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the like he may
sensible, and if we consider the distance of time between the confusion of Babel, and the civility of many parts now eminent therein, it travelled late and slowly into our quarters. For notwithstanding the learning of bards and Druids of elder times, he that shall peruse that work of Tacitus, De moribus Germanorum, may easily discern how little civility two thousand years
had wrought upon that nation; observe concerning ourselves from the same author in the life of Agricola, and more directly from Strabo, who, to the dishonour of our predecessors, and the disparagement of those that glory in the antiquity of their ancestors, affirmeth the Britons were so simple, that though they abounded in milk, they had not the artifice of cheese.
Lastly, that the globe itself is by cosmographers divided into east and west, accounting from the first meridian, it doth not establish this conceit. For that division is not naturally founded, but artificially set down, and by agreement, as the aptest terms to define or commensurate the longitude of places. Thus the ancient cosmographers do place the division of the east and western hemisphere, that is, the first term of longitude, in the Canary or Fortunate Islands ; conceiving these parts the extremest habitations westward. But the moderns have altered that term, and translated it unto the Azores or islands of St. Michael, and that upon a plausible conceit of the small or insensible variation of the
compass in those parts. Wherein nevertheless, and though upon a second invention, they proceed upon a common and no appropriate foundation; for even in that meridian farther north or south the compass observably varieth ;and there are also other
varieth.] Mr. Gunter, about 35 yeares agoe, observd the variation of the compass at Redriff not to bee greate by an excellent needle of 8 inches lengthe ; yet now at this day the variation in the very same place is about halfe a pointe different, as some artizans confidently avouch upon experience; and our best mathematicians aver that there is a variation of the former variations dayly ; whereof the cause may bee in the several loadstones brought from several places. For the mines of iron, whence they are taken, not running all exactly north and southe, may imprinte a different force, and verticity in the needles toucht by them, according to the difference of their own situation. Soe that the variation is not, or can bee in respect of the pole, but of the needles. It would be therefore exactly inquired by several large stones old and new, whether the verticity of them severally be alwayes the same in the same place or noe.- Wr.
places wherein it varieth not, as Alphonso and Rodoriges de Lago will have it about Capo de las Agullas, in Africa; as Maurolycus affirmeth in the shore of Peloponnesus, in Europe ; and as Gilbertus averreth, in the midst of great regions, in most parts of the earth.
Of the River Nilus. HEREOF uncontrollably and under general consent many opinions are passant, which notwithstanding, upon due examination, do admit of doubt or restriction. It is generally esteemed, and by most unto our days received, that the river of Nilus hath seven ostiaries, that is, by seven channels disburdened itself into the sea. Wherein, notwithstanding, beside that we find no concurrent determination of ages past, and a positive and undeniable refute of these present, the affirmative is mutable, and must not be received without all limitation.
For some, from whom we receive the greatest illustrations of antiquity, have made no mention hereof. So Homer hath given no number of its channels, nor so much as the name thereof in use with all historians. Eratosthenes in his description of Egypt hath likewise passed them over. Aristotle is so indistinct in their names and numbers, that in the first of Meteors he plainly affirmeth, the region of Egypt (which we esteem the ancientest nation of the world) was a mere gained ground, and that by the settling of mud and limous matter brought down by the river Nilus, that which was at first a continued sea, was raised at last into a firm and habitable country. The like opinion he held of Mæotis Palus, that by the floods of Tanais and earth brought down thereby, it grew observably shallower in his days, and would in process of time become a firm land. And though 4 his
sea.] Moore. * And though.] Yet after Aristotel 740 yeares, about the yeare of Christ 410, itt became soe fordable that the Huns and Vandals (observing a hinde to goe usually through itt to the pastures in Natolia) came in such swarms over the same way, that at last they overrann all Europe also.-Wr.
conjecture be not as yet fulfilled, yet is the like observable in the river Gihon, a branch of Euphrates and river of Paradise, which having in former ages discharged itself into the Persian Sea, doth at present fall short, being lost in the lakes of Chaldea, and hath left between them and the sea a large and considerable part of dry land.
Others expressly treating hereof, have diversely delivered themselves. Herodotus in his Euterpe makes mention of seven, but carelessly of two hereof, that is, Bolbitinum and Bucolicum ;6 for these, saith he, were not the natural currents, but made by art for some occasional convenience. Strabo, in his geography, naming but two, Peleusiacum and Canopicum, plainly affirmeth there were more than seven ; Inter hæc alia quinque, &c. There are, saith he, many remarkable towns within the currents of Nile, especially such which have given the names unto the ostiaries thereof, not unto all, for they are eleven, and four besides, but unto seven and most considerable, that is, Canopicum, Bolbitinum, Selenneticum, Sebenneticum,& Pharniticum, Mendesium, Taniticum, and Pelusium, wherein to make up the number, one of the artificial channels of Herodotus is accounted. Ptolemy, an Egyptian, and born at the Pelusian mouth of Nile, in his geography maketh nine,' and in the third map of Africa, hath unto their mouths prefixed their several names, Heracleoticum, Bolbitinum, Sebenneticum, Pineptum, Diolcos, Pathmeticum, Mendesium, Taniticum, Peleusiacum, wherein notwithstanding there are no less than three different names from those delivered by Pliny. All which considered, we may easily discern that authors accord not either in name or number, and must needs confirm the judgment of Maginus, de Ostiorum Nili numero et nominibus, valde antiqui scriptores discordant.
5 Gihon.] The river which rann by Verulam was once navigable up to the wals thereof, as appears by story, and anchors digd up, but is now rich land, 20 miles lower.— Wr.
6 but carelessly, &c.] Yet these are now the principal branches remaining
? eleven.] Thirteen in all by Strabo, yet Honterus kons 17.--Wr.
8 Sebenneticum.] Is aunciently divided into Saiticum and Mendesium.- Wr.
9 nine.] Of note, the rest smaller branches, and soe not considerable, and therefore omitted. -Wr.
Modern geographers? and travellers do much abate of this number, for as Maginus and others observe, there are now but three or four mouths thereof; as Gulielmus Tyrius long ago, and Bellonius since, both ocular enquirers, with others have attested. For below Cairo, the river divides itself into four branches, whereof two make the chief and navigable streams, the one running to Pelusium of the ancients, and now Damietta ;2 the other unto Canopium, and now Rosetta ;3 the other two, saith Mr. Sandys, do run between these, but
in water. Of those seven mentioned by Herodotus, and those nine by Ptolemy, these are all I could either see or hear of. Which much confirmeth the testi. mony of the bishop of Tyre, a diligent and ocular enquirer, who in his Holy War doth thus deliver himself: “We wonder much at the ancients, who assigned seven mouths unto Nilus, which we can no otherwise salve than that by process of time, the face of places is altered, and the river hath lost its channels, or that our forefathers did never obtain a true account thereof."'4
And therefore, when it is said in Holy Scripture, “ The Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea, and with his mighty wind he shall shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dry-shod,"'* if this expression concerneth the river Nilus, it must only respect the seven principal streams. But the place is very obscure, and whether thereby be not meant the river Euphrates, is not without some controversy; as is collectible from the subsequent words; "And there shall be an high way for the remnant of his people, that shall be left from Assyria ;” and also from the bare name river, emphatically signifying Euphrates, and thereby the division of the Assyrian empire into many fractions, which might facilitate their return; as Grotius hath observed, and is more plainly * Isa. xi. 15.
+ Gr. Not. in Isaiam. geographers.) But Honterus, in his geographical map of Ægypt, sets downe 17, distinct in situation and name, and hee wrote not soe long agoe, that they should since bee varyed.-Wr.
now Damietta.] This is the Bucolic of Herodotus. now Rosetta.] The Bolbitine branch of Herodotus.
Which much confirmeth, dc.] This sentence and the following paragraph were first added in the 2nd edition.
made out, if the * Apocrypha of Esdras, and that of the f Apocalypse have any relation hereto.
Lastly, whatever was or is their number, the contrivers of cards and maps afford us no assurance or constant description therein. For whereas Ptolemy hath set forth nine; Hondius in his map of Africa, makes but eight, and in that of Europe ten: Ortelius, in the map of the Turkish empire, setteth down eight, in that of Egypt eleven ; and Maginus, in his
map of that country, hath observed the same number. And if we enquire farther, we shall find the same diversity and discord in divers others.
Thus may we perceive that this account was differently related by the ancients, that it is undeniably rejected by the moderns, and must be warily received by any. For if we receive them all into account, they were more than seven ; if only the natural sluices they were fewer; and however we receive them, there is no agreeable and constant description thereof; and therefore how reasonable it is to draw continual and durable deductions from alterable and uncertain foundations ; let them consider who make the gates of Thebes, and the mouths of this river a constant and continued periphrasis for this number, and in their * 2 Esdr. xiii. 43, 47.
+ Apoc. xvi. 12. 5. And therefore, &c.] Bishop Lowth considers this passage as conveying an allusion to the passage of the Red Sea. But he cites a story told by"Herodotus (i. 189), of his Cyrus, that may somewhat illustrate this passage ; in which is said that God would inflict a kind of punishment and judgment on the Euphrates, and render it fordable by dividing it into seven streams. Cyrus, being impeded in his march to Babylon by the Gyudes, a deep and rapid river, which falls into the Tygris, and having lost one of his sacred white horses that attempted to pass it, was so enraged against the river, that he threatened to reduce it, and make it so shallow that it should be easily fordable, even by women, who should not be up to their knees in passing it. Accordingly he set his whole army to work, and cutting 360 trenches from both sides of the river, turned the waters into them, and drained them off.”
6 number.] Why should wee call the ancients to accompt for that which, tho' then true, is now altered after 2000 yeares. Let us rather hence collect the mutability of all things under the moone.-Wr.
In the first edition the following words are added to this paragraph, but have been omitted in all the subsequent editions :—“conceiving a perpetuity in mutability upon unstable foundations erecting eternal assertions.”