in my Treatise of the Mensuration of Running Waters; so that talking with several persons, I adventured to affirm, in discoures, that this improvement might possibly be brought into a good estate.
Now I have resolved to set down my thoughts in writing, and to honour this my Paper with the Noble Name of your Lordship, to render it the more credible and conspicuous at the first view, if it should chance that the Subject I treat of, were not of such moment, as that it did deserve to be valued for any other reason. Pardon me, Sir, if I have been too bold, and continue me in the number of your Servants.
The enterprize of Draining a great part of the Territories of the Pontine Fenns, hath been undertaken both in the time of the antient Romans, and last of all, in our days; yea in the late times by Sixtus V. I do not doubt in the least, but that it will be possible yet to reduce things to a very good pass; and if I be not mistaken, with a very small charge in comparison of the profit that would be received from those rich Grounds. This improvement was of great expence in the time of Sixtus Quintus, but by reason the thing was not rightly understood, there were made many Drains; a great part of which were unprofitable and vain: and amongst so many operations, there hapned some to be made that succeeded, as was desired; but not being understood, they were held in no account; and thus the business being neglected, the waters are returned into the same state as they were at first, before the improvement. Here I have by familiar discourses with my friends, explained this enterprize undertaken by Sixtus V. and haply also by some more antient, with the example of the Fable of Orilo, in Ariosto. This Monster was made up with such enchantment, that men fought with him alwayes in vain; for though in the Combate he were cut in pieces, those divided Members presently re-united, and returned to the fight more fierce then ever. But the Paladine Astolfo coming to undertake him, after a long dispute, at the end he cut his head sheer off from the shoulders at one blow; and nimbly alighting from his Horse, took the Monstrous head, and mounting again, as he rid away he fell to shave the Pole of that Monster, and so he lost the Lock of Hair, in which alone the enchantment lay; and then the horrible Head in an instant manifested signs of death, and the trunk which ran, seeking to reunite to it anew, gave the last gasp, and in this manner the enchantment ended. The Book of Fate served admirably to the Paladine, whereby he came to understand that Charm; for by shaving his whole head, the enchanted hairs came to be cut off amongst the rest: In the same manner, I say, that it hath sometimes happened in Draining those Fields; for