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with delectable odours ; and though in the bed of Cleopatra, can hardly with any delight raise up the ghost of a rose.
Night, which Pagan theology could make the daughter of Chaos, affords no advantage to the description of order ; although no lower than that mass can we derive its genealogy. All things began in order, so shall they end, and so shall they begin again ; according to the ordainer of order and mystical mathematicks of the city of heaven.
Though Somnus in Homer be sent to rouse up Agamemnon, I find no such effects in these drowsy approaches of sleep. To keep our eyes open longer, were but to act our Antipodes. The huntsmen are up in America, and they are already past their first sleep in Persia. But who can be drowsy at that hour which freed us from everlasting sleep? or have slumbering thoughts at that time, when sleep itself must end, and as some conjecture all shall awake again.
By Sir Thomas Browne
OBSERVATIONS UPON SEVERAL PLANTS
MENTIONED IN SCRIPTURE Sir, — Though many ordinary heads run smoothly over the Scripture, yet I must acknowledge it is one of the hardest books I have met with ; and therefore well deserveth those numerous comments, expositions, and annotations, which make up a good part of our libraries.
However, so affected I am therewith, that I wish there had been more of it, and a larger volume of that divine piece, which leaveth such welcome impressions, and somewhat more, in the readers, than the words and sense after it. At least, who would not be glad that many things barely hinted were at large delivered in it? The particulars of the dispute between the doctors and our Saviour could not but be welcome to those who have every word in honour which proceedeth from his mouth, or was otherwise delivered by him; and so
1 " Most of these letters were written to Sir Nicholas Bacon."--Evelyn's note.
would be glad to be assured, what he wrote with his finger on the ground : but especially to have a particular of that instructing narration or discourse which he made unto the disciples after his resurrection, where 'tis said: “ And beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded unto them, in all the Scriptures, the things concerning himself.”
But, to omit theological obscurities, you must needs observe that most sciences do seem to have something more nearly to consider in the expressions of the Scripture.
Astronomers find herein the names but of few stars, scarce so many as in Achilles's buckler in Homer, and almost the very same. But in some passages of the Old Testament they think they discover the zodiacal course of the sun ; and they, also, conceive an astronomical sense in that elegant expression of St. James “concerning the father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning :” and therein an allowable allusion unto the tropical conversion of the sun, whereby ensueth a variation of heat, light, and also of shadows from it. But whether the stella erratica or wandering stars, in St. Jude, may be referred to the celestial planets or some meteorological wandering stars, ignes fatui, stella cadentes et erratica, or
had any allusion unto the impostor Barchochebas or Stellæ Filius, who afterward appeared, and wandered about in the time of Adrianus, they leave unto conjecture.
Chirurgeons may find their whole art in that one passage, concerning the rib which God took out of Adam; that is, their siaipeous in opening the flesh, εξαίρεσις in taking out the rib; and σύνθεσις in closing and healing the part again.
Rhetoricians and orators take singular notice of very many excellent passages, stately metaphors, noble tropes, and elegant expressions, not to be found or paralleled in any other author.
Mineralists look earnestly into the twenty-eighth of Job; take special notice of the early artifice in brass and iron, under Tubal Cain"; and find also mention of gold, silver, brass, tin, lead, iron ; beside refining, soldering, dross, nitre, salt-pits, and in some manner also of antimony.
Gemmary naturalists read diligently the precious stones in the holy city of the Apocalypse ; examine the breast-plate of Aaron, and various gems upon it ; and think the second row the nobler of the four.
They wonder to find the art of engravery so ancient upon precious stones and signets; together with the ancient use of ear-rings and bracelets. And are pleased to find pearl, coral, amber, and crystal, in those sacred leaves, according to our translation. And when they often meet with Aints and marbles, cannot but take notice that there is no mention of the magnet or loadstone, which in so many similitudes, comparisons, and allusions, could hardly have been omitted in the works of Solomon: if it were true that he knew either the attractive or directive power thereof, as some have believed.
Navigators consider the ark, which was pitched without and within, and could endure the ocean without mast or sails : they take special notice of the twenty-seventh of Ezekiel ; the mighty traffic and great navigation of Tyre, with particular mention of their sails, their masts of cedar, oars of oak, their skilful pilots, mariners, and caulkers ; as also of the long voyages of the fleets of Solomon; of Jehosaphat's ships broken at Ezion-Geber; of the notable voyage and shipwreck of St. Paul so accurately delivered in the Acts.
Oneirocritical diviners apprehend some hints of their knowledge, even from divine dreams ; while they take notice of the dreams of Joseph, Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, and the angels on Jacob's ladder ; and find, in Artemidorus and Achmetes, that ladders signify travels,