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titude of heads that do deny traduction, having no other argument to confirm their belief, than that rhetorical sentence, and antimetathesis of Augustine, Creando infunditur, infundendo creatur. Either opinion will consist well enough with religion; yet I should rather incline to this, did not one objection haunt me, not wrung from speculations and subtleties, but from common sense and observation; not picked from the leaves of any author, but bred amongst the weeds and tares of mine own brain. And this is a conclusion from the equivocal and monstrous productions in the copulation of a man with a beast; for if the soul of man be not transmitted, and transfused in the seed of the parents, why are not those productions merely beasts, but have also an impression and tincture of reason in as high a measure, as it can evidence itself in those improper organs ? Nor truly can I peremptorily deny, that the soul in this, her sublunary estate,
is wholly, and in all acceptions inorganical; but that, for the performance of her ordinary actions, there is required not only a symmetry and proper disposition of organs, but a crasis and temper correspondent to its operations. Yet is not this mass of flesh and visible structure the instrument and proper corps of the soul, but rather of sense, and that the hand of reason. In our study of anatomy there is a mass of mysterious philosophy, and such as reduced the very heathens to divinity; yet amongst all those rare discourses, and curious pieces I find
his who taught how, on the top of arid mountains, artificial springs might be made. (Bacon Sylva Sylvarum. I. 25.)– ED.
in the fabric of man, I do not so much content myself, as in that I find not there is no organ or instrument for the rational soul : for in the brain, which we term the seat of reason, there is not any thing of moment more than I can discover in the cranium of a beast: and this is a sensible and no inconsiderable argument of the inorganity of the soul, at least in that sense we usually so conceive it. Thus we are men, and we know not how; there is something in us that can be without us, and will be after us, though it is strange that it hath no history what it was before us, nor cannot tell how it entered in us. (88)
Now, for these walls of flesh, wherein the soul doth seem to be immured, before the resurrection, it is nothing but an elemental composition, and a fabric that must fall to ashes. “ All flesh is grass," is not only metaphorically but literally true; for all those creatures we behold, are but the herbs of
(88) The doctrine of the pre-existence of souls is very old, and was once fashionable. Every one is acquainted with the peculiar tenets of Pythagoras, who sought by poetical fables to establish a philosophical vision. He could do all that Sir Thomas here requires, and tell what his soul had been employed about for half a dozen generations before it arrived at the body it then occupied. Ovid. Metamorph. xv. 60. ff. Other philosophers, too, foolishly repugnant to suppose the divine particle to be transmitted from father to son, agreed to invent a kind of spiritual nursery, whence a soul, like an Athenian cleruchos, was sent forth as often as a new colony was opened for its reception. “ Pythagorici et Stoici cum timerent argumentum illud, quo colligitur necesse esse ut occidant animæ cum corporibus, quia cum corporibus nascuntur; dixerunt, non nasci animas, sed insinuari potius in corpora." (.Laetunt. III. 18.)--ED.
the field, digested into flesh in them, or more remotely carnified in ourselves. Nay, further, we are what we all abhor, anthropophagi and cannibals, devourers not only of men, but of ourselves ; and that not in an allegory, but a positive truth: for all this mass of flesh which we behold came in at our mouths; this frame we look upon hath been upon our trenchers; in brief, we have devoured ourselves.(89) I cannot believe the wisdom of Pythagoras did ever positively, and in a literal sense, affirm his metempsychosis,or impossible transmigration of the souls of men into beasts. Of all the metamorphoses, or transmigrations, I believe only one, that is of Lot's wife; for that of Nebuchadnezzar proceeded not so far; in all others I conceive there is no further verity than is contained in their implicit sense and morality. I believe that the whole frame of a beast doth perish, and is left in the same state after death as before it was materialled unto life; that the souls of men know neither contrary nor corruption; that they subsist beyond the body, and outlive death by the privilege of their proper natures, and without a miracle; that the souls of the faithful, as they leave earth, take possession of heaven; that those apparitions and ghosts of departed persons are not the wandering souls of men, but the unquiet walks of devils, prompting and suggesting us unto mischief, blood, and villany, instilling and stealing into our hearts; that the blessed spirits are not at rest in their graves,
(89) A very quaint, but striking and true remark.- ED.
but wander solicitous of the affairs of the world; but that those phantasms appear often, and do frequent cemeteries, charnel-houses, and churches, it is because those are the dormitories of the dead, where the devil, like an insolent champion, beholds with pride the spoils and trophies of his victory over Adam.()
This is that dismal conquest we all deplore, that makes us so often cry, O Adam,quid fecisti? I thank God I have not those strait ligaments, or narrow obligations to the world, as to dote on life, or be convulsed and tremble at the name of death. Not that I am insensible of the dread and horror thereof, or by raking into the bowels of the deceased, continual sight of anatomies, skeletons, or cadaverous relics, like vespilloes, or grave-makers, I am become stupid, or have forgot the apprehension of mortality; but that marshalling all the horrors, and contemplating the extremities thereof, I find not anything therein able to daunt the courage of a man, much less a well-resolved Christian. And therefore am not angry at the error of our first parents, or unwilling to bear a part of this common fate, and like the best of them to die, that is, to cease to breathe, to take a farewell of the ele
(90) The belief in ghosts appears to be as old and as widespread as the human race. The mountains, and glens, and solitary places of Greece were haunted like our own; but we have probably improved upon them in the mythology of churchyards and charnel-houses. In Crete, however, and other islands of the Mediterranean, the katakhanas, or vampire, of modern times, surpasses our own goblins in horrid interest. See Pashley's Travels in Crete. vol. ii. p. 196.- ED.
ments, to be a kind of nothing for a moment, to be within one instant of a spirit. When I take a full view and circle of myself, without this reasonable moderator and equal piece of justice, death, I do conceive myself the miserablest person extant. Were there not another life that I hope for, all the vanities of this world should not entreat a moment's breath for me; could the devil work my belief to imagine I could never die, I would not outlive that very thought; I have so abject a conceit of this common way of existence, this retaining to the sun and elements, I cannot think this is to be a man, or to live according to the dignity of humanity. In expectation of a better, I can with patience embrace this life, yet in my best meditations do often desire death. I honour any man that contemns it,('') nor can I highly love any that is
(9) We have here a species of that inactive melancholy which Burton anatomizes, and Byron, energetic as he was, at times felt. In the exhaustion of animal spirits consequent upon a too free indulgence of the passions, life may appear insipid even to the most hale and vigorous minds; but habitual nausea of existence, when actually felt, is a disease, arising from a feeble stamina. Bacon, though not unable to look death in the face, was deeply enamoured of life, and had recource to every variety of artificial means to extend its span. And this is a natural and healthy feeling. Fits of chill despondency most men know, and in one of these Byron poured forth that Euthanasia, which concludes thus:
“ Count o'er the joys thine hours have seen,
Count o'er thy days from anguish free,
'T'is something better not to be!!" He had, no doubt, in his eye the gloomy calculation of the old Khalif, who, after reigning God knows how many years, professed to have known but fourteen happy days. Gibbon, after relating the anecdote, observes that he had known many more,