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"Declinat cursus, aurumque volubile tollit."

Who doth her course forsake,
The rolling gold doth take.

And therefore it is no wonder that art hath not the power to conquer nature; and by pact or law of conquest to kill and destroy her; but on the contrary, it falls out that art becomes subject to nature, and yields the obedience as of a wife to her husband.

as are grafted on a stock a great deal sooner. | sacrifice; for having killed two bulls, and in one You may see it in clay, which in the generation of their hides wrapt up the flesh and fat of them of stones, is long ere it become hard, but in the both, and in the other only the bones, with a burning of bricks is very quickly effected. Also great show of religious devotion gave Jupiter his in moral passages you may observe that it is a long choice, who, detesting his fraud and hypocrisy, time ere, by the benefit of nature, sorrow can be but taking an occasion of revenge, chose that assuaged, and comfort attained; whereas philoso- which was stopped with bones, and so turning to phy, which is, as it were, art of living, tarries not revenge, when he saw that the insolency of Prothe leisure of time, but doth it instantly and out of metheus would not be repressed but by laying hand; and yet this prerogative and singular agility some grievous affliction upon mankind, in the of art is hindered by certain golden apples, to the forming of which he so much bragged and boastinfinite prejudice of human proceedings: for there ed, commanded Vulcan to frame a goodly beautiis not any one art or science which constantly ful woman, which being done, every one of the perseveres in a true and lawful course, till it come gods bestowed a gift on her; whereupon she was to the proposed end or mark, but ever and anon called Pandora. To this woman they gave in her makes stops after good beginnings, leaves the race, hand a goodly box full of all miseries and calamiand turns aside to profit and commodity, like ties, only in the bottom of it they put Hope; with Atalanta. this box she comes first to Prometheus, thinking to catch him, if peradventure he should accept it at her hands, and so open it; which he, nevertheless, with good providence and foresight refused: whereupon she goes to Epimetheus, who, though brother to Prometheus, yet was of a much differing disposition, and offers this box unto him, who without delay took it, and rashly opened it; but when he saw that all kind of miseries came fluttering about his ears, being wise too late, with great speed and earnest endeavour clapped on the cover, and so with much ado retained Hope sitting alone in the bottom; at last Jupiter laying many and grievous crimes to Prometheus's charge, as that he had stolen fire from heaven, that in contempt of his majesty he sacrificed a bull's hide stuffed with bones, that he scornfully rejected his gift, and besides all this, that he offered violence to Pallas, cast him into chains, and doomed him to perpetual torment; and by Jupiter's command was brought to the mountain Caucasus, and there bound fast to a pillar that he could not stir; there came an eagle also, that every day sat tiring upon his liver and wasted it; but as much as was eaten in the day grew again in the night, that matter for torment to work upon might never decay. But yet they say there was an end of this punishment; for Hercules crossing the ocean in a cup, which the sun gave him, came to Caucasus, and set Prometheus at liberty by shooting the eagle with an arrow. Moreover, in some nations there were instituted in the honour of Prometheus, certain games of lampbearers, in which they that strived for the prize were wont to carry torches lighted, which whoso suffered to go out, yielded the place and victory to those that followed, and so cast back themselves, so that whosoever came first to the mark with his torch burning got the prize.


THE ancients deliver that Prometheus made a man of clay, mixed with certain parcels taken from divers animals, who, studying to maintain this his work by art, that he might not be accounted a founder only but a propagator of human kind, stole up to heaven with a bundle of twigs, which he kindled at the chariot of the sun, came down again, and communicated it with men ; and yet they say that notwithstanding this excellent work of his, he was requited with ingratitude in a treacherous conspiracy; for they accused both him and his invention to Jupiter, which was not so taken as was meet it should, for the information was pleasing to Jupiter and all the gods: and therefore in a merry mood granted unto men, not only the use of fire but perpetual youth also, a boon most acceptable and desirable. They, being as it were overjoyed, did foolishly lay this gift of the gods upon the back of an ass, who, being wonderfully oppressed with thirst and near a fountain, was told by a serpent which had the custody thereof, that he should not drink unless he would promise to give him the burden that was on his back.

The silly ass accepted the condition, and 80 the restoration of youth, sold for a draught of water, passed from men to serpents. But Prometheus, full of malice, being reconciled unto men, after they were frustrated of their gift, but in a chafe yet with Jupiter. feared not to use deceit in VOL. 1.-39

This fable demonstrates and presseth many true and grave speculations, wherein some things have been heretofore well noted, others not so much as touched.

Prometheus doth clearly and elegantly signity Providence: for in the universality of nature, the 2 c2

fabric and constitution of man only was by the ancients picked out and chosen, and attributed unto Providence as a peculiar work. The reason of it seems to be, not only in that the nature of man is capable of a mind and understanding, which is the seat of providence, and thereforé it would seem strange and incredible, that the reason and mind should so proceed and flow from dumb and deaf principals as that it should necessarily be concluded, the soul of man to be endued with providence, not without the example, intention, and stamp of a greater providence. But this also is chiefly propounded, that man is as it were the centre of the world in respect of final causes; so that if man were not in nature, all things would seem to stray and wander without purpose, and like scattered branches, as they say, without inclination to their end; for all things attend on man; and he makes use of, and gathers fruit from all creatures; for the revolutions and periods of stars make both for the distinctions of times and the distribution of the world's light. Meteors also are referred to presages of tempests; and winds are ordained as well for navigation as for turning of mills and other engines; and plants, and animals of what kind soever, are useful either for men's houses and places of shelter, or for raiment, or for food, or medicine, or for ease of labour, or in a word for delight and solace; so that all things seem to work, not for themselves but for man.

Neither is it added without consideration that certain particles were taken from divers living creatures, and mixed and tempered with that clayic mass, because it is most true, that of all things comprehended within the compass of the universe, man is a thing most mixed and compounded, insomuch, that he was well termed by the ancients a little world; for although the chymists do, with too much curiosity, take and wrest the elegancy of this word Microcosm to the letter, contending to find in man all minerals, all vegetables, and the rest, or any thing that holds proportion with them; yet this proposition remains sound and whole, that the body of man, of all material beings, is found to be most compounded and most organical, whereby it is endued and furnished with most admirable virtues and faculties: and as for simple bodies, their powers are not many, though certain and violent, as existing without being weakened, diminished, or stinted, by mixture; for the multiplicity and excellency of operation have their residence in mixture and composition, and yet, nevertheless, man in his originals seems to be a thing unarmed and naked, and unable to help itself, as needing the aid of many things; therefore Prometheus made haste to find out fire, which suppeditates and yields comfort and help in a manner to all human wants and necessities; so that if the soul be the form of forms, and if the hand be the instrument of instruments, fire deserves well to be called the succour of succours, or the help of helps,

which infinite ways affords aid and assistance to all labours and mechanical arts, and to the sciences themselves.

The manner of stealing this fire is aptly described even from the nature of things: it was, they say, by a bundle of twigs held to touch the chariot of the sun; for twigs are used in giving blows or stripes, to signify clearly that fire is engendered by the violent percussion and mutual collision of bodies, by which their material substances are attenuated and set in motion, and prepared to receive the heat of influence of the heavenly bodies; and so in a clandestine manner, and as it were by stealth, may be said to take and snatch fire from the chariot of the sun.

There follows next a remarkable part of the parable, that men, instead of gratulation and thanksgiving, were angry, and expostulated the matter with Prometheus, insomuch that they accused both him and his invention unto Jupiter, which was so acceptable unto him, that he augmented their former commodities with a new bounty. Seems it not strange that ingratitude towards the author of a benefit, a vice that in a manner contains all other vices, should find such approbation and reward? No, it seems to be otherwise; for the meaning of the allegory is this, that men's outeries upon the defects of nature and art, proceed from an excellent disposition of the mind, and turn to their good; whereas the silencing of them is hateful to the gods, and redounds not so much to their profit; for they that infinitely extol human nature, or the knowledge they possess, breaking out into a prodigal admiration of that they have and enjoy, adoring also those sciences they profess, would have them be accounted perfect; they do first of all show little reverence to the divine nature, by equalizing, in a manner, their own defects with God's perfection. Again; they are wonderful injurious to men, by imagining they have attained the highest step of knowledge, resting themselves contented, seek no further. On the contrary, such as bring nature and art to the bar with accusations and bills of complaint against them, are indeed of more true and moderate judgments; for they are ever in action, seeking always to find out new inventions. Which makes me much to wonder at the foolish and inconsiderate dispositions of some men, who, making themselves bondslaves to the arrogancy of a few, have the philosophy of the Peripatetics, containing only a portion of Grecian wisdom, and that but a small one neither, in so great esteem, that they hold it not only an unprofitable, but a suspicious and almost heinous thing, to lay any imputation of imperfection upon it. I approve rather of Empedocles's opinion, who, like a madman, and of Democritus's judgment, who with great moderation, complained how that all things were involved in a mist, that we knew nothing, that we discerned nothing, that truth was drowned in the

depths of obscurity, and that false things were wonderfully joined and intermixed with true, as for the new academy, that exceeded all measure, than of the confident and pronunciative school of Aristotle. Let men therefore be admonished, that by acknowledging the imperfection of nature and art, they are grateful to the gods, and shall thereby obtain new benefits and greater favours at their bountiful hands; and the accusation of Prometheus, their author and master, though bitter and vehement, will conduce more to their profit, than to be effuse in the congratulation of his invention; for, in a word, the opinion of having enough, is to be accounted one of the greatest causes of having too little.

levity and temerity of men in new experiments : for if they have not present success answerable to their expectation, with too sudden haste desist from that they began, and with precipitancy returning to their former experiments, are reconciled to them again.

The state of man, in respect of arts, and such things as concern the intellect, being now described, the parable passeth to religion: for, after the planting of arts, follows the setting of divine principles, which hypocrisy hath overspread and polluted. By that twofold sacrifice therefore is elegantly shadowed out the persons of a true religious man and a hypocrite. In the one is contained fatness, which by reason of the inflammation and fumes thereof, is called the portion of God, by which his affection and zeal, tending to God's glory, and ascending, towards heaven, is signified. In him also are contained the bowels of charity, and in him is found that good and wholesome flesh; whereas in the other there is nothing but dry and naked bones, which nevertheless do

and goodly sacrifice: by this may be well meant those external and vain rites, and empty ceremonies, by which men do oppress and fill up the sincere worship of God; things composed rather for ostentation than any way conducing to true piety. Neither do they hold it sufficient to offer such mock-sacrifices unto God; except they also lay them before him, as if he had chosen and bespoke them. Certainly the prophet, in the person of God, doth thus expostulate concerning this choice: Esa. lviii. 5, "Num tandem hoc est illud jejunium, quod ELEGI, ut homo animam suam in diem unum affligat, et caput instar junceti demittat?" Is it such a fast that I have chosen, that a man should afflict his soul for a day, and to bow down his head like a bulrush?

Now, as touching the kind of gift which men are said to have received in reward of their ac, cusation, to wit, an ever-fading flower of youth, it is to show, that the ancients seemed not to despair of attaining the skill, by means and medicines, to put off old age, and to prolong life, but this to be numbered rather among such things, having been once happily attained unto, are now, through men's negligence and carelessness, utter-stuff up the hide, and make it appear like a fair ly perished and lost, than among such as have been always denied and never granted; for they signify and show, that by affording the true use of fire, and by a good and stern accusation and conviction of the errors of art, the divine bounty is not wanting unto men in the obtaining of such gifts; but men are wanting to themselves in laying this gift of the gods upon the back of a silly slow-paced ass, which may seem to be experience, a stupid thing, and full of delay; from whose leisurely and snail-like pace proceeds that complaint of life's brevity, and art's length; and to say the truth, I am of this opinion, that those two faculties, dogmatical and empirical, are not as yet well joined and coupled together, but as new gifts of the gods imposed either upon philosophical abstractions, as upon a flying bird, or upon slow and dull experience, as upon an ass. And yet methinks I would not entertain an ill conceit of this ass, if it meet not for the accidents of travel and thirst: for I am persuaded, that whoso constantly goes on, by the conduct of experience, as by a certain rule and method, and not covets to meet with such experiments by the way, as conduce either to gain or ostentation, to obtain which, he must be fain to lay down and sell this burden, may prove no unfit porter to bear this new addition of divine munificence.

Now, in that this gift is said to pass from men to serpents, it may seem to be added to the fable for ornament sake, in a manner, unless it were inserted to shame men, that having the use of that celestial fire and of so many arts, are not able to get unto themselves such things as nature itself bestows upon many other creatures.

Having now touched the state of religion, the parable converts itself to the manners and conditions of human life: and it is a common but apt interpretation by Pandora, to be meant pleasure and voluptuousness, which, when the civil life is pampered with too much art, and culture, and superfluity, is engendered, as it were, by the efficacy of fire, and therefore the work of voluptuousness is attributed unto Vulcan, who also himself doth represent fire. From this do infinite miseries, together with too late repentance, proceed and overflow the minds, and bodies, and fortunes of men; and that not only in respect of particular estates, but even over kingdoms and commonwealths: for from this fountain have wars, tumults, and tyrannies derived their original.

But it would be worth the labour to consider how elegantly and proportionably this fable doth delineate two conditions, or, as I may say, two But that sudden reconciliation of men to Prome- tables or examples of human life, under the person theus, after they were frustrated of their hopes, of Prometheus or Epimetheus: for they that are contains a profitable and wise note, showing the of Epimetheus's sect are improvident, not fore

seeing what may come to pass hereafter, esteeming that best which seems most sweet for the present; whence it happens that they are overtaken with many miseries, difficulties, and calamities, and so lead their lives almost in perpetual affliction; but yet, notwithstanding, they please their fancy, and out of ignorance of the passages of things, do entertain many vain hopes in their mind, whereby they sometimes, as with sweet dreams, solace themselves, and sweeten the miseries of their life. But they that are Prometheus's scholars, are men endued with prudence, foreseeing things to come, warily shunning and avoiding many evils and misfortunes. But to these their good properties they have this also annexed, that they deprive themselves and defraud their genius of many lawful pleasures, and divers recreations; and, which is worse, they vex and torment themselves with cares and troubles, and intestine fears; for being chained to the pillar of necessity, they are afflicted with innumerable cogitations, which, because they are very swift, may be fitly compared to an eagle; and those griping, and, as it were gnawing and devouring the liver, unless sometimes as it were by night, it may be they get a little recreation and ease of mind, but so, as that they are again suddenly assaulted with fresh anxieties and fears.

Therefore this benefit happens to but a very few of either condition, that they should retain the commodities of providence, and free themselves from the miseries of care and perturbation; neither indeed can any attain unto it but by the assistance of Hercules, that is, fortitude and constancy of mind, which is prepared for every event, and armed in all fortunes; foreseeing without fear, enjoying without loathing, and suffering without impatience. It is worth the noting also, that this virtue was not natural to Prometheus, but adventitial, and from the indulgence of another, for no inbred and natural fortitude is able to encounter with these miseries. Moreover this virtue was received and brought unto him from the remotest part of the ocean, and from the sun, that is, from wisdom as from the sun; and from the meditation of inconstancy, or of the waters of human life, as from the sailing upon the ocean; which two, Virgil hath well conjoined in these verses:

"Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas: Quique metus omnes, et inexorabile fatum Subjecit pedibus, strepitumque Acherontis avari. " Happy is he that knows the cause of things, And that with dauntless courage treads upon All fear and fates, relentless threatenings, And greedy throat of roaring Acheron. Moreover, it is elegantly added for the consolation and confirmation of men's minds, that this noble hero crossed the ocean in a cup or pan, lest, peradventure, they might too much fear that the straits and frailty of their nature will not be capa


ble of this fortitude and constancy. Of which very thing Seneca well conceived, when he said, Magnum est habere simul fragilitatem hominis, et securitatem Dei." It is a great matter for hu man frailty and divine security to be one and the selfsame time, in one and the selfsame subject.

But now we are to step back a little again to that, which by premeditation we past over, lest a breach should be made in those things which were so linked together: that therefore which I could touch here is that last crime imputed to Prometheus, about seeking to bereave Minerva of her virginity: for, questionless, it was this heinous offence that brought that punishment of devouring his liver upon him; which is nothing else but to show, that when we are puffed up with too much learning and science, they go about of tentimes to make even divine oracles subject to sense and reason, whence most certainly follows a continual distraction, and restless griping of the mind; we must therefore, with a sober and humble judgment, distinguish between humanity and divinity, and between the oracles of sense and the mysteries of faith, unless an heretical religion and a commentitious philosophy be pleasing unto us.

Lastly, it remains that we say something of the games of Prometheus, performed with burning torches, which again hath reference to arts and sciences, as that fire, in whose memory and celebration these games were instituted; and it contains in it a most wise admonition, that the perfection of sciences is to be expected from succession, not from the nimbleness and promptness of one only author: for they that are nimblest in course, and strongest in contention, yet happily have not the luck to keep fire still in their torch, seeing it may be as well extinguished by running too fast as by going too slow. And this running and contending with lamps seems long since to be intermitted, seeing all sciences seem even now to flourish most in their first authors, Aristotle, Galen, Euclid, and Ptolemy; succession having neither effected, nor almost attempted any great matter; it were therefore to be wished that these games, in honour of Prometheus, or human nature, were again restored; and that matters should receive success by combat and emulation, and not hang upon any one man's sparkling and shaking torch. Men therefore are to be admonished to rouse up their spirits, and try their strengths and turns, and not refer all to the opinions and brains of a few.

And thus have I delivered that which I thought good to observe out of this so well known and common fable; and yet I will not deny but that there may be some things in it which have an admirable consent with the mysteries of Christian religion; and especially that sailing of Hercules in a cup to set Prometheus at liberty, seems to represent an image of the divine word, coming in flesh, as in a frail vessel, to redeem man from the

slavery of hell. But I have interdicted my pen all liberty in this kind lest I should use strange fire at the altar of the Lord.


THEY say that Sphynx was a monster of divers forms, as having the face and voice of a virgin,

SCYLLA AND ICARUS, OR THE MID- the wings of a bird, and the talons of a griffin.


His abode was in a mountain near the city of Thebes; he kept also the highways, and used to MEDIOCRITY, or the middle-way, is most com- lie in ambush for travellers, and so to surprise mended in moral actions; in contemplative sci- them: to whom, being in his power, he proences not so celebrated, though no less profitable pounded certain dark and intricate riddles, which and commodious; but in political employments were thought to have been given and received of to be used with great heed and judgment. The the Muses. Now if these miserable captives ancients by the way prescribed to Icarus, noted the mediocrity of manners; and by the way between Scylla and Charybdis, so famous for difficulty and danger, the mediocrity of intellectual operations.

Icarus being to cross the sea by flight, was commanded by his father that he should fly neither too high nor too low, for his wings being joined with wax, if he should mount too high, it was to be feared lest the wax would melt by the heat of the sun, and if too low, lest misty vapours of the sea would make it less tenacious: but he in a youthful jollity soaring too high, fell down headlong and perished in the water.

The parable is easy and vulgar: for the way of virtue lies in a direct path between excess and defect. Neither is it a wonder that Icarus perished by excess, seeing that excess for the most part is the peculiar fault of youth, as defect is of age; and yet of two evil and hurtful ways, youth commonly make choice of the better, defect being always accounted worst: for whereas excess contains some sparks of magnanimity, and, like a bird, claims kindred of the heavens, defect only like a base worm crawls upon the earth. Excellently therefore said Heraclitus, Lumen siccum, optima anima;" a dry light is the best soul; for if the soul contract moisture from the earth it becomes degenerate altogether. Again, on the other side, there must be moderation used, that this light be subtilized by this laudable siccity, and not destroyed by too much fervency and thus much every man for the most part knows.

Now they that would sail between Scylla and Charybdis must be furnished as well with the skill as prosperous success in navigation: for if their ships fall into Scylla they are split on the rocks; if into Charybdis they are swallowed up of a gulf.

The moral of this parable, which we will but briefly touch, although it contain matter of infinite contemplation, seems to be this, that in every art and science, and so in their rules and axioms, there be a mean observed between the rocks of distinctions and the gulfs of universalities, which two are famous for the wrecks both of wits and arts.

were not able instantly to resolve and interpret them, in the midst of their difficulties and doubts, she would rend and tear them in pieces. The country groaning a long time under this calamity, the Thebans at last propounded the kingdom as a reward unto him that could interpret the riddles of Sphynx, there being no other way to destroy her. Whereupon Edipus, a man of piercing and deep judgment, but maimed and lame by reason of holes bored in his feet, moved with the hope of so great a reward, accepted the condition, and determined to put it to the hazard, and so with an undaunted and bold spirit, presented himself before the monster, who asked him what creature that was, which after his birth went first upon four feet, next upon two, then upon three, and lastly upon four feet again; answered forthwith that it was man, which in his infancy, immediately after birth, crawls upon all four, scarce venturing to creep, and not long after stands upright upon two feet, then growing old he leans upon a staff, wherewith he supports himself; so that he may seem to have three feet, and at last, in decrepid years, his strength failing him, he falls grovelling again upon four, and lies bedrid. Having therefore by this true answer gotten the victory, he instantly slew this Sphynx, and, laying her body upon an ass, leads it as it were in triumph; and so, according to the condition, was created king of the Thebans.

This fable contains in it no less wisdom than elegancy, and it seems to point at science, especially that which is joined with practice, for science may not absurdly be termed a monster, as being by the ignorant and rude multitude always held in admiration. It is diverse in shape and figure, by reason of the infinite variety of subjects, wherein it is conversant. A maiden face and voice is attributed unto it for its gracious countenance and volubility of tongue. Wings are added, because sciences and their inventions do pass and fly from one to another, as it were, in a moment, seeing that the communication of science is as the kindling of one light at another. Elegantly also it is feigned to have sharp and hooked talons, because the axioms and argu ments of science do so fasten upon the mind. and so strongly apprehend and hold it, as that it

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