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not to be performed upon one legg; and should smell of oyle, if duly and deservedly handled.
Our first intentions, considering the common interest of truth, resolved to propose it unto the Latin republick and equal judges of Europe, but, owing in the first place this service unto our country, and therein especially unto its ingenuous gentry, we have declared ourselves in a language best conceived. Athough I confess the quality of the subject will sometimes carry us into expressions beyond mere English apprehensions. And, indeed, if elegancy still proceedeth, and English pens maintain that stream we have of late observed to flow from many, we shall, within few years, be fain to learn Latin to understand English, and a work will prove of equal facility in either. Nor have we addressed our pen or style unto the people, (whom books do not redress, and [who] are this way incapable of reduction,) but unto the knowing and leading part of learning. As well understanding (at least probably hoping) except they be watered from higher regions, and fructifying meteors of knowledge, these weeds must lose their alimental sap, and wither of themselves. Whose conserving influence could our endeavours prevent, we should trust the rest unto the scythe of time, and hopeful dominion of truth.
We hope it will not be unconsidered, that we find no open tract, or constant manuduction in this labyrinth, but are ofttimes fain to wander in the America and untravelled parts of truth. For though, not many years past, Dr. Primrose hath made a learned discourse of Vulgar Errors in Physick, yet
expressions beyond, fc.] That our Browne has, in this work, used his best naturall English consistes for the moste endeavours.-Crossley, in London Mag. parte of monosyllables, as appeares hy vol. iv, p. 436. the names of all creatures in our tounge America, &c.] Little more than and all our actions, and in all the parts 150 years had elapsed since the discovery of our bodye, except such things as of America, of which many parts were wee have borrowed from other nations. still untravelled and unknown.-Br. Scarce one word of ten, in our common 7 Dr. Primrose hath made, fc.] The talke, is of more than one syllable. In work here alluded to is the De Vulgi this very shorte note which conteynes 60 Erroribus in Medicind, of which there is words, there bee not above eleven (and a translation into French, by Rostagny, those of Latin derivation) which are not and another into English, by Dr. Wittie; (all of them) monosyllables.-Wr. the latter was published in 8vo. in 1651.
we shall within, fc.] To which Dr. James Primrose, the author, who desirable end, it must be confessed, wrote several other medical treatises,
have we discussed but two or three thereof. Scipio Mercurii hath also left an excellent tract in Italian, concerning Popular Errors ; but, confining himself only unto those in physick, he hath little conduced unto the generality of our doctrine. Laurentius Joubertus,9 by the same title, led our expectation into thoughts of great relief; whereby, notwithstanding, we reaped no advantage, it answering scarce at all the promise of the inscription. Nor, perhaps (if it were yet extant), should we find any further assistance from that ancient piece of Andreas, *1 pretending the same title. And, therefore, we are often constrained to stand alone against the strength of opinion, and to meet the Goliah and giant of authority, with contemptible pebbles and feeble arguments, drawn from the scrip and slender stock of ourselves. Nor have we, indeed, scarce named any author whose name we do not honour; and if detraction could invite us, discretion surely would contain us from any derogatory intention, where highest pens and friendliest eloquence must fail in commendation.
And therefore also we cannot but hope the equitable considerations, and candour of reasonable minds. We cannot expect the frown of theology herein ; nor can they which behold the present state of things, ? and controversy of points so long received in divinity, condemn our sober enquiries in
megi râv YevôWS TETIOTEULÉVWV, Athenæi, lib. 7.
likewise in Latin, was the son of Gilbert 9 Laurentius Joubertus, fc.] The ErPrimrose, or Primerose, D.D. a Scotch reurs populaires touchant la Medicine, divine, minister of the French church in of Laurent Joubert, first published at London, and chaplain to James I. He Bourdeaux, in 1579, is the most distinpractised at Paris for some time and af- guished of all the works of that celebrated terwards settled in Yorkshire.- Br. medical professor. It obtained immedi
8 Scipio Mercurii, &c.] Not mention- ate popularity, being reprinted ten times ed in the first edition.
in six months. The levity of its style, “ Degli errori popolari d'Italia, and the nature of some of the subjects 1603, by Girolamo Mercurii, who had discussed in it, appear to have contributed assumed the name of Scipio, when tra- in a great degree to its popularity.-Br. velling through Europe as a physician, Andreas.] Nothing appears to be after having thrown aside the religious known of this work of Andreas', who was Kabit of the Dominicans. This work is himself a physician, besides this reference a verbose but amusing performance, con- to it by Athenæus. Concerning the autaining much curious information relative thor, see Fabricius's Elenchus Medicorum to the opinions and customs of the period Veterum ; Biblioth. Græc. vol. xiii, p. 57. at which it was published, and usefully -Br. correcting many errors, though it incul
present state, &c.] Written in cates others of equal magnitude.-Br. 1645.
the doubtful appertinences of arts, and receptaries of philosophy. Surely philologers and critical discoursers, who look beyond the shell and obvious exteriours of things, will not be angry with
our narrower explorations. And we cannot doubt, our brothers in physick (whose knowledge in naturals will lead them into a nearer apprehension of many things delivered) will friendly accept, if not countenance, our endea
Nor can we conceive it may be unwelcome unto those honoured worthies who endeavour the advancement of learning; as being likely to find a clearer progression, when so many rubs are levelled, and many untruths taken off, which passing as principles with common beliefs, disturb the tranquillity of axioms which otherwise might be raised. And wise men cannot but know, that arts and learning want this expurgation; and if the course of truth be permitted unto itself, like that of time and uncorrected computations, it cannot escape many errors, which duration still enlargeth.
Lastly, we are not magisterial in opinions, nor have we dictator-like* obtruded our conceptions; but, in the humility of enquiries or disquisitions, have only proposed them unto more ocular discerners. And therefore opinions are free; and open it is for any to think or declare the contrary. And we shall so far encourage contradiction, as to promise no disturbance, or re-oppose any pen, that shall fallaciously or captiously' refute us; that shall only lay hold of our lapses, single out digressions, corollaries, or ornamental conceptions, to evidence his own in as indifferent truths. And shall only take notice of such, whose experimental and judicious knowledge shall solemnly look upon it; not only to destroy of ours, but to establish of his own; not to traduce or extenuate, but to explain and dilucidate, to add and ampliate, according to the laudable custom of the ancients in their sober promotions of learning. Unto whom notwithstanding, we shall not contentiously rejoin, or only to justify our own, but to applaud or confirm his maturer assertions; and shall confer what is in
time, &c.] Dean Wren, in a long to equal its length; I have therefore note on this passage, proposes methods omitted it. of correcting the calendar: but as the * dictator-like, fc.] Ut Julius Cæsar correction has long ago been made, the Scaliger in literis dictaturam arripuit.-Wr. interest of the nole appears to me scarcely ; fallaciously. ] Elenchically, in first ed.
us unto his name and honour: ready to be swallowed in any worthy enlarger ;-as having acquired our end, if any way, or under any name, we may obtain a work, so much desired, and yet desiderated, of truth.
To inform you of the advantages of the present impression, and disabuse your expectations of any future enlargements ;--these are to advertise you, that this edition comes forth with very many explanations, additions, and alterations throughout, besides that of one entire chapter; and now this work is compleat and perfect, expect no further additions,
6 desired and yet desiderated, &c.] desirable for its rarity or not: Browne eviThe first edition reads, " desired, at least dently meant to say, that his work was desiderated.” Dean Wren in the margin at least among the desiderata of literature, asks. “What's the difference?” By col- if not desired or desirable. lectors, every thing which they do not pos- ? Postscript.) To the sixth edition ; sess is classed among desiderata, whether the last published in the author's life.
THE FIRST BOOK,
CONTAINING THE GENERAL PART.
Of the first Cause of Common Errors; the common infirmity
of Human Nature.
The first and father cause of common error is the common infirmity of human nature; of whose deceptible condition, although, perhaps, there should not need any other eviction than the frequent errors we shall ourselves commit, even in the express declarement hereof, yet shall we illustrate the same from more infallible constitutions, and persons presumed as far from us in condition as time, that is, our first and ingenerated forefathers. From whom, as we derive our being, and the several wounds of constitution, so may we in some manner excuse our infirmities in the depravity of those parts, whose traductions were pure in them, and their originals but once removed from God. Who, notwithstanding, (if posterity may take leave to judge of the fact, as they are assured to suffer in the punishment,) were grossly deceived in their perfection, and so weakly deluded in the clarity of their understanding, that it hath left no small obscurity in ours, how error should gain upon them.
For first, they were deceived by Satan; and that not in an invisible insinuation, but an open and discoverable apparition, that is, in the form of a serpent; whereby, although there