Chap. XIV.

Of some others.

WE commonly accuse the phancies of elder times in the improper figures of heaven assigned unto Constellations, which do not seem to answer them, either in Greek or Barbarick Spheres: yet equall incongruities have been commonly committed by Geographers and Historians, in the figurall resemblances of severall regions on earth; While by Livy and Julius[1] Rusticus the Island of Britain is made to resemble a long dish or two-edged ax;2 Italy by Numatianus to be like an Oak-leaf: and Spain an Ox-hide; while the phancy of Strabo makes the habitated earth like a cloak,[3] and Dionysius Afer will have it like a sling: with many others observable in good writers, yet not made out from the letter or signification; acquitting Astronomy in their figures of the Zodiack: wherein they are not justified unto strict resemblances, but rather made out from the effects of Sun or Moon in these several portions of heaven, or from peculiar influences of those constellations, which some way make good their names.4

Which notwithstanding being now authentick by prescription, may be retained in their naked acceptions, and names translated from substances known on earth. And therefore the learned Hevelius in his accurate Selenography, or description of the Moon, hath well translated the known appellations of Regions, Seas and Mountains, unto the parts of that Luminary: and rather then use invented names or humane denominations, with witty congruity hath placed Mount Sinai, Taurus, Mæotis Palus, the Mediterranean Sea, Mauritania, Sicily, and Asia Minor in the Moon.

More hardly can we finde the Hebrew letters in the heavens, made out of the greater and lesser Stars which put together do make up words, wherein Cabalisticall Speculators conceive they read the events of future things; and how from the Stars in the head of Medusa, to make out the word Charab; and thereby desolation presignified unto Greece or Javan, numerally characterized in that word,5 requireth no rigid reader.

It is not easie to reconcile the different accounts of longitude, while in modern tables the hundred and eighty degree, is more then thirty degrees beyond that part, where Ptolomy placeth an 180.6 Nor will the wider and more Western term of Longitude, from whence the Moderns begin their commensuration, sufficiently salve the difference. The ancients began the measure of Longitude from the fortunate Islands or Canaries, the Moderns from the Azores or Islands of S. Michael; but since the Azores are but fifteen degrees more West, why the Moderns should reckon 180. where Ptolomy accounteth above 220. or though they take in 15 degrees at the West, they should reckon 30 at the East, beyond the same measure, is yet to be determined; nor would it be much advantaged, if we should conceive that the compute of Ptolomy were not so agreeable unto the Canaries, as the Hesperides or Islands of Cabo Verde.7

Whether the compute of moneths from the first appearance of the Moon, which divers nations have followed, be not a more perturbed way, then that which accounts from the conjunction, may seem of reasonable doubt; not only from the uncertainty of its appearance in foul and cloudy weather, but unequal time in any; that is sooner or later, according as the Moon shall be in the signs of long descention, as Pisces, Aries, Taurus, in the Perigeum or swiftest motion, and in the Northern Latitude:8 whereby sometimes it may be seen the very day of the change, as will observably happen in 1654. in the moneths of April and May? or whether also the compute of the day be exactly made, from the visible arising or setting of the Sun, because the Sun is sometimes naturally set, and under the Horizon, when visibly it is above it; from the causes of refraction, and such as make us behold a piece of silver in a basin, when water is put upon it, which we could not discover before, as under the verge thereof.

Whether the globe of the earth be but a point, in respect of the Stars and Firmament, or how if the rayes thereof do fall upon a point, they are received in such variety of Angles, appearing greater or lesser from differences of refraction?

Whether if the motion of the Heavens should cease a while, all things would instantly perish? and whether this assertion doth not make the frame of sublunary things, to hold too loose a dependency upon the first and conserving cause? at least impute too much unto the motion of the heavens, whose eminent activities are by heat, light and influence, the motion it self being barren, or chiefly serving for the due application of celestial virtues unto sublunary bodies, as Cabeus9 hath learnedly observed?

Whether Comets or blazing Stars be generally of such terrible effects, as elder times have conceived them; for since it is found that many, from whence these predictions are drawn, have been above the Moon; why they may not be qualified from their positions, and aspects which they hold with stars of favourable natures; or why since they may be conceived to arise from the effluviums of other Stars, they may not retain the benignity of their Originals; or since the natures of the fixed Stars, are astrologically differenced by the Planets, and are esteemed Martial or Jovial, according to the colours whereby they answer these Planets; why although the red Comets do carry the portensions of Mars, the brightly-white should not be of the Influence of Jupiter or Venus, answerably unto Cor Scorpii and Arcturus; is not absurd to doubt.

End of Book VI



* [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 [sc. Fabius Rusticus. 1672 has Julius, Rusticus]

2 Tacit. de vita Iul. Agric. [X].

3 [Strabo II.5.]

4 Iunctin. in Sph. I. de Sacro bosco. cap. 2.

5 Gaffarel out of R. Chomer. [Chap. XIII, Sect. 9, pp. 415-417.]

6 Athan. Kircher in proemio. [Ptolomy places it east of the easternmost part of the world known to him, in India.]

7 Robertus Hues de globis.

8 Hevel. Selenog. cap. 9.

9 Met. Lib.

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