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58. Of Vicissitude of Things (continued)
As for the weapons, it hardly falleth under rule and observation: yet we see even they, have returns and vicissitudes. For certain it is, that ordnance was known in the city of the Oxidrakes in India; and was that, which the Macedonians called thunder and lightning, and magic. And it is well known that the use of ordnance, hath been in China above two thousand years. The conditions of weapons, and their improvement, are; First, the fetching afar off; for that outruns the danger; as it is seen in ordnance and muskets. Secondly, the strength of the percussion; wherein likewise ordnance do exceed all arietations and ancient inventions. The third is, the commodious use of them; as that they may serve in all weathers; that the carriage may be light and manageable; and the like.
For the conduct of the war: at the first, men rested extremely upon number: they did put the wars likewise upon main force and valor; pointing days for pitched fields, and so trying it out upon an even match and they were more ignorant in ranging and arraying their battles. After, they grew to rest upon number rather competent, than vast; they grew to advantages of place, cunning diversions, and the like: and they grew more skilful in the ordering of their battles.
In the youth of a state, arms do flourish; in the middle age of a state, learning; and then both of them together for a time; in the declining age of a state, mechanical arts and merchandize. Learning hath his infancy, when it is but beginning and almost childish; then his youth, when it is luxuriant and juvenile; then his strength of years, when it is solid and reduced; and lastly, his old age, when it waxeth dry and exhaust. But it is not good to look too long upon these turning wheels of vicissitude, lest we become giddy. As for the philology of them, that is but a circle of tales, and therefore not fit for this writing.
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