Sir Kenelm Digby’s Discourse on
The Powder of Sympathy
On the sympathetick powder,
a discourse in a solemn assembly at Montpellier,
made in French by Sir Kenelm Digby 1657.
John Williams publisher, London 1669.
I Believe you will remain all in one mind with me, that, to penetrate and know a Subject, ’tis necessary, in the first place, to shew whether the thing be such, as it is supposed or imagined to be: For would not one unprofitably lose both his time and labour, to busie himself in the re-search of the causes, of that which peradventure is but a Chimera, with any foundation of truth?
I remember to have read a place in Plutarch, where he proposeth this Question, Why those Horses, who, while they are Colts, have been pursued by the Wolf and saved themselvs by force of runing, are more fleet than other Hercules? Wherto he answers, That it may be the scaring and affrightment, which the Wolf gives the young beast, makes him try his utmost strength, to deliver himself from the danger that follows him at the heels: therfore, the said fright, as it were, unknits his joynts, and stretches his sinews, and makes the ligaments and other parts of his body the more supple to run; insomuch, that he resents it all his life afterwards, and becomes a good Courser. Or, perhaps, says he, those Colts, which are naturally swift, save themselvs by flying away; wheras others, who are not so, are overtaken by the Wolf, and so become his prey: and so, it is not because they have escaped the Wolf, that they are the more fleet, but it is their natural swiftness that saves them. He affords also other reasons; and at last concludes, That it may be the thing is not true. I find it not so fit (my Lords) to reply hereto at a Table Discourse: where the chief design of conversation is to pass away the time gently and pleasantly; without medling with the severity of high fetcht reasons, to wind up the spirits, and make them more attentive. But, in so renowned an Assembly as this, where there are such Judicious Persons and so profoundly learned, and who, upon this rancounter, expect from me, that I pay them in solid reasons; I should be very sorry, that, having done my uttermost to make it clear, How the Powder, (which they commonly call the Powder of Sympathy; doth, naturally and without any Magick, cure wounds without touching them, yea, without seeing of the Patient: I say, I should be very sorry, that it should be doubted, Whether such a cure may effectually be perform’d or no.
In matter of fact, the determination of the existence and truth of a thing depends on the report which our Senses make us. This business is of that nature; Wherin, they, who have seen the effects and had experience therof, and have been careful to examine all necessary circumstances, and satisfied themselves afterwards that there is no imposture in the thing, nothing doubt but that it is real and true; And, they, who have not seen such experiences, ought to refer themselvs to Narrations and Authority of such as have. I could produce divers wherof I was an ocular witness; nay, Quorum pars magna fui [Of what part was I great]: But as a certain and eminent example in the affirmative is convincing, to determine the possibility and truth of a matter in doubt; I shall content my self (because I would not trespass too much upon your patience at this time) to instance in one only. But, it shall be one of the clearest, the most perspicuous, and the most averred that can be; not only for the remarkable circumstances therof, but also for the hands (which were above the Vulgar) through which the whole business passed. For, the cure of a very sore hurt was perfected by this Powder of Sympathy, upon a Person illustrious, as well for his many perfections, as for his several employments. All the circumstances were examined and sounded to the bottom, by one of the greatest and most knowing Kings of his time, viz. King James of England; who had a particular talent and marvailous sagacity, to discusse natural things, and penetrate them to the very marrow: As also by his Son, the late King Charles, and the Duke of Buckingham, their prime Minister. And, in fine, all was registred among the Observations of the great Chancelor, Bacon, to add, by way of Appendix, to his Natural History. And I believe, when you shall have understood this History, you will not accuse me of Vanity, if I attribute to my self the Introducing this way of Cure, into this Quarter of the World.
Mr. James Howel, (well known in France, for his publick Works; and particularly, for his Dendrologia, translated into French by Monsir Bauduin) coming by, by chance, as two of his best friends were fighting in Duel, did his endeavour to part them; and, putting himself between them, seiz’d with his left hand upon the Hilt of one of the Combatants, while with his right he laid hold of the Blade of the other. They, being transported with fury one against the other, strugled to rid themselvs of the hindrance their Friend made, that they should not kill one another: and one of them, roughly drawing the Blade of his Sword, cut, to the very bone, the nervs and muscles of Mr. Howel’s hand: and then the other, disengaging his Hilt, gave a cross blow on his Adversaries head, which glanced towards his Friend; who, heaving up his hand to save the blow, was wounded on the back of his hand, as he had been before within. It seems some strange Constellation reign'd then against him, that he should lose so much blood by parting two such dear Friends, who, had they been themselvs, would have hazarded both their lives to have preserved His: But, this unvoluntary effusion of blood by them, prevented that which they should have drawn one from the other. For they, seeing Mr. Howel’s face besmear'd with blood by heaving up his wounded hand, both ran to embrace him: and having search’d his hurts, they bound up his Hand with one of his Garters, to close the Veins which were cut and bled abundantly. They brought him home, and sent for a Chyrurgeon: But this being heard at Court, the King sent one of his own Chyrurgeons; for his Majesty much affected the said Mr. Howel.
It was my chance to be lodged hard by him; and, four or five dayes after, as I was making my self ready, he came to my House, and pray’d me to view his wounds, for I understand, said he, that you have extraordinary remedies upon such occasions; and my Chyrurgeons apprehend some fear, that it may grow to a Gangrene, and so the hand must be cut off. In effect, his countenance discover’d that he was in much pain; which, he said, was insupportable, in regard of the extream inflammation. I told him that I would willingly serve him: but if, haply, he knew the manner how I would cure him, without touching or seeing him, it may be he would not expose himself to my manner of curing; because he would think it, peradventure, either ineffectual or superstitious. He reply’d, The wonderful things which many have related to me, of your way of medicament, makes me nothing doubt of its efficacy; and all that I have to say to you is comprehended in the Spanish Proverb, Hagase el milagro, y hagalo, Mahoma. Let the miracle be done, though Mahomet do it.
I ask’d him, then, for any thing that had the blood upon it; so he presently sent for his Garter, wherewith his hand was first bound: and as I call'd for a Bason of water, as if I would wash my hands; I took a handful of Powder of Vitriol, which I had in my Study, and presently dissolv’d it. As soon as the bloody Garter was brought me, I put it in the Bason, observing the while what Mr. Howel did; who stood talking with a Gentleman in a corner of my Chamber, not regarding at all what I was doing: But he started suddenly, as if he had found some strange alteration in himself. I ask’d him what he ail’d? I know not what ails me, said he, but I find, that I feel no more pain: me-thinks, a pleasing kind of freshness, as it were a wet cold napkin spread it self over my hand; which hath taken away the inflammation that tormented me before. I reply’d, since then you feel already so good an effect of my medicament, I advise you to cast away all your plaisters; only keep the wound clean, and in a moderate temper ‘twixt heat and cold.
After dinner I took the Garter out of the water, and put it to dry before a great fire. It was scarce dry, but Mr. Howel’s servant came running, to tell me that his Master felt as much burning as ever he had done, if not more; for the heat was such, as if his hand were betwixt coales of fire. I answer’d, that although that had hapned at present, yet he should find ease in a short time; for I knew the reason of this new accident, and I would provide accordingly, so that his Master should be free from that inflammation, it may be, before he could possibly return unto him: but, in case he found no ease, I wish’d him to come presently back again; if not, he might forbear coming.
Away he went; and at the instant I put again the Garter into the water; therupon, he found his Master without any pain at all. To be brief, there was no sense of pain afterward; but, within five or six days the wounds were cicatriced, and entirely healed. King James required a punctual information of what had passed, touching this cure: and after it was done, and perfected, his Majesty would needs know of me how it was done, having droll’d with me first (which, he could do with a very good grace) about a Magician and a Sorcerer. I answer'd, That I should be always ready to perform what his Majesty should command; but I most humbly desired him before I should passe further, that I might tell him what the Authour, of whom I had the Secret, said to the great Duke of Toscany upon the like occasion. It was a Religious Carmelite, that came from the Indies and Persia to Florence, he had also been at China; who, having done many marvellous cures with this Powder, after his arrival to Toscany, the Duke said, he would be very glad to learn it of him. It was the father of the Great Duke, who governs now.
The Carmelite answer’d him, That it was a Secret which he had learnt in the Oriental parts, and he thought there was not any, who knew it in Europe but himself; and that it deserv’d not to be divulged; which could not be hindred, if his Highness would meddle with the practice of it, because he was not likely to do it with his own hands; but must trust a Surgeon, or some other servant; so that, in a short time divers other would come to know it, as well as himself. But, a few months after, I had opportunity to do an important courtesie to the said .... ; which induced him to discover unto me his Secret: and the same year he return’d to Persia; that now there is no other knows this Secret in Europe, but my self. The King replied, That I needed not apprehend any fear that .... would discover it; for he would not trust any body in the World to make experience of this Secret, but do it with his own hands: therfore he would have some of the Powder, which I deliver’d, instructing him in all the circumstances. Wherupon his Majesty made sundry proofs; whence he reciv’d singular satisfaction.
In the Interim, Dr. Mayerne, his first Physician, watch’d to discover what was done by this Secret: and at last he came to know, that the King made use of Vitriol. Afterwards he accosted me, saying, he durst not demand of me my Secret, because I made some difficulty to discover it to the King himself: But, having learnt with what matter it was to be done, he hoped I would communicate to him all the circumstances, how it is to be used. I answer’d him, That if he had asked me before, I would frankly have told him all; for, in his hands, there was no fear that such a secret should be prostituted: and so I told him all. A little after the Doctor went into France, to see some fair Territories he had purchased near Geneva; which was the Barony of Aubonne. In this voyage he went to see the Duke of Mayerne, who had been a long time his friend and protector; and he taught him this Secret: wherof the Duke made many experiments, which if any other but a Prince had done, it may be they had passed for effects of Magick and enchantments.
After the Dukes death, who was kill’d at the siege of Montauban, his Surgeon, who waited on him in doing cures, sold this Secret to divers persons of Quality, who gave him considerable sums for it, so that he became very rich therby. The thing, being fall’n thus into many hands, remain'd not long in termes of a Secret but by degrees came to be so divulged, that now there is scarce any Country Barber but knows it.
Behold, Sirs, the genealogy of the Powder of Sympathy in this part of the World with a notable History of a cure perform’d by it. ’Tis time now to come to the discussion, how it is done. It must be avowed, that ’tis a marvellous thing, that the hurt of a wounded person should be cured by the application of a remedy put to a rag of cloth or a weapon at a great distance. Yet it is not to be doubted, but after a long and profound speculation of all the oeconomy and concatenation of natural causes, which may be adjudged capable to produce such effects, one may fall at last upon the true ones, which must have subtle resorts and means to act. Hitherto they have been wrap’d up in darknesse, and esteem’d so inaccessible, that they who have undertaken to speak or write of them, (at least those I have seen) have been contented to speak of some ingenious sleight; without diving into the bottom: endeavouring rather to shew the vivacity of their spirit and force of their eloquence, than to satisfie their Readers and Auditors, how the thing is really to be done. They would have us take for ready mony some terms, which we understand not, nor know what they signifie. They would pay us with conveniences, with resemblances, with Sympathies, with Magnetical virtues, and such terms, without explicating what these terms mean: They think they have done enough, if they feebly perswade any body that the business may be performed by a natural way; without having any recourse to the intervention of Demons, and Spirits: but they pretend not in any sort to have found out the convincing reasons which demonstrate, how the thing is done.
If I did not hope to gain otherwise upon your spirits; if I did not, I say believe, that I should be able to perswade you otherwise than by words, I would not have under taken this enterprize. I know to well, Quid valeant humeri, quid ferre recusent [What shoulders bear, what weight they support]. Such a design requires a great fire, and vivacity of conceptions, volubility of tongue, aptness of expressions, to insinnuate, as it were by surprisal, that which one cannot carry away by a firm foot, & by cold reasons, though solid. A Discourse of this nature challenges other than a Stranger; who finds himself obliged to display his sense in a language, wherein he can hardly express his ordinary conceptions. Nevertheless these considerations shall not deterr me from engaging my self in an enterprize, which may seem to some much more difficult, than that which I am now to perform, viz. to make good convincing proofs, that this Sympathetical cure may be done naturally; and to shew before your eyes, and make you touch with your finger, how it may be done. You know that Perswasions are made by ingenious arguments, which, expressed with a good grace, rather tickle the Imagination, than satisfy the Understanding: But demonstrations are built upon certain and approved principles; and though they be but roughly pronounced, yet they convince and draw after them necessary conclusions. They proceed, as a strong Engin fastned to a gate to batter it down; or as a plate of metal to imprint the mark of the mony. At every turn, that truth makes, she approaches but little, and as it were insensibly, and makes not much noise, and there is no such great force required to turn her; but her strength, though it be slow, is invincible. That at the end, she breaks down the gate, and makes a deep impression on the piece of Gold or Silver. Whereas the stroke of hammers, and bars, (whereto witty discourses, and the flourished conceptions of Subtile spirits may be compared) requires the arm of a Giant, makes a great noise; and, at the end of the account, produces little effect.
To enter then into the matter I will (according to the method of Geometrical Demonstrations) lay Six or Seven Principles, as foundation-stones, wheron I will erect my Structure, But I will lay them so well, and so firmly, that there shall be no great difficulty to grant them. These Principles shall be like the wheels of Archimedes: by the advantage wherof a child might be capable to hale on shore the bigest Carack of King Hieron; which a hundred pair of Oxen, with all the Ropes and Cables of his Arsenal, were not able to stir. So, by the strength of these Principles, I hope to wast my Conclusions to a safe Port.
The First Principle shall be, that the whole Orbe or Sphere of the Air is filled with Light. If it were needful to prove in this point, that Light is a material and corporal Substance, and not an imaginary and incomprehensible Quality, (as many Schoolmen aver), I could do it evidently enough: but I have done this in another Treatise, which hath been published not long since. And it is no new opinion: for, many of the most esteemed Philosophers among the Antients have advanced it; yea, the Great St. Augustine, (in his Third Epistle to Volusian) alledges, that it is his sentiment. But to our present business, whether Light be the one, or the other, it matters not; tis enough to explicate its course, and the journies it makes, wherto our Senses bear witness. ’Tis clear, that, issuing continually out of its source, the Sun, and lancing it self by a marvailous celerity on all sides by straight lines, where it encounters any obstacles in its way, by the opposition of some hard or opaque body, it reflects; & leaping thence to equal angles, takes again its course by a straight line, till it bandies upon some other solid body; & so it continues to make new boundings here & there; till, at the end, being chased on all sides, by the bodies which oppose it in its passage, ’tis tired, and so extinguishes. In the like manner as we see a Ball in Tenis Court, being struck by a strong arm against the walls, leaps to the opposite side; so that sometimes it makes the circuit of the whole Court, & finishes its motion near the place where it was first struck. Our very eys are witnesses of this progress of the Light; when, by way of reflexion, it illuminates some obscure place, whither it cannot directly arrive: Or when, issuing immediatly from the Sun, & beating upon the Moon, or some other of the Planets, the ray’s, which cannot find entrance there, bound upon our Earth, (otherwise we should not see them); and there it is reflected, broken & bruised by so many bodies, as it meets in its diversity of reflexions.
The Second Principle shal be, that The Light glancing so up on some body, the rayes which enter no further but rebound from the superficies of the body, carry with them some smal particles or atomes: just as the Ball, whereof we have spoken, would carry with it some of the moisture of the wall, against which ’tis banded, if the plaister therof were also moist, & as, in effect, it carryed away some tincture of the black, wherwith the walls are coloured. The Reason wherof is, that the Light, that subtil and rarified fire, coming with such an imperceptible haste, (for its darts are within our eyes, as soon as soon as its head is above our Horison, making so many millions of miles in an inimaginable space of time) I say, the Light, beating upon the body which opposes it, cannot chuse but make there some small incisions, proportionable to its rarity and subtility. And these small Atomes being cut and loosned from their trunk, the heat of the light sticks and incorporates it self with the most humid, viscuous, and glewing parts of them; and carries them along with it. Experience shews us this, as well as Reason. For, when one puts some humid cloth to dry before the fire, the fiery rays beating theron, those which find no entrance, but reflect thence, carry away with them some small moist bodies, which make a kind of mist betwixt the cloth and the fire. In like manner the Sun at his rising enlightning the earth, which is moistned either by rain or the dew of the night, his beams raise a Mist, which, by little and little, ascends to the tops of the hills: and this Mist doth rarifie, according as the Sun hath more force to draw it upwards; till at last we lose the sight thereof, and it becomes part of the Air, which, in regard of its tenuity, is invisible to us. These Atomes then are like Cavaliers, mounted on winged Coursers; who ride on still till the Sun, setting, takes from them their Pegasus and leave them unmounted: and then they precipitate themselvs in crowds to the Earth, whence they sprung. The greatest part of them, and the most heavy, fall, upon the first retreating of the Sun; and that we call the Serain: which though it be so thin that we cannot see it, yet we feel it, as so many small hammers striking upon our heads and Bodies; principally the elder sort of us. For, young persons, in regard of the boyling of their blood, and the heat of their complexion, thrust out of them abundance of Spirits: which, being stronger than those that fall from the Serain, repulse them, and hinder them to operate on the Bodies, whence these Spirits came forth; as they do upon those that, being grown cold by age, are not guarded by so strong an emanation of their Spirits. The Wind which blows, and is tossed to and fro, is no other than a great River of the like Atomes; drawn out of some solid Bodies, which are upon the earth, and so banded here and there, according as they find cause for that effect.
I remember to have once sensibly seen how the Wind is ingendred. I passed over Mount Cenis, to go for Italy, towards the begining of Summer; and I was advanced to half the Hill, as the Sun rose clear and luminous: but before I could see his body, because the Mountains interposed, I observed his rays, which gilded the top of the Mountain Viso which is the Pyramid of a Rock, a good deal higher, than Mount Cenis and all the neighbouring Mountains. Many are of opinion, that it is the highest Mountain in the World, after the Pic of Tenariff, in the Gran-de-Canary: and this Mount Viso is always cover’d with Snow. I observed then, that, about that place which was illuminated by the Solar rays, there was a Fog: which at first was of no greater extent, than an ordinary Boul: but by degrees it grew so great, that at last, not only the top of that Mountain, but all the neighbouring Hills were canopied all over with a Cloud. I was now come to the top of Mount Cenis; and, finding my self in the straight line, which passes from the Sun to Mount Viso, I stay’d a while to behold it, while my Servants were coming up the Hill behind: for, having more men to carry my chair, than they had, I was there sooner. It was not long e’re I might perceive the said Fog descend gently to the place where I was; and I began to feel a freshness that came over my face, when I turn’d it that way. When all my Troop was come about me, we went descending the other side of Mount Cenis, towards Suza: and the lower we went, we sensibly found that the Wind began to blow hard behind our backs; for, our way obliged us to go towards the side, where the Sun was. We met with Passengers that were going up, as we down; who told us, that the Wind was very impetuous below, and did much incommodate them, by blowing in their faces and eyes; but the higher they came, it was lesser and lesser. And for our selves, when we were come to the place where they said the Wind blew so hard, we found a ... of Storm: and it encreased still, the lower we went; till the Sun, being well advanced, drew no more by that line, but caused a Wind in some other place. The people of that Country assured me, that it was there always so; if some extraordinary and violent accident did not intervene, and divert the ordinary course, viz. at a certain hour of the day, the Wind raises it self to such a romb, or point, and, when the Sun is come to another point, another wind rises; and so from hand to hand it changes the point, till the Sun set: which always brings with it a calm, if the weather be fair; and that always comes from the Mount Viso, opposite to the Sun. They told us also that the daily wind is commonly stronger towards the bottom of the Mountain, than towards the top; wherof the reason is evident. For, the natural movement of every body natural encreases always in swiftness, according as it moves forward to its center; and that by the unequal numbers, (as Galileo hath ingeniously demonstrated; I did it also in another Treatise): that is to say, if at the first moment it advances an ell, in the second it advances three, in the third five, in the fourth seven, and so it continues to augment in the same manner; which proceeds from the density and figure of the descending body, acting upon the cessiblility of the medium. And these small Bodies, which cause a wind from Mount Viso, are thick and terrestrial: for, the Snow being composed of watry and earthy parts united by the cold, when the heat of the Solar beams disunites and separates them, the viscous parts flie with them; while the terrestrial, being too heavy to fly upward, fall presently downward.
This makes me remember a very remarkable thing, which befell me when I was with my Fleet in the Port of Scanderon or Alexandretta, towards the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea: there they use to dis-imbark, when they go to Aleppo, or Babylon. I had done already what I had intended to do in those Seas, and happily compassed my design; so it imported me much to return to England as soon as possibly I could; and the rather because my Ships were batter’d by a great Fight, I had had a little before, against a formidable power; wherin although I had obtain’d the better, yet, in so furious a dispute, my Fleet was in some disorder, and my Ships full of wounded Men. To advise therefore of the most expedient Course to come to some Harbour, where I might repair my Ships and be in surety: I assembled all my Captains, Pilots, and Mariners, the most experienced of my Fleet: and, having propounded to them my design, they were all of an unanimous opinion, that the surest course was towards the South, and to cast upon Syria, Judea, Egypt, Africa, and render our selves at the streight of Gibraltar; sailing so near the main Land, we should have every night some small briezes of wind, wherby we should in a short time make our Voyage. And besides, we should not be in any great danger to meet either with Spanish or French Fleets. For, England was at that time in open War with both those Kings, and we had advice, that they had great Fleets abroad, to vindicate some things we had done in prejudice of them both, those sixteen months that we remain’d Master of those Seas: therefore it concern’d us to make towards some safe Port; where we might both refresh our Men, and repair our batter'd Vessels.
My opinion was clean contrary to theirs: for, I believ’d our best Course were, to steer our Course Westward, and to sail along the Coasts of Cilicia, Pamphylia, Lydia, Natolia, or Asia the Less; and to traverse the mouth of the Archipelago leave the Adriatick on the right hand, and pass Sicily, Italy, Sardinia, Corsica, the Gulph of Lion, and so coast all Spain. Telling them, that it would be a great dishonour to us to forsake our best Road, for fear of the Enemy; since our chief business thither was to find them out: and the protection which it pleased God to afford us all along in so many Combats, in going, ought to make us hope the same providence would vouchsafe to guide us in returning. That there was no doubt but the road which I proposed to them, consider’d simply in it self, was, without comparison, the better, and the more expedite to sail out of the Mediterranean Sea, and gain the Ocean; because, said I, although we have the briezes from the Land, as long as we are upon the Coasts of Syria; and Egypt, we shall not have them at all while we sail upon the coasts of Lybia, where there are those fearful Sands, the Syrtes, which are of a great extent, the said coast having no humidity; for there is neither tree nor herb grows there, nor ought else but moving Sands, which cover’d and interred heretofore at one glut the puissant Army of King Cambyses. Now, where there is no humidity, the Sun cannot attract to make a wind: so that we shall never find there, specially in Summer time, any other wind but that Regular one which blows from East to West; according to the course of the Sun, who is the Father of Winds; unless some extraordinary happen, either from the coast of Italy, which lies Northward, or from the bottom of Ethiopia, where the Mountains of the Moon are, and the source of the Cataracts of Nile.
Therfore, if we were near the Syrtes, the winds of Italy would be most dangerous to us, and expose us to shipwrack. I reason’d so according to natural Causes, while they of my Councel of war kept themselvs firm to their Existence; and I would do nothing against the unanimous sense of all: for, though the disposing and resolution of all things depended absolutely upon my self, yet I thought I might be justly accused of rashness or wilfulness, if I should prefer my own advice before that of all the rest. So we took that course, and went happily, as far as the Syrtes of Lybia: but there our land briezes fail’d us; and for seven and thirty days, we had no other but a few gentle Zephirs, which came from the West, whither we were steering our course. We were constrain’d to keep at anchor all that time, with a great deal of apprehension, that the wind might come from the North, accompanied with a Tempest: for, if that had hapned, we had been all lost; because our anchors had not been able to hold among those moving Sands (for, under water they are of the same nature as they are upon dry land) and so we must have been shipwrackt upon that coast. But God Almighty, who hath been pleas’d I should have the honour to wait on you this day, deliver’d me from that danger. And, at the end of seven and thirty days, we observ’d the course of the clouds very high, which came from Southeast; at first but slowly, but by degrees faster and faster: insomuch that, in two days, the wind, which was forming it self a great way off in Ethiopia, came, in a tempest, to the place where we rid at anchor, and carried us whither we intended to go; but the force of it was broken before, coming so far.
Out of this Discourse we may infer, and conclude, that, wherever there is any wind, there are also some small Bodies or Atomes, which are drawn from the Bodies, whence they come, by the virtue of the Sun, and Light; and, that in effect, this Wind is nothing else but the said Atomes agitated, and thrust on by a kind of impetuosity. And so, the winds partake of the qualities whence they come: as, if they come from the South, they are hot, if from the North, they are cold, if from the Earth alone, they are dry, if from the Marine or Sea-side, they are humid and moist; if from places which produce aromatical substances, they are odoriferous, wholsom, and pleasing: As those from Arabia Faelix, which produces Spices, Perfumes, and Gums of sweet savour; or that from Fontenay and Vaugirard at Paris, in the season of Roses, which is all perfumed: on the contrary, those winds that come from stinking places, viz. from the sulphureous soil of Pozzuolo, smell ill: as also those that come from infected places bring the contagion along with them.
My Third Principle shall be, that The Air is full throughout of small Bodies or Atomes; or rather that, which we call outer air, is no other than a mixture or confusion of such Atomes, wherin the aereal parts predominate.
’Tis well known, that in nature there cannot be actually found any pure Element, unblended with others: for the exteriour Fire and the Light acting one way, and the internal Fire of every Body pushing on another way, causes this marvailous mixture of all things in all things. Within that huge extent, where we place the Air, there is sufficient space and liberty enough to make such a mixture; which Experience, as well as Reason confirmity. I have seen little Vipers, as soon as they came from the egs where they were ingendred, being not yet an inch long: which, conserv’d in a large Gourd, (cover’d with paper tyed round about, that they might not get out, but leaving little pin-holes made in it, that the Air might enter) encreased in substance and bigness so prodigiously, in six, eight, or ten months, that it is incredible; and more sensibly, during the season of the Equinoxes, when the air is fuller of those aethereal and balsamical atomes, which they drew for their nouriture.
Hence it came that the Cosmopolites had reason to say, Est in aere occultus vitae cibus, there is a hidden food of life in the air. These smal Vipers had but the air only for their sustenance; nevertheless, by this thin viand, they grew, in less than a year, to a foot long, and proportionably big and heavy. Vitriol, Salt-peter, and some other substances, augment in the same manner, only by attraction of air.
I remember, that upon some occasion, seventeen or eighteen years ago, I had use of a pound of Oil of Tartar; it was at Paris, where I had then no Operatory. Wherfore I desired Monsir Ferrier, a man universally known by all such as are curious, to make me some: for, he had none then ready made, but did it expressely for me. And because, for the calcination of Tartar, twenty pound may be as easily made as two, without encrease of charge; he took occasion hereby to make a quantity for his own use. When he brought it me, the oil smelt so strong of the Rose, that I complain’d of his mingling it with that water, wheras I had desired him to do it purely, by exposing it to the humid air: for, I verily thought he had dissolved the Salt of Tartar in Rose-water. He swore to me that he had not mingled it with any liquor; but had left the Tartar calcind within his Cellar, to dissolve of it self. It was then the season of Roses; therfore it seems that the Air, being then full of the atomes which come from the Roses, and being changed into water by the powerful attraction of the Salt of Tartar, their smel became very sensible in the place where they were gathered together, as the beams of the Sun do burn, being crowded together in a burning glasse.
There hapned also another marvailous thing, touching this Oil of Tartar; which may serve to prove a proposition we have not yet touched: but, not to interrupt the course of the story, I will tell it you by way of advance. It was, that, as the Season of Roses passed, the smel of the Rose vanish’d away from the said Oil of Tartar; so that, in three or four months, it was quite gone. But we were much surprized, when, the next year, the said odor of Roses return’d as strong as ever and so went away again towards winter: which course it still observs. Which made Monsir Ferrier keep it as a singular rarity; and the last Summer I found the effect in his house.
We have in London an unlucky and troublesome confirmation of this doctrine: for, the air uses to be full of such atomes. The fuel in that great City, is commonly pit-Coal, brought from Newcastle, or Scotland. This Coal hath in it a great quantity of volatil Salt, very sharp; which being carried on by the Smoke, uses to dissipate it self and fill the air, Wherwith it so incorporates, that, although we do not see it, yet we find the effect: for it spoils Beds, Tapistries, and other houshold stuffs, that are of any beautiful fair colour; the fuliginous air tarnishing it by degrees. And, though one should lock up his Chamber very clean, and come not thither in a good while, yet at his return, he will find a black kind of thin soot cover all his houshold-stuff; as we see in Mills there is a white dust, as also in Bakers shops; which uses to whiten the walls, and somtimes gets into cup-boards and chests. The said coal-soot also gets abroad, and fouls cloths upon hedges, as they are a drying; as also, in the Spring time, the very leavs of Trees are besooted therewith.
Now, in regard that it is this air which the lungs draw for respiration among the Inhabitants, therfore the flegme and spittle which comes from them is commonly blackish and fuliginous. Moreover, the acrimony of this soot produces another funest effect; for, it makes the people subject to inflammations, and by degrees to ulcerations in the Lungs. It is so corrosive and biting, that, if one put Gammons of Bacon, or Beef, or any other flesh, within the chimney, it so dries it up, that it spoils it. Wherfore, they who have weak lungs quickly feel it; whence it comes to pass, that almost the one half of them who dye in London, dye of ptisical and pulmonical distempers; spitting commonly blood from their ulcerated lungs. But, at the beginning of this malady, the remedy is very easie: It is but to send them to a place where the air is good. Many, who have means to pay the charge of such a journey, come to Paris, and they use to recover their healths in perfection. The inconveniences are also, though the operations be not so strong, in the City of Liege, where the Common People burn no other than pit-coals, which they call h...ville.
Paris it self also though the air about it be excellent, yet is subject to incommodities of that nature. The excessivly stinking dirt and chanels of that vast City mingles a great deal of ill allay with the purity of the air; stuffing it every where with corrupted atomes: which yet are not so pernicious as those of London. We find that the most neat and polished Silver Plate, exposed to the air, becomes in a short time livid and foul which proceeds from no other cause, than those black atomes, (the true colout of putrefaction) which stick to it. I know a Person of Quality, (and a singular friend of mine) who is lodg’d in a place, where on one side, a great many poor people inhabit, few Carts use to pass, and fewer Coaches. His neighbours behind his house empty their filth and ordures in the middle of the street; which uses hereby to be ful of mounts of filth, to be carried away by Tombrells, but when they they remove these ordures; you cannot imagine what a stench what kind of infectious air is smelt thereabour every where. The Servants of my said Friend, when this happens, use to cover their Plate, and Andirons and other of their fairest houshold-stuff, with Cotton or course Bays; otherwise they would be all tarnished. Yet nothing hereof is seen within the air; however these experiences manifestly convince, that the air is stuffed with such atomes.
I cannot omit to add hereto another experiment; which is, that we find by the effects, how the rays of the Moon are cold and moist. ’Tis without controversie, that the luminous parts of those rays come from the Sun; the Moon having no light at all in her: as her ecclipses bear witness; which happen, when the Earth is just twixt her and the Sun, and by such interposition hinders her to have light from his rays, The beams then which come from the Moon are those of the Sun; which glancing upon her, reflect upon us, and so bring with them the atoms of that cold and humid-star, participating of the …. whence they come. Whence, if one expose a hollow bason, or glass, to assemble them, he shall find, that wheras those of the Sun burn by such a conjuncture, these, clean contrary, refresh and moisten in a notable manner, leaving an aquatick and viscuous glutining kind of sweat upon the glass. One would think it a folly to talk of washing hands in a well polished Silver Bason, wherin there is not a drop of water, yet this may be done; by the reflexion of the Moon beams only; which will afford a competent humidity to do it. But they who have tryed this have found their hands, after they are wiped, to be much moister than usually: and this is an infallible way to take away Warts from the hands, if it be often used.
Let us then conclude, out of these premises and experiments, that the Air is ful of atomes; drawn from bodies, by means of the light which reflects theron, or sallying out by the interior natural heat of those bodies, which drive them forth. It may haply seem impossible that there can be an emanation of so many small bodies, that should be spread and carried up and down, so far in the air by a continual flux, (if I may say so) and yet the body whence they come receive no diminution that is perceptible; though sometimes tis visible enough; as, by the evaporations of the Spirits of wine, musk, and other such volatil substances. But, this objection will be nul, and the two precedent Principles, render themselvs more credible, when we shall settle another, viz. That Every body, be it never so little, is divisible in infinitum: not that it hath infinite parts, (for the contrary therof may be demonstrated) but it is capable to be divided and subdivided into new parts, without ever coming to the end of the division: And it is in this sense that our Masters teach us that Quantity is infinitely divisible. This is evident to him who shall consider, with a profound imagination, the essence and formal notion of Quantity; which is nothing else but divisibility. But, in regard that this speculation is very subtile and metaphysical, I will serve my self of some geometrical demonstrations to prove this truth; for, they accommodate best with the imagination. Euclide teaches us (in the Tenth Proposition of his Sixth Book), that if one take a short line, and another a long one, and the long one be divided into divers equal parts; the short one may be divided also into as many equal parts, and every one of those parts also into others, and these last into so many more, and so on, without being able ever to come to that which is not divisible.
But let’s suppose (although it be impossible) that one might divide and subdivide a line, so that at last we should come to an indivisible; and let’s see what will come of it. I say then, that, since the line resolves it self into indivisibles, it must be composed of them; let’s see whether that may be verified. To which purpose, I take three indivisibles, (and to distinguish them) let them be A, B, C. for, if three millions of indivisibles make a long line, three indivisibles will make a short one. I put them then in a row; First A, then B, so near, that they touch one another: and I say, that B must necessarily possess the same place as, A, or not possess it. If it possess the same place, they both together make no extension: and, by the same reason, neither 3, nor 3000 will do it; but all the indivisibles will unite together, and the result of all shal be but only one indivisible. It must be then, that, being not both in the same place, yet touching one another, one part of B must touch one part of A, and another part not touch it: Then I add the indivisible C, wher of one part shal touch a part of B. which touches not A; and by this means B is copulant, lying between A and C, to make the extension. To do this, you see that we must admit that B hath parts; as the other two also which by your supposition are all indivisible: and this being absurd, the supposition is impossible. But, to render the matter yet more perspicuous, let’s suppose that these three indivisibles make one extension, and compose one line; the proposition already cited from Euclide demonstrates, that this line may be divided into thirty equal parts, or into as many as you please: insomuch that it must be granted, that every one of these three indivisibles may be divided into three parts; which is point blank against the nature and definition of an indivisible. But, without dividing into so many parts, Euclide shews (by his Tenth proposition of his First Element) that every line may be parted into two equal parts: but this, being composed of indivisibles of unequal number, it must necessarily follow, that, being parted into two, there must be an indivisible more on the one side than on the other, or the middle one be parted into two halfs. So that he, who denies that Quantity may be divided in infinitum, entangles himself in absurdities, and incomprehensible impossibilities: And on the contrary, he, who assents to it, will find it no impossibility or inconvenience, that the atoms of all bodies, which are in the air, may be divided, stretcht and carried to a marvailous distance. Our very senses make faith hereof in some sort: There is no body in the World, which we know of, so compact, so solid, and weighty as Gold; yet, to what a strange extent and division may it be brought!
Let’s take an Ounce of this massy mettal; it shall be but a button, as big as my fingers end: A beater of Gold will make a thousand leavs or more of this Ounce. Half of one of these leavs shall suffice to gild the whole surface of Silver of three or four Ounces. Let’s give this gilded lingot of Silver to them, who prepare Gold and Silver Thrid to make Lace; and let them draw it to the greatest length and subtilty they can; let them draw it to the thinness of a hair, and so this thrid may be a quarter of a league long in extent, if not more; and in all this length there will not be the space of an atom which is not cover’d with Gold. Behold a strange and marvailous dilatation of this half leaf. Let us do the like to all the rest of the beaten Gold; it will appear that, by this means, this small button of Gold may be so extended, as to reach from this City of Montpellier to Paris, and far beyond it: into how many millions of atoms might not this gilded line be cut with small Scissers.
Now, ’tis easie to comprehend, that this extention and divisibility, made by such gross instruments, as hammers and Scissers, is not comparable to that which is made by the light and rays of the Sun. And it is certain, that, if this gold may be drawn into such a great length by spindles or wheels of iron, some of its parts may easily be carried away by those winged Coursers we spoke of before; I mean, by the rays that flie in a moment from the Sun to the Earth.
If I did not fear to prove tedious to you by my prolixity, I would entertain you with the strange subtility of little bodies; which issue forth from living bodies; by means whereof our Dogs in England will pursue the scent of a mans steps, or of a beasts, many miles: and not only so, but they will find, in a great heap of stones, that which a man hath touched with his hand: Therfore, it must needs be, that upon the Earth, or upon the Stone, some material parts of the touched body remain: yet the body doth not sensibly diminish; no more than Ambergrise, and Spanish skins, which will send out of them an odour during a hundred years, without any diminution of skin or smell. In our Country they use to sow a whole field with one sort of grain; to wit, one year with Barley, the next with Wheat, the third with Beans: and the fourth year they let it rest, and dung it, that it may recover its vigor by attraction of the vital spirit it receivs from the air; and so be plow’d up again after the same degrees. Now, the year that the field is cover’d with Beans, Passengers use to smell them at a good distance off, if the wind blow accordingly, and they be in flower. It is a smell that hath a suavity with it, but fading; and afterwards is unpleasant, and heady. But the smell of Rosemary, which comes from the coasts of Spain, goes much further. I have sail’d along those coasts divers times, and observ’d always that the Mariners know when they are within thirty or forty leagues of the Continent, (I do not exactly remember the distance): and they have this knowledge from the smell of the Rosemary which so abounds in the fields of Spain. I have smelt it as sensibly, as if I had had a branch of Rosemary in my hand; and this a day or two before we could discover land; ’tis true, the wind was in our faces, and came from the shore. Some Naturalists write that Vultures have come two or three hundred leagus off, by the smell of carrens, and dead bodies left in the field, after some bloody Battle; and it was known that these Birds came from afar off, because none used breed near. They have a quick smelling; and it must be that the rotten atoms of those dead Carcasses were transported by the air so far: and those Birds, having once caught the scent, pursue it to the very source, and, the nearer they come to that, the stronger it is.
We will conclude here that which we had to say, touching the great extent of those little Bodies, which, by the mediation of the Sun-beams and of the Light, use to issue out of all Bodies that are composed of Elements; which throng in the air, and are carried a marvailous distance from the place and bodies where they have their origin and source: the proof and explication of which things hath been the aim of my discourse hitherto.
Now, my Lords, I must, if you please, make you see how These small bodies, that so fill and compound the Air, are oftentimes drawn to a road altogether differing from that which their universal causes should make them hold: and it shall be our Fifth Principle One may remark, within the course and oeconomy of Nature, divers sorts of attractions. As, that of Sucking; wherby I have seen leaden Bullets at the bottom of a long Barrel exactly wrought, follow the air, which one suck’d out of the mouth of the Gun, with that impetuosity and strength, that it broke his teeth. The attraction of water or wine by a Scyphon is like to this: for, by means of that, the liquor is made to pass from one Vessel into another, without changing any way the colour, or rising of the lees. There is another sort of attraction which is called Magnetical, wherby the Loadstone draws the Iron. Another Electrick, when the Jet-stone draws to it Straws. There is another of the Flame; when the smoke of a Candle put out draws the flame of that which burns hard by, and makes it descend to light that which is out. There is another of Filtration, when a humid body climbs up a dry. Lastly, when the Fire or some hot body draws the Air and that which is mixed therwith.
We will treat here of the two last species of Attraction; I have sufficiently spoken of the rest in another place. Filtration may seem to him who hath not attentively consider’d it, nor examin’d by what circumstances so hidden a Secret of Nature comes to pass, and to a person of a mean and limited understanding, to be done by some occult virtue or property; and he will perswade himself that, within the Filtre or strayning instrument, there is some secret Sympathy, which makes Water to mount up, contrary to its natural motion.
But, he, who will examine the business, as it ought to be, observing all that is done, without omiting any circumstance, will find there is nothing more natural, and that it is impossible it should be otherwise. And we must make the same judgment of all the profound and hidden’st mysteries of Nature; if men would take the pains to discover them, and search into them with judgment.
Behold, then, how Filtration is done. They use to put a long toung of cloth, or cotten, or spongy matter, within an earthen pot of Water or other liquor; and leave hanging upon the brim of the pot a good part of the cloth; and one shall see the water presently mount up, and pass above the brink of the Vessel, and drop, at the lower end of the piece of cloth, upon the ground, or into some Vessel. And the Gardners make use of this method, to water their plants and flowers in Summer, by soft degrees. As also Apothecaries, and Chymists, to separate their liquors from their dregs and residences.
To comprehend the reason why the water ascends in that manner, let us nearly observe all that is done. That part of the cloth which is within the water becomes wetted; viz. it receivs and imbibes the water through its spungy and dry parts at first. This cloth swells in receiving the water; so, two bodies joyn’d together require more room than one of them would by it self. Let us consider this swelling and augmented extension, in the last thrid of them which touch the water, viz. that on the superficies; which, to distinguish from the rest, let us mark at the two ends (as by a line) with A. B. and the third which immediately follows and is above it, with C. D. the next with E. F. the next with G. H. and so to the end of the toung. I say then, that the thrid A, B. dilating it self and swelling, by means of the water which enters ‘twixt it’s fibres or strings, approaches by little and little to C. D.; which is yet dry, because it touches not the water: but when A. B. is grown so gross and swol’n, by reason of the water which enters, that it fills all the vacuity and distance ‘twixt it and C. D. as also that it presses against C. D. by reason of it’s extension, which is greater than the space was betwixt them both; then it wets C. D., because the thrid A. B. being compressed, the exterior part of the water which was in it, coming to be push’d on upon C. D., seeks there a place, and enters within the thrids, and wets them, in the same manner as at first it's exterior and highest part became wet. C. D. being so wetted, will dilate it self as A. B. did; and consequently pressing against E. F. it cannot choose but work the same effect in it, which before it had receiv’d by the swelling and dilatation of A. B. and so, by gentle degrees, every thrid wets its neighbor, till the very last thrid of the cloth toung. And it is not to be feared, that the continuity of the Water will break, ascending this scale of chords; or that it will recoil backwards: for, those little ladders, so easy to be mounted, render the ascent facile, and the woolly fibres of every thrid seem to reach their hands to help them up at every step: and so the facility of geting up, joyn’d with the fluidness of the water, and the nature of quantity, (which tends always to the uniting of substances and bodies which it clothes, when there occurs no other predominant cause to break and divide it) causes that the water keeps it self in one piece, and passes above the brink of the pot. After that, its voyage is made more easie, for it follows its natural tendence, always downwards. And, if the end of the cloth hangs lower without the pot, than the surface of the water within, the water drops into the ground, or some Vessel placed underneath; as we see a chord being hung upon a pully, the longest and heaviest end falls upon the ground, and carries away the shortest and lightest, drawing it over the pully. But, if the end of the cloth, without the pot, were horizontal with the surface of the water, and hung no lower than it, the water would be immoveable: as, the two sides of a Ballance, when there’s equal weight in both the scales. And, if one should pour out part of the water that is in the pot, so that the superficies grow lower than the end of the cloth without: in that case the ascending water becoming more heavy than the descendant on the other side, without the pot, it would call back that which was gone out before and ready to fall; and would make it thrust on and return to its former pace, and enter again into the pot, to mingle with the water there.
You see then this mystery, which at first was surprizing, displaid, and made as familiar and natural, as to see a stone fall down from the air. ’Tis true, that to make a demonstration thereof, exact and compleatly rigorous, we must add other circumstances; which I have done in another Discourse, wherein I expressly treated of this subject. But that which I now say is sufficient, to give a taste how this so notable Attraction is performed. The other Attraction by Fire, which draws to it the ambient air, with the small bodies therein, is wrought thus; The Fire, acting according to its own nature, which it, to push on a continual river or exhalation of its parts, from the center to the circumference, carries away with it the air adjoyned and sticking to it on all sides; as the water of a river trains along with it the earth of that channel or bed, through which it glides. For, the air being humid, and the fire dry, they cannot do less, than embrace and hug one another. But, there must new air come from the places circumjacent, to fill the room of that which is carried away by the fire; otherwise there would a vacuity happen, which nature abhors. This new air remains not long in the place it comes to fill; but the fire, which is in a continual carreer and emanation of its parts, carries it presently away, and draws other: and so there is a perpetual and constant current of the air, as long as the action of fire continues. We daily see the experience hereof: For, if one makes a good fire in ones Chamber, it draws the air from the door and windows; which though one would shut, yet there be crevices and holes for the air to enter, and, coming near them, one shall hear a kind of whistling noise which the air makes in pressing to enter. ’Tis the same cause that produces the sound of the Organ and Flute. And he, who would stand between the crevices and the fire, should find such an impetuosity of that artificial wind, that he would be ready to freeze, while he is ready to burn the other side next the fire. And a Wax-candle held in this current of wind would melt, by the flame blown against the wax, and waste away in a very short time: wheras, if that Candle stood in a calm place, that the flame might burn upward, it would last much longer. But, if there be no passage wherby the air may enter into the Chamber, one part, then, of the vapor of the wood, which should have converted to flame and so mounted up the funnel of the Chimney, descends downward against its nature, to supply the defect of air within the said Chamber, and fills it with smoke; but at last the fire choaks, and extinguishes, for want of air. Whence it comes to pass, that the Chymists have reason to say, that the air is the life of fire, as well as of animals. But, if one puts a Bason or Vessel of water before the fire upon the hearth, there will be no smoke in the Chamber; although it be so close shut, that the air cannot enter: for, the fire attracts part of the water, which is a liquid substance and easie to move out of its place; which aquatic parts rarifie themselves into air, and therby perform the functions of the air. This is more evidently seen if the Chamber be little; for then the air, which is there pen’d in, is sooner rais’d up and carried away. And, by reason of this attraction, they use to make great fires, where there is housholdstuff, of persons that dyed of the Pestilence, to dis-infect it. For, by this inundation of attracted air, the fire as it were sweeps the walls, floor, and other places of the Chamber; and takes away those little putrified, sharp, corrosive, and venomous bodies, which were the infection that adhered to it: drawing them into the fire, where they are partly burnt, and partly sent up into the Chimney, accompanied with the atomes of the fire and the smoke. ’Tis for this reason that the great Hippocrates, (who groped so far into the secrets of Nature) dis-infected, and freed from the Plague a whole Province or entire Region; by causing them to make great fires every where.
Now, this manner of attraction is made, not only by simple fire, but by that which partakes of it, viz. by hot substances: and that which is the reason and cause of the one, is also the cause of the other. For, the Spirits or ignited parts, evaporating from such a substance or hot body, carry away with them the adjacent air; which must necessarily be supplied by other air or some matter easily rarifiable into air; as we have spoken of the bason and tub of water, put before the fire to hnder smoke. ’Tis upon this foundation that Physicians ordain the application of Pigeons, or Puppy’s, or some other hot Animals, to the soles of the feet, or the hand-wrists, or the stomachs, or navils of their Patients; to extract out of their bodies the wind or ill vapours which infect them. And, in time of contagion or universal infection of the air, Pigeons, Cats, Dogs, with other hot Animals, which have continually a great transpiration or evaporation of Spirits, use to be killed: because through attraction, the Air taking the room of the Spirits, which issue forth by the evaporation, the pestiferous atomes which are scatter’d in the air and accompany it, use to stick to their feathers, skins, or furs.
And, for the same reason, we see that Bread coming hot out of the Oven, put upon the Bung, draws to it the Must of the Cask which would spoil the Wine: and that Onions, and such hot bodies which perpetually exhale fiery parts, (as appears by the strength of their smel) are quickly poison’d with infectious airs, if they be exposed to them: and, ’tis one of the signs, to know whether the whole mass of the air be universally infected.
And, one might reduce to this head the great attraction of air by calcin’d bodies; and particularly by Tartar, all ignited by the violent action of the fire which is crowded and encorporated among it's Salt. I have observed, that it attracts to it nine times more air, than it self weighs. For, if one expose to the air a pound of Salt of Tartar well calcin’d and burnt, it will afford ten pound of good Oil of Tartar; drawing to it, and so incorporating the circumjacent air, and that is mingled with it: as it befell that Oil of Tartar which Monsir Ferrier made me, wherof I spake before.
But, methinks, all this is but little, compared to the attraction of air by the body of a certain Nun at Rome; wherof Petrus Servius, Urban the Eight’s Physician, makes mention, in a Book which he hath published, touching the marvailous accidents which he observ’d in his time. Had I not such a vouchy, I durst not produce this History; although the Nun her self confirm’d it to me, and a good number of Physicians assured me of the truth thereof. There was a Nun, that, by ecesse of fasting, watching, and mental orisons, was so …. in her body, that she seem’d to be all on fire, and her bones dryed up and calcin’d. This heat then, this internal fire, drawing the air powerfully; this air incorporated within her body, as it uses to do in Salt of Tartar: and, the passages being all open, it got to those parts where there is most serosity, which is the bladder; and thence she rendred it in water among her Urine, and that in an incredible quantity; for, she voided, during some Weeks, more than two hundred pounds of Water every four and twenty hours. With this notable example I will put an end to the experiments, I have urged to prove and explicate the attraction made of air, by hot and ignited bodies, which are of the nature of fire.
My Sixth Principle shall be, that When fire or some hot body attracts the Air and that which is within the Air, if it happens that within that air there be found some dispersed a toms of the same nature with the body that draws them; such atoms are more powerfully attracted, than if they were Bodies of a different nature, and they stay, stick, and mingle more willingly with the body which draws them. The Reason hereof is, the Resemblance and Sympathy they have one with the other. If I should not explicate wherein this Resemblance consisted; I should expose my self to the same censure and blame, as that which I taxed, at the beginning of my discourse, in those, who spake but lightly and vulgarly of the Powder of Sympathy, and such marvels of Nature. But, when I shall have cleared that which I contend for by such a resemblance and conveniency; I hope then you will rest satisfied. I could make you see that there are many sorts of Resemblances, which cause an Union between bodies; but I will content my self to speak here only of three signal ones.
The first Resemblance shall be in Weight; whereby bodies of the same degree of heaviness assemble together, The reason wherof is evident. For, if one body were lighter, it would occupy a higher situation than the heavier body; as on the contrary, if a body were more weighty, it would descend lower than that which is less heavy: but both having the same degree of heaviness, they keep company together in equilibrio, As one may see by experience in this gentile example; which some curious spirits use to Produce, to make us understand how the Four Elements are situated one above the other, according to their weight. They put in a vial the spirit of Wine tinctur’d with red, to represent the Fire, the spirit of Turpentine tinctur’d with blew, for the Air, the spirit of Water tinctur’d with green, and represent the element of Water; And, to represent the Earth, the Powder of some solid Metal enamell’d: you see them one upon the other without mixing; and if you shake them together by a violent …., you shal see a Chaos, such a confusion, that it wil seem there’s no particular atoms that belong to any of those bodies, they are so hudled pel mel altogether. But, cease this agitation, and you shall see presently every one of these four substances go to its natural place; calling again, & labouring to unite all their atoms in one distinct mass, that you shall see no mixture at all.
The second Resemblance of bodies, which draw one another and unite, is among them which are of the same degree of Rarity and Density. The nature and effect of Quantity is to reduce to unity all things which it finds; if some other stronger power, (as, the differing substantial Form, which multiplies it) do not hinder. And the reason is evident. For the essence of Quantity is Divisibility or a Capacity to be divided, that is to be made Many; whence may be inferr’d that Quantity it self is not-many; ’tis therfore of it self and in its own nature one continued extension, Seeing then that the nature of Quantity in general tends to Unity, and Continuity; the first differences of Quantity, which are Rarity and Density, must produce the same effect of Unity, and Continuity in those bodies which participate in the same degree of them. For proof whereof, we find, that water unites and incorporates it self strongly and easily with water, oil with oil, spirit of wine with spirit of wine: but water and oil will hardly unite, nor mercury with the spirit of wine; and so other bodies of differing density and tenuity.
The third Resemblance of bodies which unites and keeps them strongly together, is that of Figure. I will not serve my self here with the ingenious conceit of a Great Personage; who holds that the continuity of Bodies results from some smal hooks or clasps, which keep them together; and are different in bodies of a differing nature: But (not to extend my self too diffusively in every particularity) I will say in gross, as an apparent thing, that every kind of body affects a particular Figure. We see it plainly in the several sorts of Salt; peel and stamp them separately, dissolve, coagulate, and change them as long as you please; they come again alwayes to their own natural figure, after every dissolution, and coagulation. The ordinary Salt forms it self alwaies in cubes of foursquare faces; Salt-peter in forms of six faces: Armoniac-salt in Hexagons as the Snow doth, which is sexangular.
Wherto Mr. Davison attributes the pentagonary figure of every one of those Stones, which were found in the Bladder of Monsir Peletier, to the number of fourscore; for the same immediate efficient cause the Bladder had imprinted its action both on the stones, and the salt of the urine. The Distillators observe, that if they powre upon the dead head of some distillation the water which was distilled out of it, it imbibes it, and re-unites incontinently; wheras if one pour on it any other water of an heterogeneous body, it swims on the top, and incorporates with much difficulty. The reason is, that the distill’d water, which seems to be an homogeneous body, is composed of smal bodies of discrepant figures; as the Chymists plainly demonstrate: and these atoms being chaced, by the action of fire, out of their own Chambers, or beds exactly fitted to them; when they come back in their antient habitations, viz, to the pores which are left in the dead heads, they accommodate themselvs, and amiably rejoin and comensurate together. The same happens when it rains, after a long drougth: for, the earth immediately drinks up the water, which had been drawn up by the Sun; wheras any other strange liquor would enter with some difficulty. Now that there are differing poles in bodies which seem to be homogeneous, Monsir Gassendus affirms, and undertakes to prove, by the dissolution of Salts of differing natures in common water. When, says he, you have dissolv’d in it common Salt, as much as it can bear; if you put in only a scruple more, it will leave it entire in the bottom, as if it were sand or plaister; nevertheless it will dissolve a good quantity of Salt-peter; and when 'tis glutted with this, ‘twil dissolve as much of Armoniacal salt, and so others of different figures. So that as I have observed elsewhere, we see plainly by the oeconomy of Nature, that bodies of the same figure use to mingle more strongly, and unite themselves with more facility. Which is the reason why those, that make a strong glue, to piece together broken pots of Porcelain or Chrystal, &c. always mingle with the glue the powder of that body, which they endeavour to re-accomodate: and the Goldsmiths themselvs, when they go about to soder together pieces of gold, or silver, mingle alwayes their own dust in the soder.
Having hitherto run through the reasons and causes why bodies of the same nature, draw one to another with greater facility and force, than others, and why they unite with more promptitude; let’s now see according to our method, how experience confirms this discourse, for, in natural things we must have recourse, en dernier ressort [in last resort], to experience; and all reasoning that is not supported so, ought to be repudiated, or at least suspected to be illegitimate.
’Tis an ordinary thing, when one finds he has burnt his hand; to hold it a good while as near the fire as he can, and by this means the ignited atomes of the fire and of the hand mingling together, and drawing one another; and the stronger of the two, which are those of the fire, having the mastery, the hand finds it self much eased of the inflammation which it suffer’d. ’Tis an usual course, though a nasty one, of those who have ill breaths, to hold their mouths open over a Privy, as long as they can; and by the re-iteration of this remedy, they find themselvs cured at last; the greater stink of the privy drawing to it, and carrying away, the lesse, which is that of the mouth. They who have been prick’d or bitten by a Viper or Scorpion, hold, over the bitten or prick’d place, the head of a Viper or Scorpion bruised; and by this means the poyson, which, by a kind of filtration crept on to gain the heart of the party, returns back to its principles, and so leavs him well recover’d. In time of common contagion, they use to carry about them the powder of a Toad, and somtimes a living Toad or Spider, shut up in a box; or Arsenick, or some other venemous substance; which draws to it the contagious air, that otherwise would infect the party: and the same powder of a Toad draws to it the poyson of a plague sore. The Farcy is avenemous and contagious humor within the body of a Horse: hang a Toad about the neck of the Horse, in a little bag, and he will be cured infallibly; the Toad, which is the stronger poyson, drawing to it the venome which was within the Horse.
Make water to evaporate out of a Stove, or other room, close shut; if there be nothing that draws this vapor, it will stick to the walls of the Stove, and, as it cools, recondense there into water; but if you put a bason or bucket of water into any part of the Stove, it will attract all the vapor which fil’d the chamber, and no part of the wall will be wetted. If you dissolve Mercury, which, resolving into smoke, passes into the recipient, put into the head of the limbeck a little therof, and all the Mercury in the limbeck will gather there, and nothing will passe into the recipient. If you distil the Spirit of Salt, or of Vitriol, or the Baume of Sulpher, and leave the passage free betwixt the Spirit and the dead head, whence it issued; the Spirits will return to the dead head, which, being fixt and not able to mount up, draws them to it.
In our Country, (and I think it is so used here,) they use to make provision for all the year of Venison, at the season that their flesh is best and most savory, which is in July, and August; they bake it in earthen pots, or Ryecrust, after they have well season’d it with salt and spices; and being cold, they cover it deep with fresh butter, that the air may not enter. Nevertheless tis observ’d, that after all their diligence when the living Beasts, which are of the same nature and kind, are in Rut, the flesh in the pot smels very rank, and is very much changed, having a stronger taft; because of the spirits which come at this season from the living Beasts; which spirits are attracted naturally by the dead flesh. And then, one hath much to do to preserve it from being quite spoil’d: but the said season being passed, there is no danger or difficulty to keep it gustful all the year long.
The Wine Merchants (in this Country, and every where else, where there is Wine,) observe that, during the season that the Vines are in flower, the Wine, in their Cellars, makes a kind of fermentation, and pushes forth a little white Lee, (which I think they call the Mother) upon the surface of the wine: which continues in a kind of disorder, till the flowers of the Vines be fall’n; and then, this agitation or fermentation being ceased, all the wine returns to the same state it was in before.
Nor is it now that this observation hath been made, but, besides divers others, who speak hereof, St. Ephrem the Syrian (in his last Will and Testament, some 1300 years ago,) reports this very same circumstance of Wine; sensibly suffering an agitation and fermentation within the vessel, at the same time that the Vines seem to exhale their Spirits in the Vineyards. He makes use of the same example in dry Onions, which bud in the House, when those in the Garden begin to come out of the earth, and fill the air with their Spirits; shewing by these known examples of Nature, the communication between Living Persons, and the souls of the Dead. Now those Viny Spirits that issue from the buds and flowers, filling the air, (as the Spirits of Rosemary use to do in Spain) are drawn into the Vessels, by the connatural and attractive vertue of the Wine within: and these new volatil Spirits, entring, excite the more fixed Spirits of the Wine, and so cause a fermentation; as if one should pour therin new or sweet wine, for in all fermentations, there is a separation made of the terrestial parts from the oily, and so the lightest mount up to the Superficies, the heaviest become Tartar lees, which sink to the bottom. But, in this Season, if one be not very careful to keep the Wine in a proper and temperate place, and the Cask full and well bung’d; and to use other endeavours which are ordinary with Wine-Coopers, one runs a hazard to have his Wine impair’d, or quite spoil’d; because volatil Spirits, evaporating again, carry away with them the Spirits of the wine that is barrel’d, by exciting and mingling with them. As in like manner, the Oil of Tartar, which Monsir Ferrier made, attracting to it self the volatil Spirits of Roses, diffused in the air in their Season, suffer’d such a fermentation: and made every year new attractions of the like Spirits, in regard of the affinity which this oil had contracted with those Spirits at first; which it lost again still as the Season passed. And ’tis for the very same reason, that a Table-cloath, or Napkin, spoted with Mulberries, or red Wine, is easily whitned again, at the season that the Plants flower; wheras at any other time, these spots can hardly be washed out. But, ’tis not only in France, and other places where Vines are near Cellars of wine, that this fermentation happens: in England, where we have not Vines enough to make wine, the same thing is observed; yea, and some particularities farther. Although they make no wine in our Country, to any considerable proportion, yet we have wine there in great abundance, brought over by the Merchants. It uses to come principally from three places, viz. from the Canaries, from Spain, from Gascony. Now, these Regions being under different Degrees and Climates, in point of Latitude, and consequently one Country being hotter or colder, than the other; so that the same Vegetals grow to maturity sooner: it comes to pass, that the foresaid fermentation of our differing Wines advances it self more or less, according as the Vines, whence they proceed, do bud and flower in the Region where they grow; it being consentaneous to reason, that every sort of wine attracts more willingly the Spirits of those Vines whence it comes, than of any other.
I cannot forbear making some digression here, to unfold some other effects of Nature; which we see often, and are not less curious, than the most principal we treat of, and wil seem to be derived from more obscure causes; notwithstanding, in many circumstances, they depend on the same principles, and, in many, much differing. First, touching Moles or marks, which happen to Infants when their mothers, during the time of their pregnancy, have long’d for some particular things. To proceed after my accustomed manner; I will begin with an example. A Lady of high condition, whom many of this Assembly know, at least by reputation, hath upon her Neck the figure of a Mulberry; as exactly as any Painter or Sculptor can possibly represent one: for it bears not only the colour, but the just proportion of a Mulberry, and is as it were emboss’d upon her flesh. The Mother of this Lady, being with-child, had a great mind to eat some Mulberries; and her fancy being satisfied, one of them casually fell upon her neck; the sanguin juice whereof was soon wiped off, and she felt nothing at that time. But the Child being born, the perfect figure of a Mulberry was seen upon her Neck; in the same place where it fel upon the Mothers: and every year, in Mulberry season, this impression, or rather this excrescence of flesh sweld, grew big, and itch’d.
Another Lady who had the like mark of a Strawberry, was more incommodated therwith; for it, not only grew inflamed and itch'd in Strawberry-season, but broke, like an Impostume, whence issued forth a sharp corrosive humor. But, a skilful Surgeon took all away, to the very roots, by cauterizing; so that, since that time, she never felt any pain or alteration in that place which incommodated her so much; it being become a simple scar.
Now then, let’s endeavour to penetrate, if we can, the causes and reasons of these marvailous effects. But, to go the more handsomly to work, let us reflect. that, in the actions of all our senses, there is a material and corporal participation of the things we are sensible of, viz. some atomes of the body operate upon our Senses, and enter into their organs; which serve them as funnels, to conduct and carry them to the brain and the imagination. This appears evidently in Vapours and Savours. And for Hearing, the exterior air, being agitated, causes a movement within the membrane or tympane of the Ear, which gives the like shake to the hammer tyed thereto; and that beating upon its anvil, causes a reciprocal motion in the air, which is shut within the crannies of the Ear; and this is that which we usually call Sound.
Touching the Sight, ’tis evident that the Light, reflecting from the body that is seen, enters into the eyes; and cannot, but bring with it some emanations of the body wheron it reflects; as we have establish’d in our Second Principle.
It remains now to shew that the like is done in the grossest of our senses, the Touch or Feeling. And if it be true, as we have shewn, that every body sends forth a continual emanation of atoms out of it self: it makes much for the assertion of this truth. But to render it yet more manifest, and take away all possibility of doubt, I will demonstrate it evidently to the eye: wherof every one may make an experience in a quarter of an hour, if he be so curious, yea, in a less compass of time.
I believe you all know the notable affinity betwixt Gold and Quick-silver. If Gold but touches Mercury, that sticks close to it, and whitens it so, that it scarce appears Gold, but silver only. If you cast this blanched Gold into the fire, the heat chases and drives away the Mercury, and the Gold returns to its former colour: but, if you repeat this often, the Gold calcines, and then you may pound, and reduce it to powder.
Now, there is no dissolvant in the World that can well calcine and burn the body of Gold, but Quick-silver. I speak of that which is already formed by Nature; without engaging my self to speak of that which is talked of among the Secrets of Philosophy. Take then, a spoonful of Mercury in some porcelan or other dish, and finger it with one hand: if you have a Gold-Ring on the other hand, it will become white and covered with Mercury; though it doth not any way touch it. Moreover, if you take a leaf or a Crown of gold in your mouth, and put but one of your toes in a Vessel where Mercury is in your mouth, though you shut your lips never so close, shall turn white and laden with Mercury then, if you put the Gold in the fire, to make all the Mercury evaporate, and re-iterate this thing often, your Gold will be calcin’d, as if you had, by amalgation, joyn’d Mercury therwith corporally. And all this will yet be done more speedily and effectually, if, in lieu of common Mercury, you make use of Mercury of Antimony, which is much hotter, and more penetrating; and, though you drive it away by force of fire, it will carry away with it a good quantity of the substance of the Gold; that, re-iterating often this operation, there will no more Gold remain for you to continue your experiments. If then, cold Mercury doth so penetrate the whole body; we ought not to think it strange, that subtil atoms of fruit composed of many fiery parts wil pass with more facility and quickness. I could further make you see how such Spirits & Emanations suddenly also penetrate ev’n steel; though it be a substance so compacted, cold, and hard, that the said atoms keep there residence their many months and years. In a living body, such as is Man’s: the intern Spirits aid and contribute much facility to the Spirits that are without, (such as those of Fruits are,) to make their journy to the Brain.
The great Architect of Nature in the fabrick of a Human Body, the master piece of corporal nature, hath placed there some intern Spirits, to serve as Sentinels, to bring their discoveries to their General, the Imagination, (which is, as it were, the Mistress of the whole family,) wherby the man might know and understand, what is done without his Kingdom, in the great World; and might shun what is noxious and seek after that which is profitable. For, these Sentinels or intern Spirits, with all the inhabitants of the sensitive organs, are not able to to judg alone: insomuch, that, if the Imagination or thought, be distracted strongly to some other object, these intern Spirits do not know whether a man hath drunk the wine which he hath swallow’d; if perchance, seeing a person who comes to salute him, he fixes his eye upon him all the while, or he listens attentively to the air of some melodious Song or musical Instrument.
The inward Spirits therefore bring all their acquisitions to the Imagination; and if she be not more strongly bent upon another object, she falls a forming certain Ideas and Images: for the atoms from without, being convey’d by these intern Spirits to our imagination, erect there the like edifice, or else a model in short resembling the great body whence they come, And if the Imagination hath no more use of those significative atoms for the present, she ranges them in some proper place within her Magazin, the Memory; where she can recall, and send them back when she pleases. And if there be any object which causes some emotions in the Imagination, and touches her nearer, than common objects use to do; she sends back her Sentinels, the internal Spirits, upon the Confines, to bring her more particular news. Hence it proceeds that being surprized by some particular person, or other object, that has already some eminent place in his Imagination, be it with desire or aversion, man suddenly changes colour, and becomes now red, then pale, then red again at divers times: according as the Ministers, which are those intern Spirits, go quick or slow towards their object, and return with their reports to their Mistress, which is the Imagination. But, besides these passages we speak of, from the brain to the external parts of the body, by the ministry of the nervs; there is also a great road from the Brain to the Heart; by which the vital spirits ascend from the Heart to the Brain, to be animated: and hereby the Imagination sends to the Heart those atoms which she hath receiv’d from some external object. And there they make an ebullition among the vital Spirits; which, according to the intervening atoms, either cause a dilatation of the Heart, and so gladden it; or contract it, and so sadden it: and these two differing and contrary actions are the first general effects, whence proceed afterwards the particular Passions; which require not that I pursue them too far in this place, having done it more particularly else where, and more expresly.
Besides these passages, which are common to all Men and Women, there is another that’s peculiar only to females; which is, from the Brain to the Matrix wherby it often falls out that such violent vapours mount up to the Brain; and those in so great a number, that they often hinder the operation of the Brain and Imagination, causing convulsions and follies, with other strange accidents; and by the same channel, the Spirits or atoms pass with a greater liberty and swiftness to the womb or Matrix, when the case requires.
Now, let’s consider how the strong Imagination of one man doth marvailously act upon another man, who hath it more feeble and passive. We see daily, that, if a person gape; those who see him gaping are excited to do the same. If one fall in company with persons that are in a fit of laughter, he can hardly forbear laughing, though he knows not, why they laugh: or if one enters into an house where all the World is sad; he becomes melancholy. Women and Children, being very moist and passive, are most susceptible of this unpleasing contagion of the Imagination. I have known a very melancholy woman, which was subject to the disease called the Mother; and while she continued in that mood, she thought her self possessed, and did strange things, which among those that knew not the cause, passed for supernatural effects, and of one possessed by the ill spirit, she was a person of quality; and all this hap’ned through the deep resentment she had for the death of her Husband. She had attending her four or five young Gentlewomen; wherof some were her Kinswomen, and others serv’d her as Chamber-maids: All these came to be possessed as she was, and did prodigious actions. These young Maids were separated from her sight and communication; and not having yet contracted such profound roots of the evil, they came to be all cured by their absence: and this Lady was also cured afterwards by a Physician, who pur’d the atrabilious humors, and restored her Matrix to its former estate. There was neither imposture, or dissimulation in this.
I could make a notable recital of such passions, that hap’ned to the Nuns at Lodun: but, having done it in a particular Discourse at my return from that Country, where I, as exactly as I could, discussed the point, I will forbear speaking therof at this time. And only pray you to remember, that, when two Lutes or Harps, near one another are both set to the same tune; if you touch the strings of the one, the other consonant Instrument will sound at the same time, though no body touch it; whereof Galileo hath ingeniously rendred the reason.
Now, to make application to our purpose of all that hath been produced about it, I say that, since it is impossible, that any two several persons should be so near one the other as the Mother and the Infant in her womb; one may thence conclude, that all the effects of a strong and vehement Imagination, working upon another more feeble, passive, and tender, ought to be more efficacious in the Mother acting upon her Infant, than when the Imaginations of other persons act upon those who are nothing to them. And, as it is impossible for a Master of Musick, let him be never so expert and exact, to tune so perfectly any two Harps, as the great Master of the Universe doth the two bodies of the Mother and the Infant; so by consequence, the concussion of the principal strings of the Mother, which is her Imagination, must produce a greater shaking of the consonant string in the Infant, to wit, his Imagination, than the string of one Lute being struck, can of the Consonant strings of another. Wherefore, when the Mother sends Spirits to some parts of her body, the like must be sent to those parts of the Child’s body.
Now, let’s call to memory, how the Imagination of the Mother is ful of corporeal atoms, coming from the Mulberry or Strawberry, that fel upon her Neck and Brest; and her Imagination being then surprized with an emotion, by the suddenness of the accident, it follows necessarily, that she must send some of these atoms also to the Brain of the Infant, and so to the same part of the body, where she took the stain at first; twixt which and the brain, there pass such frequent and speedy messengers, as we have formerly set forth. The Infant also having his parts tuned in an harmonious consonance with the Mothers, cannot fail to observe the same movement of spirits, twixt his Imaginations and his neck and brest, as the mother did ‘twixt hers: and, these Spirits, being accompanied with atoms of the Mulberry, which the Mother convey’d to his Imagination, make a deep impression and lasting mark upon his delicate skin, wheras that of the mothers was more hard. As if one should let fly a Pistol charg’d with powder only, against a Marble, the powder would do nothing but ... it a little, which may quickly be rub’d off; but if one should discharge such a Pistol at a Man’s face, the grains of the powder would pierce the skin, and stick and dwel there, all his life time, making themselvs known by their black-blewish colour, which they always conserve.
In like manner, the smal grains or atoms of the Fruit, which passed from the Mother’s neck to the Imagination of the Infant, and thence to the same place upon his skin, do lodg and continually dwel there for the future; and serve as a source to draw the atoms of the like fruit dispersed in the air, in their season, (as the wine in the Tun draws to it the volatil spirits of the Vines) and by drawing them, the part of the skin, where they reside, ferments, swels, corrods, inflames, and sometimes breaks. But to render yet more considerable these marvailous marks of longing, (since we are upon this subject), I cannot forbear to touch also another circumstance, which might seem at first to be a miracle of Nature, beyond the causes which I have alledg’d: but having well eventilated it, we shall obsolutely find that it depends upon the same principles. ’Tis. that oftentimes it falls out, that the impression of the thing desired or longed for by the Mother, sticks on the Child; though the thing it self ne’r toucht the mothers body. ’Tis sufficient, that some other thing fal or inexpectedly beat upon some part of the woman with-child, while such a longing predominates in her imagination; and the figure of the thing so long’d for, will be found at last imprinted on the same part of the body of the Infant, where the Mother receiv’d the stroke. The reason hereof is, that the atoms of the thing long'd for, being rais’d up by the Light, go to the brain of the Mother, through the channel of her eyes, as well as other more material atoms, proceeding from the corporeal touch, would go thither, by the guidance of the nervs: And, of these petty bodies, the mother forms in her imagination a complete model of that whence they flow by way of emanation.
Now, if her mind only run on it, these atoms, which are in her imagination, make no other voyage, than to her heart, and thence to the imagination and heart of the Infant; and so cause a reinforcement of the Passion in them both which may be moved to such a violent impetuosity, that, if the Mother doth not enjoy her long’d-for object, this passion may cause the destruction both of her and her Infant, at least make so great a change in their bodies as may prejudice them both in their healths. But, if some unlook’d-for blow surprize the mother in any part of her body, it often happens that the spirits, which reside in the brain, are immediately sent to that part by her imagination. And, in all such sudden surprisals, either in women or men, these spirits are transported with the more impetuosity, the more the Passion is violent: As, when one loves another passionately, he runs suddenly to the door when any knocks, or that: Hylax in limine latrat [Hylax barks at the threshold], hoping always ’tis the party that entirely occupies his thoughts, (for qui amant ipsi sibi somnia fingunt [they who love make their dreams]) who comes to give him a visit. These spirits then moved by this sudden assault, being mingled with the petty bodies or atoms of the long’d-for thing which possesses so powerfully the fantasie, carry them along with themselvs to the part of the body which is struck; as also to the same part of the body of the Infant, as well as to his Imagination: and after that, all which hapens is but the same in respect of the Mother and the child; as when the Mulberry or Strawberry fell upon the neck or breast of the Ladies, with whom I have entertain'd you.
Permit me, my Lords, to inlarge my digression a little further by re-accounting to you a marvailous accident, known all over the Court of England; in the confirmation of the activity and impression which the Imagination of the Mother makes upon the body of the Infant in her womb. A Lady that was my Kinswoman, (she was the Neice of Fortescu, the Daughter of Count Arundel) came to give me visits somtimes in London; she was handsome and knew it well; taking great complacency not only to keep her self so, but to add that which she could further: wherefore being perswaded that black Patches which she used, gave her a great deal of ornament, she was careful to wear the most curious sort. But as it is very hard to keep a moderation, in things which depend more upon Opinion, than Nature; she wore them in excess, and patched most of her face with them, Though that did not much add to her beauty, and I took the liberty to tell her so yet I thought it no opportunity then, to do any thing that should give her the least distast; since with so much civility and sweetness she came to visit me. Nevertheless, one day I thought good, in a kind of drolling way so that she might not take any disgust, (and Ridentem dicere verum quid vetat? [What prevents me from speaking truth with a smile?]) to tell her of it; so I let my discourse fall upon her great-belly, advising her to have a care of her health, wherof she was somewhat negligent; according to the custom of young vigorous women, which know not yet what it is to be subject to indispositions, She gently thank’d me for my care herein; saying, That she could do no more for the preservation of her health, than she did, though she was in that case. You should at least, I reply’d, have a great care of your Child, O! for that, said she, there is nothing can be contributed. Yet, I told her, see how many Patches you wear upon your face: are you not afraid that the Infant in your womb may haply be born with such marks on his face? But, said she, What danger is there that my child should bear such marks, though I put them on artificially? Then, you have not heard, I reply’d, the marvailous effects that the imaginations of Mothers work upon the bodies of their children, while they are yet big with them; therfore I will reaccount to you some of them.
So I related to her sundry stories upon this subject: as, that of the Queen of Ethiopia, who was delivered of a white Boy; which was attributed to a Picture of the Blessed Virgin, she had near the teaster of her bed, where bore she great devotion. I urged another, of a woman who was brought to bed of a child all hairie; because of a pourtrait of St. John Baptist in the Wilderness, when he wore a coat of Camel's hair. I re-accounted to her also the strange Antipathy which the late King James had to a naked sword; wherof the cause was ascribed to some Schotch Lords, entring once violently into the Bed-chamber of the Queen his Mother, while she was with child of him, where her Secretary, an Italian, was dispatching some letters for her: whom they hack’d and kill’d with naked Swords, before her face, and threw him at her feet; and they grew so barbarous, that they had near hurt the Queen her self who endeavour’d to save her Secretary by interposing her self, for her skin was rased in divers places. Bucanan makes mention of this Tragedy. Hence it came that her Son, King James, had such an aversion all his life time to a naked Sword; that he could not see one, without a great emotion of spirits: and, though otherwise couragious enough, he could not over-master his passions in this particular. I remember, when he dub’d me Knight; in the ceremony of putting a naked Sword upon my shoulder, he could not endure to look upon it, but turned his face another way; insomuch that, in lieu of touching my shoulder, he had almost thrust the point into my eyes, had not the Duke of Buckingham guided his hand aight.
I alledg’d to her divers such stories; to make her apprehend, that a strong Imagination of the Mother might cause some notable impression upon the body of her Child, to his prejudice. And pray consider, said I, how attentive you are to your Patches, how you have them continually in your imagination; for, I have observed, that you have look’d on them ten times since you came to this room, in the Looking glass. Have you, therfore, no apprehension that your child may be born with half-moons upon his face; or rather, that all the black, which you spot in several places up and down may assemble in one, and appear in the middle of his forehead, the most apparant and remarkable part of the visage, as broad as a Jacobus: and then, what a grace would it be to the Child. O mee! said she, rather than that should happen, I will wear no more Patches, and while I am with-child: therupon instantly she pul’d them all off, and threw them Away. When her friends saw her afterwards without Patches; they demanded how it came to pass, that she, who was esteem’d to be one of the most curious Beauties of the Court, in point of Patches, should so suddenly give over wearing them? She answer’d, that her Uncle, in whom she had a great deal of belief, assured her, that, if she wore them, during the time she was with-child, the Infant would have a large black patch in the midst of his forehead. Now, this conceit was so lively engraven in her imagination, that she could not thrust it out: And so this poor Lady, who was so fearful that her child should bear some black mark in its face, yet could not prevent, but it came so into the World, and had a spot as large as a Crown of Gold in the midst of the forehead; according as she had figured before in her imagination. It was a Daughter that she brought forth every way very beautiful, this excepted: ’tis but few months since, that I saw her bearing the said mole or spot, which proceeded from the force of the Imagination of her Mother.
I need not tel you of your Neighbour of Carcassona; who lately was brought to bed of a prodigious Monster, exactly resembling an Ape, which she took pleasure to look upon, during the time she was with-child: for, I conceive you know the story better than I. Nor of the woman of St. Maixent, who could not forbear going to see an infortunate child of a poor passenger woman, that was born without arms; and she her self was deliver’d afterwards of such a Monster; who yet had some smal excrescences of flesh upon the shoulders, about the place whence the arms should have come forth. As also of her who was desirous to see the execution of a Criminal, that had his head cut off according to the laws of France: wherof her affrightment made so deep a print upon her Imagination, that presently falling in labour, before they could carry her, to her lodging, she was brought to-bed, before her time, of a Child who had his head sever’d from his body, both the parts yet shedding fresh blood, besides that which was abundantly shed in the womb; as if the heads-man had done an execution also upon the tender young body within the Mothers wombe.
These three Examples, manifestly enough prove the strength of the Imagination: and many others, as true I could produce; which would engage me too far, if I should undertake to clear the causes and unwrap the difficulties that would be found greater in them, than in any of those wherwith I have entertain’d you. Because those spirits had the power to cause essential changes and fearful effects, upon bodies that were already brought to their perfect shapes; and it may be well believ’d, that in some of them there was a transmutation of one species to another, and the introduction of a new Form into the subject-Matter, totally differing from that which had been introduced at first; at least, if that which most Naturalists tell us, at the animation of the Embryo in the womb, be true.
But this digression hath been already too long. To return then, to the great channel and thrid of our Discourse. The examples and experiments, which I have already insisted on in confirmation of the reasons I have aledg’d, clearly demonstrate that Bodies, which draw the atomes dispersed in the air, attract themselvs such as are of their own nature, with a greater force and energy, than other heterogeneous and strange atoms; as Wine doth the vinal spirits; The oyl of Tartar perfum’d in the making, with Roses, drew the volatil spirits of the Rose; The flesh of Deer, or Venison buried in crust, attracts the spirits of those Beasts; and so all the other wherof I have spoken.
The History of the Tarantula, in the kingdom of Naples, is very famous: you know how the venome of this Animal, ascending from the part that was bitten, towards the head and heart of the Parties; excites in their Imagination an impetuous desire to hear some melodious airs; and most commonly they are delighted with differing airs. Therfore, when they hear an air that pleases them, they begin to dance incessantly; and, therby fall a sweating in such abundance, that a great part of the venome evaporates. Besides, the sound of the musick raises a movement, and causes an agitation among the aereal and vaporous Spirits in the brain, and about the heart; and diffused up and down through the whole body, proportionably to the nature and cadence of such Musick! as, when Timotheus transported Alexander the great with such a vehemency, to what Passions he pleas’d: and, as when one Lute struck makes the consonant strings of the other to tremble, by the motions and tremblings which it causes in the air; though they be not touch’d otherwise at all. We find too, oftentimes, that Sounds (which are no other thing, than Motions of the air,) cause the like movement in the Water: as, the harsh sound, caus’d by rubbing hard with ones finger, the brim of a ... full of water, excites a noise, a turning, and boundings, as if it danced according to the cadence of the Sound: The harmonious Sounds also of Bells, in those Countries where they use to be rung to particular tunes, makes the like impressions upon the superficies of the Rivers that are nigh the Steeple, as in the Air especially in the night time, when there is no other movement, to stop or choak the other supervenient one. For, the air being contiguous, or rather continuous, with the water; and the water being susceptible of movement; ther's the like motion caused in the fluid parts of the water, as began in the air. And, the same contract, which is betwixt the agitated air, and the water by this means moved to; happens also to be betwixt the agitated air, and the vap’rous Spirits in those bodies that have been bitten by the Tarantula; which Spirits, by consequence, are moved by the agitated air, that is to say, by the Sound; and that the more efficaciously, the more this agitation or Sound is proportion’d to the nature and temperature of the party hurt. And, this intern agitation of the Spirits and vapours helps them to discharge the vaporous venom of the Tarantula, which is mixt among all their humours: as standing puddle Waters and corrupted airs, putrified by long repose, and the mixture of other noisome substances, are refin’d and purifi’d by motion. Now, winter approaching, which destroys these Animals, the persons are freed from this malady; but, at the return of that season when they use to be bitten, the mischief returns, and they must dance again as they did, the year before. The reason is, that the heat of Summer revives these Beasts, so that their venom becomes as malignant and furious as before; and, that being heated and evaporating it self, and dispersing in the air the leven of the same poyson, which remains in the bodies of them who have been hurt, that draws it to it self; wherby such a fermentation is wrought, as infects the other humours, and thence a kind of steam issuing and mounting to the brain, uses to produce such strange effects.
It is also well known that, where there are great dogs or Mastifs (as in England) if any be bitten perchance by them, they commonly use to be kil’d, though they be not mad; for fear, least the leven of the canine choler which remains within the body of the party bitten, might draw to it the malignant spirits of the same dog, (should he afterwards chance to be mad) which might come to distemper the spirits of the person. And, this is not only practised in, where there are such dangerous dogs; but also in France; according to the report of Father Cheron, Provincial of the Carmelites in this Countrey; In his Examination of Mystical Theology, newly imprinted, and which I have lately read.
I will say nothing of artificial Noses, made of the flesh of other men, to remedy the deformity of those, who by an extreme excess of cold, have lost their own: which new Noses putrifie, as soon as those persons, out of whose substance they were taken, come to die; as if that small parcel of flesh, engrafted on the face, lived by the spirits it drew from it's first root and source. For, though this be constantly avouch’d by considerable Authors, yet I desire you to think that I offer you nothing which is not verified by solid tradition; such, that it were a weakness to doubt of it.
But, it is high time that I come now to my Seventh and last Principle: it is the last turn of the engine, and will, I hope, batter down quite the gate which hindred us an entrance to the knowledge of this so marvailous a mystery; and imprint such a lawful mark upon the doctrine proposed, that ’twill pass for current. This principle is, that The source of those spirits or little bodies, which attract them to it self, draws likewise after them that which accompanies, and whatever sticks and is united to them. This conclusion needs not much proof, being evident enough of it self. If there be nails, pins, or ribands, tied to the end of a long chord or chain, and withal a lump, either of wax, gum, or glue; and I take this chord or chain by one end, and draw it to me, till the other end come to my hand: it cannot be otherwise but, at the same time, the nails, the pins, the ribands, the lump, and in fine, all that hangs at it must come to my hand. I go therfore to relate to you, only, some experiments that have been made, in consequence of this Principle; which will most strongly confirm the others produced before.
The great fertility and riches of England consists chiefly in pasturage for Cattle; wherof we have the fairest in the world, principally of Oxen and Kine. Ther’s not the meanest Cottager, but hath a Cow to furnish his Family with milk: ’tis the principal sustenance of the poorer sort of people, as ’tis also in Switzerland; which makes them very careful of the good keeping and health of their Cows. Now, if it happen that the Milk boil over, and so comes to fall into the fire, the good woman or maid presently gives over whatever she is adoing and runs to take the Vessel off the fire: and, at the same time, she takes a handful of Salt, which use to be commonly in the corner of the Chimney to keep it dry and throws it upon the cinders where the milk was shed. Ask her, wherfore she doth so? and she will tell you, ’tis to prevent a mischief to the Cow’s Udder, which gave this milk: for without this remedy, it would grow hard and ulcerated; and she would come to piss blood, and so be in danger to die. Not that ‘twould rise to this extremity the first time; but she would grow ill-disposed, and if this should happen often, the Cow would soon miscarry.
It might seem that there were some superstition or folly in this: but the infallibility of the effect warrants from the last, and, for the first, many indeed believe that the malady of the Cow is supernatural, or an effect of Sorcery, and consequently that the remedy which I have alledg’d is superstitious; but ’tis easie to disabuse any man of this perswasion, by declaring how the business goes, according to the foundations I have laid. The milk falling upon the burning coals is converted to vapour, which disperses and filtreth it self through the circumambient air, where it encounters the Light and Solar rays which transport it further; augmenting and extending still farther the Sphere of its activity. This vapour of the milk is not alone or simple; but compos’d of fiery atoms, which accompany the smoke and vapour of the milk, mingling and uniting themselvs therwith. Now, the sphere of the said vapour extending it self to the place where the Cow is; her Udder, which is the source whence the milk proceeded, attracts to it the said vapour, and sucks it in together with the fiery atoms that accompanied it. The Udder is, part, glandulous and very tender; and consequently very subject to inflammations: this fire then heats, inflames, and swells it; and in fine, makes it hard and ulcerated. The inflamed and ulcerated Udder is near the Bladder; which comes likewise to be inflamed: making the anastomoses and communication ‘twixt the veins and arteries to open and cast forth blood, and to regorge into the bladder, whence the Urine empty’s it self.
But, whence comes it, you will ask, that the Salt remedies all this? ’Tis because that is of a nature clean contrary to the fire; the one being hot and volatil, the other cold and fixed: insomuch that, where they use to encounter, the Salt, as it were, knocks down the fire, by precipitating and destroying its action; as may be observ’d in a very ordinary accident. The chimneys which are full of Soot use to take fire very easily; and, the usual remedy for this is to discharge a Musket in the funnel of the Chimney, which loosneth and brings down with it the fired Soot, and then the disorder ceases: but, if there be no Musket, or Pistol, or other Instrument to fetch down the Soot, they use to cast a great quantity of Salt on the fire below; and that chokes, and hinders the atoms of fire, that otherwise would incessantly mount up and joyn with them above, which, by this means wanting nouriture, consume themselvs, and come to nothing. The same thing befalls the atoms which are ready to accompany the vapour of the milk; the salt precipitates and kills them on the very place: and if any chance to scape and save themselvs, by the great strugglings they make, and go along with the said vapour, they are nevertheless accompanied with the atoms and spirit of the Salt sticking to them; which, like good wrestlers, never leave their hold, till they have got the better of their Adversary. And you may please to observe by the by, that that there is not a more excellent balme for a burn, than the spirit of salt, in a moderate quantity. ’Tis then apparent, that there cannot be employ’d any means more efficacious, to hinder the ill effects of the fire upon the Udder of the Cow; than to cast upon her milk, that has boil’d over upon the Cinders, a sufficient quantity of Salt.
This effect, of securing the Cow’s Udder upon the burning of her milk, makes me call to mind, what divers have told me they have seen both in France and England, viz. when the Physicians examine the milk of a Nurse, for the Child of a Person of Quality, they use to make proofs several ways, before they come to judg definitively of the goodness thereof; as, by the taste, by the smell, by the colour and consistence of it: and sometimes they cause it to be boil’d, till it come to an evaporation and they see it's residence, with other accidents and circumstances which may be learnt and discern’d by this means. But, those, of whose milk this last experiment hath been made, have felt themselvs so tormented in their Paps, while their milk was a boiling that, having once endured this pain, they would never consent that their milk should be carried away out of their sight and presence: though they willingly submited to any other proof than that by fire.
Now, to confirm this experiment of the attraction which the Cow’s Udder makes of the fire and vapour of the burnt milk, I am going to recount to you another of the same nature; wherof I my self have seen the truth more than once, and wherof any one may easily make trial. Take the excrement of a Dog, and throw it into the fire, more than once; at first you shall find him heated and moved, but, in a short time, you shall see him, as if he were burnt all over, panting and stretching out his tongue, as if he had run a long course. Now, this alteration befalls him, because his entrails, drawing to them the vapour of the burn’d excrement, and, with that vapour, the atoms of fire which accompanied it, grow so chang’d and inflam’d, that the Dog, having always a Fever upon him, and not being able to take any nourishment, his flancks cling together and he dies. ‘Twere dangerous to divulge this experience among such persons, as are subject to make use of any thing for doing of miscief: for, the same effect, would be wrought upon Men’s Bodies, if one should try the conclusion upon their excrements.
There hap’ned a remarkable thing to this purpose, to a neighbor of mine in England, the last time I was there: He had a very pretty Child, whom because he would have always in his eye, he kept the Nurse in his House. I saw him often, for he was a stirring man, and of good address; and I had occasion to use such a man. One day I found him very sad, and his Wife a weeping: wherof demanding the reason, they told me that that their little Child was very ill; that he had a burning Fever, which inflamed him all over, as appear’d the redness of his face; that he strove to go to Stool, but could do little, and that little he did was cover’d with blood; and that he refused also to suck: And that which troubled them most was, that they could not conjecture how this indisposition come; for his Nurse was very well, her milk was as good as could be wished; and in all other things there was as much care had of him as could be. I told them, that the last time I was with them, I observ’d one particularity, wherof I thought fit to give them notice; but somthing or other still diverted me; ’twas this, that the Child, making a sign that he was desirous to be set on his feet, let fall his excrements on the ground; and his Nurse presently took the Fire-shovel and cover’d them with embers, and then threw all into the fire. The mother began to make her excuses, that they were not more careful to correct this ill habit of the child; telling me that, as he advanc’d in years, he should be corrected for it. I replied, that ’twas not for this consideration that I spake of it: but searching after the reason of her child’s distemper, and consequently to find some remedy.
And thereupon, I related to them the like accident which had hap’ned, two or three three years before, to a child of one of the most illustrious Magistrates of the Parliament of Paris; who was bred up in the House of a Doctor of Physick of great reputation in the same Town: I told them also what I have now related to you, touching the excrements of Dogs. And I made reflections to them upon a thing they had often heard, and which is often practised in our Country viz. that, In the Villages, which are always dirty in the winter, if there happens to be a Farmer any thing more neat than others, and that keeps the approaches to his House cleaner than his neighbours do, the Boys use to come thither, in the night time or when it begins to be dark, to discharge their bellies there: because, in such Villages there is not much commodity of easments; besides that in such clean places the knaves are out of danger to sink into the dirt, which otherwise might rise up higher than their shooes. The good houswives in the morning, when they open their doors, and find such an ill-favour’d smell, use to be transported with choller: But they, who are acquainted with this trick, go presently and make red hot a Spit, or Fireshovel, and thrust it so into the excrements, and when ’tis quencht, they heat it again and again to the same purpose. Mean while the Boy, that had plaid the sloven, feels a kind of pain and collick in his bowels, with an inflammation in his fundament and a continual desire to go to Stool: and he is hardly quit of it, till he suffer a kind of Feaver all that day; which makes him return thither no more. And these women, to be freed from such affronts, pass among the Ignorant for Sorceresses, and to have made a compact with the Divel; since they torment people in that fashion, without seeing or touching them.
This Gentleman did not disallow those things I have already told you; but was confirm’d farther when I wish’d him to look farther into the fundament of his child, for without doubt he should find it red and inflamed, and perhaps full of pimples, and excoriated. Not long after, this poor child grew ill, and with much pain and pitiful cries, voided some small matter: which in lieu of casting into the fire or covering it with embers, I caused to be put into a bason of cold water and set in a cool place. This was continued to be done, every time the child gave occasion; and he began to amend the very same hour, and, within four or five daies became perfectly well recover’d.
But, least I trespass too much upon your patience, I’le hold you no longer, but with one experiment more, very familiar in our Countrey: and then I will summ up all that hath been said; to make you see the force and import of this whole Discourse.
We have in England, as I touch’d before, excellent Pasturage for the feeding and fatting of Cattle; so abundant, that, it falls out often, the Oxen come to acquire such excess of fat that it extends it self in a great quantity to their legs and feet and even hoofs; which many times causes impostumes in the of their feet that comes to swel and get a core full of putrified matter, so that the Beast is not able to go. The Owners observing that, though the Beef be never the worse for the Shambles, yet they are damnified therby; because, not being able to bring them to London, (where the grand market is for fat Beefs through all as Paris is for Auvergne, Normandy, and other provinces of France,) they are constrain’d to kill them up on the place, where their flesh is not worth half the price they might have got in London: the Owners, I say, have recourse to this remedy viz. Observing where the Oxe, Cow, or Heifer, fix upon the Ground the sick foot, at first rising up in the morning; that very turf with the print of the foot on it, they cut up, and hang upon a tree or hedg lying open to the North wind: And, that wind blowing upon the turf, the Beast comes to be cured, within three or four daies very perfectly, but if one should point that turf towards the South or South west wind the foot would grow worse. These circumstances wil not seem superstitious to you when you shall have consider’d, how, that, by the repose of the night, the corrupt matter or core uses to gather, in a great quantity under the foot of the Beast; which being set on the ground in the morning presses forth the impostume: the matter wherof sticks to the place. Now, this turf of Earth being exposed in some proper place, to receive the dry cold blasts of the Northern winds; those blasts intermingle with the said corrupt impostumated matter: which spreading its Spirits about through all the air, the ulcerated foot of the Animal, (being their source) draws them to it, and with them the cold dry atoms which cure it; the malady requiring no other help than to be wel dry’d, and refreshed. But, if one should expose this turf to a moist hottish wind, it would produce contrary effects.
Behold, my Lords, all my wheels formed; I confess they are ill filed and polished, but let us try whether, being put together and mounted, they wil make the engin go: which, if they do, and fairly draw in the Conclusion, you will, I presume, have the goodness to pardon the grossness of my language; and, passing by the words, content your selvs with the naked truth of the things. Let us therefore apply what has been said, to that which is practic’d, when a hurt person is cured. Let us consider Mr. Howel wounded in the hand, and a great inflammation following upon his hurt; his Garter is taken, cover’d with the blood that issued from the wound, and is steep’d in a bason of water where ;Vitriol was dissolv’d, one keeps the Bason in a closet moderately warm’d by the Sun all day, and at night in the chimney corner; so that the blood upon the Garter be always in a good natural temperament, neither colder nor hotter than the degree required in a healthful body: What now must result, (according to the doctrine that we endeavour to establish,) from all this?
In the first place, the Sun and Light will attract, a great extent and distance off, the spirits of the blood upon the Garter: and the moderate heat of the chimney, acting gently upon the composition, (which comes to the same thing, as if one should carry it dry in his pocket, to make it feel the temperate heat of the Body,) will push out and thrust forward still the said atoms, and make them march of themselvs a good way in the air round about, to help therby the attraction of the Sun and Light. Secondly, the Spirit of Vitriol, being incorporated with the blood cannot choose but make the same voyage together with the atoms of the blood. Thirdly, the wounded hand expires and exhales, in the mean time, continually abundance of hot fiery Spirits, which stream as a river out of the inflamed hurt: nor can this be, but the wound must, consequently, draw to it the air which is next it. Fourthly, this air must draw to it the other air next it, and that the next to it also; and so there will be a kind of current of air drawn round about the wound. Fifthly, with this air will come to incorporate at last the atoms and Spirits of the Blood and Vitriol, which were diffused a good way off in the air, by the attractions of the Light and the Sun: Besides, it may well be, that, from the begining, the orb and sphere of these atomes and Spirits extended it self to so great a distance; without having need of the attractions of the air, or light to make them come thither. Sixthly, the atoms of blood, finding the proper source and original root whence they issued, will stay there, re-entering into their natural beds and primitive receptacles: wheras the other air, being but a passenger, will evaporate away as soon as it comes; as, when it is carried away through the funnel of the chimney, as soon as it is drawn into the chamber by the door. Seventhly, the atoms of the blood being inseparable from the Spirits of the Vitriol, both the one and the other will joyntly be imbibed together within all the corners, fibres, and orifices of the Veins which lye open about the wound; whence it must of necessity be refreshed, and in fine imperceptibly cured.
Now to know in virtue of what such an effect and cure is so happily performed, we must examine the nature of Vitriol: which is composed of two parts; the one fixed, the other volatil. The fixed, which is the Salt, is sharp and biting, and caustique in some degree. The volatil is smooth, soft, balsamical, and astringent; and ’tis for that reason that Vitriol is made use of, as a sovereign remedy for the inflammations of the eyes, when they are corroded and parched by some sharp and burning humor or defluction; as also in injections, where excoriations require them, and in the best plaisters to stanch the blood and incarnate hurts. But, they who well know how to draw the sweet oyl of Vitriol, which is the pure volatil part therof, know also that in the whole closet of Nature, there is no balm like this oyl. For, it heals in a very short time, all kind of hurts which are not mortal, it cures and consolidates the broken veins of the breast; ev’n to the Ulcers in the lungs, which is an incurable malady without this balm. Now, ’tis the volatil part of the Vitriol, which is transported by the Sun (the great Distiller of Nature) and which by that means dilates it self in the air: and that the wound or part which receiv’d the hurt, draws and incorporates with the blood and its humours and spirits. Which being true, we cannot expect a less effect of the volatil Vitriol, but that it should shut the veins, stanch the blood, and so, in a short time heal the wound.
The method and primitive manner how to make use of this Sympathetical remedy was, To take only some Vitriol, and that of the common sort, as it came from the Druggists, without any preparation or addition at all; and to make it dissolve in fountain (or rather in rain-water,) to such a proportion, that, putting therin a knife or some polished iron, it should come out chang’d into the colour of copper: and, into this water, they used to put a clowt or rag embrued with the blood of the party hurt; if the rag were dry: But, if the rag was yet fresh, and moist with the reaking blood, there was no need but to sprinkle it with the smal powder of the same Vitriol; so that the powder might incorporate it self with, and imbibe the blood remaining yet humid. In both cases the rag was to be kept in a temperate heat or place; viz. the powder in ones pocket, and the water (which admits not of this commodity) within a chamber where the heat should be temperate, and, every time that one should put new water of Vitriol or fresh powder to new cloth or other bloodied stuff, the patient would feel new ease; as if the wound had been then drest with some sovereign medicament. And for this reason they used to reiterate this manner of dressing both Evening and Morning.
But now, the most part of those who serve themselvs with the Powder of Sympathy endeavour to have Vitriol of Rome, or of Cyprus; which they calcine at the rayes of the Sun: And besides, some use to add the Gum of Tragagantha it being easy to add to things already invented.
For mine own part, I have seen as great and admirable effects of simple Vitriol of eighteen pence the pound; as of that Powder which is us'd to be prepared now at a greater price: yet I blame not the present practice; on the contrary, I commend it, for, it is founded upon reason.
First, it seems that the purest and best sort of Vitriol operates the best.
Secondly, it seems also, that the moderate calcining therof at the rays of the Sun takes away the superfluous humidity of the Vitriol; and operates on no part therof, but that which is good: as if one should boil broth so clear that it would come to be gelly, which certainly would render it more nourishing.
Thirdly, it seems, that the exposing of the Vitriol to the Sun, to receive calcination, renders its spirits more fitly disposed to be transported through the air by the Sun, when need requires. For, it cannot be doubted but some part of the aethereal fire or Solar rays incorporates with the Vitriol; (as is plainly discover’d in calcining Antimony by a Burning-glass; for it much augments the weight of it, almost half in half:) both are near-a-kin: those therefore, easily obeying the Motion of their brother-beams, must needs make the grosser matter, they are united with less refractory.
Fourthly, these Solar rays, being embodied with the Vitriol are in a posture to communicate to it a more excellent virtue, than it hath of it self; as we find that Antimony, calcin’d in the Sun becomes (of rank poison that it was before) a most sovereign and balsamical medicament, and a most excellent Corroborative of Nature.
Fifthly, the Gum of Tragagantha, having a glutinous faculty, and being, in other respects very innocent, may contribute somthing towards the consolidation of the wound.
My Lords, I could add many most important considerations touching the Form and essence of Vitriol; wherof the substance is so noble, and the origin is so admirable, that one may avouch it, with good reason, one of the most excellent bodies which Nature hath produced.
The Chymists assure us that it is no other than, a corporification of the Universal Spirits which animates and perfects all that hath existence in this sublunary World: which it draws in that abundance to it, that I my self have, in a short time, by exposing some only to the open air, made an attraction of a celestial Vitriol ten times more in weight, of a marvailous pureness and virtue; a priviledge given to none but It, and pure virgin Salt-peter.
But to anatomise, as we ought, the nature of this transcendent Individual, (which nevertheless in some respect may be said to be Universal, and fundamental to all bodies,) would require a Discourse, far more ample, than I have yet made: And I have already entertain’d you so long, that it would be a very great indiscretion to entrench further upon your goodness, who have hitherto listned to me with so much attention and patience; if I should go about to enter into any new matter, and embark my self for a further voyage. Wherefore remiting several things to some other time, when you shall please to command me, and returning to the general consideration of this Sympathetical cure I will put a Period to this Discourse: after I shall have said two or three words, which will not be of smal importance, for the confirmation of all that hath been alledg’d by me hitherto.
I have deduced to you the admirable causes of the operations, and strange effects of the Powder of Sympathy, from their first root. These fundamental causes are so linked one within the other, that it seems there can be no default, stop, or interruption, in their proceedings. But we shall be the better fortified in the belief of their virtue and efficacy, and how they come to produce the effects of so many rare Cures, if we consider that when any jugling is practiced in some one of these causes, or in all of them together, we may perceive immediately an effect altogether differing from the former. If I had not formerly seen a Watch or Clock, I should be justly surprized and remain astonish’d, to see the hand or needle so regularly mark the journal hours and motion of the Sun, upon the flat of a Quadrant; and that it should turn and make its round every four and twenty hours; there being nothing seen that should push on the said needle. But, if I look on the other side, I see wheels, ressorts, and counterpoises in perpetual movement; which having well considered, I presently suspect, that those Wheels are the cause of the movement and turnings of the said Needle; though I cannot presently discern or know how they effect it, because of the plate that lies interposed betwixt them. Therupon, I reason thus with my self, Every effect whatever must of necessity have some cause; therfore the body moved there, must necessarily receive its movement from some other body contiguous to it: Now, I see no other body, to make the needle of the quadrant move and turn, but the said wheels; Therefore, I must of force be perswaded to attribute the movement to them. But, afterwards, when I have stop’d the motion of those wheels and taken away the Counterpoise, and observed that suddenly the needle ceases to move; and that, applying again the Counterpoise, and giving liberty for the wheels to turn, the needle returns to her ordinary course, and that I make one wheel go faster, by putting my finger to it, or by adding more weight to the counterpoise, the needle hastens and advances its motions proportionably: then I grow to be convinced and entirely satisfied; and so absolutely conclude that these Wheels and Counterpoises are the true cause of the motion of the Needle.
In the same manner, if, interrupting the action of any of those causes, which I have established for the true foundation of the Sympathetical Powders virtue, I alter, retard or hinder the Cure of the Wound: I may boldly conclude, that they are the legitimate and genuine true causes of the Cure; and that we need not amuse our selvs to search after any other.
Let us then examine the matter by this rule. I have affirm’d that, the Light transporting the atoms of the Vitriol and Blood, and dilating them to a great extent in the air: the wound or place hurt attracts them, and therby is immediately refresht and eas’d; and consequently comes to be heal’d; by the Spirits of the Vitriol, which is of a balsamical virtue. But, if you put the Bason or Powder with the cloth-imbrued with blood into a Cup-boord or a corner of some cold room, or into a Cellar, where the Light or fresh Air never comes (whence the place is corrupted and full of ill smells,) in that case the wound can receive no amendment, nor any good effect from the said Powder. And, it will fall out in the same manner, if, having put the bason or Powder in some By-corner, you cover them with some thick cloth, stuffing and spongie, which may imbibe the atoms coming forth, and retain the light and rays that enter there, so that they are thereby stop'd and quite lost.
Morover, if you suffer the water of Vitriol to congeal into ice; or the cloth dip’t in it; the party hurt shall be sensible, at the begining, of a very great cold in his wound: but when it is iced all over, he shall feel neither heat nor cold, in regard that congealed cold constipates the pores of the water, so that it ceases to transpire and send forth Spirits. If one wash the bloody Cloth in Vinegar or Lye, (which, by their penetrating acrimony, transport all the spirits of the blood), before the Vitriol be applied; it will produce no effect. Yet, if the Cloth be wash’d but with pure simple water, it will nevertheless do something; for, that water carries not away so much; but, the effect will not be so great, as if the Cloth had not been washed at all; for then it would remain full of the spirits of the blood. The same cure is performed, by applying the remedy to the Blade of a Sword which has wounded a body; so the Sword be not too much heated by the fire: for that will make all the Spirits of the blood to evaporate; and consequently the Sword will contribute but little to the cure. Now, the reason why the Sword may be dressed in order to the cure, is, because the subtile spirits of blood penetrate the substance of the blade, as far as it went into the body of the wounded party; and, there keep their residence, unless the fire, as I said before, chase them away. For experiment wherof, hold the Blade over a chasing dish of moderate fire, and you shall discern, on the side opposite to the fire, a little humidity; which resembles the spots that ones breath makes upon looking-glasses; or upon the burnished blade of a sword. If you look upon it through a magnifying glass, you shall find that this soft dew of the Spirits consists in little bubles, or blown bladders: and, when once they are entirely evaporated, you shall discern no more upon the weapon; unless it were thrust a new into the body of another, from the begining shall you discover any such thing, but precisely upon the part of the blade, which had entred the wound.
This subtile penetration of the Spirits into hard steel, may confirm the belief of such Spirits piercing through the skin of a woman big with child: as I remind, to have proposed to you in my sixth Principle.
To confirm all these particulars, I could add, to those I have already recounted many notable examples more; but, I fear I have already too much exercised your patience; I will therfore suspend any mention of them at this time; but I offer to entertain any of this Honourable Assembly therwith, when they shall have the curiosity.
I conclude then, my Lords, with representing to you that all this mystery is carry’d and guided throughout, by true natural ways and circumstances; although, by the agency and resorts of very subtile spirits.
I am perswaded my Discourse hath convincingly shew’d you, that, in this Sympathetical cure, there is no need to admit of an action distant from the Patient: I have traced to you a real Communication ‘twixt the one and the other; viz. of a Balsamical substance, which corporally mingles with the wound.
Now, it is a poor kind of pusillanimity and faint-heartedness, or rather a gross weakness of the Understanding, to pretend any effects of charm or magick herin; or to confine all the actions of Nature to the grossness of our Senses, when we have not sufficiently consider'd nor examined the true causes and principles wheron tis fitting we should ground our judgment: we need not have recourse to a Demon or Angel in such difficulties.
Nec Deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus Inciderit.
God doth not intervene,
unless a knot appear which is worthy of such an untangler.