Francis Bacon.

The works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) online

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That if the choice and best of those observations upon
texts of Scriptures, which have been made dispersedly
in sermons within this your majesty's island of Bri-
tain, by the space of these forty years and more, leaving
out tlie largeness of exliortations and applications
thereupon, liad been set down in a continuance, it


had been the best work in divinity, which had been
written since the apostles times.

Thejnattcr mformed by divinity is of two kinds ; hi
matter of belief, and truth of opinion ; and matter of
service and adoration ; which is also judged and di-
rected by the former ; the one being as the internal
soul of religion, and the otlier as the external body
thereof. And therefore the heathen religion was not
only a worship of idols, but the whole religion was an
idol in itself, for it had no soul ; that is, no certainty
of belief or confession ; as a man may well think, con-
siderine' tlic chief doctors of their church were the
poets : and the reason was, because the heathen gods
were no jealous gods, but were glad to be admitted
into part, as they had reason. Neither did they re-
spect the purcncss of heart, so they might have ex-
ternal honour and rites.

But out of thcje^twQ do. j:£sult and issue four i«a«i
branches of divinity ; Faith, Manners, Liturgy, and
Governmeiit."" Faitti cbntaiheth the doctrine of the
naturc^oFnoH, of the attributes of God, and of the
works of God. The nature of God consisteth of three
persons in unity of Godhead. The attributes of God
are either common to tlie Deity, or lespective to the
persons. The works of God summary are two, that of
the creation, and that of the redemption ; and both these
works, as in total they appertain to the unity of the
(Todhead, so in their parts they refer to the thiee per-
sons : that of the creation, in the mass of the matter,
to the Father ; in the disposition of the form, to the
Son ; and in the continuance and conversation of the
being, to the Holy Spirit ; so that of the redemption,
in the election and counsel, to the Father ; in the whole
act and consummation, to the Son ; and in the appli-
cation, to the Holy Spirit : for by the Holy Ghost was
Christ conceived in flesh, and by the Holy Ghost are
the elect regenerate in spirit. This work likewise we
consider either effectually, in the elect : or privately, in
the reprobate ; or according to appearance, in the vi-
sible Church.

For manners, the doctrine thereof is contained in the


law, which disclosetli sin. The law itself is divided,
according to the edition thereof, into tlie law of nature,
the law moral, and the law positive ; and, according to
the stile, into negative and affirmative, prohibitions
and commandments. Sin, in the matter and subject
thereof, is divided according to the commandments ;
in the form thereof, it referreth to the three persons
in Deity, Sins of infirmity against the Father, whose
more special attribute is power ; sins of ignorance
against the Son, whose attribute is wisdom ; and sins
of malice against the Holy Ghost, whose attribute is
grace or love. In the motions of it, it either moveth
to the right hand or to the left, either to blind devo-
tion, or to profane and libertine transgression ; either
in imposing restraint where God granteth liberty, or
in taking liberty where God imposeth restraint. In
the degrees and progress of it, it divideth itself into
thought, word, or act. And in this part I commend
much the deducing of the law of God to cases of con-
science, for that I take indeed to be a breaking, and
not exhibiting whole of the bread of life. But that
which quickeneth both these doctrines of faith and
manners, is the elevation and consent of the heart ;
whereunto appertain books of exhortation, holy medi-
tation. Christian resolution, and the like.

For the liturgy or service, it consisteth of the reci-
procal acts between God and man : which, on the part
of God, are the preaching of the word, and the sacra-
ments, which are seals to the covenant, or as the visi-
ble word ; and on the part of man, invocation of the
name of God ; and, under the law, sacrifices ; which
were as visible prayers or confessions ; but now the
adoration being iji .spiritu et veritate, there rcmain-
eth only vituli labiorum, although the use of holy
vows of thankfulness and retribution may be accounted
also as sealed petitions.

And for the government of the Church, it consist-
eth of the patrimony of the Church, the franchises of
the Church, and the offices and jurisdictions of the
Church, and the laws of the Church directing the
whole ; all which have two considerations, the one in


themselves, the other how they stand compatible and
agreeable to the civil estate.

This matter of divinity is handled either in form of
instruction of truth, or in form of confutation of fals-
hood. The declinations from religion, besides the pri-
vative, which is atheism, and the branches thereof, are
three ; heresies, idolatry, and witchcraft : heresies,
when we serve the true God with a false worship ;
idolatry, when we worship false gods, supposing them
to be true ; and witchcraft, when we adore false gods,
knowing them to be wicked and false. For so your
majesty doth excellently well observe, that witchcraft
is the height of idolatry. And yet we see though
these be true degrees, Samuel teach eth us that they
are all of a nature, when there is once a receding from
the word of God ; for so he saith, " Quasi peccatum
ariolandi est repugnare, et quasi scelus idololatrise nolle

These things I have passed over so briefly, because
I can report no deficience concerning them : for I can
find no space or ground that lietli vacant and unsown
in the matter of divinity ; so diligent have been men,
either in sowing of good seed, or in sowing of tares.

Thus have I made, as it were, a small globe of the
intellectual world, as truly and faithfully as I could
discover, with a note and description of those parts
which seem to me not constantly occupate, or not well
converted by the labour of man. In which, if I have
in any point receded from that which is commonly
received, it hath been with a purpose of proceeding
ill niclius, and not in aliud : a mind of amendment
and proficience, and notof cliangeand difference For
I could not be true and constant to the argument I
handle, if I were not willing to go beyond others, but
yet not more willing than to have others go beyond
me again ; which may the better appear by this, that
I have propounded my opinions naked and unarmed,
not seeking to preoccupate the liberty of mens judg-
ments by confutations. Fo r in any tilin g which is well
set down, I am in good hope, that if tHe first reading



move an objection, the second reading will make an
answer. And in those things wherein I have erred,
I am sure, I have not prejudiced the right by litigious
arguments, which certainly have this contrary effect
and operation, that they add authority to error, and
destroy the authority of that which is well invented.
For question is an honour and preferment to falshood,
as on the other side it is a repulse to truth. But the
errors I claim and challenge to myself as my own.
The good, if any be, is due tanquam adeps sacrificii,
to be incensed to the honour first of the Divine Ma-
jesty, and next of your majesty, to whom on earth I
am most bounden.



The prolongation of life : the restitution of youth
in some degree ; the retardation of age : the curing
of diseases counted incurable : the mitigation of pain :
more easy and less loathsome purgings : the increas-
ing of strength and activity : the increasing of ability
to suffer torture or pain : the altering of complexions,
and fatness and leanness : the altering of statures : the
altering of features : the increasing and exalting of
the intellectual parts : versions of bodies into other
bodies : making of new species : transplanting of
one species into another : instruments of destruction,
as of war and poison : exhilaration of the spirits, and
putting them in good disposition : force of the ima-
gination, either upon another body, or upon the body
itself: acceleration of time in maturations : accelera-
tion of time in clarifications : acceleration of putre-
faction : acceleration of decoction ; acceleration of
germination : making rich composts for the earth :
impressions of the air, and raising of tempests : great
alteration ; as in induration, emollition, etc. turning
crude and watery substances into oily and unctuous
substances : drawing of new foods out of substances
not now in use : making new threads for apparel ; and
new stuffs, such as are paper, glass, etc. : natural divi-
nations : deceptions of the senses : greater pleasures
of the senses : artificial minerals and cements.







Having had the honour to be continually with my
lord in compiling of this work, and to be employed
therein, I have thought it not amiss, with his lord-
ship's good leave and liking, for the better satisfac-
tion of those that shall read it, to make known
somewhat of his lordship's intentions touching the
ordering, and publishing of the same. I have heard
his lordship often say, that if he should have served
the glory of his own name, he had been better not to
have published this Natural History: for it may
seem an undigested heap of particulars, and cannot
have that lustre, which books cast into methods have;
but that he resolved to prefer the good of men, and
that which might best secure it, before any thing
that might have relation to himself. And he knew
well, that there was no other way open to unloose
mens minds, being bound, and, as it were, maleficiate,
by the charms of deceiving notions and theories, and
thereby made impotent for generation of works, but
only no where to depart from the sense, and clear
experience, but to keep close to it, especially in the
beginning ; besides, this Natural History was a debt
of his, being designed and set down for a third part
of the " Instauration." I have also heard his lord-
ship discourse, that men, no doubt, will think many


of the experiments, contained in this collection, to be
vulgar and trivial, mean and sordid, curious, and
fruitless, and therefore he wisheth that they vv^ould
have perpetually before their eyes what is now in
doing, and the difference between this Natural His-
tory and others. For those Natural Histories which
are extant, being gathered for delight and use, are
full of pleasant descriptions and pictures, and affect
and seek after admiration, rarities, and secrets.
But, contrariwise, the scope which his lordship in-
tendeth, is to write such a Natural History as may
be fundamental to the erecting and building of a
true philosophy, for the illumination of the un-
derstanding, the extracting of axioms, and the pro-
ducing of many noble works and effects. For he
hopeth by this means to acquit himself of that for
which he taketh himself in a sort bound, and that
is, the advancement of all learning and sciences.
For, having in this present work collected the ma-
terials for the building, and in his " Novum Organum,"
of which his lordship is yet to publish a second part,
set down the instruments and directions for the
work ; men shall now be wanting to themselves, if
they raise not knowledge to that perfection whereof
the nature of mortal men is capable. And in this
behalf, I have heard his lordship speak complain-
jngly, that his lordship, who thinketh he deserveth
to be an architect in tliis building, should be forced
to be a workman, and a labourer, and to dig the
clay, and burn the brick ; and, more than that, ac-
cording to the hard condition of the Israelites at
the latter end, to gather the straw and stubble, over
»U the tields, to burn the bricks withal. For he


knoweth, that except he do it, nothing will be done :
men are so set to despise the means of their own
good. And as for the baseness of many of the expe-
riments ; as long as they be God's works, they are ho-
nourable enough. And for the vulgarness of them, true
axioms must be drawn from plain experience and not
from doubtful; and his lordship's course is to make won-
ders plain, and not plain thing wonders ; and that ex-
perience likewise must be broken and grinded, and not
whole, or as it groweth. And for use; his lordship hath
often in his mouth the two kinds of experiments ;
cxperimenta fnictifera, and cjcperimenta lucifera :
experiments of use, and experiments of light : and he
reporteth himself, whether he were not a strange man,
that should think that light hath no use, because it
hath no matter. Further his lordship thought good
also to add unto many of the experiments themselves
some gloss of the causes ; that in the succeeding work
of interpreting nature, and framing axioms, all things
may be in more readiness. And for the causes herein
by him assigned ; his lordship persuadeth himself,
they are far more certain than those that are rendered
by others ; not for any excellency of his own wit, as his
lordship is wont to say, but in respect of his continual
conversation with nature and experience. He did
consider likewise, that by this addition of causes, mens
minds, which make so much haste to find out the
causes of things, would not think themselves utterly
lost in a vast wood of experience, but stay upon these
causes, such as they are, a little, tiU true axioms may
be more fully discovered. I have heard his lordship
say also, that one great reason, why he would not put
these particulars into any exact method, though lie


that looketh attentively into them shall find that they
have a secret order, was, because he conceived that
other men would now think that they could do the
like ; and so go on with a further collection : which,
if the method had been exact, many would have
despaired to attain by imitation. As for his lordship's
love of order, I can refer any man to his lordship's
Latin Book, " De Augmentis Scientiarum ; " which, if
my judgment be any thing, is written in the exactest
order that I know any writing to be. I will conclude
with an usual speech of his lordship's : That this work
of his Natural History is the World as God made it,
and not as men have made it ; for that it hath no-
thing of imagination.


This epistle is the same, that should have been prefixed to
this book, if his lordship had lived.



Expeiime7its in consort, touching the straining and passing of
bodies one through another; which they call Percolation.

Dig a pit upon the sea-shore, somewhat above the
high water-mark, and sink it as deep as the low-water
mark ; and as the tide cometli in, it will fill with water,
fresh and potable. This is commonlypractised upon the
coast of Barbary, where other fresh water is wanting.
And Caasar knew this well when he was besieged in
Alexandria ; for by digging of pits in the sea-shore,
he did frustrate the laborious works of the enemies,
which had turned the sea-water upon the wells of
Alexandria ; and so saved his army being then in
desperation. But Caesar mistook the cause, for he
thought that all sea-sands had natural springs of fresh
water : but it is plain, that it is the sea-water : be-
cause the pit fiUeth according to the measure of the
tide ; and the sea-water passing or straining through
the sands, Icaveth the saltness.

2. I remember to have read, that trial hath been
made of salt-water passed through earth, through ten
vessels, one within another ; and yet it hath not lost
its saltness, as to become potable : but the same man
saith,that, by the relation of another, salt-water drained
through twenty vessels hath become fresh. This ex-
periment seemeth to cross that other of pits made by
the sea-side ; and yet but in part, if it be true that
twenty repetitions do the effect. But it is worth the
note, how poor the imitations of nature are in common
course of experiments, except they be led by great
judgment, and some good light of axioms. For first,
there is no small difference between a jnissage of water


through twenty small vessels, and through such a dis-
tance, as between the low- water and high- water mark.
Secondly, there is a great difference between earth and
sand ; for all earth hath in it a kind of nitrous salt,
from which sand is more free ; and besides, earth doth
not strain the water so finely as sand doth. But there
is a third point, that I suspect as much or more than
the other two ; and that is, that in the experiment of
transmission of the sea- water into the pits, the water
riseth ; but in the experiment of transmission of the
water through the vessels, it falleth. Now certain it
is that the Salter part of water, once salted through-
out, goeth to the bottom. And therefore no marvel,
if the draining of water by descent doth not make it
fresh : besides, I do somewhat doubt, that the very
dashing of the water, that cometh from the sea, is
more proper to strike off the salt part, than where the
water slideth of its own motion.

3. It seemeth percolation, or transmission, which
is commonly called straining, is a good kind of sepa-
ration, not only of thick fi-om thin, and gross from fine^
but of more subtile natures ; and varieth according to
the body through which the transmission is made : as
if through a woollen bag, the liquor leaveth the fat-
ness ; if through sand, the saltness, etc. They speak
of severing wine from water, passing it through ivy
wood, or through other the like porous body ; but von

4. The gum of trees, which wc see to be commonly
shining and clear, is but a fine passage or straining of
the juice of the tree through the wood and bark. And
in like manner, Cornish diamonds, and rock rubies,
which are yet more resplendent than gums, are the
fine exudations of stone.

5. Aristotle giveth the cause, vainly, why the
feathers of birds are of moie lively colours than the
hairs of beasts ; for no beast hath any fine azure, or
carnation, or green hair. He saitli, it is because birds
arc more in the beams of the sun than beasts ; but
that is manifestly untrue ; for cattle are more in the
sun tlian birds, that live commonly in the woods, or in


some covert. Tlie true cause is, that tlie excremen-
titious moisture of living creatures, which maketh as
well the feathers in birds, as the hair in beasts, passeth
in birds through a finer and more delicate strainer
than it doth in beasts : for feathers pass through quills ;
and hair through skin.

6. The clarifying of liquors by adhesion, is an in-
ward percolation ; and is effected, when some cleaving
body is mixed and agitated with the liquors ; whereby
the grosser part of the liquor sticks to that cleaving
body; and so the finer parts are freed from the grosser.
So the apothecaries clarify their syrups by whites of
eggs, beaten with the juices which they would clarify;
which whites of eggs gather all the dregs and grosser
parts of the juice to them ; and after the syrup being
set on the fire, the whites of eggs themselves harden,
and are taken forth. So hippocras is clarified by
mixing with milk, and stirring it about, and then pass-
ing it through a woollen bag, which they call Hippo-
crates's Sleeve, and the cleaving nature of the milk
draweth the powder of the spices, and grosser parts of
the liquor to it ; and in the passage they stick upon
the woollen bag.

7. The clarifying of water is an experiment tending
to health ; besides the pleasure of the eye, when water
is crystalline. It is effected by casting in and placing
pebbles at the head of the current, that the water
may strain through them.

8. It may be, percolation doth not only cause clear-
ness and splendour, but sweetness of savour ; for that
also foUoweth as well as clearness, when the finer parts
are severed from the grosser. So it is found, that the
sweats of men, that have much heat, and exercise much,
and have clean bodies, and fine skins, do smell sweet;
as was said of Alexander ; and we see commonly that
gums have sweet odours.

Experimenis in consort, touching motion of bodies upon their

9. Take a glass, and put water into it, and wet your
finger, and draw it round about the lip of the glass.


pressing it somewhat hard ; and after you have drawn
it some few times about, it will make the water frisk
and sprinkle up in a fine dew. This instance doth
excellently demonstrate the force of compression in a
soHd body : for whensoever a soHd body, as wood,
stone, metal, etc. is pressed, there is an inward tumult
in the parts thereof seeking to deliver themselves from
the compression : and this is the cause of all violent
motion. Wherein it is strange, in the highest degree,
that this motionhath never been observed, nor inquired;
it being of all motions the most common, and the
chief root of all mechanical operations. This motion
worketh in round at first, by way of proof and search
which way to dehver itself; and then worketh in pro-
gress, where it findeth the deliverance easiest. In
liquors this motion is visible ; for all liquors strucken
make round circles, and withal dash ; but in solids,
which break not, it is so subtile, as it is invisible ; but
nevertheless bewrayeth itself by many effects ; as in
this instance whereof we speak. For the pressure of
the finger, furthered by the wetting, because it stick-
eth so much the better unto the lip of the glass, after
some continuance, putteth all the small parts of the
glass into work ; that they strike the water sharply ;
from which percussion that sprinkling cometh.

10. If you strike or pierce a solid body that is brit-
tle, as glass, or sugar, it breaketh not only where the
immediate force is ; but breaketh all about into shivers
and fitters ; the motion, upon the pressure, searching
all ways, and breaking where it findeth the body weakest.

11. The powder in shot, being dilated into such a
flame as endureth not compression, moveth likewise in
round, the fiamc being in the nature of a liquid body,
sometimes recoiling, sometimes breaking the piece, but
generally discharging the bullet, because there it find-
eth easiest deliverance.

12. This motion upon pressure, and the reciprocal
thereof, whicli is motion upon tcnsure, we use to call,
by one common name, motion of liberty ; which is, when
any body, being forced to a preternatural extent or di-
mension, dclivereth and rcstoreth itself to the natural:


as when a blown bladder, pressed, riseth again ; or
when leather or cloth tentured, spring back. These
two motions, of which there be infinite instances, we
shall handle in due place.

13. This motion upon pressure is excellently also
demonstrated in sounds ; as when one chimeth upon a
bell, it soundeth ; but as soon as he layeth his hand
upon it, the sound ceaseth ; and so the sound of a vir-
ginal string, as soon as the quill of the jack falleth from
it, stoppeth. For these sounds are produced by the
subtile percussion of the minute parts of the bell, or
string, upon the air ; all one, as the water is caused
to leap by the subtile percussion of the minute parts
of the glass upon the w^ater, whereof we spake a lit-
tle before in the ninth experiment. For you must
not take it to be the local shaking of the bell, or string,
that doth it : as we shall fully declare, when we come
hereafter to handle sounds.

Experiments in consort, touching separations of bodies by


14. Take a glass with a belly and a long neb; fill
the belly, in part, with water : take also another glass,
whereinto put claret wine and water mingled ; reverse
the first glass, with the belly upwards, stopping the neb
with your finger ; then dip the mouth of it within the
second glass, and remove your finger : continue it in
that posture for a time ; and it will unmingle the wine
from the water : the wine ascending and settling in
the top of the upper glass ; and the water descending
and settling in the bottom of the lower glass. The
passage is apparent to the eye ; for you shall see the
wine, as it were, in a small vein, rising through the
water. For handsomeness sake, because the working

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) → online text (page 28 of 52)