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Experiments in consort touching perception in bodies insensible, tending to natural divination or subtile trials.
IT is certain, that all bodies whatsoever, though they have no sense, yet they have perception: for when one body is applied to another, there is a kind of election to embrace that which is agreeable, and to exclude or expel that which is ingrate: and whether the body be alterant, or altered, evermore a perception precedeth operation; for else all bodies would be alike one to another. And sometimes this perception, in some kind of bodies, is far more subtile than the sense; so that the sense is but a dull thing in comparison of it: we see a weather-glass will find the least difference of the weather, in heat, or cold, when men find it not. And this perception also is sometimes at distance, as well as upon the touch; as when the loadstone draweth iron, or flame fireth naphtha of Babylon, a great distance off. It is therefore a subject of a very noble inquiry, to inquire of the more subtile perceptions; for it is another key to open nature, as well as the sense, and sometimes better. And besides, it is a principal means of natural divination; for that which in these perceptions appeareth early, in the great effects cometh long after. It is true also, that it serveth to discover that which is hid, as well as to foretel that which is to come, as it is in many subtile trials; as to try whether seeds be old or new, the sense cannot inform; but if you boil them in water, the new seeds will sprout sooner and so of water, the taste will not discover the best water; but the speedy consuming of it, and many other means, which we have heretofore set
down, will discover it. So in all physiognomy, the lineaments of the body will discover those natural inclinations of the mind which dissimulation will conceal, or discipline will suppress. We shall therefore now handle only those two perceptions, which pertain to natural divination and discovery; leaving the handling of perception in other things to be disposed elsewhere. Now it is true, that divination is attained by other means; as if you know the causes, if you know the concomitants, you may judge of the effect to follow and the like may be said of discovery; but we tie ourselves here to that divination and discovery chiefly, which is caused by an early or subtile perception.
The aptness or propension of air, or water, to corrupt or putrify, no doubt, is to be found before it break forth into manifest effects of diseases, blastings, or the like. We will therefore set down some prognostics of pestilential and unwholesome years.
801. THE wind blowing much from the south without rain, and worms in the oak-apple, have been spoken of before. Also the plenty of frogs, grasshoppers, flies, and the like creatures bred of putrefaction, doth portend pestilential years.
802. GREAT and early heats in the spring, and namely in May, without winds, portend the same; and generally so do years with little wind or thunder.
803. GREAT droughts in summer lasting till towards the end of August, and some gentle showers upon them, and then some dry weather again, do portend a pestilent summer the year following: for about the end of August all the sweetness of the earth, which goeth into plants and trees, is exhaled, and much more if the August be dry, so that nothing then can breathe forth of the earth but a gross vapour, which is apt to corrupt the air: and that vapour, by the first showers, if they be gentle, is released, and cometh forth abundantly. Therefore they that come abroad soon after those showers, are commonly taken with sickness and in Africa, nobody will stir out of doors after the first showers. But if the showers come vehemently, then they rather wash and fill the earth,
than give it leave to breathe forth presently. But if dry weather come again, then it fixeth and continueth the corruption of the air, upon the first showers begun; and maketh it of ill influence, even to the next summer; except a very frosty winter discharge it, which seldom succeedeth such droughts.
804. THE lesser infections, of the small-pox, purple fevers, agues, in the summer precedent, and hovering all winter, do portend a great pestilence in the summer following; for putrefaction doth not rise to its height at once.
805. Ir were good to lay a piece of raw flesh or fish in the open air; and if it putrify quickly, it is a sign of a disposition in the air to putrefaction. And because you cannot be informed whether the putrefaction be quick or late, except you compare this experiment with the like experiment in another year, it were not amiss in the same year, and at the same time, to lay one piece of flesh or fish in the open air, and another of the same kind and bigness within doors: for I judge, that if a general disposition be in the air to putrify, the flesh, or fish, will sooner putrify abroad where the air hath more power, than in the house, where it hath less, being many ways corrected. And this experiment would be made about the end of March for that season is likeliest to discover what the winter hath done, and what the summer following will do, upon the air. And because the air, no doubt, receiveth great tincture and infusion from the earth; it were good to try that exposing of flesh or fish, both upon a stake of wood some height above the earth, and upon the flat of the earth.
806. TAKE May-dew, and see whether it putrify quickly or no; for that likewise may disclose the quality of the air, and vapour of the earth, more or less corrupted.
807. A DRY March, and a dry May, portend a wholesome summer, if there be a showering April between but otherwise it is a sign of a pestilential year.
808. As the discovery of the disposition of the air
is good for the prognostics of wholesome and unwholesome years; so it is of much more use, for the choice of places to dwell in: at the least, for lodges, and retiring places for health: for mansion-houses respect provisions as well as health, wherein the experiments above-mentioned may serve.
809. BUT for the choice of places, or seats, it is good to make trial, not only of aptness of air to corrupt, but also of the moisture and dryness of the air, and the temper of it in heat or cold; for that may concern health diversly. We see that there be some houses, wherein sweet-meats will relent, and baked meats will mould, more than in others; and wainscots will also sweat more; so that they will almost run with water; all which, no doubt, are caused chiefly by the moistness of the air in those seats. But because it is better to know it before a man buildeth his house, than to find it after, take the experiments following.
810. LAY wool, or a sponge, or bread, in the place you would try, comparing it with some other places; and see whether it doth not moisten, and make the wool, or sponge, etc. more ponderous than the other: and if it do, you may judge of that place, as situate in a gross and moist air.
811. BECAUSE it is certain, that in some places, either by the nature of the earth, or by the situation of woods and hills, the air is more unequal than in others; and inequality of air is ever an enemy to health; it were good to take two weather-glasses, matches in all things, and to set them, for the same hours of one day, in several places, where no shade is, nor inclosures; and to mark when you set them, how far the water cometh; and to compare them, when you come again, how the water standeth then; and if you find them unequal, you may be sure that the place where the water is lowest is in the warmer air, and the other in the colder. And the greater the inequality be, of the ascent or descent of the water, the greater is the inequality of the temper of the air.
812. The predictions likewise of cold and long win
ters, and hot and dry summers, are good to be known'; as well for the discovery of the causes, as for divers provisions. That of plenty of haws, and hips, and brier-berries, hath been spoken of before. If wainscot, or stone, that have used to sweat, be more dry in the beginning of winter, or the drops of the eaves of houses come more slowly down than they use, it portendeth a hard and frosty winter. The cause is, for that it sheweth an inclination of the air to dry weather; which in winter is ever joined with frost.
813. GENERALLY a moist and cool summer portendeth a hard winter. The cause is, for that the va pours of the earth are not dissipated in the summer by the sun; and so they rebound upon the winter.
814. A HOT and dry summer, and autumn, and especially if the heat and drought extend far into September, portendeth an open beginning of winter; and colds to succeed toward the latter part of the winter, and the beginning of the spring: for till then the former heat and drought bear the sway, and the vapours are not sufficiently multiplied.
815. AN open and warm winter portendeth a hot and dry summer; for the vapours disperse into the winter showers; whereas cold and frost keepeth them in, and transporteth them into the late spring and summer following.
816. BIRDS that use to change countries at certain seasons, if they come earlier, do shew the temperature of weather, according to that country whence they came as the winter birds, namely, woodcocks, feldfares, etc. if they come earlier, and out of the northern countries, with us shew cold winters. And if it be in the same country, then they shew a temperature of season, like unto that season in which they come: as swallows, bats, cuckooes, etc. that come towards summer, if they come early, shew a hot summer to follow.
817. THE prognostics, more immediate, of weather to follow soon after, are more certain than those of seasons. The resounding of the sea upon the shore; and