Imágenes de páginas

sally and at once agreed upon, not to fetch entities
out of nonentities, and elements out of nonele-
ments, and so to fall into manifest contradiction.
But an abstract element is not an ens; again, a
mortal entity is not an element; so that a neces-
sity plainly invincible drives men (if they would
be consistent) to the idea of an atom, which is a
true ens, having matter, form, dimension, place,
antetype, motion, and emanation. It at the same
time remains unshaken and eternal during the
dissolution of all natural bodies. For, since
there are so many and various corruptions taking
place in greater bodies, it is requisite that what
remains as the centre immutable, should either
be a somewhat potential or very small. But it is
not potential, for the first potential cannot be like
the rest which are potential, which are one thing
in act, another thing in power.
But it is requisite
that it should be plainly abstract, since it refuses
all act and contains all power. And so, it re-
mains that this immutable should be of the small-
est size; unless, perchance, some one will assert
that no elements exist, but that one thing serves
for elements to another, that the law and order of
mutation are things constant and eternal, that the
essence itself is inconstant and mutable. And it
would, indeed, be better plainly to make an asser-
tion of this sort, than, in laying down some

And the opinions of Telesius might, indeed, | mating; and so we go on to the elements of have an air of probability, if man were taken out Telesius. And here I wish it had been univerof nature together with the mechanical arts which try matter, and if we simply looked to the fabric of the world. For it is a kind of pastoral philosophy, which tranquilly and, as it were, at ease contemplates the world. For, indeed, he is not amiss in laying down the mundane system, but niserably fails upon the subject of the elements. And there is, indeed, in his system itself, a great failure, in its being supposed capable of an eternal nature, the idea of a chaos and the mutations of the universal scheme of things being altogether omitted. For that philosophy, whether of Telesius or of the Peripatetics, or any other which so prepares and furnishes its system as not to derive it from chaos, is evidently of slight foundation, and altogether conceived from the narrowness of human imagination. For, so in entire accordance with sense doth the philosopher assert the eternity of matter, and deny that of the world, (as the world appears to us,) which was the opinion of the wisest ancients, and to which opinion Democritus seems to have approached. And this is also the testimony of Scripture; but with this great difference, that the Scriptures derive the origin of matter from God, the philosophers from itself. For, we gather from our faith three dogmas on this point; first, that matter was formed from nothing; secondly, that the production of the system was through the word of Om-eternal principle, to fall into the still greater abnipotence, and not that matter endued itself surdity of making that principle a fantastic one. with form and of itself came forth from chaos; For, that first method seems to have some design thirdly, that before the fall that form was the best and end, that things should be changed into the of those which matter (such as it was created) world, but this, none, which, for entities, adopts could take: but to none of these dogmas could mere notions and mental abstractions. And yet, these philosophical theories ascend. For they the impossibility of this being the case I shall shudder at the thoughts of a creation from nothing, hereafter show. Yet, his Hyle pleased Telesius, and deem that this form of things was produced which he transferred from a later age after the after many windings and attempts of matter, nor birth of Parmenides' philosophy. But Telesius are they troubled as to conceiving of the most instituted an evidently unaccountable and uneexcellent kind of system, since theirs is asserted qual contest between his elements in action, to be liable to decline and to change. We must, whether you consider their forces or their kind then, rest upon the decisions of faith and upon its of war. For, as to their forces, the earth is alone, supports. But, perhaps, we need not inquire but the heaven has a great army; the earth is as a whether that created matter, after a long course little speck, the heaven hath its immense regions. of ages, from the power at first put into it could Nor can it relieve this difficulty that the earth and gather and change itself into that most excellent its connaturals are asserted to be of the most comform, (which, leaving these windings, it did impact matter, and the heaven and the ethereal submediately at the command of the Divine word.) For, the representation of time and the formation of a substance are equally miraculous effects of the same omnipotence. But the Divine Nature seems to have designed glorifying itself equally in either emanation: first, by omnipotently working upon ens and matter by creating substance from nothing; secondly, upon motion and time, by anticipating the order of nature, and accelerating the process of substance. But these pertain to the parable of heaven, where we will discuss more fully what we are now just inti

stances, on the other hand, of the most expanded. For although this indeed is a very essential difference, yet it will by no means equalize the forces even with so great an intermediate space. But the strength of the opinion of Telesius turns chiefly upon this, if an equal portion, as it were, of Hyle (according to the quantum, not according to the expansion) be assigned to both acting elements, so that the things can last, and the system be made and established. For whoever will think with Telesius on other points, and will receive the surpassing power of Hyle, especially in so great an

excess, in one principle compared with another, into itself, which Telesius attributes to the elewill involve himself in an inextricable difficulty. ments, should not operate on similar equally or In the dialogue, therefore, of Plutarch, "De facie more than opposite bodies; so that the heaven in orbe lunæ," this consideration is very wisely ought already to be lit up and the stars to be enproposed, that it is improbable that nature in the gaged in mutual conflict. But to come nearer the dispersion of matter shut up the properties of a point, those four demonstrations ought to be set compact body into the sole globe of the earth, forth, which even singly, much more conjointly, when there were in the mean time so many revolv- can evidently subvert the philosophy of Telesius ing bodies in the heavens. Yet Gilbertus in- respecting the elements. Of these, the first is that dulged to such excess in this imagination as to there are found in things some actions and effects, assert that not only the earth and the moon, but even of things the most potent and the most widemany other solid and opaque globes were scat- ly diffused, which cannot by any means be referred tered amongst the bodies of light through the ex- to heat and cold. The second is, that there are panse of heaven. Nay, the Peripatetics them- found some natures of which heat and cold are the selves, after they had made the heavens eternal consequences and effects, and that not through the through their own condition, and things sublunary excitation of preinexistent heat, or through the by succession and renovation, did not imagine that application of heat approximating to them, but they had sufficiently guarded their tenet till they through those things by which heat and cold are assigned to the elements as it were equal portions infused and generated in their first esse. The of matter. For this is that which they fable con- ground of an element, therefore, fails in either cerning that tenfold portion by which the surround-side in them, both because there is a something ing element is superior to the inner element. But I do not bring these things forward, because none of them are to my mind, but to show that it is perfectly improbable and unnatural to maintain with Telesius that the earth is a principle acting in contrariety to the heavens. And the difficulty will be greatly increased if besides the quantum itself we consider the unequal influence and action of the heaven and the earth. For the condition of contest must be lost altogether, if the attack of the hostile weapons be borne by the one side, but do not reach the other, but fall first. But it is plain that the power of the sun is projected toward the earth, but none can promise that the influence of the earth ever reaches the sun. For of all the influences of nature, the influence of light and shade is conveyed to the greatest distance and is circumfused with the greatest space or orbit. But the shade of the earth is bounded on this side the sun, whilst the light of the sun, if the earth were | transparent, could beat across the globe of the earth. Heat and cold, in particular, (of which we are now treating,) are never found to overcome so great a space in the conveyance of their influence, | as light and shade. Therefore, if the shade of the earth does not reach the sun, much less is it in accordance with this to suppose that the cold of the earth travels thither. If indeed the sun and heat acted upon certain mediate bodies, whether the influence of a contrary principle could not ascend, or by any means hinder their action, it is requisite that the sun and heat should occupy whatever are the nearest bodies to them, and then should join also the more remote, so that in time the conflagration of Heraclitus should take place by the solar and celestial nature gradually descending, and making a nearer approach to the earth and its confines. Nor does this well harmonize, that that power of imparting and multiplying its own nature and of turning other things VOL. I.—5"

[ocr errors]

not from them, and because themselves are from something. The third is, that even those which derive their origin from heat and cold, (which certainly are very many,) yet proceed from them as from an efficient and organs, not as from their proper and nearest source. Fourthly, that that conjugation of the four connaturals is altogether blended and confused. Therefore I will speak of these singly. But some may think the time misspent in so minute an examination of the philosophy of Telesius, a philosopher of no great popularity or celebrity. But the fastidiousness of such objectors I dismiss. I have a favourable opinion of Telesius, and recognise in him a lover of truth, a profitable servant of science, a reformer of some tenets, and the first indeed of the moderns. Nor have I to do with him so much as Telesius as in his character of restorer of the philosophy of Parmenides, and as such he is entitled to great regard. But my chief reason for so largely discussing this part of our subject is, that in Telesius, who is the first who meets our view, we find occasion to consider very many subjects which can be transferred, as replies to following sects, (of whom we shall hereafter speak,) to avoid repetition. For there are fibres of errors, (though of different kinds,) wonderfully complicated, which can yet in many instances be cut away by one answer. But as we began to say, we must see what kind of influences and actions are found in things which cannot by any concord of things or violence of ingenuity be referred to heat and cold. We must assume, then, in the first place, what is granted by Telesius, that the sum of matter remains eternally the same, without increase or diminution. This property, by which matter preserves and sustains itself, he transmits as passive, and as it were pertaining more to the measure of quantity than to form and action, as if there were no need of reckoning it to heat or cold, which are considered the


sources of acting forms only and influences, for there for the denying and refuting of a vacuum, that matter is not simply but altogether destitute and drawing out and enlarging these in such a of active influence. And these assertions flow manner as that the ens may appear to keep that from an incredible error, unless the miracle be re- contiguity by being placed in a certain light moved by its having been an inveterate and gene- necessity; but that if they were very much ral opinion. For there is scarcely any error similar agitated they would admit a vacuum; as in than that a person should not deem the active in-water hourglasses, in which if there be rather a fluence that virtue infused into matter, (through small aperture through which the water can which it is kept from decay, so that the very least descend, they will want a spiracle for the water portion of matter is not buried in the whole bulk to descend; but if a larger foramen even without of the world, nor destroyed by the power of all a spiracle, the water being incumbent with a the active influences, or in any way annihilated, greater bulk on the foramen, and in no way imand can be reduced to order; nay, can occupy a peding the vacuum above, is carried downwards. portion of space and preserve resistance with im- So in bellows, in which if you compress and shut. penetrable dimension, and itself by turns be capa- them so that there be left no place for the air to ble of some action, and not forsake itself.) When, glide in, and you afterward elevate and expand on the contrary, it is by far the most potent of all them, if the skin of the bellows be slight and influences, and evidently insuperable, and, as it weak, it will break, not so if very thick and firm; But these were, a mere fate and necessity. Yet this virtue and other experiments in like manner. Telesius does not attempt to refer to heat or cold. experiments are neither exactly proved, nor are And rightly so: for neither do fire or numbness they quite satisfactory, nor conclusive on the and congelation add or detract any thing from it question, and though Telesius thinks he adds to nor have any power over it, when it yet meanwhile discoveries by means of them, and endeavours flourishes in the sun, at the centre of the earth, after a more subtle discernment of what others and everywhere. But he seems to fail, in that have seen but confusedly, yet he does not come he recognises a certain and defined bulk of mat- off equal to his subject, nor educe a true concluter, is blind to that influence which should defend sion, but fails in the means: the misfortune, itself and preserve itself in its several parts, and indeed, of Telesius and the Peripatetics, who in (as it were, be clouded in the darkest shades of looking into experiments are like owls, not the Peripatetics) puts that in the place of an ac- through the inefficiency of their faculties, but cessory, when it is mainly the principal, poising|through the cataracts of opinions and impatience its own body, removing another, solid and adamantine in itself, and whence emanate by an inviolable authority the decrees of the possible and the impossible. In the same manner the vulgar | school puerilely catches at it with an easy grasp of words, imagining that the judgment is satisfied by making a canon of the impossibility of two bodies occupying the same space, but does not take into actual and full consideration that influ- | ence and the measure of which we speak; overlooking how much depends upon it, and how great a light would thence be thrown upon science. But to our point, that influence, whatever is its nature, is not comprehended in the elements of Telesius. We must now pass to that influence itself, which is, as it were, the antistrophe to this former, that namely which preserves the connexion of matter. For as matter will not suffer itself to be overwhelmed and perish by matter, so neither can it be separated from matter. And yet it is very doubtful whether this law of nature is equally peremptory with that other.

But Telesius like Democritus supposed a vacuum heaped together and unbounded, that each ens singly might lay down its contiguous ens, and sometimes desert it involuntarily and with difficulty, (as they say,) but with a greater and a subdued violence, and he endeavoured to demonstrate this by sundry experiments, adducing especially those things which are cited here and

of fixed and full contemplation. But the very
difficult question how far a vacuum is to be ad-
mitted, and with respect to what spaces there can
be a coition or separation of seeds, and what there
is on this head that is peremptory and invariable,
I leave to my dissertation on the vacuum. Nor
does it relate much to my present purpose whether
nature utterly abhors a vacuum, or (as Telesius
imagines himself to speak more accurately) enti-
ties delight in mutual contact. This we hold to
be plain that whether it be avoidance of a vacuum
or inclination to contact does not in any degree
depend on heat and cold, nor does Telesius assert
that it doth, nor can it be so ascribed from any ap-
pearance in the things themselves: since matter
moved from its place attracts doubtless other
matter, whether that be hot or cold, liquid or dry,
hard or soft, friendly or adverse, so that a warm
would sooner attract the coldest body to come to
it, than suffer itself to be disjoined from and
deserted by every kind of body. For the bond of
matter is stronger than the aversion of heat and
cold: and the sequacity of matter has no respec
to the diversity of special forms; and so this
influence of connexion is by no means from thos
elements of heat and cold. The two influence
that are mutually opposite follow, which confe
red (as may be seen) this rule of elements up
heat and cold, but by a right badly explicat.d.
I mean those influences through which entities

open and rarefy themselves, dilate and expand so | matter is laid on the space than is in proportion as to occupy a greater space, and dispose themselves into a more extensive orbit; or, other hand, shut up and condense themselves, so as to retire from the space they occupied and betake themselves to a narrower sphere. We must show, therefore, how far that influence hath its rise in heat and cold, and how far it dwells apart, and has a separate nature from that other influence. And that is certainly true, which Telesius affirms, that rarity and density are, as it were, the peculiar works of heat and cold; for the most essential requisite, in respect of these, is that the bodies should occupy a greater and a less space; but yet these dogmas are received rather confusedly: for bodies seem sometimes to migrate from one natural site to another, and to transfer themselves, and that freely and, as it were, willingly, and changing their forms; but sometimes they seem only driven from their natural site, and to return to their accustomed site, their old form remaining the same. And that progressive influence entering on a new site is commonly determined by heat and cold but that other restorative influence is not so. For water expands itself into vapour and air, oil likewise, and fat substances, into steam and flame, by the power of heat, and, if they have completely transmigrated, do not return. Nay, even the air itself is dilated and extended by heat. But if the migration shall have been half full after the departure of heat, it easily falls back into itself; so as that there are also some properties of heat and cold in the restorative influence itself. But those which, without any intervening heat or violence, are extended and divided, even without any addition of cold or subtraction of heat, most readily are returned to their former sites when the force ceases, as in the blowing of a glass egg, and in the emptying of bellows. But that is far more evident in solid and dense bodies. For if cloth, or a string of an instrument be stretched, when the force is taken away, they leap back with great swiftness, and the same is the nature of compression. For the air, drawn together and confined with some violence, breaks forth with a considerable effort, and so the whole of that mechanical motion by which a hard is struck by a hard body, which is commonly called the motion of force, through which solid bodies are discharged, and fly through the air or water, is nothing else than the contending of the parts of the discharged body to free themselves from compression. And yet here are no traces of heat and cold. Nor can any one take occasion from Telesius to say, that a certain portion of heat and cold is assigned to each natural site, according to a fixed analogy. And that it can thus happen, that though there be no additional heat or cold, yet if the space of the body of matter be extended or contracted, the thing would return to the same state, because more or less

to the heat or cold. But these assertions, though
not absolutely absurd, seem, nevertheless, like
the imaginations of men unwilling to go from
their first opinions, and who do not follow reality
and nature. For if heat and cold be added to
bodies thus extended or compressed, and that in
a greater degree accords with the body itself, as,
if the stretched cloth be warmed at the fire, it will
not in any way make up for the thing, or extin-
guish the impetus of recovery. We have, then,
made it plain that the influence of changing site
does not depend, in a remarkable degree, upon
heat and cold, when yet this is that very influence
which assigns the greatest power to these prin-
ciples. Those two influences follow which are
universally recognised, through which bodies seek
masses or greater congregations of things conna-
tural with them, in observing of which, as of other
subjects, men either trifle or err.
For the vulgar
school thinks it sufficient to have distinguished
the natural from the forced motion, and to give
out that heavy bodies are, by a natural motion,
borne downward; light, upward. But these
speculations are of very little help to philosophy.
For their "nature,"
"force," are only
terms of terms and trifles. They should refer
this motion not only to nature, but should seek in
this very motion the particular and proper bias
and inclination of the natural body. For there
are many other natural motions, according to very
different passive natures of things from these.
The subject, therefore, is to be laid down accord-
ing to these differences. Nay, those very motions
which they call violent, are more truly natural
than that which they call natural; if that be more
according to nature which is more powerful, or
even which is more of a universal kind. For
that motion of ascent and descent is not very
potent, nor even universal, but as it were pro-
vincial, and for certain regions, and even yielding
and subjected to other motions. Their saying
that heavy bodies are borne downward, light,
upward, is no more than saying that heavy
are heavy, light, light bodies. For what is so
predicated is assumed from the very force of
the term in the subject. But if by heavy they
mean dense, by light, rare, they do not advance
the subject, only they lead it back rather to
the adjunct and concomitant, than to the cause.
But they who so explain the bias of heavy bodies
as to assert that they are borne to the earth's
centre, and light to the circumference and circuit
of heaven, as to their proper destinations, certainly
advance something, and hint at a cause, but yet
with much inconsideration. For places are not
influences, nor is a body affected but by a body,
and every incitation of a body which seems to be
seat itself, affects and endeavours a configuration
toward another body, not collocation or simple site.
A. T. R.




I. Presence Tables.

We have first to note which are the substances, of whatever kind, that generate light; as stars, fiery meteors, flame, wood, metals, and other burning bodies, sugar in scraping or breaking it, the glowworm, the dews of salt water when it is agitated or scattered, the eyes of certain animals, some sorts of rotten wood, large quantities of snow; perhaps the air itself may possess a weak light adapted to the vision of the animals which see by night; iron and tin, when put into aqua fortis to be dissolved, boil, and without any fire produce intense heat, but whether or not they give out any light demands inquiry; the oil of lamps sparkles in very cold weather; a kind of faint light is sometimes observed in a clear night around a horse that is sweating; around the hair of certain persons, there is seen, though rarely, also a faint light, like a lambent flamule, as occured to Lucius Marcius in Spain; there was lately found an apron of a certain woman which was said to shine, yet only when rubbed; but it had been dyed in green, of which dye alum is an ingredient, and it rustled somewhat when shining. Whether alum shines or not when scraped or broken is matter of inquiry; but, I suppose, it requires more violent breaking, because it is firmer than sugar. In like manner, some stockings shine whilst you are pulling them off, whether from sweat or the dye of alum.

II. Absence Tables.

[ocr errors]

III. Table of Degrees.

We must remark which sorts of light are more intense and vibrating, which less: the flame of wood produces a strong light; the flame of spirit of wine, a weaker; the flame of coals when fully kindled, a very dim and scarcely visible light.

IV. Colours of Light.

We have to consider the colours of light, what they are, what not; some stars are white, others glittering, some red, some lead-coloured; the common sorts of flame are generally croceous, and among these the coruscations from the sky, and the sparks from flint, tend most to whiteness; the flame of sulphur is ceruleous and beautiful; but in some substances are purple flames. No green flames are observed: what most inclines to greenness, is that of the glowworm. Neither are there any crimson flames discovered: heated iron is red, but if heated somewhat more intensely, it becomes as it were white.

V. Reflections of Light.

We have to observe what bodies reflect light: as mirrors, water, polished metals, the moon, precious stones. All liquid bodies and such as have very equal smooth surfaces are somewhat bright; but brightness is a certain small degree of light.

We have to remark attentively, whether or not the light of one lucid body can be reflected by another lucid body; as if you took heated iron and opposed it to the sun's rays. For the reflections of light are reflected on, yet becoming gradually feebler, from mirror to mirror.

We must also observe which are the substances that give no light, yet have much similitude to such as do produce it. Boiling water does not give light; air though unusually heated does not VI. Multiplication of Light. give light; mirrors and diamonds, which so The multiplication of light must next be constrikingly reflect light, give no light of their own. sidered: as by mirrors, perspectives, and the like, In this kind of instances we have also to con- by which light may be sharpened and thrown to sider diligently the instances migratory, namely, a distance, or also rendered subtler and softer for when light, as if transient, is present, and when distinguishing visible objects; as you may see absent. A burning coal gives light, but loses it among painters, who use a phial filled with water instantly when strongly compressed; the crystal-beside their candle.

line humour of the glowworm, after the worm's Whether all bodies of any considerable size do death, even when broken and divided into parts, not reflect light, must also be considered. For retains light for a short time, which, however, light, as may be believed, either goes through or soon after fades away is reflected from which cause the moon, though


« AnteriorContinuar »