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Again, many professed enquirers have rejected it. Strabo, an exact and judicious geographer, hath largely condemned it as a fabulous story. Julius Scaliger, a diligent enquirer, accounts thereof but as a poetical fiction. Ulysses Aldrovandus, a most exact zoographer, in an express discourse hereon, concludes the story fabulous, and a poetical account of Homer; and the same was formerly conceived by Eustathius, bis excellent commentator. Albertus Magnus, a man ofttimes too credulous, herein was more than dubious; for he affirmeth if any such dwarfs were ever extant, they were surely some kind of apes; which is a conceit allowed by Cardan,9 and not esteemed improbable by many others.
There are, I confess, two testimonies, which from their authority, admit of consideration. The first of Aristotle,* whose words are these, čoti OÈ ó Tómoc, &c. That is, Hic locus est quem incolunt pygmæi, non enim id fabula est, sed pusillum genus ut aiunt. Wherein indeed Aristotle plays
' the Aristotle, that is, the wary and evading assertor; for though with non est fabula he seems at first to confirm it, yet at the last he claps in ut aiunt, and shakes the belief he put before upon it. And therefore, I observe Scaliger hath not translated the first; perhaps supposing it surreptitious or unworthy so great an assertor. And truly for those books of animals, or work of eight hundred talents, as Athenæus terms it, although ever to be admired, as containing most excellent truths, yet are many things therein delivered upon relation, and some repugnant unto the history of our senses; as we are able to make out in some, and Scaliger hath observed in many more, as he hath freely declared in his comment upon that piece.
The second testimony is deduced from Holy Scripture, thus rendered in vulgar translation: Sed et Pygmæi qui erant in turribus tuis, pharetras suas suspenderunt in muris tuis per gyrum; from whence notwithstanding we cannot infer this assertion. For, first, the translators accord not, and the Hebrew word gammadim is very variously rendered. Though Aquila, Vatablus, and Lyra will have it pygmei, yet in the Septuagint it is no more than watchmen, and so in the Arabic and High Dutch. In the Chaldee, Cappadocians; in Symmachus, Medes; and in the French, those of Gamad. Theodotion of old, and Tremellius of late, have retained the textuary word, and so have the Italian, Low Dutch, and English translators; that is, the men of Arvad were upon thy walls round about, and the Gammadims were in thy towers. Nor do men only dissent in the translation of the word, but in the exposition of the sense and meaning hereof; for some by Gammadims understand a people of Syria, so called from the city Gamala ;* some hereby understand the Cappadocians, many the Medes; and hereof Forerius hath a singular exposition, conceiving the watchmen of Tyre might well be called pigmies, the towers of that city being so high, that unto men below they appeared in a cubital stature. Others expounded it quite contrary to common acception, that is, not men of the least, but of the largest size ; so doth Cornelius construe pygmæi, or viri cubitales, that is, not men of a cubit high, but of the largest stature, whose height like that of giants, is rather to be taken by the cubit than the foot; in which phrase we read the measure of Goliah, whose height is said to be six cubits and a span. Of affinity hereto is also the exposition of Jerom; not taking pigmies for dwarfs, but stout and valiant champions; not taking the sense of huyun, which signifies the cubit measure, but that which expresseth pugils, that is, men fit for combat and the exercise of the fist. Thus can there be no satisfying illation from this text, the diversity or rather contrariety of expositions and interpretations, distracting more than confirming the truth of the story.' Again, I say, exact testimonies, in reference untó circumstantial relations so diversely or contrarily delivered. Thus the relation of Aristotle placeth them above Egypt towards the head of the Nile in Africa. Philostratus affirms they are about Ganges in Asia, and Pliny in a third place, that is, Gerania in Scythia ; some write they fight with cranes, but Menecles, in Athenæus, affirms they fight with partridges; some say they ride on partridges, and some on the backs of rams.
* Hist. Animal. lib. viii.
+ Ezek. xxvii. 12. * Again.] This paragraph is taken almost verbatim from Cardan in the place cited below.-Wr.
. Cardan.] Rightly does he quote Cardan, who in the 8th book, De Varietate, cap. xl. p. 527, approves of Strabo's judgement of Homer's fiction: and concludes they were mistaken, being noe other then apes.- Wr.
* See Mr. Fuller's excellent description of Palestine. story.) The least I suppose that ever was seen and lived long, was Lucius Augustus his dwarfe, who was bypedali minor, librarum septendecim, sed vocis immense. Suetonius in Octavio, $ 53. Certainly few apes come under this hight.
Lastly, I say, confirmed testimonies ; for though Paulus Jovius delivers there are pigmies beyond Japan, Pigafeta, about the Moluccas, and Olaus Magnus placeth them in Greenland, yet wanting frequent confirmation in a matter SO confirmable, their affirmation carrieth but slow persuasion, and wise men may think there is as much reality in the pigmies of Paracelsus,* that is, his non-adamical men, or middle natures betwixt men and spirits.
There being thus no sufficient confirmation of their verity, some doubt may arise concerning their possibility, wherein, since it is not defined in what dimensions the soul may exercise her faculties, we shall not conclude impossibility, or that there might not be a race of pigmies, as there is sometimes of giants. So may we take in the opinion of Austin, and his comment Ludovicus. But to believe they should be in the stature of a foot or span, requires the preaspection of such a one as Philetas, the poet, in Athenæus, who was fain to fasten lead unto his feet, lest the wind should blow him away; or that other in the same author, who was so little ut ad obolum accederet; a story so strange, that we might herein excuse the printer, did not the account of Ælian accord unto it, as Casaubon hath observed in his learned animadversions.
Lastly, if any such nation there were, yet it is ridiculous what men have delivered of them; that they fight with cranes upon the backs of rams or partridges; or what is delivered by Ctesias, that they are negroes in the midst of India, whereof the king of that country entertaineth three
* By pigmies intending fairies and other spirits about the earth ; as by nymphs and salamanders, spirits of fire and water.—Lib. de Pygmæis, Nymphis, &c.
· Ludovicus.] Lud. Vives.
thousand archers for his guard, which is a relation below the tale of Oberon; nor could they better defend him than the emblem saith, they offended Hercules whilst he slept, that is, to wound him no deeper than to awake him.
Of the Great Climacterical Year, that is, Sixty-three. CONCERNING the eyes of the understanding, and those of the sense, are differently deceived in their greatest objects. The sense apprehending them in lesser magnitudes than their dimensions require ; so it beholdeth the sun, the stars, and the earth itself. But the understanding quite otherwise ; for that ascribeth unto many things far larger horizons than their due circumscriptions require, and receiveth them with amplifications which their reality will not admit. Thus hath it fared with many heroes and most worthy persons, who, being sufficiently commendable from true and unquestionable merits, have received advancement from falsehood and the fruitful stock of fables. Thus hath it happened unto the stars, and luminaries of heaven; who, being sufficiently admirable in themselves, have been set out by effects, no way dependent on their efficiencies, and advanced by amplifications to the questioning of their true endowments. Thus is it not improbable it hath also fared with number, which though wonderful in itself
, and sufficiently magnifiable from its demonstrable affections, hath yet received adjections from the multiplying conceits of men, and stands laden with additions which its equity will not admit.
And so perhaps hath it happened unto the numbers seven and nine, which multiplied into themselves do make up sixty-three, commonly esteemed the great climacterical of our lives.
For the days of men are usually cast up by septenaries, and
conceived to carry some altering character with it, either in the temper of body, mind, or both. But among all other, three are most remarkable, that is, seven times seven, or forty-nine; nine times nine, or eighty-one; and seven times nine, or the year of sixty-three, which is conceived to carry with it the most considerable fatality, and consisting of both the other numbers, was apprehended to comprise the virtue of either, is therefore expected and entertained with fear, and esteemed a favour of fate to pass it over ; which, notwithstanding, many suspect to be but a panic terror, and men to fear they justly know not what, and to speak indifferently I find no satisfaction, nor any sufficiency in the received grounds to establish a rational fear.
Now herein to omit astrological considerations (which are but rarely introduced), the popular foundation whereby it hath continued, is first, the extraordinary power and secret virtue conceived to attend these numbers, whereof we must confess there have not wanted, not only especial commendations, but very singular conceptions. Among philosophers, Pythagoras seems to have played the leading part, which was long after continued by his disciples, and the Italick school. The philosophy of Plato, and most of the Platonists, abounds in numeral considerations. Above all, Philo, the learned Jew, hath acted this part even to superstition, bestowing divers pages in summing up every thing, which might advantage this number. Which, notwithstanding, when a serious reader shall perpend, he will hardly find any thing that may convince his judgment, or any further persuade than the lenity of his belief, or prejudgment of reason inclineth.3
For first, not only the numbers seven and nine, from considerations abstruse have been extolled by most, but all or most of the other digits have been as mystically applauded. For the numbers one and three have not been only admired by the heathens, but from adorable grounds, the unity of God, and mystery of the Trinity admired by many Christians. The number four stands much admired, not only in the quaternity of the elements (which are the principles of bodies), but in the letters of the name of God (which in the Greek, Arabian, Persian, Hebrew, and Egyptian, consisteth of that number), and was so venerable among the Pytha
3 Which, notwithstanding, &c.] The excellent Bishop Hall sums up in the following brief and pious exclamation :-“ Away with all niceties of Pythagorean calculations; all numbers are alike to me, save those which God himself hath chalked out to us!”—Bp. Hall's Works,