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John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

Page 903

Pliny the Elder. (A.D. c. 23–A.D. 79) (continued)
    The world, and whatever that be which we call the heavens, by the vault of which all things are enclosed, we must conceive to be a deity, to be eternal, without bounds, neither created nor subject at any time to destruction. To inquire what is beyond it is no concern of man; nor can the human mind form any conjecture concerning it.
          Natural History. Book ii. Sect. 1.
    It is ridiculous to suppose that the great head of things, whatever it be, pays any regard to human affairs.
          Natural History. Book ii. Sect. 20.
    Everything is soothed by oil, and this is the reason why divers send out small quantities of it from their mouths, because it smooths every part which is rough. 1
          Natural History. Book ii. Sect. 234.
    It is far from easy to determine whether she [Nature] has proved to him a kind parent or a merciless stepmother. 2
          Natural History. Book vii. Sect. 1.
    Man alone at the very moment of his birth, cast naked upon the naked earth, does she abandon to cries and lamentations. 3
          Natural History. Book vii. Sect. 2.
Note 1.
Why does pouring oil on the sea make it clear and calm? Is it for that the winds, slipping the smooth oil, have no force, nor cause any waves?—Plutarch: Natural Questions, ix.

The venerable Bede relates that Bishop Adain (A. D. 651) gave to a company about to take a journey by sea “some holy oil, saying, ‘I know that when you go abroad you will meet with a storm and contrary wind; but do you remember to cast this oil I give you into the sea, and the wind shall cease immediately.’”—Ecclesiastical History, book iii. chap. xiv.

In Sparks’s edition of Franklin’s Works, vol. vi. p. 354, there are letters between Franklin, Brownrigg, and Parish on the stilling of waters by means of oil. [back]
Note 2.
To man the earth seems altogether
No more a mother, but a step-dame rather.
Du Bartas: Divine Weekes and Workes, first week, third day. [back]
Note 3.
He is born naked, and falls a whining at the first.—Robert Burton: Anatomy of Melancholy, part i. sect. 2, mem. 3, subsect. 10.

And when I was born I drew in the common air, and fell upon the earth, which is of like nature; and the first voice which I uttered was crying, as all others do.—The Wisdom of Solomon, vii. 3.

It was the custom among the ancients to place the new-born child upon the ground immediately after its birth. [back]