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There are also some things which may be usefully added to the natural history, and which will make it fitter and more convenient for the work of the interpreter, which follows. They are five.
First, questions (I do not mean as to causes but as to the fact) should be added, in order to provoke and stimulate further inquiry; as in the history of Earth and Sea, whether the Caspian ebbs and flows, and at how many hours' interval; whether there is any Southern Continent, or only islands; and the like.
Secondly, in any new and more subtle experiment the manner in which the experiment was conducted should be added, that men may be free to judge for themselves whether the information obtained from that experiment be trustworthy or fallacious; and also that men's industry may be roused to discover if possible methods more exact.
Thirdly, if in any statement there be anything doubtful or questionable, I would by no means have it suppressed or passed in silence, but plainly and perspicuously set down by way of note or admonition. For I want this primary history to be compiled with a most religious care, as if every particular were stated upon oath; seeing that it is the book of God's works, and (so far as the majesty of heavenly may be compared with the humbleness of earthly things) a kind of second Scripture.
Fourthly, it would not be amiss to intersperse observations occasionally, as Pliny has done; as in the history of Earth and Sea, that the figure of the earth (as far as it is yet known) compared with the seas, is narrow and pointed towards the south, wide and broad towards the north; the figure of the sea contrary:-that the great oceans intersect the earth in channels running north and south, not east and west; except perhaps in the extreme polar regions. It is also very good to add canons (which are nothing more than certain general and catholic observations); as in the history of the Heavenly Bodies, that Venus is never distant more than 46 parts from the sun; Mercury never more than 23; and that the planets which are placed above the sun move slowest when they are furthest from the earth, those under the sun fastest. Moreover there is another kind of observation to be employed, which has not yet come into use, though it be of no small importance. This is,
that to the enumeration of things which are should be subjoined an enumeration of things which are not. As in the history of the Heavenly Bodies, that there is not found any star oblong or triangular, but that every star is globular; either globular simply, as the moon; or apparently angular, but globular in the middle, as the other stars; or apparently radiant but globular in the middle, as the sun;-or that the stars are scattered about the sky in no order at all; so that there is not found among them either quincunx or square, or any other regular figure (howsoever the names be given of Delta, Crown, Cross, Chariot, &c.),- scarcely so much as a straight line; except perhaps in the belt and dagger of Orion.
Fifthly, that may perhaps be of some assistance to an inquirer which is the ruin and destruction of a believer; viz. a brief review, as in passage, of the opinions now received, with their varieties and sects; that they may touch and rouse the intellect, and no more.
And this will be enough in the way of general precepts; which if they be diligently observed, the work of the history will at once go straight towards its object and be prevented from increasing beyond bounds. But if even as here circumscribed and limited it should appear to some poor-spirited person a vast work-let him turn to the libraries; and there among other things let him look at the bodies of civil and canonical law on one side, and at the commentaries of doctors and lawyers on the other; and see what a difference there is between the two in point of mass and volume. For we (who as faithful secretaries do but enter and set down the laws themselves of nature and nothing else) are content with brevity, and almost compelled to it by the condition of things; whereas opinions, doctrines, and speculations are without number and without end.
And whereas in the Plan of the Work I have spoken of the Cardinal Virtues in nature, and said that a history of these must also be collected and written before we come to the work of Interpretation; I have not forgotten this, but I reserve this part for myself; since until men have begun to be somewhat more closely intimate with nature, I cannot venture to rely very much on other people's industry in that matter.
And now should come the delineation of the particular
histories. But I have at present so many other things to do that I can only find time to subjoin a Catalogue of their titles. As soon however as I have leisure for it, I mean to draw up a set of questions on the several subjects, and to explain what points with regard to each of the histories are especially to be inquired and collected, as conducing to the end I have in view,
- like a kind of particular Topics. In other words, I mean (according to the practice in civil causes) in this great Plea or Suit granted by the divine favour and providence (whereby the human race seeks to recover its right over nature), to examine nature herself and the arts upon interrogatories.
1. History of the Heavenly Bodies; or Astronomical History. 2. History of the Configuration of the Heaven and the parts thereof towards the Earth and the parts thereof; or Cosmographical History.
3. History of Comets.
4. History of Fiery Meteors.
5. History of Lightnings, Thunderbolts, Thunders, and Coruscations.
6. History of Winds and Sudden Blasts and Undulations of the Air.
7. History of Rainbows.
8. History of Clouds, as they are seen above.
9. History of the Blue Expanse, of Twilight, of Mock-Suns, Mock-Moons, Haloes, various colours of the Sun; and of every variety in the aspect of the heavens caused by the medium.
10. History of Showers, Ordinary, Stormy, and Prodigious; also of Waterspouts (as they are called); and the like. 11. History of Hail, Snow, Frost, Hoar-frost, Fog, Dew, and
12. History of all other things that fall or descend from above, and that are generated in the upper region.
13. History of Sounds in the upper region (if there be any), besides Thunder.
14. History of Air as a whole, or in the Configuration of the World.