Novum Organum/Book II (Spedding)
THE SECOND BOOK OF
THE INTERPRETATION OF NATURE,
On a given body to generate and superinduce a new nature or new natures, is the work and aim of Human Power. Of a given nature to discover the form, or true specific difference, or nature-engendering nature, or source of emanation (for these are the terms which come nearest to a description of the thing), is the work and aim of Human Knowledge. Subordinate to these primary works are two others that are secondary and of inferior mark; to the former, the transformation of concrete bodies, so far as this is possible; to the latter, the discovery, in every case of generation and motion, of the latent process carried on from the manifest efficient and the manifest material to the form which is engendered; and in like manner the discovery of the latent configuration of bodies at rest and not in motion.
In what an ill condition human knowledge is at the present time, is apparent even from the commonly received maxims. It is a correct position that “true knowledge is knowledge by causes.” And causes again are not improperly distributed into four kinds; the material, the formal, the efficient, and the final. [p. 120] But of these the final cause rather corrupts than advances the sciences, except such as have to do with human action. The discovery of the formal is despaired of. The efficient and the material (as they are investigated and received, that is, as remote causes, without reference to the latent process leading to the form) are but slight and superficial, and contribute little, if anything, to true and active science. Nor have I forgotten that in a former passage I noted and corrected as an error of the human mind the opinion that Forms give existence. For though in nature nothing really exists beside individual bodies, performing pure individual acts according to a fixed law, yet in philosophy this very law, and the investigation, discovery, and explanation of it, is the foundation as well of knowledge as of operation. And it is this law, with its clauses, that I mean when I speak of Forms; a name which I the rather adopt because it has grown into use and become familiar.
If a man be acquainted with the cause of any nature (as whiteness or heat) in certain subjects only, his knowledge is imperfect; and if he be able to superinduce an effect on certain substances only (of those susceptible of such effect), his power is in like manner imperfect. Now if a man’s knowledge be confined to the efficient and material causes (which are unstable causes, and merely vehicles, or causes which convey the form in certain cases) he may arrive at new discoveries in reference to substances in some degree similar to one another, and selected beforehand; but he does not touch the deeper boundaries of things. But whosoever is acquainted with Forms, embraces the unity of nature in substances the most unlike; and is able therefore to detect and bring to light things never yet done, and such as neither the vicissitudes of nature, nor industry in experimenting, nor accident itself, would ever have brought into act, and which would never have occurred to the thought of man. From the discovery of Forms therefore results truth in speculation and freedom in operation.
Although the roads to human power and to human knowledge lie close together, and are nearly the same, nevertheless on account of the pernicious and inveterate habit of dwelling [p. 121] on abstractions, it is safer to begin and raise the sciences from those foundations which have relation to practice, and to let the active part itself be as the seal which prints and determines the contemplative counterpart. We must therefore consider, if a man wanted to generate and superinduce any nature upon a given body, what kind of rule or direction or guidance he would most wish for, and express the same in the simplest and least abstruse language. For instance, if a man wishes to superinduce upon silver the yellow colour of gold or an increase of weight (observing the laws of matter), or transparency on an opaque stone, or tenacity on glass, or vegetation on some substance that is not vegetable,—we must consider, I say, what kind of rule or guidance he would most desire. And in the first place, he will undoubtedly wish to be directed to something which will not deceive him in the result, nor fail him in the trial. Secondly, he will wish for such a rule as shall not tie him down to certain means and particular modes of operation. For perhaps he may not have those means, nor be able conveniently to procure them. And if there be other means and other methods for producing the required nature (beside the one prescribed) these may perhaps be within his reach; and yet he shall be excluded by the narrowness of the rule, and get no good from them. Thirdly, he will desire something to be shown him, which is not as difficult as the thing proposed to be done, but comes nearer to practice.
For a true and perfect rule of operation then the direction will be that it be certain, free, and disposing or leading to action. And this is the same thing with the discovery of the true Form. For the Form of a nature is such, that given the Form the nature infallibly follows. Therefore it is always present when the nature is present, and universally implies it, and is constantly inherent in it. Again, the Form is such, that if it be taken away the nature infallibly vanishes. Therefore it is always absent when the nature is absent, and implies its absence, and inheres in nothing else. Lastly, the true Form is such that it deduces the given nature from some source of being which is inherent in more natures, and which is better known in the natural order of things than the Form itself. For a true and perfect axiom of knowledge then the direction and precept will be, that another nature be discovered which is convertible with the given nature, and yet is a limitation of a more general nature, [p. 122] as of a true and real genus. Now these two directions, the one active the other contemplative, are one and the same thing; and what in operation is most useful, that in knowledge is most true.
The rule or axiom for the transformation of bodies is of two kinds. The first regards a body as a troop or collection of simple natures. In gold, for example, the following properties meet. It is yellow in colour; heavy up to a certain weight; malleable or ductile to a certain degree of extension; it is not volatile, and loses none of its substance by the action of fire; it turns into a liquid with a certain degree of fluidity; it is separated and dissolved by particular means; and so on for the other natures which meet in gold. This kind of axiom, therefore, deduces the thing from the forms of simple natures. For he who knows the forms of yellow, weight, ductility, fixity, fluidity, solution, and so on, and the methods for superinducing them, and their gradations and modes, will make it his care to have them joined together in some body, whence may follow the transformation of that body into gold. And this kind of operation pertains to the first kind of action. For the principle of generating some one simple nature is the same as that of generating many; only that a man is more fettered and tied down in operation, if more are required, by reason of the difficulty of combining into one so many natures; which do not readily meet, except in the beaten and ordinary paths of nature. It must be said however that this mode of operation (which looks to simple natures though in a compound body) proceeds from what in nature is constant and eternal and universal, and opens broad roads to human power, such as (in the present state of things) human thought can scarcely comprehend or anticipate.
The second kind of axiom, which is concerned with the discovery of the latent process, proceeds not by simple natures, but by compound bodies, as they are found in nature in its ordinary course. As, for instance, when inquiry is made, from what beginnings, and by what method and by what process, gold or any other metal or stone is generated, from its first menstrua and rudiments up to the perfect mineral; or in like manner by what process herbs are generated, from the first concretion of juices in the ground or from seeds up to the formed plant, with all the successive motions and diverse and [p. 123] continued efforts of nature. So also in the inquiry concerning the process of development in the generation of animals, from coition to birth; and in like manner of other bodies.
It is not however only to the generations of bodies that this investigation extends, but also to other motions and operations of nature. As, for instance, when inquiry is made concerning the whole course and continued action of nutrition, from the first reception of the food to its complete assimilation; or again, concerning the voluntary motion of animals, from the first impression on the imagination and the continued efforts of the spirit up to the bendings and movements of the limbs; or concerning the motion of the tongue and lips and other instruments, and the changes through which it passes till it comes to the utterance of articulate sounds. For these inquiries also relate to natures concrete or combined into one structure, and have regard to what may be called particular and special habits of nature, not to her fundamental and universal laws which constitute Forms. And yet it must be confessed that this plan appears to be readier and to lie nearer at hand and to give more ground for hope than the primary one.
In like manner the operative which answers to this speculative part, starting from the ordinary incidents of nature, extends its operation to things immediately adjoining, or at least not far removed. But as for any profound and radical operations on nature, they depend entirely on the primary axioms. And in those things too where man has no means of operating, but only of knowing, as in the heavenly bodies (for these he cannot operate upon or change or transform), the investigation of the fact itself or truth of the thing, no less than the knowledge of the causes and consents, must come from those primary and catholic axioms concerning simple natures; such as the nature of spontaneous rotation, of attraction or magnetism, and of many others which are of a more general form than the heavenly bodies themselves. For let no one hope to decide the question whether it is the earth or heaven that really revolves in the diurnal motion, until he has first comprehended the nature of spontaneous rotation.
But this Latent Process, of which I speak, is quite another thing than men, preoccupied as their minds now are, will easily [p. 124] conceive. For what I understand by it is not certain measures or signs or successive steps of process in bodies, which can be seen; but a process perfectly continuous, which for the most part escapes the sense.
For instance; in all generation and transformation of bodies, we must inquire what is lost and escapes; what remains, what is added; what is expanded, what contracted; what is united, what separated; what is continued, what cut off; what propels, what hinders; what predominates, what yields; and a variety of other particulars.
Again, not only in the generation or transformation of bodies are these points to be ascertained, but also in all other alterations and motions it should in like manner be inquired what goes before, what comes after; what is quicker, what more tardy; what produces, what governs motion; and like points; all which nevertheless in the present state of the sciences (the texture of which is as rude as possible and good for nothing) are unknown and unhandled. For seeing that every natural action depends on things infinitely small, or at least too small to strike the sense, no one can hope to govern or change nature until he has duly comprehended and observed them.
In like manner the investigation and discovery of the latent configuration in bodies is a new thing, no less than the discovery of the Latent Process and of the Form. For as yet we are but lingering in the outer courts of nature, nor are we preparing ourselves a way into her inner chambers. Yet no one can endow a given body with a new nature, or successfully and aptly transmute it into a new body, unless he has attained a competent knowledge of the body so to be altered or transformed. Otherwise he will run into methods which, if not useless, are at any rate difficult and perverse and unsuitable to the nature of the body on which he is operating. It is clear therefore that to this also a way must be opened and laid out.
And it is true that upon the anatomy of organised bodies (as of man and animals) some pains have been well bestowed and with good effect; and a subtle thing it seems to be, and a good scrutiny of nature. Yet this kind of anatomy is subject to sight and sense, and has place only in organised bodies. And besides it is a thing obvious and easy, when compared with the [p. 125] true anatomy of the Latent Configuration in bodies which are thought to be of uniform structure; especially in things that have a specific character and their parts, as iron, stone; and again in parts of uniform structure in plants and animals, as the root, the leaf, the flower, flesh, blood, and bones. But even in this kind, human industry has not been altogether wanting; for this is the very thing aimed at in the separation of bodies of uniform structure by means of distillations and other modes of analysis; that the complex structure of the compound may be made apparent by bringing together its several homogeneous parts. And this is of use too, and conduces to the object we are seeking; although too often fallacious in its results, because many natures which are in fact newly brought out and superinduced by fire and heat and other modes of solution are taken to be the effect of separation merely, and to have subsisted in the compound before. And after all, this is but a small part of the work of discovering the true Configuration in the compound body; which Configuration is a thing far more subtle and exact, and such as the operation of fire rather confounds than brings out and makes distinct.
Therefore a separation and solution of bodies must be effected, not by fire indeed, but by reasoning and true induction, with experiments to aid; and by a comparison with other bodies, and a reduction to simple natures and their Forms, which meet and mix in the compound. In a word we must pass from Vulcan to Minerva, if we intend to bring to light the true textures and configurations of bodies; on which all the occult and, as they are called, specific properties and virtues in things depend; and from which too the rule of every powerful alteration and transformation is derived.
For example, we must inquire what amount of spirit there is in every body, what of tangible essence; and of the spirit, whether it be copious and turgid, or meagre and scarce; whether it be fine or coarse, akin to air or to fire, brisk or sluggish, weak or strong, progressive or retrograde, interrupted or continuous, agreeing with external and surrounding objects or disagreeing, &c. In like manner we must inquire into the tangible essence (which admits of no fewer differences than the spirit), into its coats, its fibres, its kinds of texture. Moreover the disposition of the spirit throughout the corporeal frame, with its pores, passages, veins and cells, and the rudiments or first essays of the organised body, fall under the same investigation.[p. 126] But on these inquiries also, and I may say on all the discovery of the Latent Configuration, a true and clear light is shed by the primary axioms, which entirely dispels all darkness and subtlety.
Nor shall we thus be led to the doctrine of atoms, which implies the hypothesis of a vacuum and that of the unchangeableness of matter (both false assumptions); we shall be led only to real particles, such as really exist. Nor again is there any reason to be alarmed at the subtlety of the investigation, as if it could not be disentangled; on the contrary, the nearer it approaches to simple natures, the easier and plainer will everything become; the business being transferred from the complicated to the simple; from the incommensurable to the commensurable; from surds to rational quantities; from the infinite and vague to the finite and certain; as in the case of the letters of the alphabet and the notes of music. And inquiries into nature have the best result, when they begin with physics and end in mathematics. Again, let no one be afraid of high numbers or minute fractions. For in dealing with numbers it is as easy to set down or conceive a thousand as one, or the thousandth part of an integer as an integer itself.
From the two kinds of axioms which have been spoken of, arises a just division of philosophy and the sciences; taking the received terms (which come nearest to express the thing) in a sense agreeable to my own views. Thus, let the investigation of Forms, which are (in the eye of reason at least, and in their essential law) eternal and immutable, constitute Metaphysics; and let the investigation of the Efficient Cause, and of Matter, and of the Latent Process, and the Latent Configuration (all of which have reference to the common and ordinary course of nature, not to her eternal and fundamental laws) constitute Physics. And to these let there be subordinate two practical divisions: to Physics, Mechanics; to Metaphysics, what (in a purer sense of the word) I call Magic, on account of the broadness of the ways it moves in, and its greater command over nature.
Having thus set up the mark of knowledge, we must go on to precepts, and that in the most direct and obvious order. [p. 127] Now my directions for the interpretation of nature embrace two generic divisions; the one how to educe and form axioms from experience; the other how to deduce and derive new experiments from axioms. The former again is divided into three ministrations; a ministration to the sense, a ministration to the memory, and a ministration to the mind or reason.
For first of all we must prepare a Natural and Experimental History, sufficient and good; and this is the foundation of all; for we are not to imagine or suppose, but to discover, what nature does or may be made to do.
But natural and experimental history is so various and diffuse, that it confounds and distracts the understanding, unless it be ranged and presented to view in a suitable order. We must therefore form Tables and Arrangements of Instances, in such a method and order that the understanding may be able to deal with them.
And even when this is done, still the understanding, if left to itself and its own spontaneous movements, is incompetent and unfit to form axioms, unless it be directed and guarded. Therefore in the third place we must use Induction, true and legitimate induction, which is the very key of interpretation. But of this, which is the last, I must speak first, and then go back to the other ministrations.
The investigation of Forms proceeds thus: a nature being given, we must first of all have a muster or presentation before the understanding of all known instances which agree in the same nature, though in substances the most unlike. And such collection must be made in the manner of a history, without premature speculation, or any great amount of subtlety. For example, let the investigation be into the Form of Heat.
Instances Agreeing in the Nature of Heat.
1. The rays of the sun, especially in summer and at noon.
2. The rays of the sun reflected and condensed, as between mountains, or on walls, and most of all in burning-glasses and mirrors.
3. Fiery meteors.
4. Burning thunderbolts.
5. Eruptions of flame from the cavities of mountains.
6. All flame. [p. 128] 7. Ignited solids.
8. Natural warm-baths.
9. Liquids boiling or heated.
10. Hot vapours and fumes, and the air itself, which conceives the most powerful and glowing heat, if confined; as in reverbatory furnaces.
11. Certain seasons that are fine and cloudless by the constitution of the air itself, without regard to the time of year.
12. Air confined and underground in some caverns, especially in winter.
13. All villous substances, as wool, skins of animals, and down of birds, have heat.
14. All bodies, whether solid or liquid, whether dense or rare (as the air itself is), held for a time near the fire.
15. Sparks struck from flint and steel by strong percussion.
16. All bodies rubbed violently, as stone, wood, cloth, &c., insomuch that poles and axles of wheels sometimes catch fire; and the way they kindled fire in the West Indies was by attrition.
17. Green and moist vegetables confined and bruised together, as roses packed in baskets; insomuch that hay, if damp when stacked, often catches fire.
18. Quick lime sprinkled with water.
19. Iron, when first dissolved by strong waters in glass, and that without being put near the fire. And in like manner tin, &c., but not with equal intensity.
20. Animals, especially and at all times internally; though in insects the heat is not perceptible to the touch by reason of the smallness of their size.
21. Horse-dung and like excrements of animals when fresh.
22. Strong oil of sulphur and of vitriol has the effect of heat in burning linen.
23. Oil of marjoram and similar oils have the effect of heat in burning the bones of the teeth.
24. Strong and well rectified spirit of wine has the effect of heat; insomuch that the white of an egg being put into it hardens and whitens almost as if it were boiled; and bread thrown in becomes dry and crusted like toast.
25. Aromatic and hot herbs, as dracunculus, nasturtium vetus, &c., although not warm to the hand (either whole or in powder), [p. 129] yet to the tongue and palate, being a little masticated, they feel hot and burning.
26. Strong vinegar, and all acids, on all parts of the body where there is no epidermis, as the eye, tongue; or on any part when wounded and laid bare of the skin; produce a pain but little differing from that which is created by heat.
27. Even keen and intense cold produces a kind of sensation of burning;
- Nec Boecae penetrabile frigus adurit.
28. Other instances.
This table I call the Table of Essence and Presence.
Secondly, we must make a presentation to the understanding of instances in which the given nature is wanting; because the Form, as stated above, ought no less to be absent when the given nature is absent, than present when it is present. But to note all these would be endless.
The negatives should therefore be subjoined to the affirmatives, and the absence of the given nature inquired of in those subjects only that are most akin to the others in which it is present and forthcoming. This I call the Table of Deviation, or of Absence in Proximity.
Instances in Proximity where the Nature of Heat is Absent
Answering to the first affirmative instance. 1. The rays of the moon and of stars and comets are not found to be hot to the touch; indeed the severest colds are observed to be at the full moons.
The larger fixed stars however, when passed or approached by the sun, are supposed to increase and give intensity to the heat of the sun; as is the case when the sun is in the sign Leo, and in the Dog-days.
To the 2nd 2. The rays of the sun in what is called the middle region of the air do not give heat; for which there is commonly assigned not a bad reason, viz. that that region is neither near enough to the body of the sun from which the rays emanate, nor to the earth from which they are reflected. And this appears from the fact that on the tops of mountains, unless they are very high, there is perpetual snow. On the other hand it has been observed that on the peak of Teneriffe, and among [p. 130] the Andes of Peru, the very tops of the mountains are free from snow; which lies only somewhat lower down. Moreover the air itself at the very top is found to be by no means cold, but only rare and keen; insomuch that on the Andes it pricks and hurts the eyes by its excessive keenness, and also irritates the mouth of the stomach, producing vomiting. And it was observed by the ancients that on the top of Olympus the rarity of the air was such that those who ascended it had to carry sponges with them dipped in vinegar and water, and to apply them from time to time to their mouth and nose, the air being from its rarity not sufficient to support respiration; and it was further stated that on this summit the air was so serene, and so free from rain and snow and wind, that letters traced by the finger in the ashes of the sacrifices on the altar of Jupiter remained there till the next year without being at all disturbed. And at this day travellers ascending to the top of the Peak of Teneriffe make the ascent by night and not by day; and soon after the rising of the sun are warned and urged by their guides to come down without delay, on account of the danger they run lest the animal spirits should swoon and be suffocated by the tenuity of the air.
To the 2nd. 3. The reflexion of the rays of the sun in regions near the polar circles is found to be very weak and ineffective in producing heat; insomuch that the Dutch who wintered in Nova Zembla, and expected their ship to be freed from the obstructions of the mass of ice which hemmed her in by the beginning of July, were disappointed of their expectation, and obliged to take to their boat. Thus the direct rays of the sun seem to have but little power, even on the level ground; nor have the reflex much, unless they are multiplied and combined; which is the case when the sun tends more to the perpendicular; for then the incident rays make acuter angles, so that the lines of the rays are nearer each other; whereas on the contrary, when the sun shines very obliquely, the angles are very obtuse, and thus the lines of rays are at a greater distance from each other. Meanwhile it should be observed that there may be many operations of the sun, and those too depending on the nature of heat, which are not proportioned to our touch; so that in respect of us their action does not go so far as to produce sensible warmth, but in respect of some other bodies they have the effect of heat.
[p. 131] To the 2nd. 4. Try the following experiment. Take a glass fashioned in a contrary manner to a common burning-glass, and placing it between your hand and the rays of the sun, observe whether it diminishes the heat of the sun, as a burning-glass increases and strengthens it. For it is evident in the case of optical rays that according as the glass is made thicker or thinner in the middle as compared with the sides, so do the objects seen through it appear more spread or more contracted. Observe therefore whether the same is the case with heat.
To the 2nd. 5. Let the experiment be carefully tried, whether by means of the most powerful and best constructed burning glasses, the rays of the moon can be so caught and collected as to produce even the least degree of warmth. But should this degree of warmth prove too subtle and weak to be perceived and apprehended by the touch, recourse must be had to those glasses which indicate the state of the atmosphere in respect of heat and cold. Thus, let the rays of the moon fall through a burning-glass on the top of a glass of this kind, and then observe whether there ensues a sinking of the water through warmth.
To the 2nd. 6. Let a burning-glass also be tried with a heat that does not emit rays or light, as that of iron or stone heated but not ignited, boiling water, and the like; and observe whether there ensue an increase of the heat, as in the case of the sun’s rays.
To the 2nd. 7. Let a burning-glass also be tried with common flame.
To the 3rd. 8. Comets (if we are to reckon these too among meteors) are not found to exert a constant or manifest effect in increasing the heat of the season, though it is observed that they are often followed by droughts. Moreover bright beams and pillars and openings in the heavens appear more frequently in winter than in summer time, and chiefly during the intensest cold, but always accompanied by dry weather. Lightning, however, and coruscations and thunder, seldom occur in the winter, but about the time of great heat. Falling stars, as they are called, are commonly supposed to consist rather of some bright and lighted viscous substance, than to be of any strong fiery nature. But on this point let further inquiry be made.
To the 4th. 9. There are certain coruscations which give light but do not burn. And these always come without thunder.
[p. 132] To the 5th. 10. Eructations and eruptions of flame are found no less in cold than in warm countries, as in Iceland and Greenland. In cold countries too the trees are in many cases more inflammable and more pitchy and resinous than in warm; as the fir, pine, and others. The situations however and the nature of the soil in which eruptions of this kind usually occur have not been carefully enough ascertained to enable us to subjoin a Negative to this Affirmative Instance.
To the 6th. ll. All flame is in all cases more or less warm; nor is there any Negative to be subjoined. And yet they say that the ignis fatuus (as it is called), which sometimes even settles on a wall, has not much heat; perhaps as much as the flame of spirit of wine, which is mild and soft. But still milder must that flame be, which according to certain grave and trustworthy histories has been seen shining about the head and locks of boys and girls, without at all burning the hair, but softly playing round it. It is also most certain that about a horse, when sweating on the road, there is sometimes seen at night, and in clear weather, a sort of luminous appearance without any manifest heat. And it is a well known fact, and looked upon as a sort of miracle, that a few years ago a girl’s stomacher, on being slightly shaken or rubbed, emitted sparks; which was caused perhaps by some alum or salts used in the dye, that stood somewhat thick and formed a crust, and were broken by the friction. It is also most certain that all sugar, whether refined or raw, provided only it be somewhat hard, sparkles when broken or scraped with a knife in the dark. In like manner sea and salt water is sometimes found to sparkle by night when struck violently by oars. And in storms too at night time, the foam of the sea when violently agitated emits sparks, and this sparkling the Spaniards call Sea Lung. With regard to the heat of the flame which was called by ancient sailors Castor and Pollux, and by moderns St. Elmo’s Fire, no sufficient investigation thereof has been made.
To the 7th. 12. Every body ignited so as to turn to a fiery red, even if unaccompanied by flame, is always hot; neither is there any Negative to be subjoined to this Affirmative. But that which comes nearest seems to be rotten wood, which shines by night, and yet is not found to be hot; and the putrifying scales of fish, which also shine in the dark, and yet are not warm to the touch; nor again is the body of the glow [p. 133] worm, or of the fly called Luciola, found to be warm to the touch.
To the 8th. 13. In what situation and kin of soil warm baths usually spring, has not been sufficiently examined; and therefore no Negative is subjoined.
To the 9th 14. To warm liquids I subjoin the Negative Instance of liquid itself in its natural state. For we find no tangible liquid which is warm in its own nature and remains so constantly; but the warmth is an adventitious nature, superinduced only for the time being; so that the liquids which in power and operation are hottest, as spirit of wine, chemical oil of spices, oil of vitriol and sulphur, and the like, which burn after a while, are at first cold to the touch. The water of natural warm baths on the other hand, if received into a vessel and separated from its springs, cools just like water that has been heated on a fire. But it is true that oily substances are less cold to the touch than watery, oil being less cold than water, and silk than linen. But this belongs to the Table of Degrees of Cold.
To the 10th. 15. In like manner to hot vapour I subjoin as a Negative the nature of vapour itself, such as we find it with us. For exhalations from oily substances, though easily inflammable, are yet not found to be warm, unless newly exhaled from the warm body.
To the 10th. 16. In like manner I subjoin as a Negative to hot air the nature of air itself. For we do not find here any air that is warm, unless it has either been confined, or compressed, or manifestly warmed by the sun, fire, or some other warm substance.
To the 11th. 17. I here subjoin the Negative of colder weather than is suitable to the season of the year, which we find occurs during east and north winds; just as we have weather of the opposite kind with the south and west winds. So a tendency to rain, especially in winter time, accompanies warm weather; while frost accompanies cold.
To the 12th. 18. Here I subjoin the Negative of air confined in caverns during the summer. But the subject of air in confinement should by all means be more diligently examined. For in the first place it may well be matter of doubt what is the nature of air in itself with regard to heat and cold. For air manifestly receives warmth from the influence of the heavenly [p. 134] bodies, and cold perhaps from the exhalations of the earth; and again in the middle region of air, as it is called, from cold vapours and snow; so that no opinion can be formed as to the nature of air from the examination of air that is at large and exposed; but a truer judgment might be made by examining it when confined. It is however necessary for the air to be confined in a vessel of such material as will not itself communicate warmth or cold to the air by its own nature, nor readily admit the influence of the outer atmosphere. Let the experiment therefore be made in an earthen jar wrapped round with many folds of leather to protect it from the outward air, and let the vessel remain tightly closed for three or four days; then open the vessel and test the degree of heat or cold by applying either the hand or a graduated glass.
To the 13th. 19. In like manner a doubt suggests itself, whether the warmth in wool, skins, feathers, and the like, proceeds from a faint degree of heat inherent in them, as being excretions from animals; or from a certain fat and oiliness, which is of a nature akin to warmth; or simply, as surmised in the preceding article, from the confinement and separation of the air. For all air that is cut off from connexion with the outer air seems to have some warmth. Try the experiment therefore with fibrous substances made of linen; not of wool, feathers, or silk, which are excretions from animals. It should also be observed that all powders (in which there is manifestly air enclosed) are less cold than the whole substances they are made from; as likewise I suppose that all froth (as that which contains air) is less cold than the liquor it comes from.
To the 14th 20. To this no Negative is subjoined. For there is nothing found among us either tangible or spirituous which does not contract warmth when put near fire. There is this difference however, that some substances contract warmth more quickly, as air, oil, and water; others more slowly, as stone and metal. But this belongs to the Table of Degrees.
To the 15th. 21. To this Instance I subjoin no Negative, except that I would have it well observed that sparks are produced from flint and steel, or any other hard substance, only when certain minute particles are struck off from the substance of the stone or metal; and that the attrition of the air does not of itself ever produce sparks, as is commonly supposed. And the sparks them selves too, owing to the weight of the ignited [p. 135] body, tend rather downwards than upwards; and on going out become a tangible sooty substance.
To the 16th. 22. There is no Negative, I think, to be subjoined to this Instance. For we find among us no tangible body which does not manifestly gain warmth by attrition; insomuch that the ancients fancied that the heavenly bodies had no other means or power of producing warmth than by the attrition of the air in their rapid and hurried revolution. But on this subject we must further inquire whether bodies discharged from engines, as balls from cannon, do not acquire some degree of heat from the very percussion, so as to be found somewhat warm when they fall. Air in motion, however, rather chills than warms, as appears from wind, bellows, and blowing with the mouth contracted. But motion of this kind is not so rapid as to excite heat, and is the motion of a mass, and not of particles; so that it is no wonder if it does not generate heat.
To the 17th. 23. On this Instance should be made more diligent inquiry. For herbs and vegetables when green and moist seem to contain some latent heat, though so slight that it is not perceptible to the touch when they are single; but only when they are collected and shut up together, so that their spirits may not breathe out into the air, but may mutually cherish each other; whereupon there arises a palpable heat, and sometimes flame in suitable matter.
To the 18th. 24. On this Instance too should be made more diligent inquiry. For quick lime sprinkled with water seems to contract heat, either by the concentration of heat before dispersed, as in the above-mentioned case of confined herbs, or because the igneous spirit is irritated and exasperated by the water, so as to cause a conflict and reaction. Which of these two is the real cause will more readily appear if oil be poured on instead of water; for oil will serve equally well with water to concentrate the enclosed spirit, but not to irritate it. We should also extend the experiment both by employing the ashes and rusts of different bodies, and by pouring in different liquids.
To the 19th. 25. To this Instance is subjoined the Negative of other metals which are softer and more fusible. For gold-leaf dissolved by aqua regia gives no heat to the touch; no more does lead dissolved in aqua fortis; neither again does quicksilver (as I remember); but silver itself docs, and copper too (as I remember); tin still more manifestly; and most of all [p. 136] iron and steel, which not only excite a strong heat in dissolution, but also a violent ebullition. It appears therefore that the heat is produced by conflict; the strong waters penetrating, digging into, and tearing asunder the parts of the substance, while the substance itself resists. But where the substances yield more easily, there is hardly any heat excited.
To the 20th 26. To the heat of animals no Negative is subjoined, except that of insects (as above-mentioned), on account of their small size. For in fishes, as compared with land animals, it is rather a low degree than an absence of heat that is noted. But in vegetables and plants there is no degree of heat perceptible to the touch, either in their exudations or in their pith when freshly exposed. In animals however is found a great diversity of heat, both in their parts (there being different degrees of heat about the heart, in the brain, and on the skin) and in their accidents, as violent exercise and fevers.
To the 21st. 27. To this Instance it is hard to subjoin a Negative. Indeed the excrements of animals when no longer fresh have manifestly a potential heat, as is seen in the enriching of soil.
To the 22nd and 23. 28. Liquids, whether waters or oils, which possess a great and intense acridity, act like heat in tearing asunder bodies, and burning them after some time; yet to the touch they are not hot at first. But their operation is relative and according to the porosity of the body to which they are applied. For aqua regia dissolves gold but not silver; aqua fortis, on the contrary, dissolves silver, but not gold; neither dissolves glass, and so on with others.
To the 24th. 29. Let trial be made of spirit of wine on wood; and also on butter, wax, or pitch; and observe whether by its heat it in any degree melts them. For the twenty-fourth instance exhibits a power in it that resembles heat in producing incrustation. In like manner therefore try its power in producing liquefaction. Let trial also be made with a graduated or calendar glass, hollow at the top; pour into the hollow spirit of wine well rectified, cover it up that the spirit may better retain its heat, and observe whether by its heat it makes the water sink.
To the 25th. 30. Spices and acrid herbs strike hot on the palate, and much hotter on the stomach. Observe therefore on what other substances they produce the effects of heat. [p. 137] Sailors tell us that when large parcels and masses of spices are, after being long kept close, suddenly opened, those who first stir and take them out run the risk of fever and inflammation. It can also be tried whether such spices and herbs when pounded would not dry bacon and meat hung over them, as smoke does.
To the 26th. 31. There is an acridity or pungency both in cold things, as vinegar and oil of vitriol, and in hot, as oil of marjoram and the like. Both alike therefore cause pain in animate substances, and tear asunder and consume the parts in such as are inanimate. To this Instance again there is no Negative subjoined. Moreover we find no pain in animals, save with a certain sensation of heat.
To the 27th. 32. There are many actions common both to heat and cold, though in a very different manner. For boys find that snow after a while seems to burn their hands; and cold preserves meat from putrefaction, no less than fire; and heat contracts bodies, which cold does also. But these and similar instances may more conveniently be referred to the inquiry concerning Cold.
Thirdly, we must make a presentation to the understanding of instances in which the nature under inquiry is found in different degrees, more or less; which must be done by making a comparison either of its increase and decrease in the same subject, or of its amount in different subjects, as compared one with another. For since the Form of a thing is the very thing itself, and the thing differs from the form no otherwise than as the apparent differs from the real, or the external from the internal, or the thing in reference to man from the thing in reference to the universe; it necessarily follows that no nature can be taken as the true form, unless it always decrease when the nature in question decreases, and in like manner always increase when the nature in question increases. This Table therefore I call the Table of Degrees or the Table of Comparison.
Table of Degrees or Comparison in Heat.
I will therefore first speak of those substances which contain no degree at all of heat perceptible to the touch, but seem to [p. 138] have a certain potential heat only, or disposition and preparation for hotness. After that I shall proceed to substances which are hot actually, and to the touch, and to their intensities and degrees.
1. In solid and tangible bodies we find nothing which is in its nature originally hot. For no stone, metal, sulphur, fossil, wood, water, or carcass of animal is found to be hot. And the hot water in baths seems to be heated by external causes; whether it be by flame or subterraneous fire, such as is thrown up from AEtna and many other mountains, or by the conflict of bodies, as heat is caused in the dissolutions of iron and tin. There is therefore no degree of heat palpable to the touch in animate substances; but they differ in degree of cold, wood not being equally cold with metal. But this belongs to the Table of Degrees in Cold.
2. As far however as potential heat and aptitude for flame is concerned, there are many inanimate substances found strongly disposed thereto, as sulphur, naphtha, rock oil.
3. Substances once hot, as horse-dung from animal heat, and lime or perhaps ashes and soot from fire, retain some latent remains of their former heat. Hence certain distillations and resolutions of bodies are made by burying them in horse-dung, and heat is excited in lime by sprinkling it with water, as already mentioned.
4. In the vegetable creation we find no plant or part of plant (as gum or pitch) which is warm to the human touch. But yet, as stated above, green herbs gain warmth by being shut up; and to the internal touch, as the palate or stomach, and even to external parts, after a little time, as in plasters and ointments, some vegetables are perceptibly warm and others cold.
5. In the parts of animals after death or separation from the body, we find nothing warm to the human touch. Not even horse-dung, unless enclosed and buried, retains its heat. But yet all dung seems to have a potential heat, as is seen in the fattening of the land. In like manner carcasses of animals have some such latent and potential heat; insomuch that in burying grounds, where burials take place daily, the earth collects a certain hidden heat, which consumes a body newly laid in it much more speedily than pure earth. We are told too that in the East there is discovered a fine soft texture, [p. 139] made of the down of birds, which by an innate force dissolves and melts butter when lightly wrapped in it.
6. Substances which fatten the soil, as dung of all kinds, chalk, sea-sand, salt, and the like, have some disposition to heat.
7. All putrefaction contains in itself certain elements of a slight heat, though not so much as to be perceived by the touch. For not even those substances which on putrefaction turn to animalculae, as flesh, cheese, &c., feel warm to the touch; no more does rotten wood, which shines in the dark. Heat however in putrid substances sometimes betrays itself by foul and powerful odours.
8. The first degree of heat therefore among those substances which feel hot to the touch, seems to be the heat of animals, which has a pretty great extent in its degrees. For the lowest, as in insects, is hardly perceptible to the touch; but the highest scarce equals the sun’s heat in the hottest countries and seasons, nor is it too great to be borne by the hand. It is said however of Constantius, and some others of a very dry constitution and habit of body, that in violent fevers they became so hot as somewhat to burn the hand that touched them.
9. Animals increase in heat by motion and exercise, wine, feasting, venus, burning fevers, and pain.
10. When attacked by intermittent fevers, animals are at first seized with cold and shivering, but soon after they become exceedingly hot, which is their condition from the first in burning and pestilential fevers.
11. Let further inquiry be made into the different degrees of heat in different animals, as in fishes, quadrupeds, serpents, birds; and also according to their species, as in the lion, the kite, the man; for in common opinion fish are the least hot internally, and birds the hottest; especially doves, hawks, and sparrows.
12. Let further inquiry be made into the different degrees of heat in the different parts and limbs of the same animal. For milk, blood, seed, eggs, are found to be hot only in a moderate degree, and less hot than the outer flesh of the animal when in motion or agitated. But what the degree of heat is in the brain, stomach, heart, &c. has not yet been in like manner inquired.
13. All animals in winter and cold weather are cold externally, but internally they are thought to be even hotter. [p. 140] 14. The heat of the heavenly bodies, even in the hottest countries, and at the hottest times of the year and day, is never sufficiently strong to set on fire or burn the driest wood or straw, or even tinder, unless strengthened by burning-glasses or mirrors. It is however able to extract vapour from moist substances.
15. By the tradition of astronomers some stars are hotter than others. Of planets, Mars is accounted the hottest after the sun; then comes Jupiter, and then Venus. Others, again, are set down as cold; the moon, for instance, and above all Saturn. Of fixed stars, Sirius is said to be the hottest, then Cor Leonis or Regulus, then Canicula, and so on.
16. The sun gives greater heat the nearer he approaches to the perpendicular or zenith; and this is probably true of the other planets also, according to the proportion of their heat. Jupiter, for instance, is hotter, probably, to us when under Cancer or Leo than under Capricorn or Aquarius.
17. We must also believe that the sun and other planets give more heat in perigee, from their proximity to the earth, than they do in apogee. But if it happens that in some region the sun is at the same time in perigee and near the perpendicular, his heat must of necessity be greater than in a region where he is also in perigee, but shining more obliquely. And therefore the altitude of the planets in their exaltation in different regions ought to be noted, with respect to perpendicularity or obliquity.
18. The sun and other planets are supposed to give greater heat when nearer to the larger fixed stars. Thus when the sun is in Leo he is nearer Cor Leonis, Cauda Leonis, Spica Virginis, Sirius and Canicula, than when he is in Cancer, in which sign however he is nearer to the perpendicular. And it must be supposed that those parts of the heavens shed the greatest heat (though it be not at all perceptible to the touch) which are the most adorned with stars, especially of a larger size.
19. Altogether, the heat of the heavenly bodies is increased in three ways; first, by perpendicularity; secondly, by proximity or perigee; thirdly, by the conjunction or combination of stars.
20. The heat of animals, and of the rays of the heavenly bodies also (as they reach us), is found to differ by a wide interval from flame, though of the mildest kind, and from all [p. 141] ignited bodies; and from liquids also, and air itself when highly heated by fire. For the flame of spirit of wine, though scattered and not condensed, is yet sufficient to set paper, straw, or linen on fire; which the heat of animals will never do, or of the sun without a burning-glass or mirror.
21. There are however many degrees of strength and weakness in the heat of flame and ignited bodies. But as they have never been diligently inquired into, we must pass them lightly over. It appears however that of all flame that of spirit of wine is the softest, unless perhaps ignis fatuus be softer, and the flames or sparklings arising from the sweat of animals. Next to this, as I suppose, comes flame from light and porous vegetable matter, as straw, reeds, and dried leaves; from which the flame from hairs or feathers does not much differ. Next perhaps comes flame from wood, especially such as contains but little rosin or pitch; with this distinction however, that the flame from small pieces of wood (such as are commonly tied up in fagots) is milder than the flame from trunks and roots of trees. And this you may try any day in furnaces for smelting iron, in which a fire made with fagots and boughs of trees is of no great use. After this I think comes flame from oil, tallow, wax, and such like fat and oily substances, which have no great acrimony. But the most violent heat is found in pitch and rosin; and yet more in sulphur, camphor, naphtha, rock-oil, and salts (after the crude matter is discharged), and in their compounds, as gunpowder, Greek fire (commonly called wild fire), and its different kinds, which have so stubborn a heat that they are not easily extinguished by water.
22. I think also that the flame which results from some imperfect metals is very strong and eager. But on these points let further inquiry be made.
23. The flame of powerful lightning seems to exceed in strength all the former; for it has even been known to melt wrought iron into drops; which those other flames cannot do.
24. In ignited bodies too there are different degrees of heat, though these again have not yet been diligently examined. The weakest heat of all, I think, is that from tinder, such as we use to kindle flame with; and in like manner that of touchwood or tow, which is used in firing cannon. After this comes ignited wood or coal, and also bricks and the like heated to ignition. But of all ignited substances, the hottest, as I take it, are ignited [p. 142] metals; as iron, copper, &c. But these require further investigation.
25. Some ignited bodies are found to be much hotter than some flames. Ignited iron, for instance, is much hotter and more consuming than flame of spirit of wine.
26. Of substances also which are not ignited but only heated by fire, as boiling water and air confined in furnaces, some are found to exceed in heat many flames and ignited substances.
27. Motion increases heat, as you may see in bellows, and by blowing; insomuch that the harder metals are not dissolved or melted by a dead or quiet fire, till it be made intense by blowing.
28. Let trial be made with burning-glasses, which (as I remember) act thus. If you place a burning-glass at the distance of (say) a span from a combustible body, it will not burn or consume it so easily as if it were first placed at the distance of (say) half a span, and then moved gradually and slowly to the distance of the whole span. And yet the cone and union of rays are the same; but the motion itself increases the operation of the heat.
29. Fires which break out during a strong wind are thought to make greater progress against than with it; because the flame recoils more violently when the wind gives way than it advances while the wind is driving it on.
30. Flame does not burst out, nor is it generated, unless some hollow space be allowed it to move and play in; except the explosive flame of gunpowder, and the like, where compression and imprisonment increase its fury.
31. An anvil grows very hot under the hammer, insomuch that if it were made of a thin plate it might, I suppose, with strong and continuous blows of the hammer, grow red like ignited iron. But let this be tried by experiment.
32. But in ignited substances which are porous, so as to give the fire room to move, if this motion be checked by strong compression, the fire is immediately extinguished. For instance, when tinder, or the burning wick of a candle or lamp, or even live charcoal or coal, is pressed down with an extinguisher, or with the foot, or any similar instrument, the operation of the fire instantly ceases.
33. Approximation to a hot body increases heat in proportion to the degree of approximation. And this is the case [p. 143] also with light; for the nearer an object is brought to the light, the more visible it becomes.
34. The union of different heats increases heat, unless the hot substances be mixed together. For a large fire and a small fire in the same room increase one another’s heat; but warm water plunged into boiling water cools it.
35. The continued application of a hot body increases heat, because heat perpetually passing and emanating from it mingles with the previously existing heat, and so multiplies the heat. For a fire does not warm a room as well in half an hour as it does if continued through the whole hour. But this is not the case with light; for a lamp or candle gives no more light after it has been long lighted, than it did at first.
36. Irritation by surrounding cold increases heat, as you may see in fires during a sharp frost. And this I think is owing not merely to the confinement and contraction of the heat, which is a kind of union, but also to irritation. Thus when air or a stick is violently compressed or bent, it recoils not merely to the point it was forced from, but beyond it on the other side. Let trial therefore be carefully made by putting a stick or some such thing into flame, and observing whether it is not burnt more quickly at the sides than in the middle of the flame.
37. There are many degrees in susceptibility of heat. And first of all it is to be observed how slight and faint a heat changes and somewhat warms even those bodies which are least of all susceptible of heat. Even the heat of the hand communicates some heat to a ball of lead or any metal, if held in it a little while. So readily and so universally is heat transmitted and excited, the body remaining to all appearance unchanged.
38. Of all substances that we are acquainted with, the one which most readily receives and loses heat is air; as is best seen in calendar glasses [air thermoscopes], which are made thus. Take a glass with a hollow belly, a thin and oblong neck; turn it upside down and lower it, with the mouth downwards and the belly upwards, into another glass vessel containing water; and let the mouth of the inserted vessel touch the bottom of the receiving vessel, and its neck lean slightly against the mouth of the other, so that it can stand. And that this may be done more conveniently, apply a little wax to the mouth of [p. 144] the receiving glass, but not so as to seal its mouth quite up, in order that the motion, of which we are going to speak, and which is very facile and delicate, may not be impeded by want of a supply of air.
The lowered glass, before being inserted into the other, must be heated before a fire in its upper part, that is its belly. Now when it is placed in the position I have described, the air which was dilated by the heat will, after a lapse of time sufficient to allow for the extinction of that adventitious heat, withdraw and contract itself to the same extension or dimension as that of the surrounding air at the time of the immersion of the glass; and will draw the water upwards to a corresponding height. To the side of the glass there should be affixed a strip of paper, narrow and oblong, and marked with as many degrees as you choose. You will then see, according as the day is warm or cold, that the air contracts under the action of cold, and expands under the action of heat; as will be seen by the water rising when the air contracts, and sinking when it dilates. But the air’s sense of heat and cold is so subtle and exquisite as far to exceed the perception of the human touch, insomuch that a ray of sunshine, or the heat of the breath, much more the heat of one’s hand placed on the top of the glass, will cause the water immediately to sink in a perceptible degree. And yet I think that animal spirits have a sense of heat and cold more exquisite still, were it not that it is impeded and deadened by the grossness of the body.
39. Next to air, I take those bodies to be most sensitive of heat which have been recently changed and compressed by cold, as snow and ice; for they begin to dissolve and melt with any gentle heat. Next to them, perhaps, comes quicksilver. After that follow greasy substances, as oil, butter, and the like; then comes wood; then water; and lastly stones and metals, which are slow to heat, especially in the inside. These, however, when once they have acquired heat retain it very long; in so much that an ignited brick, stone, or piece of iron, when plunged into a basin of water, will remain for a quarter of an hour, or thereabouts, so hot that you cannot touch it.
40. The less the mass of a body, the sooner is it heated by the approach of a hot body; which shows that all heat of which we have experience is in some sort opposed to tangible matter.
41. Heat, as far as regards the sense and touch of man, is a [p. 145] thing various and relative; insomuch that tepid water feels hot if the hand be cold, but cold if the hand be hot.
How poor we are in history any one may see from the foregoing tables; where I not only insert sometimes mere traditions and reports (though never without a note of doubtful credit and authority) in place of history proved and instances certain, but am also frequently forced to use the words “Let trial be made,” or “Let it be further inquired.”
The work and office of these three tables I call the Presentation of Instances to the Understanding. Which presentation having been made, Induction itself must be set at work; for the problem is, upon a review of the instances, all and each, to find such a nature as is always present or absent with the given nature, and always increases and decreases with it; and which is, as I have said, a particular case of a more general nature. Now if the mind attempt this affirmatively from the first, as when left to itself it is always wont to do, the result will be fancies and guesses and notions ill defined, and axioms that must be mended every day; unless like the schoolmen we have a mind to fight for what is false; though doubtless these will be better or worse according to the faculties and strength of the understanding which is at work. To God, truly, the Giver and Architect of Forms, and it may be to the angels and higher intelligences, it belongs to have an affirmative knowledge of forms immediately, and from the first contemplation. But this assuredly is more than man can do, to whom it is granted only to proceed at first by negatives, and at last to end in affirmatives, after exclusion has been exhausted.
“We must make therefore a complete solution and separation of nature, not indeed by fire, but by the mind, which is a kind of divine fire. The first work therefore of true induction (as far as regards the discovery of Forms) is the rejection or exclusion of the several natures which are not found in some instance where the given nature is present, or are found in some instance where the given nature is absent, or are found to increase in [p. 146] some instance when the given nature decreases, or to decrease when the given nature increases. Then indeed after the rejection and exclusion has been duly made, there will remain at the bottom, all light opinions vanishing into smoke, a Form affirmative, solid and true and well defined. This is quickly said; but the way to come at it is winding and intricate. I will endeavour however not to overlook any of the points which may help us towards it.
But when I assign so prominent a part to Forms, I cannot too often warn and admonish men against applying what I say to those forms to which their thoughts and contemplations have hitherto been accustomed.
For in the first place I do not at present speak of Compound Forms, which are, as I have remarked, combinations of simple natures according to the common course of the universe; as of the lion, eagle, rose, gold, and the like. It will be time to treat of these when we come to the Latent Processes and Latent Configurations, and the discovery of them, as they are found in what are called substances or natures concrete.
And even in the case of simple natures I would not be understood to speak of abstract forms and ideas, either not defined in matter at all, or ill defined. For when I speak of Forms, I mean nothing more than those laws and determinations of absolute actuality, which govern and constitute any simple nature, as heat, light, weight, in every kind of matter and subject that is susceptible of them. Thus the Form of Heat or the Form of Light is the same thing as the Law of Heat or the Law of Light. Nor indeed do I ever allow myself to be drawn away from things themselves and the operative part. And therefore when I say (for instance) in the investigation of the form of heat, “reject rarity,” or “rarity does not belong to the form of heat,” it is the same as if I said, “It is possible to superinduce heat on a dense body;” or, “It is possible to take away or keep out heat from a rare body.”
But if any one conceive that my Forms too are of a somewhat abstract nature, because they mix and combine things heterogeneous (for the heat of heavenly bodies and the heat of fire seem to be very heterogeneous; so do the fixed red of the rose or the like, and the apparent red in the rainbow, the [p. 147] opal, or the diamond; so again do the different kinds of death; death by drowning, by hanging, by stabbing, by apoplexy, by atrophy; and yet they agree severally in the nature of heat, redness, death); if any one, I say, be of this opinion, he may be assured that his mind is held in captivity by custom, by the gross appearance of things, and by men’s opinions. For it is most certain that these things, however heterogeneous and alien from each other, agree in the Form or Law which governs heat, redness and death; and that the power of man cannot possibly 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 discovery of Forms of this kind. And yet, when I have spoken of this union of nature, which is the point of most importance, I shall proceed to the divisions and veins of nature, as well the ordinary as those that are more inward and exact, and speak of them in their place.
I must now give an example of the Exclusion or Rejection of natures which by the Tables of Presentation are found not to belong to the Form of Heat; observing in the meantime that not only each table suffices for the rejection of any nature, but even any one of the particular instances contained in any of the tables. For it is manifest from what has been said that any one contradictory instance overthrows a conjecture as to the Form. But nevertheless for clearness’ sake and that the use of the tables may be more plainly shown, I sometimes double or multiply an exclusion.
An Example of Exclusion, or Rejection of Natures from the Form of Heat.
1. On account of the rays of the sun, reject the nature of the elements.
2. On account of common fire, and chiefly subterraneous fires (which are the most remote and most completely separate from the rays of heavenly bodies), reject the nature of heavenly bodies.
3. On account of the warmth acquired by all kinds of bodies (minerals, vegetables, skin of animals, water, oil, air, and the [p. 148] rest) by mere approach to a fire, or other hot body, reject the distinctive or more subtle texture of bodies.
4. On account of ignited iron and other metals, which communicate heat to other bodies and yet lose none of their weight or substance, reject the communication or admixture of the substance of another hot body.
5. On account of boiling water and air, and also on account of metals and other solids that receive heat but not to ignition or red heat, reject light or brightness.
6. On account of the rays of the moon and other heavenly bodies, with the exception of the sun, also reject light and brightness.
7. By a comparison of ignited iron and the flame of spirit of wine (of which ignited iron has more heat and less brightness, while the flame of spirit of wine has more brightness and less heat), also reject light and brightness.
8. On account of ignited gold and other metals, which are of the greatest density as a whole, reject rarity.
9. On account of air, which is found for the most part cold and yet remains rare, also reject rarity.
10. On account of ignited iron, which does not swell in bulk, but keeps within the same visible dimensions, reject local or expansive motion of the body as a whole.
11. On account of the dilation of air in calendar glasses and the like, wherein the air evidently moves locally and expansively and yet acquires no manifest increase of heat, also reject local or expansive motion of the body as a whole.
12. On account of the ease with which all bodies are heated, without any destruction or observable alteration, reject a destructive nature, or the violent communication of any new nature.
13. On account of the agreement and conformity of the similar effects which are wrought by heat and cold, reject motion of the body as a whole, whether expansive or contractive.
14. On account of heat being kindled by the attrition of bodies, reject a principial nature. By principial nature I mean that which exists in the nature of things positively, and not as the effect of any antecedent nature. There are other natures beside these; for these tables are not perfect but meant only for examples.
[p. 149] All and each of the above mentioned natures do not belong to the Form of Heat. And from all of them man is freed in his operations on Heat.
In the process of Exclusion are laid the foundations of true Induction, which however is not completed till it arrives at an Affirmative. Nor is the Exclusive part itself at all complete, nor indeed can it possibly be so at first. For Exclusion is evidently the rejection of simple natures; and if we do not yet possess sound and true notions of simple natures, how can the process of Exclusion be made accurate? Now some of the above-mentioned notions (as that of the nature of the elements, of the nature of heavenly bodies, of rarity) are vague and ill-defined. I therefore, well knowing and nowise forgetting how great a work I am about (viz. that of rendering the human understanding a match for things and nature), do not rest satisfied with the precepts I have laid down; but proceed further to devise and supply more powerful aids for the use of the understanding; which I shall now subjoin. And assuredly in the Interpretation of Nature the mind should by all means be so prepared and disposed, that while it rests and finds footing in due stages and degrees of certainty, it may remember withal (especially at the beginning) that what it has before it depends in great measure upon what remains behind.
And yet since truth will sooner come out from error than from confusion, I think it expedient that the understanding should have permission, after the three Tables of First Presentation (such as I have exhibited) have been made and weighed, to make an essay of the Interpretation of Nature in the affirmative way; on the strength both of the instances given in the tables, and of any others it may meet with elsewhere. Which kind of essay I call the Indulgence of the Understanding, or the Commencement of Interpretation, or the First Vintage.
First Vintage concerning the Form of Heat.
It is to be observed that the Form of a thing is to be found (as plainly appears from what has been said) in each and all the instances, in which the thing itself is to be found; otherwise it [p. 150] would not be the Form. It follows therefore that there can be no contradictory instance. At the same time the Form is found much more conspicuous and evident in some instances than in others; namely in those wherein the nature of the Form is less restrained and obstructed and kept within bounds by other natures. Instances of this kind I call Shining or Striking Instances. Let us now therefore proceed to the First Vintage concerning the Form of Heat.
- From a survey of the instances, all and each, the nature of which Heat is a particular case appears to be Motion. This is displayed most conspicuously in flame, which is always in motion, and in boiling or simmering liquids, which also are in perpetual motion. It is also shown in the excitement or increase of heat caused by motion, as in bellows and blasts; on which see Tab. 3. Inst. 29.; and again in other kinds of motion, on which see Tab. 3. Inst. 28. and 31. Again it is shown in the extinction of fire and heat by any strong compression, which checks and stops the motion; on which see Tab. 3. Inst. 30. and 32. It is shown also by this, that all bodies are destroyed, or at any rate notably altered, by all strong and vehement fire and heat; whence it is quite clear that heat causes a tumult and confusion and violent motion in the internal parts of a body, which perceptibly tends to its dissolution.
When I say of Motion that it is as the genus of which heat is a species, I would be understood to mean, not that heat generates motion or that motion generates heat (though both are true in certain cases), but that Heat itself, its essence and quiddity, is Motion and nothing else; limited however by the specific differences which I will presently subjoin, as soon as I have added a few cautions for the sake of avoiding ambiguity.
Sensible heat is a relative notion, and has relation to man, not to the universe; and is correctly defined as merely the effect of heat on the animal spirits. Moreover, in itself it is variable, since the same body, according as the senses are predisposed, induces a perception of cold as well as of heat. This is clear from Inst. 41. Tab. 3.
Nor again must the communication of Heat, or its transitive nature, by means of which a body becomes hot when a hot [p. 151] body is applied to it, be confounded with the Form of Heat. For heat is one thing, heating another. Heat is produced by the motion of attrition without any preceding heat, an instance which excludes heating from the Form of Heat. And even when heat is produced by the approach of a hot body, this does not proceed from the Form of Heat, but depends entirely on a higher and more general nature, viz. on the nature of assimilation or self-multiplication, a subject which requires a separate inquiry.
Again, our notion of fire is popular, and of no use; being made up of the combination in any body of heat and brightness, as in common flame and bodies heated to redness.
Having thus removed all ambiguity, I come at length to the true specific differences which limit Motion and constitute it the Form of Heat.
- The first difference then is this. Heat is an expansive motion, whereby a body strives to dilate and stretch itself to a larger sphere or dimension than it had previously occupied. This difference is most observable in flame, where the smoke or thick vapour manifestly dilates and expands itself into flame.
- It is shown also in all boiling liquid, which manifestly swells, rises, and bubbles; and carries on the process of self-expansion, till it turns into a body far more extended and dilated than the liquid itself, namely, into vapour, smoke, or air.
- It appears likewise in all wood and combustibles, from which there generally arises exudation and always evaporation.
- It is shown also in the melting of metals, which, being of the compactest texture, do not readily swell and dilate; but yet their spirit being dilated in itself, and thereupon conceiving an appetite for further dilation, forces and agitates the grosser parts into a liquid state. And if the heat be greatly increased it dissolves and turns much of their substance to a volatile state.
- It is shown also in iron or stones, which, though not melted or dissolved, are yet softened. This is the case also with sticks, which when slightly heated in hot ashes become flexible.
- [p. 152] But this kind of motion is best seen in air, which continuously and manifestly dilates with a slight heat, as appears in Inst. 38. Tab. 3.
- It is shown also in the opposite nature of cold. For cold contracts all bodies and makes them shrink; insomuch that in intense frosts nails fall out from walls, brazen vessels crack, and heated glass on being suddenly placed in the cold cracks and breaks. In like manner air is contracted by a slight chill, as in Inst. 38. Tab. 3. But on these points I shall speak more at length in the inquiry concerning Cold.
- Nor is it surprising that heat and cold should exhibit many actions in common (for which see Inst. 32. Tab. 2.), when we find two of the following specific differences (of which I shall speak presently) suiting either nature; though in this specific difference (of which I am now speaking) their actions are diametrically opposite. For heat gives an expansive and dilating, cold a contractive and condensing motion.
- The second difference is a modification of the former; namely, that heat is a motion expansive or towards the circumference, but with this condition, that the body has at the same time a motion upwards. For there is no doubt that there are many mixed motions. For instance, an arrow or dart turns as it goes forward, and goes forward as it turns. And in like manner the motion of heat is at once a motion of expansion and a motion upwards. This difference is shown by putting a pair of tongs or a poker in the fire. If you put it in perpendicularly and hold it by the top, it soon burns your hand; if at the side or from below, not nearly so soon.
- It is also observable in distillations per descensorium; which men use for delicate flowers, that soon lose their scent. For human industry has discovered the plan of placing the fire not below but above, that it may burn the less. For not only flame tends upwards, but also all heat.
- But let trial be made of this in the opposite nature of cold; viz. whether cold does not contract a body downwards, as heat dilates a body upwards. Take therefore two iron rods, or two glass tubes, exactly alike; warm [p. 153] them a little, and place a sponge steeped in cold water or snow at the bottom of the one, and the same at the top of the other. For I think that the extremities of the rod which has the snow at the top will cool sooner than the extremities of the other which has the snow at the bottom; just as the opposite is the case with heat.
- The third specific difference is this; that heat is a motion of expansion, not uniformly of the whole body together, but in the smaller parts of it; and at the same time checked, repelled, and beaten back, so that the body acquires a motion alternative, perpetually quivering, striving and struggling, and irritated by repercussion, whence springs the fury of fire and heat.
- This specific difference is most displayed in flame and boiling liquids, which are perpetually quivering and swelling in small portions, and again subsiding.
- It is also shown in those bodies which are so compact that when heated or ignited they do not swell or expand in bulk; as ignited iron, in which the heat is very sharp.
- It is shown also in this, that a fire burns most briskly in the coldest weather.
- Again, it is shown in this, that when the air is extended in a calendar glass without impediment or repulsion,—that is to say, uniformly and equably,—there is no perceptible heat. Also when wind escapes from confinement, although it burst forth with the greatest violence, there is no very great heat perceptible; because the motion is of the whole, without a motion alternating in the particles. And with a view to this, let trial be made whether flame does not burn more sharply towards the sides than in the middle of the flame.
- It is also shown in this, that all burning acts on minute pores of the body burnt; so that burning undermines, penetrates, pricks, and stings the body like the points of an infinite number of needles. It is also an effect of this, that all strong waters (if suited to the body on which they are acting) act as fire does, in consequence of their corroding and pungent nature.
- And this specific difference (of which I am now speaking) is common also to the nature of cold; for in cold the [p. 154] contractive motion is checked by a resisting tendency to expand, just as in heat the expansive motion is checked by a resisting tendency to contract. Thus, whether the particles of a body work inward or outward, the mode of action is the same, though the degree of strength be very different; because we have not here on the surface of the earth anything that is intensely cold. See Inst 27. Tab. 9.
- The fourth specific difference is a modification of the last; it is, that the preceding motion of stimulation or penetration must be somewhat rapid and not sluggish, and must proceed by particles, minute indeed, yet not the finest of all, but a degree larger.
- This difference is shown by a comparison of the effects of fire with the effects of time or age. Age or time dries, consumes, undermines and reduces to ashes, no less than fire; indeed with an action far more subtle; but because such motion is very sluggish, and acts on particles very small, the heat is not perceived.
- It is also shown by comparing the dissolution of iron and gold. Gold is dissolved without any heat being excited, while the dissolution of iron is accompanied by a violent heat, though it takes place in about the same time. The reason is that in gold the separating acid enters gently and works with subtlety, and the parts of the gold yield easily; whereas in iron the entrance is rough and with conflict, and the parts of the iron have greater obstinacy.
- It is shown also to some degree in some gangrenes and mortifications, which do not excite great heat or pain on account of the subtle nature of putrefaction.
Let this then be the First Vintage or Commencement of Interpretation concerning the Form of Heat, made by way of indulgence to the understanding.
Now from this our First Vintage it follows that the Form or true definition of heat (heat, that is, in relation to the universe, not simply in relation to man) is in few words as follows: Heat is a motion, expansive, restrained, and acting in its strife upon the smaller particles of bodies. But the expansion is thus [p. 155] modified; while it expands all ways, it has at the same time an inclination upwards. And the struggle in the particles is modified also; it is not sluggish, but hurried and with violence.
Viewed with reference to operation it is the same thing. For the direction is this: If in any natural body you can excite a dilating or expanding motion, and can so repress this motion and turn it back upon itself, that the dilation shall not proceed equably, but have its way in one part and be counteracted in another, you will undoubtedly generate heat; without taking into account whether the body be elementary (as it is called) or subject to celestial influence; whether it be luminous or opaque; rare or dense; locally expanded or confined within the bounds of its first dimension; verging to dissolution or remaining in its original state; animal, vegetable, or mineral, water, oil or air, or any other substance whatever susceptible of the above-mentioned motion. Sensible heat is the same thing; only it must be considered with reference to the sense. Let us now proceed to further aids.
The Tables of First Presentation and the Rejection or process of Exclusion being completed, and also the First Vintage being made thereupon, we are to proceed to the other helps of the understanding in the Interpretation of Nature and true and perfect Induction. In propounding which, I mean, when Tables are necessary, to proceed upon the Instances of Heat and Cold; but when a smaller number of examples will suffice, I shall proceed at large; so that the inquiry may be kept clear, and yet more room be left for the exposition of the system.
I propose to treat then in the first place of Prerogative Instances; secondly, of the Supports of Induction; thirdly, of the Rectification of Induction; fourthly, of Varying the Investigation according to the nature of the Subject; fifthly, of Prerogative Natures with respect to Investigation, or of what should be inquired first and what last; sixthly, of the Limits of Investigation, or a Synopsis of all Natures in the Universe; seventhly, of the Application to Practice, or of things in their relation to Man; eighthly, of Preparations for Investigation; and lastly, of the Ascending and Descending Scale of Axioms.
Among Prerogative Instances I will place first Solitary [p. 156] Instances. Those are Solitary Instances which exhibit the nature under investigation in subjects which have nothing in common with other subjects except that nature; or, again, which do not exhibit the nature under investigation in subjects which resemble other subjects in every respect except in not having that nature. For it is clear that such instances make the way short, and accelerate and strengthen the process of exclusion; so that a few of them are as good as many.
For instance, if we are inquiring into the nature of Colour, prisms, crystals, which show colours not only in themselves but externally on a wall, dews, &c., are Solitary Instances For they have nothing in common with the colours fixed in flowers, coloured stones, metals, woods, &c., except the colour. From which we easily gather that colour is nothing more than a modification of the image of light received upon the object, resulting in the former case from the different degrees of incidence, in the latter from the various textures and configurations of the body. These instances are Solitary in respect of resemblance.
Again, in the same investigation, the distinct veins of white and black in marble, and the variegation of colour in flowers of the same species, are Solitary Instances. For the black and white streaks in marble, or the spots of pink and white in a pink, agree in everything almost except the colour. From which we easily gather that colour has little to do with the intrinsic nature of a body, but simply depends on the coarser and as it were mechanical arrangement of the parts. These instances are Solitary in respect of difference. Both kinds I call Solitary Instances, or Ferine, to borrow a term from astronomers.
Among Prerogative Instances I will next place Migratory Instances. They are those in which the nature in question is in the process of being produced when it did not previously exist, or on the other hand of disappearing when it existed before. And therefore, in either transition, such instances are always twofold, or rather it is one instance in motion or passage, continued till it reaches the opposite state. Such instances not only accelerate and strengthen the exclusive process, but also drive the affirmative or Form itself into a narrow compass. [p. 157] For the Form of a thing must necessarily be something which in the course of this migration is communicated, or on the other hand which in the course of this migration is removed and destroyed. And though every exclusion promotes the affirmative, yet this is done more decidedly when it occurs in the same than in different subjects. And the betrayal of the form in a single instance leads the way (as is evident from all that has been said) to the discovery of it in all. And the simpler the Migration, the more must the instance be valued. Besides Migratory Instances are of great use with a view to operation; because in exhibiting the form in connexion with that which causes it to be or not to be, they supply a clear direction for practice in some cases; whence the passage is easy to the cases that lie next. There is however in these instances a danger which requires caution; viz. lest they lead us to connect the Form too much with the efficient, and so possess the understanding, or at least touch it, with a false opinion concerning the Form, drawn from a view of the efficient. But the efficient is always understood to be merely the vehicle that carries the Form. This is a danger however easily remedied by the process of exclusion legitimately conducted.
I must now give an example of a Migratory Instance. Let the nature to be investigated be Whiteness; an instance migrating to production or existence is glass whole and pounded. Again, simple water and water agitated into froth. For glass and water in their simple state are transparent, not white; whereas pounded glass and water in froth are white, not transparent. We must therefore inquire what has happened to the glass or water from this Migration. For it is obvious that the Form of Whiteness is communicated and conveyed by that pounding of the glass and that agitation of the water. We find, however, that nothing has been added except the breaking up of the glass and water into small parts, and the introduction of air. But we have made no slight advance to the discovery of the Form of Whiteness when we know that two bodies, both transparent but in a greater or less degree (viz. air and water, or air and glass), do when mingled in small portions together exhibit whiteness, through the unequal refraction of the rays of light.
But an example must at the same time be given of the danger and caution to which I alluded. For at this point it might [p. 158] readily suggest itself to an understanding led astray by efficient causes of this kind, that air is always required for the Form of Whiteness, or that Whiteness is generated by transparent bodies only; notions entirely false, and refuted by numerous exclusions. Whereas it will be found that (setting air and the like aside) bodies entirely even in the particles which affect vision are transparent, bodies simply uneven are white; bodies uneven and in a compound yet regular texture are all colours except black; while bodies uneven and in a compound, irregular, and confused texture are black. Here then I have given an example of an Instance Migrating to production or existence in the proposed nature of Whiteness. An Instance Migrating to destruction in the same nature of Whiteness, is froth or snow in dissolution. For the water puts off Whiteness and puts on transparency, on returning to its integral state without air.
Nor must I by any means omit to mention that under Migratory Instances are to be included not only those which are passing towards production and destruction, but also those which are passing towards increase and decrease; since these also help to discover the Form, as is clear from the above definition of Form and the Table of Degrees. Thus paper, which is white when dry, but when wetted (that is, when air is excluded and water introduced) is less white and approaches nearer to the transparent, is analogous to the above given Instances.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the third place Striking Instances, of which I have made mention in the First Vintage concerning Heat, and which I also call Shining Instances, or Instances Freed and Predominant. They are those which exhibit the nature in question naked and standing by itself, and also in its exaltation or highest degree of power; as being disenthralled and freed from all impediments, or at any rate by virtue of its strength dominant over, suppressing and coercing them. For since every body contains in itself many forms of natures united together in a concrete state, the result is that they severally crush, depress, break, and enthrall one another, and thus the individual forms are obscured. But certain subjects are found wherein the required nature appears [p. 159] more in its vigour than in others, either through the absence of impediments or the predominance of its own virtue. And instances of this kind strikingly display the Form. At the same time in these instances also we must use caution, and check the hurry of the understanding. For whatever displays the Form too conspicuously, and seems to force it on the notice of the understanding, should be held suspect, and recourse be had to a rigid and careful exclusion.
To take an example; let the nature inquired into be Heat. A Striking Instance of the motion of expansion, which (as stated above) is the main element in the Form of Heat, is a calendar glass of air. For flame, though it manifestly exhibits expansion, still, as susceptible of momentary extinction, does not display the progress of expansion. Boiling water too, on account of the easy transition of water to vapour or air, does not so well exhibit the expansion of water in its own body. Again, ignited iron and like bodies are so far from displaying the progress of expansion, that in consequence of their spirit being crushed and broken by the coarse and compact particles which curb and subdue it, the expansion itself is not at all conspicuous to the senses. But a calendar glass strikingly displays expansion in air, at once conspicuous, progressive, permanent, and without transition.
To take another example; let the nature inquired into be Weight. A Striking Instance of weight is quicksilver. For it far surpasses in weight all substances but gold, and gold itself is not much heavier. But quicksilver is a better instance for indicating the Form of Weight than gold; because gold is solid and consistent, characteristics which seem related to density; whereas quicksilver is liquid and teeming with spirit, and yet is heavier by many degrees than the diamond and other bodies that are esteemed the most solid. From which it is obvious that the Form of Heaviness or Weight depends simply on quantity of matter and not on compactness of frame.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the fourth place Clandestine Instances, which I also call Instances of the Twilight, and which are pretty nearly the opposites of Striking Instances. For they exhibit the nature under investigation in its lowest degree of power, and as it were in its cradle and [p. 160] rudiments; striving indeed and making a sort of first attempts, but buried under and subdued by a contrary nature. Such instances however are of very great service for the discovery of Forms; because as Striking Instances lead easily to specific differences, so are Clandestine Instances the best guides to genera, that is, to those common natures, whereof the natures proposed are nothing more than particular cases.
For example, let the nature proposed be Consistency, or the nature of that which determines its own figure; opposed to which is Fluidity. Those are Clandestine Instances which exhibit some feeble and low degree of consistency in a fluid; as a bubble of water, which is a sort of consistent pellicle of determined figure, made of the body of the water. Of a similar kind are the droppings from a house, which if there be water to follow, lengthen themselves out into a very thin thread, to preserve the continuity of the water; but if there be not water enough to follow, then they fall in round drops, which is the figure that best preserves the water from a solution of continuity. But at the very moment of time when the thread of water ceases and the descent in drops begins, the water itself recoils upwards to avoid discontinuation. Again in metals, which in fusion are liquid but more tenacious, the molten drops often fly to the top and stick there. A somewhat similar instance is that of children’s looking-glasses, which little boys make on rushes with spittle; where also there is seen a consistent pellicle of water. This however is much better shown in that other childish sport, when they take water, made a little more tenacious by soap, and blow it through a hollow reed, and so shape the water into a sort of castle of bubbles; which by the interposition of the air become so consistent as to admit of being thrown some distance without discontinuation. But best of all is it seen in frost and snow, which assume such a consistency that they can be almost cut with a knife, although they are formed out of air and water, both fluids. All which facts not obscurely intimate that Consistent and Fluid are only vulgar notions, and relative to the sense; and that in fact there is inherent in all bodies a disposition to shun and escape discontinuation; but that it is faint and feeble in homogeneous bodies (as fluids), more lively and strong in bodies compounded of heterogeneous matter; the reason being that the approach of heterogeneous matter binds bodies together, [p. 161] while the insinuation of homogeneous matter dissolves and relaxes them.
To take another instance, let the proposed nature be the attraction or coming together of bodies. In the investigation of its Form the most remarkable Striking Instance is the magnet. But there is a contrary nature to the attractive; namely, the non-attractive, which exists in a similar substance. Thus there is iron which does not attract iron, just as lead does not attract lead, nor wood wood, nor water water. Now a Clandestine Instance is a magnet armed with iron, or rather the iron in an armed magnet. For it is a fact in nature that an armed magnet at some distance off does not attract iron more powerfully than an unarmed magnet. But if the iron be brought so near as to touch the iron in the armed magnet, then the armed magnet supports a far greater weight of iron than a simple and unarmed magnet; on account of the similarity of substance between the pieces of iron; an operation altogether clandestine and latent in the iron before the magnet was applied. Hence it is manifest that the Form of Coition is something which is lively and strong in the magnet, feeble and latent in iron. Again, it has been observed that small wooden arrows without an iron point, discharged from large engines, pierce deeper into wooden material (say the sides of ships, or the like) than the same arrows tipped with iron, on account of the similarity of substance between the two pieces of wood; although this property had previously been latent in the wood. In like manner, although air does not manifestly attract air or water water in entire bodies, yet a bubble is more easily dissolved on the approach of another bubble than if that other bubble were away, by reason of the appetite of coition between water and water, and between air and air. Such Clandestine Instances (which, as I have said, are of the most signal use) exhibit themselves most conspicuously in small and subtle portions of bodies; the reason being that larger masses follow more general forms; as shall be shown in the proper place.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the fifth place Constitutive Instances, which I also call Manipular. They are those which constitute a single species of the proposed nature a sort of Lesser Form. For since the genuine Forms (which [p. 162] are always convertible with the proposed natures) lie deep and are hard to find, it is required by the circumstances of the case and the infirmity of the human understanding that particular Forms, which collect together certain groups of instances (though not all) into some common notion, be not neglected, but rather be diligently observed. For whatever unites nature, though imperfectly, paves the way to the discovery of Forms. Instances therefore which are useful in this regard are of no despicable power, but have a certain prerogative.
But great caution must here be employed, lest the human understanding, after having discovered many of those particular Forms and thereupon established partitions or divisions of the nature in question, be content to rest therein, and instead of proceeding to the legitimate discovery of the great Form, take it for granted that the nature from its very roots is manifold and divided, and so reject and put aside any further union of the nature, as a thing of superfluous subtlety and verging on mere abstraction.
For example, let the proposed nature be Memory, or that which excites and aids the memory. Constitutive Instances are, order or distribution, which clearly aids the memory; also topics or “places” in artificial memory; which may either be places in the proper sense of the word, as a door, angle, window, and the like; or familiar and known persons; or any other things at pleasure (provided they be placed in a certain order), as animals, vegetables; words too, letters, characters, historical persons, and the like; although some of these are more suitable and convenient than others. Such artificial places help the memory wonderfully, and exalt it far above its natural powers. Again, verse is learnt and remembered more easily than prose. From this group of three instances, viz. order, artificial places, and verse, one species of aid to the memory is constituted. And this species may with propriety be called the cutting off of infinity. For when we try to recollect or call a thing to mind, if we have no prenotion or perception of what we are seeking, we seek and toil and wander here and there, as if in infinite space. Whereas if we have any sure prenotion, infinity is at once cut off, and the memory has not so far to range. Now in the three foregoing instances the prenotion is clear and certain. In the first it must be something which suits the order; in the second it must be an image which bears some [p. 163] relation or conformity to the places fixed; in the third, it must be words that fall into the verse; and thus infinity is cut off. Other instances, again, will give us this second species; that whatever brings the intellectual conception into contact with the sense (which is indeed the method most used in mnemonics) assists the memory. Other instances will give us this third species; that things which make their impression by way of a strong affection, as by inspiring fear, admiration, shame, delight, assist the memory. Other instances will give us this fourth species; that things which are chiefly imprinted when the mind is clear and not occupied with anything else either before or after, as what is learnt in childhood, or what we think of before going to sleep, also things that happen for the first time, dwell longest in the memory. Other instances will give us this fifth species; that a multitude of circumstances or points to take hold of aids the memory; as writing with breaks and divisions, reading or reciting aloud. Lastly, other instances will give us this sixth species; that things which are waited for and raise the attention dwell longer in the memory than what flies quickly by. Thus, if you read anything over twenty times, you will not learn it by heart so easily as if you were to read it only ten, trying to repeat it between whiles, and when memory failed looking at the book. It appears then that there are six Lesser Forms of aids to the memory; viz. the cutting off of infinity; the reduction of the intellectual to the sensible; impression made on the mind in a state of strong emotion; impression made on the mind disengaged; multitude of points to take hold of; expectation beforehand.
To take another example, let the proposed nature be Taste or Tasting. The following instances are Constitutive. Persons who are by nature without the sense of smell cannot perceive or distinguish by taste food that is rancid or putrid, nor food that is seasoned with garlic, or with roses, or the like. Again, persons whose nostrils are accidentally obstructed by a catarrh cannot distinguish or perceive anything putrid or rancid or sprinkled with rosewater. Again, persons thus affected with catarrh, if while they have something fetid or perfumed in their mouth or palate they blow their nose violently, immediately perceive the rancidity or the perfume. These instances then will give and constitute this species, or rather division, of taste; that the sense of taste is in part nothing else than an internal [p. 164] smell, passing and descending from the upper passages of the nose to the mouth and palate. On the other hand the tastes of salt, sweet, sour, acid, rough, bitter, and the like, are as perceptible to those in whom the sense of smell is wanting or stopped as to any one else; so that it is clear that the sense of taste is a sort of compound of an internal smell and a delicate power of touch; of which this is not the place to speak.
To take another example, let the proposed nature be the communication of quality without admixture of substance. The instance of light will give or constitute one species of communication; heat and the magnet another. For the communication of light is momentaneous, and ceases at once on the removal of the original light. But heat and the virtue of the magnet, after they have been transmitted to or rather excited in a body, lodge and remain there for a considerable time after the removal of the source of motion.
Very great in short is the prerogative of Constitutive Instances; for they are of much use in the forming of definitions (especially particular definitions) and in the division and partition of natures; with regard to which it was not ill said by Plato, “That he is to be held as a god who knows well how to define and to divide.”
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the sixth place Instances Conformable, or of Analogy; which I also call Parallels, or Physical Resemblances. They are those which represent the resemblances and conjugations of things, not in Lesser Forms (as Constitutive Instances do) but merely in the concrete. Hence they may be called the first and lowest steps toward the union of nature. Nor do they constitute any axiom immediately from the beginning, but simply point out and mark a certain agreement in bodies. But although they are of little use for the discovery of forms, they nevertheless are very serviceable in revealing the fabric of the parts of the universe, and anatomising its members; from which they often lead us along to sublime and noble axioms, especially those which relate to the configuration of the world rather than to simple forms and natures.
For example, these following are instances of Conformity; a looking-glass and the eye; and again, the construction of the ear and places returning an echo. From which conformity, to [p. 165] say nothing of the mere observation of the resemblance which is in many respects useful, it is easy to gather and form this axiom,—that the organs of the senses, and bodies which produce reflexions to the senses, are of a like nature. Again, upon this hint the understanding easily rises to a higher and nobler axiom, which is this: that there is no difference between the consents or sympathies of bodies endowed with sensation and those of inanimate bodies without sensation, except that in the former an animal spirit is added to the body so disposed, but is wanting in the latter. Whence it follows that there might be as many senses in animals as there are sympathies between inanimate bodies, if there were perforations in the animate body, allowing the animal spirit to pass freely into a member rightly disposed, as into a fit organ. Again, as many as are the senses in animals, so many without doubt are the motions in an inanimate body where animal spirit is wanting; though necessarily there are many more motions in inanimate bodies than there are senses in animate, on account of the paucity of organs of sense. And of this a manifest example is exhibited in pain. For though there are many kinds and varieties of pain in animals (as the pain of burning, for one, of intense cold for another; again, of pricking, squeezing, stretching, and the like), it is yet most certain that all of them, as far as the motion is concerned, exist in inanimate substances; for example, in wood or stone, when it is burnt or frozen or pricked or cut or bent or stretched, and so on; though they do not enter the senses for want of the animal spirit.
Again, the roots and branches of plants (which may seem strange) are Conformable Instances. For all vegetable matter swells and pushes out its parts to the surface, as well upwards as downwards. Nor is there any other difference between roots and branches than that the root is buried in the ground, while the branches are exposed to the air and sun. For if you take a tender and flourishing branch of a tree, and bend it down into a clod of earth, although it does not cohere with the ground itself, it presently produces not a branch but a root. And vice versâ; if earth be placed at the top, and so kept down with a stone or any hard substance as to check the plant and prevent it from shooting upwards, it will put forth branches into the air downwards.
Again, the gums of trees, and most rock gems, are [p. 166] Conformable Instances. For both of these are nothing else than exudations and filterings of juices; the former from trees, the latter from rocks: whence is produced the splendour and clearness in each; that is, by the fine and delicate filtering. Hence too it is that the hairs of animals are not generally so beautiful and of so vivid a colour as the feathers of birds; viz. because the juices do not filter so finely through skin as through quills.
Again, the scrotum in males and the matrix in females are Conformable Instances. So that the great organic difference between the sexes (in land animals at least) appears to be nothing more than that the one organisation is external, and the other internal. That is to say, the greater force of heat in the male thrusts the genitals outwards; whereas in the female the heat is too feeble to effect this, and thus they are contained within.
The fins of fish again and the feet of quadrupeds, or the feet and wings of birds, are Conformable Instances; to which Aristotle has added the four folds in the motions of serpents. Whence it appears that in the structure of the universe the motions of living creatures are generally effected by a quaternion of limbs or of bendings.
Again, the teeth of land animals and the beaks of birds are Conformable Instances; from which it is manifest that in all perfect animals there is a determination of some hard substance to the mouth.
Nor is that an absurd similitude or conformity which has been remarked between man and a plant inverted. For the root of the nerves and faculties in animals is the head, while the seminal parts are the lowest,—the extremities of the legs and arms not reckoned. In a plant on the other hand, the root (which answers to the head) is regularly placed in the lowest part, and the seeds in the highest.
To conclude, it cannot too often be recommended and enjoined, that men’s diligence in investigating and amassing natural history be henceforward entirely changed, and turned into the direction opposite to that now in use. For hitherto men have used great and indeed over-curious diligence in observing the variety of things, and explaining the exact specific differences of animals, herbs, and fossils; most of which are rather sports of nature than of any serious use towards science. Such things indeed serve to delight, and sometimes [p. 167] even give help in practice; but for getting insight into nature they are of little service or none. Men’s labour therefore should be turned to the investigation and observation of the resemblances and analogies of things, as well in wholes as in parts. For these it is that detect the unity of nature, and lay a foundation for the constitution of sciences.
But here must be added a strict and earnest caution, that those only are to be taken for Conformable and Analogous Instances which indicate (as I said at the beginning) Physical Resemblances; that is, real and substantial resemblances; resemblances grounded in nature, not accidental or merely apparent; much less superstitious or curious resemblances, such as the writers on natural magic (very frivolous persons, hardly to be named in connexion with such serious matters as we are now about) are everywhere parading; similitudes and sympathies of things that have no reality, which they describe and sometimes invent with great vanity and folly.
But to leave these; the very configuration of the world itself in its greater parts presents Conformable Instances which are not to be neglected. Take for example Africa and the region of Peru with the continent stretching to the Straits of Magellan, in each of which tracts there are similar isthmuses and similar promontories; which can hardly be by accident.
Again, there is the Old and New World; both of which are broad and extended towards the north, narrow and pointed towards the south.
We have also most remarkable Instances of Conformity in the intense cold existing in what is called the middle region of the air and the violent fires which are often found bursting forth from beneath the ground; which two things are ultimities and extremes; that is to say, the extreme of the nature of cold towards the circumference of the sky, of heat towards the bowels of the earth; by antiperistasis or the rejection of the contrary nature.
Lastly, the Conformity of Instances in the axioms of science is deserving of notice. Thus the rhetorical trope of deceiving expectation is conformable with the musical trope of avoiding or sliding from the close or cadence: the mathematical postulate that if two things are equal to the same thing they are equal to one another, is conformable with the rule of the syllogism in logic which unites propositions agreeing in a [p. 168] middle term. In fine, a certain sagacity in investigating and hunting out Physical Conformities and Similitudes is of very great use in very many cases.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the seventh place Singular Instances; which I also call Irregular or Heteroclite; to borrow a term from grammarians. They are such as exhibit bodies in the concrete, which seem to be out of the course and broken off from the order of nature, and not agreeing with other bodies of the same kind. For Conformable Instances are like each other; Singular Instances are like themselves alone. The use of Singular Instances is the same as that of Clandestine; namely to raise and unite nature for the purpose of discovering kinds or common natures, to be afterwards limited by true specific differences. For we are not to give up the investigation, until the properties and qualities found in such things as may be taken for miracles of nature be reduced and comprehended under some Form or fixed Law; so that all the irregularity or singularity shall be found to depend on some common Form, and the miracle shall turn out to be only in the exact specific differences, and the degree, and the rare concurrence; not in the species itself; whereas now the thoughts of men go no further than to pronounce such things the secrets and mighty works of nature, things as it were causeless, and exceptions to general rules.
Examples of Singular Instances are the sun and moon among stars; the magnet among stones; quicksilver among metals; the elephant among quadrupeds; the venereal sense among kinds of touch; the scent of hounds among kinds of smell. So among grammarians the letter S is held singular, on account of its easy combination with consonants, sometimes with two, sometimes even with three; which property no other letter has. Such instances must be regarded as most valuable, because they sharpen and quicken investigation, and help to cure the understanding depraved by custom and the common course of things.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the eighth place Deviating Instances; that is, errors, vagaries and prodigies of nature, wherein nature deviates and turns aside from her [p. 169] ordinary course. Errors of nature differ from Singular Instances in this, that the latter are prodigies of species, the former of individuals. Their use is pretty nearly the same; for they correct the erroneous impressions suggested to the understanding by ordinary phenomena, and reveal Common Forms. For in these also we are not to desist from inquiry, until the cause of the deviation is discovered. This cause however does not rise properly to any Form, but simply to the latent process that leads to the Form. For he that knows the ways of nature will more easily observe her deviations; and on the other hand he that knows her deviations will more accurately describe her ways.
They differ in this also from Singular Instances, that they give much more help to practice and the operative part. For to produce new species would be very difficult; but to vary known species, and thereby produce many rare and unusual results is less difficult. Now it is an easy passage from miracles of nature to miracles of art. For if nature be once detected in her deviation, and the reason thereof made evident, there will be little difficulty in leading her back by art to the point whither she strayed by accident; and that not only in one case, but also in others; for errors on one side point out and open the way to errors and deflexions on all sides. Under this head there is no need of examples; they are so plentiful. For we have to make a collection or particular natural history of all prodigies and monstrous births of nature; of everything in short that is in nature new, rare, and unusual. This must be done however with the strictest scrutiny, that fidelity may be ensured. Now those things are to be chiefly suspected, which depend in any way on religion; as the prodigies of Livy; and those not less which are found in writers on natural magic or alchemy, and men of that sort; who are a kind of suitors and lovers of fables. But whatever is admitted must be drawn from grave and credible history and trustworthy reports.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the ninth place Bordering Instances which I also call Participles. They are those which exhibit species of bodies that seem to be composed of two species, or to be rudiments between one species and another. These instances might with propriety be reckoned among [p. 170] Singular or Heteroclite Instances; for in the whole extent of nature they are of rare and extraordinary occurrence. But nevertheless for their worth’s sake they should be ranked and treated separately; for they are of excellent use in indicating the composition and structure of things, and suggesting the causes of the number and quality of the ordinary species in the universe, and carrying on the understanding from that which is to that which may be.
Examples of these are, moss, which holds a place between putrescence and a plant; some comets, between stars and fiery meteors; flying fish, between birds and fish; bats, between birds and quadrupeds: also the ape, between man and beast,—
- “Simla quam similis turpissima bestia nobis;”
likewise the biformed births of animals, mixed of different species, and the like.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the tenth place Instances of Power, or of the Fasces (to borrow a term from the badges of empire); which I also call Instances of the Wit, or Hands of Man. These are the noblest and most consummate works in each art, exhibiting the ultimate perfection of it. For since our main object is to make nature serve the business and conveniences of man, it is altogether agreeable to that object that the works which are already in man’s power should (like so many provinces formerly occupied and subdued) be noted and enumerated, especially such as are the most complete and perfect; because starting from them we shall find an easier and nearer passage to new works hitherto unattempted. For if from an attentive contemplation of these a man pushes on his work with zeal and activity, he will infallibly either advance them a little further, or turn them aside to something in their neighbourhood, or even apply and transfer them to some more noble use.
Nor is this all. But as by rare and extraordinary works of nature the understanding is excited and raised to the investigation and discovery of Forms capable of including them; so also is this done by excellent and wonderful works of art; and that in a much greater degree, because the method of creating and constructing such miracles of art is in most cases plain, whereas in the miracles of nature it is generally obscure. But [p. 171] with these also we must use the utmost caution, lest they depress the understanding and fasten it as it were to the ground.
For there is danger lest the contemplation of such works of art, which appear to be the very summits and crowning points of human industry, may so astonish and bind and bewitch the understanding with regard to them, that it shall be incapable of dealing with any other, but shall think that nothing can be done in that kind except by the same way in which these were done; only with the use of greater diligence and more accurate preparation.
Whereas on the contrary this is certain; that the ways and means of achieving the effects and works hitherto discovered and observed are for the most part very poor things; and that all power of a high order depends on Forms, and is derived in order from the sources thereof; not one of which has yet been discovered.
And therefore (as I have said elsewhere) if a man had been thinking of the war engines and battering-rams of the ancients, though he had done it with all his might and spent his whole life in it, yet he would never have lighted on the discovery of cannon acting by means of gunpowder. Nor again, if he had fixed his observation and thought on the manufacture of wool and cotton, would he ever by such means have discovered the nature of the silkworm or of silk.
Hence it is that all the discoveries which can take rank among the nobler of their kind, have (if you observe) been brought to light, not by small elaborations and extensions of arts, but entirely by accident. Now there is nothing which can forestall or anticipate accident (which commonly acts only at long intervals) except the discovery of Forms.
Particular examples of such instances it is unnecessary to adduce, there is such plenty of them. For what we have to do is simply this:—to seek out and thoroughly inspect all mechanical arts, and all liberal too (as far as they deal with works), and make therefrom a collection or particular history of the great and masterly and most perfect works in every one of them, together with the mode of their production or operation.
And yet I do not tie down the diligence that should be used in such a collection to those works only which are esteemed the masterpieces and mysteries of any art, and which excite wonder. For wonder is the child of rarity; and if a thing be rare, [p. 172] though in kind it be no way extraordinary, yet it is wondered at. While on the other hand things which really call for wonder on account of the difference in species which they exhibit as compared with other species, yet if we have them by us in common use, are but slightly noticed.
Now the singularities of art deserve to be noticed no less than those of nature, of which I have already spoken. And as among the singularities of nature I placed the sun, the moon, the magnet, and the like,—things in fact most familiar, but in nature almost unique; so also must we do with the singularities of art.
For example, a Singular Instance of art is paper, a thing exceedingly common. Now if you observe them with attention, you will find that artificial materials are either woven in upright and transverse threads, as silk, woollen or linen cloth, and the like; or cemented of concreted juices, as brick, earthenware, glass, enamel, porcelain, &c., which are bright if well united, but if not, are hard indeed but not bright. But all things that are made of concrete juices are brittle, and no way cohesive or tenacious. On the contrary paper is a tenacious substance, that may be cut or torn; so that it imitates and almost rivals the skin or membrane of an animal, the leaf of a vegetable, and the like pieces of Nature’s workmanship. For it is neither brittle like glass, nor woven as cloth; but is in fibres, not distinct threads, just like natural materials; so that among artificial materials you will hardly find anything similar: but it is altogether singular. And certainly among things artificial those are to be preferred which either come nearest to an imitation of nature, or on the contrary overrule and turn her back.
Again, as instances of the Wit and Hand of Man, we must not altogether contemn juggling and conjuring tricks. For some of them, though in use trivial and ludicrous, yet in regard to the information they give may be of much value.
Lastly, matters of superstition and magic (in the common acceptation of the word) must not be entirely omitted. For although such things lie buried deep beneath a mass of falsehood and fable, yet they should be looked into a little; for it may be that in some of them some natural operation lies at the bottom; as in fascination, strengthening of the imagination, sympathy of things at a distance, transmission of impressions [p. 173] from spirit to spirit no less than from body to body, and the like.
From what has been said it is clear that the five classes of instances last mentioned (namely, Instances Conformable, Singular, Deviating, Bordering, and of Power) ought not to be reserved until some certain nature be in question (as the other instances which I have placed first, and most of those that are to follow should), but a collection of them must be begun at once, as a sort of particular history; because they serve to digest the matters that enter the understanding, and to correct the ill complexion of the understanding itself, which cannot but be tinged and infected, and at length perverted and distorted, by daily and habitual impressions.
These instances therefore should be employed as a sort of preparative for setting right and purging the understanding. For whatever withdraws the understanding from the things to which it is accustomed, smooths and levels its surface for the reception of the dry and pure light of true ideas.
Moreover such instances pave and prepare the way for the operative part; as will be shown in the proper place, when I come to speak of deductions leading to Practice.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the eleventh place Instances of Companionship and of Enmity; which I also call Instances of Fixed Propositions. They are those which exhibit a body or concrete substance, in which the nature inquired into constantly attends, as an inseparable companion; or in which on the contrary it constantly retreats, and is excluded from companionship, as an enemy and foe. For from such instances are formed certain and universal propositions, either affirmative or negative; in which the subject will be a body in concrete, and the predicate the nature itself that is in question. For particular propositions are in no case fixed; I mean propositions in which the nature in question is found in any concrete body to be fleeting and moveable, that is to say accruing or acquired, or on the other hand departing or put away. Wherefore particular propositions have no prerogative above others, save only in the case of Migration, of which I have already spoken. Nevertheless even these [p. 174] particular propositions being prepared and collated with universal propositions are of great use, as shall be shown in the proper place. Nor even in the universal propositions do we require exact or absolute affirmation or negation. For it is sufficient for the purpose in hand, even if they admit of some rare and singular exception.
The use of Instances of Companionship is to bring the Affirmative of the Form within narrow limits. For as by Migratory Instances the Affirmative of the Form is narrowed to this,—that the Form of the thing must needs be something which by the act of Migration is communicated or destroyed; so in Instances of Companionship, the Affirmative of the Form is narrowed to this,—that the Form of the thing must needs be something which enters as an element into such a concretion of body, or contrariwise which refuses to enter; so that he who well knows the constitution or configuration of such a body will not be far from bringing to light the Form of the nature under inquiry.
For example, let the nature in question be Heat. An Instance of Companionship is Flame. For in water, air, stone, metal, and most other substances, heat is variable, and may come and go; but all flame is hot, so that heat is always in attendance on the concretion of flame. But no Hostile Instance of Heat is to be found here. For the senses know nothing of the bowels of the earth, and of all the bodies which we do know, there is not a single concretion that is not susceptible of heat.
But to take another instance; let the nature in question be Consistency. A Hostile Instance is Air. For metal can be fluid and can also be consistent; and so can glass; water also can be consistent, when it is frozen; but it is impossible that air should ever be consistent, or put off its fluidity.
But with regard to such Instances of Fixed Propositions I have two admonitions to give, which may help the business in hand. The first is, that if a universal affirmative or negative be wanting, that very thing be carefully noted as a thing that is not; as we have done in the case of Heat, where a universal negative (as far as the essences that have come under our knowledge are concerned) is not to be found in the nature of things. In like manner, if the nature in question be Eternity or Incorruptibility, no universal affirmative is to be found [p. 175] here. For Eternity or Incorruptibility cannot be predicated of any of the bodies lying below the heavens and above the bowels of the earth. The other admonition is, that to universal propositions, affirmative or negative, concerning any concrete body, there be subjoined those concretes which seem to approach most nearly to that which is not; as in heat, the gentlest and least burning flames; in incorruptibility, gold which comes nearest to it. For all such indicate the limits of nature between that which is and that which is not, and help to circumscribe Forms, and prevent them from escaping and straying beyond the conditions of matter.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the twelfth place those Subjunctive Instances mentioned in the last aphorism, which I otherwise call Instances of Ultimity or Limit. For such instances are not only useful when subjoined to fixed propositions, but also by themselves and in their own properties. For they point out not obscurely the real divisions of nature and measures of things, and how far in any case nature may act or be acted upon, and then the passages of nature into something else. Of this kind are gold in weight; iron in hardness; the whale in animal bulk; the dog in scent; the combustion of gunpowder in rapid expansion; and the like. Nor should extremes in the lowest degree be less noticed than extremes in the highest; such as spirit of wine in weight; silk in softness; the worms of the skin in animal bulk; and the like.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the thirteenth place Instances of Alliance or Union. They are those which mingle and unite natures supposed to be heterogeneous, and marked and set down as such in the received divisions.
Instances of Alliance show that operations and effects attributed to some one heterogeneous nature as peculiar to it, may belong also to other heterogeneous natures; so that this supposed heterogeneity is proved to be not real or essential, but only a modification of a common nature. They are therefore of most excellent use in raising and elevating the understanding from specific differences to genera, and in dispelling phantoms [p. 176] and false images of things, which in concrete substances come before us in disguise. For example, let the nature in question be heat. We are told (and it seems to be a division quite received and authorised) that there are three kinds of heat; the heat of heavenly bodies, the heat of animals, and the heat of fire; and that these heats (especially one of them as compared with the other two) are in their very essence and species—that is to say, in their specific nature—distinct and heterogeneous; since the heat of heavenly bodies and of animals generates and cherishes, while the heat of fire wastes and destroys. We have, therefore, an Instance of Alliance in that common case, when the branch of a vine is brought within a house where a fire is constantly kept up, and the grapes ripen on it a whole month sooner than they do out of doors; so that the ripening of fruit, even while it hangs on the tree, may be brought about by fire, though such ripening would seem to be the proper work of the sun. From this beginning therefore, the understanding, rejecting the notion of essential heterogeneity, easily rises to inquire what are in reality those points of difference between the heat of the sun and of fire which cause their operations to be so dissimilar, however they may themselves partake of a common nature.
These differences will be found to be four. The first is, that the heat of the sun compared with the heat of fire is far milder and softer in degree; the second is, that in quality (at least as it reaches us through the air) it is far moister; the third (and this is the main point) is, that it is exceedingly unequal, now approaching and increased, now receding and diminished; which thing chiefly contributes to the generation of bodies. For Aristotle was right in asserting that the principal cause of the generations and corruptions which are going on here on the surface of the earth is the oblique course of the sun through the zodiac; whence the heat of the sun, partly by the alternation of day and night, partly by the succession of summer and winter, becomes strangely unequal. And yet this great man must go on at once to corrupt and deprave what he has rightly discovered. For laying down the law to nature (as his way is), he very dictatorially assigns as the cause of generation the approach of the sun, and as the cause of corruption his retreat; whereas both together (the approach of the sun and his retreat), not respectively, but as it were indifferently, afford a cause both [p. 177] for generation and production; since inequality of heat ministers to generation and corruption, equality to conservation only. There is also a fourth specific difference between the heat of the sun and of fire, and one of very great moment; viz. that the sun operates by gentle action through long spaces of time, whereas the operations of fire, urged on by the impatience of man, are made to finish their work in shorter periods. But if any one were to set to work diligently to temper the heat of fire and reduce it to a milder and more moderate degree, as is easily done in many ways; and were then to sprinkle and intermix a little moisture; and if above all he were to imitate the heat of the sun in its inequality; and lastly if he could submit to a slow procedure, not indeed corresponding to the operations of the sun, but yet slower than men generally adopt in working with fire; he would speedily get rid of the notion of different kinds of heat, and would attempt to imitate, if not equal or in some cases even surpass, the works of the sun by the heat of fire. We have a similar Instance of Alliance in the revival of butterflies stupified and half dead with cold, by slightly warming them at a fire; so that you may easily see that fire is no more without the power of giving life to animals than of ripening vegetables. Thus also Fracastorius’s celebrated invention of the heated pan with which doctors cover the heads of apoplectic patients who are given over, manifestly expands the animal spirits, compressed and all but extinguished by the humours and obstructions of the brain, and exciting them to motion, just as fire acts on air or water, by consequence quickens and gives them life. Eggs also are sometimes hatched by the heat of fire, which thus exactly imitates animal heat; and there are many instances of the same kind; so that no one can doubt that the heat of fire may in many subjects be modified so as to resemble the heat of heavenly bodies and of animals.
Again, let the natures in question be Motion and Best. It appears to be a received division and drawn from the depths of philosophy, that natural bodies either move in circle, or move straight forward, or remain at rest. For there is either motion without limit, or rest at a limit, or progress towards a limit. Now that perpetual motion of rotation seems to be proper to the heavenly bodies; station or rest seems to belong to the globe of the earth; while other bodies (which they call heavy [p. 178] or light, being indeed placed out of the region to which they naturally belong) are carried towards the masses or congregations of their likes; light bodies upwards towards the circumference of the heaven; heavy bodies downwards towards the earth. And this is pretty talk.
But we have an Instance of Alliance in one of the lower comets, which though far below the heaven, nevertheless revolve. And Aristotle’s fiction of a comet being tied to or following some particular star has long been exploded, not only because the reason for it is not probable, but because we have manifest experience of the discursive and irregular motion of comets through various parts of the sky.
Again, another Instance of Alliance on this subject is the motion of air, which within the tropics, where the circles of rotation are larger, seems itself also to revolve from east to west.
Again, another Instance would be the ebb and flow of the sea, if it be found that the waters themselves are carried in a motion of rotation (however slow and evanescent) from east to west; though subject to the condition of being driven back twice in the day. For if things be so, it is manifest that that motion of rotation is not limited to heavenly bodies, but is shared also by air and water.
Even that property of light substances, viz. that they tend upwards, is somewhat at fault. And on this point a bubble of water may be taken as an Instance of Alliance. For if there be air under the water, it rapidly ascends to the surface, by that motion of percussion (as Democritus calls it) by which the descending water strikes and raises the air upwards; not by any effort or struggle of the air itself. And when it is come to the surface of the water, then the air is stopped from further ascent by a slight resistance it meets with in the water, which does not immediately allow itself to be separated; so that the desire of air to ascend must be very slight.
Again, let the nature in question be Weight. It is quite a received division, that dense and solid bodies move toward the centre of the earth, rare and light toward the circumference of the heaven, as to their proper places. Now as for this notion of places, though such things prevail in the schools, it is very silly and childish to suppose that place has any power. Therefore philosophers do but trifle when they say that if the earth were bored through, heavy bodies would stop on reaching [p. 179] the centre Certainly it would be a wonderful and efficacious sort of nothing, or mathematical point, which could act on bodies, or for which bodies could have desire; for bodies are not acted on except by bodies. But this desire of ascending and descending depends either on the configuration of the body moved or on its sympathy or consent with some other body. Now if there be found any body which, being dense and solid, does not move to the earth, there is an end of this division. But if Gilbert’s opinion be received, that the earth’s magnetic power of attracting heavy bodies does not extend beyond the orb of its virtue (which acts always to a certain distance and no more), and if this opinion be verified by a single instance, in that we shall have got at last an Instance of Alliance on the subject of weight. But at present there does not occur any instance on this subject certain and manifest. What seems to come nearest to one is that of the waterspouts, often seen in the voyage over the Atlantic Ocean towards either of the Indies. For so great is the quantity and mass of water suddenly discharged by these waterspouts, that they seem to have been collections of water made before, and to have remained hanging in these places; and afterwards to have been rather thrown down by some violent cause, than to have fallen 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, would hang like the earth itself, and not fall unless thrust down. But on this point I affirm nothing certain. Meanwhile in this and many other cases it will easily be seen how poor we are in natural history, when in place of certain instances I am sometimes compelled to adduce as examples bare suppositions.
Again, let the nature in question be Discourse of Reason. The distinction between human reason and the sagacity of brutes appears to be a perfectly correct one. Yet there are certain instances of actions performed by animals, by which it seems that brutes too have some power of syllogising; as in the old story of the crow which, in a time of great drought being half dead with thirst, saw some water in the hollow trunk of a tree; and finding it too narrow to get in, proceeded to drop in a number of pebbles, till the water rose high enough for it to drink; which thing afterwards passed into a proverb.
Again, let the nature in question be Visibility. It appears [p. 180] to be a very correct and safe division which regards light as primarily visible, and affording the power of seeing; while colour is secondarily visible, and cannot be seen without light, so that it appears to be nothing more than an image or modification of light. And yet there appear to be Instances of Alliance on either side; namely, snow in great quantities, and the flame of sulphur; in one of which there appears to be a colour primarily giving light, in the other a light verging on colour.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the fourteenth place Instances of the Fingerpost; borrowing the term from the fingerposts which are set up where roads part, to indicate the several directions. These I also call Decisive and Judicial, and in some cases, Oracular and Commanding Instances. I explain them thus. When in the investigation of any nature the understanding is so balanced as to be uncertain to which of two or more natures the cause of the nature in question should be assigned, on account of the frequent and ordinary concurrence of many natures, Instances of the Fingerpost show the union of one of the natures with the nature in question to be sure and indissoluble, of the other to be varied and separable; and thus the question is decided, and the former nature is admitted as the cause, while the latter is dismissed and rejected. Such instances afford very great light, and are of high authority, the course of interpretation sometimes ending in them and being completed Sometimes these Instances of the Fingerpost meet us accidentally among those already noticed; but for the most part they are new, and are expressly and designedly sought for and applied, and discovered only by earnest and active diligence.
For example, let the nature in question be the Ebb and Flow of the Sea; each of which is repeated twice a day, and takes six hours each time; subject to some slight difference which coincides with the motion of the moon. The following will be a case of the parting of the roads.
This motion must necessarily be caused either by the advance and retreat of the waters; as water shaken in a basin leaves one side when it washes the other; or else bya lifting up of the waters from the bottom and falling again; as water in boiling rises and falls. The question is to which of these two causes the ebb and flow should be assigned. Now, if we take the [p. 181] first, it follows that when there is a flood on one side of the sea, there must be at the same time an ebb somewhere on the other. To this point therefore the inquiry is brought. Now it has been observed by Acosta and others, after careful research, that on the shores of Florida and the opposite shores of Spain and Africa the floods take place at the same times, and the ebbs take place at the same times also; and not that there is an ebb from the shores of Spain and Africa when there is a flood on the shores of Florida. And yet if you look at it more closely, this does not prove the case in favour of the rising and against the progressive motion. For waters may move in progression, and yet rise upon the opposite shores of the same channel at the same time; as when they are thrust together and driven on from some other quarter. For so it is with rivers, which rise and fall on both banks at the same hours; and yet that motion is clearly one of progression; namely, of the waters entering the mouth of the rivers from the sea. It may therefore happen in a like manner that waters coming in a vast mass from the East Indian Ocean are driven together and pushed into the channel of the Atlantic, and on that account flood both sides at once. We must inquire therefore whether there be any other channel, in which the water can be retreating and ebbing at that same time; and we have the South Sea, a sea at least as wide, indeed wider and larger than the Atlantic, which is sufficient for the purpose.
At length then we have come to an Instance of the Fingerpost in this case; and it is this. If we find for certain that when there is a flood on the opposite coasts of Florida and Spain in the Atlantic, there is also a flood on the coasts of Peru and the back of China in the South Sea, then indeed on the authority of this Decisive Instance we must reject the assertion that the ebb and flow of the sea, which is the thing inquired into, takes place by a progressive motion; for there is no sea or place left in which the retreat or ebbing can be going on at the same time. And this may be most conveniently ascertained by asking the inhabitants of Panama and Lima (where the two Oceans, the Atlantic and Pacific, are separated by a small isthmus) whether the ebb and flow of the sea takes place on the opposite sides of the isthmus at the same time; or contrariwise, when it is ebbing on one side it is flowing on the other. Now this decision or rejection appears to be certain, if [p. 182] we take it for granted that the earth is immoveable. But if the earth revolves, it is perhaps possible that in consequence of the unequal rotation (in point of speed) of the earth and waters of the sea, the waters are violently driven upwards into a heap, which is the flood, and (when they can bear no more piling) released and let down again, which is the ebb. But on this inquiry should be made separately. Still even on this hypothesis, our position remains equally fixed, that there must of neceesity be an ebb of the sea going on in some parts at the same time that a flood is going on in others.
Again, let the nature in question be the latter of the two motions we have supposed; namely, the rising and sinking motion; if on careful examination we reject the former motion of which I spoke,—the progressive. With regard to this nature the road branches into three. For the motion by which the waters rise in the flood and sink in the ebb without any accession of other waters rolling in, must necessarily be brought about in one of these three ways. Either there is an accession of water poured out from the interior of the earth, and again retreating into it; or there is no accession to the mass of water, but the same waters (without increase of quantity) are extended or rarefied, so as to occupy a greater space and dimension, and again contract themselves; or there is no increase either of supply or of extension, but the same waters (the same in quantity as in density) are raised by some magnetic force attracting them from above, and by consent therewith, and then fall back again. Let us now dismiss the two former causes of motion and reduce our inquiry to the last; that is to say, let us inquire whether any such raising by consent or magnetic force may happen. Now in the first place it is evident that the waters, as they lie in the trench or hollow of the sea, cannot all be raised at once, for want of something to take their place at the bottom; so that even if there were in water any such desire to rise, it would be barred and checked by the cohesion of things, or (as it is commonly called) the abhorrence of a vacuum. It remains that the waters must be raised in one part, and thereby be diminished and retreat in another. Again, it will follow of necessity that the magnetic force, since it cannot act upon the whole, will act with the greatest intensity on the middle, so as to raise up the water in the middle; upon which the rest must follow and fall away from the sides.
[p. 183] Thus at length we come to an Instance of the Fingerpost on this subject. For if we find that in the ebb of the sea the surface of the water is more arched and round, the waters rising in the middle of the sea and falling away from the sides, that is, the shores; and that in the flood the same surface is more even and level, the waters returning to their former position; then indeed on the authority of this Decisive Instance the raising by magnetic force may be admitted; otherwise it must be utterly rejected. And this would not be difficult to ascertain by trial in straits with sounding lines; viz. whether during ebbs the sea be not higher or deeper towards the middle than during floods. It is to be observed however that, if this be the case, the waters must (contrary to the common opinion) rise in ebbs and sink in floods, so as to clothe and wash the shores.
Again, let the nature investigated be the Spontaneous Motion of Rotation; and in particular, whether the Diurnal Motion, whereby to our eyes the sun and stars rise and set, be a real motion of rotation in the heavenly bodies, or a motion apparent in the heavenly bodies, and real in the earth. We may here take for an Instance of the Fingerpost the following. If there be found in the ocean any motion from east to west, however weak and languid; if the same motion be found a little quicker in the air, especially within the tropics, where because of the larger circles it is more perceptible; if the same motion be found in the lower comets, but now lively and vigorous; if the same motion be found in planets, but so distributed and graduated, that the nearer a planet is to the earth its motion is slower, the further a planet is distant from the earth its motion is quicker, and quickest of all in the starry sphere; then indeed we should receive the diurnal motion as real in the heavens, and deny such motion to the earth; because it will be manifest that motion from east to west is perfectly cosmical, and by consent of the universe; being most rapid in the highest parts of the heavens, and gradually falling off, and finally stopping and becoming extinct in the immoveable,—that is, the earth.
Again, let the nature in question be that other Motion of Rotation so much talked of by philosophers, the Resistent and Contrary Motion to the Diurnal, viz. from west to east; which old philosophers attribute to the planets; also to the starry sphere; but Copernicus and his followers to the earth [p. 184] as well; and let us inquire whether any such motion be found in nature, or whether it be not rather a thing invented and supposed for the abbreviation and convenience of calculation, and for the sake of that pretty notion of explaining celestial motions by perfect circles. For this motion in the heavens is by no means proved to be true and real, either by the failing of a planet to return in its diurnal motion to the same point of the starry sphere, or by this, that the poles of the zodiac differ from the poles of the world; to which two things we owe this idea of motion. For the first phenomenon is well accounted for by supposing that the fixed stars outrun the planets, and leave them behind; the second, by supposing a motion in spiral lines; so that the inequality of return and the declination to the tropics may rather be modifications of the one diurnal motion, than motions contrary or round different poles. And most certain it is, if one may but play the plain man for a moment (dismissing the fancies of astronomers and schoolmen, whose way it is to overrule the senses, often without reason, and to prefer what is obscure), that this motion does actually appear to the sense such as I have described; for I once had a machine made with iron wires to represent it.
The following would be an Instance of the Fingerpost on this subject. If it be found in any history worthy of credit, that there has been any comet, whether high or low, which has not revolved in manifest agreement (however irregular) with the diurnal motion, but has revolved in the opposite direction, then certainly we may set down thus much as established, that there may be in nature some such motion. But if nothing of the kind can be found, it must be regarded as questionable, and recourse be had to other Instances of the Fingerpost about it.
Again, let the nature in question be Weight or Heaviness. Here the road will branch into two, thus. It must needs be that heavy and weighty bodies either tend of their own nature to the centre of the earth, by reason of their proper configuration; or else that they are attracted by the mass and body of earth itself as by the congregation of kindred substances, and move to it by sympathy. If the latter of these be the cause, it follows that the nearer heavy bodies approach to the earth, the more rapid and violent is their motion to it; and that the further they are from the earth, the feebler and more tardy is their motion (as is the case with magnetic attraction); and that [p. 185] this action is confined to certain limits; so that if they were removed to such a distance from the earth that the earth’s virtue could not act upon them, they would remain suspended like the earth itself, and not fall at all. With regard to this then, the following would be an Instance of the Fingerpost. Take a clock moved by leaden weights, and another moved by the compression of an iron spring; let them be exactly adjusted, that one go not faster or slower than the other; then place the clock moving by weights on the top of a very high steeple, keeping the other down below; and observe carefully whether the clock on the steeple goes more slowly than it did, on account of the diminished virtue of its weights. Repeat the experiment in the bottom of a mine, sunk to a great depth below the ground; that is, observe whether the clock so placed does not go faster than it did, on account of the increased virtue of its weights. If the virtue of the weights is found to be diminished on the steeple, and increased in the mine, we may take the attraction of the mass of the earth as the cause of weight.
Again, let the nature investigated be the Polarity of the Iron Needle when touched with the magnet. With regard to this nature the road will branch into two, thus. Either the touch of the magnet of itself invests the iron with polarity to the north and south; or it simply excites and prepares the iron, while the actual motion is communicated by the presence of the earth; as Gilbert thinks, and labours so strenuously to prove. To this point therefore tend the observations which he has collected with great sagacity and industry. One is, that an iron nail, which has lain for a long time in a direction between north and south, gathers polarity without the touch of the magnet by its long continuance in this position; as if the earth itself, which on account of the distance acts but feebly (the surface or outer crust of the earth being destitute, as he insists, of magnetic power), were yet able by this long continuance to supply the touch of the magnet, and excite the iron, and then shape and turn it when excited. Another is, that if iron that has been heated white-hot, be while cooling laid length-wise between north and south, it also acquires polarity without the touch of the magnet; as if the parts of the iron, set in motion by ignition, and afterwards recovering themselves, were at the very moment of cooling more susceptible and sensitive of the virtue emanating from the earth than at other times, and thus [p. 186] became excited by it. But these things, though well observed, do not quite prove what he asserts.
Now with regard to this question an Instance of the Fingerpost would be the following. Take a magnetic globe and mark its poles; and set the poles of the globe towards the east and west, not towards the north and south, and let them remain so; then place at the top an untouched iron needle, and allow it to remain in this position for six or seven days.
The needle while over the magnet (for on this point there is no dispute) will leave the poles of the earth and turn towards the poles of the magnet; and therefore, as long as it remains thus, it points east and west. Now if it be found that the needle, on being removed from the magnet and placed on a pivot, either starts off at once to the north and south, or gradually turns in that direction, then the presence of the earth must be admitted as the cause; but if it either points as before east and west, or loses its polarity, this cause must be regarded as questionable, and further inquiry must be made.
Again, let the nature in question be the Corporeal Substance of the Moon; that is, let us inquire whether it be rare, consisting of flame or air, as most of the old philosophers opined; or dense and solid, as Gilbert and many moderns, with some ancients, maintain. The reasons for the latter opinion rest chiefly on this, that the moon reflects the rays of the sun; nor does light seem to be reflected except by solid bodies. Therefore Instances of the Fingerpost on this question will (if any) be those which prove that reflexion may take place from a rare body, as flame, provided it be of sufficient denseness. Certainly one cause of twilight, among others, is the reflexion of the rays of the sun from the upper part of the air. Likewise we occasionally see rays of the sun in fine evenings reflected from the fringes of dewy clouds with a splendour not inferior to that reflected from the body of the moon, but brighter and more gorgeous; and yet there is no proof that these clouds have coalesced into a dense body of water. Also we observe that the dark air behind a window at night reflects the light of a candle, just as a dense body would. We should also try the experiment of allowing the sun’s rays to shine through a hole on some dusky blueish flame. For indeed the open rays of the sun, falling on the duller kinds of flame, appear to deaden them, so that they seem more like white smoke than flame. These [p. 187] are what occur to me at present as Instances of the Fingerpost, with reference to this question; and better may perhaps be found. But it should always be observed that reflexion from flame is not to be expected, except from a flame of some depth; for otherwise it borders on transparency. This however may be set down as certain,—that light on an even body is always either received and transmitted or reflected.
Again let the nature in question be the Motion of Projectiles (darts, arrows, balls, &c.) through the air. This motion the schoolmen, as their way is, explain in a very careless manner; thinking it enough to call it a violent motion as distinguished from what they call a natural motion; and to account for the first percussion or impulse by the axiom that two bodies cannot occupy the same place on account of the impenetrability of matter; and not troubling themselves at all how the motion proceeds afterwards. But with reference to this inquiry the road branches into two in this way. Either this motion is caused by the air carrying the projected body and collecting behind it, as the stream in the case of a boat, or the wind in that of straws; or it is caused by the parts of the body itself not enduring the impression, but pushing forward in succession to relieve themselves from it. The former of these explanations is adopted by Frascatorius and almost all who have entered into the investigation with any subtlety, and there is no doubt that the air has something to do with it: but the other motion is undoubtedly the true one, as is shown by countless experiments. Among others the following would be an Instance of the Fingerpost on this subject: that a thin iron plate or stiffish iron wire, or even a reed or pen split in half, when pressed into a curve between the finger and thumb, leaps away. For it is obvious that this motion cannot be imputed to the air gathering behind the body, because the source of motion is in the middle of the plate or reed, not in the extremities.
Again, let the nature in question be the rapid and powerful motion of the Expansion of Gunpowder into flame; by which such vast masses are upheaved, such great weights discharged, as we see in mines and mortars. With respect to this nature the road branches into two in this way. The motion is excited either by the mere desire of the body to expand when set on fire, or partly by that and partly by the desire of the crude spirit in the body, which flies rapidly away from the fire, and [p. 188] bursts violently from its embrace as from a prison-house. The schoolmen and common opinion deal only with the former desire. For men fancy themselves very fine philosophers, when they assert that the flame is endowed by its elementary form with a necessity of occupying a larger space than the body had filled when in the form of powder, and that hence the motion ensues. Meanwhile they forget to notice, that although this be true on the supposition that flame is generated, it is yet possible for the generation of flame to be hindered by a mass of matter sufficient to suppress and choke it; so that the case is not reduced to the necessity they insist on. For that expansion must necessarily take place, and that there must needs follow thereon a discharge or removal of the opposing body, if flame be generated, they rightly judge. But this necessity is altogether avoided if the solid mass suppress the flame before it be generated. And we see that flame, especially in its first generation, is soft and gentle, and requires a hollow space wherein to play and try its strength. Such violence therefore cannot be attributed to flame by itself. But the fact is, that the generation of these windy flames, or fiery winds as they may be called, arises from a conflict of two bodies of exactly opposite natures; the one being highly inflammable, which is the nature of sulphur, the other abhorring flame, as the crude spirit in nitre; so that there ensues a strange conflict, the sulphur kindling into flame with all its might (for the third body, the willow-charcoal, does no more than incorporate and combine the other two), while the spirit of the nitre bursts forth with all its might, and at the same time dilates itself (as air, water, and all crude bodies do when affected by heat), and by thus flying and bursting out fans meanwhile the flame of the sulphur on all sides as with hidden bellows.
On this subject we may have Instances of the Fingerpost of two kinds. The first, of those bodies which are most highly inflammable, as sulphur, camphor, naphtha and the like, with their compounds; which catch fire more quickly and easily than gunpowder if not impeded (from which it appears that the desire of bursting into flame does not produce by itself that stupendous effect); the other, of those bodies which shun and abhor flame, as all salts. For we find that if salts are thrown into the fire, their aqueous spirit bursts out with a [p. 189] crackling noise, before flame is caught; which, is the case also, though in a milder degree, with the stiffer kinds of leaves: the aqueous part escaping before the oily catches fire. But this is best seen in quicksilver, which is not inaptly called mineral water. For quicksilver, without bursting into flame, by mere eruption and expansion almost equals the force of gunpowder, and is also said when mixed with gunpowder to increase its strength.
Again, let the nature in question be the Transitory Nature of Flame and its momentaneous extinction. For the nature of flame appears to have no fixed consistency here with us, but to be every moment generated and every moment extinguished; for it is clear that in flames which continue and last, the continuance we see is not of the same individual flame, but is caused by a succession of new flame regularly generated; nor does the flame remain numerically identical; as is easily seen from this, that if the food or fuel of flame be taken away, the flame instantly goes out. With reference to this nature the roads branch into two, thus. The momentaneous nature proceeds either from a cessation of the cause which at first produced the flame, as in light, sound, and the motion called “violent;” or from this, that the flame, though able by its own nature to remain with us, suffers violence and is destroyed by the contrary natures that surround it.
On this subject therefore we may take the following as an Instance of the Fingerpost. We see in large fires how high the flames ascend; for the broader the base of the flame, the higher is its vertex. Thus extinction appears to commence at the sides, where the flame is compressed and troubled by the air. But the heart of the flame, which is not touched by the air but surrounded by other flame on all sides, remains numerically identical; nor is it extinguished until gradually compressed by the surrounding air. Thus all flame is in the form of a pyramid, being broader at the base where the fuel is, but sharp at the vertex, where the air is antagonistic and fuel is wanting. But smoke is narrow at the base and grows broader as it ascends, like an inverted pyramid; the reason being that the air admits smoke and compresses flame. For let no one dream that lighted flame is air, when in fact they are substances quite heterogeneous.
But we may have an Instance of the Fingerpost more [p. 190] nicely adapted to this purpose, if the thing can be made manifest with bicoloured lights. Fix a lighted wax taper in a small metal stand; place the stand in the middle of a bowl, and pour round it spirit of wine, but not enough to reach the top of the stand. Then set fire to the spirit of wine. The spirit of wine will yield a blueish, the taper a yellow flame. Observe therefore whether the flame of the taper (which is easily distinguished by its colour from the flame of the spirit of wine, since flames do not mix at once, as liquids do) remains in a conical or rather tends to a globular form, now that there is nothing to destroy or compress it. If the latter is found to be the case, it may be set down as certain that flame remains numerically identical as long as it is enclosed within other flame and feels not the antagonistic action of the air.
Let this suffice for Instances of the Fingerpost. I have dwelt on them at some length, to the end that men may gradually learn and accustom themselves to judge of nature by Instances of the Fingerpost and Experiments of Light, and not by probable reasonings.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the fifteenth place Instances of Divorce; which indicate the separation of natures of most familiar occurrence. They differ from the instances subjoined to the Instances of Companionship, in that the latter indicate the separation of a nature from some concrete substance with which it is ordinarily in conjunction, while these instances indicate the separation of one nature from another. They differ from Instances of the Fingerpost, in that they determine nothing, but simply notify the separability of one nature from another. Their use is to detect false forms, and to dissipate slight theories suggested by what lies on the surface, and so serve as ballast to the understanding.
For example, let the natures investigated be those four natures which Telesius accounts as messmates and chamber-fellows; namely, Heat, Brightness, Rarity, Mobility or promptness to motion. We find however many Instances of Divorce between them. For air is rare and mobile, not hot or bright; the moon is bright without heat; boiling water is hot without light; the motion of an iron needle on a pivot is quick and nimble, and yet the body is cold, dense and opaque; and there are many more of the kind.
[p. 191] Again, let the natures investigated be Corporeal Nature and Natural Action. For it seems that natural action is not found except as subsisting in some body. Yet in this case also we shall perhaps be able to find some Instance of Divorce; such, for example, as magnetic action, by which iron is drawn to the magnet, heavy bodies to the globe of the earth. There may also be added some other operations performed at a distance. For such action takes place both in time, occupying moments not a mere instant of time; and in space, passing through degrees and distances. There is therefore some moment of time, and some distance of space, in which the virtue or action remains suspended between the two bodies which produce the motion. The question therefore is brought to this; whether the bodies which are the limits of the motion dispose or alter the intermediate bodies, so that by a succession of actual contacts the virtue passes from limit to limit, meanwhile subsisting in the intermediate body; or whether there is no such thing, but only the bodies, the virtue, and the distances. In rays of light indeed, and sounds, and heat, and certain other things acting at a distance, it is probable that the intermediate bodies are disposed and altered; the more so, because they require a medium qualified for carrying on the operation. But that magnetic or attractive virtue admits of media without distinction, nor is the virtue impeded in any kind of medium. And if the virtue or action has nothing to do with the intermediate body, it follows that there is a natural virtue or action subsisting for a certain time and in a certain space without a body; since it neither subsists in the limiting nor in the intermediate bodies. And therefore magnetic action may be an Instance of Divorce between corporeal nature and natural action. To which may be appended as a corollary or advantage not to be omitted, that here is a proof furnished by merely human philosophy of the existence of essences and substances separate from matter and incorporeal. For allow that a natural virtue and action, emanating from a body, can exist for a certain time and in a certain space altogether without a body, and you are not far from allowing that it can also emanate originally from an incorporeal substance. For corporeal nature appears to be no less requisite for sustaining and conveying natural action, than for exciting or generating it.
[p. 192] Now follow five classes of instances which under one general name I call Instances of the Lamp, or of First Information. They are those which aid the senses. For since all Interpretation of Nature commences with the senses, and leads from the perceptions of the senses by a straight, regular, and guarded path to the perceptions of the understanding, which are true notions and axioms, it follows of necessity that the more copious and exact the representations of the senses, the more easily and prosperously will everything proceed.
Of these five Instances of the Lamp, the first strengthen, enlarge, and rectify the immediate actions of the senses; the second make manifest things which are not directly perceptible by means of others which are; the third indicate the continued processes or series of those things and motions which are for the most part unobserved except in their end or periods; the fourth provide the sense with some substitute when it utterly fails; the fifth excite the attention and notice of the sense, and at the same time set bounds to the subtlety of things. Of these I shall now speak in their order.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the sixteenth place Instances of the Door or Gate, this being the name I give to instances which aid the immediate actions of the senses. Now of all the senses it is manifest that sight has the chief office in giving information. This is the sense therefore for which we must chiefly endeavour to procure aid. Now the aids to sight are of three kinds; it may be enabled to perceive objects that are not visible; to perceive them further off; and to perceive them more exactly and distinctly.
Of the first kind (not to speak of spectacles and the like, which serve only to correct or relieve the infirmity of a defective vision, and therefore give no more information) are those recently invented glasses which disclose the latent and invisible minutiae of bodies, and their hidden configurations and motions, by greatly increasing their apparent size; instruments by the aid of which the exact shape and outline of body in a flea, a fly, a worm, and also colours and motions before unseen, are not without astonishment discerned. It is also said that a straight line drawn with a pen or pencil is seen through such glasses to be very uneven and crooked; the fact being that [p. 193] neither the motion of the hand, though aided by a ruler, nor the impression of the ink or colour, is really even; although the unevenness is so minute that it cannot be detected without such glasses. And here (as is usual in things new and wonderful) a kind of superstitious observation has been added; viz. that glasses of this sort do honour to the works of nature, but dishonour to the works of art. The truth however is only this, that natural textures are far more subtle than artificial. For the microscope, the instrument I am speaking of, is only available for minute objects; so that if Democritus had seen one, he would perhaps have leaped for joy, thinking a way was now discovered of discerning the atom which, he had declared to be altogether invisible. The incompetency however of such glasses, except for minutiae alone, and even for them when existing in a body of considerable size, destroys the use of the invention. For if it could be extended to larger bodies, or to the minutiae of larger bodies, so that the texture of a linen cloth could be seen like network, and thus the latent minutiae and inequalities of gems, liquors, urine, blood, wounds, &c. could be distinguished, great advantages might doubtless be derived from the discovery.
Of the second kind are those other glasses discovered by the memorable efforts of Galileo, by the aid of which, as by boats or vessels, a nearer intercourse with the heavenly bodies can be be opened and carried on. For these show us that the milky way is a group or cluster of small stars entirely separate and distinct; of which fact there was but a bare suspicion among the ancients. They seem also to point out that the spaces of the planetary orbits, as they are called, are not altogether destitute of other stars, but that the heaven begins to be marked with stars before we come to the starry sphere itself; although with stars too small to be seen without these glasses. With this instrument we can descry those small stars wheeling as in a dance round the planet Jupiter; whence it may be conjectured that there are several centres of motion among the stars. With this the inequalities of light and shade in the moon are more distinctly seen and placed; so that a sort of selenography can be made. With this we descry spots in the sun, and similar phenomena; all indeed noble discoveries, so far as we may safely trust to demonstrations of this kind; which I regard with suspicion chiefly because the experiment stops with these [p. 194] few discoveries, and many other things equally worthy of investigation are not discovered by the same means.
Of the third kind are measuring rods, astrolabes, and the like; which do not enlarge the sense of sight, but rectify and direct it. And if there are other instances which aid the remaining senses in their immediate and individual actions, and yet are of a kind which add nothing to the information already possessed, they are not to the present purpose; and therefore I have omitted to mention them.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the seventeenth place Summoning Instances, borrowing the name from the courts of law; because they summon objects to appear which have not appeared before; I also call them Evoking Instances. They are those which reduce the non-sensible to the sensible; that is, make manifest things not directly perceptible by means of others which are.
An object escapes the senses, either on account of its distance or on account of the interposition of intermediate bodies; or because it is not fitted for making an impression on the sense; or because it is not sufficient in quantity to strike the sense; or because there is not time enough for it to act on the sense; or because the impression of the object is such as the sense cannot bear; or because the sense has been previously filled and occupied by another object, so that there is not room for a new motion. These cases have reference principally to the sight, and secondarily to the touch. For these two senses give information at large, and concerning objects in general; whereas the other three give no information hardly, but what is immediate and relates to their proper objects.
In the first kind, where an object is imperceptible by reason of its distance, there is no way of manifesting it to the sense but by joining to it or substituting for it some other object which may challenge and strike the sense from, a greater distance; as in communication by beacons, bells, and the like.
In the second kind, this reduction or secondary manifestation is effected when objects that are concealed by the interposition of bodies within which they are enclosed, and cannot conveniently be opened out, are made manifest to the sense by means of those parts of them which lie on the surface, or make [p. 195] their way from the interior. Thus the condition of the human body is known by the state of the pulse, urine, and the like.
In the third and fourth kind, reductions are applicable to a great many things, and in the investigations of nature should be sought for on all sides. For example, it is obvious that air and spirit, and like bodies, which in their entire substance are rare and subtle, can neither be seen nor touched. Therefore in the investigation of bodies of this kind it is altogether necessary to resort to reductions.
Thus let the nature in question be the Action and Motion of the Spirit enclosed in tangible bodies. For everything tangible that we are acquainted with contains an invisible and intangible spirit, which it wraps and clothes as with a garment. Hence that three-fold source, so potent and wonderful, of the process of the spirit in a tangible body. For the spirit in a tangible substance, if discharged, contracts bodies and dries them up; if detained, softens and melts them; if neither wholly discharged nor wholly detained, gives them shape, produces limbs, assimilates, digests, ejects, organises, and the like. And all these processes are made manifest to the sense by conspicuous effects.
For in every tangible inanimate body the enclosed spirit first multiplies itself, and as it were feeds upon those tangible parts which are best disposed and prepared for that purpose; and so digests and elaborates and turns them into spirit; and then they escape together. Now this elaboration and multiplication of the spirit is made manifest to the sense by diminution of weight. For in all desiccation there is some decrease of quantity; not only of the quantity of spirit previously existing in the body, but also of the body itself, which was before tangible and is newly changed; for spirit is without weight. Now the discharge or emission of the spirit is made manifest to the sense in the rust of metals and other similar putrefactions, which stop short before they come to the rudiments of life; for these belong to the third kind of process. For in compact bodies the spirit finds no pores or passages through which to escape, and is therefore compelled to push and drive before it the tangible parts themselves, so that they go out along with it; whence proceed rust and the like. On the other hand the contraction of the tangible parts, after some of the spirit is discharged (upon which desiccation ensues), is made manifest to [p. 196] the sense not only by the increased hardness of the body, but much more by the rents, contractions, wrinklings, and shrivellings in the body which thereupon take place. For the parts of wood split asunder and are contracted; skins shrivel; and not only that, but if the spirit is suddenly discharged by the heat of fire, they hasten so fast to contraction as to curl and roll themselves up.
On the contrary, where the spirit is detained, and yet expanded and excited by heat or something analogous thereto (as happens in the more solid or tenacious bodies), then are bodies softened, as iron white hot; or they become fluid, as metals; or liquid, as gums, wax, and the like. Thus the contrary operations of heat, which hardens some substances and melts others, are easily reconciled; since in the former the spirit is discharged, in the latter it is excited and detained; whereof the melting is the proper action of the heat and spirit; the hardening is the action of the tangible parts only on occasion of the discharge of the spirit.
But when the spirit is neither wholly detained nor wholly discharged, but only makes trials and experiments within its prison-house, and meets with tangible parts that are obedient and ready to follow, so that whithersoever the spirit leads they go along with it, then ensues the forming of an organic body, and the development of organic parts, and all the other vital actions as well in vegetable as in animal substances. And these operations are made manifest to the sense chiefly by careful observation of the first beginnings and rudiments or essays of life in animalculae generated from putrefaction; as in ants’ eggs, worms, flies, frogs after rain, &c. There is required however for the production of life both mildness in the heat and pliancy in the substance, that the spirit may neither be so hurried as to break out, nor be confined by the obstinacy of the parts; but may rather be able to mould and model them like wax.
Again, that most noble distinction of spirit which has so many applications (viz. spirit cut off; spirit simply branching; spirit at once branching and cellulate; of which the first is the spirit of all inanimate substances, the second of vegetables, the third of animals), is brought as it were before the eyes by several instances of this kind of reduction.
In like manner it appears that the more subtle textures and [p. 197] configurations of things (though the entire body be visible or tangible) are perceptible neither to the sight nor touch. And therefore in these also our information comes by way of reduction. Now the most radical and primary difference between configurations is drawn from the abundance or scantiness of the matter occupying the same space or dimensions. For all other configurations (which have reference to the dissimilarity of the parts contained in the same body, and to their collocation and position) are but secondary in comparison with the former.
Thus let the nature in question be the Expansion or Coition of Matter in bodies compared one with another; viz. how much matter occupies how much space in each. For there is nothing more true in nature than the twin propositions, that “nothing is produced from nothing,” and “nothing is reduced to nothing,” but that the absolute quantum or sum total of matter remains unchanged, without increase or diminution. Nor is it less true that of that quantum of matter more or less is contained under the same space or dimensions according to the diversity of bodies; as in water more, in air less; so that to assert that a given volume of water can be changed into an equal volume of air is as much as to say that something can be reduced to nothing; as on the other hand to maintain that a given volume of air can be turned into an equal volume of water, is the same as to say that something can be produced out of nothing. And it is from this abundance and scantiness of matter, that the abstract notions of Dense and Rare, though variously and promiscuously used, are properly speaking derived. We must also take for granted a third proposition which is also sufficiently certain; viz. that this greater or less quantity of matter in this or that body is capable of being reduced by comparison to calculation and to exact or nearly exact proportions. Thus one would be justified in asserting that in any given volume of gold there is such an accumulation of matter, that spirit of wine, to make up an equal quantity of matter, would require twenty-one times the space occupied by the gold.
Now the accumulation of matter and its proportions are made manifest to the sense by means of weight. For the weight answers to the quantity of matter, in the parts of a tangible body; whereas spirit and the quantum of matter which it contains cannot be computed by weight; for it rather [p. 198] diminishes the weight than increases it. But I have drawn up a very accurate Table on this subject; in which I have noted down the weights and volumes of all the metals, the principal stones, woods, liquors, oils, and many other bodies as well natural as artificial; a thing of great use in many ways, as well for light of information as for direction in practice; and one that discloses many things quite beyond expectation. Not the least important of which is this—it shows that all the variety in tangible bodies known to us (such bodies I mean as are tolerably compact and not quite spongy and hollow, and chiefly filled with air) does not exceed the limit of the ratio of 1 to 21:—so limited is nature, or at any rate that part of it with which we have principally to do.
I have also thought it worth while to try whether the proportions can be calculated which intangible or pneumatic bodies bear to bodies tangible. This I attempted by the following contrivance. I took a glass phial, capable of holding about an ounce; using a small vessel, that less heat might be required to produce evaporation. This phial I filled with spirit of wine almost to the neck; selecting spirit of wine, because I found by the former Table that of all tangible bodies (which are well united and not hollow) this is the rarest, and contains the least quantity of matter in a given space. After that, I noted exactly the weight of the spirit and phial together. I then took a bladder, capable of holding about a quart; from which I squeezed out, as well as I could, all the air, until the two sides of the bladder met. The bladder I had previously rubbed over gently with oil, to make it closer; and having thus stopped up the pores, if there were any, I inserted the mouth of the phial within the mouth of the bladder, and tied the latter tightly round the former with a thread, smeared with wax in order that it might stick more closely and tie more firmly. After this I set the phial on a chafing dish of hot coals. Presently the steam or breath of the spirit of wine, which was dilated and rendered pneumatic by the heat, began gradually to expand the bladder, and swelled it out on all sides like a sail. When this took place, I immediately took the glass off the fire placing it on a carpet, that it might not crack with the cold; at the same time making a hole in the bladder, lest the steam should turn liquid again on the cessation of the heat, and so disturb the calculations. I then removed the bladder, and [p. 199] weighing the spirit of wine which remained, computed how much had been converted into steam or air. Then comparing the space which the body had occupied while it was spirit of wine in the phial, with the space which it afterwards occupied when it had become pneumatic in the bladder, I computed the results; which showed clearly, that the body had acquired by the change a degree of expansion a hundred times greater that it had had before.
Again, let the nature in question be Heat or Cold, in a degree too weak to be perceptible to the sense. These are made manifest to the sense by a calendar glass such as I have described above. For the heat and cold are not themselves perceptible to the touch, but the heat expands the air, and the cold contracts it. Nor again is this expansion and contraction of the air perceptible to the sight; but the expansion of the air depresses the water, the contraction raises it; and so at last is made manifest to the sight; not before, nor otherwise.
Again, let the nature in question be the Mixture of Bodies; viz. what they contain of water, oil, spirit, ash, salt, and the like; or (to take a particular instance) what quantity of butter, curd, whey, &c., is contained in milk. These mixtures, so far as relates to tangible elements, are made manifest to the sense by artificial and skilful separations. But the nature of the spirit in them, though not immediately perceived, is yet discovered by the different motions and efforts of the tangible bodies in the very act and process of their separation; and also by the acridities and corrosions, and by the different colours, smells, and tastes of the same bodies after separation. And in this department men have laboured hard, it is true, with distillations and artificial separations, but not with much better success than in the other experiments which have been hitherto in use; for they have but groped in the dark, and gone by blind ways, and with efforts painstaking rather than intelligent; and (what is worst of all) without attempting to imitate or emulate nature, but rather destroying by the use of violent heats and over-strong powers all that more subtle configuration in which the occult virtues and sympathies of things chiefly reside. Nor do they remember or observe, while making such separations, the circumstance which I have elsewhere pointed out,—namely, that when bodies are tormented by fire or other means, many qualities are communicated by the fire itself, and [p. 200] by the bodies employed to effect the separation, which did not exist previously in the compound; whence strange fallacies have arisen. For it must not be supposed that all the vapour which is discharged from water by the action of fire, was formerly vapour or air in the body of the water; the fact being that the greatest part of it was created by the expansion of the water from the heat of the fire.
So in general, all the nice tests of bodies whether natural or artificial, by which the genuine are distinguished from the adulterated, the better from the viler sort, should be referred to this division; for they make manifest to the sense things not directly perceptible, by means of those which are. They should therefore be sought and collected from all quarters with diligent care.
With regard to the fifth way in which objects escape the sense, it is obvious that the action of sense takes place in motion, and that motion takes place in time. If therefore the motion of any body be either so slow or so quick that it bears no proportion to the moments which the sense takes to act in, the object is not perceived at all; as in the motion of the hand of a clock, and again in the motion of a musket ball. Now motion which is too slow to be perceived is easily and usually made manifest to the sense by means of aggregates of motion. Motion which is too quick has not hitherto been competently measured; and yet the investigation of nature requires that this be done in some cases.
In the sixth kind, where the sense is hindered by the too great power of the object, the reduction may be effected either by removing the object to a greater distance from the sense; or by deadening its effects by the interposition of a medium which will weaken without annihilating the object; or by admitting and receiving the reflexion of the object, where the direct impression is too powerful; as that of the sun for instance in a basin of water.
The seventh cause, where the sense is so charged with one object that it has no room for the admission of another, is almost wholly confined to the sense of smell, and has little to do with the matter in hand. So much then for the reduction of the non-sensible to the sensible,—or the modes of making manifest to the sense things not directly perceptible by means of others which are.
[p. 201] Sometimes however the reduction is made not to the sense of a man, but of some other animal, whose sense in some cases is keener than man’s; as of certain scents to the sense of a dog; of the light which is latent in air when not illumined from without to the sense of a cat, owl, and similar animals, which see in the dark. For Telesius has justly observed, that there is in the air itself a certain original light, though faint and weak, and hardly of any use to the eyes of men and most animals; inasmuch as animals to whose sense this light is adapted see in the dark, which it is hardly to be believed they do either without light, or by a light within.
Observe also, that at present I am dealing with the deficiencies of the senses and their remedies. The deceptions of the senses must be referred to the particular inquiries concerning sense and the objects of sense; excepting only that grand deception of the senses, in that they draw the lines of nature with reference to man and not with reference to the universe; and this is not to be corrected except by reason and universal philosophy.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the eighteenth place Instances of the Road; which I also call Travelling Instances and Articulate Instances. They are those which point out the motions of nature in their gradual progress. This class of instances escapes the observation rather than the sense. For it is strange how careless men are in this matter; for they study nature only by fits and at intervals, and when bodies are finished and completed, not while she is at work upon them. Yet if any one were desirous of examining and studying the contrivances and industry of an artificer, he would not be content with beholding merely the rude materials of the art, and then the completed works; but would rather wish to be present while the artificer was at his labours and carrying his work on. And a like course should be taken with the investigation of nature. For instance, if we are inquiring into the vegetation of plants, we must begin from the very sowing of the seed, and observe (as we may easily do, by taking out day after day the seeds that have lain in the ground two days, three days, four days, and so on, and carefully examining them) how and when the seed begins to puff and swell, and to be as it were filled with spirit; secondly, how it [p. 202] begins to burst the skin and put forth fibres, at the same time raising itself slightly upwards, unless the ground be very stiff; also, how it puts forth its fibres, some for the root downwards, and some for the stem upwards, and sometimes also creeping sideways, if it there finds the ground more open and yielding; with many other things of the kind. In the same way we should examine the hatching of eggs, in which we might easily observe the whole process of vivification and organisation, and see what parts proceed from the yolk, and what from the white of the egg, and so forth. A similar course should be taken with animals generated from putrefaction. For to prosecute such inquiries concerning perfect animals by cutting out the foetus from the womb would be too inhuman, except when opportunities are afforded by abortions, the chase, and the like. There should therefore be set a sort of night watch over nature, as showing herself better by night than by day. For these may be regarded as night studies by reason of the smallness of our candle and its continual burning.
The same too should be attempted with inanimate substances; as I have done myself in investigating the expansion of liquids by fire. For there is one mode of expansion in water, another in wine, another in vinegar, another in verjuice; and quite another in milk and oil; as was easily to be seen by boiling them over a slow fire, and in a glass vessel, in which everything may be clearly distinguished. These matters however I touch but briefly; meaning to treat of them more fully and exactly when I come to the discovery of the Latent Process of things. For it should all along be borne in mind that in this place I am not handling the things themselves, but only giving examples.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the nineteenth place Supplementary or Substitutive Instances; which I also call Instances of Refuge. They are those which supply information when the senses entirely fail us; and therefore we fly to them when appropriate instances are not to be had. Now Substitution is made in two ways; either by gradual approximation or by analogy. To take an example. There is no medium known by the interposition of which the operation of the magnet in drawing iron is entirely prevented. Gold placed between does [p. 203] not stop it, nor silver, nor stone, nor glass, wood, water, oil, cloth or fibrous substances, air, flame, &c. But yet by nice tests some medium may possibly be found to deaden its virtue more than any other; comparatively, that is, and in some degree. Thus it may be that the magnet would not attract iron as well through a mass of gold, as through an equal space of air, or through ignited silver as well as through cold; and so in other cases. For I have not made the trial myself in these cases. It is enough to propose such experiments by way of example. Again there is no body we are acquainted with which does not contract heat on being brought near the fire. And yet air contracts heat much more quickly than stone. Such is the Substitution which is made by gradual approximation.
Substitution by analogy is doubtless useful, but is less certain, and should therefore be applied with some judgment. It is employed, when things not directly perceptible are brought within reach of the sense, not by perceptible operations of the imperceptible body itself, but by observation of some cognate body which is perceptible. For example, suppose we are inquiring into the Mixture of Spirits, which are invisible bodies; there seems to be a certain affinity between bodies and the matter that feeds or nourishes them. Now the food of flame seems to be oil and fat substances; of air, water and watery substances; for flame multiplies itself over exhalations of oil, air over the vapour of water. We should therefore look to the mixture of water and oil, which manifests itself to the sense; since the mixture of air and flame escapes the sense. Now oil and water, which are mingled together very imperfectly by composition or agitation, are in herbs and blood and the parts of animals, very subtly and finely mingled. It is possible therefore that something similar may be the case with the mixture of flame and air in pneumatic bodies; which, though not readily mingling by simple commixture, yet seem to be mingled together in the spirits of plants and animals; especially as all animate spirit feeds on moist substances of both kinds, watery and fat, as its proper food.
Again, if the inquiry be not into the more perfect mixtures of pneumatic bodies, but simply into their composition; that is, whether they be readily incorporated together; or whether there be not rather, for example, certain winds and exhalations or other pneumatic bodies which do not mix with common air, [p. 204] but remain suspended and floating therein in globules and drops; and are rather broken and crushed by the air than admitted into or incorporated with it; this is a thing which cannot be made manifest to the senses in common air and other pneumatic bodies, by reason of their subtlety; yet how far the thing may take place we may conceive, by way of image or representation, from what takes place in such liquids as quicksilver, oil, or water; and likewise from the breaking up of air when it is dispersed in water and rises in little bubbles; and again in the thicker kinds of smoke; and lastly in dust raised and floating in the air; in all of which cases no incorporation takes place. Now the representation I have described is not a bad one for the matter in question, provided that diligent inquiry has been first made whether there can be such a heterogeneity in pneumatic bodies as we find there is in liquids; for if there can, then these images by analogy may not inconveniently be substituted.
But with regard to these Supplementary Instances, although I stated that information was to be derived from them in the absence of instances proper, as a last resource; yet I wish it to be understood that they are also of great use, even when proper instances are at hand; for the purpose, I mean, of corroborating the information which the others supply. But I shall treat of them more fully, when I come in due course to speak of the Supports of Induction.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the twentieth place Dissecting Instances; which I also call Awakening Instances, but for a different reason. I call them Awakening, because they awaken the understanding; Dissecting, because they dissect nature; for which reason also I sometimes call them Democritean. They are those which remind the understanding of the wonderful and exquisite subtlety of nature, so as to stir it up and awaken it to attention and observation and due investigation. Such, for example, as these following: that a little drop of ink spreads to so many letters or lines; that silver gilt stretches to such a length of gilt wire; that a tiny worm, such as we find in the skin, possesses in itself both spirit and a varied organisation; that a little saffron tinges a whole hogshead of water; that a little civet or musk scents a [p. 205] much larger volume of air; that a little incense raises such a cloud of smoke; that such exquisite differences of sounds, as articulate words, are carried in every direction through the air, and pierce even, though considerably weakened, through the holes and pores of wood and water; and are moreover echoed back, and that too with such distinctness and velocity; that light and colour pass through the solid substances of glass and water so speedily, and in so wide an extent, and with such copious and exquisite variety of images, and are also refracted and reflected; that the magnet acts through bodies of all sorts, even the most compact; and yet (which is more strange) that in all these, passing as they do through an indifferent medium (such as the air is), the action of one does not much interfere with the action of another; that is to say, that at the same time there are carried through spaces of air so many images of visible objects, so many impressions of articulate sound, so many distinct odours, as of a violet, rose, &c.; moreover heat and cold, and magnetic influences; all (I say) at once without impeding one another, just as if they had their own roads and passages set apart, and none ever struck or ran against other.
To these Dissecting Instances it is useful however to subjoin instances which I call Limits of Dissection; as that in the cases above mentioned, though one action does not disturb or impede another action of a different kind; yet one action does overpower and extinguish another action of the same kind; as the light of the sun extinguishes that of a glowworm; the report of a cannon drowns the voice; a strong scent overpowers a more delicate one; an intense heat a milder one; a plate of iron interposed between a magnet and another piece of iron destroys the action of the magnet. But this subject also will find its proper place among the Supports of Induction.
So much for instances which aid the senses; instances which are chiefly useful for the Informative Part of our subject. For information commences with the senses. But the whole business terminates in Works; and as the former is the beginning, so the latter is the end of the matter. I will proceed therefore with the instances which are preeminently useful for the Operative Part. They are of two kinds, and seven in number, though I call them all by the general name of Practical [p. 206] Instances. In the Operative Part there are two defects, and two corresponding prerogatives of instances. For operation either fails us or it overtasks us. The chief cause of failure in operation (especially after natures have been diligently investigated) is the ill determination and measurement of the forces and actions of bodies. Now the forces and actions of bodies are circumscribed and measured, either by distances of space, or by moments of time, or by concentration of quantity, or by predominance of virtue; and unless these four things have been well and carefully weighed, we shall have sciences, fair perhaps in theory, but in practice inefficient. The four instances which are useful in this point of view I class under one head as Mathematical Instances and Instances of Measurement.
Operation comes to overtask us, either through the admixture of useless matters, or through the multiplicity of instruments, or through the bulk of the material and of the bodies that may happen to be required for any particular work. Those instances therefore ought to be valued, which either direct practice to the objects most useful to mankind; or which save instruments; or which spare material and provision. The three instances which serve us here, I class together as Propitious or Benevolent Instances. These seven Instances I will now discuss separately, and with them conclude that division of my subject which relates to the Prerogatives or Bank of Instances.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the twenty-first place Instances of the Rod or Rule; which I also call Instances of Range or of Limitation. For the powers and motions of things act and take effect at distances, not indefinite or accidental, but finite and fixed; so that to ascertain and observe these distances in the investigation of the several natures is of the greatest advantage to practice, not only to prevent its failure but also to extend and increase its power. For we are sometimes enabled to extend the range of powers, and as it were to diminish distances; as for instance by the use of telescopes.
Most of these powers act and take effect only by manifest contact; as in the impact of two bodies, where the one does [p. 207] not move the other from its place unless they touch each other. Also medicines that are applied externally, as ointments or plasters, do not exert their virtues without touching the body. Finally the objects of the taste and touch do not strike those senses unless they be contiguous to the organs.
There are also powers which act at a distance, though a very small one; and of these only a few have been hitherto observed, albeit there are many more than men suspect; as (to take common examples) when amber or jet attracts straws; bubbles dissolve bubbles on being brought together; certain purgative medicines draw humours downwards, and the like. So too the magnetic power by which iron and a magnet, or two magnets, are made to meet, operates within a fixed but narrow sphere of action; but if there be any magnetic virtue flowing from the earth (a little below the surface), and acting on a steel needle in respect of its polarity, the action operates at a great distance.
Again, if there be any magnetic power which operates by consent between the globe of the earth and heavy bodies, or between the globe of the moon and the waters of the sea (as seems highly probable in the semi-menstrual ebbs and floods), or between the starry sphere and the planets, whereby the latter are attracted to their apogees; all these must operate at very great distances. There are found also certain materials which catch fire a long way off; as we are told the naphtha of Babylon does. Heat also insinuates itself at great distances; as also does cold; insomuch that by the inhabitants of Canada the masses of ice that break loose and float about the northern ocean, and are borne through the Atlantic towards that coast, are perceived at a great distance by the cold they give out. Perfumes also (though in these there appears to be always a certain corporeal discharge) act at remarkable distances; as those find who sail along the coasts of Florida, or some parts of Spain, where there are whole woods of lemon and orange and like odoriferous trees, or thickets of rosemary, marjoram, and the like. Lastly the radiations of light and impressions of sound operate at vast distances.
But whether the distances at which these powers act be great or small, it is certain that they are all finite and fixed in the nature of things, so that there is a certain limit never exceeded; and a limit which depends either on the mass or quantity of matter in the bodies acted on; or on the strength or [p. 208] weakness of the powers acting; or on the helps or hindrances presented by the media in which they act; all which things should be observed and brought to computation. Moreover the measurements of violent motions (as they are called), as of projectiles, guns, wheels, and the like, since these also have manifestly their fixed limits, should be observed and computed.
There are found also certain motions and virtues of a contrary nature to those which operate by contact and not at a distance; namely, those which operate at a distance and not by contact; and again those which operate more feebly at a less distance, and more powerfully at a greater. The act of sight for instance is not well performed in contact, but requires a medium and a distance. Yet I remember being assured by a person of veracity that he himself under an operation for the cataract, when a small silver needle was inserted within the first coat of the eye in order to remove the pellicle of the cataract and push it into a corner, saw most distinctly the needle passing over the very pupil. But though this may be true, it is manifest that large bodies are not well or distinctly seen except at the vertex of a cone, the rays from the object converging at a certain distance from it. Moreover, old people see objects better at a little distance than if quite close. In projectiles too it is certain that the impact is not so violent at too small a distance as it is a little further off. These therefore and like things should be observed in the measurements of motions with regard to distances.
There is also another kind of local measurement of motions which must not be omitted. This has to do with motions not progressive, but spherical; that is, with the expansion of bodies into a greater sphere or their contraction into a less. For among our measurements of motions we must inquire what degree of compression or extension bodies (according to their nature) easily and freely endure, and at what point they begin to resist, till at last they will bear no more. Thus when a blown bladder is compressed, it allows a certain compression of the air, but if the compression be increased, the air does not endure it, and the bladder bursts.
But this same thing I have tested more accurately by a subtle experiment. I took a small bell of metal, light and thin, such as is used for holding salt, and plunged it into a basin of water, so that it carried down with it the air contained in its [p. 209] cavity to the bottom of the basin; where I had previously placed a small globe, on which the bell was to light. I found then that if the globe was small enough in proportion to the cavity, the air contracted itself into a less space, and was simply squeezed together, not squeezed out. But if it was too large for the air to yield freely, then the air impatient of greater pressure raised the bell on one side, and rose to the surface in bubbles.
Again to test the extension, as well as compression, of which air was susceptible, I had recourse to the following device. I took a glass egg, with a small hole at one end of it, and having drawn out the air through the hole by violent suction, I immediately stopt up the hole with my finger, and plunged the egg into water, and then took away my finger. The air having been extended by the suction and dilated beyond its natural dimensions, and therefore struggling to contract itself again (so that if the egg had not been plunged into the water, it would have drawn in air with a hissing sound), now drew in water in sufficient quantities to allow the air to recover its old sphere or dimension.
Now it is certain that the rarer bodies (such as air) allow a considerable degree of contraction, as has been stated; but that tangible bodies (such as water) suffer compression with much greater difficulty, and to a less extent. How far they do suffer it, I have investigated in the following experiment. I had a hollow globe of lead made, capable of holding about two pints, and sufficiently thick to bear considerable force. Having made a hole in it, I filled it with water, and then stopt up the hole with melted lead, so that the globe became quite solid. I then flattened two opposite sides of the globe with a heavy hammer, by which the water was necessarily contracted into less space; a sphere being the figure of largest capacity. And when the hammering had no more effect in making the water shrink, I made use of a mill or press; till the water impatient of further pressure exuded though the solid lead like a fine dew. I then computed the space lost by the compression, and concluded that this was the extent of compression which the water had suffered; but only when constrained by great violence.
But the compression or extension endured by more solid, dry, or more compact bodies, such as wood, stones and metals, [p. 210] is still less than this, and scarcely perceptible. For they free themselves either by breaking, or by moving forward, or by other efforts; as is apparent in the bending of wood or metal, in clocks moving by springs, in projectiles, hammerings, and numberless other motions. And all these things with their measures should in the investigation of nature be explored and set down, either in their certitude, or by estimate, or by comparison, as the case will admit.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the twenty-second place Instances of the Course; which I also call Instances of the Water; borrowing the term from the hourglasses of the ancients, which contained water instead of sand. These measure nature by periods of time, as the Instances of the Rod by degrees of space. For all motion or natural action is performed in time; some more quickly, some more slowly, but all in periods determined and fixed in the nature of things. Even those actions which seem to be performed suddenly and (as we say) in the twinkling of an eye, are found to admit of degree in respect of duration.
First then we see that the revolutions of heavenly bodies are accomplished in calculated times; as also the flux and reflux of the sea. The motion of heavy bodies to the earth, and of light bodies toward the heavens, is accomplished in definite periods, varying with the bodies moved and the medium through which they move. The sailing of ships, the movements of animals, the transmission of missiles, are all performed likewise in times which admit (in the aggregate) of measurement. As for heat, we see boys in winter time bathe their hands in flame without being burned, and jugglers by nimble and equable movements turn vessels full of wine or water upside down and then up again, without spilling the liquid; and many other things of a similar kind. The compressions also and expansions and eruptions of bodies are performed, some more quickly, some more slowly, according to the nature of the body and motion, but in certain periods. Moreover in the explosion of several guns at once, which are heard sometimes to the distance of thirty miles, the sound is caught by those who are near the spot where the discharge is made, sooner than by those who are at a greater distance. Even in sight, whereof the action is [p. 211] most rapid, it appears that there are required certain moments of time for its accomplishment; as is shown by those things which by reason of the velocity of their motion cannot be seen—as when a ball is discharged from a musket. For the ball flies past in less time than the image conveyed to the sight requires to produce an impression.
This fact, with others like it, has at times suggested to me a strange doubt; viz. whether the face of a clear and starlight sky be seen at the instant at which it really exists, and not a little later; and whether there be not, as regards our sight of heavenly bodies, a real time and an apparent time, just like the real place and apparent place which is taken account of by astronomers in the correction for parallaxes. So incredible did it appear to me that the images or rays of heavenly bodies could be conveyed at once to the sight through such an immense space, and did not rather take a perceptible time in travelling to us. But this suspicion as to any considerable interval between the real time and the apparent afterwards vanished entirely, when I came to think of the infinite loss and diminution of quantity which distance causes in appearance between the real body of the star and its seen image; and at the same time when I observed the great distance (sixty miles at the least) at which bodies merely white are instantly seen here on earth; while there is no doubt that the light of heavenly bodies exceeds many times over in force of radiation, not merely the vivid colour of whiteness, but also the light of every flame that is known to us. Again the immense velocity in the body itself as discerned in its daily motion (which has so astonished certain grave men that they preferred believing that the earth moved) renders this motion of ejaculation of rays therefrom (although wonderful, as I have said, in speed) more easy of belief. But what had most weight of all with me was, that if any perceptible interval of time were interposed between the reality and the sight, it would follow that the images would oftentimes be intercepted and confused by clouds rising in the meanwhile, and similar disturbances in the medium. And thus much for the simple measures of time.
But not only must we seek the measure of motions and actions by themselves, but much more in comparison; for this is of excellent use and very general application. Now we find that the flash of a gun is seen sooner than its report is heard; [p. 212] although the ball must necessarily strike the air before the flame behind it can get out; and this is owing it seems to the motion of light being more rapid than that of sound. We find too that visible images are received by the sight faster than they are dismissed; thus the strings of a violin, when struck by the finger, are to appearance doubled or tripled, because a new image is received before the old one is gone; which is also the reason why rings being spun round look like globes, and a lighted torch, carried hastily at night, seems to have a tail. And it was upon this inequality of motions in point of velocity that Galileo built his theory of the flux and reflux of the sea; supposing that the earth revolved faster than the water could follow; and that the water therefore first gathered in a heap and then fell down, as we see it do in a basin of water moved quickly. But this he devised upon an assumption which cannot be allowed, viz. that the earth moves; and also without being well informed as to the sexhorary motion of the tide.
But an example of the thing I am treating of, to wit, the comparative measures of motions,—and not only of the thing itself, but also of its eminent use (of which I spoke just now),—is conspicuous in mining with gunpowder; where vast masses of earth, buildings, and the like are upset and thrown into the air by a very small quantity of powder. The cause of which is doubtless this; that the motion of expansion in the impelling powder is quicker many times over than the motion of the resisting gravity; so that the first motion is over before the counter motion is begun, and thus at first the resistance amounts to nothing. Hence too it happens that in projectiles it is not the strong blow, but the sharp and quick, that carries the body furthest. Nor would it be possible for the small quantity of animal spirit in animals, especially in such huge creatures as the whale or elephant, to bend and guide such a vast mass of body, were it not for the velocity of the spirit’s motion, and the slowness of the bodily mass in exerting its resistance.
This one thing indeed is a principal foundation of the experiments in natural magic, of which I shall speak presently; wherein a small mass of matter overcomes and regulates a far larger mass; I mean the contriving that of two motions one shall by its superior velocity get the start and take effect before the other has time to act.
Lastly, this distinction of foremost and hindmost ought to be [p. 213] observed in every natural action. Thus in an infusion of rhubarb the purgative virtue is extracted first, the astringent afterwards. And something of the kind I have found on steeping violets in vinegar, where the sweet and delicate scent of the flower is extracted first, and then the more earthy part of the flower, which mars the scent. Therefore, if violets be steeped in vinegar for a whole day, the scent is extracted much more feebly; but if you keep them in for a quarter of an hour only and then take them out, and (since the scented spirit in violets is small) put in fresh violets every quarter of an hour as many as six times, the infusion is at last so enriched that although there have not been violets in the vinegar, however renewed, for more than an hour and a half altogether, there nevertheless remains in it a most grateful odour, as strong as the violet itself, for an entire year. It should be observed however that the odour does not gather its full strength, till after a month from the time of infusion. In the distillation too of aromatic herbs crushed in spirit of wine, it appears that there first rises an aqueous and useless phlegm; then a water containing more of the spirit of wine; and lastly, a water containing more of the aroma. And of this kind there are to be found in distillations a great many facts worthy of notice. But let these suffice for examples.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the twenty-third place Instances of Quantity; which (borrowing a term from medicine) I also call Doses of Nature. These are they which measure virtues according to the quantity of the bodies in which they subsist, and show how far the mode of the virtue depends upon the quantity of the body. And first there are certain virtues, which subsist only in a cosmical quantity; that is, such a quantity as has consent with the configuration and fabric of the universe. The earth for instance stands fast; its parts fall. The waters in seas ebb and flow; but not in rivers, except through the sea coming up. Secondly, almost all particular virtues act according to the greater or less quantity of the body. Large quantities of water corrupt slowly, small ones quickly. Wine and beer ripen and become fit to drink much more quickly in bottles than in casks. If an herb be steeped in a large quantity of liquid, infusion takes place [p. 214] rather than impregnation; if in a small, impregnation rather than infusion. Thus in its effect on the human body a bath is one thing, a slight sprinkling another. Light dews again never fall in the air, but are dispersed and incorporated with it. And in breathing on precious stones you may see the slight moisture instantly dissolved, like a cloud scattered by the wind. Once more, a piece of a magnet does not draw so much iron as the whole magnet. On the other hand there are virtues in which smallness of quantity has more effect; as in piercing, a sharp point pierces more quickly than a blunt one; a pointed diamond cuts glass, and the like.
But we must not stay here among indefinites, but proceed to inquire what proportion the Quantity of a Body bears to the Mode of its Virtue. For it would be natural to believe that the one was equal to the other; so that if a bullet of an ounce weight falls to the ground in a given time, a bullet of two ounces ought to fall twice as quickly; which is not the fact. Nor do the same proportions hold in all kinds of virtues, but widely different. These measures therefore must be sought from experiment, and not from likelihood or conjecture.
Lastly, in all investigation of nature the quantity of body—the Dose, as it were—required to produce any effect must be set down; and cautions as to the Too Little and Too Much be interspersed.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the twenty-fourth place Instances of Strife; which I also call Instances of Predominance. These indicate the mutual predominance and subjection of virtues; which of them is stronger and prevails, which of them is weaker and gives way. For the motions and efforts of bodies are compounded, decomposed, and complicated, no less than the bodies themselves. I will therefore first propound the principal kinds of motions or active virtues; in order that we may be able more clearly to compare them together in point of strength, and thereby to point out and designate more clearly the Instances of Strife and Predominance.
Let the First Motion be that motion of Resistance in matter which is inherent in each several portion of it, and in virtue of which it absolutely refuses to be annihilated; so that no fire, no weight or pressure, no violence, no length of time can reduce [p. 215] any portion of matter, be it ever so small, to nothing; but it will ever be something, and occupy some space; and, to whatever straits it may be brought, will free itself by changing either its form or its place; or if this may not be, will subsist as it is; and will never come to such a pass as to be either nothing or nowhere. This motion the Schoolmen (who almost always name and define things rather by effects and incapacities than by inner causes) either denote by the axiom “Two bodies cannot be in one place,” or call “The motion to prevent penetration of dimensions.” Of this motion it is unnecessary to give examples, as it is inherent in every body.
Let the Second Motion be what I call Motion of Connexion; by which bodies do not suffer themselves to be separated at any point from contact with another body; as delighting in mutual connexion and contact. This motion the Schoolmen call “Motion to prevent a vacuum,” as when water is drawn up by suction or in a pump; the flesh by cupping-glasses; or when water stops without running out in perforated jars, unless the mouth of the jar be opened to let in the air; and in numberless instances of a similar kind.
Let the Third Motion be what I call Motion of Liberty; by which bodies strive to escape from preternatural pressure or tension, and to restore themselves to the dimensions suitable to their nature. Of this motion also we have innumerable examples; such as (to speak first of escape from pressure) the motion of water in swimming, of air in flying, of water in rowing, of air in the undulations of winds, of a spring in clocks; of which we have also a pretty instance in the motion of the air compressed in children’s popguns, when they hollow out an alder twig or some such thing, and stuff it up at both ends with a piece of pulpy root or the like, and then with a ramrod thrust one of the roots or whatever the stuffing be towards the other hole, from which the root at the further end is discharged with a report; and that before it is touched by the nearer root or the ramrod. As for bodies escaping from tension, this motion displays itself in air remaining in glass eggs after suction; in strings, in leather and in cloth, which recoil after tension, unless it has gained too great strength by continuance; and in similar phenomena. This motion the Schoolmen refer to under the name of “Motion in accordance with the form of the Element;” an injudicious name enough, since it is a motion [p. 216] which belongs not only to fire, air and water, but to every variety of solid substance, as wood, iron, lead, cloth, parchment, &c.; each of which bodies has its own proper limit of dimension, out of which it cannot easily be drawn to any considerable extent. But since this Motion of Liberty is of all the most obvious, and is of infinite application, it would be a wise thing to distinguish it well and clearly. For some very carelessly confuse this motion with the two former motions of Resistance and Connexion; the motion, that is, of escape from pressure with the Motion of Resistance; of escape from tension with the Motion of Connexion; just as if bodies when compressed yield or expand, that there may not ensue penetration of dimensions; and, when stretched, recoil and contract, that there may not ensue a vacuum. Whereas if air when compressed had a mind to contract itself to the density of water, or wood to the density of stone, there would be no necessity for penetration of dimensions; yet there might be a far greater compression of these bodies, than they ever do actually sustain. In the same way, if water had a mind to expand to the rarity of air, or stone to the rarity of wood, there would be no need for a vacuum to ensue; and yet there might be effected a far greater extension of these bodies than they ever do actually sustain. Thus the matter is never brought to a penetration of dimensions or to a vacuum, except in the extreme limits of condensation and rarefaction; whereas the motions of which I speak stop far short of these limits, and are nothing more than desires which bodies have for preserving themselves in their consistencies (or, if the Schoolmen like, in their forms), and not suddenly departing therefrom, unless they be altered by gentle means, and with consent. But it is far more necessary (because much depends upon it) that men should know, that violent motion (which we call Mechanical, but which Democritus, who in expounding his primary motions is to be ranked even below second rate philosophers, called Motion of Stripe) is nothing more than this Motion of Liberty, that is, of escape from compression to relaxation. For either in a mere thrust, or in flight through the air, there occurs no movement or change of place, until the parts of the body moved are acted upon and compressed by the impelling body more than their nature will bear. Then indeed, when each part pushes against the next, one after the other, the whole is moved; and it not only moves forward, but [p. 217] revolves at the same time; the parts seeking in that way also to free themselves or to distribute the pressure more equally. And so much for this Motion.
Let the Fourth Motion be that to which I have given the name of the Motion of Matter; which is in some sort the converse of the last named motion. For in the Motion of Liberty bodies dread, loathe, and shun a new dimension, or a new sphere, or new expansion or contraction (which are all names for the same thing), and strive with all their might to recoil, and recover their old consistency. On the contrary in this Motion of Matter, bodies desire a new sphere or dimension, and aspire thereto readily and quickly, and sometimes, as in the case of gunpowder, with most violent effort. Now the instruments of this motion, not indeed the sole, but the most potent, or at any rate the most common, are heat and cold. For instance; air, if expanded by tension, as by suction in glass eggs, labours under a strong desire to recover itself. But if heat be applied, it longs on the contrary to expand, and desires a new sphere, and passes into it readily, as into a new form (so they phrase it); and after a certain degree of expansion cares not to return, unless invited thereto by the application of cold; which is not a return, but a renewed transmutation. In the same way water, if made to contract by pressure, resists and wishes to become such as it was, that is, larger. But if there intervene intense and continued cold, it changes itself spontaneously and gladly to the density of ice; and if the cold be continued long, without interruption from heat, as in grottoes and caverns of some depth, it turns to crystal or some similar material, and never recovers its form.
Let the Fifth Motion be the Motion of Continuity; by which I do not mean simple and primary continuity with some other body (for that is the Motion of Connexion), but self-continuity in a given body. For it is most certain that all bodies dread a solution of continuity; some more, some less, but all to a certain extent. For while in hard bodies, as steel or glass, the resistance to discontinuity is exceedingly strong; even in liquids, where it seems to disappear, or at all events to be very feeble, it is not altogether absent, but is certainly there, though in its lowest degree of power, and betrays itself in very many experiments; as in bubbles, in the roundness of drops, in the thin threads of droppings from roofs, in the tenacity of [p. 218] glutinous bodies, and the like. But most of all does this appetite display itself, if an attempt be made to extend the discontinuity to minute fragments. For in a mortar, after a certain amount of pulverisation, the pestle produces no further effect; water does not penetrate into minute chinks; even air itself, notwithstanding its subtlety, does not suddenly pass through the pores of solid vessels, but only after long insinuation.
Let the Sixth Motion be that which I call Motion for Gain, or Motion of Want. It is that by which bodies, when placed among quite heterogeneous and hostile bodies, if they find an opportunity of escaping from these and uniting themselves to others more cognate, (though these others be such as have no close union with them,) do nevertheless embrace the latter and choose them as preferable; and seem to view this connexion in the light of a gain (whence the term), as though they stood in need of such bodies. For instance, gold or any other metal in the leaf does not like the surrounding air. If therefore it meet with any thick tangible body, (as a finger, paper, what you will,) it instantly sticks to it and is not easily torn away. So too paper, cloth, and the like do not agree well with the air which is lodged in their pores. They are therefore glad to imbibe water or other moisture and eject the air. A piece of sugar too, or a sponge, if dipped at one end in water or wine, while the other stands out far above the surface, draws the water or the wine gradually upwards.
Hence we derive an excellent rule for opening and dissolving bodies. For (to say nothing of corrosives and strong waters which open for themselves a way) if there can be found a body proportioned to and more in harmony and affinity with a given solid body, than that with which it is, as of necessity, mixed, the solid body immediately opens and relaxes itself, and shutting out or ejecting the latter, receives the former into itself. Nor does this Motion for Gain act or exist only in immediate contact. For electricity (of which Gilbert and others after him have devised such stories) is nothing else than the appetite of a body when excited by gentle friction—an appetite which does not well endure the air, but prefers some other tangible body, if it be found near at hand.
Let the Seventh Motion be what I call the Motion of the Greater Congregation; by which bodies are carried towards masses of a like nature with themselves; heavy bodies to the [p. 219] globe of the earth, light to the compass of the heaven. This the Schoolmen have denoted by the name of Natural Motion; from superficial considerations; either because there was nothing conspicuous externally which could produce such motion (and therefore they supposed it to be innate and inherent in things themselves); or perhaps because it never ceases. And no wonder; for the earth and heaven are ever there, whereas the causes and origins of most other motions are sometimes absent, sometimes present. Accordingly this motion, because it ceases not, but when others cease is felt instantly, they deem perpetual and proper; all others adscititious. This motion however in point of fact is sufficiently weak and dull, being one which, except in bodies of considerable bulk, yields and succumbs to all other motions, as long as they are in operation. And though this motion has so filled men’s thoughts as to have put all others almost out of sight, yet it is but little that they know about it, being involved in many errors with regard to it.
Let the Eighth Motion be the Motion of the Lesser Congregation; by which the homogeneous parts in a body separate themselves from the heterogeneous, and combine together; by which also entire bodies from similarity of substance embrace and cherish each other, and sometimes are attracted and collected together from a considerable distance; as when in milk, after it has stood awhile, the cream rises to the top; while in wine the dregs sink to the bottom. For this is not caused by the motion of heaviness and lightness only, whereby some parts rise up and some sink down; but much more by a desire of the homogeneous parts to come together and unite in one. Now this motion differs from the Motion of Want in two points. One is that in the latter there is the stronger stimulus of a malignant and contrary nature; whereas in this motion (provided there be nothing to hinder or fetter it) the parts unite from friendship, even in the absence of a foreign nature to stir up strife. The other point is, that the union is here closer, and as it were with greater choice. In the former, if only the hostile body be avoided, bodies not closely related come together; whereas in the latter, substances are drawn together by the tie of close relationship, and as it were combine into one. And this motion resides in all composite bodies, and would readily show itself were it not bound and restrained by [p. 220] other appetites and necessities in the bodies, which interfere with the union in question.
Now the binding of this motion takes place generally in three ways; by the torpor of bodies; by the check of a dominant body; and by external motions. Now, for the torpor of bodies, it is certain that there resides in tangible substances a certain sluggishness, more or less, and an aversion from change of place; insomuch that, unless they be excited, they had rather remain as they are than change for the better. Now this torpor is shaken off by the help of three things; either by heat, or by the eminent virtue of some cognate body, or by lively and powerful motion. And as for the help of heat, it is for this reason that heat has been defined to be “that which separates Heterogeneous and congregates Homogeneous parts;” a definition of the Peripatetics justly derided by Gilbert, who says it is much the same as if a man were to be defined as that which sows wheat and plants vines—for that it is a definition simply by effects, and those particular. But the definition has a worse fault; inasmuch as these effects, such as they are, arise not from a peculiar property of heat, but only indirectly (for cold does the same, as I shall afterwards show); being caused by the desire of homogeneous parts to unite; heat simply aiding to shake off the torpor which had previously bound the desire. As for the help derived from the virtue of a cognate body, it is well seen in an armed magnet, which excites in iron the virtue of detaining iron by similarity of substance; the torpor of the iron being cast off by the virtue of the magnet. And as for help derived from motion, it is shown in wooden arrows, having their points also of wood, which penetrate more deeply into wood than if they were tipped with steel, owing to the similarity of substance; the torpor of the wood being shaken off by the rapid motion. Of these two experiments I have spoken also in the Aphorism on Clandestine Instances.
That binding of the motion of the Lesser Congregation which is caused by the restraint of a dominant body, is seen in the resolution of blood and urine by cold. For as long as those bodies are filled with the active spirit, which, as lord of the whole, orders and restrains the several parts of whatsoever sort, so long the homogeneous parts do not meet together on account of the restraint; but as soon as the spirit has evaporated, [p. 221] or been choked by cold, then the parts being freed from restraint meet together in accordance with their natural desire. And thus it happens that all bodies which contain an eager spirit (as salts and the like) remain as they are, and are not resolved; owing to the permanent and durable restraint of a dominant and commanding spirit.
That binding of the motion of Lesser Congregation which is caused by external motion, is most conspicuous in the shaking of bodies to prevent putrefaction. For all putrefaction depends on the assembling together of homogeneous parts; whence there gradually ensues the corruption of the old form, as they call it, and the generation of a new. For putrefaction, which paves the way for the generation of a new form, is preceded by a dissolution of the old; which is itself a meeting together of homogeneous parts. That indeed, if not impeded, is simple resolution; but if it be met by various obstacles, there follow putrefactions, which are the rudiments of a new generation. But if (which is the present question) a frequent agitation be kept up by external motion, then indeed this motion of uniting (which is a delicate and tender one, and requires rest from things without) is disturbed and ceases; as we see happen in numberless instances. For example, the daily stirring or flowing of water prevents it from putrefying; winds keep off pestilence in the air; corn turned and shaken in the granary remains pure; all things in short that are shaken outwardly are the slower to putrefy inwardly.
Lastly, I must not omit that meeting of the parts of bodies, which is the chief cause of induration and desiccation. For when the spirit, or moisture turned to spirit, has escaped from some porous body (as wood, bone, parchment, and the like), then the grosser parts are with stronger effort drawn and collected together; whence ensues induration or desiccation; which I take to be owing not so much to the Motion of Connexion, to prevent a vacuum, as to this motion of friendship and union.
As for the meeting of bodies from a distance, that is a rare occurrence, and yet it exists in more cases than are generally observed. We have illustrations of it when bubble dissolves bubble; when medicines draw humours by similarity of substance; when the chord of one violin makes the chord of another sound an unison, and the like. I suspect also that this motion prevails in the spirits of animals, though it be altogether [p. 222] unknown. At any rate it exists conspicuously in the magnet and magnetised iron. And now that we are speaking of the motions of the magnet, they ought to be carefully distinguished. For there are four virtues or operations in the magnet, which should not be confounded but kept apart; although the wonder and admiration of men have mixed them up together. The first is, the attraction of magnet to magnet, or of iron to magnet, or of magnetised iron to iron. The second is its polarity, and at the same time its declination. The third, its power of penetrating through gold, glass, stone, everything. The fourth, its power of communicating its virtue from stone to iron, and from iron to iron, without communication of substance. In this place however I am speaking only of the first of these virtues—that is, its attractive power. Remarkable also is the motion of attraction between quicksilver and gold; insomuch that gold attracts quicksilver, though made up into ointments; and men who work amid the vapours of quicksilver usually hold a piece of gold in their mouths, to collect the exhalations which would otherwise penetrate into their skulls and bones; by which also the piece of gold is presently turned white. And so much for the motion of the Lesser Congregation.
Let the Ninth Motion be the Magnetic; which, though it be of the same genus with the Motion of the Lesser Congregation, yet if it operates at great distances and on large masses, deserves a separate investigation; especially if it begin not with contact, as most, nor lead to contact, as all motions of congregation do; but simply raise bodies or make them swell, and nothing more. For if the moon raises the waters, or makes moist things swell; if the starry heaven attracts planets to their apogees; if the sun holds Venus and Mercury so that their elongations never exceed a certain distance; these motions seem to fall properly neither under the Greater nor the Lesser Congregation, but to be of a sort of intermediate and imperfect Congregation, and therefore ought to constitute a species by themselves.
Let the Tenth Motion be that of Flight; a motion the exact opposite of that of the Lesser Congregation; by which bodies from antipathy flee from and put to flight hostile bodies, and separate themselves from them, or refuse to mingle with them. For although in some cases this motion may seem to be an accident or a consequence of the motion of the lesser congregation, because the homogeneous parts cannot meet without dislodging [p. 223] and ejecting the heterogeneous, still it is a motion that should be classed by itself and formed into a distinct species, because in many cases the appetite of Flight is seen to be more dominant than the appetite of Union.
This motion is eminently conspicuous in the excretions of animals; and not less in objects odious to some of the senses, especially the smell and the taste. For a fetid odour is so rejected by the sense of smell as to induce by consent in the mouth of the stomach a motion of expulsion; a rough and bitter taste is so rejected by the palate or throat as to induce by consent a shaking of the head and a shudder. But this motion has place in other things also. It is observed in certain forms of reaction; as in the middle region of the air, where the cold seems to be the effect of the rejection of the nature of cold from the confines of the heavenly bodies; as also the great heats and burnings which are found in subterranean places, appear to be rejections of the nature of heat from the inner parts of the earth. For heat and cold, in small quantities, kill one another; but if they be in large masses, and as it were in regular armies, the result of the conflict is that they displace and eject each other in turn. It is also said that cinnamon and other perfumes retain their scent longer when placed near sinks and foul-smelling places, because they refuse to come out and mingle with stenches. It is certain that quicksilver, which of itself would reunite into an entire mass, is kept from doing so by spittle, hog’s lard, turpentine, and the like; owing to the ill consent which its parts have with such bodies, from which when spread around them they draw back; so that their desire to fly from these intervening bodies is more powerful than their desire of uniting with parts like themselves. And this is called the mortification of quicksilver. The fact also that oil does not mix with water is not simply owing to the difference of weight, but to the ill consent of these fluids; as may be seen from the fact that spirit of wine, though lighter than oil, yet mixes well enough with water. But most of all is the Motion of Flight conspicuous in nitre and such like crude bodies, which abhor flame; as in gunpowder, quicksilver, and gold. But the flight of iron from one pole of the magnet is well observed by Gilbert to be not a Flight strictly speaking, but a conformity and meeting in a more convenient situation.
Let the Eleventh Motion be that of Assimilation, or of [p. 224] Self-Multiplication, or again of simple Generation. By which I mean not the generation of integral bodies, as plants or animals, but of bodies of uniform texture. That is to say, by this motion such bodies convert others which are related, or at any rate well disposed to them, into their own substance and nature. Thus flame over vapours and oily substances multiplies itself and generates new flame; air over water and watery substances multiplies itself and generates new air; spirit, vegetable and animal, over the finer parts as well of watery as of oily substance in its food, multiplies itself and generates new spirit; the solid parts of plants and animals, as the leaf, flower, flesh, bone, and the like, severally assimilate new substance to follow and supply what is lost out of the juices of their food. For let no one adopt the wild fancy of Paracelsus, who (blinded I suppose by his distillations) will have it that nutrition is caused only by separation; and that in bread and meat lie eye, nose, brain, liver; in the moisture of the ground, root, leaf, and flower. For as the artist out of the rude mass of stone or wood educes, by separation and rejection of what is superfluous, leaf, flower, eye, nose, hand, foot, and the like; so, he maintains, does Archaeus, the internal artist, educe out of food by separation and rejection the several members and parts of our body. But to leave such trifles, it is most certain that the several parts, as well similar as organic, in vegetables and animals do first attract with some degree of selection the juices of their food, which are alike or nearly so for all, and then assimilate them and turn them into their own nature. Nor does this Assimilation or simple Generation take place only in animate bodies, but inanimate also participate therein, as has been stated of flame and air. Moreover the non-vital spirit, which is contained in every tangible animated substance, is constantly at work to digest the coarser parts and turn them into spirit, to be afterwards discharged; whence ensues diminution of weight and desiccation, as I have stated elsewhere. Nor must we set apart from Assimilation that accretion which is commonly distinguished from alimentation; as when clay between stones concretes and turns into a stony substance, or the scaly substance on the teeth turns into a substance as hard as the teeth themselves, and so on. For I am of opinion that there resides in all bodies a desire for Assimilation, as well as for uniting with homogeneous substances; but this virtue is bound, as is the [p. 225] other, though not by the same means. But these means, as well as the way of escape from them, ought to be investigated with all diligence, because they pertain to the rekindling of the vital power in old age. Lastly, it seems worthy of observation that in the nine motions of which I have spoken bodies seem to desire only the preservation of their nature, but in this tenth the propagation of it.
Let the Twelfth Motion be that of Excitation; a motion which seems to belong to the genus of Assimilation, and which I sometimes call by that name. For it is a motion diffusive, communicative, transitive, and multiplicative, as is the other; and agreeing with it generally in effect, though differing in the mode of effecting and in the subject matter. For the Motion of Assimilation proceeds as it were with authority and command; it orders and forces the assimilated body to turn into the assimilating. But the Motion of Excitation proceeds, so to speak, with art and by insinuation, and stealthily; simply inviting and disposing the excited body to the nature of the exciting. Again, the Motion of Assimilation multiplies and transforms bodies and substances; thus, more flame is produced, more air, more spirit, more flesh. But in the Motion of Excitation, virtues only are multiplied and transferred; more heat being engendered, more magnetic power, more putrefying. This motion is particularly conspicuous in heat and cold. For heat does not diffuse itself, in heating a body, by communication of the original heat, but simply by exciting the parts of the body to that motion which is the Form of Heat; of which I have spoken in the First Vintage concerning the Nature of Heat. Consequently heat is excited far more slowly and with far greater difficulty in stone or metal than in air, owing to the unfitness and unreadiness of those bodies to receive the motion; so that it is probable that there may exist materials in the bowels of the earth which altogether refuse to be heated, because through their greater condensation they are destitute of that spirit with which this Motion of Excitation generally begins. In like manner the magnet endues iron with a new disposition of its parts and a conformable motion, but loses nothing of its own virtue. Similarly leaven, yeast, curd, and certain poisons excite and invite a successive and continued motion in dough, beer, cheese, or the human body, not so much by the force of [p. 226] the exciting as by the predisposition and easy yielding of the excited body.
Let the Thirteenth Motion be the Motion of Impression; which also is of the same genus with the Motion of Assimilation, and is of diffusive motions the most subtle. I have thought fit however to make a distinct species of it, on account of a remarkable difference between it and the two former. For the simple Motion of Assimilation actually transforms the bodies themselves; so that you may take away the first mover, and there will be no difference in what follows. For the first kindling into flame, or the first turning into air, has no effect on the flame or air next generated. In like manner, the Motion of Excitation continues, after the first mover is withdrawn, for a very considerable time; as in a heated body, when the primary heat has been removed; in magnetised iron, when the magnet has been put away; in dough, when the leaven has been taken out. But the Motion of Impression, though diffusive and transitive, seems to depend for ever on the prime mover; so that if that be taken away or cease to act, it immediately fails and comes to an end; and therefore the effect must be produced in a moment, or at any rate in a very brief space of time. The Motions therefore of Assimilation and Excitation I call Motions of the Generation of Jupiter, because the generation continues; but this, the Motion of the Generation of Saturn, because the birth is immediately devoured and absorbed. It manifests itself in three things; in rays of light, in the percussions of sounds, and in magnetism, as regards the communication of the influence. For if you take away light, colours and its other images instantly disappear; if you take away the original percussion and the vibration of the body thence produced, the sound soon after dies away. For though sounds are troubled as they pass through their medium by winds, as if by waves, yet it must be carefully noted that the original sound does not last all the time the resonance goes on. For if you strike a bell, the sound seems to be continued for a good long time; whereby we might easily be led into the error of supposing that during the whole of the time the sound is as it were floating and hanging in the air; which is quite untrue. For the resonance is not the same identical sound, but a renewal of it; as is shown by quieting or stopping the body struck. For if the bell be held tight so that it cannot [p. 227] move, the sound at once comes to an end, and resounds no more; as in stringed instruments, if after the first percussion the string be touched, either with the finger, as in the harp, or with the quill, as in the spinnet, the resonance immediately ceases. Again, when the magnet is removed, the iron immediately drops. The moon indeed cannot be removed from the sea, nor the earth from the falling body, and therefore we can try no experiment in these cases; but the principle is the same.
Let the Fourteenth Motion be the Motion of Configuration or Position; by which bodies seem to desire not union or separation, but position, collocation, and configuration with respect to others. This motion is a very abstruse one, and has not been well investigated. In some cases indeed it seems to be without a cause, though not, I believe, really so. For if it be asked, why the heavens revolve rather from east to west than from west to east; or why they turn on poles placed near the Bears, rather than about Orion, or in any other part of heaven; such questions seem to border on insanity, since these phenomena ought rather to be received as results of observation, and merely positive facts. But though there are no doubt in nature certain things ultimate and without cause, this does not appear to me to be one of them, being caused in my opinion by a certain harmony and consent of the universe, which has not yet fallen under observation. And if we admit the motion of the earth from west to east, the same questions remain. For it also moves on certain poles. And why, it might be asked, should these poles be placed where they are, rather than anywhere else? Again the polarity, direction, and declination of the magnet are referable to this motion. There are also found in bodies as well natural as artificial, especially in solids, a certain collocation and position of parts, and a kind of threads and fibres, which ought to be carefully investigated; since, until they are understood, these bodies cannot be conveniently managed or controlled. But those eddyings in fluids, by which when pressed, before they can free themselves, they relieve each other, that they may all have a fair share of the pressure, belong more properly to the Motion of Liberty.
Let the Fifteenth Motion be the Motion of Transition, or Motion according to the Passages; by which the virtues of bodies are more or less impeded or promoted by their media, according to the nature of the body and of the acting virtues, [p. 228] and also of the medium. For one medium suits light, another sound, another heat and cold, another magnetic virtues, and so on.
Let the Sixteenth Motion be the Royal (as I call it) or Political Motion; by which the predominant and commanding parts in any body curb, tame, subdue, and regulate the other parts, and compel them to unite, separate, stand still, move, and range themselves, not in accordance with their own desires, but as may conduce to the well being of the commanding part; so that there is a sort of Government and Polity exerted by the ruling over the subject parts. This motion is eminently conspicuous in the spirits of animals, where, as long as it is in vigour, it tempers all the motions of the other parts. It is found however in other bodies in a lower degree; as I said of blood and urine, which are not decomposed till the spirit, which mixes and keeps together their parts, be discharged or quenched. Nor is this motion confined to spirits, though in most bodies the spirits are masters owing to their rapid and penetrating motion. But in bodies of greater density, and not filled with a lively and quickening spirit (such as there is in quicksilver and vitriol), the thicker parts are the masters; so that unless this yoke and restraint be by some expedient shaken off, there is very little hope of any new transformation of such bodies. But let no one suppose that I am forgetful of the point at issue, because while this series and distribution of motions tends to nothing else but the better investigation of their Predominancy by Instances of Strife, I now make mention of Predominancy among the motions themselves. For in describing this Royal Motion, I am not treating of the Predominancy of motions or virtues, but of the Predominancy of parts in bodies; such being the Predominancy which constitutes the peculiar species of motion in question.
Let the Seventeenth Motion be the Spontaneous Motion of Rotation, by which bodies delighting in motion and favourably placed for it enjoy their own nature, and follow themselves, not another body; and court (so to speak) their own embraces. For bodies seem either to move without limit, or to remain altogether at rest, or to tend to a limit, at which according to their nature they either revolve or rest. Those which are favourably placed, if they delight in motion, move in a circle; with a motion, that is, eternal and infinite. Those which are [p. 229] favourably placed, and abhor motion, remain at rest. Those which are not favourably placed move in a right line (as the shortest path) to consort with bodies of their own nature. But this Motion of Rotation admits of nine differences; regarding, 1. the centre round which the bodies move; 2. the poles on which they move; 3. their circumference or orbit, according to their distance from the centre; 4. their velocity, according to the greater or less rapidity of their rotation; 5. the course of their motion, as from east to west, or from west to east; 6. their declination from a perfect circle by spiral lines more or less distant from their centre; 7. their declination from a perfect circle by spiral lines more or less distant from their poles; 8. the greater or less distance of these spirals from each other; 9. and lastly, the variation of the poles themselves, if they be movable; which however has nothing to do with rotation, unless it be circular. This motion in common and long received opinion is looked upon as the proper motion of heavenly bodies; though there is a grave dispute with regard to it among some both of the ancients and of the moderns, who have attributed rotation to the earth. But a juster question perhaps arises upon this (if it be not past question), namely, whether this motion (admitting that the earth stands still) is confined to the heavens, and does not rather descend and communicate itself to the air and waters. The Motion of Rotation in missiles, as in darts, arrows, musket-balls, and the like, I refer to the Motion of Liberty.
Let the Eighteenth Motion be the Motion of Trepidation, to which, as understood by astronomers, I do not attach much credit. But in searching carefully everywhere for the appetites of natural bodies, this motion comes before us, and ought, it seems, to constitute a species by itself. It is a motion of what may be called perpetual captivity, and occurs when bodies that have not quite found their right place, and yet are not altogether uneasy, keep for ever trembling and stirring themselves restlessly, neither content as they are nor daring to advance further. Such a motion is found in the heart and pulses of animals, and must of necessity occur in all bodies which so exist in a mean state between conveniences and inconveniences, that when disturbed they strive to free themselves, and being again repulsed, are yet for ever trying again.
Let the Nineteenth and last Motion be one, which, though [p. 230] it hardly answers to the name, is yet indisputably a motion; and let us call it the Motion of Repose, or of Aversion to Move. It is by this motion that the earth stands still in its mass, while its extremities are moving toward the middle; not to an imaginary centre, but to union. By this appetite also all bodies of considerable density abhor motion; indeed the desire of not moving is the only appetite they have; and though in countless ways they be enticed and challenged to motion, they yet, as far as they can, maintain their proper nature. And if compelled to move, they nevertheless seem always intent on recovering their state of rest, and moving no more. While thus engaged indeed they show themselves active, and struggle for it with agility and swiftness enough, as weary and impatient of all delay. Of this appetite but a partial representation can be seen; since here with us, from the subduing and concocting power of the heavenly bodies, all tangible substances are not only not condensed to their utmost, but are even mixed with some portion of spirit.
Thus then have I set forth the species or simple elements of motions, appetites, and active virtues, which are in nature most general. And under these heads no small portion of natural science is sketched out. I do not however mean to say that other species may not be added, or that the divisions I have made may not be drawn more accurately according to the true veins of nature, or reduced to a smaller number. Observe nevertheless that I am not here speaking of any abstract divisions; as if one were to say that bodies desire either the exaltation or the propagation or the fruition of their nature; or again, that the motions of things tend to the preservation and good either of the universe, as Resistance and Connexion; or of great wholes, as the Motions of the Greater Congregation, Rotation, and Aversion to Move; or of special forms, as the rest. For though these assertions be true, yet unless they be defined by true lines in matter and the fabric of nature, they are speculative and of little use. Meanwhile these will suffice, and be of good service in weighing the Predominancies of Virtues and finding out Instances of Strife; which is our present object.
For of the motions I have set forth some are quite invincible; some are stronger than others, fettering, curbing, arranging them; some carry farther than others; some outstrip others in speed; some cherish, strengthen, enlarge, and accelerate others.
[p. 231] The Motion of Resistance is altogether adamantine and invincible. Whether the Motion of Connexion be so, I am still undecided. For I am not prepared to say for certain whether or no there be a vacuum, either collected in one place or interspersed in the pores of bodies. But of one thing I am satisfied, that the reason for which a vacuum was introduced by Leucippus and Democritus (namely, that without it the same bodies could not embrace and fill sometimes larger and sometimes smaller spaces) is a false one. For matter is clearly capable of folding and unfolding itself in space, within certain limits, without the interposition of a vacuum; nor is there in air two thousand times as much of vacuity as there is in gold; which on their hypothesis there should be. Of this I am sufficiently convinced by the potency of the virtues of pneumatical bodies (which otherwise would be floating in empty space like fine dust) and by many other proofs. As for the other motions, they rule and are ruled in turn, in proportion to their vigour, quantity, velocity, force of projection, and also to the helps and hindrances they meet with.
For instance, there are some armed magnets that hold and suspend iron of sixty times their own weight; so far does the motion of the Lesser prevail over the motion of the Greater Congregation; but if the weight be increased, it is overcome. A lever of given strength will raise a given weight; so far does the Motion of Liberty prevail over that of the Greater Congregation; but if the weight be increased, it is overcome. Leather stretches to a certain extent without breaking; so far does the Motion of Continuity prevail over the Motion of Tension; but if the tension be increased, the leather breaks, and the Motion of Continuity is overcome. Water runs out at a crack of a certain size; so far does the motion of the Greater Congregation prevail over the Motion of Continuity; but if the crack be smaller, it gives way, and the Motion of Continuity prevails. If you charge a gun with ball and sulphur only, and apply the match, the ball is not discharged; the Motion of the Greater Congregation overcoming in this case the Motion of Matter. But if you charge with gunpowder, the Motion of Matter in the sulphur prevails, being aided by the Motions of Matter and of Flight in the nitre. And so of other cases. Instances of Strife, therefore, which point out the Predominancies of Virtues, together with the manner and [p. 232] proportion in which they predominate or give place, should be sought and collected from all quarters with keen and careful diligence.
Nor should we examine less carefully the modes in which these motions give way. That is to say, whether they stop altogether, or whether they continue to resist, but are overpowered. For in bodies here with us there is no real rest, either in wholes or in parts; but only in appearance. And this apparent rest is caused either by equilibrium, or by absolute predominancy of motions; by equilibrium, as in scales, which stand still if the weights be equal; by predominancy, as in watering-pots with holes in them, where the water rests and is kept from falling out by the predominancy of the Motion of Connexion. But it should be observed, as I have said, how far these yielding motions carry their resistance. For if a man be pinned to the ground, tied hand and foot, or otherwise held fast, and yet struggle to rise with all his might, the resistance is not the less, though it be unsuccessful. But the real state of the case (I mean whether by predominancy the yielding motion is, so to speak, annihilated, or whether rather a resistance is continued, though we cannot see it) will perhaps, though latent in the conflicts of motions, be apparent in their concurrence. For example, let trial be made in shooting. See how far a gun will carry a ball straight, or as they say point blank; and then try whether, if it be fired upwards, the stroke will be feebler than when it is fired downwards, where the Motion of Gravity concurs with the blow.
Lastly, such Canons of Predominance as we meet with should be collected; for instance, that the more common the good sought, the stronger the motion. Thus the Motion of Connexion, which regards communion with the universe, is stronger than the Motion of Gravity, which regards only communion with dense bodies. Again, that appetites which aim at a private good seldom prevail against appetites which aim at a more public good, except in small quantities; rules which I wish held good in politics.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the twenty-fifth place Intimating Instances; those I mean, which intimate or point out what is useful to man. For mere Power and mere Knowledge exalt human nature, but do not bless it. We must [p. 233] therefore gather from the whole store of things such as make most for the uses of life. But a more proper place for speaking of these will be when I come to treat of Applications to Practice. Besides in the work itself of Interpretation in each particular subject, I always assign a place to the Human Chart, or Chart of things to be wished for. For to form judicious wishes is as much a part of knowledge as to ask judicious questions.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the twenty-sixth place Polychrest Instances, or Instances of General Use. They are those which relate to a variety of cases and occur frequently; and therefore save no small amount of labour and fresh demonstration. Of the instruments and contrivances themselves the proper place for speaking will be when I come to speak of Applications to Practice and Modes of Experimenting. Moreover those which have been already discovered and come into use will be described in the particular histories of the several arts. At present I will subjoin a few general remarks on them as examples merely of this General Use.
Besides the simple bringing together and putting asunder of them, man operates upon natural bodies chiefly in seven ways: viz. either by exclusion of whatever impedes and disturbs; or by compressions, extensions, agitations, and the like; or by heat and cold; or by continuance in a suitable place; or by the checking and regulation of motion; or by special sympathies; or by the seasonable and proper alternation, series, and succession of all these ways, or at any rate of some of them.
With regard to the first; the common air, which is everywhere about us and pressing in, and the rays of the heavenly bodies, cause much disturbance. Whatever therefore serves to exclude them, may justly be reckoned among things of General Use. To this head belong; the material and thickness of the
vessels in which the bodies are placed on which we are going to operate; also the perfect stopping up of vessels by consolidation and lutum sapientiae, as the chemists call it. Also the closing in of substances by liquids poured on the outside is a thing of very great use; as when they pour oil on wine or juices of herbs, which spreading over the surface like a lid preserves them excellently from the injury of the air. Nor are powders bad things; for though they contain air mixed up with them, [p. 234] they yet repel the force of the body of air round about; as we see in the preservation of grapes and other fruits in sand and flour. It is good too to spread bodies over with wax, honey, pitch, and like tenacious substances, for the more perfect enclosure of them, and to keep off the air and heavenly bodies. I have sometimes tried the effect of laying up a vessel or some other body in quicksilver, which of all substances that can be poured round another is far the densest. Caverns again and subterraneous pits are of great use in keeping off the heat of the sun and that open air which preys upon bodies; and such are used in the North of Germany as granaries. The sinking of bodies in water has likewise the same effect; as I remember to have heard of bottles of wine being let down into a deep well to cool; but through accident or neglect being left there for many years, and then taken out; and that the wine was not only free from sourness or flatness, but much finer tasted; owing, it would seem, to a more exquisite commixture of its parts. And if the case require that bodies be let down to the bottom of the water, as in a river or the sea, without either touching the water or being enclosed in stopped vessels, but surrounded by air alone; there is good use in the vessel which has been sometimes employed for working under water on sunk ships, whereby divers are enabled to remain a long while below, and take breath from time to time. This machine was a hollow bell made of metal, which being let down parallel to the surface of the water, carried with it to the bottom all the air it contained. It stood on three feet (like a tripod) the height of which was somewhat less than that of a man, so that the diver, when his breath failed, could put his head into the hollow of the bell, take breath, and then go on with his work. I have heard also of a sort of machine or boat capable of carrying men under water for some distance. Be that as it may, under such a vessel as I have described bodies of any sort can easily be suspended; and it is on that account that I have mentioned this experiment.
There is also another advantage in the careful and complete closing of bodies; for not only does it keep the outer air from getting in (of which I have already spoken), but also it keeps the spirit of the body, on which the operation is going on inside, from getting out. For it is necessary for one who operates on natural bodies to be certain of his total quantities; [p. 235] that is, that nothing evaporates or flows away. For then, and then only, are profound alterations made in bodies, when, while nature prevents annihilation, art prevents also the loss or escape of any part. On this subject there has prevailed a false opinion, which, if true, would make us well nigh despair of preserving the perfect quantity without diminution; namely, that the spirits of bodies, and air when rarefied by a high degree of heat, cannot be contained in closed vessels, but escape through their more delicate pores. To this opinion men have been led by the common experiment of an inverted cup placed on water with a candle in it or a piece of paper lighted; the consequence of which is that the water is drawn up; and also by the similar experiment of cupping-glasses, which when heated over flame draw up the flesh. For in each of these experiments they imagine that the rarefied air escapes, and that its quantity being thereby diminished, the water or flesh comes up into its place by the Motion of Connexion. But this is altogether a mistake. For the air is not diminished in quantity, but contracted in space; nor does the motion of the rising of the water commence till the flame is extinguished or the air cooled; and therefore physicians, to make their cupping-glasses draw better, lay on them cold sponges dipped in water. And therefore there is no reason why men should be much afraid of the easy escape of air or spirits. For though it be true that the most solid bodies have pores, still air or spirit do not easily submit to such extremely fine comminution; just as water refuses to run out at very small chinks.
With regard to the second of the seven modes of operating above mentioned, it is particularly to be observed, that compression and such violent means have indeed with respect to local motion and the like a most powerful effect; as in machines and projectiles; an effect which even causes the destruction of organic bodies, and of such virtues as consist altogether in motion. For all life, nay all flame and ignition, is destroyed by compression; just as every machine is spoilt or deranged by the same. It causes the destruction likewise of virtues which consist in the position and coarser dissimilarity of parts. This is the case with colours; for the whole flower has not the same colour as when it is bruised, nor the whole piece of amber as the same piece pulverised. So also it is with tastes; for there is not the same taste in an unripe pear [p. 236] as there is in a squeezed and softened one; for it manifestly contracts sweetness by the process. But for the more remarkable transformations and alterations of bodies of uniform structure such violent means are of little avail; since bodies do not acquire thereby a new consistency that is constant and quiescent, but one that is transitory, and ever striving to recover and liberate itself. It would not be amiss however to make some careful experiments for the purpose of ascertaining whether the condensation or the rarefaction of a body of nearly uniform structure (as air, water, oil, and the like), being induced by violence, can be made to be constant and fixed, and to become a kind of nature. This should first be tried by simple continuance, and then by means of helps and consents. And the trial might easily have been made (if it had but occurred to me) when I was condensing water, as mentioned above, by hammer and press, till it burst forth from its enclosure. For I should have left the flattened sphere to itself for a few days, and after that drawn off the water; that so I might have seen whether it would immediately occupy the same dimensions, which it had before condensation. If it had not done so, either immediately or at any rate soon after, we might have pronounced the condensation a constant one; if it had, it would have appeared that a restoration had taken place, and that the compression was transitory. Something of a similar kind I might have tried also with the expansion of air in the glass eggs. For after powerful suction I might have stopped them suddenly and tightly; I might have left the eggs so stopped for some days; and then tried whether on opening the hole the air would be drawn up with a hissing noise; or whether on plunging them into water, as much water would be drawn up as there would have been at first without the delay. For it is probable—at least it is worth trying—that this might have been, and may be, the case; since in bodies of structure not quite so uniform, the lapse of time does produce such effects. For a stick bent for some time by compression does not recoil; and this must not be imputed to any loss of quantity in the wood through the lapse of time; since the same will be the case with a plate of steel, if the time be increased, and steel does not evaporate. But if the experiment succeed not with mere continuance, the business must not be abandoned, but other aids must be employed. For it is no small gain if by the application [p. 237] of violence we can communicate to bodies fixed and permanent natures. For thus air can be turned into water by condensation, and many other effects of the kind can be produced; man being more the master of violent motions than of the rest.
The third of the seven modes above-mentioned relates to that which whether in Nature or in Art is the great instrument of operation, viz. heat and cold. And herein man’s power is clearly lame on one side. For we have the heat of fire, which is infinitely more potent and intense than the heat of the sun as it reaches us, or the warmth of animals. But we have no cold save such as is to be got in winter time, or in caverns, or by application of snow and ice; which is about as much perhaps in comparison as the heat of the sun at noon in the torrid zone, increased by the reflexions of mountains and walls; for such heat as well as such cold can be endured by animals for a short time. But they are nothing to be compared to the heat of a burning furnace, or with any cold corresponding to it in intensity. Thus all things with us tend to rarefaction, and desiccation, and consumption; nothing hardly to condensation and inteneration, except by mixtures and methods that may be called spurious. Instances of cold therefore should be collected with all diligence; and such it seems may be found by exposing bodies on steeples in sharp frosts; by laying them in subterranean caverns; by surrounding them with snow and ice in deep pits dug for the purpose; by letting them down into wells; by burying them in quicksilver and metals; by plunging them into waters which petrify wood; by burying them in the earth, as the Chinese are said to do in the making of porcelain, where masses made for the purpose are left, we are told, under ground for forty or fifty years, and transmitted to heirs, as a kind of artificial minerals; and by similar processes. And so too all natural condensations caused by cold should be investigated, in order that, their causes being known, they may be imitated by art. Such we see in the sweating of marble and stones; in the dews condensed on the inside of window panes, towards morning, after a night’s frost; in the formation and gathering of vapours into water under the earth, from which springs often bubble up. Everything of this kind should be collected.
Besides things which are cold to the touch, there are found others having the power of cold, which also condense; but which seem to act on the bodies of animals only, and hardly [p. 238] on others. Of this sort we have many instances in medicines and plasters; some of which condense the flesh and tangible parts, as astringent and inspissatory medicaments; while others condense the spirits, as is most observable in soporifics. There are two ways in which spirits are condensed by medicaments soporific, or provocative of sleep; one by quieting their motion, the other by putting them to flight. Thus violets, dried rose leaves, lettuce, and like benedict or benignant medicaments, by their kindly and gently cooling fumes invite the spirits to unite, and quiet their eager and restless motion. Rose water too, applied to the nose in a fainting fit, causes the resolved and too relaxed spirits to recover themselves, and as it were cherishes them. But opiates and kindred medicaments put the spirits utterly to flight, by their malignant and hostile nature. And therefore if they be applied to an external part, the spirits immediately flee away from that part, and do not readily flow into it again; if taken internally, their fumes, ascending to the head, disperse in all directions the spirits contained in the ventricles of the brain; and these spirits thus withdrawing themselves, and unable to escape into any other part, are by consequence brought together and condensed, and sometimes are utterly choked and extinguished; though on the other hand these same opiates taken in moderation do by a secondary accident (namely, the condensation which succeeds the coming together) comfort the spirits, and render them more robust, and check their useless and inflammatory motions; whereby they contribute no little to the cure of diseases, and prolongation of life.
Nor should we omit the means of preparing bodies to receive cold. Among others I may mention that water slightly warm is more easily frozen than quite cold.
Besides, since nature supplies cold so sparingly, we must do as the apothecaries do, who when they cannot get a simple, take its succedaneum or quid pro quo, as they call it; such as aloes for balsam, cassia for cinnamon. In like manner we should look round carefully to see if there be anything that will do instead of cold; that is to say, any means by which condensations can be effected in bodies otherwise than by cold, the proper office of which is to effect them. Such condensations, as far as yet appears, would seem to be limited to four. The first of these is caused by simple compression which can do but little for permanent density, since bodies recoil, but which [p. 239] perhaps may be of use as an auxiliary. The second is caused by the contraction of the coarser parts in a body, after the escape of the finer; such as takes place in indurations by fire, in the repeated quenchings of metals, and like processes. The third is caused by the coming together of those homogeneous parts in a body which are the most solid, and which previously had been dispersed, and mixed with the less solid; as in the restoration of sublimated mercury, which occupies a far greater space in powder than as simple mercury, and similarly in all purging of metals from their dross. The fourth is brought about through sympathy, by applying substances which from some occult power condense. These sympathies or consents at present manifest themselves but rarely; which is no wonder, since before we succeed in discovering Forms and Configurations, we cannot hope for much from an inquiry into sympathies. With regard to the bodies of animals indeed, there is no doubt that there are many medicines, whether taken internally or externally, which condense as it were by consent, as I have stated a little above. But in the case of inanimate substances such operation is rare. There has indeed been spread abroad, as well in books as in common rumour, the story of a tree in one of the Tercera or Canary Isles (I do not well remember which) which is constantly dripping; so as to some extent to supply the inhabitants with water. And Paracelsus says that the herb called Ros Solis is at noon and under a burning sun filled with dew, while all the other herbs round it are dry. But both of these stories I look upon as fabulous. If they were true, such instances would be of most signal use, and most worthy of examination. Nor do I conceive that those honey-dews, like manna, which are found on the leaves of the oak in the month of May, are formed and condensed by any peculiar property in the leaf of the oak; but that while they fall equally on all leaves, they are retained on those of the oak, as being well united, and not spongy as most of the others are. As regards heat, man indeed has abundant store and command thereof; but observation and investigation are wanting in some particulars, and those the most necessary, let the alchemists say what they will. For the effects of intense heat are sought for and brought into view; but those of a gentler heat, which fall in most with the ways of nature, are not explored, and therefore are unknown. And therefore we see that by [p. 240] the heats generally used the spirits of bodies are greatly exalted, as in strong waters and other chemical oils; that the tangible parts are hardened, and, the volatile being discharged, sometimes fixed; that the homogeneous parts are separated, while the heterogenous are in a coarse way incorporated and mixed up together; above all that the junctures of composite bodies, and their more subtle configurations are broken up and confounded. Whereas the operations of a gentler heat ought to have been tried and explored, whereby more subtle mixtures and regular configurations might be generated and educed, after the model of nature, and in imitation of the works of the sun; as I have shadowed forth in the Aphorism on Instances of Alliance. For the operations of nature are performed by far smaller portions at a time, and by arrangements far more exquisite and varied than the operations of fire, as we use it now. And it is then that we shall see a real increase in the power of man, when by artificial heats and other agencies the works of nature can be represented in form, perfected in virtue, varied in quantity, and, I may add, accelerated in time. For the rust of iron is slow in forming, but the turning into Crocus Martis is immediate; and it is the same with verdigris and ceruse; crystal is produced by a long process, while glass is blown at once; stones take a long time to grow, while bricks are quickly baked. Meanwhile (to come to our present business), heats of every kind, with their effects, should be diligently collected from all quarters and investigated,—the heat of heavenly bodies by their rays direct, reflected, refracted, and united in burning-glasses and mirrors; the heat of lightning, of flame, of coal fire; of fire from different materials; of fire close and open, straitened and in full flow, modified in fine by the different structures of furnaces; of fire excited by blowing; of fire quiescent and not excited; of fire removed to a greater or less distance; of fire passing through various media; moist heats, as of a vessel floating in hot water, of dung, of external and internal animal warmth, of confined hay; dry heats, as of ashes, lime, warm sand; in short heats of all kinds with their degrees.
But above all, we must try to investigate and discover the effects and operations of heat when applied and withdrawn gradually, orderly, and periodically, at due distances and for due times. For such orderly inequality is in truth the daughter [p. 241] of the heavens, and mother of generation; nor is anything great to be expected from a heat either vehement or precipitate or that comes by fits and starts. In vegetables this is most manifest; and also in the wombs of animals there is a great inequality of heat, from the motion, sleep, food and passions of the female in gestation; lastly in the wombs of the earth itself those I mean in which metals and fossils are formed, the same inequality has place and force. Which makes the unskilfulness of some alchemists of the reformed school all the more remarkable,—who have conceived that by the equable warmth of lamps and the like, burning uniformly, they can attain their end. And so much for the operations and effects of heat. To examine them thoroughly would be premature, till the Forms of things and the Configurations of bodies have been further investigated and brought to light. For it will then be time to seek, apply, and adapt our instruments, when we are clear as to the pattern.
The fourth mode of operating is by continuance, which is as it were the steward and almoner of nature. Continuance I call it, when a body is left to itself for a considerable time, being meanwhile defended from all external force. For then only do the internal motions exhibit and perfect themselves, when the extraneous and adventitious are stopped. Now the works of time are far subtler than those of fire. For wine cannot be so clarified by fire, as it is by time; nor are the ashes produced by fire so fine as the dust into which substances are resolved and wasted by ages. So too the sudden incorporations and mixtures precipitated by fire are far inferior to those which are brought about by time. And the dissimilar and varied configurations which bodies by continuance put on, such as putrefactions, are destroyed by fire or any violent heat. Meanwhile it would not be out of place to observe that the motions of bodies when quite shut up have in them something of violence. For such imprisonment impedes the spontaneous motions of the body. And therefore continuance in an open vessel is best for separations; in a vessel quite closed for commixtures; in a vessel partly closed, but with the air entering, for putrefactions. But indeed instances showing the effects and operations of continuance should be carefully collected from all quarters.
The regulation of motion (which is the fifth mode of operating) [p. 242] is of no little service. I call it regulation of motion, when one body meeting another impedes, repels, admits or directs its spontaneous motion. It consists for the most part in the shape and position of vessels. Thus the upright cone in alembics helps the condensation of vapours; the inverted cone in receivers helps the draining off of the dregs of sugar. Sometimes a winding form is required, and one that narrows and widens in turn, and the like. For all percolation depends on this, that the meeting body opens the way to one portion of the body met and shuts it to another. Nor is the business of percolation or other regulation of motion always performed from without; it may also be done by a body within a body; as when stones are dropped into water to collect its earthy parts; or when syrups are clarified with the whites of eggs, that the coarser parts may adhere thereto, after which they may be removed. It is also to this regulation of motion that Telesius has rashly and ignorantly enough attributed the shapes of animals, which he says are owing to the channels and folds in the womb. But he should have been able to show the like formation in the shells of eggs, in which there are no wrinkles or inequalities. It is true however that the regulation of motion gives the shapes in moulding and casting.
Operations by consents or aversions (which is the sixth mode) often lie deeply hid. For what are called occult and specific properties, or sympathies and antipathies, are in great part corruptions of philosophy. Nor can we have much hope of discovering the consents of things before the discovery of Forms and Simple Configurations. For Consent is nothing else than the adaptation of Forms and Configurations to each other.
The broader and more general consents of things are not however quite so obscure. I will therefore begin with them. Their first and chief diversity is this, that some bodies differ widely as to density and rarity, but agree in configurations; while others agree as to density and rarity, but differ in configurations. For it has not been ill observed by the chemists in their triad of first principles, that sulphur and mercury run through the whole universe. (For what they add about salt is absurd, and introduced merely to take in bodies earthy, dry, and fixed.) But certainly in these two one of the most general consents in nature does seem to be observable. For there is [p. 243] consent between sulphur, oil and greasy exhalation, flame, and perhaps the body of a star. So is there between mercury, water and watery vapours, air, and perhaps the pure and intersidereal ether. Yet these two quaternions or great tribes of things (each within its own limits) differ immensely in quantity of matter and density, but agree very well in configuration; as appears in numerous cases. On the other hand metals agree well together in quantity and density, especially as compared with vegetables, &c., but differ very widely in configuration; while in like manner vegetables and animals vary almost infinitely in their configurations, but in quantity of matter or density their variation is confined to narrow limits.
The next most general consent is that between primary bodies and their supports; that is, their menstrua and foods. We must therefore inquire, under what climates, in what earth, and at what depth, the several metals are generated; and so of gems, whether produced on rocks or in mines; also in what soil the several trees and shrubs and herbs thrive best, and take, so to speak, most delight; moreover what manurings, whether by dung of any sort, or by chalk, sea-sand, ashes, &c., do the most good; and which of them are most suitable and effective according to the varieties of soil. Again the grafting and inoculating of trees and plants, and the principle of it, that is to say, what plants prosper best on what stocks, depends much on sympathy. Under this head it would be an agreeable experiment, which I have heard has been lately tried, of engrafting forest-trees (a practice hitherto confined to fruit-trees); whereby the leaves and fruit are greatly enlarged, and the trees made more shady. In like manner the different foods of animals should be noted under general heads, and with their negatives. For carnivorous animals cannot live on herbs; whence the order of Feuillans (though the will in man has more power over the body than in other animals) has after trial (they say) well nigh disappeared; the thing not being endurable by human nature. Also the different materials of putrefaction, whence animalculae are generated, should be observed.
The consents of primary bodies with their subordinates (for such those may be considered which I have noted) are sufficiently obvious. To these may be added the consents of the senses with their objects. For these consents, since they are [p. 244] most manifest, and have been well observed and keenly sifted, may possibly shed great light on other consents also which are latent.
But the inner consents and aversions, or friendships and enmities, of bodies (for I am almost weary of the words sympathy and antipathy on account of the superstitions and vanities associated with them) are either falsely ascribed, or mixed with fables, or from want of observation very rarely met with. For if it be said that there is enmity between the vine and colewort, because when planted near each other they do not thrive; the reason is obvious—that both of these plants are succulent and exhaust the ground, and thus one robs the other. If it be said that there is consent and friendship between corn and the corn-cockle or the wild poppy, because these herbs hardly come up except in ploughed fields; it should rather be said that there is enmity between them, because the poppy and corn-cockle are emitted and generated from a juice of the earth which the corn has left and rejected; so that sowing the ground with corn prepares it for their growth. And of such false ascriptions there is a great number. As for fables, they should be utterly exterminated. There remains indeed a scanty store of consents which have been approved by sure experiment; such as those of the magnet and iron, of gold and quicksilver, and the like. And in chemical experiments on metals there are found also some others worthy of observation. But they are found in greatest abundance (if one may speak of abundance in such a scarcity) in certain medicines, which by their occult (as they are called) and specific properties have relation either to limbs, or humours, or diseases, or sometimes to individual natures. Nor should we omit the consents between the motions and changes of the moon and the affections of bodies below; such as may be gathered and admitted, after strict and honest scrutiny, from experiments in agriculture, navigation, medicine, and other sciences. But the rarer all the instances of more secret consents are, the greater the diligence with which they should be sought after, by means of faithful and honest traditions and narrations; provided this be done without any levity or credulity, but with an anxious and (so to speak) a doubting faith. There remains a consent of bodies, inartificial perhaps in mode of operation, but in use a Polychrest, which should in no wise be omitted, but examined into with careful [p. 245] attention. I mean the proneness or reluctance of bodies to draw together or unite by composition or simple apposition. For some bodies are mixed together and incorporated easily, but others with difficulty and reluctance. Thus powders mix best with water; ashes and lime with oils, and so on. Nor should we merely collect instances of the propensity or aversion of bodies for mixture, but also of the collocation of their parts, of their distribution and digestion when they are mixed, and finally of their predominancy after the mixture is completed.
There remains the seventh and last of the seven modes of operation, namely, the means of operating by the alternation of the former six; but it would not be seasonable to bring forward examples of this, till our search has been carried somewhat more deeply into the others singly. Now a series or chain of such alternations, adapted to particular effects, is a thing at once most difficult to discover, and most effective to work with. But men are utterly impatient both of the inquiry and the practice; though it is the very thread of the labyrinth, as regards works of any magnitude. Let this suffice to exemplify the Polychrest Instances.
Among Prerogative Instances I will put in the twenty-seventh and last place Instances of Magic; by which I mean those wherein the material or efficient cause is scanty or small, as compared with the work and effect produced; so that, even where they are common, they seem like miracles; some at first sight, others even after attentive consideration. These indeed nature of herself supplies sparingly; but what she may do when her folds have been shaken out, and after the discovery of Forms and Processes and Configurations, time will show. But these magical effects (according to my present conjecture) are brought about in three ways; either by self-multiplication, as in fire, and in poisons called specific, and also in motions which are increased in power by passing from wheel to wheel; or by excitation or invitation in another body, as in the magnet, which excites numberless needles without losing any of its virtue, or in yeast and the like; or by anticipation of motion, as in the case already mentioned of gunpowder and cannons and mines. Of which ways the two former require a knowledge of consents; the third, a knowledge of the measurement [p. 246] of motions. Whether there be any mode of changing bodies per minima (as they call it) and of transposing the subtler configurations of matter (a thing required in every sort of transformation of bodies) so that art may be enabled to do in a short time that which nature accomplishes by many windings, is a point on which I have at present no sure indications. And as in matters solid and true I aspire to the ultimate and supreme, so do I for ever hate all things vain and tumid, and do my best to discard them.
So much then for the Dignities or Prerogatives of Instances. It must be remembered however that in this Organum of mine I am handling logic, not philosophy. But since my logic aims to teach and instruct the understanding, not that it may with the slender tendrils of the mind snatch at and lay hold of abstract notions (as the common logic does), but that it may in very truth dissect nature, and discover the virtues and actions of bodies, with their laws as determined in matter; so that this science flows not merely from the nature of the mind, but also from the nature of things; no wonder that it is everywhere sprinkled and illustrated with speculations and experiments in nature, as examples of the art I teach. It appears then from what has been said that there are twenty-seven Prerogative Instances; namely, Solitary Instances; Migratory Instances; Striking Instances; Clandestine Instances; Constitutive Instances; Conformable Instances; Singular Instances; Deviating Instances; Bordering Instances; Instances of Power; Instances of Companionship and of Enmity; Subjunctive Instances; Instances of Alliance; Instances of the Fingerpost; Instances of Divorce; Instances of the Door; Summoning Instances; Instances of the Road; Instances Supplementary; Dissecting Instances; Instances of the Rod; Instances of the Course; Doses of Nature; Instances of Strife; Intimating Instances; Polychrest Instances; Magical Instances. Now the use of these instances, wherein they excel common instances, is found either in the Informative part or in the Operative, or in both. As regards the Informative, they assist either the senses or the understanding: the senses, as the five Instances of the Lamp: the understanding, either by hastening the Exclusion of the Form, as Solitary [p. 247] Instances;—or by narrowing and indicating more nearly the Affirmative of the Form, as Instances Migratory, Striking, of Companionship, and Subjunctive;—or by exalting the understanding and leading it to genera and common natures; either immediately, as Instances Clandestine, Singular, and of Alliance; or in the next degree, as Constitutive; or in the lowest, as Conformable;—or by setting the understanding right when led astray by habit, as Deviating Instances;—or by leading it to the Great Form or Fabric of the Universe, as Bordering Instances;—or by guarding it against false forms and causes, as Instances of the Fingerpost and of Divorce. In the Operative Part, they either point out, or measure, or facilitate practice. They point it out, by showing with what we should begin, that we may not go again over old ground, as Instances of Power; or to what we should aspire if means be given, as Intimating Instances. The four Mathematical Instances measure practice: Polychrest and Magical Instances facilitate it.
Again out of these twenty-seven instances there are some of which we must make a collection at once, as I said above, without waiting for the particular investigation of natures. Of this sort are Instances Conformable, Singular, Deviating, Bordering, of Power, of the Dose, Intimating, Polychrest, and Magical. For these either help and set right the understanding and senses, or furnish practice with her tools in a general way. The rest need not be inquired into till we come to make Tables of Presentation for the work of the Interpreter concerning some particular nature. For the instances marked and endowed with these Prerogatives are as a soul amid the common instances of Presentation, and as I said at first, a few of them do instead of many; and therefore in the formation of the Tables they must be investigated with all zeal, and set down therein. It was necessary to handle them beforehand because I shall have to speak of them in what follows. But now I must proceed to the supports and rectifications of Induction, and then to concretes, and Latent Processes, and Latent Configurations, and the rest, as set forth in order in the twenty-first Aphorism; that at length (like an honest and faithful guardian) I may hand over to men their fortunes, now their understanding is emancipated and come as it were of age; whence there cannot but follow an improvement in man’s estate, and an enlargement of his power over nature. For man by the fall fell at the same [p. 248] time from his state of innocency and from his dominion over creation. Both of these losses however can even in this life be in some part repaired; the former by religion and faith, the latter by arts and sciences. For creation was not by the curse made altogether and for ever a rebel, but in virtue of that charter “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” it is now by various labours (not certainly by disputations or idle magical ceremonies, but by various labours) at length and in some measure subdued to the supplying of man with bread; that is, to the uses of human life.
END OF THE SECOND BOOK OF THE NEW ORGANUM.