« PreviousContinue »
plant-animal or vegetable lamb of Tartary, which wolves delight to feed on, which hath the shape of a lamb, affordeth a bloody juice upon breaking, and liveth while the plants be consumed about it. And yet if all this be no more, than the shape of a lamb in the flower or seed, upon the top of the stalk, as we meet with the forms of bees, flies, and dogs in some others; he hath seen nothing that shall much wonder at it.
It may seem too hard to question the swiftness of tigers, which hath therefore given names unto horses, ships, and rivers, nor can we deny what all have thus affirmed; yet cannot but observe, that Jacobus Bontius, late physician at Java in the East Indies, as an ocular and frequent witness, is not afraid to deny it; to condemn Pliny who affirmeth it; and that indeed it is but a slow and tardigradous animal, preying upon advantage, and otherwise may be escaped.
Many more there are whose serious enquiries we must request of others, and shall only awake considerations, whether that common opinion that snakes do breed out of the back or spinal marrow of man, doth build upon any constant root or seed in nature; or did not arise from contingent generation, in some single bodies remembered by Pliny or others, and might be paralleled since in living corruptions of the guts and other parts ; which regularly proceed not to putrefactions of that nature.
Whether the story of the remora be not unreasonably amplified ;' whether that of bernacles and goose-trees be not too much enlarged ;? whether the common history of bees
jaune dorée. Ainsi conformée, elle ressemble à la toison d'un agneau de Scythie, et on la trouve, ainsi citée dans les contes fabuleux imaginés sur quelques singularités du règne végétal.”—Dictionnaire des Sciences. Naturelles, vol. iv. p. 85.
Ross contends stoutly for the literal verity of this pleasant story ; and utterly rejects the sceptical explanations proposed by Sir Thomas.
amplified.] Alluding probably to the absurd story of a vessel in full. sail being stopt by one of these singular little fishes adhering to it.
2 too much enlarged.] The natural history of the lepas anatifera, or bernacle, is too well understood, to render it necessary to say a syllable in refutation of the old story of its producing geese. It may be allowed, however, to notice the fact (discovered by Sir E. Home, and illustrated by highly magnified figures in his Comparative Anatomy) that this is one of the self-impregnating animals.
will hold, as large accounts have delivered ; whether the brains of cats be attended with such destructive malignities, as Dioscorides and others put upon them?
As also whether there be not some additional help of art, unto the numismatical and musical shells, which we sometimes meet with in conchylious collections among us ?
Whether the fasting spittle of man be poison unto snakes and vipers, as experience hath made us doubt? Whether the nightingale's sitting with her breast against a thorn, be any more than that she placeth some prickles on the outside of her nest, or roosteth in thorny prickly places, where serpents may least approach her; whether mice3 may be bred by putrefaction as well as univocal production, as may be easily believed, if that receipt to make mice out of wheat will hold, which Helmont* hath delivered. Whether quails from any idiosyncracy or peculiarity of constitution, do innocuously feed upon hellebore, or rather sometime but medically use the same; because we perceive that stares, which are commonly said harmlessly to feed on hemlock, do not make good the tradition; and he that observes what vertigoes, cramps and convulsions follow thereon in these animals, will be of our belief.
* Helm. Imago Fermenti, &c. 3 Whether mice, &c.] Ross's note on this doubt cannot be omitted. “ So he may doubt whether in cheese and timber, worms are generated; or if beetles and wasps in cow's dung; or if butter-flies, locusts, grasshoppers, shell-fish, snails, eels, and such like, be procreated of putrified matters, which is apt to receive the form of that creature to which it is by formative power disposed. To question this, is to question reason, sense, and experience. If he doubts of this, let him go to Egypt, and there he will find the fields swarming with mice begot of the mud of Nylus, to the great calamity of the inhabitants. What will he say to those rats and mice, or little beasts resembling mice found generated in the belly of a woman dissected after her death, of which Lemnius is a witness? I have seen one whose belly, by drinking of puddle water, was swelled to a vast capacity, being full of small toads, frogs, evets (water-lizards) and such vermin, usually bred in putrified water.”—P. 155
THE FOURTH BOOK:
THE PARTICULAR PART CONTINUED.
OF MANY POPULAR AND RECEIVED TENETS CONCERNING MAN.
That only Man hath an erect figure. That only man hath an erect figure, and for to behold and look up toward heaven, according to that of the poet:1
Pronaque cum spectant animalia cætera terram,
Jussit, et erectos ad sydera tollere vultus, is a double assertion, whose first part may be true if we take erectness strictly, and so as Galen hath defined it, for they only, saith he, have an erect figure, whose spine and thighbone are carried in right lines, and so indeed, of any we yet know, man only is erect.? For the thighs of other animals do stand at angles with their spine, and have rectangular positions in birds, and perfect quadrupeds. Nor doth the
I the poet.] Ovid. Met. i. 84. See also Cicero, De Nat. Deor. ii. 56.
man only is erect.] But itt is most evident that baboones and apes doe not only
as a man, but goe as erect also.--Wr. This is incorrect. Man alone, unquestionably, is constructed for an erect position. The apes, which resemble him in their conformation more closely than any other animals, are incapable of attaining a perfectly erect attitude, and though they occasionally assume a position nearly so, yet even this they cannot long retain. Their narrowness of pelvis, the configuration of their thighs and lower extremities, the situation of their flex or muscles, and the want of muscular calves and buttocks, constitute together an incapacity for perfect or continued verticity of attitude in the quadrimana.
frog, though stretched out, or swimming, attain the rectitude of man, or carry its thigh without all angularity. And thus is it also true, that man only sitteth, if we define sitting to be a firmation of the body upon the ischias ; wherein, if the position be just and natural, the thigh-bone lieth at right angles to the spine, and the leg-bone or tibia to the thigh. For others, when they seem to sit, as dogs, cats, or lions, do make unto their spine acute angles with their thigh, and acute to the thigh with their shank. Thus is it likewise true, what Aristotle allegeth in that problem, why man alone suffereth pollutions in the night, because man only lieth upon his back, if we define not the same by every supine position, but when the spine is in rectitude with the thigh, and both with the arms lie parallel to the horizon, so that a line through their navel will pass through the zenith and centre of the earth. And so cannot other animals lie upon their backs, for though the spine lie parallel with the horizon, yet will their legs incline, and lie at angles unto it. And upon these three divers positions in man, wherein the spine can only be at right lines with the thigh, arise those remarkable postures, prone, supine, and erect, which are but differenced in situation, or angular postures upon the back, the belly, and the feet.
But if erectness be popularly taken, and as it is largely opposed unto proneness, or the posture of animals looking downwards, carrying their venters or opposite part of the spine directly towards the earth, it may admit of question. For though in serpents and lizards we may truly allow a proneness, yet Galen acknowledgeth that perfect quadrupeds, as horses, oxen, and camels, are but partly prone, and have some part of erectness; and birds, or flying animals, are so far from this kind of proneness, that they are almost erect; advancing the head and breast in their progression, and only prone in the act of volitation or flying; and if that be true which is delivered of the penguin or anser Magellanicus, often described in
maps about those straits, that they go erect like men, and with their breast and belly do make one line perpendicular unto the axis of the earth, it will almost make up the exact erectness of man.* Nor will that insect come very
* Observe also the Urias Bellonii and Mergus major.
short, which we have often beheld, that is, one kind of locust which stands not prone, or a little inclining upward, but in a large erectness, elevating always the two fore legs, and sustaining itself in the middle of the other four; by zoographers called mantis, and by the common people of Provence, Prega Dio, the prophet and praying locust, as being generally found in the posture of supplication, or such as resembleth ours, when we lift up our hands to heaven.
As for the end of this erection, to look up toward heaven, though confirmed by several testimonies, and the Greek etymology of man, it is not so readily to be admitted ; and, as a popular and vain conceit, was anciently rejected by Galen, who in his third De usu partium, determines that man is erect, because he was made with hands, and was therewith to exercise all arts, which in any other figure he could not have performed, as he excellently declareth in that place, where he also proves that man could have been made neither quadruped nor centaur.3
And for the accomplishment of that intention, that is, to look up and behold the heavens, man hath a notable disadvantage in the eyelid, whereof the upper is far greater than the lower, which abridgeth the sight upwards contrary to those of birds, who herein have the advantage of man; insomuch that the learned Plempius* is bold to affirm, that if he had had the formation of the eyelids, he would have contrived them quite otherwise.4
The ground and occasion of that conceit was a literal apprehension of a figurative expression in Plato, as Galen thus delivers : to opinion that man is erect to look up
and behold heaven, is a conceit only fit for those that never saw the fish uranoscopus, that is, the beholder of heaven, which
* Ophthalmographia. man could have been, dc.] Why not as well as an ape, if that reason be good ; for an ape uses his hand as well as man, and yett hee is qua
l drupes too.— Wr. Incorrect again. Apes cannot use their hands as well as man, because destitute of the facility which man possesses for the free use of his hands and arms, in the erect position, and because of the superior mechanical adaptation of the human hand to the exercise of the arts and occupations of life. The opinion quoted by our author that man could not become quadruped, is incontrovertible.
* And for the accomplishment, &c.] This paragraph first added in 2nd edition.
i to opinion, &c.] This is a poore cavil, for the end of mans lookinge