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A36433 A voyage to the world of Cartesius written originally in French, translated into English by T. Taylor, of Magdalen Colledge in Oxford.; Voyage du monde de Descartes. English Daniel, Gabriel, 1649-1728.; Taylor, Thomas, 17th cent. 1694 (1694) Wing D202; ESTC R29697 171,956 322

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difficulty which may be easily guess'd I had to preserve the strict Law of probability in my History will persuade those that shall read it that I envyed Lucian more than once this his so happy Expedient Nor can I but acknowledge the same Yet I must add that a second Consideration would inevitably have determin'd me to a different Choice although decency would have allow'd me to make use of the former I am a Philosopher And the Profession I pretend to bars all admittance unto such a management The Character of a Philospher is always to speak Truth or to think he does at least indeavour to be thought to speak it For me to devest my self of all gayety of Humour and then to affect it to follow the Example of the greatest Enemy the Philosophers have known would have been poorly to support a Quality I extreamly value my self upon So that I should be cautious of using the like Preamble and acquainting my Readers that all they were to expect of me should be false I certify them therefore from this time forward that I have a quite contrary design and that I mean to set off my History with an Air of Truth such as may be able to persuade the most Incredulous did they layby Prejudice in the reading of it that what I say is most undoubtedly true But such is the Nature of Prejudice and Prepossession that after all the pains I have taken to appear credible I am conscious notwithstanding I shall not be believ'd Let it be how it will For after all I will by no means offer violence to the Judgment of my Readers Now see in few Words the design of the Work I therein relate the Particulars of a Voyage which I made to the World of Cartesius I begin the Voyage very advantagiously upon an occasion that Fortune presented me and which seems worthy to be related Through the whole Thred of the History as I fall in with Emergencies I explain with as little difficulty and as pleasantly as the Subject will bear the most principal Points of Cartesius his Philosophy I examine many of them in the way and refute the greatest part of them in a manner clear as I think and intelligible enough and which commonly has in it something new and unreceiv'd I have made it my business to diversify and enliven a Subject naturally dry and melancholy as well by the variety of Accidents which give me occasion to digress upon them as by some peculiar and not incurious Instances of the History of Cartesianism And likewise with some brisk and warm Discourses of such Gentlemen as no one will be uneasy to hear Dispute To conclude my last and most principal Business to the Examination and Discussion of the general System of Cartesius his World and his managery of the chiefest Parts of it as he proposes it in his Book of Principles and in that which is Intituled A Treatise concerning Light or the World of M. Descartes which he mentions so often in his Letters to Father Mersennus but was not printed till after his death And I doubt not in that discussion to establish this one Proposition that hath been often advanc'd but still repuls'd and still I am confident will be as a Paradox to many That there is scarce any Philosophical Hypothesis more unjust and incoherent or whose Conclusions have less connexion with its Principles than that of Cartesius That Proposition I say hath always seem'd a Paradox because it thwarts the generally receiv'd Opinion of that Philosophy No one will deny but that some of his Principles being but meer Suppositions without Proof the Mind cannot find that satisfaction it demands But what they stand upon is That these Suppositions being once receiv'd all the rest doth follow in so direct a Line in so great order and perspicuity that the evidence of the Consqeuences expanding it self as I may say upon the Premises the mind begins of its own accord to imbrace for Truths what were before propos'd as bare Suppositions This may be true of some parts of his Philosophy and particularly of those wherein he treats of the Nature of some Sensible Qualities in which a Man must almost be forc'd to acquiesce that shall read them without Prepossession But I am of opinion it is false in respect of the general Constructure of his World and the Consequences he draws from it 'T is this part of his Philosophy which I shall more throughly examine and it is this of all other that hath hitherto best escap'd the Censure Plenty of Objections have been made against his Metaphysicks against the New Demonstrations he hath pretended to give for the existence of a Deity his distinction of the Soul and Body his System of Light his Rules of Motion as also those concerning Reflection and Refraction Scarce any yet have given him disturbance upon the Hypothesis of his Vortexes which is notwithstanding the Foundation of all he says touching the motion of the Planets the ebbing and flowing of the Sea the gravity and levity of Bodies and of his whole System concerning Light of which he himself has been so very fond I will not say but they have augmented the Difficulties upon each of these last Heads since a great many have attack'd him thereupon But I only say they have seldom or never examin'd them with relation to his general Hypothesis by which I undertake to shew that commonly what he writes of particular Matters is inconsistent with the whole and it is mostly in that the Relation of my Voyage hath something altogether new For what remains if I shall succeed in this last Affair which was almost the only occasion of this Enterprize I shall glory to have been the most mischievous Adversary Cartesius ever met with For that which distinguishes that great Man from all the other Philosophers is not the lucky Explication of some particular Phenomena's in Nature that Praise is shar'd by an abundance of Philosophers both Ancient and Modern but that vastness of Capacity and extent of Genius whereby he could frame an intire System of the World so well contriv'd that taking for granted a few Principles most simple and easy to be understood he could give a reason for all the Occurrencies of Nature It is that Attempt as most believe by which he obtain'd his end and which hath procur'd him so much Honour and Reputation To shew then his System to be full of Contradictions that it is incoherent that one Supposition destroys another is to undertake him in his strongest hold and to wound him in the part that is most sensible We shall see in the pursuit of the History what ought to be our Thoughts of it ERRATA PHaenomena's read Phaenomena where-ever it is p. 2. l. 15. r. lies ib. l. 35. r. scouted p. 18. l. 9. r the. p. 19. l. 8. r. humors all those Natural Functions and all the. ib. l. 27. r. Britanny l. 29. r. of her p. 21. l. 9. r.
caused meerly by the vibration of the Threds wherewith the optick Nerve is wrought And it is on Account of that vibration that a Man falling rudely on his Head or who walking in the dark runs his Face against a Post sees a sudden flash of Light like the glaring of a Candle It tortures the Naturalists to explain the manner how that vibration causes us to perceive all luminous and bright Objects Upon what Hypothesis soever they proceed they meet with inconquerable Difficulties But at the bottom and in earnest it is no more than this He then went on in explaining to me all the Properties of Light and the Demonstrations he hath given concerning the Reflection and Refraction of its Rays He was very large and copious upon that Subject For that piece of his Philosophy together with that where he explains the Phaenomena's of the Loadstone is his darling and beloved Theam I shall not descend to the Particulars of that Discourse for fear of wearying my Reader as also frightning some to whom Lines crossing one another with A. B. C. are as terrible as Magick and the sight thereof enough to make them shut the Book and never open it after And this is the Reason I will make use of them as little as possibly I can He would not for any thing whatever have forgotten to remark to me those little channel'd Parts whose Service is so very necessary to him nor the way that they are wrought Amongst the Parts of the first Element which are made of the filings of the Second there are some that by reason of their irregular Figure are not so rapid as the other Those of this Nature easily hook themselves together and make up little Bodies larger than the other parts of the first Element and as in their turning about they are often obliged to pass betwixt the Balls of the second Element Numb 90. they accommodate themselves for that Passage and as they squeeze betwixt them wrythe themselves into the Shape of a Skrew or become like little Pillars chamfer'd with three Furrows or gutterwork'd and tourn'd as you see the Shell of a Snail They are chiefly to be found toward the Poles of the Vortex having their Determination toward the Centre Now whereas some of them enter by way of the Northern Pole others by the Southern whilst the Vortex turns upon its Axis it is apparent to every Cartesian that those which proceed from the North-Coast must be turned Shell-wise a different way from those that proceed from the South An Instance M. Descartes took care to inculcate throughly in me For it is principally upon that the Power and Vertue of the Loadstone do depend Numb 91. But it shall not be long said he before you see some particular Effect of these little channel'd Parts Take notice said he how things go in that Star that 's next you How some of the chamfer'd Parts that come fromward the Poles of their Vortex mingle themselves with the Matter of that Star and not being able to keep pace with it in Motion are thrown out of the Star just as the scummy Parts of a boiling Liquor are separated from the other and rise above the Liquor See how they link themselves to one another and by that Union lose the quality of the first Element and take on them that of the third Upon their gathering and condensing in a very great quantity it is manifest they must hinder the action of the first Element whereby it pushes the Balls of the second Element to the Circumference Fig. Seq and consequently must interrupt that Motion and Pressure in which Light consists And now you may see exactly what those Stains are which you sometimes discover on the Face of the Sun of your World They are nothing else but the drossy and scummy Parts of the third Element gathered in Heaps and expanded on its Surface Now the wreek and scattering of those Stains which are still a gathering and as easily dissipanated diffusing it self far and near throughout the Circumference of the Vortex will constitute a thin and rarify'd Body like the Air about your Earth Numb 92. at least the finest part of it and I have formerly observed that that of the Vortex of your Sun is extended as far as the Sphere of Mercury Whilst M. Descartes was thus busied in disclosing to me all his Mysteries Father Mersennus and the old Gentleman were diverting themselves by Vaulting from Vortex to Vortex and were but very ordinary Company to Aristotle's Plenipotentiaries who star'd confusedly and were exceedingly out of Countenance and who now and then joyned them now and then came to us comprehending not a Syllable all the time in that Galimauphry of Vortexes of the first second and third Element of ragged and branched Parts c. for having only Peripatetick Ideas they saw not so much as a Pins Head of all we saw in that immense Space And they were much surprized to hear us entertain our selves seriously with such idle Fopperies and Chimera's for such they reckoned all we said so far as to believe we meerly designed it to expose and banter them and doubtless they had highly resented it had not M. Descartes forestall'd them by telling them separate Spirits conceiv'd things only in reference to some principal Ideas they had formerly been possessed with and as they saw no Matter in the Space where we most distinctly beheld it so he himself with all the Eyes in his Head was never able to perceive substantial Forms in Bodies absolute Accidents and intentional Species though at the same time the Peripateticks talkt of them as Things they saw as clear as the Noon-day Mean time of these Occurrences the old Gentleman in haste came and acquainted Descartes That on that Coast he had been on there were three or four Vortexes that began to jumble and fall to Loggerheads and that if he did not speedily come and part them there needed nothing more to tear and shatter all his World in pieces Poor honest old Gentleman said M. Descartes That which makes him so solicitous for my World is one of the finest Phenomena's that can possibly be seen and by which I 'll demonstrate to you how Comets are begot in yours and how in time a fix'd Star may become a Planet Let us go and cure him of his Fears When we came there we found two Stars whose Surface was almost wholly overgrown with Scurf and whose Vortexes began to be drain'd and suckt up by those round about them If you have read my Book of Principles and my Treatise concerning Light says M. Descartes to me you will easily conclude in what this little bustle and disorder ought to end and I strange said he to the old Gentleman you should be frighted at it Call to mind then what I there teach how that which preserves a Vortex in the midst of several others is that impulse caus'd by the Matter of the Star in its attempt
have ingaged too inconsiderately for an Affair of that Weight and Moment Can we apprehend a greater Idea of God Almighty than that which M. Descartes hath given An Idea that he derived not from the Visible Creatures that sleight and faint Ray of an infinitely perfect Being but which his Mind found impressed upon it self and which left no room for him to doubt of the Existence of a Sovereign Being though he possessed neither Heaven nor Earth nor any Body nor indeed any other Soul than his Can the Omnipotence of a Deity be advanced to a more transcendent Degree than he hath done it God according to him can cause That Two and Three shall not make Five That four Sides shall not bé requisite to make a Square That the Whole shall be no bigger than One of its Parts Effects that other Philosophers never scruple to place out of the Reach of the God head But has not an Author of a little Piece called A Letter wrote to a Learned Jesuite clearly shewn That 't is Descartes World that is described in the first Chapter of Genesis Another Book hath since been publish'd in Holland with the Title of Cartèsius Mosaisans and is to the same effect The Author of the Treatise concerning The Influence of the Stars describes the End of the World upon Descartes his Hypothesis Monsieur Scottanus in a late Apology that he offered for M. Descartes against those that Endeavoured to render him obnoxious to the Suspicion of Atheism observes to us the Respect he had for Religion certifying us That one of his Reasons for the reducing his Meditations to the Number of Six was the Consideration of the Six Days which God imployed in the Creation of the World If we may credit Father Mersennus a Learned and Noted Minim and an intimate Acquaintance of Descartes we shall find nothing of a more Christian Temper and that inspires us more ravishingly with the Love of God than Descartes Philosophy In short there is nothing more edifying than the Letter that Philosopher wrote to the Sorbon Doctors in dedicating his Meditations to them which is so true that not long since a Friend of mine not wont to be very Nice in those Matters having read by chance the Letter at my House which touched him and finding farther the Title of Meditations in the Front of the Work he seriously entreated me to lend him that Godly Book to entertain his Devotions during Passion Week This so strange Variety of Opinions and Relations counter to one another of a World otherwise of no little Renown provoked my Curiosity and induced me to be convinced of the Truth or Falsity of the Reports in my own Person All the Difficulty was to find a Guide to conduct me to a Country to which there was no Road passable either for Horse or Foot for Coach or Barge by Land or Sea But presently after my Resolve I was happily favoured with the most lucky Occasion that could be wish'd for the undertaking my Voyage with all the Pleasure and Ease imaginable Having sojourned some Months in a Country Town I strook up Acquaintance with an Old Standard of about eighty Years a Man of Parts and that formerly had conversed much with M. Descartes That Commerce had begot in him an unaccountable Zeal for the Tenets of that Philosopher and exasperated him to declaim against the Method and Opinions of the School the Prejudices of Childhood and taught him to make external Elogies on the Cartesian Philosophy He had so given himself up to this Opinion that he could no ways suffer in Point of Philosophy any one to deviate never so little from it In a Conference that we had together upon such sort of Things I desired to know if he kept up his Correspondence with any Cartesians of Worth and Reputation No said he I have broke with all Sorts of Persons that call themselves by that Name I can no longer find among them that Zeal and Observance the first Cartesians without Reserve attributed to that great Man Every one now a days builds Systems according to his own Humor and allows himself the Liberty of Adding or Retrenching what he pleases in the Platform M. Descartes hath laid which is a concern of that critical Nature as cannot be once touch'd without spoiling the whole Since the Death of the Famous M. Chersilier I have forbore writing to any single Person for I am persuaded That the pure and unmixt Cartesianism was buried with him You Gentlemen reply'd I are of a strange Constitution All the Prefaces of your Books are fill'd with Invectives and Raileries against those who implicitely espouse the Sentiments of an Author and profess they will never desert him It looks as if you and the rest of the new Philosophers had banded together in an offensive Confederacy to make continual War upon the Followers of Aristotle on that Account and at the same time you fall into the same Error for which ye reproach them and are an hundred times more bigotted to your Descartes than they to Aristotle For my part I know not how to blame the Conduct of those that are somewhat moderate which you are so enrag'd against If their Reason hath discover'd to them another Path than what M. Descartes trod in why are you angry if they follow it Aristotle held Possession a long time and reign'd absolute Monarch in Philosophy The Prescription and Vassalage of several Ages confirm'd his Title of Prince of Philosophers Descartes is a Rebel who durst encourage a Party against his Prince What Right has he to demand a greater Submission unto him than he was willing to allow to Aristotle Because answer'd he Truth and Reason are manifestly on his side That reply'd I is exactly the first step Rebellion ever makes to inforce the justice of its Cause and proclaim the publick Welfare does depend upon it But notwithstanding Sir pursu'd I I am more inclin'd to Neutrality in this Affair than you imagine I have determin'd to dive to the bottom of Descartes's Philosophy of which I have as yet but a dark and confus'd Knowledg having never studied him in his own Works but in the Books of his Disciples as soon as they appear'd and that irregularly and without Method But as I am oblig'd to leave this Country very speedily and have but a short time to advantage my self by your Ability in this Affair therefore it was that I enquir'd Whether you had any Communication of Letters or Friendship with any good Cartesian of Paris to whose Acquaintance you might recommend me and who would be willing to instruct a Scholar so apt and forward as I pretend to be That Proposal extreamly inspirited my old Gentleman and I perceiv'd a sudden Joy diffus'd it self all over his Countenance Ever since I knew you said he taking me by the Hand I have observ'd in you a passionate Concern for Truth which is the best and first Disposition Descartes requires to attain unto it Trouble
the great Portions call'd by him Vortexes are compos'd to turn about their proper Center But it is impossible they adjoyn to conceive the division and motion of Matter upon his Principles For as to the division it can be conceiv'd but by one of these two ways either by supposing betwixt the Parts divided some empty Spaces or imagining those Intervals fill'd up with some Bodies or Matter of a different Nature from the Parts And thus though Nature every where is full we conceive four Dice laid close to one another as four distinct cubical Bodies for though there is nothing of a void betwixt them we yet perceive a little Interval fill'd with Air that hinders our Conception of them as of one single Body But by the Principles of Cartesianism we can conceive it neither one way nor the other For we must not suppose a Vacuity betwixt the Parts divided since a Vacuum is utterly thrown out of that System Nor is it easier to conceive a Body of a different Nature since the distinction of Bodies according to the Author of the System is not to be conceiv'd till after the agitation and motion of Matter That division therefore is an Absurdity As to the business of Motion that 's in a worse Case still for how is it possible to conceive that all those cubical Parts that are universally hard impenetrable and incapable of Compression should turn about their Center and break in pieces unless they find or make a Vacuum For the diminutiveness of them will not help us out since let them be as little as you can suppose them they are still hard and impenetrable as Adamant and all combine together to desist the Motion of each Particular That Hypothesis therefore is indefensible and Descartes his very first Supposition is deny'd These Monsieur were the first Passes these Gentlemen made at me the first Blows I was to ward off in the Defence of the System of your World They had been taken out of the Books of very Ingenious Men and whereas the Gentlemen your Disciples as if it was their Maxim and their Method never to be put out of their own Road which is barely to give an Exposition and a Proof of their Doctrin trouble not much their Heads with Objections that are made them since they are not oblig'd to the formal Answer of the Desk these Arguments pass'd for unanswerable and such as at the very entrance of Dispute baffled the Cartesian But the more impregnable my Adversaries appear'd in so good Accoutrements and Arms the more my Honour was advanc'd in disabling and disarming them As I had diligently read your Works and above all the Book of Principles and that Intitled a Treatise concerning Light or M. Descartes's World I answer'd the first Argument by pleading a false Indictment charg'd on you for making a distinction of Instants betwixt the Division and the Motion as if you had held that God divided the Matter in one Instant and mov'd it another I said you never suppos'd that Matter was divided before its Motion That the manner of proposing your System in the third Part of Principles suppos'd no such distinction and that in the Treatise of Light where you describ'd the formation of the World you said positively the contrary advertising your Reader That that Division of Matter consisted not in God's separating its Parts so as to leave a Vacuity betwixt them but that all the distinction you suppos'd God made in them consisted in the diversity of Motions that he gave causing some from the first instant of their Creation to commence their Motion one way some another so that in this Instance Division and Motion were the same Thing or at farthest one could not be without the other That you would be as forward as any of them to confess That nothing was more absurd in reference to your other Principles than to suppose the Parts of Matter still and in Repose and yet divided since according to you the Union of the Parts of a solid Body such as Matter must be conceiv'd before its Motion consists in that Rest they enjoy by one another And farther that it was full as easie to comprehend how Division was made by Motion and yet cotemporary with the same Motion as to understand how I can tear a Sheet of Paper by dividing it in two half Sheets one whereof I hand towards the East the other towards the West I hereupon produc'd the Books that I had cited and shew'd them the very Places in dispute They were convinc'd by plain Matter of Fact and had no more to urge against it But we had not so soon done with the Motion of Matter we must necessary still dispute tho' very calmly without the least Passion or wrangling since the generality of those I had to deal with were well bred honest Gentlemen that would submit to Reason The Question was to explain how the Parts of Matter which we conceiv'd so closely press'd against one another as not the least Interval was left betwixt them throughout the Mass and which we also suppos'd solid from a settl'd Rest could skip into Motion After these Gentlemen had copiously discours'd upon the Subject I ask'd them If as stanch Peripateticks as they were they were throughly convinc'd that the Fluidity of Water for instance Was an absolute Quality that when it was congeal'd it became Solid by an absoute Accident call'd Solidity and that when it was dissolv'd it became Liquid by an absolute Accident call'd Fluidity That one of these Accidents made Lead run when heated and the other sixed it when it began to cool And on the contrary if having read the Delicate Natural and Intelligible Way of M. Descartes's explaining the Nature of Fluidity and the Properties of Fluid Bodies by the Motion of the insensible Parts of those Bodies a Motion which the meer Dissolution of Salts in common Water and of Metals in Aqua Fortis evidently demonstrates they were not at least come over to us in that Point The most of them answered That as they were persuaded there was no doing without absolute Qualities in the explication of an abundance of Phenomenas that which they could most easily part with was Fluidity and that they would not quarrel with me thereupon This suppos'd said I Gentlemen you shall be speedily satisfied or more perplex'd than M. Descartes for in short in your own System the World is full there 's an Abhorrence of a Vacuum through the whole Motion notwithstanding both is and does continue the Sensible and Insensible Parts of Bodies are mov'd nor does their Hardness and Impenetrability stop their Progress Why may not M. Descartes's Matter that is no more impenetrable than yours enjoy the same Priviledg and Charter Why must his Motion be more impossible both you and us suppose the self same Thing and we have no more to do than defend our selves against the Epicureans who think they demonstrate by Motion the Necessity of their little