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hus m., upon the principles of Aristotle, Alhazen, Vitello, and
iers, who hold, that sight is made by reception, and not asible
'extramission; by receiving the rays of the object into the bjects
e, and not by sending any out. For hereby, although he Fort hold a man first, the basilisk should rather be destroyed,
regard he first receiveth the rays of his antipathy and nomous emissions, which objectively move his sense ; d the
at how powerful soever his own poison be, it invadeth not OTELI
ie sense of man, in regard he beholdeth him not. And cov nerefore this conceit was probably begot by such as held the themis pinion of sight by extramission; as did Pythagoras, Plato,
Impedocles, Hipparchus, Galen, Macrobius, Proclus, Sim02, licius, with most of the ancients, and is the postulate of Is an Euclid in his Opticks, but now sufficiently convicted from ilestar ?bservations of the dark chamber.1
As for the generation of the basilisk, that it proceedeth man from a cock's egg, hatched under a toad or serpent, it is a
conceit as monstrousa as the brood itself. For if we should effect
cobec.is most probable, wee conceive the infection of the basiliske to fasten
upon the smel rather then the eye : both these senses, and indeed the five senses, being made by reception only, and not by extramission. Soe that his powerful poyson, which proceeds from his breath, rather then his eye, may invade the sense of smelling, and consequently destroy a man hereby; or may sudenly destroy the harte by drawing in that poysonous aire.-Wr.
sense.] Eye.- Wr. 1 but now, &c.] Instead of this concluding line (first added in the 2nd edit.), the following curious passage terminated the paragraph in the 1st edit. p. 120; "and of this opinion might they be, who from this antipathy of the basilisk and man, expressed first the enmity of Christ and Satan, and their mutual destruction thereby; when Satan, being elder than his humanity, beheld Christ first in the flesh, and so he was destroyed by the serpent; but elder than Satan in his divinity, and so beholding him first, he destroyed the old basilisk, and overcame the effect of his poison, sin, death, and hell.”
On this passage, Dean Wren (who used the 1st edition) drily remarks :- -“This argument is but symbolical, and concludes nothing."
a conceit as monstrous.] At the end of the volume for 1710, of the History of the French Royal Academy, is a curious account, transmitted by M. Lapeyronie from Montpellier, of some “cock's eggs,” which a farmer had brought to him, with the assurance that they were laid by a cock, and would be found to contain, instead of yolk, the embryo of a serpent. One of these eggs, opened in the presence of several scavans, was found devoid of yolk, but exhibiting a coloured particle in the VOL. I.
grant, that cocks growing old, and unable for emission, amass within themselves some seminal matter, which may after conglobate into the form of an egg, yet will this substance be unfruitful. As wanting one principle of generation, and a commixture of the seed of both sexes, which is required unto production, as may be observed in the eggs of hens not trodden, and as we have made trial in some which are termed cock's eggs. It is not indeed impossible, that from the sperm of a cock, hen, or other animal, being once in putrescence, either from incubation or otherwise, some generation may ensue; not univocal and of the same species, but some imperfect or monstrous production, even as in the body of man, from putrid humours and peculiar ways of cor. ruption, there have succeeded strange and unseconded shapes of worms, whereof we have beheld some ourselves, and read of others in medical observations. And so may strange and venomous serpents be several ways engendered; but that this generation should be regular, and always produce a basilisk, is beyond our affirmation, and we have good reason to doubt.
Again, it is unreasonable to ascribe the equivocancy of this form unto the hatching of a toad, or imagine that diversifies the production. For incubation alters not the species, nor if we observe it, so much as concurs either to the sex or colour: as appears in the eggs of ducks or partridges hatched under a hen, there being required unto their exclusion only a gentle and continued heat, and that not particular or confined unto the species or parent. So have I known the seed of silkworms hatched on the bodies of
centre, which was considered as the young serpent. The cock having been given up to M. Lapeyronie for dissection, the farmer very soon brought some more of these little eggs,-having discovered that they were laid by a hen! Anatomical figures accompany the paper.
The conceit, however, is not too monstrous for the belief of Al. Rosswho asks, “Why may not this serpent be ingendred of a cock's putrified seminal materials, being animated by his heat and incubation as well as other kinds of serpents are bred of putrified matter ?”—Arcana,
worms.] Of which you may see the many strange and horrible shapes in Parceus his Chirurgerye, lib. xx. cap. iii. et iv. pp. 762-4. -Wr.
women :4 and Pliny reports, that Livia, the wife of Augustus, hatched an egg in her bosom. Nor is only an ani. mal heat required hereto, but an elemental and artificial warmth will suffice: for, as Diodorus delivereth, the Egyptians were wont to hatch their eggs in ovens, and many eyewitnesses confirm that practice unto this day. And, therefore, this generation of the basilisk seems like that of Castor and Helena; he that can credit the one, may easily believe the other; that is, that these two were hatched out of the egg which Jupiter, in the form of a swan, begat on his mistress Leda.
The occasion of this conceit might be an Egyptian tradition concerning the bird ibis, which after became transferred unto cocks. For an opinion it was of that nation, that the ibis, feeding upon serpents, that venomous food so inquinated their oval conceptions or eggs within their bodies, that they sometimes came forth in serpentine shapes, and therefore they always brake their eggs, nor would they endure the bird to sit upon
them. But how causeless their fear was herein, the daily incubation of ducks, peahens, and many other testify; and the stork might have informed them; which bird they honoured and cherished, to destroy their serpents.
on the bodies of women.] Betweene the breasts of a woman, rolled in fine lawne, and they are stronger then those hatcht in the cases, how warme soever kept. But itt must bee by election in virgin's breasts, antequam sororiant, aut menstrua patiantur, noe prorsus intereant, alioqui prodituræ feliciter.-— Wr. 5 ibis.] Black ibis.— Wr.
serpents.] Heer the learned author mistakes the story: for Tully, in the 2nd De Natura Deorum says, the Ægyptians justly honored the ibis ; quia pestem ab Ægypto avertunt quum serpentes volucros, Africo è Libyâ advertos, interficiant. Soe farr were they from breaking their eggs, which had been to destroy the breed of those whom they honored. And what madnes had it been to honor the stork that destroyed the serpents and to destroy the ibides' eggs, by which creature (and not by the storke) those fiery flying serpents were destroyed. But mistake grew for want of right advertisement herein. For St. Hierom, that wel knew Egypt, tels us there were 2 kinds of the ibides : one coale black (and itt seemes pernicious some waye, and therefore hated by them), the other not much unlike the stork, though not the same. Soe that in honoring the second kinde, they might seem to honor the stork, which was indeed) the right ibis, their preserver.—Wr.
That which much promoted it, was a misapprehension in Holy Scripture upon the Latin translation in Isa. li. Ova aspidum ruperunt, et telas aranearum texuerunt, qui comedet de ovis eorum morietur, et quod confotum est, erumpet in regulum. From whence, notwithstanding, beside the generation of serpents from eggs, there can be nothing cluded; and what kind of serpents are meant, not easy to be determined: for translations are very different: Tremellius rendering the asp hæmorrhous, and the regulus or basilisk, a viper; and our translation for the asp sets down a cockatrice in the text, and an adder in the margin.
Another place of Isaiah doth also seem to countenance it, chap. xiv.: Ne læteris Philistæa, quoniam diminuta est virga percussoris tui; de radice enim colubri egredietur regulus, et semen ejus absorbens volucrem ; which ours somewhat favourably rendereth: “Out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.” But Tremellius, è radice serpentis prodit hæmorrhous, et fructus illius prester volans ; wherein the words are different, but the sense is still the same; for therein are figuratively intended Uzziah and Ezechias ; for though the Philistines had escaped the minor serpent, Uzziah, yet from his stock a fiercer snake should arise, that would more terribly sting them, and that was Ezechias.
But the greatest promotion it hath received from a misunderstanding of the hieroglyphical intention. For being conceived to be the lord and king of serpents, to awe all others, nor to be destroyed by any, the Egyptians hereby implied eternity, and the awful power of the supreme deity; and therefore described a crowned asp or basilisk upon
the heads of their gods: as may be observed in the Bembine table, and other Egyptian monuments.S
as may be observed, dc.] This is from Pierius (141, B.) by whom a basilisk is figured from the Bembine, or Isiac table, as a serpent, with a crest, or crown, upon an obelisk, and having rudiments of wings and a long head and snout.
But, &c.] This paragraph was first added in the 3rd edit.
That a Wolf first seeing a man, begets a dumbness in him. Such a story as the basilisk, is that of the wolf, concerning priority of vision, that a man becomes hoarse, or dumb, if a wolf have the advantage first to eye him. And this is in plain language affirmed by Pliny: In Italia, ut creditur, luporum visus est noxius, vocemque homini, quem priùs contemplatur, adimere ; so is it made out what is delivered by Theocritus, and after him by Virgil ;
Vox quoque Merim
Jam fugit ipsa, lupi Mærim videre priores. And thus is the proverb to be understood, when, during the discourse, if the party or subject interveneth, and there ensueth a sudden silence, it is usually said, lupus est in fabula. Which conceit being already convicted, not only by Scaliger, Riolanus, and others, but daily confutable almost everywhere out of England, we shall not further refute.
The ground, or occasional original hereof, was probably the amazement and sudden silence the unexpected appearance of wolves doth often put upon travellers; not by a supposed vapour, or venomous emanation, but a vehement fear, which naturally produceth obmutescence, and sometimes irrecoverable silence. Thus birds are silent in the presence of an hawk, and Pliny saith that dogs are mute in the shadow of an hyæna. But thus could not the mouths of worthy martyrs be silenced, who being exposed not only unto the eyes, but the merciless teeth of wolves, gave loud expressions of their faith, and their holy clamours 2 were heard as high as heaven.
9 that a man becomes hoarse.] When any one becomes hoarse, the French say, il a vu le loup. "See Howelľs Familiar Letters, vol. iv. p. 52. See Erasmi Colloquia, De Amicitiâ.—Jeff.
Ross uses the argumentum ad hominem in this case : he says, "Dr. Browne did unadvisedly reckon this among his vulgar errors, for I believe he would find this no error, if he were suddenly surprised by a wolf, having no means to escape or save himself !”
Scaliger.] Exercitatione 344.— Wr. ? clamours.] Shouts. Clamours is improper here, for 'twas not