The Fardle of Facions, by Johannes Boemus

The seconde Chapitre.

The false opinion of the Philosophre concernyng the begynnyng of man.

But the aunciente Philosophers, whiche without knowledge of God, and his truthe, many yeres ago, wrate vpon the natures of thinges, and thistories of times had another opinion of the originall of man. For certain of them, belieued the worlde euer to haue been, and that euer it should be, and man together with it to haue had no beginnyng. Certaine did holde that it had a beginnyng, and an ende it should haue, and a time to haue been, when man was not. For saie thei, the begynner of thynges visible, wrapped vp bothe heauen and earth at one instant, togither in one paterne, and so a distinction growing on betwixte these meynte bodies, the worlde to haue begon in suche ordre as we see. The aire by nature to be continually mouyng, and the moste firie parte of thesame, for the lightenesse thereof, moste highe to haue climbed. So that sonne and Moone, and the planetes all, participatyng of the nature of that lighter substaunce: moue so muche the faster, in how muche thei are of the more subtile parte. But that whiche was mixed with waterie moisture, to haue rested in the place, for the heauinesse thereof, and of the watery partes, the sea to haue comen: and the matier more compacte to haue passed into a clamminesse firste, and so into earth. This earth then brought by the heate of the sonne into a more fastenesse. And after by the same power puffed and swollen in the vppermoste parte, there gathered manye humours in sondry places, which drawing to ripenesse enclosed them selues in slymes and in filmes, as in the maresses of Egipt, and other stondynge waters we often se happen. And seynge the heate of thaier sokynly warmeth the cold ground and heate meint3 with moisture is apt to engendre: it came to passe by the gentle moisture of the night aire, and the comforting heate of the daie sonne, that those humours so riped, drawyng vp to the rinde of thearth, as though their tyme of childbirthe ware come, brake out of their filmes, and deliuered vpon the earth all maner of liuing thinges. Emong whiche those that had in them moste heate, became foules into the aire: those that ware of nature more earthie, became wormes and beastes of sondrie kindes: and where water surmounted, thei drewe to the elemente of their kinde, and had to name fishes. But afterwarde the earth beyng more parched by the heate of the Sonne, and the drouthe of the windes, ceased to bring furthe any mo greate beastes: and those that ware already brought furthe, (saie thei) mainteined, and encreased by mutualle engendrure, the varietie, and nombre. And they are of opinion that in the same wise, men ware engendred in the beginning. And as nature putte them forth emong other beastes, so liued they at the first an vnknowen lyfe wyldely emong them, vpon the fruictes, and the herbes of the fieldes. But the beastes aftre a while waxing noysome vnto them, they ware forced in commune for eche others sauftie to drawe into companies to resiste their anoyaunce, one helping another, and to sieke places to make their abiding in. And where at the firste their speache was confuse, by litle and litle they sayed it drewe to a distinctenesse, and perfeigthe difference: in sorte that they ware able to gyue name to all thinges. But for that they ware diuersely sparckled in diuers partes of the worlde, they holde also that their speache was as diuers and different. And herof to haue aftreward risen the diuersitie of lettres. And as they firste assembled into bandes, so euery bande to haue broughte forthe his nation. But these men at the firste voide of all helpe and experience of liuyng, ware bittrely pinched with hongre and colde, before thei could learne to reserue the superfluous plenty of the Somer, to supply the lacke of Winters barreinesse, whose bitter blastes, and hongrie pinynges, consumed many of them. Whiche thing when by experience dere bought, thei had learned: thei soughte bothe for Caues to defende them fro colde, and began to hourde fruictes. Then happe found out fire, and reason gaue rule of profite, and disprofite, and necessitie toke in hand to sette witte to schoole. Who gatheryng knowledge, and perceiuyng hymself to haue a helpe of his sences, more skilful then he thought, set hande a woorke, and practised connyng, to supplie all defaultes, whiche tongue and lettres did enlarge and distribute abrode.

Thei that had this opinion of the originall of manne, and ascribed not the same to the prouidence of God, affirmed the Etopiens to haue bene the firste of all menne. For thei coniectured that the ground of that countrie lyng nierest the heates of the Sonne must needes first of all other waxe warme. And the earth at that tyme beyng but clammie and softe, through the attemperaunce of that moysture and heate, man there first to haue bene fourmed, and there to haue gladlier enhabited (as natiue and naturall vnto him) then in any other place, when all places ware as yet straunge, and vnknowen, whiche aftre men soughte. Beginnyng therfore at them, after I haue shewed how the worlde is deuided into thre partes (as also this treatise of myne) and haue spoken a litle of Aphrique, I wyll shewe the situacion of Aethiope, and the maners of that people, and so forthe of al other regions and peoples, with suche diligence as we can.

3 Mingled. — A word of Chaucer’s time. “And in one vessel both together meint.” Fletcher’s Purple Island, iv., st. 21.

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