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By these methods, in a few weeks, there starts up many a writer, capable of managing the profoundeft, and most universal subjects. For what though his head be empty, provided his commonplace book be full ? And if you will bate him but the circumstances of method, and style, and grammar, and invention; allow him but the common privileges of transcribing from others, and digreffing from himself, as often as he fhall fee occafion; he will desire no more ingredients towards fitting up a treatise, that shall make a very comely figure on a bookseller's shelf, there to be preserved neat and clean for a long eternity, adorned with the heraldry of its title fairly inscribed on a label; never to be thumbed or greased by students, nor bound to everlasting chains of darkness in a library ; but when the fulness of time is come, shall happily undergo the trial of purgatory, in order to afcend the sky.
Without these allowances, how is it poflible we modern wits should ever have an opportunity to introduce our collections, lifted under so many thousand heads of a different nature? For want of which, the learned world would be deprived of infinite delight, as well as instruction ; and we ourselves buried, beyond redress, in an inglorious and undistinguished oblivion.
From such elements as these, I am alive to behold the day, wherein the corporation of authors can outvie all its brethren in the guild: a happiness derived to us with a great many others,
from our Scythian ancestors; among whom the number of pens was so infinite, that the Grecian eloquence had no other way of expressing it, than by saying, that in the region far to the North, it was hardly possible for a man to travel, the very air was so replete with feathers *.
The necessity of this digression will easily excuse the length ; and I have chosen for it as proper a place as I could readily find.
If the judicious reader can assign a fitter, I do here impower him to remove it into any other corner he pleases. And so I return, with great alacrity, to pursue a more important concern..
S E C T.
A TU B.
THE learned Æolists † maintain the original
cause of all principle this whole universe was at first produced, and into which it must at last be resolved; that the same breath which had kindled, and blew up the flame of nature, should one day blow it out : Quod procul a nobis flectat fortuna gubernans.
E e 3
* Herodot. 1. 4. † All pretenders to inspiration whatsoever.. This is what the adepti understand by their 'anima mundi; that is to say, the spirit, or breath, or wind of the world. For examine the whole fyftem by the particulars of nature, and you will find it not to be disputed. For whether you please to call the forma informans of man, by the name of spiritus, animus, afflatus, or anima ; what are all these but several appellations for wind? which is the ruling element in every compound, and into which they all refolve upon their corruption. Farther, what is life itself, but, as it is commonly .called, the breath of our nostrils ? Whence it is very justly observed by naturalists, that wind still continues of great emolument in certain mysteries not to be named, giving occasion for those happy epithets of turgidus, and inflatus, applied either to the emittent or recipient organs.
By what I have gathered out of ancient records, I find the compass of their doctrine took in two and thirty points, wherein it would be tedious to be very particular. However, a few of their most important precepts, deducible from it, are by no means to be omitted ; among which the following inaxim was of much weight. That since wind had the master-share, as well as operation in every compound, by consequence, thofa beings must be of chief excellence, wherein that primordium appears most prominently to abound; and therefore man is in highest perfection of all created things, as having, by the great bounty of philosophers, been endued with three distinct
anima's or winds, to which the sage"es, all their much liberality, have added a fourth,
ourer the neceflity, as well as ornament, with the 'on by three ; by this quartum principium, taking in of four corners of the world ; which gave occasion to that renowned cabalis, Bumbastus *, of placing the body of men in due position to the four car. dinal points.
In consequence of this, their next principle was, That man brings with him into the world a peculiar portion or grain of wind, which may be called a quinta effentia, extracted from the other four. This quintessence is of a catholic use upon all emergencies of life, is improvable into all arts and fciences, and may be wonderfully refined, as well as enlarged, by certain methods in education. This, when blown up to its perfection, ought not to be covetously hoarded up, stifled, or hid under a bushel, but freely communicated to mankind. Upon these reasons, and others of equal weight, the wise Æolists affirm the gift of BELCHING to be the noblest act of a rational creature. To cultivate which art, and render it more serviceable to mankind, they made use of several methods. At certain feasons of the year, you might behold the priests among them in vast numbers, with their inouths gaping wide enough against a Storm te At other times were to be seen several hundred linked together in a circular chain, with every max a pair of bellows applied to his neighbour's breech, by which they blew up each other to the shape and size of a tun; and for that reafon, with great propriety of speech, did usually call their bodies their vesels. When, by these and the like performances, they were grown fufficiently replete, they would immediately depart, and difembogue, for the public good, a plentiful share of their acquirements into their disciples chaps. For we must here observe, that all learning was esteemed among them to be compounded from the same principle : Because, first, it is generally affirmed, or confessed, that learning puffeth men up : And, fecondly, they proved it by the following fyllogism : Words are but wind, and learning is nothing but words ; ergo, learning is nothing but wind. For this reason, the philosophers among them did, in their schools, deliver to their pupils, all their doctrines and opinions by eructation, wherein they had acquired a wonderful eloquence, and of incredible variety. But the great characteristic by which their chief sages were best distinguished, was a certain position of countenance, which gave undoubted intelligence to what degree or proportion the spirit agitated the inward mass. For, after certain gripings, the wind and vapours issuing forth; having first, by their turbulence and convulsions within, caused an earthquake in man's little world; distorted the mouth, bloated the cheeks, and gave the eyes a terrible
* This is one of the names of Paracelsus. He was called Chri. stophorus Theophrastus Paracelsus Bumbastus.
+ This is meant of those seditious preachers, who blow up the freds of rebellion, &c.