« ZurückWeiter »
much less such as are superstitious or vain, like those which the writers of natural magic, (a vain set of men, that scarce deserve to be mentioned in the serious subject we are now upon) every where boast of, in describing, and sometimes, with great levity and vanity, feigning empty similitudes and sympathies. o o * To proceed, conformable instances are not to be neglected in the configuration of the world itself, with regard to its larger parts. Thus Africa, and Peru, with the continent up to the streights of Magellen, have similaristhmuses and similar promontories, which does not happen without some cause. - • * “So again, both the old world and the new are wide and extended towards the north, but narrow and pointed towards the south. = 1 But among the noblest instances of conformity, come the intense cold in that called the middle region of the air, and the violent fires often found to break out from subterraneal places; for these two things are extremes and limitations, the one limiting the nature of cold towards the arch of the heavens, and the other limiting the nature of heat towards the bowels of the earth, by antiperistasis, or the rejection of a contrary nature. so * Lastly, a conformity of instances deserves to be observed in the Axioms of the sciences. So
the figure in rhetoric, called inexpectation, when a matter comes in unexpectedly, is conformable to that figure in music which is called sinking of the cadence". So again, the mathematical postulate, that things equal to the same third are equal among themselves, is conformable with the structure of a syllogism, in logic, which unites, things agreeing in a middle term. To conclude, a certain sagacity in searching out and discovering physical conformities and similitudes, is a very useful thing on many occasions.t. 28. In the seventh place come those we term singular, irregular, or hetoroclite instances, borrowing the expression from the grammarians, that is, such as shew bodies, in the whole or concrete, which seem to be out of course, or as if they were broken in nature, so as not to agree with other things of the same kind. For, conformable instances are like something else, but heteroclite, or singular instances are only like themselves. The use of these singular instances is the same as of clandestine instances; viz. for raising and , uniting nature, so as to discover kinds, or common natures, that are afterwards to be limited
* When the music drops, as it were, or sinks on the. sudden. ..., * * * * * * * * J. : : - , , , , § o See the De Augment. Scientiar. p. 70. See also the Sylva Sylvarum, passim. particularly under the article Sound.’
by real differences”. “Nor should the enquiry be dropt, or broke off, till the properties and qualities found in such things as may be esteemed miracles in nature, are reduced, and comprehended under some form, or certain law, so that all irregularity or singularity may be discovered to depend upon some common form, and the miracle only rest in the exact differences, degree, and extraordinary concurrence, and not in the species itself. But the contemplations of men at present proceed no farther than to suppose such things as these to be secrets, great works of nature, and as it were causeless, and to make them exceptions to general rules. * * As examples of singular instances, we have the sun and moon among the stars, the loadstone among stones, quicksilver among metals, the elephant among quadrupeds, the sense of venereal pleasure among the kinds of touch, and the scent of the blood-hound among the kinds of smell." So with the grammarians, the letter S is held singular, for the easiness of its composition with consonants, sometimes with double, and sometimes with triple ones, which is a property of no other letter. * . A large collection of such instances should be made, because they whet and quicken the en
• How far this contributes to the investigation of" forms may appear from Aph. 4, Sect. I. Part II. " ' "
quiry, and also rectify and cure the understanding, depraved by custom, and things of common occurrence *. - 29. In the eighth place come deviating instances; that is, the errors of nature, and things monstrous and uncommon, where nature turns aside from her ordinary course. For the errors of nature differ from singular instances, in this, that singular instances are miracles in species, but errors of nature are miracles in individuals: though these deviating instances have nearly the same use with the former; as tending to rectify the understanding, depraved by the things to which it is most accustomed, and to disclose the most common forms. For here also the enquiry is not to cease, till the cause of the deviation be discovered; though this cause does not properly rise to any form; but only to the latent process t that leads towards it: for as he who knows the ways of nature, will the easier observe her deviations; so he who knows her deviations will more exactly describe her ways.
* Let it be all along observed, and carefully remembered, that this whole doctrine of instances lays down precepts for conducting enquiries, both general and particular, with a direct view to the investigation of forms, or the full interpretation of nature. And in the light of this intimation, the Author's larger enquiries are also to be considered.
* See Part II. Sect. I. Aph. 1, 4, 5, &c.
They differ in this also from singular instances, that they conduce much more to practice, than those: for it would be very difficult to generate new species; but 'tis easier to vary the known species; and thence to produce many extraordinary and unknown things; there being a ready passage from the miracles of nature, to the miracles of art. For if nature shall once be discovered in her variation, and the reason of it become manifest, 'twill be easy to lead her thither again by art, where she erred by accident; and that not only in one case, but in others: for errors on one side, shew and open the way to errors and deviations on all sides. And here examples are not necessary; because they are so numerous and common. But a collection, or particular natural history should be made of all prodigious and monstrous births and productions of nature; and of all things new, extraordinary, and uncommon in the universe: but this is to be done with the strictest and most judicious choice; so that it may be safely relied on. And here those things are principally to be held suspect, which in any sort relate to religion; as the prodigies of Livy: and those no less, which are found in the writers of natural magic, alchemy, or other writers of the like kind, who are the professed admirers, or as it were adorers of fable and fiction. But all the