Imágenes de páginas

latent power. These harmonies are as yet but rarely observed, at which we cannot be surprised, since there is little to hope for from their investigation, unless the discovery of forms and conformation be attained. With regard to animal bodies, it is not to be questioned that there are many internal and external medicines which condense by harmony, as we have before observed, but this action is rare in inanimate bodies. Written accounts, as well as report, have certainly spoken of a tree in one of the Tercera or Canary Islands (for I do not exactly recollect which) that drips perpetually, so as to supply the inhabitants, in some degree, with water; and Paracelsus says that the herb called ros solis is filled with dew at noon, whilst the sun gives out its greatest heat, and all other herbs around it are dry. We treat both these accounts as fables; they would however, if true, be of the most important service, and most worthy of examination. As to the honey-dew, resembling manna, which is found in May on the leaves of the oak, we are of opinion that it is not condensed by any harmony or peculiarity of the oak leaf, but that whilst it falls equally upon other leaves it is retained and continues on those of the oak, because their texture is closer, and not so porous as that of most of the other leaves.*

With regard to heat, man possesses abundant means and power, but his observation and inquiry are defective in some respects, and those of the greatest importance, notwithstanding the boasting of quacks. For the effects of intense heat are examined and observed, whilst those of a more gentle degree of heat, being of the most frequent occurrence in the paths of nature, are, on that very account, least known. We see, therefore, the furnaces, which are most esteemed, employed in increasing the spirits of bodies to a great extent, as in the strong acids, and some chymical oils; whilst the tangible parts are hardened, and, when the volatile part has escaped, become sometimes fixed; the homogeneous parts are separated, and the heterogeneous incorporated and agglomerated in a coarse lump; and (what is chiefly worthy of remark) the junction of compound bodies, and the more delicate conformations are destroyed and confounded. But the operation of a less violent heat should be tried and investigated, by which more delicate mixtures, and regular conformations may be produced and

* It may

often be observed on the leaves of the lime and other trees.

elicited, according to the example of nature, and in imitation of the effect of the sun, which we have alluded to in the aphorism on the instances of alliance. For the works of nature are carried on in much smaller portions, and in more delicate and varied positions than those of fire, as we now employ it. But man will then appear to have really augmented his power, when the works of nature can be imitated in specie, perfected in power, and varied in quantity; to which should be added the acceleration in point of time. Rust, for instance, is the result of a long process, but crocus Martis is obtained immediately; and the same may be observed of natural verdigris and ceruse. Chrystal is formed slowly, whilst glass is blown immediately: stones increase slowly, whilst bricks are baked immediately, &c. In the mean time (with regard to our present subject) every different species of heat should, with its peculiar effects, be diligently collected and inquired into; that of the heavenly bodies, whether their rays be direct, reflected, or refracted, or condensed by a burning glass; that of lightning, flame, and ignited charcoal; that of fire of different materials, either open or confined, straightened or overflowing, qualified by the different forms of the furnaces, excited by the bellows, or quiescent, removed to a greater or less distance, or passing through different media; moist heats, such as, the balneum Mariæ, and the dunghill; the external and internal heat of animals; dry heats, such as the heat of ashes, lime, warm sand; in short, the nature of every kind of heat, and its degrees.

We should, however, particularly attend to the investigation and discovery of the effects and operations of heat, when made to approach and retire by degrees, regularly, periodically, and by proper intervals of space and time. For this systematical inequality is in truth the daughter of heaven and mother of generation, nor can any great result be expected from a vehement, precipitate, or desultory heat. For this is not only most evident in vegetables, but in the wombs of animals also there arises a great inequality of heat, from the motion, sleep, food, and passions of the female. The same inequality prevails in those subterraneous beds where metals and fossils are perpetually forming, which renders yet more remarkable the ignorance of some of the reformed alchymists, who imagined they could attain their object by the equable heat of lamps, or the like, burning uniformly. Let this suffice concerning the operation and effects of heat; nor is it time for us to investigate

[ocr errors]

them thoroughly before the forms and conformations of bodies have been further examined and brought to light. When we have determined upon our models, we may seek, apply, and arrange our instruments.

IV. The fourth mode of action is by continuance, the very steward and almoner, as it were, of nature. We apply the term continuance to the abandonment of a body to itself for an observable time, guarded and protected in the mean while from all external force. For the internal motion then commences to betray and exert itself when the external and adventitious is removed. The effects of time, however, are far more delicate than those of fire. Wine, for instance, cannot be clarified by fire as it is by continuance. Nor are the ashes produced by combustion so fine as the particles dissolved or wasted by the lapse of ages. The incorporations and mixtures, which are hurried by fire, are very inferior to those obtained by continuance; and the various conformations assumed by bodies left to themselves, such as mouldiness, &c. are put a stop to by fire or a strong heat. It is not, in the mean time, unimportant to remark that there is a certain degree of violence in the motion of bodies entirely confined. For the confinement impedes the proper motion of the body. Continuance in an open vessel, therefore, is useful for separations, and in one hermetically sealed for mixtures, that in a vessel partly closed, but admitting the air for putrefaction. But instances of the operation and effect of continuance must be collected diligently from every quarter.

V. The direction of motion (which is the fifth method of action) is of no small use. We adopt this term, when speaking of a body which meeting with another either arrests, repels, allows, or directs its original motion. This is the case principally in the figure and position of vessels. An upright cone, for instance, promotes the condensation of vapour in alembics, but when reversed, as in inverted vessels, it assists the refining of sugar. Sometimes a curved form or one alternately contracted and dilated are required. Strainers may be ranged under this head, where the opposed body opens a way for one portion of another substance and impedes the rest. Nor is this process or any other direction of motion carried on externally only, but sometimes by one body within another. Thus, pebbles are thrown into water to collect the muddy particles, and syrups are refined by the white of an egg, which glues the grosser particles together so as to facilitate their removal. Telesius, indeed,


rashly and ignorantly enough attributes the formation of animals to this cause, by means of the channels and folds of the womb. He ought to have observed a similar formation of the young in eggs which have no wrinkles or inequalities. One may observe a real result of this direction of motion in casting and modelling.

VI. The effects produced by harmony and aversion (which is the sixth method) are frequently buried in obscurity. For these occult and specific properties (as they are termed) the sympathies and antipathies are for the most part but a corruption of philosophy. Nor can we form any great expectation of the discovery of the harmony which exists between natural objects, before that of their forms and simple conformations, for it is nothing more than the symmetry between these forms and conformations.

The greater and more universal species of harmony are not, however, so wholly obscure, and with them, therefore, we must commence. The first and principal distinction between them is this; that some bodies differ considerably in the abundance and rarity of their substance, but correspond in their conformation; others, on the contrary, correspond in the former and differ in the latter. Thus the chymists have well observed, that in their trial of first principles sulphur and mercury, as it were, pervade the universe; their reasoning about salt, however, is absurd, and merely introduced to comprise earthy dry fixed bodies. In the other two, indeed, one of the most universal species of natural harmony manifests itself. Thus there is a correspondence between sulphur, oil, greasy exhalations, flame, and, perhaps, the substance of the stars. On the other hand, there is a like correspondence between mercury, water, aqueous vapour, air, and, perhaps, pure inter-sidereal æther. Yet do these two quaternions, or great natural tribes (each within its own limits) differ immensely in quantity and density of substance, whilst they generally agree in conformation, as is manifest in many instances. On the other hand, the metals agree in such quantity and density (especially when compared with vegetables, &c.), but differ in many respects in conformation. Animals and vegetables, in like manner, vary in their almost infinite modes of conformation, but range within very limited degrees of quantity and density of substance.

The next most general correspondence is that between individual bodies and those which supply them by way of menstruum or support. Inquiry, therefore, must be made.

as to the climate, soil, and depth at which each metal is generated, and the same of gems whether produced in rocks or mines, also as to the soil in which particular trees, shrubs, and herbs, mostly grow and, as it were, delight; and as to the best species of manure, whether dung, chalk, sea sand, or ashes, &c. and their different propriety and advantage according to the variety of soils. So also the grafting and setting of trees and plants (as regards the readiness of grafting one particular species on another) depends very much upon harmony, and it would be amusing to try an experiment I have lately heard of, in grafting forest trees (garden trees alone having hitherto been adopted), by which means the leaves and fruit are enlarged, and the trees produce more shade. The specific food of animals again should be observed, as well as that which cannot be used. Thus the carnivorous cannot be fed on herbs, for which reason the order of Feuilletans, the experiment having been made, has nearly vanished; human nature being incapable of supporting their regimen, although the human will has more power over the bodily frame than that of other animals. The different kinds of putrefaction from which animals are generated should be noted.

The harmony of principal bodies with those subordinate to them (such indeed may be deemed those we have alluded to above) are sufficiently manifest, to which may be added those that exist between different bodies and their objects, and, since these latter are more apparent, they may throw great light when well observed and diligently examined those which are more latent.


The more eternal harmony and aversion, or friendship and enmity (for superstition and folly have rendered the terms of sympathy and antipathy almost disgusting), have been either falsely assigned, or mixed with fable, or most rarely discovered from neglect. For if one were to allege that there is an enmity between the vine and the cabbage, because they will not come up well when sown together, there is a sufficient reason for it in the succulent and absorbent nature of each plant, so that the one defrauds the other. Again, if one were to say that there is a harmony and friendship between the corn and the corn-flower, or the wild poppy, because the latter seldom grow any where but in cultivated soils, he ought rather to say there is an enmity between them, for the poppy and corn-flower are produced and created by those juices which the corn has left and rejected, so that the sowing of the corn prepares the ground

« AnteriorContinuar »