Upon the darke thick miste

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Upon the darke thick miste
by Thomas Browne

Source British Museum Sloane MS 1844

Though it be not strange to see frequent mistes, Clowdes and raynes in England, as many ancient describers of this country have noted, yet I could not but take notice of a very great mists which happened upon the 27 of the last November (1674) and from thence have taken this occasion to propse something of mists, clowdes & Raynes unto your Candid Considerations.

Herein mists may well deserve the first place as being if not the first in nature, yet the first meteor mentioned in Scripture, and soone after the creation, for it is said Genesis 2. that God had not yet caused to raine upon the earth, but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the grounds, for it might take a longer time for the elevation of vapours sufficent to make a congregation of clowdes able to afford any store of showers and rayne in so early dayes of the world.

Thick vapours not ascending high but hanging about the earth and covering the surface of it are commonly called mists; if they ascende high they are termed clowdes. They remaine upon the earth, till they either fall downe or are attenuated, rarified and scattered.

This great mist was not onely observable about London but in remote parts of England and as we heare in Holland, so that it was of larger extent then mists are commonly apprehended to be, most men conceiving that they reach not much beyound the places where they behold them. Mist makes an obscure air but they beget not darknesse, for the atomes and particules thereof admit the light, but if the the matter thereof be very thick, close, and condensed, the mist growes considerably obscure and like a clowde, so the miraculous and palpable darknesse of Egypt is conceived to have been effected by an extraordinary dark miste or a kind of clowde spreade over the land of Egypt, and also miraculously restrained from the land of Goshen.

Mists and fogges containling commonly vegetable spirits, when they dissolve and returne upon the earth, may fecundate and adde some fertility unto it, but they may be more unwholesome in great cities then in country habitations, for they consist of vapours not onely elevated from simple watry and humid places, but also the exhalations of draughts, common shoares, and fetid places and decoctions used by unwholesome and sordid manufactures; and also hindring the seacoale smoake from ascending and passing away, it is conjoyned with the miste and drawne in the breath, all which may produce bad effects, inquinate the blood, and produce catarrhes and coughes. Sereins, well knowne in hot countryes, cuse headache, toothache, and swelled faces, but they seeme to have their originall from subtle invisible nitrous and piercing exhalations caused by a strong heat of the sunne, which falling after sunne-set produce the effects mentioned.

There may be also subterraneous mists when heat in the bowells of the earth working upon humid parts makes an attentuation thereof and constantly nebulous bodyes in the cavities of it . There is a kind of continued mist in the bodies of Animalls, especially in the cavous parts, as may be observed in bodies opened presently after death, and some thinke that in sleepe there is a kind of miste in the brayne; and upon exceeding motion some animalls cast out a mist about them.

When the Cuttle fish, Polypus, or Loligo make themselves invisible by obscuring the water about them, they doe it not by any vaporous emission, but by a black humour ejected which makes the water black and darke near them, but upon excessive motion some animalls are able to afforde a miste about them, when the ayre is coole and fit to condense it, as horses after a race, so that they become scarce visible.

This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.