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with the same letter was scrupulously observed. The Pugna Pureorum of Plaisant, or as he is generally called by his latinized name Placentius, is probably the best known of these : it is intended as a satire on the clergy, Plaisant being himself a Dominican monk, and its entire merit consists in every word commencing with a P. Of a similar character is the
Canum cum cattis
certamen Carmine compositum
Auctor est Henricus Harderus-:
Cattorum canimus certamina clara canumque
Cumprimis causas certamina cuncta creantur. The letter C is a favorite letter for this purpose, as it affords greater facilities, at least in the Latin language. We find accordingly a monk, named Hugbald, addressing a poem in praise of baldness to Charles the Bald-commencing thus :
Carmina clarisonae calvis cantate camoenae
Contra cirrosi crines confundere colli. Martinus Hamconius, a somewhat celebrated writer against the Calvinists, endeavoured to point his arguments with this device, and produced his “Certamen catholicorum cum calvinistis continuo caractere C. conscripturn per Martinum Hamconium Lovanii 1612." In addition there is the "Christus Crucifixus" of Pierius, and the “De venatione carmen heroicum" of Manneranus.
Truly has Montaigne said “ Notre esprit est un outil vagabond, dangereux, et téinéraire, il est mal aise d'y joindre l'ordre et la mesure. C'est un outrageux glaive a son possesseur meme que l'esprit à qui ne sait s'en armer ardonnmert et discrètement.”
In the wild and irregular excursions of some fancies, no personage or subject however sacred is respected; no speculation however impious or unprofitable neglected; no enquiry however useless or indecent unpursued. The mysteries of religion ; the miraculous dispensations of Providence; the secrets and wonders
of nature, and the formation and existence of man himself, become in turns, instead of subjects of gråve and humble enquiry, the sports of eccentric genius or bold impiety.*
It is difficult to glance at, without a shudder, the wild ravings of a Bourignon, or the deliberate licentiousness of a Beverland or Aretino ; but we can gather consolation from the knowledge that these, and such like productions, are daily sinking deeper into that total oblivion whose merciful waters will eventually close over them for ever. The enquires with which men of great knowledge have frequently occupied their thoughts will, on the other hand, frequently provoke a smile. The kind of fruit which tempted our first parents; the burial place of Adam ; his height; the extent of his knowledge, to these and other subjects of equal inutility, men of real learning and ability have devoted great time and labor.
A shoemaker of Ainiens published, in 1615, a tract in which, tracing the history of boots, le asserted that Adam was the first to make them from the skins of beasts, and that he learned the art from God himself.
A Member of the Academy, in a laborious dissertation on the weights and measures of the ancients, favors us with the following chronological Scale of the various heights of men since the creation.--Adam 123 feet 9 inches, Eve 118 feet 98 inches, Noah 103, Abraham 27, Moses 13, Hercules 10, Alexander 10, Julius Cæsar 5. He sagely adds, that if Providence had not been pleased to suspend this progressive decrease, men would now be no bigger than the smallest insect.
In the seventeeth century, the chevalier Causans undertook to explain, by means of the quadrature of the circle, the mystery of original sin and of the Trinity. He announced that he had deposited with a Notary 300,000 franes, to be paid over to any person who should succeed in refuting his reasoning. Among his adversaries, who were pretty numerous, was a young woman who took the matter very seriously, and who, failing to convince the chevalier that his reasoning was false, summoned him before the châtelet. The court very sensibly declined to decide the controversy, but considered that the fortune of an honest man should not be dissipated for a whim; the suit was consequently dismissed.
• In the Retrospective Review for June, 1854, will be found printed, and extending to seven pages, a speculation upon the occupation of God before the Creation.
Olaus Rudbeck, a Swedish Physician and natural philosopher, who died at Upsal
, in 1740, maintained, in his natural history of the Bible, that Scalvim, with which the Hebrews were fed in the desert, were neither quails nor locusts, but herrings, "neither fish, nor fowl, but good red herring."
The father of this writer was the author of a learned work, in which he assigns the locality of Paradise to Sweden. This book is more remarkable for learning than for judgigent, and is entitled “ Atlantica sive Manheim vera Japheti Posteriorum sedes ac Patria," in 4 folio volumes. As a companion to this work may be mentioned, "An enquiry into the nature and place of Hell," 1714, by the Rev. Tobias Swinden, an English clergyman, who endeavours to prove therein that the sun is that place of torments.
Doctor Edmund Dickinson, an English Physician, published, in 1655, a learned work entitled " Delphi Phænicizantes," the object of which is to prove that the Greeks borrowed the story of the Pythian Apollo, and all that related to the oracle of Delphos, from the Scriptures. In Joshua, Dr. Dickinson sees Apollo; in King Og, Python or Typhon the Giant, (for, according to Dr. Dickinson, Typhon is but an anagram of Python). Typhon, in Greek means burnt, as Og does in Hebrew. Then the arrows of Apollo are the rays of the sun, wbich pierce or burn up Typhon, or Python ; that is to say in fine, that on a very hot day, Joshua conquered Og, King of the Bashans.
Gabriel De Henao, a Spanish Jesuit, is the author of a curious treatise called “ Empyreologia seu Philosophia Christiana de Empyreo Coelo.” In this he undertakes to describe the delights of Paradise, one of which will consist of playing on musical instruments like those in use on earth.
He is, however, outdone by another Jesuit, Louis Henriquez, who wrote “Occupations de Saints dans le Ciel.” The paradise of this good mau reminds one of that of Mahomet; according to him the blessed shall delight in embracing one another; in bathing in delightful baths, in which they shall swim like fishes; they shall sing more melodiously than nightingales, and take delight in balls, masquerades, and ballets.
About the year 1700, John Asgill, an English Barrister, published a work entitled, “An Argument to prove that according to the Covenant of Eternal Life, revealed iu the
Scriptures, man may be translated from hence without passing through Death, although the Human Nature of Christ himself could not thus be translated till be had passed through Death." The publication of this work excited so much indignation against the writer that he was expelled from the Irish House of Commons, after having held his seat but four days. He subsequently obtained a seat in the British Parliament, and having been arrested for debt, some members who cousidered themselves disgraced by the circumstance, made his book an excuse for expelling him a second time.
Perhaps as strange and original a notion as ever entered the head of man, was that started by John Hardouin, a learued French Jesuit, respecting the authenticity of the writings of the ancients. In his “Chronologiæ ex nummis antiquis
, restitutae, specimen primum,” 2 to., Paris, 1696, he supports the hypothesis, that almost all the writings which bear the names of the Greek and Roman poets and historians, are the spurious productions of the 13th century. He excepts, however, Homer, Herodotus, Cicero, and Pliny, as well as the satires and epistles of Ilorace and the Georgics of Virgil
, but contends that the two latter are allegorical writers, who had, under the names of Lalage and Eneas, represented the Christian religion and the life of its founder. His clerical superiors thought proper to call upon him for a public recantation of his errors, and they proscribed and condemned his book.
An idea of the state of Medical Science in the reign of Edward the Second, may be formed from a perusal of the "Rosa Anglica” of John of Gateseten, who was Physician to that King. In this he states that he cured one of the Royal children of the Small Pox by wrapping him in scarlet cloth, and hanging scarlet curtains round the bed. The work abounds with superstitious absurdities, and yet it appears that the author was acquainted with the process of rendering salt water fresh by distillation.
If the contents of a book were always equal to the title, the " Examen de ingenios para las scienzias," of John Huarte, (known as the “ Tryal of wits' of Carew and Bellamy) would be invaluable to parents and directors of youth. It professes to be “An examination of such geniuses as are born fit for acquiring the science, wherein by marvellous and useful secrets, drawn from true philosophy, both natural and divine, are shewn the gifts and different abilities found in man, and for what kind of study the genius of every man is adapted, in such a manner that whoever shall read this book attentively will discover the properties of bis own genius, and be able to make choice of that science in which he will make the greatest improvement.” To render the value of his work inestimable the author prescribes the formalities to be observed by those who would wish to have children of a virtuous turn of mind, or of either sex: this, however, is but the theory of Aristotle.
Huarte also published, as authentic, a pretended letter of Lentalus, the proconsul, from Jerusalem, in which a particular description is given of the person of our Saviour. Our readers have doubtless frequently seen a portrait answering the description given in this letter, and with the letter itself appended, exposed for sale in shop windows, and purchased eagerly by old and young. We have often thought what reception any attempt to impeach the genuineness of the inscription would meet with from those persons, and remembering moreover the happiness of being well deceived, have forborne the task.
Gaspar Tagliacozzi, immortalised in Hudibras by the latinized name of Taliacotius, was an Italian surgeon, born at Bologna in 1546 ; he applied himself chiefly to curing wounds of the ears, lips and nose, and published a curious work entitled, “ De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem additis catis traducis, Instrumentorum omnium atque deligatiorum Iconibus et tabulis,” lib II. fol. Venice, 1597. He is said to have practised the operation in question, of cutting out a portion of skin and flesh from the upper part of the arm, applying it to the raw skin of the face over the place of the nose, and keeping it in that position by ligatures till the parts were properly united. The piece must then have been entirely separated from the arm, which till then had been kept in contact with the face. The more modern plan consists of dissecting a part of the integuments of the forehead, and bringing it down to the proper place, where it is confined till adhesion takes place.*
The study of medicine is suggestive of many curious and interesting enquiries; while the knowledge which it imparts of the human frame, and of the mysterious connexion of soul with body, produces in men of a sober and contemplative torn, habits of deep thought and religious tendency ; it frequently, on the other hand, is the cause of misleading and daz
See post, p. 300, "Strange Cure for a Cut Off Nuse,”