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not apprebend how the tail of an African wether out-weigheth the body of a good calf, that is, an hundred pounds, according unto Leo Africanus,9 or desires, before belief, to behold such a creature as is the ruck’ in Paulus Venetus, for my part I shall not be angry with his incredulity.
12. If any one shall receive, as stretched or fabulous accounts, what is delivered of Cocles, Scævola, and Curtius, the sphere of Archimedes, the story of the Amazons, the taking of the city of Babylon, not known to some therein in three days after, that the nation was deaf which dwelt at the fall of Nilus, the laughing and weeping humour of Heraclitus and Democritus, with many more, he shall not want some reason and the authority of Lancelotti.*
13. If any man doubt of the strange antiquities delivered by historians, as of the wonderful corpse of Antæus untombed
* Farfalloni Historici. occurred in his text, producing the error in question. Our poetical Walton alludes to this marvellous river, but he has adopted the proposed correction, citing Josephus as his authority, but giving the Plinian version of the story, doubtless thinking it most fit that the river should allow the angler to repose on Sunday, and afford him, during the six other days, “ choice recreation.” The classical authorities declare that the river has long since vanished. But recently, a learned Jew, Rabbi Edrehi, has announced a work, asserting the discovery of the lost river, but affirming it to be a river of sand! This is apt to recal to mind an old proverb about “twisting a rope of sand !
As for the “marvellous" of the story, it strikes me, that only grant the existence of water-corn-mills in the time of the Emperor Titus (which it is not for me to deny),--and the whole is perfectly intelligible. The mills had been at work during the week, keeping up a head of water which had rushed along with a velocity (as Josephus describes it) sufficient to carry with it stones and fragments of rocks. On sabbathday the miller "shut down,” and let all the water run through, by which means the river was laid almost dry. What should hinder, in these days of hypothesis, our adopting so ready and satisfactory a solution ?
9 Leo Africanus.] What weights Leo Africanus meanes is doubtfull. Some have been brought hither, that being fatted, coulde scarcely carye their tayles : though I know not, why nature, that hung such a weight behinde, shoulde not enable the creature to drag itt after him by the strength of his backe, as the stag to carye as great weight on his heade only.-- Wr.
1 ruck.] Surely the ruc was but one, like the phenix, but revives not like the phonix.-Wr.
The roc of the Arabian Nights, conjectured to have originated in the American condor,
a thousand years after his death by Sertorius; whether there were no deceit in those fragments of the ark, so common to be seen in the days of Berosus; whether the pillar which Josephus beheld long ago, Tertullian long after, and Bartholomeus de Saligniaco and Bochardus long since, be the same with that of Lot’s wife; whether this were the hand of Paul, or that which is commonly shown the head of Peter; if any doubt, I shall not much dispute with their suspicions. If any man shall not believe the turpentine-tree betwixt Jerusalem and Bethlehem, under which the Virgin suckled our Saviour as she passed between those cities; or the figtree of Bethany, showed to this day, whereon Zaccheus ascended to behold our Saviour; I cannot tell how to enforce his belief, nor do I think it requisite to attempt it. For, as it is no reasonable proceeding to compel a religion, or think to enforce our own belief upon another, who cannot without the concurrence of God's Spirit have any undubitable evidence of things that are obtruded, so is it also in matters of common belief; whereunto neither can we indubitably assent, without the co-operation of our sense or reason, wherein consist the principles of persuasion. For, as the habit of faith in divinity is an argument of things unseen, and a stable assent unto things inevident, upon authority of the Divine Revealer, - sò the belief of man, which depends upon human testimony, is but a staggering assent unto the affirmative, not without some fear of the negative. And as there is required the Word of God, or infused inclination unto the one, so must the actual sensation of our senses,? at least the non-opposition of our reasons, procure our assent and acquiescence in the other. So when Eusebius, an holy writer, affirmeth, there grew a strange and unknown plant near the statue of Christ, erected by his hæmorrhoidal patient in the gospel, which attaining unto the hem of his vesture, acquired a sudden faculty to cure all diseases ; although,3 he saith, he saw the statue in his days,
senses.] And that this was not wanting to make good the storye in parte, is evident in the very next section.-Wr.
although, dc.] Why may wee not beleave that there was such a plant at the foote of that statue upon the report of the ecclesiastick story, publisht in the third ecumenical council at Ephesus, as wel as the statue itselfe upon the report of Eusebius at the first ecumenical coun
yet hath it not found in many men so much as human belief. Some believing, others opinioning, a third suspecting it might be otherwise. For indeed, in matters of belief, the understanding assenting unto the relation, either for the authority of the person, or the probability of the object, although there may be a confidence of the one, yet if there be not a satisfaction in the other, there will arise suspensions ; nor can we properly believe until some argument of reason, or of our proper sense, convince or determine our dubitations.
And thus it is also in matters of certain and experimented truth. For if unto one that never heard thereof, a man should undertake to persuade the affections of the loadstone, or that jet and amber attract straws and light bodies, there would be little rhetorick in the authority of Aristotle, Pliny, or any other. Thus although it be true that the string of a lute or viol will stir upon the stroke of an unison or diapason in another of the same kind; that alcanna being green, will suddenly infect the nails and other parts with a durable red; that a candle out of a musket will pierce through an inch board, or an urinal force a nail through a plank; yet can few or none believe thus much without a visible experiment. Which notwithstanding falls out more happily for knowledge; for these relations leaving unsatisfaction in the hearers, do stir up ingenuous dubiosities unto experiment, and by an exploration of all, prevent delusion in any.
Of some Relations whose truth we fear. LASTLY, as there are many relations whereto we cannot assent, and make some doubt thereof, so there are divers
cil at Nice ; who sayes he saw the statue, but repeates the storye of the plant out of Africanus, who lived within the 200th yeare of Christ: and out of Tertullian, who lived within 120 yeares after this miracle was wrought upon the hæmorroidall that erected the statue. For though the plant lived not till his time, yet itt was as fresh in memorye in the church as when it first grewe.--Wr.
others whose verities we fear, and heartily wish there were no truth therein.
1. It is an insufferable affront unto filial piety, and a deep discouragement unto the expectation of all aged parents, who shall but read the story of that barbarous queen, who, after she had beheld her royal parent's ruin, lay yet in the arms of his assassin, and caroused with him in the skull of her father. For my part, I should have doubted the operation of antimony, where such a potion would not work; 'twas an act, methinks, beyond anthropophagy, and a cup fit to be served up only at the table of Atreus.
4 barbarous queen, &c.] If this relates to the story of Alboin, it is not correctly noticed. I give it from Lardner's Cyclopædia.-Europe during the Middle Ages.
“Few dynasties have been so unfortunate as that of the Lombards. Alboin, its founder, had not wielded the sceptre four years, when he became the victim of domestic treason: the manner is worth relating, as characteristic of the people. During his residence in Pannonia, this valiant chief had overcome and slain Cunimond, king of the Gepidæ, whose skull, in conformity with a barbarous custom of his
nation, he had fashioned into a drinking cup. Though he had married Rosamond, daughter of Cunimond, in his festive entertainments he was by no means disposed to forego the triumph of displaying the trophy. In one held at Verona, he had the inhumanity to invite his consort to drink to her father, while he displayed the cup, and, for the first time, revealed its history in her presence. His vanity cost him dear : if she concealed her abhorrence, it settled into a deadly feeling. By the counsel of Helmich, a confidential officer of the court, she opened her heart to Peredeo, one of the bravest captains of the Lombards ; and when she could not persuade him to assassinate his prince, she had recourse to an expedient, which proves, that in hatred as in love, woman knows no measure. Personating a mistress of Peredeo, she silently and in darkness stole to his bed ; and when her purpose was gained, she threatened him with the vengeance of an injured husband, unless he consented to become a regicide. The option was soon made : accompanied by Helmich, Peredeo was led to the couch of the sleeping king, whose arms had been previously removed ; and, after a short struggle, the deed of blood was consummated. The justice of heaven never slumbers : if Alboin was thus severely punished for his inhumanity, fate avenged him of his murderers. To escape the suspicious enmity of the Lombards, the queen and Helmich fled to Ravenna, which at this period depended on the Greek empire. There the exarch, coveting the treasures which she had brought from Verona, offered her his hand, on condition she removed her companion. Such a woman was not likely to hesitate. To gratify one passion she had planned a deed of blood—to gratify another, her ambition, she presented a poisoned cup to her lover,
2. While we laugh at the story of Pygmalion, and receive as a fable that he fell in love with a statue; we cannot but fear it may be true, what is delivered by Herodotus concerning the Egyptian pollinctors, or such as anointed the dead; that some thereof were found in the act of carnality with them. From wits that say 'tis more than incontinency for Hylas to sport with Hecuba, and youth to flame in the frozen embraces of age, we require a name for this: wherein Petronius or Martial cannot relieve us. The tyranny of Mezentius* did never equal the vitiosity of this incubus, that could embrace corruption, and make a mistress of the grave; that could not resist the dead provocations of beauty, whose quick invitements scarce excuse submission. Surely, if such depravities there be yet alive, deformity need not despair; nor will the eldest hopes be ever superannuated, since death hath
and carcasses have been courted.
3. I am heartily sorry, and wish it were not true, what to the dishonour of Christianity is affirmed of the Italian; who after he had inveigled his enemy to disclaim his faith for the redemption of his life, did presently poiniard him, to prevent repentance, and assure his eternal death. The villany of this Christian exceeded the persecution of heathens, whose malice was never so longimanoust as to reach the soul of their enemies, or to extend unto an exile of their elysiums. And though the blindness of some ferities have savaged on the bodies of the dead, and been so injurious unto worms, as to disinter the bodies of the deceased, yet had they therein no design upon the soul; and have been so far from the destruction of that, or desires of a perpetual death, that for the satisfaction of their revenge they wish them many souls, and were it in their power would have reduced them unto life again. It is a great depravity in our natures, and surely an affection that somewhat savoureth of hell, to desire the society, or comfort
* Who tied dead and living bodies together. * Long-handed. in the bath. After drinking a portion, his suspicions were kindled, and he forced her, under the raised sword, to drink the rest. The same hour ended their guilt and lives. Peredeo, the third culprit, fled to Constantinople, where a fate no less tragical awaited him.”
3 dead provocations of beauty.) Provocations of dead beauty.-Wr.