Calm Ventilation,


Pseudodoxia Epidemica;


Doctrine of Vulgar Errours,

Set forth by the hand of the most sedulous


Dr. in Physick,

By the still GALE



His Fellow-Citizen and Collegian.

Procaptus Lectoris, habent sua fata libelli.


Printed by J. Streater, for Francis Titon, at the three
Daggers in Fleet-street, 1658.


The enchaining of Knowledge, within the Fetters of Humane Authority, surpasseth the Turkish Thraldom. Set the understanding free and dis-ingaged from the usurpation and tyranny of precedent opinion, it will sore into a serene height. Nay, as further disquisition and experience of man doth promote clearness of mind; so is it no shame, upon second review, to lay Battery to ones own former weakness; and upon the demantling of it, to cast up a strange Breastwork; still allowing the full weight of reverence unto Anqituity if it be right.

This candor I have found in my honored Friend and Author; who, in his maturer years, is willing to rectifie, what himself, and others, in their younger days were falsy seasoned withall. It is the freedom, besides, of a Philosopher, to cite any thing doubtful and suspicious to the Assizes of Rational Inquisition.

There need but little care concerning the choice of a Language: For I am sure, whose art cannot afford him more Tongues, then Nature doth Eyes, he will never attain, to the full understanding of his elaborated exercitations: which, I confess, require a more subtile Reader and Judge then my self; my cold Brain would Snail-like be contented to cozen the Winter with a three Moneths sleep. But zeal unto truth, the spark of labour, hath almost awakened me from mywonted drowsiness: not that I desire to reciprocate the Saw of Contention.

Here I do but more regularly examine, what we have in private, without infringing the limits of Amity more loosely discussed: We both being loyal Subjects to Truth, agreeing on that third, cannot dissagree from our selves, nor from any that subscribeth with me, to be

Her faithful Follower,

John Robinson.

Book. I.

Chap. 1. In the first fall the strongest was not deceived by the weakest: For Satan in the Serpent, as being created a Sphere higher then man, was the stronger: We must not think that the edge of his intellect was dulled by sin: this line not being defective in length, but straightness: Neither are a regenerate man's thoughts subtiler, but sublimer. The experience of Eves sense, viz., not dying immediatly, did give the foil to her husbands faith.1

Ib. Whether were Adam and Eve the greatest sinners in the world? If the world be taken for the whole Universe, it comprehendeth the Angels, which sinned from inward principles, and that irrecoverably: Neither of which is quadrating with the fall of man. But take the world stricter, for Mankind; certainly they escaped the experience of the fruit of sin, which is its aggravation; nor were warned by the examples of others. Neither sinned they against Evangelical mercie; nor that pardonless sin, the remission whereof we may not deprecate. Their sin, indeed, was, by contagion, the greatest, extensivè, as being the source of all; not in their persons, intensivè.

Ch. 2. That Satan knew the Deity of Christ at his temptation, I would rather incline to believe: he having seen the compleating of all the prophecies: not being ignorant, at his conception of the congratulation of his Mother: at the birth of the hymn of Angels, and the testimony of shepherds; and at his baptism seeing the Dove and hearing the witness, both of heaven and earth, God and John. Add unto these, their number and nimbleness of communication; he himself is afterward brought in, to give a subtile or extorted testimony of his Deity. Luke 4.41. Either when the weaker was overcome by the stronger: or, that with more ease he might delude, when he should be called, forsooth, a Christian. Neither is it safe to extenuate his sin, or to be his Advocate in pleading his ignorance.

Ib. I think it a sin in Devils to despair: the like I hold of reprobates; I mean of the same Oeconomy. If you object, they have no commandement or overture to hope; I answer, they had a commandement: The former, to trust Gods mercy, in the confirmation of their estate, The other, have had, if not Evangelical faith, at least the Law of Nature, which because ill imployed, God justly denyeth them hope of grace, Rom. 1.21. Besides, as their abilities, are uncapable, so is their will averse: the continuation whereof doth justly eternize their exile. Neither can I condemn their opinion, who make the linked chain of their continued crimes the reason of the perpetuation of the wrath of their Judge. For if after the day of Judgment, the Mediatorship of Christ shall cease, (as the Schools teach) and the perpetuatin of bliss is Angel-like, by a congruity of holyness; then, by analogy, the duration of punishment, doth answer their everlasting unbelief. Nor must we think that obdurate souls, in that fire, are melted into remorse, or softned into repentance.

Ch. 3. Error is defined a firm assent unto falsity. The understanding often suspendeth its judgment, concerning the truth of an assertion: And so the Author himself, with most wiser men, doth acquiesce frequently in a sceptical likelihood and probability. Sometime there is an inclination rather unto this side, than the other; which is an Opinion. In all these there may be one or more falsities. A determination is not alwaies requisite to the compleating of an errour. Besides, there is one falshood in notion, another in the speech: this is an incongruity to the heart; that to the thing. All lies are Errours; yet some without the suffrage of the mind. Finally, Oblivion it self is a lie, for either it is of things past, or to come: the forgetting either of them, is a denying either of what hath been or should be, and yet without any firm consent.2

Ib. That nothing is truly know but by its causes, though Aristotle's seemeth too general an enuntiation. In transnatural things, the Trinity, Election, Resurrection, &c. We must trust to bare authority; without searching causes. Properly, I believe no more then I know: See Job 19.25.3 Yea, in Physical things, cannot comprehend the formal causes, why fire burneth; the Load-stone or Carabe attracteth: It is well we know them à posteriore. To reduce the difference of individuals to a manifest cause were a fruitless labour. See chap. 10. of this his Book. To speak truly, as sense is dazled at the excess of objects, or puzled at the exiguity of particular moats: so the understanding cannot attain to the highest cause, because of Its transcendancy; Nor the lowest atomes of individuality, because of its tenuity. To be contented with the ignorance of some thing, is a part of modest wisdom.4

Ib. It is too uncharitable a thought, that the ear-rings of the Egyptians were stoln. For by Gods Express they were borrowed; in which sole reason, most acquiesce: But to flee to an exorbitant precept, when firm and solid arguments may be drawn from a standing rule, is a mark of a weak and shallow judgment. Upon demand, they were ready to restore them again: But when they were pursued for their lives, what should they have done with them? In a distinct order to return every one their own, they had no possibility: to throw them down promiscuously, would not have been satisfactory to the particular borrowing.

Moreover, in equity there was as much due unto them in arrearage, for their supernumerary brick: in the Chancery of Alexander the Great: Since this Pharaoh would not stand to the pact, made with Joseph for his Fathers family.

Without making God accessary to it, I see not how it can be registred among the great benefits bestowed upon them, Psa. 105.37. He brought them forth with silver and gold, foretold Gen. 15.14. which, without angariation or a press, cannot but have reference to these medals: And to list their felonious riches, within the Catalogue of God's mercies, in my ears, soundeth harsh.

Ch. 4. Pythagoras's bean may elegantly prohibit Venery: Since in it, at the several ends, there are the manifest signatures of the Genitals in both Sexes. Our Masters teach us, that all leguminiæs or pulse, as also bulbous roots, do, by their flatulency, blow up this spark of Venus. Neither do I, hereby, abandon its use, in Political suffrages. Nor was Pythagoras's Genius altogether a stranger to these abstruse Characters.

Ch. 6. If there be some whole Nations indisposed unto learning it dependeth either upon a Celestial or Terestrial Cause: Not Celestiall, for every thousand years, the Longitude changeth its situation, above five degrees; which, in this case, is of some moment: so that the Land, which in the Creation, lay under the middle of Aries, is now ruled by the influence, to phrase it with them of Taurus. But, what will the Astrologers say, to see so continued a malignity of Aspects; that none shouuld have ☿ or ♃ Ascendant in their Nativity? Never a Promissor or Significator strong or sure enough for to cause a benevolent inclination?

If terrestrial, it is either external or internal: not the former, as air, water, diet, &c. for often Nature, alwaies Art, can correct those: by which Moors and Boggs are turned into fragrant Meadows. If internal, either the unaptness is of the Souls part, or of the Bodies. Not the souls, for all mens Souls are alwaies alike; though their emaning beams be either brighter or duller, according to the clearness or dimness of the Lanthorn of the organized body. If on the body's side, that might have a mediccal hand: yea many times in individuals, one disease, by accident, becometh the cure of another: And I see not but one Epidemical distemper might remedy an Endemical malady. The Plague of the Ekronites is a preservation and cure of a maniack passion:5 semblable to which are many occurrences in quotidian practise.

Further, it is observed by rational Historians, that, after revolutions of a few Centuries, learning taketh its transmigration: so that those people, which about Christ's time, were, for humane letters, the only mirror of the world, did, not long after, and now are become the most Boetish of the whole earth; et vice versa.6

The like doom is befaln unto Christianity: Canaan and Jury is degenerated into Barbarism; The seven Churches of Asia unto Turcism: We, the untamed West, are grown up more then into civility.

As for the Genius of man I take it not to be connate; but a reteined propension to observed and approved passges, an inclinable and ready way to a habit. The Demones of Plato, appropriated to every Countrey, are inconsisting with the profession of Gospel-light.

Book II.

Chap. 1. That many springs do not freeze, their motion may be one cause: which is swifter, at their narrow eruption, then at their enlarged diffusion. A violent motion of water, is a preservative against glaciation; yet doth not altogether prohibit it: Drops squeesed from the clouds, in their swiftest fall, are precipitated into frozen hail-stones. Moreover, many springs have a sensible warmth, at their first ebullition, whose refrigerated streams are subject to the chains of congelation.

Ib. Eggs will freeze in the albuginous parts. That point in the Chalaza, the spark of vivification, I wish it might freez; it would rid my trees from Caterpillers, which continue their noxious species, by their hybernating Eggs.

Ib. Salt peter doth excite the spirit of cold. So doth Sugar decayed Mustard: which for affinity of elements in the letter, and aliment in the platter, I merrily use to call in Latine Sal-charum. This spirit is manifest in snow; where, if by the clemency of the air, it be leasurely dissolved, the spirit fixed will preserve it from putrefaction: whereas, if by fire, you suddenly put it to flight, a strange heir, making an unlawful entry, doth, with a debauchment of its new inheritance, hasten its corruption.7

Ib. If Scintillations are not the accensions of the aire, upon the collisions of two hard bodies, what inflammable effluence is there in sand, or a wet grind-stone? yea, I have seen a horse in the rain, strike fire on the flint. Chalk-coale blown maketh a flame, yet no more smoak then in kindled iron or stone.

Chap. 2. What Kircherus observeth, that the submarine earth doth cause the variation of the needle, is not to be swallowed without chewing: For the Load-stone doth not so freely send forth its effluviums, through heterogeneall mediums, especially an Iron plate; this experiment will illustrate it.

Put a needle into a beer-glasse, half full of water: hold a vigorous load-stone at the edge of the glasse; the drowsy needle lyeth dormant: Fill the glasse up to the brimme, which touch with the stone; the awakened needle, with joy, leapeth towards it allicient: Besides, that the heavier the medium is, the drowned body is the lighter; as in the weighing of an anchor, or drawing up of a bucket, every inferiour hand can witnesse, [in quick-silver it is most evident] the effluvium of the load-stone, if it be not contiguous with the water, doth upon its superficies, suffer a reflexion; and by that meanes is debilitated. The surest way were, to lay a needle upon the surface of the Sea it self.

Ib. A needle run through corck, may swim in the midst of the water, and not sinck. If he speak of liquors heterogeneall, it is a thing so vulgar, that it falleth below the worth of his disquisition, who breatheth nothing but excellencies. If it be understood of homogeneall liquors, that, by its gravity, it should be permanent in the midst, the rule of motion proveth it false; for the self-same weight, that brought it to the midst, will depresse it to the bottome; si cætera sine paria.

One thing may be tryed, by the brain rather then the hand. If you have a body equilibrous with the water, it may be thrust, but will never sinck into the middle: But to attempt this, because the upholding substance, whether wood or Cork, inebriated with the liquor, loseth the memory of its proportion, I have no minde to try.8

Chap. 3. From the non-variation of the needle, in the Ile of Elba, in the Tuscan-Sea, is no firm argument against the terrestrial pole. For all magnetick bodies, have their attraction and variations more strenuous about the pole then towards their Æquator, whereunto this place is inclining.

Ib. The Sympatheticall Unguent may best be refuted, by daring [neither is there great fortitude or patience required hereunto] to fire and quench the instrument wounding, or any thing folded therein. For these sublime Chirurgeons do give out, that a cloath or stick dipt in the wound or ulcer, and that refreshed by their panacean Balsam, will solace and heal the part affected, if kept from extremity of weather: otherwise it proveth painfull and noxious. Let the same jury of experience try the calcined, and, in praise, sublimed vitriol. If kept from extremity of weather; otherwise it proveth prejudiciall and noxious: let it either help or hurt, or be an Idol, Isa. 41.23.

Ib. To discover another in a severall room my intention, may easier and surer be done, with the hand alone; then to rely upon the uncertainty of the dubious load-stone. Frustra fit per plura, &c.

Chap. 4. Neither Cabæus gyration of atomes, nor Sr. Kellem Digby's syrop-like contraction into a rope, can handsomely stand before the least gale of winde, in Electrick bodies, drawing up festuceous fragments: For, by a small breath, both their ways are overturned: Neither would the body attracted rise perpendicularly; but, by an oblique angle, misse the middle of the Electrum: The contactus being lesse virtuall, and more grosse, then that of the load-stone.

Three things I observe, 1. That these bodyes are attractive, though but weakly, not being excited by heat: which hath also not escaped the industry of our Author. 2. That, upon a suddain approach of the warmed Electrick, the stramineous bodies will, at first, a little recede. 3. That, where the reverberation of the effluvium is stronger, [as it is on a looking-glasse, beyond on carminated wooll; because of its polished superficies, the points are more compact, and at equaller distance; Its concavity doth also promote the attraction, at its convexity, though resting on fewer points, doth retard it] there is the love hotter; which giveth a hint to a true cause. But the reason, and superstructure thereon, is not for this place.

Chap. 5. To shore up the esteem of the Apocrypha, like an old house, it calleth for many supporting props: If Daniel had the Dragon at that command, to put his immune hand into his throat; he, upon deliberation, as this exploit was, had (bearing sword or staffe,) twenty opportunties of victory, both surer and readier then this.9 The same Canon, that bindeth Physicians in the cure of a disease, that it be citò and tutò; the same rule will every circumspect man take, in the conquering of his adversary. Neither is it likely, that Daniel, the wisest of Sages, was ignorant of that Rule in reason, Entia citra necessitatem non multiplicanda.

But let us examine the toxicum: Hair, pitch, and fat. That hair, is not poison, though taken in a great quantity, is proved, by the excrements of voracious dogs, which is seen to be very pilous; by their swallowing hair with the hide. If any one object that the heat of their stomack, by which hard bones are ground into powder; the fleece comming away whole, and indigested, doth enervate that. Pitch after it hath layd a while in the stomack, is turned into a chilus, where it deposeth its viscosity: as we see in Terpentine rejected. Fat things, are so far from causing adhesion, that, by me, they are counted the Soveraignest Alexiteriums, besides the dissolution of the pitch, because of the lubrification.

Ib. That gold boiled should communicate any vertue to the broath, no man can gather a solid argument, from a possibility unto a reality; where both the ὂτι and the δ᾽ὅτι is wanting. If the effects were as evident, as that if Stibium or load-stone, without abatement of weight; then were it beyond all controversy. That the quenching of it, doth induce a stiplicity10 into the liquor, I willingly admit. But by the same reason [torrefying the terrestrial moats, which also produceth its suddainer glaciation] will, besides steel or stones, bread tosted hard, and dipt in hot, imprint an astrictive quality on the drink; whereof I use, in case of costiveness, to admonish my patient's keepers.

Ib. Concerning Coral, whether it grow while it is petrified, as doth the silver-tree; or, whether it be not, in its younger age, an herb, resembling our Sampire, hardened afterward in its perfect stature, may justly be questioned. For first, in every branch there is a hollownesse, which may not be admitted; if it have its accretion by externall lapidificall juices: neither could it so decently ascend into a methodicall form. Let us look into all salts, whether vitriol or allum, whose encrease is by apposition of forinsecall matter; their substance is more solid, and their form, if within their proper matrix, lesse expanse. Besides, then would the lowest and thickest part, as being the ancientest, exceed in hardnesse; and not be so stipulous as we find it.

Chap. 6. That putrefactive generations are correspondent unto seminall productions, in vegetables, is clear, by the Author's assertion, and obvious experience. Calcination I take to surpasse all putrefaction, and to be the extremest limits of corruption; yet men, of approved integrity, do affirme that, hereby, generation is not extinguished. Unto sensitivesit cannot be altogether denied, especially in Testaceous Fishes, and Eeles; where the muria of the one, and slime of the other, falling into a convenient womb, will produce a specificall progeny; yea it is common to all Creatures, which for want of discrimination in sexes, are denied copulation. For recreation and admiration, I adde; In my garden I have an herb, much like, in figure and taste, to the Cardamine, with a sumptuous double flower; the leaves whereof being chopt small, and committed to the earth, every particle will take suddain root. Though here be no putrefaction; yet doth the mincing of it destroy its extern herbal form.

Ib. Cloves are no rudiments; but a perfect fruit, which I can shew completely fastened to the Umbella. It is no kind of Medler, which, after reaping, must receive a new fermentation. By the same standard, all our corne should but prove initiated rudiments: which like to the cloves, for their preservation, have nothing, but their superfluous humidity, exhaled from them.

Chap. 7. Whether for Medicament or aliment, I know not; but severall, besides me, have seen Catts eat mint and nipt. It's most probable for some correctory: as Bears will lick ants; insects, in quantity, too inferiour, to allay their voracious appetite. In the time of satiating their former hunger, there would rise up a second, which should prove more eager.

Book III.

Chap. I. That Elephants have no joynts, though, by some, it be delivered in generall termes; yet was not their Minerva so dull, to except all; but did intend the suffragineous or knee joyntes onely: without which there may be a progression in man; as upon stilts; by the sole motion of the hippe: in quadrupedes, as in a full gallop. But of the Elke consult with Cæsar. Alces crura sine nodis articulisq; habent: neque quietis causa procumbunt; neque, si quo afflicta casu considerint, erigere se possunt, &c.11 Neither can I deny absolutely rest to standing: since, in that posture, many fouls, [especially carnivorous or rapacious ones, whom nature for fight hath furnished with the strongest thighs and talons; A cock doth by the same gesture, obtain his victory, that he doth his food by striking backward,] yea horses do take their ordinary repose. I could relate strange things see in man.

A favourable construction of the Ancients' tenents, if it can consist without infringing Authority of truth, is more piety; and it savoreth of reverence, to cover our Father's nakednesse.

Ib. How every muscule hath its free site, may best be discovered, where all the muscules are alike affected: and that is, in those that are drowned, which is not a right, but an inclining posture. Some advantage to an exquisite Anatomist.

Chap. 2. The cause of the often dunging in the horse, I should rather ascribe to the moisture of his meat, then to his gall: since, if grooms have any credit, his going to grasse, doth acquire a frequency in excretion: his standing in, which dry meat, which is more bilious, doth contract a rarenesse. I leave the decision to the farriers.

Chap. 9 If propagation be by a reall transmission from every part, then would those, who have supernumerous or mutilated joynts, produce their like. Soon would arise whole families of deformity: Nay, all Adams posterity should have been defective in one ribb; as is granted 7 Book Chap. 2.

Chap. 12. towarad the end. That God animated the ribbe of Adam's apart, is not so evident: but, by traduction, its soul might procees from the soul of Adam. There is no mention in Scripture, of inspiration into the Woman: Neither, for perfect propagation, is there requisite a distinction of souls into sexes. There must be a soul of the female, but no female soul: As one man was generated without a man, so one woman without a woman: both, most like in sleep.

Chap. 13. In frogs, with some few other creatures, I find a riddle: that, all their life time, they delight in their womb, which is the water. For, after exclusion from the spawn, in it are all the joints articulated, and metamorphosed into another shape: from apodes to quadrupedes, from tailed to bobbed.

Chap. 16. Catterpillers and silk-worms are left to their own shift, without a maternall tuition: I marvaile, what priviledge the accursed viper should have got, to be exempted from the same hardship; why nature should be a German to this, and to the other, but a Step-mother. Though the one be viviparous, the other oviparous: yet doth it not amount to a necessity of discrimination, in one above another, of a parentall fostering: both being equally able, to shift for themselves, and live at their own hands: This therefore can be no argument against the mother's death.

Chap. 17. Others with me, that have brought up silk-worms, will testifie, that in them, both of magnitude, wherein, ordinarily, the female surpasseth twice the male; and genitalls, there is a manifest distinction. Three small pricks, ending like a pyramis, in one point, is the tegument of his virility.

Chap. 18. The cause of a Mole's dimnesse, is a thick and hard tunicle covering their eyes: which, if it were thin and tender, would continually be molested, and soon worn out, by the angularity of sand: they seeking their food, by loosning the earth, upward.

When they are said to be blinde, it is not to be understood in their lowest species; but in the next above it: in the catalogue of quadrupedes. They have skill, though not to use, yet to refuse light.

Chap. 21. I doubt whether smelling be the principall end of nostrills: Although Fishes have no lungs, yet their gills, are an analogicall substitute for respiration. I should count that the principall function of a part, without which, the creature cannot subsist. What if respiration be not presently abolished, upon the stopping or looming of the nostrills? no more is smelling; in both there is a diminution. The mammillary teats in the brain, are the proper receptacles of odour: the passage unto them, is the external cartilage. But of all senses, Smelling would be least missed: and deprivation of that sense, is reckoned among the leves jacturæ. While I was thus scribling, I had a patient, who, probably, by the losse of his smell, did redeem his indangered life. There may be a mercy in a privation: and the night hath its pleasure, saith Seneca, in solacing of the blind.

Ib. If in all aliments there be a sapidity: the more sapid, the more alimentitious: but spiced and salted dishes, are counted among the least nourishing diets. Again, the more alimentitious, the more sapid: yet no food in nutriment can hold pace, with the insipid egge. But all senses delight in a mediocrity.

Chap. 22. Whether Chilification be not a corrosion, by some sharp ferment, I question: when I see doggs devour hard bones, and, not long after, reject them in a friable album græcum: which, if rare, were as wonderfull, as that an Ostridge should disgest Iron: Not unlike to that acid flegme, expelled by vomiting, which, in corrosion, is not inferiour to the sharpest vineger. The sowre rennets of beasts come under this notion; which being familiar and pleasant to domesticks, within doors; breaking forth, prove troublesome guests to their neighbours: which is proper also unto gall.

Chap 23. It were a rationall labour, and would correct, not onely Vulgar, but also Medicall Errours, to search the reason, why Unicorn should cure poison. Some poisons [I speak not of outward, which are cured by ligatures, attractives, &c.] are dulled, by exhibition of great quantity of drink, as livium: Others, by obtunding or blunting the corroding teeth of its arsenick; and that is by fat things: many by manifest contraryeties, as Opium by Costoreum; the latter, by its heat, conquering the former's coldnesse, and that within the nearest genus of ill-favoured Medicines. Others attain an help by sudorificks, and that in venemous and pestilentiall aire, intermingled with our spirits. Not a few, by hindring its venome, from spreading to the vitalls; by their stipticity and dryness, intercepting or exsiccating the effluvium. So doth Bezoar, Bole, Corall, as Ivory in the Jaundise; And this way Unicorn or Harts-horn may become a tolerable remedy. But whosoever looketh for an effect proportionable to the heighth of its renown or price; I am more then affraid, he shall be frustrated of his expectation.

Chap. 24. In strict reason, Terrestriall animals should have their prænomination, above all Marine creatures. The former Adam did name, according to their nature; to the other [as is confessed] men must fain an analogicall denomination. The one were preserved in the Arke, to have a name among the living; The other, if they were not, by the confused coition of fresh and salt water, destroyed, were mainly damnifyed: For few fishes, and those of the delicater kind, will endure, especially so long a time, both pure, or commixture of water. But I see no absurdity to say, that the Sea, [as at the first so] after the separation of that grand conflux, might produce junior fishes, out of its emptie womb. And according to this Epoche, in my Heraldry, the creatures of the earth, should have the prerogative of the ancienter house.

Chap. 26. The contracting of a glo-worm extended, is no argument of life. For this doth befall most dead insects, moving by annular fibres. In artificiall things it is very obvious; the experiment may be seen in a quail-pipe.

Ib. In the center of the kernell of grain, as the safest abditory, is the source of germination; which may and doth escape the amputation of the extremes, by a knife; but not the terebration of the pis-mire; though very small: The latter hindereth it from sprouting; so doth not the former. Neither is it a shame to learn from beasts; we owing the invention of most mechanick arts, to the instinct of unreasonable creatures.

Ib. That no lati-rostrous animal doth sing, is not easily gain-sayed: But that a flat bill, is an open disadvantage unto singing, may be doubted; seeing many modulations are upon flat winde-instruments; and man, without a beck, can tune any kinde of voice. The reason of circular extreames, in pneumatical pipes, is, that the sound the easier might be prompted into its proper form, a globe. As, from the conversion of a triangle, the product is a cone; so, from the circumvolution of a circle, ariseth the voice's naturall figure, a Sphere. In strict ratiocination, the proper forge of Musick, is not the bill, but the throat.

Ib. Though a spider should vanquish a toad, it were, [to speak gently] temerity, to prescribe the one, as an antidote to the other. Let, by the same law, a chicken be an antidote against spiders. Oile, which killeth all vegetables, will preserve man against the most deletory Granum Nob. The same dangers are not to be looked for, in the dead bodies of venemous animalls; which were feared in their life; as the learned Author doth rationally deliver, §. 12. of this Chapter. And if their poison cease, I should scarce trust their antipoison: yet the plague, after many years sleep in linnen or wollen, will awaken and rage; by the testimony of our predecessours, backt with our own experience.

Chap. 27. The yellownesse of the stomack, and gutts in the chicken, doth not necessarily argue its nourishment on the yolk; though I believe the thing, yet not the reason: For the same colour is apparent, in all new-born babes; except, with some, Omnia ex ovo, which, in a Metaphorical and florid sense, may be admitted, with a Rhetoricall strain; but in a Physicall demonstration in strict termes, is hard to be understood.

Book IIII.

Ch. 1. That sitting is not proper to Man only, the several kinds of Apes, by their untaught Mimicks, and Dogs, by teaching, will draw it into question. If sitting upon the ground or flat, may come under that denomination. Man can do no more than these beasts; and will make acute Angles, between Back, Thigh, and Leg bone, [though inverted] as do irrational animals: And beasts will, upon seats, make as right Angles, [two lines to an Angle] as doth man.

Ch. 5. The uncertainty of generating males by a ligature, of the lefft testicle, may more solidly be refuted, because in congress, the males right, is the females left; which left side, is not thought the proper place for masculine conception: so that this conceit falleth by its own weight: Neither was this arrow full drawn home to the head. Some probability there might be in those creatures, which ingender by insilition.

There are three kinds of Being, Real, Rational, and Modal: the latter is neither of the former, but more then Rational, yet lesse then Real. Such is this relative site. The want of which accurate distinction, bringeth one into a maze of confusion.12

Ch. 6. That fat bodies do soonest float, there is an errour, à non causâ ad causam. The true reason is, that they have lesse proportionable weight depressing them, then lean bodies. If the whole body were fat, it would never sinke. Not that fat is, under water, more prone unto fermentation, which is the cause alledged; We besprinkle our almonds, in beating with Rose-water, to preserve them from restiness. To speak properly, Oyly or fat bodies scarce grow rotten, but rancid. Neither doth fat, so readily symbolize with air, as the Schools teach. Let oyl, grease, or tallow be boyled unto vapours, and I will believe: super-infused it will preserve liquors fresh, excluding all allien air: By the same reason, it defendeth iron from rust, and locketh up, faithfully, whatsoever it is intrusted withall. To say, it will soon conceive a flame, is no satisfactory argument; for the same happeneth unto chalk-coal, which yieldeth no smoke, the product of kindled fatness. Besides, when the acme of fermentation is over, except there be, at the very height of it, a fixation, from some external cause, the subject will fall into a more compacted gravity.

Ch. 7. There may be a mistake in a blown bladder, about the weight of it; if either the bladder be moist, and then, with extension, it dryeth: or if it be blown up with the breath of man, which containeth some water.

Further, Gold foliated, and feathers expansed, will not weigh so much, nor fall so swiftly, as the same will, being contracted.13 Smoak rarified doth ascend; but being condensated into soot, its nature is to descend. The common road of conception and production of rain, is an ancient and sufficient testimony.

Ch. 10. If the Small-pox have their Original from some quality in the Menstruum, imprinted upon the child in time of gestation; It must needs follow that this disease is endemical to the whole world; because of the universality of its cause: The truth whereof is worthy examination; and unto mine as far as travellers report is to be credited, the assertion is seconded. That others undergo them never, others often, is according to the disposition of the receiver.

Ch. 12. The measuring of the motion of bodies doth teach us their duration. No duration then to the center either of earth or heavens; because destitute of motion. If it be replyed, the motion need not to be in the thing but either in the Sun or Earth; neither is that absolutely true: For a motion of either upon its own axis, if the body be homogeneous, which is questioned concerning the Sun, will be no rule of measure. A loco-motion will be requisite. How far shall Saturn outdure the Moon? A step higher: There may be a time of duration without motion, as were the three first days, before the Creation of Sun or Stars. There was a flux of time in the days of Joshua, when the Sun stood still: This Philosophers call interval time.

Ch. 13 If since the world began Syrius, arose in ♉, and before its end may have its ascent in ♍; by that compute, the world's glass should run yet 12000 years: And where are then the last times, wherein the Apostles lived? Sed meliora spero.

Book V.

Ch. 4. Might not these words hvae been spared, In Paradise there was no creature hurtful? Since there was none, the Devil excepted, all the world over.14 It might with better reason have been questioned, Whether there were any Medical Plants? I think, to say, any Therapeutick Medicines were existent, before a disease be in nature, is frustraneous: But that they had then a Prophylactick vertue, to prevent all seminaries of maladies, may easily be understood.

The Botanicks comprehend corn, trees, and fruit, within the tome of their Herbals. Rosins might be a preservation against rain and darkness. As other Physical Plants, so Rubarb might serve for food to some creature. Many things stand for symmetry and complement of the Universe.

But, to speake with the Schools, there were remedies in Innocency, radically and potentially; but not actually, and formally: so was repentance and commiseration in sinless Adam.

Ib. There was a natural ability in Eve, after impregnation with a boy, without imperfecting the Creation, as she had killed the soul, so to destroy the body of Adam; without the abolishment of a Species : But this would, I confess, have ushered in many moral absurdities.

Ch. 5. That Adam should be created without a Navel, because he was not nourished that way, I see no necessary consequence. For it is of all sides granted, that, to the same part of the body, do appertain several offices. Now if, for the Navel be taken the out-side only, it serveth to the Umbo of the belly, for a Center in the way of ornament; or for an emunctory.15 Nature many times curing Dropsies that way. Of like use are Paps to men. If, for the Navel be understood the Vasa umbilicalia, the inward Ligaments; Adam could not spare them, they serving to hold up the Liver and Blather; the excision of them bringeth sudden death: which kind of punishment is, according to the Historians, in use with the Egyptians.

A Skar is a defect in the skin: but the outward vessels of the Navel, never deserved the title of humane part: rater an antecretion, for forty weeks nourishment in the dark: which, since it precedeth mans being, and doth forsake him being born; the amputation thereof can be no defect.

Lastly, the commonness and universality of this part, to all sorts and sexes of people, doth take away the reproach of deformity, and suppresse the tongue from a shameful upbraid.

Ch. 6. That the Jews did omit the standing or loin-girding, or staff-handling, in eating of the Passeover, and that without sin, is not likely: they being essential significant Ceremonies, instituted by God, to shew their suddain departure out of Egypt.The Traditions of the Rabbins are not unknown: But their authority, as being repugnant to reason or Scripture, is often suspected. Christ indeed was Lord as of the Sabbath, so of the Ceremonies: & he, being the body, come, the shaddows were shortned; especially, he then instituting a Sacrament of a dissonant posture.

A Digression by a Parenthesis, concerning those, who fear to approch too near to the Artolatry. They dare not seem to worship the bread, by kneeling before it; yet will they reverence it with their head bare; which is no gesture befitting familiar accumbency, and fraternal communion. Who can think that the Jews did eat the Passeover uncovered, it keeping no decorum, with the rest of the itinerary postures? They say, we ought herein to shew all reverence; But, to enterweave humane devices, and those incongruous, with divine institutions, is more then irreverence.

Ch. 14. To the rational defence of Jephthe, I add one argument, by others omitted, from Heb. 11. All these dyed in faith: and Jephthe is inserted within the Catalogue of believers. That one unquestionable testimony, is of more validity with me, then many disputable arguments, of frail humanity: and when, without pondering, we follow the steps of dubious guides, we may soon aberre from the way of truth.

Ch. 19. Bears with long tailes, need not be a Poetical fiction; nor a black Swan a monstrosity. In Egypt there are sheep of incredible tails, weighing 80 li. White Bears, Hares, Partridges, are common to Greenland. The race of Moors, and that by a regular production, is no anomalous monstrosity. White Thrushes, are not rare in England. It is not the change of accidents; but the commixture of foreign forms, that breedeth a prodigious spectacle.

Ch. 21. To sit cross-legged, or have our fingers pectinated, doth really induce a numness, and retarding the circulation of the blood, doth affect the heart: and, by compression or distortion of the sinews, is an impeachment to motion and sense. That which Ligatures do on set purpose, these postures will perform without advice.

Ch. 22. The line of life, and of Liver, in Man or Monky, which generally are taken for Nature's Manuscripts, are but the folds of the skin; when the hand or thumb is bent inwardly. Neither proper to any who have their feet alwaies extended. By the same reason we have not those now, which we had in our infancy; but by accidents, diseases, labour, changeable. The variety and numerosity of these Characters, and Lineaments, are both more legible and certain in spelling out ones profession: A Book fit for Justices to study, how to discover idleness.

Book VI.

Ch. 2. What Land was out of Paradise, was Terra Incognita: But, to the Inhabitants the world seemeth to be created in Autumn: For the fruit of all trees was ripe, except we affirm, that, before sin, every month had fresh fruit; glancing unto Rev. 22.2 Ezek. 47.12. Or, that some of the fruit was ripe, while others were but in blossome. The name of Thirsi signifying originally beginning which fell on Autumn, being October, doth perswade the same: But the month of Nisan, which fell on the Spring, became the new year of the Jews, not upon any natural ground; but upon the institution of God, in remembrance of their delivery out of Egypt: And that Abraham did begin the calculation of years, from the Autumn, as having received it, by tradition, from the Patriarch Enoch, witness both Josephus and Eusebius. But man and beast drew their first breath in their spring; because their flouring years did precede their fruit-bearing harvest.

Ch. 5. If the Sun should move constantly, in the Equator, it would be, unto both poles, continual day; because of the refraction of the beams, through the air, contrary to chap. 14 of this Book. But those, who have the Poles vertical, do, for above half a year in every month, new-Moon excepted, enjoy the benefit of both Luminaries, 14 dayes together.

Ch. 7. It is most consonant to the order, which God kept in the Creation, and to reason of man, that the principles of all things were wisely disposed, in a convenient Matrix, within Paradise, seeing there was a compendium of the Universe: For as unto all creatures Adam gave suitable names ; so he must have within it, the epitome of the whole world: or else he could not have known it. To the Proverb,

Non omnis fert omnia tellus;

I oppose,

Non fuit sic à principio.

Ib. The emolument of the East is not to be despised, by them, who have any Sea, or Lake adjacent unto them. There is no small influence from the ascending rayes of the morning; dispersing the exhaled vapours of the night: Whereas in Occidental coasts, the damps of the Sea enter into the room of the departed Sun: The Oriental is famous for its dryness; the Occidental mansions, are by their moisture, rafty. Hence is in the frequency of evening thunders; which in a morning is a rarity. The like I say of rain-bows.

Ch. 10. All things are seen under the vernish of colour: How this consisteth with the sight of Moles, I see not: For Book 3, Chap. 8. they are allowed the sight of light; and that of colours is denied them. Yet to speak with the Schools, colour is light, terminated in the superfices of solid body.

Ib. Concerning the blackness of Negroes, there seemeth some promotion of it, either from the climate, or soil, which being scituated between four great Rivers, whose banks are often over-flown; the heat having thereby a thicker medium to work upon, than upon pure air [hence, after rain, the new beams of the Sun become most scalding] doth exhale and fix more vapours, especially towards the head; which maketh their skulls, to exceed triple in thickness, ours of Europe: So that their proud depth doth contemn the force of the sharpest sword, as several times, with admiration, I have seen.

Ch. 11. If denigration proceed from mortification, it presupposeth a cold fire: as in an extreme marasm of age, or by frost, in Russia is evident: Of which subject, I remember to have read a rational treatise in the Teutonick. But I love no Logomachie.

Book VII.

Chap. 1. It is said, that the forbidden fruit was never produced since. If it be meant that it should be obscured, and retired into the closet of perpetual latency, I see no reason for it: because man is now disobliged from that Commandement. No man might imitate that holy perfume, Exod. 30. or transfer it into a domestick use: But that it should over-awe us, hitherto, morally, savoureth too much of Judaism. By the same Law, we shall be forbidden the smell of Frankincense: yea, Bread and Wine being once instituted for a Sacrament, must not be exposed to a natural and common prophanation. If the whole Species were annihilated, though it were but in one individual, [as that happeneteh unto some creatures] it mutilateth the Creation, and bringeth a lameness into the beauty of the Universe.

Ib. A Peach, though with a hard kernel, is named Pomum by the learned: And so are jugulandes and siliqua by Pliny.

Ch. 4. The Galaxia or Milky-way, if it had a natural signature, of both rain and fair weather, might be as comfortable, I dare say, more frequent then the Rainbow. Besides, the former is not imitable by the industry of man; the latter every plebeian hand can at pleasure command; yea, a Horse trotting through shallow water, if the Sun approach near the Horizon shall unwittingly raise the colours of the Bow, as hath been mentioned before. The constancy in duration, and scituation, migth challenge a preheminency; but it is safe, to acquiesce, humbly, in the wisdom of the Maker.

Ch. 5. Abraham and Ishamel, instead of Isaac, So Ch. 15. Gold will swim in quick-silver, wherein iron and other mettals sink; I dare not but lay the slip upon the oscitant Printer.16

Ch. 7. The Hypssop upon the Wall, I would rather take for our Parietaria, or Pellitory, which is used for cleansing and pollishing of Vessels and Glasses; This for site and virtue, will best suite with the Herb, which the Priest used in sacrifice, and the Botanicks of Solomon. Dioscorides is dubious.

Chap. 13. If the Moon, by exciting the nitro-sulphureous spirits, at the bottom of the Sea, cause high-water; It is either in regard of its vicinity, or by vertue of her body, or her light. That first cause is vain: For the periodicall estuation would be at the time of the perigæum. The body of the Moon is unchangeable: Neither can we conferre this effect to its light; because, at new-Moon, the spring-tide is not inferiour.

>Galileus's subtile device, concerning the motion of the earth, hath its scruple. It is true, that the water will rise to the sides of the Vessel, being swiftly moved; but, that the same befalleth the Sea, arrested by the shoar, is a doubtfull consequence: because the motion of the one is naturall, the other violent.

In water, as in all liquid things, I acnkowledge a double naturall motion: by the one, in regard of its gravity, it descendeth; by the other, because of its tenacity, it runneth into the form of a Globe. Reiterated drops upon a true levell, (if there be any Physicall plane) will evince this; which, swelling in the midst, cast themselves into a circle. That dolefull deluge, which did compasse the earth, was a sad example. The latter propriety is the product of the former.

Chap. 17. That God made all things double, one against another, and that poison is not without antipoyson, I desire to have my assent excused. Not to speak of morall things, where one contrary hath severall contraryes, and one vice as adverse to another, as vertue to them both; I think God made no Poyson, but all things in the world were made for the use of man. Their chiefest deleterium is, either in the quantity, or some other circumstance, as in Lettice, Leeks, Casservi, &c. whose integra are aliments; though juices mortiferous. Those things that are pernicious by their externall form, as beaten Glasse, Sponges, &c. have not deserved the brand of poyson. Those that are really lethiferous, are but peccatorum sudores, excrescences of sin, & came in with the thorns. The Serpent was destructive rather to the soul, then the body.

Besides, some Vincetoricks are generall, and wil be contrary to severall kinds. Finally, in divers creatures, one part is alexipharmacall to the other, as is confessed in the subsequent Section, by our Judicious Author, to whom be peace.



1 Browne is not referring to the Serpent and Eve, but rather to Adam and Eve: the weaker (Eve) deceiving the stronger (Adam), stronger in both sexist terms and in the sense that, having had the prohibition straight from the mouth of God, he ought to have more reason to abide by it.

2 Ab oblivione eximuntur impossibilia, illicita, impertinentia. [And therefore oblivion is not a lie. Argument by assertion is an attractive trap.]

3 Ne credas quod nescias.

4 Scaliger.

5 Barclay

6 But wouldn't this then demolish Robinson's astrological argument?

7 I will admit to be totally stumped by this paragraph, but then I'm not willing to think about it overmuch.

8 Dal detto al fatto, vi è un gran tratto.

9 I don't see why. Perhaps the dragon wasn't readily injured by sword or staff.

10 Stiplicity: sic. Presumably stipticity, although how gold makes water stiptic is beyond me.

11 Lib. 6. [27. This, of elks, is balderdash, and of course elephants have knees — Browne quite rightly points out.]

12 Yes indeed, but how are we to get out?

13 Gallileo died in 1642, 16 years before Robinson published his Calm Ventilation.

14 How on earth does Robinson know this?

15 Ross also puts forth the "navel-as-ornament" theme -- an absurd theme; but even he does not give the "navel-as-excretory-duct" argument, which is pretty close to lunacy.

16 Errors in the 1646 edition (and so obviously errors that they do not really require a published criticism).

John Robinson (1658), A Calm Ventilation of Pseudodoxia Epidemica by the Still Gale of John Robinson. In Endoxa, or, Some Probable Inquiries into Truth, Both Divine and Humane: Together with A Stone to the Altar, or, Short Disquisitions on a Few Difficult Places of Scripture; As Also, A Calm Ventilation of Pseudodoxia Epidemica. Translated and augmented by the Author. Pages 111-151.

This page is by James Eason

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