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himself, as often as he shall see occasion; 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 ascend the sky.
Without these allowances, how is it possible we modern wits should ever have an opportunity to introduce our collections, listed 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 regions, far to the north, it was hardly possibly 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.
*Herodot. L. 4.
THE learned Æolists + maintain the original cause of all things to be wind, from which 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.
That 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 system 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 resolve 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
* Inspiration, being grossly abused by fanatics, is, upon that view, exposed in this section.-BENTLEY.
† All pretenders to inspiration whatsoever.-H.
By what I have gathered out of ancient records, I find the compass of their doctrine took in two-andthirty 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 maxim was of much weight that since wind had the master share, as well as operation, in every compound, by consequence, those beings must be of chief excellence, wherein that primordium appears most prominently to abound; and therefore man is in the highest perfection of all created things, as having, by the great bounty of philosophers, been endued with three distinct animas or winds, to which the sage Æolists, with much liberality, have added a fourth, of equal necessity as well as ornament with the other three; by this quartum principium, taking in the four corners of the world: which gave occasion to that renowned cabalist Bumbastus,* of placing the body of a man in due position to the four cardinal 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 essentia, extracted from the other four. This quintessence is of a catholic use upon all emergencies of life, is improveable into all arts and sciences, 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 ren
*This is one of the names of Paracelsus: he was called Christophorus Theophrastus Paracelsus Bumbastus.-H.
der it more serviceable to mankind, they made use of several methods. At certain seasons of the year, you might behold the priests among them, in vast numbers, with their mouths gaping wide enough against a storm. At other times were to be seen several hundreds linked together in a circular chain, with every man 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 reason, with great propriety of speech, did usually call their bodies, their vessels. When, by these and the like performances, they were grown sufficiently replete, they would immediately depart, and disembogue, 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, secondly, they proved it by the following syllogism: 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
* This is meant of those seditious preachers, who blow up the seeds of rebellion, &c.-H.
little world, distorted the mouth, bloated the cheeks, and gave the eyes a terrible kind of relievo; at such junctures all their belches were received for sacred, the sourer the better, and swallowed with infinite consolation by their meagre devotees. And, to render these yet more complete, because the breath of man's life is in his nostrils, therefore the choicest, most edifying, and most enlivening belches, were very wisely conveyed through that vehicle, to give them a tincture as they passed.
Their gods were the four winds, whom they worshipped, as the spirits that pervade and enliven the universe, and as those from whom alone all inspiration can properly be said to proceed. However, the chief of these, to whom they performed the adoration of latria,* was the almighty was the almighty North, an ancient deity, whom the inhabitants of Megalopolis, in Greece, had likewise in the highest reverence: omnium deorum Boream maxime celebrant. This god, though endued with ubiquity, was yet supposed, by the profounder Æolists, to possess one peculiar habitation, or, (to speak in form,) a cœlum empyræum, wherein he was more intimately present. This was situated in a certain region, well known to the ancient Greeks, by them called, EROTIa, or the land of darkness. And although many controversies have arisen upon that matter, yet so much is undisputed, that from a region of the like denomination, the most refined Æolists have borrowed their original; whence in every age, the zealous among their priesthood have brought over their choicest inspiration, fetch
* Latria is that worship which is paid only to the supreme Deity. -H.
†The more zealous sectaries were the presbyterians of the Scottish discipline.
Pausan. L. 8.