It is generally considered the duty of mathematicians to write annualPrognostics. Since, therefore, I have resolved to afford satisfaction for theapproaching year 1602 from the birth of Christ our Savior in limiting theprognostics not so much to the curiosity of the public as to the duty of aphilosopher, I will begin rather with that which can be predicted most safely;a rich crop of prognostics for this year is forthcoming, as the number of authors is increasing daily, owing to the growing curiosity of the people.
In those booklets some things will be said which time will prove, but manythings will be refuted by time and experience as vain and worthless; as iscustomary with the people, the latter will be committed to the winds, and theformer, entirely to memory.
For truly, as the cause, so is the effect. In their predictions theastrologers, surrendering their pens to enthusiasm, carried away by it, admitcauses that are partly physical and partly political, and for the greater partnot sufficient, often imaginary, vain and false and partly, at least of no valuewhatsoever. If they at times do tell the truth, it ought to be attributed toluck, yet more frequently and commonly it is thought that this comes fromsome higher and occult instinct.
Some physical causes are recognized by all; others, by only very fewpeople; indeed, many things exist naturally, but from causes hitherto knownto no man. And of the causes, which we know, there are some whose kindand nature we all usually understand, and others whose kind or indirectcause are understood by very few people, or by nobody.
The most general, effective and certain cause that is known to all men isthe approach and recess of the Sun. Now, the latter brings about the wintersolstice, i.e. on December 21
, shortly before the sixth p.m.; and the summer