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OBSERVATIONS UPON EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY. To which is added, THE DESCRIPTION
OF A New Blazing World.
WRITTEN By the Thrice Noble, Illustrious, and Excellent PRINCESS, THE Duchess
of Newcastle.
LONDON, Printed by A. Maxwell, in the Year, 1666.
TO HER GRACE THE Duchess of Newcastle, On her OBSERVATIONS upon EXPERIMENTAL
PHILOSOPHY.
THis Book is Book of Books, and only fits
Great searching Brains, and Quintessence of Wits;
For this will give you an Eternal Fame,
And last to all Posterity your Name:
You conquer Death, in a perpetual Life;
And make me famous too in such a Wife.
So I will Prophecy in spite of Fools,
When dead, then honoured, and be read in Schools,
And Ipse dixit lost, not He, but She
Still cited in your strong Philosophy.
William Newcastle.
TO HIS GRACE THE Duke of Newcastle.
My Noble Lord,
IN this present Treatise, I have ventured to make some observations upon
Experimental Philosophy, and to examine the Opinions of some of our Modern
Microscopical or Dioptrical Writers; and though your Grace is not only a lover
of Vertuosoes, but a Virtuoso your self, and have as good, and as many sorts of
Optic Glasses as any one else; yet you do not busy your self much with this
brittle Art, but employ most part of your time in the more noble and heroic
Art of Horsemanship and Weapons, as also in the sweet and delightful Art of
Poetry, and in the useful Art of Architecture, c. which shows that you do not
believe much in the Informations of those Optic glasses, at least think them
not so useful as others do that spend most of their time in Dioptrical
inspections. The truth is, My Lord, That most men in these latter times, busy
themselves more with other Worlds, then with this they live in, which to me
seems strange, unless they could find out some Art that would carry them into
those Gelestial Worlds, which I doubt will never be; nay, if they did, it would
be no better then Lucian's, or the French-mans Art, with Bottles, Bladders, c.
or like the mans that would scrue himself up into the Moon: And therefore I
confess, I have but little faith in such Arts, and as little in Telescopical,
Microscopical, and the like inspections, and prefer rational and judicious
Observations before deluding Glasses and Experiments; which, as I have more at
large declared in this following work, so I leave it to your Graces perusal and
judgment, which I know is so just, so exact, and so wise, that I may more
safely rely upon it, then all others besides; and if your Grace do but approve
of it, I care not if all the world condemn it; for your Graces Approbation is
all that can be desired from,
My Lord, Your Graces honest Wife, and humble Servant, M. N.
TO THE MOST FAMOUS UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDG.
Most Noble, and Eminently-Learned,
DO not judge it an Impertinency, that now again I presume to offer unto you
another piece of my Philosophical Works; for when I reflect upon the honour you
have done me, I am so much sensible of it, that I am troubled I cannot make you
an acknowledgment answerable to your great Civilities.
You might, if not with scorn, with silence have passed by, when one of our
Sex, and what is more, one that never was versed in the sublime Arts and
Sciences of literature, took upon her to write, not only of Philosophy, the
highest of all humane Learning, but to offer it to so famous and celebrated a
University as yours; but your Goodness and Civility being as great as your
Learning, would rather conceal, then discover or laugh at those weaknesses and
imperfections which you know our Sex is liable to; nay, so far you were from
this, that by your civil respects, and undeserved commendations, you were
pleased to cherish rather, then quite to suppress or extinguish my weak
endeavours.
For which Favour, as I found my self doubly indebted to you, so I thought it
my duty to pay you my double acknowledgments; Thanks, you know, can never be
unseasonable, when petitions may; neither can they be unpleasing, when
petitions often are troublesome; and since there is no sacrifice, which God is
more delighted with, then that of Thanks-giving, I live in hopes you will not
refuse this repeated offer of Gratitude, but favourably, as a due to your
Merits, receive it from her, who both of your Ingenuity, Learning and Civility
is the greatest admirer, and shall always profess her self,
Your most Obliged and Devoted Servant.
THE PREFACE TO THE ENSUING TREATISE.
TIs probable, some will say, that my much writing is a disease; but what
disease they will judge it to be, I cannot tell; I do verily believe they will
take it to be a disease of the Brain, but surely they cannot call it an
Apoplexical or Lethargical disease: Perhaps they will say, it is an
extravagant, or at least a Fantastical disease; but I hope they will rather
call it a disease of wit. But, let them give it what name they please, yet of
this I am sure, that if much writing be a disease, then the best Philosophers,
both Moral and Natural, as also the best Divines, Lawyers, Physicians, Poets,
Historians, Orators, Mathematicians, Chemists, and many more have been
grievously sick, and Seneca, Plinius, Aristotle, Cicero, Tacitus, Plutarch,
Euclid, Homer, Virgil, Ovid, St. Augustin. St. Ambrose, Scotus, Hippocrates,
Galen, Paracelsus, and hundreds more, have been at deaths door with the disease
of writing; but to be infected with the same disease, which the devoutest,
wisest, wittiest, subtilest, most learned and eloquent men have been troubled
withal, is no disgrace, but the greatest honour, even to the most ambitious
person in the world: and next to the honour of being thus infected, it is also
a great delight and pleasure to me, as being the only Pastime which employs my
idle hours; in so much, that, were I sure no body did read my Works, yet I
would not quit my pastime for all this; for although they should not delight
others, yet they delight me; and if all Women that have no employment in
worldly affairs, should but spend their time as harmlesly as I do, they would
not commit such faults as many are accused of.
I confess, there are many useless and superfluous Books, and perchance mine
will add to the number of them; especially is it to be observed, that there
have been in this latter age, as many Writers of Natural Philosophy, as in
former ages there have been of Moral Philosophy; which multitude, I fear, will
produce such a confusion of Truth and Falsehood, as the number of Moral Writers
formerly did, with their over-nice divisions of Virtues and vices, whereby they
did puzle their Readers so, that they knew not how to distinguish between them.
The like, I doubt, will prove amongst our Natural Philosophers, who by their
extracted, or rather distracted arguments, confound both Divinity and Natural
Philosophy, Sense and Reason, Nature and Art, so much as in time we shall have
rather a Chaos, then a well-order'd Universe by their doctrine: Besides, many
of their Writings are but parcels taken from the ancient; but such Writers are
like those unconscionable men in Civil Wars, which endeavour to pull down the
hereditary Mansions of Noble-men and Gentlemen, to build a Cottage of their
own; for so do they pull down the learning of Ancient Authors, to render
themselves famous in composing Books of their own. But though this Age does
ruin Palaces, to make Cottages; Churches, to make Conventicles; and
Universities to make private Colleges; and endeavour not only to wound, but
to kill and bury the Fame of such meritorious Persons as the Ancient were, yet,
I, hope God of his mercy will preserve State, Church, and Schools, from ruin
and destruction; Nor do I think their weak works will be able to overcome the
strong wits of the Ancient; for setting aside some few of our Moderns, all the
rest are but like dead and withered leaves, in comparison to lovely and lively
Plants; and as for Arts, I am confident, that where there is one good Art found
in these latter ages, there are two better old Arts lost, both of the
Egyptians, Grecians, Romans, and many other ancient Nations; (when I say lost,
I mean in relation to our knowledge, not in Nature; for nothing can be lost in
Nature) Truly, the Art of Augury was far more beneficial then the lately
invented Art of Micrography; for I cannot perceive any great advantage this Art
doth bring us. Also the Eclipse of the Sun and Moon was not found out by
Telescopes, nor the motions of the Loadstone, nor the Art of the Card, nor the
Art of Guns and Gun-powder, nor the Art of Printing, and the like, by
Microscopes; nay, if it be true, that Telescopes make appear the spots in the
Sun and Moon, or discover some new Stars, what benefit is that to us? Or if
Microscopes do truly represent the exterior parts and superficies of some
minute Creatures, what advantages it our knowledge? For unless they could
discover their interior, corporeal, figurative motions, and the obscure actions
of Nature, or the causes which make such or such Creatures, I see no great
benefit or advantage they yield to man: Or if they discover how reflected light
makes loose and superficial Colours, such as no sooner perceived, but are again
dissolved; what benefit is that to man? For neither Painters nor Dyers can
enclose and mix that Atomical dust, and those reflections of light to serve
them for any use. Wherefore, in my opinion, it is both time and labour lost;
for the inspection of the exterior parts of Vegetables, doth not give us any
knowledge how to Sow, Set, Plant, and Graft; so that a Gardener or Husbandman
will gain no advantage at all by this Art: The inspection of a Be, through a
Microscope, will bring him no more Honey, nor the inspection of a grain more
Corn; neither will the inspection of dusty Atoms, and reflections of light,
teach Painters how to make and mix Colours, although it may perhaps be an
advantage to a decayed Ladies face, by placing her self in such or such a
reflection of Light, where the dusty Atoms may hide her wrinkles. The truth
is, most of these Arts are Fallacies, rather then discoveries of Truth; for
Sense deludes more then it gives a true Information, and an exterior inspection
through an Optic glass, is so deceiving, that it cannot be relied upon:
Wherefore Regular Reason is the best guide to all Arts, as I shall make it
appear in this following Treatise.
It may be the World will judge it a fault in me, that I oppose so many eminent
and ingenious Writers, but I do it not out of a contradicting or wrangling
nature, but out of an endeavour to find out truth, or at least the probability
of truth, according to that proportion of sense and reason Nature has bestowed
upon me; for as I have heard my Noble Lord say, that in the Art of Riding and
Fencing, there is but one Truth, but many Falsehoods and Fallacies: So it may be
said of Natural Philophy and Divinity; for there is but one Fundamental Truth
in each, and I am as ambitious of finding out the truth of Nature, as an
honourable Dueller is of gaining fame and repute; for as he will fight with
none but an honourable and valiant opposite, so am I resolved to argue with
none but those which have the renown of being famous and subtle Philosophers;
and therefore as I have had the courage to argue heretofore with some famous
and eminent Writers in Speculative Philosophy; so have I taken upon me in this
present work, to make some reflections also upon some of our Modern
Experimental and Dioptrical Writers. They will perhaps think my self an
inconsiderable opposite, because I am not of their Sex, and therefore strive to
hit my Opinions with a side stroke, rather covertly, then openly and directly;
but if this should chance, the impartial World, I hope, will grant me so much
Justice as to consider my honesty, and their fallacy, and pass such a judgment
as will declare them to be Patrons, not only to Truth, but also to Justice and
Equity; for which Heaven will grant them their reward, and time will record
their noble and worthy Actions in the Register of Fame, to be kept in
everlasting Memory.
TO THE READER.
Courteous Reader,
I Do ingeniously confess, that both for want of learning and reading
Philosophical Authors, I have not expressed my self in my Philosophical Works,
especially in my Philosophical and Physical Opinions, so clearly and plainly as
I might have done, had I had the assistance of Art, and the practice of reading
other Authors: But though my Conceptions seem not so perspicuous in the
mentioned Book of Philosophical Opinions; yet my Philosophical Letters, and
these present Observations, will, I hope, render it more intelligible, which I
have writ, not out of an ambitious humour, to fill the World with useless
Books, but to explain and illustrate my own Opinions; For what benefit would it
be to me, if I should put forth a work, which by reason of its obscure and hard
notious, could not be understood? especially, it is knowil, that Natural
Philosophy is the hardest of all humane learning, by reason it consists only
in Contemplation, and to make the Philosophical Conceptions of ones mind known
to others, is more difffcult then to make them believe, that if A. B. be equal
to C. D. then E. F. is equal to A. B. because it is equal to C. D. But as for
Learning, that I am not versed in it, no body, I hope, will blame me for it,
since it is sufficiently known, that our Sex is not bread up to it, as being
not suffered to be instructed in Schools and Universities; I will not say, but
many of our Sex may have as much wit, and be capable of Learning as well as
Men; but since they want Instructions, it is not possible they should attain to
it; for Learning is Artificial, but Wit is Natural. Wherefore, when I began to
read the Philosophical Works of other Authors, I was so troubled with their
hard words and expressions at first, that had they not been explained to me,
and had I not found out some of them by the context and connexion of the sense,
I should have been far enough to seek; for their hard words did more obstruct,
then instruct me. The truth is, if any one intends to write Philosophy, either
in English, or any other language; be ought to consider the propriety of the
language, as much as the Subject be writes of; or else to what purpose would it
be to write? If you do write Philosophy in English, and use all the hardest
words and expressions which none but Scholars are able to understand, you had
better to write it in Latin; but if you will write for those that do not
understand Latin, Your reason will tell you, that you must explain those hard
words, and English them in the easiest manner you can; What are words but marks
of things? and what are Philosophical Terms, but to express the Conceptions of
ones mind in that Science? And truly I do not think that there is any Language
so poor, which cannot do that; wherefore those that fill their writings with
hard words, put the horses behind the Coach, and instead of making hard things
easy, make easy things hard, which especially in our English writers is a
great fault; neither do I see any reason for it, but that they think to make
themselves more famous by those that admire all what they do not understand,
though it be Non-sense; but I am not of their mind, and therefore although I do
understand some of their hard expressions now, yet I shun them as much in my
writings as is possible for me to do, and all this, that they may be the better
understood by all, learned as well as unlearned; by those that are professed
Philosophers as well as by those that are none: And though I could employ some
time in studying all the hardest phrases and words in other Authors, and write
as learnedly perhaps as they; yet will I not deceive the World, nor trouble my
Conscience by being a Mountebanck in learning, but rather prove naturally wise
then artificially foolish; for at best I should but obscure my opinions, and
render them more intricate instead of clearing and explaining them; but if my
Readers should spy any errors slipped into my writings for want of art and
learning, I hope they'll be so just as not to censure me too severely for them,
but express their wisdom in preferring the kernel before the shells.
It is not possible that a young Student, when first he comes to the
University, should hope to be Master of Art in one Month, or one Year; and so
do I likewise not persuade my self, that my Philosophy being new, and but
lately brought forth, will at first fight prove Master of Understanding, nay,
it may be not in this age; but if God favour her, she may attain to it in
after-times and if she be slighted now and buried in silence, she may perhaps
rise more gloriously hereafter; for her Ground being Sense and Reason, She may
meet with an age where she will be more regarded, then she is in this.
But Courteous Reader, all what I request of you at present, is, That if you
have a mind to understand my Philosophical Conceptions truly, You would be
pleased to read them not by parcels, here a little, and there a little, (for I
have found it by my self, that when I read not a book thoroughly from beginning
to end, I cannot well understand the Authors design, but may easily mistake his
meaning; I mean such Books as treat of Philosophy, History, c. where all parts
depend upon each other,) But if you'll give an impartial judgment of my
Philosophy, read it all, or else spare your Censures; especially do I recommend
to you my Philosophical Opinions, which contain the Grounds and Principles of
my Philosophy, but since they were published before I was versed in the reading
of other Authors, I desire you to join my Philosophical Leters, and these
observations to them, which will serve as Commentaries to explain what may seem
obscure in the mentioned Opinions; but before all, read this following
Argumental Discourse wherein are contained the Principles and grounds of
Natural Philosophy, especially concerning the constitutive parts of Nature and
their properties and actions; as also be pleased to peruse the later discourse
of the first part of this Book, which treats of Perception; for Perception
being the chief and general action of Nature, has occasioned me to be more
prolix in explaining it, then any other subject; You'll find that I go much by
the way of argumentation, and framing objections and answers; for I would fain
hinder and obstruct as many objections as could be made against the grounds of
my Opinions; but since it is impossible to resolve all, for as Nature and her
parts and actions are infinite, so there may also endless objections be raised;
I have endeavoured only to set down such as I thought might be most material;
but this I find, that there is no objection but one may find an answer to it;
and as soon as I have made an answer to one objection, another offers it self
again, which shows not only that Natures actions are infinite, but that they
are poised and balanced so that they cannot run into extremes.
However I do not appland my self so much, as to think that my works can be
without errors, for Nature is not a Deity, but her parts are often irregular,
and how is it possible that one particular Creature can know all the obscure
and hidden infinite varieties of Nature? if the Truth of Nature were so easily
known, we had no need to take so much pains in searching after it; but Nature
being Material, and consequently dividable, her parts have but divided
knowledges, and none can claim a Universal infinite knowledge. Nevertheless,
although I may err in my arguments, or for want of artificial Terms; yet I
believe the Ground of my Opinions is True, because it is sense and reason.
I found after the perusal of this present book, that several places therein
might have been more perspicuously delivered, and better cleared; but since it
is impossible that all things can be so exact, that they should not be subject
to faults and imperfections; for as the greatest beauties are not without
moles, so the best Books are seldom without Errors; I entreat the ingenuous
Reader to interpret them to the best sense; for they are not so material, but
that either by the context or connexion of the whole discourse, or by a
comparing with other places, the true meaning thereof may easily be understood;
and to this end I have set down this following explanation of such places, as
in the perusal I have observed, whereby the rest may also easily be mended.
When I say, that Discourse shall sooner find out Natures t I. c. 2., 6.
Corporeal figurative Motions, then Art shall inform the Senses. By Discourse,
I do not mean speech, but an Arguing of the mind, or a Rational inquiry into
the Causes of Natural effects; for Discourse is as much as Reasoning with our
selves, which may very well be done without Speech or Language, as being only
an effect or action of Reason.
When I say, That Art may make Pewter, Brass, c. C. 3. page. 8.
I do not mean as if these Figures were Artificial, and not Natural; but my
meaning is, That if Art imitates Nature in producing of Artificial Figures,
they are most commonly such as are of mixed Natures, which I call
Hermaphroditical.
When I say, That Respiration is a Reception and C. 4. page. 15;
Emission of parts through the pores or passages proper to each particular
figure, so that when some parts issue, others enter; I do not mean at one and
the same time, or always through the same passages; for, as there is variety of
Natural Creatures and Figures, and of their perceptions; so of the manner of
their perceptions, and of their passages and pores; all which no particular
Creature is able exactly to know or determine: And therefore when I add in the
following Chapter, That Nature has more ways of composing and dividing of
parts, then by the way of drawing in, and sending forth by pores; I mean, that
not all parts of Nature have the like Respirations: The truth is, it is enough
to know in general, That there is Respiration in all parts of Nature, as a
general or universal action; and that this Respiration is nothing else but a
composition and division of Parts; but how particular Respirations are
performed, none but Infinite Nature is capable to know.
When I say, That there is a difference between Respiration C. 5. Page. 16.
and Perception; and that Perception is an action of figuring or patterning;
but Respiration an action of Reception and Emission of Parts: First, I do not
mean, that all Percaption is made by patterning or imitation; but I speak only
of the Perception of the exterior senses in Animals, at least in man, which I
observe to be made by patterning or imitation; for as no Creature can know the
infinite perceptions in Nature, so he cannot describe what they are, or how
they are made Next, I do not mean, that Respiration is not a Perceptive action;
for if Perception be a general and universal action in Nature, as well as
Respiration, both depending upon the composition and division of parts, it is
impossible but that all actions of Nature must be perceptive, by reason
perception is an exterior knowledge of foreign parts and actions; and there can
be no commerce or intercourse, nor no variety of figures and actions; no
productions, dissolutions, changes and the like, without Perception; for how
shall Parts work and act, without having some knowledge or perception of each
other? Besides, wheresoever is self-motion, there must of necessity be also
Perception; for self-motion is the cause of all exterior Perception. But my
meaning is, That the Animal, at least Humane respiration, which is a receiving
of foreign parts, and discharging or venting of its own in an animal or humane
Figure or Creature, is not the action of Animal Perception, properly so called;
that is, the perception of its exterior senses, as Seeing, Hearing, Tasting,
Touching, Smelling; which action of Perception is properly made by way of
patterning and imitation, by the innate, figurative motions of those Animal
Creatures, and not by receiving either the figures of the exterior objects into
the sensitive Organs, or by sending forth some invisible rays from the Organ
to the Object; nor by pressure and reaction. Nevertheless, as I said, every
action of Nature is a Knowing and Perceptive action; and so is Respiration,
which of necessity presupposes a knowledge of exterior parts, especially those
that are concerned in the same action, and can no ways be performed without
perception of each other.
When I say, That if all men's Opinions and Fancies Chap. 15. page. 44.
were Rational, there would not be such variety in Nature as we perceive there
is; by Rational I mean Regular, according to the vulgar way of expression, by
which a Rational Opinion is called, That which is grounded upon regular sense
and reason; and thus Rational is opposed to Irregular: Nevertheless, Irregular
Fancies and Opinions are made by the rational parts of matter, as well as those
that are regular; and therefore in a Philosophical and strict sense, one may
call Irregular Opinions as well Rational, as those that are Regular; but
according to the vulgar way of expression, as I said, it is sooner understood
of Regular, then of Irregular Opinions, Fancies or Conceptions.
When I say, that None of Natures parts can be C. 16. pa. 47.
called Inanimate, or Soul-less; I do not mean the constitutive parts of
Nature, which are, as it were, the Ingredients whereof Nature consists, and is
made up; whereof there is an inanimate part or degree of matter, as well as
animate; but I mean the parts or effects of this composed body of Nature, of
which I say, that none can be called inanimate; for though some Philosophers
think that nothing is animate, or has life in Nature, but Animals and
Vegetables; yet it is probable, that since Nature consists of a commixture of
animate and inanimate matter, and is self-moving, there can be no part or
particle of this composed body of Nature, were it an Atom, that may be called
Inanimate, by reason there is none that has not its share of animate, as well
as inanimate matter, and the commixture of these degrees being so close, it is
impossible one should be without the other.
When enumerating the requisites of the Perception of Cap. 20. Page. 63.
Sight in Animals, I say, that if one of them be wanting, there is either no
perception at all, or it is an imperfect perception; I mean, there is no Animal
perception of seeing, or else an irregular perception.
When I say, that as the sensitive perception knows Cap. 21. Page. 76.
some of the other parts of Nature by their effects; so the rational perceives
some effects of the Omnipotent Power of God; My meaning is not, as if the
sensitive part of matter hath no knowledge at all of God; for since all parts of
Nature, even the inanimate, have an innate and fixed self-knowledg, it is
probable that they may also have an interior self-knowledg of the existency of
the Eternal and Omnipotent God, as the Author of Nature: But because the
rational part is the subtilest, purest, finest and highest degree of matter; it
is most conformable to truth, that it has also the highest and greatest
knowledge of God, as far as a natural part can have; for God being Immaterial,
it cannot properly be said, that sense can have a perception of him, by reason
he is not subject to the sensitive perception of any Creature, or part of
Nature; and therefore all the knowledge which natural Creatures can have of God,
must be inherent in every part of Nature; and the perceptions which we have of
the Effects of Nature, may lead us to some conceptions of that Supernatural,
Infinite, and Incomprehensible Deity, not what it is in its Essence or Nature,
but that it is existent, and that Nature has a dependence upon it, as an
Eternal Servant has upon an Eternal Master.
But some might say, How is it possible that a Corporeal finite part, can have
a conception of an Incorporeal, infinite Being; by reason that which
comprehends, must needs be bigger then that which is comprehended? Besides, no
part of Nature can conceive beyond it self, that is, beyond what is Natural or
Material; and this proves, that at least the rational part, or the mind, must
be immaterial to conceive a Deity? To which I answer, That no part of Nature
can or does conceive the Essence of God, or what God is in himself; but it
conceives only, that there is such a Divine Being which is Supernatural: And
therefore it cannot be said, that a natural Figure can comprehend God; for it
is not the comprehending of the Substance of God, or its patterning out, (since
God having no Body, is without all Figure) that makes the knowledge of God; but
I do believe, that the knowledge of the existency of God, as I mentioned before,
is innate, and inherent in Nature, and all her parts, as much as self-knowledg
is.
Speaking of the difference between Oil and other liquors; Cap. 24. Page. 83.
for the better understanding of that place, I thought fit to insert this Note:
Flame is fluid, but not liquid, nor wet: Oil is fluid and liquid, but not wet;
but Water is both fluid, liquid and wet. Oil will turn into flame, and increase
it; but Water is so quite opposite to flame, that if a sufficient quantity be
poured upon it, it will totally extinguish it.
When I say, that Sense and Reason shall be the Cap. 25. Page. 93.
Ground of my Philosophy, and not particular natural effects; My meaning is,
that I do not intend to make particular Creatures or Figures, the Principles of
all the infinite effects of Nature, as some other Philosophers do; for there is
no such thing as a Prime or principal Figure of Nature, all being but effects
of one Cause. But my Ground is Sense and Reason, that is, I make self-moving
matter, which is sensitive and rational, the only cause and principle of all
natural effects.
When 'tis said, That Ice, Snow, Hail, c. return Cap. 27. Page. 100.
into their former Figure of Water, whenever they dissolve; I mean, when they
dissolve their exterior Figures, that is, change their actions.
When I say, That the Exterior Object is the Agent, Cap. 29. Page. 126.
and the Sentient Body the Patient; I do not mean that the Object does chiefly
work upon the Sentient, or is the immediate cause of the Perception in the
Sentient body, and that the Sentient suffers the Agent to act upon it; but I
retain only those words, because they are used in Schools; But as for their
actions, I am quite of a contrary Opinion, to wit, That the sentient body is
the principal Agent, and the external body the Patient; for the motions of the
sentient in the act of perception, do figure out or imitate the motions of the
object, so that the object is but as a Copy that is figured out, or imitated by
the sentient, which is the chiefly Agent in all transforming and perceptive
actions that are made by way of patterning or imitation.
When I say, That one finite part can undergo infinite Cap. 31. Page. 136.
changes and alterations; I do not mean one single part, whereof there is no
such thing in nature; but I mean, one part may be infinitely divided and
composed with other parts; for as there are infinite changes, compositions and
divisions in Nature, so they must be of parts; there being no variety but of
parts; and though parts be finite, yet the changes may be infinite; for the
finiteness of parts is but concerning the bulk or quantity of their figures;
and they are called finite, by reason they have limited and circumscribed
figures; nevertheless, as for duration, their parts being the same with the
body of Nature, are as eternal, and infinite as Nature her self, and thus are
subject to infinite and eternal changes.
When I say, A World of Gold is as active interiously, Ibid. P. 140.
as a world of Air is exteriously; I mean, it is as much subject to changes and
alterations as Air; for Gold though its motions are not perceptible by our
exterior senses, yet it has no less motion then the activest body of Nature;
only its motions are of another kind then the motions of Air, or of some other
bodies; for Retentive motions are as much motions, as dispersing or some other
sorts of motions, although not so visible to our perception as these; and
therefore we cannot say that Gold is more at rest than other Creatures of
Nature; for there is no such thing as Rest in Nature; although there be degrees
of Motion.
When I say, That the parts of Nature do not Cap. 31. Page. 138,
drive or press upon each other, but that all natural actions are free and
easy, and not constrained; My meaning is not, as if there was no pressing or
driving of parts at all in Nature, but only that they are not the universal or
principal actions of Natures body, as it is the opinion of some Philosophers,
who think there is no other motion in nature, but by pressure of parts upon
parts: Nevertheless, there is pressure and reaction in Nature, because there
are infinite sorts of motions.
Also when I say in the same place, That Natures actions are voluntary; I do
not mean, that all actions are made by rote, and none by imitation; but by
voluntary actions I understand self-actions; that is, such actions whose
principle of motion is within themselves, and doth not proceed from such an
exterior Agent, as doth the motion of the inanimate part of matter, which
having no motion of it self, is moved by the animate parts, yet so, that it
receives no motion from them, but moves by the motion of the animate parts, and
not by an infused motion into them; for the animate parts in carrying the
inanimate along with them, lose nothing of their own motion, nor impart no
motion to the inanimate; no more than a man who carries a stick in his hand,
imparts motion to the stick, and loses so much as he imparts; but they bear the
inanimate parts along with them, by virtue of their own self-motion, and remain
self-moving parts, as well as the inanimate remain without motion.
Again, when I make a distinguishment between voluntary Cap. 37. Page. 212.
actions, and exterior perceptions; my meaning is not, as if voluntary actions
were not made by perceptive parts; for whatsoever is self-moving and active, is
perceptive; and therefore since the voluntary actions of Sense and Reason are
made by self-moving parts, they must of necessity be perceptive actions; but I
speak of Perceptions properly so called, which are occasioned by Foreign
parts; and to those I oppose voluntary actions, which are not occasioned, but
made by rote; as for example, the perception of sight in Animals, when outward
Objects present themselves to the Optic sense to be perceived, the perception
of the Sentient is an occasioned perception; but whenever, either in dreams,
or in distempers, the sensitive motions of the same Organ, make such or such
figures, without any presentation of exterior objects, then that action cannot
properly be called an exterior perception; but it is a voluntary action of the
sensitive motions in the organ of sight, not made after an outward pattern, but
by rote, and of their own accord.
When I say, That Ignorance is caused by division, Cap. 9. p. 33.
and knowledge by composition of parts; I do not mean an interior, innate
self-knowledg, which is, and remains in every part and particle of Nature, both
in composition and division; for wheresoever is matter, there is life and
self-knowledg; nor can a part lose selfknowledg, any more then it can lose
life, although it may change from having such or such a particular life and
knowledge; for to change and lose, are different things; but I mean an exterior,
perceptive knowledge of foreign parts, caused by self-motion, of which I say,
that as a union or combination of parts, makes knowledge, so a division or
separation of parts, makes Ignorance.
When I say, There's difference of Sense and Reason Cap. 15. p. 49
in the parts of one composed Figure; I mean not, as if there were different
degrees of sense, and different degrees of Reason in their own substance or
matter; for sense is but sense, and reason is but reason; but my meaning is,
That there are different, sensitive and rational motions, which move
differently in the different parts of one composed Creature.
These are (Courteous Reader) the scruples which I thought might puzle your
understanding in this present Work, which I have cleared in the best manner I
could; and if you should meet with any other of the like nature, my request is,
You would be pleased to consider well the Grounds of my Philosophy; and as I
desired of you before, read all before you pass your Judgments and Censures;
for then, I hope, you'll find but few obstructions, since one place will give
you an explanation of the other. In doing thus, you'll neither wrong your self,
nor injure the Authoress, who should be much satisfied, if she could benesit
your knowledge in the least; if not, she has done her endeavour, and takes as
much pleasure and delight in writing and divulging the Conceptions of her mind,
as perhaps some malicious persons will do in censuring them to the worst.
AN Argumental Discourse
Concerning some Principal Subjects in Natural Philosophy, necessary for the
better understanding, not only of this, but all other Philosophical Works,
hitherto written by the AUTHOEESSE.
WHen I was setting forth this Book of Experimental Observations, a Dispute
chanced to arise between the rational Parts of my Mind concerning some chief
Points and Principles in Natural Philosophy; for some New Thoughts endeavouring
to oppose and call in question the Truth of my former Conceptions, caused a war
in my mind, which in time grew to that height, that they were hardly able to
compose the differences between themselves, but were in a manner necessitated
to refer them to the Arbitration of the impartial Reader, desiring the
assistance of his judgment to reconcile their Controversies, and, if possible,
to reduce them to a settled peace and agreement.
The first difference did arise about the question, How it came, that Matter
was of several degrees, as Animate and Inanimate, Sensitive and Rational? for
my latter thoughts would not believe that there was any such difference of
degrees of Matter: To which my former conceptions answered, That Nature, being
Eternal and Infinite, it could not be known how she came to be such, no more
then a reason could be given how God came to be: for Nature, said they, is the
Infinite Servant of God, and her origin cannot be described by any finite or
particular Creature; for what is infinite, has neither beginning nor end; but
that Natural Matter consisted of so many degrees as mentioned, was evidently
perceived by her effects or actions; by which it appeared first, that Nature
was a self-moving body, and that all her parts and Creatures were so too: Next,
That there was not only an animate or self-moving and active, but also an
inanimate, that is, a dull and passive degree of Matter; for if there were no
animate degree, there would be no motion, and so no action nor variety of
figures; and if no inanimate, there would be no degrees of natural figures and
actions, but all actions would be done in a moment, and the figures would all
be so pure, fine and subtle, as not to be subject to any grosser perception
such as our humane, or other the like perceptions are. This Inanimate part of
Matter, said they, had no self-motion, but was carried along in all the actions
of the animate degree, and so was not moving, but moved; which Animate part of
Matter being again of two degrees, viz. Sensitive and Rational, the Rational
being so pure, fine and subtle, that it gave only directions to the sensitive,
and made figures in its own degree, left the working with and upon the
Inanimate part, to the Sensitive degree of Matter, whose Office was to execute
both the rational parts design, and to work those various figures that are
perceived in Nature; and those three degrees were so inseparably comixed in the
body of Nature, that none could be without the other in any part or Creature of
Nature, could it be divided to an Atom; for as in the Exstruction of a house
there is first required an Architect or Surveigher, who orders and designs the
building, and puts the Labourers to work; next the Labourers or Workmen
themselves, and lastly the Materials of which the House is built: so the
Rational part, said they, in the framing of Natural Effects, is, as it were,
the Surveigher or Architect; the Sensitive, the labouring or working part, and
the Inanimate, the materials, and all these degrees are necessarily required in
every composed action of Nature.
To this, my latter thoughts excepted, that in probability of sense and reason,
there was no necessity of introducing an inanimate degree of Matter; for all
those parts which we call gross, said they, are no more but a composition of
self-moving parts, whereof some are denser, and some rarer then others; and we
may observe, that the denser parts are as active, as the rarest; for example,
Earth is as active as Air or Light, and the parts of the Body are as active, as
the parts of the Soul or Mind, being all self-moving, as it is perceiveable by
their several, various compositions, divisions, productions and alterations;
nay, we do see, that the Earth is more active in the several productions and
alterations of her particulars, then what we name Celestial Lights, which
observation is a firm argument to prove, that all Matter is animate or
self-moving, only there are degrees of motion, that some parts move flower,
and some quicker.
Hereupon my former Thoughts answered, that the difference consisted not only
in the grossness, but in the dullness of the Inanimate parts; and that, since
the sensitive animate parts were labouring on, and with the inanimate, if these
had self-motion, and that-their motion was flower then that of the animate
parts, they would obstruct, cross and oppose each other in all their actions,
for the one would be too slow, and the other too quick.
The latter Thoughts replied, that this slowness and quickness of motion would
cause no obstruction at all; for, said they, a man that rides on a Horse is
carried away by the Horses motion, and has nevertheless also his own motions
himself; neither does the Horse and Man transfer or exchange motion into each
other, nor do they hinder or obstruct one another.
The former Thoughts answered, it was True, that Motion could not be
transferred from one body into another without Matter or substance; and that
several self-moving parts might be joined, and each act a part without the
least hinderance to one another; for not all the parts of one composed Creature
(for example Man) were bound to one and the same action; and this was an
evident proof that all Creatures were composed of parts, by reason of their
different actions; nay, not only of parts, but of self-moving parts: also they
confessed, that there were degrees of motion, as quickness and slowness, and
that the slowest motion was as much motion as the quickest. But yet, said they,
this does not prove, that Nature consists not of Inanimate Matter as well as of
Animate; for it is one thing to speak of the parts of the composed and mixed
body of Nature, and another thing to speak of the constitutive parts of Nature,
which are, as it were, her ingredients of which Nature is made up as one entire
self-moving body; for sense and reason does plainly perceive, that some parts
are more dull, and some more lively, subtle and active; the Rational parts are
more agil, active, pure and subtle then the sensitive; but the Inanimate have
no activity, subtilty and agility at all, by reason they want self-motion; nor
no perception, for self-motion is the cause of all perception; and this
Triumvirate of the degrees of Matter, said they, is so necessary to balance
and poise Natures actions, that otherwise the creatures which Nature produces,
would all be produced alike, and in an instant; for example, a Child in the
Womb would as suddenly be framed, as it is figured in the mind; and a man would
be as suddenly dissolved as a thought: But sense and reason perceives that it
is otherwise; to wit, that such figures as are made of the grosser parts of
Matter, are made by degrees, and not in an instant of time, which does
manifestly evince, that there is and must of necessity be such a degree of
Matter in Nature as we call Inanimate; for surely although the parts of Nature
are infinite, and have infinite actions, yet they cannot run into extremes, but
are balanced by their opposites, so that all parts cannot be alike rare or
dense, hard or soft, dilating or contracting, c. but some are dense, some rare,
some hard, some soft, some dilative, some contractive, c. by which the actions
of Nature are kept in an equal balance from running into extremes. But put the
case, said they, it were so, that Natures body consisted altogether of Animate
Matter, or corporeal self-motion, without an intermixture of the inanimate
parts, we are confident that there would be framed as many objections against
that opinion as there are now against the inanimate degree of Matter; for
disputes are endless, and the more answers you receive, the more objections you
will find; and the more objections you make, the more answers you will receive;
and even shows, that Nature is balanced by opposites: for, put the case, the
Inanimate parts of Matter were self-moving; then first there would be no such
difference between the rational and sensitive parts as now there is; but every
part, being self-moving, would act of, and in it self, that is, in its own
substance as now the rational part of Matter does: Next, if the inanimate part
was of a slower motion then the rational and sensitive, they would obstruct
each other in their actions, for one would be too quick, and the other too
slow; neither would the quicker motion alter the nature of the slower, or the
slower retard the quicker; for the nature of each must remain as it is; or else
it would be thus, then the animate part might become inanimate, and the
rational the sensitive, c. which is impossible, and against all sense and
reason.
At this declaration of my former Thoughts, the latter appeared somewhat better
satisfied, and had almost yielded to them, but that they had yet some scruples
left, which hindered them from giving a full assent to my former rational
conceptions. First they asked, how it was possible, that that part of Matter
which had no innate self-motion, could be moved? for, said they, if it be
moved, it must either be moved by its own motion, or by the motion of the
animate part of Matter: by its own motion it cannot move, because it has none;
but if it be moved by the motion of the animate, then the animate must of
necessity transfer motion into it: that so, being not able to move by an innate
motion, it might move by a communicated motion.
The former Thoughts answered, that they had resolved this question heretofore
by the example of a Horse and a Man, where the Man was moved and carried along
by the Horse, without any Communication or Translation of motion from the Horse
into the Man; also a Stick, said they, carried in a Man's hand, goes along with
the man, without receiving any motion from his hand.
My latter Thoughts replied, That a Man and a Stick were parts or Creatures of
Nature, which consist of a commixture of Animate or self-moving Matter, and
that they did move by their own motions, even at the time when they were
carried along by other parts; but with the Inanimate part of Matter it was not
so; for it having no self-motion, could no ways move.
You say well, answered my former Thoughts, that all the parts of Nature,
whenever they move, move by their own motions; which proves, that no
particular Creature or effect of composed Nature, can act upon another, but
that one can only occasion another to move thus or thus; as in the mentioned
example, the Horse does not move the man, but occasions him only to move after
such or such a manner; also the hand does not move the Stick, but is only an
occasion that the Stick moves thus, for the Stick moves by its own motion.
But as we told you before, this is to be understood of the parts of the
composed body of Nature, which as they are Natures Creatures and Effects, so
they consist also of a commixture of the forementioned degrees of animate and
inanimate Matter; but our discourse is now of those parts which do compose the
body of Nature, and make it what it is: And as of the former parts none can be
said moved, but all are moving, as having self-motion within them; so the
inanimate part of Matter considered as it is an ingredient of Nature, is no
ways moving, but always moved: The former parts, being effects of the body of
Nature, for distinctions sake may be called Effective parts; but these, that
is; the Animate and Inanimate, may be called constitutive parts of Nature:
Those follow the composition of Nature, but these are the Essential parts,
which constitute the body of Nature; whereof the Animate, by reason of their
self-motion, are always active and perceptive; but the Inanimate is neither
active nor perceptive, but dull and passive; and you may plainly perceive it,
added my former thoughts, by the alleged example; for as the Stick has no
animal motion, and yet is carried along by and with the animal wheresoever it
goes; so the Inanimate Matter, although it has no motion at all, yet it goes
along with the animate parts wheresoever they'll have it; the only difference
is this, as we told you before, that the Stick being composed of animate as
well as inanimate Matter, cannot properly be said moved, but occasioned to such
a motion by the animal that carries it, when as the inanimate part cannot be
said occasioned, but moved.
My later Thoughts replied, That the alleged example of the carried Stick,
could give them no full satisfaction as yet; for, said they, put the case the
Stick had its own motion, yet it has not a visible, exterior, local,
progressive motion, such as Animals have, and therefore it must needs receive
that motion from the animal that carries it; for nothing can be occasioned to
that which it has not in it self.
To which the former answered first, that although animals had a visible
exterior progressive motion, yet not all progressive motion was an animal
motion: Next, they said, that some Creatures did often occasion others to alter
their motions from an ordinary, to an extraordinary effect; and if it be no
wonder, said they, that Cheese, Roots, Fruits, c. produce Worms, why should it
be a wonder for an Animal to occasion a visible progressive motion in a
vegetable or mineral, or any other sort of Creature? For each natural action,
said they, is local, were it no more then the stirring of a hairs breadth, nay,
of an Atom; and all composition and division, contraction, dilation, nay, even
retention, are local motions; for there is no thing in so just a measure, but
it will vary more or less; nay, if it did not to our perception, yet we cannot
from thence infer that it does not at all; for our perception is too weak and
gross to perceive all the subtle actions of Nature; and if so, then certainly
Animals are not the only Creatures that have local motion, but there is local
motion in all parts of Nature.
Then my later Thoughts asked, that if every part of Nature moved by its own
inherent self-motion, and that there was no part of the composed body of Nature
which was not self-moving, how it came, that Children could not go so soon as
born? also, if the selfmoving part of Matter was of two degrees, sensitive and
rational, how it came that Children could not speak before they are taught? and
if it was perceptive, how it came that Children did not understand so soon as
born?
To which the former answered, That although there was no part of Matter that
was figureless, yet those figures that were composed by the several parts of
Matter, such as are named natural Creatures, were composed by degrees, and some
compositions were sooner perfected then others, and some sorts of such figures
or Creatures were not so soon produced or strengthened as others; for example,
most of four legged Creatures, said they, can go, run and skip about so soon as
they are parted from the Dam, that is, so soon as they are born; also they can
suck, understand, and know their Dam's, when as a Bird can neither feed it
self, nor fly so soon as it is hatched, but requires some time before it can
hop on its legs, and be able to fly; but a Butterfly can fly so soon as it
comes out of the shell; by which we may perceive, that all figures are not
alike, either in their composing, perfecting or dissolving, no more then they
are alike in their shapes, forms, understanding, c. for if they were, then
little Puppies and Kitlings would see, so soon as born, as many other Creatures
do, when as now they require nine days after their birth before they can see;
and as for speech, although it be most proper to the shape of Man, yet he must
first know or learn a language before he can speak it; and although when the
parts of his mind, like the parts of his body, are brought to maturity, that
is, to such a regular degree of perfection as belongs to his figure, he may
make a language of his own; yet it requires time, and cannot be done in an
instant: The truth is, although speech be natural to man, yet language must be
learned; and as there are several selfactive parts, so there are several
Languages; and by reason the actions of some parts can be imitated by other
parts, it causes that we name learning not only in Speech, but in many other
things.
Concerning the question why Children do not understand so soon as born: They
answered, that as the sensitive parts of Nature did compose the bulk of
Creatures, that is, such as were usually named bodies; and as some Creatures
bodies were not finished or perfected so soon as others, so the self-moving
parts, which by conjunction and agreement composed that which is named the mind
of Man, did not bring it to the perfection of an Animal understanding so soon
as some Beasts are brought to their understanding, that is, to such an
understanding as was proper to their figure. But this is to be noted, said
they, that although Nature is in a perpetual motion, yet her actions have
degrees, as well as her parts, which is the reason, that all her productions
are done in that which is vulgarly named Time; that is, they are not executed
at once, or by one act: In short, as a House is not finished, until it be
thoroughly built, nor can be thoroughly furnished until it be thoroughly finished;
so is the strength and understanding of Man, and all other Creatures; and as
perception requires Objects, so learning requires practice; for though Nature
is self-knowing, self-moving, and so perceptive; yet her self-knowing,
self-moving, and perceptive actions, are not all alike, but differ variously;
neither doth she perform all actions at once, otherwise all her Creatures would
be alike in their shapes, forms, figures, knowledges, perceptions, productions,
dissolutions, c. which is contradicted by experience.
After this my later Thoughts asked, how it came that the Inanimate part of
Matter had more degrees then the Animate?
The former answered, That, as the Animate part had but two degrees, to wit,
the sensitive and rational, so the Inanimate was but grosser and purer; and as
for density, rarity, softness, hardness, c. they were nothing but various
compositions and divisions of parts, or particular effects; nor was it density
or hardness that made grossness; and thinness or rarity of parts that made
fineness and purity; for Gold is more dense then dross, and yet is more pure
and fine; but this is most probable, said they, that the rarest compositions
are most suddenly altered; nor can the grossness and fineness of the parts of
Nature be without Animate and Inanimate Matter; for the dullness of one degree
poises the activity of the other; and the grossness of one, the purity of the
other; all which keeps Nature from extremes.
But replied my later Thonght, You say that there are infinite degrees of
hardness, thickness, thinness, density, rarity, c.
Truly, answered the former, if you'll call them degrees, you may; for so there
may be infinite degrees of Magnitude, as bigger and bigger, but these degrees
are nothing else but the effects of self-moving Matter, made by a composition
of parts, and cannot be attributed to one single part, there being no such
thing in Nature; b they belong to the infinite parts of Nature, joined in one
body; and as for Matter it self, there are no more degrees, but animate and
inanimate; that is, a self-moving, active and perceptive, and a dull, passive,
and moved degree.
My later Thoughts asked, since Natures parts were so closely joined in one
body, how it was possible that there could be finite, and not single parts?
The former answered, That finite and single parts were not all one and the
same; for single parts, said they, are such as can subsist by themselves;
neither can they properly be called parts, but are rather finite wholes; for it
is a mere contradiction to say single parts, they having no reference to each
other, and consequently not to the body of Nature; But what we call finite
Parts, are nothing else but several corporeal figurative motions, which make
all the difference that is between the figures or parts of Nature, both in
their kinds, sorts and particulars: And thus finite and particular parts are
all one, called thus, by reason they have limited and circumscribed figures, by
which they are discerned from each other, but not single figures, for they are
all joined in one body, and are parts of one infinite whole, which is Nature;
and these figures being all one and the same with their parts of Matter, change
according as their parts change, that is, by composition and division; for were
Nature an Atom, and material, that Atom would have the properties of a body,
that is, be dividable and composable, and so be subject to infinite changes,
although it were not infinite in bulk.
My later Thoughts replied, That if a finite body could have infinite
compositions and divisions, then Nature need not to be infinite in bulk or
quantity; besides, said they, it is against sense and reason that a finite
should have infinite effects.
The former answered first, As for the infiniteness of Nature, it was certain
that Nature consisted of infinite parts; which if so, she must needs also be of
an infinite bulk or quantity; for where soever is an infinite number of parts
or figures, there must also be an infinite whole, since a whole and its parts
differ not really, but only in the manner of our conception; for when we
conceive the parts of Nature as composed in one body, and inseparable from it,
the composition of them is called a whole; but when we conceive their different
figures, actions and changes, and that they are dividable from each other, or
amongst themselves, we call them parts; for by this one part is discerned from
the other part; as for example, a Mineral from a Vegetable, a Vegetable from an
Element, an Element from an Animal, c. and one part is not another part; but
yet these parts are, and remain still parts of infinite Nature, and cannot be
divided into single parts, separated from the body of Nature, although they may
be divided amongst themselves infinite ways by the selfmoving power of Nature.
In short, said they, a whole is nothing but a composition of parts, and parts
are nothing but a division of the whole.
Next, as for the infinite compositions and divisions of a finite whole, said
they, it is not probable that a finite can have infinite effects, or can be
actually divided into infinite parts; but yet a body cannot but have the
proprieties of a body as long as it lasts; and therefore if a finite body
should last eternally, it would eternally retain the effects, or rather
proprieties of a body, that is, to be dividable and composable; and if it have
self-motion, and was actually divided and composed, then those compositions and
divisions of its parts would be eternal too; but what is eternal is infinite,
and therefore in this sense one cannot say amiss, but that there might be
eternal compositions and divisions of the parts of a finite whole; for
wheresoever is self-motion there is no rest: But, mistake us not, for we do not
mean divisions or compositions into single or infinite parts, (...) perpetual
and eternal change and self-motion of the parts of that finite body or whole
amongst themselves.
But because we speak now of the parts of Infinite Nature, which are Infinite
in number, though finite, or rather distinguished by their figures; It is
certain, said they, that there being a perpetual and eternal selfmotion in all
parts of Nature, and their number being infinite, they must of necessity be
subject to infinite changes, compositions, and divisions; not only as for
their duration, or eternal self-motion, but as for the number of their parts;
for parts cannot remove but from and to parts; and as soon as they are removed
from such parts, they join to other parts, which is nothing else but a
composition and division of parts; and this composition and division of the
Infinite parts of Nature, hinders that there are no actual divisions or
compositions of a finite part, because the one counterbalances the other; for
if by finite you understand a single part, there can be no such thing in
Nature, since what we call the finiteness of parts, is nothing else but the
difference and change of their figures, caused by self-motion; and therefore
when we say Infinite Nature consists of an infinite number of finite parts, we
mean of such parts as may be distinguished or discerned from each other by
their several figures; which figures are not constant, but change perpetually
in the body of Nature; so that there can be no constant figure allowed to no
part, although some do last longer then others.
Then my later Thoughts desired to know, whether there were not degrees of
Motion, as well as there are of Matter?
The former answered, That without question there were degrees of motion; for
the rational parts were more agil, quick and subtle in their corporeal actions
then the sensitive, by reason they were of a purer and finer degree of Matter,
and free from labouring on the inanimate parts: but withal they told them, that
the several different and opposite actions of Nature hindered each other from
running into extremes: And as for the degrees of Matter, there could not
possibly be more then Animate and Inanimate, neither could any degree go beyond
Matter, so as to become immaterial. The truth is, said they, to balance the
actions of Nature, it cannot be otherwise, but there must be a Passive degree
of Matter, opposite to the active; which passive part is that we call
Inanimate; for though they are so closely intermixed in the body of Nature, that
they cannot be separated from each other, but by the power of God;
nevertheless, sense and reason may perceive that they are distinct degrees, by
their distinct and different actions, and may distinguish them so far, that one
part is not another part, and that the actions of one degree are not the
actions of the other. Wherefore as several self-moving parts may be joined in
one composed body, and may either act differently without hinderance and
obstruction to each other, or may act jointly and agreeably to one effect; so
may the sensitive parts carry or bear along with them the inanimate parts,
without either transferring and communicating motion to them, or without any
co-operation or selfaction of the inanimate parts; and as for Matter, as there
can be no fewer degrees then Animate and Inanimate, sensitive and rational; so
neither can there be more; for as we mentioned heretofore, were there nothing
but animate or self-moving Matter in Nature, the parts of Nature would be too
active and quick in their several productions, alterations and dissolutions,
and all things would be as soon made, as thoughts. Again, were there no
Inanimate degree of Matter, the sensitive corporeal motions would retain the
figures or patterns of exterior objects, as the rational do; which yet we
perceive otherwise; for so soon as the object is removed, the sensitive
perception is altered; and though the sensitive parts can work by rote, as in
dreams and some distempers, yet their voluntary actions are not so exact, as
their Exterior perceptive actions, nor altogether and always so regular as the
rational; and the reason is, that they are bound to bear the inanimate parts
along with them in all their actions. Also were there no degree of Inanimate
Matter, Natures actions would run into extremes; but because all her actions
are balanced by opposites, they hinder both extremes in Nature, and produce
all that Harmonious variety that is found in Natures parts.
But said my later Thoughts, wheresoever is such an opposition and crossing of
actions, there can be no harmony, concord or agreement, and consequently no
orderly productions, dissolutions, changes and alterations, as in Nature we
perceive there be.
The former answered, That though the actions of Nature were different and
opposite to each other, yet they did cause no disturbance in Nature, but they
were ruled and governed by Natures wisdom; for Nature being peaceable in her
self, would not suffer her actions to disturb her Government; wherefore
although particulars were crossing and opposing each other, yet she did govern
them with such wisdom and moderation, that they were necessitated to obey her
and move according as she would have them; but sometimes they would prove
extravagant and refractory, and hence came that we call Irregularities. The
truth is, said they, contrary and opposite actions are not always at war; for
example, two men may meet each other contrary ways, and one may not only stop
the other from going forward, but even draw him back again the same way he
came; and this may be done with love and kindness, and with his good will, and
not violently by power and force: The like may be in some actions of Nature.
Nevertheless, we do not deny, but there is many times force and power used
between particular parts of Nature, so that some do over-power others, but this
causes no disturbance in Nature; for if we look upon a well-ordered Government,
we find that the particulars are often at strife and difference with each
other, when as yet the Government is as orderly and peaceable as can be.
My later thoughts replied, That although the several and contrary actions in
Nature did not disturb her Government, yet they moving severally in one
composed figure at one and the same time, proved that Motion, Figure and Body
could not be one and the same thing.
The former answered, That they had sufficiently declared heretofore that
Matter was either moving, or moved: viz. That the Animate part was self-moving,
and the Inanimate moved, or carried along with, and by the Animate; and these
degrees or parts of Matter were so closely intermixed in the body of Nature,
that they could not be separated from each other, but did constitute but one
body, not only in general, but also in every particular; so that not the least
part (if least could be) nay, not that which some call an Atom, was without
this commixture; for wheresoever was Inanimate, there was also Animate Matter;
which Animate Matter was nothing else but corporeal self-motion, and if any
difference could be apprehended, it was, said they, between these two degrees,
to wit, the Animate and Inanimate part of Matter, and not between the animate
part and self-motion, which was but one thing, and could not so much as be
conceived differently; and since this Animate Matter, or corporeal self-motion
is thoroughly intermixed with the Inanimate parts, they are but as one body (like
as soul and body make but one man) or else it were impossible that any Creature
could be composed, consist, or be dissolved; for if there were Matter without
Motion, there could be no composition or dissolution of such figures as are
named Creatures; nor any, if there were Motion without Matter, or (which is the
same) an Immaterial Motion; For can any part of reason, that is regular,
believe, that that which naturally is nothing, should produce a natural
something? Besides, said they, Material and Immaterial are so quite opposite to
each other, as 'tis impossible they should commix and work together, or act one
upon the other: nay, if they could, they would make but a confusion, being of
contrary natures: Wherefore it is most probable, and can to the perception of
Regular sense and reason be no otherwise, but that self-moving Matter, or
corporeal figurative self-motion, does act and govern, wisely, orderly and
easily, poising cr balancing extremes with proper and fit oppositions, which
could not be done by immaterials, they being not capable of natural
compositions and divisions; neither of dividing Matter, nor of being divided?
In short, although there are numerous corporeal figurative motions in one
composed figure, yet they are so far from disturbing each other, that no
Creature could be produced without them; and as the actions of retention are
different from the actions of digestion or expulsion, and the actions of
contraction from those of dilation; so the actions of imitation or patterning
are different from the voluntary actions vulgarly called Conceptions, and all
this to make an equal poise or balance between the actions of Nature. Also
there is difference in the degrees of motions, in swiftness, slowness, rarity,
density, appetites, passions, youth, age, growth, decay, c. as also between
several sorts of perceptions: all which proves, that Nature is composed of
self-moving parts, which are the cause of all her varieties: But this is well
to be observed, said they, that the Rational parts are the purest, and
consequently the most active parts of Nature, and have the quickest actions;
wherefore to balance them, there must be a dull part of Matter, which is the
Inanimate, or else a World would be made in an instant, and every thing would
be produced, altered and dissolved on a sudden, as they had mentioned before.
Well, replied my later Thoughts, if there be such oppositions between the
parts of Nature, then I pray inform us, whether they be all equally and exactly
poised and balanced?
To which the former answered, That though it was most certain that there was a
poise and balance of Natures corporeal actions; yet no particular Creature was
able to know the exactness of the proportion that is between them, because they
are infinite.
Then my later Thoughts desired to know, whether Motion could be annihilated?
The former said, no: because Nature was Infinite, and admitted of no addition
nor diminution; and consequently of no new Creation nor annihilation of any
part of hers.
But, said the later, If Motion be an accident, it may be annihilated.
The former answered, They did not know what they meant by the word Accident.
The later said, That an Accident was something in a body, but nothing without
a body.
If an Accident be something, answered the former, Then certainly it must be
body; for there is nothing but what is corporeal in Nature; and if it be body,
then it cannot be nothing at no time, but it must of necessity be something.
But it cannot subsist of, and by it self, replied my later Thoughts, as a
substance; for although it hath its own being, yet its being is to subsist in
another body.
The former answered, That if an Accident was nothing without a body or
substance, and yet something in a body; then they desired to know, how, being
nothing, it could subsist in another body, and be separated from another body;
for composition and division, said they, are attributes of a body, since
nothing can be composed or divided but what has parts; and nothing has parts
but what is corporeal or has a body, and therefore if an accident can be in a
body, and be separated from a body, it would be non-sense to call it nothing.
But then my later Thoughts asked, that when a particular Motion ceased, what
became of it?
The former answered, it was not annihilated, but changed.
The later said, How can motion be corporeal, and yet one thing with body?
Certainly if body be material, and motion too, they must needs be two several
substances.
The former answered, That motion and body were not two several substances; but
motion and matter made one self-moving body; and so was place, colour, figure,
c. all one and the same with body.
The later replied, That a Man, and his action were not one and the same, but
two different things.
The former answered, That a Man, and his actions were no more different, then
a man was different from himself; for, said they, although a man may have many
different actions, yet were not that man existent, the same actions would not
be; for though many men have the like actions, yet they are not the same.
But then replied the later, Place cannot be the same with body, nor colour;
because a man may change his place and his colour, and yet retain his body.
Truly, said the former, If Place be changed, then Body must change also; for
wheresoever is Place, there is Body; and though it be a vulgar phrase, That a
man changes his place when he heremoves, yet it is not a proper Philosophical
expression; for he removes only from such parts, to such parts; so that it is
a change or a division and composition of parts, and not of place: And as for
colour, though it changes, yet that proves not that it is not a body, or can be
annihilated. The truth is, though Figure, Motion, Colour, c. do change, yet
they remain still in Nature, and it is impossible that Nature can give away, or
lose the least of her corporeal Attributes or Proprieties; for Nature is
infinite in power, as well as in act; we mean, for acting naturally; and
therefore whatsoever is not in present act, is in the power of Infinite Nature.
But, said my later Thoughts, if a body be divided into very minute parts as
little as dust, where is the colour then?
The Colour, answered the former, is divided as well as the body; and though
the parts thereof be not subject to our sensitive perception, yet they have
nevertheless their being; for all things cannot be perceptible by our senses.
The later said, That the Colour of a Man's face could change from pale to red,
and from red to pale, and yet the substance of the face remain the same; which
proved, that colour and substance was not the same.
The former answered, That although the colour of a mans face did change
without altering the substance thereof, yet this proved no more that Colour was
Immaterial, then that Motion was Immaterial; for a man may put his body into
several postures, and have several actions, and yet without any change of the
substance of his body; for all actions do not necessarily import a change of
the parts of a composed figure, there being infinite sorts of actions.
We will leave Accidents, said my later Thoughts, and return to the Inanimate
part of Matter; and since you declare, that all parts of Nature do worship and
adore God, you contradict your self in allowing an Inanimate degree of Matter,
by reason, where there is no self-motion, there can be no perception of God,
and consequently no Worship and Adoration.
The former answered, That the knowledge of God did not consist in exterior
perception; for God, said they, being an Infinite, Incomprehensible,
supernatural and Immaterial Essence, void of all parts, can no ways be subject
to Perception. Nevetheless, although no part can have an exterior perception of
the substance of God, as it has of particular natural Creatures, yet it has
Conceptions of the Existence of God, to wit, that there is a God above Nature,
on which Nature depends, and from whose Immutable and Eternal Decree it has its
Eternal Being, as God's Eternal Servant; but what God is in his Essence,
neither Nature, nor any of her parts or Creatures is able to conceive. And
therefore although the Inanimate part of Matter is not perceptive, yet having
an innate knowledge and life of it self, it is not improbable but it may also
have an interior, fixed, and innate knowledge of the Existency of God, as that he
is to be adored and worshipped: And thus the Inanimate part may after its own
manner worship and adore God, as much as the other parts in their way: for it
is probable, that God having endued all parts of Nature with self-knowledg, may
have given them also an Interior knowledge of himself, that is, of his
Existency, how he is the God of Nature, and ought to be worshipped by her as
his Eternal servant.
My later Thoughts excepted, That not any Creature did truly know it self, much
less could it be capable of knowing God.
The former answered, That this was caused through the variety of self-motion;
for all Creatures (said they) are composed of many several parts, and every
part has its own particular self-knowledg, as well as self-motion, which causes
an ignorance between them; for one parts knowledge is not another parts
knowledge; nor does one part know what another knows; but all knowledge of
exterior parts comes by perception; nevertheless, each part knows it self and
its own actions; and as there is an ignorance between parts, so there is also
an acquaintance (especially in the parts of one composed Creature) and the
rational parts being most subtle, active and free, have a more general
acquaintance then the sensitive; besides, the sensitive many times inform the
rational, and the rational the sensitive, which causes a general agreement of
all the parts of a composed figure, in the execution of such actions as belong
to it.
But how is it possible, replied my later Thoughts, that the inanimate part of
matter can be living and self-knowing, and yet not self-moving? for Life and
Knowledge cannot be without self-motion; and therefore if the inanimate parts
have Life and Knowledge, they must necessarily also have self-motion.
The former answered, That Life and Knowledge did no ways depend upon
self-motion; for had Nature no motion at all, yet might she have Life and
Kowledg; so that self-motion is not the cause of Life and Knowledge, but only
of Perception, and all the various actions of Nature; and this is the reason
said they, that the inanimate part of matter is not perceptive, because it is
not self-moving; for though it hath life and self-knowledg as well as the
Animate part, yet it has not an active life, nor a perceptive knowledge. By
which you may see, that a fixed and interior self-knowledg, may very well be
without exterior perception; for though perception presupposes an innate
self-knowledg as its ground and principle, yet self-knowledg does not
necessarily require perception, which is only caused by self-motion; for
self-motion, as it is the cause of the variety of Natures parts and actions, so
it is also of their various perceptions: If it was not too great a presumtion,
said they, we could give an instance of God, who has no local self-motion, and
yet is infinitely knowing: But we will forbear to go so high, as to draw the
Infinite, Incomprehensible God, to the proofs of Material Nature.
My later Thoughts replied, first, That if it were thus, then one and the same
parts of matter would have a double life, and a double knowledge.
Next they said, That if perception were an effect of self-motion, then God
himself must necessarily be self-moving, or else he could not perceive Nature
and her parts and actions.
Concerning the first objection my former thoughts answered, That the parts of
Nature could have a double life and knowledge no more, then one man could be
called double or treble: You might as well said they, make millions of men of
one particular man, nay, call every part or action of his a peculiliar man, as
make one and the same part of matter have a double life and knowledge.
But mistake us not, added my former thoughts, when we say, that one and the
same part cannot have a double life and knowledge; for we mean not, the composed
creatures of Nature, which as they consist of several degrees of matter, so
they have also several degrees of lives and knowledges; but it is to be
understood of the essential or constitutive parts of Nature; for as the
rational part is not, nor can be the sensitive part, so it can neither have a
sensitive knowledge; no more can a sensitive part have a rational knowledge, or
either of these the knowledge of the inanimate part; but each part retains its
own life and knowledge. Indeed it is with these parts as it is with particular
creatures; for as one man is not another man, nor has another mans knowledge, so
it is likewise with the mentioned parts of matter; and although the animate
parts have an interior, innate self-knowledg, and an exterior, perceptive
knowledge; yet these are not double knowledges; but perception is only an
effect of interior self-knowledg, occasioned by self-motion.
And as for the second, they answered, That the Divine Perception and Knowledge
was not any ways like a natural Perception, no more than God was like a
Creature; for Nature (said they) is material, and her perceptions are amongst
her infinite parts, caused by their compositions and divisions; but God is a
Supernatural, Individable, and Incorporeal Being, void of all Parts and
Divisions; and therefore he cannot be ignorant of any the least thing; but
being Infinite, he has an Infinite Knowledge, without any Degrees, Divisions, or
the like actions belonging to Material Creatures. Nor is he naturally, that is,
locally self-moving; but he is a fixed, unalterable, and in short, an
incomprehensible Being, and therefore no comparison can be made between Him and
Nature, He being the Eternal God, and Nature his Eternal Servant.
Then my later Thoughts said, That as for the knowledge of God, they would not
dispute of it; but if there was a fixed and interior, innate knowledge in all
Natures parts and Creatures, it was impossible that there could be any error or
ignorance between them.
The former answered, that although Errors belonged to particulars as well as
ignorance, yet they proceeded not from interior self-knowledg, but either from
want of exterior particular knowledges, or from the irregularity of motions;
and Ignorance was likewise a want not of interior, but exterior knowledge,
otherwise called Perceptive knowledge: for, said they, Parts can know no more of
other parts, but by their own perceptions; and since no particular Creature or
part of Nature can have an Infallible, Universal, and thorough perception of all
other parts; it can neither have an infallible and universal knowledge, but it
must content it self with such a knowledge as is within the reach of its own
perceptions; and hence it follows, that it must be ignorant of what it does not
know; for Perception has but only a respect to the exterior figures and
actions of other parts; and though the Rational part is more subtle and active
then the Sensitive, and may have also some perceptions of some interior parts
and actions of other Creatures, yet it cannot have an infallible and thorough
perception of all their interior parts and motions, which is a knowledge
impossible for any particular Creature to attain to.
Again my later Thoughts objected, That it was impossible that the parts of one
and the same degree could be ignorant of each others actions, how various
soever, since they were capable to change their actions to the like figures.
The former answered first, That although they might make the like figures, yet
they could not make the same, because the parts were not the same. Next they
said, that particular parts could not have infinite perceptions, but that they
could but perceive such objects as were subject to that sort of perception
which they had; no not all such; for oftentimes objects were obscured and
hidden from their perceptions, that although they could perceive them if
presented, or coming within the compass and reach of their perceptive faculty
or power; yet when they were absent, they could not; besides, said they, the
sensitive parts are not so subtle as to make perceptions into the interior
actions of other parts, no not the rational are able to have exact perceptions
thereof; for Perception extends but to adjoining parts and their exterior
figures and actions, and if they know any thing of their interior parts,
figures or motions, it is only by guess or probable conclusions, taken from
their exterior actions or figures, and made especially by the rational parts,
which as they are the most inspective, so they are the most knowing parts of
Nature.
After these and several other objections, questions and answers between the
later and former thoughts and conceptions of my mind, at last some Rational
thoughts which were not concerned in this dispute, perceiving that they became
much heated, and fearing they would at last cause a Faction or Civil War
amongst all the rational parts, which would breed that which is called a
Trouble of the Mind, endeavoured to make a Peace between them, and to that end
they propounded, that the sensitive parts should publicly declare their
differences and controversies, and refer them to the Arbitration of the
judicious and impartial Reader. This proposition was unanimously embraced by
all the rational parts, and thus by their mutual consent this Argumental
Discourse was set down and published after this manner: In the mean time all
the rational parts of my Mind inclined to the opinion of my former conceptions,
which they thought much more probable then those of the later; and since now it
is your part, Ingenious Readers, to give a final decision of the Cause,
consider well the subject of their quarrel, and be impartial in your judgment;
let not Self-love or Envy corrupt you, but let Regular Sense and Reason be your
only Rule, that you may be accounted just Judges, and your Equity and Justice
be Remembered by all that honour and love it.
THE TABLE OF All the Principal Subjects contained and discoursed of in this
BOOK.
Observations upon Experimental Philosophy.
1. OF Humane Sense and Perception. 2. Of Art and Experimental Philosophy. 3.
Of Micrography, and of Magnifying and Multiplying Glasses. 4. Of the production
of Fire by Flint and Steel. 5. Of Pares. 6. Of the Effluviums of the Loadstone.
7. Of the Stings of Nettles and Bees. 8. Of the Beard of a wild Oat. 9. Of the
Eyes of Flies. 10. Of a Butter-Flye. 11. Of the walking Motions of Flies, and
other Creatures. 12. Whether it be possible to make man, and some other Animal
Creatures, fly as Birds do? 13. Of Snails and Leeches, and whether all Animals
have Blood? 14. Of Natural Productions. 15. Of the Seeds of Vegetables. 16. Of
the Providence of Nature; and some Opinions concerning Motion. 17. Des Cartes
Opinion of Motion Examined. 18. Of the blackness of a Charcoal, and of Light.
19. Of the Pores of a Charcoal, and of Emptiness. 20. Of Colours. 21. Whether
an Idea have a Colour, and of the Idea of of a Spirit? 22. Of Wood petrified.
23. Of the Nature of Water. 24. Of Salt, and of Sea or Salt-water. 25. Of the
motions of Heat and Cold. 26. Of the Measures, Degrees, and different sorts of
Heat and Cold. 27. Of Congelation or Freezing. 28. Of Thawing, or dissolving of
frozen Bodies. 29. Several Questions resolved concerning Cold and Frozen
Bodies. 30. Of Contraction and Dilation. 31. Of the Parts of Nature, and of
Atoms. 32. Of the Celestial parts of this World, and whether they be
alterable? 33. Of the Substance of the Sun, and of Fire. 34. Of Telescopes. 35.
Of Knowledge and Perception in general. 36. Of the different Perceptions of
Sense and Reason. 37. Several Questions and Answers concerning Knowledge and
Perception.
Further Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, reflecting withal upon
some Principal Subjects in Contemplative Philosophy.
1. Ancient Learning ought not to be Exploded; nor the Experimental Part of
Philosophy preferred before the Speculative. 2. Whether Artificial Effects may
be called Natural; and in what sense? 3. Of Natural Matter and Motion. 4.
Nature cannot be known by any of her Parts. 5. Art cannot produce new Forms in
Nature. 6. Whether there be any Prime or Principal Figures in Nature, and of
the true Principles of Nature. 7. Whether Nature be self-moving? 8. Of Animal
Spirits. 9. Of the Doctrine of the Scepticks concerning the Knowledge of Nature.
10. Of Natural Sense and Reason. 11. Of a general Knowledge and Worship of God,
given him by all Natural Creatures. 12. Of a particular Worship of God given
him by those that are his Chosen and Elect People. 13. Of the Knowledge of man.
14. A Natural Philosopher cannot be an Atheist. 15. Of the Rational Soul of
Man. 16. Whether Animal Parts separated from their Bodies, have life? 17. Of
the Spleen. 18. Of Anatomy. 19. Of preserving the Figures of Animal Creatures.
20. Of Chemistry, and Chemical Principles. 21. Of the Universal Medicine, and
of Diseases. 22. Of outward Remedies. 23. Of several sorts of Drink and Meat.
24. Of Fermentation. 25. Of the Plague. 26. Of Respiration.
Observations upon the Opinions of some Ancient Philosophers.
1. Upon the Principles of Thales. 2. Some few Observations on Plato's
Doctrine. 3. Upon the Doctrine of Pythagoras. 4. Of Epicurus his Principles of
Philosophy. 5. On Aristotle's Philosophical Principles. 6. Of Scepticism, and
some other Sects of the Ancient. An Explanation of some obscure and doubtful
Passages occurring in the Philosophical Works hitherto Published by the
Authoress.
A CATALOGUE OF ALL THE WORKS Hitherto Published by the AUTHORESSE.
SInce it is the fashion to declare what Books one has put forth to the public
view, I thought it not amiss to follow the Mode, and set down the Number of all
the Writings of mine which hitherto have been Printed.
1. Poems in Fol. Printed twice, whereof the last Impression is much mended. 2.
Natures Pictures; or Tales in Verse and Prose, in Fol. 3. A Little Tract of
Philosophy, in 8o 4. Philosophical and Physical Opinions, in Fol. 5. The same
much Enlarged and Altered, in Fol. 6. Philosophical Letters, in Fol. 7. The
Worlds Olio, now to be reprinted. 8. Plays in Fol. 9. Orations in Fol. 10.
Sociable Letters in Fol.
There are some others that never were Printed yet, which shall, if God grant
me Life and Health, be Published ere long.
OBSERVATIONS UPON EXPERIMENTAL PHILOSOPHY.
1. Of Humane Sense and Perception.
BEfore I deliver my observations upon that part of Philosophy which is called
Experimental, I thought it necessary to premise some discourse concerning the
Perception of Humane Sense. It is known that man has five Exterior Senses, and
every sense is ignorant of each other; for the Nose knows not what the Eyes
see, nor the Eyes what the Ears hear, neither do the Ears know what the Tongue
tastes; and as for Touch, although it is a general Sense, yet every several
part of the body has a several touch, and each part is ignorant of each others
touch: And thus there is a general ignorance of all the several parts, and yet
a perfect knowledge in each part; for the Eye is as knowing as the Ear, and the
Ear as knowing as the Nose, and the Nose as knowing as the Tongue, and one
particular Touch knows as much as another, at least is capable thereof: Nay,
not only every several Touch, Taste, Smell, Sound or Sight, is a several
knowledge by it self, but each of them has as many particular knowledges or
perceptions as there are objects presented to them: Besides, there are several
degrees in each particular sense; As for example, some Men (I will not speak of
other animals) their perception of sight, taste, smell, touch, or hearing, is
quicker to some sorts of objects, then to others, according either to the
perfection or imperfection, or curiosity or purity of the corporeal figurative
motions of each sense, or according to the presentation of each object proper
to each sense; for if the presentation of the objects be imperfect, either
through variation or obscurity, or any other ways, the sense is deluded.
Neither are all objects proper for one sense, but as there are several senses,
so there are several sorts of objects proper for each several sense. Now if
there be such variety of several knowledges, not only in one Creature, but in
one sort of sense; to wit, the exterior senses of one humane Creature; what may
there be in all the parts of Nature? 'Tis true, there are some objects which
are not at all perceptible by any of our exterior senses; as for example,
rarefied air, and the like: But although they be not subject to our exterior
sensitive perception, yet they are subject to our rational perception, which is
much purer and subtiler then the sensitive; nay, so pure and subtle a knowledge,
that many believe it to be immaterial, as if it were some God, when as it is
only a pure, fine and subtle figurative Motion or Perception; it is so active
and subtle, as it is the best informer and reformer of all sensitive
Perception; for the rational Matter is the most prudent and wisest part of
Nature, as being the designer of all productions, and the most pious and
devoutest part, having the perfectest notions of God, I mean, so much as Nature
can possibly know of God; so that whatsoever the sensitive Perception is either
defective in, or ignorant of, the rational Perception supplies. But mistake me
not: by Rational Perception and Knowledge, I mean Regular Reason, not Irregular;
where I do also exclude Art, which is apt to delude sense, and cannot inform so
well as Reason doth; for Reason reforms and instructs sense in all its actions:
But both the rational and sensitive knowledge and perception being divideable as
well as composeable, it causes ignorance as well as knowledge amongst Natures
Creatures; for though Nature is but one body, and has no sharer or copartner,
but is entire and whole in it self, as not composed of several different parts
or substances, and consequently has but one Infinite natural knowledge and
wisdom, yet by reason she is also divideable and composeable, according to the
nature of a body, we can justly and with all reason say, That, as Nature is
divided into infinite several parts, so each several part has a several and
particular knowledge and perception, both sensitive and rational, and again that
each part is ignorant of the others knowledge and perception; when as otherwise,
considered altogether and in general, as they make up but one infinite body of
Nature, so they make also but one infinite general knowledge. And thus Nature
may be called both Individual, as not having single parts subsisting without
her, but all united in one body; and Divideable, by reason she is partable in
her own several corporeal figurative motions, and not otherwise; for there is
no Vacuum in Nature, neither can her parts start or remove from the Infinite
body of Nature, so as to separate themselves from it, for there's no place to
flee to, but body and place are all one thing, so that the parts of Nature can
only join and disjoin to and from parts, but not to and from the body of
Nature. And since Nature is but one body, it is entirely wise and knowing,
ordering her self-moving parts with all facility and ease, without any
disturbance, living in pleasure and delight, with infinite varieties and
curiosities, such as no single Part or Creature of hers can ever attain to.
2. Of Art, and Experimental Philosophy.
SOme are of opinion, That by Art there can be a reparation made of the
Mischiefs and Imperfections mankind has drawn upon it self by negligence and
intemperance, and a wilful and superstitious deserting the Prescripts and Rules
of Nature, whereby every man, both from a derived Corruption, innate and born
with him, and from his breediug and converse with men, is very subject to slip
into all sorts of Errors. But the all-powerful God, and his servant Nature,
know, that Art, which is but a particular Creature, cannot inform us of the
Truth of the Infinite parts of Nature, being but finite it self; for though
every Creature has a double perception, rational and sensitive, yet each
creature or part has not an Infinite perception; nay, although each particular
creature or part of Nature may have some conceptions of the Infinite parts of
Nature, yet it cannot know the truth of those Infinite parts, being but a
finite part it self, which finiteness causes errors in Perceptions; wherefore
it is well said, when they confess themselves, That the uncertainty and
mistakes of humane actions proceed either from the narrowness and wandering of
our senses, or from the slipperiness or delusion of our memory, or from the
confinement or rashness of our understandiug. But, say they, It is no wonder
that our power over natural Causes and Effects is so slowly improved, seeing we
are not only to contend with the obscurity and difficulty of the things
whereon we work and think, but even the forces of our minds conspire to betray
us: And these being the dangers in the process of Humane Reason, the remedies
can only proceed from the Real, the Mechanical, the Experimental Philosophy,
which hath this advantage over the Philosophy of discourse and disputation,
That whereas that chiefly aims at the subtilty of its deductions and
conclusions, without much regard to the first ground-work, which ought to be
well laid on the sense and memory, so this intends the right ordering of them
all, and making them serviceable to each other. In which discourse I do not
understand, first, what they mean by our power over natural causes and effects;
for we have no power at all over natural causes and effects, but only one
particular effect may have some power over another, which are natural actions;
but neither can natural causes nor effects be overpowered by man so, as if man
was a degree above Nature, but they must be as Nature is pleased to order them;
for Man is but a small part, and his powers are but particular actions of
Nature, and therefore he cannot have a supreme and absolute power. Next, I say,
That Sense, which is more apt to be deluded then Reason, cannot be the ground
of Reason, no more then Art can be the ground of Nature: Wherefore discourse
shall sooner find or trace Natures corporeal figurative motions, then deluding
Arts can inform the Senses; For how can a Fool order his understanding by Art,
if Nature has made it defective? or how can a wise man trust his senses, if
either the objects be not truly presented according to their natural figure and
shape, or if the senses be defective, either through age, sickness, or other
accidents, which do alter the natural motions proper to each sense? And hence I
conclude, that Experimental and Mechanic Philosophy cannot be above the
Speculative part, by reason most Experiments have their rise from the
Speculative, so that the Artist or Mechanic is but a servant to the Student.
3. Of Micrography, and of Magnifying and Multiplying Glasses.
ALthough I am not able to give a solid judgment of the Art of Micrography, and
the several dioptrical instruments belonging thereto, by reason I have neither
studied nor practised that Art; yet of this I am confident, that this same Art,
with all its Instruments, is not able to discover the interior natural motions
of any part or creature of Nature; nay, the questions is, whether it can
represent yet the exterior shapes and motions so exactly, as naturally they
are; for Art doth more easily alter then inform: As for example; Art makes
Cylinders, Concave and Convex-glasses, and the like, which represent the figure
of an object in no part exactly and truly, but very deformed and misshaped:
also a Glass that is flaw'd, cracked, or broke, or cut into the figure of
Lozanges, Triangles, Squares, or the like, will present numerous pictures of
one object. Besides, there are so many alterations made by several lights,
their shadows, refractions, reflexions, as also several lines, points, mediums,
interposing and intermixing parts, forms and positions, as the truth of an
object will hardly be known; for the perception of sight, and so of the rest of
the senses, goes no further then the exterior Parts of the object presented;
and though the Perception may be true, when the object is truly presented, yet
when the presentation is false, the information must be false also. And it is
to be observed, that Art, for the most part, makes hermaphroditical, that is,
mixed figures, as partly Artificial, and partly Natural: for Art may make some
metal, as Pewter, which is between Tin and Lead, as also Brass, and numerous
other things of mixed natures; In the like manner may Artificial Glasses present
objects, partly Natural, and partly Artificial; nay, put the case they can
present the natural figure of an object, yet that natural figure may be
presented in as monstrous a shape, as it may appear mis-shapen rather then
natural: For example; a Louse by the help of a Magnifying-glass, appears like a
Lobster, where the Microscope enlarging and magnifying each part of it, makes
them bigger and rounder then naturally they are. The truth is, the more the
figure by Art is magnified, the more it appears mis-shapen from the natural, in
so much as each joint will appear as a diseased, swelled and tumid body, ready
and ripe for incision. But mistake me not; I do not say, that no Glass presents
the true picture of an object; but only that Magnifying, Multiplying, and the
like optic Glasses, may, and do oftentimes present falsely the picture of an
exterior object; I say, the Picture, because it is not the real body of the
object which the Glass presents, but the Glass only figures or patterns out
the picture presented in and by the Glass, and there may easily mistakes be
committed in taking Copies from Copies. Nay, Artists do confess themselves,
that Flies, and the like, will appear of several figures or shapes, according
to the several reflections, refractions, mediums and positions of several
lights; which if so, how can they tell or judge which is the truest light,
position, or medium, that doth present the object naturally as it is? and if
not, then an edge may very well seem flat, and a point of a needle a globe; but
if the edge of a knife, or point of a needle were naturally and really so as
the microscope presents them, they would never be so useful as they are; for a
flat or broad plain-edged knife would not cut, nor a blunt globe pierce so
suddenly another body, neither would or could they pierce without tearing and
rending, if their bodies were so uneven; and if the Picture of a young
beautiful Lady should be drawn according to the representation of the
Microscope, or according to the various refraction and reflection of light
through such like glasses, it would be so far from being like her, as it would
not be like a humane face, but rather a Monster, then a picture of Nature.
Wherefore those that invented Microscopes, and such like dioptrical Glasses, at
first, did, in my opinion, the world more injury then benefit; for this Art has
intoxicated so many men's brains, and wholly employed their thoughts and bodily
actions about phenomenon, or the exterior figures of objects, as all better
Arts and Studies are laid aside; nay, those that are not as earnest and active
in such employments as they, are, by many of them, accounted unprofitable
subjects to the Commonwealth of Learning. But though there be numerous Books
written of the wonders of these Glasses, yet I cannot perceive any such, at
best, they are but superficial wonders, as I may call them. But could
Experimental Philosophers find out more beneficial Arts then our Fore-fathers
have done, either for the better increase of Vegetables and brute Animals to
nourish our bodies, or better and commodious contrivances in the Art of
Architecture to build us houses, or for the advancing of trade and traffic to
provide necessaries for us to live, or for the decrease of nice distinctions
and sophistical disputes in Churches, Schools and Courts of Judicature, to make
men live in unity, peace and neighbourly sriendship, it would not only be
worth their labour, but of as much praise as could be given to them: But as
Boys that play with watery Bubbles Glass-tubes.
, or fling Dust Atoms.
into each others Eyes, or make a Hobby-horse Exterior figures.
of Snow, are worthy of reproof rather then praise; for wasting their time with
useless sports; so those that addict themselves to unprofitable Arts, spend
more time then they reap benefit thereby. Nay, could they benefit men either in
Husbandry, Architecture, or the like necessary and profitable employments, yet
before the Vulgar sort would learn to understand them, the world would want
Bread to eat, and Houses to dwell in, as also Cloths to keep them from the
inconveniences of the inconstant weather. But truly, although Spinsters were
most experienced in this Art, yet they will never be able to spin Silk, Thread,
or Wool, c. from loose Atoms; neither will Weavers weave a Web of Light from
the Sun's Rays, nor an Architect build an House of the bubbles of Water and
Air, unless they be Poetical Spinsters, Weavers and Architects; and if a
Painter should draw a Louse as big as a Crab, and of that shape as the
Microscope presents, can any body imagine that a Beggar would believe it to be
true? but if he did, what advantage would it be to the Beggar? for it doth
neither instruct him how to avoid breeding them, or how to catch them, or to
hinder them from biting. Again: if a Painter should paint Birds according to
those Colours the Microscope presents, what advantage would it be for Fowlers
to take them? Truly, no Fowler will be able to distinguish several Birds
through a Microscope, neither by their shapes nor colours; They will be better
discerned by those that eat their flesh, then by Micrographers that look upon
their colours and exterior figures through a Magnifying-glass. In short,
Magnifying-glasses are like a high heel to a short leg, which if it be made
too high, it is apt to make the wearer fall, and at the best, can do no more
then represent exterior figures in a bigger, and so in a more deformed shape
and posture then naturally they are; but as for the interior form and motions
of a Creature, as I said before, they can no more represent them, then
Telescopes can the interior essence and nature of the Sun, and what matter it
consists of; for if one that never had seen Milk before, should look upon it
through a Microscope, he would never be able to discover the interior parts of
Milk by that instrument, were it the best that is in the World; neither the
Whey, nor the Butter, nor the Curds. Wherefore the best optic is a perfect
natural Eye, and a regular sensitive perception, and the best judge is Reason,
and the best study is Rational Contemplation joined with the observations of
regular sense, but not deiuding Arts; for Art is not only gross in comparison
to Nature, but, for the most part, deformed and defective, and at best produces
mixed or hermaphroditical figures, that is, a third figure between Nature and
Art: which proves, that natural Reason is above artificial Sense, as I may call
it: wherefore those Arts are the best and surest Informers, that alter Nature
least, and they the greatest deluders that alter Nature most, I mean, the
particular Nature of each particular Creature; (for Art is so far from altering
Infinite Nature, that it is no more in comparison to it, then a little Fly to
an Elephant, no not so much, for there is no comparison between finite and
Infinite.) But wise Nature taking delight in variety, her parts, which are her
Creatures, must of necessity do so too.
4. Of the Production of Fire by a Flint and Steel.
SOme learned Writers of Micrography, having observed the fiery sparks that are
struck out by the violent motion of a Flint against Steel, suppose them to be
little parcels either of the Flint or Steel, which by the violence of the
stroke, are at the same time severed and made red hot; nay, sometimes to such a
degree as they are melted together into glass. But whatsoever their opinion be,
to my sense and reason it appears very difficult to determine exactly how the
production of Fire is made, by reason there are so many different sorts of
Productions in Nature, as it is impossible for any particular Creature to know
or describe them: Nevertheless, it is most probable, that those two bodies do
operate not by incorporeal but corporeal motions, which either produce a third
corporeal figure out of their own parts, or by striking against each other, do
alter some of their natural corporeal figurative parts, so as to convert them
into fire, which if it have no fuel to feed on, must of necessity die; or it
may be, that by the occasion of striking against each other, some of their
looser parts are metamorphosed, and afterwards return to their former figures
again; like as flesh being bruised and hurt, becomes numb and black, and after
returns again to its proper figure and colour; or like as Water that by change
of motion in the same parts, turns into Snow, Ice, or Hail, may return again
into its former figure and shape; for Nature is various in her corporeal
figurative motions. But it is observable, that Fire is like seeds of Corn sown
in Earth, which increases or decreases according as it has nourishment; by
which we may see that Fire is not produced from a bare immaterial motion (as I
said before;) for a spiritual issue cannot be nourished by a corporeal
substance, but it is with Fire as it is with all, at least most other natural
Creatures, which require Respiration as well as Perception; for Fire requires
Air as well as Animals do. By Respiration, I do not mean only that animal
respiration which in Man, and other animal Creatures, is performed by the
lungs, but a dividing and uniting, or separating and joining of parts from and
to parts, as of the exterior from and to the interior, and of the interior from
and to the exterior; so that when some parts issue, others do enter: And thus
by the name of Respiration I understand a kind of Reception of foreign Matter,
and emission of some of their own; as for example, in Animals, I mean not only
the respiration performed by the lungs, but also the reception of food, and of
other matter entering through some proper organs and pores of their bodies, and
the discharging of some other matter the sameway; and if this be so, as surely
it is, then all or most Creatures in Nature have some kind of Respiration or
Reciprocal breathing, that is, Attraction and Expiration, receiving of
nourishment and evacuation, or a reception of some foreign parts, and a
discharging and venting of some of their own. But yet it is not necessary that
all the matter of Respiration in all Creatures should be Air; for every sort of
Creatures, nay every particular has such a matter of Respiration, as is proper
both to the nature of its figure, and proper for each sort of respiration.
Besides, although Air may be a fit substance for Respiration to Fire, and to
some other Creatures, yet I cannot believe, that the sole agitation of Air is
the cause of Fire, no more then it can be called the cause of Man; for if this
were so, then Houses that are made of Wood, or covered with Straw, would never
fail to be set on fire by the agitation of the Air. Neither is it requisite
that all Respirations in all Creatures should be either hot or cold, moist or
dry, by reason there are many different sorts of Respiration, acording to the
nature and propriety of every Creature, whereof some may be hot, some cold;
some hot and dry, some cold and dry; some hot and moist, some cold and moist,
c. and in Animals, at least in Mankind, I observe, that the respiration
performed by the help of their lungs. is an attraction of some refrigerating
air and an emission of some warm vapour. What other Creatures respirations may
be, I leave for others to inquire.
5. Of Pores.
AS I have mentioned in my former Discourse, that I do verily believe all or
most natural Creatures have some certain kind of respiration, so do I also find
it most probable, that all or most natural Creatures have Pores: not empty
Pores; for there can be no Vacuum in Nature, but such passages as serve for
respiration, which respiration is some kind of receiving and discharging of
such matter as is proper to the nature of every Creature: And thus the several
Organs of Animal Creatures, are, for the most part, employed as great large
pores; for Nature being in a perpetual motion, is always dissolving and
composing, changing and ordering her self-moving parts as she pleases. But it
is well to be observed, that there is difference between Perception and
Respiration; for Perception is only an action of Figuring or Patterning, when
as the Rational and Sensitive Motions do figure or pattern out something: but
Respiration is an action of drawing, sucking, breathing in, or receiving any
ways outward parts, and of venting, discharging, or sending forth inward parts.
Next, although there may be Pores in most natural Creatures, by reason that
all, or most have some kind of Respiration, yet Nature hath more ways of
dividing and uniting of parts, or of ingress and egress, then the way of
drawing in, and sending forth by Pores; for Nature is so full of variety, that
not any particular corporeal figurative motion can be said the prime or
fundamental, unless it be self-motion, the Architect and Creator of all
figures: Wherefore, as the Globular figure is not the prime or fundamental of
all other figures, so neither can Respiration be called the prime or
fundamental motion; for, as I said, Nature has more ways then one, and there
are also retentive Motions in Nature, which are neither dividing nor composing,
but keeping or holding together.
6. Of the Effluvium's of the Loadstone.
IT is the opinion of some, that the Magnetical Effluviums do not proceed
intrinsecally from the stone, but are certain extrinsecal particles, which
approaching to the stone, and finding congruous pores and inlets therein, are
channelled through it; and having acquired a motion thereby, do continue their
current so far, till being repulsed by the ambient air, they recoil again, and
return into a vortical motion, and so continue their revolution for ever
through the body of the Magnet. But if this were so, then all porous bodies
would have the same Magnetical Effluviums, especially a Char-coal, which, they
say, is full of deep pores: besides, I can hardly believe, that any Microscope
is able to show how those flowing Atoms enter and issue, and make such a
vortical motion as they imagine. Concerning the argument drawn from the
experiment, that a Magnet being made red hot in the fire, not only amits the
Magnetical Vigour it had before, but acquires a new one; doth not evince or
prove that the Magnetical Effluviums are not innate or inherent in the stone;
for fire may over-power them so as we cannot perceive their vigour or force,
the motions of the Fire being too strong for the motions of the Loadstone; but
yet it doth not follow hence, that those motions of the Loadstone are lost,
because they are not perceived, or that afterwards when by cooling the
Loadstone they may be perceived again, they are not the same motions, but new
ones, no more then when a man doth not move his hand the motion of it can be
said lost or annihilated. But say they, If the Polary direction of the Stone
should be thought to proceed intrinsecally from the Stone, it were as much as
to put a Soul or Intelligence into the Stone, which must turn it about, as
Angels are feigned to do Celestial Orbs. To which I answer; That although the
turning of the Celestial Orbs by Angels may be a figment, yet that there is a
soul and intelligence in the Loadstone, is as true, as that there is a soul in
Man. I will not say, that the Loadstone has a spiritual or immaterial soul, but
a corporeal or material one, to wit, such a soul as is a particle of the soul
of Nature, that is, of Rational Matter, which moves in the Loadstone according
to the propriety and nature of its figure. Lastly, as for their argument
concluding from the different effluviums of other, as for example, electrical
and odoriferous bodies, c. as Camphor, and the like, whose expirations, they
say, fly away into the open air, and never make any return again to the body
from whence they proceeded; I cannot believe this to be so; for if odoriferous
bodies should effluviate and waste after that manner, then all strong
odoriferous bodies would be of no continuance, for where there are great
expenses, there must of neeessity follow a sudden waste: but the contrary is
sufficiently known by experience. Wherefore, it is more probable, that the
Effluviums of the Loadstone, as they call them, or the disponent and directive
faculty of turning it self towards the North, is intrinsecally inherent in the
stone it self, and is nothing else but the interior natural sensitive and
rational corporeal motions proper to its figure, as I have more at large
declared in my Philosophical Letters, and Philosophical Opinions; then that a
stream of exterior Atoms, by beating upon the stone, should turn it to and
fro, until they have laid it in such a position.
7. Of the Stings of Nettles and Bees.
I Cannot approve the opinion of those, who believe that the swelling, burning,
and smarting pain caused by the stinging of Nettles and Bees, doth proceed from
a poisonous juice, that is contained within the points of Nettles, or stings of
Bees; for it is commonly known, that Nettles, when young, are often-times eaten
in Sallets, and minced into Broths; nay, when they are at their full growth,
good-huswifes use to lay their Cream-cheeses in great Nettles, whereas, if
there were any poison in them, the interior parts of animal bodies, after
eating them, would swell and burn more then the exterior only by touching
them. And as for stings of Bees, whether they be poisonous or not, I will not
certainly determine any thing, nor whether their stings be of no other use (as
some say) then only for defence or revenge; but this I know, that if a Be
once loses its sting, it becomes a Drone; which if so, then surely the sting
is useful to the Be, either in making Wax and Honey, or in drawing, mixing and
tempering the several sorts of juices, or in penetrating and piercing into
Vegetables, or other bodies, after the manner of broaching or tapping, to cause
the Liquor to issue out, or in framing the structure of their comb, and the
like; for surely Nature doth not commonly make useless and unprofitable things,
parts, or creatures: Neither doth her design tend to an evil effect, although I
do not deny but that good and useful instruments may be and are often employed
in evil actions. The truth is, I find that stings are of such kind of figures
as fire is, and fire of such a kind of figure as stings are; but although they
be all of one general kind, nevertheless they are different in their particular
kinds; for as Animal kind contains many several and different particular kinds
or sorts of animals, so the like do Vegetables, and other kinds of Creatures.
8. Of the beard of a wild Oat.
THose that have observed through a Microscope the beard of a wild Oat, do
relate that it is only a small black or brown bristle, growing out of the side
of the inner husk, which covers the grain of a wild Oat, and appears like a
small wreathed sprig with two clefts; if it be wetted in water, it will appear
to unwreath it self, and by degrees to straighten its knee, and the two clefts
will become straight; but if it be suffered to dry again, it will by degrees
wreath it self again, and so return into its former posture: The cause of which
they suppose to be the differing texture of its parts, which seeming to have
two substances, one very porous, loose and spongy, into which the watery steams
of air may very easily be forced, which thereby will grow swelled and extended;
and a second, more hard and close, into which the water cannot at all or very
little penetrate; and this retaining always the same dimensions, but the other
stretching and shrinking, according as there is more or less water or moisture
in its pores, 'tis thought to produce this unwreathing and wreathing. But that
this kind of motion, whether it be caused by heat and cold, or by dryness and
moisture, or by any greater or less force, proceeding either from gravity and
weight, or from wind, which is the motion of the air, or from some springing
body, or the like, should be the very first foot-step of sensation and animate
motion, and the most plain, simple and obvious contrivance that Nature has made
use of to produce a motion next to that of rarefaction and condensation by heat
and cold, as their opinion is, I shall not easily be persuaded to believe; for
if Animate motion was produced this way, it would, in my opinion, be but a weak
and irregular motion. Neither can I conceive how these, or any other parts,
could be set a moving, if Nature her self were not selfmoving, but only moved:
Nor can I believe, that the exterior parts of objects are able to inform us of
all their interior motions; for our humane optic sense looks no further then
the exterior and superficial parts of solid or dense bodies, and all Creatures
have several corporeal figurative motions one within another, which cannot be
perceived neither by our exterior senses, nor by their exterior motions; as for
example, our Optic sense can perceive and see through a transparent body, but
yet it cannot perceive what that transparent bodies figurative motions are, or
what is the true cause of its transparentness; neither is any Art able to
assist our sight with such optic instruments as may give us a true information
thereof; for what a perfect natural eye cannot perceive, surely no glass will
be able to present.
9. Of the Eyes of Flies.
I Cannot wonder enough at the strange discovery made by the help of the
Microscope concerning the great number of eyes observed in Flies; as that, for
example, in a gray Drone-flie should be found clusters which contain about
14000 eyes: which if it be really so, then those Creatures must needs have more
of the (...) sense then those that have but two, or one eye; (...) cannot
believe, that so many (...) be made for no more use then one or two eyes are:
for though Art, the emulating Ape of Nature, makes often vain and useless
things, yet I cannot perceive that Nature her self doth so. But a greater
wonder it is to me, that Man with the twinkling of one eye, can observe so many
in so small a Creature, if it be not a deceit of the optic instrument: for as
I have mentioned above, Art produces most commonly hermaphroditical figures,
and it may be, perhaps, that those little pearls or globes, which were taken
for eyes in the mentioned Fly, are only transparent knobs, or glossy shining
spherical parts of its body, making refractions of the rays of light, and
reflecting the pictures of exterior objects, there being many Creatures, that
have such shining protuberances and globular parts, and those full of quick
motion, which yet are not eyes. Truly, my reason can hardly be persuaded to
believe, that this Artificial Informer (I mean the Microscope) should be so
true as it is generally thought; for in my opinion it more deludes, then
informs: It is well known, that if a figure be longer, broader and bigger then
its nature requires, it is not its natural figure, and therefore those
Creatures, or parts of Creatures, which by Art appear bigger then naturally
they are, cannot be judged according to their natural figure, since they do not
appear in their natural shape; but in an artificial one, that is, in a shape or
figure magnified by Art, and extended beyond their natural figure; and since
Man cannot judge otherwise of a figure then it appears, besides, if the
Reflections and Positious of Light be so various and different as Experimental
Philophers confess themselves, and the instrument not very exact, (for who
knows but hereafter there may be many faults discovered of our modern
Microscopes which we are not able to perceive at the present) how shall the
object be truly known? Wherefore I can hardly believe the Truth of this
Experiment concerning the numerous Eyes of Flies; they may have, as I said
before, glossy and shining globular protuberances, but not so many eyes; as for
example, Bubbles of Water, Ice, as also Blisters and watery Pimples, and
hundreds the like, are shining and transparent Hemispheres, reflecting light,
but yet not eyes; Nay, if Flies should have so many numerous Eyes, why can they
not see the approach of a Spider until it be just at them; also how comes it
that sometimes, as for example, in cold weather, they seem blind, so as one may
take or kill them, and they cannot so much as perceive their enemies approach?
surely if they had 14000 Eyes, all this number would seem useless to them,
since other Creatures which have but two can make more advantage of those two
eyes, then they of their vast number. But perchance some will say, That Flies
having so many eyes, are more apt to be blind then others that have but few, by
reason the number is the cause that each particular is the weaker. To which I
answer, That if two Eyes be stronger then a Thousand, then Nature is to be
blamed that she gives such numbers of Eyes to so little a Creature. But Nature
is wiser then we or any Creature is able to conceive; and surely she works not
to no purpose, or in vain; but there appears as much wisdom in the fabric and
ftructure of her works, as there is variety in them. Lastly, I cannot well
conceive the truth of the opinion of those, that think all eyes must have a
transparent liquor, or humour within them, for in Crabs and Lobsters Eyes I can
perceive none such; and there may also be many other animal Creatures which
have none: for Nature is not tied to one way, but as she makes various
Creatures, so she may and doth also make their parts and organs variously, and
not the same in all, or after one and the same manner or way.
10. Of a Butter-flie.
COncerning the Generation of Butter-flies, whether they be produced by the way
of Eggs, as some Experimental Philosophers do relate, or any other ways; or
whether they be all produced after one and the same manner, shall not be my
task now to determine; but I will only give my Readers a short account of what
I my self have observed: When I lived beyond the Seas in Banishment with my
Noble Lord, one of my Maids brought upon an old piece of wood, or stone (which
it was I cannot perfectly remember) something to me which seemed to grow out of
that same piece; it was about the length of half an inch or less, the tail was
short and square, and seemed to be a Vegetable, for it was as green as a green
small stalk, growing out of the aforesaid piece of stone or wood; the part next
the tail was like a thin skin, wherein one might perceive a perfect pulsation,
and was big in proportion to the rest of the parts; The part next to that, was
less in compass, and harder, but of such a substance as it was like Pewter or
Tin: The last and extreme part opposite to the first mentioned green tail or
stalk, seemed like a head, round, only it had two little points or horns
before, which head seemed to the eye and touch, like a stone, so that this
Creature appeared partly a Vegetable, Animal and Mineral; But what is more, it
was in a continual motion, for the whole body of it seemed to struggle as if it
would get loose from that piece of wood or stone the tail was joined to, or out
of which it grew; But I cutting and dividing its tail from the said piece, it
ceased to move, and I did not regard it any further. After some while I found
just such another insect, which I laid by upon the window, and one morning I
spied two Butter-flies playing about it; which, knowing the window had been
close shut all the while, and finding the insect all empty, and only like a
bare shell or skin, I supposed had been bred out of it; for the shell was not
only hollow and thin, but so brittle as it straight fell into pieces, and did
somewhat resemble the skin of a Snake when it is cast; and it is observable,
that two Butter-flies were produced out of one shell, which I supposed to be
male and female. But yet this latter I will not certainly affirm, for I could
not discern them with my eyes, except I had had some Microscope, but a thousand
to one I might have been also deceived by it; and had I opened this insect, or
shell, at first, it might perhaps have given those Butter-flies an untimely
death, or rather hindered their production. This is all I have observed of
Butter-flies, but I have heard also that Caterpillars are transformed into
Butter-flies; whether it be true or not, I will not dispute, only this I dare
say, that I have seen Caterpillars spin as Silk-worms do, an oval ball about
their seed, or rather about themselves.
11. Of the Walking Motions of Flies, and other Creatures.
WHat Experimental Writers mention concerning the feet of Flies, and their
structure, to wit, that they have two claws or talons, and two palms or soles,
by the help of which they can walk on the sides of glass, or other smooth
bodies perpendicularly upwards; If this be the only reason they can give, then
certainly a Dormouse must have the same structure of feet; for she will, as
well as a fly, run straight upwards on the sharp edg of a glazed or
well-polished Sword, which is more difficult then to run up the sides of Glass:
And as for Flies, that they can suspend themselves against the undersurface of
many bodies; I say, not only Flies, but many other Creatures will do the same;
for not only great Caterpillars, or such worms as have many legs, as also
Spiders, but a Neut, which is but a little Creature, will run up a wall in a
perpendicular line; nay, walk as Flies do with its back down, and its legs
upwards. Wherefore it is not, in my opinion, the Pores of the surface of the
body, on which those Creatures walk; as for example, that a Fly should run the
tenters or points of her feet, which some have observed through a Microscope,
into the pores of such bodies she walks on, or make pores where she finds none;
(for I cannot believe, that in such close and dense bodies, where no pores at
all can be perceived, a small and weak leg of a Fly should pierce a hole so
suddenly, and with one step) Nor an Imaginary Glue, nor a dirty or smoky
substance adhering to the surface of glass, as some do conceive; nor so much
the lightness of their bodies that makes those Creatures walk in such a
posture; for many can do the same that are a thousand times heavier then a
little Fly; but the chief cause is the shape of their bodies; which being
longer then they are deep, one counterpoises the other; for the depth of their
bodies has not so much weight as their length, neither are their heads and
legs just opposite: Besides, many have a great number of feet, which may
easily bear up the weight of their bodies; and although some Creatures, as
Horses, Sheep, Oxon, c. have their legs set on in the same manner as Mice,
Squirrels, Cats, c. yet they cannot run or climb upwards and downwards in a
perpendicular line, as well as these Creatures do, by reason of the depth of
their bodies from the soles of their feet to the surface of their back, the
weight of their depth over-powering the strength of their legs. Wherefore the
weight of a Creature lies for the most part in the shape of its body, which
shape gives it such sorts of actions as are proper for it; as for example, a
Bird flies by its shape, a Worm crawls by its shape, a Fish swims by its shape,
and a heavy Ship will bear it self up on the surface of water merely by its
exterior shape, it being not so much the interior figure or nature of Wood that
gives it this faculty of bearing up, by reason we see that many pieces of
Timber will sink down to the bottom in water. Thus Heaviness and Lightness is
for the most part caused by the shape or figure of the body of a Creature, and
all its exterior actions depend upon the exterior shape of its body.
Whether it be possible to make Man and other Animal Creatures that naturally
have no Wings, fly as Birds do.
SOme are of opinion, that is not impossible to make Man, and such other
Creatures that naturally have no wings, fly as Birds do; but I have heard my
Noble Lord and Husband give good reasons against it; For when he was in Paris,
he discoursing one time with Mr. H. concerning this subject, told him that he
thought it altogether impossible to be done: A Man, said he, or the like animal
that has no Wings, has his arms set on his body in a quite opposite manner then
Birds wings are; for the concave part of a Birds wing, which joins close to his
body, is in man outward; and the inward part of a mans arm where it joins to
his body, is in Birds placed outward; so that which is inward in a Bird, is
outward in Man; and what is inward in Man, is outward in Birds; which is the
reason that a Man has not the same motion of his arm which a Bird has of his
wing. For Flying is but swimming in the Air; and Birds, by the shape and
posture of their wings, do thrust away the air, and so keep themselves up;
which shape, if it were found the same in Mans arms, and other animals legs,
they might perhaps fly as Birds do, nay, without the help of Feathers; for we
see that Bats have but flesh-wings; neither would the bulk of their bodies be
any hinderance to them; for there be many Birds of great and heavy bodies,
which do nevertheless fly, although more slowly, and not so nimbly as Flies,
or little Birds: Wherefore it is only the different posture and shape of Men's
arms, and other Animals legs, contrary to the wings of Birds, that makes them
unapt to fly, and not so much the bulk of their bodies. But I believe, that a
fourlegg'd Creature, or Animal, may more easily and safely go upright like Man,
although it hath its legs set on in a contrary manner to Mans arms and legs;
for a four-legged animals hind-leggs resemble man's arms, and its fore-leggs
are just as man's legs. Nevertheless there is no Art that can make a four
legged Creature imitate the actions of man, no more then Art can make them have
or imitate the natural actions of a Bird: For, Art cannot give new motions to
natural parts, which are not proper or natural for them, but each part must
have such proper and natural motions and actions as Nature has designed for it.
I will not say, but Art may help to mend some defects, errors or irregularities
in Nature, but not make better that which Nature has made perfect already.
Neither can we say Man is defective, because he cannot fly as Birds: for
flying is not his natural and proper motion; We should rather account that Man
monstrous that could fly, as having some motion not natural and proper to his
figure and shape; for that Creature is perfect in its kind, that has all the
motions which are naturally requisite to the figure of such a kind: But Man is
apt to run into extremes, and spoils Nature with doting too much upon Art.
13. Of Snails and Leeches, and whether all Animals have blood.
WHether Snails have a row of small teeth, orderly placed in the Gums, and
divided into several smaller and greater; or whether they have but one small
bended hard bone, which serves them instead of teeth, to bite out pretty large
and half-round bits of the leaves of trees to feed on, Experimental
Philosophers may enquire by the help of their Microscopes; My opinion is, That
Snails are like Leeches, which will not only bite, but suck; but this I do
verily believe, that Snails only bite Vegetables, not Animals, as Leeches do;
and though Leeches bite into the skin, yet they do not take any part away, but
suck only out the juicy part, that is, the blood, and leave the grosser
substance of flesh behind; and so do Snails bite into herbs, to suck out the
juicy substance, or else there would be found flesh in Leeches, and herbs in
Snails, which is not; so that Snails and Leeches bite for no end, but only to
make a passage to suck out the juicy parts; and therefore I cannot perceive
that they have bones, but I conceive their teeth or parts they pierce withal,
to be somewhat of the nature of stings, which are no more Bones then the points
of Fire are; I do not certainly affirm they are stings, but my meaning is, that
they are pointed or piercing figures, that is, as I said, of the nature of
stings, there being many several sorts of pointed and piercing figures, which
yet are not stings, like as there are several sorts of grinding and biting
figures which are not teeth; for there are so many several sorts of figures in
Vegetables, Minerals, Animals and Elements, as no particular Creature is able
to conceive. Again, it is questioned, whether those Creatures that suck blood
from others, have blood themselves, as naturally belonging to their own
substance; and my opinion is, that it is no necessary consequence, that that
should be a part of their substance on which they feed; food may be converted
into the substance of their bodies by the figurative transforming motions, but
it is not part of their substance before it is converted; and so many Creatures
may feed on blood, but yet have none of themselves as a natural constitutive
part of their being: besides, there are Maggots, Worms, and several sorts of
Flies, and other Creatures, that feed upon fruits and herbs, as also Lobsters,
Crabs, c. which neither suck blood, nor have blood, and therefore blood is not
requisite to the life of every animal, although it is to the life of man, and
several other animal Creatures; Neither do I believe, that all the juice in the
veins, is blood (as some do conceive) for some of the juice may be in the way
of being blood, and some may have altered its nature from being blood, to
corruption, which later will never be blood again, and some may only be
metamorphosed from blood, and reassume its own colour again; for it is as
natural for blood to be red, as for the Sun to be light: Wherefore when some
learned are of opinion, that those white, or yellow, or black juices which are
found in the veins of small insects, are their blood, they might as well say,
that brains are blood, or that the marrow in the bones, is blood; or if the
brain should all be turned to water, say, that this water is brains; which
would be as much as if one should call a mans body turned to dust and ashes, an
animal Creature, or a man; for there are natural properties which belong to
every Creature, and to each particular part of a Creature, and so is blood in
some animals a natural vital part proper to the conservation of its life,
without which it cannot subsist: for example, a young Maid in the
Green-sickness, when her veins are fuller of water, then blood, appears pale,
and is always sickly, weak and faint, not able to stir, by reason her veins are
fuller of water then blood, but were it all water, she would presently die.
Wherefore all juices are not blood; nay, I cannot believe as yet, that those
they call veins in some insects, are veins, much less that they contain blood,
and have a circulation of blood, nor that their motions proceed from Muscles,
Nerves and Tendons; but this I may say, that the veins are the proper and
convenient vehicles or receptacles of blood, as the head is of brains, and the
bones of marrow; also it is as proper for blood to be red, as for veins to
contain blood, for bones to contain marrow, and for the head to contain brains;
and when they alter or change from their particular natures, they are no more
blood, brains nor marrow: Wherefore those Creatures that have a juice which is
not red, have no blood; and if no blood, they have no veins. I will not say,
that all those that have veins must of necessity have them full of blood; for
in Dropsies, as also in the Green-sickness, as I mentioned above, they are
fuller of water then blood, but they must of necessity have some blood in their
veins, by reason the veins are the most proper receptacles for blood, and no
man can live without blood, but when all blood is turned to water, he must of
necessity die.
14. Of Natural Productions.
I Cannot wonder with those, who admire that a Creature which inhabits the air,
doth yet produce a Creature, that for some time lives in the water as a fish,
and afterward becomes an inhabitant of the air, for this is but a production of
one animal from another; but what is more, I observe that there are productions
of and from Creatures of quite different kinds; as for example, that Vegetables
can and do breed Animals, and Animals, Minerals and Vegetables, and so forth:
Neither do I so much wonder at this, because I observe that all Creatures of
Nature are produced but out of one matter, which is common to all, and that
there are continual and perpetual generations and productions in Nature, as
well as there are perpetual dissolutions. But yet I cannot believe, that some
sorts of Creatures should be produced on a sudden by the way of transmigration
or translation of parts, which is the most usual way of natural productions;
for both natural and artificial productions are performed by degrees, which
requires time, and is not done in an instant. Neither can I believe, that all
natural things are produced by the way of seeds or eggs; for when I consider
the variety of Nature, it will not give me leave to think that all things are
produced after one and the same manner or way, by reason the figurative motions
are too different, and too diversely various, to be tied to one way of acting in
all productions; Wherefore as some Productions are done by the way of
transmigration or translation of parts, as for example, the Generation of Man,
and other Animals, and others by a bare Metamorphosis or Transformation of
their own parts into some other figure, as in the Generation of Maggots out of
Cheese, or in the production of Ice out of water, and many the like, so each
way has its own particular motions, which no particular Creature can persectly
know. I have mentioned in my Philosophical Sect. 4. Let. 2
Letters, that no animal Creature can be produced by the way of Metamorphosing,
which is a change of Motions in the same parts of Matter, but (as I do also
express in the same place) I mean such animals which are produced one from
another, and where the production of one is not caused by the destruction of
the other; such Creatures, I say, it is impossible they should be produced by a
bare Metamorphosis, without Transmigration or Translation of parts from the
Generator: but such insects, as Maggots, and several sorts of Worms and Flies,
and the like, which have no Generator of their own kind, but are bred out of
Cheese, Earth and Dung, c. their Production is only by the way of
Metamorphosing, and not Transslation of parts. Neither can I believe, as some
do, that the Sun is the common Generator of all those insects that are bred
within the Earth; for there are not only Productions of Minerals and
Vegetables, but also of Animals in the Earth deeper then the Sun can reach, and
the heat of the Sun can pierce no further then cold can, which is not above two
yards from the surface of the Earth, at least in our climate: But why may not
the Earth, without the help of the Sun, produce Animal Creatures, as well as a
piece of Cheese in a deep Cellar, where neither the Sun nor his Beams enter?
Truly, I wonder men will confine all Productions to one principal agent, and
make the Sun the common Generator of all or most living insects, and yet
confess that Nature is so full of variety, and that the Generations and
Productions of insects are so various, as not only the same kind of Creature
may be produced from several kinds of ways, but the very same Creature may
produce several kinds. Nevertheless, I believe that natural Creatures are more
numerously and variously produced by dissolution of particulars by the way of
Metamorphosing, then by a continued propagation of their own species by the way
of translation of parts; and that Nature hath many more ways of Productions,
then by seeds or seminal Principles, even in Vegetables, witness the Generation
or Production of Moss, and the like Vegetables that grow on Stones, Walls, dead
Animals sculls, tops of houses, c. so that he who doth confine Nature but to
one way of acting or moving, had better to deprive her of all motion, for
Nature being Infinite, has also infinite ways of acting in her particulars.
Some are of opinion, that the seed of Moss being exceeding small and light, is
taken up, and carried to and fro in the air into every place, and by the
falling drops of rain, is washed down out of it, and so dispersed into all
places, and there takes only root and propagates where it finds a convenient
soil for it to thrive in; but this is only a wild fancy, and has no ground,
and no experimental Writer shall ever persuade me, that by his Dioptrical
glasses he has made any such experiment; wherefore I insist upon sense and
reason, which inform me of the various productions of Nature, which cannot be
reduced to one principal kind, but are more numerous then mans particular and
finite reason can conceive. Neither is it a wonder to see Plants grow out of
the Earth without any waste of the Earth, by reason there are perpetual
compositions and divisions in Nature, which are nothing else but an uniting and
disjoining of parts to and from parts, and prove that there is an
interchangeable ingress and egress, or a reciprocal breathing in all Natures
parts, not perceptible by man; so that no man can tell the association of
parts, and growing motions of any one, much less of all Creatures.
15. Of the Seeds of Vegetables.
SOme do call the seeds of Vegetables, the Cabinet of Nature, wherein are laid
up her Jewels; but this, in my opinion, is a very hard and improper expression;
for I cannot conceive what Jewels Nature has, nor in what Cabinet she preserves
them. Neither are the seeds of Vegetables more then other parts or Creatures of
Nature: But I suppose some conceive Nature to be like a Granary or Store-house
of Pinebarley, or the like; which if so, I would fain know in what grounds
those seeds should be sown to produce and increase; for no seeds can produce of
themselves if they be not assisted by some other matter, which proves, that
seeds are not the prime or principal Creatures in Nature, by reason they depend
upon some other matter which helps them in their productions; for if seeds of
Vegetables did lie never so long in a store-house, or any other place, they
would never produce until they were put into some proper and convenient ground:
It is also an argument, that no Creature or part of Nature can subsist singly
and precised from all the rest, but that all parts must live together; and
since no part can subsist and live without the other, no part can also be
called prime or principal. Nevertheless all seeds have life as well as other
Creatures; neither is it a Paradox to say, seeds are buried in life, and yet do
live; for what is not in present act, we may call buried, entombed or inurned
in the power of life; as for example, a man, when his figure is dissolved, his
parts dispersed, and joined with others, we may say his former form or figure
of being such a particular man is buried in its dissolution, and yet lives in
the composition of other parts, or which is all one, he doth no more live the
life of a Man, but the life of some other Creature he is transformed into by
the transforming and figuring motions of Nature; nay, although every particle
of his former figure were joined with several other parts and particles of
Nature, and every particle of the dissolved figure were altered from its former
figure into several other figures, nevertheless each of these Particles would
not only have life, by reason it has motion, but also the former figure would
still remain in all those Particles, though dispersed, and living several sorts
of lives, there being nothing in Nature that can be lost or annihilated, but
Nature is and continues still the same as she was, without the least addition
or diminution of any the least thing or part, and all the varieties and changes
of natural productions proceed only from the various changes of Motion. But to
return to seeds; some Experimental Writers have observed, that the seed of
Corn-violets, which looks almost like a very small Flea, through the Microscope
appears a large body covered with a tough, thick and bright reflecting skin,
very irregularly shrunk and pitted, insomuch that it is almost an impossibility
to find two of them wrinkled alike, and wonder that there is such variety even
in this little seed: But to me it is no wonder, when I consider the variety of
Nature in all her works, not only in the exterior, but also in the interior
parts of every Creature; but rather a wonder to see two Creatures just alike
each other in their exterior figures. And since the exterior figures of
Creatures are not the same with the interior, but in many or most Creatures
quite different, it is impossible that the exterior shape and structure of
bodies can afford us sure and excellent instructions to the knowledge of their
natures and interior motions, as some do conceive; for how shall a feather
inform us of the interior nature of a Bird? we may see the exterior flying
motions of a Bird by the help of its wings, but they cannot give us an
information of the productive and figurative motions of all the interior parts
of a Bird, and what makes it to be such a Creature, no more then the exterior
view of a mans head, arms, legs, c. can give an Information of his interior
Parts, viz. the spleen, liver, lungs, c. Also in Vegetables; although those
sorts of Vegetables which are outwardly burning may be outwardly pointed, and
they that are hot and burning within may be inwardly pointed, yet no Microscope
is able to present to our view those inward points by the inspection of the
exterior figure and shape of those Vegetables: Neither doth it follow, that all
those which are outwardly pointed, must needs be of a hot and burning nature,
except they be also pointed inwardly. Nay although some particular Creatures
should seem to resemble each other in their exterior shapes and figures so much
as not to be distinguished at the first view, yet upon better acquaintance we
shall find a great difference betwixt them; which shows that there is more
variety and difference amongst Natures works, then our weak senses are able to
perceive; nay, more variety in one particular Creature, as for example, in Man,
then all the kind or sort of that Creature, viz. Mankind, is able to know. And
if there be such difference betwixt the exterior figures of Creatures of one
sort, what may there be betwixt their exterior shapes and interior natures?
Nevertheless, although there be such variety, not only in the General kinds of
Creatures, but in every Particular, yet there is but one ground or principle of
all this variety, which is self-motion, or self-moving Matter. And I cannot
enough admire the strange conceits of some men, who perceiving and believing
such a curious variety and various curiosity of Nature in the parts of her
body, and that she is in a perpetual motion, and knows best her own Laws, and
the several proprieties of bodies, and how to adapt and fit them to her
designed ends, nay, that God hath implanted a faculty of knowing in every
Creature, do yet deny, nay, rail against Natures self-moving power, condemning
her as a dull, inanimate, senseless and irrational body, as if a rational man
could conceive, that such a curious variety and contrivance of natural works
should be produced by a senseless and irational motion; or that Nature was full
of immaterial spirits, which did work Natural matter into such various figures;
or that all this variety should be caused by an Immaterial motion, which is
generated out of nothing, and annihilated in a moment; for no man can conceive
or think of motion without body, and if it be above thought, then surely it is
above act. But I rather cease to wonder at those strange and irregular opinions
of Man-kind, since even they themselves do justify and prove the variety of
Nature; for what we call Irregularities in Nature, are really nothing but a
variety of Natures motions; and therefore if all men's conceits, fancies and
opinions were rational, there would not be so much variety as there is.
Concerning those that say, there is no variety in the Elemental Kingdom, as
Air, Water, and Earth; Air and Water having no form at all, unless a
potentiality to be formed into globules, and that the clods and parcels of
Earth are all Irregular. I answer, This is more then Man is able to know: But
by reason their Microscopes cannot make such Hermaphroditical figures of the
Elements, as they can of Minerals, Vegetables and Animals, they conclude there
is no such variety in them; when as yet we do plainly perceive that there are
several sorts of Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and no doubt but these several sorts,
and their particulars, are as variously figured as other Creatures: Truly it is
no consequence to deny the being of that which we do not see or perceive; for
this were to attribute a Universal and Infinite knowledge to our weak and
imperfect senses. And therefore I cannot believe, that the Omnipotent Creator
has written and engraven his most mysterious Designs and Counsels only in one
sort of Creatures; since all parts of Nature, their various productions and
curious contrivances, do make known the Omnipotency of God, not only those of
little, but also those of great sizes; for in all figures, sizes and actions is
apparent the curious variety of Nature, and the Omnipotency of the Cretor, who
has given Nature a self-moving power to produce all these varieties in her
self; which varieties do evidently prove, that Nature doth not work in all
Creatures alike: nor that she has but one Primary or Principal sort of motions
by which she produces all Creatures, as some do conceive the manner of
wreathing and unwreathing, which they have observed in the beard of a Wild-oat,
mentioned before, to be the first foot step of sensation and animate motion,
and the most plain, simple and obvious contrivance Nature has made use of to
produce a motion next to that of rarefaction and condensation by heat and cold;
for this is a very wild and extravagant conceit, to measure the infinite
actions of Nature according to the rule of one particular sort of motions,
which any one that has the perfect use of his sense and reason may easily see,
and therefore I need not to bring many arguments to contradict it.
16. Of the Providence of Nature, and of some Opinions concerning Motion.
COncerning those that speak of the Providence of Nature, the preserving of
Vegetables, to wit, that Nature is very curious and careful in preserving their
seminal principles, and lays them in most convenient, strong and delicate
cabinets for their safer protection from outward danger: I confess, Nature may
make such protections, that one Creature may have some defence from the
injuries and assaults of its fellow-Creatures; but these assaults are nothing
but dissolving motions, as friendly and amiable associations are nothing else
but composing motions; neither can any thing be lost in Nature, for even the
least particle of Nature remains as long as Nature her self. And if there be
any Providence in Nature, then certainly Nature has knowledge and wisdom; and if
she hath knowledge and wisdom, then she has sense and reason; and if sense and
reason, then she has self-motion; and if Nature has self-motion, then none of
her parts can be called inanimate or soul-less: for Motion is the life and soul
of Nature, and of all her parts; and if the body be animate, the parts must be
so too, there being no part of the animate body of Nature that can be dead, or
without motion; whereof an instance might be given of animal bodies, whose
parts have all animal life, as well as the body it self: Wherefore those that
allow a soul, or an informing, actuating and animating form or faculty in
Nature and her parts, and yet call some parts inanimate or soul-less, do
absolutely contradict themselves. And those that say, all the varieties of
Nature are produced, not by self-motion, but that one part moves another, must
at last come to something that moves it self: besides, it is not probable, that
one part moving another, should produce all things so orderly and wisely as
they are in Nature. But those that say Motion is no substance, and consequently
not material, and yet allow a generation and annihilation of Motion, speak, in
my opinion, non-sence: for first, how can self-motion, the Author and Producer
of all things, work all the varieties that are in Nature, and be nothing it
self? Next, how can that which is nothing (for all that is not Material is
nothing in Nature, or no part of Nature) be generated and annihilated? Nay, if
Motion be Material, as surely it is, yet there can neither be a new generation,
nor an annihilation of any particular Motion in Nature; for all that is
material in Nature has its being in and from Infinite Matter, which is from
Eternity, it being impossible that any other new Matter should be created
besides this Infinite Matter out of which all natural things consist, or that
any part of this matter should be lost or annihilated. But perhaps those that
believe new generations and annihilations of particular motions, may say, that
their opinion is not as if those particular Motions were generated out of some
new matter, but that the matter of such motions is the same with the matter of
all other natural Creatures, and that their perishing or annihilation is not an
utter destruction or loss of their being out of Nature, but only of being such
or such a motion, like as some Vegetables and Elements are generated and perish
in one night: Truly, if their meaning be thus, then it were better to name it
an alteration or change of Motion, rather then a new Generation, and a
Perishing or Annihilation. But my intention is not to plead for other men's
opinions, but rather to clear my own, which is, that Motion is material; for
Figure, Motion and Matter are but one thing; and that no particular Motion is
or can be lost in Nature, nor created anew; as I have declared more at large
elsewhere.
17. Des Cartes Opinion of Motion examined.
I Cannot well apprehend what Des Cartes means, by Matter being at first set a
moving by a strong and lively action, and by his extraordinary swift rotation
or whirling motion about the Center; as also by the shavings of his ethereal
subtle Matter which filled up all vacuities and pores, and his ethereal
globules; I would ask whether this kind of motion did still continue; if so,
then not only the rugged and uneven parts, but also the ethereal globules
would become less by this continual rotation, and would make this world a very
weak, dizzy, and tottering world; and if there be any such shaving and
lessening, then according to his principles there must also be some reaction,
or a reacting and resisting motion, and then there would be two opposite
motions which would hinder each other. But I suppose he conceived, that Nature,
or the God of Nature, did produce the world after a Mechanical way, and
according as we see Turners, and such kind of Artificers work; which if so,
then the Art of Turning is the prime and fundamental of all other Mechanical
Arts, and ought to have place before the rest, and a Turner ought to be the
prime and chief of all Mechanics, and highly esteemed; but alas! that sort of
people is least regarded; and though by their turning Art they make many dusty
shavings, yet they get but little profit by them; for all they get is by their
several wooden figures they make, as Spoons, Ladles, Cups, Bowls, Trenchers,
and the like, and not by their shavings. Wherefore as all other Mechanics do
not derive their Arts from Turners, so neither is it probable, that this world
and all natural Creatures are produced by a whirling Motion, or a spherical
rotation, as if some spirits were playing at Bowls or Football; for as I have
often mentioned, Nature has infinite ways of Motions, whereof none is prime or
principal, but self-motion, which is the producer of all the varieties Nature
has within her self. Next, as for his Opinion of transferring and imparting
Motion to other bodies, and that that body which imparts Motion to another
body, loses as much as it gives, I have answered in my Philosophical Letters;
to wit, that it is most improbable, by reason Motion being material and
inseparable from Matter, cannot be imparted without Matter; and if not, then
the body that receives Motion would increase in bulk, and the other that loses
Motion would decrease, by reason of the addition and diminution of the parts of
Matter, which must of necessity increase and lessen the bulk of the body, the
contrary whereof is sufficiently known.
18. Of the blackness of a Charcoal, and of Light.
I Cannot in reason give my consent to those Dioptrical Writers, who conceive
that the blackness of a Charcoal proceeds from the Porousness of its parts, and
the absence of light, viz. that light, not being reflected in the Pores of a
Charcoal, doth make it obscure, and consequently appear black; for the opinion
which holds that all Colours are caused by the various reflection of Light, has
but a weak and uncertain Ground, by reason the refraction or reflection of
light is so inconstant, as it varies and alters continually; and there being so
many reflexions and positions of Light, if they were the true cause of Colours,
no Colour would appear constantly the same, but change variously, according to
the various reflection of Light; whereas, on the contrary, we see that natural
and inherent Colours continue always the same, let the position and reflection
of Light be as it will; besides, there being different coloured Creatures, if
all had the same position and reflection of light, they would not appear of
divers, but all of one colour, the contrary whereof is proved by experience. I
will not say, but the refraction and various position of light may vary and
alter a natural and inherent colour exteriously so, as to cause, for example, a
natural blew to appear green, or a natural green to appear red, c. but those
figures which light makes, being but superficially and loosely spread upon
other natural and substantial figures, are so uncertain, inconstant and
momentary, that they do change according as the reflection and position of light
alters; and therefore they cannot cause or produce any natural or inherent
colours, for these are not superficial, but fixed, and remain constantly the
same. And as for blackness, that it should be caused by the absence of light, I
think it to be no more probable, then that light is the cause of our sight; for
if the blackness of a Charcoal did proceed from the absence of light in its
pores, then a black Horse would have more or deeper pores then a white one, or
a sorrel, or any other coloured Horse; also a black Moor would have larger
Pores then a man of a white complexion; and black Satin, or any black Stuff,
would have deeper pores then white Stuff: But if a fair white Lady should
bruise her arm, so as it did appear black, can any one believe that light would
be more absent from that bruised part then from any other part of her arm that
is white, or that light should reflect otherwise upon that bruised part, then
on any other? Also can any body believe, that the reflection of light on a
decayed Ladies face, should be the cause that her complexion is altered from
what it was when she was young, and appeared beautiful and fair? Certainly
Light is no more the cause of her Complexion then of her Wrinkles, or else she
would never complain of Age, but of Light. But to prove further, that the
entering of light into the pores of exterior bodies, can neither make
perception nor colours; if this were so, then the entering of light into the
pores of the Eye, would make it perceive all things of as many colours as a
Rain-bow hath: besides, if several Eyes should have several shaped Pores, none
would agree in the perception of the colour of an exterior object, or else it
would so dazzle the sight, as no object would be truly perceived in its natural
colour; for it would breed a confusion between those reflexions of light that
are made in the pores of the eye, and those that are made in the pores of the
object, as being not probable they would agree, since all pores are not just
alike, or of the same bigness; so as what with Air, Light, Particles, and Pores
jumbled together, and thrust or crowded into so small a compass, it would make
such a confusion and Chaos of colours, as I may call it, that no sight would be
able to discern them; wherefore it is no more probable that the perception of
sight is caused by the entering of light into the pores of the Eye, then that
the perception of smoke is caused by its entrance into the Eye: And I wonder
rational men do believe, or at least conceive Natures actions to be so confused
and disordered, when as yet sense and reason may perceive that Nature works
both easily and orderly, and therefore I rather believe, that as all other
Creatures, so also light is patterned out by the corporeal figurative and
perceptive motions of the optic sense, and not that its perception is made by
its'entrance into the eye, or by pressure and reaction, or by confused
mixtures, by reason the way of Patterning is an easy alteration of parts, when
as all others are forced and constrained, nay, unsettled, inconstant and
uncertain; for how should the fluid particles of air and light be able to
produce a constant and settled effect, being so changeable themselves, what
instances soever of Geometrical figures be drawn hither to evince it? if Man
knew Natures Geometry, he might perhaps do something, but his artificial
figures will never find out the architecture of Nature, which is beyond his
perception or capacity. But some may object, That neither colour, nor any other
object can be seen or perceived without light, and therefore light must needs
be the cause of colours, as well as of our optic perception. To which I
answer, Although we cannot regularly see any other bodies without light, by
reason darkness doth involve them, yet we perceive darkness and night without
the help of light. They will say, We perceive darkness only by the absence of
light. I answer, If all the Perception of the optic sense did come from light,
then the Perception of night or darkness would be no perception at all, which
is a Paradox, and contrary to common experience, nay, to sense and reason, for
black requires as much Perception as white, and so doth darkness and night.
Neither could we say, it is dark, or it is night, if we did not perceive it to
be so, or had no perception at all of it: The truth is, we perceive as much
darkness as we do light, and as much black as we do white; for although
darkness doth not present to our view other objects, so as light doth, but
conceals them, yet this doth not infer that darkness is not perceived; for
darkness must needs do so, by reason it is opposite to light, and its corporeal
figurative motions are quite contrary to the motions of light, and therefore it
must also of necessity have contrary effects; wherefore the error of those that
will not allow darkness to be a corporeal figurative motion, as well as light,
but only a privation or absence of light, cannot make it nothing; but it is on
the contrary well known, that darkness has a being as well as light has, and
that it is something, and not nothing, by reason we do perceive it; but he that
perceives, must needs perceive something, for no perception can be of nothing:
besides, I have declared elsewhere, that we do see in dreams, and that mad men
see objects in the dark, without the help of light: which proves, it is not the
presence or entering of light into the eye, that causes our seeing, nor the
absence of light, which takes away our optic Perception, but light only doth
present exterior objects to our view, so as we may the better perceive them.
Neither is a colour lost or lessened in the dark, but it is only concealed
from the ordinary perception of humane sight; for truly, if colours should not
be colours in the dark, then it might as rationally be said, that a man's flesh
and blood is not flesh and blood in the dark, when it is not seen by a humane
eye: I will not say, that the smallness and fineness of parts may not make
colours appear more glorious; for colours are like artificial Paintings, the
gentler and finer their draughts and lines are, the smoother and glossier
appear their works; but smallness and fineness is not the true cause of colours,
that is, it doth not make colours to be colours, although it makes colours
fine. And thus black is not black through the absence of Light, no more then
white can be white by the presence of light; but blackness is one sort of
colour, whiteness another, redness another, and so of the rest: Whereof some
are superficial and changeable, to wit, such as are made by the reflection of
light, others fixed and inherent, viz. such as are in several sorts of Minerals,
Vegetables and Animals; and others again are produced by Art, as by Dying and
Painting; which Artists know best how to order by their several mixtures.
19. Of the Pores of a Charcoal, and of Emptiness.
ALthough I cannot believe, that the absence of Light in the Pores of a
Charcoal is the cause of its blackness; yet I do not question the truth of its
Pores: for that all, or most Creatures have Pores, I have declared before;
which Pores are nothing else but passages to receive and discharge some parts
of matter; and therefore the opinion of those that believe an entering of some
Particles of exterior bodies through the Pores of animal Creatures, and an
intermixing with their interior parts; as that, for example, in the bathing in
Mineral Waters, the liquid and warm vehicles of the Mineral Particles, do by
degrees insinuate themselves into the pores of the skin, and intermix with the
inner parts of the body, is very rational; for this is a convenient way of
conveighing exteterior parts into the body, and may be effectual either to good
or bad; and although the pores be very small, yet they are numerous, so that
the number of the pores supplies the want of their largeness. But yet although
Pores are passages for other bodies to issue or enter, nevertheless they are
not empty, there being no such thing as an emptiness in Nature; for surely God,
the fulness and Perfection of all things, would not suffer any Vacuum in
Nature, which is a Pure Nothing; Vacuum implies a want and imperfection of
something, but all that God made by his All-powerful Command, was good and
perfect; Wherefore, although Charcoals and other bodies have Pores, yet they
are filled with some subtle Matter not subject to our sensitive perception,
and are not empty, but only called so, by reason they are not filled up with
some solid and gross substance perceptible by our senses. But some may say, if
there be no emptiness in Nature, but all fulness of body, or bodily parts, then
the spiritual or divine soul in Man, which inhabits his body, would not have
room to reside in it. I answer, The Spiritual or Divine Soul in Man is not
Natural, but Supernatural, and has also a Supernatural way of residing in man's
body; for Place belongs only to bodies, and a Spirit being bodiless, has no
need of a bodily place. But then they will say, That I make Spirit and Vacuum
all one thing, by reason I describe a Spirit to be a Natural Nothing, and the
same I say of Vacuum; and hence it will follow, that particular Spirits are
particular Emptinesses, and an Infinite Spirit an Infinite Vacuum. My answer
is, That although a Spirit is a Natural nothing, yet it is a Supernatural
something; but a Vacnum is a Pure nothing, both Naturally and Supernaturally;
and God forbid I should be so irreligious, as to compare Spirits, and
consequently God, who is an Infinite Spirit, to a Vacuum; for God is
All-fulfilling, and an Infinite Fulness and Perfection, though not a Corporeal
or Material, yet a Supernatural, Spiritual, and Incomprehensible fulness; when
as Vacuum, although it is a corporeal word, yet in effect or reality is
nothing, and expresses a want or imperfection, which cannot be said of any
supernatural Creature, much less of God.
20. Of Colours.
ALthough the sensitive perception doth pattern out the exterior figure of
Colours, as easily as of any other object, yet all perceptions of Colours are
not made by Patterning; for as there are many perceptions which take no
patterns from outward objects, so there are also perceptions of Colours which
never were presented to our sensitive organs: Neither is any perception made by
exterior objects, but by interior corporeal figurative motions; for the object
doth not print or act any way upon the eye, but it is the sensitive motions in
the eye which pattern out the figure of the object: and it is to be observed,
that as the parts of some bodies do consist of several different figures, which
the learned call Heterogeneous, one figure being included within another; and
some again, their parts are but of one kind of figure, which they call
Homogeneous bodies, as for example, Water: so it may be with Colours; for some,
their parts may be quite thorough of one colour, and others again, may be of
several colours; and indeed, most Creatures, as they have different parts, so
those different parts have also different colours; and as those parts do alter,
so do their colours: For example, a Man that is in good health, looks of a
sanguine complexion, but being troubled with the Yellow or black Jaundies, his
complexion is of the colour of the humour; either black, or yellow; yet it doth
not proceed always from the over-flowing of the humour towards the exterior
parts; for many times, when the humour is obstructed, it will cause the same
effect; but then the corporeal motions in the extreme parts alter by way of
Imitation or Metamorphosing, as from a sanguine colour into the colour of the
predominant humour: Wherefore it is no more wonder to see colours change in the
tempering of Steel (as some are pleased to alledg this experiment) then to see
Steel change and rechange its temper from being hard to soft, from tough to
brittle, c. which changes prove, that colours are material as well as steel, so
that the alteration of the corporeal parts, is the alteration of the corporeal
figures of colours. They also prove, that Light is not essential to colours;
for although some colours are made by several Reflexions, Refractions and
Positions of Light, yet Light is not the true and natural cause of all colours;
but those colours that are made by light, are most inconstant, momentany and
alterable, by reason light and its effects are very changeable: Neither are
colours made by a bare motion, for there is no such thing as a bare or
immaterial Motion in Nature; but both Light and Colours are made by the
corporeal figurative motions of Nature; and according to the various changes of
those Motions, there are also various and different Lights and Colours; and the
perception of light and Colours is made and dissolved by the sensitive
figurative motions in the optic sensorium, without the exchange of exterior
objects; but as the slackest, loosest or rarest parts are of least solid or
composed corporeal figures, so are they most apt to change and rechange upon
the least disorder, as may well be observed in colours raised by Passions, as
fear, anger, or the like, which will change not only the complexion and
countenance, but the very features will have some alteration for a short time,
and many times the whole body will be so altered, as not to be rightly composed
again for a good while; nay, often there follows a total dissolution of the
whole figure, which we call death. And at all this we need not wonder, if we do
but consider that Nature is full of sense and reason, that is, of sensitive and
rational perception, which is the cause that oftentimes the disturbance of one
part causes all other parts of a composed figure to take an alarm; for, as we
may observe, it is so in all other composed bodies, even in those composed by
Art; as for example, in the Politic body of a Commonwealth, one Traitor is apt
to cause all the Kingdom to take arms; and although every member knows not
particularly of the Traitor, and of the circumstances of his crime, yet every
member, if regular, knows its particular duty, which causes a general agreement
to assist each other; and as it is with a Common-wealth, so it is also with an
animal body; for if there be factions amongst the parts of an animal body, then
straight there arises a Civil War. Wherefore to return to Colours; a sudden
change of Colours may cause no wonder, by reason there is oftentimes in Nature
a sudden change of parts, that is, an alteration of figures in the same parts:
Neither is it more to be admired, that one colour should be within another,
then one figurative part is within another; for colours are figurative parts;
and as there are several Creatures, so there are also several Colours; for the
Colour of a Creature is as well corporeal as the Creature it self; and (to
express my self as clearly as I can) Colour is as much a body as Place and
Magnitude, which are but one thing with body: wherefore when the body, or any
corporeal part varies, whether solid or rare; Place, Magnitude, Colour, and the
like, must of necessity change or vary also; which change is no annihilation or
perishing, for as no particle of Matter can be lost in Nature, nor no
particular motion, so neither can Colour; and therefore the opinion of those,
who say, That when Flax or Silk is divided into very small threads, or fine
parts, those parts lose their colours, and being twisted, regain their colours,
seems not conformable to Truth; for the division of their parts doth not
destroy their colours, nor the composing of those parts regain them; but they
being divided into such small and fine parts, it makes their colours, which are
the finest of their exterior parts, not to be subject to our optic perception;
for what is very small or rare, is not subject to the humane optic sense;
wherefore there are these following conditions required to the optic
perception of an exterior object: First, The object must not be too subtle,
rare, or little, but of a certain degree of magnitude; Next, It must not be too
far distant, or without the reach of our sight; then the medium must not be
obstructed, so as to hinder our perception; And lastly, our optic sensorium
must be perfect, and the sensitive motions regular; of which conditions, if any
be wanting, there is either no perception at all, or it is an imperfect
perception; for the perception of seeing an exterior object, is nothing else
but a patterning out of the figure of that same object by the sensitive
figurative and perceptive motions; but there are infinite parts that are beyond
our humane perception, and it would be but a folly for us to deny that which we
cannot see or perceive; and if the perceptive motions be not regular in our
optic sense, we may see different colours in one object; nay, the corporeal
figurative motions in the eye may make several figurative colours, even without
the patterns of outward objects; and as there are several colours, so there are
also several corporeal figurative motions that make several colours in several
parts; and the more solid the parts are, the more fixed are their inherent
natural colours: But superficial colours are more various, though not so
various as they would be, if made by dusty Atoms, flying about as Flies in
Sun-shine; for if this opinion were true, all colours, and other Creatures
would be composed or made by chance, rather then by reason, and chance being so
ignorantly inconstant, not any two parts would be of the like colour, nor any
kind or species would be preserved; but Wise Nature, although she be full of
variety, yet she is also full of reason, which is knowledge; for there is no
part of Nature that has not sense and reason, which is life and knowledge; and
if all the infinite parts have life and knowledge, Infinite Nature cannot be a
fool or insensible: But mistake me not, for I do not mean, that her parts in
particular are infinitely knowing, but I say Infinite Nature hath an Infinite
knowledge; and by reason Nature is material, she is divideable as well as
composeable, which is the cause that there is an obscurity in her Parts, in
particular, but not in general, that is, in Nature her self; nay, if there were
not an obscurity in the Particulars, men would not endeavour to prove inherent
and natural figures by superficial Phaenomena's. But as for Colour, some do
mention the example of a blind man, who could discover colours by touch; and
truly I cannot account it a wonder, because colours are corporeal figurative
motions, and touch being a general sense, may well perceive by experience
(which is gained by practice) some Notions of other sensitive perceptions; as
for example, a blind man may know by relation the several touches of Water,
Milk, Broth, Jelly, Vinegar, Vitriol, c. as well as what is hot, cold, rare,
dense, hard, soft, or the like; and if he have but his touch, hearing, speaking
and smelling, perfectly, he may express the several knowledges of his several
senses by one particular sense, or he may express one senses knowledge by
another; but if the senses be imperfect, he cannot have a true knowledge of any
object. The same may be said of Colours; for several Colours being made by
several corporeal figurative motions, may well be perceived by a general sense,
which is Touch: I will not say, that touch is the principle of all sensitive
knowledge, for then I should be of the opinion of those Experimental
Philosophers, which will have one principal motion or figure to be the cause of
all Natural things; but I only say, animal touch may have some Notion of the
other animal senses by the help of rational perception: all which proves, that
every part is sensible, and every sense knowing, not only in particular, but
that one sense may have some general notion or knowledge of the rest; for there
are particular and general perceptions in sensitive and rational matter, which
is the cause both of the variety and order of Nature's Works; and therefore it
is not necessary, that a black figure must be rough, and a white figure smooth:
Neither are white and black the Ground-figures of Colours, as some do conceive,
or as others do imagine, blew and yellow; for no particular figure can be a
principle, but they are all but effects; and I think it is as great an error to
believe Effects for Principles, as to judge of the Interior Natures and Motions
of Creatures by their Exterior Phenomenon or appearances, which I observe in
most of our modern Authors, whereof some are for Incorporeal Motions, others
for Prime and Principal Figures, others for First Matter, others for the
figures of dusty and insensible Atoms, that move by chance: when as neither
Atoms, Corpuscles or Particles, nor Pores, Light, or the like, can be the
cause of fixed and natural colours; for if it were so, then there would be no
stayed or solid colour, insomuch, as a Horse, or any other Creature, would be
of more various colours then a Rain-bow; but that several colours are of
several figures, was always, and is still my opinion, and that the change of
colours proceeds from the alteration of their figures, as I have more at large
declared in my other Philosophical Works: Indeed Art can no more force certain
Atoms or Particles to meet and join to the making of such a figure as Art
would have, then it can make by a bare command Insensible Atoms to join into a
Uniform World. I do not say this, as if there could not be Artificial Colours,
or any Artificial Effects in Nature; but my meaning only is, that although Art
can put several parts together, or divide and disjoin them, yet it cannot make
those parts move or work so as to alter their proper figures or interior
natures, or to be the cause of changing and altering their own or other parts,
any otherwise then they are by their Natures. Neither do I say, that no Colours
are made by Light, but I say only, that fixed colours are not made by Light;
and as for the opinion, that white bodies reflect the Light outward, and black
bodies inward, as some Authors do imagine; I answer, 'Tis probable, some bodies
may do so, but all white and black Colours are not made by such reflexions; the
truth is, some conceive all Colours to be made by one sort of Motion, like as
some do believe that all sensation is made by pressure and reaction, and all
heat by parts tending outward, and all cold by parts tending inward; when as
there are not only several kinds of heat and cold, as Animal, Vegetable,
Mineral and Elemental heat and cold, but several sorts in each kind, and
different particulars in each sort; for there is a moist heat, a dry heat, a
burning, a dissolving, a composing, a dilating, a contracting heat, and many
more: The like for colds; all which several kinds, sorts and particulars, are
made by the several changes of the corporeal figurative Motions of Nature, and
not by Pressure and Reaction, or by tending inward and outward. And as there is
so great a variety and difference amongst natural Creatures, both in their
Perceptions and interior natures, so there are also varieties of their colours,
the natural colours of men being different from the natural colours of Beasts,
Birds, Fish, Worms, Flies, c. Concerning their interior Natures, I'll alledg
but few examples; although a Peacock, Parrot, Pie, or the like, are gay Birds,
yet there is difference in their Gaiety: Again; although all men have flesh and
blood, and are all of one particular kind, yet their interior natures and
dispositions are so different, as seldom any two men are of the same
complexion; and as there is difference in their complexions, so in the exterior
shapes and features of their exterior parts, in so much as it is a wonder to
see two men just alike; nay, as there is difference in the corporeal parts of
their bodies, so in the corporeal parts of their minds, according to the old
Proverb, So many Men, so many Minds: For there are different Understandings,
Fancies, Conceptions, Imaginations, Judgments, Wits, Memories, Affections,
Passions, and the like. Again: as in some Creatures there is difference both in
their exterior features and interior natures, so in others there is found a
resemblance only in their exterior, and a difference in their interior parts;
and in others again, a resemblance in their interior, and a difference in their
exterior parts; as for example, black Ebony, and black Marble, are both of
different natures, one being Wood, and the other Stone, and yet they resemble
each other in their exterior colour and parts; also, white, black, and gray
Marble, are all of one interior Nature, and yet to differ in their exterior
colour and parts: The same may be said of Chalk and Milk, which are both white,
and yet of several natures; as also of a Turquois, and the Sky, which both
appear of one colour, and yet their natures are different: besides, there are
so many stones of different colours, nay, stones of one sort, as for example,
Diamonds, which appear of divers colours, and yet are all of the same Nature;
also Man's flesh, and the flesh of some other animals, doth so much resemble,
as it can hardly be distinguished, and yet there is great difference betwixt
Man and Beasts: Nay, not only particular Creatures, but parts of one and the
same Creature are different; as for example, every part of mans body has a
several touch, and every bit of meat we eat has a several taste, witness the
several parts, as legs, wings, breast, head, c. of some Fowl; as also the
several parts of Fish, and other Creatures. All which proves the Infinite
variety in Nature, and that Nature is a perpetually self-moving body, dividing,
composing, changing, forming and transforming her parts by self-corporeal
figurative motions; and as she has infinite corporeal figurative motions, which
are her parts, so she has an infinite wisdom to order and govern her infinite
parts; for she has Infinite sense and reason, which is the cause that no part
of hers is ignorant, but has some knowledge or other, and this Infinite variety
of knowledge makes a general Infinite wisdom in Nature. And thus I have declared
how Colours are made by the figurative corporeal motions, and that they are as
various and different as all other Creatures, and when they appear either more
or less, it is by the variation of their parts. But as for the experiment of
Snow, which some do alledg, that in a darkened room, it is not perceived to have
any other light then what it receives, doth not prove that the whiteness of
Snow is not an inherent and natural colour, because it doth not reflect light,
or because our eye doth not see it, no more then we can justly say, that blood
is not blood, or flesh is not flesh in the dark, if our eye do not perceive it,
or that the interior parts of Nature are colourless, because the exterior light
makes no reflection upon them.. Truly, in my judgment, those opinions, that no
parts have colour, but those which the light reflects on, are neither probable
to sense nor reason; for how can we conceive any corporeal part without a
colour? In my opinion, it is as impossible to imagine a body without colour, as
it is impossible for the mind to conceive a natural immaterial substance; and
if so pure a body as the mind cannot be colourless, much less are grosser
bodies. But put the case all bodies that are not subject to exterior light were
black as night, yet they would be of a colour, for black is as much a colour as
green, or blew, or yellow, or the like; but if all the interior parts of Nature
be black, then, in my opinion, Nature is a very sad and melancholy Lady; and
those which are of such an opinion, surely their minds are more dark then the
interior parts of Nature; I will not hope that clouds of dusty Atoms have
obscured them. But if not any Creature can have imagination without figure and
colour, much less can the optic sensitive parts; for the exterior sensitive
parts are more gross then the rational, and therefore they cannot be without
colour, no more then without figure: and although the exterior parts of Animals
are subject to our touch, yet the countenances of those several exterior parts
are no more perceptible by our touch, then several colours are: By
Countenances, I mean the several exterior postures, motions, or appearances of
each part; for as there is difference betwixt a face, and a countenance; (for a
face remains constantly the same, when as the countenance of a face may and
doth change every moment; as for example, there are smiling, frowning, joyful,
sad, angry countenances, c.) so there is also a difference between the exterior
figure or shape of a Creature, and the several and various motions, appearances
or postures of the exterior parts of that Creatures exterior figure, whereof
the former may be compared to a Face, and the later to a Countenance. But
leaving this nice distinction; If any one should ask me, Whether a
Barbary-horse, or a Jennet, or a Turkish, or an English-horse, can be known and
distinguished in the dark? I answer: They may be distinguished as much as the
blind man (whereof mention hath been made before) may discern colours, nay,
more; for the figure of a gross exterior shape of a body may sooner be
perceived, then the more fine and pure countenance of Colours. To shut up this
my discourse of Colours, I will briefly repeat what I have said before, viz.
that there are natural and inherent colours which are fixed and constant, and
superficial colours, which are changeable and inconstant, as also Artificial
colours made by Painters and Dyers, and that it is impossible that any constant
colour should be made by inconstant Atoms and various lights. 'Tis true, there
are streams of dust or dusty Atoms, which seem to move variously, upon which
the Sun or light makes several reflections and refractions; but yet I do not
see, nor can I believe, that those dusty particles and light are the cause of
fixed and inherent colours; and therefore if Experimental Philosophers have no
firmer grounds and principles then their Colours have, and if their opinions be
as changeable as inconstant Atoms, and variable Lights, then their experiments
will be of no great benefit and use to the world. Neither will Artificial
Characters and Geometrical Figures be able to make their opinions and
experiments more probable; for they appear to me like Dr. Dee's numbers, who
was directed by I know not what spirits, which Kelley saw in his holy stone,
which neither of them did understand; much less will Dioptrical glasses give
any true Information of them, but they rather delude the sight; for Art is not
only intricate and obscure, but a false informer, and rather blinds then
informs any particular Creature of the Truth of Nature: but my reason perceives
that Nature loves sometimes to act or work blind-fold in the actions of Art;
for although they be natural, yet they are but Natures blind, at least her
winking or juggling actions, causing some parts or Creatures to deceive others,
or else they are her politic actions by which she deceives her Creatures
expectations, and by that means keeps them from knowing and understanding her
subtle and wise Government.
21. Whether an Idea have a Colour, and of the Idea of a Spirit.
I Have declared in my former discourse, that there is no Colour without body,
nor a body without colour, for we cannot think of a body without we think of
colour too. To which some may object, That if colour be as proper to a body as
matter, and if the mind be corporeal, then the mind is also coloured. I answer,
The Mind, in my opinion, has as much colour as other parts of Nature. But then
perhaps they will ask me, what colour the Mind is of? My answer is, That the
Mind, which is the rational part of Nature, is no more subject to one colour,
then the Infinite parts of Nature are subject to one corporeal figurative
motion; for you can no more confine the corporeal mind to a particular
complexion, then you can confine Infinite matter to one particular colour, or
all colours to one particular figure. Again, they may ask, Whether an Idea have
a colour? and if so, whether the Idea of God be coloured? To which I answer, If
the Ideas be of corporeal finite figures, they have colours according to the
nature, or property, or figure of the original; but as for the Idea of God, it
is impossible to have a corporeal Idea of an infinite incorporeal Being; for
though the finite parts of Nature may have a perception or knowledge of the
existence of God, yet they cannot possibly pattern or figure him, he being a
Supernatural, Immaterial, and Infinite Being: But put the case (although it is
very improbable, nay, against sense and reason) there were natural immaterial
Idea's, if those Idea's were finite, and not infinite, yet they could not
possibly express an infinite, which is without limitation, by a finite figure
which hath a Circumference. Some may say, An Immaterial Idea hath no
Circumference. But then I answer, It is not a finite Idea, and it is impossible
for an Idea to be Infinite: for I take an Idea to be the picture of some
object, and there can be no picture without a perfect form; neither can I
conceive how an immaterial can have a form, not having a body; wherefore it is
more impossible for Nature to make a picture of the Infinite God, then for Man,
which is but a part of Nature, to make a picture of infinite Nature; for Nature
being material, has also a figure and matter, they being all one, so that none
can be without the other, no more then Nature can be divided from her self.
Thus it is impossible for Man to make a figure, or picture of that which is not
a part of Nature; for pictures are as much parts of Nature, as any other parts,
nay, were they monstrous, as we call them; for Nature being material, is also
figurative, and being a self-moving matter or substance, is divideable, and
composeable; and as she hath infinite corporeal figurative motions, and
infinite parts, so she hath infinite figures, of which some are pictures,
others originals; and if any one particular Creature could picture out those
infinite figures, he would picture out Nature; but Nature being Infinite,
cannot be pictured or patterned by any finite and particular Creature, although
she is material; nevertherless she may be patterned in parts: And as for God,
He being individeable and immaterial, can neither be patterned in part, nor in
whole, by any part of Nature which is material, nay, not by infinite Nature her
self: Wherefore the notions of God can be no otherwise but of his existence, to
wit, that we know there is something above Nature, who is the Author and God of
Nature; for though Nature hath an infinite natural knowledge of the Infinite
God, yet being divideable as well as composeable, her parts cannot have such an
infinite knowledge or perception; and being composeable as much as divideable,
no part can be so ignorant of God, as not to know there is a God. Thus Nature
hath both an infinite and finite perceptions; infinite in the whole, as I may
say for better expressions sake, and finite in parts. But mistake me not, I do
not mean, that either the infinite perception of Nature, or the finite
perceptions of natural parts and Creatures, are any otherwise of that
supernatural and divine being then natural; but yet they are the most purest
parts, being of the rational part of Nature, moving in a most elevating and
subtle manner, as making no exact figure or form, because God hath neither
form nor figure; but that subtle matter or corporeal perceptive motion
patterns out only an over-ruling power, which power all the parts of Nature
are sensible of, and yet know not what it is; like as the perception of Sight
sees the ebbing and flowing of the Sea, or the motion of the Sun, yet knows
not their cause; and the perception of Hearing hears Thunder, yet knows not how
it is made; and if there be such ignorance of the corporeal parts of Nature,
what of God? But to conclude, my opinion is, That as the sensitive perception
knows some of the other parts of Nature by their effects, so the rational
perceives some effects of the Omnipotent power of God; which effects are
perceptible by finite Creatures, but not his Infinite Nature, nor Essence, nor
the cause of his Infiniteness and Omnipotency. Thus although Gods Power may be
perceived by Natures parts, yet what God is, cannot be known by any part: and
Nature being composeable, there is a general acknowledgment of God in all her
parts; but being also divideable, it is the cause there are particular
Religions, and opinions of God, and of his divine Worship and Adoration.
22. Of Wood Petrified.
I Cannot admire, as some do, that Wood doth turn into stone, by reason I
observe, that Slime, Clay, Dirt, nay Water, may and doth often the same, which
is further off from the nature of Stone then Wood is, as being less dense, and
its interior figurative motions being dilating: but yet this doth not prove
that all other Creatures may as easily be metamorphosed into stone as they; for
the parts of water are composed but of one sort of figure, and are all of the
same nature; and so is wood, clay, shells, c. whose parts are but of one
figure, at least not of so many different figures as the parts of Animals, or
other Creatures; for as Animals have different parts, so these parts are of
different figures, not only exteriously, but intericusly; as for example, in
some or most Animals there are Bones, Gristles, Nerves, Sinews, Muscles, Flesh,
Blood, Brains, Marrow, Choler, Phlegm, and the like; besides, there are
several sorts of flesh, witness their interior and exterior parts, as the
Heart, Lungs, Liver, Spleen, Guts, and the like; as also the Head, Breast,
Arms, Body, Legs, and the like: all which would puzzle and withstand the power
of Ovid's Metamophosing of Gods and Goddesses. Wherefore it is but a weak
argument to conclude, because some Creatures or parts can change out of one
figure into another without a dissolution of their composed parts, therefore
all Creatures can do the like; for if all Creatures could or should be
metamorphosed into one sort of figure, then this whole World would perhaps come
to be one Stone, which would be a hard World: But this Opinion, I suppose,
proceeds from Chemistry; for since the last Art of Chimystry (as I have heard)
is the Production of glass, it makes perhaps Chemists believe, that at the last
day, when this Word shall be dissolved with Fire, the Fire will calcine or turn
it into Glass: A brittle World indeed! but whether it will be transparent, or
no, I know not, for it will be very thick.
23. Of the Nature of Water.
THe Ascending of Water in Pipes, Pumps, and the like Engines, is commonly
alleged as an argument to prove there is no Vacuum: But, in my opinion,
Water, or the like things that are moist, liquid and wet, their interior
corporeal and natural motion is flowing, as being of a dilating figure; and
when other parts or Creatures suppress those liquors, so that they cannot rise,
they will dilate; but when solid and heavy bodies are put into them as Stones,
Metals, c. which do sink, then they will rise above them, as being their nature
to over-flow any other body, if they can have the better of it, or get passage:
For concerning the floating of some bodies, the reason is not so much their
levity or porousness, but both their exterior shape, and the waters restlessness
or activity, the several parts of water endeavouring to drive those floating
bodies from them; like as when several men playing at Ball, or Shittle-cock, or
the like, endeavour to beat those things from and to each other; or like as one
should blow up a feather into the Air, which makes it not only keep up in the
air, but to wave about: The like doth water with floating bodies; and the
lighter the floating parts are, the more power have the liquid parts to force
and thrust them about. And this is also the reason why two floating bodies of
one Nature endeavour to meet and join, because by joining they receive more
strength to resist the force of the watery parts: The same may be said when as
floating bodies stick or join to the sides of Vessels; but many times the watery
parts will not suffer them to be at rest or quiet, but drive them from their
strong holds or defences. Concerning the suppression of water, and of some
floating bodies in water by air or light, as that air and light should suppress
water, and bodies floating upon it (as some do conceive) I see no reason to
believe it; but the contrary rather appears by the levity of air, which is so
much lighter, and therefore of less force then either the floating bodies, or
the water on which they float. Some again are of opinion, That Water is a more
dense body then Ice, and prove it by the Refractions of light, because Water
doth more refract the rays of light then Ice doth: but whatsoever their
experiments be, yet my reason can hardly believe it; for although Ice may be
more transparent then water, yet it may be more dense then water: for Glass is
more transparent then water, and yet more dense then water; and some bodies
will not be trasparent if they be thick, that is, if they have a great number
of parts upon parts, when as they will be transparent if they be thin, that is,
if they have few thin parts upon each other; so that transparent bodies may be
darkened, and those that are not transparent of themselves, may be made so by
the thickness or thinness of parts, that one may see or not see through them;
and thus a thin body of Water, may be more transparent then a thick body of
Ice, and a thin body of Ice may be more transparent then a thick body of water.
As for the expansion of Water, it doth not prove, that Water is more dense then
Ice, but on the contrary, it rather proves, that it is more rare; for that body
whose parts are close and united, is more dense then that whose parts are fluid
and dilating. Neither doth Expansion alter the interior nature of a body, any
more then contraction, but it alters only the exterior posture; as for
example, when a man puts his body into several postures, it doth not alter him
from being a man, to some other Creature, for the stretching of his legs,
spreading out of his arms, puffing up his cheeks, c. changes his nature, or
natural figure, no more then when he contracts his limbs close together,
crumpling up his body, or folding his arms, c. but his posture is only
changed; the like for the expansions and contractions of other sorts of
Creatures. Nor can I readily give my assent to their opinion, that some liquors
are more dense then others; I mean such as are perfectly moist, liquid and wet,
as water is; for there be numerous sorts of liquors, which are not thoroughly
wet as water; and although their Circular lines may be different, as some
edged, some pointed, some twisted, and the like; yet they do not differ so
much, but that their inherent figures are all of Circular lines; for the
interior nature or figure of water, and so of all other moist and wet liquors,
is Circular: and it is observable, that as Art may be an occasion of
diminishing those points or edges of the Circular lines of some liquors, or of
untwisting them; so it may also be an occasion that some liquid and wet bodies
may become so pointed, edged, twisted, c. as may occasion those circles to move
or turn into such or such exterior figures, not only into triangular, square,
round, and several other forms or figures, as appears in Ice, Hail, Frost, and
flakes of Snow, but into such figures as they name Spirits; which several sorts
of figures belonging all to one sort of Creatures, may cause several
refractions, reflections and inflections of the rays of light. Wherefore
Mechanics may very much be mistaken concerning the truth of the interior
Nature of bodies, or natural Creatures, by judging them only according to
their exterior figures.
24. Of Salt, and of Sea- or Salt-water.
THe reason, why Salt is made, or extracted out of Salt-water, is, that the
Circular lines of Sea- or Salt-water, are pointed exteriously, but not
interiously, which is the cause that the saltish parts may be easily divided
from those watery lines; and it is to be observed, that those points when joined
to the watery circles, are rare, but being once separated, either by Art, or a
more natural way, by some sorts of dividing motions, they become more dense;
yet not so dense, but they may melt or return again into the first figure,
which is a rare figure, and so become liquid salt, and afterwards they may be
densed or contracted again; for there is no other difference between dry and
liquid salt, but what is made by the rarity or density of those sorts of
points. As for that sort of Salt, which is named volatile, it is when some of
those rare points become more dilated or rarefied, then when they are joined to
the watery circle-lines; I say some, not all; for as some points do condense or
contract into fixed salt, so others do dilate or arise into volatile salt. But
perchance some will say, How can there be several sorts of points, since a
point is but a point? I answer; There may very well be several sorts,
considering the Nature of their substance; for some sorts are rare, some dense,
some contracting, some dilating, some retenting, c. besides, all points are not
alike, but there is great difference amongst several pointed figures, for all
are not like the point of a Pin or Needle, but (to alledg some gross examples)
there be points of Pyramids, points of Knives, points of Pins, points of the
flame of a Candle, and numerous other sorts, which are all several points, and
not one like another; for I do not mean a Mathematical or imaginary point, such
as is only made by the rational matter in the mind, (although even amongst
those imaginary points there is difference; for you cannot imagine, or think of
the several pointed figures of several sorts or kinds of Creatures, or parts,
but you will have a difference in your mind) but I mean pointed figures, and
not single points. It is also to be observed, that as some watery Circles will
and may have points outwardly, so some have also points inwardly; for some
watery Circles, as I have mentioned in my Philosophical Opinions, are edged, to
wit, such as are in vitriol water; others pointed, as those in salt water; and
others are of other sorts of points, as those in cordial or hot waters; but
those last are more artificial; and all these are different in their sorts or
kinds, although a litttle difference in their own natures may appear great in
our humane perception. Concerning Oil, there is also difference between Oil and
other wet bodies; for Oil, although it be rare, liquid and moist, yet we cannot
say, it is absolutely that which we name wet, as other liquors are, viz. Water
and Wine, or natural juices; and since the interior natural figure of oil is
burning and hot, it is impossible to divide those interior fiery points from
the circle figure of Oil without dissolving those liquid circle lines. But as
the Penetrations of other acid and salt liquors are caused by their exterior
points, so oil, whose points are interiously in the circle-lines, cannot have
such quick effects of penetration as those that are exteriously pointed: But
mistake me not, I do not mean such exterior parts as are only subject to our
humane perception, but such as cause those Creatures or parts to be of such a
figure or nature.
25. Of the Motions of Heat and Cold.
THose which affim that Heat and Cold are the two primary and only causes of
the Productions of all natural things, do not consider sufficiently the variety
of Nature, but think that Nature produces all by Art; and since Art is found
out and practised by Man, Man conceits himself to be above Nature; But as
neither Art, nor any particular Creature can be the cause or principle of all
the rest, so neither can heat and cold be the prime cause of all natural
productions, no more then paint can produce all the parts of a man's face, as
the Eyes, Nose, Forehead, Chin, Cheeks, Lips and the like, or a (...) can
produce a natural Head, or a suit of Clothes can make the body of Man, for then
whenever the fashioned Garments or Mode-dresses do change, men would of
necessity change also; but Art causes gross mistakes and errors, not only in
sensitive, but also in rational perceptions; for sense being deluded, is apt to
delude Reason also, especially if Reason be too much indulgent to sense; and
therefore those judgments that rely much upon the perception of sense, are
rather sensitive then rational judgments; for sense can have but a perception
of the exterior figures of objects, and Art can but alter the outward form or
figure, but not make or change the interior nature of any thing; which is the
reason that artificial alterations cause false, at least uncertain and various
judgments, so that Nature is as various in men's judgments, as in her other
works. But concerning heat and cold, my opinion is, that they are like several
Colours, some Natural, and some Artificial; of which the Artificial are very
inconstant, at least not so lasting as those that are not made by Art; and they
which say, that both heat and cold are not made by the sensories or sensitive
organs, are in the right, if their meaning be that both heat and cold in their
natures and with all their proprieties, as they are particular Creatures, are
not made or produced by humane or animal senses; nevertheless the sensitive
animal perception of heat and cold is made by the sensitive motions in their
sensitive organs, for what heat and cold soever an animal Creature feels, the
perception of it is made in the sense of touch, or by those sensitive motions
in the parts of its body; for as the perception of any other outward object is
not made by a real entrance of its parts into our sensories, so neither is all
perception of heat and cold made by the intermixture of their particles with
our flesh, but they are patterned and figured out by the sensitive motions in
the exterior parts of the body as well as other objects: I will not say, that
cold or heat may not enter and intermix with the parts of some bodies, as fire
doth intermix with fuel, or enters into its parts; but my meaning is, that the
animal perception of heat and cold is not made this way, that is, by an
intermixture of the parts of the Agent with the parts of the Patient, as the
learned call them; that is, of the exterior object, and the sentient; or else
the perception of all exterior objects would be made by such an intermixture,
which is against sense and reason; and therefore even in such a commixture,
where the parts of the object enter into the body of the sentient, as fire doth
into fuel, the perception of the motions of fire in the fuel, and the fuels
consumption or burning, is not made by the fire, but by the fuels own
perceptive motions, imitating the motions of the fire; so that fire doth not
turn the fuel into ashes, but the fuel doth change by its own corporeal
figurative motions, and the fire is only an occasion of it: The same may be
said of Cold. Neither is every Creatures perception alike, no more then it can
be said, that one particular Creature, as for example Man, hath but one
perception; for the perception of sight and smelling, and so of every sense,
are different; nay, one and the same sense may have as many several perceptions
as it hath objects, and some sorts of peceptions in some Creatures, are either
stronger or weaker then in others; for we may observe, that in one and the same
degree of heat or cold, some will have quicker and some slower perceptions then
others; for example in the perception of touch, if several men stand about a
fire, some will sooner be heated then others; the like for Cold, some will
apprehend cold weather sooner then others, the reason is, that in their
perception of Touch, the sensitive motions work quicker or slower in figuring
or patterning out heat or cold, then in the perception of others. The same may
be said of other objects, where some sentient bodies will be more sensible of
some then of others, even in one and the same kind of perception. But if in all
perceptions of cold, cold should intermix with the bodies of animals, or other
Creatures, like as several Ingredients, then all bodies upon the perception of
cold would dissolve their figures, which we see they do not; for although all
dissolving motions are knowing and perceptive, because every particular motion
is a particular knowledge and perception, yet not every perception requires a
dissolution or change of its figure: 'Tis true, some sorts or degrees of
exterior heat and cold may occasion some bodies to dissolve their interior
figures, and change their particular natures, but they have not power to
dissolve or change all natural bodies. Neither doth heat or cold change those
bodies by an intermixture of their own particles with the parts of the bodies,
but the parts of the bodies change themselves by way of imitation, like as men
put themselves into a mode-fashion, although oftentimes the senses will have
fashions of their own, without imitating any other objects; for not all sorts
of perceptions are made by Imitation or patterning, but some are made
voluntarily, or by rote; as for example, when some do hear and see such or such
things without any outward objects. Wherefore it is not certain steams, or
agitated particles in the air, nor the vapours and effluviums of exterior
objects, insinuating themselves into the pores of the sentient, that are the
cause of the Perception of Heat and Cold, as some do imagine; for there cannot
probably be such differences in the pores of animal Creatures of one sort, as
for example of Men, which should cause such a different perception as is found
in them; for although exterior heat or cold be the same, yet several animals of
the same sort will have several and different perceptions of one and the same
degrees of exterior heat and cold, as above mentioned; which difference would
not be, if their perception was caused by a real entrance of hot and cold
particles into the pores of their bodies: Besides, Burning-Fevers and
Shaking-Agues, prove that such effects can be without such exterior causes.
Neither can all sorts of Heat and Cold be expressed by Wind, Air and Water, in
Weather-glasses; for they being made by Art, cannot give a true information of
the Generation of all natural heat and cold; but as there is great difference
between Natural and Artificial Ice, Snow, Colours, Light, and the like; so
between Artificial and Natural Heat and Cold; and there are so many several
sorts of heat and cold, that it is impossible to reduce them all to one certain
cause or principle, or confine them to one sort of Motions, as some do believe
that all sorts of Heat and Cold are made by motions tending inward and outward,
and others, that by ascending and descending, or rising and depressing motions,
which is no more probable, then that all Colours are made by the reflection of
Light, and that all White is made by reflecting the beams of light outward, and
all black by reflecting them inward; or that a Man when he is on Horse-back, or
upon the top of an House, or Steeple, or in a deep Pit or Mine, should be of
another figure then of the figure and nature of man, unless he were dissolved
by death, which is a total alteration of his figure; for neither Gravity nor
Levity of Air, nor Almospherical Pillars, nor any Weather-glasses, can give us
a true information of all natural heat and cold, but the several figurative
corporeal motions, which make all things in Nature, do also make several sorts
of heat and cold in several sorts of Creatures. But I observe experimental
Philosophers do first cry up several of their artificial Instruments, then make
doubts of them, and at last disapprove them, so that there is no trust nor
truth in them, so much as to be relied on; for it is not an age, since
Weather-glasses were held the only divulgers of heat and cold, or change of
weather, and now some do doubt they are not such infallible Informers of those
truths; by which it is evident, that Experimental Philosophy has but a brittle,
inconstant and uncertain ground, and these artificial Instruments, as
Microscopes, Telescopes, and the like, which are now so highly applauded, who
knows, but may within a short time have the same fate, and upon a better and
more rational enquiry, be found deluders rather then true Informers. The truth
is, there's not any thing that has and doth still delude most men's
understandings more, then that they do not consider enough the variety of
Natures actions, and do not employ their reason so much in the search of
natures actions, as they do their senses, preferring Art and Experiments before
Reason, which makes them stick so close to some particular opinions, and
particular sorts of Motions or Parts, as if there were no more Motions, Parts,
or Creatures in Nature, then what they see and find out by their Artificial
Experiments.
Thus the variety of Nature is a stumbling-block to most men, at which they
break their heads of understanding, like blind men that run against several
posts or walls; and how should it be otherwise, since Natures actions are
Infinite, and Mans understanding finite? for they consider not so much the
interior Natures of several Creatures, as their exterior figures and
Phonomena's, which makes them write many Paradoxes, but few Truths, supposing
that Sense and Art can only lead them to the knowledge of truth, when as they
delude rather their judgments instead of informing them. But Nature has placed
Sense and Reason together, so that there is no part or particle of Nature which
has not its share of reason as well as of sense; for every part having
self-motion, hath also knowledge, which is sense and reason, and therefore it is
fit we should not only employ our senses, but chiefly our reason in the search
of the causes of natural effects; for Sense is only a workman, and Reason is
the designer and surveigher, and as reason guides and directs, so ought sense
to work. But seeing that in this age, sense is more in fashion then reason, it
is no wonder there are so many irregular opinions and judgments amongst men;
However, although it be the mode, yet I for my part shall not follow it, but
leaving to our Moderns their Experimental or Mode-Philosophy built upon
deluding Art, I shall addict my self to the study of Contemplative-Philosophy,
and Reason shall be my guide. Not that I despise sense or sensitive knowledge,
but when I speak of sense, I mean the perception of our five exterior senses,
helped (or rather deluded) by Art and Artificial instruments; for I see that in
this present Age, Learned men are full of Art and Artificial trials, and when
they have found out something by them, they presently judge that all natural
actions are made the same way; as for example, when they find by Art that Salt
will make Snow congeal into Ice, they instantly conclude from thence that all
natural congelations are made by saline particles, and that the Primum
Frigidum, or the Principal cause of all natural cold must needs be salt, by
reason they have found by Art that salt will do the same effect in the
aforesaid commixture with Snow. But how grossly they are deceived, rational men
may judge: If I were a Chemist, and acknowledged their common Principles, I
might perchance have some belief in it, but not whilst I follow reason; nay, I
perceive that oftentimes our senses are deluded by their own irregularities, in
not perceiving always truly and rightly the actions of Art, but mistaking them,
which is a double error; and therefore that particular sensitive knowledge in
man which is built merely upon artificial experiments, will never make him a
good Philosopher, but regular sense and reason must do it, that is, a regular
sensitive and rational inquisition into the various actions of Nature; For put
the case a Microscope be true concerning the magnifying of an exterior object,
but yet the magnitude of the object cannot give a true information of its
interior parts, and their motions, or else great and large bodies would be
interiously known even without Microscopes: The truth is, our exterior senses
can go no further then the exterior figures of Creatures, and their exterior
actions, but our reason may pierce deeper, and consider their inherent natures
and interior actions; and although it do sometimes err, (for there can be no
perfect or universal knowledge in a finite part concerning the Infinite actions
of Nature) yet it may also probably guess at them, and may chance to hit the
Truth. Thus Sense and Reason shall be the ground of my Philosophy, and no
particular natural effects, nor artificial instruments; and if any one can show
me a better and surer ground or Principle then this, I shall most willingly and
joyfully embrace it.
26. Of the Measures, Degrees, and different sorts of Heat and Cold.
SOme Experimental Philosophers are much inquisitive into the measures of Heat
and Cold; and as we have settled standards for weight and magnitude, and time,
so they endeavour to measure the varying temperature, and gradual differences
of heat and cold; but do what they can, their artificial measures or weights
neither will nor can be so exact as the natural are, to wit, so as not to make
them err in more or less: Neither is it possible, that all the degrees of heat
and cold in Nature can be measured; for no man can measure what he doth not
know, and who knows all the different sorts of heats and colds? Nay, if man did
endeavour to measure only one sort of heat or cold, as for example, the
degrees of the heat or coldness of the air, how is it possible that he should
do it, by reason of the continual change of the motions of heat or cold of the
air, which are so inconstant, that it were surer to measure the fluidity of the
air, then to measure the degrees of heat or cold of the air; for the temper of
the air and of its heat and cold, may vary so, as many times we shall never
find the same measure again. Wherefore if we desire to have some knowledge of
the degrees of some sorts of heat or cold, my opinion is, that we may more
easily attain to it by the help of rational perception, then by a sensitive
inspection of artificial Weather-glasses, or the like; for reason goes beyond
sense; and although the sensitive perception is best next the rational, yet the
rational is above the sensitive. But some of the learned conceive the degrees
of heat and cold are made by bare divisions, whenas, in my opinion, they are
made by the several degrees of their corporeal figurative motions: They do also
imagine, that there's no degree but must ascend from one, to two; from two, to
three; and so forth through all numbers: and that from one to twenty, there be
so many degrees as there be numbers; when as, in my opinion, there's no more
but one degree required from one to a Million, or more; for though both in
Nature and Art there are degrees from one single figure to another, yet there
may also be but one degree from one to a million, without reckoning any
intermediate degrees or figures: so that a body, when it moves quick or slow,
needs not to go through all the intermediate degrees of quickness or slowness,
as to move quicker and quicker, slower and slower; but may immediately move
from a very slow, to a very quick degree: the truth is, no man is able to
measure the infinite degrees of natural motions; for though Nature consists of
particular finites, yet it doth also consist of infinite particulars; finite in
figure, infinite in number; and who can number from finite to infinite? But
having discoursed hereof elsewhere, I return to heat and cold, and let others
dispute whether the degrees of heat and cold in the air, be the same with the
degrees of animal perceptions, or with the degrees of animal cold and heat; my
opinion is, that there being several sorts, and several particular heats and
colds, they cannot be just alike each other, but there's some difference
betwixt them; as for example, there are shaking, freezing, chilly, windy, numb,
stiff, rare, dense, moist, dry, contracting, dilating, ascending, descending,
and other numerous sorts of colds; nay, there are some sorts of candied figures
made by heat, which appear as if they were frozen: Also there are fluid colds
which are not wet, as well as fluid heats that are not dry; for Phlegm is
fluid, and yet not wet; and some sorts of air are fluid, and not wet; I say
some, not all; for some are hot and moist, others hot and dry. The same may be
said of some sorts of heat and cold; for some are moist, and some dry; and
there may be at one and the same time a moist cold in the air, and a dry cold
in water; which, in my opinion, is the reason that in sealed Weather-glasses,
according to some Experimenters relations, sometimes the air doth not shrink,
but rather seems to be expanded when the weather grows colder, and that the
water contracts; not that the cold contraction of water causes an expansion of
the air to prevent a Vacuum; for there cannot be any such thing as a Vacuum in
Nature; but that there is a moist cold in the air, and a dry cold in the water,
whereof the dry cold causes a contraction, and the moist cold an expansion;
nay, there is often a moist and dry cold in the air at one and the same time;
so that some parts of the air may have a moist cold, and the next adjoying
parts a dry cold, and that but in a very little compass; for there may be such
contractions and dilations in Nature, which make not a hairs breadth
difference, Nature being so subtle and curious, as no particular can trace her
ways; and therefore when I speak of contractions and dilations, I do not mean
they are all such gross actions perceptible by our exterior senses as the works
of Art, but such as the curiosity of Nature works. Concerning the several sorts
of animal heat and cold, they are quite different from the Elemental, and other
sorts of heat and cold; for some men may have cold fits of an Ague under the
Line, or in the hottest Climates; and others Burning-Feavers under the Poles,
or in the coldest climates. 'Tis true, that Animals, by their perceptions, may
pattern out the heat or cold of the air, but these perceptions are not always
regular or perfect; neither are the objects at all times exactly presented as
they should, which may cause an obscurity both in Art, and in particular
sensitive perceptions, and through this variety the same sort of Creatures may
have different perceptions of the same sorts of heat and cold. Besides it is to
be observed, that some parts or Creatures, as for example, Water, and the like
liquors, if kept close from the perception either of heat or cold, will neither
freeze, nor grow hot; and if Ice and Snow be kept in a deep Pit, from the
exterior object of heat, it will never thaw, but continne Ice or Snow, whenas
being placed near the perception of the Sun, Fire, or warm Air, its exterior
figure will alter from being Ice to Water, and from being cold to hot, or to an
intermediate temper betwixt both; nay, it may alter from an extreme degree of
cold to an extreme degree of heat, according as the exterior object of heat
doth occasion the sensitive perceptive motions of Water or Ice to work; for
extremes are apt to alter the natural temper of a particular Creature, and many
times so as to cause a total dissolution of its interior natural figure; (when
I name extremes, I do not mean any uttermost extremes in Nature; for Nature
being Infinite, and her particular actions being poised and balanced by
opposites, can never run into extremes; but I call them so in reference only
to our perception, as we use to say, it is extreme hot, or extreme cold) And
the reason of it is, that Water by its natural perceptive motions imitates the
motions of heat or cold, but being kept from the perception of them, it cannot
imitate them. The same reason may be given upon the experiment, that some
bodies being put into water, will be preserved from being frozen or congealed;
for they being in water, are not only kept from the perception of cold, but
the water doth as a guard preserve them; which guard, if it be overcome, that
is, if the water begin to freeze, then they will do so too. But yet all colds
are not airy, nor all heats sunny or fiery; for a man, as I mentioned before,
may have shaking fits of an Ague in the hottest climate, or season, and burning
fits of a Fever in the coldest climate or season; and as there is difference
between elemental and animal cold and heat, so betwixt other sorts; so that it
is but in vain to prove all sorts of heat and cold by Artificial
Weather-glasses, suppressions and elevations of water, Atmosphaerical parts,
and the like; for it is not the air that makes all cold, no not that cold which
is called Elementary, no more then it makes heat; but the corporeal,
figurative, self-moving, perceptive, rational and sensitive parts of Nature,
which make all other Creatures, make also heat and cold. Some Learned make much
ado about Antiperistasis, and the flight of those two contrary qualities, heat
and cold, from each other; where, according to their opinion, one of them being
surrounded and besieged by the other, retires to the innermost parts of the
body which it possesses, and there by recollecting its forces, and animating it
self to a defence, is intended or increased in its degree, and so becomes able
to resist its adversary; which they prove by the cold expelled from the Earth,
and Water by the Sun-beams, which they say retires to the middle region of the
Air, and there defends it self against the heat that is in the two other, viz.
the upper, and the lower Regions; and so it doth in the Earth; for, say they,
we find in Summer, when the air is sultry hot, the cold retreats into Cellars
and Vaults, and in Winter when the air is cold, they are the Sanctuary and
receptacle of heat; so that the water in wells and springs, and the like places
under ground, is found warm and smoking, when as the water which is exposed to
the open air, by cold is congealed into Ice. But whatsoever their opinion be, I
cannot believe that heat and cold run from each other as Children at Boe-peep;
for concerning the Earths being warm in Winter, and cold in Summer, it is not,
in my opinion, caused by hot or cold Atoms, flying like Birds out of their
nests, and returning to the same; nor is the Earth like a Storehouse, that
hoards up cold and heat at several seasons in the year, but there is a natural
temper of cold and heat as well in the Earth, as in other Creatures; and that
Vaults, Wells, and Springs under ground, are warm in Winter, when the exterior
air is cold; the reason is, not that the heat of the air, or the Calorifick
atoms, as they call them, are retired thither to defend themselves from the
coldness of the air; but they being so deep in the Earth where the cold cannot
enter, are kept from the perception of cold, so as they cannot imitate so well
the motions of cold as other Creatures that are exposed to the open air. The
like may be said of the heat of the Sun in Summer, which cannot penetrate
deeper into the bowels of the Earth then cold can. The truth is, the Earth is
to them like an Umbrella, which defends or keeps men from the Sun, rain, wind,
dust, c. but although it defends them from the heat of the Sun, or coldness of
wind, yet they have those qualities naturally within themselves, sometimes
more, and sometimes less: and so has the Earth its natural temper of heat and
cold; But what Umbrella the middle region has, whether it be some Planet, or
any thing else, I am not able to determine, unless I had been there and
observed it; nay, ten to one but I might even then have been mistaken.
Wherefore all the contentions and disputes about the doctrine of
Antiperistasis, are, in my judgment, to little purpose, since we are not able
to know all the differences of heat and cold; for if men conceive there is but
one heat and cold in Nature, they are mistaken; and much more if they think
they can measure all the several sorts of heat and cold in all Creatures by
artificial experiments; for as much as a Natural man differs from an artificial
statue or picture of a man, so much differs a natural effect from an
artificial, which can neither be so good, nor so lasting as a natural one: If
Charles's Wain, the Axes of the Earth, and the motions of the Planets, were
like the pole, or axes, or wheels of a Coach, they would soon be out of order.
Indeed artificial things are pretty toys to employ idle time; nay, some are
very useful for our convenience, but yet they are but Natures bastards or
changelings, if I may so call them; and though Nature takes so much delight in
variety, that she is pleased with them, yet they are not to be compared to her
wise and fundamental actions; for Nature, being a wise and provident Lady,
governs her parts very wisely, methodically and orderly; also she is very
industrious, and hates to be idle, which makes her employ her time as a good
Huswife doth, in Brewing, Baking, Churning, Spinning, Sowing, c. as also in
Preserving for those that love Sweet-meats, and in Distilling for those that
take delight in Cordials; for she has numerous employments, and being
infinitely self-moving, never wants work, but her artificial works are her
works of delight, pleasure and pastime: Wherefore those that employ their time
in Artificial Experiments, consider only Natures sporting or playing actions;
but those that view her wise Government, in ordering all her parts, and
consider her changes, alterations and tempers in particulars, and their causes,
spend their time more usefully and profitably; and truly to what purpose should
a man beat his brains, and weary his body with labours about that wherein he
shall lose more time, then gain knowledge? But if any one would take delight in
such things, my opinion is, that our female sex would be the fittest for it,
for they most commonly take pleasure in making of Sweet-meats, Possets, several
sorts of Pies, Puddings, and the like; not so much for their own eating, as to
employ their idle time; and it may be, they would prove good Experimental
Philosophers, and inform the world how to make artificial Snow by their Creams
or Possets beaten into froth, and Ice by their clear, candied or crusted
quiddinies or conserves of fruits; and Frost by their candied herbs and
flowers; and Hail by their small comfits made of water and sugar with whites of
Eggs; and many other the like figures which resemble Beasts, Birds, Vegetables,
Minerals, c. But the men should study the causes of those Experiments, and by
this society the Commonwealth would find a great benefit; for the Woman was
given to Man not only to delight, but to help and assist him; and I am
confident, Women would labour as much with Fire and Furnace as Men, for they'll
make good Cordials and Spirits; but whether they would find out the
Philosophers-stone, I doubt; for our sex is more apt to waste, then to make
Gold; however, I would have them try, especially those that have means to
spend; for who knows but Women might be more happy in finding it out, then Men,
and then would Men have reason to employ their time in more profitable studies,
then in useless Experiments.
27. Of Congealation and Freezing.
THe Congelation of Water into Ice, Snow, Hail, and the like, is made by its
own corporeal figurative motions, which upon the perception of the exterior
object of cold, by the way of imitation, do contract and condense water into
such or such a figure. Some are of opinion, that Water, or the like liquors,
are not contracted, but expanded or rarefied by freezing; which they prove both
by the levity of congealed Water, and the breaking of Glasses, Earthen Bottles,
or other the like Vessels in which water is contained when it freezes: But
although In mentioned in my former discourse, that there are several sorts of
colds, as for example, moist and dry colds, whereof these contract and
condense, those dilate and rarify; so that there are cold dilations, as well
as cold contractions; yet Freezing or Congelation being none of the sorts of
moist, but of dry colds; it is not made by expanding or dilating, but by
contracting and condensing motions; for, that liquid bodies when frozen are
more extended, 'tis not the freezing motions that cause those extensions; but
water being of a dilative nature, its interior parts strive against the
exterior, which figurative motions do imitate the motions of cold, or frost,
and in that strife the water becomes extended or dilated, when congealed into
Ice: But the question is, Whether solid bodies do dilate or extend when they
freeze? and my opinion is they do not; for that solid bodies, as Metal, and the
like, are apt to break in a hard frost, doth not prove an expansion, but the
division of their parts is rather made by contraction; for though the motions
of cold in metal are not so much exteriously contracting as to be perceived by
our optic sense, in its bulk or exterior magnitude, as they are in the body of
water, whose interior nature is dilative; yet by the division which cold
causes, it may well be believed, that freezing hath an interior contractive
effect, otherwise it could not divide so as many times it doth; Wherefore I
believe that solid bodies break by an extreme and extraordinary contraction of
their interior parts, and not by an extraordinary expansion. Besides this
breaking shows a strong self-motion in the action of congealing or freezing,
for the motions of cold are as strong and quick as the motions of heat: Nay,
even those Experimental Philosophers which are so much for expansion, confess
themselves that water is thicker and heavier in Winter then in Summer; and that
Ships draw less water, and that the water can bear greater burdens in Winter
then in Summer; which doth not prove a rarefaction and expansion, but rather a
contraction and condensation of water by cold: They likewise affirm, that some
spirituous liquors of a mixed nature, will not expand, but on the contrary, do
visibly contract in the act of freezing. Concerning the levity of Ice, I cannot
believe it to be caused by expansion; for expansion will not make it lighter,
but 'tis only a change of the exterior shape or figure of the body; Neither
doth Ice prove Light, because it will float above water; for a great Ship of
wood which is very heavy, will swim, when as other sorts of bodies that are
light and little, will sink. Nor are minute bubbles the cause of the Ice's
levity, which some do conceive to stick within the Ice, and make it light; for
this is but a light and airy opinion, which has no firm ground; and it might as
well be said that airy bubles are the cause that a Ship keeps above water; but
though wind and sails make a Ship swim faster, yet they will not hinder it from
sinking. The truth is, the chief cause of the levity or gravity of bodies, is
quantity of bulk, shape, purity and rarity, or grosness and density, and not
minute bubles, or insensible atoms, or pores, unless porous bodies be of less
quantity in water, then some dense bodies of the same magnitude. And thus it is
the Triangular figure of Snow that makes it light, and the squareness that
makes Ice heavier then Snow; for if Snow were porous, and its pores were filled
with atoms, it would be much heavier then its principle, Water. Besides, It is
to be observed, that not all kind of Water is of the same weight, by reason
there are several sorts of Circle-lines which make water; and therefore those
that measure all water alike, may be mistaken; for some Circle-lines may be
gross, some fine, some sharp, some broad, some pointed, c. all which may cause
a different weight of water. Wherefore freezing, in my opinion, is not caused
by rarefying and dilating, but by contracting, condensing and retenting
motions: and truly if Ice were expanded by congelation, I would fain know,
whether its expansions be equal with the degrees of its hardness; which if so,
a drop of water might be expanded to a great bigness; nay, if all frozen
liquors should be enlarged or extended in magnitude, according to the strength
of the freezing motions, a drop of water at the Poles would become, I will not
say a mountain, but a very large body. Neither can rarefaction, in my opinion,
be the cause of the Ice's expansion; for not all rarefied bodies do extend; and
therefore I do rather believe a clarefaction in Ice, then a rarefaction, which
are different things. But some may object, That hot and swelling bodies do
dilate, and diffuse heat and scent without an expansion of their substance. I
answer, That is more then any one is able to prove: the truth is, when a
fiery-coal, and an odoriferous body cast heat and scent (as we use to say) 'tis
not that they do really and actually expand or dilate heat or scent without
body, for there can be no such thing as an immaterial heat or scent: neither
can Nothing be dilated or expanded, but both heat and scent being one thing
with the hot and smelling body, are as exterior objects patterned out by the
sensitive motions of the sentient body, and so are felt and smelt, not by an
actual emission of their own parts, or some heating and smelling atoms, or an
immaterial heat and smell, but by an imitation of the perceptive motions in the
sentient subject. The like for cold; for great shelves or mountains of Ice, do
not expand cold beyond their icy bodies; but the air patterns out the cold, and
so doth the perception of those Seamen that sail into cold Countries; for it is
well to be observed, that there is a stint or proportion in all natures
corporeal figurative motions, to wit, in her particulars, as we may plainly see
in every particular sort or species of Creatures, and their constant and
orderly productions; for though particular Creatures may change into an
infinite variety of figures, by the infinite variety of natures corporeal
figurative motions, yet each kind or sort is stinted so much as it cannot run
into extremes, nor make a confusion, although it makes a distinguishment
between every particular Creature even in one and the same sort. And hence we
may conclude, that Nature is neither absolutely necessitated, nor has an
absolute free-will; for she is so much necessitated, that she depends upon the
All-powerfull God, and cannot work beyond her self, or beyond her own nature;
and yet hath so much liberty, that in her particulars she works as she
pleases, and as God has given her power; but she being wise, acts according to
her infinite natural wisdom, which is the cause of her orderly Government in
all particular productions, changes and dissolutions, so that all Creatures in
their particular kinds, do move and work as Nature pleases, orders and directs;
and therefore, as it is impossible for Nature to go beyond her self; so it is
likewise impossible that any particular body should extend beyond it self or
its natural figure. I will not say, that heat or cold, or other parts and
figures of Nature, may not occasion other bodies to dilate or extend; but my
meaning is, that no heat or cold can extend without body, or beyond body, and
that they are figured and patterned out by the motions of the sentient, which
imitating or patterning motions of the sentient body cannot be so perfect or
strong as the original motions in the object it self. Neither do I say, that
all parts or bodies do imitate, but some, and at some times there will be more
Imitators then at others, and sometimes none at all; and the imitations are
according as the imitating or patterning parts are disposed, or as the object
is presented. Concerning the degrees of a visible expansion, they cannot be
declared otherwise then by the visibly extended body, nor be perceived by us,
but by the optic sense: But, mistake me not, I do not mean, that the degrees
of heat and cold can only be perceived by our optic sense, but I speak of
bodies visibly expanded by heat and cold; for some degrees and sorts of heat
and cold are subject to the humane perception of sight, some to the perception
of touch, some to both, and some to none of them; there being so many various
sorts and degrees both of heat and cold, as they cannot be altogether subject
to our grosser exterior senses, but those which are, are perceived, as I said,
by our perception of sight and touch; for although our sensitive perceptions do
often commit errors and mistakes, either through their own irregularity, or
some other ways; yet next to the rational, they are the best informers we have;
for no man can naturally go beyond his rational and sensitive perception. And
thus, in my opinion, the nature of Congelation is not effected by expanding or
dilating, but contracting and condensing motions in the parts of the sentient
body, which motions in the congelation of water do not alter the interior
nature of water, but only contract its exterior figure into the figure either
of Ice, Snow, Hail, Hoarfrost, or the like, which may be proved by their return
into the former figure of water, whenever they dissolve; for wheresoever is a
total change, or alteration of the interior natural motions of a Creature, when
once dissolved, it will never regain its former figure; and therefore although
the exterior figures of congealed water are various and different, yet they
have all but one interior figure, which is water, into which they return as
into their principle, whenever they change their exterior figures by
dissolving and dilating motions; for as a laughing and frowning countenance
doth not change the nature of a man, so neither do they the nature of water. I
do not speak of artificial, but of natural congealed figures, whose congelation
is made by their own natural figurative motions; But although all congelations
are some certain kind of motions, yet there may be as many particular sorts of
congelations, as there are several sorts of frozen or congealed bodies; for
though I name but one figure of Snow, another of Ice, another of Hail, c. yet I
do not deny, but there may be numerous particular sorts and figures of Ice,
Snow, Hail, c. all which may have their several freezing or congealing motions;
nay, freezing in this respect may very well be compared to burning, as being
opposite actions; and as there are various sorts of burning, much differing
from each other, so there are of freezing; for although all burning is of the
nature of fire, yet not all burning is an elemental fire; for example, Lime,
and some Vegetables, and other Creatures have burning effects, and yet are not
an Elemental fire: neither doth the Sun and ordinary fire burn just alike. The
same may be said of Freezing; and I observe, that fluid and rare parts are more
apt to freeze, then solid and dense bodies; for I do not believe all sorts of
metal can freeze, so as water, or watery liquors, unless they were made liquid.
I will not say, that Minerals are altogether insensible of cold or frost, but
they do not freeze like liquid bodies; nay, not all liquid bodies will freeze;
as for example, some sorts of spirituous liquors, Oil, Vinous spirits, Chemical
extracts, c. which proves, that not all (that is to say) the infinite parts of
Nature, are subject to one particular kind of action, to wit, the action of
freezing; for if Congelation did extend to the infinite parts of Nature, it
would not be a finite and particular, but an infinite action; but, as I said,
liquid bodies are more apt to freeze, (especially water and watery liquors,)
then dense and hard bodies, or some sorts of oil, and spirits; for, as we see
that fire cannot have the same operation on all bodies alike, but some it
causes to consume and turn to ashes, some it hardens, some it softens, and on
some it hath no power at all: So its opposite Frost or Cold cannot congeal
every natural body, but only those which are apt to freeze or imitate the
motions of cold. Neither do all these bodies freeze alike, but some slower,
some quicker; some into such, and some into another figure; as for example,
even in one kind of Creatures, as animals; some Beasts, as Foxes, Bears, and
the like, are not so much sensible of cold, as Man, and some other animal
Creatures; and dead animals, or parts of dead animals, will freeze much sooner
then those which are living; not that living animals have more natural life
then those we call dead; for animals, when dissolved from their animal figure,
although they have not animal life, yet they have life according to the nature
of the figure into which they did change; but, because of their different
perceptions; for a dead or dissolved animal, as it is of another kind of figure
then a living animal, so it has also another kind of perception, which causes
it to freeze sooner then a living animal doth. But I cannot apprehend what some
Learned mean by the powerful effects of cold upon inanimate bodies; whether
they mean, that cold is only animate, and all other bodies inanimate; or
whether both cold and other bodies on which it works, be inanimate; if the
later, I cannot conceive how inanimate bodies can work upon each other, I mean
such bodies as have neither life nor motion, for without life or motion there
can be no action: but if the former, I would fain know whether Cold be
self-moving? if not, I ask, What is that which moves it? Is it an Immaterial
Spirit, or some corporeal being? If an Immaterial Spirit, we must allow, that
this Spirit is either self-moving, or must be moved by another; if it be moved
by another Being, and that same Being again by another; we shall after this
manner run into infinite, and conclude nothing; But if that Imaterial Spirit
have self-motion, why may not a natural corporeal being have the like? they
being both Creatures of God, who can as well grant self-motion to a corporeal,
as to an incorporeal Being; nay, I am not able to comprehend how Motion can be
attributed to a Spirit; I mean, natural motion, which is only a propriety of a
body, or of a corporeal Being: but if Cold be self-moving, then Nature is
self-moving; for the cause can be no less then the effect; and if Nature be
self-moving, no part of Nature can be inanimate; for as the body is, so are its
parts; and as the cause, so its effects. Thus some Learned do puzle themselves
and the world with useless distinctions into animate and inanimate Creatures,
and are so much afraid of self-motion, as they will rather maintain absurdities
and errors, then allow any other self-motion in Nature, but what is in
themselves; for they would fain be above Nature, and petty Gods, if they could
but make themselves Infinite; not considering that they are but parts of
Nature, as all other Creatnres: Wherefore I, for my part, will rather believe
as sense and reason guides me, and not according to interest, so as to extol
my own kind above all the rest, or above Nature her self. And thus to return to
Cold; as Congelation is not a Universal or Infinite action, which extends to
the Infinite parts of Nature, and causes not the like effects in those
Creatures that are perceptible of it; so I do also observe, that not any other
sorts of bodies but Water will congeal into the figure of Snow, when as there
are many that will turn into the figure of Ice; besides, I observe that air
doth not freeze beyond its degree of consistency; for if it did, no animal
Creature would be able to breath, since all or most of them are subject to such
a sort of respiration, as requires a certain intermediate degree of air,
neither too thick, nor too thin; what respirations other Creatures require, I
am not able to determine; for as there are several infinite parts and actions
of Nature, so also several sorts of Respirations; and I believe, that what is
called the ebbing and flowing of the Sea, may be the Seas Respiration; for
Nature has ordered for every part or Creature that which is most fitting and
proper for it.
Concerning Artificial Congelations, as to turn Water or Snow into the figure
of Ice, by the commixture of Salt, Nitre, Alum, or the like, it may, very
probably, be effected; for Water and watery liquors, their interior figure
being Circular, may easily change, by contracting that Circular figure into a
Triangle or square; that is, into Ice or Snow, (for Water, in my opinion, has a
round or Circular interior figure, Snow a Triangular, and Ice a square; I do
not mean an exact Mathematical Triangle or Square, but such a one as is proper
for their figures) and that the mixture of those, or the like ingredients,
being shaken together in a Vial, doth produce films of Ice on the outside of
the Glass, as Experimenters relate; proves, not only that the motions of Cold
are very strong, but also that there is perception in all parts of Nature, and
that all Congelations, both natural and artificial, are made by the corporeal
perceptive motions which the sentient has of exterior cold; which is also the
reason, that Salt being mixed with Snow, makes the liquor always freeze first on
that side of the Vessel where the mixture is; for those parts which are
nearest, will imitate first the motions of frost, and after them the
neighbouring parts, until they be all turned into Ice: The truth is, that all
or most artificial experiments are the best arguments to evince, there is
perception in all corporeal parts of Nature; for as parts are joined, or commix
with parts; so they move or work accordingly into such or such figures, either
by the way of imitation, or otherwise; for their motions are so various, as it
is impossible for one particular to describe them all; but no motion can be
without perception, because every part or particle of Nature, as it is
self-moving, so it is also self-knowing and perceptive; for Matter,
Self-motion, Knowledge and Perception, are all but one thing, and no more
differing nor separable from each other, then Body, Place, Magnitude, Colour
and Figure; Wherefore Experimental Philosophers cannot justly blame me for
maintaining the opinion of Self-motion, and a general Perception in Nature.
But to return to Artificial Congelations; there is as much difference between
Natural and Artificial Ice and Snow, as there is between Chalk and Cheese; or
between a natural Child, and a Baby made of Paste or Wax, and Gummed-silk; or
between artificial Glass, and natural Diamonds; the like may be said of Hail,
Frost, Wind, c. for though their exterior figures do resemble, yet their
interior natures are quite different; and therefore, although by the help of
Art some may make Ice of Water or Snow, yet we cannot conclude from hence that
all natural Ice is made the same way, by saline particles, or acid Spirits, and
the like; for if Nature should work like Art, she would produce a man like as a
Carver makes a statue, or a Painter draws a picture: besides, it would require
a world of such saline or acid particles to make all the Ice that is in Nature.
Indeed it is as much absurdity, as impossibility, to constitute some particular
action the common principle of all natural heat or cold, and to make a
Universal cause of a particular effect; for no particular Part or Action can be
prime in Nature, or a fundamental principle of other Creatures or actions,
although it may occasion some Creatures to move after such or such a way.
Wherefore those that will needs have a Primum Frigidum, or some Body which they
suppose must of necessity be supremely cold, and by participation of which, all
other cold Bodies obtain that quality, whereof some do contend for Earth, some
for Water, others for Air; some for Nitre, and others for Salt, do all break
their heads to no purpose; for first, there are no extremes in Nature, and
therefore no Body can be supreamely cold, nor supremely hot: Next, as I said,
it is impossible to make one particular sort of Creatures the principle of all
the various sorts of heat or cold that are in Nature; for there is an Elemental
heat and cold, a Vegetable, Mineral, Animal heat and cold; and there may be
many other sorts which we do not know; and how can either Earth or Water, or
Nitre, or Salt, be the Principle of all these different colds? Concerning the
Earth, we see that some parts of the Earth are hot, and some cold; the like of
Water and Air; and the same parts which are now hot, will often in a moment
grow cold, which shows they are as much subject to the perception of heat and
cold, as some other Creatures, and doth plainly deny to them the possibility of
being a Primum Frigidum. I have mentioned in my Poetical Works, that there is a
Sun in the Center of the Earth; and in another place, I have described a
Chemical heat; but these being but Poetical Fancies, I will not draw them to
any serious proofs; only this I will say, that there may be degrees of heat
and cold in the Earth, and in Water, as well as there are in the Air; for
certainly the Earth is not without Motion, a dull, dead, moveless and inanimate
body; but it is as much interiously active, as Air and Water are exteriously;
which is evident enough by the various productions of Vegetables, Minerals, and
other bodies that derive their off-spring out of the Earth: And as for Nitre
and Salt, although they may occasion some sorts of Colds in some sorts of
Bodies, like as some sorts of food, or tempers of Air, or the like, may work
such or such effects in some sorts of Creatures; yet this doth not prove that
they are the only cause of all kinds of heat and cold that are in Nature. The
truth is, if Air, Water, Earth, Nitre, or Salt, or insensible, roving and
wandering atoms should be the only cause of cold; then there would be no
difference of hot and cold climates, but it would freeze as well under the
Line, as it doth at the Poles. But there's such a stir kept about Atoms, as
that they are so full of action, and produce all things in the world, and yet
none describes by what means they move, or from whence they have this active
power.
Lastly, Some are of opinion, that the chief cause of all cold, and its
effects, is wind; which they describe to be air moved in a considerable
quantity, and that either forwards only, or in an undulating motion; which
opinion, in my judgment, is as erroneous as any of the former, and infers
another absurdity, which is, that all Winds are of the same nature, when as
there are as many several sorts and differences of Winds, as of other
Creatures; for there are several Winds in several Creatures; Winds in the Earth
are of another kind then those in the Air, and the Wind of an animal breath, is
different from both; nay, those that are in the air, are of different sorts;
some cold and dry, some hot and moist, and some temperate, c. which how they
can all produce the effect of cold or freezing by the compression of the air, I
am not able to judge: only this I dare say, that if Wind causes cold or frost;
then in the midst of the Summer, or in hot Climates, a vehement wind would
always produce a great Frost; besides it would prove, that there must of
necessity be far greater winds at the Poles, then under the AEquinoctial, there
being the greatest cold: Neither will this principle be able to resolve the
question, why a man that has an Ague feels a shaking cold, even under the Line,
and in the coldest weather when there is no stirring of the least wind: All
which proves, that it is very improbable that Wind should be the principle of
all Natural Cold, and therefore it remains firm, that self-moving Matter, or
corporeal, figurative self-motion, as it is the Prime and only cause of all
natural effects, so it is also of Cold, and Heat, and Wind, and of all the
changes and alterations in Nature; which is, and hath always been my constant,
and, in my simple judgment, the most probable and rational opinion in Natural
Philosophy.
28. Of Thawing or dissolving of Frozen bodies.
AS Freezing or Congelation is caused by contracting, condensing, and retentive
Motions; so Thawing is nothing else, but dissolving, dilating, and extending
motions; for Freezing and Thawing are two contrary actions; and as Freezing is
caused several ways, according to the various disposition of congelable bodies,
and the temper of exterior cold; so Thawing, or a dissolution of frozen bodies,
may be occasioned either by a sympathetical agreement; as for example, the
thawing of Ice in water, or other liquors, or by some exterior imitation, as by
hot dilating motions. And it is to be observed, That as the time of freezing,
so the time of dissolving is according to the several natures and tempers both
of the frozen bodies themselves, and the exterior objects applied to frozen
bodies, which occasion their thawing or dissolution: for it is not only heat
that doth cause Ice, or Snow, or other frozen bodies to melt quicker or slower,
but according as the nature of the heat is, either more or less dilative, or
more or less rarefying; for surely an exterior actual heat is more rarefying
then an interior virtual heat; as we see in strong spirituous liquors which are
interiously contracting, but being made actually hot, become exteriously
dilating: The like of many other bodies; so that actual heat is more dissolving
then virtual heat. And this is the reason why Ice and Snow will melt sooner in
some Countries or places then in others, and is much harder in some then in
others; for we see that neither Air, Water, Earth, Minerals, nor any other
sorts of Creatures are just alike in all Countries or Climates: The same may be
said of heat and cold. Besides, it is to be observed, that oftentimes a
different application of one and the same object will occasion different
effects; as for example, if Salt be mixed with Ice, it may cause the contracted
body of Ice to change its present motions into its former state or figure, viz.
into water; but being applied outwardly, or on the out-side of the Vessel
wherein Snow or Ice is contained, it may make it freeze harder, instead of
dissolving it. Also Ice will oftentimes break into pieces of its own accord,
and without the application of any exterior object; and the reason, in my
opinion, is, that some of the interior parts of the Ice, endeavouring to return
to their proper and natural figure by virtue of their interior dilative
motions, do break and divide some of the exterior parts that are contracted by
the motions of Frost, especially those which have not so great a force or power
as to resist them.
But concerning Thawing, some by their trails have found, that if frozen Eggs,
Apples, and the like bodies, be thawed near the fire, they will be thereby
spoiled; but if they be immersed in cold water, or wrapped into Ice or Snow, the
internal cold will be drawn out, as they suppose, by the external; and the
frozen bodies will be harmlesly, though not so quickly thawed. And truly this
experiment stands much to reason; for, in my opinion, when frozen bodies
perceive heat or fire, the motions of their frozen parts upon the perception,
endeavour to imitate the motions of heat or fire, which being opposite to the
motions of cold, in this sudden and hasty change, they become irregular in so
much as to cause in most frozen parts a dissolution of their interior natural
figure; Wherefore it is very probable, that frozen bodies will thaw more
regularly in water, or being wrapped into Ice or Snow, then by heat or fire; for
Thawing is a dilating action, and Water, as also Ice and Snow (which are
nothing but congealed water) being of a dilative nature, may easily occasion a
thawing of the mentioned frozen parts by Sympathy, provided, the Motions of the
exterior cold do not over-power the motions of the interior frozen parts; for
if a frozen body should be wrapped thus into Ice or Snow, and continue in an
open, cold frosty air, I question whether it would cause a thaw in the same
body, it would preserve the body in its frozen state from dissolving or
disuniting, rather then occasion its thawing. But that such frozen bodies, as
Apples, and Eggs, c. immersed in water, will produce Ice on their out-sides, is
no wonder, by reason the motions of Water imitate the motions of the frozen
bodies; and those parts of water that are nearest, are the first imitators, and
become of the same mode. By which we may see, that some parts will cloth
themselves, others only vail themselves with artificial dresses, most of which
dresses are but copies of other motions, and not original actions; It makes
also evident, that those effects are not caused by an ingress of frigorifick
atoms in water, or other congelable bodies, but by the perceptive motions of
their own parts. And what I have said of Cold, the same may be spoken of heat;
for it is known, that a part of a mans body being burned with fire, the burning
may be cured by the heat of the fire; which, in my opinion, proceeds from a
sympathetical agreement betwixt the motions of the fire, and the motions of the
burned part; for every part of a mans body hath its natural heat, which is of
an intermediate temper; which heat being heightened by the burning motions of
fire beyond its natural degree, causes a burning and smarting pain in the same
part; and therefore as the fire did occasion an immoderate heat, by an
intermixture of its own parts with the parts of the flesh; so a moderate heat
of the fire may reduce again the natural heat of the same parts, and that by a
sympathetical agreement betwixt the motions of the Elemental and Animal heat;
But it is to be observed, first, that the burning must be done by an
intermixture of the fire with the parts of the body: Next, that the burning
must be but skin deep (as we use to call it) that is, the burned part must not
be totally overcome by fire, or else it will never be restored again. Neither
are all burned bodies restored after this manner, but some; for one and the
same thing will not in all bodies occasion the like effects; as we may see by
Fire, which being one and the same, will not cause all fuels to burn alike; and
this makes true the old saying, One Mans Meat is another Mans Poison. The truth
is, it cannot be otherwise; for though Nature, and natural self-moving Matter
is but one body, and the only cause of all natural effects; yet Nature being
divided into infinite, corporeal, figurative self-moving parts, these parts, as
the effects of that only cause, must needs be various; and again, proceeding
from one infinite cause, as one matter, they are all but one thing, because
they are infinite parts of one Infinite body. But some may say, If Nature be
but one body, and the Infinite parts are all united into that same body; How
comes it that there is such an opposition, strife, and war betwixt the parts of
Nature? I answer: Nature being Material, is composeable and divideable; and as
Composition is made by a mutual agreement of parts, so division is made by an
opposition or strife betwixt parts; which opposition or division doth not
obstruct the Union of Nature, but, on the contrary, rather proves, that without
an opposition of parts, there could not be a union or composition of so many
several parts and creatures, nor no change or variety in Nature; for if all the
parts did unanimously conspire and agree in their motions, and move all but one
way, there would be but one act or kind of motion in Nature; when as an
opposition of some parts, and a mutual agreement of others, is not only the
cause of the Miraculous variety in Nature, but it poyses and balances, as it
were, the corporeal, figurative motions, which is the cause that Nature is
steady and fixed in her self, although her parts be in a perpetual motion.
29. Several Questions resolved concerning Cold, and Frozen Bodies, c.
FIrst, I will give you my answer to the question, which is much agitated
amongst the Learned concerning Cold, to wit, Whether it be a Positive quality,
or a bare Privation of Heat? And my opinion is, That Cold is both a Positive
quality, and a privation of heat: For whatsoever is a true quality of Cold,
must needs be a privation of Heat; since two opposites cannot subsist together
in one and the same part, at one point of time. By Privation, I mean nothing
else, but an alteration of Natures actions in her several parts, or which is
all one, a change of natural, corporeal motions; and so the death of Animals
may be called a privation of animal life; that is, a change of the animal
motions in that particular Creature, which made animal life, to some other kind
of action which is not animal life. And in this sense, both Cold and Heat,
although they be positive qualities, or natural beings, yet they are also
privations; that is, changes of corporeal, figurative motions, in several
particular Creatures, or parts of Nature. But what some Learned mean by Bare
Privation, I cannot apprehend; for there's no such thing as a bare Privation,
or bare Motion in Nature; but all Motion is Corporeal, or Material; for Matter,
Motion and Figure, are but one thing. Which is the reason, that to explain my
self the better ^ of Motion, I do always add the word corporeal (...)
^gurative; by which, I exclude all bare or immaterial Motion, which expression
is altogether against sense and reason.
The second Question is, Whether Winds have the power to change the Exterior
temper of the Air? To which, I answer: That Winds will not only occasion the
Air to be either hot or cold, according to their own temper, but also Animals
and Vegetables, and other sorts of Creatures; for the sensitive, corporeal
Motions in several kinds of Creatures, do often imitate and figure out the
Motions of exterior objects, some more, some less; some regularly, and some
irregularly, and some not at all; according to the nature of their own
perceptions. By which we may observe, that the Agent, which is the external
object, has only an occasional power; and the Patient, which is the sentient,
works chiefly the effect by virtue of the perceptive, figurative motions in its
own sensitive organs or parts.
Quest. 3. Why those Winds that come from cold Regions, are most commonly cold,
and those that come from hot Regions are for the most part hot? I answer; The
reason is, That those Winds have more constantly patterned out the motions of
cold or heat in those parts from which they either separated themselves, or
which they have met withal. But it may be questioned, Whether all cold and hot
winds do bring their heat and cold along with them out of such hot and cold
Countries? And I am of opinion they do not; but that they proceed from an
imitation of the nearest parts, which take patterns from other parts, and these
again from the remoter parts; so that they are but patterns of other patterns,
and copies of other copies.
Quest. 4. Why Fire in some cold Regions will hardly kindle, or at least not
burn freely? I answer; This is no more to be wondered at, then that some men do
die with cold; for cold being contrary to fire, if it have a predominate power,
it will without doubt put out the fire; not that the cold corporeal motions do
destroy fire by their actual power over it, but that fire destroys it self by
an imitation of the motions of cold; so that cold is only an occasional cause
of the fires destruction, or at least of the alteration of its motions, and the
diminution of its strength. But some might ask, What makes or causes this
imitation in several sorts of Cretures? I answer, The wisdom of Nature, which
orders her corporeal actions to be always in a mean, so that one extreme (as
one may call it) does countervail another. But then you'll say, There would
always be a right and mean temper in all things. I answer: So there is in the
whole, that is, in Infinite Nature, although not in every particular; for
Natures Wisdom orders her particulars to the best of the whole; and although
particulars do oppose each other, yet all opposition tends to the conservation
of a general peace and unity in the whole. But to return to Fire; since Air is
the proper matter of respiration for fire, extreme colds and frosts, either of
air or vapour, are as unfit for the respiration of fire as water is; which if
it do not kill it quite, yet it will at least make it sick, pale and faint; but
if water be rarefied to such a degree, that it becomes thin vapour, then it is
as proper for its respiration, as air. Thus we see, although fire hath fuel,
which is its food, yet no food can keep it alive without breath or respiration:
The like may be said of some other Creatures.
Qu. 5. Whether Wood be apt to freeze? My Answer is, That I believe that the
moist part of Wood, which is sap, may freeze as hard as Water, but the solid
parts cannot do so; for the cracking noise of Wood is no proof of its being
frozen, because Wainscot will make such a noise in Summer, as well as in
Winter. And it is to be observed, that some bodies will be apter to freeze in a
weak, then in a hard frost, according to their own dispositions; which is as
much to be considered, as the object of cold or frost it self; for some bodies
do more, and some less imitate the motions of some objects, and some not at
all: and thus we see that solid bodies do only imitate the contractive motions
of cold, but not the dilative motions of moisture, which is the cause they
break in a hard frost, like as a string, which being tied too hard, will fly
asunder; and as they imitate Cold, so they do also imitate Thaw.
Quest. 6. Whether Water be fluid in its nature, or but occasionally by the
agitation of the air? I answer: That Waters is fluid in its own nature, needs
no proof, but 'tis known enough by the force of its dilating motions; for
Water, when it gets but liberty, it overflows all, and dilates everywhere;
which proves it is not air that makes it fluid, but it is so in its own nature.
Quest. 7. What produces those great Precipices and Mountains of Ice which are
found in the Sea, and other great waters? I answer: That Snow, as also thick
Fogs and Mists, which are nothing but rarefied water, falling upon the Ice,
make its out-side thicker, and many great shelves and broken pieces of Ice
joining together, produce such Precipices and Mountains as mentioned.
Quest. 8. Whether Fishes can live in frozen Water? I answer: If there be as
much water left unfrozen, as will serve them for respiration, they may live;
for it is well known, that Water is the chief matter of respiration for Fish,
and not Air; for Fish being out of water, cannot live long, but whilst they
live, they gasp and gape for water: I mean such kinds of Fish which do live
altogether in Water, and not such Creatures as are of a mixed kind, and live in
water as well as by land, which the Learned call Amphibious Creatures; as
Otters, and the like, which may live in the air, as well as in water: Those
Fish, I say, if the water be thoroughly frozen, or if but the surface of water be
quite frozen over to a pretty depth, will often die, by reason the water that
remains unfrozen, by the contraction of Ice has altered for that time its
dilative motions, to retentive motions; and like as men are smothered in a
close air, so Fish in close water, that is, in water which is quite covered and
enclosed with Ice: but at some men have not so nice and tender natures as
others, and some have larger organs for respiration then others, and some are
more accustomed to some sorts of air then others, which may cause them to
endure longer, or respire more freely then others; so some Fishes do live
longer in such close waters, then others; and some may be like Men that are
frost-bitten, which may chance to live even in those waters that are quite
thoroughly frozen, as Experimenters relate; but yet I cannot believe, that the
water, in which Fishes have been observed to live, can be so thoroughly frozen to
solid Ice, that it should not leave some liquidity or wetness in it, although
not perceptible by our sight, by which those Fishes were preserved alive:
However, it is more probable for Fish to live in Ice, then for other Creatures,
because the Principle of Ice is Water, which is the matter of the Fishes
respiration, which keeps them alive.
Quest. 9. Whether in decoctions of Herbs, when congealed or frozen into Ice,
the figures of the Herbs do appear in the Ice? This is affirmed for Truth by
many Learned; and though I do not deny, but that such liquors in freezing may
have some resemblance of their solid parts; yet I do not believe it to be
universal; for if the blood of an animal should be congealed into Ice, I doubt
it would hardly represent the figure of an animal. Indeed there's much
difference between the exterior figures of Creatures, and their interior
natures, which is evident even in frozen water, whose exterior Icy figures are
numerous, when as their interior nature is but water; and there may also
several changes and alterations of exterior figures be made by Art, when their
interior nature is but one and the same.
Quest. 10. Whether Cold doth preserve Bodies from Corruption? I answer: That,
in my opinion, it may be very probable: For Corruption or Putrefaction is
nothing but irregular dissolving motions; when as Freezing or Congelation is
made by regular contracting and condensing motions; and so long as these
motions of Freezing are in force, it is impossible the motions that make
Corruption should work their effect. But that such bodies as have been thoroughly
frozen, after being thawed, are most commonly spoiled; the reason is, that the
freezing or congealing motions, being not natural to those bodies, have caused
such a thorowalteration of the natural motions of their parts, as a hundred to
one but they will never move regularly and orderly again afterward; but on the
contrary, their interior motions do quite and absolutelely change, by which the
figure is totally altered from its former nature: but if a solid body be not
thoroughly frozen, it may be reduced to a perfect regularity again; for those
natural motions that are not altered, may occasion the rest to act as formerly,
to the preservation of that figure.
30. Of Contraction and Dilation.
THere have been, and are still great disputes amongst the Learned concerning
Contraction and Extension of bodies; but if I were to decide their
controversy, I would ask first, Whether they did all agree in one principle?
that is, whether their principle was purely natural, and not mixed with divine
or supernatural things; for if they did not well apprehend one another
meaning, or argued upon different principles, it would be but a folly to
dispute, because it would be impossible for them to agree. But concerning
Contraction and Dilation, my opinion is, That there can be no Contraction nor
Extension of a single part, by reason there is no such thing as a single or
individeable part in Nature; for even that which the learned call an atom,
although they make it a single body, yet being mateterial or corporeal, it must
needs be divideable: Wherefore all Contraction and Dilation consists of parts
as much as body doth, and there is no body that is not contractive and
dilative, as well as it is divideable and composeable; for parts are, as it
were, the effects of a body, by reason there is no body without parts; and
contraction and extension are the effects of parts, and magnitude and place are
the effects of contraction and extension; and all these are the effects of
corporeal figurative self-motion, which I have more fully declared in several
places of my Philosophical Works.
But some may say, It is impossible that a body can make it self bigger or less
then by Nature it is? My answer is, I do not conceive what is meant by being
little or great by Nature; for Nature is in a perpetual motion, and so are her
parts, which do work, intermix, join, divide and move according as Nature
pleases without any rest or intermission. Now if there be such changes of parts
and motions, it is impossible that there can be any constant figure in Nature;
I mean, so as not to have its changes of motions as well as the rest, although
they be not all after the same manner; And if there can be no constant figure
in Nature, there can neither be a constant littleness or greatness, nor a
constant rarity or density, but all parts of Nature must change according to
their motions; for as parts divide and compose, so are their figures; and since
there are contracting and dilating motions, as well as there are of other
sorts, there are also contracting and dilating parts; and if there be
contracting and dilating parts, then their magnitude changes accordingly; for
magnitude doth not barely consist in quantity, but in the extension of the
parts of the body, and as the magnitude of a body is, so is place; so that
place is larger, or less, according as the body contracts or dilates; for it is
well to be observed, that it is not the interior figure of any part of Creature
of Nature that alters by contraction or dilation; for example, Gold or
Quicksilver is not changed from being Gold or Quicksilver when it is rarefied,
but only that figure puts it self into several postures. Which proves, that
the extension of a body is not made by an addition or intermixture of foreign
parts, as composition; nor contraction, by a diminution of its own parts, as