Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

CHAPTER XIV.

Of some others. WE commonly accuse the fancies of elder times in the improper figures of heaven assigned unto constellations, which do not seem to answer them, either in Greek or Barbarick spheres. Yet equal incongruities have been commonly committed by geographers and historians, in the figural resemblances of several regions on earth. While by Livy and Julius Rusticus the island of Britain is made to resemble a long dish or two-edged axe: Italy by Numatianus to be like an oak-leaf, and Spain an ox-hide ; while the fancy of Strabo makes the habitated earth like a cloak: and Dionysius Afer will have it like a sling ; with many others observable in good writers,* yet not made out from the letter or signification acquitting astronomy in the figures of the zodiack; wherein they are not justified unto strict resemblances, but rather made out from the effects of sun or moon in these several portions of heaven, or from peculiar influences of those constellations, which some way make good their names.

Which notwithstanding being now authentic by prescription, may be retained in their naked acceptions, and names translated from substances known on earth. And therefore the learned Hevelius, in his accurate Selenography, or description of the moon, hath well translated the known appellations of regions, seas, and mountains, unto the parts of that luminary; and rather than use invented names or human denominations, with witty congruity hath placed Mount Sinai, Taurus, Mæotis Palus, the Mediterranean Sea, Mauritania, Sicily, and Asia Minor in the moon.

More hardly can we find the Hebrew letters in the heavens made out of the greater and lesser stars, which put together do make up words, wherein cabalistical speculators conceive they read events of future things. And how, from the stars in the head of Medusa, to make out the word Charab,

* Tacit. de vita Jul. Agric. Junctin. in Sph. l. de Sacro bosco, cap. 2. + The cabala of the stars.

and thereby desolation presignified unto Greece or Javan numerally characterized in that word, requireth no rigid reader. *

It is not easy to reconcile the different accounts of longitude, while in modern tables the hundred and eightieth degree is more than thirty degrees beyond that part where Ptolemy placeth an 180. Nor will the wider and more western term of longitude, from whence the moderns begin their commensuration, sufficiently salve the difference. The ancients began the measure of longitude from the Fortunate Islands or Canaries, the moderns from the Azores or islands of St. Michael ; but since the Azores are but fifteen degrees more west, why the moderns should reckon 180, where Ptolemy accounteth above 220, or though they take in fifteen degrees at the west, why they should reckon thirty at the east, beyond the same measure, is yet to be determined, nor would it be much advantaged, if we should conceive that the compute of Ptolemy were not so agreeable unto the Canaries, as the Hesperides or islands of Capo Verde. I

Whether the compute of months from the first appearance of the moon, which divers nations have followed, be not a more perturbed way than that which accounts from the conjunction may seem of reasonable doubt;s not only from the uncertainty of its appearance in foul and cloudy weather, but unequal time in any, that is, sooner or later, according as the moon shall be in the signs of long descension, as Pisces, Aries, Taurus, in the perigeum or swiftest motion, and in the northern latitude; whereby sometimes it may

be seen the very day of the change, as did observably happen, 1654, in the months of April and May. Or whether also the compute of the day be exactly made from the visible arising or setting of the sun, because the sun is sometimes naturally set, and under the horizon, when visibly it is above it; from the causes of refraction, and such as make us behold a piece of silver in a bason, when water is put upon it, which we could not discover before, as under the verge thereof.

* Greffarel out of R. Chomer. I Robertus Hues de globis.

+ Athan. Kircher. in procemio. Š Hevel. Selenog. cap. 9.

Whether the globe of the earth be but a point in respect of the stars and firmament, or how if the rays thereof do fall upon a point, they are received in such variety of angles, appearing greater or lesser from differences of refraction ?

Whether if the motion of the heavens should cease awhile, all things would instantly perish ; and whether this assertion doth not make the frame of sublunary things to hold too loose a dependency upon the first and conserving cause, at least impute too much unto the motion of the heavens, whose eminent activities are by heat, light, and influence, the motion itself being barren, or chiefly serving for the due application of celestial virtues unto sublunary bodies, as Cabeus hath learnedly observed.

Whether comets or blazing stars be generally of such terrible effects, as elder times have conceived them ;9 for since it is found that many, from whence these predictions are drawn, have been above the moon, why they may not be qualified from their positions, and aspects which they hold with stars of favourable natures, or why, since they may

be conceived to arise from the effluviums of other stars, they may not retain the benignity of their originals; or since the natures of the fixed stars are astrologically differenced by the planets, and are esteemed martial or jovial, according to the colours whereby they answer these planets, why, although the red comets do carry the portentions of Mars, the brightly white should not be of the influence of Jupiter or Venus, answerably unto Cor Scorpii and Arcturus, is not absurd to doubt.

9 Whether comets, &c.] Aristotle considered them to be accidental fires or meteors, kindled in the atmosphere. Kepler supposed them to be monsters, generated in celestial space !

Dr. Thomas Burnet says, that the comets seem to him to be nothing else but (as one may say) the dead bodies of the fixed stars unburied, and not as yet composed to rest ; they, like shadows, wander up and down through the various regions of the heavens, till they have found out fit places for their residence, which having pitched upon, they stop their irregular course, and being turned into planets, move circularly about some star.-Charles Blount's Miscellaneous Works, p. 63.

Tycho Brahe first ascertained, by observations on the comet of 1577, that comets are permanent bodies, like the planets.

[blocks in formation]

THE SEVENTH BOOK:

THE PARTICULAR PART CONCLUDED.

OF POPULAR AND RECEIVED TENETS, CHIEFLY HISTORICAL, AND

SOME DEDUCED FROM THE HOLY SCRIPTURES.

CHAPTER I.

That the Forbidden Fruit was an Apple. That the forbidden fruit of Paradise was an apple, is commonly believed, confirmed by tradition, perpetuated by writings, verses, pictures ; and some have been so bad prosodians, as from thence to derive the Latin word malum, because that fruit was the first occasion of evil: wherein notwithstanding determinations are presumptuous, and many I perceive are of another belief. For some have conceived it a vine ;' in the mystery of whose fruit lay the expiation of the transgression. Goropius Becanus, reviving the conceit of Barcephas, peremptorily concludeth it to be the Indian fig-tree, and by a witty allegory labours to confirm the same. Again, some fruits pass under the name of Adam's apples, which in common acception admit not that appellation: the one described by Matthiolus under the name of Pomum Adami, a very fair fruit, and not unlike a citron, but somewhat rougher, chopped and crannied, vulgarly conceived the marks of Adam's teeth: another, the fruit of that plant which Serapion termeth Musa, but the eastern Christians commonly the apples of Paradise; not resembling an apple in figure, and in taste a melon or cucumber. Which fruits

a vine.] By the fatal influence of whose fruit the nakedness both of Adam and of Noah were exposed. See the Targum of Jonathan. -Jeff.

· again, &c.] The fruit-shops of London exhibit a large kind of citron labelled, Forbidden Fruit, respecting which, and the Pomum Adami of Matthiolus, I have the following obliging and satisfactory

1

although they have received appellations suitable unto the tradition, yet we cannot from thence infer they were this fruit in question. No more than Arbor vitæ, so commonly called, to obtain its name from the tree of life in Paradise, or Arbor Judæ, to be the same which supplied the gibbet unto Judas.

Again, there is no determination in the text; wherein is only particularised, that it was the fruit of a tree good for food, and pleasant unto the eye, in which regards many excel the apple : and therefore learned men do wisely conceive it inexplicable; and. Philo puts determination unto despair, when he affirmeth the same kind of fruit was never produced since. Surely were it not requisite to have been concealed, it had not passed unspecified ; nor the tree revealed which concealed their nakedness, and that concealed which revealed it; for in the same chapter mention is made of figleaves. And the like particulars, although they seem uncircumstantial, are oft set down in Holy Scripture; so is it specified that Elias sat under a juniper-tree, Absalom hanged by an oak, and Zaccheus got up into a sycamore.

And although, to condemn such indeterminables, unto him that demanded on what hand Venus was wounded, the philosopher thought it a sufficient resolution, to re-inquire upon what leg King Philip halted; and the Jews not undoubtedly resolved of the sciatica side of Jacob, do cautiously in their diet abstain from the sinews of both ;; yet are there many nice particulars which may be authentically determined. That Peter cut off the right ear of Malchus, is beyond all doubt. That our Saviour eat the Passover in an upper room, we may determine from the text. And some we may concede which the Scripture plainly defines not. That the dial of Ahaz4 was placed upon the west side of the temple,

notice from my friend Professor Lindley :-“The forbidden fruit of the London markets is a variety of the Citrus decumand, and is in fact a small sort of shaddock. But as to the Pomum Adami, no one can make out exactly what it was. The common Italian Pomo d'Adamo is a variety of Citrus limetta : that of Paris is a thick-skinned orange ; and at least three other things have been so called. I do not think it possible to ascertain what Matthiolus meant beyond the fact that it was a Citrus of some kind."

3 of both.] And this superstition befooles them alike in both.— Wr. 4 dial of Ahaz.] Suggestions have been made respecting this, as

« PredošláPokračovať »