Before rational certainty flattened our perceptions, Francis Bacon (in 1594) recommended philosophers be set up with the following: "first,…an almost perfect and general library…next, a spacious, wonderful garden [of diverse plants, moulds, beasts, birds and fish] and ...third, a goodly huge cabinet." This cabinet might have been a cupboard, or instead it might have been a room, which "cabinet" also meant in Bacon's time. In either case, this cabinet of curiosities formed the theatrum mundi of the humanists' circumscribed and centripetal world. In these cabinets one could have found "whatsoever the hand of man by exquisite art or engine has made rare in stuff, form or motion; whatsoever singularity, change, and the shuffle of things hath produced; whatsoever Nature has wrought in things that want life and may be kept." In Italy, such "cabinets" might have been called studiolol, guardaroba, or alternatively, the names that suggest their later evolution, museo and galleria. But at this stage, curiosity was catalogued and catholic. One might have found together shells, fossils, paintings, coins, bones, porcelain, roots, gems, and sculpture. This Theatrum mundi embraced magic and erudition without distinction. It accumulated by "visible signs" and " signatures," and built from them an interpretation of resemblances and sympathies. At about the same time Francis Bacon recommend a "goodly huge cabinet," the Jesuit missionary Joao Rodrigues noted a parallel proclivity in the Japanese practice of cha, or Tea. In huts, like those of solitary hermits, followers of this regimen "give themselves over to the contemplation of the things of nature...[and] contemplate within their souls with all peace and modesty the things that they see there and thus through their own efforts to understand the mysteries locked therein." In the practice Rodrigues describes, like that of Bacon's humanist, nature was one vast single text: a "science" of signs and signatures, read from humble objects and natural phenomena and an "art" of resemblances and sympathies, read from seasonal and sensible juxtapositions. "Thus, from what they see in things themselves they attain by their own efforts to a knowledge of the First Cause."
Source: A Hut of One's Own by Ann Cline, page 39-42