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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thin a skin as the other parts mentioned, yet is not
ticklish, because it is accustomed to be touched.
Tickling also causeth laugliter. The cause may be
the emission of the spirits, and so of the breath, by a
flight from titillation ; for upon tickling we see there
is ever a starting or shrinking away of the part to
avoid it; and we see also, that if you tickle the
nostrils with a feather, or straw, it procureth sneezing;
which is a sudden emission of the spirits, that do
likewise expel the moisture. And tickling is ever
painful, and not well endured.

Experiment solitary touching the scarcity of rain in Egypt.

767. It is strange, that the river of Nilus overflow-
ing, as it doth, the country of Egypt, there should be,
nevertheless, little or no rain in that country. The
cause must be either in the nature of the water, or in
the nature of the air, or of both. In the water, it
may be ascribed either unto the long race of the wa-
ter ; for swift-running waters vapour not so much as
standing waters ; or else to the concoction of the wa-
ter ; for waters well concocted vapour not so much as
waters raw ; no more than waters upon the fire do va-
pour so much after some time of boiling as at the first.
And it is true that the water of Nilus is sweeter than
other waters in taste ; and it is excellent good for the
stone, and hypochondriacal melancholy, which shew-
etli it is lenifying ; and it runneth through a country
of a hot climate, and flat, without shade, either of

VOL. I. 2 k


woods or hills, whereby the sun must needs have
great power to concoct it. As for the air, from whence
I conceive this want of showers cometh chiefly, the
cause must be, for that the air is of itself thin and
thirsty ; and as soon as ever it getteth any moisture
from the water, it imbibeth and dissipateth it in the
whole body of the air, and suffereth it not to remain
in vapour, whereby it might breed rain.

Experiment solitary touching clarification.

768. It hath been touched in the title of percola-
tions, namely, such as are inwards, that the whites
of eggs and milk do clarify ; and it is certain, that in
Egypt they prepare and clarify the water of Nile, by
putting it into great jars of stone, and stirring it about
with a few stamped almonds, wherewith they also
besmear the mouth of the vessel ; and so draw it off,
after it hath rested some time. It were good to try
this clarifying with almonds in new beer, or muste, to
hasten and perfect the clarifying.

Experiment solitary touching plants without leaves.

769. There be scarce to be found any vegetables,
that have branches and no leaves, except you allow
coral for one. But there is also in the desarts of
S. IMacaria in Egypt, a plant which is long, leafless,
brown of colour, and branched like coral, save that
it closeth at the top. This being set in water within
a house, spreadeth and displayeth strangely ; and the
people thereabout have a superstitious belief, that
in the labour of women it helpeth to the easy de-

Experiment solitary touching the materials of glass.

770. The crystalline Venice glass is reported to
be a mixture in equal portions of stones brought from
Pa via by the river Ticinum, and the ashes of a weed,
called by the Arabs kal, which is gathered in a desart
between Alexandria and Rosctta ; and is by the
Egyptians used first for fuel ; and then they crush
the ashes into lumps like a stone, and so sell them to
the Venetians for their glass-works.


Experiment solitary t02i(liint> prohibition oj' putrefaction,
and the long conservation of bodies.

771. It is strange, and well to be noted, how long
carcases have continued uncorrupt, and in their for-
mer dimensions, as appeareth in the mummies of
Egypt ; having lasted, as is conceived, some of them,
three thousand years. It is true, they find means to
draw forth the brains, and to take forth the entrails,
which are the parts aptest to corrupt. But that is
nothing to the wonder : for we see what a soft and
corruptible substance the flesh of all the other parts of
the body is. But it should seem, that, according to
our observation and axiom in our hundredth experi-
ment, putrefaction, which we conceive to be so na-
tural a period of bodies, is but an accident ; and that
matter maketh not that haste to corruption that is
conceived. And therefore bodies in shining amber,
in quicksilver, in balms, whereof we now speak, in
wax, in honey, in gums, and, it may be, in conserva-
tories of snow, etc. are preserved very long. It need
not go for repetition, if we resume again that which
we said in the aforesaid experiment concerning anni-
hilation ; namely, that if you provide against three
causes of putrefaction, bodies will not corrupt : the
first is, that the air be excluded, for that undermineth
the body, and conspireth with the spirit of the body
to dissolve it. The second is, that the body adjacent
and ambient be not commatcrial, but merely hetero-
gcncal towards the body that is to be preserved ; for
if nothing can be received by the one, nothing can
issue from the other; such are quicksilver and white
amber, to herbs, and flics, and such bodies. The
third is, that the body to be preserved be not of that
gross that it may corrupt within itself, although no
part of it issue into the body adjacent : and therefore
it must be rather thin and small, than of bulk.
There is a fourth remedy also, which is, that if the
body to be preserved be of bulk, as a corpse is, then
the body that incloseth it must have a virtue to draw
forth, and dry the moisture of the inward body : for
else the putrefaction will play within, though nothing

2 K 2


issue forth. I remember Livy doth relate, that there
were found at a tnue two coffins of lead in a tomb ;
whereof the one contained the body of king Numa,
it being some four hundred years after his death : and
the other, his books of sacred rites and ceremonies,
and the discipline of the pontiffs ; and that in the
coffin that had the body, there was nothing at all to
be seen, but a little light cinders about the sides ; but
in the coffin that had the books, they were found as
fresh as if they had been but newly written, being
written on parchment, and covered over with watch-
candles of wax three or four fold. By this it scemeth
that the Romans in Numa's time were not so good
embalmers as the Egyptians were ; which was the
cause that the body was utterly consumed. But I
find in Plutarch, and others, that when Augustus
Caesar visited the sepulchre of Alexander the Great
in Alexandi-ia, he found the body to keep its dimen-
sion j but withal, that notwithstanding all the em-
balming, which no doubt was of the best, the body
was so tender, as Caesar, touching but the nose of
it, defaced it. Which maketh me find it very strange,
that the Egyptian mummies should be reported to be
as hard as stone-pitch ; for I find no difference but
one, which indeed may be very material; namely,
that the ancient Egyptian mummies were shrowdcd
in a number of folds of linen, besmeared with gums,
in manner of scar-cloth, which it doth not appear was
practised upon the body of Alexander.

Experiment solitary touching the abundance of nitre in
certain sea-shores.

772. Near the castle of Caty, and by the wells of
Assan, in the land of Idumea, a great part of the
way you would think the sea were near at hand,
though it be a good distance off: and it is notliing
but the sinning of the nitre upon the sea sands, such
abundance of nitre the shores there do put forth.


Experiment solitary touching bodies that are borne up
by water.

773. The Dead sea, which voinitetli up bitumen,
is of tliat crassitude, as living bodies bound hand and
foot cast into it have been borne up, and not sunk ;
wliich sheweth, that all sinking into water is but an
ovcr-weiglit of the body put into the water in respect
of the water ; so that you may make water so strong
and heavy, of quicksilver, pcrliaps, or the like, as may
bear up iron ; of which I see no use, but imposture.
We see also, that all nietals, except gold, for the same
reason, swim ujion quicksilver.

Experiment solitary touching ftuil that consumeth little
or nothing.

77*1. It is reported, that at the foot of a hill near
the mm^c mortuum there is a black stone, whereof
pilgrims make fires, which burnetii like a coal, and
diminislietli not, but only waxctli brighter and whiter.
Tliat it should do so is not strange : for we see iron
red-hot burncth, and consumeth not ; but the strange-
ness is, that it should continue any time so : for iron,
as soon as it is out of the fire, deadeth straightways.
Certainly it were a thing of great use and profit, if
you could find out fuel tliat Avould burn hot, and yet
last long : neither am I altogether incredulous, but
there may be such candles as they say are made of
salamander's wool; being a kind of mineral, which
whitcncth also in the burning, and consumeth not.
The question is tliis ; fhimc must be made of some-
what, and commonly it is made of some tangible
body which hath weight : but it is not impossible
perhaps that it should be made of spirit, or vapour, in
a body, which spirit or vapour hath no weight, such
as is the matter of ignis fatuus. But then you will
say, that that vapour also can last but a short time :
to that it may be answered, that by the help of oil,
and wax, and other candlc-stuflf', the flame may con-
tinue, and the wick not burn.


Experiment solitary (Economical touching cheap fuel.

775. Sea-coal lasts longer than charcoal ; and
charcoal of roots, being coaled into great pieces, lasts
longer than ordinary charcoal. Turf and peat, and
cow-sheards, are cheap fuels, and last long. Small-
coal, or brier-coal, poured upon charcoal, make them
last longer. Sedge is a cheap fuel to brew or bake
with : the rather because it is good for nothing else.
Trial would be made of some mixture of sea-coal
with earth or chalk ; for if that mixture be, as the
sea-coal men use it, privily, to make the bulk of the
coal greater, it is deceit ; but if it be used purposely,
and be made known, it is saving.

Experiment solitary toucfmig the gathering of' wind for

776. It is at this day in use in Gaza, to couch
potsherds or vessels of earth in their walls, to gather
the wind from the top, and to pass it down in spouts
into rooms. It is a device for freshness in great heats:
and it is said, there are some rooms in Italy and Spain
for freshness, and gathering tlie winds and air in the
heats of summer ; but they be but pennings of the
winds, and enlarging them again, and making them
reverberate, and go round in circles, rather than this
device of spouts in the wall.

Experiment solitary touching the trials of airs.

777. There would be used much diligence in the
choice of some bodies and places, as it were, for the
tasting of air ; to discover the wholesomeness or un-
wholesomeness, as well of seasons, as of the seats of
dwellings. It is certain, that there be some houses
wherein confitures and pies will gather movdd more
than in others. And I am persuaded, that a piece of
raw flesh or fish will sooner corrupt in some airs than
in others. They be noble experiments that can make
this discovery ; for tliey serve for a natural divination
of seasons, better tlian the astronomers can by their
figures : and again, they teach men where to cliuse
their dwelling for their better licalth.


Experiment solitary touching increasing of milk in milch

778. There is a kind of stone about Bethlehem,
whicli they grind to powder, and put into water,
whereof cattle drink, whicli maketh them give more
milk. Surely there should be some better trials made
of mixtures of water in ponds for cattle, to make them
more milch, or to fatten them, or to keep them from
murrain. It may be chalk and nitre are of the best.

Experiments solitary touching sand of the nature of glass.

779. It is reported, that in the valley near the
mountain Carmel in Judea there is a sand, which of
all other hath most affinity with glass : insomuch as
other minerals laid in it turn to a glassy substance
without the fire ; and again, glass put into it turneth
into the mother sand. The thing is very strange, if it
be true : and it is likeliest to be caused by some na-
tural furnace or heat in the earth : and yet they do not
speak of any eruption of flames. It were good to try
in glass-works, whether the crude materials of glass,
mingled with glass already made, and re-molten, do
not facilitate the making of glass with less heat.

Experiment solitary touching the growth of coral.

780. In the sea, upon the south-west of Sicily,
much coral is found. It is a submarine plant. It
hath no leaves : it brancheth only when it is under
water ; it is soft, and green of colour ; but being
brought into the air, it becometh hard and shining
red, as we see. It is said also to have a white berry ;
but we find it not brought over with the coral. Be-
like it is cast away as nothing worth : inquire better
of it, for the discovery of the nature of the plant.

Experiment solitary touching the gathering of mamiu.

781. The manna of Calabria is the best, and in
most plenty. They gather it from the leaf of the
mulberry-tree ; but not of such midberry-trces as grow
in the vallies. And manna falleth upon the leaves
by night, as other dews do. It should seem, that


before those dews come upon trees in the vallies, they
dissipate and cannot hold out. It should seem also,
the mulberry leaf itself hath some coagulating virtue,
which iuspissateth the dew, for that it is not found
upon other trees : and we see by the silk- worm, which
feedeth upon that leaf, what a dainty smooth juice it
hath ; and the leaves also, especially of the black
mulberry, are somewhat bristly, which may help to
preserve the dew. Certainly it were not amiss to ob-
serve a little better the dews that fall upon trees, or
herbs, growing on mountains ; for it may be many dews
fall, that spend before they come to the vallies. And
I suppose, that he that would gather the best May-
dew for medicine, should gather it from the hills.

Experiment solitary touching the correcting of ivine.

782. It is said they have a manner to prepare
their Greek wines, to keep them from fuming and

. inebriating, by adding some sulphur or alum : whereof
the one is unctuous, and the other is astringent. And
certain it is, that those two natures do best repress
fumes. This experiment would be transferred unto
other wine and strong beer, by putting in some like
substances while they work ; v^'hich may make them
both to fume less, and to inflame less.

Experiment solitary touching the materials of wild-fire.

783. It is conceived by some, not improbably, that
the reason why wild-fires, wliereof the principal in-
gredient is bitumen, do not quench with water, is,
for that the first concretion of bitumen is a mixture of
a fiery and watery substance ; so is not sulphur. This
appearcth, for that in the place near Puteoli, which
they call the court of Vulcan, you shall hear under
the earth a horrible thundering of fire and water con-
ilicting together ; and there break forth also spouts
of boiling water. Now tliat place yieldetli great
(quantities of bitumen ; wliercas iEtna, and Vesuvius,
and tlie like, which consist upon sulplnn*, shoot fortli
smoke, and aslies, and pun)ice, but no water. It is
reported also, that bitunun mingled witli lime, and


put under water, will make as it were an artificial
rock ; the substance bccometh so hard.

Experiment solitary touching plaister groiving as hard
as marble,

784. There is a cement, compounded of flour,
whites of eggs, and stone powdered, that becometh
hard as marble : whercwitli Piscina Mirabilis, near
Cuma, is said to have the walls plaistcred. And it is
certain and tried, that the powder of loadstone and
flint, by the addition of whites of eggs, and gum-
dragon, made into paste, will in a few days harden to
the hardness of a stone.

Experiment solitary touching judgment of the aire in
some ulcers and hurts.

785. It hath been noted by the ancients, that in
full or impure bodies, ulcers or hurts in the legs are
hard to cure, and in the head more easy. The cause
is, for that ulcers or hurts in the legs require desicca-
tion, which by the defluxion of humours to the lower
parts is hindred ; whereas hurts and ulcers in the
head require it not ; but contrariwise dryness maketli
them more apt to consolidate. And in modern ob-
servation, the like difference hath been found between
Frenchmen and Englishmen ; whereof the one's con-
stitution is more dry, and the other's more moist.
And therefore a hurt of the head is harder to cure in
a Frenchman, and of the leg in an Englishman.

Experiment solitary toiiching the healthfulness or 7m-
hcaUhfulness of the southern ivind.

786. It hath been noted by the ancients, that south-
ern ^vinds, blowing much, witliout rain, do cause a
feverous disposition of the year ; but with rain, not.
The cause is, for that southern winds do of themselves
qualify the air, to be apt to cause fevers ; but when
showers are joined, they do refrigerate in part, and
check tlie sultry heat of the southern wind. Therefore
this holdeth not in the sea-coasts, because the vapour
of the sea, without showers, doth refresh.


Experiment solitary touching wounds.

787. It hath been noted by the ancients, that
wounds which are made with brass heal more easily
than wounds made v/ith iron. The cause is, for that
brass hath in itself a sanative virtue ; and so in the
very instant helpeth somewhat : but iron is corrosive,
and not sanative. And therefore it were good, that
the instruments which are used by chirurgeons about
wounds, were rather of brass than iron.

Experiment solitary touching mortification by cold.

788. In the cold countries, when men's noses and
ears are mortified, and, as it were, gangrened with
cold, if they come to a fire they rot off presently. The
cause is, for that the few spirits that remain in those
parts, are suddenly drawn forth, and so putrefaction
is made complete. But snow put upon them helpeth ;
for that it preserveth those spirits that remain, till
they can revive ; and besides, snow hath in it a
secret warmth : as the monk proved out of the text ;
" qui dat nivem sicut lanam, gelu sicut cincres spar-
git." Whereby he did infer, that snow did warm
like wool, and frost did fret like ashes. Warm wa-
ter also doth good ; because by little and little it
openeth the pores, without any sudden working upon
the spirits. This experiment may be transferred to
the cure of gangrenes, either coming of themselves, or
induced by too much applying of opiates ; wherein you
must beware of dry heat, and resort to things that are
refrigerant, with an inward warmth, and virtue of

Experiment solitary touching weight.

789. Weigh iron and aqua fortis severally ; then
dissolve the iron in the aqua fortis, and weigh the
dissolution ; and you shall find it to bear as good
weight as the bodies did severally : notwithstanding
a good deal of waste by a thick vapour that issucth
during the working ; which sheweth that the opening
of a body doth increase the weight. This was tried


once or twice, but I know not whether there were any
error in the trial.

Experiment solitary touching the super-natation of bodies.

790. Take oi aquafortis two ounces, of quicksilver
two drams, for that charge the aquafortis will bear;
the dissolution will not bear a flint as big as a nut-
meg : yet, no doubt, the increasing of the weight of
water will increase its power of bearing ; as we see
brine, when it is salt enough, will bear an Qgg. And
I remember well a physician, that used to give some
mineral baths for the gout, etc. and the body when it
was put into the bath, could not get down so easily as
in ordinary water. But it seemeth, the weight of the
quicksilver more than the weight of a stone, doth not
compcnse the weight of a stone more than the weight
of the aqua fortis.

Experiment solitary touching the flying of unequal bodies
in the air.

791 . Let there be a body of unequal weight, as of
wood and lead, or bone and lead; if you throw it from
you with the light end forward, it will turn, and the
weightier end will recover to be forwards ; unless the
body be over-long. The cause is, for that the more
dense body hath a more violent pressure of the parts
from the first impulsion ; which is the cause, though
heretofore not found out, as hath been often said, of
all violent motions ; and when the hinder part moveth
swifter, for that it less endureth pressure of parts, than
the forward part can make way for it, it must needs
be that the body turn over : for, turned, it can more
easily draw forward the ligliter part. Galilaeus noteth
it well, that if an open trough, wherein water is, be
driven faster than the water can follow, the water ga-
thereth upon an heap towards the hinder end, where
the motion began, which he supposeth, holding con-
fidently the motion of the earth, to be the cause of
the ebbing and flowing of the ocean ; because the earth
over-runneth the water. Which theory though it be
false, yet the first experiment is true. As for the in-


equality of the pressure of parts, it appeareth maui-
fcstly in this ; that if you take a body of stone or iron,
and another of wood, of the same magnitude and shape,
and throw them with equal force, you cannot possibly
throw the wood so far as the stone or iron.

JExpei-iment solitary touching water, that it may be iJw
medium of sounds.

792. It is certain, as it hath been formerly in part
touched, that water may be the medium of sounds-
If you dash a stone against a stone in the bottom of
the water, it maketh a sound. So a long pole struck
upon gravel in the bottom of the water maketh a
sound. Nay, if you should think that the sound
cometli up by the pole, and not by the water, you
shall find that an anchor let down by a rope maketh
a sound : and yet the rope is no solid body whereby
tlic sound can ascend.

Experiment solitary of the flight of the spirits upo7i odious

793. All objects of the senses which are very offen-
sive, do cause the spirits to retire: and upon their flight,
the parts are, in some degree, destitute ; and so there
is induced in them a trepidation and horror. For
sounds, we see that the grating of a saw, or any very
harsh noise, will set the teeth on edge, and make all
the body shiver. For tastes, we see that in the taking
of a potion or pills, tlie liead and the neck shake. For
odious smells, tlie like effect followeth, which is less
perceived, because there is a remedy at hand by stop-
ping of the nose ; but in horses, that can use no such
help, we see the smell of a carrion, especially of a dead
horse, maketh them fly away, and take on almost as
if they were mad. For feeling, if you come out of
the sun suddenly into a shade, there followeth a chil-
ness or shivering in all the body. And even in sight,
which hath in effect no odious object, coming into
sudden darkness, induceth an offer to shiver.

ExpcrimeM solitary touching the snpcr-ro.flection of echos.
791-. Tliere is in the city of Ticinum in Italy, a
cluucli that hatli windows only from above : it is in


length an hundred feet, in breadth twenty feet, and
in height near fifty; having a door in the midst. It
reporteth the voice twelve or thirteen times, if you
stand by the close end-wall over-against the door. The
echo fadeth, and dieth by little and little, as the echo
at Pont-Charenton doth. And the voice soundeth as
if it came from above the door. And if you stand at
the lower end, or on either side of the door, the echo
holdeth ; but if you stand in the door, or in the midst
just over-against the door, not. Note, that all echos
sound better against old walls than new ; because they
are more dry and hollow.

Experiment solitary touching the force of imagination,
imitating that of the sense.

795. Those effects which are wrought by the per-
cussion of the sense, and by things in fact, are produced
likewise in some degree by the imagination. There-
fore if a man see another eat sour or acid things, which

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe works of Francis Bacon, baron of Verulam, viscount St. Alban, and lord high chancellor of England (Volume 1) → online text (page 51 of 52)