« PreviousContinue »
do multiply, they do it not by copulation, but in a way analogous unto plants. So hermaphrodites, although they include the parts of both
be sufficiently potent in either, yet unto a conception require a separated sex, and cannot impregnate themselves. And so also, though Adam included all human nature, or was (as some opinion) an hermaphrodite, yet had he no power to propagate himself; and therefore God said, “It is not good that man should be alone, let us make him an help meet for him ;"? that is, an help unto generation; for, as for any other help, it had been fitter to have made another man.
Now, whereas some affirm that from one phenix there doth not immediately proceed another, but the first corrupteth into a worm, which after becometh a phenix, it will not make probable this production. For hereby they confound the generation of perfect animals with imperfect, sanguineous with exsanguineous-vermiparous with oviparous; and erect anomalies, disturbing the laws of nature. Nor will this corruptive production be easily made out in most imperfect generations: for although we deny not that many animals are vermiparous, begetting themselves at a distance, and as it were at the second hand (as generally insects, and more remarkably butterflies and silkworms), yet proceeds not this generation from a corruption of themselves, but rather a specifical and seminal diffusion, retaining still the idea of themselves, though it act that part awhile, in other shapes. And this will also hold in generations equivocal, and such as are not begotten from parents like themselves ; so from frogs corrupting, proceed not frogs again ; so if there be anatiferous trees, whose corruption breaks forth into bernacles, yet if they corrupt, they degenerate into maggots, which produce not them again. For this were a confusion of corruptive and seminal production, and a frustration of that seminal power committed to animals at the creation. The problem might have been spared, “Why we love not our lice as well as our children ?” Noah's ark had been needless, the graves of animals would be the fruitfullest others, although hermaphrodites, have need of a reciprocal intercourse. Many have the sexes separated. Some are oviparous, others viviparous.-Griffith's Cuvier, vol. xii. p. 4.
3 if there be, &c.] See note at end of book iii.
womb; for death would not destroy, but empeople the world again.
Since, therefore, we have so slender grounds to confirm the existence of the phenix,—since there is no ocular witness of it-since, as we have declared, by authors from whom the story is derived, it stands rather rejected since they who have seriously discoursed hereof have delivered themselves negatively, diversely, or contrarily-since many others cannot be drawn into the argument as writing poetically, rhetorically, enigmatically, hieroglyphically—since Holy Scripture alleged for it, duly perpended, doth not advantage it; -and lastly, since so strange a generation, unity and long life, hath neither experience nor reason to confirm,-how far to rely on this tradition we refer unto consideration.
But surely they were not well-wishers unto parable4 physic, or remedies easily acquired, who derived medicines from the phenix, as some have done, and are justly condemned by Pliny ; Irridere est, vita remedia post millesimum annum reditura monstrare ; “It is a folly to find out remedies that are not recoverable under a thousand or propose
the prolonging of life by that which the twentieth generation may never behold. More veniable is a dependence upon the philosopher's stone, potable gold, or any of those arcanas whereby Paracelsus, that died himself at fortyseven, gloried that he could make other men immortal.5 Which, although extremely difficult, and tantum non infesible, yet are they not impossible, nor do they (rightly understood) impose any violence on nature. And therefore, if strictly taken for the phenix, very strange6 is that which is delivered by Plutarch,* that the brain thereof is a pleasant bit, but that it causeth the headache. Which, notwithstanding, the luxurious emperor + could never taste, though he had at his table many a phænicopterus, yet had he not one phænix; for though he expected and attempted it, we read not in Lampridius that he performed it; and, considering the unity thereof, it was a vain design, that is, to destroy any species, or mutilate the great accomplishment of six days. And although some conceive—and it may seem true, that there is in man a natural possibility to destroy the world in one generation; that is, by a general conspire to know no woman themselves, and disable all others also, yet will this never be effected. And therefore Cain, after he had killed Abel, were there no other woman living, could not have also destroyed Eve; which, although he had a natural
4 parable.] Easily obtained ;—parabiles.
5 Paracelsus, &c.] This is noe wonder in them that convert soules ; but to make bodyes immortall argues him either of folly or falsehood, that yf he could, would not make demonstration upon himselfe of such an admirable skill, as would have advanced him to sitt next the greatest monarchs of the world. But itt seemes that bragg descended from him to all his disciples (the chymicks) among whom, scarce one of a 1000, but dyes a beggar.-Wr.
6 And therefore, &c.] Itt seemes the learned man was staggerd at Plutarch's assertion, by mistaking the worde poivič, which there signifies the palm-tree (not the bird soe much talkt off, but never seene as yet). Now itt is this poiviš, or palm-tree, whereof Plutarch speakes, whose fruite (sayth hee) is sweet, but breeds headach, which is most true of the dates, which they call dactylos : the Greekes cald it
power to effect, yet the execution thereof the providence of God would have resisted; for that would have imposed another creation upon him, and to have animated a second rib of Adam.
Of Frogs, Toads, and Toad-stone. CONCERNING the venomous urine of toads, of the stone in the toad's head, and of the generation of frogs, concep* De Sanitate Tuenda.
+ Heliogabalus. šyképalov, and the Latines cerebrum, and wee the brain. But of this ridiculous mistake, and the occasion of itt, see that merie passage of Muret (lib. XII. cap. xii. Variorum), worth the view, which itt seemes this doctor had not read.— Wr.
A similar criticism occurs in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1820, p. 420. It is very singular that these critics, especially the dean, should not have remarked that Sir Thomas was perfectly aware of this homonymy, as he called it (page 279), and by the expression here used, “ if strictly taken for the phenix,” he evidently means that it is not so to be taken, but to be understood as referring to the fruit of the palmtree.
? Concerning, &c.] The story of the jewel in the toad's head, cele. brated in Shakspeare, must be classed among fables. Toads have uniformly been considered objects of aversion, and very generally are believed to be venomous. On this point contrary opinions have been held even by naturalists of the present day. Cuvier expressly denies it ; the
tions are entertained which require consideration. And first, that a toad pisseth, and this way diffuseth its venom,
, English editors of Cuvier's Animal Kingdom discountenance, though they do not absolutely deny, the accusation (vol. ix. 451); observing that toads are comparatively harmless : that when surprised, they distil from the tubercles on the skin a white and fetid humour ;-shoot a peculiar fluid from the anus ; and attempt to bite. But their bite occasions no great inconvenience, merely producing at times a slight inflam. mation. They assert that neither the liquid ejaculated from the anus, nor that which oozes from the skin, is venomous; yet they admit that, when swallowed, these fluids have produced violent nausea, &c. M. Bosc asserts that the saine symptoms will be occasioned by putting the hand to the nose after handling the toad. Schelhammer mentions a child which had a severe pustulory eruption from having had a toad held some minutes before its mouth. They describe the liquid as very bitter, acrid, and caustic. In the 64th vol. of Tilloch's Philosophical Magazine, there is a paper, by Mr. Fothergill, on the manners and habits of the toad, in which he professes to prove “not only its innocency, but its usefulness.” He relates many observations, proving its utility as a destroyer of caterpillars, &c. ;—but in proof of their harmlessness he only offers the following expression of his own opinion. “The writer bopes he has established the character of toads as to their usefulness; and that they are devoid of all poisonous or venomous qualities whatever, he is perfectly satisfied, from many years' observation and expe. rience, having handled them in all directions, opened their mouths, and given them every opportunity and every provocation to exert their venomous powers, if possessed of any.” In short, he believes them to be the most patient and harmless of all reptiles !
Dr. John Davy, in a paper read before the Royal Society, Dec. 22, 1825, asserts the accuracy of the ancient opinion, that the toad is poisonous, but he does not appear to have made any new discovery of importance, unless it be that the fluid, secreted on the back, and existing in the bile, the blood, and the urine of the animal, is not injurious, much less fatal, when absorbed and carried into circulation. Other naturalists have admitted the acrid nature of the fluid, and even, in certain cases, its deleterious effects when taken into the stomach, who maintain that it is not venomous. On the whole, Dr. Davy does not appear to have proved that the toad is to be classed among venomous reptiles, properly so called.
"he well remembers the time, when a quack, at this village, ate a toad to make the country people stare.” He mentioned, from undoubted authority, that “some ladies took a fancy to a toad, which they nourished summer after summer for many years, till he grew to a monstrous size, with the maggots which turn to flesh flies. The
eptile used to come forth every evening from a hole under the garden steps, and was taken up, after supper, on the table to be fed. He fell a sacrifice at length to a tame raven.'
The fluid, ejected from the anus of toads and frogs (especially R. temporaria), is not urine.
is generally received, not only with us, but also in other parts; for so hath Scaliger observed in his comment, Aver. sum urinam reddere ob oculos persecutoris perniciosam ruricolis persuasum est ; and Matthiolus hath also a passage, that a toad communicates its venom not only by urine,
but by the humidity and slaver of its mouth ;8 which, notwithstanding, strictly understood, may admit of examination : for some doubt may be made whether a toad properly pisseth, that is, distinctly and separately voideth the serous excretion ; for though not only birds, but oviparous quadrupeds and serpents have kidneys and ureters, and some fishes also bladders; yet for the moist and dry excretion they seem at last to have but one vent and common place of exclusion; and with the same propriety of language we may ascribe that action unto crows and kites. And this not only in frogs and toads, but may be enquired in tortoises : that is, whether that be strictly true, or to be taken for a distinct and separate miction, when Aristotle affirmeth, that no oviparous animal, that is, which either spawneth or layeth eggs, doth urine, except the tortoise.
The ground or occasion of this expression might from hence arise, that toads are sometimes observed to exclude or spirt out a dark and liquid matter behind :? which we have observed to be true, and a venomous condition there may be perhaps therein; but some doubt there may be, whether this is to be called their urine, not because it is emitted aversely
8 not only by urine, &c.] A strange and horrible example of this (toade killing by the mouth) there fel out in Dorset, not far from my habitation. A countrywoman, having the young sonne of a great person to nurse, willing to visit her reapers in the next field, but not willing to leave the childe alone in the house asleep, took itt with her; and while shee distributed some drinke to the workers, layd the childe at the foote of a barley-cock : whome, when shee came to take up againe, shee found dade and swolen, and turning up the cloaths of the childe, found a huge toade hanging fast on the bellicock the child, which the venomous beast had wholy swalowed, and by that quil diffused his deadly poison into all the vital parts of the infant; at which sight the poore woman fell distracted.-Wr.
9 miction.] Not in Johnson : evidently a coinage from the Latin word, mingo.
I behind.] And I have often seen this spirting, which the vulgar rationally call pissing, though itt be not urine, but certainlye something analogicall.— Wr.