The standard of excellence in the ancient writers was indeed far above the level of the 16th century; but the fatal habit of taking at second hand what should have been acquired by direct observation retarded progress more than the possession of better models assisted it, so that the fundamental faults of medieval science remained uncorrected.
The autograph has been disputed, but divers passages, and especially one in The Tempest, show that at first or second hand the poet was acquainted with the essayist.
Rebello da Silva and the voluminous and brilliant publicists, Latino Coelho and Pinheiro Chagas, wrote at second hand and rank higher as stylists than as historians.
For as in this world, head winds are far more prevalent than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate the Pythagorean maxim), so for the most part the Commodore on the quarter-deck gets his atmosphere at second hand from the sailors on the forecastle.
As everybody knows, however, books could be and were multiplied by the process of copying tolerably freely, and a copy at first or second hand which belonged to the fiddler king Rene of Provence in the 15th century was used for the first printed edition in 1547.
Leo, the saint's favourite disciple and companion on Mount Alverno at the time, which describes the circumstances of the stigmatization; Elias of Cortona, the acting superior, wrote on the day after his death a circular letter wherein he uses language clearly implying that he had himself seen the Stigmata, and there is a considerable amount of contemporary authentic second hand evidence.