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served, are commonly ignorant and mountainous people, that can give no account of the time past; so that the oblivion is all one1 as if none had been left. If you consider well of the people of the West Indies, it is very probable that they are a newer or a younger people than the people of the old world. And it is much more likely that the destruction that hath heretofore been there, was not by earthquakes (as the Egyptian priest told Solon concerning the island of Atlantis, that it was swallowed by an earthquake), but rather that it was desolated by a particular deluge. For earthquakes are seldom in those parts. But on the other side, they have such pouring rivers, as the rivers of Asia and Africk and Europe are but brooks to them. Their Andes likewise, or mountains, are far higher than those with us; whereby it seems that the remnants of generation of men were in such a particular deluge saved. As for the observation that Machiavel hath, that the jealousy of sects doth much extinguish the memory of things; traducing5 Gregory the
1 All one. One and the same; quite the same. "Aweel, sir, if ye think it wadna be again the law, it 's a' ane to Dandie." Scott. Guy Mannering. XXXVI.
2 For the conversation between Solon and the Egyptian priest, "a man well stricken in years," see The Timaeus of Plato, III. 21-25, pp. 67-81, in edition of R. D. Archer-Hind, 1888.
3 As. That.
4 Bacon has in mind here Book II., Chapter V., of Machiavelli's Discourses upon the First Decad of Livy, "That Deluges, Pestilences, the change of Religion and Languages, and other accidents, in a manner extinguish the memory of many things." St. Gregory is the only individual Machiavelli charges with destroying "the monuments of antiquity, defacing images and statues, and demoralizing every thing that might in any wise contribute to keep the memory of paganism alive."
To misrepresent; censure.
Great,1 that he did what in him lay to extinguish all heathen antiquities; I do not find that those zeals2 do any great effects, nor last long; as it appeared in the succession of Sabinian,3 who did revive the former antiquities.
The vicissitude or mutations in the Superior Globe are no fit matter for this present argument. It may be, Plato's great year, if the world should last so long, would have some effect;` not in renewing the state of like individuals, (for that is the fume5 of those that conceive the celestial bodies have more accurate influences upon these things below than indeed they have,) but in gross.6 Comets, out of question, have likewise power and
1 Gregory the Great, Saint Gregory, lived from about 540 to 604 A.D., and was Pope, 590-604. In the year 597, Gregory sent Augustine and a band of forty monks to Ethelbert, King of Kent, and within the space of a year Ethelbert had embraced Christianity, together with some ten thousands of his subjects.
2 Zeal. Enthusiasm; fervor. No longer used in the plural.
Pope Sabinian, died 606 A.D. He was the immediate successor of Gregory the Great.
"Plato's great year," or the perfect year, will be rounded out when all the planets return to one and the same region of the heavens at the same time. As to its duration, there is no agreement among the ancients. Tacitus, on the authority of Cicero, gives it 12,954 years, but Cicero himself expresses no opinion. Plato discusses the problem in the Timaeus, XI, 38 and 39.
Fume. Something which 'goes to the head' and clouds the faculties or the reason.
"The charm dissolves apace;
Shakspere. The Tempest.
In gross, or in the gross. In a general way; generally; without going into particulars; in the main; on the whole.
"The unlettered Christian, who believes in gross,
Dryden. Religio Laici. Ul. 322-323.
effect over the gross1 and mass of things; but they are rather gazed upon, and waited upon in their journey, than wisely observed in their effects; specially in their respective effects; that is, what kind of comet, for magnitude, colour, version2 of the beams, placing in the region of heaven, or lasting, produceth what kind of effects.
There is a toy which I have heard, and I would not have it given over, but waited upon a little. They say it is observed in the Low Countries (I know not in what part) that every five and thirty years the same kind of suit3 of years and weathers comes about again; as great frosts, great wet, great droughts, warm winters, summers with little heat, and the like; and they call it the Prime. It is a thing I do the rather mention, because, computing backwards, I have found some concurrence.
But to leave these points of nature, and to come to men. The greatest vicissitude of things amongst men, is the vicissitude of sects and religions. For those orbs rule in men's minds most. The true religion is built upon the rock; the rest are tossed upon the waves of time. To speak therefore of the causes of new sects; and to give some counsel concerning them, as far as the weakness of human judgment can give stay to so great revolutions.
1 Gross. The greater part; the majority; the bulk. "The gross of an audience is composed of two sorts of people, those who know no pleasure but of the body, and those who improve or command corporeal pleasures by the addition of fine sentiments of the mind." Steele. The Spectator. No. 502.
2 Version. A turning round or about, change of direction. 3 Suit. Series; succession; regular order.
4"And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matthew xvi. 18.
When the religion formerly received is rent by discords; and when the holiness of the professors of religion is decayed and full of scandal; and withal1 the times be stupid, ignorant, and barbarous; you may doubt the springing up of a new sect; if then also there should arise any extravagant and strange spirit to make himself author thereof. All which points held when Mahomet published his law. If a new sect sect have not two properties, fear it not; for it will not spread. The one is, the supplanting or the opposing of authority established; for nothing is more popular than that. The other is, the giving licence to pleasures and a voluptuous life. For as for speculative heresies, (such as were in ancient times the Arians,2 and now the Arminians,) though they work mightily upon men's wits, yet they do not produce any great alterations in states; except it be by the help of civil occasions. There be three manner of plantations of new sects. By the power of signs and miracles; by the eloquence and wisdom of speech and persuasion; and by the sword. For martyrdoms, I reckon them amongst miracles; because
1 Withal. With all; in addition; besides. "For it seemeth to me unreasonable, to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him." Acts xxv. 27.
The Arians were the followers of Arius, a deacon of Alexandria, who lived in the fourth century. Arius maintained the divinity of Jesus Christ, but held that his nature was not co-equal with that of God, not the same nature, but a similar and subordinate one.
The Arminians of Bacon's time were the followers of Arminius, who was a Dutch Protestant divine of Leyden, named Jacobus Harmensen, 1560-1609. Their doctrines, "The Remonstrance,' published in 1610, expressed their divergence from strict Calvinism. chiefly their objection to predestination, in five articles, and was presented to the states of Holland and West Friesland. The Arminians are sometimes called 'Remonstrants.'
they seem to exceed the strength of human nature: and I may do the like of superlative and admirable holiness of life. Surely there is no better way to stop the rising of new sects and schisms, than to reform abuses; to compound the smaller differences; to proceed mildly, and not with sanguinary persecutions; and rather to take off the principal authors by winning and advancing them, than to enrage them by violence and bitterness.
The changes and vicissitude in wars are many; but chiefly in three things Xin the seats or stages of the war; in the weapons; and in the manner of the conduct. Wars, in ancient time, seemed more to move from east to west; for the Persians, Assyrians, Arabians, Tartars, (which were the invaders,) were all eastern people. It is true, the Gauls were western; but we read but of two incursions of theirs: the one to Gallo-Græcia, the other to Rome. But East and West have no certain points of heaven; and no more have the wars, either from the east or west, any certainty of observation. But North and South are fixed; and it hath seldom or never been seen that the far southern people have invaded the northern, but contrariwise.XWhereby it is manifest that the northern tract of the world is in nature the
more martial region Xbe it in respect of the stars of that hemisphere; or of the great continents; that are upon the north, whereas the south part, for aught that is known, is almost all sea; or (which is most apparent) of the cold of the northern parts, which is that which, without aid of discipline, doth make the bodies hardest, and the courage warmest.