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« in real Truth, and according to all Probability of Rea
* son, intire and perfect Gods, in receiving a most happy ■ and glorious End.' But whoever desires to fee him, the Man, I fay, who is yet the most Sober and Moderate of the whole Tribe of Philosophers, lay about him with greater Boldness, and relate his Miracles upon this Subject, I refer him to this Treatise of the Moon, and his Dæmon of Socrates, where he may, more evidently than in any other Place whatever, satisfy himself, that the Mysteries of Philosophy have many strange Things in common with those of Poesy •, the Human Understanding losing itself, in attempting to sound and search all Things to the Bottom: Even as we, tired and worn out with a long Course of Life, relapse into Infancy. Thus much for the fine and certain Instructions, which we extract from human
Science concerning the Soul. Neither is Variety of O- there less Temerity in what it teaches us %7tlV°at touching our corporeal Parts. Let us single $ educes the out one or two Examples; for otherwise we Human Body, mould lose ourselves in this vast and troubled
Ocean of medicinal Errors. We would first know, whether, at least, they agree about the Matter, whereof Men produce one another. For, as to their first Production, it is no "Wonder, if, in a Thing so sublime, and so long since past, human Understanding finds itself puzzled and distraiied. Archelaus the Naturalist, whose Disciple and Favourite Socrates was, according to Arijioxenus, said, 'That " both Men and Beasts were 'made of a lacteous Slime, produced by the Heat of the
* Earth.' Pythagoras fays, 'Thatw our Seed is the Froth « or Cream of our better Blood.' Plato, * That it is the
* Distillation of the * Marrow of the Back-Bone ;' and he raises his Arguments from this, « That that Part is first fen
* sible of Lassitude in the Act.' Alcmeon, * That it is 1 « Part of the Substance of the Brain j and that it is so, 'fays he, appears from the Weakness of the Eyes, in those 'who are overmuch addicted to that Exercise.' Democritus, 1 That it is 1 a Substance extracted from the whole
« Diogenes Laertius in the Life of Archelaus, lib. ii. sect. 17.
4 Mass of the Body.'* Epicurus, ' That it is extracted
* from * Soul and Body.' Aristotle, 4 That it is an Ex
* crement b drawn from the Aliment of the last Blood,
* which is diffused in our Members.' Others, * That it
* consists of the Blood concocted and digested by the
* Heat of the Genitals -,' which they judge to be so, byreason that, in excessive Efforts, a Man voids pure florid Blood; wherein there seems to be the more Likelihood, could any Likelihood be deduced from so infinite a Confusion.
Now, to bring this Seed to operate, how many contrary Opinions do they set on Foot? Aristotle B ^vhat and Democritus c are of Opinion, 'that Wo- Means the Seed
* men have no Sperm, and that 'tis nothing becomes proli
* but a Sweat which the Heat of Pleasure **'
'and Motion draws from them, that contributes nothing
* at all to Generation.' Galen, on the contrary, and his Followers, believe, 'that, without the Concurrence of
* Seeds, there can be no Generation.'
Here are the Physicians, the Philosophers, the Lawyers, and Divines, together by the Ears, with <j-ime By Wo_ our Wives, about the Dispute, upon what men's PregnanTerms Women bear their Fruit: And I, for €> mdtttrminrriy Part, by what I know myself, second e' those of them that maintain a Woman goes eleven Months with Child. The World is built upon this Experience; there is not so despicable a Wife that cannot give her Judgment in all these Controversies, and yet we cannot agree. This is enough to prove, that Man is no better instructed in the Knowledge of himself, in his corporeal, than in his spiritual Part. We have proposed himself to himself, and his Reason to his Reason, to see what it would say; and, I think, I have sufficiently demonstrated how little it understands itself in itself: And he who understands not himself in himself, in what can he possibly understand himself? d Quafi verb mensuram ullius rei peffit
'Plutarch, de Placitis Philosophorurn, lib. v. c. 3. b Idem, ibid. * Plutarch adds Zeno to Aristotle, and Jays expressly, that Democritus be- lieved that the Females shed their Seed. De Placitis Philosophorurn, lib. v. c. 5. d Plin. Nat. Hist, lib. ii. c. 1.
Agere, qui sui hesciat. 'As if he could understand the • Measure of any other Thing, that knows not his own.' In Earnest, Protagoras told us a pretty Flam, in making Man the Measure of all Things, who never knew so much is his own ': If it be not he, his Dignity will not permit* that any other Creature should have this Advantage: Now, he being so contrary in himself, and one Judgment so incessantly subverting another, this favourable Proposition was but a Mockery, which induced Us necessarily to conclude the Nothingness of the Measure and the Measurer. When Thales reputes the Knowledge of Man very difficult for Man to attain to, he gives him to understand, that it was impossible for him to know any Thing else. You, for whom I have taken the Pains, contrary to my Custom, to write so long a Discourse, will not refuse to maintain your Sebonde, by the ordinary Forms of arguing, wherewith you are every Day instructed, and in this wiil exercise both your Wit and Study: For this last Rule, in Fencing, is never to be made use of, but as art extreme Remedy. 'Tis a desperate Thrust, wherein you are to quit your own Arms, to make your Adversary abandon his; and a secret Sleight, which must be very rarely and cautiously put in Practice. 'Tis great Temerity to ruin yourself, that you may destroy another; you must not venture your Life, to be revenged, as Gobrias did: For, being in close Combat with a Lord of Persia, Darius coming in with his Sword in his Hand, and fearing to strike lest he should wound Gobrias; he called out jo him boldly to fall on, though he should run them both through at once. I have known the Arms and desperate Conditions of single Combat, wherein he, that offered them, put himself and his Adversary upon Terms of inevitable Death to them both, censured for unjust. The Portuguese, in the Indian Sea, took certain Turks Prison-r ers, who, impatient of their Captivity, resolved to blow up the Ship, with themselves and Company; which they did accordingly, by striking the Nails of the Ship one against another, and making a Spark to fall into the Bar-? reis of Powder that were set in the Place, where they were
« Api»d Sext, Ejnpiric, adverf. Mathem, p. 14.8,
guarded. We have here touched the utmost Limits of the Sciences, wherein the Extremity is vicious, as in Virtue: Keep yourselves in the common Road; it is not good to be so subtle and cunning: Remember the Tuscan Proverb.
Chi troppo s'ajsotligZia, ft scavezza r.
i. e. He that spins his Thread too fine, will break it.
I advise you, in all your Opinions and Discourses, as well as in your Manners, and all other Things, to keep yourself in Moderation and Temperance, and to avoid Novelty. I am an Enemy to all extravagant Ways: You, who by the Authority you derive from your Grandeur, and yet more by the Advantages which those Qualities give you that are most your own, can, with a Beckon, command whom you please, ought to have given this Caution to some Professor of Letters, who might have proved and illustrated these Things to you in quite another manner: But here is as much as you will stand in Need of.
Epicurus said of the Laws, * that the worst were so ne
* cessary for us, that, without them, Men yhe Mceffity 1 would devour one another.5 And Plato of Law to proves, * that, without Laws, we should live keeP Men'"
* like Beasts.' Our Wit is a rambling, dan- 0rdergerous, and rash Tool; it is hard to affix any Rule or Measure to it: As for the Men of my Time, we fee that almost all who are endued with any rare Excellence above others, and any extraordinary Vivacity, lash out into a Licentiousness of Opinions and Manners; and 'tis a Miracle to find one that is Sober and Sociable. 'Tis right to confine human Wit within the strictest Limits possible, In Study, as in all the rest, its Advances ought to be numbered and fixed, and the Limits of its Inquiry to be artfully marked. It is curbed and fettered by Religions, Laws, and Customs, by Science, Precepts, Punissiments and Rewards, mortal and immortal; and yet we fee, that, by its Volubility and Dissoluteness, it escapes from all these Bounds. 'Tis a thin Body, which has nothing to hold or handle it by; a various and shapeless Body, incapable of being either tied or touched. In Earnest, there are few Souls so regular, firm, and well-bred, as to be trusted with their own Conduct; and that can, with Moderation, and without Temerity, fail in the Liberty of their own Judgments, beyond the common Opinions. *Tis more expedient to put them under Guardianship: "Wit is a dangerous Weapon, even to the Possessor, if he knows not how to use it discreetly j and there is not a Beast, for which a Head-board is more necessary, to keep his Looks down, and before his Feet, and to hinder him from wandering, here and there, out of the Tracks, which Custom and the Laws have made for him. Therefore it will much better become you to keep yourself in the beaten Path, let it be what it will, than to take a Flight with such unbridled License. But if any of these new Doctors will pretend to be Ingenious in your Presence, at the Expence both of your Soul and his own; in order to be safe from this dangerous Plague, which spreads daily in your Way, this Preservative, in the extremest Necessity, will prevent the Contagion of this Poison from hurting either you or your Company.
these s Proyerb,
The Liberty, therefore, and Gaiety of the ancient Wits, _; produced in Philosophy, and the human
arennvesia- Sciences, several Sects of different Opinions, tUJhed by th( every one undertaking to judge and make Civil Autbo- Choice of his Party. But now that Men go J' all one Way: s §>ui certis quibusdam dejlinatis
que sententiis additii et consecratisunt, ut etiam, quœ non probant, cogantur desendere: * Who are so devoted to certain « determined Articles of Belief, that they are bound to « defend even those they do not approve :' And now that we receive the Arts by Civil Authority and Decree, insomuch that the Schools have but one Pattern, and a like circumscribed Institution and Discipline, we no more take Notice what the Coin weighs, and is worth, but every one, in his Turn, receives it according to the Estimate that the common Approbation and Currency puts upon it: The
Alloy » Cic. Tuse, Quæst, lib. ii. c. ?.