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all again, is not without some doubt; for unsettled nations have out-lasted others of fixed habitations. And though Gypsies have been banished by most Christian princes, yet have they found some countenance from the great Turk, who suffereth them to live and maintain publick stews near the imperial city in Pera, of whom he often maketh a politick advantage, employing them as spies into other nations, under which title they were banished by Charles the fifth.
Of some others.
We commonly accuse the fancies of elder times in the improper figures of heaven assigned unto constellations, which do not seem to answer them, either in Greek or Barbarick spheres. Yet equal incongruities have been commonly committed by geographers and historians, in the figural resemblances of several regions on earth. While by Livy and Julius Rusticus the island of Britain is made to resemble a long dish or two-edged axe: Italy by Numatianus to be like an oak leaf, and Spain an oxhide ; while the fancy of Strabo makes the habitated earth like a cloak; and Dionysius Afer will have it like a sling ; with many others observable in good writers,* yet not made out from the letter or signification : acquitting astronomy in the figures of the zodiack; wherein they are not justified unto strict resemblances, but rather made out from the effects of sun or moon in these several portions of heaven, or from peculiar influences of those constellations, which some way make good their names.
Which notwithstanding being now authentic by prescription, may be retained in their naked acceptions, and names translated from substances known on earth. And therefore
* Tacit. de vita Jul. Agric. Junclin. in Spk, l. de Sacro bosco. cap. 2.
the learned Hevelius, in his accurate Selenography, or description of the moon, hath well translated the known appellations of regions, seas and mountains, unto the parts of that luminary; and rather than use invented names or human denominations, with witty congruity hath placed Mount Sinai, Taurus, Mæotis Palus, the Mediterranean Sea, Mauritania, Sicily and Asia Minor in the moon.
More hardly can we find the Hebrew letters in the heavens made out of the greater and lesser stars, which put together do make up words, wherein cabalistical speculators conceive they read events of future things.* And how, from the stars in the head of Medusa, to make out the word Charab, and thereby desolation presignified unto Greece or Javan numerally characterized in that word, requireth no rigid reader.
It is not easy to reconcile the different accounts of longitude, while in modern tables the hundred and eightieth degree is more than thirty degrees beyond that part, where Ptolemy placeth an 180. Nor will the wider and more western term of longitude, from whence the moderns begin their commensuration, sufficiently salve the difference. I The ancients began the measure of longitude from the Fortunate Islands or Canaries, the moderns from the Azores or islands of St.' Michael; but since the Azores are but fifteen degrees more west, why the moderns should reckon 180, where Ptolemy accounteth above 220, or though they take in fifteen degrees at the west, why they should reckon thirty at the east, beyond the same measure, is yet to be determined, nor would it be much advantaged, if we should conceive that the compute of Ptolemy were not so agreeable unto the Canaries, as the Hesperides or islands of Capo Verde.
Whether the compute of months from the first appearance of the moon, which divers nations have followed, be not a more perturbed way than that which accounts from the conjunction may seem of reasonable doubt;|| not only from the
• The cabala of the stars. + Greffarel out of R. Chomer. Athan. Kircher. in proæmio.
§ Robertus Hues de globis. || Hevel. Selenog. cap. 9.
uncertainty of its appearance in foul and cloudy weather, but unequal time in any, that is, sooner or later, according as the moon shall be in the signs of long descension, as Pisces, Aries, Taurus, in the perigeum or swiftest motion, and in the northern latitude; whereby sometimes it may be seen the very day of the change, as did observably happen, 1654, in the months of April and May. Or whether also the compute of the day be exactly made from the visible arising or setting of the sun, because the sun is sometimes naturally set, and under the horizon, when visibly it is above it; from the causes of refraction, and such as make us behold a piece of silver in a bason, when water is put upon it, which we could not discover before, as under the verge thereof.
Whether the globe of the earth be but a point in respect of the stars and firmament, or how if the rays thereof do fall upon a point, they are received in such variety of angles, appearing greater or lesser from differences of refraction?
Whether if the motion of the heavens should cease a while, all things would instantly perish; and whether this assertion doth not make the frame of sublunary things to hold too loose a dependency upon the first and conserving cause, at least impute too much unto the motion of the heavens, whose eminent activities are by heat, light, and influence, the motion itself being barren, or chiefly serving for the due application of celestial virtues unto sublunary bodies, as Cabeus hath learnedly observed.
Whether comets or blazing stars be generally of such terrible effects, as elder times have conceived them ;9 for since it is found that many, from whence these predictions are drawn, have been above the moon, why they may not be
9 Whether comets, fc.) Aristotle con regions of the heavens, till they bave sidered them to be accidental fires or found out fit places for their residence, meteors, kindled in the atmosphere. which having pitched upon, they stop Kepler supposed them to be monsters, their irregular course, and being turned generated in celestial space !
into planets, move circularly about some Dr. Thomas Burnet says, that the star.-Charles Blount's Miscellaneous comets seem to him to be nothing else Works, p. 63. but (as one may say) the dead bodies of Tycho Brahe first ascertained, by obthe fixed stars unburied, and not as yet servations on the comet of 1577, that composed to rest; they, like shadows, comets are permanent bodies, like the wander up and down through the various planets.
qualified from their positions, and aspects which they hold with stars of favourable natures, or why since they may be conceived to arise from the effluviums of other stars, they may not retain the benignity of their originals; or since the natures of the fixed stars are astrologically differenced by the planets, and are esteemed martial or jovial, according to the colours whereby they answer these planets, why, although the red comets do carry the portentions of Mars, the brightly white should not be of the influence of Jupiter or Venus, answerably unto Cor Scorpii and Arcturus, is not absurd to doubt.