the most important subject, that possibly can be, that is to say in religion, whereof I am so much the more both grieved and ashamed, because it is a nation, with which my countriemen have heretofore had so inwarde and familiar acquaintaunce, that even to this day, there remaine in my house some ancient monuments of our former aliance. Nay I have seene amongst our selves some things become lawfull, which erst were deemed capitall: and we that hold some others, are likewise in possibilitie, according to the uncertaintie of warring fortune, one day or other, to be offendors against the Majestie both of God and man, if our justice chance to fall under the mercy of injustice; and in the space of few yeares possession, taking a contrary essence. How could that ancient God more evidently accuse, in humane knowledge, the ignorance of divine essence, and teach men that their religion was but a peece of their owne invention, fit to combine their societie, then in declaring (as he did) to those which sought the instruction of it, by his sacred Cauldron, that the true worshiping of God, was that, which he found to be observed by the custome of the place, where he lived? Oh God, what bond, or dutie is it, that we owe not unto our Soveraigne Creators benignitie, in that he hath beene pleased to cleare and enfranchize our beliefe from those vagabonding and arbitrary devotions, and fixt it upon the eternall Base of his holy word? What will Philosophie then say to us in this necessity? that we follow the lawes of our country, that is to say, this waving sea of a peoples or of a Princes opinions, which shall paint me forth justice with as many colours, and reforme the same into as many visages as there are changes and alterations of passions in them. I cannot have my judgement so flexible. What goodnesse is that, which but yesterday I saw in credite and esteeme, and to morrow, to have lost all reputation, and that the breadth of a River, is made a crime? What truth is that, which these Mountaines bound, and is a lie in the World beyond them? But they are pleasant, when to allow the Laws some certainetie, they say, that there be some firme, perpetuall and immoveable, which they call naturall, and by the condition of their proper essence, are imprinted in man-kinde: of which some make three in number, some foure some more, some lesse: an evident token, that it is a marke as doubtfull as the rest. Now are they so unfortunate (for, how can I terme that but misfortune, that of so infinite a number of lawes, there is not so much as one to be found, which the fortune or temeritie of chance hath graunted to be universally received, and by the consent and unanimitie of all nations to be admitted?) They are (I say) so miserable, that of these three or foure choise-selected lawes, there is not one alone, that is not impugned or disallowed, not by one nation, but by many. Now is the generalitie of approbation, the onely likely ensigne, by which they may argue some lawes to be naturall: For, what nature had indeede ordained us, that should we doubtlesse follow with one common consent; and not one onely nation, but every man in particular, should have a feeling of the force and violence, which he should urge him with, that would incite him to contrary and resist that Law. Let them all (for examples sake) shew me but one of this condition. Protagoras and Ariston gave the justice of the lawes no other essence, but the authoritie and opinion of the Law-giver, and that excepted, both Good and Honest lost their qualities, and remained but vaine and idle names, of indifferent things. Thrasymachus in Plato, thinkes there is no other right, but the commoditie of the superiour. There is nothing wherein the world differeth so much, as in customes and lawes. Some things are here accompted abhominable, which in another place are esteemed commendable: as in Lacedemonia, the slight and subteltie in stealing. Mariages in proximitie of blood are amongst us forbidden as capitall, elsewhere they are alowed and esteemed;
gentes esse feruntur, In quibus & nato genitrix, & nata parenti Iungitur, & pietas geminato crescit amore.
There are some people, where the mother weddeth Hir sonne, the daughter hir owne father beddeth, And so by doubled love, their kindnesse spreddeth.
the murthering of children and of parents; the communication with women; traffike of robbing and stealing; free licence to all maner of sensualitie: to conclude, there is nothing so extreame and horrible, but is found to be received and allowed by the custome of some nation. It is credible that there be naturall lawes; as may be seene in other creatures, but in us they are lost: this goodly humane reason engrafting it selfe among all men, to sway and command, confounding and topsie-turving the visage of all things, according to her inconstant vanitie and vaine inconstancie. Nihil itaque amplius nostrum est, quod nostrum dico, artis est. Therefore nothing more is ours: all that I call ours, belongs to Arte. Subjects have divers lustres, and severall considerations, whence the diversitie of opinions is chiefly engendred. One nation vieweth a subject with one visage, and thereon it stayes; an other with an other. Nothing can be imagined so horrible, as for one to eate and devoure his owne father. Those people, which antiently kept this custome, holde it neverthelesse for a testimonie of pietie and good affection: seeking by that meane to give their fathers the worthiest and most honorable sepulchre, harboring their fathers bodies and reliques in themselves and in their marrow; in some sorte reviving and regenerating them by the transmutation made in their quicke flesh, by digestion and nourishment. It is easie to be considered what abhomination and crueltie it had beene, in men accustomed and trained in this inhumane superstition, to cast the carcasses of their parents into the corruption of the earth, as foode for beasts and wormes. Lycurgus wisely considered in theft, the vivacitie, diligence, courage, and nimblenesse, that is required in surprising or taking any thing from ones neighbour, and the commoditie which thereby redoundeth to the common wealth, that every man heedeth more curiously the keeping of that which is his owne: and judged, that by this twofold institution to assaile and to defend, much good was drawne for military discipline (which was the principall Science and chiefe vertue, wherein he would enable that nation) of greater respect and more consideration, then was the disorder and injustice of prevailing and taking other mens goods. Dionisius the tyrant offered Plato a robe made after the Persian fashion, long, damasked and perfumed: But he refused the same, saying, that being borne a man, he would not willingly put-on a womans garment: But Aristippus tooke it, with this answere, that no garment could corrupt a chaste minde. His friends reproved his demissnesse, in being so little offended, that Dionisius had spitten in his face. Tut tut (said he) Fishers suffer themselves to be washed over head and eares, to get a gudgion. Diogenes washing of coleworts for his dinner, seeing him passe by, said unto him, If thou couldest live with coleworts, thou wouldest not court and faune upon a tyrant; to whom Aristippus replied; If thou couldest live among men, thou wouldest not wash coleworts. See here how reason yeeldeth apparance to divers effects. It is a pitcher with two eares, which a man may take hold-on, either by the right or left hand.
bellum ô terra hospita portas, Bello armantur equi, bellum hæc armenta minantur: Sed tamen iidem molim curru succedere sueti Quadrupedes, & fræna iugo concordia ferre, Spes est pacis.
O stranger-harb’ring land, thou bringst us warre; Steed’s serve for warre; These heard’s do threaten jarre. Yet horses erst were wont to drawe our waines, And harnest matches beare agreeing raines; Hope is hereby that wee, In peace shall well agree.
Solon being importuned not to shed vaine and bootles teares for the death of his sonne; That’s the reason (answered hee) I may more justly shed them, because they are bootelesse and vaine. Socrates his wife, exasperated hir griefe by this circumstance; Good Lord (saide she) how unjustly doe these bad judges put men to death! What? Wouldest thou rather they should execute me justly? Replide he to hir. It is a fashion amongst us to have holes bored in our eares: the Greekes held it for a badge of bondage. We hide our selves when we will enjoy our wives: The Indians doe it in open view of all men. The Scithians were wont to sacrifice strangers in their Temples, whereas in other places Churches are Sanctuaries for them.
Inde furor uulgi, quòd numina uicinorum Oit quisque locus, cùm solos credat habendos Esse Deos quos ipse colit.
The vulgar hereupon doth rage, because Each place doth hate their neighbours soveraigne lawes, And onely Gods doth deeme, Those Gods themselves esteeme.
I have heard it reported of a Judge, who when he met with any sharp conflict betweene Bartolus and Baldus, or with any case admitting contrariety, was wont to write in the margin of his booke, A question for a friend, which is to say, that the truth was so entangled, and disputable, that in such a case he might favour which party he should thinke good. There was no want but of spirit and sufficiency, if he set not every where through his books, A Question for a friend. The Advocates and Judges of our time find in all cases byases too-too-many, to fit them where they thinke good. To so infinite a science, depending on the authority of so many opinions, and of so arbitrary a subject, it cannot be, but that an exceeding confusion of judgements must arise. There are very few processes so cleere, but the Lawiers advises upon them will be found to differ: What one company hath judged, another will adjudge the contrary, and the very same will another time change opinion. Whereof wee see ordinarie examples by this licence, which woonderfully blemisheth the authoritie and lustre of our Law, never to stay upon one sentence, but to run from one to another Judge, to decide one same case. Touching the liberty of Philosophicall opinions, concerning vice and vertue, it is a thing needing no great extension, and wherin are found many advises, which were better unspoken, then published to weake capacities. Arcesilaus was wont to say, that in pailliardize, it was not worthy consideration, where, on what side, and how it was done. Et obscœnas uoluptates, si natura requirit, non genere, aut loco, aut ordine, sed forma, ætate, figura metiendas Epicurus putat. Ne amores quidem sanctos à sapiente alienos esse arbitrantur. Quæramus ad quam usque ætatem iuuenes amandi sint. Obscene pleasures, if nature require them, the Epicure esteemeth not to be measured by kinde, place, or order; but by forme, age, and fashion. Nor doth he thinke that holy loves should be strange from a wise man. Let us then question to what yeares yoong folke may be beloved. These two last Stoicke-places, and upon this purpose, the reproch of Diogarchus to Plato himselfe, shew how many excessive licenses, and out of common use, soundest Philosophie doth tolerate. Lawes take their authority from possession and custome: It is dangerous to reduce them to their beginning: In rowling on, they swell, and grow greater and greater, as do our rivers: follow them upward, unto their sourse, and you shall find them but a bubble of water, scarse to be discerned, which in gliding-on swelleth so proud, and gathers so much strength. Behold the auncient considerations, which have given the first motion to this famous torrent, so full of dignitie, of honour and reverence, you shall finde them so light and weake, that these men which will weigh all, and complaine of reason, and who receive nothing uppon trust and authority, it is no wonder if their judgements are often far-distant from common judgement. Men that take Natures first image for a patterne, it is no marvaile, if in most of their opinions, they misse the common-beaten path. As for example; few amongst them would have approved the forced conditions of our mariages, and most of them would have had women in community, and without any private respect. They refused our ceremonies: Chrysippus said, that some Phylosophers would in open view of all men shew a dozen of tumbling-tricks, yea without any sloppes or breeches, for a dozen of olives. He would hardly have perswaded Clisthenes to refuse his faire daughter Agarista to Hipoclides, because he had seene him graft the forked tree in hir upon a table. Metrocles somewhat indiscreetly, as he was disputing in his Schoole, in presence of his Auditorie let a fart, for shame whereof he afterward kept his house, and could not be drawen abroad, untill such time as Crates went to visite him, who to his perswasions and reasons, adding the example of his liberty) began to fart avie with him, and so removed this scruple from off his conscience: and moreover, wonne him to from the Peripatetike Sect, more civill, to be of the Stoyke Sect, more free, which unto that time he had followed. That which we call civility, not to dare to doe that openly, which amongst us is both lawful and honest, being done in secret, they termed folly: And to play the Wily Foxe, in concealing and disclaiming what nature, custome, and our desire publish and proclaime of our actions, they deemed to be a vice. And thought it a suppressing of Venus hir mysteries, to remove them from out the private vestry of hir Temple, and expose them to the open view of the people. And that to draw his sports from out the Curtines, was to loose them. Shame is matter of some consequence. Concealing, reservation, and circumspection, are parts of estimation. That, sensuality under the maske of Vertue did very ingeniously procure not to be prostituted in the midst of high waies, not trodden upon, and seene by the common sort; alledging the dignity and commoditie of her wonted Cabinets. Whereupon some say, that to forbid and remoove the common brothel-houses, is not only to spread whoredome every where, which only was alotted to those places, but also to incite idle and vagabond men to that vice, by reason of the difficulty.
Mœchus es Aufidiæ qui uir Coruine fuisti, Rivalis fuerat qui tuus, ille vir est. Cur aliena placet tibi, quæ tua non placet uxor? Nunquid securus non potes arrigere?
This experience is diversified by a thousand examples.
Nullus in Orbe fuit tota, qui tangere uellet Uxorem gratis Cæciliane tuam, Dum licuit: sed nunc positis custodibus, ingens Turba fututorum est. Ingeniosus homo es.
A Phylosopher being taken with the deede, was demaunded, what he did: answered very mildely, I plant man, blushing no more being found so napping, then if he had bin taken setting of Garlike. It is (as I suppose) of a tender and respectiue opinion, that a notable and religious Authour, holds this action so necessarily-bound to secrecy and shame, that in Cynike embracements and dalliances, hee could not be perswaded that the worke should come to hir end; but rather, that it lingred and staid, only to represent wanton gestures, and lascivious motions, to maintaine the impudencie of their schooles-profession: and that to powre forth what shame had forced and bashfulnesse restrained, they had also afterward neede to seeke some secret place. He had not seene farre-enough into their licenciousnesse: For, Diogenes in sight of all, exercising his Maisterbation, bredde a longing-desire, in presence of all, in the by-standers, that in such sort they might fill their bellies by rubbing or clawing the same. To those that asked him, why he sought for no fitter place to feede in, then in the open frequented high way, he made answere, It is because I am hungry in the open frequented high-way. The Philosophers Women, which medled with their Sects, did likewise in all places, and without any discretion meddle with their bodies: And Crates had never received Hipparchia into his fellowship, but upon condition, to follow all the customes and fashions of his order. These Phylosophers set an extreame rate on vertue; and rejected al other disciplines, except the morall; yet is it, that in all actions, they ascribed the Soveraigne authority to the election of their wise, yea, and above al lawes: and appoynted no other restraint unto voluptuousnesse, but the moderation, and preservation of others liberty. Heraclitus and Protagoras, forsomuch as wine seemeth bitter unto the sicke, and pleasing to the healthy; and an Oare crooked in the water, and straight to those that see it above water, and such-like contrary apparances, which are sound in some subjects; argued that all subjects had the causes of these apparances in them; and that, there was some kinde of bitternesse in the wine, which had a reference unto the sickmans taste; in the Oare a certaine crooked quality, having relation to him that seeth it in the Water. And so of all things else. Which implieth, that all is in all things, and by consequence nothing in any: for, either nothing is, or all is. This opinion put me in minde of the experience we have, that there is not any one sence or visage, either straight or crooked, bitter or sweete, but mans wit shall find in the writings, which he undertaketh to runne over. In the purest, most unspotted, and most absolutely-perfect-worde, that possibly can be, how many errors, falshoods, and lies have bin made to proceede from-it? What heresie hath not found testimonies and ground sufficient, both to undertake and to maintaine it self? It is therefore, that the Authors of such errours will never go from this proofe of the Testimony of words interpretation: a man of worth, going about by authority to approve the search of the philosophers stone, (wherein he was overwhelmd) aleaged at least five or six several passages out of the holy bible unto me, upon which (he said) he had at first grounded himselfe, for the discharge of his conscience (for he is a man of the Ecclesiastical profession) and truely, the invention of them, was not only pleasant, but also very fitly applied to the defence of this goodly and mind-inchanting science. This way is the credit of divining fables attained to. There is no prognosticator, if he have but this authority, that any one wil but voutsafe to reade him over, and curiously to search all the infoldings and lustres of his words, but a man shal make him say what he pleaseth, as the Sibilles. There are so many meanes of interpretation, that it is hard, be it flat-ling, side-ling, or edge-ling, but an ingenious and pregnant wit, shall in all subjects meete with some ayre, that will fit his turne. Therefore is a clowdy, darke, and ambiguous stile found in so frequent and ancient custome. That the Author may gaine, to draw, allure, and busie posterity to himselfe, which not only the sufficiency, but the casual favor of the matter, may gaine as much or more. As for other matters, let him, be it eyther through foolishnesse or subtiltie, shew himselfe somewhat obscure and diverse, it is no matter, care not he for that. A number of spirits sifting, and tossing him-over, wil finde and expresse sundrie formes, eyther according, or collaterally, or contrary to his owne, all which shall doe him credite. He shall see himselfe enriched by the means of his Disciples, as the Grammer Schoole Maisters. It is that, which hath made many things of nothing, to passe very currant, that hath brought divers bookes in credite, and charged with all sorts of matter, that any hath but desired: one selfe same thing, admitting a thousand and a thousand, and as many several images, and divers considerations, as it best pleaseth us. Is it possible, that ever Homer meant all that, which some make him to have meant. And that he prostrated himselfe to so many, and so severall shapes, as, Divines, Lawyers, Captains, Philosophers and al sorts of people else, which, how diversly and contrary soever it be, they treate of sciences, do notwithstanding wholy relie upon him, and refer them-selves unto him; as a Generall Maister for all offices, works, sciences, and tradesmen and an universal counsellor in al enterprises? whosoever hath had need of Oracles or Predictions, and would apply them to himselfe, hath found them in him for his purpose. A notable man, and a good frind of mine, would make one marvel to heare what strange far-fetcht conceites, and admirable affinities, in favor of our religion, he maketh to derive from him; And can hardly be drawne from this opinion, but that such was Homers intent and meaning (yet is Homer so familiar unto him, as I thinke no man of our age is better acquainted with him.) And what he findes in favor of religion, many ancient learned men, have found in favor of theirs. See how Plato is tossed and turned over, every man endevoring to apply him to his purpose, giveth him what construction he list. He is wrested and inserted to all new-fangled opinions, that the world receiveth or alloweth of, and according to the different course of subjects is made to be repugnant unto himselfe. Every one according to his sense makes him to disavowe the customes that were lawfull in his daies, in asmuch as they are unlawfull in these times. All which is very lively and strongly maintained, according as the wit and learning of the interpreter is strong and quicke. Upon the ground which Heraclitus had, and that sentence of his; that all things had those shapes in them, which men found in them. And Democritus out of the very same drew a cleane contrarie conclusion, id est, that subjects had nothing at all in them of that which we found in them; And forasmuch as honny was sweete to one man, and bitter to another, hee argued that honny was neither sweete nor bitter. The Pyrrhonians would say, they know not whether it be sweete or bitter, or both, or neither: For, they ever gaine the highest point of doubting. The Cyrenayans held, that nothing was perceptible outwardly, and onely that was perceivable, which by the inward touch or feeling, touched or concerned us, as griefe and sensualitie, distinguishing neither tune, nor collours, but onely certaine affections, that came to us of them; and that man had no other seate of his judgement. Protagoras deemed, that to be true to all men, which to all men seemeth so. The Epicurians, place all judgement in the senses, and in the notice of things, and in voluptuousnes. Platoes minde was, that the judgement of truth, and truth it selfe drawne from opinions and senses, belonged to the spirit, and to cogitation. This discourse hath drawne me to the consideration of the senses, wherein consisteth the greatest foundation and triall of our ignorance. Whatsoever is knowne, is without all peradventure knowne by the facultie of the knower: For, since the judgment commeth from the operation of him that judgeth, reason requireth, that he performe and act this operation by his meanes and will, and not by others compulsion: As it would follow if we knewe things by the force, and according to the law of their essence. Now all knowledge is addressed into us by the senses, they are our maisters:
via qua munit a fidei Proxima fert humanum in pectus, templáque mentis:
Whereby a way for credit lead’s well-linde Into mans breast and temple of his minde.
Science begins by them and in them is resolved. After all, we should knowe no more then a stone, unles we know, that there is, sound, smel, light, savor, measure, weight, softnes, hardnes, sharpnes, colour, smoothnes, breadth and depth. Behold here the platforme of all the frame, and principles of the building of all our knowledge. And according to some, science is nothing else, but what is knowne by the senses. Whosoever can force me to contradict my senses, hath me fast by the throate, and can not make me recoyle one foote backward. The senses are the beginning and end of humane knowledge.
Inuenies primis ab sensibus esse creatam Notitiam ueri, neque sensus posse refelli. Quid maiore fide porro quàm sensus haberi Debet?
You shall finde knowledge of the truth at first was bred From our first senses, nor can senses be misse-led. What, then our senses, should With us more credit hold?
Attribute as litle as may be unto them, yet must this ever be granted them, that all our instruction is adressed by their means and intermission. Cicero saith, that Chrysippus having assaid to abate the power of his senses, and of their vertue, presented contrarie arguments unto him selfe, and so vehement oppositions, that he could not satisfie himselfe. Whereupon Carneades (who defended the contrarie part) boasted, that he used the very same weapons and words of Chrysippus to combate against him; and therefore cried out upon him. Oh miserable man! thine owne strength hath failed thee. There is no greater absurditie in our judgement, then to maintaine, that fire heateth not, that light shineth not, that in yron there is neither weight nor firmenes, which are notices our senses bring unto us: Nor beliefe or science in man, that may be compared unto that, in certaintie. The first consideration I have upon the senses subject, is, that I make a question, whether man be provided of all naturall senses, or no. I see divers creatures, that live an entire and perfect life, some without sight, and some without hearing; who knoweth whether wee also want either one, two, three, or many senses more: For, if we want any one, our discourse cannot discover the want or defect thereof. It is the senses priviledge, to be the extreame boundes of our perceiving. There is nothing beyond them, that may steade us to discover them: No one sense can discover another.
An poterunt oculos aures reprehendere, an aures Tactus, an hunc porro tactum sapor arguet oris, An confutabunt nares, oculíve reuincent?
Can eares the eyes, or can touch reprehend The eares, or shal mouths-taste that touch amend? Shall our nose it confute, Or eyes gainst it dispute?
They all make the extreamest line of our facultie.
seorsum cuíque potestas Diuisa est, sua uis cuique est.
To each distinctly might Is shar’de, each hath it’s right.
It is impossible to make a man naturally blind, to conceive that he seeth not; impossible to make him desire to see, and sorrow his defect. Therefore ought we not to take assurance, that our minde is contented and satisfied with those we have, seeing it hath not wherewith to feele hir owne maladie, and perceive hir imperfection, if it be in any. It is impossible to tell that blinde man any thing, either by discourse, argument or similitude, that lodgeth any apprehension of light, collour, or sight in his imagination. There is nothing more backward, that may push the senses to any evidence. The blind-borne, which we perceive desire to see, it is not to understand what they require; they have learn’t of us, that something they want, and something they desire, that is in us, with the effects and consequences thereof, which they call good: Yet wot not they what it is, nor apprehend they it neare or farre. I have seene a Gentleman of a good house, borne blinde, at least blinde in such an age, that he knowes not what sight is; he understandeth so little what he wanteth, that as we doe, he useth words fitting sight, and applieth them after a manner onely proper and peculiar to himselfe. A child being brought before him, to whom he was godfather, taking him in his armes, he said, good Lord what a fine child this is! it is a goodly thing to see him: What a cheerefull countenance he hath, how prettily he looketh. Hee will say as one of us. This hall hath a faire prospect: It is very faire weather: The Sunne shines cleare. Nay, which is more; because hunting, hawking, tennis-play, and shuting at buts are our common sportes and exercises (for so he hath heard) his minde will be so affected unto them, and he will so busie himselfe about them, that hee will thinke to have as great an interest in them, as any of us, and shew himselfe as earnestly passionate, both in liking and disliking them as any else; yet doth he conceive and receive them but by hearing. If he be in a faire champian ground, where he may ride, they will tell him, yonder is a Hare started, or the Hare is killed, hee is as busily earnest of his game, as he heareth others to be, that have perfect sight. Give him a ball, hee takes it in the left hand, and with the right streekes it away with his racket; In a piece he shutes at randome; and is well pleased with what his men tell him, be it high or wide. Who
knowes whether man-kind commit as great a folly, for want of some sense, and that by this default, the greater part of the visage of things be concealed from us? Who knowes whether the difficulties we find in sundrie of Natures workes, proceede thence? And whether divers effects of beasts, which exceede our capacitie, are produced by the facultie of some sense, that we want? And whether some of them, have by that meane a fuller and more perfect life then ours? We seize on an apple wel-nigh with all our senses? We finde rednes, smoothnes, odor and sweetnes in it; besides which, it may have other vertues, either binding or restrictive, to which we have no sense to be referred. The proprieties which in many things we call secret, as in the Adamant to drawe yron, it is not likely there should be sensitive faculties in nature able to judge and perceive them, the want whereof breedeth in us the ignorance of the true essence of such things? It is happily some particular sense that unto Cockes or Chanticleares discovereth the morning and midnight houre, and mooveth them to crowe: That teacheth a Hen, before any use or experience, to feare a Hawke, and not a Goose or a Peacocke, farre greater birds: That warneth yong chickins of the hostile qualitie which the Cat hath against them, and not to distrust a Dog; to strut and arme themselves against the mewing of the one (in some sort a flattering and milde voyce) and not against the barking of the other (a snarling and quarrelous voice:) that instructeth Rats, Wasps, and Emmets, ever to chuse the best cheese and frute, having never tasted them before: And that addresseth the Stag, the Elephant, and the Serpent, to the knowledge of certaine herbs and simples, which, being either wounded or sicke, have the vertue to cure them. There is no sence but hath some great domination, and which by his meane affordeth not an infinite number of knowledges. If we were to report the inteligence of soundes, of harmony and of the voyce, it would bring an imaginable confusion to all the rest of our learning and science. For, besides what is tyed to the proper effect of every sense, how many arguments, consequences and conclusions draw we unto other things, by comparing one sense to another? Let a skilfull wise man but imagine humane nature to be originally produced without sight and discourse, how much ignorance and trouble such a defect would bring unto him, and what obscurity and blindnesse in our minde: By that shall we perceiue, how much the privation of one, or two, or three such senses, (if there be any in us) doth import us about the knowledge of truth. We have by the consultation and concurrence of our five senses formed one Verity, whereas peradventure there was required the accord and consent of eight or ten senses, and their contribution, to attaine a perspicuous insight of hir, and see her in her true essence. Those Sects which combate mans science, do principally combate the same by the uncetainty and feeblenes of our sences: For, since by their meane and intermission al knowledge comes unto us, if they chaunce to misse in the report they make unto us, if eyther they corrupt or alter that, which from abroade they bring unto us, if the light which by them is transported into our soule bee obscured in the passage, wee have nothing else to holde by. From this extreame difficultie are sprung all these fantazies, which everie Subject containeth, whatsoever wee finde in it: That it hath not what wee suppose to finde in it: And that of the Epycurians, which is, that the Sunne is no greater than our sight doth judge it,
Quicquid id est, nihilo fortur maiore figura, Quàm nostris oculis quam cernimus esse uidetur.
What ere it be, it in no greater forme doth passe, Then to our eyes, which it behold, it seeming was.
that the apparances, which represent a great body, to him that is neare unto them, and a much lesser to him that is further from them, are both true;
Nec tamen hic oculis falli concedimus hilum: Proinde animi uitium hoc oculis adfingere noli.
Yet graunt we not in this our eyes deceiv’d or blind, Impute not then to eyes this error of the mind.
and resolutely, that there is no deceit in the senses: That a man must stand to their mercie, and elsewhere seeke reasons to excuse the difference and contradiction we find in them; yea invent all other untruths, and raving conceites (so farre come they) rather then accuse the causes. Timagoras swore, that howsoever he winked or turned his eyes, he could never perceive the light of the candle to double: And that this seeming proceeded from the vice of opinion, and not from the instrument. Of all absurdities, the most absurd amongst the Epicurians, is, to disavowe the force and effect of the senses.
Proinde quod in quoque est his uisum tempore, uerum est. Et si non potuit ratio dissoluere causam, Cur ea quæ fuerint iuxtim quadrata, procul sint Visa rotunda: tamen præstat rationis egentem Reddere mendosè causas utriúsque figuræ, Quàm manibus manifesta suis emittere quoquam, Et uiolare fidem primam, & conuellere tota Fundamenta, quibus nixatur uita salúsque. Non modò enim ratio ruat omnis, uita quoque ipsa Concidat extemplo, nisi credere sensibus ausis, Præcipitésque locos uitare, & cætera quæsint In genere hoc fugienda.
What by the eyes is seene at any time, is true, Though the cause Reason could not render of the view, Why what was square at hand, a farre-off seemed round, Yet it much better were, that wanting reasons ground The causes of both formes we harp-on, but not hit, Then let slip from our hands things cleare, and them omit, And violate our first beliefe, and rashly rend All those ground-works, whereon both life and health depend, For not alone all reasons falls, life likewise must Faile out of hand, unlesse your senses you dare trust, And break-necke places, and all other errors shunne, From which we in this kinde most carefully should runne.
This desperate and so little-philosophicall counsell, represents no other thing, but that humane science cannot be maintained but by unreasonable, fond and mad reason; yet is it better, that man use it to prevaile, yea and of all other remedies else how fantasticall soever they be, rather then avow his necessarie foolishnes: So prejudiciall and disadvantageous a veritie hee cannot avoyde, but senses must necessarily be the soveraigne maisters of his knowledge: But they are uncertaine and falsifiable to all circumstances: There, must a man strike to the utmost of his power, and if his just forces faile him (as they are wont) to use and employ obstinacie, temeritie and impudencie. If that which the Epicurians affirme, be true, that is to say, we have no science, if the apparances of the senses be false, and that which the Stoicks say, that it is also true, that the senses apparances are so false, as they can produce us no science: We wil conclude at the charges of these two great Dogmatist Sects, that there is no science. Touching the error and uncertaintie of the senses operation, a man may store himselfe with as many examples as hee pleaseth, so ordinarie are the faults and deceits they use towards us. And the ecchoing or reporting of a valley, the sound of a Trumpet seemeth to sound before us, which commeth a mile behinde us.
Extantésque procul medio de gurgite montes Iidem apparent longe diversi licet. Et fugere ad puppim colles campíque uidentur Quos agimus propter nauim. ubi in medio nobis equus acer obhæsit Flumine, equi corpus transuersum ferre uidetur Vis, & in aduersum flumen contrudere raptim.
And hilles, which from the maine far-off to kenning stand, Appeare all one, though they farre distant be at hand. And hilles and fields doe seeme unto our bote to fly, Which we drive by our bote as we doe passe thereby. When in midst of a streame a stately Horse doth stay, The stream’s orethwarting seems his body crosse to sway, And swiftly gainst the streame to thrust him th’other way.
To roule a bullet under the fore-finger, the midlemost being put over-it, a man must very much enforce himselfe, to affirme there is but one, so assuredly doth our sense present us two. That the senses doe often maister our discourse, and force it to receive impressions, which he knoweth and judgeth to be false, it is dayly seene. I leave the sense of feeling, which hath his functions neerer, more quicke and substantiall, and which by the effect of the griefe or paine it brings to the body doth so often confound and re-enverse all these goodly Stoicall resolutions, and enforceth him, who with all resolution hath established this Dogma or doctrine in his minde, to crie out of the belly aketh, and that the cholike, as every other sicknesse or paine, is a thing indifferent, wanting power to abate any thing of Soveraigne good or chiefe felicitie, wherein the wise man is placed by his owne vertue. There is no heart so demisse, but the rattling sound of a drumme; or the clang of a trumpet, will rowze and enflame; nor minde so harsh and sterne, but the sweetenesse and harmonie of musike, will moove and tickle; nor any soule so skittish and stubborne, that hath not a feeling of some reverence, in considering the clowdy vastitie and gloomie canapies of our churches, the eye-pleasing diversitie of ornaments, and orderly order of our ceremonies, and hearing the devout and religious sound of our Organs, the moderate, simphoniall, and heavenly harmonie of our voices: Even those that enter into them with an obstinate will and contemning minde, have in their heart a feeling of remorse, of chilnesse, and horrour, that puts them into a certaine diffidence of their former opinions. As for me, I distrust mine owne strength, to heare with a settled minde some of Horace or Catullus verses sung with a sufficiently well tuned voice, uttered by, and proceeding from a faire, yong, and hart-alluring mouth. And Zeno had reason to say, that the voice was the flower of beauty. Some have gone about to make me believe, that a man, who most of us French men know, in repeating certaine verses he had made, had imposed upon me, that they were not such in writing, as in the aire, and that mine eyes would judge of them otherwise then mine eares: so much credite hath pronuntiation to give prise and fashion to those workes that passe her mercie: Whereuppon Philoxenus was not to be blamed, when hearing one to give an ill accent to some composition of his, hee tooke in a rage some of his pottes or brickes, and breaking them, trode and trampled them under his feete, saying unto him, I breake and trample what is thine, even as thou manglest and marrest what is mine. Wherefore did they (who with an undanted resolve have procured their owne death, because they would not see the blow or stroke comming) turne their face away? And those who for their healths sake cause themselves to be cut and cauterized, cannot endure the sight of the preparations, tooles, instruments and workes of the Chirurgion, but because the sight should have no part of the paine or smart? Are not these fit examples to verifie the authoritie, which senses have over discourse? We may long-enough know that such a ones lockes or flaring-tresses are borrowed of a Page, or taken from some Lacky, that this faire ruby-red came from Spaine, and this whitenesse or smoothnes from the Ocean sea: yet must sight force us to find, and deeme the subject more lovely and more pleasing, against all reason. For, in that there is nothing of it’s owne,
Auferimur cultu gemmis, aurôque teguntur Crimina, pars minima est ipsa puella sui. Sæpe ubi sit quod ames inter tam multa requiras: Decipit hæc oculos Ægide, diues amor.
We are misse-led by ornaments, what is amisse Gold and gemmes cover, least part of her selfe the mayden is. Mongst things so many you may aske, where your love lies, Rich love by this Gorgonian shield deceives thine eyes.
How much doe Poets ascribe unto the vertue of the senses, which make Narcissus to have even fondly lost himselfe for the love of his shadow?
Cunctáque miratur, quibus est mirabilis ipse, Se cupit imprudens, & qui probat, ipse probatur, Dúmque petit, petitur: paritérque accendit & ardet.
He all admires, whereby himselfe is admirable, Fond he, fond of himselfe, to himselfe amiable, He, that doth like, is lik’t, and while he doth desire; He is desired, at once he burnes and sets on fire.
and Pigmaleons wits so troubled by the impression of the sight of his yvory statue that he loveth and serves it, as if it had life:
Oscula dat, reddíque putat, sequitúrque tenétque Et credit tactis digitos insidere membris, Et metuit pressos ueniat ne liuor in artus.
He kisses, and thinks kisses come againe, He sues, pursues, and holds, beleeves in vaine, His fingers shake where he doth touch the place, And feares lest blacke-and-blew toucht lims deface.
Let a Philosopher be put in a Cage made of small and thin-set yron-wyre, and hanged on the top of our Ladies Church steeple in Paris; he shall, by evident reason, perceive that it is impossible he should fall downe out of it; yet can he not chuse (except he have beene brought up in the trade of Tilers or Thatchers) but the sight of that exceeding height must needes dazle his sight, and amaze or turne his senses. For, we have much adoe to warrant our selves in the walkes or battlements of an high tower or steeple, if they be battlemented and wrought with pillers, and somewhat wide one from another, although of stone, and never so strong. Nay some there are, that can scarcely thinke or heare of such heights. Let a beame or planke be laide acrosse from one of those two steeples to the other, as big, as thicke, as strong, and as broade, as would suffice any man to walke safely upon it, there is no Philosophicall wisedome of so great resolution and constancie, that is able to encourage and perswade us to march upon it, as we would, were it belowe on the ground. I have sometimes made triall of it upon our mountaines on this side of Italie, yet am I one of those that wil not easily be afrighted with such things, and I could not without horror to my minde, and trembling of legges and thighes endure to looke on those infinit precipises and steepie downefalles, though I were not neere the brim, nor any daunger within my length, and more; and unlesse I had willingly gone to the perill, I could not possiblie have falne. Where I also noted, that how deepe soever the bottom were, if but a tree, a shrub, or any out-butting crag of a Rocke presented it selfe unto our eyes, upon those steepie and high Alpes, somewhat to uphold the sight, and divide the same, it doth somewhat ease and assure us from feare, as if it were a thing, which in our fall might either helpe or uphold us: And that we cannot without some dread and giddines in the head, so much as abide to looke upon one of those even and down-right precipises: Vt despici sine uertigine simul oculorum animíque non possit. So as they can not looke downe without giddines both of eyes and mindes: Which is an evident deception of the sight. Therefore was it, that a worthy Philosopher pulled out his eies, that so he might discharge his soule of the debauching and diverting he received by them, and the better and more freely apply himselfe unto philosophie. But by this accompt, he should also have stopped his eares, which (as Theophrastus said) are the most dangerous instruments we have to receive violent and sodaine impressions to trouble and alter us, and should, in the end, have deprived himselfe of all his other senses, that is to say, both of his being, and life. For, they have the power to commaund our discourse and sway our mind: Fit etiam sæpe specie quadam, sæpe uocum grauitate & cantibus, ut pellantur animi uehementius: sæpe etiam cura & timore. It comes to passe, that many times our minds are much mooved with some shadow, many times with deep-sounding, or singing of voyces, many times with care and feare. Phisitions hold, that there are certaine complexions, which by some soundes and instruments are agitated even unto fury. I have seen some, who without infringing their patience, could not well heare a bone gnawen under their table: and we see few men, but are much troubled at that sharp, harsh, and teethedging noise that Smiths make in filing of brasse, or scraping of yron and steele together: others will be offended, if they but heare one chew his meate somewhat a loude; nay some will be angrie with, or hate a man, that either speakes in the nose, or rattles in the throate. That pyping prompter of Graccus, who mollified, raised, and wound his maisters voice, whilest he was making Orations at Rome; what good did he, if the motion and qualitie of the sound, had not the force to move, and efficacie to alter the auditories judgement? Verily, there is great cause to make so much adoe, and keepe such a coyle about the constancie and firmenes of this goodly piece, which suffers it selfe to be handled, changed, and turned by the motion and accident of so light a winde. The very same cheating and cozening, that senses bring to our understanding, themselves receive it in their turnes. Our minde doth likewise take revenge of it, they lie, they cog, and deceive one another avie. What we see and heare, being passionately transported by anger, we neither see or heare it as it is.
Et solem geminum, & duplices se ostendere Thebas.
That two Sunnes doe appere And double Thebes are there.
The object which we love, seemeth much more fairer unto us, then it is;
Multimodis igitur prauas turpésque uidemus Esse in delitiis, summóque in honore uigere.
We therefore see that those, who many waies are bad, And fowle, are yet belov’d, and in chiefe honor had.
and that much fowler which we loth. To a pensive and hart-grieved man, a cleare day seems gloomie and duskie. Our senses are not only altered, but many times dulled, by the passions of the mind. How many things see we, which we perceive not, if our minde be either busied or distracted else where?
Si non aduertas animum proinde esse, quasi omni Tempore semotæ fuerint, longéque remotæ.
Ev’n in things manifest it may be seene, If you marke not, they are, as they had beene At all times sever’d farre, remooved cleane.
The soule seemeth to retire hir selfe into the inmost parts, and ammuseth the senses faculties: So that both the inward and outward parts of man are full of weakenes and falsehood. Those which have compared our life unto a dreame, have happily had more reason so to doe, then they were aware. When we dreame, our soule liveth, worketh and exerciseth all hir faculties even, and as much, as when it waketh; and if more softly, and obscurely; yet verely not so, as that it may admitte so great a difference, as there is betweene a darke night, and a cleare day: Yea as betweene a night and a shadow: There it sleepeth, here it slumbreth: More or lesse, they are ever darkenesses, yea Chymerian darkenesses. We wake sleeping, and sleepe waking. In my sleepe I see not so cleare; yet can I never finde my waking cleare enough, or without dimnes. Sleepe also in his deepest rest, doth sometimes bring dreames asleepe: But our waking is never so vigilant, as it may cleerely purge and dissipate the ravings or idle fantazies, which are the dreames of the waking, and worse then dreames. Our reason and soule, receiving the fantasies and opinions, which sleeping seize on them, and authorising our dreames-actions, with like approbation, as it doth the daies. Why make we not a doubt, whether our thinking, and our working be another dreaming, and our waking some kinde of sleeping? If the senses be our first iudges, it is not ours that must only be called to counsell: For, in this facultie beasts have as much (or more) right, as we. It is most certaine, that some have their hearing more sharpe then man; others their sight; others their smelling; others their feeling, or taste. Democritus said, that Gods and beasts had the sensitive faculties much more perfect then man. Now betweene the effects of their senses and ours, the difference is extreame. Our spettle cleanseth and drieth our sores, and killeth Serpents.
Tantáque in his rebus distantia differitásque est, Ut quod aliis cibus est, aliis fuat acre venenum. Sæpe etenim serpens, hominis contacta saliva, Disperit, ac sese mandendo conficit ipsa.
There is such distance, and such difference in these things, As what to one is meate, t’another poison brings. For oft a serpent toucht with spittle of a man Doth die, and gnawe it selfe with fretting all he can.
What qualitie shall we give unto spettle, either according to us, or according to the Serpent? By which two senses shall we verifie it’s true essence, which we seeke-for? Plinie saith, that there are certaine Sea-hares in India, that to us are poison, and we bane to them; so that we die, if we but touch them; now whether is man or the Hare poison? Whom shall we beleeve, either the fish of man, or the man of fish? Some quality of the aire infecteth man, which nothing at all hurteth the Oxe: Some other the Oxe, and not man: Which of the two is either in truth, or in nature the pestilent qualitie? Such as are troubled with the yellow jandise, deeme all things they looke upon to be yellowish, which seeme more pale and wan to them then to us.
Lurida præterea fiunt quæcunque tuèntur Arquati.
And all that jaundis’d men behold, They yellow straite or palish holde.
Those which are sicke of the disease which Phisitions call Hyposphragma, which is a suffusion of blood under the skin, imagine that all things they see are bloodie and red. Those humors that so change the sightes operation, what knowe we whether they are predominant and ordinarie in beasts? For, we see some, whose eyes are as yellow as theirs that have the jandise; others, that have them all blood-shotten with rednes. It is likely that the objects-collour they looke upon, seemeth otherwise to them then to us. Which of the two judgements shall be true? For, it is not said, that the essence of things, hath reference to man alone. Hardnes, whitenes, depth and sharpnesse, touch the service and concerne the knowledge of beasts as well as ours: Nature hath given the use of them to them, as well as to us. When we winke a little with our eye, we perceive the bodies we looke upon to seeme longer and outstretched. Many beasts have their eie as winking as we. This length is then happily the true forme of that body, and not that which our eyes give it, being in their ordinarie seate. If we close our eye above things seeme double unto us.
Bina lucernarum florentia lumina flammis, Et duplices hominum facies, & corpora bina.
The lights of candels double flaming then; And faces twaine, and bodies twane of men.
If our eares chance to be hindred by any thing, or that the passage of our hearing be stop’t, we receive the sound otherwise, then we were ordinarily wont. Such beasts as have hearie eares, or that in liew of an eare have but a little hole, doe not by consequence heare that we heare, and receive the sound other then it is. We see at solemne shewes or in Theaters, that opposing any collourd glasse betweene out eyes and the torches light, whatsoever is in the roome seemes or greene, or yellow, or red unto us, according to the collour of the glasse.
Et uulgò faciunt id lutea russaque uela, Et ferruginea cùm magnis intenta theatris Per malos uolgata trabésque trementia pendent: Namque ibi concessum caueai subter, & omnem Scenai speciem, patrum matrúmque deorumque Inficiunt, cogúntque suo uolitare colore,
And yellow, russet, rustie curtaines worke this feate In common sights abroade, where ever skaffolds great Stretched on masts, spred over beames, they hang still waving. All the seates circuit there, and all the stages braving, Of fathers, mothers, Gods, and all the circled showe They double-dide and in their collours make to flowe.
It is likely, that those beasts eyes, which we see to be of diverse colours, produce the apparances of those bodies they looke upon, to be like their eyes. To judge the senses-operation, it were then necessary we were first agreede with beastes, and then betweene our selves; which we are not, but ever-and-anon disputing about that one seeth, heareth or tasteth, something to be other, then indeede it is; and contend as much as about any thing else of the diversity of those images, our senses reporte unto us. A yong childe heareth, seeth, and tasteth otherwise by natures ordinary rule, then a man of thirtie yeares; and he otherwise then another of threescore. The senses are to some more obscure and dimme, and to some more open and quicke. We receive things differently, according as they are, and seeme unto us. Things being then so uncertaine, and full of controversie, it is no longer a wonder if it be told us, that we may avouch snow to seeme white unto us; but to affirme that it is such in essence and in truth, we cannot warrant our selves: which foundation being so shaken, all the Science in the world must necessarily goe to wracke. What? doe our senses themselves hinder one another? To the sight a picture seemeth to be raised aloft, and in the handling flat: Shall we say that muske is pleasing or no, which comforteth our smelling and offendeth out taste? There are Herbs and Ointments, which to some parts of the body are good, and to othersome hurtfull. Honie is pleasing to the taste, but unpleasing to the sight. Those jewels wrought and fashioned like fethers or sprigs, which in impreses are called, fethers without ends, no eye can discerne the bredth of them, and no man warrant himselfe from this deception, that on the one end or side it groweth not broder and broder, sharper and sharper, and on the other more and more narrow, especially being rouled about ones finger, when notwithstanding in handling it seemeth equall in bredth, and every where alike. Those who to encrease and aide their luxury were anciently wont to use perspective or looking glasses, fit to make the object they represented, appeare very big and great, that so the members they were to use, might by that oculare increase please them the more: to whether of the two senses yeelded they, either to the sight presenting those members as big and great as they wisht them, or to the feeling, that presented them little and to be disdained? It is our senses that lend these diverse conditions unto subjects, when for all that, the subjects have but one? as we see in the Bread we eate: it is but Bread, but one using it, it maketh bones, blood, flesh, haire, and nailes thereof:
Vt cibus in membra atque artus cùm diditur omnes Disperit, atque aliam naturam sufficit ex se.
As meate distributed into the members dies, Another nature yet it perrishing supplies.
The moistnesse which the roote of a tree suckes, becomes a trunke, a leafe and fruite: And the aire being but one; applied unto a trumpet, becommeth diverse in a thousand sortes of sounds. Is it our senses (say I) who likewise fashion of diverse qualities those subjects, or whether they have them so and such? And upon this doubt, what may we conclude of their true essence? Moreover, since the accidents of sickenesse, of madnesse, or of sleepe, make things appeare other unto us, then they seeme unto the healthie, unto the wise, and to the waking. Is it not likely, that our right seate and naturall humors, have also wherewith to give a being unto things, having reference unto their condition, and to appropriate them to it selfe, as doe inordinate humours; and our health, as capable to give them his visage, as sickenesse? Why hath not the temperate man some forme of the objects relative unto him-selfe, as the intemperate: and shall not he likewise imprint his Caracter in them? The distasted impute wallowishnesse unto Wine: the healthie, good taste; and the thirstie brisknesse, rellish and delicacie. Now our condition appropriating things unto it selfe, and transforming them to it’s owne humour: we know no more how things are in sooth and truth; For, nothing comes unto us but falsified and altered by our senses. Either the compasse, the quadrant or the ruler are crooked: All proportions drawne by them, and all the buildings erected by their measure, are also necessarily defective and imperfect. The uncertaintie of our senses yeelds what ever they produce, also uncertaine.
Denique ut in fabrica, si prava est regula prima, Normáque si fallax rectis regionibus exit, Et libella aliqua si ex parte claudicat hilum, Omnia mendosè fieri, atque obstipa necessum est, Praua, cubantia prona, supina, atque obsona tecta, Iam ruere ut quædam uideantur uelle, ruántque Prodita iudiciis fallacibus omnia primis. Hic igitur ratio tibi rerum praua necesse est, Falsaque sit falsis quæcunque á sencibus orta est.
As in building if the first rule be to blame, And the deceitfull squire erre from right forme and frame, If any instrument want any jot of weight, All must needes faultie be, and stooping in their height, The building naught, absurd, upward and downeward bended, As if they meant to fall, and fall as they intended; And all this as betrayde by judgements formost laide. Of things the reason therefore needes must faultie bee And false, which from false senses drawes it’s pedegree.
As for the rest, who shall be a competent judge in these differences? As we said in controversies of religion, that we must have a judge enclined to neither party, and free from partialitie, or affection, which is hardly to be had among Christians; so hapneth it in this: For, if he be old, he cannot judge of ages sense; himselfe being a party in this controversie: and so if he be yoong, healthy, sicke sleeping or waking, it is all one: We had neede of some bodie voyde and exempted from all these qualities, that without any preoccupation of judgement might judge of these propositions as indifferent unto him: By which accoumpt wee should have a Judge, that were no man. To judge of the apparances that we receive of subjects, we had neede have a judicatorie instrument to verifie this instrument, we should have demonstration; and to approove demonstration, an instrument: thus are wee ever turning round. Since the senses cannot determine our disputation, themselves being so full of uncertaintie, it must then be reason: And no reason can be established without another reason: then are we ever going backe unto infinity. Our fantasie doth not apply it self to strange things, but is rather conceived by the interposition of senses; and senses cannot comprehend a strange subject; Nay, not so much as their owne passions; and so, nor the fantasie, nor the apparance is the subjects, but rather the passions only, and sufferance of the sense: which passion and subject are divers things: Therefore who judgeth by apparances, judgeth by a thing different from the subject. And to say, that the senses passions, referre the qualitie of strange subjects by resemblance unto the soule: How can the soule and the understanding rest assured of that resemblance, having of it selfe no commerce with forraigne subjects? Even as he that knowes not Socrates, seeing his picture cannot say that it resembleth him. And would a man judge by apparances, be it by all, it is impossible; for, by their contrarieties and differences they hinder one another, as we see by experience. May it be that some choice apparances rule and direct the others? This choyse must be verified by an other choyse, the second by a third: and so shall we never make an end. In few, there is no constant existence, neither of our being, nor of the objects. And we, and our judgement, and al mortal things els, do uncessantly rowle, turne and passe-away. Thus can nothing be certainely established, nor of the one, nor of the other; both the judging and the judged being in continuall alteration and motion. Wee have no communication with being; for every humane nature is ever in the middle betweene being borne and dying; giving nothing of it selfe but an obscure apparance and shaddow, and an uncertaine and weake opinion. And if perhappes you fix your thought to take it’s being; it would be even, as if one should goe about to poyson6 the Water: for, how much the more he shall close and presse that, which by its owne nature is ever gliding, so much the more he shall loose what he would hold and fasten. Thus, seeing all things are subject to passe from one change to another; reason, which therein seeketh a reall subsistance, findes hir selfe deceived as unable to apprehend any thing subsistant and permanent: forsomuch as each thing eyther commeth to a being, and is not yet altogether; or beginneth to dy before it be borne. Plato said, that bodies had never an existence, but indeede a birth, supposing that Homer would have made the Ocean Father, and Thetis Mother of the Gods, thereby to shew-us, that all things are in continuall motion, change and variation. As he saith, a common opinion amongst all the Philosophers before his time; Only Parmenides, excepted, who denied any motion to be in things; of whose power he maketh no small accoumpt. Pythagoras that each thing or matter was ever gliding, and labile. The Stoickes affirme, there is no present time, and that which we call present, is but a conjoyning and assembling of future time and past. Heraclitus averreth, that no man ever entred twise in one same river. Epicarmus avowcheth, that who erewhile borrowed any mony, doth not now owe-it: and that he who yesternight was bidden to dinner this day, commeth to day unbidden; since they are no more themselves, but are become others: and that one mortall substance could not twise be found in one selfe state: for, by the sodainesse and lightnesse of change, sometimes it wasteth, and othertimes it re-assembleth; now it comes, and now it goes; in such sort, that hee who beginneth to be borne, never comes to the perfection of being. For, this being borne commeth never to an end, nor ever stayeth as being at an end; but after the seede proceedeth continually in change and alteration from one to another. As of mans seede, there is first made a shapelesse fruit in the Mothers Wombe, than a shapen Childe, then being out of the Wombe, a sucking babe, afterward he becommeth a ladde, then consequently a striplin, then a full-growne man, then an old man, and in the end an aged decrepite man. So that age and subsequent generation goeth ever undoing and wasting the precedent.
Mutat enim mundi naturam totius ætas, Ex alióque alius status excipere omnia debet, Nec manet illa sui similis res, omnia migrant, Omnia commutat natura & uertere cogit.
Of th’universall world, age doth the nature change, And all things from one state must to another range, No one thing like it selfe remaines, all things doe passe, Nature doth change, and drive to change, each thing that was.
And when wee others do foolishlie feare a kinde of death, when as wee have already past, and dayly passe so many others. For, not only (as Heraclitus said) the death of fire is a generation of ayre; and the death of ayre, a generation of Water. But also we may most evidently see it in our selves. The flower of age dieth, fadeth and fleeteth, when age comes uppon us, and youth endeth in the flower of a full-growne mans age: Childehood in youth, and the first age, dieth in infansie: and yesterday endeth in this day, and to day shall dy in to morrow. And nothing remaineth or ever continueth in one state. For, to proove it, if we should ever continue one and the same, how is it then, that now we rejoyce at one thing, and now at an other? How comes it to passe, we love things contrarie, or we hate them, or we love them, or we blame them? How is it, that we have different affections, holding no more the same sence in the same thought? For, it is not likely, that without alteration we should take other passions, and What admitteth alterations, continueth not the same: and if it be not one self same, than is it not: but rather with being all one, the simple being doth also change, ever becomming other from other. And by consequence Natures senses are deceived and lie falsely; taking what appeareth for what is; for want of truely-knowing what it is that is. But then what is it, that is indeed? That which is eternal, that is to say, that, which never had birth, nor ever shall have end; and to which no time can bring change or cause alteration. For, time is a fleeting thing, and which appeareth as in a shadow, with the matter ever gliding, alwayes fluent, without ever being stable or permanent; to whom rightly belong these termes, Before and After: and it Hath beene, or Shall be. Which at first sight doth manifestly shew, that it is not a thing, which is; for, it were great sottishnesse, and apparant falsehood, to say, that that is which is not yet in being, or that already hath ceased from being. And concerning these wordes, Present, Instant, Even-now, by which it seemes, that especially we uphold and principally ground the inteligence of time; reason discovering the same, dooth forthwith destroy it: for, presently it severeth it asunder, and divideth it into future and past-time, as willing to see it necessarily parted in two. As much happeneth unto nature, which is measured according unto time, which measureth hir: for, no more is there any thing in hir, that remaineth or is subsistent: rather al things in hir are either borne, or ready to be borne, or dying. By meanes whereof, it were a sinne to say of God, who is the only that is, that he was or shalbe: for these wordes are declinations, passages, or Vicissitudes of that, which cannot last, nor continue in being. Wherefore, we must conclude; that onely God is, not according to any measure of time, but according to an immoovable and unmooving eternitie, not measured by time, nor subject to any declination, before whom nothing is, nor nothing shalbe after, nor more new or more recent, but a reall being: which by one only Now or Present, filleth the Ever, and there is nothing that truly is, but he alone: Without saying, he hath beene, or he shalbe, without beginning, and sans ending. To this so religious conclusion of a heathen man, I will only adde this word, taken from a testimonie of the same condition, for an end of this long and periode of this tedious discourse, which might wel furnish me with endlesse matter. Oh, what a vile and abject thing is man (saith he) unlesse he rayse himselfe above humanitie! Observe here a notable speach, and a profitable desire; but likewise absurde. For, to make the handfull greater than the hand, and the embraced greater then the arme; and to hope to straddle more than our legs length; is impossible and monstrous: nor that man should mount over and above himselfe or humanity; for, he cannot see but with his owne eies, nor take holde but with his owne armes. He shall raise himselfe up, if it please God extraordinarily to lend him his helping hand. He may elevate himselfe by forsaking and renouncing his owne meanes, and suffring himselfe to be elevated and raised by meere Heavenly meanes. It is for our Christian faith, not for his Stoicke vertue to pretend or aspire to this divine Metamorphosis, or miraculous transmutation.
- 1Later editions add And they yet produce divers other effects, farre surpassing our capacity, and so farre out of the reach of our imitation, that even our thoughts are unable to conceive them.
- 2Later editions add these three things no way approaching him, having no accesse unto him.
- 3A significant mistake, fixed in later editions: to know much, breedes an occasion to doubt more.
- 4Florio mistook, but later corrected, Montaigne’s où (where) for a ou (or).
- 5The following section, missing here, will be restored in subsequent editions: under the same side, it is a signe of a miserable death: And when a womans naturall line is open, and closes not it angle with the vitall …
- 6Florio mistook Montaigne’s empoigner (to grasp) for empoisoner (to poison). He corrected the error in later editions.
How to cite this page
- Montaigne, Michel de. “An Apologie of Raymond Sebond.” Translated by John Florio. HyperEssays.net. Last modified January 19, 2022. https://hyperessays.net
Translation by John Florio (1603, Public domain). • Last modified on January 19, 2022.