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to satisfy her lust in company with a bull, so that by his wretched industry, and pernicious device, that monster Minotaur, the destruction of so many hopeful youths, took his accursed and infamous beginning; and studying to cover and increase one mischief with another, for the security and preservation of this monster he invented and built a labyrinth, a work for intent and use most nefarious and wicked, for skill and workmanship, famous and excellent. Afterwards, that he might not be noted only for works of mischief, but be sought after as well for remedies, as for instruments of destruction, he was the author of that ingenious device concerning the clue of thread, by which the labyrinth was made passable without any let. This Dædalus was persecuted by Minos with great severity, diligence, and inquiry, but he always found the means to avoid and escape his tyranny. Lastly, he taught his son Icarus to fly, but the novice, in ostentation of this art, soaring too high, fell into the sea and was drowned.
The parable seems to be thus : in the beginning of it may be noted that kind of envy or emulation that lodgeth, and wonderfully sways and domineers amongst excellent artificers, there being no kind of people more reciprocally tormented with bitter and deadly hatred than they.
The banishment also of Dædalus, a punishment inflicted on him against the rules of policy and providence, is worth the noting : for artificers have this prerogative to find entertainment and welcome in all countries, so that exile to an excellent workman
can hardly be termed a punishment, whereas other conditions and states of life can scarce live out of their own country. The admiration of artificers is propagated and increased in foreign and strange nations, seeing it is a natural and inbred disposition of men to value their own countrymen, in respect of mechanical works, less than strangers.
Concerning the use of mechanical arts, that which follows is plain. The life of man is much beholden to them, seeing many things, conducing to the ornament of religion, to the grace of civil discipline, and to the beautifying of all human kind, are extracted out of their treasuries : and yet notwithstanding, from the same magazine or store-house are produced instruments both of lust and death; for to omit the wiles of bands, we well know how far exquisite poisons, warlike engines, and such like mischiefs, the effects of mechanical inventions, do exceed the Minotaur himself in malignity and savage cruelty.
Moreover that of the labyrinth is an excellent allegory, whereby is shadowed the nature of mechanical sciences, for all such handicraft works as are more ingenious and accurate, may be compared to a labyrinth, in respect of subtilty and divers intricate passages, and in other plain resemblances, which by the eye of judgement can hardly be guided and discerned, but only by the line of experience.
Neither is it impertinently added, that he which invented the intricate nooks of the labyrinth, did also shew the commodity of the clue: for mechanical arts are of ambiguous use, serving as well for hurt as for remedy, and they have in a manner power both to loose and bind themselves.
Unlawful trades, and so by consequence, arts themselves, are often persecuted by Minos, that is by laws, which do condemn them, and probibit men to use them. Nevertheless they are hid and retained every where, finding lurking holes and places of receit, which was well observed by Tacitus of the mathematicians and figure-flingers of his time, in a thing not so much unlike; “ Genus hominum quod in “ civitate nostra semper et retinebitur et vetabitur.” There is a kind of men that will always abide in our city, though always forbidden. And yet notwithstanding unlawful and curious arts of what kind soever, in tract of time, when they cannot perform what they promise, do fall from the good opinion that was held of them, no otherwise than Icarus fell down from the skies, they grow to be contemned and scorned, and so perish by too much ostentation. And to say the truth, they are not so happily restrained by the reins of law, as bewrayed by their own vanity.
ERICTHONIUS, OR IMPOSTURE.
The poets fable that Vulcan solicited Minerva for her virginity, and impatient of denial, with an inflamed desire, offered her violence, but in struggling his seed fell upon the ground, whereof came Ericthonius, whose body, from the middle upward, was of a comely and apt proportion, but his thighs and legs like the tail of an eel, small and deformed. To
which monstrosity, he being conscious, became the first inventor of the use of chariots, whereby that part of his body which was well proportioned might be seen, and the other which was ugly and uncomely might be hid.
This strange and prodigious fiction may seem to shew that art, which, for the great use it hath of fire, is shadowed by Vulcan, although it labour by much striving with corporeal substances to force nature, and to make her subject to it, she being for her industrious works rightly represented by Minerva, yet seldom or never attains the end it aims at, but with much ado and great pains, wrestling as it were with her, comes short of its purpose, and produceth certain imperfect births, and lame works, fair to the eye, but weak and defective in use, which many impostors, with much subtilty and deceit, set to view, and carry about, as it were in triumph, as may for the most part be noted in chemical productions, and other mechanical subtilties and novelties, especially when, rather prosecuting their intent, than reclining their errors, they rather strive to overcome nature by force; than sue for her embracements by due obsequiousness and observance.
DEUCALION, OR RESTITUTION.
The poets say that the people of the old world being destroyed by a general deluge, Deucalion and Pyrrha were only left alive; who praying with fervent and zealous devotion, that they might know by what means to repair mankind, had answer from an oracle that they should obtain what they desired, if taking the bones of their mother they cast them behind their backs; which at first struck them with great amazement and despair, seeing, all things being defaced by the flood, it would be an endless work to find their mother's sepulchre, but at length they understood that by bones, the stones of the earth, seeing the earth was the mother of all things, were signified by the oracle.
This fable seems to reveal a secret of nature, and to correct an error familiar to men's conceits : for through want of knowledge men think that things may take renovation and restoration from their putrefaction and dregs, no otherwise than the phoenix from the ashes, which in no case can be admitted, seeing such kind of materials, when they have fulfilled their periods, are unapt for the beginnings of such things: we must therefore look back to more common principles.
NEMESIS, OR THE VICISSITUDE OF
THINGS. Nemesis is said to be a goddess venerable unto all, but to be feared of none but potentates and Fortune’s favourites. She is thought to be the daughter of Oceanus and Nox. She is pourtrayed with wings on her shoulders, and on her head a coronet, bearing in her right hand a javelin of ash, and in her left a pitcher with the similitudes of Æthiopians engraven on it; and lastly, she is described sitting on an hart.