Anatoly Vorobey (avva) wrote,
Anatoly Vorobey

уилкинс и меркурий

Читаю книгу Джона Уилкинса "Меркурий: тайный и проворный гонец" (John Wilkins, MERCURY the Secret and Swift Messenger). Она была опубликована в 1641-м году и считается одним из первых сочинений, полностью посвящённых криптографии. Именно эта книга послужила прообразом "Криптономикона" у Стивенсона (у Стивенсона "Криптономикон" — сборник криптографических методов и знаний, который начали писать несколько столетий назад и всё время в него добавляют новые сведения).

Любопытная книжка, небольшая совсем (94 страницы quarto). Не очень удобно читать факсимильные страницы (нет привычки быстрого чтения — я немало читал в орфографии 16-18 веков, но всё разрозненно и небольшими порциями), так что не уверен, что до конца дочитаю — посмотрю, насколько интересно будет в середине.

Вот несколько первых страниц (текста книги нет в сети, насколько мне известно, я набираю с листа). Если что-то непонятно, можно спрашивать.

The secret and swift Messenger.

Chap. I.

The dependance of this knowledge in nature. The Authors that have treated of it. Its relation to the art of Grammar.

Every rationall creature, being of an imperfect, and dependant happinesse, is therefore naturally endowed with an ability to communicate its owne thoughts and intentions; That so by mutuall services, it might the better promote it selfe, in the prosecution of its owne wel-being.

And because there is so vast a difference betwixt a spirit and a body, therefore has the wisedome of providence contrived a distinct way and meanes, whereby they are each of them inabled to discourse, according to the variety of their severall natures.

The Angels or Spirituall substances, Per insinuationem specierum, (as the Schoolemen speake) By insinuating of the species, or an unveiling of their owne natures in the knowledge of such particulars, as they would discover to another. And since they are of a Homogeneous and immateriall essence, therefore do they heare, and know, and speake, not with severall parts, but with their whole substance. And though the Apostle mentions the tongue of Angels, yet that is onely per Concessionem, & ex hypothesi.

But now, men, that have Organicall bodyes, cannot communicate their thoughts, so easie and immediate a way. And therefore have need of some corporeall instruments, both for the receiving and conveying of knowledge. Unto both which functions, nature hath designed severall parts. Amongst the rest, the eare is chiefely the sense of discipline or learning, and the tongue the instrument of teaching. The communion betwixt both these is by speech or language. Which, was but one at first, but hath since beene confounded into severall kinds. And experience now shews, that a man is equally disposed for the learning of all, according as education shall direct him. Which would not be, if (as some fondly conceive) any one of them were naturall unto us. For intus existens prohibet alienum.

Or suppose that a man could be brought up to the speaking of another tongue; yet this would not hinder, but that he should still retaine his knowledge, of that which was naturall. For if those which are gotten by art, doe not hinder one another, much lesse would they be any impediment, to that which is from nature. And according to his it will follow, that most men should be of a double language; which is evidently false. Whence likewise you may guesse, at the absurdity of their enquiries, who have sought to find out the primitive tongue, by bringing up infants in such silent, solitary places, where they might not heare the speech of others.

Languages are so farre naturall unto us, as other arts and sciences. A man is borne without any of them, but yet capable of all.

Now, because Words are onely for those that are present both in time & place; therefore to these, there hath beene added, the invention of letters and writing: which are such a representation of our words (though more permanent,) as our words are of our thoughts. By these we may discourse with them, that are remote from us, not onely by the distance of many miles, but also of many ages, Hujus usu scimus maxime constare humanitatem vitae, memoriam, ac hominum immortalitatem, saith Pliny. Quid hoc magnificemius? quid aeque mirandum? in quod ne mortis quidem avida rapacitas jus ullum habeat, saith Rhodiginus, This being the chiefest meanes, both for the promoting of humane society, and the perpetuating our names unto following times.

How strange a thing this Art of writing did seeme at its first invention, we may guesse by the late discovered Americans, who were amazed to see men converse with books, and could scarce make themselves beleeve that a paper should speake: especially, when after all their attention and listning to any writing (as their custome was) they could never perceive any words or sound to proceed from it.

There is a pretty relation to this purpose concerning an Indian slave, who being sent by his Master, with a basket of figs and a letter, did by the way eate up a great part of his carryage, conveying the remainder unto the person, to whom he was directed, who when he had read the letter, and not finding the quantity of figges answerable to what was there spoken of; he accuses the slave of eating them, telling him what the letter said against him. But the Indian, (notwithstanding the proofe) did confidently abjure the fact, cursing the paper, as being a false and lying witnesse. After this, being sent againe, with the like carriage, and a letter expressing the just number of figges, that were to be delivered, hee did againe devoure a great part of them by the way; but before hee meddled with any, (to prevent all following accusations;) he first tooke the letter, and hid that under a great stone, assuring himselfe, that if it did not see him eate the figges, it could never tell of him; but being now more strongly accused then before, hee confesses the fault, admiring the divinitie of the paper, and for the future doe's promise his best fidelity and every imployment.
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