Chap. XIII.

Of the Canicular or Dog-daies.

WHEREOF to speak distinctly: among the Southern Constellations two there are which bear the name of the Dog: the one in 16 degrees of latitude, containing on the left thigh a Star of the first magnitude, usually called Procyon or Anticanis, because say some it riseth before the other; which if truly understood, must be restrained unto those habitations, who have elevation of pole above thirty two degrees. Mention thereof is in Horace,1 who seems to mistake or confound the one with the other; and after him in Galen, who is willing, the remarkablest Star of the other should be called by this name: because it is the first that ariseth in the constellation; which notwithstanding, to speak strictly, it is not, unless we except one of the third magnitude in the right paw in his own and our elevation, and two more on his head in and beyond the degree of Sixty. A second and more considerable one there is, and neighbour unto the other, in 40 degrees of latitude, containing 18 Stars, whereof that in his mouth of the first magnitude, the Greeks call Σέιριος, the Latines canis major, and we emphatically the Dog-Star.

Now from the rising of this Star, not cosmically, that is, with the Sun, but Heliacally, that is, its emersion from the raies of the Sun, the Ancients computed their canicular daies;[2] concerning which there generally passeth an opinion, that during those daies, all medication or use of Physick is to be declined, and the cure committed unto Nature. And therefore as though there were any feriation in nature or justitiums imaginable in professions,[3] whose subject is natural, and under no intermissive, but constant way of mutation; this season is commonly termed the Physitians vacation, and stands so received by most men. Which conceit however general, is not only erroneous, but unnatural, and subsisting upon foundations either false, uncertain, mistaken or misapplied, deserves not of mankind that indubitable assent it findeth.

For first, which seems to be the ground of this assertion, and not to be drawn into question, that is, the magnified quality of this Star conceived to cause, or intend the heat of this season, whereby these daies become more observable then the rest: We finde that wiser Antiquity was not of this opinion. For, seventeen hundred years ago it was as a vulgar error rejected by Geminus, a learned Mathematician in his Elements of Astronomy; wherein he plainly affirmeth, that common opinion made that a cause, which was at first observed but as a sign. The rising and setting both of this Star and others being observed by the Ancients, to denote and testifie certain points of mutation, rather then conceived to induce or effect the same. For our fore-fathers, saith he, observing the course of the Sun, and marking certaine mutations to happen in his progress through particular parts of the Zodiack, they registred and set them down in their Parapegmes, or Astronomical Canons; and being not able to design these times by daies, months or years (the compute thereof, and the beginning of the year being different, according unto different Nations[4]) they thought best to settle a general account unto all; and to determine these alterations by some known and invariable signs; and such did they conceive the rising and setting of the fixed Stars; not ascribing thereto any part of causality, but notice and signification. And thus much seems implied in that expression of Homer, when speaking of the Dog-Star, he concludeth — κακόν δε τε σῆμα τέτυκται, Malum autem signum est;[5] the same as Petavius observeth, is implied in the words of Ptolomy, and the Ancients, περί ἐπισημασιῶν, that is, of the signification of Stars. The terme of Scripture also favours it, as that of Isaiah. Nolite timere a signis cœli, and that in Genesis, Ut sint in signa et tempora: Let there be lights in the firmament, and let them be for signes and for seasons.[6]

The Primitive and leading magnifiers of this Star, were the Egyptians, the great admirers of Dogs in Earth and Heaven. Wherein they worshipped Anubis or Mercurius, the Scribe of Saturn, and Counseller of Osyris, the great inventor of their religious rites, and Promoter of good unto Egypt. Who was therefore translated into this Star; by the Egyptians called Sothis, and Siris by the Ethiopians;7 from whence that Sirias or the Dog-Star had its name, is by some conjectur'd.8

And this they looked upon, not with reference unto heat, but cœlestial influence upon the faculties of man, in order to religion and all sagacious invention; and from hence derived the abundance and great fertility of Egypt, the overflow of Nylus happening about the ascent hereof. And therefore in hieroglyphical monuments, Anubis is described with a Dogs-head, with a Crocodile between his legs, with a sphere in his hand, with two Stars, and a water Pot standing by him; implying thereby, the rising and setting of the Dog-star, and the inundation of the River Nylus.

But if all were silent, Galen hath explained this point unto the life; who expounding the reason why Hippocrates declared the affections of the year by the rising and setting of Stars; it was saith he, because he would proceed on signs and principles best known unto all Nations. And upon his words in the first of the Epidemicks, In Thaso Autumno circa Equinoxium & sub virgilias pluviæ erant multæ, he thus enlargeth: If (saith he) the same compute of times and months were observed by all Nations, Hippocrates had never made any mention either of Arcturus, Pleiades or the Dog-star; but would have plainly said, in Macedonia, in the month Dion, thus or thus was the air disposed. But for as much as the month Dion is only known unto the Macedonians, but obscure unto the Athenians and other Nations, he found more general distinctions of time, and instead of naming months, would usually say, at the Æquinox, the rising of the Pleiades, or the Dog-star. And by this way did the Ancients divide the seasons of the year, the Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer. By the rising of the Pleiades, denoting the beginning of Summer, and by that of the Dog-star, the declination thereof. By this way Aristotle through all his books of Animals, distinguisheth their times of generation, latitancy, migration, sanity and venation. And this were an allowable way of compute, and still to be retained, were the site of the Stars as inalterable, and their ascents as invariable as primitive Astronomy conceaved them. And therefore though Aristotle frequently mentioneth this Star, and particularly affirmeth that Fishes in the Bosphorus are best catched from the arise of the Dog-star, we must not conceive the same a meer effect thereof. Nor though Scaliger from hence be willing to infer the efficacy of this Star, are we induced hereto; except because the same Philosopher affirmeth, that Tunny is fat about the rising of the Pleiades, and depart upon Arcturus, or that most insects are latent, from the setting of the 7 Stars; except, I say, he give us also leave to infer that these particular effects and alterations proceed from those Stars; which were indeed but designations of such quarters and portions of the year, wherein the same were observed. Now what Pliny affirmeth of the Orix, that it seemeth to adore this Star, and taketh notice thereof by voyce and sternutation;[9] until we be better assured of its verity, we shall not salve the sympathy.

Secondly, What slender opinion the Ancients held of the efficacy of this Star; is declarable from their compute. For as Geminus affirmeth, and Petavius his learned Commentator proveth, they began their account from its Heliacal emersion, and not its cosmical ascent. The cosmical ascension of a Star we term that, when it ariseth together with the Sun, or the same degree of the Ecliptick wherein the Sun abideth: and that the Heliacal, when a Star which before for the vicinity of the Sun was not visible, being further removed, beginneth to appear. For the annual motion of the Sun from West to East being far swifter then that of the fixed Stars, he must of necessity leave them on the East while he hastneth forward, and obscureth others to the West: and so the Moon who performs its motion swifter then the Sun (as may be observed in their Conjunctions and Eclipses) gets Eastward out of his raies; and appears when the Sun is set.[10] If therefore the Dog-star had this effectual heat which is ascribed unto it, it would afford best evidence thereof, and the season would be most fervent, when it ariseth in the probablest place of its activity, that is, the cosmical ascent; for therein it ariseth with the Sun, and is included in the same irradiation. But the time observed by the Ancients was long after this ascent, and in the Heliacal emersion, when it becomes at greater distance from the Sun, neither rising with it nor near it. And therefore had they conceived any more then a bare signality in this Star, or ascribed the heat of the season thereunto; they would not have computed from its Heliacal ascent, which was of inferiour efficacy; nor imputed the vehemency of heat unto those points wherein it was more remiss, and where with less probability they might make out its action.

Thirdly, Although we derive the authority of these daies from observations of the Ancients, yet are our computes very different, and such as confirm not each other. For whereas they observed it Heliacally, we seem to observe it Cosmically; for before it ariseth Heliacally unto our latitude, the Summer is even at an end. Again, we compute not only from different ascents, but also from divers Stars; they from the greater Dog-star, we from the lesser;[11] they from Orions, we from Cephalus his dog; they from Seirius, we from Procyon; for the beginning of the Dog-daies with us is set down the 19 of July, about which time the lesser Dog-star ariseth with the Sun; whereas the Star of the greater Dog ascendeth not until after that month. And this mistake will yet be larger, if the compute be made stricter, and as Dr. Bainbrigge12 late professor of Astronomy in Oxford, hath set it down. Who in the year 1629 computed, that in the Horizon of Oxford, the Dog-Star arose not before the fifteenth day of August; when in our Almanack accounts, those daies are almost ended. So that the common and received time not answering the true compute, it frustrates the observations of our selves. And being also different from the calculations of the Ancients, their observations confirm not ours, nor ours theirs, but rather confute each other.

Nor will the computes of the Ancients be so Authentick unto those, who shall take notice, how commonly they applied the celestial descriptions of other climes unto their own; wherein the learned Bainbrigius justly reprehendeth Manilius, who transferred the Ægyptian descriptions unto the Roman account; confounding the observation of the Greek and Barbarick Spheres.

Fourthly, (which is the Argument of Geminus) were there any such effectual heat in this Star, yet could it but weakly evidence the same in Summer; it being about 40 degrees distant from the Sun; and should rather manifest its warming power in the Winter, when it remains conjoyned with the Sun in its Hybernal conversion. For about the 29 of October, and in the 16 of Scorpius, and so again in January, the Sun performes his revolution in the same parallel with the Dog-star. Again, If we should impute the heat of this season, unto the co-operation of any Stars with the Sun, it seems more favourable for our times, to ascribe the same unto the constellation of Leo. Where besides that the Sun is in his proper house, it is conjoyned with many Stars: whereof two of the first magnitude; and in the 8th of August is corporally conjoyned with Basiliscus; a Star of eminent name in Astrology, and seated almost in the Ecliptick.

Fifthly, If all were granted, that observation and reason were also for it, and were it an undeniable truth, that an effectual fervour proceeded from this Star; yet would not the same determine the opinion now in question; it necessarily suffering such restrictions as take off general illations. For first in regard of different latitudes, unto some the canicular daies are in the Winter; as unto such as have no latitude, but live in a right Sphere, that is, under the Equinoctial line; for unto them it ariseth when the Sun is about the Tropick of Cancer; which season unto them is Winter, and the Sun remotest from them. Nor hath the same position in the Summer, that is, in the Equinoctial points, any advantage from it; for in the one point the Sun is at the Meridian, before the Dog-star ariseth; in the other the Star is at the Meridian, before the Sun ascendeth.

Some latitudes have no canicular daies at all; as namely all those which have more then 73 degrees of Northern Elevation; as the territory of Nova Zembla, part of Greenland and Tartary; for unto that habitation the Dog star is invisible, and appeareth not above the Horizon.

Unto such Latitudes wherein it ariseth, it carrieth a various and very different respect; unto some it ascendeth when Summer is over, whether we compute Heliacally or Cosmically; for though unto Alexandria it ariseth in Cancer, yet it ariseth not unto Biarmia[13] Cosmically before it be in Virgo, and Heliacally about the Autumnal Equinox. Even unto the Latitude of 52,[14] the efficacy thereof is not much considerable, whether we consider its ascent, Meridian altitude or abode above the Horizon. For it ariseth very late in the year, about the eighteenth of Leo, that is, the 31 of July. Of Meridian Altitude it hath but 23 degrees, so that it plaies but oblickly upon us, and as the Sun doth about the 23 of January. And lastly, his abode above the Horizon is not great; for in the eighteenth of Leo, the 31 of July, although they arise together; yet doth it set above 5 houres before the Sun, that is, before two of the clock, after which time we are more sensible of heat, then all the day before.

Secondly, In regard of the variation of the longitude of the Stars, we are to consider (what the Ancients observed not) that the site of the fixed Stars is alterable, and that since elder times they have suffered a large and considerable variation of their longitudes. The longitude of a Star, to speak plainly, is its distance from the first point of numeration toward the East; which first point unto the Ancients was the vernall æquinox. Now by reason of their motion from West to East, they have very much varied from this point: The first Star of Aries in the time of Meton the Athenian was placed in the very intersection, which is now elongated and removed Eastward 28 degrees; insomuch that now the sign of Aries possesseth the place of Taurus, and Taurus that of Gemini. Which variation of longitude must very much distract the opinion of the Dog-star; not only in our daies, but in times before and after; for since the World began it hath arisen in Taurus, and if the World last, may have its ascent in Virgo; so that we must place the canicular daies, that is the hottest time of the year in the Spring in the first Age, and in the Autumn in Ages to come.[15]

Thirdly, The Stars have not only varied their longitudes, whereby their ascents have altered; but they have also changed their declinations, whereby their rising at all, that is, their appearing hath varied. The declination of a Star we call its distance from the Equator. Now though the Poles of the world and the Equator be immovable, yet because the Stars in their proper motions from West to East, do move upon the poles of the Ecliptick, distant 23 degrees and an half from the Poles of the Equator, and describe circles parallel not unto the Equator, but the Ecliptick; they must be therefore sometimes nearer, sometimes removed further from the Equator. All Stars that have their distance from the Ecliptick Northward not more then 23 degrees and an half (which is the greatest distance of the Ecliptick from the Equator) may in progression of time have declination Southward, and move beyond the Equator: but if any Star hath just this distance of 23 and an half (as hath Capella on the backe of Erichthonius) it may hereafter move under the Equinoctial; and the same will happen respectively unto Stars which have declination Southward. And therefore many Stars may be visible in our Hemisphere, which are not so at present; and many which are at present, shall take leave of our Horizon, and appear unto Southern habitations. And therefore the time may come that the Dog star may not be visible in our Horizon, and the time hath been, when it hath not shewed it self unto our neighbour latitudes. So that canicular daies there have beene none, nor shall be; yet certainly in all times some season the yeare more notably hot then other.

Lastly, We multiply causes in vain; and for the reason hereof, we need not have recourse unto any Star but the Sun, and continuity of its action. For the Sun ascending into the Northern signs, begetteth first a temperate heat in the air; which by his approach unto the solstice he intendeth;[16] and by continuation increaseth the same even upon declination. For running over the same degrees again, that is, in Leo, which he hath done in Taurus, in July which he did in May; he augmenteth the heat in the latter which he began in the first; and easily intendeth the same by continuation which was well promoted before. So it is observed that they which dwell between the Tropicks and the Equator, have their second summer hotter and more maturative of fruits then the former. So we observe in the day (which is a short year[17]) the greatest heat about two in the afternoon, when the Sun is past the Meridian (which is his diurnal solstice) and the same is evident from the Thermometer or observations of the weather-glass. So are the colds of the night sharper in the Summer about two or three after midnight, and the frosts in Winter stronger about those houres. So likewise in the year we observe the cold to augment, when the daies begin to increase, though the Sun be then ascensive, and returning from the Winter Tropick. And therefore if we rest not in this reason for the heat in the declining part of Summer, we must discover freezing Stars that may resolve the latter colds of Winter;[18] which who ever desires to invent, let him study the Stars of Andromeda, or the nearer constellation of Pegasus, which are about that time ascendent.

It cannot therefore seeme strange, or savour of singularity that we have examined this point. Since the same hath beene already denied by some, since the authority and observations of the Ancients rightly understood, do not confirm it, since our present computes are different from those of the Ancients, whereon notwithstanding they depend; since there is reason against it, and if all were granted, yet must it be maintained with manifold restraints, far otherwise then is received. And lastly, since from plain and natural principles, the doubt may be fairly salved, and not clapt up from petitionary foundations and principles unestablished.

But that which chiefly promoted the consideration of these daies, and medically advanced the same, was the doctrine of Hippocrates; a Physitian of such repute, that he received a testimony from a Christian,19 that might have beene given unto Christ. The first in his book de Aere, Aquis, & locis. Syderum ortus, &. That is, we are to observe the rising of Stars, especially the Dog-star, Arcturus, and the setting of the Pleiades or seven Stars. From whence notwithstanding we cannot infer the general efficacy of these Stars, or co-efficacy particular in medications. Probably expressing no more hereby then if he should have plainly said, especial notice we are to take of the hottest time in Summer, of the beginning of Autumn and Winter; for by the rising and setting of those Stars were these times and seasons defined. And therefore subjoyns this reason, Quoniam bis temporibus morbi finiuntur, because at these times diseases have their ends; as Physitions well know, and he else where affirmeth, that seasons determine diseases, beginning in their contraries; as the spring the diseases of Autumn, and the Summer those of Winter. Now (what is very remarkable) whereas in the same place he adviseth to observe the times of notable mutations, as the Equinoxes, and the Solstices, and to decline Medication ten daies before and after; how precisely soever canicular cautions be considered, this is not observed by Physitians, nor taken notice of by the people. And indeed should we blindly obey the restraints both of Physitions and Astrologers, we should contract the liberty of our prescriptions, and confine the utility of Physick unto a very few daies. For observing the Dog-daies, and as is expressed, some daies before, likewise ten daies before and after the Equinoctial and Solsticial points; by this observation alone are exempted an hundred daies. Whereunto if we adde the two Egyptian daies in every moneth,[20] the interlunary and plenilunary exemptions, the Eclipses of Sun and Moon, conjunctions and oppositions Planetical, the houses of Planets, and the site of the Luminaries under the signs (wherein some would induce a restraint of Purgation or Phlebotomy) there would arise above an hundred more; so that of the whole year the use of Physick would not be secure much above a quarter. Now as we do not strictly observe these days, so need we not the other; and although consideration be made hereof, yet must we prefer the nearer Indications, before those which are drawn from the time of the year, or other cælestial relations.

The second Testimony is taken out of the last piece of his Age, and after the experience (as some think) of no less then an hundred years,[21] that is, his book of Aphorisms, or short and definitive determinations in Physick. The Aphorism alleadged is this Sub Cane & ante Canem difficiles sunt purgationes. Sub Cane & Anticane, say some including both the Dog stars; but that cannot consist with the Greek: ὑπὸ κύνα καὶ πρὸ κυνὸς, nor had that Criticism been ever omitted by Galen. Now how true this sentence was in the mouth of Hippocrates, and with what restraint it must be understood by us, will readily appear from the difference between us both, in circumstantial relations.

And first, Concerning his time and Chronology: he lived in the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus, about the 82 Olympiade, 450 years before Christ; and from our times above two thousand. Now since that time (as we have already declared) the Stars have varied their longitudes; and having made large progressions from West to East, the time of the Dog stars ascent must also very much alter. For it ariseth later now in the year, then it formerly did in the same latitude; and far later unto us who have a greater elevation; for in the daies of Hippocrates this Star ascended in Cancer, which now ariseth in Leo; and will in progression of time arise in Virgo. And therefore in regard of the time wherein he lived, the Aphorism was more considerable in his daies then in ours, and in times far past then present, and in his Countrey then ours.

The place of his nativity was Coos, an Island in the Myrtoan Sea, not far from Rhodes, described in Maps by the name of Lango, and called by the Turks who are Masters thereof, Stancora; according unto Ptolomy of Northern latitude 36 degrees. That he lived and writ in these parts, is not improbably collected from the Epistles that passed betwixt him and Artaxerxes; as also between the Citizens of Abdera, and Coos, in the behalf of Democritus. Which place being seated from our latitude of 52, 16 degrees Southward, there will arise a different consideration; and we may much deceive our selves if we conform the ascent of Stars in one place unto another, or conceive they arise the same day of the month in Coos and in England. For as Petavius computes in the first Julian yeare, at Alexandria of latitude 31, the Star arose cosmically in the twelfth degree of Cancer, Heliacally the 26, by the compute of Geminus about this time at Rhodes of latitude 37, it ascended cosmically the 16 of Cancer, Heliacally the first of Leo; and about that time at Rome of latitude 42, cosmically the 22 of Cancer, and Heliacally the first of Leo. For unto places of great latitude it ariseth ever later; so that in some latitudes the cosmical ascent happeneth not before the twentieth degree of Virgo, ten daies before the Autumnal Equinox, and if they compute Heliacally, after it, in Libra.

Again, Should we allow all, and only compute unto the latitude of Coos; yet would it not impose a total omission of Physick. For if in the hottest season of that clime, all Physick were to be declined, then surely in many other none were to be used at any time whatsoever; for unto many parts, not only in the Spring and Autumn, but also in the Winter, the Sun is nearer, then unto the Clime of Coos in the Summer.

The third consideration concerneth purging medicines, which are at present far different from those implied in this Aphorism, and such as were commonly used by Hippocrates. For three degrees we make of purgative medicines: The first thereof is very benign, nor far removed from the nature of Aliment, into which, upon defect of working, it is oft-times converted; and in this form do we account Manna, Cassia, Tamarindes, and many more; whereof we find no mention in Hippocrates. The second is also gentle having a familiarity with some humor, into which it is but converted if it fail of its operation: of this sort are Aloe, Rhabarb, Senna, &c. Whereof also few or none were known unto Hippocrates: The third is of a violent and venemous quality, which frustrate of its action, assumes as it were the nature of poison; such as are Scammoneum, Colocynthis, Elaterium, Euphorbium, Tithymallus, Laureola, Peplum, &c. Of this sort Hippocrates made use, even in Fevers, Pleurisies and Quinsies; and that composition is very remarkable which is ascribed unto Diogenes in Ætius22, that is of Pepper, Sal Armoniac, Euphorbium, of each an ounce, the Dosis whereof four scruples and an half; which whosoever should take, would find in his bowells more then a canicular heat, though in the depth of Winter; many of the like nature may be observed in Ætius, or in the book De Dinamidiis, ascribed unto Galen, which is the same verbatim with the other.

Now in regard of the second, and especially the first degree of Purgatives, the Aphorism is not of force;[23] but we may safely use them, they being benign and of innoxious qualities. And therefore Lucas Gauricus, who hath endeavoured with many testimonies to advance this consideration, at length concedeth that lenitive Physick may be used, especially when the Moon is well affected in Cancer or in the watery signes. But in regard of the third degree the Aphorism is considerable: purgations may be dangerous; and a memorable example there is in the medical Epistles of Crucius, of a Roman Prince that died upon an ounce of Diaphænicon, taken in this season. From the use whereof we refrain not only in hot seasons, but warily exhibit it at all times in hot diseases. Which when necessity requires, we can perform more safely then the Ancients, as having better ways of preparation and correction; that is, not only by addition of other bodies, but separation of noxious parts from their own.

But beside these differences between Hippocrates and us, the Physitians of these times and those of Antiquity; the condition of the disease, and the intention of the Physitian, hold a main consideration in what time and place soever. For Physick is either curative or preventive; Preventive we call that which by purging noxious humors, and the causes of diseases, preventeth sickness in the healthy, or the recourse thereof in the valetudinary; this is of common use at the spring and fall, and we commend not the same at this season. Therapeutick or curative Physicke, we term that, which restoreth the Patient unto Sanity, and taketh away diseases actually affecting. Now of diseases some are cronical and of long duration, as quartane Agues, Scurvy, &c. Wherein because they admit of delay, we defer the cure to more advantagious seasons; Others we term acute, that is, of short duration and danger, as Fevers, Pleurisies, &c. In which, because delay is dangerous, and they arise unto their state before the Dog-daies determine; we apply present remedies according unto Indications; respecting rather the acuteness of the disease, and precipitancy[24] of occasion, then the rising or setting of Stars; the effects of the one being disputable, of the other assured and inevitable.

And although Astrology may here put in, and plead the secret influence of this Star; yet Galen in his Comment, makes no such consideration; confirming the truth of the Aphorism from the heat of the year; and the operation of Medicines exhibited. In regard that bodies being heated by the Summer, cannot so well endure the acrimony of purging Medicines; and because upon purgations contrary motions ensue, the heat of the air attracting the humours outward, and the action of the Medicine retracting the same inward. But these are readily salved in the distinctions before alleadged; and particularly in the constitution of our climate and divers others, wherein the air makes no such exhaustion of spirits. And in the benignity of our Medicines; whereof some in their own natures, others well prepared, agitate not the humors, or make a sensible perturbation.

Nor do we hereby reject or condemn a sober and regulated Astrology; we hold there is more truth therein then in Astrologers; in some more then many allow, yet in none so much as some pretend. We deny not the influence of the Stars, but often suspect the due application thereof; for though we should affirm that all things were in all things; that heaven were but earth celestified, and earth but heaven terrestrified, or that each part above had an influence upon its divided affinity below; yet how to single out these relations, and duly to apply their actions is a worke oft times to be effected by some revelation,[25] and Cabala from above, rather then any Philosophy, or speculation here below. What power soever they have upon our bodies, it is not requisite they should destroy our reasons, that is, to make us rely on the strength of Nature, when she is least able to relieve us; and when we conceive the heaven against us, to refuse the assistance of the earth created for us. This were to suffer from the mouth of the Dog above, what others do from the teeth of Dogs below; that is, to be afraid of their proper remedy, and refuse to approach any water, though that hath often proved a cure unto their disease.26 There is in wise men a power beyond the Stars; and Ptolomy encourageth us, that by foreknowledge, we may evade their actions; for, being but universal causes, they are determined by particular agents; which being inclined, not constrained, contain within themselves the casting act, and a power to command the conclusion.

Lastly, If all be conceded, and were there in this Aphorism an unrestrained truth, yet were it not reasonable from a caution to infer a non usance or abolition, from a thing to be used with discretion, not to be used at all. Because the Apostle bids us beware of Philosophy,[27] heads of extremity will have none at all; an usual fallacie in vulgar and less distinctive brains, who having once overshot the mean, run violently on, and find no rest but in the extreams.

Now hereon we have the longer insisted, because the error is material, and concerns oft-times the life of man; an error to be taken notice of by State, and provided against by Princes, who are of the opinion of Solomon, that their riches consists in the multitude of their subjects. An error worse then some reputed Heresies; and of greater danger to the body, then they unto the soul; which whosoever is able to reclaim, he shall save more in one summer then Themison28 destroyed in any Autumn; he shall introduce a new way of cure, preserving by Theory, as well as practice, and men not only from death, but from destroying themselves.

End of Book IV



* [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 Iam Procyon furit & stella vesani Leonis. [Odes III.xxix.18]

2 [Procyon rises just before Sirius in the autumn and winter. The dates of the dog-days are usually now given to be roughly July 4-August 15; that is, some forty days before the cosmical rising of Sirius, depending on latitude; this is in turn some days before its heliacal rising.]

3 [feriation: cessation of labor, holiday; justitium: "a ceasing from the Prosecution of Law and exercising Justice, in places Judicial" (Blount Law Dictionary)]

4 [As discussed at length in the previous chapter.]

5 [Iliad XXII.30: "Brightest of all is he, yet withal is he a sign of evil, and bringeth much fever upon wretched mortals."]

6 ["Isaiah": Jer 10:2: "haec dicit Dominus iuxta vias gentium nolite discere et a signis caeli nolite metuere quae timent gentes"; there are warnings in Isaiah about prophets and soothsaying. Genesis: 1:14]

7 Dionysius Periegesi.

8 Bainbrigij Canicularia. [This note occurs several paragraphs later (note 12 in this online edition), where Bainbridge is explicitly mentioned in the text, in all editions; I'm (blindly) following Wilkin in copying it here.]

9 [NH ii (107); as (charmingly) Englished by Holland, "A wild beast there is in Ægypt, called Orix, which the Ægyptians say, doth stand full against the Dog starre when it riseth, looking wistly upon it, and testifieth after a sort by sneesing, a kind of worship."]

10 [Wren: This is obscurely sayde. Nor though the moon gets eastward of the sonne, i.e. to speak properly, appears on the east from the new to the full, yet from the full to the new she appeares west of him, which is nothing else but that going through the twelve times for his once, she must of necessity seeme sometimes eastward of him, and sometimes west, according to the diurnal motion.]

11 [Wren: The observation of the dog-star's rising came from the Ægyptians at Alexandria, lying under 3 degrees, where when the sun comes to the tropicks in the [?] degree of Cancer, both the dog-stars rise with him together, begin to increase in the heate, which afterwards the sun coming towards Leo doubles, so that they esteeme not of that heate from the dog-star's rise alone, but from their conjoynt rising with the sun in Leo. But the principall observation of the dog-star rising was from the course of their yeare, which they therefore cald Ετος κυνιχον, as beginning always from the first cosmical rising of the dog-star.]

12 Bainb. Canicularia. [John Bainbridge, 1648. All editions (except of course 1646) have "Canicularis".]

13 [67-69 degrees north; cf. Book II, chapter 3, it "hath not seventy degrees in latitude".]

14 [South of Norwich, north of London]

15 [I.e., the precession of the equinoxes, caused by the motion of the earth's equatorial pole relative to the pole of the ecliptic. The zodiac is defined according to the equinoxes; thus the signs of the zodiac no longer correspond to the constellations that gave their names. Wren: "Not only of the dogg-star, but of all the imaginary houses of the astrologers, and consequently all that heathenish structure of the fortitude, detriments, aspects, triciplicityes, and such ridiculous stuff, utterly dasht, and confounded, and condemned of late by all the learned astronomers: Tycho, pluries; Kepler, expresly in Cometæ anni 1618. and Longomontany ubique."]

16 [I.e., intensify; a latinism.]

17 [Wren: Every day is an embleme of the yeare; and therin, the Sun hath his declination or distance from the Meridian as from the Æquator: his solstice in it; as in the tropicks; and his different altitudes, or azimuths every moment.]

18 [Or one could find warming stars for the early part of winter whose disappearance makes the latter part colder.]

19 Qui nec fallere potest nec falli.

20 [Wren: "Futitissimæ observationes". The two days on which God sent the plagues to Egypt. Augustine, among others, denounced their observation: (comments on the Epistle to the Galatians quote)]

21 [Wren: Experience of 100 years infers he lived at least 120 in all.]

22 Tetrab. lib. 1 Serm. 3. [This note not in 1672 (but it is in 1650, 1686, etc.). One can see why abstaining from ancient medicine might be a good idea, dog days or not.]

23 [Wren: Aphorisme is a general rule grounded upon reason, ratified by experience; but in this place he gives this name to that received opinion, that during the dog-daies all physicke is to be declined; not bycause it was grounded upon truth, but because it was generally supposed to be so; the ground whereof relating to these countryes onlye which lye under the torrid zone, he refutes in this chapter most judiciously, and determines the state of the question most excellentlye in the two following periods in four propositions or conclusions. First, that in preventinge there is no use of that rule, for that noe wise man will defer the physick till the dog-daies, having fitter times in the spring, and the fall, wherein to take such physick with greater advantage. Second, that the heate of the dog-daies in our clymates is not so greate as that of the torrid zone in their spring. Third, that in chronical diseases physick may safely be deferred till those daies be over. Fourth, that the strength of the aphorisme is grounded cheefly upon a point of wisdom; that it must needs be dangerous to add fire to fire, i.e. when the bodye is overheated in the dog-daies to adde the heat and acrimony of purging medicines, but yet where the case is desperate, as in sharpe fits, wisdome must give way to necessity: better purge than dye.]

24 [Wren: Precipitancy is properly the swift motion of a man falling headlong, hence it signifies the soden passings of occasions in diseases, which once let passe can never be redeemed, and by those means endanger the life of the patient, by suffering the disease (which might have been timely prevented) to get such a masterye as noe physicke can quell.]

25[A Problem: Hic labor hoc opus est.]

26 Upon the biting of a mad dog there ensues an hydrophobia or fear of water.

[Wilkin adds a long note on (alleged) cures for rabies:

"'Morin relates the case of a young woman, twenty years old, who, labouring under symptoms of hydrophobia, was plunged into a tub of water with a bushel of salt dissolved in it, and was harassed with repeated dippings till she became insensible and was at the point of death, when she was still left in the tub sitting against its side. In this state, we are told, she was at length fortunate enough to recover her senses: when, much to her own astonishment, as well as that of the by-standers, she found herself capable of looking at the water, and even of drinking it without choking.' — Good's Study of Medicine, iii, 362.

"Dr. Good enumerates a variety of modes of treatment which have been adopted, and medicines which have been prescribed, with most uncertain and only occasional success.

"An American plant (Scutellaria lateriflora, or Virginia skullcap) has been used with great success by several American practitioners: and so powerful has been its influence, that it has been made the subject of a separate publication by Dr. Spalding, of New York, in 1819. It appears to have been discovered by a Dr. Lawrence Van Derveer, of New Jersey, who used it successfully in hydrophobia, as early as 1773.... It is taken in a decoction of the dried plant; a tea-spoonful and an half to a quart of boiling water: — the patient taking half-a-pint of this infusion, morning and night.

"Dr. S. states that the scutellaria has been given to more than 850 persons bitten by animals believed to be rabid, and that in only three instances had hydrophobic symptoms supervened, and in each of these cases the quantity of the plant actually taken had been very inconsiderable. It had also been given to more than 1,100 animals under similar circumstances, and with nearly equal success."

Compare the cure made up by Madame de Vaudémont, as reported by the Marquise de Créquy (or whoever wrote her Souvenirs), Book III, Chap. V, page 83.]

27 [Colossians: 2:8: "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ." In Book I, Chapter IIII, Browne mentions this passage as an example of a mistake "a non causa pro causa".]

28 A Physitian. Quot Themison ægros Autumno occiderit uno. Juvenal [x.221]

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