Chap. XII.

Of the great Climacterical year, that is, Sixty three.

CERTAINLY the Eyes of the understanding, and those of the sense are differently deceived in their greatest objects; the sense apprehending them in lesser magnitudes then their dimensions require; so it beholdeth the Sun, the Stars, and the Earth it selfe. But the understanding quite otherwise: for that ascribeth unto many things far larger horizons then their due circumscriptions require: and receiveth them with amplifications which their reality will not admit. Thus hath it fared with many Heroes and most worthy persons, who being sufficiently commendable from true and unquestionable merits, have received advancement from falshood and the fruitful stock of Fables. Thus hath it happened unto the Stars, and Luminaries of heaven: who being sufficiently admirable in themselves, have been set out by effects, no way dependent on their efficiencies, and advanced by amplifications to the questioning of their true endowments. Thus is it not improbable it hath also fared with number, which though wonderful in it self, and sufficiently magnifiable from its demonstrable affections, hath yet received adjections from the multiplying conceits of men, and stands laden with additions, which its equity will not admit.

And so perhaps hath it happened unto the numbers, 7 and 9, which multiplied into themselves do make up Sixty three, commonly esteemed the great Climacterical of our lives. For the daies of men are usually cast up by Septenaries, and every seventh yeare conceived to carry some altering character with it, either in the temper of body, mind, or both. But among all other, three are most remarkable, that is 7 times 7 or forty nine, 9 times 9 or eighty one, and 7 times 9 or the year of Sixty three; which is conceived to carry with it the most considerable fatality, and consisting of both the other numbers was apprehended to comprise the vertue of either: is therefore expected and entertained with fear, and esteemed a favour of fate to pass it over. Which notwithstanding many suspect to be but a Panick terrour, and men to fear they justly know not what: and to speak indifferently, I find no satisfaction: nor any sufficiency in the received grounds to establish a rationall fear.

Now herein to omit Astrological considerations (which are but rarely introduced) the popular foundation whereby it hath continued, is first, the extraordinary power and secret vertue conceived to attend these numbers: whereof we must confess there have not wanted not only especial commendations, but very singular conceptions. Among Philosophers, Pythagoras seems to have played the leading part; which was long after continued by his disciples, and the Italick School. The Philosophy of Plato, and most of the Platonists abounds in numeral considerations; above all, Philo the learned Jew, hath acted this part even to superstition: bestowing divers pages in summing up every thing, which might advantage this number. Which notwithstanding, when a serious Reader shall perpend, he will hardly find any thing that may convince his judgment, or any further perswade, then the lenity of his belief, or prejudgment of reason inclineth.

For first, not only the number of 7 and 9 from considerations abstruse, have been extolled by most, but all or most of the other digits have been as mystically applauded. For the number of One and Three have not been only admitted by the Heathens, but from adorable grounds, the unity of God, and mystery of the Trinity admired by many Christians. The number of four stands much admired, not only in the quaternity of the Elements, which are the principles of bodies, but in the letters of the Name of God, which in the Greek, Arabian, Persian, Hebrew, and Egyptian, consisteth of that number; and was so venerable among the Pythagorians, that they swore by the number four.[1] That of six hath found many leaves in its favour; not only for the daies of the Creation, but its natural consideration, as being a perfect number, and the first that is compleated by its parts; that is, the sixt, the half, and the third, 1. 2. 3. Which drawn into a sum, make six. The number of Ten hath been as highly extolled, as containing even, odd, long, plain, quadrate and cubical numbers; and Aristotle observed with admiration, that Barbarians as well as Greeks, did use numeration unto Ten, which being so general, was not to be judged casual, but to have a foundation in nature. So that not only 7 and 9, but all the rest have had their Elogies, as may be observed at large in Rhodiginus, and in several Writers since: every one extolling number, according to his subject, and as it advantaged the present discourse in hand.

Again, they have been commended not only from pretended grounds in nature, but from artificial, casual, or fabulous foundations: so have some endeavoured to advance their admiration, from the 9 Muses, from the 7 Wonders of the World, from the 7 Gates of Thebes: in that 7 Cities contended for Homer, in that there are 7 stars in Ursa minor, and 7 in Charles wayn, or Plaustrum of Ursa major. Wherein indeed although the ground be natural, yet either from constellations or their remarkable parts, there is the like occasion to commend any other number, the number 5 from the stars in Sagitta, 3 from the girdle of Orion, and 4 from Equiculus, Crusero, or the feet of the Centaur: yet are such as these clapt in by very few good Authors, and some not omitted by Philo.

Nor are they only extolled from Arbitrary and Poetical grounds, but from foundations and principles, false, or dubious. That Women are menstruant, and Men pubescent at the year of twice seven is accounted a punctual truth: which period nevertheless we dare not precisely determine, as having observed a variation and latitude in most, agreeable unto the heat of clime or temper, Men arising variously into virility, according to the activity of causes that promote it. Sanguis mentruosus ad diem, ut plurimum, septimum durat, saith Philo. Which notwithstanding is repugnant unto experience, and the doctrine of Hippocrates, who in his book, de diæta, plainly affirmeth, it is thus but with few women, and only such as abound with pituitous and watery humours.

It is further conceived to receive addition, in that there are 7 heads of Nyle, but we have made manifest elsewhere[2] by the description of Geographers, they have beene sometime more,[3] and are at present fewer.

In that there were 7 Wise men of Greece,[4] which though generally received, yet having enquired into the verity thereof we cannot so readily determine it; for in the life of Thales, who was accounted in that number, Diogenes Laertius plainly saith Magna de eorum numero discordia est; some holding but four, some ten, others twelve, and none agreeth in their names, though according in their number.

In that there are just 7 Planets or errant Stars in the lower orbs of Heaven,[5] but it is now demonstrable unto sense, that there are many more; as Galileo hath declared,6 that is, two more in the orb of Saturn, and no less then four more in the sphere of Jupiter. And the like may be said of the Pleiades or 7 Stars, which are also introduced to magnifie this number, for whereas scarce discerning six, we account them 7, by his relation, there are no less then fourty.[7]

That the Heavens are encompassed with 7 Circles, is also the allegation of Philo; which are in his account, The Artick, Antartick, the Summer and Winter Tropicks, the Æquator, Zodiack, and the Milky circle; whereas by Astronomers they are received in greater number. For though we leave out the Lacteous circle (which Aratus, Geminus, and Proclus, out of him hath numbered among the rest) yet are there more by four then Philo mentions; that is, the Horizon, Meridian and both the Colures; circles very considerable, and generally delivered, not only by Ptolomie, and the Astronomers since his time, but such as a flourished long before, as Hipparchus and Eudoxus. So that for ought I know, if it make for our purpose, or advance the theme in hand, with equal liberty, we may affirm there were 7 Sybils, or but 7 signs in the Zodiack circle of Heaven.

That verse in Virgil translated out of Homer,8 O terque quaterque beati;[9] that is, as men will have it, 7 times happy, hath much advanced this number in critical apprehensions; yet is not this construction so indubitably to be received, as not at all to be questioned; for though Rhodiginus, Beroaldus and others from the authority of Macrobius so interpret it, yet Servius his ancient commentator conceives no more thereby then a finite number for indefinite, and that no more is implied then often happy. Strabo the ancientist of them all,10 conceives no more by this in Homer, then a full and excessive expression; whereas in common phrase and received language, he should have termed them thrice happy; herein exceeding that number, he called them four times happy; that is, more then thrice. And this he illustrates by the like expression of Homer in the speech of Circe; who to express the dread and terrour of the Ocean, sticks not unto the common form of speech in the strict account of its reciprocations, but largely speaking, saith, it ebbs and flows no less then thrice a day, terque die revomit fluctus, iterumque resorbet. And so when 'tis said by Horace, fælices ter & amplius, the exposition is sufficient, if we conceive no more then the letter fairly beareth, that is, four times, or indefinitly more then thrice.[11]

But the main considerations which most set off this number, are observations drawn from the motions of the Moon, supposed to be measured by sevens; and the critical or decretory daies[12] dependent on that number. As for the motion of the Moon, though we grant it to be measured by sevens, yet will not this advance the same before its fellow numbers; for hereby the motions of other Stars are not measured, the fixed Stars by many thousand years, the Sun by 365 daies, the superiour Planets by more, the inferiour by somewhat less. And if we consider the revolution of the first Movable, and the daily motion from East to West, common unto all the Orbs, we shall find it measured by another number, for being performed in four and twenty hours, it is made up of 4 times 6: and this is the measure and standard of other parts of time, of months, of years, Olympiades, Lustres, Indictions, Cycles,[13] Jubilies, &c.

Again, Months are not only Lunary, and measured by the Moon, but also Solary, and determined by the motion of the Sun; that is, the space wherein the Sun doth pass 30 degrees of the Ecliptick. By this month Hippocrates computed the time of the Infants gestation in the womb;14 for 9 times 30, that is, 270 daies, or compleat 9 months, make up forty weeks, the common compute of women. And this is to be understood, when he saith, 2 daies makes the fifteenth, and 3 the tenth part of a month. This was the month of the ancient Hebrews before their departure out of Egypt:[15] and hereby the compute will fall out right, and the account concur, when in one place it is said, the waters of the flood prevailed an hundred and fifty daies, and in another it is delivered, that they prevailed from the seventeenth day of the second month, unto the seventeenth day of the seventh.[16] As for the hebdomadal periods or weeks, although in regard of their Sabbaths, they were observed by the Hebrews, yet it is not apparent, the ancient Greeks or Romans used any: but had another division of their months into Ides, Nones and Calends.

Moreover, Moneths howsoever taken, are not exactly divisible into septenaries or weeks, which fully containe seven daies: whereof four times do make compleatly twenty eight. For, beside the usual or Calendary month, there are but four considerable:[17] the month of Peragration, of Apparition, of Consecution, and the medical or Decretorial month; whereof some come short, others exceed this account. A month of Peragration, is the time of the Moons revolution from any part of the Zodiack, unto the same again: and this containeth but 27 daies, and about 8 hours: which cometh short to compleat the septenary account. The month of Consecution, or as some will terme it, of progression, is the space between one conjunction of the Moon with the Sun, unto another: and this containeth 29 daies and an half: for the Moon returning unto the same point wherein it was kindled by the Sun, and not finding it there again, (for in the mean time, by its proper motion it hath passed through 2 signes[18]) it followeth after, and attaines the Sun in the space of 2 daies and 4 hours more, which added unto the account of Peragration, makes 29 daies and an half: so that this month exceedeth the latitude of Septenaries, and the fourth part comprehendeth more then 7 daies. A month of Apparition, is the space wherein the Moon appeareth (deducting three daies wherein it commonly disappeareth; and being in combustion with the Sun, is presumed of less activity,) and this containeth but 26 daies and 12 hours. The medical month, not much exceedeth this, consisting of 26 daies and 22 hours, and is made up out of all the other months. For if out of 29 and an half, the month of Consecution, we deduct 3 daies of disappearance, there will remain the month of Apparition 26 daies, and 12. hours: whereto if we add 27 daies and 8 hours, the month of Peragration, there will arise 53 daies and 10. hours, which divided by 2, makes 26 daies and 22 hours: called by Physitians the medical month; introduced by Galen against Archigenes, for the better compute of Decretory or Critical daies.

As for the Critical daies (such I mean wherein upon a decertation betweene the disease and nature, there ensueth a sensible alteration, either to life or death,) the reasons thereof are rather deduced from Astrology, then Arithmetick: for accounting from the beginning of the disease, and reckoning on unto the seventh day, the Moon will be in a Tetragonal or Quadrate aspect, that is, 4 signs removed from that wherein the disease began: in the fourteenth day it will be in an opposite aspect: and at the end of the third septenary, Tetragonal again: as will most graphically appeare in the figures of Astrologers, especially Lucas Gauricus, De Diebus decretoriis.

Again, (Beside that computing by the Medical month the first hebdomade or septenary consists of 6 daies, seventeen hours and an half, the second happeneth in 13 daies and eleven hours, and the third but in the twentieth natural day) what Galen first, and Aben-Ezra since observed in his Tract of Critical daies, in regard of Eccentricity and the Epicycle or lesser orb wherein it moveth, the motion of the Moon is various and unequal; whereby the Critical account must also vary. For though its middle motion be equal, and of 13 degrees, yet in the other it moveth sometimes fifteen, sometimes less then twelve. For moving in the upper part of its orb, it performeth its motion more slowly then in the lower; insomuch that being at the lwest, it arriveth at the Tetragonal and opposite signs sooner, and the Critical day will be in 6 and 13; and being at the height,[19] the critical account will be out of the latitude of 7, nor happen before the eigth or ninth day. Which are considerations not to be neglected in the compute of decretory daies, and manifestly declare that other numbers must have a respect herein as well as 7 and fourteen.

Lastly, Some things to this intent are deduced from holy Scripture; thus is the yeare of Jubile introduced to magnifie this number, as being a yeare made out of 7 times 7; wherein notwithstanding there may be a misapprehension; for this ariseth not from 7 times 7, that is 49; but was observed the fiftieth yeare, as is expressed,20 And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, a Jubile shall that fiftieth year be unto you. Answerable whereto is the Exposition of the Jews themselves; as is delivered by Ben-Maimon; that is, the year of Jubile, cometh not into the account of the years of 7, but the forty ninth is the Release, and the fiftieth the yeare of Jubile. Thus is it also esteemed no small advancement unto this number, that the Genealogy of our Saviour is summed up by 14, that is, this number doubled; according as is expressed.21 So all the generations from Abraham to David are foureteen generations, and from David unto the carrying away into Babylon, are foureteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ, are fourteen generations. Which nevertheless must not be strictly understood as numeral relations require; for from David unto Jeconiah are accounted by Matthew but 14 generations; whereas according to the exact account in the History of Kings, there were at least 17; and 3 in this account, that is, Ahazias, Joas and Amazias are left out. For so it is delivered by the Evangelist: And Joram begat Ozias: whereas in the Regal Genealogy there are 3 successions between: for Ozias or Uzziah was the son of Amazias, Amazias of Joas, Joas of Azariah, and Azariah of Joram: so that in strict account, Joram was the Abavus or Grand-father twice removed, and not the Father of Ozias. And these second omitted descents made a very considerable measure of time, in the Royal chronology of Judah: for although Azariah reigned but one year, yet Joas reigned fourty, and Amazias no less then nine and twenty. However therefore these were delivered by the Evangelist, and carry (no doubt) an incontroulable conformity unto the intention of his delivery: yet are they not appliable unto precise numerality, nor strictly to be drawn unto the rigid test of numbers.

Lastly, Though many things have been delivered by Authors concerning number, and they transferred unto the advantage of their nature, yet are they oft-times otherwise to be understood, then as they are vulgarly received in active and causal considerations; they being many times delivred Hieroglyphically, Metaphorically, Illustratively, and not with reference unto action or causality. True it is, that God made all things in number, weight and measure, yet nothing by them or through the efficacy of either. Indeed our daies, actions and motions being measured by time (which is but motion measured) what ever is observable in any, fals under the account of some number; which notwithstanding cannot be denominated the cause of those events. So do we injustly assign the power of Action even unto Time it self; nor do they speak properly who say that Time consumeth all things; for Time is not effective, nor are bodies destroyed by it, but from the action and passion of their Elements in it; whose account it only affordeth, and measuring out their motion, informs us in the periods and terms of their duration, rather then effecteth, or physically produceth the same.

A second consideration which promoteth this opinion, are confirmations drawn from Writers, who have made observations, or set down favourable reasons for this Climacterical yeare; so have Henricus Ranzovius, Baptista Codronchus,22 and Levinus Lemnius23 much confirmed the same; but above all, that memorable Letter of Augustus24 sent unto his Nephew Caius, wherein he encourageth him to celebrate his nativity, for he had now escaped Sixty three, the great Climacterical and dangerous year unto man: which notwithstanding rightly perpended, it can be no singularity to question it, nor any new Paradox to deny it.

For first, It is implicitely, and upon consequence denied by Aristotle in his Politicks, in that discourse against Plato, who measured the vicissitude and mutation of States, by a periodical fatality of number. Ptolomie that famous Mathematician plainly saith, he will not deliver his doctrines by parts and numbers which are ineffectual, and have not the nature of causes; now by these numbers saith Rhodiginus and Mirandula, he implyeth Climacterical years, that is, septenaries, and novenaries set down by the bare observation of numbers. Censorinus an Author of great authority, and sufficient antiquity, speaks yet more amply in his book De die Natali, wherein expresly treating of Climacterical daies, he thus delivereth himself. Some maintain that 7 times 7, that is, fourty nine, is most dangerous of any other, and this is the most general opinion; others unto 7 times 7, add 9 times 9, that is, the year of eighty one, both which consisting of square and quadrate numbers, were thought by Plato and others to be of great consideration; as for this year of Sixty three or 7 times 9, though some esteem it of most danger, yet do I conceive it less dangerous then the other; for though it containeth both numbers above named, that is 7 and 9, yet neither of them square or quadrate; and as it is different from them both, so is it not potent in either. Nor is this year remarkable in the death of many famous men. I find indeed that Aristotle died this year, but he by the vigour of his mind, a long time sustained a natural infirmity of stomack; so that it was a greater wonder he attained unto Sixty three, then that he lived no longer. The Psalm of Moses[25] hath mentioned a year of danger differing from all these: and that is ten times 7 or seventy; for so it is said, The daies of Man are threescore and ten. And the very same is affirmed by Solon, as Herodotus relates in a speech of his unto Cræsus, Ego annis septuaginta humanæ vitæ modum definio; and surely that year must be of greatest danger, which is the Period of all the rest, and fewest safely passe thorow that, which is set as a bound for few or none to pass. And therefore the consent of elder times, setling their conceits upon Climacters, not only differing from this of ours, but one another; though several Nations and Ages do fancy unto themselves different years of danger, yet every one expects the same event, and constant verity in each.

Again, Though Varro divided the daies of man into five proportions, Hippocrates into 7, and Solon into 10; yet probably their divisions were to be received with latitude, and their considerations not strictly to be confined unto their last unities. So when Varro extendeth Pueritia unto 15. Adolescentia unto 30. Juventus unto 35. There is a latitude between the terms or Periods of compute, and the verity holds good in the accidents of any years between them. So when Hippocrates divideth our life into 7 degrees or stages, and maketh the end of the first 7. Of the second 14. Of the third 28. Of the fourth 35. Of the fift 47. Of the sixt 56. And of the seventh, the last year when ever it happeneth; herein we observe, he maketh not his divisions precisely by 7 and 9, and omits the great Climacterical; beside there is between every one at least the latitude of 7 years, in which space or interval, that is either in the third of fourth year, what ever falleth out is equally verified of the whole degree, as though it had happened in the seventh. Solon divided it into ten Septenaries, because in every one thereof, a man received some sensible mutation; in the first is Dedentition or falling of teeth; in the second Pubescence; in the third the beard groweth; in the fourth strength prevails; in the fift maturity for issue; in the sixth moderation of apetite; in the seventh prudence, &c. Now herein there is a tolerable latitude, and though the division proceed by 7, yet is not the total verity to be restrained unto the last year; nor constantly to be expected the beard should be compleat at 21. or wisedom acquired just in 49. and thus also though 7 times 9, contain one of those septenaries, and doth also happen in our declining years; yet might the events thereof be imputed unto the whole septenary; and be more reasonably entertained with some latitude, then strictly reduced unto the last number, or all the accidents from 56. imputed unto Sixty three.

Thirdly, Although this opinion may seem confirmed by observation, and men may say it hath been so observed, yet we speak also upon experience, and do believe that men from observation will collect no satisfaction. That other years may be taken against it; especially if they have the advantage to precede it; as sixty against sixty three, and sixty three against sixty six. For fewer attain to the latter then the former; and so surely in the first septenary do most die, and probably also in the very first year; for all that ever lived were in the account of that year; beside the infirmities that attend it are so many, and the body that receives them so tender and inconfirmed, we scarce count any alive that is not past it.

Fabritius Paduanius,26 discoursing of the great Climacterical, attempts a numeration of eminent men, who died in that year; but in so small a number, as not sufficient to make a considerable Induction. He mentioneth but four, Diogenes Cynicus, Dionysius Heracleoticus, Xenocrates Platonicus, and Plato: as for Dionysius, as Censorinus witnesseth, he famished himself in the 82 year of his life; Xenocrates by the testimony of Laertius fell into a cauldron, and died the same year; and Diogenes the Synick by the same testimony lived almost unto ninety. The date of Plato's death is not exactly agreed on, but all dissent from this which he determineth: Neanthes in Laertius extendeth his daies unto 84. Suidas unto 82. But Hermippus defineth his death in 81. And this account seemeth most exact; for if, as he delivereth, Plato was borne in the 88 Olympiade, and died in the first year of the 108, the account will not surpass the year of 81, and so in his death he verified the opinion of his life, and of the life of man, whose Period, as Censorinus recordeth, he placed in the Quadrate of 9 or 9 times 9, that is, eighty one: and therefore as Seneca delivereth, the Magicians at Athens did sacrifice unto him, as declaring in his death somewhat above humanity; because he died in the day of his nativity, and without deduction justly accomplished the year of eighty one. Bodine I confess, delivers a larger list of men that died in this year,27 Moriuntur innumerabiles anno sexagesimo tertio, Aristoteles, Chrysippus, Bocatius, Bernardus, Erasmus, Lutherus, Melancthon, Sylvius, Alexander, Jacobus Sturmius, Nicolaus Cusanus, Thomas Linacer, eodem anno Cicero cæsus est. Wherein, beside that it were not difficult to make a larger Catalogue of memorable persons that died in other years, we cannot but doubt the verity of his Induction. As for Silvius and Alexander, which of that name he meaneth I know not; but for Chrysippus, by the testimony of Laertius, he dyed in the 73 year, Bocatius in the 62, Linacer the 64, and Erasmus exceeded 70, as Paulus Jovius hath delivered in his Elogy of learned men. And as for Cicero, as Plutarch in his life affirmeth, [28]he was slain the year of 46; and therefore sure the question is hard set, and we have no easy reason to doubt, when great and entire Authors shall introduce injustifiable examples, and authorize their assertions by what is not authentical.

Fourthly, They which proceed upon strict numerations, and will by such regular and determined waies measure out the lives of men, and periodically define the alterations of their tempers; conceive a regularity in mutations, with an equalitie in constitutions, and forget that variety, which Physitians therein discover. For seeing we affirm that women do naturally grow old before men, that the cholerick fall short in longævity of the sanguine, that there is senium ante senectutem, and many grow old before they arrive at age; we cannot affix unto them all one common point of danger, but should rather assign a respective fatality unto each. Which is concordant unto the doctrin of the numerists, and such as maintain this opinion: for they affirm that one number respecteth Men, another Women, as Bodin explaining that of Seneca, Septimus quisque annus ætati signum imprimit, subjoins Hoc de maribus dictum, oportuit, hoc primum intueri licet, perfectum numerum, id est, sextum fæminas septenarium mares immutare.

Fiftly, Since we esteem this opinion to have some ground in nature, and that nine times seven revolutions of the Sun, imprints a dangerous Character on such as arrive unto it; it will leave some doubt behind, in what subjection hereunto were the lives of our forefathers presently after the flood, and more especially before it; who attaining unto 8 or 900 years, had not their Climacters Computable by digits, or as we do account them; for the great Climacterical was past unto them before they begat Children, or gave any Testimony of their virility; for we read not that any begat children before the age of sixty five. And this may also afford a hint to enquire, what are the Climacters of other animated creatures; whereof the lives of some attain not so far as this of ours, and that of others extends a considerable space beyond it.

Lastly, The imperfect accounts that Men have kept of time, and the difference thereof both in the same and divers common Wealths, will much distract the certainty of this assertion. For though there were a fatality in this year, yet divers were, and others might be out in their account, aberring several waies from the true and just compute, and calling that one year, which perhaps might be another.

For first, They might be out in the commencement or beginning of their account; for every man is many months elder then he computeth. For although we begin the same from our nativity, and conceive that no arbitrary, but natural term of compute, yet for the duration of life or existence, we are liable in the Womb unto the usual distinctions of time; and are not to be exempted from the account of age and life, where we are subject to diseases, and often suffer death. And therefore Pythagoras, Hippocrates, Diocles, Avicenna and others, have set upon us, numeral relations and temporal considerations in the womb; not only affirming the birth of the seventh month to be vital, that of the eighth mortal, but the progression thereto to be measured by rule, and to hold a proportion unto motion and formation. As what receiveth motion in the seventh, to be perfected in the Triplicities; that is, the time of conformation unto motion is double, and that from motion unto the birth, treble; So what is formed the 35 day, is moved the seventy, and born the 210 day. And therefore if any invisible causality there be, that after so many years doth evidence it selfe at Sixty three, it will be questionable whether its activity only set out at our nativity, and begin not rather in the womb, wherein we place the like considerations. Which doth not only entangle this assertion, but hath already embroiled the endeavours of Astrology in the erection of Schemes, and the judgement of death or diseases; for being not incontroulably determined, at what time to begin, whether at conception, animation or exclusion (it being indifferent unto the influence of Heaven to begin at either) they have invented another way, that is, to begin ab Hora quæstionis, as Haly, Messahallach, Ganivetus, and Guido Bonatus have delivered.

Again, In regard of the measure of time by months and years, there will be no small difficulty; and if we shall strictly consider it, many have been and still may be mistaken. For neither the motion of the Moon, whereby months are computed; nor of the Sun, whereby years are accounted, consisteth of whole numbers, but admits of fractions, and broken parts, as we have already declared concerning the Moon. That of the Sun consisteth of 365 daies, and almost 6 hours, that is, wanting eleven minutes; which 6 hours omitted, or not taken notice of, will in process of time largely deprave the compute; and this is the occasion of the Bisextile or leap-year, which was not observed in all times, nor punctually in all Common-Wealths; so that in Sixty three years there may be lost almost 18 daies, omitting the intercalation one day every fourth year, allowed for this quadrant, or 6 hours supernumerary. And though the same were observed, yet to speak strictly a man may be somewhat out in the account of his age at Sixty three, for although every fourth year we insert one day, and so fetch up the quadrant, yet those eleven minutes whereby the year comes short of perfect 6 hours, will in the circuit of those years arise unto certain hours; and in a larger progression of time unto certaine daies. Whereof at present we find experience in the Calender we observe. For the Julian year of 365 daies being eleven minutes larger then the annual revolution of the Sun, there will arise an anticipation in the Æquinoxes; and as Junctinus29 computeth, in every 136 year they will anticipate almost one day. And therefore those ancient men and Nestors of old times, which yearly observed their nativities, might be mistaken in the day; nor that to be construed without a grain of Salt, which is delivered by Moses; At the end of four hundred years, even the self same day, all the hoast of Israel went out of the land of Egypt. For in that space of time the Æquinoxes had anticipated, and the eleven minutes had amounted far above a day. And this compute rightly considered will fall fouler on them who cast up the lives of Kingdoms, and sum up their duration by particular numbers; as Plato first began, and some have endeavoured since by perfect and spherical numbers, by the square and cube of 7 and 9 and 12, the great number of Plato. Wherein indeed Bodine30 hath attempted a particular enumeration; but (beside the mistakes committible in the solary compute of years) the difference of Chronology disturbs the satisfaction and quiet of his computes; some adding, others detracting, and few punctually according in any one year; whereby indeed such accounts should be made up; for the variations in an unite destroyes the total illation.

Thirdly, The compute may be unjust not only in a strict acception, of few daies or houres, but in the latitude also of some years; and this may happen from the different compute of years in divers Nations, and even such as did maintain the most probable way of account: their year being not only different from one another, but the civil and common account disagreeing much from the natural year, whereon the consideration is founded. Thus from the testimony of Herodotus, Censorinus and others, the Greeks observed the Lunary yeare, that is, twelve revolutions of the Moon, 354 daies; but the Egyptians, and many others adhered unto the Solary account, that is, 365 daies, that is eleven daies longer. Now hereby the account of the one would very much exceed the other: A man in the one would account himself 63, when one in the other would think himself but 61; and so although their nativities were under the same hour, yet did they at different years believe the verity of that which both esteemed affixed and certain unto one. The like mistake there is in a tradition of our daies; men conceiving a peculiar danger in the beginning daies of May, set out as a fatal period unto consumptions and Chronical diseases; wherein notwithstanding we compute by Calenders, not only different from our ancestors, but one another; the compute of the one anticipating that of the other; so that while we are in April, others begin May, and the danger is past unto one, while it beginneth with another.

Fourthly, Men were not only out in the number of some daies, the latitude of a few years, but might be wide by whole Olympiades and divers Decades of years. For as Censorinus relateth, the ancient Arcadians observed a year of three months, the Carians of six, the Iberians of four; and as Diodorus and Xenophon de Æquivocis, alleadgeth, the ancient Egyptians have used a year of three, two, and one moneth, so that the Climacterical was not only different unto those Nations, but unreasonably distant from ours; for Sixty three will pass in their account, before they arrive so high as ten in ours.

Nor if we survey the account of Rome it self, may we doubt they were mistaken; and if they feared Climacterical years, might err in their numeration. For the civil year whereof the people took notice, did sometimes come short, and sometimes exceed the natural. For according to Varro, Suetonius, and Censorinus, their year consisted first of ten months; which comprehended but 304 daies, that is 61 less then ours containeth; after by Numa or Tarquine from a superstitious conceit of imparity were added 51 daies, which made 355, one day more then twelve revolutions of the Moon. And thus a long time it continued, the civil compute exceeding the natural; the correction whereof, and the due ordering of the Leap-year was referred unto the Pontifices; who either upon favour or malice, that some might continue their offices a longer or shorter time; or from the magnitude of the year that men might be advantaged, or endamaged in their contracts, by arbitrary intercalations depraved the whole account. Of this abuse Cicero accused Verres, which at last proceeded so far, that when Julius Cæsar came unto that office, before the redress hereof he was fain to insert two intercalary months unto November and December, when he had already inserted 23 daies unto February; so that the[31] year consisted of 445 daies; a quarter of a year longer then that we observe, and though at the last the year was reformed, yet in the mean time they might be out, wherein they summed up Climacterical observations.

Lastly, One way more there may be of mistake, and that not unusual among us, grounded upon a double compute of the year; the one beginning from the 25 of March, the other from the day of our birth, unto the same again which is the natural account. Now hereupon many men frequently miscast their daies; for in their age they deduce the account not from the day of their birth, but the year of our Lord, wherein they were born. So a man that was born in January 1582, if he live to fall sick in the latter end of March 1645, will sum up his age, and say I am now Sixty three, and in my Climacterical and dangerous year; for I was born in the yeare 1582, and now it is 1645, whereas indeed he wanteth many months of that year, considering the true and natural account unto his birth; and accounteth two months for a year: and though the length of time and accumulation of years do render the mistake insensible; yet is it all one, as if one born in January 1644, should be accounted a year old the 25 of March 1645.[32]

All which perpended, it may be easily perceived with what insecurity of truth we adhere unto this opinion; ascribing not only effects depending on the natural period of time unto arbitrary calculations, and such as vary at pleasure; but confirming our tenets by the uncertain account of others and our selves. There being no positive or indisputable ground where to begin our compute; that if there were, men have been several waies mistaken; the best in some latitude, others in greater, according to the different compute of divers states, the short and irreconcilable years of some, the exceeding error in the natural frame of others, and the lapses and false deductions of ordinary accountants in most.

Which duly considered, together with a strict account and critical examen of reason, will also distract the witty determinations of Astrology. That Saturn the enemy of life, comes almost every seventh year, unto the quadrate or malevolent place; that as the Moon about every seventh day arriveth unto a contrary sign, so Saturn, which remaineth about as many years, as the Moon doth daies in one sign, and holdeth the same consideration in years as the Moon in daies; doth cause these periculous periods. Which together with other Planets, and profection of the Horoscope, unto the seventh house, or opposite signs every seventh year; oppresseth living natures, and causeth observable mutations, in the state of sublunary things.

Further satisfaction may yet be had from the learned discourse of Salmasius lately published,33 if any desire to be informed how different the present observations are from those of the ancients; how every one hath different Climactericals; with many other observables, impugning the present opinion.


* [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}.

1 [Browne omits the central number of his Garden of Cyrus; Wren, however, adds "5. for the dimensions of man, dilated into a Pentalpha."]

2 [In Book VI, chapter 8.]

3 [Wren: Honterus reckoned of old, noe fewer then 16: whereof now the slime of Nilus (since itt was baned in divers places) hath obstructed eleven.]

4 [As in Book I, chapter 6.]

5 [Wren: Yf the sun be sett in the center of the universe fixte and immoveable, as the Copernicans contend, then there are but 5 primarye planets as they call them. For the moon they say is a secondary planet, and the earth another.]

6 Nuncius Sydereus.

7 [Wren: Discernable by a good telescope.]

8Τρὶς μάκαρες Δαναοὶ καὶ τετράκις.

9 [Odyssey V.306; Aeneid I.94; "Thrice and four times blessed", as rendered by Dryden.]

10 Lib. 10. [Strabo I.2.36.]

11 [Odes I.xiii.17; "Happy, happy, happy" according to Conington's translation.]

12 [Wren, in a kind of busman's holiday mode: Days of 24 hours are properly the measure to which we reduce months and years. The rest are not reduced to daies but years: saving, that in the compute of the Æquinoctial procession caused by the Julian excess, we accompt the thirty-third bissextile daye supernumerary, and to be rejected. Likewise in the decenovall cycles. The true cycle of the moon is 6939 daies, 16 houres, 595/1080 moments. The Dionysian Paschal cycle of 19 years, cald the golden number, is 6939 daies, 18 hours: the difference is 1 hour, and 485 moments, which in 16 cycles, or every 304 years makes almost a day of the moones anticipation. Of these daies, since the Nicene council, we must accompt, noe less then 4, and of the 5th a 3rd parte: by which the vernall full moone, called the Terminus Paschalis does now anticipate in the Julian kalender. And this is that which the great Scaliger calls, προηγησιν σηληνιακην.]

13 [1672 has "Indictions of Cycles Jubilies &c.", 1686 "Indictions of Cycles, Jubilees", 1646 "Indictions, Cycles, Jubilees". An indiction, or cycle of indiction, is a fiscal period of 15 years, beginning September 1st, inaugurated in 312 and later used, through the middle ages, for general dating purposes.]

14 De octimestri partu.

15 [Wren: For they used the Ægyptian yeare of months, cald annus canicalaris, from the sun's revolution to the rising of the dogge-star.]

16 [Gen. 7: 24 for the first, 11 for the second]

17 [Wren: Considerable lunar months.]

18 [Wren: This was a mistake in the learned author; for the moon goes but one sign in 2 daies and a half. And how could the sun get through a whole signe in 27 daies 8 hours? (This is true, and yet the passage remains unchanged through all editions.)]

19 [All editions have "lowest" and "height" switched in this passage (so that it reads "insomuch that being at the height, it arriveth at the Tetragonal and opposite signs sooner, and the Critical day will be in 6 and 13; and being at the lowest, the criticall account will be out of the latitude of 7. nor happen before the 8. or ninth day,").]

20 Levit. 25.

21 Mat. 1.

22 De annis Climactericis.

23 De occultæ naturæ miraculis.

24 Gell. lib. 15.

25 [Psalm 90]

26 De catena temporis.

27 Method. Hist.

28 [Plutarch Cicero 48.5]

29 Comment. in Sphæram Iob. de Sacro bosco.

30 Meth. Histor.

31 [1646 has "that that year", ugly but more exact.]

32 [Keeping in mind that 25 March was the beginning of the year; we would say "As if one borne in December 1644 should be accounted a yeare old the 1. of January, 1645." On the other hand, such a child is, of course, in the "first year of his life"; if the climacteric year is taken to be the "63rd year", rather than "the year in which one is 63 years old", the argument is incorrect, although such an assertion might be more ground for doubt of the concept.

Playing devil's advocate for a moment, we might consider that as death is not necessarily the worst event of a life, the absence of any statistical correlation of death with the age of 63 (or 49 or 81) is not a particularly good argument against the baneful influence of the climacteric. Nor, indeed, is the argument from varying calendars. One would need first to define exactly what the climacteric is, in whatever terms one wished, and then investigate its influence. If, for instance, the climacteric is the year following the 63rd natal solar return, the fact that I call days years and that every 63rd day is just dandy would not prove anything about the "real" climacteric. Such an argument is as much as to say that there is no vernal equinox because different cultures have different years and different months.]

33 De annis Climactericis.

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