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Phænicians, in ages past, and have beheld examples thereof in our days. We may also observe that after the flood, before the confusion of tongues, men began to disperse. For it is said they journeyed towards the east, and the Scripture itself expresseth a necessity conceived of their dispersion, for the intent of erecting the tower is so delivered in the text, “lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the earth."
Again, if any apprehend the plantation of the earth more easy in regard of navigation and shipping discovered since the flood, whereby the islands and divided parts of the earth are now inhabited; he must consider that whether there were islands or no before the flood, is not yet determined, and is with probability denied by very learned authors.
Lastly, if we shall fall into apprehension that it was less inhabited, because it is said in the sixth of Genesis, about 120 years before the flood, “ And it came to pass that when men began to multiply upon the face of the earth ;" beside that this may be only meant of the race of Cain, it will not import they were not multiplied before, but that they were at that time plentifully increased; for so is the same word used in other parts of Scripture. And so is it afterward in the ninth chapter said, that “Noah began to be an husbandman,” that is, he was so, or earnestly performed the acts thereof; so is it said of our Saviour, that he “began to cast them out that bought and sold in the temple," that is, he actually cast them out, or with alacrity effected it.
Thus have I declared some private and probable conceptions in the enquiry of this truth; but the certainty hereof let the arithmetic of the last day determine, and therefore expect no further belief than probability and reason induce. Only desire men would not swallow dubiosities for certainties, and receive as principles points mainly controvertible ; for we are to adhere unto things doubtful in a dubious and opinionative way. It being reasonable for every man to vary his opinion according to the variance of his reason, and to affirm one day what he denied another. Wherein although at last we miss of truth, we die notwithstanding in harmless and inoffensive errors, because we adhere unto that, whereunto the examen of our reasons, and honest enquiries induce us.2
Of East and West. THE next shall be of east and west; that is, the proprieties and conditions ascribed unto regions respectively unto those situations ; which hath been the obvious conception of philosophers and geographers, magnifying the condition of India, and the eastern countries, above the setting and occidental climates: some ascribing hereto the generation of gold, precious stones, and spices, others the civility and natural endowments of men; conceiving the bodies of this situation to receive a special impression from the first salutes of the sun, and some appropriate influence from his ascendent and oriental radiations. But these proprieties, affixed unto bodies, upon considerations reduced from east, west, or those observable points of the sphere, how specious and plausible soever, will not upon enquiry be justified from such foundations.
For to speak strictly, there is no east and west in nature, nor are those absolute and invariable, but respective and mutable points, according unto different longitudes, or distant parts of habitation, whereby they suffer many and considerable variations. For first, unto some the same part will be east or west in respect of one another, that is, unto such as inhabit the same parallel, or differently dwell from east to west. Thus, as unto Spain Italy lieth east, unto Italy Greece, unto Greece Persia, and unto Persia China ; so again, unto the country of China Persia lieth west, unto Persia Greece, unto Greece Italy, and unto Italy Spain. So that the same country is sometimes east and sometimes west; and Persia though east unto Greece, yet is it west unto China.
Unto other habitations the same point will be both east ? induce us.) And whatsoever is beyond this search must bee imputed to an invincible ignorance.- Wr.
and west; as unto those that are Antipodes or seated in points of the globe diametrically opposed. So the Americans are antipodal unto the Indians, and some part of India is both east and west unto America, according as it shall be regarded from one side or the other, to the right or to the left; and setting out from any middle point, either by east or west, the distance unto the place intended is equal, and in the same space of time in nature also performable.
To a third that have the poles for their vertexor dwell in the position of a parallel sphere, there will be neither east nor west, at least the greatest part of the year. For if (as the name oriental implieth) they shall account that part to be east wherever the sun ariseth, or that west where the sun is occidental or setteth ; almost half the year they have neither the one nor the other. For half the year it is below the horizon, and the other half it is continually above it, and circling4 round about them intersecteth not the horizon, nor leaveth any part for this compute. And if (which will seem very reasonable) that part should be termed the eastern point where the sun at equinox, and but once in the year, ariseth, yet will this also disturb the cardinal accounts, nor will it with propriety admit that appellation. For that surely cannot be accounted east which hath the south on both sides ; which notwithstanding this position must have. For if, unto such as live under the pole, that be only north which is above them, that must be southerly which is below them, which is all the other portion of the globe, beside that part possessed by them. And thus, these points of east and west being not absolute in any, respective in some, and not at all relating unto others, we cannot hereon establish so general considerations, nor reasonably erect such immutable assertions, upon so unstable foundations.
Now the ground that begat or promoted this conceit was, first, a mistake in the apprehension of east and west, considering thereof as of the north and south, and computing by these as invariably as by the other. But herein, upon second thoughts, there is a great disparity: for the north and southern pole are the invariable terms of that axis whereon the heavens do move, and are therefore incommunicable and fixed points, whereof the one is not apprehensible in the other. But with east and west it is quite otherwise : for the revolution of the orbs being made upon the poles of north and south, all other points about the axis are mutable; and wheresoever therein the east point be determined, by succession of parts in one revolution every point becometh east. And so, if where the sun ariseth that part be termed east, every habitation, differing in longitude, will have this point also different, in as much as the sun successively ariseth unto every one.5
3 vertex.] This is spoken by way of supposition, yf any such there be, that dwell under the pole.-Wr.
4 and circling.] And aboutt the tenthe of Marche, before and after, the discus of the son wheles about the verge of the horizon, and rises not totally above itt for the space of almost as many dayes as there are minutes in his diameter : appearing by those degrees in every circulation (of 24 houres time) more and more conspicuous, as hee uses to doe, when he gets out of total eclypse.- Wr.
The second ground, although it depend upon the former, approacheth nearer the effect; and that is, the efficacy of the sun, set out and divided according to priority of ascent; whereby his influence is conceived more favourable unto one country than another, and to felicitate India more than any after. But hereby we cannot avoid absurdities, and such as infer effects controlable by our senses. For first, by the same reason that we affirm the Indian richer than the American, the American will also be more plentiful than the Indian, and England or Spain more fruitful than Hispaniola or golden Castile ;6 in as much as the sun ariseth unto the one sooner than the other; and so accountably unto any nation subjected unto the same parallel, or with a considerable diversity of longitude from each other. Secondly, an unsufferable absurdity will ensue; for thereby & country may be more fruitful than itself. For India is more fertile than Spain, because more east, and that the sun ariseth first unto it; Spain likewise by the same reason more fruitful than America, and America than India; so that Spain is less fruitful than that country, which a less fertile country than itself excelleth. Lastly, if we conceive the sun hath any advantage by
every one.] Every generall meridian hath a several east pointe and west (in their horizon) that live under itt.-Wr.
6 Castile.] Virginia is about 7 houres distant from London, for when 'tis noone heere, 'tis 5 in the morne with them.--Wr.
priority of ascent, or makes thereby one country more happy than another, we introduce injustifiable determinations, and impose a natural partiality on that luminary, which being equidistant from the earth, and equally removed in the east as in the west, his power and efficacy in both places must be equal, as Boëtius hath taken notice, and Scaliger* hath graphically declared. Some have therefore forsaken this refuge of the sun, and to salve the effect have recurred unto the influence of the stars, making their activities national, and appropriating their powers unto particular regions. So Cardan conceiveth, the tail of Ursa Major peculiarly respecteth Europe: whereas indeed once in twenty-four hours it also absolveth its course over Asia and America. And therefore it will not be easy to apprehend those stars peculiarly glance on us, who must of necessity carry a common eye and regard unto all countries, unto whom their revolution and verticity is also
The effects therefore, or7 different productions in several countries, which we impute unto the action of the sun, must surely have nearer and more immediate causes than that luminary. And these if we place in the propriety of clime, or condition of soil wherein they are produced, we shall more reasonably proceed, than they who ascribe them unto the activity of the sun. Whose revolution being regular, it hath no power nor efficacy peculiar from its orientality, but equally disperseth his beams unto all which equally, and in the same restriction, receive his lustre. And being an universal and indefinite agent, the effects or productions we behold receive not their circle from his causality, but are determined by the principles of the place, or qualities of that region which admits them. And this is evident not only in gems, minerals, and metals, but observable in plants and animals; whereof some are common unto many countries, some peculiar unto one, some not communicable unto another. For the hand of God that first
* De gemmis exercitat.
or.] Reade of.— Wr. The Dr.’s is the true reading ; see it repeated a few lines further on.
8 luminary.] Cald by God the greate lighte.-Wr.