Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

High, there are two and two, one against another; that one contrary hath another, and poison is not without a poison unto itself; yet hath the curse so far prevailed, or else our industry defected, that poisons are better known than their antidotes, and some thereof do scarce admit of any. And lastly, although unto every poison men have delivered many antidotes, and in every one is promised an equality unto its adversary, yet do we often find they fail in their effects: moly will not resist a weaker cup than that of Circe; a man may be poisoned in a Lemnian dish ; without the miracle of John, there is no confidence in the earth of Paul;* and if it be meant that no poison could work upon him, we doubt the story, and expect no such success from the diet of Mithridates.

A story there passeth of an Indian king, that sent unto Alexander à fair woman, fed with aconites and other poisons, with this intent, either by converse or copulation complexionally to destroy him. For my part, although the design were true, I should have doubted the success.9 For, though it be possible that poisons may meet with tempers whereto they may become aliments, and we observe from fowls that feed on fishes, and others fed with garlick and onions, that simple aliments are not always concocted beyond their vegetable qualities; and therefore that even after carnal conversion, poisons may yet retain some portion of their natures; yet are they so refracted, cicurated, and subdued, as not to make good their first and destructive malignities. And therefore [to] the stork that eateth snakes, and the stare that feedeth upon hemlock, [these] though no commendable aliments, are not destructive

* Terra Melitea. success.] Hee that remembers how the Portuguez mixing with the women in the eastern islands founde such a hot overmatching complexion in them, that as the son puts out a candle, soe itt quentcht their hot luste with the cold gripes of deathe ; may easilye conceive, without an instance, what a quick effect such venemous spirits make by a contagious transfusion. Nor is there the same danger in eatinge of a duck that feeds on a toade, as in the loathsome copulation with those bodyes, whose touch is formidable as the fome of a mad dog, the touch whereof has been found as deadly to some, as the wound of his teeth to others.— Wr.

cicurated.] Tamed :—a Brownism.

9

poisons.* For, animals that can innoxiously digest these poisons, become antidotal unto the poison digested. And therefore, whether their breath be attracted, or their flesh ingested, the poisonous relicks go still along with their antidote; whose society will not permit their malice to be destructive. And therefore also, animals that are not mischieved by poisons which destroy us, may be drawn into antidote against them; the blood or flesh of storks against the venom of serpents, the quail against hellebore, and the diet of starlings against the draught of Socrates.? Upon like grounds are some parts of animals alexipharmical unto others; and some veins of the earth, and also whole regions, not only destroy the life of venomous creatures, but also prevent their productions. For though perhaps they contain the seminals of spiders and scorpions, and such as in other earths by suscitation4 of the sun may arise unto animation ; yet lying under command of their antidote, without hope of emergency they are poisoned in their matrix by powers easily hindering the advance of their originals, whose confirmed forms they are able to destroy.

5. The story of the wandering Jew is very strange, and will hardly obtain belief; yet is there a formal account thereof set down by Matthew Paris, from the report of an Armenian bishop, who came into this kingdom about four

* [to][these] these words seem indispensable to complete the sense evidently intended.

Socrates.] That is, henbane.— Wr. 3 whole regions.] As Ireland and Crete neither breede nor brooke any venemous creature, which was a providence of God, considering that noe creature can be worse than the natives themselves. Wr.

Is this remark perfectly in keeping with the character of a Christian minister ?

4 suscitation.] Excitement.

5 Armenian bishop.} And that reporte of a wandering bishop is the ground of this absurd figment : for what's become of him ever since that time? But 'tis noe wonder to finde a wandring Jew in all partes of the world; for what are all the nation but wanderers ? Inmates to the world, and strangers noe where soe much as in their owne countrye.- Wr.

“This fable of the wandering Jew, once almost generally believed, probably suggested the fabrication of the tale of the

wandering Gentile in later times : they are both included in a work, entitled News from

VOL. II.

2

T

hundred years ago, and had often entertained this wanderer at his table. That he was then alive, was first called Cartaphilus, was keeper of the judgment hall, whence thrusting out our Saviour with expostulation for his stay, was condemned to stay until his return; was after baptized by Ananias, and by the name of Joseph ; was thirty years old in the days of our Saviour, remembered the saints that arose with him, the making of the apostles' creed, and their several peregrinations. Surely were this true, he might be an happy arbitrator in many Christian controversies; but must unpardonably condemn the obstinacy of the Jews, who can contemn the rhetorick of such miracles, and blindly behold so living and lasting conversions.

6.6 Clearer confirmations must be drawn for the history of Pope Joan, who succeeded Leo the Fourth, and preceded' Benedict the Third, than many we yet discover. And since it is delivered with aiunt and ferunt by many; since the learned Leo Allatius hath discovered t that ancient copies of Martinus Polonus, who is chiefly urged for it, had not this story in it; since not only the stream of Latin historians have omitted it, but Photius the Patriarch, Metrophanes Smyrnæus, and the exasperated Greeks have made no mention of it, but conceded Benedict the Third to be successor unto Leo the Fourth; he wants not grounds that doubts it.?

* Vade, quid moraris ? ego vado, tu autem morare donec venio.

+ Confutatio fabulæ de Joanna Papissa cum Nibusio. Holland ; or a short relation of two witnesses, now living, of the suffering and passion of our Saviour Jesus Christ : the one being a Gentile, the other a Jew,” &c. in High Dutch. Amsterdam, 1647, London, 1648, 4to. See Huttman's Life of Christ, p. 67. The Spaniard, who wrote one of the most amusing of critiques on John Bull, under the title of Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella's Letters from England, has enlivened his narrative of the wandering Jew with the following incident: “The Jew had awarded his preference to Spain above all the countries he had seen ; as perhaps "-ingeniously remarks the soi-disant Spanish narrator-“ man would who had really seen all the world.” But on being reminded that it was rather extraordinary that a Jew should prefer the country of the Inquisition, the ready rogue answered, with a smile and a shake of the head, “ that it was long before Christianity when he last visited Spain, and that he should not return till long after it was all over.” 6.1 The remainder of the chapter was first added in 2nd edition.

the history of Pope Joan.] Not only the final catastrophe of this lady’s career, as recorded in the well-known Latin line,“ Papa, pater

а.

Many things historical, which seem of clear concession, want not affirmations and negations, according to divided pens: as is notoriously observable in the story of Hildebrand or Gregory the Seventh, repugnantly delivered by the imperial and papal party. In such divided records, partiality hath much depraved history, wherein if the equity of the reader do not correct the iniquity of the writer, he will be much confounded with repugnancies, and often find, in the same person, Numa and Nero. In things of this nature moderation must intercede; and so charity may hope that Roman readers will construe many passages in Bolsec, Fayus, Schlusselberg, and Cochlæus.

7. Every ear is filled with the story of Friar Bacon, that made a brazen head to speak these words, time is.8 Which though there want not the like relations, is surely too literally received, and was but a mystical fable concerning the philosopher's great work, wherein he eminently laboured: implying no more by the copper head, than the vessel wherein it was wrought, and by the words it spake, than the opportunity to be watched, about the tempus ortus, or birth of the mystical child, or philosophical king of Lallius; the rising of the terra foliata of Arnoldus, when the earth, sufficiently impregnated with the water, ascendeth white and splendent. Which not observed, the work is irrecoverably lost, according to that of Petrus Bonus: Ibi est operis perfectio aut annihilatio; quoniam ipsâ die, immo horá, oriuntur elementa simplicia depurata, quæ egent statim compositione, antequam volent ab igne.*

Now letting slip this critical opportunity, he missed the intended treasure, which had he obtained, he might have made out the tradition of making a brazen wall about England : that is, the most powerful defence, and strongest fortification which gold could have effected.

8. Who can but pity the virtuous Epicurus, who is commonly conceived to have placed his chief felicity in pleasure

Margarita pretiosa.

*

patrum, peperit Papissa papillum,”—but even her very existence itself seems now to be universally rejected by the best authorities, Protestant as well as Catholic, as a fabrication from beginning to end.

8 a brazen head.) This ridiculous story was originally imputed, not to Roger Bacon, but to Robert Grosseteste, bishop of Lincoln.

and sensual delights, and hath therefore left an infamous name behind him? How true, let them determine who read that he lived seventy years, and wrote more books than any philosopher but Chrysippus, and no less than three hundred, without borrowing from any author: that he was contented with bread and water; and when he would dine with Jove, and pretend unto epulation, he desired no other addition than a piece of Cytheridian cheese: that shall consider the words of Seneca,9 Non dico, quod plerique nostrorum, sectam Epicuri flagitiorum magistrum esse : sed illud dico, male audit, infamis est, et immerito : or shall read his life, his epistles, his testament in Laërtius, who plainly names them calumnies, which are commonly said against them.

The ground hereof seems a misapprehension of his opinion, who placed his felicity not in the pleasures of the body, but the mind, and tranquillity thereof, obtained by wisdom and virtue, as is clearly determined in his epistle unto Menæceus. Now how this opinion was first traduced by the Stoicks, how it afterwards became a common belief, and so taken up by authors of all ages, by Cicero, Plutarch, Clemens, Ambrose, and others, the learned pen of Gassendus hath discovered. *1

CHAPTER XVIII. More briefly of some others, viz. : that the Army of Xerxes drank whole

Rivers dry; that Hannibal eat through the Alps with Vinegar; of Archimedes, his burning the Ships of Marcellus ; of the Fabii that were all slain; of the Death of Æschylus ; of the Cities of Tarsus and Anchiale built in one day ; of the great Ship Syracusia or Alexandria ; of the Spartan Boys.

1. OTHER relations there are, and those in very good authors, which though we do not positively deny, yet have

* De vita et moribus Epicuri. 9 That shall consider the words of Seneca.] That is, “let them determine the words of Seneca,” &c.

Who can but pity, &c.) Ross is unmerciful in his reprobation of our author's defence of Epicurus. Yet some of those who were among the opponents of that philosopher's doctrines,- for example, Cicero, Plutarch, and Seneca, have awarded him, in reference to the particular charges here spoken of, the same acquittal which Browne has pronounced.

« PredošláPokračovať »