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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requireth some small time, it were good you hang the
upper glass upon a nail. But as soon as there is
gathered so much pure and unmixed water in the bot-
tom of the lower glass, as that the mouth of the upper
glass dippeth into it, the motion ceaseth.

15. Let the upper glass be wine, and the lower
water; there followeth no motion at all. Let the upper


glass be water pure, the lower water coloured, or con-
trariwise, there foUoweth no motion at all. But it
hath been tried, that though the mixture of wine and
water, in the lower glass, be three parts water and but
one wine, yet it doth not dead the motion. This sepa-
ration of water and wine appeareth to be made by
weight ; for it must be of bodies of unequal weight, or
else it worketh not ; and the heavier body must ever
be in the upper glass. But then note withal, that the
water being made pensile, and there being a great
weight of water in the belly of the glass, sustained by
a small pillar of water in the neck of the glass, it is
that which setteth the motion on work : for water and
wine in one glass, with long standing, will hardly sever.

16. This experiment would be extended from mix-
tures of several liquors, to simple bodies which consist
of several similar parts : try it therefore with brine or
salt-water, and fresh-water ; placing the salt-water,
which is the heavier, in the upper-glass ; and see whe-
ther the fresh will come above. Try it also with water
thick sugared, and pure water ; and see whether tlie
water, which cometh above, will lose its sweetness : for
which purpose it were good there were a little cock
made in the belly of the upper glass.

Experiments in consort, touching judicious and accurate
infusions, both in liquors and air.

17. In bodies containing fine spirits, which do easily
dissipate, when you make infusions, the rule is ; a short
stay of the body in the liquor, receiveth the spirit; and
a longer stay confoundeth it ; because it draweth forth
the earthly part withal, which embaseth the finer. And
therefore it is an error in physicians, to rest simply
upon the length of stay for increasing the virtue. But
if you will have the infusion strong, in those kinds of
bodies which have fine spirits, your way is not to give
longer time, but to repeat the infusion of the body
oftener. Take violets, and infuse a good pugil of them
in a quart of vinegar ; let tliem stay three quarters of
an hour, and take them forth, and refresh the infusion
with like quantity of new violets, seven times ; and it


will make a vinegar so fresh of the flower, as if, a twelve-
month after, it be brought you in a saucer, you shall
smell it before it come at you. Note, that it smelleth
more perfectly of the flower a good while after than
at first.

18. This rule, which we have given, is of singular
use for the preparations of medicines, and other infu-
sions. As for example : the leaf of burrage hath an
excellent spirit to repress the fuliginous vapour of
dusky melancholy, and so to cure madness : but never-
theless, if the leaf be infused long, it yieldeth forth but
a raw substance, of no virtue ; therefore I suppose,
that if in the must of wine, or wort of beer, while it
worketh, before it be tunned, the burrage stay a small
time, and be often changed with fresh ; it will make
a sovereign drink for melancholy passions. And the
like I conceive of orange flowers.

19. llhubarb hath manifestly in it parts of con-
trary operations : parts that purge ; and parts that
bind the body : and the first lie looser, and the latter
lie deeper : so that if you infuse rhubarb for an hour,
and crush it well, it will purge better, and bind the
body less after the purging, than if it had stood twenty-
four hours ; this is tried : but I conceive likewise, that
by repeating the infusion of rhubarb, several times, as
was said of violets, letting each stay in but a small
time ; you may make it as strong a purging medicine
as scaramony. And it is not a small thing won in
physic, if you can make rhubarb, and other medicines
that are benedict, as strong purgers as those that are
not without some malignity.

20. Pm-ging medicines, for the most part, have
their purgative virtue in a fine spirit ; as appeareth
by that they endure not boiling without much loss of
virtue. And therefore it is of good use in physic, if
you can retain the purging virtue, and take away the
unpleasant taste of the purger ; which it is like you
may do, by this course of infusing oft, with little stay.
For it is probable that the horrible and odious taste is
in the grosser part.

21. Generally, the working by infusion.*: is gro.s.s



and blind, except you first try the issuing of the seve-
ral parts of the body, which of them issue more speedi-
ly, and which more slowly ; and so by apportioning the
time, can take and leave that quality which you de-
sire. This to know there are two ways ; the one to
try what long stay, and what short stay worketh, as
hath been said ; the other to try in order the succeed-
ing infusions of one and the same body, successively,
in several liquors. As for example ; take orange pills,
or rosemary, or cinnamon, or what you will ; and let
them infuse half an hour in water : then take them
out, and infuse them again in other water ; and so the
third time : and then taste and consider the first wa-
ter, the second, and the third ; and you will find them
differing, not only in strength and weakness, but other-
wise in taste or odour ; for it may be the first water
will have more of the scent, as more fragrant; and the
second more of the taste, as more bitter or biting, etc.

22. Infusions in air, for so we may well call
odours, have the same diversities wdth infusions in wa-
ter ; in that the several odours, which are in one flower,
or other body, issue at several times ; some earlier,
some later : so we find that violets, woodbines, straw-
berries, yield a pleasing scent, that cometh forth first ;
but soon after an ill scent quite differing from the
former. AVliich is caused, not so much by mellowing,
as by the late issuing of the grosser spirit.

23. As we may desire to extract the finest spirits
in some cases ; so we may desire also to discharge them,
as hurtfid, in some other. So wine burnt, by reason
of the evaporating of the finer spirit, inflameth less,
and is best in agues : opium looseth some of its poi-
sonous quality, if it be vapoured out, mingled with
spirit of wine, or the like : sena loseth somewhat of its
windiness by decocting; and, generally, subtile or
windy spirits are taken off by incension,or evaporation.
And even in infusions in things that are of too high a
spirit, you were better pour off the first infusion, after
a small time, and use the latter.


Experiment solitary touching the appetite of coiitinuatioii
in licjuids.

24. Bubbles arc in the form of an hemisphere ; air
within, and a little skin of water without : and it
seemeth somewhat strange, that the air should rise so
swiftly while it is in the water ; and when it cometh
to the top, should be stayed by so weak a cover as that
of the bubble is. But as for the swift ascent of the
air, while it is under the water, that is a motion of
percussion from the water ; which itself descending
driveth up the air ; and no motion of levity in the air.
And this Democritus called mot us plag(E. In this
common experiment, the cause of the inclosure of the
bubble is, for that the appetite to resist separation,
or discontinuance, which in solid bodies is strong, is
also in liquors, though fainter and weaker ; as we see in
this of the bubble : we see it also in little glasses of
spittle that children make of rushes ; and in castles of
bubbles, which they make by blowing into water, hav-
ing obtained a little degree of tenacity by mixture of
soap : wc see it also in the stillicidcs of water, which,
if there be water enough to follow, will draw them-
selves into a small thread, because they will not dis-
continue ; but if there be no remedy, then they cast
themselves into round drops ; which is the figure that
savetli the body most from discontinuance : the same
reason is of the roundness of the bubble, as well for
the skin of water, as for the air within : for the air
likewise avoideth discontinuance; and therefore casteth
itself into a round figure. And for the stop and arrest
of the air a little while, it shcweth that the air of itself
hath little or no appetite of ascending.

Experiment solitary touching the making of artificial springs.

25. The rejection, which I continually use, of ex-
periments, though it appeavcth not, is infinite ; but
yet if an experiment be probable in the work, and of
great use, 1 receive it, but deliver it as doubtfid. It
was reported by a sober man, that an artificial spring
may be made thus : Find out a hanging ground, where
there is a good quick fall of rain-water. Lay a half-

R 2


trough of stone, of a good length, three or four foot
deep within the same ground ; with one end upon the
high ground, the other upon the low. Cover the trough
with brakes a good thickness, and cast sand upon the
top of the brakes : you shall see, saith he, that after
some showers are past, the lower end of the trough
will run like a spring of water : which is no marvel,
if it hold while the rain-water lasteth ; but he said it
would continue long time after the rain is past : as if
the water did multiply itself upon the air, by the help
of the coldness and condensation of the earth, and the
consort of the first water.

Experiment solitary touching the venomous quality of
man's Jlesh.

26. The French, which put off the name of the
French disease unto the name of the disease of Naples,
do report, that at the siege of Naples, there were cer-
tain wicked merchants that barrelled up man's flesh,
of some that had been lately slain in Barbary, and
sold it for tunny ; and that upon that foul and high
nourishment was the original of that disease. Which
may well be; for that it is certain that the cannibals in
the West Indies eat man's flesh ; and the West Indies
were full of the pox when they were first discovered :
and at this day the mortalest poisons, practised by the
West Indians, have some mixture of the blood, or fat,
or flesh of man : and divers witches and sorceresses,
as well amongst the heathen as amongst the Chris-
tians, have fed upon man's flesh, to aid, as it seemeth,
their imagination, with high and foul vapours.

Experiment solitary touchi?ig the version and transmuta-
tion of air into water.

27- It seemeth that there be these ways, in likeli-
hood, of version of vapours or air, into water and mois-
ture. The first is cold ; whicli doth manifestly con-
dense ; as we see in the contracting of the air in the
weather-glass ; whereby it is a degree nearer to water.
We see it also in the generation of springs, which the
ancients thought, very probably, to be made by the
version of air into water, holpen by the rest, which the


air hath in those parts ; whereby it cannot dissipate.
And by the coldness of rocks ; for there springs are
chiefly generated. We see it also in the effects of the
cold of the middle region, as they call it, of the air ;
which produccth dews and rains. And the experi-
ment of turning water into ice, by snow, nitre, and
salt, whereof we shall speak hereafter, would be trans-
ferred to the turning of air into water. The second
way is by compression ; as in stillatories, where the
vapour is turned back upon itself, by the encounter of
the sides of the stillatory ; and in the dew upon the
covers of boiling pots ; and in the dew towards rain,
upon marble and wainscot. ]5ut this is like to do no
great effect ; except it be upon vapours, and gross air,
that are already very near in degree to water. The
third is that, which may be searched into, but doth
not yet appear ; which is, by mingling of moist va-
pours with air ; and trying if they will not bring a
return of more water, than the water was at first : for
if so, that increase is a version of the air : therefore
put water into the bottom of a stillatory, with the neb
stopped ; weigh the water first ; hang in the middle
of a stillatory a large spunge ; and see what quantity
of water you can crush out of it ; and what it is more,
or less, compared with the water spent ; for you must
understand, that if any version can be wrought, it will
be easiliest done in small pores : and that is the rea-
son why we prescribe a spunge. The fourth way is
probable also, though not appearing ; which is, by re-
ceiving the air into the small pores of bodies : for, as
hath been said, every thing in small quantity is more
easy for version ; and tangible bodies have no pleasure
in the consort of air, but endeavour to subact it into a
more dense body ; but in entire bodies it is checked ;
because if the air should condense, there is nothing to
succeed : therefore it must be in loose bodies, as sand,
and powder ; which, we see, if they lie close, of them-
selves gather moisture.


Experiment solitary touching helps towards tlie beauty
and good features of persons.

28. It is reported by some of the ancients ; that
whelps, or other creatures, if they be put young into
such a cage or box, as they cannot rise to their stature,
but may increase in breadth or length, will grow ac-
cordingly as they can get room : which if it be true
and feasible, and that the young creature so pressed
and straitened, doth not thereupon die ; it is a means
to produce dwarf creatures, and in a very strange
figure. This is certain, and noted long since, that
the pressure or forming of parts of creatures, when
they are very young, doth alter the sliape not a little;
as the stroking of the lieads of infants, between the
hands, was noted of old, to make Macrucephali ; which
shape of the head, at that time, was esteemed. And the
raising gently of the bridge of the nose, doth prevent
the deformity of a saddle nose. Which observation
well weighed, may teach a means to make the persons
of men and women, in many kinds, more comely and
better featured than otherwise they would be ; by the
forming and shaping of them in their infancy ; as by
stroking up the calves of the legs, to keep them from
falling down too low ; and by stroking up the forehead,
to keep them from being low-foreheaded. And it is a
common practice to swathe infants, that they may grow
more straight and better shaped : and we see young
women, by wearing strait bodice, keep themselves from
being gross and corpulent.

Experiment solitary touching the condensing of air in such
sort as it may put on iveight, and yield nourishment.

29- Onions, as they hang, will many of them shoot
forth ; and so will penny-royal ; and so will an herb
called orjiin ; with which they use in the country to
trim their houses, binding it to a lath or stick, and
setting it against the wall. We see it likewise, more
especially, in tlie greater scmper-vive, which will put
out branches two or tln*ec years : but it is true, that
commonly they wrap the root in a cloth besmeared
with oil, and renew it once in half a year. The like


is reported by some of the ancients, of the stalks of
lilies. The cause is ; for that these plants have a
strong, dense, and succulent moisture, which is not apt
to exhale ; and so is able, from the old store, without
drawing help from the earth, to suffice the sprouting
of the plant : and this sprouting is chiefly in the late
spring, or early summer; which are the times of put-
ting forth. We see also, that stumps of trees, lying out
of the ground, will put forth sprouts for a time. But it
is a noble trial, and of very great consequence, to try
whether these things, in the sprouting, do increase
weight ; which must be tried, by weighing them before
they are hanged up ; and afterwards again, when they
are sprouted. For if they increase not in weight, then
it is no more but this ; that what they send forth in the
sjirout, they lose in some other part : but if they ga-
ther weight, then it is magnate naturcE ; for it sheweth
that air may be made so to be condensed, as to be con-
verted into a dense body ; whereas the race and period
of all things, here above the earth, is to extenuate and
turn things to be more pneumatical and rare ; and not
to be retrograde, from pneumatical to that which is
dense. It sheweth also that air can nourish ; which
is another great matter of consequence. Note, that
to try this, the experiment' of the semper-vive must be
made without oiling the cloth ; for else, it may be,
the plant receiveth nourishment from the oil.

Experiment solitary touching the commixture of flame and
air, and the great force thereof.

30. Flame and air do not mingle, except it be in
an instant ; or in the vital spirit of vegetables and
living creatures. In gun-powder, the force of it hath
been ascribed to rarefaction of the earthy substance
into flame ; and thus for it is true : and then, forsooth,
it is become another element ; the form whereof occu-
pieth more place ; and so, of necessity, foUow-eth a di-
latation : and therefore, lest two bodies should be in
one place, there must needs also follow an expulsion
of the pellet ; or blowing up of the mine. But these
are crude and ignorant speculations. For flame, if


there were nothing else, except it were in very great
quantity, will be suffocate with any hard body, such
as a pellet is ; or the barrel of a gun ; so as the flame
would not expel the hard body ; but the hard body
would kill the flame, and not sufffer it to kindle or
spread. But the cause of this so potent a motion, is
the nitre, which we call otherwise saltpetre, which
having in it a notable crude and windy spirit, first by
the heat of the fire suddenly dilateth itself; and we
know that simple air, being preternaturally attenuated
by heat, will make itself room, and break and blow up
that which resisteth it ; and secondly, when the nitre
hath dilated itself, it bloweth abroad the flame, as an
inward bellows. And therefore we see that brimstone,
pitch, camphire, wild-fire, and divers other inflamma-
ble matters, though they burn cruelly, and are hard
to quench, yet they make no such fiery wind as gun-
powder doth : and on the other side, we see that
quick-silver, which is a most crude and watery body,
heated, and pent in, hath the like force with gun-powder.
As for living creatures, it is certain, their vital spirits are
a substance compounded of an airy and flamy matter ;
and though air and flame being free, will not well min-
gle ; yet bound in by a body that hath some fixing, they
will. For that you may best see in those two bodies, which
are their aliments, water and oil ; for they likewise will
not well mingle of themselves ; but in the bodies of
plants, and living creatures, they will. It is no mar-
vel therefore, that a small quantity of spirits, in the
cells of the brain, and canals of the sinews, are able
to move the whole body, which is of so great mass,
both with so great force, as in wrestling, leaping ; and
with so great swiftness, as in playing division ujion the
lute. Such is the force of these two natures, air and
flame, when they incorporate.

Experiment solitary touching the secret nature of flame.

31. Take a small wax candle, and put it in a
socket of brass or iron ; then set it upright in a por-
ringer full of spirit of wine heated : then set both the
candle and spirit of wine on fire, and you shall see the


flame of the candle open itself, and become four or five
times bigger than otherwise it would have been ; and
appear in figiu-e globular, and not in pyramis. You
shall see also, that the inward flame of the candle
keepeth colour, and doth not wax any whit blue to-
wards the colour of the outward flame of the spirit of
wine. This is a noble instance ; wherein two things
are most remarkable ; the one, that one flame within
another quencheth not ; but is a fixed body, and con-
tinucth as air or water do. And therefore flame would
still ascend upwards in one greatness, if it were not
quenched on the sides : and the greater the flame is at
the bottom, the higher is the rise. The other, that
flame doth not mingle with flame, as air doth with
air, or water with water, but only remaineth contigu-
ous ; as it Cometh to pass betwixt consisting bodies.
It appeareth also, that the form of a pyramis in flame,
which we usually see, is merely by accident, and that
the air about, by quenching the sides of the flame,
crusheth it, and extenuateth it into that form ; for of
itself it would be round ; and therefore smoke is in the
figure of a pyramis reversed ; for tlie air quencheth
the flame and receiveth the smoke. Note also, that
the flame of the candle, within the flame of the spirit
of wine, is troubled; and doth not only open and move
upwards, but moveth waving, and to and fro ; as if
flame of its own nature, if it were not quenched, would
roll and turn, as well as move upwards. By all which
it should seem, that the celestial bodies, most of them,
are true fires or flames, as the Stoics held ; more fine,
perhaps, and rarified, than our flame is. For they are
all globular and determinate ; they have rotation ; and
they have the colour and splendor of flame : so that
flame above is durable, and consistent, and in its na-
tural place ; but witli us it is a stranger, and momen-
tany, and impure: like Vulcan that halted with his fall.

Experiment solitary touching the differejit force of flame
in the midst and on the sides,

32. Take an arrow, and liold it in flame for the
space of ten pulses, and when it cometh forth you shall


find those parts of the arrow which were on the outsides
of the flame more burned, blacked, and turned almost
hito a coal, whereas that in the midst of the flame will
be as if the fire had scarce touched it. This is an in-
stance of great consequence for the discovery of the
nature of flame ; and sheweth manifestly, that flame
burnetii more violently towards the sides than in the
midst : and, which is more, that heat or fire is not vio-
lent or furious, but where it is checked and pent. And
therefore the Peripatetics, howsoever their opinion of
an element of fire above the air is justly exploded, in
that point they acquit themselves well : for being op-
posed, that if there were a sphere of fire, that encom-
passed the earth so near hand, it were impossible but
all things should be burnt up ; they answer, that the
pure elemental fire, in its own place, and not irritated,
is but of a moderate heat.

Experiment solitary touching the decrease of the 7iat//ral
motionof gravity , in great distancejrom the earth; or within
some depth of the earth.

SS. It is affirmed constantly by many, as an usual
experiment ; that a lump of ore, in the bottom of a
mine, will be tumbled and stirred by twomens strength ;
which if you bring it to the top of the earth, will ask
six mens strength at the least to stir it. It is a noble
instance, and is fit to be tried to the full ; for it is very
probable, that the motion of gravity worketh weakly,
both far from the earth, and also within the earth :
the former, because the appetite of imion of dense
bodies with the earth, in respect of the distance, is more
dull : the latter, because the body hath in part attained
its nature when it is some depth in the eartli. For as
for the moving to a point or place, which was the opi-
nion of the ancients, it is a mere vanity.

Experiment solitaiy touching the contraction of bodies in bnlk^
by the mixture of tJie more liquid body ivith the more solid.

34. It is strange how the ancients took up experi-
ments upon credit, and yet did build great matters
upon them. The o])scrvation of some of the l)est of


them, delivered confidently, is, that a vessel filled with
ashes will receive the like quantity of water, that it
would have done if it had been empty. But this is
utterly untrue, for the water will not go in by a fifth
part. And I suppose, that that fifth part is the difference
of the lying close, or open, of the ashes ; as we see that
ashes alone, if they be hard pressed, will lie in less
room : and so the ashes with air between, lie looser ;
and with water, closer. For I have not yet found

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) → online text (page 29 of 52)