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APHORISMS

ON THE FORMATION OF THE FIRST HISTORY.

APHORISMS.

time, be derived from their narrative, but that 1. Nature is placed in three situations, and they must collect and prepare such and so varied subject to a threefold government. For she is a supply of things, as may be sufficient for the either free, and left to unfold herself in a regular forming of genuine axioms. If they thus reflect, course, or she is driven from her position by the they will themselves lay down their own method obstinacy and resistance of matter, and the vio- for such a history, for the end governs the means. lence of obstacles, or she is constrained and III. But by as much as this is a matter remoulded by human art and labour. The first state quiring great pains and labour, by so much the applies to the specific nature of bodies; the second less should it be unnecessarily burdened. There to monsters; the third to artificial productions, in are three points, then, upon which men should be which she subunits to the yoke imposed on her by warned to employ but scanty labour, inasmuch as man, for without the hand of man they would not they infinitely increase the bulk of the work, and have been produced. But from the labour and add but little or nothing to its value. contrivance of man an entirely new appearance First, then, let them dismiss antiquity and quo-, of bodies takes its rise, forming, as it were, an- tations, or the suffrages of authors, all disputes, other universe or theatre. Natural history, then, controversies, and discordant opinions, and, lastly, is threefold, and treats either of the liberty, the all philological disquisitions. Let no author be wanderings, or the fetters of nature; so that we quoted except on doubtful points, nor controvermay aptly divide it into the histories of generation, sies entered into except on matter of great impretergeneration, and arts; the latter of which portance; and as for the ornaments of language, divisions we are also wont to call mechanic or and comparisons, and the whole treasury of elo. experimental. Yet would we not direct these quence, and the like puerilities, let them be wholly thrue to be carried on separately, for why should renounced. Nay, let all which is admitted be not the history of monstrosities in every species propounded briefly and concisely, so as to be be combined with that of the species itself? So, nothing less than words. For no one, who is also, artificial subjects may sometimes properly preparing and laying by materials, for building enough be treated of together with certain natural houses or ships, or the like, takes the trouble, as species, though, at other times, it is better to they would in shops, of arranging them elegantly separate them. Circumstances, therefore, must and showing them off to advantage, but rather guide us, for too rigid a method admits of repeti- attends only to their being strong and good, and tions and prolixity as much as no method. to their taking up as little room as possible in his

II. Natural history being, as we have observed, warehouse. Let the like be done here. threefold relative to its subject, is twofold in its Secondly, There is not much real use in the application. For it is employed either as a means lavish abundance of descriptions, painted repreof arriving at the knowledge of the matters them- sentations of species, and collections of their vaselves which are consigned to it, or as the ele. Irieties with which natural history is adorned. mentary material for philosophy, and as the stock These trifling varieties are the mere sport and os forest, as it were, from which to furnish forth / wantonness of nature, and approximate to merely genuine induction. The latter is its present ap- individual characteristics, affording a pleasant. plication ; its present one, I observe, for it was digression, but a mean and superfluous sort of never before so applied. For neither Aristotle, information as regards science. Doc Theophrastus, nor Dioscorides, nor Pliny, nor Thirdly, We must reject all superstitious narra. much less the moderns, ever proposed this as the tives, (I do not say prodigious, where faithful object of natural history. And the principal point and probable accounts can be obtained, but super1 be attended to is this, that those who shall stitious,) together with the experiments of natural henceforth take charge of natural history, do per- magic. "For we would not accustom philosophy pelually reflect, and impress upon their minds, in her infancy, whose very nurse is natural histhat they ought not to be subservient to the plea- tory, to old wives' tales. A time may come sure or even benefit which may, at this present after a deeper investigation of nature) when such

matters may be lightly touched upon, so as to there any confusion between this and the second extract and lay up for use such natural knowledge or third parts, although we have spoken of air, as may lurk in their dregs, but till then they are water, and earth in each. For in the second and to be put aside. In like manner, the experiments third they are spoken of as integral parts of the of natural magic are to be diligently and rigidly world, and in relation to the creation and cousisted before their adoption, especially those which figuration of the universe; but in the fourth is are wont to be derived from vulgar sympathies and contained the history of their own substance and antipathies, owing to the indolence and credulity nature, as displayed in the homogeneous parts of of both believers and inventors.

each, and not referred to the whole. Lastly, the It is no slight matter to have thus relieved na- fifth part of natural history contains the lesser tural history of these three vanities, which might colleges or species, upon which alone natural otherwise have hereafter filled volumes. Nor is history has hitherto been chiefly occupied. this all; for it is as essential to a great work, that As to the history of pretergeneration, we hare that which is admitted be briefly described, as already observed that it may, with the greatest that the superfluous should be rejected, although convenience, be combined with that of generation, it must be obvious that this chastened and precise including that which is prodigious only, not nastyle must afford less pleasure, both to the reader tural. For we reserve the superstitious history and to the author. But it is ever to be repeated, of miracles (such as it may be) for a separate that the object is to prepare a mere granary and treatise, nor is it to be undertaken immediately, ware house, in which no one is to loiter or dwell but rather later, when more way shall have been for amusement, but only to visit as occasion may made in the investigation of nature. require, when any thing is wanted for the work We divide the history of the arts, and of tis. of the interpreter, which follows next in order. ture's course diverted and changed by man, or

IV. One thing, above all others, is requisite experimental history, into three parts. For it is for the history we design; namely, that it be derived either, 1. From the mechanical arts; 07, most extensive, and adapted to the extent of the 2. From the practical part of the liberal sciences; universe. For the world is not to be narrowed or, 3. From various practical applications and ex. down to the measure of the understanding, (as periments, which have not yet been classed as a has hitherto been done,) but the understanding is peculiar art, nay, sometimes occur in every day's to be expanded, and opened for the admission of experience and require no such art. If, then, i the actual representation of the world as it is. history be completed of all these which we have The maxim of examining little and pronouncing mentioned, namely, generation, pretergenera. on that little has ruined every thing. Resuming tion, the arts and experiments, nothing appears then our late partition of natural history, into that omitted for preparing the senses to inform the of generation, pretergeneration, and the arts, we understanding, and we shall no longer dance, as it divide the first into five parts : 1. The history of were, within the narrow circles of the enchanter, the sky and heavenly bodies. 2. Of meteors and but extend our march round the confines of the the regions (as they are termed) of the air, that world itself. is to say, its division from the moon to the earth's V. Of those parts into which we have divided surface, to which division we assign every kind natural history, that of the arts is the most useful, of comet, either superior or inferior, (however the since it exhibits bodies in motion, and leads more actual fact may be,) for the sake of method. directly to practice. Besides this, it lifts the 3. The history of the earth and sea. 4. Of the mask and veil, as it were, from natural objects, elements, as they are called, Aame or fire, air, which are generally concealed or obscured under water, and earth; considering them, however, a diversity of forms and external appearance. under that name, not as the first principles of Again, the attacks of art are assuredly the very things, but as forming the larger masses of na- fetters and miracles of Proteus, which betrar the tural bodies. For natural objects are so distri- last struggle and efforts of nature. For bodies buted, that the quantity or mass of certain bodies resist destruction or annihilation, and rather trans throughout the universe is very great, owing to form themselves into various shapes. The greatthe easy and obvious material texture required est diligence, therefore, is to be bestowed upja for their conformation, whilst the quantity of this history, however mechanical and illiberal it others is but small and sparingly supplied, the may appear, laying aside all fastidious arroginee. material, being of a diversified and subtile nature, Again, amongst the arts those are preferable having many specific qualities, and being of an which control, alter, and prepare natural bodies, organized construction, such as the different and the materials of objects, such as agricultors species of natural objects, namely, metals, plants, cookery, chymistry, dyeing, manufactures of and animals. We are wont, therefore, to call the glass, enamel, sugar, gunpowder, fireworks, former greater colleges, and the latter lesser col- paper, and the like. There is less use to be de leges. The fourth part of our history, then, is of rived from those which chiefly consist in a deli. the former, under the name of elements. Nor is cate motion of the hands, or of tools, such :3

weaving, carpentry, architecture, mill and clock-tice. The exact return and distances of thu work, and the like; although the latter are by no planets, therefore, in the history of the heavens, means to be neglected, both on account of their the circumference of the earth, and the extent of frequently presenting circumstances tending to its surface compared with that of water, in the the alteration of natural bodies, and also on ac-, history of the earth and sea, the quantity of comcount of the accurate information they afford of pression which the air will suffer without any translatitious motion, a point of the greatest im- powerful resistance, in the history of air, the portance in many inquiries.

quantity by which one metal exceeds another in One thing, however, is to be observed and well weight, in that of metals, and a number of like remembered in this whole collection of arts, points are to be thoroughly investigated and denamely, to admit not only those experiments tailed. When, however, the exact proportions which conduce to the direct object of the art, but cannot be obtained, recourse must be had to those also those which indirectly occur. For instance, which are estimated or comparative. Thus, if we the changing of the lobster or a crab when cooked distrust the calculations of astronomers as to disfrom a dark to a red colour has nothing to do with tances, it may be stated that the moon is within cookery, yet this instance is not a bad one in in the shadow of the earth, and Mercury above the restigating the nature of redness, since the same moon, &c. If mean proportions cannot be had, thing occurs in baked bricks. So, again, the let extremes be taken, as that the feeblest magnet circumstance of meat requiring less time for salt- can raise iron of such a weight compared with ing in winter than in summer, is not only useful its own, and the most powerful sixty times as information to the cook for preparing his meat, much as its own weight, which I have myself but is also a good instance to point out the nature observed in a very small armed magnet. For we and effect of cold. He therefore will be wonder- know very well that determinate instances do not fully mistaken, who shall think that he has satis- readily or often occur, but must be sought after fied our object when he has collected these expe- as auxiliary, when chiefly wanted, in the very riments of the arts for the sole purpose of im- course of interpretation. If, however, they casuproving each art in particular. For, although we ally occur, they should be inserted in natural hisdo not by any means despise even this, yet our tory, provided they do not too much retard its firm intration is to cause the streams of every progress. species of mechanical experiment to fiow from all VIII, With regard to the credit due to the quarters into the ocean of philosophy. The choice matters admitted into our history, they must of the most important instances in each (such as either be certain, doubtful, or absolutely false. should be most abundantly and diligently search. The first are to be simply stated, the second to be ed and, as it were, hunted out) must be governed noted with “a report states,” or, " they say," or, by the prerogative instances.

“I have heard from a person worthy of credit,” VI. We must here allude to that which we have and the like. For it would be too laborious to treated more at length in the ninety-ninth, one enter into the arguments on both sides, and would hundred and nineteenth, and one hundred and too much retard the author, nor is it of much contwentieth aphorisms of the first book, and need sequence towards our present object, since (as now only briefiy urge as a precept, namely, that we have observed in the hundred and eighteenth there be admitted into this history, 1. The most aphorism of the first book) the correctness of the common matters, such as one might think it super- axioms will soon discover the errors of experifluous to insert from their being so well known; ment, unless they be very general. If, however, 2. Base, illiberal, and filthy matters, (for to the there be any instance of greater importance than pure every thing is pure, and if money derived the rest, either from its use, or the consequences from brine be of good odour, much more so is dependent upon it, then the author should cerknowledge and information from any quarter,) tainly be named, and not barely named, but some and also those which are trifling and puerile; notice should be taken as to whether he merely lastly, such matters as appear too minute, as heard or copied it, (as is generally the case with being of themselves of no use. For (as has been Pliny,) or rather affirmed it of his own knowobserved) the subjects to be treated of in this ledge, and, also, whether it were a matter within history are not compiled on their own account, his own time or before it, or whether such as, if nor ought their worth, therefore, to be measured true, must necessarily have been witnessed by by their intrinsic value, but by their application many; or, lastly, whether the author were vain to other points, and their influence on philosophy. and trifling, or steady and accurate and the like

VII. We moreover recommend that all natural points, which give weight to testimony. Lastly, bodies and qualities be, as far as possible, re- those matters which are false, and yet have been duced to number, weight, measure, and precise much repeated and discussed, such as have gained definition; for we are planning actual results and ground by the lapse of ages, partly owing to not mere theory; and it is a proper combination neglect, partly to their being used as poetical of physics and mathematics that generates prac- comparisons; for instance, that the diamond

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overpowers the magnet, that garlic enervates, nez that amber attracts every thing but the herb basil, gei &c. &c., all these ought not to be silently re- pei jected, but expressly proscribed, that they may tha never trouble science more.

dis It will not, however, be improper to notice the tw origin of any fable or absurdity, if it should be pla traced in the course of inquiry, such as the vene- far real qualities attributed to the herb satyrium, mo from its roots bearing some resemblance to the to testicles. The real cause of this formation being du the growth of a fresh bulbous root every year, tha which adheres to that of the preceding year, and sul produces the twin roots, and is proved by the firm, the juicy appearance which the new root always tria presents, whilst the old one is withered and glo spongy. This last circumstance renders it a matter to not worthy of much wonder, that the one root oth should always sink and the other swim, though in this, too, has been considered marvellous,and has not added weight to the reputed virtues of the plant. cui

IX. There now remain certain useful accessories to natural history, for the purpose of bending wa and adapting it more readily to the labour of the pei interpreter which is to follow. They are five in number.

thc In the first place, queries are to be subjoined, to (not of causes, but of facts,) in order to challenge se and court further inquiry. As, for instance, in wa the history of the earth and sea, whether the Caspian has any tide, and the period of it? pre whether there is any southern continent, or only the islands? and the like.

im Secondly, in relating any new and delicate ex- pe periment, the method adopted in making it should lin be added, in order to allow free scope to the fee reader's judgment upon the soundness or fallacy lib of the information derived from it, and also to lay bpur on men's industry in searching for more do accurate methods, if such there be.

Thirdly, if there be any particle of doubt or of hesitation as to the matter related, we would by bu no means have it suppressed or passed over, but it on should be plainly and clearly set out, by way of ni note or warning. For we would have our first his an tory written with the most religious particularity, and as though upon oath as to the truth of every tio syllable, for it is a volume of God's works, and tha (as far as the majesty of things divine can brook we comparison with the lowliness of earthly objects) ha is, as it were, a second Scripture.

Fourthly, it will be proper to intersperse some in observations, as Pliny has done. Thus, in the be history of the earth and sea, we may observe, W that the figure of the earth, as far as it is known pa to us, when compared with that of the sea, is narrow and pointed towards the south, broad and lei expanded towards the north, the contrary to that cu of the sea : and that vast oceans divide the con- As tinents, with channels extended from north to ins south, not from east to west, except, perhaps, na

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cummitted to writing in every history, on account by special favour and divine providence, and by of their conducing to the end in view, and form- which mankind are contending for the recovery ing particular topics; or rather, (to borrow a me- of their dominion over nature, let us examine taphor from the civilians,) in this great action or nature and the arts themselves upon interrogacause, which has been conceded and instituted I tives.

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1. A History of the Heavenly bodies; or, an Figure and Outline, their Configuration relaAstronomical History.

tively to one another, the manner in which they 2. A History of the Configuration of Heaven and stretch into one another in broad Tracts or nar

its Parts as it lies towards the Earth and its row. Indentations, the History of the Islands Parts; or, a Cosmographical History.

in the Sea, of the Bays of the Sea, of salt 3 A History of Comets.

inland Lakes, of Isthmuses, and Promontories. 4. A History of Igneous Meteors.

17. The History of the Motions, if there be such, 5. A History of Thunderbolts, Flashes of Light of the Globe of Earth and Sea, and from what ning, Thunders, and Coruscations.

Experiments they may be inferred. 6. A History of Winds, Sudden Blasts, and 18. The History of the greater Motions and Undulations of the Air.

Agitations of the Earth and Sea, that is, of 7. A History of Rainbows.

Earthquakes, Tremblings of the Earth, and 8. A History of Clouds as they are seen in the Chasms; of new Islands, of floating Islands, Air above.

of Divulsions of the parts of the Land by in9. A History of the Azure Expanse, of Twilight, roads of the Sea, of its Encroachments and

of two or more Suns or Moons visible at once, Influxes, and, on the other hand, its Recessions; of Halos, of the different Colours of the Sun of the Eruption of Fires from the Earth, of and Moon, and of all that diversity of the Hea sudden Eruptions of Water from the Earth, venly Bodies to the eye which results from the and the like. medium of vision.

19. A Geographical Natural History, of Moun10. A History of Rains, common, tempestuous, tains, Valley's, Woods, Plains, Sands, Marshes,

and extraordinary; also of Cataracts of Heaven, Lakes, Rivers, Torrents, Fountains, and all as they are called, and the like.

their diversities of irrigation, and the like; 11. A History of Hail, Snow, Ice, Hoar-frost, Leaving out of view Nations, Provinces, Fog, Dew, and the like.

Cities, and other parts of Civil Society. 12. A History of all other Substances which fall 20. A History of the Ebbs and Flows of the

or are precipitated from on high, and are gene Sea, of Undulations, and other Motions of the rated in upper Air.

Sea. 13. A History of Noises heard on high, if there 21. A History of the other Accidents of the Sea, be any, besides Thunder.

its Saltness, diversity of Colours, Depth, of 14. A History of the Air as a whole, or relatively Submarine Rocks, Mountains, and Valleys, and to the Structure of the World.

the like. 15 A History of Weathers or of the State of Tem

perature thronghout the Year, with reference The following are Histories of the larger Masses to variety of clime, and the Accidents of parti

in Nature. cular Seasons and the periods of the Year; of 22. A History of Flame and Ignited Bodies.

Flonds, Heats, Droughts, and the like. 23. A History of the Air in its Substance, not its 16. A History of the Earth and Sea, of their Configuration.

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