« AnteriorContinuar »
things which are not bound by any similar contract. But God has ordained that whatever is excellent shall be won only by labours both in inquiry and working. For my own part, in unravelling the law of nature, and interpreting the relations of things, I shall show somewhat more diligence, not giving way to marvels and wonders, and yet not instituting a narrow or partial inquiry.
THE HISTORY OF SULPHUR, MERCURY, AND SALT.
THIS triad of principles has been introduced by chemists, and as a speculative doctrine it is the best discovery that they have made. The deepest philosophers amongst them maintain the elements to be earth, water, air, and ether. But these they regard not as the matter of things, but as wombs, wherein specific seeds of things are generated, in the same manner as in the womb. But instead of the First Matter (which the schoolmen call matter spoiled and indifferent), they substitute these three things, sulphur, mercury, and salt; whereof all bodies are compounded and mixed. Their terms I accept, but not their opinions, which do not appear sound. It seems however not to sort ill with their opinion, that two of these, namely, sulphur and mercury (in the sense in which I take them), I judge to be the most primæval natures, the most original configurations of matter, and among the forms of the first class almost the principal. But these terms of sulphur and mercury may be varied, and receive different denominations; as, the oily, the watery, the fat, the crude, the inflammable, the non-inflammable, and the like. For they appear to be those two enormous tribes of things which occupy and penetrate the universe. In the subterranean world we find sulphur and mercury, as they are called; in the animal and vegetable world we find oil and water; in pneumatical bodies of the lower order we find air and flame; in the celestial regions we find starry body and pure ether. But of this last pair I do not as yet pronounce decisively, though the concordance appears probable. With regard to salt, the case is different. For if by salt they mean the fixed
part of a body, which does not turn either into flame or smoke, this belongs to the inquiry of matter fluid and matter determinate, whereof I am not now speaking. But if they mean salt to be taken in its plain and literal signification, it cannot be regarded as a thing different from sulphur and mercury, seeing it is a formation compounded from them both, by means of a strong spirit. For all salt has some inflammable parts; and some parts which not only do not conceive flame, but strenuously shrink from and avoid it. However, since the inquiry concerning salt has some connection with the inquiry into the other two things, and moreover is of great use,-seeing that salt comprises in itself the nature of sulphur and mercury, and is a rudiment of life itself,-I have thought good to admit it likewise into this history and inquiry. But meanwhile I give notice that I reserve the inquiries into those pneumatical bodies, air, flame, the stars, and ether, for titles of their own (as they certainly merit); and that here I only institute a history of sulphur and mercury tangible, that is, either mineral, vegetable, or animal.
THE FRAGMENT OF A BACONIAN BOOK,
THE ALPHABET OF NATURE.
WHEREAS SO many things are produced by the earth and water, so many things pass through the air and are received by it, so many things are changed and dissolved by fire, the other inquiries would be less clear and complete, if the nature of those common masses that occur so often were not well known and explained. To these I subjoin inquiries concerning the Heavens and Meteors, seeing that they also are Greater Masses, and belonging to the Universal.
Greater Masses. Sixty-seventh Inquiry, or that concerning the Earth; denoted by TTT.
Greater Masses. Sixty-eighth Inquiry, or that concerning Water; denoted by vvv.
Greater Masses. Sixty-ninth Inquiry, or that concerning Air; denoted by op.
Greater Masses. Seventieth Inquiry, or that concerning Fire; denoted by xXxx.
Greater Masses. Seventy-first Inquiry, or that concerning the Heavens; denoted by YY.
Greater Masses. Seventy-second Inquiry, or that concerning Meteors; denoted by www.
Conditions of Beings.
It remains to inquire in this alphabet into the conditions of Transcendental Beings, which have little concern with the body of nature, but yet in the method of inquiry which I use will