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desert, and other holy men, and their relics, shrines, chapels, and images : which, though they had a passage for a time, by the ignorance of the people, the superstitious simplicity of some, and the politie toleration of others holding them but as divine poesies, yet after a period of time, when the mist began to clear up, they grew to be esteemed, but as old wives' fables, impostures of the clergy, illusions of spirits, and badges of Antichrist, to the great scandal and detriment of religion.
So in natural history, we see there hath not been that choice and judgment used as ought to have been; as may appear in the writings
; of Plinius, Cardanus, Albertus, and divers of the Arabians, being fraught with much fabulous matter, a great part not only untried, but notoriously untrue, to the great derogation of the credit of natural philosophy with the grave and sober kind of wits: wherein the wisdom and integrity of Aristotle is worthy to be observed; that having made so diligent and exquisite a history of living creatures, hath mingled it sparingly with any vain or feigned matter; and yet,
on the other sake, hath cast all prodigious narrations, which he thought worthy the recording, into one book : excellently discerning that matter of manifest truth (such whereupon observation and rule were to be built) was not to be mingled or weakened with matter of doubtful credit; and yet again, that rarities and reports that seem incredible are not to be suppressed or denied to the memory of men.
And as for the facility of credit which is yielded to arts and opinions, it is likewise of two kinds; either when too much belief is attributed to the arts themselves, or to certain authors in any art. The sciences themselves which have had better intelligence and confederacy with the imagination of man than with his reason, are three in number; astrology, natural magic, and alchymy: of which sciences, nevertheless, the ends or pretences are noble. For astrology 36 pretendeth to discover that correspondence or concatenation which is between the superior globe and the inferior: natural magic pretendeth to call and 37 reduce natural philosophy from variety of speculations to the magnitude of works : and alchymy pretendeth to make separation of all the unlike parts of bodies which in mixtures
of nature are incorporate. But the derivations and prosecutions to these ends, both in the theories and in the practices, are full of error and vanity; which the great professors themselves have sought to veil over and conceal by enigmatical writings, and referring themselves to auricular traditions and such other devices, to save the credit of impostures. And yet surely to alchymy this right is due, that it may be compared to the husbandman whereof Aesop makes the fable; that, when he died, told his sons that he had left unto them gold buried under ground in his vineyard; and they digged over all the ground, and gold they found none; but by reason of their stirring and digging the mould about the roots of their vines, they had a great vintage the year following: so, assuredly, the search and stir to make gold hath brought to light a great number of good and fruitful inventions and experiments, as well for the disclosing of nature as for the use of man's life.
And as for the overmuch credit that hath been given unto authors in sciences, in making them dictators, that their words should stand, and not counsels to give advice; the damage is infinite that sciences have received thereby, as the principal cause that hath kept them low at a stay without growth or advancement. For hence it hath come, that in arts mechanical the first deviser comes shortest, and time addeth and perfecteth; but in sciences the first author goeth furthest, and time 38 leeseth and corrupteth. So we see, artillery, sailing, printing, and the like, were 39 grossly managed at the first, and by time accommodated and refined: but contrariwise, the philosophies and sciences of Aristotle, Plato, Democritus, Hippocrates, Euclides, Archimedes, of most vigour at the first, and by time degenerate and imbased : whereof the reason is no other, but that in the former many wits and industries have contributed in one; and in the latter many wits and industries have been spent about the wit of some one, whom many times they have rather depraved than illustrated. For as water will not ascend higher than the level of the first spring-head from whence it descendeth, so knowledge derived from Aristotle, and exempted from liberty of examination, will not rise again higher than the knowledge of Aristotle. And therefore although the position be
good, “40 Oportet discentem credere,” yet it must be coupled with this,
1Oportet edoctum judicare;" for disciples do owe unto masters only a temporary belief and a suspension of their own judgment until they be fully instructed, and not an absolute resignation or perpetual captivity: and therefore, to conclude this point, I will say no more, but so let great authors have their due, as Time, which is the author of authors, be not deprived of his due, which is, further and further to discover truth.
THE WISDOM AND GENIUS OF THE ANCIENTS.
PAN, OR NATURE, EXPLAINED OF NATURAL PHILOSOPHY. The ancients have, with great exactness, delineated universal nature under the person of Pan. They leave his origin doubtful ; some asserting him the son of Mercury, and others the common offspring of all Penelope's suitors. The latter supposition doubtless occasioned some later rivals to entitle this ancient fable Penelope : a thing frequently practised when the earlier relations are applied to more modern characters and persons, though sometimes with great absurdity and ignorance, as in the present case ; for Pan was one of the ancientest gods, and long before the time of Ulysses ; besides, Penelope was venerated by antiquity for her matronal chastity. A third sort will have him the issue of Jupiter and Hybris; that is, Reproach. But whatever his origin was, the Destinies are allowed his sisters.
He is described by antiquity with pyramidal horns reaching up to heaven, a rough and shaggy body, a very long beard of a biform figure, human above, half brute below, ending in goats' feet. His arms, or ensigns of power, are, a pipe in his left hand, composed of seven reeds ; in his right a crook : and he wore for his mantle a leopard's skin.
His attributes and titles were the god of hunters, shepherds, and all the rural inhabitants ; president of the mountains; and, after Mercury, the next messenger of the gods. He was also held the leader and ruler of the nymphs, who continually danced and frisked about him, attended with the satyrs and their elders, the sileni.
He had also the power of striking terrors, especially such as were vain and superstitious ; whence they came to be called panic terrors.
Few actions are recorded of him, only a principal one is, that he challenged Cupid at wrestling, and was worsted. He also 3 catched the giant Typhon in a net, and held him fast. They relate further of him, that when Ceres, growing disconsolate for the rape of Proserpine, hid herself, and all the gods took the utmost pains to find her, by going out different ways for that purpose, Pan only had the good fortune to meet her, as he was hunting, and discovered her to the rest. He likewise had the assurance to rival Apollo in music; and in the judgment of Midas was preferred ; but the judge had, though with great privacy and secrecy, a pair of ass's ears fastened on him for his sentence.
There is very little said of his amours; which may seem strange among such a multitude of gods, so profusely amorous. He is only reported to have been very fond of Echo, who was also esteemed his wife ; and one nymph more, called Syrinx, with the love of whom Cupid inflamed him for his insolent challenge; so he is reported once to have solicited the moon to accompany him apart into the deep woods.
Lastly, Pan had no descendant; which also is a wonder, when the male gods were so extremely prolific; only he was the reputed father of a servant-girl called Iambe, who used to divert strangers with her ridiculous prattling stories.
This fable is, perhaps, the noblest of all antiquity, and pregnant with the mysteries and secrets of nature. Pan, as the name imports, represents the universe, about whose origin there are two opinions, viz., that it either sprung from Mercury, that is, the Divine Word, according to the Scriptures and philosophical divines, or from the “confused seeds of things. For they who allow only one beginning of all things, either ascribe it to God, or, if they suppose a material beginning, acknowledge it to be various in its powers ; so that the whole dispute comes to these points, viz., either that Nature proceeds from Mercury, or from Penelope and all her suitors.
The third origin of Pan seems borrowed by the Greeks from the Hebrew mysteries, either by means of the Eyyptians or otherwise ; for it relates to the state of the world, not in its first creation, but as made subject to death and corruption after the fall; and in this state it was and remains, the offspring of God and Sin, or Jupiter and Reproach. And therefore these three several accounts of Pan's birth may seem true, if duly distinguished in respect of things and times. For this Pan, or the universal nature of things which we view and contemplate, had its origin from the Divine Word and confused matter, first created by God himself, with the subsequent introduction of sin, and consequently corruption.
The Destinies, or the natures and fates of things, are justly made Pan's sisters, as the chain of natural causes links together the rise, duration, and corruption ; the exaltation, degeneration, and workings; the processes, the effects, and changes, of all that can any way happen to things.
Horns are given him, broad at the roots, but narrow and sharp at the top, because the nature of all things seems pyramidal; for individuals are infinite, but being collected into a variety of species, they rise up into kinds, and these again ascend, and are contracted into generals, till at length nature may seem collected to a point. And no wonder if Pan's horns reach to the heavens, since the sublimities of nature, or abstract ideas, reach in a manner to things divine ; for there is a short and ready passage from metaphysics to natural theology.
Pan's body, or the body of nature, is, with great propriety and elegance, painted shaggy and hairy, as representing the rays of things ; for rays are as the hair or fleece of nature, and more or less worn by all bodies. This evidently appears in vision, and in all effects or operations at a distance ; for whatever operates thus may be properly said to emit rays. But particularly the beard of Pan is exceeding long, because the rays of the celestial bodies penetrate, and act to a prodigious distance, and have descended into the interior of the earth so far as to change its surface; and the sun himself, when clouded on its upper part, appears to the eye bearded.