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the Kindled Coals, or in the flame, You may in about a quarter of an
Hour, or perchance in halfe that time, perceive in the Bottom of the
Glass some running Mercury; and if then You take away the Glass and
break it, You shall find a Parcel of Quicksilver, Perhaps altogether,
and perhaps part of it in the pores of the Solid Mass; You shall find
too, that the remaining Lump being held to the Flame of the Candle
will readily burn with a greenish Flame, and after a little while
(perchance presently) will in the Air Acquire a Greenish Blew, which
being the Colour that is ascrib'd to Copper, when its Body is
unlocked, 'Tis easie to perswade Men that this is the True Sulphur of
_Venus_, especially since not only the Salts may be Suppos'd partly to
be Flown away, and partly to be Sublim'd to the upper part of the
Glass, whose inside (will Commonly appear Whitened by them) but the
Metal seems to be quite Destroy'd, the Copper no longer appearing in a
Metalline Forme, but almost in that of a Resinous Lump; whereas indeed
the Case is only this, That the Saline parts of the Sublimate,
together with the _Sal Armoniack_, being excited and actuated by the
Vehement heat, fall upon the Copper, (which is a Metal they can more
easily corrode, than silver) whereby the small parts of the Mercury
being freed from the Salts that kept them asunder, and being by the
heat tumbled up and down after many Occursions, they Convene into a
Conspicuous Mass of Liquor; and as for the Salts, some of the more
Volatile of them Subliming to the upper part of the Glass, the others
Corrode the Copper, and uniting themselves with it do strangely alter
and Disguise its Metallick Form, and compose with it a new kind of
Concrete inflamable like Sulphur; concerning which I shall not now say
any thing, since I can Referr You to the Diligent Observations which I
remember Mr. _Boyle_ has made concerning this Odde kind of
Verdigrease. But Continues _Carneades_ smiling, you know I was not
cut out for a Mountebank, and therefore I will hasten to resume the
person of a Sceptick, and take up my discourse where You diverted me
from prosecuting it.

In the next place, then, I consider, that, as there are some Bodies
which yield not so many as the three Principles; so there are many
others, that in their Resolution Exhibite more principles than three;
and that therefore the Ternary Number is not that of the Universal and
Adequate Principles of Bodies. If you allow of the Discourse I ately
[Errata: lately] made You, touching the primary Associations of the
small Particles of matter, You will scarce think it improbable, that
of such Elementary Corpuscles there may be more sorts then either
three, or four, or five. And if you will grant, what will scarce be
deny'd, that Corpuscles of a compounded Nature may in all the wonted
Examples of Chymists pass for Elementary, I see not, why you should
think it impossible, that as _Aqua Fortis_, or _Aqua Regis_ will make
a Separation of colliquated Silver and Gold, though the Fire cannot;
so there may be some Agent found out so subtile and so powerfull, at
least in respect of those particular compounded Corpuscles, as to be
able to resolve them into those more simple ones, whereof they
consist, and consequently encrease the number of the Distinct
Substances, whereinto the mixt Body has been hitherto thought
resoluble. And if that be true, which I recited to you a while ago out
of _Helmont_ concerning the Operations of the _Alkahest_, which
divides Bodies into other Distinct Substances, both as to number and
Nature, then the Fire does; it will not a little countenance my
Conjecture. But confining our selves to such wayes of Analyzing mix'd
Bodies, as are already not unknown to Chymists, it may without
Absurdity be Question'd, whether besides those grosser Elements of
Bodies, which they call Salt Sulphur and Mercury, there may not be
Ingredients of a more Subtile Nature, which being extreamly little,
and not being in themselves Visible, may escape unheeded at the
Junctures of the Destillatory Vessels, though never so carefully
Luted. For let me observe to you one thing, which though not taken
notice of by Chymists, may be a notion of good Use in divers Cases to
a Naturalist, that we may well suspect, that there may be severall
Sorts of Bodies, which are not Immediate Objects of any one of our
senses; since we See, that not only those little Corpuscles that issue
out of the Loadstone, and perform the Wonders for which it is justly
admired; But the _Effluviums_ of Amber, Jet, and other Electricall
Concretes, though by their effects upon the particular Bodies dispos'd
to receive their Action, they seem to fall under the Cognizance of our
Sight, yet do they not as Electrical immediately Affect any of our
senses, as do the bodies, whether minute or greater, that we See,
Feel, Taste, &c. But, continues _Carneades_, because you may expect I
should, as the Chymists do, consider only the sensible Ingredients of
Mixt Bodies, let us now see, what Experience will, even as to these,
suggest to us.

It seems then questionable enough, whether from Grapes variously
order'd there may not be drawn more distinct Substances by the help of
the Fire, then from most other mixt Bodies. For the Grapes themselves
being dryed into Raysins and distill'd, will (besides _Alcali_,
Phlegm, and Earth) yield a considerable quantity of an Empyreumatical
Oyle, and a Spirit of a very different nature from that of Wine. Also
the unfermented Juice of Grapes affords other distil'd Liquors then
Wine doth. The Juice of Grapes after fermentation will yield a
_Spiritus Ardens_; which if competently rectifyed will all burn away
without leaving any thing remaining. The same fermented Juice
degenerating into Vinager, yields an acid and corroding Spirit. The
same Juice turn'd [Errata: tunned] up, armes it self with Tartar; out
of which may be separated, as out of other Bodies, Phlegme, Spirit,
Oyle, Salt and Earth: not to mention what Substances may be drawn from
the Vine it self, probably differing from those which are separated
from Tartar, which is a body by it self, that has few resemblers in
the World. And I will further consider that what force soever you will
allow this instance, to evince that there are some Bodies that yield
more Elements then others, it can scarce be deny'd but that the Major
part of bodies that are divisible into Elements, yield more then
three. For, besides those which the Chymists are pleased to name
Hypostatical, most bodies contain two others, Phlegme and Earth, which
concurring as well as the rest to the constitution of Mixts, and being
as generally, if not more, found in their _Analysis_, I see no
sufficient cause why they should be excluded from the number of
Elements. Nor will it suffice to object, as the _Paracelsians_ are
wont to do, that the _Tria prima_ are the most useful Elements, and
the Earth and Water but worthlesse and unactive; for Elements being
call'd so in relation to the constituting of mixt Bodies, it should be
upon the account of its Ingrediency, not of its use, that any thing
should be affirmed or denyed to be an Element: and as for the
pretended uselessness of Earth and Water, it would be consider'd that
usefulnesse, or the want of it, denotes only a Respect or Relation to
us; and therefore the presence, or absence of it, alters not the
Intrinsick nature of the thing. The hurtful Teeth of Vipers are for
ought I know useless to us, and yet are not to be deny'd to be parts
of their Bodies; and it were hard to shew of what greater Use to Us,
then Phlegme and Earth, are those Undiscern'd Stars, which our New
_Telescopes_ discover to Us, in many Blanched places of the Sky; and
yet we cannot but acknowledge them Constituent and Considerably great
parts of the Universe. Besides that whether or no the Phlegme and
Earth be immediately Useful, but necessary to constitute the Body
whence they are separated; and consequently, if the mixt Body be not
Useless to us, those constituent parts, without which it could not
have been That mixt Body, may be said not to be Unuseful to Us: and
though the Earth and Water be not so conspicuously Operative (after
separation) as the other three more active Principles, yet in this
case it will not be amiss to remember the lucky Fable of _Menemius
Aggrippa_, of the dangerous Sedition of the Hands and Legs, and other
more busie parts of the Body, against the seemingly unactive Stomack.
And to this case also we may not unfitly apply that Reasoning of an
Apostle, to another purpose; _If the Ear shall say, because I Am not
the Eye, I am not of the Body; Is it therefore not of the Body? If the
whole Body were Eye, where were the Hearing? If the whole were for
hearing, where the smelling?_ In a word, since Earth and water appear,
as clearly and as generally as the other Principles upon the
resolution of Bodies, to be the Ingredients whereof they are made up;
and since they are useful, if not immediately to us, or rather to
Physitians, to the Bodies they constitute, and so though in somewhat a
remoter way, are serviceable to us; to exclude them out of the number
of Elements, is not to imitate Nature.

[Transcriber's Note: See the printer's note (beginning "The Authors
constant Absence") at the end of the book for material that the
printer inadvertently omitted from this page.]

But, pursues _Carneades_, though I think it Evident, that Earth and
Phlegme are to be reckon'd among the Elements of most Animal and
Vegetable Bodies, yet 'tis not upon that Account alone, that I think
divers Bodies resoluble into more Substances then three. For there are
two Experiments, that I have sometimes made to shew, that at least
some Mixts are divisible into more Distinct Substances then five. The
one of these Experiments, though 'twill be more seasonable for me to
mention it fully anon, yet in the mean time, I shall tell you thus
much of it, That out of two Distill'd Liquors, which pass for
Elements of the Bodies whence they are drawn, I can without Addition
make a true Yellow and Inflamable Sulphur, notwithstanding that the
two Liquors remain afterwards Distinct. Of the other Experiment, which
perhaps will not be altogether unworthy your Notice, I must now give
you this particular Account. I had long observ'd, that by the
Destillation of divers Woods, both in Ordinary, and some unusuall
sorts of Vessels, the Copious Spirit that came over, had besides a
strong tast, to be met with in the Empyreumaticall Spirits of many
other Bodies, an Acidity almost like that of Vinager: Wherefore I
suspected, that though the sowrish Liquor Distill'd, for Instance,
from Box-Wood, be lookt upon by Chymists as barely the Spirit of it,
and therefore as one single Element or Principle; yet it does really
consist of two Differing Substances, and may be divisible into them;
and consequently, that such Woods and other Mixts as abound with such
a Vinager, may be said to consist of one Element or Principle, more
then the Chymists as yet are Aware of; Wherefore bethinking my self,
how the separation of these two Spirits might be made, I Quickly
found, that there were several wayes of Compassing it. But that of
them which I shall at present mention, was this, Having Destill'd a
Quantity of Box-Wood _per se_, and slowly rectify'd the sowrish
Spirit, the better to free it both from Oyle and Phlegme, I cast into
this Rectify'd Liquor a convenient Quantity of Powder'd Coral,
expecting that the Acid part of the Liquor would Corrode the Coral,
and being associated with it would be so retain'd by it, that the
other part of the Liquor, which was not of an acid Nature, nor fit to
fasten upon the Corals, would be permitted to ascend alone. Nor was I
deceiv'd in my Expectation; For having gently abstracted the Liquor
from the Coralls, there came over a Spirit of a Strong smell, and of a
tast very piercing, but without any sourness; and which was in diverse
qualities manifestly different, not only from a Spirit of Vinager, but
from some Spirit of the same Wood, that I purposely kept by me without
depriving it of its acid Ingredient. And to satisfy you, that these
two Substances were of a very differing Nature, I might informe you
of several Tryals that I made, but must not name some of them, because
I cannot do so without making some unseasonable discoveries. Yet this
I shall tell you at present, that the sowre Spirit of _Box_, not only
would, as I just now related, dissolve Corals, which the other would
not fasten on, but being pour'd upon Salt of Tartar would immediately
boile and hiss, whereas the other would lye quietly upon it. The acid
Spirit pour'd upon _Minium_ made a Sugar of Lead, which I did not find
the other to do; some drops of this penetrant spirit being mingl'd
with some drops of the blew Syrup of Violets seem'd rather to dilute
then otherwise alter the colour; whereas the Acid Spirit turn'd the
syrup of a reddish colour, and would probably have made it of as pure
a red as Acid Salts are wont to do, had not its operation been
hindered by the mixture of the other Spirit. A few drops of the
compound Spirit being Shaken into a pretty quantity of the infusion of
_Lignum Nephriticum_, presently destroyed all the blewish colour,
whereas the other Spirit would not take it away. To all which it
might be added, that having for tryals sake pour'd fair water upon the
Corals that remained in the bottom of the glass wherein I had
rectifyed the double spirit (if I may so call it) that was first drawn
from the Box, I found according to my expectation that the Acid Spirit
had really dissolved the Corals, and had coagulated with them. For by
the affusion of fair Water, I Obtain'd a Solution, which (to note that
singularity upon the bye) was red, whence the Water being evaporated,
there remained a soluble Substance much like the Ordinary Salt of
Coral, as Chymists are pleas'd to call that Magistery of Corals, which
they make by dissolving them in common spirit of Vinager, and
abstracting the _Menstruum ad Siccitatem_. I know not whether I should
subjoine, on this occasion, that the simple spirit of Box, if Chymists
will have it therefore Saline because it has a strong tast, will
furnish us with a new kind of Saline Bodies, differing from those
hitherto taken notice of. For whereas of the three chief sorts of
Salts, the Acid, the Alcalizate, and the Sulphureous, there is none
that seems to be friends with both the other two, as I may, e're it
be long, have occasion to shew; I did not find but that the simple
spirit of Box did agree very well (at least as farr as I had occasion
to try it) both with the Acid and the other Salts. For though it would
lye very quiet with salt of Tartar, Spirit of Urine, or other bodies,
whose Salts were either of an Alcalizate or fugitive Nature; yet did
not the mingling of Oyle of Vitriol it self produce any hissing or
Effervescence, which you know is wont to ensue upon the Affusion of
that highly Acid Liquor upon either of the Bodies newly mentioned.

I think my self, sayes _Eleutherius_, beholden to you, for this
Experiment; not only because I forsee you will make it helpful to you
in the Enquiry you are now upon, but because it teaches us a Method,
whereby we may prepare a numerous sort of new spirits, which though
more simple then any that are thought Elementary, are manifestly
endow'd with peculiar and powerfull qualities, some of which may
probably be of considerable use in Physick, as well alone, as
associated with other things; as one may hopefully guess by the
redness of that Solution your sour Spirit made of Corals, and by some
other circumstances of your Narrative. And suppose (pursues
_Eleutherius_) that you are not so confin'd, for the separation of the
Acid parts of these compound Spirits from the other, to employ Corals;
but that you may as well make use of any Alcalizate Salt, or of
Pearls, or Crabs eyes, or any other Body, upon which common Spirit of
Vinager will easily work, and, to speak in an _Helmontian_ Phrase,
Exantlate it self.

I have not yet tryed, sayes _Carneades_, of what use the mention'd
liquors may be in Physick, either as Medicines or as _Menstruums_: But
I could mention now (and may another time) divers of the tryals that I
made to satisfy my self of the difference of these two Liquors. But
that, as I allow your thinking what you newly told me about Corals, I
presume you will allow me, from what I have said already, to deduce
this Corollary; That there are divers compound bodies, which may be
resolv'd into four such differing Substances, as may as well merit the
name of Principles, as those to which the Chymists freely give it. For
since they scruple not to reckon that which I call the compound
Spirit of Box, for the spirit, or as others would have it, the Mercury
of that Wood, I see not, why the Acid liquor, and the other, should
not each of them, especially that last named, be lookt upon as more
worthy to be called an Elementary Principle; since it must needs be of
a more simple nature then the Liquor, which was found to be divisible
into that, and the Acid Spirit. And this further use (continues
_Carneades_) may be made of our experiment to my present purpose, that
it may give us a rise to suspect, that since a Liquor reputed by the
Chymists to be, without dispute, Homogeneous, is by so slight a way
divisible into two distinct and more simple Ingredients, some more
skilful or happier Experimenter then I may find a way either further
to divide one of these Spirits, or to resolve some or other, if not
all, of those other Ingredients of mixt Bodies, that have hitherto
pass'd among Chymists for their Elements or Principles.




THE

SCEPTICAL CHYMIST.

_The Fourth Part._


And thus much (sayes _Carneades_) may suffice to be said of the
_Number_ of the Distinct substances separable from mixt Bodies by the
Fire: Wherefore I now proceed to consider the _nature_ of them, and
shew you, That though they seem _Homogeneous_ Bodies, yet have they
not the purity and simplicity that is requisite to Elements. And I
should immediately proceed to the proof of my Assertion, but that the
Confidence wherewith Chymists are wont to call each of the Substances
we speak of by the name of Sulphur or Mercury, or the other of the
Hypostaticall Principles, and the intollerabln [Errata: intolerable]
Ambiguity they allow themselves ie [Errata: in] their Writings and
Expressions, makes it necessary for me in Order to the Keeping you
either from mistaking me, or thinking I mistake the Controversie, to
take Notice to you and complain of the unreasonable Liberty they give
themselves of playing with Names at pleasure. And indeed if I were
oblig'd in this Dispute, to have such regard to the Phraseology of
each particular Chymist, as not to Write any thing which this or that
Author may not pretend, not to contradict this or that sence, which he
may give as Occasion serves to his Ambiguous Expressions, I should
scarce know how to dispute, nor which way to turn myself. For I find
that even Eminent Writers, (such as _Raymund Lully_, _Paracelsus_ and
others) do so abuse the termes they employ, that as they will now and
then give divers things, one name; so they will oftentimes give one
thing, many Names; and some of them (perhaps) such, as do much more
properly signifie some Distinct Body of another kind; nay even in
Technical Words or Termes of Art, they refrain not from this
Confounding Liberty; but will, as I have Observ'd, call the same
Substance, sometimes the Sulphur, and Sometimes the Mercury of a Body.
And now I speak of Mercury, I cannot but take Notice, that the
Descriptions they give us of that Principle or Ingredient of mixt
Bodies, are so intricate, that even those that have Endeavour'd to
Pollish and Illustrate the Notions of the Chymists, are fain to
confess that they know not what to make of it, either by Ingenuous
Acknowledgments, or Descriptions that are not Intelligible.

I must confess (sayes _Eleutherius_) I have, in the reading of
_Paracelsus_ and other Chymical Authors, been troubled to find, that
such hard Words and Equivocal Expressions, as You justly complain of,
do even when they treat of Principles, seem to be studiously affected
by those Writers; whether to make themselves to be admir'd by their
Readers, and their Art appear more Venerable and Mysterious, or, (as
they would have us think) to conceal from them a Knowledge themselves
judge inestimable.

But whatever (sayes _Carneades_) these Men may promise themselves from
a Canting way of delivering the Principles of Nature, they will find
the Major part of Knowing Men so vain, as when they understand not
what they read, to conclude, that it is rather the Writers fault then
their own. And those that are so ambitious to be admir'd by the
Vulgar, that rather then go without the Admiration of the Ignorant
they will expose themselves to the contempt of the Learned, those
shall, by my consent, freely enjoy their Option. As for the Mystical
Writers scrupling to Communicate their Knowledge, they might less to
their own Disparagement, and to the trouble of their Readers, have
conceal'd it by writing no Books, then by Writing bad ones. If
_Themistius_ were here, he would not stick to say, that Chymists write
thus darkly, not because they think their Notions too precious to be
explain'd, but because they fear that if they were explain'd, men
would discern, that they are farr from being precious. And indeed, I
fear that the chief Reason why Chymists have written so obscurely of
their three Principles, may be, That not having Clear and Distinct
Notions of them themselves, they cannot write otherwise then
Confusedly of what they but Confusedly Apprehend: Not to say that
divers of them, being Conscious to the Invalidity of their Doctrine,
might well enough discerne that they could scarce keep themselves from
being confuted, but by keeping themselves from being clearly
understood. But though much may be said to Excuse the Chymists when
they write Darkly, and √Жnigmatically, about the Preparation of their
_Elixir_, and Some few other grand _Arcana_, the divulging of which
they may upon Grounds Plausible enough esteem unfit; yet when they
pretend to teach the General Principles of Natural Philosophers, this
Equivocall Way of Writing is not to be endur'd. For in such
Speculative Enquiries, where the naked Knowledge of the Truth is the
thing Principally aim'd at, what does he teach me worth thanks that
does not, if he can, make his Notion intelligible to me, but by
Mystical Termes, and Ambiguous Phrases darkens what he should clear
up; and makes me add the Trouble of guessing at the sence of what he
Equivocally expresses, to that of examining the Truth of what he seems
to deliver. And if the matter of the Philosophers Stone, and the
manner of preparing it, be such Mysteries as they would have the World
believe them, they may Write Intelligibly and Clearly of the
Principles of mixt Bodies in General, without Discovering what they
call the Great Work. But for my part (Continues _Carneades_) what my
Indignation at this Un-philosophical way of teaching Principles has
now extorted from me, is meant chiefly to excuse my self, if I shall
hereafter oppose any Particular Opinion or assertion, that some
Follower of _Paracelsus_ or any Eminent Artist may pretend not to be
his Masters. For, as I told you long since, I am not Oblig'd to
examine private mens writings, (which were a Labour as endless as
unprofitable) being only engag'd to examine those Opinions about the
_Tria Prima_, which I find those Chymists I have met with to agree in
most: And I Doubt not but my Arguments against their Doctrine will be
in great part easily enough applicable ev'n to those private
Opinions, which they do not so directly and expresly oppose. And
indeed, that which I am now entering upon being the Consideration of
the things themselves whereinto _Spagyrists_ resolve mixt Bodies by
the Fire, If I can shew that these are not of an Elementary Nature, it
will be no great matter what names these or those Chymists have been
pleased to give them. And I question not that to a Wise man, and
consequently to _Eleutherius_, it will be lesse considerable to know,
what Men Have thought of Things, then what they Should have thought.

In the fourth and last place, then, I consider, that as generally as
Chymists are wont to appeal to Experience, and as confidently as they
use to instance the several substances separated by the Fire from a
Mixt Body, as a sufficient proof of their being its component
Elements: Yet those differing Substances are many of them farr enough


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