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one hundred, calves ten, geese fifty, hens two hundred, chickens one hundred, pigeons a hundred pair.
And therefore this mistake, concerning the noble Tamerlane, was like that concerning Demosthenes, who is said to be the son of a blacksmith, according to common conceit, and that handsome expression of Juvenal ;
Quem pater ardentis massa fuligine lippus,
Incude, et luteo Vulcano, et Rhetora misit.
Whom's Father with the smoky forge half blind,
In ham’ring swords, to study Rhet'rick sent. But Plutarch, who writ his life, hath cleared this conceit, plainly affirming he was most nobly descended, and that this report was raised, because his father had many slaves that wrought smith's work, and brought the profit unto him.2
Of some others, viz.,—of the poverty of Belisarius ; of Fluctus Decumanus, or the tenth wave ; of Parisatis that poisoned Statira by one side of a knife; of the Woman fed with poison that should have poisoned Alexander ; of the Wandering Jew; of Pope Joan ; of Friar Bacon's brazen head that spoke ; of Epicurus.
We are sad when we read the story of Belisarius, that worthy chieftain of Justinian; who, after his victories over Vandals, Goths, Persians, and his trophies in three parts of the world, had at last his eyes put out by the emperor, and was reduced to that distress, that he begged relief on the highway, in that uncomfortable petition, date obolum Belisario.3 And this we do not only hear in discourses, orations, the Grand_Signeur mainteyns greater multitudes daylye in the Seraglio.-Wr.
And this mistake, &c.] This paragraph was first added in the 2nd edition, except the translation, which was added in the 6th edition.
3 We are sad, &c.] Lord Mahon, in his life of Belisarius, adopts this traditional account of him, as the most likely to be true ; and gives at the close of the work his reasons at large.
and themes, but find it also in the leaves of Petrus Crinitus, Volaterranus, and other worthy writers.
But, what may somewhat consolate all men that honour virtue, we do not discover the latter scene of his misery in authors of antiquity, or such as have expressly delivered the stories of those times. For, Suidas is silent herein, Cedrenus and Zonaras, two grave and punctual authors, delivering only the confiscation of his goods, omit the history of his mendication. Paulus Diaconus goeth farther, not only passing over this act, but affirming his goods and dignities were restored. Agathius, who lived at the same time, declared he suffered much from the envy of the court; but that he descended thus deep into affliction, is not to be gathered from his pen. The same is also omitted by Procopius,* a contemporary and professed enemy unto Justinian and Belisarius, who hath left an opprobrious book against them both.
And in this opinion and hopes we are not single, but Andreas Aniatus the civilian in his Parerga, and Franciscus de Corduba in his Didascalia, have both declaratorily confirmed the same, which is also agreeable unto the judgment of Nicolaus Alemannus, in his notes upon that bitter history of Procopius. Certainly sad tragical stories are seldom drawn within the circle of their verities; but as their relators do either intend the hatred or pity of the persons, so are they set forth with additional amplifications. Thus have some suspected it bath happened unto the story of Edipus: and thus do we conceive it hath fared with that of Judas, who, having sinned above aggravation, and committed one villany which cannot be exasperated by all other, is also charged with the murder of his reputed brother, parricide of his father, and incest with his own mother,4 as Florilegus or Matthew of Westminster hath at large related. And thus hath it perhaps befallen the noble Belisarius; who, upon instigation of the Empress, having contrived the exile, and very hardly treated Pope Serverius, Latin pens, as a judgment of God upon this fact, have set forth his future sufferings; and, omitting nothing of amplification, they have also delivered this; which, notwithstanding Johannes the Greek makes doubtful, as may appear from his Iambicks in Baronius, and might be a mistake or misapplication, translating the affliction of one man upon another, for the same befell unto Johannes Cappadox,* contemporary unto Belisarius, and in great favour with Justinian; who being afterwards banished into Egypt, was fain to beg relief on the highway.5
*'Avékoota, or Arcana Historia.
4 is also charged, &c.] Surely yf these had been true, St. John, who cals him a theefe in plaine termes, would never have concealed such unparalleled villanyes. They could not bee don after his treason, the halter followed that soe closelye ; and had they been don before, neither could he have escaped the laws of Judæa, most severe against such hideous crimes ; nor would the Sonne of God have endured the scandal of such a knowne miscreant, much lesse have chosen him among the twelve apostles. Judas deserved as much detestation as his unparaleld
2. That fluctus decumanus, or the tenth wave is greater and more dangerous than any other, some no doubt will be
Procop. Bell, Persic, 1."Αρτoν ή οβολόν αιτείσθαι.
and matchless crimes could any way deserve. But noe cause of such detestation could be soe just, as to produce such prodigious fictions in the writings of Christians : whome the recorded example of the Archangel Michael hath taught, not to rayle against, much less to belye the Divel himselfe.- Wr. 5 and might be a mistake, &c.] First added in 2nd edition.
Fluctus decumanus, &c.] Ross says that our author "troubles himself to no purpose in refuting the greatness of the tenth wave and tenth egg : for the tenth of anything was not counted the greatest, but the greatest of anything was called the tenth, because that is the first perfect number; therefore anything that was greater than another was called decumanus. So porta decumana, limes decumanus, decumana pyra, and pomum decumanum as well as ovum decumanum.”-Arc. p. 178.
Mr. Forbes, in his Oriental Memoirs, describing the effect of the monsoon upon the ocean, says, “every ninth wave is observed to be more tremendous than the rest, and threatens to overwhelm the settlement of Anjengo.”
The following passage occurs in Dr. Henderson's Iceland, vol. ii. p. 109: “Owing to a heavy swell from the ocean, we found great difficulty in landing, and were obliged to await the alternation of the waves in the following order :-first, three heavy surges broke with a tremendous dash upon the rocks; these were followed by six smaller ones, which just afforded us time to land ; after which the three large ones broke again, and so on in regular succession.”
“The typhon is a strong swift wind, that blows from all points, and is frequent in the Indian seas ; raising them, with its strong whirling about, to a great height, every tenth wave rising above the rest."— Loss of the ship Fanny.
offended if we deny; and hereby we shall seem to contradict antiquity ; for, answerable unto the literal and common acception, the same is averred by many writers, and plainly described by Ovid.
Qui venit hic fluctus, fluctus supereminet omnes,
Posterior nono est, undecimoque prior. Which notwithstanding is evidently false; nor can it be made out by observation either upon the shore or the ocean, as we have with diligence explored both. And surely in vain we expect a regularity in the waves of the sea, or in the particular motions thereof, as we may in its general reciprocations, whose causes are constant, and effects therefore correspondent. Whereas its fluctuations are but motions subservient; which winds, storms, shores, shelves, and every interjacency irregulates. With semblable reason we might expect a regularity in the winds; whereof though some be statary, some anniversary, and the rest do tend to determine points of heaven, yet do the blasts and undulary breaths thereof maintain no certainty in their course, nor are they numerally feared by navigators.
Of affinity hereto is that conceit of ovum decumanum; so called, because the tenth egg is bigger than any other, according unto the reason alleged by Festus, decumana ova dicuntur, quia ovum decimum majus nascitur. For the honour we bear unto the clergy, we cannot but wish this true : but herein will be found no more of verity than in the other; and surely few will assent hereto without an implicit credulity, or Pythagorical submission unto every conception of number.
For surely the conceit is numeral, and, though in the sense apprehended, relateth unto the number of ten, as Franciscus Sylvius hath most probably declared. For, whereas amongst simple numbers or digits, the number of ten is the greatest: therefore whatsoever was the greatest in every kind, might in some sense be named from this number. Now, because also that which was the greatest, was metaphorically by some at first called decumanus, therefore whatsoever passed under this name, was literally conceived by others to respect and make good this number.
The conceit is also Latin; for the Greeks, to express the
greatest wave, do use the number of three, that is, the word Tplkupia, which is a concurrence of three waves in one, whence arose the proverb, τρικυμία κακών, or a triluctuation of evils, which Erasmus doth render, malorum fluctus decu
And thus although the terms be very different, yet are they made to signify the self-same thing: the number of ten to explain the number of three, and the
single number of one wave the collective concurrence of more.
3. The poison of Parysatis, reported from Ctesias by Plutarch in the life of Artaxerxes (whereby, anointing a knife on the one side, and therewith dividing a bird, with the one half she poisoned Statira, and safely fed herself on the other), was certainly a very subtle one, and such as our ignorance is well content it knows not. But surely we had discovered a poison that would not endure Pandora's box, could we be satisfied in that which for its coldness nothing could contain but an ass's hoof, and wherewith some report that Alexander the Great was poisoned. Had men derived so strange an effect from some occult or hidden qualities, they might have silenced contradiction; but ascribing it unto the manifest and open qualities of cold, they must pardon our belief; who perceive the coldest and most Stygian waters may be included in glasses ; and by Aristotle, who saith that glass is the perfectest work of art, we understand they were not then to be invented.
And though it be said that poison will break a Venice glass, yet have we not met with any of that nature. Were there a truth herein, it were the best preservative for princes and persons exalted unto such fears ; and surely far better than divers now in use. And though the best of China dishes, and such as the emperor doth use, be thought by some of infallible virtue unto this effect, yet will they not, I fear, be able to elude the mischief of such intentions. And though also it be true, that God made all things. double, and that if we look upon the works of the Most
? The poison of Parysatis.] This is treated as fabulous by Paris and Fonblanque, in the 20th vol. of whose Medical Jurisprudence, p. 131, &c. will be found a long article on poisons.
poison will break a Venice glass.] Such is the venom of some spiders that they will crack a Venice glass, as I have seen ; and Scaliger doth witness the same-however the doctor denies it. ---Ross, Arc. 146.