Francis Bacon.

The physical and metaphysical works of Lord Bacon including the Advancement of learning and Novum Organum online

. (page 17 of 63)
Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe physical and metaphysical works of Lord Bacon including the Advancement of learning and Novum Organum → online text (page 17 of 63)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

genuine and active natural philosophy, whereon to build the
science of physic.

We make the third part of medicine regard the pro-
longation of life : this is a new part, and deficient, though
the most noble of all ; for if it may be supplied, medicine
will not then be wholly versed in sordid cures, nor physicians
be honoured only for necessity, but as dispensers of the
greatest earthly happiness that could well be conferred on
mortals ; for though the world be but as a wilderness to a
Christian travelling through it to the j)roniisnd land, yet it
would be an instance of the divine favour, tha*: our clothing,
that is, our bodies, should be little worn whi>.' we sojourn
liere. And as this is a capital part of physic, and as we
note it for deficient, we shall lay down some directions
about it.

And first, no writer extant upon this subject has made any
great or useful discovery therein. Aristotle,"' indeed, has left
us a ehort memoir, wherein there are some admonitions after
his manner, which he supposes to be all that can be said of
the matter; but the moderns have here written so weakly and

•" Dt Longitudine et Novitftte Vitao,


superijtitiously, that tlie subject itself, through their vanity,
is reputed vain and senseless. 2. The very intentions of
physicians upon this head are of no validity, but rather lead
li'om the point than direct to it. For they talk as if death
consisted in a destitution of heat and moisture, and therefore
that natural heat should be comforted, and radical moisture
cherished ; as if the work were to be effected by broths,
lettuce, and mallows ; or again, by spices, generous wines,
spirits, or chemical oils ; all which ratlier do hurt than good.
3. We admonish mankind to cease their trifling, and not
weakly imagine that such a great work as retarding the
course of nature can be effected by a morning's draught, the
use of any costly medicines, pearls, or aurum potabile itself ;
but be assured, that the prolongation of life is a laborious
work, that requires many kinds of remedies, and a proper
continuation and intermixture thereof ; for it were stupidity
to expect, that what Avas never yet done, should be effected,
otherwise than by means hitherto unattempted. 4. Lastly,
we admonish them rightly to observe and distinguish betwixt
what conduces to health, and what to a long life ; for some
things, though they exhilarate the spirits, strengthen the
faculties, and prevent diseases, are yet destructive to life,
and, without sickness, bring on a wasting old age ; whilst
there are others which prolong life and prevent decay, though
not to be used without danger to health; so that when
employed for the prolongation of life, such inconveniences
must be guarded against, as might otherwise happen upon
using them.

Things seem to us presei'vable either in their own sub-
stance or by repair ; in their own substance, as a fly, or an
ant, in amber ; a flower, an apple, &c. in conservatories of
snow j or a corps of balsam ; by repair, as in flame and
mechanic engines. He who attempts to prolong life, must
practise both these methods together ; for separate, their
force is less. The human body must be preserved as bodies
inanimate are ; again, as flame ; and lastly, in some measure
as machines are preserved. There are^ therefore, three inten-
tions for the prolongation of life; viz., 1. to hinder waste ;
2. secure a good repair ; and 3. to renew what begins to decay.
I. Waste is caused by two depredations ; viz., that of the
interual spirit, *jid ths^t of the external ftir ; and both are


preA'ented two ways; viz., by making these agents less pre-
datory, or the patients, that is the juices of the body, iesa
apt to be preyed on. The spirit is rendered less predatory,
if either its substance be condensed ; as, 1. by the use of
opiates, preparations of nitre, and in contristation ; or, 2. if
it be lessened in quantity, as by fasting and diet ; and 3. if
it be moderated in its motion, as by rest and quiet. The
ambient air becomes less predatory, either when it is less
heated by the sun, as in the cold couiitries, caves, hills ; or
kept from the body, as by close skins, the plumage of birds,
and the use of oil and unguents, without spices. The juices
of the body are rendered less subject to be preyed on, if made
more hardy, or more oleaginous, as by a rough astringent
diet, living in the cold, robust exercises, the use of certain
mineral baths, sweet things, and abstaining from such as are
salt or acid ; but especially by means of such drinks as con-
sist of subtile parts, yet without acrimony or tartness.
II. Eepair is procured by nourishment, and nourishment is
promoted four ways : 1. by forwarding internal concoction,
which drives forth the nourishment, as by medicines that
invigorate the principal viscera ; 2. by exciting the external
parts to attract the nourishment, as by exercise, proper
frictions, unctions, and baths ; 3. by preparing the aliment
itself, that it may more easily insinuate, and require less
digestion ; as in many artificial ways of preparing meats,
drinks, bread, and reducing the effects of these three to one :
again, 4. by the last act of assimilation, as in seasonable sleep
and external applications. III. The renovation of pai'ts
worn out is performed two ways ; either by softening the
habit of the body, as with suppling applications, in the way
of bath, plaster, or unction, of such qualities as to insinuate
into the parts, but extract nothing from them ; or by dis-
charging the old, and substituting new moisture, as in season-
able and repeated purging, bleeding, and attenuating diets,
which restore the bloom of the body.

Several rules for the conduct of the work are derivable
from these indications ; but three of the more principal aro
the following. And first, prolongation of life is rather to be
expected from stated diets, than from any common regimen
of food, or the virtues of particular medicines ; for those
things that h\\e force enough to turn back the course of


natiiTe, are commonly too violent to be compounded into a
medicine, much more to be mixed with the ordinary food,
and must therefore be administered orderly, regularly, and
at set periods. 2. We next lay it do^vn as a rule, that the
prolongation of life be expected, rather from working upon
the spirits, and mollifying the parts, than from the manner
of alimentation. For as the human body, and the internal
structure thereof, may suffer from three things, viz. the
spirits, the parts, and aliments ; the way of i:)rolonging life
by means of alimentation is tedious, indirect, and winding ;
but the ways of working upon the spirits and the parts,
much shorter ; for the spirits are suddenly affected, both by
effluvia and the passions, which may work strangely upon
them ; and the parts also by baths, unguents, or plasters,
which will likewise have sudden impressions. 3. Our last
precept is, that the softening of the external parts be
attempted by such things as are penetrating, astringent, and
of the same nature with the body ; the latter are readily
received and entertained, and properly soften ; and pene-
trating things are as vehicles to those that mollify, and more
easily convey, and deeply impress the virtue thereof; whilst
themselves also, in some measure, operate upon the parts :
but astringents keep in the virtue of them both, and some-
what fix it, and also sfcop perspiration, which would otherwise
be contrary to mollifying, as sending out the moisture ; there-
fore the whole affair is to be effected by these three means
used in order and succession, rather than together. Observe
only, that it is not the intention of mollifying to nourish the
parts externally, but only to render them more capable of
nourishment ; for dry things are less disposed to assimilate.
And so much for the prolongation of life, which we make
the third, or a new part of medicine.

The ai-t of decoration, or beautifying, has two parts, civil
and effeminate. For cleanliness and decency of the body
were always allowed to proceed from moral modesty and
reverence ; first, towards God, whose creatures we are ; next,
towards society, wherein we live ; and lastly, towards our-
selves, whom we ought to reverence still more than others.
But false decorations, fucuses, and pigments, deserve the
imperfections that constantly attend them ; being neither
ex(|uisite enough to deceive, nor coipmodious in application,


nor wliolesome in their use. And it is much that this
depraved custom of painting the face should so long escape
the penal laws both of the church and state, which have been
very severe against luxury in apparel and effeminate trim-
ming of the hair. We read ot Jezebel, that she painted her
face ; but not so of Esther and Judith.

We take gymnastics, in a large sense, to signify whatever
relates to the hability whereto the human body may be
brought, whether of activity or siiftering. Activity has two
parts, strength and swiftness ; so has endurance or suffering,
viz., with regard to natural wants, and fortitude under
torture. Of all these, we have many remarkable instances in
the practices of rope-dancers, the hardy lives of savages, sur-
prising strength of lunatics, and the constancy and resolution
of many under exquisite torments. Any other faculties that
fall not within the former division, as diving, or the power
of continuing long under water -without respiration, and the
like, we refer them also to gymnastics. And here, though
the things themselves are common, yet the philosojDhy and
causes thereof are usually neglected, perhaps because men are
persuaded that such masteries over nature are only obtainable
either from a peculiar and natural disposition in some men,
which comes not under rules, or by a constant custom from
childhood, which is rather imposed than taught. And though
this be not altogether true, yet it is here of small consequence
to note any deficiency, for the Olympic games are long since
ceased, and a mediocrity in these things is sufficient for use,
whilst excellency in them serves commonly but for mercenary

The arts of elegance are divided with respect to the two
senses of sight and hearing. Painting particularly delights
the eye ; so do numerous other magnificent arts, relating to
buildings, gardens, apparel, vessels, gems, &c. Music pleases
the ear with great variety and apparatus of sounds, voices,
strings, and instruments ; and anciently water-organs were
-esteemed as great master-pieces in this art, though now
grown into disuse. The arts which relate to the eye and ear,
are, above the rest, accounted liberal ; these two senses being
the more pure, and the sciences thereof more learned, as
having mathematics to attend them. The one also has some
relation to the memory and demonstrations ; the other, to


manners and the passions of the mind. The pleasures of the
other senses, and the arts employed about them, are in lesa
repute, as approacliing nearer to sensuality than magnificence.
Unguents, perfumes, the furniture of the table, but princi-
pally incitements to lust, should rather be censured than
taught. And it has been well observed, that while states
were in their increase, military arts flourished ; when at
their heights, the liberal arts ; but when upon their decline,
the arts of luxury. With the arts of pleasure, we join also
the jocular arts : for the deception of the senses m-ay be
reckoned one of their delights.

And now, as so many things require to be considered with
relation to the human body, viz. the parts, humours, functions,
laculties, accidents, &c., since we ought to have an entire
doctrine of the body of man, which should comprehend them
all ; yet lest arts should be thus too much multiplied, or
their ancient limits too much disordered, we receive into the
system of medicine, the doctrines of the parts, functions, and
humours of the body; respiration, sleep, generation; the
foetus, gestation in the womb ; growth, puberty, baldness,
fatness, and the like ; though these do not properly belong
either to the preservation of health, the cure of diseases, or
the prolongation of life, but because the human body is, in
every respect, the subject of medicine. But for voluntary
motion and sonse, we refer them to the doctrine of the soul
as two principal parts thereof And thus we conclude the
doctrine of the body, which is but as a tabernacle to the


Division of the Doctrine of tlie Human Soul into that of the Inspired
Essence and the Knowledge of the Sensible or Pi'oduced Soul.
Second Division ol the same philosophy into the Doctrine ol the
Substance and the Faculties of the Soul. The Use and Objects of
the latter. Two Appendices to the Doctrine of the Faculties of the
Soul : viz. Natural Divination and Fascination (Mesmerism). The
Faculties of the Sensible Soul divided into those of Motion and Sense.

"VVe now come to the doctrine of the human soul, from
whose treasures all other doctrines are derived. It has two
p^rts, — the one treating of the rational soul, Avhicb is divine,


the other of the irrational soul, which wo have in common
with brutes. Two different emanations of souls are manifest
in the first creation, the one proceeding from the breath of
God, the other from the elements. As to the primitive
emanation of the rational soul, the Scripture says, God
formed man of the dust of the earth, and breathed into his
nostrils the breath of life ; but the generation of the irra-
tional and brutal soul was in these words, — Let the water
bring forth ; let the earth bring forth. And this iixational
soul in man is only an instrument to the rational one, and has
the same origin in us as in brutes, viz. the dust of the earth ;
for it is not said, God formed the body of man of the dust of
the earth, but God formed man, that is, the whole man, the
breath of life excepted, of the dust of the earth. We will,
therefore, style the first part of the general doctrine of the
Imman soul the doctrine of the inspired substance, and the
other part the doctrine of the sensitive or produced soul.
But as we are here treating wholly of philosophy, we would
not have borrowed this division from divinity, had it not
also agreed with the principles of philosophy. For there are
many excellencies of the human soul above the souls of
brutes, manifest even to those who philosophize only accord-
ing to sense. And wherever so many and such great excel-
lencies are found, a specific difference should always be made.
We do not, therefore, approve that confused and promis-
cuous manner of the philosophers in treating the functions
of the soul, as if the soul of man diftered in degree rather
than species from the soul of brutes, as the sun differs from
the stars, or gold from other metals.

There may also be another division of the general doctrine
of the human soul into the doctrine of the substance and
faculties of the soul, and that of the use and objects of the
faculties. And these two divisions being premised, we come
to particulars.

The doctrine of the inspired substance, as also of the sub-
stance of the rational soul, comprehends several inquiries
with relation to its nature, as whether the soul be native or
adventitious, separable or inseparable, mortal or immortal ;
how far it is subject to the laws of matter, how far not, and
the like. But the points of this kind, though they might be
©ore thoroughly sifted in pliilosophy than hitherto they ]ia\«


been, yet in tlie end they must be turned over to religion, for
determination and decision ; otherwise they will lie exposed
to various errors and illusions of sense. For as the substance
of the soul was not, in its creation, extracted or deduced
from the mass of heaven and earth, but immediately inspired
by God; and as the laws of heaven and earth are the proper
subjects of philosophy, no knowledge of the substance of
the rational soul can be had from philosophy, but must
be derived from the same Divine inspiration, whence the
substance thereof originally proceeded.'*

But in the doctrine of the sensitive or produced soul, even
its substance may be justly inquired into, though this in-
quiry seems hitherto wanting. For of what significancy are
the terms of actus ultimus and forma corporis, and such
logical trifles, to the knowledge of the soul's substance 1 The
sensitive soul must be allowed a corporeal substance, atte-
nuated by heat and rendered invisible, as a subtile breath or
aura, of a flamy and airy nature, having the softness of air
in receiving impressions, and the activity of fire in exerting
its action, nourished partly by an oily and partly by a watery
substance, and difiVised through the whole body ; but in per-
fect creatures, residing chiefly in the head, and thence run-
ning through the nerves, being fed and recruited by the
spirituous blood of the arteries, as Telesius^ and his follower
Donius in some measure have usefully shown. Therefore let
this doctrine be more diligently inquired into,<^ because the

» To separate God from human reason, appears to be one of the great
aims of one of the modern schools of philosophy, and sometimes the
theory has received indirect confirmations from quarters by no means
favourable to its advocates, Pascal wrote, " Selon les lumi^res
naturelles, nous sommes incapable de connaitre ce que Dieu est."
In the edition of this philosopher's works, by Voltaire and Condorcet,
the text was enriched with the addition of the phrase, " Ni s'il est ;"
and the following note appended to the passage, by Voltaire : —
" 11 est Strange que Pascal ait cru qu'on pouvait deviner le pech^
originel par la raison, et qu'il dise qu'on ne peut connaitre par la
niison si Dieu est." At this specimen of deistic candour, Condorcet
exclaims, in a subsequent note, "How marvellous to behold Voltaire
contending with Pascal for the existence of God!" £d.

•» Rerum Natura, book 5.

•= This inquiry is greatly embroiled by the moderns ; some seeking
the soul all over the body, some in the blood, some in the animal spirits,
some in the heart, some in the ventricles of the brain, and some, with
Pua Cartes, in the Glandula Pinealis. M. Ifetit wrote a curious piec«


ignorance of it has produced superstitious and very corrupt
opinions, that greatly lessen the dignity of the human soul,
— such as the transmigration and lustration of souls through
certain periods of years, and the too near relation in all
respects of the human soul to the soul of brutes. For this
soul in brutes is a principal soul, whereof their body is the
organ ; but in man it is itself an organ of the rational soul,
and may rather be called by the name spirit than soul.

The faculties of the soul are well known j'^ viz., the under-
standing, reason, imagination, memory, appetite, will, and
all those wherewith logic and ethics are concerned. In the
doctrine of the soul the origin of these laculties must be
physically treated, as they may be innate and adhering to the
soul, but their uses and objects are referred to other arts;
and in this part nothing extraordinary has hitherto appeared,
though we do not indeed report it as wanting. This part of
the faculties of the soul has also two appendages, which as
they have yet been handled, rather present us with smoke
than any clear flame of truth, — one being the doctrine of
natural divination, the other of fascination.

Divination has been anciently and properly divided into
artificial and natural. The artificial draws its predictions
by reasoning from the indication of signs; but the natural
predicts from the internal foresight ot the mind, without the

relating to this subject, entitled, " De Animil Corpori coextens^ ; "
printed at Paris, 1605. See also " Hobokenius de Sede Animae in
Corpora Humano." Ed.

•* The text is indistinct. We are not told whether tlie faculties here
enumerated belong to the produced or to the rational soul. Though
from the language of the text, and the order of inquiry, the for-
mer appears to be the most probable opinion : yet we do not see
how the origin of conscience to which they refer can be physically
treated, or how the same substance can unite appetite, and the prin-
ciple to which it is ahnost invariably opposed. To obviate such diffi-
culties, Aristotle and Plato made a similar distinction between the
rational and the sensitive principle in man, and assigned reason,
imagination, and memory to the one, while they restricted appetite and
tjensational feeling to the other. Bacon, however, seems to place all
these faculties in the sensitive soul, and leaves the inspired substance a
mere breath or aura, without either faculties or functions. By thus
implying the cogitative power of matter, he has in some measure
countenanced the dangerous belief of the corruptibility ot the human
Boul and its expiration with the body ; at least, sceptics have not been
fclow Id putting this interpretation upon his doctrine. Ed,

CUAP. til.] iJATURli Of DiVl}^AT10». 1T5

Rssistanjce of signs. Artificial divination is of two kinds, —
one arguing from causes, the other only from experiments
conducted by blind authority. The latter is generally super-
stitious. Such were the heathen doctrines about the inspec-
tion of entrails, the flight of birds, &c. ; and the formal astro-
logy of the Chaldeans was little better. Both kinds of
artificial divination spread themselves into various sciences.
The astrologer has his predictions from the aspects of the
stars; the physician, too, has his, as to death, recovery, and
the subsequent symptoms of diseases, from the urine, pulse,
aspect of the patient, &c, ; the politician also is not without
his predictions, — "0 urbem venalem, et cito perituram si
emptorem invenerit!"^ — the event of which prophecy haj)-
pened soon after, and was first accomplished in Sylla and
again in Caisar. But the predictions of this kind being not
to our present purpose, we refer them to their proper arts,
and shall here only treat of natural divination, proceeding
from the internal power of the soul.

This also is of two kinds, — the one native, the other by
influx. The native rests upon this supposition, that the
mind abstracted or collected in itself, and not difiused in the
organs of the body, has from the natural power of its own
essence some foreknowledge of future things; and this ap-
pears chiefly in sleep, ecstasies, and the near approach of
death ; but more rarely in waking, or wlien the body is in
health and strength. And this state of the mind is com-
monly procured or promoted by abstinence, and principally
such things as withdraw the mind from exercising the func-
tions of the body, that it may thus enjoy its own nature
without any external interruption. But divination by influx
is grounded upon another supposition, viz., that the mind,
as a mirror, may receive a secondary illumination from the
foreknowledge of God and spirits, whereto likewise the above-
mentioned state and regimen of the body are conducive.
For the same abstraction of the mind causes it more power-
fully to use its own nature, and renders it more susceptive
of divine influxes, only in divinations by influx the soul is
seized with a kind of rapture, and as it were impatience of

» "0 city set to sale, whose destruction is at hand, if it find
a purchaser ! " uttered by Jugurfcba, on leaving Rome. Sallust'f
Jugurtha, 35 >

1T8 At)VAS*c£:iiEKT OP LtAb^^IifQ. fr.OOrt W.

the Deity's presence, wliicli tlie ancients called by the iian.e
of sacred fury, whereas in native divination the souJ. is
rather at its ease and free.

Fascination is the power and intense act of the imagina-
tion upon the body of another. And here the school of
Paracelsus, and the pretenders to natural magic, abusively
so called, have almost made the force and apprehension (>f
the imagination equal to the power of faith, and capable
of working miracles ; others keeping nearer to truth, and
attentively considering the secret energies and impressions of
things, the irradiations of the senses, the transmissions of
thought from one to another, and the conveyances of mag-
netic virtues, are of opinion that impressions, conveyances,
and communications, might be made from spirit to spirit,

Online LibraryFrancis BaconThe physical and metaphysical works of Lord Bacon including the Advancement of learning and Novum Organum → online text (page 17 of 63)