Copyright
Robert Boyle.

The sceptical chymist online

. (page 8 of 21)
Online LibraryRobert BoyleThe sceptical chymist → online text (page 8 of 21)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


three or four. Of these, I shall take the First from the state of the
Controversie itself, and the genuine Notion of Mistion, which though
much intricated by the Schoolmen, I take in short to be this,
_Aristotle_, at least as many of his Interpreters expound him, and as
indeed he Teaches in some places, where he professedly Dissents from
the Antients, declares Mistion to be such a mutual Penetration, and
perfect Union of the mingl'd Elements, that there is no Portion of the
mixt Body, how Minute soever, which does not contain All, and Every
of the Four Elements, or in which, if you please, all the Elements are
not. And I remember, that he reprehends the Mistion taught by the
Ancients, as too sleight or gross, for this Reason, that Bodies mixt
according to their _Hypothesis_, though they appear so to humane Eyes,
would not appear such to the acute Eyes of a _Lynx_, whose perfecter
Sight would discerne the Elements, if they were no otherwise mingled,
than as his Predecessors would have it, to be but Blended, not United;
whereas the Antients, though they did not all Agree about what kind of
Bodies were Mixt, yet they did almost unanimously hold, that in a
compounded Bodie, though the _Miscibilia_, whether Elements,
Principles, or whatever they pleas'd to call them, were associated in
such small Parts, and with so much Exactness, that there was no
sensible Part of the Mass but seem'd to be of the same Nature with the
rest, and with the whole; Yet as to the Atomes, or other Insensible
Parcels of Matter, whereof each of the _Miscibilia_ consisted, they
retain'd each of them its own Nature, being but by Apposition or
_Juxta_-Position united with the rest into one Bodie. So that
although by virtue of this composition the mixt Body did perhaps
obtain Divers new Qualities, yet still the Ingredients that Compounded
it, retaining their own Nature, were by the Destruction of the
_Compositum_ separable from each other, the minute Parts disingag'd
from those of a differing Nature, and associated with those of their
own sort returning to be again, Fire, Earth, or Water, as they were
before they chanc'd to be Ingredients of that _Compositum_. This may
be explain'd (Continues _Eleutherius_,) by a piece of Cloath made of
white and black threds interwoven, wherein though the whole piece
appear neither white nor black, but of a resulting Colour, that is
gray, yet each of the white and black threds that compose it, remains
what it was before, as would appear if the threds were pull'd asunder,
and sorted each Colour by it self. This (pursues _Eleutherius_) being,
as I understand it, the State of the Controversie, and the
_Aristotelians_ after their Master Commonly Defining, that Mistion is
_Miscibilium alteratorum Unio_, that seems to comport much better
with the Opinion of the Chymists, then with that of their Adversaries,
since according to that as the newly mention'd Example declares, there
is but a _Juxta_-position of separable Corpuscles, retaining each its
own Nature, whereas according to the _Aristotelians_, when what they
are pleas'd to call a mixt Body results from the Concourse of the
Elements, the _Miscibilia_ cannot so properly be said to be Alter'd,
as Destroy'd, since there is no Part in the mixt Body, how small
soever, that can be call'd either Fir [Transcriber's Note: Fire], or
Air, or Water, or Earth.

Nor indeed can I well understand, how Bodies can be mingl'd other
wayes then as I have declar'd, or at least how they can be mingl'd, as
our Peripateticks would have it. For whereas _Aristotle_ tells us,
that if a Drop of Wine be put into ten thousand Measures of Water, the
Wine being Overpower'd by so Vast a Quantity of Water will be turn'd
into it, he speaks to my Apprehension, very improbably; For though One
should add to that Quantity of Water as many Drops of Wine as would a
Thousand times exceed it all, yet by his Rule the whole Liquor should
not be a _Crama_, a Mixture of Wine and Water, wherein the Wine would
be Predominant, but Water only; Since the Wine being added but by a
Drop at a time would still Fall into nothing but Water, and
Consequently would be turn'd into it. And if this would hold in Metals
too, 'twere a rare secret for Goldsmiths, and Refiners; For by melting
a Mass of Gold, or Silver, and by but casting into it Lead or
Antimony, Grain after Grain, they might at pleasure, within a
reasonable Compass of time, turn what Quantity they desire, of the
Ignoble into the Noble Metalls. And indeed since a Pint of wine, and a
pint of water, amount to about a Quart of Liquor, it seems manifest to
sense, that these Bodies doe not Totally Penetrate one another, as one
would have it; but that each retains its own Dimensions; and
Consequently, that they are by being Mingl'd only divided into minute
Bodies, that do but touch one another with their Surfaces, as do the
Grains, of Wheat, Rye, Barley, &c. in a heap of severall sorts of
Corn: And unless we say, that as when one measure of wheat, for
Instance, is Blended with a hundred measures of Barley, there happens
only a _Juxta_-position and Superficial Contact betwixt the Grains of
wheat, and as many or thereabouts of the Grains of Barley. So when a
Drop of wine is mingl'd with a great deal of water, there is but an
Apposition of so many Vinous Corpuscles to a Correspondent Number of
Aqueous ones; Unless I say this be said, I see not how that Absurdity
will be avoyded, whereunto the Stoical Notion of mistion (namely by
[Greek: synchysis] [Errata: [Greek: Synchysis]], or Confusion) was
Liable, according to which the least Body may be co-extended with the
greatest: Since in a mixt Body wherein before the Elements were
Mingl'd there was, for Instance, but one pound of water to ten
thousand of Earth, yet according to them there must not be the least
part of that Compound, that Consisted not as well of Earth, as water.
But I insist, Perhaps, too long (sayes _Eleutherius_) upon the proofs
afforded me by the Nature of Mistion: Wherefore I will but name Two or
Three other Arguments; whereof the first shall be, that according to
_Aristotle_ himself, the motion of a mixt Body followes the Nature of
the Predominant Element, as those wherein the Earth prevails, tend
towards the Centre of heavy Bodies. And since many things make it
Evident, that in divers Mixt Bodies the Elementary Qualities are as
well Active, though not altogether so much so as in the Elements
themselves, it seems not reasonable to deny the actual Existence of
the Elements in those Bodies wherein they Operate.

To which I shall add this Convincing Argument, that Experience
manifests, and _Aristotle_ Confesses it, that the _Miscibilia_ may be
again separated from a mixt Body, as is Obvious in the Chymical
Resolutions of Plants and Animalls, which could not be unless they did
actually retain their formes in it: For since, according to
_Aristotle_, and I think according to truth, there is but one common
Mass of all things, which he has been pleas'd to call _Materia Prima_;
And since tis not therefore the Matter but the Forme that Constitutes
and Discriminates Things, to say that the Elements remain not in a
Mixt Body, according to their Formes, but according to their Matter,
is not to say that they remain there at all; Since although those
Portions of Matter were Earth and water, &c. before they concurr'd,
yet the resulting Body being once Constituted, may as well be said to
be simple as any of the Elements, the Matter being confessedly of the
same Nature in all Bodies, and the Elementary Formes being according
to this _Hypothesis_ perish'd and abolish'd.

And lastly, and if we will Consult Chymical Experiments, we shall find
the Advantages of the Chymical Doctrine above the Peripatetick Title
little less then Palpable. For in that Operation that Refiners call
Quartation, which they employ to purifie Gold, although three parts of
Silver be so exquisitely mingl'd by Fusion with a fourth Part of Gold
(whence the Operation is Denominated) that the resulting Mass acquires
severall new Qualities, by virtue of the Composition, and that there
is scarce any sensible part of it that is not Compos'd of both the
metalls; Yet if You cast this mixture into _Aqua Fortis_, the Silver
will be dissolv'd in the _Menstruum_, and the Gold like a dark or
black Powder will fall to the Bottom of it, and either Body may be
again reduc'd into such a Metal as it was before, which shews: that it
retain'd its Nature, notwithstanding its being mixt _per Minima_ with
the other: We likewise see, that though one part of pure Silver be
mingled with eight or ten Parts, or more, of Lead, yet the Fire will
upon the Cuppel easily and perfectly separate them again. And that
which I would have you peculiarly Consider on this Occasion is, that
not only in Chymicall Anatomies there is a Separation made of the
Elementary Ingredients, but that some Mixt Bodies afford a very much
greater Quantity of this or that Element or Principle than of another;
as we see, that Turpentine and Amber yield much more Oyl and Sulphur
than they do Water, whereas Wine, which is confess'd to be a perfectly
mixt Bodie, yields but a little Inflamable Spirit, or Sulphur, and not
much more Earth; but affords a vast proportion of Phlegm or water:
which could not be, if as the Peripateticks suppose, every, even of
the minutest Particles, were of the same nature with the whole, and
consequently did contain both Earth and Water, and Aire, and Fire;
Wherefore as to what _Aristotle_ principally, and almost only Objects,
that unless his Opinion be admitted, there would be no true and
perfect Mistion, but onely Aggregates or Heaps of contiguous
Corpuscles, which, though the Eye of Man cannot discerne, yet the Eye
of a _Lynx_ might perceive not to be of the same Nature with one
another and with their _Totum_, as the Nature of Mistion requires, if
he do not beg the Question, and make Mistion to consist in what other
Naturalists deny to be requisite to it, yet He at least objects That
as a great Inconvenience which I cannot take for such, till he have
brought as Considerable Arguments as I have propos'd to prove the
contrary, to evince that Nature makes other Mistions than such as I
have allowed, wherein the _Miscibilia_ are reduc'd into minute Parts,
and United as farr as sense can discerne: which if You will not grant
to be sufficient for a true Mistion, he must have the same Quarrel
with Nature her self, as with his Adversaries.

Wherefore (Continues _Eleutherius_) I cannot but somewhat marvail that
_Carneades_ should oppose the Doctrine of the Chymist in a Particular,
wherein they do as well agree with his old Mistress, Nature, as
dissent from his old Adversary, _Aristotle_.

I must not (replies _Carneades_) engage my self at present to examine
thorowly the Controversies concerning Mistion: And if there were no
third thing, but that I were reduc'd to embrace absolutely and
unreservedly either the Opinion of _Aristotle_, or that of the
Philosophers that went before him, I should look upon the latter,
which the Chymists have adopted, as the more defensible Opinion: But
because differing in the Opinions about the Elements from both
Parties, I think I can take a middle Course, and Discourse to you of
Mistion after a way that does neither perfectly agree, nor perfectly
disagree with either, as I will not peremptorily define, whether there
be not Cases wherein some _Phænomena_ of Mistion seem to favour the
Opinion that the Chymists Patrons borrow'd of the Antients, I shall
only endeavour to shew You that there are some cases which may keep
the Doubt, which makes up my second General Consideration from being
unreasonable.

I shall then freely acknowledge to You (sayes _Carneades_) that I am
not over well satisfi'd with the Doctrine that is ascribed to
_Aristotle_, concerning Mistion, especially since it teaches that the
four Elements may again be separated from the mixt Body; whereas if
they continu'd not in it, it would not be so much a Separation as a
Production. And I think the Ancient Philosophers that Preceded
_Aristotle_, and Chymists who have since receiv'd the same Opinion, do
speak of this matter more intelligibly, if not more probably, then the
Peripateticks: but though they speak Congruously enough, to their
believing, that there are a certain Number of Primogeneal Bodies, by
whose Concourse all those we call Mixts are Generated, and which in
the Destruction of mixt Bodies do barely part company, and recede from
one another, just such as they were when they came together; yet I,
who meet with very few Opinions that I can entirely Acquiesce in,
must confess to You that I am inclin'd to differ not only from the
_Aristotelians_, but from the old Philosophers and the Chymists, about
the Nature of Mistion: And if You will give me leave, I shall Briefly
propose to you my present Notion of it, provided you will look upon
it, not so much as an Assertion as an _Hypothesis_; in talking of
which I do not now pretend to propose and debate the whole Doctrine of
Mistion, but to shew that 'tis not Improbable, that sometimes mingl'd
substances may be so strictly united, that it doth not by the usuall
Operations of the Fire, by which Chymists are wont to suppose
themselves to have made the _Analyses_ of mixt Bodies, sufficiently
appear, that in such Bodies the _Miscibilia_ that concurr'd to make
them up do each of them retain its own peculiar Nature: and by the
_Spagyrists_ Fires may be more easily extricated and Recover'd, than
Alter'd, either by a Change of Texture in the Parts of the same
Ingredient, or by an Association with some parts of another Ingredient
more strict than was that of the parts of this or that _Miscibile_
among themselves. At these words _Eleu._ having press'd him to do
what he propos'd, and promis'd to do what he desir'd;

I consider then (resumes _Carneades_) that, not to mention those
improper Kinds of mistion, wherein _Homogeneous_ Bodies are Joyn'd, as
when Water is mingl'd with water, or two Vessels full of the same kind
of Wine with one another, the mistion I am now to Discourse of seems,
Generally speaking, to be but an Union _per Minima_ of any two or more
Bodies of differing Denominations; as when Ashes and Sand are
Colliquated into Glass or Antimony, and Iron into _Regulus Martis_, or
Wine and Water are mingl'd, and Sugar is dissolv'd in the Mixture. Now
in this general notion of Mistion it does not appear clearly
comprehended, that the _Miscibilia_ or Ingredients do in their small
Parts so retain their Nature and remain distinct in the Compound, that
they may thence by the Fire be again taken asunder: For though I deny
not that in some Mistions of certain permanent Bodies this Recovery of
the same Ingredients may be made, yet I am not convinc'd that it will
hold in all or even in most, or that it is necessarily deducible from
Chymicall Experiments, and the true Notion of Mistion. To explain
this a little, I assume, that Bodies may be mingl'd, and that very
durably, that are not Elementary or resolv'd [Errata: nor have been
resolved] into Elements or Principles that they may be mingl'd; as is
evident in the _Regulus_ of Colliquated Antimony, and Iron newly
mention'd; and in Gold Coyne, which lasts so many ages; wherein
generally the Gold is alloy'd by the mixture of a quantity, greater or
lesser, (in our Mints they use about a 12th. part) of either silver,
or Copper, or both. Next, I consider, that there being but one
Universal matter of things, as 'tis known that the _Aristotelians_
themselves acknowledge, who call it _Materia Prima_ (about which
nevertheless I like not all their Opinions,) the Portions of this
matter seem to differ from One Another, but in certain Qualities or
Accidents, fewer or more; upon whose Account the Corporeal Substance
they belong to receives its Denomination, and is referr'd to this or
that particular sort of Bodies; so that if it come to lose, or be
depriv'd of those Qualities, though it ceases not to be a body, yet it
ceases from being that kind of Body as a Plant, or Animal; or Red,
Green, Sweet, Sowre, or the like. I consider that it very often
happens that the small parts of Bodies cohere together but by
immediate Contact and Rest; and that however, there are few Bodies
whose minute Parts stick so close together, to what cause soever their
Combination be ascrib'd, but that it is possible to meet with some
other Body, whose small Parts may get between them, and so dis-joyn
them; or may be fitted to cohere more strongly with some of them, then
those some do with the rest; or at least may be combin'd so closely
with them, as that neither the Fire, nor the other usual Instruments
of Chymical Anatomies will separate them. These things being promis'd,
I will not peremptorily deny, but that there may be some Clusters of
Particles, wherein the Particles are so minute, and the Coherence so
strict, or both, that when Bodies of Differing Denominations, and
consisting of such durable Clusters, happen to be mingl'd, though the
Compound Body made up of them may be very Differing from either of
the Ingredients, yet each of the little Masses or Clusters may so
retain its own Nature, as to be again separable, such as it was
before. As when Gold and Silver being melted together in a Due
Proportion (for in every Proportion, the Refiners will tell You that
the Experiment will not succeed) _Aqua Fortis_ will dissolve the
Silver, and leave the Gold untoucht; by which means, as you lately
noted, both the Metalls may be recover'd from the mixed Mass. But
(Continues _Carneades_) there are other Clusters wherein the Particles
stick not so close together, but that they may meet with Corpuscles of
another Denomination, which are dispos'd to be more closely United
with some of them, then they were among themselves. And in such case,
two thus combining Corpuscles losing that Shape, or Size, or Motion,
or other Accident, upon whose Account they were endow'd with such a
Determinate Quality or Nature, each of them really ceases to be a
Corpuscle of the same Denomination it was before; and from the
Coalition of these there may emerge a new Body, as really one, as
either of the Corpuscles was before they were mingl'd, or, if you
please, Confounded: Since this Concretion is really endow'd with its
own Distinct qualities, and can no more by the Fire, or any other
known way of _Analysis_, be divided again into the Corpuscles that at
first concurr'd to make it, than either of them could by the same
means be subdivided into other Particles. But (sayes _Eleutherius_) to
make this more intelligible by particular examples; If you dissolve
Copper in _Aqua Fortis_, or Spirit of Nitre, (for I remember not which
I us'd, nor do I think it much Material) You may by Crystalizing the
Solution Obtain a goodly Vitriol; which though by Virtue of the
Composition it have manifestly diverse Qualities, not to be met with
in either of the Ingredients, yet it seems that the Nitrous Spirits,
or at least many of them, may in this Compounded Mass retain their
former Nature; for having for tryal sake Distill'd this Vitrioll
Spirit, there came over store of Red Fumes, which by that Colour, by
their peculiar stinke, and by their Sourness, manifested themselves to
be, Nitrous Spirits; and that the remaining Calx continu'd Copper, I
suppose you'l easily beleeve. But if you dissolve _Minium_, which is
but Lead Powder'd by the Fire, in good Spirit of Vinager, and
Crystalize the Solution, you shall not only have a Saccharine Salt
exceedingly differing from both its Ingredients; but the Union of some
Parts of the _Menstruum_ with some of those of the Metal is so strict,
that the Spirit of Vinager seems to be, as such, destroy'd, since the
Saline Corpuscles have quite lost that acidity, upon whose Account the
Liquor was call'd Spirit of Vinager; nor can any such Acid Parts as
were put to the _Minium_ be Separated by any known way from the
_Saccharum Saturni_ resulting from them both; for not only there is no
Sowrness at all, but an admirable Sweetness to be tasted in the
Concretion; and not only I found not that Spirit of Wine, which
otherwise will immediately hiss when mingl'd with strong Spirit of
Vinager, would hiss being pour'd upon _Saccharum Saturni_, wherein yet
the Acid Salt of Vinager, did it Survive, may seem to be concentrated;
but upon the Distillation of _Saccharum Saturni_ by its Self I found
indeed a Liquor very Penetrant, but not at all Acid, and differing as
well in smell and other Qualities, as in tast, from the Spirit of
Vinager; which likewise seem'd to have left some of its Parts very
firmly united to the _Caput Mortuum_, which though of a Leaden Nature
was in smell, Colour, &c. differing from _Minium_; which brings into
my mind, that though two Powders, the one Blew, and the other Yellow,
may appear a Green mixture, without either of them losing its own
Colour, as a good Microscope has sometimes inform'd me; yet having
mingl'd _Minium_ and _Sal Armoniack_ in a requisite Proportion, and
expos'd them in a Glass Vessel to the Fire, the whole Mass became
White, and the Red Corpuscles were destroy'd; for though the Calcin'd
Lead was separable from the Salt, yet you'l easily beleeve it did not
part from it in the Forme of a Red Powder, such as was the _Minium_,
when it was put to the _Sal Armoniack_. I leave it also to be
consider'd, whether in Blood, and divers other Bodies, it be probable,
that each of the Corpuscles that concurr to make a Compound Body doth,
though some of them in some Cases may, retain its own Nature in it,
so that Chymsts [Transcriber's Note: Chymists] may Extricate each sort
of them from all the others, wherewith it concurr'd to make a Body of
one Denomination.

I know there may be a Distinction betwixt Matter _Immanent_, when the
material Parts remain and retain their own Nature in the things
materiated, as some of the Schoolmen speak, (in which sence Wood,
Stones and Lime are the matter of a House,) and _Transient_, which in
the materiated thing is so alter'd, as to receive a new Forme, without
being capable of re-admitting again the Old. In which sence the
Friends of this Distinction say, that _Chyle_ is the matter of Blood,
and Blood that of a Humane Body, of all whose Parts 'tis presum'd to
be the Aliment. I know also that it may be said, that of material
Principles, some are _common_ to all mixt Bodies, as _Aristotles_ four
Elements, or the Chymists _Tria Prima_; others _Peculiar_, which
belong to this or that sort of Bodies; as Butter and a kind of whey
may be said to be the Proper Principles of Cream: and I deny not, but
that these Distinctions may in some Cases be of Use; but partly by
what I have said already, and partly by what I am to say, You may
easily enough guess in what sence I admit them, and discerne that in
such a sence they will either illustrate some of my Opinions, or at
least will not overthrow any of them.

To prosecute then what I was saying before, I will add to this
purpose, That since the Major part of Chymists Credit, what those they
call Philosophers affirme of their Stone, I may represent to them,
that though when Common Gold and Lead are mingled Together, the Lead
may be sever'd almost un-alter'd from the Gold; yet if instead of Gold
a _Tantillum_ of the Red _Elixir_ be mingled with the Saturn, their
Union will be so indissoluble in the perfect Gold that will be
produc'd by it, that there is no known, nor perhaps no possible way of
separating the diffus'd _Elixir_ from the fixed Lead, but they both
Constitute a most permanent Body, wherein the Saturne seems to have
quite lost its Properties that made it be call'd Lead, and to have
been rather transmuted by the _Elixir_, then barely associated to it.
So that it seems not alwayes necessary, that the Bodies that are put
together _per minima_, should each retain its own Nature; So as when
the Mass it Self is dissipated by the Fire, to be more dispos'd to
re-appear in its Pristine Forme, then in any new one, which by a
stricter association of its Parts with those of some of the other
Ingredients of the _Compositum_, then with one another, it may have
acquired.

And if it be objected, that unless the _Hypothesis_ I oppose be
admitted, in such Cases as I have proposed there would not be an Union
but a Destruction of mingled Bodies, which seems all one as to say,
that of such Bodies there is no mistion at all; I answer, that
_though_ the Substances that are mingl'd remain, only their Accidents
are Destroy'd, and _though_ we may with tollerable Congruity call them
_Miscibilia_, because they are Distinct Bodies before they are put


1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Online LibraryRobert BoyleThe sceptical chymist → online text (page 8 of 21)