Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

the Pagan champion ;-we leave it unto arithmetical divinity, and theological explanation.

Yet if any delight in new problems, or think it worth the enquiry, whether the critical physician hath rightly hit the nominal notation of quinque ? Why the ancients mixed five or three, but not four parts of water unto their wine ; and Hippocrates observed a fifth proportion in the mixture of water with milk, as in dysenteries and bloody fluxes ? Under what abstruse foundation astrologers do figure the good or bad fate from our children, in good fortune ;* or the fifth house of their celestial schemes? Whether the Egyptians described a star by a figure of five points, with reference unto the five capital aspects, whereby they transmit their influences, or abstruser considerations ? Why the cabalistical doctors, who conceive the whole sephiroth, or divine emanations to have guided the ten-stringed harp of David, whereby he pacified the evil spirit of Saul, in strict numeration do begin with the perihypate meson, or si fa ut, and so place the tiphereth answering c sol fa ut, upon the fifth string ? or whether this number be oftener applied unto bad things and ends, than good in Holy Scripture, and why ? he may meet with abstrusities of no ready resolution.

If any shall question the rationality of that magick, in the cure of the blind man by Serapis, commanded to place five fingers on his altar, and then his hand on his eyes ? Why, since the whole comedy is primarily and naturally comprised in four parts, and antiquity permitted not so many persons to speak in one scene, yet would not comprehend the same in more or less than five acts? Why amongst sea-stars nature chiefly delighteth in five points ? And since there are found some of no fewer than twelve, and some of seven, and nine, there are few or none discovered of six or eight ?5 If any shall enquire why the flowers of rue properly consist of four leaves, the first and third

* 'Ayaon ruxn bona fortuna, the name of the fifth house.

+ Conjunct, opposite, sextile, trigonal, tetragonal.

I IIpótaois, étiraois, karáctaOls, karaot popń. 5 Why amongst sea-stars, &c.] The far greater number of this group of Radiata is pentagonal-or five-rayed." But there occur in many species individuals which vary from the rule. In the British Museum there are specimens of—Ophiura elegans, and Asterias reticulata with

flower have five? Why, since many flowers have one leaf or none, * as Scaliger will have it, divers three, and the greatest number consist of five divided from their bottoms, there are yet so few of two ? or why nature generally beginning or setting out with two opposite leaves at the root, doth so seldom conclude with that order and number at the flower ? He shall not pass his hours in vulgar speculations.

If any shall further query why magnetical philosophy excludeth decussations, and needles transversely placed do naturally distract their verticities ? Why geomancers do imitate the quintuple figure, in their mother characters of acquisition and amission, &c., somewhat answering the figures in the lady or speckled beetle ? With what equity chiromantical conjecturers decry these decussations in the lines and mounts of the hand? What that decussated figure intendeth in the medal of Alexander the Great ? Why the goddesses sit commonly cross-legged in ancient draughts, since Juno is described in the same as a veneficial posture to hinder the birth of Hercules ? If any shall doubt why at the amphidromical feasts, on the fifth day after the child was born, presents were sent from friends, of polypuses and cuttle-fishes ? Why five must be only left in that symbolical mutiny among the men of Cadmus ? Why Proteus in Homer, the symbol of the first matter, before he settled himself in the midst of his sea-monsters, doth place them out by fives ? Why the fifth year's ox was acceptable sacrifice unto Jupiter? Or why the noble Antoninus in some sense doth call the soul itself a rhombus ? He shall not fall on trite or trivial disquisitions. And these we invent and propose unto acuter enquirers, nauseating crambe verities and questions over-queried. Flat, and flexible truths are beat out by every hammer ; but Vulcan and his whole forge sweat to work out Achilles his armour. A large field is yet left unto sharper discerners to enlarge upon this order, to search out the quaternios and figured

* unifolium nullifolium.

but four rays ; of some unnamed species with 4, 5, 6, and 7; of A. variolata with 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 rays; of A. endica with 8 and 9; and A. papposa with from 12 to 15 rays. VOL. II.

2 0

draughts of this nature, and (moderating the study of names, and mere nomenclature of plants), to erect generalities, disclose unobserved proprieties, not only in the vegetable shop, but the whole volume of nature; affording delightful truths, confirmable by sense and ocular observation, which seems to me the surest path to trace the labyrinth of truth. For though discursive enquiry and rational conjecture may leave handsome gashes and flesh-wounds; yet without conjunction of this, expect no mortal or dispatching blows unto error.

But the quincunx* of heaven runs low, and 'tis time to close the five ports of knowledge. We are unwilling to spin out our awaking thoughts into the phantasms of sleep, which often continueth precogitations ; making cables of cobwebs, and wildernesses of handsome groves. Beside Hippocratest hath spoke so little, and the oneirocritical I masters have left such frigid interpretations from plants, that there is little encouragement to dream of Paradise itself. Nor will the sweetest delight of gardens afford much comfort in sleep; wherein the dulness of that sense shakes hands with delectable odours; and though in the bed of Cleopatra, ß can hardly with any delight raise up the ghost of a rose.

Night, which Pagan theology could make the daughter of Chaos, affords no advantage to the description of order; although no lower than that mass can we derive its genealogy. All things began in order, so shall they end, and so shall they begin again; according to the ordainer of order and mystical mathematicks of the city of heaven.

Though Somnus in Homer be sent to rouse up Agamemnon, I find no such effects in these drowsy approaches of sleep. To keep our eyes open longer, were but to act our Antipodes. The huntsmen are up in America, and they are already past their first sleep in Persia. But who can be drowsy at that hour which freed us from everlasting sleep? or have slumbering thoughts at that time, when sleep itself must end, and as some conjecture all shall awake again.

* Hyades, near the horizon about midnight, at that time.
+ De Insomniis.

I Artemidorus et Apomazar.
§ Strewed with roses.

6 and (moderating the study of names, and mere nomenclature of plants), to erect generalities, &c.] In these observations the importance and necessity of endeavouring to approximate to the true natural system of plants, is very curiously and sagaciously anticipated by our author. --Br.

? To keep our eyes open longer, &c.] “Think you that there ever was such a reason given before for going to bed at midnight; to wit, that if we did not, we should be acting the part of our antipodes !” And then,-"THE HUNTSMEN ARE UP IN AMERICA,”—what life, what fancy ! Does the whimsical knight give us, thus, the essence of gunpowder tea, and call it an opiate ?- Coleridge's MS. notes on the margin of a copy of Browne's Works.

** It escaped me to notice in the first chapter of this “ Discourse," that there is a curious article on gardens, in DIsraeli's Curiosities of Literature, vol. iv. p. 233 ; in the Archæologia, vol. vii. a paper by the Hon. Daines Barrington, on the progress of gardening ;-in the 2nd number of the Journal of the Geographical Society, an interesting account of the floating gardens of Cashmere.

END OF THE GARDEN OF CYRUS.

2 0 2

THE STATIONER TO THE READER.

I CANNOT omit to advertise, that a book was published not long since, entitled, Nature's Cabinet Unlocked, bearing the name of this author. If any man have been benefited thereby, this author is not so ambitious as to challenge the honour thereof, as having no hand in that work. To distinguish of true and spurious pieces was the original criticism; and some were so handsomely counterfeited, that the entitled authors needed not to disclaim them. But since it is so, that either he must write himself, or others will write for him, I know no better prevention than to act his own part with less intermission of his pen.

Ta book, &c.] Which Anthony a Wood thus introduceth to the notice of his readers :-“The reader may be pleased now to know that there hath been published under Dr. Thomas Browne's name a book bearing this title :

Nature's Cabinet Unlocked, wherein is discovered the natural Causes of Metals, Stones, Pretious Earths, &c., printed 1657, in tw. A dull worthless thing, stole for the most part out of the Physics of Magirus by a very ignorant person, a plagiary so ignorant and unskilful in his Rider, that not distinguishing between Lovis and Levis in the said Magirus, bath told us of the liver, that one part of it is gibbous and the other light : and yet he had the confidence to call this scribble Nature's Cabinet, &c., an arrogant and fanciful title, of which our author's (Browne) true humility would no more have suffered him to have been the father, than his great learning could have permitted him to have been the author of the said book. For it is certain that as he was a philosopher very inward with nature, so was he one that never boasted his acquaintance with her.”

END OF VOL. II.

PRINTED BY cox (BROTHERS) AND WYMAN, GREAT QUEEN-STREET.

« AnteriorContinuar »