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rather than philosophy. And this kind, which I noways despise, I will presently touch on by the way, when I come to treat of learned experience among the parts of logic. But the mechanic of which I now treat is that which has been handled by Aristotle promiscuously, by Hero in spirituals, by Georgius Agricola, a modern writer, very diligently in minerals, and by many other writers in particular subjects; so that I have no omissions to mark in this part, except that promiscuous mechanics, after the manner of Aristotle, ought to have been more diligently continued by the moderns, especially with selection of those whereof either the causes are more obscure, or the effects more noble. But they who pursue these studies do but' creep as it were along the shore,
premendo litus iniquum. For it seems to me there can hardly be discovered any radical or fundamental alterations and innovations of nature, either by accidents or essays of experiments, or from the light and direction of physical causes; but only by the discovery of forms. If then I have set down that part of metaphysic which treats of forms as deficient, it must follow that I do the like of natural magic, which has relation thereunto. But I must here stipulate that magic, which has long been used in a bad sense, be again restored to its ancient and honourable meaning. For among the Persians magic was taken for a sublime wisdom, and the knowledge of the universal consents of things; and so the three kings who came from the east to worship Christ were called by the name of Magi. I however understand it as the science which applies the knowledge of hidden forms
hugging the coast.
1 Hor. Od. ii. 10.:
to the production of wonderful operations; and by uniting (as they say) actives with passives, displays the wonderful works of nature. For as for that natural magic which flutters about so many books, embracing certain credulous and superstitious traditions and observations concerning sympathies and antipathies, and hidden and specific properties, with experiments for . the most part frivolous, and wonderful "rather for the skill with which the thing is concealed and masked than for the thing itself; it will not be wrong to say that it is as far differing in truth of nature from such a knowledge as we require, as the story of King Arthur of Britain, or Hugh of Bordeaux, and such like imaginary heroes, differs from Cæsar's Commentaries in truth of story. For it is manifest that Cæsar did greater things in reality than those imaginary heroes were feigned to do, but he did them not in that fabulous manner. Of this kind of learning the fable of Ixion was a figure; who designing to embrace Juno, the Goddess of Power, had intercourse with a fleeting cloud ; out of which he begot Centaurs and Chimæras. So they who are carried away by insane and uncontrollable passion after things which they only fancy they see through the clouds and vapours of imagination, shall in place of works beget nothing else but empty hopes and hideous and monstrous spectres. But this popular and degenerate natural magic has the same kind of effect on men as some soporific drugs, which not only lull to sleep, but also during sleep instil gentle and pleasing dreams. For first it lays the understanding asleep by singing of specific properties and hidden virtues, sent as from heaven and only to be learned from the whispers of tradition ; which makes men no longer alive and awake
for the pursuit and inquiry of real causes, but to rest content with these slothful and credulous opinions; and then it insinuates innumerable fictions, pleasant to the mind, and such as one would most desire,
And it is worth while to note that in these sciences which hold too much of imagination and belief (such as that light Magic of which I now speak, Alchemy, Astrology, and others the like) the means and theory are ever more monstrous than the end and action at which they aim. The conversion of silver, quicksilver, or any other metal into gold, is a thing difficult to believe; yet it is far more probable that a man who knows clearly the natures of weight, of the colour of yellow, of malleability and extension, of volatility and fixedness, and who has also made diligent search into the first seeds and menstruums of minerals,
at last by much and sagacious endeavour produce gold ; than that a few grains of an elixir should in a few moments of time be able to turn other metals into gold by the agency of that elixir, as having power to perfect nature and free it from all impediments. So again the retarding of old age or the restoration of some degree of youth, are things hardly credible ; yet it is far more probable that a man who knows well the nature of arefaction and the depredations of the spirits upon the solid parts of the body, and clearly understands the nature of assimilation and of alimentation, whether more or less perfect, and has likewise observed the nature of the spirits, and the flame as it were of the body, whose office is sometimes to consume and sometimes to restore, shall by diets, bathings, anointings, proper medicines, suitable exercises, and the like, prolong life, or in some degree renew the vigour of youth ; than that it can
be done by a few drops or scruples of a precious liquor or essence. Again, that fates can be drawn from the stars is more than men will at once or lightly admit; but that the hour of nativity (which is very often either delayed or hastened by many natural accidents) should influence the fortune of a whole life; or that the hour of question has a fatal connexion with the subject of inquiry ; these you may call mere follies. But such is the immoderation and intemperance of men that they not only promise to themselves things impossible, but expect to obtain the most difficult things without trouble or toil, as in a holiday recreation. And so much for Magic; whereof I have both vindicated the name itself from discredit, and separated the true kind from the false and ignoble.
But to this operative department of natural philosophy there belong two appendices, both of great value. The first is that there be made an Inventory of the Possessions of Man, wherein should be set down and briefly enumerated all the goods and possessions (whether derived from the fruits and proceeds of nature or of art) which men now hold and enjoy ; with the addition of things once known but now lost; in order that those who address themselves to the discovery of new inventions may not waste their pains upon things already discovered and extant. Which calendar will be more workmanlike and more serviceable too, if you add to it a list of those things which are in common opinion re puted impossible in every kind, noting, in connexion with each, what thing is extant which comes nearest in degree to that impossibility ; that by the one human invention may be stimulated, and by the other it may to a certain extent be directed; and that by these optatives
and potentials active discoveries may the more readily be deduced. The second is, that there be also made a calendar of those experiments which are of most general use, and lead the way to the invention of others. For example, the experiment of the artificial freezing of water by the mixture of ice and bay salt bears on an infinite number of things; for it reveals a secret method of condensation, than which nothing is more serviceable to man. For rarefactions we have fire at hand, but for the means of condensation we are in difficulty. Now it would greatly tend to abridge the work of invention if Polychrests of this kind were set down in a proper catalogue.
Of the great Appendix of Natural Philosophy, both
Speculative and Operative, namely Mathematic; and that it ought rather to be placed among Appendices than among Substantive Sciences. Division of Mathematic into Pure and Mixed.
ARISTOTLE has well remarked that Physic and Mathematic produce Practice or Mechanic;' wherefore as we have already treated of the speculative and operative part of natural philosophy, it remains to speak of Mathematic, which is a science auxiliary to both. Now this in the common philosophy is annexed as a third part to Physic and Metaphysic ; but for my part, being now engaged in reviewing and rehandling these things, if I meant to set it down as a substantive and principal science, I should think it more agreeable both to the
1 Arist. Præf. ad Quæst. Mechan.