IT appears, then, that prescience by astronomy is possible under certain adaptation; and that alone it will afford premonition, as far as symptoms in the Ambient enable it to do so, of all such events as happen to men by the influence of the Ambient. These events are, from their commencement, always in conformity with the spiritual and corporeal faculties, and their occasional affections; as well as with the shorter or longer duration of those affections. They are also conformable with other things which, although not actually in man's immediate person, are still absolutely and naturally connected with him: in connection with his 1 and his rank; and they are also connected with all fortuitous circumstances which may occasionally befall him.
That the foreknowledge of these can be attained has already been demonstrated; and it remains to speak of the utility of the attainment. First, however, let it be said in what respect and with what view it is proposed to draw advantage from this science; if it be considered in its tendency to promote the good of the mind, no object more advantageous can surely be wanting to induce the world to rejoice and delight in it, since it offers an acquaintance with things divine and human: if it be considered in respect to the benefits it is capable of conferring on the body, its utility in this view also, will be found on comparison to excel that of all other arts conducive to the comforts of life, for it is of more general application and service than all the others together. And, although it may be objected to the art of prescience, that it does not co-operate towards the acquirement of riches or glory, let it also be remembered that the same objection attaches to every other art and science; since there it not one which can of itself produce either riches or glory, not yet is there one which is on that plea deemed useless: it seems, therefore, that the science of prognostication, with its high qualifications and its aptitude to the most important objects, does not, in any greater degree, deserve to be condemned.
In general, however, the persons who attack and reprobate it as being useless, do not pay due regard to the manner in which it becomes necessary; but deny its utility on the specious argument that it is
superfluous and puerile to attempt to foreknow things which must inevitably come to pass: thus considering it in a mode at once abstracted, unlearned, and unfair. For, in the first place, this fact ought to be kept in view, that events which necessarily and fully happen, whether exciting fear or creating joy, if arriving unforeseen, will either overwhelm the mind with terror or destroy its composure by sudden delight; if, however, such events should have been foreknown, the mind will have been previously prepared for their reception, and will preserve an equable calmness, by having been accustomed to contemplate the approaching event as though it were present, so that, on its actual arrival, it will be sustained with tranquillity and constancy.
In the next place, it must not be imagined that all things happen to mankind, as though every individual circumstance were ordained by divine decree and some indissoluble supernal cause; nor is it to be thought that all events are shown to proceed from one single inevitable fate, without being influenced by the interposition of any other agency. Such an opinion is entirely inadmissable; for it is on the contrary most essential to observe, not only the heavenly motion which, perfect in its divine institution and order, is eternally regular and undeviating; but also the variety which exists in earthly things, subjected to and diversified by the institutions and courses of nature, and in connection with which the superior cause operates in respect to the accidents produced.
It is further to be remarked that man is subject, not only to events applicable to his own private and individual nature, but also to others arising from general causes. He suffers, for instance, by pestilences, inundations, or conflagrations, produced by certain extensive changes in the Ambient, and destroying multitudes at once; since a greater and more powerful agency must of course always absorb and overcome one that is more minute and weaker. In great changes, therefore, where a stronger cause predominates, more general affections, like those just mentioned, are put in operation, but affections which attach to one individual solely are excited when his own natural constitution peculiar to himself may be overcome by some opposing impulse of the Ambient, however small or faint. And in this point of view it is manifest that all events whatsoever, whether general or particular, of which the primary cause is strong and irresistible, and against which no other contrary agency has sufficient power to interpose, must of necessity be wholly fulfilled; and that events indicated by a minor cause must of course be prevented and annihilated, when some other agency may be found contending for an opposite effect; if, however, no such opposing agency can be found, they also must be fulfilled, in due succession to the Primary cause. Nevertheless, the fulfilment of events thus indicated must not be ascribed solely to the vigour of the cause producing them, nor to any inevitable fate, but rather to the absence of any opposing influence capable of prevention. And thus, with all things whatsoever
which trace their causes and origin to nature, the case is exactly similar; for stones, 1 plants, animals, wounds, passions, and diseases, all will of necessity operate on man to a certain degree; and they fail to do so, if antidotes be found and applied against their influence.
In exercising prognostication, therefore, strict care must be taken to foretell future events by that natural process only which is admitted in the doctrine here delivered; and, setting aside all vain and unfounded opinions, to predict that, when the existing agency is manifold and great, and of a power impossible to be resisted, the corresponding event which it indicates shall absolutely take place; and also, in other cases, that another event shall not happen when its exciting causes are counteracted by some interposing influence. It is in this manner that experienced physicians, accustomed to the observation of diseases, foresee that some will be inevitably mortal, and that others are susceptible of cure.
Thus, when any opinion is given by the astrologer with respect to the various accidents liable to happen, it should be understood that he advances nothing more than this proposition; viz. that, by the property inherent in the Ambient, any conformation of it, suitable to a particular temperament, being varied more or less, will produce in that temperament some particular affection. And it is also to be understood that he ventures this opinion with the same degree of confidence, as that with which a physician may declare that a certain wound will increase or grow putrid; or a man acquainted with metals say that the magnet 2 will attract iron. But neither the increase nor putrefaction of the wound nor the magnet's attraction of iron, is ordained by any inevitable law, although these consequences must necessarily follow, in due obedience to the first principles of the existing order of nature, when no means of prevention can be found and applied. But, however, neither of these consequences will take place, when such antidotes shall be presented as will naturally prevent them--and a similar consideration should be given to the predictions of the astrologer--because, if garlick be rubbed
on the magnet, iron will experience no attraction; 1 and if proper medicines be applied to the wound, it will cease to increase or to putrefy. And therefore all events which happen to mankind take place also in the regular course of nature, when no impediments thereto are found or known: but again, on the other hand, if any impediments or obstructions be found in the way of events which may be predicted by the regular course of nature to happen, such events will either not take place at all, or, if they should take place, will be much diminished in their force and extent.
The same order and consequence exist in all cases, whether the events have a general or only a particular operation; and it may therefore well be demanded, why prescience is believed to be possible as far as it regards general events, and why it is allowed to be serviceable in preparing for their approach; while in particular instances its power and use are altogether denied. That the weather and the seasons, and the indications of the fixed stars, as well as the configurations of the Moon, afford means of prognostication, many persons admit; and they exercise this foreknowledge for their own preservation and comfort, adapting their constitutions to the expected temperature, by cooling and refreshing things for the summer, and by warm things for the winter. They also watch the significations of the fixed stars, to avoid dangerous weather, in making voyages by sea; and they notice the aspects of the
[paragraph continues] Moon, when at the full, in order to direct the copulation of their herds and flocks, and the setting of plants or sewing of seeds: and there is not an individual who considers these general precautions as impossible or unprofitable. Still, however, these same persons withhold their assent to the possibility of applying prescience to particular cases; such, for instance, as any particular excess or diminution of cold or heat, whether arising out of the peculiar temperament producing the original cold or heat, or from the combination of other properties; nor do they admit that there are any means of guarding against many of these particular circumstances. And yet, if it be clear that persons, who prepare themselves by cooling things, are less affected by any general heat of the weather, there seems no reason for supposing that a similar preparation would not be equally effectual against any particular conjuncture oppressed by immoderate heat. It appears, however, that this idea, of the impracticability of attaining foreknowledge of particular circumstances, must originate solely in the mere difficulty of the acquirement; which difficulty is certainly rendered peculiarly arduous by the necessity of conducting the enquiry with the greatest accuracy and precision: and to this it must be added, that, as there is rarely found a person capable of arranging the whole subject so perfectly that no part of the opposing influence can escape his attention, it frequently happens that predictions are not properly regulated by due consideration of that opposing influence, and that the effects are at once considered fully liable to be brought to pass, agreeably to the primary agency and without any intervention. This defect, of not sufficiently considering the opposing influence, has naturally induced an opinion that all future events are entirely unalterable and inevitable. But, since the fore-knowledge of particular circumstances, although it may not wholly claim infallibility, seems yet so far practicable as to merit consideration, so the precaution it affords, in particular circumstances, deserves in like manner to be attended to; and, if it be not of universal advantage, but useful in few instances only, it is still most worthy of estimation, and to be considered of no moderate value. Of this, the Ægyptians seem to have been well aware; their discoveries of the great faculties of this science have exceeded those of other nations, and they have in all cases combined the medical art with astronomical prognostication. And, had they been of opinion that all expected events are unalterable and not to be averted, they never would have instituted any propitiations, remedies, and preservatives against the influence of the Ambient, whether present or approaching, general or particular. But, by means of the science called by them Medical Mathematics, they combined with the power of prognostication the concurrent secondary influence arising out of the institutions and courses of nature, as well as the contrary influence which might be procured out of nature's variety; and by means of these they rendered the indicated agency useful and advantageous: since their astronomy pointed out to them the kind of
temperament liable to be acted upon, as well as the events about to proceed from the Ambient, and the peculiar influence of those events, while their medical skill made them acquainted with everything suitable or unsuitable to each of the effects to be procured. And it is by this process that remedies for present and preservatives against future disorders are to be acquired: for, without astronomical knowledge, medical aid would be most frequently unavailing; since the same identical remedies are not better calculated for all persons whatsoever, than they are for all diseases whatsoever. 1
The practicability and utility of prescience having been thus far briefly explained, the ensuing discourse must be proceeded with. It commences, introductorily, with an account of the efficient properties of each of the heavenly bodies, taken from the rules of the ancients, whose observations were founded in nature. And, first, of the influences of the planets and of the Sun and Moon.
8:1 The Greek word for this, γοναι, though found in the Elzevir edition from which this translation is made, does not appear in other copies; the Basle edition of 1553 says merely, η τε τιμη και το αξιωμα, "honour and rank," which is the sense also given in the Latin translation of Perugio, 1646, without any mention of "offspring."
10:1 In allusion to the sympathetic powers anciently attributed to certain stones.
10:2 Whalley, in translating this chapter, makes the following remark on this mention of the magnet: "However much later it was that the loadstone became known in Europe, what is mentioned of it in this chapter makes it evident that it was known in Ægypt, where Ptolemy lived, in his time."--That worthy translator forgot (if indeed he ever knew) that the loadstone's property of attracting iron was known to Thales, and commented on by Plato and Aristotle, all of whom lived some centuries, more or less, before Ptolemy. It is its polarity that was not known until the 11th or 12th century; and the French say that the earliest notice of that polarity is found in a poem of Guyot of Provence, who was at the Emperor Frederick's Court at Mentz in 1181.--See the French Encyclopædia, &c.
11:1 Respecting the effect here asserted to be produced on the magnet by garlick, I have found the following mention in a book called "The Gardener's Labyrinth," printed at London in 1586. "Here also I thought not to ouerpasse the maruellous discord of the adamant-stone and garlike, which the Greekes name to be an Antipatheia or naturall contrarietie betweene them; for such is the hatred or contrarietie between these two bodies (lacking both hearing and feeling), that the adamant rather putteth away, than draweth to it, iron, if the same afore be rubbed with garlike; as Plutarchus hath noted, and, after him, Claudius Ptolemæus. Which matter, examined by diuers learned, and founde the contrarie, caused them to judge, that those skilful men (especially Ptolemie) ment the same to be done with the Egyptian Garlike; which Dioscorides wrote to be small garlike, and the same sweete in taste, possessing a bewtifull head, tending unto a purple colour. There be which attribute the same to Ophioscoridon, which Antonius Microphonius Biturix, a singular learned man, and wel practised in sundry skilles, uttered this approoued secrete to a friend whom he loued."
In the same book, the "Ophioscoridon" is thus spoken of: "There is another wild garlike which the Greekes name Ophioscoridon; in English Ramsies; growing of the owne accord in the fallow fieldes."
Cornelius Agrippa (according to the English translation) has stated that the presence of the diamond also neutralizes the attractive power of the magnet. But as that great magician was somewhat inclined to quibbling, it is not impossible that by the word he uses for "diamond" (viz. adamas) he may mean the adamant or loadstone; which would reduce his assertion merely to this, that one magnet will counteract another.
13:1 This seems to explain the origin of the old alliance between medicine and. astrology, so universally preserved until almost within the last century.