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and of its own accord; for after that the included spirit begins to feed and nourish itself, it makes no haste to be gone, but is, as it were, linked to its earth: and this is pointed at by Proserpina her eating of pomegranate ; which, if she had not done, she had long since been recovered by Ceres with her torch, compassing the earth. Now, as concerning that spirit which is in metals and minerals, it is chiefly perchance restrained by the solidity of mass : but that which is in plants and animals, inhabits a porous body, and hath open passage to be gone
in a manner as it lists, were it not that it willingly abides of its own accord, by reason of the relish it finds in its entertainment. The second condition concerning the six months' custom, it is no other than an elegant description of the division of the year, seeing this spirit mixed with the earth appears above ground in vegetable bodies during the summer months, and in the winter sinks down again.
Now as concerning Theseus and Perithous, and their attempt to bring Proserpina quite away; the meaning of it is, that it oftentimes comes to pass, that some
more subtle spirits descending with divers bodies to the earth, never come to suck of any subaltern spirit, whereby to unite it unto them, and so to bring it away. But, on the contrary, are coagulated themselves, and never rise more, that Proserpina should be by that means augmented with inhabitants and dominion.
All that we can say concerning that sprig of gold is hardly able to defend us from the violence of the chemists, if in this regard they set upon us, seeing they promise by that their elixir to effect golden mountains, and the restoring of natural bodies, as it were from the portal of hell. But, concerning chemistry, and those perpetual suitors for that philosophical elixir, we know certainly that their theory is without grounds, and we suspect that their practice also is without certain reward. And therefore, omitting these, of this last part of the parable, this is my opinion, I am induced to believe by many figures of the ancients, that the conservation and restoration 'of natural bodies, in some sort, was not esteemed by them as a thing impossible to be attained, but as a thing abstruse and full of difficulties, and so they seem to intimate in this place, when they report that this one only sprig was found among infinite other trees in a huge and thick wood, which they feigned to be of gold, because gold is the badge of perpetuity, and to be artificially as it were inserted, because this effect is to be rather hoped for from art, than from any medicine, or simple or natural means.
METIS, OR COUNSEL. The ancient poets report that Jupiter took Metis to wife, whose name doth plainly signify counsel, and that she by him conceived. Which when he found, not tarrying the time of her deliverance, devours both her and that which she went withal, by which means Jupiter himself became with child, and was delivered of a wondrous birth; for out of his head or brain came forth Pallas armed.
The sense of this fable, which at first apprehension may seem monstrous and absurd, contains in it a secret of state, to wit, with what policy kings are wont to carry themselves towards their counsellors, whereby they may not only preserve their authority and majesty free and entire, but also that it may be the more extolled and dignified of the people : for kings being as it were tied and coupled in a nuptial bond to their counsellors, do truly conceive that communicating with them about the affairs of greatest importance, do yet detract nothing from their own majesty. But when any matter comes to be censured or decreed, which is a birth, there do they confine and restrain the liberty of their counsellors ; lest that which is done should seem to be hatched by their wisdom and judgement. So as at last kings, except it be in such matters as are distasteful and maligned, which they always will be sure to put off from themselves, do assume the honour and praise of all matters that are ruminated in council, and as it were, formed in the womb, whereby the resolution and execution, which, because it proceeds from power and implies necessity, is elegantly shadowed under the figure of Pallas armed, shall seem to proceed wholly from themselves. Neither sufficeth it, that it is done by the authority of the king, by his mere will and free applause, except
withal, this be added and appropriated as to issue out of his own head or brain, intiinating, that out of his own judgement, wisdom, and ordinance, it was only invented and derived.
THE SYRENS, OR PLEASURES. The fable of the Syrens seems rightly to have been applied to the pernicious allurements of pleasure, but in a very vulgar and gross manner. And, therefore, to me it appears, that the wisdom of the ancients have, with a farther reach or insight, strained deeper matter out of them, not unlike the grapes ill pressed; from which, though some liquor were drawn, yet the best was left behind. These Syrens are said to be the daughters of Achelous and Terpsichore one of the muses, who in their first being were winged, but after rashly entering into contention with the muses, were by them vanquished and deprived of their wings: of whose plucked out feathers the muses made themselves coronets, so as ever since that time all the muses have attired themselves with plumed heads, except Terpsichore only, that was mother to the Syrens. The habitation of the Syrens was in certain pleasant islands, from whence as soon as out of their watch-tower they discovered any ships - approaching, with their sweet tunes they would first entice and stay them, and having them in their power would destroy them. Neither was their song plain and single, but consisting of such variety of melodious tunes, so fitting and delighting the ears that heard them, as that it ra
vished and betrayed all passengers: and so great were the mischiefs they did, that these isles of the Syrens, even as far off as man can ken them, appeared all over white with the bones of unburied
For the remedying of this misery a double means was at last found out, the one by Ulysses the other by Orpheus. Ulysses, to make experiment of his device, caused all the ears of his company to be stopped with wax, and made himself to be bound to the main mast, with special commandment to his mariners not to be loosed, albeit himself should require them so to do. But Orpheus neglected and disdained to be so bound, with a shrill and sweet voice singing praises of the gods to his harp, suppressed the songs of the Syrens, aud so freed himself from their danger.
This fable hath relation to men's manners, and contains in it a manifest and most excellent parable : for pleasures do for the most proceed out of the abundance and superfluity of all things, and also out of the delights and jovial contentments of the mind : the which are wont suddenly, as it were, with winged enticements to ravish and rap mortal
But learning and education brings it so to pass, as that it restrains and bridles man's mind, making it sq to consider the ends and events of things, as that it clips the wings of pleasure. And this was greatly to the honour and renown of the muses ; for after that, by some examples, it was made manifest that by the power of philosophy vain pleasures might grow contemptible ; it presently grew