Perceval was a vigorous debater, specially excelling in replies, in which his thorough mastery of all the details of his subject gave him a great advantage.
Accordingly, when the work was published at Paris in August 1641, under the title of Meditationes de prima philosophia ubi de Dei existentia et animae immortalitate (though it was in fact not the immortality but the immateriality of the mind, or, as the second edition described it, animae humanae a corpore distinctio, which was maintained), the title went on to describe the larger part of the book as containing various objections of learned men, with the replies of the author.
A large tame snake with a false human head, wound round Alexander's body as he sat in a shrine in the temple, gave " autophones " or oracles unasked, but the usual methods practised were those of the numerous oracle-mongers of the time, of which Lucian gives a detailed account, the opening of sealed inquiries by heated needles, a neat plan of forging broken seals, and the giving of vague or meaningless replies to difficult questions, coupled with a lucrative blackmailing of those whose inquiries were compromising.
Both the army and the parliament gave cold replies to his offers to negotiate; and Charles, on the 27th of December 1647, entered into the Engagement with the Scots by which he promised the establishment of Presbyterianism for three years, the suppression of the Independents and their sects, together with privileges for the Scottish nobles, while the Scots undertook to invade England and restore him to his throne.
At the Post Office a record operator replies and takes particulars of the connexion, and these are entered upon a ticket.
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