Chap. XXVIII[1]

Of some Others.

THAT a Chicken is formed out of the yelk of the Egg, was the opinion of some Ancient Philosophers. Whether it be not the nutriment of the Pullet, may also be considered: Since umbilical vessels are carried unto it: Since much of the yelk remaineth after the Chicken is formed: Since in a Chicken newly hatched, the stomack is tincted yellow, and the belly full of yelk, which is drawn in at the navel or vessels towards the vent, as may be discerned in Chickens within a day or two before exclusion.

Whether the Chicken be made out of the white, or that be not also its aliment, is likewise very questionable: Since an umbilical vessal is derived unto it: Since after the formation and perfect shape of the Chicken, much of the white remaineth.

Whether it be not made out of the grando, gallature, germ or tred of the Egg, As Aquapendente informeth us, seemed to many of doubt: for at the blunter end it is not discovered after the Chicken is formed; by this also the yelk and white are continued, whereby it may conveniently receive its nutriment from them both.

Now that from such slender materials, nature should effect this production it is no more then is observed in other animals; and even in grains and kernels, the greatest part is but the nutriment of that generative particle, so disproportionable unto it.

A greater difficulty in the doctrine of Eggs, is, how the sperm of the Cock prolificates and makes the oval conception fruitful, or how it attaineth unto every Egg, since the vitellary or place of the yelk is very high: Since the ovary or part where the white involveth it, is in the second region of the matrix, which is somewhat long and inverted: Since also a Cock will in one day fertilitate the whole racemation or cluster of Eggs, which are not excluded in many weeks after.

But these at last, and how in the Cicatricula or little pale circle formation first beginneth, how the Grando or tredle, are but the poles and establishing particles of the tender membrans, firmly conserving the floating parts in their proper places, with many other observables, that ocular Philosopher, and singular discloser of truth, Dr. Harvey hath discovered, in that excellent discourse of Generation; So strongly erected upon the two great pillars of truth, experience and solid reason.

That the sex is discernable from the figure of Eggs, or that Cocks or Hens proceed from long or round ones, as many contend, experiment will easily frustrate.

The Ægyptians observed a better way to hatch their Eggs in Ovens, then the Babylonians to roast them at the bottom of a sling, by swinging them round about, till heat from motion had concocted them; for that confuseth all parts without any such effect.

Though slight distinction be made between boiled and roasted Eggs, yet is there no slender difference, for the one is much drier then the other: the Egg expiring less in the elixation or boiling; whereas in the assation or roasting, it will sometimes abate a dragm; that is, threescore grains in weight. So a new laid Egg will not so easily be boiled hard, because it contains a greater stock of humid parts; which must be evaporated, before the heat can bring the inexhalable parts into consistence.

Why the Hen hatcheth not the Egg in her belly, or maketh not at least some rudiment thereof within her self, by the natural heat of inward parts, since the same is performed by incubation from an outward warmth after; Why the Egg is thinner at one extream? Why there is some cavity or emptiness at the blunter end? Why we open them at that part? Why the greater end is first excluded? Why some Eggs are all red, as the Kestrils; some only red at one end, as those of Kites and Buzzards? why some Eggs are not Oval but Round, as those of fishes? &c. Are problems, whose decisions would too much enlarge this discourse.

That Snakes and Vipers do sting or transmit their mischief by the tail, is a common expression not easily to be justified; and a determination of their venoms unto a part, wherein we could never find it; the poison lying about the teeth, and communicated by bite, in such as are destructive. And therefore when biting Serpents are mentioned in the Scripture, they are not differentially set down from such as mischief by stings; nor can conclusions be made conformable to this opinion, because when the Rod of Moses was turned into a Serpent, God determinately commanded him to take up the same by the tail.

Nor are all Snakes of such empoisoning qualities, as common opinion presumeth; as is confirmable from the ordinary green Snake with us, from several histories of domestick Snakes, from Ophiophagous nations, and such as feed upon Serpents.

Surely the destructive delusion of Satan in this shape, hath much enlarged the opinion of their mischief. Which notwithstanding was not so high with the heathens, in whom the Devil had wrought a better opinion of this animal, it being sacred unto the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, and the common symbole of sanity. In the shape whereof Æsculapius the God of health appeared unto the Romans, accompanied their Embassadors to Rome from Epidaurus; and the same did stand in the Tiberine Isle upon the Temple of Æsculapius.

Some doubt many have of the Tarantula, or poisonous Spider of Calabria, and that magical cure of the bite thereof by Musick. But since we observe that many attest it from experience: Since the learned Kircherus hath positively averred it, and set down the songs and tunes solemnly used for it; Since some also affirm the Tarantula it self will dance upon certain stroaks, whereby they set their instruments against its poison; we shall not at all question it.

Much wonder is made of the Boramez,[2] that strange plant-animal or vegetable Lamb of Tartary, which Wolves delight to feed on, which hath the shape of a Lamb, affordeth a bloody juyce upon breaking, and liveth while the plants be consumed about it. And yet if all this be no more, then the shape of a Lamb in the flower or seed, upon the top of the stalk, as we meet with the forms of Bees, Flies and Dogs in some others; he hath seen nothing that shall much wonder at it.

It may seem too hard to question the swiftness of Tigers, which hath therefore given names unto horses, Ships and Rivers, nor can we deny what all have thus affirmed; yet cannot but observe, that Jacobus Bontius late Physitian at Java in the East Indies, as an ocular and frequent witness is not afraid to deny it; to condemn Pliny who affirmeth it, and that indeed it is but a slow and tardigradous animal, and preying upon advantage, and otherwise may be escaped.[3]

Many more there are whose serious enquiries we must request of others, and shall only awake considerations. Whether that common opinion that Snakes do breed out of the back or spinal marrow of man, doth build upon any constant root or seed in nature; or did not arise from contingent generation, in some single bodies remembered by Pliny or others, and might be paralleld since in living corruptions of the guts and other parts; which regularly proceed not to putrifactions of that nature.

Whether the story of the Remora[4] be not unreasonably amplified; whether that of Bernacles and Goose-trees be not too much enlarged;[5] whether the common history of Bees will hold, as large accounts have delivered; whether the brains of Cats be attended with such destructive malignities, as Dioscorides[6] and others put upon them.

As also whether there be not some additional help of Art, unto the Numismatical and Musical shells, which we sometimes meet with in conchylious collections among us.

Whether the fasting spittle of man be poison unto Snakes and Vipers, as experience hath made us doubt? Whether the Nightingals setting with her breast against a thorn, be any more then that she placeth some prickels on the outside of her nest, or roosteth in thorny and prickly places, where Serpents may least approach her? Whether Mice may be bred by putrifaction as well as univocall production, as may easily be believed, if that receit to make Mice out of wheat will hold, which Helmont hath delivered.7 Whether Quails from any idiosyncracy or peculiarity of constitution, do innocuously feed upon Hellebore, or rather sometime but medically use the same; because we perceive that Stares, which are commonly said harmlessly to feed on Hemlock, do not make good the tradition; and he that observes what vertigoes, cramps, and convulsions follow thereon in these animals, will be of our belief.{8}

End of Book III



* [My or others' notes are in square brackets]; Browne's marginalia is unmarked; {passages or notes from unpublished material by Browne is in curly braces}. Ross in Arcana Microcosmi II.8 defends various of the tenets discussed in this chapter.

1 [Added in 2nd edition, extended in 3rd and 6th editions]

2 [Wilkin: "Polypodium borametz, L. Mirbel (in the 8vo. edition of Buffon, by Sonnini) calls it polyp. chinois. Jussieu gives the following account of it under the article, BAROMETZ.

"Cette espèce de polypode de Tartarie, polypodium borametz, L., présente dans la disposition de ses parties une forme singulière. Sa tige, longue d'environ un pied et dans une direction horizontale, est portée sur quatre ou cinq racines qui la tiennent élevée hor de terre. Sa surface est couverte d'un duvet assez long, soyeux et d'une couleur jaune dorée. Ainsi conformée, elle rassemble à la toison d'un agneau de Scythie, et on la trouve ainsi citée dans les contes fabuleux imaginés sur quelques singularités du règne végétal.—Dictionnaire des Sciences Naturelles, vol. iv, p. 85.

"Ross {loc. cit.} contends stoutly for the literal verity of this pleasant story; and utterly rejects the sceptical explanations proposed by Sir Thomas."]

3 [The tiger can run about 30 to 35 miles per hour, which is certainly fast enough to catch a human. It is true, however, that it prefers to prey "upon advantage".]

4 [i.e., that they can stop ships]

5 [The goose tree, mentioned in Chap. XII; Wilkin adds "The natural history of the lepas anatifera, or bernacle, is too well understood, to render it necessary to say a syllable in refutation of the old story of its producing geese. It may be allowed, however, to notice the fact (discovered by Sir E. Home, and illustrated by highly magnified figures in his Comparative Anatomy) that this is one of the self-impregnating animals."]

6 [The source is spurious.]

7 Helm. Imago fermenti, &c. [Ross in Arcana Microcosmi; So he may doubt whether in cheese and timber, worms are generated; or if beetles and wasps in cow's dung; or if butterflies, locusts, grasshoppers, shell-fish, snails, eels, and such like, be procreated of putrified matter, which is apt to receive the form of that creature to which it is by formative power disposed. To question this, is to question reason, sense, and experience. If he doubts of this, let him go to Egypt, and there he will find the field swarming with mice begot of the mud of Nylus, to the great calamity of the inhabitants. What will he say to those rats and mice, or little beasts resembling mice found generated in the belly of a woman dissected after her death, of which Lemnius is a witness? I have seen one whose belly, by drinking of puddle water, was swelled to a vast capacity, being full of small toads, frogs, evets, and such vermin, usually bred in purified water.]

8 {Browne MS Sloan 1875: 6 grains of white hellebore given unto a young quail produced vertigoes but it survived. 10 of black hellebore unto another produced no sensible alteration but only frequent ejections or mutings.}

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