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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set the teeth on edge, this object tainteth the imagi-
nation. So that he that seeth the thing done by
another, hath his own teeth also set on edge. So if a
man see another turn swiftly and long, or if he look
upon wheels that turn, himself waxetli tura-sick. So
if a man be upon an high place without rails or good
hold, except he be used to it, he is ready to fall : for
imagining a fall, it puttcth his spirits into the very
action of a fall. So many upon the seeing of others
bleed, or strangled, or tortured, themselves arc ready
to faint, as if they bled, or were in strife.

Experiment solitary touchifig preservation of' bodies.

796. Take a stock-gilly-flower, and tic it gently
upon a stick, and put them both into a stoop-glass full
of quicksilver, so that the flower be covered : then lay
a little weight upon the top of the glass that may keep
the stick down ; and look upon them after four or five
days ; and you shall find the flower fresh, and the stalk
harder and less flexible than it was. If you compare
it with another flower gathered at the same time, it
will be the more manifest. This sheweth, that bodies
do preserve excellently in quicksilver ; and not pre-



514 NATURAL HISTORY. [CENT. VIII.

serve only, but by the coldness of the quicksilver indu-
rate ; for the freshness of the flower may be merely
conservation ; which is the more to be observed, because
the quicksilver presseth the flower ; but the stiffness
of the stalk cannot be without induration, from the
cold, as it seemeth, of the quicksilver.

Experiment solitary touching the growth or multiplying of
metals.

797. It is reported by some of the ancients, that in
Cyprus there is a kind of iron, that being cut into
little pieces, and put into the ground, if it be well
watered, will increase into greater pieces. This is cer-
tain, and known of old, that lead will multiply and
increase, as hath been seen in old statues of stone
which have been put in cellars ; the feet of them being
bound with leaden bands ; where, after a time, there
appeared, that the lead did swell ; insomuch as it
hanged upon the stone like warts.

Experiment solitary touching the drowmng of the more
base metal in the more precious.

798. I call drowning of metals, when that the baser
metal is so incorporate with the more rich, as it can
by no means be separated again ; which is a kind of
version, though false : as if silver should be inseparably
incorporated with gold : or copper and lead with silver.
The ancient electrum had in it a fifth of silver to the
gold, and made a compound metal, as fit for most uses
as gold, and more resplendent, and more qualified in
some other properties ; but then that was easily sepa-
rated. This to do privily, or to make the compound
pass for the ricli metal simple, is an adulteration or
counterfeiting : but if it be done avowedly, and with-
out disguising, it may be a great saving of the richer
metal. I remember to have heard of a man skilfnl in
metals, that a fifteenth part of silver incorporated with
gold will not be recovered by any water of separation,
except you put a greater quantity of silver to draw to
it the less : which, he said, is the last refuge in sepa-
rations. But that is a tedious way, which no man,



CENT. VIII.] NATURAL HISTORY. 5X5

almost, will think on. This would be better inquired :
and the quantity of the fifteenth turned to a twentieth ;
and likewise with some little additional, that may
further the intrinsic incorporation. Note, that silver
in gold will be detected by weight, compared with the
dimension ; but lead in silver, lead being the weightier
metal, will not be detected, if you take so much the
more silver as will countervail the over-weight of the
lead.

Eocperiment solitary touching jixation of bodies.

799. Gold is the only substance which hath nothing
in it volatile, and yet melteth without much difiicidty.
The melting sheweth that it is not jejune, nor scarce
in spirit. So that the fixing of it is not want of spirit
to fly out, but the equal spreading of the tangible
parts, and the close coacervation of them : whereby
they have the less appetite, and no means at all to
issue forth. It were good therefore to try, whether
glass re-molten do lose any weight ? for the parts in
glass are evenly spread ; but they are not so close as in
gold ; as we see by the easy admission of light, heat,
and cold ; and by the smallness of the weight. There
be other bodies fixed, which have little or no spirit ; so
as there is nothing to fly out ; as we see in the stuff
whereof coppels are made, which they put into furnaces,
upon which fire worketh not : so that there are three
causes of fixation ; the even spreading both of the
spirits and tangible parts, the closeness of the tangible
pai'ts, and the jejuneness or extreme comminution of
spirits : of which three, the two first may be joined
with a nature liquefiable, the last not.

Experiment solitary touching the restless nature of things
in themselves, and their desire to change.

800. It is a profound contemplation in nature, to
consider of the emptiness, as we may call it, or insatis-
faction of several bodies, and of their appetite to take
in others. Air takcth in lights, and sounds, and smells,
and vapours ; and it is most manifest, that it doth it
with a kind of thirst, as not satisfied with its own



516 ^ NATURAL HISTORY. [CENT. VIII.

former consistence ; for else it would never receive
them in so suddenly and easily. Water, and all li-
quors do hastily receive dry and more terrestrial bodies,
proportionable : and dry bodies, on the other side, drink
in waters and liquors : so that, as it was well said by
one of the ancients, of earthy and watery substances,
one is a glue to another. Parchment, skins, cloth, etc.
drink in liquors, though themselves be entire bodies,
and not comminuted, as sand and ashes, nor apparently
porous : metals themselves do receive in readily strong
waters ; and strong waters likewise do readily pierce
into metals and stones : and that strong water will
touch upon gold, that will not touch upon silver, and
e converso. And gold, which seemeth by the weight
to be the closest and most solid body, doth greedily
drink in quicksilver. And it seemeth, that this recep-
tion of other bodies is not violent : for it is many times
reciprocal, and as it were with consent. Of the cause
of this, and to what axiom it may be referred, consider
attentively ; for as for the pretty assertion, that matter
is like a common strumpet, that desireth all forms, it
is but a wandering notion. Only flame doth not con-
tent itself to take in any other body, but either to
overcome and turn another body into itself, as by
victory ; or itself to die, and go out.



END OF VOL. T.



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