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- The Consolidator - 2/33 -
It would be endless to give you a Catalogue, and they admit of no Strangers to write any thing down, but what the Memory can retain, you are welcome to carry away with you; and amongst the wonderful Volumes of Antient and Modern Learning, I could not but take Notice of a few; which, besides those I mentioned before, I saw, when I lookt over this vast Collection; and a larger Account may be given in our next.
It would be needless to Transcribe the Chinese Character, or to put their Alphabet into our Letters, because the Words would be both Unintelligible, and very hard to Pronounce; and therefore, to avoid hard Words, and Hyroglyphicks, I'll translate them as well as I can.
The first Class I came to of Books, was the Constitutions of the Empire; these are vast great Volumes, and have a sort of Engine like our Magna Charta, to remove 'em, and with placing them in a Frame, by turning a Screw, open'd the Leaves, and folded them this way, or that, as the Reader desires. It was present Death for the Library-keeper to refuse the meanest Chinese Subject to come in and read them; for 'tis their Maxim, That all People ought to know the Laws by which they are to be govern'd; and as above all People, we find no Fools in this Country, so the Emperors, though they seem to be Arbitrary, enjoy the greatest Authority in the World, by always observing, with the greatest Exactness, the Pacta Conventa of their Government: From these Principles it is impossible we should ever hear, either of the Tyranny of Princes, or Rebellion of Subjects, in all their Histories.
At the Entrance into this Class, you find some Ancient Comments, upon the Constitution of the Empire, written many Ages before we pretend the World began; but above all, One I took particular notice of, which might bear this Title, Natural Right prov'd Superior to Temporal Power; wherein the old Author proves, the Chinese Emperors were Originally made so, by Nature's directing the People, to place the Power of Government in the most worthy Person they could find; and the Author giving a most exact History of 2000 Emperors, brings them into about 35 or 36 Periods of Lines when the Race ended; and when a Collective Assembly of the Nobles, Cities, and People, Nominated a new Family to the Goverment.
This being an heretical Book as to European Politicks, and our Learned Authors having long since exploded this Doctrine, and prov'd that Kings and Emperors came down from Heaven with Crowns on their Heads, and all their Subjects were born with Saddles on their Backs; I thought fit to leave it where I found it, least our excellent Tracts of Sir Robert Filmer, Dr. Hammond L...y, S....l, and Others, who have so learnedly treated of the more useful Doctrine of Passive Obedience, Divine Right, &c. should be blasphem'd by the Mob, grow into Contempt of the People; and they should take upon them to question their Superiors for the Blood of Algernon Sidney, and Argyle.
For I take the Doctrines of Passive Obedience, &c. among the States-men, to be like the Copernican System of the Earths Motion among Philosophers; which, though it be contrary to all antient Knowledge, and not capable of Demonstration, yet is adher'd to in general, because by this they can better solve, and give a more rational Account of several dark Phanomena in Nature, than they could before.
Thus our Modern States-men approve of this Scheme of Government; not that it admits of any rational Defence, much less of Demonstration, but because by this Method they can the better explain, as well as defend, all Coertion in Cases invasive of Natural Right, than they could before.
Here I found two famous Volumes in Chyrurgery, being an exact Description of the Circulation of the Blood, discovered long before King Solomon's Allegory of the Bucket's going to the Well; with several curious Methods by which the Demonstration was to be made so plain, as would make even the worthy Doctor B------ himself become a Convert to his own Eye-sight, make him damn his own Elaborate Book, and think it worse Nonsence than ever the Town had the Freedom to imagine.
All our Philosophers are Fools, and their Transactions a parcel of empty Stuff, to the Experiments of the Royal Societies in this Country. Here I came to a Learned Tract of Winds, which outdoes even the Sacred Text, and would make us believe it was not wrote to those People; for they tell Folks whence it comes, and whither it goes. There you have an Account how to make Glasses of Hogs Eyes, that can see the Wind; and they give strange Accounts both of its regular and irregular Motions, its Compositions and Quantities; from whence, by a sort of Algebra, they can cast up its Duration, Violence, and Extent: In these Calculations, some say, those Authors have been so exact, that they can, as our Philosophers say of Comets, state their Revolutions, and tell us how many Storms there shall happen to any Period of time, and when; and perhaps this may be with much about the same Truth.
It was a certain Sign Aristotle had never been at China; for, had he seen the 216th Volume of the Chinese Navigation, in the Library I am speaking of, a large Book in Double Folio, wrote by the Famous Mira-cho-cho-lasmo, Vice-Admiral of China, and said to be printed there about 2000 Years before the Deluge, in the Chapter of Tides he would have seen the Reason of all the certain and uncertain Fluxes and Refluxes of that Element, how the exact Pace is kept between the Moon and the Tides, with a most elaborate Discourse there, of the Power of Sympathy, and the manner how the heavenly Bodies Influence the Earthly: Had he seen this, the Stagyrite would never have Drowned himself, because he could not comprehend this Mystery.
'Tis farther related of this Famous Author, that he was no Native of this World, but was Born in the Moon, and coming hither to make Discoveries, by a strange Invention arrived to by the Virtuosoes of that habitable World, the Emperor of China prevailed with him to stay and improve his Subjects, in the most exquisite Accomplishments of those Lunar Regions; and no wonder the Chinese are such exquisite Artists, and Masters of such sublime Knowledge, when this Famous Author has blest them with such unaccountable Methods of Improvement.
There was abundance of vast Classes full of the Works of this wonderful Philosopher: He gave the how, the modus of all the secret Operations of Nature; and told us, how Sensation is convey'd to and from the Brain; why Respiration preserves Life; and how Locomotion is directed to, as well as perform'd by the Parts. There are some Anatomical Dissections of Thought, and a Mathematical Description of Nature's strong Box, the Memory, with all its Locks and Keys.
There you have that part of the Head turn'd in-side outward, in which Nature has placed the Materials of reflecting; and like a Glass Bee-hive, represents to you all the several Cells in which are lodg'd things past, even back to Infancy and Conception. There you have the Repository, with all its Cells, Classically, Annually, Numerically, and Alphabetically Dispos'd. There you may see how, when the perplext Animal, on the loss of a Thought or Word, scratches his Pole: Every Attack of his Invading Fingers knocks at Nature's Door, allarms all the Register-keepers, and away they run, unlock all the Classes, search diligently for what he calls for, and immediately deliver it up to the Brain; if it cannot be found, they intreat a little Patience, till they step into the Revolvary, where they run over little Catalogues of the minutest Passages of Life, and so in time never fail to hand on the thing; if not just when he calls for it, yet at some other time.
And thus, when a thing lyes very Abstruse, and all the rumaging of the whole House cannot find it; nay, when all the People in the House have given it over, they very often find one thing when they are looking for another.
Next you have the Retentive in the remotest part of the Place, which, like the Records in the Tower, takes Possession of all Matters, as they are removed from the Classes in the Repository, for want of room. These are carefully Lockt, and kept safe, never to be open'd but upon solemn Occasions, and have swinging great Bars and Bolts upon them; so that what is kept here, is seldom lost. Here Conscience has one large Ware-house, and the Devil another; the first is very seldom open'd, but has a Chink or Till, where all the Follies and Crimes of Life being minuted are dropt in; but as the Man seldom cares to look in, the Locks are very Rusty, and not open'd but with great Difficulty, and on extraordinary Occasions, as Sickness, Afflictions, Jails, Casualties, and Death; and then the Bars all give way at once; and being prest from within with a more than ordinary Weight, burst as a Cask of Wine upon the Fret, which for want of Vent, makes all the Hoops fly.
As for the Devil's Ware-house, he has two constant Warehouse-keepers, Pride and Conceit, and these are always at the Door, showing their Wares, and exposing the pretended Vertues and Accomplishments of the Man, by way of Ostentation.
In the middle of this curious part of Nature, there is a clear Thorough-fare, representing the World, through which so many Thousand People pass so easily, and do so little worth taking notice of, that 'tis for no manner of Signification to leave Word they have been here. Thro' this Opening pass Millions of things not worth remembring, and which the Register-Keepers, who stand at the Doors of the Classes, as they go by, take no notice of; such as Friendships, helps in Distress, Kindnesses in Affliction, Voluntary Services, and all sorts of Importunate Merit; things which being but Trifles in their own Nature, are made to be forgotten.
In another Angle is to be seen the Memory's Garden, in which her most pleasant things are not only Deposited, but Planted, Transplanted, Grafted, Inoculated, and obtain all possible Propagation and Encrease; these are the most pleasant, delightful, and agreeable things, call'd Envy, Slander, Revenge, Strife and Malice, with the Additions of Ill-turns, Reproaches, and all manner of Wrong; these are caressed in the Cabinet of the Memory, with a World of Pleasure never let pass, and carefully Cultivated with all imaginable Art.
There are multitudes of Weeds, Toys, Chat, Story, Fiction, and Lying, which in the great throng of passant Affairs, stop by the way, and crowding up the Place, leave no room for their Betters that come behind, which makes many a good Guess be put by, and left to go clear thro' for want of Entertainment.
There are a multitude of things very curious and observable, concerning this little, but very accurate thing, called Memory; but above all, I see nothing so very curious, as the wonderful Art of Wilful Forgetfulness; and as 'tis a thing, indeed, I never could find any Person compleatly Master of, it pleased me very much, to find this Author has made a large Essay, to prove there is really no such Power in Nature; and that the Pretenders to it are all Impostors, and put a Banter upon the World; for that it is impossible for any Man to oblige himself to forget a thing, since he that can remember to forget, and at the same time forget to remember, has an Art above the Devil.
In his Laboratory you see a Fancy preserv'd a la Mummy, several
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