Front Page Titles (by Subject) APHORISMS—BOOK II: ON THE INTERPRETATION OF NATURE, OR THE REIGN OF MAN - Novum Organum
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APHORISMS—BOOK II: ON THE INTERPRETATION OF NATURE, OR THE REIGN OF MAN - Sir Francis Bacon, Novum Organum 
Novum Organum, by Lord Bacon, ed. by Joseph Devey, M.A. (New York: P.F. Collier, 1902).
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ON THE INTERPRETATION OF NATURE, OR THE REIGN OF MAN
I. To generate and superinduce a new nature or new natures, upon a given body, is the labor and aim of human power: while to discover the form or true difference of a given nature, or the nature1 to which such nature is owing, or source from which it emanates (for these terms approach nearest to an explanation of our meaning), is the labor and discovery of human knowledge; and subordinate to these primary labors are two others of a secondary nature and inferior stamp. Under the first must be ranked the transformation of concrete bodies from one to another, which is possible within certain limits; under the second, the discovery, in every species of generation and motion, of the latent and uninterrupted process from the manifest efficient and manifest subject matter up to the given form: and a like discovery of the latent conformation of bodies which are at rest instead of being in motion.
II. The unhappy state of man’s actual knowledge is manifested even by the common assertions of the vulgar. It is rightly laid down that true knowledge is that which is deduced from causes. The division of four causes also is not amiss: matter, form, the efficient, and end or final cause.2 Of these, however, the latter is so far from being beneficial, that it even corrupts the sciences, except in the intercourse of man with man. The discovery of form is considered desperate. As for the efficient cause and matter (according to the present system of inquiry and the received opinions concerning them, by which they are placed remote from, and without any latent process toward form), they are but desultory and superficial, and of scarcely any avail to real and active knowledge. Nor are we unmindful of our having pointed out and corrected above the error of the human mind, in assigning the first qualities of essence to forms.3 For although nothing exists in nature except individual bodies,4 exhibiting clear individual effects according to particular laws, yet in each branch of learning, that very law, its investigation, discovery, and development, are the foundation both of theory and practice. This law, therefore, and its parallel in each science, is what we understand by the term form,5 adopting that word because it has grown into common use, and is of familiar occurrence.
III. He who has learned the cause of a particular nature (such as whiteness or heat), in particular subjects only, has acquired but an imperfect knowledge: as he who can induce a certain effect upon particular substances only, among those which are susceptible of it, has acquired but an imperfect power. But he who has only learned the efficient and material cause (which causes are variable and mere vehicles conveying form to particular substances) may perhaps arrive at some new discoveries in matters of a similar nature, and prepared for the purpose, but does not stir the limits of things which are much more deeply rooted; while he who is acquainted with forms, comprehends the unity of nature in substances apparently most distinct from each other. He can disclose and bring forward, therefore (though it has never yet been done), things which neither the vicissitudes of nature, nor the industry of experiment, nor chance itself, would ever have brought about, and which would forever have escaped man’s thoughts; from the discovery of forms, therefore, results genuine theory and free practice.
IV. Although there is a most intimate connection, and almost an identity between the ways of human power and human knowledge, yet, on account of the pernicious and inveterate habit of dwelling upon abstractions, it is by far the safest method to commence and build up the sciences from those foundations which bear a relation to the practical division, and to let them mark out and limit the theoretical. We must consider, therefore, what precepts, or what direction or guide, a person would most desire, in order to generate and superinduce any nature upon a given body: and this not in abstruse, but in the plainest language.
For instance, if a person should wish to superinduce the yellow color of gold upon silver, or an additional weight (observing always the laws of matter) or transparency on an opaque stone, or tenacity in glass, or vegetation on a substance which is not vegetable, we must (I say) consider what species of precept or guide this person would prefer. And, first, he will doubtless be anxious to be shown some method that will neither fail in effect, nor deceive him in the trial of it; secondly, he will be anxious that the prescribed method should not restrict him and tie him down to peculiar means, and certain particular methods of acting; for he will, perhaps, be at loss, and without the power or opportunity of collecting and procuring such means. Now if there be other means and methods (besides those prescribed) of creating such a nature, they will perhaps be of such a kind as are in his power, yet by the confined limits of the precept he will be deprived of reaping any advantage from them; thirdly, he will be anxious to be shown something not so difficult as the required effect itself, but approaching more nearly to practice.
We will lay this down, therefore, as the genuine and perfect rule of practice, that it should be certain, free and preparatory, or having relation to practice. And this is the same thing as the discovery of a true form; for the form of any nature is such, that when it is assigned the particular nature infallibly follows. It is, therefore, always present when that nature is present, and universally attests such presence, and is inherent in the whole of it. The same form is of such a character, that if it be removed the particular nature infallibly vanishes. It is, therefore, absent, whenever that nature is absent, and perpetually testifies such absence, and exists in no other nature. Lastly, the true form is such, that it deduces the particular nature from some source of essence existing in many subjects, and more known (as they term it) to nature, than the form itself. Such, then, is our determination and rule with regard to a genuine and perfect theoretical axiom, that a nature be found convertible with a given nature, and yet such as to limit the more known nature, in the manner of a real genus. But these two rules, the practical and theoretical, are in fact the same, and that which is most useful in practice is most correct in theory.
V. But the rule or axiom for the transformation of bodies is of two kinds. The first regards the body as an aggregate or combination of simple natures. Thus, in gold are united the following circumstances: it is yellow, heavy, of a certain weight, malleable and ductile to a certain extent; it is not volatile, loses part of its substance by fire, melts in a particular manner, is separated and dissolved by particular methods, and so of the other natures observable in gold. An axiom, therefore, of this kind deduces the subject from the forms of simple natures; for he who has acquired the forms and methods of superinducing yellowness, weight, ductility, stability, deliquescence, solution, and the like, and their degrees and modes, will consider and contrive how to unite them in any body, so as to transform6 it into gold. And this method of operating belongs to primary action; for it is the same thing to produce one or many simple natures, except that man is more confined and restricted in his operations, if many be required, on account of the difficulty of uniting many natures together. It must, however, be observed, that this method of operating (which considers natures as simple though in a concrete body) sets out from what is constant, eternal, and universal in nature, and opens such broad paths to human power, as the thoughts of man can in the present state of things scarcely comprehend or figure to itself.
The second kind of axiom (which depends on the discovery of the latent process) does not proceed by simple natures, but by concrete bodies, as they are found in nature and in its usual course. For instance, suppose the inquiry to be, from what beginnings, in what manner, and by what process gold or any metal or stone is generated from the original menstruum, or its elements, up to the perfect mineral: or, in like manner, by what process plants are generated, from the first concretion of juices in the earth, or from seeds, up to the perfect plant, with the whole successive motion, and varied and uninterrupted efforts of nature; and the same inquiry be made as to a regularly deduced system of the generation of animals from coition to birth, and so on of other bodies.
Nor is this species of inquiry confined to the mere generation of bodies, but it is applicable to other changes and labors of nature. For instance, where an inquiry is made into the whole series and continued operation of the nutritive process, from the first reception of the food to its complete assimilation to the recipient;7 or into the voluntary motion of animals, from the first impression of the imagination, and the continuous effects of the spirits, up to the bending and motion of the joints; or into the free motion of the tongue and lips, and other accessories which give utterance to articulate sounds. For all these investigations relate to concrete or associated natures artificially brought together, and take into consideration certain particular and special habits of nature, and not those fundamental and general laws which constitute forms. It must, however, be plainly owned, that this method appears more prompt and easy, and of greater promise than the primary one.
In like manner the operative branch, which answers to this contemplative branch, extends and advances its operation from that which is usually observed in nature, to other subjects immediately connected with it, or not very remote from such immediate connection. But the higher and radical operations upon nature depend entirely on the primary axioms. Besides, even where man has not the means of acting, but only of acquiring knowledge, as in astronomy (for man cannot act upon, change, or transform the heavenly bodies), the investigation of facts or truth, as well as the knowledge of causes and coincidences, must be referred to those primary and universal axioms that regard simple natures; such as the nature of spontaneous rotation, attraction, or the magnetic force, and many others which are more common than the heavenly bodies themselves. For let no one hope to determine the question whether the earth or heaven revolve in the diurnal motion, unless he have first comprehended the nature of spontaneous rotation.
VI. But the latent process of which we speak, is far from being obvious to men’s minds, beset as they now are. For we mean not the measures, symptoms, or degrees of any process which can be exhibited in the bodies themselves, but simply a continued process, which, for the most part, escapes the observation of the senses.
For instance, in all generations and transformations of bodies, we must inquire, what is in the act of being lost and escaping, what remains, what is being added, what is being diluted, what is being contracted, what is being united, what is being separated, what is continuous, what is broken off, what is urging forward, what impedes, what predominates, what is subservient, and many other circumstances.
Nor are these inquiries again to be made in the mere generation and transformation of bodies only, but in all other alterations and fluctuations we must in like manner inquire; what precedes, what succeeds, what is quick, what is slow, what produces and what governs motion, and the like. All which matters are unknown and unattempted by the sciences, in their present heavy and inactive state. For, since every natural act is brought about by the smallest efforts,8 or at least such as are too small to strike our senses, let no one hope that he will be able to direct or change nature unless he have properly comprehended and observed these efforts.
VII. In like manner, the investigation and discovery of the latent conformation in bodies is no less new, than the discovery of the latent process and form. For we as yet are doubtless only admitted to the antechamber of nature, and do not prepare an entrance into her presence-room. But nobody can endue a given body with a new nature, or transform it successfully and appropriately into a new body, without possessing a complete knowledge of the body so to be changed or transformed. For he will run into vain, or, at least, into difficult and perverse methods, ill adapted to the nature of the body upon which he operates. A clear path, therefore, toward this object also must be thrown open, and well supported.
Labor is well and usefully bestowed upon the anatomy of organized bodies, such as those of men and animals, which appears to be a subtile matter, and a useful examination of nature. The species of anatomy, however, is that of first sight, open to the senses, and takes place only in organized bodies. It is obvious, and of ready access, when compared with the real anatomy of latent conformation in bodies which are considered similar, particularly in specific objects and their parts; as those of iron, stone, and the similar parts of plants and animals, as the root, the leaf, the flower, the flesh, the blood, and bones, etc. Yet human industry has not completely neglected this species of anatomy; for we have an instance of it in the separation of similar bodies by distillation, and other solutions, which shows the dissimilarity of the compound by the union of the homogeneous parts. These methods are useful, and of importance to our inquiry, although attended generally with fallacy: for many natures are assigned and attributed to the separate bodies, as if they had previously existed in the compound, which, in reality, are recently bestowed and superinduced by fire and heat, and the other modes of separation. Besides, it is, after all, but a small part of the labor of discovering the real conformation in the compound, which is so subtile and nice, that it is rather confused and lost by the operation of the fire, than discovered and brought to light.
A separation and solution of bodies, therefore, is to be effected, not by fire indeed, but rather by reasoning and true induction, with the assistance of experiment, and by a comparison with other bodies, and a reduction to those simple natures and their forms which meet, and are combined in the compound; and we must assuredly pass from Vulcan to Minerva, if we wish to bring to light the real texture and conformation of bodies, upon which every occult and (as it is sometimes called) specific property and virtue of things depends, and whence also every rule of powerful change and transformation is deduced.
For instance, we must examine what spirit is in every body,9 what tangible essence; whether that spirit is copious and exuberant, or meagre and scarce, fine or coarse, aeriform or igniform, active or sluggish, weak or robust, progressive or retrograde, abrupt or continuous, agreeing with external and surrounding objects, or differing from them, etc. In like manner must we treat tangible essence (which admits of as many distinctions as the spirit), and its hairs, fibres, and varied texture. Again, the situation of the spirit in the corporeal mass, its pores, passages, veins, and cells, and the rudiments or first essays of the organic body, are subject to the same examination. In these, however, as in our former inquiries, and therefore in the whole investigation of latent conformation, the only genuine and clear light which completely dispels all darkness and subtile difficulties, is admitted by means of the primary axioms.
VIII. This method will not bring us to atoms,10 which takes for granted the vacuum, and immutability of matter (neither of which hypotheses is correct), but to the real particles such as we discover them to be. Nor is there any ground for alarm at this refinement as if it were inexplicable, for, on the contrary, the more inquiry is directed to simple natures, the more will everything be placed in a plain and perspicuous light, since we transfer our attention from the complicated to the simple, from the incommensurable to the commensurable, from surds to rational quantities, from the indefinite and vague to the definite and certain; as when we arrive at the elements of letters, and the simple tones of concords. The investigation of nature is best conducted when mathematics are applied to physics. Again, let none be alarmed at vast numbers and fractions, for in calculation it is as easy to set down or to reflect upon a thousand as a unit, or the thousandth part of an integer as an integer itself.
IX.11From the two kinds of axioms above specified, arise the two divisions of philosophy and the sciences, and we will use the commonly adopted terms which approach the nearest to our meaning, in our own sense. Let the investigation of forms, which (in reasoning at least, and after their own laws), are eternal and immutable, constitute metaphysics,12 and let the investigation of the efficient cause of matter, latent process, and latent conformation (which all relate merely to the ordinary course of nature, and not to her fundamental and eternal laws), constitute physics. Parallel to these, let there be two practical divisions; to physics that of mechanics, and to metaphysics that of magic, in the purest sense of the term, as applied to its ample means, and its command over nature.
X. The object of our philosophy being thus laid down, we proceed to precepts, in the most clear and regular order. The signs for the interpretation of nature comprehend two divisions; the first regards the eliciting or creating of axioms from experiment, the second the deducing or deriving of new experiments from axioms. The first admits of three subdivisions into ministrations. 1. To the senses. 2. To the memory. 3. To the mind or reason.
For we must first prepare as a foundation for the whole, a complete and accurate natural and experimental history. We must not imagine or invent, but discover the acts and properties of nature.
But natural and experimental history is so varied and diffuse, that it confounds and distracts the understanding unless it be fixed and exhibited in due order. We must, therefore, form tables and co-ordinations of instances, upon such a plan, and in such order that the understanding may be enabled to act upon them.
Even when this is done, the understanding, left to itself and to its own operation, is incompetent and unfit to construct its axioms without direction and support. Our third ministration, therefore, must be true and legitimate induction, the very key of interpretation. We must begin, however, at the end, and go back again to the others.
XI. The investigation of forms proceeds thus: a nature being given, we must first present to the understanding all the known instances which agree in the same nature, although the subject matter be considerably diversified. And this collection must be made as a mere history, and without any premature reflection, or too great degree of refinement. For instance; take the investigation of the form of heat.
Instances agreeing in the Form of Heat
We are wont to call this a table of existence and presence.
XII. We must next present to the understanding instances which do not admit of the given nature, for form (as we have observed) ought no less to be absent where the given nature is absent, than to be present where it is present. If, however, we were to examine every instance, our labor would be infinite.
Negatives, therefore, must be classed under the affirmatives, and the want of the given nature must be inquired into more particularly in objects which have a very close connection with those others in which it is present and manifest. And this we are wont to term a table of deviation or of absence in proximity.
Proximate Instances wanting the Nature of Heat
The rays of the moon, stars, and comets, are not found to be warm to the touch, nay, the severest cold has been observed to take place at the full of the moon. Yet the larger fixed stars are supposed to increase and render more intense the heat of the sun, as he approaches them, when the sun is in the sign of the Lion, for instance, and in the dog-days.14
The rays of the sun in what is called the middle region of the air give no heat, to account for which the commonly assigned reason is satisfactory; namely, that that region is neither sufficiently near to the body of the sun whence the rays emanate, nor to the earth whence they are reflected. And the fact is manifested by snow being perpetual on the tops of mountains, unless extremely lofty. But it is observed, on the other hand, by some, that at the Peak of Teneriffe, and also among the Andes of Peru, the tops of the mountains are free from snow, which only lies in the lower part as you ascend. Besides, the air on the summit of these mountains is found to be by no means cold, but only thin and sharp; so much so, that in the Andes it pricks and hurts the eyes from its extreme sharpness, and even excites the orifice of the stomach and produces vomiting. The ancients also observed, that the rarity of the air on the summit of Olympus was such, that those who ascended it were obliged to carry sponges moistened with vinegar and water, and to apply them now and then to their nostrils, as the air was not dense enough for their respiration; on the summit of which mountain it is also related, there reigned so great a serenity and calm, free from rain, snow, or wind, that the letters traced upon the ashes of the sacrifices on the altar of Jupiter, by the fingers of those who had offered them, would remain undisturbed till the next year. Those even, who at this day go to the top of the Peak of Teneriffe, walk by night and not in the daytime, and are advised and pressed by their guides, as soon as the sun rises, to make haste in their descent, on account of the danger (apparently arising from the rarity of the atmosphere), lest their breathing should be relaxed and suffocated.15
The reflection of the solar rays in the polar regions is found to be weak and inefficient in producing heat, so that the Dutch, who wintered in Nova Zembla, and expected that their vessel would be freed about the beginning of July from the obstruction of the mass of ice which had blocked it up, were disappointed and obliged to embark in their boat. Hence the direct rays of the sun appear to have but little power even on the plain, and when reflected, unless they are multiplied and condensed, which takes place when the sun tends more to the perpendicular; for, then, the incidence of the rays occurs at more acute angles, so that the reflected rays are nearer to each other, while, on the contrary, when the sun is in a very oblique position, the angles of incidence are very obtuse, and the reflected rays at a greater distance. In the meantime it must be observed, that there may be many operations of the solar rays, relating, too, to the nature of heat, which are not proportioned to our touch, so that, with regard to us, they do not tend to produce warmth, but, with regard to some other bodies, have their due effect in producing it.
Let the following experiment be made. Take a lens the reverse of a burning-glass, and place it between the hand and the solar rays, and observe whether it diminish the heat of the sun as a burning-glass increases it. For it is clear, with regard to the visual rays, that in proportion as the lens is made of unequal thickness in the middle and at its sides, the images appear either more diffused or contracted. It should be seen, therefore, if the same be true with regard to heat.
Let the experiment be well tried, whether the lunar rays can be received and collected by the strongest and best burning-glasses, so as to produce even the least degree of heat.16 But if that degree be, perhaps, so subtile and weak, as not to be perceived or ascertained by the touch, we must have recourse to those glasses which indicate the warm or cold state of the atmosphere, and let the lunar rays fall through the burning-glass on the top of this thermometer, and then notice if the water be depressed by the heat.17
Let the burning-glass be tried on warm objects which emit no luminous rays, as heated but not ignited iron or stone, or hot water, or the like; and observe whether the heat become increased and condensed, as happens with the solar rays.
Let it be tried on common flame.
The effect of comets (if we can reckon them among meteors18 ) in augmenting the heat of the season is not found to be constant or clear, although droughts have generally been observed to follow them. However, luminous lines, and pillars, and openings, and the like, appear more often in winter than in summer, and especially with the most intense cold but joined with drought. Lightning, and coruscations, and thunder, however, rarely happen in winter, and generally at the time of the greatest heats. The appearances we term falling stars are generally supposed to consist of some shining and inflamed viscous substance, rather than of violently hot matter; but let this be further investigated.
Some coruscations emit light without burning, but are never accompanied by thunder.
Eructations and eruptions of flame are to be found in cold climates as well as in hot, as in Iceland and Greenland; just as the trees of cold countries are sometimes inflammable and more pitchy and resinous than in warm, as the fir, pine, and the like. But the position and nature of the soil, where such eruptions are wont to happen, is not yet sufficiently investigated to enable us to subjoin a negative instance to the affirmative.
All flame is constantly more or less warm, and this instance is not altogether negative; yet it is said that the ignis fatuus (as it is called), and which sometimes is driven against walls, has but little heat; perhaps it resembles that of spirits of wine, which is mild and gentle. That flame, however, appears yet milder, which in some well authenticated and serious histories is said to have appeared round the head and hair of boys and virgins, and instead of burning their hair, merely to have played about it. And it is most certain that a sort of flash, without any evident heat, has sometimes been seen about a horse when sweating at night, or in damp weather. It is also a well known fact,19 and it was almost considered as a miracle, that a few years since a girl’s apron sparkled when a little shaken or rubbed, which was, perhaps, occasioned by the alum or salts with which the apron was imbued, and which, after having been stuck together and incrusted rather strongly, were broken by the friction. It is well known that all sugar, whether candied or plain, if it be hard, will sparkle when broken or scraped in the dark. In like manner sea and salt water is sometimes found to shine at night when struck violently by the oar. The foam of the sea when agitated by tempests also sparkles at night, and the Spaniards call this appearance the sea’s lungs. It has not been sufficiently ascertained what degree of heat attends the flame which the ancient sailors called Castor and Pollux, and the moderns call St. Ermus’ fire.
Every ignited body that is red-hot is always warm, although without flame, nor is any negative instance subjoined to this affirmative. Rotten wood, however, approaches nearly to it, for it shines at night, and yet is not found to be warm; and the putrefying scales of fish which shine in the same manner are not warm to the touch, nor the body of the glowworm, or of the fly called Lucciola.20
The situation and nature of the soil of natural warm baths has not been sufficiently investigated, and therefore a negative instance is not subjoined.
To the instances of warm liquids we may subjoin the negative one of the peculiar nature of liquids in general; for no tangible liquid is known that is at once warm in its nature and constantly continues warm; but their heat is only superinduced as an adventitious nature for a limited time, so that those which are extremely warm in their power and effect, as spirits of wine, chemical aromatic oils, the oils of vitriol and sulphur, and the like, and which speedily burn, are yet cold at first to the touch, and the water of natural baths, poured into any vessel and separated from its source, cools down like water heated by the fire. It is, however, true that oily substances are rather less cold to the touch than those that are aqueous, oil for instance than water, silk than linen; but this belongs to the table of degrees of cold.
In like manner we may subjoin a negative instance to that of warm vapor, derived from the nature of vapor itself, as far as we are acquainted with it. For exhalations from oily substances, though easily inflammable, are yet never warm unless recently exhaled from some warm substance.
The same may be said of the instance of air; for we never perceive that air is warm unless confined or pressed, or manifestly heated by the sun, by fire, or some other warm body.
A negative instance is exhibited in weather by its coldness with an east or north wind, beyond what the season would lead us to expect, just as the contrary takes place with the south or west winds. An inclination to rain (especially in winter) attends warm weather, and to frost cold weather.
A negative instance as to air confined in caverns may be observed in summer. Indeed, we should make a more diligent inquiry into the nature of confined air. For in the first place the qualities of air in its own nature with regard to heat and cold may reasonably be the subject of doubt; for air evidently derives its heat from the effects of celestial bodies, and possibly its cold from the exhalation of the earth, and in the mid region of air (as it is termed) from cold vapors and snow, so that no judgment can be formed of the nature of air by that which is out of doors and exposed, but a more correct one might be derived from confined air. It is necessary, however, that the air should be inclosed in a vessel of such materials as would not imbue it with heat or cold of themselves, nor easily admit the influence of the external atmosphere. The experiment should be made, therefore, with an earthen jar, covered with folds of leather to protect it from the external air, and the air should be kept three or four days in this vessel well closed. On opening the jar, the degree of heat may be ascertained either by the hand or a graduated glass tube.
There is a similar doubt as to whether the warmth of wool, skins, feathers, and the like, is derived from a slight inherent heat, since they are animal excretions, or from their being of a certain fat and oily nature that accords with heat, or merely from the confinement and separation of air which we spoke of in the preceding paragraph;21 for all air appears to possess a certain degree of warmth when separated from the external atmosphere. Let an experiment be made, therefore, with fibrous substances of linen, and not of wool, feathers, or silk, which are animal excretions. For it is to be observed that all powders (where air is manifestly inclosed) are less cold than the substances when whole, just as we imagine froth (which contains air) to be less cold than the liquid itself.
We have here no exactly negative instance, for we are not acquainted with any body tangible or spirituous which does not admit of heat when exposed to the fire. There is, however, this difference, that some admit it more rapidly, as air, oil, and water, others more slowly, as stone and metals.22 This, however, belongs to the table of degrees.
No negative is here subjoined, except the remark that sparks are not kindled by flint and steel, or any other hard substance, unless some small particles of the stone or metal are struck off, and that the air never forms them by friction, as is commonly supposed; besides, the sparks from the weight of the ignited substance have a tendency to descend rather than to rise, and when extinguished become a sort of dark ash.
We are of opinion that here again there is no negative; for we are not acquainted with any tangible body which does not become decidedly warm by friction, so that the ancients feigned that the gods had no other means or power of creating heat than the friction of air, by rapid and violent rotation. On this point, however, further inquiry must be made, whether bodies projected by machines (as balls from cannon) do not derive some degree of heat from meeting the air, which renders them somewhat warm when they fall. The air in motion rather cools than heats, as in the winds, the bellows, or breath when the mouth is contracted. The motion, however, in such instances is not sufficiently rapid to excite heat, and is applied to a body of air, and not to its component parts, so that it is not surprising that heat should not be generated.
We must make a more diligent inquiry into this instance; for herbs and green and moist vegetables appear to possess a latent heat, so small, however, as not to be perceived by the touch in single specimens, but when they are united and confined, so that their spirit cannot exhale into the air, and they rather warm each other, their heat is at once manifested, and even flame occasionally in suitable substances.
Here, too, we must make a more diligent inquiry; for quicklime, when sprinkled with water, appears to conceive heat, either from its being collected into one point (as we observed of herbs when confined), or from the irritation and exasperation of the fiery spirit by water, which occasions a conflict and struggle. The true reason will more readily be shown if oil be used instead of water, for oil will equally tend to collect the confined spirit, but not to irritate. The experiment may be made more general, both by using the ashes and calcined products of different bodies and by pouring different liquids upon them.
A negative instance may be subjoined of other metals which are more soft and soluble; for leaf gold dissolved by aqua regia, or lead by aqua fortis, are not warm to the touch while dissolving, no more is quick-silver (as far as I remember), but silver excites a slight heat, and so does copper, and tin yet more plainly, and most of all iron and steel, which excite not only a powerful heat, but a violent bubbling. The heat, therefore, appears to be occasioned by the struggle which takes place when these strong dissolvents penetrate, dig into, and tear asunder the parts of those substances, while the substances themselves resist. When, however, the substances yield more easily, scarcely any heat is excited.
There is no negative instance with regard to the heat of animals, except in insects (as has been observed), owing to their small size; for in fishes, as compared with land animals, a lower degree rather than a deprivation of heat is observable. In plants and vegetables, both as to their exudations and pith when freshly exposed, there is no sensible degree of heat. But in animals there is a great difference in the degree, both in particular parts (for the heat varies near the heart, the brain, and the extremities) and in the circumstances in which they are placed, such as violent exercise and fevers.
Here, again, there is scarcely a negative instance. I might add that the excrements of animals, even when they are no longer fresh, possess evidently some effective heat, as is shown by their enriching the soil.
Such liquids (whether oily or watery) as are intensely acrid exhibit the effects of heat, by the separation and burning of bodies after some little action upon them, yet they are not at first warm to the touch, but they act according to their affinity and the pores of the substances to which they are applied; for aqua regia dissolves gold but not silver—on the contrary, aqua fortis dissolves silver but not gold; neither of them dissolves glass, and so of the rest.
Let spirits of wine be tried on wood, or butter, wax, or pitch, to see if this will melt them at all by their heat; for the twenty-fourth instance shows that they possess properties resembling those of heat in causing incrustation. Let an experiment also be made with a graduated glass or calendar,23 concave at the top, by pouring well-rectified spirits of wine into the cavity, and covering it up in order that they may the better retain their heat, then observe whether their heat make the water descend.
Spices and acrid herbs are sensibly warm to the palate, and still more so when taken internally; one should see, therefore, on what other substances they exhibit the effects of heat. Now, sailors tell us that when large quantities of spices are suddenly opened, after having been shut up for some time, there is some danger of fever and inflammation to those who stir them or take them out. An experiment might, therefore, be made whether such spices and herbs, when produced, will, like smoke, dry fish and meat hung up over them.
There is an acrid effect and a degree of penetration in cold liquids, such as vinegar and oil of vitriol, as well as in warm, such as oil of marjoram and the like; they have, therefore, an equal effect in causing animated substances to smart, and separating and consuming inanimate parts. There is not any negative instance as to this, nor does there exist any animal pain unaccompanied by the sensation of heat.
There are many effects common to cold and heat, however different in their process; for snowballs appear to burn boys’ hands after a little time, and cold no less than fire preserves bodies from putrefaction—besides both heat and cold contract bodies. But it is better to refer these instances and the like to the investigation of cold.
XIII. In the third place we must exhibit to the understanding the instances in which that nature, which is the object of our inquiries, is present in a greater or less degree, either by comparing its increase and decrease in the same object, or its degree in different objects; for since the form of a thing is its very essence, and the thing only differs from its form as the apparent from the actual object, or the exterior from the interior, or that which is considered with relation to man from that which is considered with relation to the universe; it necessarily follows that no nature can be considered a real form which does not uniformly diminish and increase with the given nature. We are wont to call this our Table of Degrees, or Comparative Instances.
Table of the Degrees or Comparative Instances of Heat
We will first speak of those bodies which exhibit no degree of heat sensible to the touch, but appear rather to possess a potential heat, or disposition and preparation for it. We will then go on to others, which are actually warm to the touch, and observe the strength and degree of it.
XIV. Any one may readily see how poor we are in history, since in the above tables, besides occasionally inserting traditions and report instead of approved history and authentic instances (always, however, adding some note if their credit or authority be doubtful), we are often forced to subjoin, “Let the experiment be tried—Let further inquiry be made.”
XV. We are wont to term the office and use of these three tables the presenting a review of instances to the understanding; and when this has been done, induction itself is to be brought into action. For on an individual review of all the instances a nature is to be found, such as always to be present and absent with the given nature, to increase and decrease with it, and, as we have said, to form a more common limit of the nature. If the mind attempt this affirmatively from the first (which it always will when left to itself), there will spring up phantoms, mere theories and ill-defined notions, with axioms requiring daily correction. These will, doubtless, be better or worse, according to the power and strength of the understanding which creates them. But it is only for God (the bestower and creator of forms), and perhaps for angels and intelligences, at once to recognize forms affirmatively at the first glance of contemplation: man, at lest, is unable to do so, and is only allowed to proceed first by negatives, and then to conclude with affirmatives, after every species of exclusion.
XVI. We must, therefore, effect a complete solution and separation of nature; not by fire, but by the mind, that divine fire. The first work of legitimate induction, in the discovery of forms, is rejection, or the exclusive instances of individual natures, which are not found in some one instance where the given nature is present, or are found in any one instance where it is absent, or are found to increase in any one instance where the given nature decreases, or the reverse. After an exclusion correctly effected, an affirmative form will remain as the residuum, solid, true, and well defined, while all volatile opinions go off in smoke. This is readily said; but we must arrive at it by a circuitous route. We shall perhaps, however, omit nothing that can facilitate our progress.
XVII. The first and almost perpetual precaution and warning which we consider necessary is this; that none should suppose from the great part assigned by us to forms, that we mean such forms as the meditations and thoughts of men have hitherto been accustomed to. In the first place, we do not at present mean the concrete forms, which (as we have observed) are in the common course of things compounded of simple natures, as those of a lion, an eagle, a rose, gold, or the like. The moment for discussing these will arrive when we come to treat of the latent process and latent conformation, and the discovery of them as they exist in what are called substances, or concrete natures.
Nor again, would we be thought to mean (even when treating of simple natures) any abstract forms or ideas, either undefined or badly defined in matter. For when we speak of forms, we mean nothing else than those laws and regulations of simple action which arrange and constitute any simple nature, such as heat, light, weight, in every species of matter, and in a susceptible subject. The form of heat or form of light, therefore, means no more than the law of heat or the law of light. Nor do we ever abstract or withdraw ourselves from things, and the operative branch of philosophy. When, therefore, we say (for instance) in our investigation of the form of heat, Reject rarity, or, Rarity is not of the form of heat, it is the same as if we were to say, Man can superinduce heat on a dense body, or the reverse, Man can abstract or ward off heat from a rare body.
But if our forms appear to any one to be somewhat abstracted, from their mingling and uniting heterogeneous objects (the heat, for instance, of the heavenly bodies appears to be very different from that of fire; the fixed red of the rose and the like, from that which is apparent in the rainbow, or the radiation of opal or the diamond;31 death by drowning, from that by burning, the sword, apoplexy, or consumption; and yet they all agree in the common natures of heat, redness, and death), let him be assured that his understanding is inthralled by habit, by general appearances and hypotheses. For it is most certain that, however heterogeneous and distinct, they agree in the form or law which regulates heat, redness, or death; and that human power cannot be emancipated and freed from the common course of nature, and expanded and exalted to new efficients and new modes of operation, except by the revelation and invention of forms of this nature. But after this32 union of nature, which is the principal point, we will afterward, in its proper place, treat of the divisions and ramifications of nature, whether ordinary or internal and more real.
XVIII. We must now offer an example of the exclusion or rejection of natures found by the tables of review, not to be of the form of heat; first premising that not only each table is sufficient for the rejection of any nature, but even each single instance contained in them. For it is clear from what has been said that every contradictory instance destroys a hypothesis as to the form. Still, however, for the sake of clearness, and in order to show more plainly the use of the tables, we redouble or repeat the exclusive.
An Example of the Exclusive Table, or of the Rejection of Natures from the Form of Heat
There are other natures to be rejected; but we are merely offering examples, and not perfect tables.
None of the above natures are of the form of heat; and man is freed from them all in his operation upon heat.
XIX. In the exclusive table are laid the foundations of true induction, which is not, however, completed until the affirmative be attained. Nor is the exclusive table perfect, nor can it be so at first. For it is clearly a rejection of simple natures; but if we have not as yet good and just notions of simple natures, how can the exclusive table be made correct? Some of the above, as the notion of elementary and celestial nature, and rarity, are vague and ill defined. We, therefore, who are neither ignorant nor forgetful of the great work which we attempt, in rendering the human understanding adequate to things and nature, by no means rest satisfied with what we have hitherto enforced, but push the matter further, and contrive and prepare more powerful aid for the use of the understanding, which we will next subjoin. And, indeed, in the interpretation of nature the mind is to be so prepared and formed, as to rest itself on proper degrees of certainty, and yet to remember (especially at first) that what is present depends much upon what remains behind.
XX. Since, however, truth emerges more readily from error than confusion, we consider it useful to leave the understanding at liberty to exert itself and attempt the interpretation of nature in the affirmative, after having constructed and weighed the three tables of preparation, such as we have laid them down, both from the instances there collected, and others occurring elsewhere. Which attempt we are wont to call the liberty of the understanding, or the commencement of interpretation, or the first vintage.
The First Vintage of the Form of Heat
It must be observed that the form of anything is inherent (as appears clearly from our premises) in each individual instance in which the thing itself is inherent, or it would not be a form. No contradictory instance, therefore, can be alleged. The form, however, is found to be much more conspicuous and evident in some instances than in others; in those (for example) where its nature is less restrained and embarrassed, and reduced to rule by other natures. Such instances we are wont to term coruscations, or conspicuous instances. We must proceed, then, to the first vintage of the form of heat.
From the instances taken collectively, as well as singly, the nature whose limit is heat appears to be motion. This is chiefly exhibited in flame, which is in constant motion, and in warm or boiling liquids, which are likewise in constant motion. It is also shown in the excitement or increase of heat by motion, as by bellows and draughts: for which see Inst. 29, Tab. 3, and by other species of motion, as in Inst. 28 and 31, Tab. 3. It is also shown by the extinction of fire and heat upon any strong pressure, which restrains and puts a stop to motion; for which see Inst. 30 and 32, Tab. 3. It is further shown by this circumstance, namely, that every substance is destroyed, or at least materially changed, by strong and powerful fire and heat: whence it is clear that tumult and confusion are occasioned by heat, together with a violent motion in the internal parts of bodies; and this gradually tends to their dissolution.
What we have said with regard to motion must be thus understood, when taken as the genus of heat: it must not be thought that heat generates motion, or motion heat (though in some respects this be true), but that the very essence of heat, or the substantial self34 of heat, is motion and nothing else, limited, however, by certain differences which we will presently add, after giving some cautions for avoiding ambiguity.
Sensible heat is relative, and regards man, not universe; and is rightly held to be merely the effect of heat on animal spirit. It is even variable in itself, since the same body (in different states of sensation) excites the feeling of heat and of cold; this is shown by Inst. 41, Tab. 3.
Nor should we confound the communication of heat or its transitive nature, by which a body grows warm at the approach of a heated body, with the form of heat; for heat is one thing and heating another. Heat can be excited by friction without any previous heating body, and, therefore, heating is excluded from the form of heat. Even when heat is excited by the approach of a hot body, this depends not on the form of heat, but on another more profound and common nature; namely, that of assimilation and multiplication, about which a separate inquiry must be made.
The notion of fire is vulgar, and of no assistance; it is merely compounded of the conjunction of heat and light in any body, as in ordinary flame and red-hot substances.
Laying aside all ambiguity, therefore, we must lastly consider the true differences which limit motion and render it the form of heat.
I. The first difference is, that heat is an expansive motion, by which the body strives to dilate itself, and to occupy a greater space than before. This difference is principally seen in flame, where the smoke or thick vapor is clearly dilated and bursts into flame.
It is also shown in all boiling liquids, which swell, rise, and boil up to the sight, and the process of expansion is urged forward till they are converted into a much more extended and dilated body than the liquid itself, such as steam, smoke, or air.
It is also shown in wood and combustibles where exudation sometimes takes place, and evaporation always.
It is also shown in the melting of metals, which, being very compact, do not easily swell and dilate, but yet their spirit, when dilated and desirous of further expansion, forces and urges its thicker parts into dissolution, and if the heat be pushed still further, reduces a considerable part of them into a volatile state.
It is also shown in iron or stones, which though not melted or dissolved, are however softened. The same circumstance takes place in sticks of wood, which become flexible when a little heated in warm ashes.
It is most readily observed in air, which instantly and manifestly expands with a small degree of heat, as in Inst. 38, Tab. 3.
It is also shown in the contrary nature of cold; for cold contracts and narrows every substance;35 so that in intense frosts nails fall out of the wall and brass cracks, and heated glass exposed suddenly to the cold cracks and breaks. So the air, by a slight degree of cold, contracts itself, as in Inst. 38, Tab. 3. More will be said of this in the inquiry into cold.
Nor is it to be wondered at if cold and heat exhibit many common effects (for which see Inst. 32, Tab. 2), since two differences, of which we shall presently speak, belong to each nature: although in the present difference the effects be diametrically opposed to each other. For heat occasions an expansive and dilating motion, but cold a contracting and condensing motion.
II. The second difference is a modification of the preceding, namely, that heat is an expansive motion, tending toward the exterior, but at the same time bearing the body upward. For there is no doubt that there be many compound motions, as an arrow or dart, for instance, has both a rotatory and progressive motion. In the same way the motion of heat is both expansive and tending upward.
This difference is shown by putting the tongs or poker into the fire. If placed perpendicularly with the hand above, they soon burn it, but much less speedily if the hand hold them sloping or from below.
It is also conspicuous in distillations per descensum, which men are wont to employ with delicate flowers, whose scent easily evaporates. Their industry has devised placing the fire above instead of below, that it may scorch less; for not only flame but all heat has an upward tendency.
Let an experiment be made on the contrary nature of cold, whether its contraction be downward, as the expansion of heat is upward. Take, therefore, two iron rods or two glass tubes, alike in other respects, and warm them a little, and place a sponge, dipped in cold water, or some snow, below the one and above the other. We are of opinion that the extremities will grow cold in that rod first where it is placed beneath, as the contrary takes place with regard to heat.
III. The third difference is this; that heat is not a uniform expansive motion of the whole, but of the small particles of the body; and this motion being at the same time restrained, repulsed, and reflected, becomes alternating, perpetually hurrying, striving, struggling, and irritated by the repercussion, which is the source of the violence of flame and heat.
But this difference is chiefly shown in flame and boiling liquids, which always hurry, swell, and subside again in detached parts.
It is also shown in bodies of such hard texture as not to swell or dilate in bulk, such as red-hot iron, in which the heat is most violent.
It is also shown by the fires burning most briskly in the coldest weather.
It is also shown by this, that when the air is dilated in the thermometer uniformly and equably, without any impediment or repulsion, the heat is not perceptible. In confined draughts also, although they break out very violently, no remarkable heat is perceived, because the motion affects the whole, without any alternating motion in the particles; for which reason try whether flame do not burn more at the sides than in its centre.
It is also shown in this, that all burning proceeds by the minute pores of bodies — undermining, penetrating, piercing, and pricking them as if with an infinite number of needle-points. Hence all strong acids (if adapted to the body on which they act) exhibit the effects of fire, from their corroding and pungent nature.
The difference of which we now speak is common also to the nature of cold, in which the contracting motion is restrained by the resistance of expansion, as in heat the expansive motion is restrained by the resistance of contraction.
Whether, therefore, the particles of matter penetrate inward or outward, the reasoning is the same, though the power be very different, because we have nothing on earth which is intensely cold.
IV. The fourth difference is a modification of the preceding, namely, that this stimulating or penetrating motion should be rapid and never sluggish, and should take place not in the very minutest particles, but rather in those of some tolerable dimensions.
It is shown by comparing the effects of fire with those of time. Time dries, consumes, undermines, and reduces to ashes as well as fire, and perhaps to a much finer degree; but as its motion is very slow, and attacks very minute particles, no heat is perceived.
It is also shown in a comparison of the dissolution of iron and gold; for gold is dissolved without the excitement of any heat, but iron with a vehement excitement of it, although most in the same time, because in the former the penetration of the separating acid is mild, and gently insinuates itself, and the particles of gold yield easily, but the penetration of iron is violent, and attended with some struggle, and its particles are more obstinate.
It is partially shown, also, in some gangrenes and mortifications of flesh, which do not excite great heat or pain, from the gentle nature of the putrefaction.
Let this suffice for a first vintage, or the commencement of the interpretation of the form of heat by the liberty of the understanding.
From this first vintage the form or true definition of heat (considered relatively to the universe and not to the sense) is briefly thus—Heat is an expansive motion restrained, and striving to exert itself in the smaller particles.36 The expansion is modified by its tendency to rise, though expanding toward the exterior; and the effort is modified by its not being sluggish, but active and somewhat violent.
With regard to the operative definition, the matter is the same. If you are able to excite a dilating or expansive motion in any natural body, and so to repress that motion and force it on itself as not to allow the expansion to proceed equally, but only to be partially exerted and partially repressed, you will beyond all doubt produce heat, without any consideration as to whether the body be of earth (or elementary, as they term it), or imbued with celestial influence, luminous or opaque, rare or dense, locally expanded or contained within the bounds of its first dimensions, verging to dissolution or remaining fixed, animal, vegetable, or mineral, water, or oil, or air, or any other substance whatever susceptible of such motion. Sensible heat is the same, but considered relatively to the senses. Let us now proceed to further helps.
XXI. After our tables of first review, our rejection or exclusive table, and the first vintage derived from them, we must advance to the remaining helps of the understanding with regard to the interpretation of nature, and a true and perfect induction, in offering which we will take the examples of cold and heat where tables are necessary, but where fewer instances are required we will go through a variety of others, so as neither to confound investigation nor to narrow our doctrine.
In the first place, therefore, we will treat of prerogative instances;37 2. Of the supports of induction; 3. Of the correction of induction; 4. Of varying the investigation according to the nature of the subject; 5. Of the prerogative natures with respect to investigation, or of what should be the first or last objects of our research; 6. Of the limits of investigation, or a synopsis of all natures that exist in the universe; 7. Of the application to practical purposes, or of what relates to man; 8. Of the preparations for investigation; 9. And lastly, of the ascending and descending scale of axioms.38
XXII. Among the prerogative instances we will first mention solitary instances. Solitary instances are those which exhibit the required nature in subjects that have nothing in common with any other subject than the nature in question, or which do not exhibit the required nature in subjects resembling others in every respect except that of the nature in question; for these instances manifestly remove prolixity, and accelerate and confirm exclusion, so that a few of them are of as much avail as many.
For instance, let the inquiry be the nature of color. Prisms, crystalline gems, which yield colors not only internally but on the wall, dews, etc., are solitary instances; for they have nothing in common with the fixed colors in flowers and colored gems, metals, woods, etc., except the color itself. Hence we easily deduce that color is nothing but a modification of the image of the incident and absorbed light, occasioned in the former case by the different degrees of incidence, in the latter by the various textures and forms of bodies.39 These are solitary instances as regards similitude.
Again, in the same inquiry the distinct veins of white and black in marble, and the variegated colors of flowers of the same species, are solitary instances; for the black and white of marble, and the spots of white and purple in the flowers of the stock, agree in every respect but that of color. Thence we easily deduce that color has not much to do with the intrinsic natures of any body, but depends only on the coarser and as it were mechanical arrangement of the parts. These are solitary instances as regards difference. We call them both solitary or wild, to borrow a word from the astronomers.
XXIII. In the second rank of prerogative instances we will consider migrating instances. In these the required nature passes toward generation, having no previous existence, or toward corruption, having first existed. In each of these divisions, therefore, the instances are always two-fold, or rather it is one instance, first in motion or on its passage, and then brought to the opposite conclusion. These instances not only hasten and confirm exclusion, but also reduce affirmation, or the form itself, to a narrow compass; for the form must be something conferred by this migration, or, on the contrary, removed and destroyed by it; and although all exclusion advances affirmation, yet this takes place more directly in the same than in different subjects; but if the form (as it is quite clear from what has been advanced) exhibit itself in one subject, it leads to all. The more simple the migration is, the more valuable is the instance. These migrating instances are, moreover, very useful in practice, for since they manifest the form, coupled with that which causes or destroys it, they point out the right practice in some subjects, and thence there is an easy transition to those with which they are most allied. There is, however, a degree of danger which demands caution, namely, lest they should refer the form too much to its efficient cause, and imbue, or at least tinge, the understanding with a false notion of the form from the appearance of such cause, which is never more than a vehicle or conveyance of the form. This may easily be remedied by a proper application of exclusion.
Let us then give an example of a migrating instance. Let whiteness be the required nature. An instance which passes toward generation is glass in its entire and in its powdered state, or water in its natural state, and when agitated to froth; for glass when entire, and water in its natural state, are transparent and not white, but powdered glass and the froth of water are white and not transparent. We must inquire, therefore, what has happened to the glass or water in the course of this migration; for it is manifest that the form of whiteness is conveyed and introduced by the bruising of the glass and the agitation of the water; but nothing is found to have been introduced but a diminishing of the parts of the glass and water and the insertion of air. Yet this is no slight progress toward discovering the form of whiteness, namely, that two bodies, in themselves more or less transparent (as air and water, or air and glass), when brought into contact in minute portions, exhibit whiteness from the unequal refraction of the rays of light.
But here we must also give an example of the danger and caution of which we spoke; for instance, it will readily occur to an understanding perverted by efficients, that air is always necessary for producing the form of whiteness, or that whiteness is only generated by transparent bodies, which suppositions are both false, and proved to be so by many exclusions; nay, it will rather appear (without any particular regard to air or the like), that all bodies which are even in such of their parts as affect the sight exhibit transparency, those which are uneven and of simple texture whiteness, those which are uneven and of compound but regular texture all the other colors except black, but those which are uneven and of a compound irregular and confused texture exhibit blackness. An example has been given, therefore, of an instance migrating toward generation in the required nature of whiteness. An instance migrating toward corruption in the same nature is that of dissolving froth or snow, for they lose their whiteness and assume the transparency of water in its pure state without air.
Nor should we by any means omit to state, that under migrating instances we must comprehend not only those which pass toward generation and destruction, but also those which pass toward increase or decrease, for they, too, assist in the discovery of the form, as is clear from our definition of a form and the Table of Degrees. Hence paper, which is white when dry, is less white when moistened (from the exclusion of air and admission of water), and tends more to transparency. The reason is the same as in the above instances.40
XXIV. In the third rank of prerogative instances we will class conspicuous instances, of which we spoke in our first vintage of the form of heat, and which we are also wont to call coruscations, or free and predominant instances. They are such as show the required nature in its bare substantial shape, and at its height or greatest degree of power, emancipated and free from all impediments, or at least overcoming, suppressing, and restraining them by the strength of its qualities; for since every body is susceptible of many united forms of natures in the concrete, the consequence is that they mutually deaden, depress, break, and confine each other, and the individual forms are obscured. But there are some subjects in which the required nature exists in its full vigor rather than in others, either from the absence of any impediment, or the predominance of its quality. Such instances are eminently conspicuous. But even in these care must be taken, and the hastiness of the understanding checked, for whatever makes a show of the form, and forces it forward, is to be suspected, and recourse must be had to severe and diligent exclusion.
For example, let heat be the required nature. The thermometer is a conspicuous instance of the expansive motion, which (as has been observed) constitutes the chief part of the form of heat; for although flame clearly exhibits expansion, yet from its being extinguished every moment, it does not exhibit the progress of expansion. Boiling water again, from its rapid conversion into vapor, does not so well exhibit the expansion of water in its own shape, while red-hot iron and the like are so far from showing this progress, that, on the contrary, the expansion itself is scarcely evident to the senses, on account of its spirit being repressed and weakened by the compact and coarse particles which subdue and restrain it. But the thermometer strikingly exhibits the expansion of the air as being evident and progressive, durable and not transitory.41
Take another example. Let the required nature be weight. Quicksilver is a conspicuous instance of weight; for it is far heavier than any other substance except gold, which is not much heavier, and it is a better instance than gold for the purpose of indicating the form of weight; for gold is solid and consistent, which qualities must be referred to density, but quicksilver is liquid and teeming with spirit, yet much heavier than the diamond and other substances considered to be most solid; whence it is shown that the form of gravity or weight predominates only in the quantity of matter, and not in the close fitting of it.42
XXV. In the fourth rank of prerogative instances we will class clandestine instances, which we are also wont to call twilight instances; they are as it were opposed to the conspicuous instances, for they show the required nature in its lowest state of efficacy, and as it were its cradle and first rudiments, making an effort and a sort of first attempt, but concealed and subdued by a contrary nature. Such instances are, however, of great importance in discovering forms, for as the conspicuous tend easily to differences, so do the clandestine best lead to genera, that is, to those common natures of which the required natures are only the limits.
As an example, let consistency, or that which confines itself, be the required nature, the opposite of which is a liquid or flowing state. The clandestine instances are such as exhibit some weak and low degree of consistency in fluids, as a water bubble, which is a sort of consistent and bounded pellicle formed out of the substance of the water. So eaves’ droppings, if there be enough water to follow them, draw themselves out into a thin thread, not to break the continuity of the water, but if there be not enough to follow, the water forms itself into a round drop, which is the best form to prevent a breach of continuity; and at the moment the thread ceases, and the water begins to fall in drops, the thread of water recoils upward to avoid such a breach. Nay, in metals, which when melted are liquid but more tenacious, the melted drops often recoil and are suspended. There is something similar in the instance of the child’s looking-glass, which little boys will sometimes form of spittle between rushes, and where the same pellicle of water is observable; and still more in that other amusement of children, when they take some water rendered a little more tenacious by soap, and inflate it with a pipe, forming the water into a sort of castle of bubbles, which assumes such consistency, by the interposition of the air, as to admit of being thrown some little distance without bursting. The best example is that of froth and snow, which assume such consistency as almost to admit of being cut, although composed of air and water, both liquids. All these circumstances clearly show that the terms liquid and consistent are merely vulgar notions adapted to the sense, and that in reality all bodies have a tendency to avoid a breach of continuity, faint and weak in bodies composed of homogeneous parts (as is the case with liquids), but more vivid and powerful in those composed of heterogeneous parts, because the approach of heterogeneous matter binds bodies together, while the insinuation of homogeneous matter loosens and relaxes them.
Again, to take another example, let the required nature be attraction or the cohesion of bodies. The most remarkable conspicuous instance with regard to its form is the magnet. The contrary nature to attraction is non-attraction, though in a similar substance. Thus iron does not attract iron, lead lead, wood wood, nor water water. But the clandestine instance is that of the magnet armed with iron, or rather that of iron in the magnet so armed. For its nature is such that the magnet when armed does not attract iron more powerfully at any given distance than when unarmed; but if the iron be brought in contact with the armed magnet, the latter will sustain a much greater weight than the simple magnet, from the resemblance of substance in the two portions of iron, a quality altogether clandestine and hidden in the iron until the magnet was introduced. It is manifest, therefore, that the form of cohesion is something which is vivid and robust in the magnet, and hidden and weak in the iron. It is to be observed, also, that small wooden arrows without an iron point, when discharged from large mortars, penetrate further into wooden substances (such as the ribs of ships or the like), than the same arrows pointed with iron,43 owing to the similarity of substance, though this quality was previously latent in the wood. Again, although in the mass air does not appear to attract air, nor water water, yet when one bubble is brought near another, they are both more readily dissolved, from the tendency to contact of the water with the water, and the air with the air.44 These clandestine instances (which are, as has been observed, of the most important service) are principally to be observed in small portions of bodies, for the larger masses observe more universal and general forms, as will be mentioned in its proper place.45
XXVI. In the fifth rank of prerogative instances we will class constitutive instances, which we are wont also to call collective instances. They constitute a species or lesser form, as it were, of the required nature. For since the real forms (which are always convertible with the given nature) lie at some depth, and are not easily discovered, the necessity of the case and the infirmity of the human understanding require that the particular forms, which collect certain groups of instances (but by no means all) into some common notion, should not be neglected, but most diligently observed. For whatever unites nature, even imperfectly, opens the way to the discovery of the form. The instances, therefore, which are serviceable in this respect are of no mean power, but endowed with some degree of prerogative.
Here, nevertheless, great care must be taken that, after the discovery of several of these particular forms, and the establishing of certain partitions or divisions of the required nature derived from them, the human understanding do not at once rest satisfied, without preparing for the investigation of the great or leading form, and taking it for granted that nature is compound and divided from its very root, despise and reject any further union as a point of superfluous refinement, and tending to mere abstraction.
For instance, let the required nature be memory, or that which excites and assists memory. The constitutive instances are order or distribution, which manifestly assists memory: topics or commonplaces in artificial memory, which may be either places in their literal sense, as a gate, a corner, a window, and the like, or familiar persons and marks, or anything else (provided it be arranged in a determinate order), as animals, plants, and words, letters, characters, historical persons, and the like, of which, however, some are more convenient than others. All these commonplaces materially assist memory, and raise it far above its natural strength. Verse, too, is recollected and learned more easily than prose. From this group of three instances—order, the commonplaces of artificial memory, and verses—is constituted one species of aid for the memory,46 which may be well termed a separation from infinity. For when a man strives to recollect or recall anything to memory, without a preconceived notion or perception of the object of his search, he inquires about, and labors, and turns from point to point, as if involved in infinity. But if he have any preconceived notion, this infinity is separated off, and the range of his memory is brought within closer limits. In the three instances given above, the preconceived notion is clear and determined. In the first, it must be something that agrees with order; in the second, an image which has some relation or agreement with the fixed commonplaces; in the third, words which fall into a verse: and thus infinity is divided off. Other instances will offer another species, namely, that whatever brings the intellect into contact with something that strikes the sense (the principal point of artificial memory), assists the memory. Others again offer another species, namely, whatever excites an impression by any powerful passion, as fear, shame, wonder, delight, assists the memory. Other instances will afford another species: thus those impressions remain most fixed in the memory which are taken from the mind when clear and least occupied by preceding or succeeding notions, such as the things we learn in childhood, or imagine before sleep, and the first time of any circumstance happening. Other instances afford the following species: namely, that a multitude of circumstances or handles assist the memory, such as writing in paragraphs, reading aloud, or recitation. Lastly, other instances afford still another species: thus the things we anticipate, and which rouse our attention, are more easily remembered than transient events; as if you read any work twenty times over, you will not learn it by heart so readily as if you were to read it but ten times, trying each time to repeat it, and when your memory fails you looking into the book. There are, therefore, six lesser forms, as it were, of things which assist the memory: namely—1, the separation of infinity; 2, the connection of the mind with the senses; 3, the impression in strong passion; 4, the impression on the mind when pure; 5, the multitude of handles; 6, anticipation.
Again, for example’s sake, let the required nature be taste or the power of tasting. The following instances are constitutive: 1. Those who do not smell, but are deprived by nature of that sense, do not perceive or distinguish rancid or putrid food by their taste, nor garlic from roses, and the like. 2. Again, those whose nostrils are obstructed by accident (such as a cold) do not distinguish any putrid or rancid matter from anything sprinkled with rose-water. 3. If those who suffer from a cold blow their noses violently at the very moment in which they have anything fetid or perfumed in their mouth, or on their palate, they instantly have a clear perception of the fetor or perfume. These instances afford and constitute this species or division of taste, namely, that it is in part nothing else than an internal smelling, passing and descending through the upper passages of the nostrils to the mouth and palate. But, on the other hand, those whose power of smelling is deficient or obstructed, perceive what is salt, sweet, pungent, acid, rough, and bitter, and the like, as well as any one else: so that the taste is clearly something compounded of the internal smelling, and an exquisite species of touch which we will not here discuss.
Again, as another example, let the required nature be the communication of quality, without intermixture of substance. The instance of light will afford or constitute one species of communication, heat and the magnet another. For the communication of light is momentary and immediately arrested upon the removal of the original light. But heat, and the magnetic force, when once transmitted to or excited in another body, remain fixed for a considerable time after the removal of the source.
In fine, the prerogative of constitutive instances is considerable, for they materially assist the definitions (especially in detail) and the divisions or partitions of natures, concerning which Plato has well said, “He who can properly define and divide is to be considered a god.”47
XXVII. In the sixth rank of prerogative instances we will place similar or proportionate instances, which we are also wont to call physical parallels, or resemblances. They are such as exhibit the resemblances and connection of things, not in minor forms (as the constitutive do), but at once in the concrete. They are, therefore, as it were, the first and lowest steps toward the union of nature; nor do they immediately establish any axiom, but merely indicate and observe a certain relation of bodies to each other. But although they be not of much assistance in discovering forms, yet they are of great advantage in disclosing the frame of parts of the universe, upon whose members they practice a species of anatomy, and thence occasionally lead us gently on to sublime and noble axioms, especially such as relate to the construction of the world, rather than to simple natures and forms.
As an example, take the following similar instances: a mirror and the eye; the formation of the ear, and places which return an echo. From such similarity, besides observing the resemblance (which is useful for many purposes), it is easy to collect and form this axiom. That the organs of the senses, and bodies which produce reflections to the senses, are of a similar nature. Again, the understanding once informed of this, rises easily to a higher and nobler axiom; namely, that the only distinction between sensitive and inanimate bodies, in those points in which they agree and sympathize, is this: in the former, animal spirit is added to the arrangement of the body, in the latter it is wanting. So that there might be as many senses in animals as there are points of agreement with inanimate bodies, if the animated body were perforated, so as to allow the spirit to have access to the limb properly disposed for action, as a fit organ. And, on the other hand, there are, without doubt, as many motions in an inanimate as there are senses in the animated body, though the animal spirit be absent. There must, however, be many more motions in inanimate bodies than senses in the animated, from the small number of organs of sense. A very plain example of this is afforded by pains. For, as animals are liable to many kinds and various descriptions of pains (such as those of burning, of intense cold, of pricking, squeezing, stretching, and the like), so is it most certain, that the same circumstances, as far as motion is concerned, happen to inanimate bodies, such as wood or stone when burned, frozen, pricked, cut, bent, bruised, and the like; although there be no sensation, owing to the absence of animal spirit.
Again, wonderful as it may appear, the roots and branches of trees are similar instances. For every vegetable swells and throws out its constituent parts toward the circumference, both upward and downward. And there is no difference between the roots and branches, except that the root is buried in the earth, and the branches are exposed to the air and sun. For if one take a young and vigorous shoot, and bend it down to a small portion of loose earth, although it be not fixed to the ground, yet will it immediately produce a root, and not a branch. And, vice versâ, if earth be placed above, and so forced down with a stone or any hard substance, as to confine the plant and prevent its branching upward, it will throw out branches into the air downward.
The gums of trees, and most rock gems, are similar instances; for both of them are exudations and filtered juices, derived in the former instance from trees, in the latter from stones; the brightness and clearness of both arising from a delicate and accurate filtering. For nearly the same reason, the hair of animals is less beautiful and vivid in its color than the plumage of most birds, because the juices are less delicately filtered through the skin than through the quills.
The scrotum of males and matrix of females are also similar instances; so that the noble formation which constitutes the difference of the sexes appears to differ only as to the one being internal and the other external; a greater degree of heat causing the genitals to protrude in the male, while the heat of the female being too weak to effect this, they are retained internally.
The fins of fishes and the feet of quadrupeds, or the feet and wings of birds, are similar instances; to which Aristotle adds the four folds in the motion of serpents;48 so that in the formation of the universe, the motion of animals appears to be chiefly effected by four joints or bendings.
The teeth of land animals, and the beaks of birds, are similar instances, whence it is clear, that in all perfect animals there is a determination of some hard substance toward the mouth.
Again, the resemblance and conformity of man to an inverted plant is not absurd. For the head is the root of the nerves and animal faculties, and the seminal parts are the lowest, not including the extremities of the legs and arms. But in the plant, the root (which resembles the head) is regularly placed in the lowest, and the seeds in the highest part.49
Lastly, we must particularly recommend and suggest, that man’s present industry in the investigation and compilation of natural history be entirely changed, and directed to the reverse of the present system. For it has hitherto been active and curious in noting the variety of things, and explaining the accurate differences of animals, vegetables, and minerals, most of which are the mere sport of nature, rather than of any real utility as concerns the sciences. Pursuits of this nature are certainly agreeable, and sometimes of practical advantage, but contribute little or nothing to the thorough investigation of nature. Our labor must therefore be directed toward inquiring into and observing resemblances and analogies, both in the whole and its parts, for they unite nature, and lay the foundation of the sciences.
Here, however, a severe and rigorous caution must be observed, that we only consider as similar and proportionate instances, those which (as we first observed) point out physical resemblances; that is, real and substantial resemblances, deeply founded in nature, and not casual and superficial, much less superstitious or curious; such as those which are constantly put forward by the writers on natural magic (the most idle of men, and who are scarcely fit to be named in connection with such serious matters as we now treat of), who, with much vanity and folly, describe, and sometimes too, invent, unmeaning resemblances and sympathies.
But leaving such to themselves, similar instances are not to be neglected, in the greater portions of the world’s conformation; such as Africa and the Peruvian continent, which reaches to the Straits of Magellan; both of which possess a similar isthmus and similar capes, a circumstance not to be attributed to mere accident.
Again, the New and Old World are both of them broad and expanded toward the north, and narrow and pointed toward the south.
Again, we have very remarkable similar instances in the intense cold, toward the middle regions (as it is termed) of the air, and the violent fires which are often found to burst from subterraneous spots, the similarity consisting in both being ends and extremes; the extreme of the nature of cold, for instance, is toward the boundary of heaven, and that of the nature of heat toward the centre of the earth, by a similar species of opposition or rejection of the contrary nature.
Lastly, in the axioms of the sciences, there is a similarity of instances worthy of observation. Thus the rhetorical trope which is called surprise, is similar to that of music termed the declining of a cadence. Again—the mathematical postulate, that things which are equal to the same are equal to one another, is similar to the form of the syllogism in logic, which unites things agreeing in the middle term.50 Lastly, a certain degree of sagacity in collecting and searching for physical points of similarity, is very useful in many respects.51
XXVIII. In the seventh rank of prerogative instances, we will place singular instances, which we are also wont to call irregular or heteroclite (to brorrow a term from the grammarians). They are such as exhibit bodies in the concrete, of an apparently extravagant and separate nature, agreeing but little with other things of the same species. For, while the similar instances resemble each other, those we now speak of are only like themselves. Their use is much the same with that of clandestine instances: they bring out and unite nature, and discover genera or common natures, which must afterward be limited by real differences. Nor should we desist from inquiry, until the properties and qualities of those things, which may be deemed miracles, as it were, of nature, be reduced to, and comprehended in, some form or certain law; so that all irregularity or singularity may be found to depend on some common form; and the miracle only consists in accurate differences, degree, and rare coincidence, not in the species itself. Man’s meditation proceeds no further at present, than just to consider things of this kind as the secrets and vast efforts of nature, without an assignable cause, and, as it were, exceptions to general rules.
As examples of singular instances, we have the sun and moon among the heavenly bodies; the magnet among minerals; quicksilver among metals; the elephant among quadrupeds; the venereal sensation among the different kinds of touch; the scent of sporting dogs among those of smell. The letter S, too, is considered by the grammarians as sui generis, from its easily uniting with double or triple consonants, which no other letter will. These instances are of great value, because they excite and keep alive inquiry, and correct an understanding depraved by habit and the common course of things.
XXIX. In the eighth rank of prerogative instances, we will place deviating instances, such as the errors of nature, or strange and monstrous objects, in which nature deviates and turns from her ordinary course. For the errors of nature differ from singular instances, inasmuch as the latter are the miracles of species, the former of individuals. Their use is much the same, for they rectify the understanding in opposition to habit, and reveal common forms. For with regard to these, also, we must not desist from inquiry, till we discern the cause of the deviation. The cause does not, however, in such cases rise to a regular form, but only to the latent process toward such a form. For he who is acquainted with the paths of nature, will more readily observe her deviations; and, vice versâ, he who has learned her deviations will be able more accurately to describe her paths.
They differ again from singular instances, by being much more apt for practice and the operative branch. For it would be very difficult to generate new species, but less so to vary known species, and thus produce many rare and unusual results.52 The passage from the miracles of nature to those of art is easy; for if nature be once seized in her variations, and the cause be manifest, it will be easy to lead her by art to such deviation as she was at first led to by chance; and not only to that but others, since deviations on the one side lead and open the way to others in every direction. Of this we do not require any examples, since they are so abundant. For a compilation, or particular natural history, must be made of all monsters and prodigious births of nature; of everything, in short, which is new, rare and unusual in nature. This should be done with a rigorous selection, so as to be worthy of credit. Those are most to be suspected which depend upon superstition, as the prodigies of Livy, and those perhaps, but little less, which are found in the works of writers on natural magic, or even alchemy, and the like; for such men, as it were, are the very suitors and lovers of fables; but our instances should be derived from some grave and credible history, and faithful narration.
XXX. In the ninth rank of prerogative instances, we will place bordering instances, which we are also wont to term participants. They are such as exhibit those species of bodies which appear to be composed of two species, or to be the rudiments between the one and the other. They may well be classed with the singular or heteroclite instances; for in the whole system of things, they are rare and extraordinary. Yet from their dignity, they must be treated of and classed separately, for they point out admirably the order and constitution of things, and suggest the causes of the number and quality of the more common species in the universe, leading the understanding from that which is, to that which is possible.
We have examples of them in moss, which is something between putrescence and a plant;53 in some comets, which hold a place between stars and ignited meteors; in flying fishes, between fishes and birds; and in bats, between birds and quadrupeds.54 Again,
Simia quam similis turpissima bestia nobis.
We have also biformed fœtus, mingled species and the like.
XXXI. In the tenth rank of prerogative instances, we will place the instances of power, or the fasces (to borrow a term from the insignia of empire), which we are also wont to call the wit or hands of man. These are such works as are most noble and perfect, and, as it were, the masterpieces in every art. For since our principal object is to make nature subservient to the state and wants of man, it becomes us well to note and enumerate the works, which have long since been in the power of man, especially those which are most polished and perfect: because the passage from these to new and hitherto undiscovered works, is more easy and feasible. For if any one, after an attentive contemplation of such works as are extant, be willing to push forward in his design with alacrity and vigor, he will undoubtedly either advance them, or turn them to something within their immediate reach, or even apply and transfer them to some more noble purpose.
Nor is this all: for as the understanding is elevated and raised by rare and unusual works of nature, to investigate and discover the forms which include them also, so is the same effect frequently produced by the excellent and wonderful works of art; and even to a greater degree, because the mode of effecting and constructing the miracles of art is generally plain, while that of effecting the miracles of nature is more obscure. Great care, however, must be taken, that they do not depress the understanding, and fix it, as it were, to earth.
For there is some danger, lest the understanding should be astonished and chained down, and as it were bewitched, by such works of art, as appear to be the very summit and pinnacle of human industry, so as not to become familiar with them, but rather to suppose that nothing of the kind can be accomplished, unless the same means be employed, with perhaps a little more diligence, and more accurate preparation.
Now, on the contrary, it may be stated as a fact, that the ways and means hitherto discovered and observed, of effecting any matter or work, are for the most part of little value, and that all really efficient power depends, and is really to be deduced from the sources of forms, none of which have yet been discovered.
Thus (as we have before observed), had any one meditated on ballistic machines, and battering rams, as they were used by the ancients, whatever application he might have exerted, and though he might have consumed a whole life in the pursuit, yet would he never have hit upon the invention of flaming engines, acting by means of gunpowder; nor would any person, who had made woollen manufactories and cotton the subject of his observation and reflection, have ever discovered thereby the nature of the silkworm or of silk.
Hence all the most noble discoveries have (if you observe) come to light, not by any gradual improvement and extension of the arts, but merely by chance; while nothing imitates or anticipates chance (which is wont to act at intervals of ages) but the invention of forms.
There is no necessity for adducing any particular examples of these instances, since they are abundant. The plan to be pursued is this: all the mechanical, and even the liberal arts (as far as they are practical), should be visited and thoroughly examined, and thence there should be formed a compilation or particular history of the great masterpieces, or most finished works in each, as well as of the mode of carrying them into effect.
Nor do we confine the diligence to be used in such a compilation to the leading works and secrets only of every art, and such as excite wonder; for wonder is engendered by rarity, since that which is rare, although it be compounded of ordinary natures, always begets wonder.
On the contrary, that which is really wonderful, from some specific difference distinguishing it from other species, is carelessly observed, if it be but familiar. Yet the singular instances of art should be observed no less than those of nature, which we have before spoken of: and as in the latter we have classed the sun, the moon, the magnet, and the like, all of them most familiar to us, but yet in their nature singular, so should we proceed with the singular instances of art.
For example: paper, a very common substance, is a singular instance of art; for if you consider the subject attentively, you will find that artificial substances are either woven by straight and transverse lines, as silk, woollen, or linen cloth, and the like; or coagulated from concrete juices, such as brick, earthenware, glass, enamel, porcelain and the like, which admit of a polish if they be compact, but if not, become hard without being polished; all which latter substances are brittle, and not adherent or tenacious. On the contrary, paper is a tenacious substance, which can be cut and torn, so as to resemble and almost rival the skin of any animal, or the leaf of vegetables, and the like works of nature; being neither brittle like glass, nor woven like cloth, but having fibres and not distinct threads, just as natural substances, so that scarcely anything similar can be found among artificial substances, and it is absolutely singular. And in artificial works we should certainly prefer those which approach the nearest to an imitation of nature, or, on the other hand, powerfully govern and change her course.
Again, in these instances which we term the wit and hands of man, charms and conjuring should not be altogether despised, for although mere amusements, and of little use, yet they may afford considerable information.
Lastly, superstition and magic (in its common acceptation) are not to be entirely omitted; for although they be overwhelmed by a mass of lies and fables, yet some investigation should be made, to see if there be really any latent natural operation in them; as in fascination, and the fortifying of the imagination, the sympathy of distant objects, the transmission of impressions from spirit to spirit no less than from body to body, and the like.
XXXII. From the foregoing remarks, it is clear that the last five species of instances (the similar, singular, deviating and bordering instances, and those of power) should not be reserved for the investigation of any given nature, as the preceding and many of the succeeding instances must, but a collection of them should be made at once, in the style of a particular history, so that they may arrange the matter which enters the understanding, and correct its depraved habit, for it is necessarily imbued, corrupted, perverted and distorted by daily and habitual impressions.
They are to be used, therefore, as a preparative, for the purpose of rectifying and purifying the understanding; for whatever withdraws it from habit, levels and planes down its surface for the reception of the dry and pure light of true notions.
These instances, moreover, level and prepare the way for the operative branch, as we will mention in its proper place when speaking of the practical deductions.
XXXIII. In the eleventh rank of prerogative instances we will place accompanying and hostile instances. These are such as exhibit any body or concrete, where the required nature is constantly found, as an inseparable companion, or, on the contrary, where the required nature is constantly avoided, and excluded from attendance, as an enemy. From these instances may be formed certain and universal propositions, either affirmative or negative; the subject of which will be the concrete body, and the predicate the required nature. For particular propositions are by no means fixed, when the required nature is found to fluctuate and change in the concrete, either approaching and acquired, or receding and laid aside. Hence particular propositions have no great prerogative, except in the case of migration, of which we have spoken above. Yet such particular propositions are of great use, when compared with the universal, as will be mentioned in its proper place. Nor do we require absolute affirmation or negation, even in universal propositions, for if the exceptions be singular or rare, it is sufficient for our purpose.
The use of accompanying instances is to narrow the affirmative of form; for as it is narrowed by the migrating instances, where the form must necessarily be something communicated or destroyed by the act of migration, so it is narrowed by accompanying instances, where the form must necessarily be something which enters into the concretion of the body, or, on the contrary, is repugnant to it; and one who is well acquainted with the constitution or formation of the body, will not be far from bringing to light the form of the required nature.
For example: let the required nature be heat. Flame is an accompanying instance; for in water, air, stone, metal, and many other substances, heat is variable, and can approach or retire; but all flame is hot, so that heat always accompanies the concretion of flame. We have no hostile instance of heat; for the senses are unacquainted with the interior of the earth, and there is no concretion of any known body which is not susceptible of heat.
Again, let solidity be the required nature. Air is a hostile instance; for metals may be liquid or solid, so may glass; even water may become solid by congelation, but air cannot become solid or lose its fluidity.
With regard to these instances of fixed propositions, there are two points to be observed, which are of importance. First, that if there be no universal affirmative or negative, it be carefully noted as not existing. Thus, in heat, we have observed that there exists no universal negative, in such substances, at least, as have come to our knowledge. Again, if the required nature be eternity or incorruptibility, we have no universal affirmative within our sphere, for these qualities cannot be predicated of any bodies below the heavens, or above the interior of the earth. Secondly, to our general propositions as to any concrete, whether affirmative or negative, we should subjoin the concretes which appear to approach nearest to the non-existing substances; such as the most gentle or leastburning flames in heat, or gold in incorruptibility, since it approaches nearest to it. For they all serve to show the limit of existence and non-existence, and circumscribe forms, so that they cannot wander beyond the conditions of matter.
XXXIV. In the twelfth rank of prerogative instances, we will class those subjunctive instances, of which we spoke in the last aphorism, and which we are also wont to call instances of extremity or limits; for they are not only serviceable when subjoined to fixed propositions, but also of themselves and from their own nature. They indicate with sufficient precision the real divisions of nature, and measures of things, and the “how far” nature effects or allows of anything, and her passage thence to something else. Such are gold in weight, iron in hardness, the whale in the size of animals, the dog in smell, the flame of gunpowder in rapid expansion, and others of a like nature. Nor are we to pass over the extremes in defect, as well as in abundance, as spirits of wine in weight, the touchstone in softness, the worms upon the skin in the size of animals, and the like.
XXXV. In the thirteenth rank of prerogative instances we will place those of alliance or union. They are such as mingle and unite natures held to be heterogeneous, and observed and marked as such in received classifications.
These instances show that the operation and effect, which is considered peculiar to some one of such heterogeneous natures, may also be attributed to another nature styled heterogeneous, so as to prove that the difference of the natures is not real nor essential, but a mere modification of a common nature. They are very serviceable, therefore, in elevating and carrying on the mind, from differences to genera, and in removing those phantoms and images of things, which meet it in disguise in concrete substances.
For example: let the required nature be heat. The classification of heat into three kinds, that of the celestial bodies, that of animals, and that of fire, appears to be settled and admitted; and these kinds of heat, especially one of them compared with the other two, are supposed to be different, and clearly heterogeneous in their essence and species, or specific nature, since the heat of the heavenly bodies and of animals generates and cherishes, while that of fire corrupts and destroys. We have an instance of alliance, then, in a very common experiment, that of a vine branch admitted into a building where there is a constant fire, by which the grapes ripen a whole month sooner than in the air; so that fruit upon the tree can be ripened by fire, although this appear the peculiar effect of the sun. From this beginning, therefore, the understanding rejects all essential difference, and easily ascends to the investigation of the real differences between the heat of the sun and that of fire, by which their operation is rendered dissimilar, although they partake of a common nature.
These differences will be found to be four in number. 1. The heat of the sun is much milder and gentler in degree than that of fire. 2. It is much more moist in quality, especially as it is transmitted to us through the air. 3. Which is the chief point, it is very unequal, advancing and increased at one time, retiring and diminished at another, which mainly contributes to the generation of bodies. For Aristotle rightly asserted, that the principal cause of generation and corruption on the surface of the earth was the oblique path of the sun in the zodiac, whence its heat becomes very unequal, partly from the alternation of night and day, partly from the succession of summer and winter. Yet must he immediately corrupt and pervert his discovery, by dictating to nature according to his habit, and dogmatically assigning the cause of generation to the approach of the sun, and that of corruption to its retreat; while, in fact, each circumstance indifferently and not respectively contributes both to generation and corruption; for unequal heat tends to generate and corrupt, as equable heat does to preserve. 4. The fourth difference between the heat of the sun and fire is of great consequence; namely, that the sun, gradually, and for a length of time, insinuates its effects, while those of fire (urged by the impatience of man) are brought to a termination in a shorter space of time. But if any one were to pay attention to the tempering of fire, and reducing it to a more moderate and gentle degree (which may be done in various ways), and then were to sprinkle and mix a degree of humidity with it; and, above all, were to imitate the sun in its inequality; and, lastly, were patiently to suffer some delay (not such, however, as is proportioned to the effects of the sun, but more than men usually admit of in those of fire), he would soon banish the notion of any difference, and would attempt, or equal, or perhaps sometimes surpass the effect of the sun, by the heat of fire. A like instance of alliance is that of reviving butterflies, benumbed and nearly dead from cold, by the gentle warmth of fire; so that fire is no less able to revive animals than to ripen vegetables. We may also mention the celebrated invention of Fracastorius, of applying a pan considerably heated to the head in desperate cases of apoplexy, which clearly expands the animal spirits, when compressed and almost extinguished by the humors and obstructions of the brain, and excites them to action, as the fire would operate on water or air, and in the result produces life. Eggs are sometimes hatched by the heat of fire, an exact imitation of animal heat; and there are many instances of the like nature, so that no one can doubt that the heat of fire, in many cases, can be modified till it resemble that of the heavenly bodies and of animals.
Again, let the required natures be motion and rest. There appears to be a settled classification, grounded on the deepest philosophy, that natural bodies either revolve, move in a straight line, or stand still and rest. For there is either motion without limit, or continuance within a certain limit, or a translation toward a certain limit. The eternal motion of revolution appears peculiar to the heavenly bodies, rest to this our globe, and the other bodies (heavy and light, as they are termed, that is to say, placed out of their natural position) are borne in a straight line to masses or aggregates which resemble them, the light toward the heaven, the heavy toward the earth; and all this is very fine language.
But we have an instance of alliance in low comets, which revolve, though far below the heavens; and the fiction of Aristotle, of the comet being fixed to, or necessarily following some star, has been long since exploded; not only because it is improbable in itself, but from the evident fact of the discursive and irregular motion of comets through various parts of the heavens.55
Another instance of alliance is that of the motion of air, which appears to revolve from east to west within the tropics, where the circles of revolution are the greatest.
The flow and ebb of the sea would perhaps be another instance, if the water were once found to have a motion of revolution, though slow and hardly perceptible, from east to west, subject, however, to a reaction twice a day. If this be so, it is clear that the motion of revolution is not confined to the celestial bodies, but is shared, also, by air and water.
Again—the supposed peculiar disposition of light bodies to rise is rather shaken; and here we may find an instance of alliance in a water bubble. For if air be placed under water, it rises rapidly toward the surface by that striking motion (as Democritus terms it) with which the descending water strikes the air and raises it, not by any struggle or effort of the air itself; and when it has reached the surface of the water, it is prevented from ascending any further, by the slight resistance it meets with in the water, which does not allow an immediate separation of its parts, so that the tendency of the air to rise must be very slight.
Again, let the required nature be weight. It is certainly a received classification, that dense and solid bodies are borne toward the centre of the earth, and rare and light bodies to the circumference of the heavens, as their appropriate places. As far as relates to places (though these things have much weight in the schools), the notion of there being any determinate place is absurd and puerile. Philosophers trifle, therefore, when they tell you, that if the earth were perforated, heavy bodies would stop on their arrival at the centre. This centre would indeed be an efficacious nothing, or mathematical point, could it affect bodies or be sought by them, for a body is not acted upon except by a body.56 In fact, this tendency to ascend and descend is either in the conformation of the moving body, or in its harmony and sympathy with another body. But if any dense and solid body be found, which does not, however, tend toward the earth, the classification is at an end. Now, if we allow of Gilbert’s opinion, that the magnetic power of the earth, in attracting heavy bodies, is not extended beyond the limit of its peculiar virtue (which operates always at a fixed distance and no further),57 and this be proved by some instance, such an instance will be one of alliance in our present subject. The nearest approach to it is that of waterspouts, frequently seen by persons navigating the Atlantic toward either of the Indies. For the force and mass of the water suddenly effused by waterspouts, appears to be so considerable, that the water must have been collected previously, and have remained fixed where it was formed, until it was afterward forced down by some violent cause, rather than made to fall by the natural motion of gravity: so that it may be conjectured that a dense and compact mass, at a great distance from the earth, may be suspended as the earth itself is, and would not fall, unless forced down. We do not, however, affirm this as certain. In the meanwhile, both in this respect and many others, it will readily be seen how deficient we are in natural history, since we are forced to have recourse to suppositions for examples, instead of ascertained instances.
Again, let the required nature be the discursive power of the mind. The classification of human reason and animal instinct appears to be perfectly correct. Yet there are some instances of the actions of brutes which seem to show that they, too, can syllogize. Thus it is related, that a crow, which had nearly perished from thirst in a great drought, saw some water in the hollow trunk of a tree, but as it was too narrow for him to get into it, he continued to throw in pebbles, which made the water rise till he could drink; and it afterward became a proverb.
Again, let the required nature be vision. The classification appears real and certain, which considers light as that which is originally visible, and confers the power of seeing; and color, as being secondarily visible, and not capable of being seen without light, so as to appear a mere image or modification of light. Yet there are instances of alliance in each respect; as in snow when in great quantities, and in the flame of sulphur; the one being a color originally and in itself light, the other a light verging toward color.58
XXXVI. In the fourteenth rank of prerogative instances, we will place the instances of the cross, borrowing our metaphor from the crosses erected where two roads meet, to point out the different directions. We are wont also to call them decisive and judicial instances, and in some cases instances of the oracle and of command. Their nature is as follows: When in investigating any nature the understanding is, as it were, balanced, and uncertain to which of two or more natures the cause of the required nature should be assigned, on account of the frequent and usual concurrence of several natures, the instances of the cross show that the union of one nature with the required nature is firm and indissoluble, while that of the other is unsteady and separable; by which means the question is decided, and the first is received as the cause, while the other is dismissed and rejected. Such instances, therefore, afford great light, and are of great weight, so that the course of interpretation sometimes terminates, and is completed in them. Sometimes, however, they are found among the instances already observed, but they are generally new, being expressly and purposely sought for and applied, and brought to light only by attentive and active diligence.
For example: let the required nature be the flow and ebb of the sea, which is repeated twice a day, at intervals of six hours between each advance and retreat, with some little difference, agreeing with the motion of the moon. We have here the following crossways:
This motion must be occasioned either by the advancing and the retiring of the sea, like water shaken in a basin, which leaves one side while it washes the other; or by the rising of the sea from the bottom, and its again subsiding, like boiling water. But a doubt arises, to which of these causes we should assign the flow and ebb. If the first assertion be admitted, it follows, that when there is a flood on one side, there must at the same time be an ebb on another, and the question therefore is reduced to this. Now Acosta, and some others, after a diligent inquiry, have observed that the flood tide takes place on the coast of Florida, and the opposite coasts of Spain and Africa, at the same time, as does also the ebb; and that there is not, on the contrary, a flood tide at Florida when there is an ebb on the coasts of Spain and Africa. Yet if one consider the subject attentively, this does not prove the necessity of a rising motion, nor refute the notion of a progressive motion. For the motion may be progressive, and yet inundate the opposite shores of a channel at the same time; as if the waters be forced and driven together from some other quarter, for instance, which takes place in rivers, for they flow and ebb toward each bank at the same time, yet their motion is clearly progressive, being that of the waters from the sea entering their mouths. So it may happen, that the waters coming in a vast body from the eastern Indian Ocean are driven together, and forced into the channel of the Atlantic, and therefore inundate both coasts at once. We must inquire, therefore, if there be any other channel by which the waters can at the same time sink and ebb; and the Southern Ocean at once suggests itself, which is not less than the Atlantic, but rather broader and more extensive than is requisite for this effect.
We at length arrive, then, at an instance of the cross, which is this. If it be positively discovered, that when the flood sets in toward the opposite coasts of Florida and Spain in the Atlantic, there is at the same time a flood tide on the coasts of Peru and the back part of China, in the Southern Ocean, then assuredly, from this decisive instance, we must reject the assertion, that the flood and ebb of the sea, about which we inquire, takes place by progressive motion; for no other sea or place is left where there can be an ebb. But this may most easily be learned, by inquiring of the inhabitants of Panama and Lima (where the two oceans are separated by a narrow isthmus), whether the flood and ebb takes place on the opposite sides of the isthmus at the same time, or the reverse. This decision or rejection appears certain, if it be granted that the earth is fixed; but if the earth revolves, it may perhaps happen, that from the unequal revolution (as regards velocity) of the earth and the waters of the sea, there may be a violent forcing of the waters into a mass, forming the flood, and a subsequent relaxation of them (when they can no longer bear the accumulation), forming the ebb. A separate inquiry must be made into this. Even with this hypothesis, however, it remains equally true, that there must be an ebb somewhere, at the same time that there is a flood in another quarter.
Again, let the required nature be the latter of the two motions we have supposed; namely, that of a rising and subsiding motion, if it should happen that upon diligent examination the progressive motion be rejected. We have, then, three ways before us, with regard to this nature. The motion, by which the waters raise themselves, and again fall back, in the floods and ebbs, without the addition of any other water rolled toward them, must take place in one of the three following ways: Either the supply of water emanates from the interior of the earth, and returns back again; or there is really no greater quantity of water, but the same water (without any augmentation of its quantity) is extended or rarefied, so as to occupy a greater space and dimension, and again contracts itself; or there is neither an additional supply nor any extension, but the same waters (with regard to quantity, density, or rarity) raise themselves and fall from sympathy, by some magnetic power attracting and calling them up, as it were, from above. Let us then (passing over the first two motions) reduce the investigation to the last, and inquire if there be any such elevation of the water by sympathy or a magnetic force; and it is evident, in the first place, that the whole mass of water being placed in the trench or cavity of the sea, cannot be raised at once, because there would not be enough to cover the bottom, so that if there be any tendency of this kind in the water to raise itself, yet it would be interrupted and checked by the cohesion of things, or (as the common expression is) that there may be no vacuum. The water, therefore, must rise on one side, and for that reason be diminished and ebb on another. But it will again necessarily follow that the magnetic power not being able to operate on the whole, operates most intensely on the centre, so as to raise the waters there, which, when thus raised successively, desert and abandon the sides.59
We at length arrive, then, at an instance of the cross, which is this: if it be found that during the ebb the surface of the waters at sea is more curved and round, from the waters rising in the middle, and sinking at the sides or coast, and if, during a flood, it be more even and level, from the waters returning to their former position, then assuredly, by this decisive instance, the raising of them by a magnetic force can be admitted; if otherwise, it must be entirely rejected. It is not difficult to make the experiment (by sounding in straits), whether the sea be deeper toward the middle in ebbs, than in floods. But it must be observed, if this be the case, that (contrary to common opinion) the waters rise in ebbs, and only return to their former position in floods, so as to bathe and inundate the coast.
Again, let the required nature be the spontaneous motion of revolution, and particularly, whether the diurnal motion, by which the sun and stars appear to us to rise and set, be a real motion of revolution in the heavenly bodies, or only apparent in them, and real in the earth. There may be an instance of the cross of the following nature. If there be discovered any motion in the ocean from east to west, though very languid and weak, and if the same motion be discovered rather more swift in the air (particularly within the tropics, where it is more perceptible from the circles being greater). If it be discovered also in the low comets, and be already quick and powerful in them; if it be found also in the planets, but so tempered and regulated as to be slower in those nearest the earth, and quicker in those at the greatest distance, being quickest of all in the heavens, then the diurnal motion should certainly be considered as real in the heavens, and that of the earth must be rejected; for it will be evident that the motion from east to west is part of the system of the world and universal; since it is most rapid in the height of the heavens, and gradually grows weaker, till it stops and is extinguished in rest at the earth.
Again, let the required nature be that other motion of revolution, so celebrated among astronomers, which is contrary to the diurnal, namely, from west to east—and which the ancient astronomers assign to the planets, and even to the starry sphere, but Copernicus and his followers to the earth also—and let it be examined whether any such motion be found in nature, or it be rather a fiction and hypothesis for abridging and facilitating calculation, and for promoting that fine notion of effecting the heavenly motions by perfect circles; for there is nothing which proves such a motion in heavenly objects to be true and real, either in a planet’s not returning in its diurnal motion to the same point of the starry sphere, or in the pole of the zodiac being different from that of the world, which two circumstances have occasioned this notion. For the first phenomenon is well accounted for by the spheres overtaking or falling behind each other, and the second by spiral lines; so that the inaccuracy of the return and declination to the tropics may be rather modifications of the one diurnal motion than contrary motions, or about different poles. And it is most certain, if we consider ourselves for a moment as part of the vulgar (setting aside the fictions of astronomers and the school, who are wont undeservedly to attack the senses in many respects, and to affect obscurity), that the apparent motion is such as we have said, a model of which we have sometimes caused to be represented by wires in a sort of a machine.
We may take the following instances of the cross upon this subject. If it be found in any history worthy of credit, that there has existed any comet, high or low, which has not revolved in manifest harmony (however irregularly) with the diurnal motion, then we may decide so far as to allow such a motion to be possible in nature. But if nothing of the sort be found, it must be suspected, and recourse must be had to other instances of the cross.
Again, let the required nature be weight or gravity. Heavy and ponderous bodies must, either of their own nature, tend toward the centre of the earth by their peculiar formation, or must be attracted and hurried by the corporeal mass of the earth itself, as being an assemblage of similar bodies, and be drawn to it by sympathy. But if the latter be the cause, it follows that the nearer bodies approach to the earth, the more powerfully and rapidly they must be borne toward it, and the further they are distant, the more faintly and slowly (as is the case in magnetic attractions), and that this must happen within a given distance; so that if they be separated at such a distance from the earth that the power of the earth cannot act upon them, they will remain suspended like the earth, and not fall at all.60
The following instance of the cross may be adopted. Take a clock moved by leaden weights,61 and another by a spring, and let them be set well together, so that one be neither quicker nor slower than the other; then let the clock moved by weights be placed on the top of a very high church, and the other be kept below, and let it be well observed, if the former move slower than it did, from the diminished power of the weights. Let the same experiment be made at the bottom of mines worked to a considerable depth, in order to see whether the clock move more quickly from the increased power of the weights. But if this power be found to diminish at a height, and to increase in subterraneous places, the attraction of the corporeal mass of the earth may be taken as the cause of weight.
Again, let the required nature be the polarity of the steel needle when touched with the magnet. We have these two ways with regard to this nature—Either the touch of the magnet must communicate polarity to the steel toward the north and south, or else it may only excite and prepare it, while the actual motion is occasioned by the presence of the earth, which Gilbert considers to be the case, and endeavors to prove with so much labor. The particulars he has inquired into with such ingenious zeal amount to this—1. An iron bolt placed for a long time toward the north and south acquires polarity from this habit, without the touch of the magnet, as if the earth itself operating but weakly from its distance (for the surface or outer crust of the earth does not, in his opinion, possess the magnetic power), yet, by long continued motion, could supply the place of the magnet, excite the iron, and convert and change it when excited. 2. Iron, at a red or white heat, when quenched in a direction parallel to the north and south, also acquires polarity without the touch of the magnet, as if the parts of iron being put in motion by ignition, and afterward recovering themselves, were, at the moment of being quenched, more susceptible and sensitive of the power emanating from the earth, than at other times, and therefore as it were excited. But these points, though well observed, do not completely prove his assertion.
An instance of the cross on this point might be as follows: Let a small magnetic globe be taken, and its poles marked, and placed toward the east and west, not toward the north and south, and let it continue thus. Then let an untouched needle be placed over it, and suffered to remain so for six or seven days. Now, the needle (for this is not disputed), while it remains over the magnet, will leave the poles of the world and turn to those of the magnet, and therefore, as long as it remains in the above position, will turn to the east and west. But if the needle, when removed from the magnet and placed upon a pivot, be found immediately to turn to the north and south, or even by degrees to return thither, then the presence of the earth must be considered as the cause, but if it remains turned as at first, toward the east and west, or lose its polarity, then that cause must be suspected, and further inquiry made.
Again, let the required nature be the corporeal substance of the moon, whether it be rare, fiery, and aërial (as most of the ancient philosophers have thought), or solid and dense (as Gilbert and many of the moderns, with some of the ancients, hold).62 The reasons for this latter opinion are grounded chiefly upon this, that the moon reflects the sun’s rays, and that light does not appear capable of being reflected except by solids. The instances of the cross will therefore (if any) be such as to exhibit reflection by a rare body, such as flame, if it be but sufficietly dense. Now, certainly, one of the reasons of twilight is the reflection63 of the rays of the sun by the upper part of the atmosphere. We see the sun’s rays also reflected on fine evenings by streaks of moist clouds, with a splendor not less, but perhaps more bright and glorious than that reflected from the body of the moon, and yet it is not clear that those clouds have formed into a dense body of water. We see, also, that the dark air behind the windows at night reflects the light of a candle in the same manner as a dense body would do.64 The experiment should also be made of causing the sun’s rays to fall through a hole upon some dark and bluish flame. The unconfined rays of the sun, when falling on faint flames, do certainly appear to deaden them, and render them more like white smoke than flames. These are the only instances which occur at present of the nature of those of the cross, and better perhaps can be found. But it must always be observed that reflection is not to be expected from flame, unless it be of some depth, for otherwise it becomes nearly transparent. This at least may be considered certain, that light is always either received and transmitted or reflected by an even surface.
Again, let the required nature be the motion of projectiles (such as darts, arrows, and balls) through the air. The school, in its usual manner, treats this very carelessly, considering it enough to distinguish it by the name of violent motion, from that which they term natural, and as far as regards the first percussion or impulse, satisfies itself by its axiom, that two bodies cannot exist in one place, or there would be a penetration of dimensions. With regard to this nature we have these two crossways—The motion must arise either from the air carrying the projected body, and collecting behind it, like a stream behind boats, or the wind behind straws; or from the parts of the body itself not supporting the impression, but pushing themselves forward in succession to ease it. Fracastorius, and nearly all those who have entered into any refined inquiry upon the subject, adopt the first. Nor can it be doubted that the air has some effect, yet the other motion is without doubt real, as is clear from a vast number of experiments. Among others we may take this instance of the cross, namely, that a thin plate or wire of iron rather stiff, or even a reed or pen split in two, when drawn up and bent between the finger and thumb, will leap forward; for it is clear that this cannot be attributed to the air’s being collected behind the body, because the source of motion is in the centre of the plate or pen, and not in its extremities.
Again, let the required nature be the rapid and powerful motion of the explosion of gunpowder, by which such vast masses are upheaved, and such weights discharged as we observe in large mines and mortars, there are two crossways before us with regard to this nature. This motion is excited either by the mere effort of the body expanding itself when inflamed, or by the assisting effort of the crude spirit, which escapes rapidly from fire, and bursts violently from the surrounding flame as from a prison. The school, however, and common opinion only consider the first effort; for men think that they are great philosophers when they assert that flame, from the form of the element, is endowed with a kind of necessity of occupying a greater space than the same body had occupied when in the form of powder, and that thence proceeds the motion in question. In the meantime they do not observe, that although this may be true, on the supposition of flame being generated, yet the generation may be impeded by a weight of sufficient force to compress and suffocate it, so that no such necessity exists as they assert. They are right, indeed, in imagining that the expansion and the consequent emission or removal of the opposing body, is necessary if flame be once generated, but such a necessity is avoided if the solid opposing mass suppress the flame before it be generated; and we in fact see that flame, especially at the moment of its generation, is mild and gentle, and requires a hollow space where it can play and try its force. The great violence of the effect, therefore, cannot be attributed to this cause; but the truth is, that the generation of these exploding flames and fiery blasts arises from the conflict of two bodies of a decidedly opposite nature—the one very inflammable, as is the sulphur, the other having an antipathy to flame, namely, the crude spirit of the nitre; so that an extraordinary conflict takes place while the sulphur is becoming inflamed as far as it can (for the third body, the willow charcoal, merely incorporates and conveniently unites the two others), and the spirit of nitre is escaping, as far also as it can, and at the same time expanding itself (for air, and all crude substances, and water are expanded by heat), fanning thus, in every direction, the flame of the sulphur by its escape and violence, just as if by invisible bellows.
Two kinds of instances of the cross might here be used—the one of very inflammable substances, such as sulphur and camphor, naphtha and the like, and their compounds, which take fire more readily and easily than gunpowder if left to themselves (and this shows that the effort to catch fire does not of itself produce such a prodigious effect); the other of substances which avoid and repel flame, such as all salts; for we see that when they are cast into the fire, the aqueous spirit escapes with a crackling noise before flame is produced, which also happens in a less degree in stiff leaves, from the escape of the aqueous part before the oily part has caught fire. This is more particularly observed in quicksilver, which is not improperly called mineral water, and which, without any inflammation, nearly equals the force of gunpowder by simple explosion and expansion, and is said, when mixed with gunpowder, to increase its force.
Again, let the required nature be the transitory nature of flame and its momentaneous extinction; for to us the nature of flame does not appear to be fixed or settled, but to be generated from moment to moment, and to be every instant extinguished; it being clear that those flames which continue and last, do not owe their continuance to the same mass of flame, but to a continued succession of new flame regularly generated, and that the same identical flame does not continue. This is easily shown by removing the food or source of the flame, when it at once goes out. We have the two following crossways with regard to this nature:
This momentary nature either arises from the cessation of the cause which first produced it, as in light, sounds, and violent motions, as they are termed, or flame may be capable, by its own nature, of duration, but is subjected to some violence from the contrary natures which surround it, and is destroyed.
We may therefore adopt the following instance of the cross. We see to what a height the flames rise in great conflagrations; for as the base of the flame becomes more extensive, its vertex is more lofty. It appears, then, that the commencement of the extinction takes place at the sides, where the flame is compressed by the air, and is ill at ease; but the centre of the flame, which is untouched by the air and surrounded by flame, continues the same, and is not extinguished until compressed by degrees by the air attacking it from the sides. All flame, therefore, is pyramidal, having its base near the source, and its vertex pointed from its being resisted by the air, and not supplied from the source. On the contrary, the smoke, which is narrow at the base, expands in its ascent, and resembles an inverted pyramid, because the air admits the smoke, but compresses the flame; for let no one dream that the lighted flame is air, since they are clearly heterogeneous.
The instance of the cross will be more accurate, if the experiment can be made by flames of different colors. Take, therefore, a small metal sconce, and place a lighted taper in it, then put it in a basin, and pour a small quantity of spirits of wine round the sconce, so as not to reach its edge, and light the spirit. Now the flame of the spirit will be blue, and that of the taper yellow; observe, therefore, whether the latter (which can easily be distinguished from the former by its color, for flames do not mix immediately, as liquids do) continue pyramidal, or tend more to a globular figure, since there is nothing to destroy or compress it. If the latter result be observed, it must be considered as settled, that flame continues positively the same, while inclosed within another flame, and not exposed to the resisting force of the air.
Let this suffice for the instances of the cross. We have dwelt the longer upon them in order gradually to teach and accustom mankind to judge of nature by these instances, and enlightening experiments, and not by probable reasons.65
XXXVII. We will treat of the instances of divorce as the fifteenth of our prerogative instances. They indicate the separation of natures of the most common occurrence. They differ, however, from those subjoined to the accompanying instances; for the instances of divorce point out the separation of a particular nature from some concrete substance with which it is usually found in conjunction, while the hostile instances point out the total separation of one nature from another. They differ, also, from the instances of the cross, because they decide nothing, but only inform us that the one nature is capable of being separated from the other. They are of use in exposing false forms, and dissipating hasty theories derived from obvious facts; so that they add ballast and weight, as it were, to the understanding.
For instance, let the acquired natures be those four which Telesius terms associates, and of the same family, namely, heat, light, rarity, and mobility, or promptitude to motion; yet many instances of divorce can be discovered between them. Air is rare and easily moved, but neither hot nor light; the moon is light but not hot; boiling water is warm but not light; the motion of the needle in the compass is swift and active, and yet its substance is cold, dense, and opaque; and there are many similar examples.
Again, let the required natures be corporeal nature and natural action. The latter appears incapable of subsisting without some body, yet may we, perhaps, even here find an instance of divorce, as in the magnetic motion, which draws the iron to the magnet, and heavy bodies to the globe of the earth; to which we may add other actions which operate at a distance. For such action takes place in time, by distinct moments, not in an instant; and in space, by regular degrees and distances. There is, therefore, some one moment of time and some interval of space, in which the power or action is suspended between the two bodies creating the motion. Our consideration, then, is reduced to this, whether the bodies which are the extremes of motion prepare or alter the intermediate bodies, so that the power advances from one extreme to the other by succession and actual contact, and in the meantime exists in some intermediate body; or whether there exists in reality nothing but the bodies, the power, and the space? In the case of the rays of light, sounds, and heat, and some other objects which operate at a distance, it is indeed probable that the intermediate bodies are prepared and altered, the more so because a qualified medium is required for their operation. But the magnetic or attractive power admits of an indifferent medium, and it is not impeded in any. But if that power or action is independent of the intermediate body, it follows that it is a natural power or action existing in a certain time and space without any body, since it exists neither in the extreme nor in the intermediate bodies. Hence the magnetic action may be taken as an instance of divorce of corporeal nature and natural action; to which we may add, as a corollary and an advantage not to be neglected, that it may be taken as a proof of essence and substance being separate and incorporeal, even by those who philosophize according to the senses. For if natural power and action emanating from a body can exist at any time and place entirely without any body, it is nearly a proof that it can also emanate originally from an incorporeal substance; for a corporeal nature appears to be no less necessary for supporting and conveying, than for exciting or generating natural action.
XXXVIII. Next follow five classes of instances which we are wont to call by the general term of instances of the lamp, or of immediate information. They are such as assist the senses; for since every interpretation of nature sets out from the senses, and leads, by a regular fixed and well-established road, from the perceptions of the senses to those of the understanding (which are true notions and axioms), it necessarily follows, that in proportion as the representatives or ministerings of the senses are more abundant and accurate, everything else must be more easy and successful.
The first of these five sets of instances of the lamp, strengthen, enlarge, and correct the immediate operations of the senses; the second reduce to the sphere of the senses such matters as are beyond it; the third indicate the continued process or series of such things and motions, as for the most part are only observed in their termination, or in periods; the fourth supply the absolute wants of the senses; the fifth excite their attention and observation, and at the same time limit the subtilty of things. We will now proceed to speak of them singly.
XXXIX. In the sixteenth rank, then, of prerogative instances, we will place the instances of the door or gate, by which name we designate such as assist the immediate action of the senses. It is obvious, that sight holds the first rank among the senses, with regard to information, for which reason we must seek principally helps for that sense. These helps appear to be threefold, either to enable it to perceive objects not naturally seen, or to see them from a greater distance, or to see them more accurately and distinctly.
We have an example of the first (not to speak of spectacles and the like, which only correct and remove the infirmity of a deficient sight, and therefore give no further information) in the lately invented microscopes, which exhibit the latent and invisible minutiæ of substances, and their hidden formation and motion, by wonderfully increasing their apparent magnitude. By their assistance we behold with astonishment the accurate form and outline of a flea, moss, and animalculæ, as well as their previously invisible color and motion. It is said, also, that an apparently straight line, drawn with a pen or pencil, is discovered by such a microscope to be very uneven and curved, because neither the motion of the hand, when assisted by a ruler, nor the impression of ink or color, are really regular, although the irregularities are so minute as not to be perceptible without the assistance of the microscope. Men have (as is usual in new and wonderful discoveries) added a superstitious remark, that the microscope sheds a lustre on the works of nature, and dishonor on those of art, which only means that the tissue of nature is much more delicate than that of art. For the microscope is only of use for minute objects, and Democritus, perhaps, if he had seen it, would have exulted in the thought of a means being discovered for seeing his atom, which he affirmed to be entirely invisible. But the inadequacy of these microscopes, for the observation of any but the most minute bodies, and even of those if parts of a larger body, destroys their utility; for if the invention could be extended to greater bodies, or the minute parts of greater bodies, so that a piece of cloth would appear like a net, and the latent minutiæ and irregularities of gems, liquids, urine, blood, wounds, and many other things could be rendered visible, the greatest advantage would, without doubt, be derived.
We have an instance of the second kind in the telescope, discovered by the wonderful exertions of Galileo; by the assistance of which a nearer intercourse may be opened (as by boats or vessels) between ourselves and the heavenly objects. For by its aid we are assured that the Milky Way is but a knot or constellation of small stars, clearly defined and separate, which the ancients only conjectured to be the case; whence it appears to be capable of demonstration, that the spaces of the planetary orbits (as they are termed) are not quite destitute of other stars, but that the heaven begins to glitter with stars before we arrive at the starry sphere, although they may be too small to be visible without the telescope. By the telescope, also, we can behold the revolutions of smaller stars round Jupiter, whence it may be conjectured that there are several centres of motion among the stars. By its assistance, also, the irregularity of light and shade on the moon’s surface is more clearly observed and determined, so as to allow of a sort of selenography.66 By the telescope we see the spots in the sun, and other similar phenomena; all of which are most noble discoveries, as far as credit can be safely given to demonstrations of this nature, which are on this account very suspicious, namely, that experiment stops at these few, and nothing further has yet been discovered by the same method, among objects equally worthy of consideration.
We have instances of the third kind in measuring-rods, astrolabes, and the like, which do not enlarge, but correct and guide the sight. If there be other instances which assist the other senses in their immediate and individual action, yet if they add nothing further to their information they are not apposite to our present purpose, and we have therefore said nothing of them.
XL. In the seventeenth rank of prerogative instances we will place citing instances (to borrow a term from the tribunals), because they cite those things to appear, which have not yet appeared. We are wont also to call them invoking instances, and their property is that of reducing to the sphere of the senses objects which do not immediately fall within it.
Objects escape the senses either from their distance, or the intervention of other bodies, or because they are not calculated to make an impression upon the senses, or because they are not in sufficient quantity to strike the senses, or because there is not sufficient time for their acting upon the senses, or because the impression is too violent, or because the senses are previously filled and possessed by the object, so as to leave no room for any new motion. These remarks apply principally to sight, and next to touch, which two senses act extensively in giving information, and that too upon general objects, while the remaining three inform us only, as it were, by their immediate action, and as to specific objects.
There can be no reduction to the sphere of the senses in the first case, unless in the place of the object, which cannot be perceived on account of the distance, there be added or substituted some other object, which can excite and strike the sense from a greater distance, as in the communication of intelligence by fires, bells, and the like.
In the second case we effect this reduction by rendering those things which are concealed by the interposition of other bodies, and which cannot easily be laid open, evident to the senses by means of that which lies at the surface, or proceeds from the interior; thus the state of the body is judged of by the pulse, urine, etc.
The third and fourth cases apply to many subjects, and the reduction to the sphere of the senses must be obtained from every quarter in the investigation of things. There are many examples. It is obvious that air, and spirit, and the like, whose whole substance is extremely rare and delicate, can neither be seen nor touched—a reduction, therefore, to the senses becomes necessary in every investigation relating to such bodies.
Let the required nature, therefore, be the action and motion of the spirit inclosed in tangible bodies; for every tangible body with which we are acquainted contains an invisible and intangible spirit, over which it is drawn, and which it seems to clothe. This spirit being emitted from a tangible substance, leaves the body contracted and dry; when retained, it softens and melts it; when neither wholly emitted nor retained, it models it, endows it with limbs, assimilates, manifests, organizes it, and the like. All these points are reduced to the sphere of the senses by manifest effects.
For in every tangible and inanimate body the inclosed spirit at first increases, and as it were feeds on the tangible parts which are most open and prepared for it; and when it has digested and modified them, and turned them into spirit, it escapes with them. This formation and increase of spirit is rendered sensible by the diminution of weight; for in every desiccation something is lost in quantity, not only of the spirit previously existing in the body, but of the body itself, which was previously tangible, and has been recently changed, for the spirit itself has no weight. The departure or emission of spirit is rendered sensible in the rust of metals, and other putrefactions of a like nature, which stop before they arrive at the rudiments of life, which belong to the third species of process.67 In compact bodies the spirit does not find pores and passages for its escape, and is therefore obliged to force out, and drive before it, the tangible parts also, which consequently protrude, whence arises rust and the like. The contraction of the tangible parts, occasioned by the emission of part of the spirit (whence arises desiccation), is rendered sensible by the increased hardness of the substance, and still more by the fissures, contractions, shrivelling, and folds of the bodies thus produced. For the parts of wood split and contract, skins become shrivelled, and not only that, but, if the spirit be emitted suddenly by the heat of the fire, become so hastily contracted as to twist and roll themselves up.
On the contrary, when the spirit is retained, and yet expanded and excited by heat or the like (which happens in solid and tenacious bodies), then the bodies are softened, as in hot iron; or flow, as in metals; or melt, as in gums, wax, and the like. The contrary effects of heat, therefore (hardening some substances and melting others), are easily reconciled,68 because the spirit is emitted in the former, and agitated and retained in the latter; the latter action is that of heat and the spirit, the former that of the tangible parts themselves, after the spirit’s emission.
But when the spirit is neither entirely retained nor emitted, but only strives and exercises itself, within its limits, and meets with tangible parts, which obey and readily follow it wherever it leads them, then follows the formation of an organic body, and of limbs, and the other vital actions of vegetables and animals. These are rendered sensible chiefly by diligent observation of the first beginnings, and rudiments or effects of life in animalculæ sprung from putrefaction, as in the eggs of ants, worms, mosses, frogs after rain, etc. Both a mild heat and a pliant substance, however, are necessary for the production of life, in order that the spirit may neither hastily escape, nor be restrained by the obstinacy of the parts, so as not to be able to bend and model them like wax.
Again, the difference of spirit which is important and of effect in many points (as unconnected spirit, branching spirit, branching and cellular spirit, the first of which is that of all inanimate substances, the second of vegetables, and the third of animals), is placed, as it were, before the eyes by many reducing instances.
Again, it is clear that the more refined tissue and conformation of things (though forming the whole body of visible or tangible objects) are neither visible nor tangible. Our information, therefore, must here also be derived from reduction to the sphere of the senses. But the most radical and primary difference of formation depends on the abundance or scarcity of matter within the same space or dimensions. For the other formations which regard the dissimilarity of the parts contained in the same body, and their collocation and position, are secondary in comparison with the former.
Let the required nature then be the expansion or coherence of matter in different bodies, or the quantity of matter relative to the dimensions of each. For there is nothing in nature more true than the twofold proposition—that nothing proceeds from nothing and that nothing is reduced to nothing, but that the quantum, or sum total of matter, is constant, and is neither increased nor diminished. Nor is it less true, that out of this given quantity of matter, there is a greater or less quantity, contained within the same space or dimensions according to the difference of bodies; as, for instance, water contains more than air. So that if any one were to assert that a given content of water can be changed into an equal content of air, it is the same as if he were to assert that something can be reduced into nothing. On the contrary, if any one were to assert that a given content of air can be changed into an equal content of water, it is the same as if he were to assert that something can proceed from nothing. From this abundance or scarcity of matter are properly derived the notions of density and rarity, which are taken in various and promiscuous senses.
This third assertion may be considered as being also sufficiently certain; namely, that the greater or less quantity of matter in this or that body, may, by comparison, be reduced to calculation, and exact, or nearly exact, proportion. Thus, if one should say that there is such an accumulation of matter in a given quanity of gold, that it would require twenty-one times the quantity in dimension of spirits of wine, to make up the same quantity of matter, it would not be far from the truth.
The accumulation of matter, however, and its relative quantity, are rendered sensible by weight; for weight is proportionate to the quantity of matter, as regards the parts of a tangible substance, but spirit and its quantity of matter are not to be computed by weight, which spirit rather diminishes than augments.
We have made a tolerably accurate table of weight, in which we have selected the weights and size of all the metals, the principal minerals, stones, liquids, oils, and many other natural and artificial bodies: a very useful proceeding both as regards theory and practice, and which is capable of revealing many unexpected results. Nor is this of little consequence, that it serves to demonstrate that the whole range of the variety of tangible bodies with which we are acquainted (we mean tolerably close, and not spongy, hollow bodies, which are for a considerable part filled with air), does not exceed the ratio of one to twenty-one. So limited is nature, or at least that part of it to which we are most habituated.
We have also thought it deserving our industry, to try if we could arrive at the ratio of intangible or pneumatic bodies to tangible bodies, which we attempted by the following contrivance. We took a vial capable of containing about an ounce, using a small vessel in order to effect the subsequent evaporation with less heat. We filled this vial, almost to the neck, with spirits of wine, selecting it as the tangible body which, by our table, was the rarest, and contained a less quantity of matter in a given space than all other tangible bodies which are compact and not hollow. Then we noted exactly the weight of the liquid and vial. We next took a bladder, containing about two pints, and squeezed all the air out of it, as completely as possible, and until the sides of the bladder met. We first, however, rubbed the bladder gently with oil, so as to make it airtight, by closing its pores with the oil. We tied the bladder tightly round the mouth of the vial, which we had inserted in it, and with a piece of waxed thread to make it fit better and more tightly, and then placed the vial on some hot coals in a brazier. The vapor or steam of the spirit, dilated and become aëriform by the heat, gradually swelled out the bladder, and stretched it in every direction like a sail. As soon as that was accomplished, we removed the vial from the fire and placed it on a carpet, that it might not be cracked by the cold; we also pricked the bladder immediately, that the steam might not return to a liquid state by the cessation of heat, and confound the proportions. We then removed the bladder, and again took the weight of the spirit which remained; and so calculated the quantity which had been converted into vapor, or an aëriform shape, and then examined how much space had been occupied by the body in its form of spirits of wine in the vial, and how much, on the other hand, had been occupied by it in its aëriform shape in the bladder, and subtracted the results; from which it was clear that the body, thus converted and changed, acquired an expansion of one hundred times beyond its former bulk.
Again, let the required nature be heat or cold, of such a degree as not to be sensible from its weakness. They are rendered sensible by the thermometer, as we described it above;69 for the cold and heat are not actually perceived by the touch, but heat expands and cold contracts the air. Nor, again, is that expansion or contraction of the air in itself visible, but the air when expanded depresses the water, and when contracted raises it, which is the first reduction to sight.
Again, let the required nature be the mixture of bodies; namely, how much aqueous, oleaginous or spirituous, ashy or salt parts they contain; or, as a particular example, how much butter, cheese, and whey there is in milk, and the like. These things are rendered sensible by artificial and skilful separations in tangible substances; and the nature of the spirit in them, though not immediately perceptible, is nevertheless discovered by the various motions and efforts of bodies. And, indeed, in this branch men have labored hard in distillations and artificial separations, but with little more success than in their other experiments now in use; their methods being mere guesses and blind attempts, and more industrious than intelligent; and what is worst of all, without any imitation or rivalry of nature, but rather by violent heats and too energetic agents, to the destruction of any delicate conformation, in which principally consist the hidden virtues and sympathies. Nor do men in these separations ever attend to or observe what we have before pointed out; namely, that in attacking bodies by fire, or other methods, many qualities are superinduced by the fire itself, and the other bodies used to effect the separation, which were not originally in the compound. Hence arise most extraordinary fallacies; for the mass of vapor which is emitted from water by fire, for instance, did not exist as vapor or air in the water, but is chiefly created by the expansion of the water by the heat of the fire.
So, in general, all delicate experiments on natural or artificial bodies, by which the genuine are distinguished from the adulterated, and the better from the more common, should be referred to this division; for they bring that which is not the object of the senses within their sphere. They are therefore to be everywhere diligently sought after.
With regard to the fifth cause of objects escaping our senses, it is clear that the action of the sense takes place by motion, and this motion is time. If, therefore, the motion of any body be either so slow or so swift as not to be proportioned to the necessary momentum which operates on the senses, the object is not perceived at all; as in the motion of the hour hand, and that, again, of a musket-ball. The motion which is imperceptible by the senses from its slowness, is readily and usually rendered sensible by the accumulation of motion; that which is imperceptible from its velocity, has not as yet been well measured; it is necessary, however, that this should be done in some cases, with a view to a proper investigation of nature.
The sixth case, where the sense is impeded by the power of the object, admits of a reduction to the sensible sphere, either by removing the object to a greater distance, or by deadening its effects by the interposition of a medium, which may weaken and not destroy the object; or by the admission of its reflection where the direct impression is too strong, as that of the sun in a basin of water.
The seventh case, where the senses are so overcharged with the object as to leave no further room, scarcely occurs except in the smell or taste, and is not of much consequence as regards our present subject. Let what we have said, therefore, suffice with regard to the reduction to the sensible sphere of objects not naturally within its compass.
Sometimes, however, this reduction is not extended to the senses of man, but to those of some other animal, whose senses, in some points, exceed those of man; as (with regard to some scents) to that of the dog, and with regard to light existing imperceptibly in the air, when not illuminated from any extraneous source, to the sense of the cat, the owl, and other animals which see by night. For Telesius has well observed, that there appears to be an original portion of light even in the air itself,70 although but slight and meagre, and of no use for the most part to the eyes of men, and those of the generality of animals; because those animals to whose senses this light is proportioned can see by night, which does not, in all probability, proceed from their seeing either without light or by any internal light.
Here, too, we would observe, that we at present discuss only the wants of the senses, and their remedies; for their deceptions must be referred to the inquiries appropriated to the senses, and sensible objects; except that important deception, which makes them define objects in their relation to man, and not in their relation to the universe, and which is only corrected by universal reasoning and philosophy.71
XLI. In the eighteenth rank of prerogative instances we will class the instances of the road, which we are also wont to call itinerant and jointed instances. They are such as indicate the gradually continued motions of nature. This species of instances escapes rather our observation than our senses; for men are wonderfully indolent upon this subject, consulting nature in a desultory manner, and at periodic intervals, when bodies have been regularly finished and completed, and not during her work. But if any one were desirous of examining and contemplating the talents and industry of an artificer, he would not merely wish to see the rude materials of his art, and then his work when finished, but rather to be present while he is at labor, and proceeding with his work. Something of the same kind should be done with regard to nature. For instance, if any one investigate the vegetation of plants, he should observe from the first sowing of any seed (which can easily be done, by pulling up every day seeds which have been two, three, or four days in the ground, and examining them diligently), how and when the seed begins to swell and break, and be filled, as it were, with spirit; then how it begins to burst the bark and push out fibres, raising itself a little at the same time, unless the ground be very stiff; then how it pushes out these fibres, some downward for roots, others upward for the stem, sometimes also creeping laterally, if it find the earth open and more yielding on one side, and the like. The same should be done in observing the hatching of eggs, where we may easily see the process of animation and organization, and what parts are formed of the yolk, and what of the white of the egg, and the like. The same may be said of the inquiry into the formation of animals from putrefaction; for it would not be so humane to inquire into perfect and terrestrial animals, by cutting the fœtus from the womb; but opportunities may perhaps be offered of abortions, animals killed in hunting, and the like. Nature, therefore, must, as it were, be watched, as being more easily observed by night than by day: for contemplations of this kind may be considered as carried on by night, from the minuteness and perpetual burning of our watch-light.
The same must be attempted with inanimate objects, which we have ourselves done by inquiring into the opening of liquids by fire. For the mode in which water expands is different from that observed in wine, vinegar, or verjuice, and very different, again, from that observed in milk and oil, and the like; and this was easily seen by boiling them with slow heat, in a glass vessel, through which the whole may be clearly perceived. But we merely mention this, intending to treat of it more at large and more closely when we come to the discovery of the latent process; for it should always be remembered that we do not here treat of things themselves, but merely propose examples.72
XLII. In the nineteenth rank of prerogative instances we will class supplementary or substitutive instances, which we are also wont to call instances of refuge. They are such as supply information, where the senses are entirely deficient, and we therefore have recourse to them when appropriate instances cannot be obtained. This substitution is twofold, either by approximation or by analogy. For instance, there is no known medium which entirely prevents the effect of the magnet in attracting iron—neither gold, nor silver, nor stone, nor glass, wood, water, oil, cloth, or fibrous bodies, air, flame, or the like. Yet by accurate experiment, a medium may perhaps be found which would deaden its effect, more than another comparatively and in degree; as, for instance, the magnet would not perhaps attract iron through the same thickness of gold as of air, or the same quantity of ignited as of cold silver, and so on; for we have not ourselves made the experiment, but it will suffice as an example. Again, there is no known body which is not susceptible of heat, when brought near the fire; yet air becomes warm much sooner than stone. These are examples of substitution by approximation.
Substitution by analogy is useful, but less sure, and therefore to be adopted with some judgment. It serves to reduce that which is not the object of the senses to their sphere, not by the perceptible operations of the imperceptible body, but by the consideration of some similar perceptible body. For instance, let the subject for inquiry be the mixture of spirits, which are invisible bodies. There appears to be some relation between bodies and their sources or support. Now, the source of flame seems to be oil and fat; that of air, water, and watery substances; for flame increases over the exhalation of oil, and air over that of water. One must therefore consider the mixture of oil and water, which is manifest to the senses, since that of air and flame in general escapes the senses. But oil and water mix very imperfectly by composition or stirring, while they are exactly and nicely mixed in herbs, blood, and the parts of animals. Something similar, therefore, may take place in the mixture of flame and air in spirituous substances, not bearing mixture very well by simple collision, while they appear, however, to be well mixed in the spirits of plants and animals.
Again, if the inquiry do not relate to perfect mixtures of spirits, but merely to their composition, as whether they easily incorporate with each other, or there be rather (as an example) certain winds and exhalations, or other spiritual bodies, which do not mix with common air, but only adhere to and float in it in globules and drops, and are rather broken and pounded by the air, than received into, and incorporated with it; this cannot be perceived in common air, and other aëriform substances, on account of the rarity of the bodies, but an image, as it were, of this process may be conceived in such liquids as quicksilver, oil, water, and even air, when broken and dissipated it ascends in small portions through water, and also in the thicker kinds of smoke; lastly, in dust, raised and remaining in the air, in all of which there is no incorporation: and the above representation in this respect is not a bad one, if it be first diligently investigated, whether there can be such a difference of nature between spirituous substances, as between liquids, for then these images might conveniently be substituted by analogy.
And although we have observed of these supplementary instances, that information is to be derived from them, when appropriate instances are wanting, by way of refuge, yet we would have it understood, that they are also of great use, when the appropriate instances are at hand, in order to confirm the information afforded by them; of which we will speak more at length, when our subject leads us, in due course, to the support of induction.
XLIII. In the twentieth rank of prerogative instances we will place lancing instances, which we are also wont (but for a different reason) to call twitching instances. We adopt the latter name, because they twitch the understanding, and the former because they pierce nature, whence we style them occasionally the instances of Democritus.73 They are such as warn the understanding of the admirable and exquisite subtilty of nature, so that it becomes roused and awakened to attention, observation, and proper inquiry; as, for instance, that a little drop of ink should be drawn out into so many letters; that silver merely gilt on its surface should be stretched to such a length of gilt wire; that a little worm, such as you may find on the skin, should possess both a spirit and a varied conformation of its parts; that a little saffron should imbue a whole tub of water with its color; that a little musk or aroma should imbue a much greater extent of air with its perfume; that a cloud of smoke should be raised by a little incense; that such accurate differences of sounds as articulate words should be conveyed in all directions through the air, and even penetrate the pores of wood and water (though they become much weakened), that they should be, moreover, reflected, and that with such distinctness and velocity; that light and color should for such an extent and so rapidly pass through solid bodies, such as glass and water, with so great and so exquisite a variety of images, and should be refracted and reflected; that the magnet should attract through every description of body, even the most compact; but (what is still more wonderful) that in all these cases the action of one should not impede that of another in a common medium, such as air; and that there should be borne through the air, at the same time, so many images of visible objects, so many impulses of articulation, so many different perfumes, as of the violet, rose, etc., besides cold and heat, and magnetic attractions; all of them, I say, at once, without any impediment from each other, as if each had its paths and peculiar passage set apart for it, without infringing against or meeting each other.
To these lancing instances, however, we are wont, not without some advantage, to add those which we call the limits of such instances. Thus, in the cases we have pointed out, one action does not disturb or impede another of a different nature, yet those of a similar nature subdue and extinguish each other; as the light of the sun does that of the candle, the sound of a cannon that of the voice, a strong perfume a more delicate one, a powerful heat a more gentle one, a plate of iron between the magnet and other iron the effect of the magnet. But the proper place for mentioning these will be also among the supports of induction.
XLIV. We have now spoken of the instances which assist the senses, and which are principally of service as regards information; for information begins from the senses. But our whole labor terminates in practice, and as the former is the beginning, so is the latter the end of our subject. The following instances, therefore, will be those which are chiefly useful in practice. They are comprehended in two classes, and are seven in number. We call them all by the general name of practical instances. Now there are two defects in practice, and as many divisions of important instances. Practice is either deceptive or too laborious. It is generally deceptive (especially after a diligent examination of natures), on account of the power and actions of bodies being ill defined and determined. Now the powers and actions of bodies are defined and determined either by space or by time, or by the quantity at a given period, or by the predominance of energy; and if these four circumstances be not well and diligently considered, the sciences may indeed be beautiful in theory, but are of no effect in practice. We call the four instances referred to this class, mathematical instances and instances of measure.
Practice is laborious either from the multitude of instruments, or the bulk of matter and substances requisite for any given work. Those instances, therefore, are valuable, which either direct practice to that which is of most consequence to mankind, or lessen the number of instruments or of matter to be worked upon. We assign to the three instances relating to this class, the common name of propitious or benevolent instances. We will now separately discuss these seven instances, and conclude with them that part of our work which relates to the prerogative or illustrious instances.
XLV. In the twenty-first rank of prerogative instances we will place the instances of the rod or rule, which we are also wont to call the instances of completion or non ultrà. For the powers and motions of bodies do not act and take effect through indefinite and accidental, but through limited and certain spaces; and it is of great importance to practice that these should be understood and noted in every nature which is investigated, not only to prevent deception, but to render practice more extensive and efficient. For it is sometimes possible to extend these powers, and bring the distance, as it were, nearer, as in the example of telescopes.
Many powers act and take effect only by actual touch, as in the percussion of bodies, where the one does not remove the other, unless the impelling touch the impelled body. External applications in medicine, as ointment and plasters, do not exercise their efficacy except when in contact with the body. Lastly, the objects of touch and taste only strike those senses when in contact with their organs.
Other powers act at a distance, though it be very small, of which but few have as yet been noted, although there be more than men suspect; this happens (to take everyday instances) when amber or jet attracts straws, bubbles dissolve bubbles, some purgative medicines draw humors from above, and the like. The magnetic power by which iron and the magnet, or two magnets, are attracted together, acts within a definite and narrow sphere, but if there be any magnetic power emanating from the earth a little below its surface, and affecting the needle in its polarity, it must act at a great distance.
Again, if there be any magnetic force which acts by sympathy between the globe of the earth and heavy bodies, or between that of the moon and the waters of the sea (as seems most probable from the particular floods and ebbs which occur twice in the month), or between the starry sphere and the planets, by which they are summoned and raised to their apogees, these must all operate at very great distances.74
Again, some conflagrations and the kindling of flames take place at very considerable distances with particular substances, as they report of the naphtha of Babylon. Heat, too, insinuates itself at wide distances, as does also cold, so that the masses of ice which are broken off and float upon the Northern Ocean, and are borne through the Atlantic to the coast of Canada, become perceptible by the inhabitants, and strike them with cold from a distance. Perfumes also (though here there appears to be always some corporeal emission) act at remarkable distances, as is experienced by persons sailing by the coast of Florida, or parts of Spain, where there are whole woods of lemons, oranges, and other odoriferous plants, or rosemary and marjoram bushes, and the like. Lastly, the rays of light and the impressions of sound act at extensive distances.
Yet all these powers, whether acting at a small or great distance, certainly act within definite distances, which are well ascertained by nature, so that there is a limit depending either on the mass or quantity of the bodies, the vigor or faintness of the powers, or the favorable or impeding nature of the medium, all of which should be taken into account and observed. We must also note the boundaries of violent motions, such as missiles, projectiles, wheels and the like, since they are also manifestly confined to certain limits.
Some motions and virtues are to be found of a directly contrary nature to these, which act in contact but not at a distance; namely, such as operate at a distance and not in contact, and again act with less force at a less distance, and the reverse. Sight, for instance, is not easily effective in contact, but requires a medium and distance; although I remember having heard from a person deserving of credit, that in being cured of a cataract (which was done by putting a small silver needle within the first coat of the eye, to remove the thin pellicle of the cataract, and force it into a corner of the eye), he had distinctly seen the needle moving across the pupil. Still, though this may be true, it is clear that large bodies cannot be seen well or distinctly, unless at the vertex of a cone, where the rays from the object meet at some distance from the eye. In old persons the eye sees better if the object be moved a little further, and not nearer. Again, it is certain that in projectiles the impact is not so violent at too short a distance as a little afterward.75 Such are the observations to be made on the measure of motions as regards distance.
There is another measure of motion in space which must not be passed over, not relating to progressive but spherical motion—that is, the expansion of bodies into a greater, or their contraction into a lesser sphere. For in our measure of this motion we must inquire what degree of compression or extension bodies easily and readily admit of, according to their nature, and at what point they begin to resist it, so as at last to bear it no further—as when an inflated bladder is compressed, it allows a certain compression of the air, but if this be increased, the air does not suffer it, and the bladder is burst.
We have proved this by a more delicate experiment. We took a metal bell, of a light and thin sort, such as is used for salt-cellars, and immersed it in a basin of water, so as to carry the air contained in its interior down with it to the bottom of the basin. We had first, however, placed a small globe at the bottom of the basin, over which we placed the bell. The result was, that if the globe were small compared with the interior of the bell, the air would contract itself, and be compressed without being forced out, but if it were too large for the air readily to yield to it, the latter became impatient of the pressure, raised the bell partly up, and ascended in bubbles.
To prove, also, the extension (as well as the compression) which air admits of, we adopted the following method:—We took a glass egg, with a small hole at one end; we drew out the air by violent suction at this hole, and then closed the hole with the finger, immersed the egg in water, and then removed the finger. The air being constrained by the effort made in suction, and dilated beyond its natural state, and therefore striving to recover and contract itself (so that if the egg had not been immersed in water, it would have drawn in the air with a hissing sound), now drew in a sufficient quantity of water to allow the air to recover its former dimensions.76
It is well ascertained that rare bodies (such as air) admit of considerable contraction, as has been before observed; but tangible bodies (such as water) admit of it much less readily, and to a less extent. We investigated the latter point by the following experiment:
We had a leaden globe made, capable of containing about two pints, wine measure, and of tolerable thickness, so as to support considerable pressure. We poured water into it through an aperture, which we afterward closed with melted lead, as soon as the globe was filled with water, so that the whole became perfectly solid. We next flattened the two opposite sides with a heavy hammer, which necessarily caused the water to occupy a less space, since the sphere is the solid of greatest content; and when hammering failed from the resistance of the water, we made use of a mill or press, till at last the water, refusing to submit to a greater pressure, exuded like a fine dew through the solid lead. We then computed the extent to which the original space had been reduced, and concluded that water admitted such a degree of compression when constrained by great violence.
The more solid, dry or compact bodies, such as stones, wood and metals, admit of much less, and indeed scarcely any perceptible compression or expansion, but escape by breaking, slipping forward, or other efforts; as appears in bending wood, or steel for watch-springs, in projectiles, hammering and many other motions, all of which, together with their degrees, are to be observed and examined in the investigation of nature, either to a certainty, or by estimation, or comparison, as opportunity permits.
XLVI. In the twenty-second rank of prerogative instances we will place the instances of the course, which we are also wont to call water instances, borrowing our expression from the water hour-glasses employed by the ancients instead of those with sand. They are such as measure nature by the moments of time, as the last instances do by the degrees of space. For all motion or natural action takes place in time, more or less rapidly, but still in determined moments well ascertained by nature. Even those actions which appear to take effect suddenly, and in the twinkling of an eye (as we express it), are found to admit of greater or less rapidity.
In the first place, then, we see that the return of the heavenly bodies to the same place takes place in regular times, as does the flood and ebb of the sea. The descent of heavy bodies toward the earth, and the ascent of light bodies toward the heavenly sphere, take place in definite times,77 according to the nature of the body, and of the medium through which it moves. The sailing of ships, the motions of animals, the transmission of projectiles, all take place in times the sums of which can be computed. With regard to heat, we see that boys in winter bathe their hands in the flame without being burned; and conjurers, by quick and regular movements, overturn vessels filled with wine or water, and replace them without spilling the liquid, with several similar instances. The compression, expansion and eruption of several bodies, take place more or less rapidly, according to the nature of the body and its motion, but still in definite moments.
In the explosion of several cannon at once (which are sometimes heard at the distance of thirty miles), the sound of those nearest to the spot is heard before that of the most distant. Even in sight (whose action is most rapid), it is clear that a definite time is necessary for its exertion, which is proved by certain objects being invisible from the velocity of their motion, such as a musket-ball; for the flight of the ball is too swift to allow an impression of its figure to be conveyed to the sight.
This last instance, and others of a like nature, have sometimes excited in us a most marvellous doubt, no less than whether the image of the sky and stars is perceived as at the actual moment of its existence, or rather a little after, and whether there is not (with regard to the visible appearance of the heavenly bodies) a true and apparent time, as well as a true and apparent place, which is observed by astronomers in parallaxes. It appeared so incredible to us, that the images or radiations of heavenly bodies could suddenly be conveyed through such immense spaces to the sight, and it seemed that they ought rather to be transmitted in a definite time.78 That doubt, however (as far as regards any great difference between the true and apparent time), was subsequently completely set at rest, when we considered the infinite loss and diminution of size as regards the real and apparent magnitude of a star, occasioned by its distance, and at the same time observed at how great a distance (at least sixty miles) bodies which are merely white can be suddenly seen by us. For there is no doubt, that the light of the heavenly bodies not only far surpasses the vivid appearance of white, but even the light of any flame (with which we are acquainted) in the vigor of its radiation. The immense velocity of the bodies themselves, which is perceived in their diurnal motion, and has so astonished thinking men, that they have been more ready to believe in the motion of the earth, renders the motion of radiation from them (marvellous as it is in its rapidity) more worthy of belief. That which has weighed most with us, however, is, that if there were any considerable interval of time between the reality and the appearance, the images would often be interrupted and confused by clouds formed in the meantime, and similar disturbances of the medium. Let this suffice with regard to the simple measures of time.
It is not merely the absolute, but still more the relative measure of motions and actions which must be inquired into, for this latter is of great use and application. We perceive that the flame of firearms is seen sooner than the sound is heard, although the ball must have struck the air before the flame, which was behind it, could escape: the reason of which is, that light moves with greater velocity than sound. We perceive, also, that visible images are received by the sight with greater rapidity than they are dismissed, and for this reason, a violin string touched with the finger appears double or triple, because the new image is received before the former one is dismissed. Hence, also, rings when spinning appear globular, and a lighted torch, borne rapidly along at night, appears to have a tail. Upon the principle of the inequality of motion, also, Galileo attempted an explanation of the flood and ebb of the sea, supposing the earth to move rapidly, and the water slowly, by which means the water, after accumulating, would at intervals fall back, as is shown in a vessel of water made to move rapidly. He has, however, imagined this on data which cannot be granted (namely, the earth’s motion), and besides, does not satisfactorily account for the tide taking place every six hours.
An example of our present point (the relative measure of motion), and, at the same time, of its remarkable use of which we have spoken, is conspicuous in mines filled with gunpowder, where immense weights of earth, buildings, and the like, are overthrown and prostrated by a small quantity of powder; the reason of which is decidedly this, that the motion of the expansion of the gunpowder is much more rapid than that of gravity,79 which would resist it, so that the former has terminated before the latter has commenced. Hence, also, in missiles, a strong blow will not carry them so far as a sharp and rapid one. Nor could a small portion of animal spirit in animals, especially in such vast bodies as those of the whale and elephant, have ever bent or directed such a mass of body, were it not owing to the velocity of the former, and the slowness of the latter in resisting its motion.
In short, this point is one of the principal foundations of the magic experiments (of which we shall presently speak), where a small mass of matter overcomes and regulates a much larger, if there but be an anticipation of motion, by the velocity of one before the other is prepared to act.
Finally, the point of the first and last should be observed in all natural actions. Thus, in an infusion of rhubarb the purgative property is first extracted, and then the astringent; we have experienced something of the same kind in steeping violets in vinegar, which first extracts the sweet and delicate odor of the flower, and then the more earthy part, which disturbs the perfume; so that if the violets be steeped a whole day, a much fainter perfume is extracted than if they were steeped for a quarter of an hour only, and then taken out; and since the odoriferous spirit in the violet is not abundant, let other and fresh violets be steeped in the vinegar every quarter of an hour, as many as six times, when the infusion becomes so strengthened, that although the violets have not altogether remained there for more than one hour and a half, there remains a most pleasing perfume, not inferior to the flower itself, for a whole year. It must be observed, however, that the perfume does not acquire its full strength till about a month after the infusion. In the distillation of aromatic plants macerated in spirits of wine, it is well known that an aqueous and useless phlegm rises first, then water containing more of the spirit, and, lastly, water containing more of the aroma; and many observations of the like kind, well worthy of notice, are to be made in distillations. But let these suffice as examples.80
XLVII. In the twenty-third rank of prerogative instances we will place instances of quantity, which we are also wont to call the doses of nature (borrowing a word from medicine). They are such as measure the powers by the quantity of bodies, and point out the effect of the quantity in the degree of power. And in the first place, some powers only subsist in the universal quantity, or such as bears a relation to the confirmation and fabric of the universe. Thus the earth is fixed, its parts fall. The waters in the sea flow and ebb, but not in the rivers, except by the admission of the sea. Then, again, almost all particular powers act according to the greater or less quantity of the body. Large masses of water are not easily rendered foul, small are. New wine and beer become ripe and drinkable in small skins much more readily than in large casks. If a herb be placed in a considerable quantity of liquid, infusion takes place rather than impregnation; if in less, the reverse. A bath, therefore, and a light sprinkling, produce different effects on the human body. Light dew, again, never falls, but is dissipated and incorporated with the air; thus we see that in breathing on gems, the slight quantity of moisture, like a small cloud in the air, is immediately dissolved. Again, a piece of the same magnet does not attract so much iron as the whole magnet did. There are some powers where the smallness of the quantity is of more avail; as in boring, a sharp point pierces more readily than a blunt one; the diamond, when pointed, makes an impression on glass, and the like.
Here, too, we must not rest contented with a vague result, but inquire into the exact proportion of quantity requisite for a particular exertion of power; for one would be apt to suppose that the power bears an exact proportion to the quantity; that if a leaden bullet of one ounce, for instance, would fall in a given time, one of two ounces ought to fall twice as rapidly, which is most erroneous. Nor does the same ratio prevail in every kind of power, their difference being considerable. The measure, therefore, must be determined by experiment, and not by probability or conjecture.
Lastly, we must in all our investigations of nature observe what quantity, or dose, of the body is requisite for a given effect, and must at the same time be guarded against estimating it at too much or too little.
XLVIII. In the twenty-fourth rank of prerogative instances we will place wrestling instances, which we are also wont to call instances of predominance. They are such as point out the predominance and submission of powers compared with each other, and which of them is the more energetic and superior, or more weak and inferior. For the motions and effects of bodies are compounded, decomposed, and combined, no less than the bodies themselves. We will exhibit, therefore, the principal kinds of motions or active powers, in order that their comparative strength, and thence a demonstration and definition of the instances in question, may be rendered more clear.
Let the first motion be that of the resistance of matter, which exists in every particle, and completely prevents its annihilation; so that no conflagration, weight, pressure, violence, or length of time can reduce even the smallest portion of matter to nothing, or prevent it from being something, and occupying some space, and delivering itself (whatever straits it be put to), by changing its form or place, or, if that be impossible, remaining as it is; nor can it ever happen that it should either be nothing or nowhere. This motion is designated by the schools (which generally name and define everything by its effects and inconveniences rather than by its inherent cause) by the axiom, that two bodies cannot exist in the same place, or they call it a motion to prevent the penetration of dimensions. It is useless to give examples of this motion, since it exists in every body.
Let the second motion be that which we term the motion of connection, by which bodies do not allow themselves to be separated at any point from the contact of another body, delighting, as it were, in the mutual connection and contact. This is called by the schools a motion to prevent a vacuum. It takes place when water is drawn up by suction or a syringe, the flesh by cupping, or when the water remains without escaping from perforated jars, unless the mouth be opened to admit the air, and innumerable instances of a like nature.
Let the third be that which we term the motion of liberty, by which bodies strive to deliver themselves from any unnatural pressure or tension, and to restore themselves to the dimensions suited to their mass; and of which, also, there are innumerable examples. Thus, we have examples of their escaping from pressure, in the water in swimming, in the air in flying, in the water again in rowing, and in the air in the undulation of the winds, and in springs of watches. An exact instance of the motion of compressed air is seen in children’s popguns, which they make by scooping out elder-branches or some such matter, and forcing in a piece of some pulpy root or the like, at each end; then they force the root or other pellet with a ramrod to the opposite end, from which the lower pellet is emitted and projected with a report, and that before it is touched by the other piece of root or pellet, or by the ramrod. We have examples of their escape from tension, in the motion of the air that remains in glass eggs after suction, in strings, leather, and cloth, which recoil after tension, unless it be long continued. The schools define this by the term of motion from the form of the element; injudiciously enough, since this motion is to be found not only in air, water, or fire, but in every species of solid, as wood, iron, lead, cloth, parchment, etc., each of which has its own proper size, and is with difficulty stretched to any other. Since, however, this motion of liberty is the most obvious of all, and to be seen in an infinite number of cases, it will be as well to distinguish it correctly and clearly; for some most carelessly confound this with the two others of resistance and connection; namely, the freedom from pressure with the former, and that from tension with the latter, as if bodies when compressed yielded or expanded to prevent a penetration of dimensions, and when stretched rebounded and contracted themselves to prevent a vacuum. But if the air, when compressed, could be brought to the density of water, or wood to that of stone, there would be no need of any penetration of dimensions, and yet the compression would be much greater than they actually admit of. So if water could be expanded till it became as rare as air, or stone as rare as wood, there would be no need of a vacuum, and yet the expansion would be much greater than they actually admit of.
We do not, therefore, arrive at a penetration of dimensions or a vacuum before the extremes of condensation and rarefaction, while the motion we speak of stops and exerts itself much within them, and is nothing more than a desire of bodies to preserve their specific density (or, if it be preferred, their form), and not to desert them suddenly, but only to change by degrees, and of their own accord. It is, however, much more necessary to intimate to mankind (because many other points depend upon this), that the violent motion which we call mechanical, and Democritus (who, in explaining his primary motions, is to be ranked even below the middling class of philosophers) termed the motion of a blow, is nothing else than this motion of liberty, namely, a tendency to relaxation from compression. For in all simple impulsion or flight through the air, the body is not displaced or moved in space, until its parts are placed in an unnatural state, and compressed by the impelling force. When that takes place, the different parts urging the other in succession, the whole is moved, and that with a rotatory as well as progressive motion, in order that the parts may, by this means also, set themselves at liberty, or more readily submit. Let this suffice for the motion in question.
Let the fourth be that which we term the motion of matter, and which is opposed to the last; for in the motion of liberty, bodies abhor, reject, and avoid a new size or volume, or any new expansion or contraction (for these different terms have the same meaning), and strive, with all their power, to rebound and resume their former density; on the contrary, in the motion of matter, they are anxious to acquire a new volume or dimension, and attempt it willingly and rapidly, and occasionally by a most vigorous effort, as in the example of gunpowder. The most powerful, or at least most frequent, though not the only instruments of this motion, are heat and cold. For instance, the air, if expanded by tension (as by suction in the glass egg), struggles anxiously to restore itself; but if heat be applied, it strives, on the contrary, to dilate itself, and longs for a larger volume, regularly passing and migrating into it, as into a new form (as it is termed); nor after a certain degree of expansion is it anxious to return, unless it be invited to do so by the application of cold, which is not indeed a return, but a fresh change. So also water, when confined by compression, resists, and wishes to become as it was before, namely, more expanded; but if there happen an intense and continued cold, it changes itself readily, and of its own accord, into the condensed state of ice; and if the cold be long continued, without any intervening warmth (as in grottoes and deep caves), it is changed into crystal or similar matter, and never resumes its form.
Let the fifth be that which we term the motion of continuity. We do not understand by this simple and primary continuity with any other body (for that is the motion of connection), but the continuity of a particular body in itself; for it is most certain that all bodies abhor a solution of continuity, some more and some less, but all partially. In hard bodies (such as steel and glass) the resistance to an interruption of continuity is most powerful and efficacious, while although in liquids it appears to be faint and languid, yet it is not altogether null, but exists in the lowest degree, and shows itself in many experiments, such as bubbles, the round form of drops, the thin threads which drip from roofs, the cohesion of glutinous substances, and the like. It is most conspicuous, however, if an attempt be made to push this separation to still smaller particles. Thus, in mortars, the pestle produces no effect after a certain degree of contusion, water does not penetrate small fissures, and the air itself, notwithstanding its subtilty, does not penetrate the pores of solid vessels at once, but only by long-continued insinuation.
Let the sixth be that which we term the motion of acquisition, or the motion of need.81 It is that by which bodies placed among others of a heterogeneous and, as it were, hostile nature, if they meet with the means or opportunity of avoiding them, and uniting themselves with others of a more analogous nature, even when these latter are not closely allied to them, immediately seize and, as it were, select them, and appear to consider it as something acquired (whence we derive the name), and to have need of these latter bodies. For instance, gold, or any other metal in leaf, does not like the neighborhood of air; if, therefore, they meet with any tangible and thick substance (such as the finger, paper, or the like), they immediately adhere to it, and are not easily torn from it. Paper, too, and cloth, and the like, do not agree with the air, which is inherent and mixed in their pores. They readily, therefore, imbibe water or other liquids, and get rid of the air. Sugar, or a sponge, dipped in water or wine, and though part of it be out of the water or wine, and at some height above it, will yet gradually absorb them.82
Hence an excellent rule is derived for the opening and dissolution of bodies; for (not to mention corrosive and strong waters, which force their way) if a body can be found which is more adapted, suited, and friendly to a given solid, than that with which it is by some necessity united, the given solid immediately opens and dissolves itself to receive the former, and excludes or removes the latter.83 Nor is the effect or power of this motion confined to contact, for the electric energy (of which Gilbert and others after him have told so many fables) is only the energy excited in a body by gentle friction, and which does not endure the air, but prefers some tangible substance if there be any at hand.
Let the seventh be that which we term the motion of greater congregation, by which bodies are borne toward masses of a similar nature, for instance, heavy bodies toward the earth, light to the sphere of heaven. The schools termed this natural motion, by a superficial consideration of it, because produced by no external visible agent, which made them consider it innate in the substances; or perhaps because it does not cease, which is little to be wondered at, since heaven and earth are always present, while the causes and sources of many other motions are sometimes absent and sometimes present. They therefore called this perpetual and proper, because it is never interrupted, but instantly takes place when the others are interrupted, and they called the others adscititious. The former, however, is in reality weak and slow, since it yields, and is inferior to the others as long as they act, unless the mass of the body be great; and although this motion have so filled men’s minds, as almost to have obscured all others, yet they know but little about it, and commit many errors in its estimate.
Let the eighth be that which we term the motion of lesser congregation, by which the homogeneous parts in any body separate themselves from the heterogeneous and unite together, and whole bodies of a similar substance coalesce and tend toward each other, and are sometimes congregated, attracted, and meet, from some distance; thus in milk the cream rises after a certain time, and in wine the dregs and tartar sink; which effects are not to be attributed to gravity and levity only, so as to account for the rising of some parts and the sinking of others, but much more to the desire of the homogeneous bodies to meet and unite. This motion differs from that of need in two points: 1st, because the latter is the stimulus of a malignant and contrary nature, while in this of which we treat (if there be no impediment or restraint), the parts are united by their affinity, although there be no foreign nature to create a struggle; 2dly, because the union is closer and more select. For in the other motion, bodies which have no great affinity unite, if they can but avoid the hostile body, while in this, substances which are connected by a decided kindred resemblance come together and are molded into one. It is a motion existing in all compound bodies, and would be readily seen in each, if it were not confined and checked by the other affections and necessities of bodies which disturb the union.
This motion is usually confined in the three following manners: by the torpor of the bodies; by the power of the predominating body; by external motion. With regard to the first, it is certain that there is more or less sluggishness in tangible bodies, and an abhorrence of locomotion; so that unless excited they prefer remaining contented with their actual state, to placing themselves in a better position. There are three means of breaking through this sluggishness—heat; the active power of a similar body; vivid and powerful motion. With regard to the first, heat is, on this account, defined as that which separates heterogeneous, and draws together homogeneous substances; a definition of the Peripatetics which is justly ridiculed by Gilbert, who says it is as if one were to define man to be that which sows wheat and plants vineyards; being only a definition deduced from effects, and those but partial. But it is still more to be blamed, because those effects, such as they are, are not a peculiar property of heat, but a mere accident (for cold, as we shall afterward show, does the same), arising from the desire of the homogeneous parts to unite; the heat then assists them in breaking through that sluggishness which before restrained their desire. With regard to the assistance derived from the power of a similar body, it is most conspicuous in the magnet when armed with steel, for it excites in the steel a power of adhering to steel, as a homogeneous substance, the power of the magnet breaking through the sluggishness of the steel. With regard to the assistance of motion, it is seen in wooden arrows or points, which penetrate more deeply into wood than if they were tipped with iron, from the similarity of the substance, the swiftness of the motion breaking through the sluggishness of the wood; of which two last experiments we have spoken above in the aphorism on clandestine instances.84
The confinement of the motion of lesser congregation, which arises from the power of the predominant body, is shown in the decomposition of blood and urine by cold. For as long as these substances are filled with the active spirit, which regulates and restrains each of their component parts, as the predominant ruler of the whole, the several different parts do not collect themselves separately on account of the check; but as soon as that spirit has evaporated, or has been choked by the cold, then the decomposed parts unite, according to their natural desire. Hence it happens, that all bodies which contain a sharp spirit (as salts and the like), last without decomposition, owing to the permanent and durable power of the predominating and imperious spirit.
The confinement of the motion of lesser congregation, which arises from external motion, is very evident in that agitation of bodies which preserves them from putrefaction. For all putrefaction depends on the congregation of the homogeneous parts, whence, by degrees, there ensues a corruption of the first form (as it is called), and the generation of another. For the decomposition of the original form, which is itself the union of the homogeneous parts, precedes the putrefaction, which prepares the way for the generation of another. This decomposition, if not interrupted, is simple; but if there be various obstacles, putrefactions ensue, which are the rudiments of a new generation. But if (to come to our present point) a frequent agitation be excited by external motion, the motion toward union (which is delicate and gentle, and requires to be free from all external influence) is disturbed, and ceases; which we perceive to be the case in innumerable instances. Thus, the daily agitation or flowing of water prevents putrefaction; winds prevent the air from being pestilent; corn turned about and shaken in granaries continues clean: in short, everything which is externally agitated will with difficulty rot internally.
We must not omit that union of the parts of bodies which is the principal cause of induration and desiccation. When the spirit or moisture, which has evaporated into spirit, has escaped from a porous body (such as wood, bone, parchment, and the like), the thicker parts are drawn together, and united with a greater effort, and induration or desiccation is the consequence; and this we attribute not so much to the motion of connection (in order to prevent a vacuum), as to this motion of friendship and union.
Union from a distance is rare, and yet is to be met with in more instances than are generally observed. We perceive it when one bubble dissolves another, when medicines attract humors from a similarity of substance, when one string moves another in unison with it on different instruments, and the like. We are of opinion that this motion is very prevalent also in animal spirits, but are quite ignorant of the fact. It is, however, conspicuous in the magnet, and magnetized iron. While speaking of the motions of the magnet, we must plainly distinguish them, for there are four distinct powers or effects of the magnet which should not be confounded, although the wonder and astonishment of mankind has classed them together. 1. The attraction of the magnet to the magnet, or of iron to the magnet, or of magnetized iron to iron. 2. Its polarity toward the north and south, and its variation. 3. Its penetration through gold, glass, stone, and all other substances. 4. The communication of power from the mineral to iron, and from iron to iron, without any communication of the substances. Here, however, we only speak of the first. There is also a singular motion of attraction between quicksilver and gold, so that the gold attracts quicksilver even when made use of in ointment; and those who work surrounded by the vapors of quicksilver, are wont to hold a piece of gold in their mouths, to collect the exhalations, which would otherwise attack their heads and bones, and this piece soon grows white.85 Let this suffice for the motion of lesser congregation.
Let the ninth be the magnetic motion, which, although of the nature of that last mentioned, yet, when operating at great distances, and on great masses, deserves a separate inquiry, especially if it neither begin in contact, as most motions of congregation do, nor end by bringing the substances into contact, as all do, but only raise them, and make them swell without any further effect. For if the moon raise the waters, or cause moist substances to swell, or if the starry sphere attract the planets toward their apogees, or the sun confine the planets Mercury and Venus to within a certain distance of his mass;86 these motions do not appear capable of being classed under either of those of congregation, but to be, as it were, intermediately and imperfectly congregative, and thus to form a distinct species.
Let the tenth motion be that of avoidance, or that which is opposed to the motion of lesser congregation, by which bodies, with a kind of antipathy, avoid and disperse, and separate themselves from, or refuse to unite themselves with others of a hostile nature. For although this may sometimes appear to be an accidental motion, necessarily attendant upon that of the lesser congregation, because the homogeneous parts cannot unite, unless the heterogeneous be first removed and excluded, yet it is still to be classed separately,87 and considered as a distinct species, because, in many cases, the desire of avoidance appears to be more marked than that of union.
It is very conspicuous in the excrements of animals, nor less, perhaps, in objects odious to particular senses, especially the smell and taste; for a fetid smell is rejected by the nose, so as to produce a sympathetic motion of expulsion at the mouth of the stomach; a bitter and rough taste is rejected by the palate or throat, so as to produce a sympathetic concussion and shivering of the head. This motion is visible also in other cases. Thus it is observed in some kinds of antiperistasis, as in the middle region of the air, the cold of which appears to be occasioned by the rejection of cold from the regions of the heavenly bodies; and also in the heat and combustion observed in subterranean spots, which appear to be owing to the rejection of heat from the centre of the earth. For heat and cold, when in small quantities, mutually destroy each other, while in larger quantities, like armies equally matched, they remove and eject each other in open conflict. It is said, also that cinnamon and other perfumes retain their odor longer when placed near privies and foul places, because they will not unite and mix with stinks. It is well known that quicksilver, which would otherwise reunite into a complete mass, is prevented from so doing by man’s spittle, pork lard, turpentine and the like, from the little affinity of its parts with those substances, so that when surrounded by them it draws itself back, and its avoidance of these intervening obstacles is greater than its desire of reuniting itself to its homogeneous parts; which is what they term the mortification of quicksilver. Again, the difference in weight of oil and water is not the only reason for their refusing to mix, but it is also owing to the little affinity of the two; for spirits of wine, which are lighter than oil, mix very well with water. A very remarkable instance of the motion in question is seen in nitre, and crude bodies of a like nature, which abhor flame, as may be observed in gunpowder, quicksilver and gold. The avoidance of one pole of the magnet by iron is not (as Gilbert has well observed), strictly speaking, an avoidance, but a conformity, or attraction to a more convenient situation.
Let the eleventh motion be that of assimilation, or self-multiplication, or simple generation, by which latter term we do not mean the simple generation of integral bodies, such as plants or animals, but of homogeneous bodies. By this motion homogeneous bodies convert those which are allied to them, or at least well disposed and prepared, into their own substance and nature. Thus flame multiplies itself over vapors and oily substances and generates fresh flame; the air over water and watery substances multiplies itself and generates fresh air; the vegetable and animal spirit, over the thin particles of a watery or oleaginous spirit contained in its food, multiplies itself and generates fresh spirit; the solid parts of plants and animals, as the leaf, flower, the flesh, bone and the like, each of them assimilate some part of the juices contained in their food, and generate a successive and daily substance. For let none rave with Paracelsus, who (blinded by his distillations) would have it, that nutrition takes place by mere separation, and that the eye, nose, brain and liver lie concealed in bread and meat, the root, leaf and flower, in the juice of the earth; asserting that just as the artist brings out a leaf, flower, eye, nose, hand, foot and the like, from a rude mass of stone or wood by the separation and rejection of what is superfluous; so the great artist within us brings out our several limbs and parts by separation and rejection. But to leave such trifling, it is most certain that all the parts of vegetables and animals, as well the homogeneous as organic, first of all attract those juices contained in their food, which are nearly common, or at least not very different, and then assimilate and convert them into their own nature. Nor does this assimilation, or simple generation, take place in animated bodies only, but the inanimate also participate in the same property (as we have observed of flame and air), and that languid spirit, which is contained in every tangible animated substance, is perpetually working upon the coarser parts, and converting them into spirit, which afterward is exhaled, whence ensues a diminution of weight, and a desiccation of which we have spoken elsewhere.88
Nor should we, in speaking of assimilation, neglect to mention the accretion which is usually distinguished from aliment, and which is observed when mud grows into a mass between stones, and is converted into a stony substance, and the scaly substance round the teeth is converted into one no less hard than the teeth themselves; for we are of opinion that there exists in all bodies a desire of assimilation, as well as of uniting with homogeneous masses. Each of these powers, however, is confined, although in different manners, and should be diligently investigated, because they are connected with the revival of old age. Lastly, it is worthy of observation, that in the nine preceding motions, bodies appear to aim at the mere preservation of their nature, while in this they attempt its propagation.
Let the twelfth motion be that of excitement, which appears to be a species of the last, and is sometimes mentioned by us under that name. It is, like that, a diffusive, communicative, transitive and multiplying motion; and they agree remarkably in their effect, although they differ in their mode of action, and in their subject matter. The former proceeds imperiously and with authority; it orders and compels the assimilated to be converted and changed into the assimilating body. The latter proceeds by art, insinuation and stealth, inviting and disposing the excited toward the nature of the exciting body. The former both multiplies and transforms bodies and substances; thus a greater quantity of flame, air, spirit and flesh is formed; but in the latter, the powers only are multiplied and changed, and heat, the magnetic power, and putrefaction, in the above instances, are increased. Heat does not diffuse itself when heating other bodies by any communication of the original heat, but only by exciting the parts of the heated body to that motion which is the form of heat, and of which we spoke in the first vintage of the nature of heat. Heat, therefore, is excited much less rapidly and readily in stone or metal than in air, on account of the inaptitude and sluggishness of those bodies in acquiring that motion, so that it is probable, that there may be some substances, toward the centre of the earth, quite incapable of being heated, on account of their density, which may deprive them of the spirit by which the motion of excitement is usually commenced. Thus also the magnet creates in the iron a new disposition of its parts, and a conformable motion, without losing any of its virtue. So the leaven of bread, yeast, rennet and some poisons, excite and invite successive and continued motion in dough, beer, cheese or the human body; not so much from the power of the exciting, as the predisposition and yielding of the excited body.
Let the thirteenth motion be that of impression, which is also a species of motion of assimilation, and the most subtile of diffusive motions. We have thought it right, however, to consider it as a distinct species, on account of its remarkable difference from the last two; for the simple motion of assimilation transforms the bodies themselves, so that if you remove the first agent, you diminish not the effect of those which succeed; thus, neither the first lighting of flame, nor the first conversion into air, are of any importance to the flame or air next generated. So, also, the motion of excitement still continues for a considerable time after the removal of the first agent, as in a heated body on the removal of the original heat, in the excited iron on the removal of the magnet, and in the dough on the removal of the leaven. But the motion of impression, although diffusive and transitive, appears, nevertheless, to depend on the first agent, so that upon the removal of the latter the former immediately fails and perishes; for which reason also it takes effect in a moment, or at least a very short space of time. We are wont to call the two former motions the motions of the generation of Jupiter, because when born they continue to exist; and the latter, the motion of the generation of Saturn, because it is immediately devoured and absorbed. It may be seen in three instances: 1, in the rays of light; 2, in the percussions of sounds; 3, in magnetic attractions as regards communication. For, on the removal of light, colors and all its other images disappear, as on the cessation of the first percussion and the vibration of the body, sound soon fails, and although sounds are agitated by the wind, like waves, yet it is to be observed, that the same sound does not last during the whole time of the reverberation. Thus, when a bell is struck, the sound appears to be continued for a considerable time, and one might easily be led into the mistake of supposing it to float and remain in the air during the whole time, which is most erroneous.89 For the reverberation is not one identical sound, but the repetition of sounds, which is made manifest by stopping and confining the sonorous body; thus, if a bell be stopped and held tightly, so as to be immovable, the sound fails, and there is no further reverberation, and if a musical string be touched after the first vibration, either with the finger (as in the harp), or a quill (as in the harpsichord), the sound immediately ceases. If the magnet be removed the iron falls. The moon, however, cannot be removed from the sea, nor the earth from a heavy falling body, and we can, therefore, make no experiment upon them; but the case is the same.
Let the fourteenth motion be that configuration or position, by which bodies appear to desire a peculiar situation, collocation, and configuration with others, rather than union or separation. This is a very abstruse notion, and has not been well investigated; and, in some instances, appears to occur almost without any cause, although we be mistaken in supposing this to be really the case. For if it be asked, why the heavens revolve from east to west, rather than from west to east, or why they turn on poles situate near the Bears, rather than round Orion or any other part of the heaven, such a question appears to be unreasonable, since these phenomena should be received as determinate and the objects of our experience. There are, indeed, some ultimate and self-existing phenomena in nature, but those which we have just mentioned are not to be referred to that class: for we attribute them to a certain harmony and consent of the universe, which has not yet been properly observed. But if the motion of the earth from west to east be allowed, the same question may be put, for it must also revolve round certain poles, and why should they be placed where they are, rather than elsewhere? The polarity and variation of the needle come under our present head. There is also observed in both natural and artificial bodies, especially solids rather than fluids, a particular collocation and position of parts, resembling hairs or fibres, which should be diligently investigated, since, without a discovery of them, bodies cannot be conveniently controlled or wrought upon. The eddies observable in liquids by which, when compressed, they successively raise different parts of their mass before they can escape, so as to equalize the pressure, is more correctly assigned to the motion of liberty.
Let the fifteenth motion be that of transmission or of passage, by which the powers of bodies are more or less impeded or advanced by the medium, according to the nature of the bodies and their effective powers, and also according to that of the medium. For one medium is adapted to light, another to sound, another to heat and cold, another to magnetic action, and so on with regard to the other actions.
Let the sixteenth be that which we term the royal or political motion, by which the predominant and governing parts of any body check, subdue, reduce, and regulate the others, and force them to unite, separate, stand still, move, or assume a certain position, not from any inclination of their own, but according to a certain order, and as best suits the convenience of the governing part, so that there is a sort of dominion and civil government exercised by the ruling part over its subjects. The motion is very conspicuous in the spirits of animals, where, as long as it is in force, it tempers all the motions of the other parts. It is found in a less degree in other bodies, as we have observed in blood and urine, which are not decomposed until the spirit, which mixed and retained their parts, has been emitted or extinguished. Nor is this motion peculiar to spirits only, although in most bodies the spirit predominates, owing to its rapid motion and penetration; for the grosser parts predominate in denser bodies, which are not filled with a quick and active spirit (such as exists in quicksilver or vitriol), so that unless this check or yoke be thrown off by some contrivance, there is no hope of any transformation of such bodies. And let not any one suppose that we have forgotten our subject, because we speak of predominance in this classification of motions, which is made entirely with the view of assisting the investigation of wrestling instances, or instances of predominance. For we do not now treat of the general predominance of motions or powers, but of that of parts in whole bodies, which constitutes the particular species here considered.
Let the seventeenth motion be the spontaneous motion of revolution, by which bodies having a tendency to move, and placed in a favorable situation, enjoy their peculiar nature, pursuing themselves and nothing else, and seeking, as it were, to embrace themselves. For bodies seem either to move without any limit, or to tend toward a limit, arrived at which they either revolve according to their peculiar nature, or rest. Those which are favorably situated, and have a tendency to motion, move in a circle with an eternal and unlimited motion; those which are favorably situated and abhor motion, rest. Those which are not favorably situated move in a straight line (as their shortest path), in order to unite with others of a congenial nature. This motion of revolution admits of nine differences: 1, with regard to the centre about which the bodies move; 2, the poles round which they move; 3, the circumference or orbit relatively to its distance from the centre; 4, the velocity, or greater or less speed with which they revolve; 5, the direction of the motion as from east to west, or the reverse; 6, the deviation from a perfect circle, by spiral lines at a greater or less distance from the centre; 7, the deviation from the circle, by spiral lines at a greater or less distance from the poles; 8, the greater or less distance of these spirals from each other; 9, and lastly, the variation of the poles if they be movable; which, however, only affects revolution when circular. The motion in question is, according to common and long-received opinion, considered to be that of the heavenly bodies. There exists, however, with regard to this, a considerable dispute between some of the ancients as well as moderns, who have attributed a motion of revolution to the earth. A much more reasonable controversy, perhaps, exists (if it be not a matter beyond dispute), whether the motion in question (on the hypothesis of the earth’s being fixed) is confined to the heavens, or rather descends and is communicated to the air and water. The rotation of missiles, as in darts, musket-balls, and the like, we refer entirely to the motion of liberty.
Let the eighteenth motion be that of trepidation,90 to which (in the sense assigned to it by astronomers) we do not give much credit; but in our serious and general search after the tendencies of natural bodies, this motion occurs, and appears worthy of forming a distinct species. It is the motion of an (as it were) eternal captivity; when bodies, for instance, being placed not altogether according to their nature, and yet not exactly ill, constantly tremble, and are restless, not contented with their position, and yet not daring to advance. Such is the motion of the heart and pulse of animals, and it must necessarily occur in all bodies which are situated in a mean state, between conveniences and inconveniences; so that being removed from their proper position, they strive to escape, are repulsed, and again continue to make the attempt.
Let the nineteenth and last motion be one which can scarcely be termed a motion, and yet is one; and which we may call the motion of repose, or of abhorrence of motion. It is by this motion that the earth stands by its own weight, while its extremes move toward the middle, not to an imaginary centre, but in order to unite. It is owing to the same tendency, that all bodies of considerable density abhor motion, and their only tendency is not to move, which nature they preserve, although excited and urged in a variety of ways to motion. But if they be compelled to move, yet do they always appear anxious to recover their former state, and to cease from motion, in which respect they certainly appear active, and attempt it with sufficient swiftness and rapidity, as if fatigued, and impatient of delay. We can only have a partial representation of this tendency, because with us every tangible substance is not only not condensed to the utmost, but even some spirit is added, owing to the action and concocting influence of the heavenly bodies.
We have now, therefore, exhibited the species, or simple elements of the motions, tendencies, and active powers, which are most universal in nature; and no small portion of natural science has been thus sketched out. We do not, however, deny that other instances can perhaps be added, and our divisions changed according to some more natural order of things, and also reduced to a less number; in which respect we do not allude to any abstract classification, as if one were to say, that bodies desire the preservation, exaltation, propagation, or fruition of their nature; or, that motion tends to the preservation and benefit either of the universe (as in the case of those of resistance and connection), or of extensive wholes, as in the case of those of the greater congregation, revolution, and abhorrence of motion, or of particular forms, as in the case of the others. For although such remarks be just, yet, unless they terminate in matter and construction, according to true definitions, they are speculative, and of little use. In the meantime, our classification will suffice, and be of much use in the consideration of the predominance of powers, and examining the wrestling instances which constitute our present subject.
For of the motions here laid down, some are quite invincible, some more powerful than others, which they confine, check, and modify; others extend to a greater distance, others are more immediate and swift, others strengthen, increase, and accelerate the rest.
The motion of resistance is most adamantine and invincible. We are yet in doubt whether such be the nature of that of connection; for we cannot with certainty determine whether there be a vacuum, either extensive or intermixed with matter. Of one thing, however, we are satisfied, that the reason assigned by Leucippus and Democritus for the introduction of a vacuum (namely, that the same bodies could not otherwise comprehend, and fill greater and less spaces) is false. For there is clearly a folding of matter, by which it wraps and unwraps itself in space within certain limits, without the intervention of a vacuum. Nor is there two thousand times more of vacuum in air than in gold, as there should be on this hypothesis; a fact demonstrated by the very powerful energies of fluids (which would otherwise float like fine dust in vacuo), and many other proofs. The other motions direct, and are directed by each other, according to their strength, quantity, excitement, emission, or the assistance or impediments they meet with.
For instance; some armed magnets hold and support iron of sixty times their own weight; so far does the motion of lesser congregation predominate over that of the greater; but if the weight be increased, it yields. A lever of a certain strength will raise a given weight, and so far the motion of liberty predominates over that of the greater congregation, but if the weight be greater, the former motion yields. A piece of leather stretched to a certain point does not break, and so far the motion of continuity predominates over that of tension, but if the tension be greater, the leather breaks, and the motion of continuity yields. A certain quantity of water flows through a chink, and so far the motion of greater congregation predominates over that of continuity, but if the chink be smaller it yields. If a musket be charged with ball and powdered sulphur alone, and fire be applied, the ball is not discharged, in which case the motion of greater congregation overcomes that of matter; but when gunpowder is used, the motion of matter in the sulphur predominates, being assisted by that motion, and the motion of avoidance in the nitre; and so of the rest. For wrestling instances (which show the predominance of powers, and in what manner and proportion they predominate and yield) must be searched for with active and industrious diligence.
The methods and nature of this yielding must also be diligently examined, as for instance, whether the motions completely cease, or exert themselves, but are constrained. For in the bodies with which we are acquainted, there is no real but an apparent rest, either in the whole or in parts. This apparent rest is occasioned either by equilibrium, or the absolute predominance of motions. By equilibrium, as in the scales of the balance, which rest if the weights be equal. By predominance, as in perforated jars, in which the water rests, and is prevented from falling by the predominance of the motion of connection. It is, however, to be observed (as we have said before), how far the yielding motions exert themselves. For if a man be held stretched out on the ground against his will, with arms and legs bound down, or otherwise confined, and yet strive with all his power to get up, the struggle is not the less, although ineffectual. The real state of the case (namely, whether the yielding motion be, as it were, annihilated by the predominance, or there be rather a continued, although an invisible effort) will, perhaps, appear in the concurrence of motions, although it escape our notice in their conflict. For instance: let an experiment be made with muskets; whether a musket-ball, at its utmost range in a straight line, or (as it is commonly called) point-blank, strike with less force when projected upward, where the motion of the blow is simple, than when projected downward, where the motion of gravity concurs with the blow.
The rules of such instances of predominance as occur should be collected: such as the following; the more general the desired advantage is, the stronger will be the motion; the motion of connection, for instance, which relates to the intercourse of the parts of the universe, is more powerful than that of gravity, which relates to the intercourse of dense bodies only. Again, the desire of a private good does not in general prevail against that of a public one, except where the quantities are small. Would that such were the case in civil matters!
XLIX. In the twenty-fifth rank of prerogative instances we will place suggesting instances; such as suggest, or point out, that which is advantageous to mankind; for bare power and knowledge in themselves exalt rather than enrich human nature. We must, therefore, select from the general store such things as are most useful to mankind. We shall have a better opportunity of discussing these when we treat of the application to practice; besides, in the work of interpretation, we leave room, on every subject, for the human or optative chart; for it is a part of science to make judicious inquiries and wishes.
L. In the twenty-sixth rank of prerogative instances we will place the generally useful instances. They are such as relate to various points, and frequently occur, sparing by that means considerable labor and new trials. The proper place for treating of instruments and contrivances, will be that in which we speak of the application to practice, and the methods of experiment. All that has hitherto been ascertained, and made use of, will be described in the particular history of each art. At present, we will subjoin a few general examples of the instances in question.
Man acts, then, upon natural bodies (besides merely bringing them together or removing them) by seven principal methods: 1, by the exclusion of all that impedes and disturbs; 2, by compression, extension, agitation, and the like; 3, by heat and cold; 4, by detention in a suitable place; 5, by checking or directing motion; 6, by peculiar harmonies; 7, by a seasonable and proper alternation, series, and succession of all these, or, at least, of some of them.
1. With regard to the first—common air, which is always at hand, and forces its admission, as also the rays of the heavenly bodies, create much disturbance. Whatever, therefore, tends to exclude them may well be considered as generally useful. The substance and thickness of vessels in which bodies are placed when prepared for operations may be referred to this head. So also may the accurate methods of closing vessels by consolidation, or the lutum sapientiœ, as the chemists call it. The exclusion of air by means of liquids at the extremity is also very useful, as when they pour oil on wine, or the juices of herbs, which by spreading itself upon the top like a cover, preserves them uninjured from the air. Powders, also, are serviceable, for although they contain air mixed up in them, yet they ward off the power of the mass of circumambient air, which is seen in the preservation of grapes and other fruits in sand or flour. Wax, honey, pitch, and other resinous bodies, are well used in order to make the exclusion more perfect, and to remove the air and celestial influence. We have sometimes made an experiment by placing a vessel or other bodies in quicksilver, the most dense of all substances capable of being poured round others. Grottoes and subterraneous caves are of great use in keeping off the effects of the sun, and the predatory action of air, and in the north of Germany are used for granaries. The depositing of bodies at the bottom of water may be also mentioned here; and I remember having heard of some bottles of wine being let down into a deep well in order to cool them, but left there by chance, carelessness, and forgetfulness for several years, and then taken out; by which means the wine not only escaped becoming flat or dead, but was much more excellent in flavor, arising (as it appears) from a more complete mixture of its parts. But if the case require that bodies should be sunk to the bottom of water, as in rivers or the sea, and yet should not touch the water, nor be inclosed in sealed vessels, but surrounded only by air, it would be right to use that vessel which has been sometimes employed under water above ships that have sunk, in order to enable the divers to remain below and breathe occasionally by turns. It was of the following nature: A hollow tub of metal was formed, and sunk so as to have its bottom parallel with the surface of the water; it thus carried down with it to the bottom of the sea all the air contained in the tub. It stood upon three feet (like a tripod), being of rather less height than a man, so that, when the diver was in want of breath, he could put his head into the hollow of the tub, breathe, and then continue his work. We hear that some sort of boat or vessel has now been invented, capable of carrying men some distance under water. Any bodies, however, can easily be suspended under some such vessel as we have mentioned, which has occasioned our remarks upon the experiment.
Another advantage of the careful and hermetical closing of bodies is this—not only the admission of external air is prevented (of which we have treated), but the spirit of bodies also is prevented from making its escape, which is an internal operation. For any one operating on natural bodies must be certain as to their quantity, and that nothing has evaporated or escaped, since profound alterations take place in bodies, when art prevents the loss or escape of any portion, while nature prevents their annihilation. With regard to this circumstance, a false idea has prevailed (which if true would make us despair of preserving quantity without diminution), namely, that the spirit of bodies, and air when rarefied by a great degree of heat, cannot be so kept in by being inclosed in any vessel as not to escape by the small pores. Men are led into this idea by the common experiments of a cup inverted over water, with a candle or piece of lighted paper in it, by which the water is drawn up, and of those cups which, when heated, draw up the flesh. For they think that in each experiment the rarefied air escapes, and that its quantity is therefore diminished, by which means the water or flesh rises by the motion of connection. This is, however, most incorrect. For the air is not diminished in quantity, but contracted in dimensions,91 nor does this motion of the rising of the water begin till the flame is extinguished, or the air cooled, so that physicians place cold sponges, moistened with water, on the cups, in order to increase their attraction. There is, therefore, no reason why men should fear much from the ready escape of air: for although it be true that the most solid bodies have their pores, yet neither air, nor spirit, readily suffers itself to be rarefied to such an extreme degree; just as water will not escape by a small chink.
2. With regard to the second of the seven above-mentioned methods, we must especially observe, that compression and similar violence have a most powerful effect either in producing locomotion, and other motions of the same nature, as may be observed in engines and projectiles, or in destroying the organic body, and those qualities, which consist entirely in motion (for all life, and every description of flame and ignition are destroyed by compression, which also injures and deranges every machine); or in destroying those qualities which consist in position and a coarse difference of parts, as in colors; for the color of a flower when whole, differs from that it presents when bruised, and the same may be observed of whole and powdered amber; or in tastes, for the taste of a pear before it is ripe, and of the same pear when bruised and softened, is different, since it becomes perceptibly more sweet. But such violence is of little avail in the more noble transformations and changes of homogeneous bodies, for they do not, by such means, acquire any constantly and permanently new state, but one that is transitory, and always struggling to return to its former habit and freedom. It would not, however, be useless to make some more diligent experiments with regard to this; whether, for instance, the condensation of a perfectly homogeneous body (such as air, water, oil, and the like) or their rarefaction, when effected by violence, can become permanent, fixed, and, as it were, so changed, as to become a nature. This might at first be tried by simple perseverance, and then by means of helps and harmonies. It might readily have been attempted (if we had but thought of it), when we condensed water (as was mentioned above), by hammering and compression, until it burst out. For we ought to have left the flattened globe untouched for some days, and then to have drawn off the water, in order to try whether it would have immediately occupied the same dimensions as it did before the condensation. If it had not done so, either immediately, or soon afterward, the condensation would have appeared to have been rendered constant; if not, it would have appeared that a restitution took place, and that the condensation had been transitory. Something of the same kind might have been tried with the glass eggs; the egg should have been sealed up suddenly and firmly, after a complete exhaustion of the air, and should have been allowed to remain so for some days, and it might then have been tried whether, on opening the aperture, the air would be drawn in with a hissing noise, or whether as much water would be drawn into it when immersed, as would have been drawn into it at first, if it had not continued sealed. For it is probable (or, at least, worth making the experiment) that this might have happened, or might happen, because perseverance has a similar effect upon bodies which are a little less homogeneous. A stick bent together for some time does not rebound, which is not owing to any loss of quantity in the wood during the time, for the same would occur (after a larger time) in a plate of steel, which does not evaporate. If the experiment of simple perseverance should fail, the matter should not be given up, but other means should be employed. For it would be no small advantage, if bodies could be endued with fixed and constant natures by violence. Air could then be converted into water by condensation, with other similar effects; for man is more the master of violent motions than of any other means.
3. The third of our seven methods is referred to that great practical engine of nature, as well as of art, cold and heat. Here, man’s power limps, as it were, with one leg. For we possess the heat of fire, which is infinitely more powerful and intense than that of the sun (as it reaches us), and that of animals. But we want cold,92 except such as we can obtain in winter, in caverns, or by surrounding objects with snow and ice, which, perhaps, may be compared in degree with the noontide heat of the sun in tropical countries, increased by the reflection of mountains and walls. For this degree of heat and cold can be borne for a short period only by animals, yet it is nothing compared with the heat of a burning furnace, or the corresponding degree of cold.93 Everything with us has a tendency to become rarefied, dry and wasted, and nothing to become condensed or soft, except by mixtures, and, as it were, spurious methods. Instances of cold, therefore, should be searched for most diligently, such as may be found by exposing bodies upon buildings in a hard frost, in subterraneous caverns, by surrounding bodies with snow and ice in deep places excavated for that purpose, by letting bodies down into wells, by burying bodies in quick-silver and metals, by immersing them in streams which petrify wood, by burying them in the earth (which the Chinese are reported to do with their china, masses of which, made for that purpose, are said to remain in the ground for forty or fifty years, and to be transmitted to their heirs as a sort of artificial mine) and the like. The condensations which take place in nature, by means of cold, should also be investigated, that by learning their causes, they may be introduced into the arts; such as are observed in the exudation of marble and stones, in the dew upon the panes of glass in a room toward morning after a frosty night, in the formation and the gathering of vapors under the earth into water, whence spring fountains and the like.
Besides the substances which are cold to the touch, there are others which have also the effect of cold, and condense; they appear, however, to act only upon the bodies of animals, and scarcely any further. Of these we have many instances, in medicines and plasters. Some condense the flesh and tangible parts, such as astringent and inspissating medicines, others the spirits, such as soporifics. There are two modes of condensing the spirits, by soporifics or provocatives to sleep; the one by calming the motion, the other by expelling the spirit. The violet, dried roses, lettuces, and other benign or mild remedies, by their friendly and gently cooling vapors, invite the spirits to unite, and restrain their violent and perturbed motion. Rose-water, for instance, applied to the nostrils in fainting fits, causes the resolved and relaxed spirits to recover themselves, and, as it were, cherishes them. But opiates, and the like, banish the spirits by their malignant and hostile quality. If they be applied, therefore, externally, the spirits immediately quit the part and no longer readily flow into it; but if they be taken internally, their vapor, mounting to the head, expels, in all directions, the spirits contained in the ventricles of the brain, and since these spirits retreat, but cannot escape, they consequently meet and are condensed, and are sometimes completely extinguished and suffocated; although the same opiates, when taken in moderation, by a secondary accident (the condensation which succeeds their union), strengthen the spirits, render them more robust, and check their useless and inflammatory motion, by which means they contribute not a little to the cure of diseases, and the prolongation of life.
The preparations of bodies, also, for the reception of cold should not be omitted, such as that water a little warmed is more easily frozen than that which is quite cold, and the like.
Moreover, since nature supplies cold so sparingly, we must act like the apothecaries, who, when they cannot obtain any simple ingredient, take a succedaneum, or quid pro quo, as they term it, such as aloes for xylobalsamum, cassia for cinnamon. In the same manner we should look diligently about us, to ascertain whether there may be any substitutes for cold, that is to say, in what other manner condensation can be effected, which is the peculiar operation of cold. Such condensations appear hitherto to be of four kinds only. 1. By simple compression, which is of little avail toward permanent condensation, on account of the elasticity of substances, but may still, however, be of some assistance. 2. By the contraction of the coarser, after the escape or departure of the finer parts of a given body; as is exemplified in induration by fire, and the repeated heating and extinguishing of metals, and the like. 3. By the cohesion of the most solid homogeneous parts of a given body, which were previously separated, and mixed with others less solid, as in the return of sublimated mercury to its simple state, in which it occupies much less space than it did in powder, and the same may be observed of the cleansing of all metals from their dross. 4. By harmony, or the application of substances which condense by some latent power. These harmonies are as yet but rarely observed, at which we cannot be surprised, since there is little to hope for from their investigation, unless the discovery of forms and confirmation be attained. With regard to animal bodies, it is not to be questioned that there are many internal and external medicines which condense by harmony, as we have before observed, but this action is rare in inanimate bodies. Written accounts, as well as report, have certainly spoken of a tree in one of the Tercera or Canary Islands (for I do not exactly recollect which) that drips perpetually, so as to supply the inhabitants, in some degree, with water; and Paracelsus says that the herb called ros solis is filled with dew at noon, while the sun gives out its greatest heat, and all other herbs around it are dry. We treat both these accounts as fables; they would, however, if true, be of the most important service, and most worthy of examination. As to the honey-dew, resembling manna, which is found in May on the leaves of the oak, we are of opinion that it is not condensed by any harmony or peculiarity of the oak leaf, but that while it falls equally upon other leaves it is retained and continues on those of the oak, because their texture is closer, and not so porous as that of most of the other leaves.94
With regard to heat, man possesses abundant means and power; but his observation and inquiry are defective in some respects, and those of the greatest importance, notwithstanding the boasting of quacks. For the effects of intense heat are examined and observed, while those of a more gentle degree of heat, being of the most frequent occurrence in the paths of nature, are, on that very account, least known. We see, therefore, the furnaces, which are most esteemed, employed in increasing the spirits of bodies to a great extent, as in the strong acids, and some chemical oils; while the tangible parts are hardened, and, when the volatile part has escaped, become sometimes fixed; the homogeneous parts are separated, and the heterogeneous incorporated and agglomerated in a coarse lump; and (what is chiefly worthy of remark) the junction of compound bodies, and the more delicate conformations are destroyed and confounded. But the operation of a less violent heat should be tried and investigated, by which more delicate mixtures and regular conformations may be produced and elicited, according to the example of nature, and in imitation of the effect of the sun, which we have alluded to in the aphorism on the instances of alliance. For the works of nature are carried on in much smaller portions, and in more delicate and varied positions than those of fire, as we now employ it. But man will then appear to have really augmented his power, when the works of nature can be imitated in species, perfected in power, and varied in quantity; to which should be added the acceleration in point of time. Rust, for instance, is the result of a long process, but crocus martis is obtained immediately; and the same may be observed of natural verdigris and ceruse. Crystal is formed slowly, while glass is blown immediately: stones increase slowly, while bricks are baked immediately, etc. In the meantime (with regard to our present subject) every different species of heat should, with its peculiar effects, be diligently collected and inquired into; that of the heavenly bodies, whether their rays be direct, reflected, or refracted, or condensed by a burning-glass; that of lightning, flame, and ignited charcoal; that of fire of different materials, either open or confined, straitened or overflowing, qualified by the different forms of the furnaces, excited by the bellows, or quiescent, removed to a greater or less distance, or passing through different media; moist heats, such as the balneum Mariœ, and the dunghill; the external and internal heat of animals; dry heats, such as the heat of ashes, lime, warm sand; in short, the nature of every kind of heat, and its degrees.
We should, however, particularly attend to the investigation and discovery of the effects and operations of heat, when made to approach and retire by degrees, regularly, periodically, and by proper intervals of space and time. For this systematical inequality is in truth the daughter of heaven and mother of generation, nor can any great result be expected from a vehement, precipitate, or desultory heat. For this is not only most evident in vegetables, but in the wombs of animals also there arises a great inequality of heat, from the motion, sleep, food, and passions of the female. The same inequality prevails in those subterraneous beds where metals and fossils are perpetually forming, which renders yet more remarkable the ignorance of some of the reformed alchemists, who imagined they could attain their object by the equable heat of lamps, or the like, burning uniformly. Let this suffice concerning the operation and effects of heat; nor is it time for us to investigate them thoroughly before the forms and conformations of bodies have been further examined and brought to light. When we have determined upon our models, we may seek, apply, and arrange our instruments.
4. The fourth mode of action is by continuance, the very steward and almoner, as it were, of nature. We apply the term continuance to the abandonment of a body to itself for an observable time, guarded and protected in the meanwhile from all external force. For the internal motion then commences to betray and exert itself when the external and adventitious is removed. The effects of time, however, are far more delicate than those of fire. Wine, for instance, cannot be clarified by fire as it is by continuance. Nor are the ashes produced by combustion so fine as the particles dissolved or wasted by the lapse of ages. The incorporations and mixtures, which are hurried by fire, are very inferior to those obtained by continuance; and the various conformations assumed by bodies left to themselves, such as mouldiness, etc., are put a stop to by fire or a strong heat. It is not, in the meantime, unimportant to remark that there is a certain degree of violence in the motion of bodies entirely confined; for the confinement impedes the proper motion of the body. Continuance in an open vessel, therefore, is useful for separations, and in one hermetically sealed for mixtures, that in a vessel partly closed, but admitting the air, for putrefaction. But instances of the operation and effect of continuance must be collected diligently from every quarter.
5. The direction of motion (which is the fifth method of action) is of no small use. We adopt this term, when speaking of a body which, meeting with another, either arrests, repels, allows, or directs its original motion. This is the case principally in the figure and position of vessels. An upright cone, for instance, promotes the condensation of vapor in alembics, but when reversed, as in inverted vessels, it assists the refining of sugar. Sometimes a curved form, or one alternately contracted and dilated, is required. Strainers may be ranged under this head, where the opposed body opens a way for one portion of another substance and impedes the rest. Nor is this process or any other direction of motion carried on externally only, but sometimes by one body within another. Thus, pebbles are thrown into water to collect the muddy particles, and syrups are refined by the white of an egg, which glues the grosser particles together so as to facilitate their removal. Telesius, indeed, rashly and ignorantly enough attributes the formation of animals to this cause, by means of the channels and folds of the womb. He ought to have observed a similar formation of the young in eggs which have no wrinkles or inequalities. One may observe a real result of this direction of motion in casting and modelling.
6. The effects produced by harmony and aversion (which is the sixth method) are frequently buried in obscurity; for these occult and specific properties (as they are termed), the sympathies and antipathies, are for the most part but a corruption of philosophy. Nor can we form any great expectation of the discovery of the harmony which exists between natural objects, before that of their forms and simple conformations, for it is nothing more than the symmetry between these forms and conformations.
The greater and more universal species of harmony are not, however, so wholly obscure, and with them, therefore, we must commence. The first and principal distinction between them is this; that some bodies differ considerably in the abundance and rarity of their substance, but correspond in their conformation; others, on the contrary, correspond in the former and differ in the latter. Thus the chemists have well observed, that in their trial of first principles sulphur and mercury, as it were, pervade the universe; their reasoning about salt, however, is absurd, and merely introduced to comprise earthy dry fixed bodies. In the other two, indeed, one of the most universal species of natural harmony manifests itself. Thus there is a correspondence between sulphur, oil, greasy exhalations, flame, and, perhaps, the substance of the stars. On the other hand, there is a like correspondence between mercury, water, aqueous vapor, air, and, perhaps, pure inter-sidereal ether. Yet do these two quaternions, or great natural tribes (each within its own limits), differ immensely in quantity and density of substance, while they generally agree in conformation, as is manifest in many instances. On the other hand, the metals agree in such quantity and density (especially when compared with vegetables, etc.), but differ in many respects in conformation. Animals and vegetables, in like manner, vary in their almost infinite modes of conformation, but range within very limited degrees of quantity and density of substance.
The next most general correspondence is that between individual bodies and those which supply them by way of menstruum or support. Inquiry, therefore, must be made as to the climate, soil, and depth at which each metal is generated, and the same of gems, whether produced in rocks or mines, also as to the soil in which particular trees, shrubs, and herbs, mostly grow and, as it were, delight; and as to the best species of manure, whether dung, chalk, sea sand, or ashes, etc., and their different propriety and advantage according to the variety of soils. So also the grafting and setting of trees and plants (as regards the readiness of grafting one particular species on another) depends very much upon harmony, and it would be amusing to try an experiment I have lately heard of, in grafting forest trees (garden trees alone having hitherto been adopted), by which means the leaves and fruit are enlarged, and the trees produce more shade. The specific food of animals again should be observed, as well as that which cannot be used. Thus the carnivorous cannot be fed on herbs, for which reason the order of feuilletans, the experiment having been made, has nearly vanished; human nature being incapable of supporting their regimen, although the human will has more power over the bodily frame than that of other animals. The different kinds of putrefaction from which animals are generated should be noted.
The harmony of principal bodies with those subordinate to them (such indeed may be deemed those we have alluded to above) are sufficiently manifest, to which may be added those that exist between different bodies and their objects, and, since these latter are more apparent, they may throw great light when well observed and diligently examined upon those which are more latent.
The more internal harmony and aversion, or friendship and enmity (for superstition and folly have rendered the terms of sympathy and antipathy almost disgusting), have been either falsely assigned, or mixed with fable, or most rarely discovered from neglect. For if one were to allege that there is an enmity between the vine and the cabbage, because they will not come up well when sown together, there is a sufficient reason for it in the succulent and absorbent nature of each plant, so that the one defrauds the other. Again, if one were to say that there is a harmony and friendship between the corn and the corn-flower, or the wild poppy, because the latter seldom grow anywhere but in cultivated soils, he ought rather to say, there is an enmity between them, for the poppy and the corn-flower are produced and created by those juices which the corn has left and rejected, so that the sowing of the corn prepares the ground for their production. And there are a vast number of similar false assertions. As for fables, they must be totally exterminated. There remains, then, but a scanty supply of such species of harmony as has borne the test of experiment, such as that between the magnet and iron, gold and quicksilver, and the like. In chemical experiments on metals, however, there are some others worthy of notice, but the greatest abundance (where the whole are so few in numbers) is discovered in certain medicines, which, from their occult and specific qualities (as they are termed), affect particular limbs, humors, diseases, or constitutions. Nor should we omit the harmony between the motion and phenomena of the moon, and their effects on lower bodies, which may be brought together by an accurate and honest selection from the experiments of agriculture, navigation, and medicine, or of other sciences. By as much as these general instances, however, of more latent harmony, are rare, with so much the more diligence are they to be inquired after, through tradition, and faithful and honest reports, but without rashness and credulity, with an anxious and, as it were, hesitating degree of reliance. There remains one species of harmony which, though simple in its mode of action, is yet most valuable in its use, and must by no means be omitted, but rather diligently investigated. It is the ready or difficult coition or union of bodies in composition, or simple juxtaposition. For some bodies readily and willingly mix, and are incorporated, others tardily and perversely; thus powders mix best with water, chalk and ashes with oils, and the like. Nor are these instances of readiness and aversion to mixture to be alone collected, but others, also, of the collocation, distribution, and digestion of the parts when mingled, and the predominance after the mixture is complete.
7. Lastly, there remains the seventh, and last of the seven, modes of action; namely, that by the alternation and interchange of the other six; but of this, it will not be the right time to offer any examples, until some deeper investigation shall have taken place of each of the others. The series, or chain of this alternation, in its mode of application to separate effects, is no less powerful in its operation than difficult to be traced. But men are possessed with the most extreme impatience, both of such inquiries, and their practical application, although it be the clew of the labyrinth in all greater works. Thus far of the generally useful instances.
LI. The twenty-seventh and last place we will assign to the magical instances, a term which we apply to those where the matter or efficient agent is scanty or small, in comparison with the grandeur of the work or effect produced; so that even when common they appear miraculous, some at first sight, others even upon more attentive observation. Nature, however, of herself, supplies these but sparingly. What she will do when her whole store is thrown open, and after the discovery of forms, processes, and conformation, will appear hereafter. As far as we can yet conjecture, these magic effects are produced in three ways, either by self-multiplication, as in fire, and the poisons termed specific, and the motions transferred and multiplied from wheel to wheel; or by the excitement, or, as it were, invitation of another substance, as in the magnet, which excites innumerable needles without losing or diminishing its power; and again in leaven, and the like; or by the excess of rapidity of one species of motion over another, as has been observed in the case of gunpowder, cannon, and mines. The two former require an investigation of harmonies, the latter of a measure of motion. Whether there be any mode of changing bodies per minima (as it is termed), and transferring the delicate conformations of matter, which is of importance in all transformations of bodies, so as to enable art to effect, in a short time, that which nature works out by divers expedients, is a point of which we have as yet no indication. But, as we aspire to the extremest and highest results in that which is solid and true, so do we ever detest, and, as far as in us lies, expel all that is empty and vain.
LII. Let this suffice as to the respective dignity of prerogatives of instances. But it must be noted, that in this our organ, we treat of logic, and not of philosophy. Seeing, however, that our logic instructs and informs the understanding, in order that it may not, with the small hooks, as it were, of the mind, catch at, and grasp mere abstractions, but rather actually penetrate nature, and discover the properties and effects of bodies, and the determinate laws of their substance (so that this science of ours springs from the nature of things, as well as from that of the mind); it is not to be wondered at, if it have been continually interspersed and illustrated with natural observations and experiments, as instances of our method. The prerogative instances are, as appears from what has preceded, twenty-seven in number, and are termed, solitary instances, migrating instances, conspicuous instances, clandestine instances, constitutive instances, similar instances, singular instances, deviating instances, bordering instances, instances of power, accompanying and hostile instances, subjunctive instances, instances of alliance, instances of the cross, instances of divorce, instances of the gate, citing instances, instances of the road, supplementary instances, lancing instances, instances of the rod, instances of the course, doses of nature, wrestling instances, suggesting instances, generally useful instances, and magical instances. The advantage, by which these instances excel the more ordinary, regards specifically either theory or practice, or both. With regard to theory, they assist either the senses or the understanding; the senses, as in the five instances of the lamp; the understanding, either by expediting the exclusive mode of arriving at the form, as in solitary instances, or by confining, and more immediately indicating the affirmative, as in the migrating, conspicuous, accompanying, and subjunctive instances; or by elevating the understanding, and leading it to general and common natures, and that either immediately, as in the clandestine and singular instances, and those of alliance; or very nearly so, as in the constitutive; or still less so, as in the similar instances; or by correcting the understanding of its habits, as in the deviating instances; or by leading to the grand form or fabric of the universe, as in the bordering instances; or by guarding it from false forms and causes, as in those of the cross and of divorce. With regard to practice, they either point it out, or measure, or elevate it. They point it out, either by showing where we must commence in order not to repeat the labors of others, as in the instances of power; or by inducing us to aspire to that which may be possible, as in the suggesting instances; the four mathematical instances measure it. The generally useful and the magical elevate it.
Again, out of these twenty-seven instances, some must be collected immediately, without waiting for a particular investigation of properties. Such are the similar, singular, deviating, and bordering instances, those of power, and of the gate, and suggesting, generally useful, and magical instances; for these either assist and cure the understanding and senses, or furnish our general practice. The remainder are to be collected when we finish our synoptical tables for the work of the interpreter, upon any particular nature; for these instances, honored and gifted with such prerogatives, are like the soul amid the vulgar crowd of instances, and (as we from the first observed) a few of them are worth a multitude of the others. When, therefore, we are forming our tables they must be searched out with the greatest zeal, and placed in the table. And, since mention must be made of them in what follows, a treatise upon their nature has necessarily been prefixed. We must next, however, proceed to the supports and corrections of induction, and thence to concretes, the latent process, and latent conformations, and the other matters, which we have enumerated in their order in the twenty-first aphorism, in order that, like good and faithful guardians, we may yield up their fortune to mankind upon the emancipation and majority of their understanding; from which must necessarily follow an improvement of their estate, and an increase of their power over nature. For man, by the fall, lost at once his state of innocence, and his empire over creation, both of which can be partially recovered even in this life, the first by religion and faith, the second by the arts and sciences. For creation did not become entirely and utterly rebellious by the curse, but in consequence of the Divine decree, “in the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread,” she is compelled by our labors (not assuredly by our disputes or magical ceremonies), at length, to afford mankind in some degree his bread, that is to say, to supply man’s daily wants.
end of “novum organum”
[1 ]Τὸ τὶ ἠν εἰναι, or ἠν οὐδία of Aristotle.—See lib. iii. Metap.
[2 ]These divisions are from Aristotle’s Metaphysics, where they are termed, 1. [Editor: illegible character]λη η̂ τὸ ὑποκείμενον. 2. τὸ τὶ ἡν εἰναι. 3. ὅθεν ἡ ἀρχὴ τη̂ς κινήσεως. 4. τὸ οὐ ἕνεκεν—καὶ τὸ ἀγαθόν.
[3 ]See Aphorism li. and second paragraph of Aphorism lxv. in the first book.
[4 ]Bacon means, that although there exist in nature only individualities, yet a certain number of these may have common properties, and be controlled by the same laws. Now, these homogeneous qualities which distinguish them from other individuals, lead us to class them under one expression, and sometimes under a single term. Yet these classes are only pure conceptions in Bacon’s opinion, and cannot be taken for distinct substances. He evidently here aims a blow at the Realists, who concluded that the essence which united individualities in a class was the only real and immutable existence in nature, inasmuch as it entered into their ideas of individual substances as a distinct and essential property, and continued in the mind as the mold, type or pattern of the class, while its individual forms were undergoing perpetual renovation and decay.—Ed.
[5 ]Bacon’s definition is obscure. All the idea we have of a law of nature consists in invariable sequence between certain classes of phenomena; but this cannot be the complete sense attached by Bacon to the term form, as he employs it in the fourth aphorism as convertible with the nature of any object; and again, in the first aphorism, as the natura naturans, or general law or condition in any substance or quality—natura naturata—which is whatever its form is, or that particular combination of forces which impresses a certain nature upon matter subject to its influence. Thus, in the Newtonian sense, the form of whiteness would be that combination of the seven primitive rays of light which give rise to that color. In combination with this word, and affording a still further insight into its meaning, we have the phrases, latens processus ad formam, et latens schematismus corporum. Now, the latens schematismus signifies the internal texture, structure, or configuration of bodies, or the result of the respective situation of all the parts of a body; while the latens processus ad formam points out the gradation of movements which takes place among the molecula of bodies when they either conserve or change their figure. Hence we may consider the form of any quality in body as something convertible with that quality, i.e., when it exists the quality is present, and vice versâ. In this sense, the form of a thing differs only from its efficient cause in being permanent, whereas we apply cause to that which exists in order of time. The latens processus and latens schematismus are subordinate to form, as concrete exemplifications of its essence. The former is the secret and invisible process by which change is effected, and involves the principle since called the law of continuity. Thus, the succession of events between the application of the match to the expulsion of the bullet is an instance of latent progress which we can now trace with some degree of accuracy. It also more directly refers to the operation by which one form or condition of being is induced upon another. For example, when the surface of iron becomes rusty, or when water is converted into steam, some change has taken place, or latent process from one form to another. Mechanics afford many exemplifications of the first latent process we have denoted, and chemistry of the second. The latens schematismus is that visible structure of bodies on which so many of their properties depend. When we inquire into the constitution of crystals, and into the internal structure of plants, we are examining into their latent schematism.—Ed.
[6 ]By the recent discoveries in electric magnetism, copper wires, or, indeed, wires of any metal, may be transformed into magnets; the magnetic law, or form, having been to that extent discovered.
[7 ]Haller has pursued this investigation in his “Physiology,” and has left his successors little else to do than repeat his discoveries.—Ed.
[8 ]Bacon here first seems pregnant with the important development of the higher calculus, which, in the hands of Newton and Descartes, was to effect as great a revolution in philosophy as his method.—Ed.
[9 ]By spirit, Bacon here plainly implies material fluid too fine to be grasped by the unassisted sense, which rather operates than reasons. We sometimes adopt the same mode of expression, as in the words spirits of nitre, spirits of wine. Some such agency has been assumed by nearly all the modern physicists, a few of whom, along with Bacon, would leave us to gather from their expressions, that they believe such bodies endowed with the sentient powers of perception. As another specimen of his sentiment on this subject, we may refer to a paragraph on the decomposition of compounds, in his essay on death, beginning—“The spirit which exists in all living bodies, keeps all the parts in due subjection; when it escapes, the body decomposes, or the similar parts unite.”—Ed.
[10 ]The theory of the Epicureans and others. The atoms are supposed to be invisible, unalterable particles, endued with all the properties of the given body, and forming that body by their union. They must be separated, of course, which either takes a vacuum for granted, or introduces a tertium quid into the composition of the body.
[11 ]Compare the three following aphorisms with the last three chapters of the third book of the “De Augmentis Scientiarum.”
[12 ]Bacon gives this unfortunate term its proper signification; μετα, in composition, with the Greeks signifying change or mutation. Most of our readers, no doubt, are aware that the obtrusion of this word into technical philosophy was purely capricious, and is of no older date than the publication of Aristotle’s works by Andronicus of Rhodes, one of the learned men into whose hands the manuscripts of that philosopher fell, after they were brought by Sylla from Athens to Rome. To fourteen books in these MSS. with no distinguishing title, Andronicus is said to have prefixed the words τα μετα τα ϕυσικα, to denote the place which they ought to hold either in the order of Aristotle’s arrangement, or in that of study. These books treat first of those subjects which are common to matter and mind; secondly, of things separate from matter, i.e. of God, and of the subordinate spirits, which were supposed by the Peripatetics to watch over particular portions of the universe. The followers of Aristotle accepted the whimsical title of Andronicus, and in their usual manner allowed a word to unite things into one science which were plainly heterogeneous. Their error was adopted by the Peripatetics of the Christian Church. The schoolmen added to the notion of ontology, the science of the mind, or pneumatology, and as that genus of being has since become extinct with the schools, metaphysics thus in modern parlance comes to be synonymous with psychology. It were to be wished that Bacon’s definition of the term had been accepted, and mental science delivered from one of the greatest monstrosities in its nomenclature, yet Bacon whimsically enough in his De Augmentis includes mathematics in metaphysics.—Ed.
[14 ]This notion, which he repeats again, and particularizes in the 18th aph. of this book, is borrowed from the ancients, and we need not say is as wise as their other astronomical conjectures. The sun also approaches stars quite as large in other quarters of the zodiac, when it looks down upon the earth through the murky clouds of winter. When that luminary is in Leo, the heat of the earth is certainly greater than at any other period, but this arises from the accumulation of heat after the solstice, for the same reason that the maximum heat of the day is at two o’clock instead of noon.—Ed.
[15 ]Bouguer, employed by Louis XIV. in philosophical researches, ascended the Andes to discover the globular form of the earth, and published an account of his passage, which verifies the statement of Bacon.
[16 ]Montanari asserts in his book against the astrologers that he had satisfied himself by numerous and oft-repeated experiments, that the lunar rays gathered to a focus produced a sensible degree of heat. Muschenbröck, however, adopts the opposite opinion, and asserts that himself, De la Hire, Villet, and Tschirnhausen had tried with that view the strongest burning-glasses in vain. (Opera de Igne.) De la Lande makes a similar confession in his Astronomy (vol. ii. vii. § 1413). Bouguer, whom we have just quoted, demonstrated that the light of the moon was 300,000 degrees less than that of the sun; it would consequently be necesary to invent a glass with an absorbing power 300,000 degrees greater than those ordinarily in use, to try the experiment Bacon speaks of.—Ed.
[17 ]In this thermometer, mercury was not dilated by heat or contracted by cold, as the one now in use, but a mass of air employed instead, which filled the cavity of the bulb. This being placed in an inverted position to ours, that is to say, with the bulb uppermost, pressed down the liquor when the air became dilated by heat, as ours press it upward; and when the heat diminished, the liquor rose to occupy the place vacated by the air, as the one now in use descends. It consequently was liable to be affected by a change in the temperature, as by the weight of air, and could afford only a rude standard of accuracy in scientific investigations. This thermometer was not Bacon’s own contrivance, as is commonly supposed, but that of Drebbel.—Ed.
[18 ]La Lande is indignant that the Chaldeans should have more correct notions of the nature of comets than the modern physicists, and charges Bacon with entertaining the idea that they were the mere effects of vapor and heat. This passage, with two others more positive, in the “De Aug.” (cap. xl.) and the “Descript. Globi Intellect.” (cap. vi.) certainly afford ground for the assertion; but if Bacon erred, he erred with Galileo, and with the foremost spirits of the times. It is true that Pythagoras and Seneca had asserted their belief in the solidity of these bodies, but the wide dominion which Aristotle subsequently exercised, threw their opinions into the shade, and made the opposite doctrine everywhere paramount.—Ed.
[19 ]Was it a silk apron which exhibited electric sparks? Silk was then scarce.
[20 ]The Italian fire-fly.
[21 ]This last is found to be the real reason, air not being a good conductor, and therefore not allowing the escape of heat. The confined air is disengaged when these substances are placed under an exhausted receiver.
[22 ]This is erroneous. Air, in fact, is one of the worst, and metals are the best conductors of heat.
[23 ]See No. 28 in the table of the degrees of heat.
[24 ]Bacon here mistakes sensation confined to ourselves for an internal property of distinct substances. Metals are denser than wood, and our bodies consequently coming into contact with more particles of matter when we touch them, lose a greater quantity of heat than in the case of lighter substances.—Ed.
[25 ]This was the ancient opinion, but the moderns incline to the belief that these insects are produced by generation or fecundity from seeds deposited by their tribes in bodies on the verge of putrefaction.—Ed.
[26 ]The correct measure of the activity of flame may be obtained by multiplying its natural force into the square of its velocity. On this account the flame of vivid lightning mentioned in No. 23 contains so much vigor, its velocity being greater than that arising from other heat.—Ed.
[27 ]The fires supply fresh heat, the water has only a certain quantity of heat, which being diffused over a fresh supply of cooler water, must be on the whole lowered.
[28 ]If condensation were the cause of the greater heat, Bacon concludes the centre of the flame would be the hotter part, and vice versâ. The fact is, neither of the causes assigned by Bacon is the true one; for the fire burns more quickly only because the draught of air is more rapid, the cold dense air pressing rapidly into the heated room and toward the chimney.—Ed.
[29 ]Bacon appears to have confounded combustibility and fusibility with susceptibility of heat; for though the metals will certainly neither dissolve as soon as ice or butter, nor be consumed as soon as wood, that only shows that different degrees of heat are required to produce similar effects on different bodies; but metals much more readily acquire and transmit the same degree of heat than any of the above substances. The rapid transmission renders them generally cold to the touch. The convenience of fixing wooden handles to vessels containing hot water illustrates these observations.
[30 ]Another singular error, the truth being, that solid bodies are the best conductors; but of course where heat is diffused over a large mass, it is less in each part, than if that part alone absorbed the whole quantum of heat.—Ed.
[31 ]This general law or form has been well illustrated by Newton’s discovery of the decomposition of colors.
[32 ]I.e., the common link or form which connects the various kinds of natures, such as the different hot or red natures enumerated above.—See Aphorism iii. part 2.
[33 ]This is erroneous—all metals expand considerably when heated.
[34 ]“Quid ipsum,” the τὀ τὶ ἠν εἰναι of Aristotle.
[35 ]To show the error of the text, we need only mention the case of water, which, when confined in corked vases, and exposed to the action of a freezing atmosphere, is sure to swell out and break those vessels which are not sufficiently large to contain its expanded volume. Megalotti narrates a hundred other instances of a similar character.—Ed.
[36 ]Bacon’s inquisition into the nature of heat, as an example of the mode of interpreting nature, cannot be looked upon otherwise than as a complete failure. Though the exact nature of this phenomenon is still an obscure and controverted matter, the science of thermotics now consists of many important truths, and to none of these truths is there so much as an approximation in Bacon’s process. The steps by which this science really advanced were the discovery of a measure of a heat or temperature, the establishment of the laws of conduction and radiation, of the laws of specific heat, latent heat, and the like. Such advances have led to Ampère’s hypothesis, that heat consists in the vibrations of an imponderable fluid; and to Laplace’s theory, that temperature consists in the internal radiation of a similar medium. These hypotheses cannot yet be said to be even probable, but at least they are so modified as to include some of the preceding laws which are firmly established, whereas Bacon’s “form,” or true definition of heat, as stated in the text, includes no laws of phenomena, explains no process, and is indeed itself an example of illicit generalization.
[37 ]By this term Bacon understands general phenomena, taken in order from the great mass of indiscriminative facts, which, as they lie in nature, are apt to generate confusion by their number, indistinctness and complication. Such classes of phenomena, as being peculiarly suggestive of causation, he quaintly classes under the title of prerogative inquiries, either seduced by the fanciful analogy, which such instances bore to the prerogativa centuria in the Roman Comitia, or justly considering them as Herschel supposes to hold a kind of prerogative dignity from being peculiarly suggestive of causation.
[38 ]Of these nine general heads no more than the first is prosecuted by the author.
[39 ]This very nearly approaches to Sir I. Newton’s discovery of the decomposition of light by the prism.
[40 ]The mineral kingdom, as displaying the same nature in all its gradations, from the shells so perfect in structure in limestone to the finer marbles in which their nature gradually disappears, is the great theatre for instances of migration.—Ed.
[41 ]Bacon was not aware of the fact since brought to light by Römer, that down to fourteen fathoms from the earth’s mean level the thermometer remains fixed at the tenth degree, but that as the thermometer descends below that depth the heat increases in a ratio proportionate to the descent, which happens with little variation in all climates. Buffon considers this a proof of a central fire in our planet.—Ed.
[42 ]All the diversities of bodies depend upon two principles, i.e., the quantity and the position of the elements that enter into their composition. The primary difference is not that which depends on the greatest or least quantity of material elements, but that which depends on their position. It was the quick perception of this truth that made Leibnitz say that to complete mathematics it was necessary to join to the analysis of quantity the analysis of position.—Ed.
[44 ]The real cause of this phenomenon is the attraction of the surface-water in the vessel by the sides of the bubbles. When the bubbles approach, the sides nearest each other both tend to raise the small space of water between them, and consequently less water is raised by each of these nearer sides than by the exterior part of the bubble, and the greater weight of the water raised on the exterior parts pushes the bubbles together. In the same manner a bubble near the side of a vessel is pushed toward it; the vessel and bubble both drawing the water that is between them. The latter phenomenon cannot be explained on Bacon’s hypothesis.
[45 ]Modern discoveries appear to bear out the sagacity of Bacon’s remark, and the experiments of Baron Cagnard may be regarded as a first step toward its full demonstration. After the new facts elicited by that philosopher, there can be little doubt that the solid, liquid and aëriform state of bodies are merely stages in a progress of gradual transition from one extreme to the other, and that however strongly marked the distinctions between them may appear, they will ultimately turn out to be separated by no sudden or violent line of demarcation, but slide into each other by imperceptible gradations. Bacon’s suggestion, however, is as old as Pythagoras, and perhaps simultaneous with the first dawn of philosophic reason. The doctrine of the reciprocal transmutation of the elements underlies all the physical systems of the ancients, and was adopted by the Epicureans as well as the Stoics. Ovid opens his last book of the Metamorphoses with the poetry of the subject, where he expressly points to the hint of Bacon:—
and Seneca, in the third book of his Natural Philosophy, quest. iv., states the opinion in more precise language than either the ancient bard or the modern philosopher.—Ed.
[46 ]The author’s own system of Memoria Technica may be found in the De Augmentis, chap. xv. We may add that, notwithstanding Bacon’s assertion that he intended his method to apply to religion, politics, and morals, this is the only lengthy illustration he has adduced of any subject out of the domain of physical science.—Ed.
[47 ]The collective instances here meant are no other than general facts or laws of some degree of generality, and are themselves the result of induction. For example, the system of Jupiter, or Saturn with its satellites, is a collective instance, and materially assisted in securing the admission of the Copernican system. We have here in miniature, and displayed at one view, a system analogous to that of the planets about the sun, of which, from the circumstance of our being involved in it, and unfavorably situated for seeing it otherwise than in detail, we are incapacitated from forming a general idea, but by slow and progressive efforts of reason.
[48 ]Is not this very hasty generalization? Do serpents move with four folds only? Observe also the motion of centipedes and other insects.
[49 ]Shaw states another point of difference between the objects cited in the text—animals having their roots within, while plants have theirs without; for their lacteals nearly correspond with the fibres of the roots in plants; so that animals seem nourished within themselves as plants are without.—Ed.
[50 ]Bacon falls into an error here in regarding the syllogism as something distinct from the reasoning faculty, and only one of its forms. It is not generally true that the syllogism is only a form of reasoning by which we unite ideas which accord with the middle term. This agreement is not even essential to accurate syllogisms; when the relation of the two things compared to the third is one of equality or similitude, it of course follows that the two things compared may be pronounced equal, or like to each other. But if the relation between these terms exist in a different form, then it is not true that the two extremes stand in the same relation to each other as to the middle term. For instance, if A is double of B, and B double of C, then A is quadruple of C. But then the relation of A to C is different from that of A to B and of B to C.—Ed.
[51 ]Comparative anatomy is full of analogies of this kind. Those between natural and artificial productions are well worthy of attention, and sometimes lead to important discoveries. By observing an analogy of this kind between the plan used in hydraulic engines for preventing the counter-current of a fluid, and a similar contrivance in the blood vessels, Harvey was led to the discovery of the circulation of the blood.—Ed.
[52 ]This is well illustrated in plants, for the gardener can produce endless varieties of any known species, but can never produce a new species itself.
[53 ]The discoveries of Tournefort have placed moss in the class of plants. The fish alluded to below are to be found only in the tropics.—Ed.
[54 ]There is, however, no real approximation to birds in either the flying fish or bat, any more than a man approximates to a fish because he can swim. The wings of the flying flsh and bat are mere expansions of skin, bearing no resemblance whatever to those of birds.—Ed.
[55 ]Seneca was a sounder astronomer than Bacon. He ridiculed the idea of the motion of any heavenly bodies being irregular, and predicted that the day would come, when the laws which guided the revolution of these bodies would be proved to be identical with those which controlled the motions of the planets. The anticipation was realized by Newton.—Ed.
[56 ]But see Bacon’s own corollary at the end of the Instances of Divorce, Aphorism xxxvii. If Bacon’s remark be accepted, the censure will fall upon Newton and the system so generally received at the present day. It is, however, unjust, as the centre of which Newton so often speaks is not a point with an active inherent force, but only the result of all the particular and reciprocal attractions of the different parts of the planet acting upon one spot. It is evident, that if all these forces were united in this centre, that the sum would be equal to all their partial effects.—Ed.
[57 ]Since Newton’s discovery of the law of gravitation, we find that the attractive force of the earth must extend to an infinite distance. Bacon himself alludes to the operation of this attractive force at great distances in the Instances of the Rod, Aphorism xlv.
[58 ]Snow reflects light, but is not a source of light.
[59 ]Bacon’s sagacity here foreshadows Newton’s theory of the tides.
[60 ]The error in the text arose from Bacon’s impression that the earth was immovable. It is evident, since gravitation acts at an infinite distance, that no such point could be found; and even supposing the impossible point of equilibrium discovered, the body could not maintain its position an instant, but would be hurried, at the first movement of the heavenly bodies, in the direction of the dominant gravitating power.—Ed.
[61 ]Fly clocks are referred to in the text, not pendulum clocks, which were not known in England till 1662. The former, though clumsy and rude in their construction, still embodied sound mechanical principles. The comparison of the effect of a spring with that of a weight in producing certain motions in certain times on altitudes and in mines, has recently been tried by Professors Airy and Whewell in Dalcoath mine, by means of a pendulum, which is only a weight moved by gravity, and a chronometer balance moved and regulated by a spring. In his thirty-seventh Aphorism, Bacon also speaks of gravity as an incorporeal power, acting at a distance, and requiring time for its transmission; a consideration which occurred at a later period to Laplace in one of his most delicate investigations.
[62 ]Bacon plainly, from this passage, was inclined to believe that the moon, like the comets, was nothing more than illuminated vapor. The Newtonian law, however, has not only established its solidity, but its density and weight. A sufficient proof of the former is afforded by the attraction of the sea, and the moon’s motion round the earth.—Ed.
[63 ]Rather the refraction; the sky or air, however, reflects the blue rays of light.
[64 ]The polished surface of the glass causes the reflection in this case, and not the air; and a hat or other black surface put behind the window in the daytime will enable the glass to reflect distinctly for the same reason, namely, that the reflected rays are not mixed and confused with those transmitted from the other side of the window.
[65 ]These instances, which Bacon seems to consider as a great discovery, are nothing more than disjunctive propositions combined with dilemmas. In proposing to explain an effect, we commence with the enumeration of the different causes which seem connected with its production; then with the aid of one or more dilemmas, we eliminate each of the phenomena accidental to its composition, and conclude with attributing the effect to the residue. For instance, a certain phenomenon (a) is produced either by phenomenon (b) or phenomenon (c); but c cannot be the cause of a, for it is found in d, e, f, neither of which are connected with a. Then the true cause of phenomenon (a) must be phenomenon (b).
[66 ]Père Shenier first pointed out the spots on the sun’s disk, and by the marks which they afforded him, computed its revolution to be performed in twenty-five days and some hours.—Ed.
[67 ]Rust is now well known to be a chemical combination of oxygen with the metal, and the metal when rusty acquires additional weight. His theory as to the generation of animals, is deduced from the erroneous notion of the possibility of spontaneous generation (as it was termed). See the next paragraph but one.
[69 ]See Table of Degrees, No. 38.
[70 ]Riccati, and all modern physicists, discover some portion of light in every body, which seems to confirm the passage in Genesis that assigns to this substance priority in creation.—Ed.
[71 ]As instances of this kind, which the progress of science since the time of Bacon affords, we may cite the air-pump and the barometer, for manifesting the weight and elasticity of air: the measurement of the velocity of light, by means of the occultation of Jupiter’s satellites and the aberration of the fixed stars: the experiments in electricity and galvanism, and in the greater part of pneumatic chemistry. In all these cases scientific facts are elicited, which sense could never have revealed to us.—Ed.
[72 ]The itinerant instances, as well as frontier instances, are cases in which we are enabled to trace the general law of continuity which seems to pervade all nature, and which has been aptly embodied in the sentence, “natura non agit per saltum.” The pursuit of this law into phenomena where its application is not at first sight obvious, has opened a mine of physical discovery, and led us to perceive an intimate connection between facts which at first seemed hostile to each other. For example, the transparency of gold-leaf, which permits a bluish-green light to pass through it, is a frontier instance between transparent and opaque bodies, by exhibiting a body of the glass generally regarded the most opaque in nature, as still possessed of some slight degree of transpareney. It thus proves that the quality of opacity is not a contrary or antagonistic quality to that of transparency, but only its extreme lowest degree.
[73 ]Alluding to his theory of atoms.
[74 ]Observe the approximation to Newton’s theory. The same notion repeated still more clearly in the ninth motion. Newton believed that the planets might so conspire as to derange the earth’s annual revolution, and to elongate the line of the apsides and ellipsis that the earth describes in its annual revolution round the sun. In the supposition that all the planets meet on the same straight line, Venus and Mercury on one side of the sun, and the earth, moon, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn on the side diametrically opposite; then Saturn would attract Jupiter, Jupiter Mars, Mars the moon, which must in its turn attract the earth in proportion to the force with which it was drawn out of its orbit. The result of this combined action on our planet would elongate its ecliptic orbit, and so far draw it from the source of heat, as to produce an intensity of cold destructive to animal life. But this movement would immediately cease with the planetary concurrence which produced it, and the earth, like a compressed spring, bound almost as near to the sun as she had been drawn from it, the reaction of the heat on its surface being about as intense as the cold caused by the first removal was severe. The earth, until it gained its regular track, would thus alternately vibrate between each side of its orbit, with successive changes in its atmosphere, proportional to the square of the variation of its distance from the sun. In no place is Bacon’s genius more conspicuous than in these repeated guesses at truth. He would have been a strong Copernican, had not Gilbert defended the system.—Ed.
[75 ]This is not true except when the projectile acquires greater velocity at every successive instant of its course, which is never the case except with falling bodies. Bacon appears to have been led into the opinion from observing that gunshots pierce many objects at a distance from which they rebound when brought within a certain proximity of contact. This apparent inconsistency, however, arises from the resistance of the parts of the object, which velocity combined with force is necessary to overcome.—Ed.
[76 ]This passage shows that the pressure of the external atmosphere, which forces the water into the egg, was not in Bacon’s time understood.—Ed.
[77 ]We have already alluded, in a note prefixed to the same aphorism of the first book, to Newton’s error of the absolute lightness of bodies. In speaking again of the volatile or spiritual substances (Aph. xl. b. ii.), which he supposed with the Platonists and some of the schoolmen to enter into the composition of every body, he ascribes to them a power of lessening the weight of the material coating in which he supposes them inclosed. It would appear from these passages and the text that Bacon had no idea of the relative density of bodies, and the capability which some have to diminish the specific gravity of the heavier substances by the dilation of their parts; or if he had, the reveries in which Aristotle indulged in treating of the soul, about the appetency of bodies to fly to kindred substances—flame and spirit to the sky, and solid opaque substances to the earth, must have vitiated his mind.—Ed.
[78 ]Römer, a Danish astronomer, was the first to demonstrate, by connecting the irregularities of the eclipses of Jupiter’s satellites with their distances from the earth, the necessity of time for the propagation of light. The idea occurred to Dominic Cassini as well as Bacon, but both allowed the discovery to slip out of their hands.—Ed.
[79 ]The author in the text confounds inertness, which is a simple indifference of bodies to action, with gravity, which is a force acting always in proportion to their density. He falls into the same error further on.—Ed.
[80 ]The experiments of the last two classes of instances are considered only in relation to practice, and Bacon does not so much as mention their infinitely greater importance in the theoretical part of induction. The important law of gravitation in physical astronomy could never have been demonstrated but by such observations and experiments as assigned accurate geometrical measures to the quantities compared. It was necessary to determine with precision the demi-diameter of the earth, the velocity of falling bodies at its surface, the distance of the moon, and the speed with which she describes her orbit, before the relation could be discovered between the force which draws a stone to the ground and that which retains the moon in her sphere.
[81 ]As far as this motion results from attraction and repulsion, it is only a simple consequence of the last two.—Ed.
[82 ]These two cases are now resolved into the property of the capillary tubes and present only another feature of the law of attraction.—Ed.
[83 ]This is one of the most useful practical methods in chemistry at the present day.
[84 ]See Aphorism xxv.
[86 ]Observe this approximation to Newton’s theory.
[87 ]Those differences which are generated by the masses and respective distances of bodies are only differences of quantity, and not specific; consequently those three classes are only one.—Ed.
[88 ]See the citing instances, Aphorism xl.
[89 ]Aristotle’s doctrine, that sound takes place when bodies strike the air, which the modern science of acoustics has completely established, was rejected by Bacon in a treatise upon the same subject: “The collision or thrusting of air,” he says, “which they will have to be the cause of sound, neither denotes the form nor the latent process of sound, but is a term of ignorance and of superficial contemplation.” To get out of the difficulty, he betook himself to his theory of spirits, a species of phenomena which he constantly introduces to give himself the air of explaining things he could not understand, or would not admit upon the hypothesis of his opponents.—Ed.
[90 ]The motion of trepidation, as Bacon calls it, was attributed by the ancient astronomers to the eight spheres, relative to the precession of the equinoxes. Galileo was the first to observe this kind of lunar motion.—Ed.
[91 ]Part of the air is expanded and escapes, and part is consumed by the flame. When condensed, therefore, by the cold application, it cannot offer sufficient resistance to the external atmosphere to prevent the liquid or flesh from being forced into the glass.
[92 ]Heat can now be abstracted by a very simple process, till the degree of cold be of almost any required intensity.—Ed.
[93 ]It is impossible to compare a degree of heat with a degree of cold, without the assumption of some arbitrary test, to which the degrees are to be referred. In the next sentence Bacon appears to have taken the power of animal life to support heat or cold as the test, and then the comparison can only be between the degree of heat or of cold that will produce death.
[94 ]It may often be observed on the leaves of the lime and other trees.