The Library of History

Page 99

Page 99 flourishing Pastures. In the beginning of their Fights they make their Onsets with throwing of Stones; after some Wounds given on both Sides they fall to it with their Bows and Arrows, whereupon great Numbers are slain in a short time. For by long Experience they become good Marksmen, and being all naked are expos'd to every Shot. At length their old Women by their Intreaties put an end to their Conflicts (whom they greatly reverence, for it's unlawful to do them the least Harm) and therefore as soon as they see them come towards them, they cease casting their Darts immediately, and all are quiet.

When they grow so old that they cannot follow the Flocks, they tye themselves by their Necks to an Oxes Tail, and so put an end to their days: And if any defer his Death, any one as a Friend may first admonish him, and then if he does it not, the other may cast a Rope about his Neck and strangle him. In the like manner its lawful to put to Death any that become lame, or are seiz'd with any desperate and incurable Distemper. For they count it the highest and greatest Offence for any one to love his Life when he is able to do nothing worth living. And therefore all the Troglodites are of sound Bodies and of a strong and healthful Age, none exceeding Threescore. But this shall suffice concerning the Troglodites. Yet if this Account seem strange to any, and this Manner of living incredible, let but the Climate of Scythia be compar'd with that of the Troglodites, and then this our Relation may easily gain Belief. For there's so great a Difference between our Climate and theirs of which we write, that the different Natures being weigh'd and consider'd distinctly are scarce credible. For in some Places of Scythia by the Extremity of Cold the greatest Rivers are so frozen, that vast Armies and Chariots may pass over them; and Wine and other Liquors do so congeal that they must be cut with Knives and Hatches. And most strangely and wonderfully Mens Fingers and Toes drop off with rubbing against their Cloaths, and their Eyes grow dark and dim. Neither can the Fire cast any Warmth or Heat; and by the Force of Cold even brazen Statues are burst asunder; and at these Seasons they say the Clouds are so thick and gross, that there's neither Thunder nor Lightning in those Parts. Many other Things there happen which seem incredible to the ignorant, but are intolerable to them that feel them by Experience. But in the utmost Coasts of Egypt and the Troglodites the Sun is so scorching hot at Mid-day that two standing together cannot see each other by reason of the Thickness of the Air. Neither is it safe for any to go without Shoes in these Parts, for if they do the Soles of their Feet are presently blister'd all over: And except Men have something ready to drink to quench their Thirst, they forthwith faint and dye, the violence of the heat quickly exhaling all the moisture out of a Man's Body: And moreover, if any do put Meat and Water into a Brazen Pot, and set it in the open Sun, it's presently boil'd without Fire and Fuel. But the Inhabitants of both these Countries are so far from seeking to avoid these uncomfortable Circumstances, that they chuse rather to be as it were ever dying here, than to be forc'd to live another sort of Life elsewhere. And thus every Country is belov'd by its own natural Inhabitants, and a long usage, even from the time of Childhood, overcomes the inconveniences of an intemperate Climate. These great differences of Climates are sometimes not far asunder; for from the Lake Meotis (where some of the Scythians inhabit, in the midst of extream Cold, and biting Frost,) many with a fair Wind sail to Rhodes in Ten Days time; thence in Four Days more, they reach to Alexandria; thence crossing the River Nile, they recover Ethiopia (most commonly) the Tenth Day; so that it's not above Four and Twenty Days sail from the coldest to the hottest Climates in the World. And therefore it's no wonder that there's such diversity of Food, Manners and Bodies so far differing from ours, when there's so great a Contrariety of Climates in so small a distance one from another.

Having given a distinct account of Nations, and their strange and unusual Manners and Customs; something now is to be said particularly concerning the wild Beasts bred in those Countries.

There's bred in Ethiopia, a Creature, call'd from the nature of the Beast, a Rhinoceros, for Courage and Strength equal with the Elephant, but not so tall. His Skin is exceeding hard, and of the colour of Box. He has a flat Horn growing out a little above his Nostrils as hard as Iron. He's always at war with the Elephant for his Pasture, and for that purpose whets his Horn against a great Stone; in the Conflict he gets under the Belly of the Elephant, and cuts and gashes him, as

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