Who knows whether all human kind commit not the like absurdity, for want of some sense, and that through this default the greatest part of the face of things is concealed from us? What do we know but that the difficulties which we find in several works of nature proceed hence; and that several effects of animals, which exceed our capacity, are not produced by faculty of some sense that we are defective in? and whether some of them have not by this means a life more full and entire than ours? We seize an apple with all our senses; we there find redness, smoothness, odour, and sweetness; but it may have other virtues besides these, as to heat or binding, which no sense of ours can have any reference unto. Is it not likely that there are sensitive faculties in nature that are fit to judge of and to discern those which we call the occult properties in several things, as for the loadstone to attract iron; and that the want of such faculties is the cause that we are ignorant of the true essence of such things? 'Tis perhaps some particular sense that gives cocks to understand what hour it is at midnight, and when it grows to be towards day, and that makes them crow accordingly; that teaches chickens, before they have any experience of the matter, to fear a sparrow-hawk, and not a goose or a peacock, though birds of a much larger size; that cautions them against the hostile quality the cat has against them, and makes them not to fear a dog; to arm themselves against the mewing, a kind of flattering voice, of the one, and not against the barking, a shrill and threatening voice, of the other; that teaches wasps, ants, and rats, to fall upon the best pear and the best cheese before they have tasted them, and inspires the stag, elephant, and serpent, with the knowledge of a certain herb proper for their cure. There is no sense that has not a mighty dominion, and that does not by its power introduce an infinite number of knowledges. If we were defective in the intelligence of sounds, of harmony, and of the voice, it would cause an unimaginable confusion in all the rest of our science; for, besides what belongs to the proper effect of every sense, how many arguments, consequences, and conclusions do we draw to other things, by comparing one sense with another? Let an understanding man imagine human nature originally produced without the sense of seeing, and consider what ignorance and trouble such a defect would bring upon him, what a darkness and blindness in the soul; he will then see by that of how great importance to the knowledge of truth the privation of such another sense, or of two or three, should we be so deprived, would be. We have formed a truth by the consultation and concurrence of our five senses; but perhaps we should have the consent and contribution of eight or ten to make a certain discovery of it in its essence.
The sects that controvert the knowledge of man do it principally by the uncertainty and weakness of our senses; for since all knowledge is by their means and mediation conveyed unto us, if they fail in their report, if they corrupt or alter what they bring us from without, if the light which by them creeps into the soul be obscured in the passage, we have nothing else to hold by. From this extreme difficulty all these fancies proceed: "That every subject has in itself all we there find. That it has nothing in it of what we think we there find;" and that of the Epicureans, "That the sun is no bigger than 'tis judged by our sight to be:—"
Quidquid id est, nihilo fertur majore figura,
Quam nostris oculis quam cemimus, esse videtur:
"But be it what it will in our esteems,
It is no bigger than to us it seems:"
that the appearances which represent a body great to him that is near, and less to him that is more remote, are both true:—
Nee tamen hic oculos falli concedimus hilum....
Proinde animi vitium hoc oculis adfingere noli:
"Yet that the eye's deluded we deny;
Charge not the mind's faults, therefore, on the eye:"
"and, resolutely, that there is no deceit in the senses; that we are to lie at their mercy, and seek elsewhere reasons to excuse the difference and contradictions we there find, even to the inventing of lies and other flams, if it come to that, rather than accuse the senses." Timagoras vowed that, by pressing or turning his eye, he could never perceive the light of the candle to double, and that the seeming so proceeded from the vice of opinion, and not from the instrument. The most absurd of all absurdities, with the Epicureans, is to deny the force and effect of the senses:—
Proinde, quod in quoquo est his visum tempore, verum est
Et, si non potuit ratio dissolvere causam,
Cur ea, qu fuerint juxtim quadrata, procul sint
Visa rotunda; tamen prstat rationis egentem
Beddere mendose causas utriusque figur,
Quam manibus manifesta suis emittere ququam,
Et violare fidem primam, et convellere tota
Fundamenta, quibus nixatur vita salusque:
Non modo enim ratio ruat omnis, vita quoque ipsa
Concidat extemplo, nisi credere sensibus ausis,
Procipitesque locos vitare, et ctera, qu sint
In genere hoc fugienda.
"That what we see exists I will maintain,
And if our feeble reason can't explain
Why things seem square when they are very near,
And at a greater distance round appear;
'Tis better yet, for him that's at a pause,
'T' assign to either figure a false cause,
Than shock his faith, and the foundations rend
On which our safety and our life depend:
For reason not alone, but life and all,
Together will with sudden ruin fall;
Unless we trust our senses, nor despise
To shun the various dangers that arise."
This so desperate and unphilosophical advice expresses only this,—that human knowledge cannot support itself but by reason unreasonable, foolish, and mad; but that it is yet better that man, to set a greater value upon himself, make use of any other remedy, how fantastic soever, than to confess his necessary ignorance—a truth so disadvantageous to him. He cannot avoid owning that the senses are the sovereign lords of his knowledge; but they are uncertain, and falsifiable in all circumstances; 'tis there that he is to fight it out to the last; and if his just forces fail him, as they do, to supply that defect with obstinacy, temerity, and impudence. In case what the Epicureans say be true, viz: "that we have no knowledge if the senses' appearances be false;" and if that also be true which the Stoics say, "that the appearances of the senses are so false that they can furnish us with no manner of knowledge," we shall conclude, to the disadvantage of these two great dogmatical sects, that there is no science at all.
As to the error and uncertainty of the operation of the senses, every one may furnish himself with as many examples as he pleases; so ordinary are the faults and tricks they put upon us. In the echo of a valley the sound of a trumpet seems to meet us, which comes from a place behind:—
Exstantesque procul medio de gurgite montes,
Classibus inter qnos liber patet exitus, idem
Apparent, et longe divolsi licet, ingens
Insula conjunctis tamen ex his ana videtur...
Et fugere ad puppim colies campique videntur,
Qnos agimns proter navim, velisque volamus....
Ubi in medio nobis equus acer obhsit
Flamine, equi corpus transversum ferre videtur
Vis, et in adversum flumen contrudere raptim.
"And rocks i' th' seas that proudly raise their head,
Though far disjoined, though royal navies spread,
Their sails between; yet if from distance shown,
They seem an island all combin'd in one.
Thus ships, though driven by a prosperous gale,
Seem fix'd to sailors; those seem under sail
That ride at anchor safe; and all admire,
As they row by, to see the rocks retire.
Thus, when in rapid streams my horse hath stood,
And I look'd downward on the rolling flood;
Though he stood still, I thought he did divide
The headlong streams, and strive against the tide,
And all things seem'd to move on every side."
Take a musket-ball under the forefinger, the middle finger being lapped over it, it feels so like two that a man will have much ado to persuade himself there is but one; the end of the two fingers feeling each of them one at the same time; for that the senses are very often masters of our reason, and constrain it to receive impressions which it judges and knows to be false, is frequently seen. I set aside the sense of feeling, that has its functions nearer, more lively, and substantial, that so often, by the effects of the pains it helps the body to, subverts and overthrows all those fine Stoical resolutions, and compels him to cry out of his belly, who has resolutely established this doctrine in his soul—"That the colic, and all other pains and diseases, are indifferent things, not having the power to abate any thing of the sovereign felicity wherein the wise man is seated by his virtue." There is no heart so effeminate that the rattle and sound of our drums and trumpets will not inflame with courage; nor so sullen that the harmony of our music will not rouse and cheer; nor so stubborn a soul that will not feel itself struck with some reverence in considering the gloomy vastness of our churches, the variety of ornaments, and order of our ceremonies; and in hearing the solemn music of our organs, and the grace and devout harmony of our voices. Even those that come in with contempt feel a certain shivering in their hearts, and something of dread that makes them begin to doubt their opinions. For my part I do not think myself strong enough to hear an ode of Horace or Catullus sung by a beautiful young mouth without emotion; and Zeno had reason to say "that the voice was the flower of beauty." One would once make me believe that a certain person, whom all we Frenchmen know, had imposed upon me in repeating some verses that he had made; that they were not the same upon paper that they were in the air; and that my eyes would make a contrary judgment to my ears; so great a power has pronunciation to give fashion and value to works that are left to the efficacy and modulation of the voice. And therefore Philoxenus was not so much to blame, hearing one giving an ill accent to some composition of his, in spurning and breaking certain earthen vessels of his, saying, "I break what is thine, because thou corruptest what is mine." To what end did those men who have, with a firm resolution, destroyed themselves, turn away their faces that they might not see the blow that was by themselves appointed? And that those who, for their health, desire and command incisions to be made, and cauteries to be applied to them, cannot endure the sight of the preparations, instruments, and operations of the surgeon, being that the sight is not in any way to participate in the pain? Are not these proper examples to verify the authority the senses have over the imagination? 'Tis to much purpose that we know these tresses were borrowed from a page or a lackey; that this rouge came from Spain, and this pearl-powder from the Ocean Sea. Our sight will, nevertheless, compel us to confess their subject more agreeable and more lovely against all reason; for in this there is nothing of its own:—
Auferinrar cultu; gemmis, auroque teguntur
Crimina; pars minima est ipsa puella sni.
Spe, ubi sit quod ames, inter tarn multa requiras:
Decipit hac oculos gide dives Amor.
"By dress we're won; gold, gems, and rich brocades
Make up the pageant that your heart invades;
In all that glittering figure which you see,
The far least part of her own self is she;
In vain for her you love amidst such cost
You search, the mistress in such dress is lost."
What a strange power do the poets attribute to the senses, that make Narcissus so desperately in love with his own shadow,
Cunctaque miratur, quibus est mirabilis ipse;
Se cupit imprudens, et, qui probat, ipse probatur;
Dumque petit, petitur; pariterque accendit, et ardet:
"Admireth all; for which to be admired;
And inconsiderately himself desir'd.
The praises which he gives his beauty claim'd,
Who seeks is sought, th' inflamer is inflam'd:"
and Pygmalion's judgment so troubled by the impression of the sight of his ivory statue that he loves and adores it as if it were a living woman!
Oscnla dat, reddique putat: sequi turque, tenetque,
Et credit tactis digitos insidere membris;
Et metuit, pressos veniat ne livor in artus.
"He kisses, and believes he's kissed again;
Seizes, and 'twixt his arms his love doth strain,
And thinks the polish'd ivory thus held
Doth to his fingers amorous pressure yield,
And has a timorous fear, lest black and blue
Should in the parts with ardour press'd ensue."
Put a philosopher into a cage of small thin set bars of iron, hang him on the top of the high tower of Notre Dame at Paris; he will see, by manifest reason, that he cannot possibly fall, and yet he will find (unless he has been used to the plumber's trade) that he cannot help but the sight of the excessive height will fright and astound him; for we have enough to do to assure ourselves in the galleries of our steeples, if they are made with open work, although they are of stone; and some there are that cannot endure so much as to think of it. Let there be a beam thrown over betwixt these two towers, of breadth sufficient to walk upon, there is no philosophical wisdom so firm that can give us the courage to walk over it as we should do upon the ground. I have often tried this upon our mountains in these parts; and though I am one who am not the most subject to be afraid, I was not able to endure to look into that infinite depth without horror and trembling, though I stood above my length from the edge of the precipice, and could not have fallen unless I would. Where I also observed that, what height soever the precipice was, provided there were some tree, or some jutting out of a rock, a little to support and divide the sight, it a little eases our fears, and gives greater assurance; as if they were things by which in falling we might have some relief; but that direct precipices we are not to look upon without being giddy; Ut despici vine vertigine timid ocvlorum animique non possit: "'To that one cannot look without dizziness;" which is a manifest imposture of the sight. And therefore it was that that fine philosopher put out his own eyes, to free the soul from being diverted by them, and that he might philosophize at greater liberty; but, by the same rule, he should have dammed up his ears, that Theophrastus says are the most dangerous instruments about us for receiving violent impressions to alter and disturb us; and, finally, should have deprived himself of all his other senses, that is to say, of his life and being; for they have all the power to command our soul and reason: Fit etiam sope specie qudam, sope vocum gravitate et cantibus, ut pettantur animi vehementius; sope etiam cura et timor, "For it often falls out that the minds are more vehemently struck by some sight, by the quality and sound of the voice, or by singing; and ofttimes also by grief and fear." Physicians hold that there are certain complexions that are agitated by the same sounds and instruments even to fury. I have seen some who could not hear a bone gnawed under the table without impatience; and there is scarce any man who is not disturbed at the sharp and shrill noise that the file makes in grating upon the iron; as also to hear chewing near them, or to hear any one speak who has an impediment in the throat or nose, will move some people even to anger and hatred. Of what use was that piping prompter of Gracchus, who softened, raised, and moved his master's voice whilst he declaimed at Rome, if the movements and quality of the sound had not the power to move and alter the judgments of the auditory? In earnest, there is wonderful reason to keep such a clutter about the firmness of this fine piece, that suffers itself to be turned and twined by the motion and accidents of so light a wind.
The same cheat that the senses put upon our understanding they have in turn put upon them; the soul also some times has its revenge; they lie and contend which should most deceive one another. What we see and hear when we are transported with passion, we neither see nor hear as it is:—
Et solem geminum, et duplices se ostendere Thebas.
"Thebes seems two cities, and the sun two suns."
The object that we love appears to us more beautiful than it really is;
Multimodis igitur pravas turpesque videmus
Esse in deliciis, summoque in honore vigere;
"Hence 'tis that ugly things in fancied dress
Seem gay, look fair to lovers' eyes, and please;"
and that we hate more ugly; to a discontented and afflicted man the light of the day seems dark and overcast. Our senses are not only depraved, but very often stupefied by the passions of the soul; how many things do we see that we do not take notice of, if the mind be occupied with other thoughts?
In rebus quoque apertis noscere possis,
Si non advertas animum, proinde esse quasi omni
Tempore semot fuerint, longeque remot:
"Nay, even in plainest things, unless the mind
Take heed, unless she sets herself to find,
The thing no more is seen, no more belov'd,
Than if the most obscure and most remov'd:"
it would appear that the soul retires within, and amuses the powers of the senses. And so both the inside and the outside of man is full of infirmity and falsehood.
They who have compared our lives to a dream were, perhaps, more in the right than they were aware of. When we dream, the soul lives, works, and exercises all its faculties, neither more nor less than when awake; but more largely and obscurely, yet not so much, neither, that the difference should be as great as betwixt night and the meridian brightness of the sun, but as betwixt night and shade; there she sleeps, here she slumbers; but, whether more or less, 'tis still dark, and Cimmerian darkness. We wake sleeping, and sleep waking. I do not see so clearly in my sleep; but as to my being awake, I never found it clear enough and free from clouds; moreover, sleep, when it is profound, sometimes rocks even dreams themselves asleep; but our waking is never so sprightly that it rightly purges and dissipates those whimsies, which are waking dreams, and worse than dreams. Our reason and soul receiving those fancies and opinions that come in dreams, and authorizing the actions of our dreams with the like approbation that they do those of the day, wherefore do we not doubt whether our thought, our action, is not another sort of dreaming, and our waking a certain kind of sleep?
If the senses be our first judges, it is not ours that we are alone to consult; for, in this faculty, beasts have as great, or greater, than we; it is certain that some of them have the sense of hearing more quick than man; others that of seeing, others that of feeling, others that of touch and taste. Democritus said, that the gods and brutes had the sensitive faculties more perfect than man. But betwixt the effects of their senses and ours the difference is extreme. Our spittle cleanses and dries up our wounds; it kills the serpent:—
Tantaque in his rebas distantia differitasque est,
Ut quod aliis cibus est, aliis fuat acre venenum.
Spe etenim serpens, hominis contacta saliv,
Disperit, ac sese mandendo conficit ipsa:
"And in those things the difference is so great
That what's one's poison is another's meat;
For serpents often have been seen, 'tis said,
When touch'd with human spittle, to go mad,
And bite themselves to death:"
what quality shall we attribute to our spittle? as it affects ourselves, or as it affects the serpent? By which of the two senses shall we prove the true essence that we seek for?
Pliny says there are certain sea-hares in the Indies that are poison to us, and we to them; insomuch that, with the least touch, we kill them. Which shall be truly poison, the man or the fish? Which shall we believe, the fish of the man, or the man of the fish? One quality of the air infects a man, that does the ox no harm; some other infects the ox, but hurts not the man. Which of the two shall, in truth and nature, be the pestilent quality? To them who have the jaundice, all things seem yellow and paler than to us:—
Lurida prterea fiunt, qucunque tuentur Arquati.
"Besides, whatever jaundic'd eyes do view
Looks pale as well as those, and yellow too."
They who are troubled with the disease that the physicians call hyposphagma—which is a suffusion of blood under the skin—see all things red and bloody. What do we know but that these humours, which thus alter the operations of sight, predominate in beasts, and are usual with them? for we see some whose eyes are yellow, like us who have the jaundice; and others of a bloody colour; 'tis likely that the colours of objects seem other to them than to us. Which of the two shall make a right judgment? for it is not said that the essence of things has a relation to man only; hardness, whiteness, depth, and sharpness, have reference to the service and knowledge of animals as well as to us, and nature has equally designed them for their use. When we press down the eye, the body that we look upon we perceive to be longer and more extended;—many beasts have their eyes so pressed down; this length, therefore, is perhaps the true form of that body, and not that which our eyes give it in the usual state. If we close the lower part of the eye things appear double to us:—
Bina lucemarum fiorentia lumina flammis...
Et duplices hominum facis, et corpora bina.
"One lamp seems double, and the men appear
Each on two bodies double heads to bear."
If our ears be hindered, or the passage stopped with any thing, we receive the sound quite otherwise than we usually do; animals, likewise, who have either the ears hairy, or but a very little hole instead of an ear, do not, consequently, hear as we do, but receive another kind of sound. We see at festivals and theatres that, opposing a painted glass of a certain colour to the light of the flambeaux, all things in the place appear to us green, yellow, or violet:—
Et vulgo faciunt id lutea russaque vela,
Et ferrugina, cum, magnis intenta theatris,
Per malos vulgata trabesque, trementia pendent;
Namque ibi consessum caveai subter, et omnem
Scenai speciem, patrum, matrumque, deorumque
Inficiunt, coguntque suo volitare colore:
"Thus when pale curtains, or the deeper red,
O'er all the spacious theatre are spread,
Which mighty masts and sturdy pillars bear,
And the loose curtains wanton in the air;
Whole streams of colours from the summit flow,
The rays divide them in their passage through,
And stain the scenes, and men, and gods below:"
'tis likely that the eyes of animals, which we see to be of divers colours, produce the appearance of bodies the same with their eyes.
We should, therefore, to make a right judgment of the oppositions of the senses, be first agreed with beasts, and secondly amongst ourselves; which we by no means are, but enter into dispute every time that one hears, sees, or tastes something otherwise than another does, and contests, as much as upon any other thing, about the diversity of the images that the senses represent to us. A child, by the ordinary rule of nature, hears, sees, and talks otherwise than a man of thirty years old; and he than one of threescore. The senses are, in some, more obscure and dusky, and more open and quick in others. We receive things variously, according as we are, and according as they appear to us. Those rings which are cut out in the form of feathers, which are called endless feathers, no eye can discern their size, or can keep itself from the deception that on one side they enlarge, and on the other contract, and come So a point, even when the ring is being turned round the finger; yet, when you feel them, they seem all of an equal size. Now, our perception being so uncertain and so controverted, it is no more a wonder if we are told that we may declare that snow appears white to us; but that to affirm that it is in its own essence really so is more than we are able to justify; and, this foundation being shaken, all the knowledge in the world must of necessity fall to ruin. What! do our senses themselves hinder one another? A picture seems raised and embossed to the sight; in the handling it seems flat to the touch. Shall we say that musk, which delights the smell, and is offensive to the taste, is agreeable or no? There are herbs and unguents proper for one part o the body, that are hurtful to another; honey is pleasant to the taste, but offensive to the sight. They who, to assist their lust, used in ancient times to make use of magnifying-glasses to represent the members they were to employ bigger, by that ocular tumidity to please themselves the more; to which of their senses did they give the prize,—whether to the sight, that represented the members as large and great as they would desire, or to the feeling, which represented them little and contemptible? Are they our senses that supply the subject with these different conditions, and have the subjects themselves, nevertheless, but one? As we see in the bread we eat, it is nothing but bread, but, by being eaten, it becomes bones, blood, flesh, hair; and nails:—
Ut cibus in membra atque artus cum diditur omnes,
Disperit,, atque aliam naturam sufficit ex se;
"As meats, diffus'd through all the members, lose
Their former state, and different things compose;"
the humidity sucked up by the root of a tree becomes trunk, leaf, and fruit; and the air, being but one, is modulated, in a trumpet, to a thousand sorts of sounds; are they our senses, I would fain know, that, in like manner, form these subjects into so many divers qualities, or have they them really such in themselves? And upon this doubt what can we determine of their true essence? Moreover, since the accidents of disease, of raving, or sleep, make things appear otherwise to us than they do to the healthful, the wise, and those that are awake, is it not likely that our right posture of health and understanding, and our natural humours, have, also, wherewith to give a being to things that have a relation to their own condition, and accommodate them to themselves, as well as when they are disordered;—that health is as capable of giving them an aspect as sickness? Why has not the temperate a certain form of objects relative to it, as well as the intemperate? and why may it not as well stamp it with its own character as the other? He whose mouth is out of taste, says the wine is flat; the healthful man commends its flavour, and the thirsty its briskness. Now, our condition always accommodating things to itself, and transforming them according to its own posture, we cannot know what things truly are in themselves, seeing that nothing comes to us but what is falsified and altered by the senses. Where the compass, the square, and the rule, are crooked, all propositions drawn thence, and all buildings erected by those guides, must, of necessity, be also defective; the uncertainty of our senses renders every thing uncertain that they produce:—
Denique ut in fabric, si prava est rgula prima,
Normaque si fallax rectis regionibus exit,
Et libella aliqu si ex parte claudicat hilum;
Omnia mendose fieri, atque obstipa necessum est,
Prava, cubantia, prona, supina, atque absona tecta;
Jam ruere ut qudam videantux'velle, ruantque
Prodita judiciis fallacibus omnia primis;
Sic igitur ratio tibi reram prava necesse est,
Falsaque sit, falsis qucunque ab sensibus orta est.
"But lastly, as in building, if the line
Be not exact and straight, the rule decline,
Or level false, how vain is the design!
Uneven, an ill-shap'd and tottering wall
Must rise; this part must sink, that part must fall,
Because the rules were false that fashion'd all;
Thus reason's rules are false if all commence
And rise from failing and from erring sense."
As to what remains, who can be fit to judge of and to determine those differences? As we say in controversies of religion that we must have a judge neither inclining to the one side nor the other, free from all choice and affection, which cannot be amongst Christians, just so it falls out in this; for if he be old he cannot judge of the sense of old age, being himself a party in the case; if young, there is the same exception; if healthful, sick, asleep, or awake, he is still the same incompetent judge. We must have some one exempt from all these propositions, as of things indifferent to him; and by this rule we must have a judge that never was.
To judge of the appearances that we receive of subjects, we ought t have a deciding instrument; to verify this instrument we must have demonstration; to verify this demonstration an instrument; and here we are round again upon the wheel, and no further advanced. Seeing the senses cannot determine our dispute, being full of uncertainty themselves, it must then be reason that must do it; but no reason can be erected upon any other foundation than that of another reason; and so we run back to all infinity. Our fancy does not apply itself to things that are strange, but is conceived by the mediation of the senses; and the senses do not comprehend a foreign subject, but only their own passions; by which means fancy and appearance are no part of the subject, but only of the passion and sufferance of sense; which passion and subject are different things; wherefore whoever judges by appearances judges by another thing than the subject. And to say that the passions of the senses convey to the soul the quality of foreign subjects by resemblance, how can the soul and understanding be assured of this resemblance, having of itself no commerce with foreign subjects? As they who never knew Socrates cannot, when they see his picture, say it is like him. Now, whoever would, notwithstanding, judge by appearances, if it be by all, it is impossible, because they hinder one another by their contrarieties and discrepancies, as we by experience see: shall some select appearances govern the rest? you must verify this select by another select, the second by a third, and thus there will never be any end to it. Finally, there is no constant existence, neither of the objects' being nor our own; both we, and our judgments, and all mortal things, are evermore incessantly running and rolling; and consequently nothing certain can be established from the one to the other, both the judging and the judged being in a continual motion and mutation.
We have no communication with being, by reason that all human nature is always in the middle, betwixt being bom and dying, giving but an obscure appearance and shadow, a weak and uncertain opinion of itself; and if, perhaps, you fix your thought to apprehend your being, it would be but like grasping water; for the more you clutch your hand to squeeze and hold what is in its own nature flowing, so much more you lose of what you would grasp and hold. So, seeing that all things are subject to pass from one change to another, reason, that there looks for a real substance, finds itself deceived, not being able to apprehend any thing that is subsistent and permanent, because that every thing is either entering into being, and is not yet arrived at it, or begins to die before it is bom. Plato said, that bodies had never any existence, but only birth; conceiving that Homer had made the Ocean and Thetis father and mother of the gods, to show us that all things are in a perpetual fluctuation, motion, and variation; the opinion of all the philosophers, as he says, before his time, Parmenides only excepted, who would not allow things to have motion, on the power whereof he sets a mighty value. Pythagoras was of opinion that all matter was flowing and unstable; the Stoics, that there is no time present, and that what we call so is nothing but the juncture and meeting of the future and the past; Heraclitus, that never any man entered twice into the same river; Epichar-mus, that he who borrowed money but an hour ago does not owe it now; and that he who was invited over-night to come the next day to dinner comes nevertheless uninvited, considering that they are no more the same men, but are become others; and that there could not a mortal substance be found twice in the same condition; for, by the suddenness and quickness of the change, it one while disperses, and another reunites; it comes and goes after such a manner that what begins to be born never arrives to the perfection of being, forasmuch as that birth is never finished and never stays, as being at an end, but from the seed is evermore changing and shifting one to another; as human seed is first in the mother's womb made a formless embryo, after delivered thence a sucking infant, afterwards it becomes a boy, then a youth, then a man, and at last a decrepit old man; so that age and subsequent generation is always destroying and spoiling that which went before:—
Mutt enira mundi naturam totius tas,
Ex alioque alius status excipere omnia debet;
Nec manet ulla sui similis res; omnia migrant,
Omnia commutt natura, et vertere cogit.
"For time the nature of the world translates,
And from preceding gives all things new states;
Nought like itself remains, but all do range,
And nature forces every thing to change."
"And yet we foolishly fear one kind of death, whereas we have already passed, and do daily pass, so many others; for not only, as Heraclitus said, the death of fire is generation of air, and the death of air generation of water; but, moreover, we may more manifestly discern it in ourselves; manhood dies, and passes away when age comes on; and youth is terminated in the flower of age of a full-grown man, infancy in youth, and the first age dies in infancy; yesterday died in to-day, and to-day will die in to-morrow; and there is nothing that remains in the same state, or that is always the same thing. And that it is so let this be the proof; if we are always one and the same, how comes it to pass that we are now pleased with one thing, and by and by with another? How comes it to pass that we love or hate contrary things, that we praise or condemn them? How comes it to pass that we have different affections, and no more retain the same sentiment in the same thought? For it is not likely that without mutation we should assume other passions; and, that which suffers mutation does not remain the same, and if it be not the same it is not at all; but the same that the being is does, like it, unknowingly change and alter; becoming evermore another from another thing; and consequently the natural senses abuse and deceive themselves, taking that which seems for that which is, for want of well knowing what that which is, is. But what is it then that truly is? That which is eternal; that is to say, that never had beginning, nor never shall have ending, and to which time can bring no mutation. For time is a mobile thine, and that appears as in a shadow, with a matter evermore flowing and running, without ever remaining stable and permanent; and to which belong those words, before and after, has been, or shall be: which at the first sight, evidently show that it is not a thing that is; for it were a great folly, and a manifest falsity, to say that that is which is not et being, or that has already ceased to be. And as to these words, present, instant, and now, by which it seems that we principally support and found the intelligence of time, reason, discovering, does presently destroy it; for it immediately divides and splits it into the future and past, being of necessity to consider it divided in two. The same happens to nature, that is measured, as to time that measures it; for she has nothing more subsisting and permanent than the other, but all things are either born, bearing, or dying. So that it were sinful to say of God, who is he only who is, that he was, or that he shall be ; for those are terms of declension, transmutation, and vicissitude, of what cannot continue or remain in being; wherefore we are to conclude that God alone is, not according to any measure of time, but according to an immutable and an immovable eternity, not measured by time, nor subject to any declension; before whom nothing was, and after whom nothing shall be, either more new or more recent, but a real being, that with one sole now fills the for ever, and that there is nothing that truly is but he alone; without our being able to say, he has been, or shall be; without beginning, and without end." To this so religious conclusion of a pagan I shall only add this testimony of one of the same condition, for the close of this long and tedious discourse, which would furnish me with endless matter: "What a vile and abject thing," says he, "is man, if he do not raise himself above humanity!" 'Tis a good word and a profitable desire, but withal absurd; for to make the handle bigger than the hand, the cubic longer than the arm, and to hope to stride further than our legs can reach, is both impossible and monstrous; or that man should rise above himself and humanity; for he cannot see but with his eyes, nor seize but with his hold. He shall be exalted, if God will lend him an extraordinary hand; he shall exalt himself, by abandoning and renouncing his own proper means, and by suffering himself to be raised and elevated by means purely celestial. It belongs to our Christian faith, and not to the stoical virtue, to pretend to that divine and miraculous metamorphosis.