Imágenes de páginas

Experiment solitary touching creatures that sleep all winter.

899. THERE be divers creatures that sleep all winter, as the bear, the hedge-hog, the bat, the bee, etc. These all wax fat when they sleep, and egest not. The cause of their fattening during their sleeping time, may be the want of assimilating; for whatsoever assimilateth not to flesh turneth either to sweat or fat. These creatures, for part of their sleeping time, have been observed not to stir at all; and for the other part, to stir, but not to remove. And they get warm and close places to sleep in. When the Flemings wintered in Nova Zembla, the bears about the middle of November went to sleep; and then the foxes began to come forth, which durst not before. It is noted by some of the ancients, that the she-bear breedeth, and lyeth in with her young, during that time of rest and that a bear big with young hath seldom been seen.

Experiment solitary touching the generating of creatures by copulation, and by putrefaction.

900. SOME living creatures are procreated by copulation between male and female: some by putrefaction and of those which come by putrefaction, many do, nevertheless, afterwards procreate by copulation. For the cause of both generations: first, it is most certain, that the cause of all vivification is a gentle and proportionable heat, working upon a glutinous and yielding substance: for the heat doth bring forth spirit in that substance: and the substance being glutinous produceth two effects; the one, that the spirit is detained, and cannot break forth: the other, that the matter being gentle and yielding, is driven forwards by the motion of the spirits, after some swelling, into shape and members. Therefore all sperm, all menstruous substance, all matter whereof creatures are produced by putrefaction, have evermore a closeness, lentor, and sequacity. It seemeth therefore, that the generation by sperm only, and

whom they call the microcosm, do give a fit touch to the spirit of the world, by strong imaginations and beliefs, it might command nature; for Paracelsus, and some darksome authors of magic, do ascribe to imagination exalted the power of miracle-working faith. With these vast and bottomless follies men have been in part entertained.

But we, that hold firm to the works of God, and to the sense, which is God's lamp, lucerna Dei spiraculum hominis, will inquire with all sobriety and severity, whether there be to be found in the footsteps of nature, any such transmission and influx of immateriate virtues; and what the force of imagination is; either upon the body imaginant, or upon another body: wherein it will be like that labour of Hercules, in purging the stable of Augeas, to separate from superstitious and magical arts and observations, any thing that is clean and pure natural; and not to be either contemned or condemned. And although we shall have occasion to speak of this in more places than one, yet we will now make some entrance thereinto.

Experiments in consort, monitory, touching transmission of spirits, and the force of imagination.

901. MEN are to be admonished that they do not withdraw credit from the operations by transmission of spirits, and force of imagination, because the effects fail sometimes. For as in infection, and contagion from body to body, as the plague, and the like, it is most certain that the infection is received, many times, by the body passive, but yet is, by the strength and good disposition thereof, repulsed and wrought out, before it be formed into a disease; so much more in impressions from mind to mind, or from spirit to spirit, the impression taketh, but is encountered and overcome by the mind and spirit, which is passive, before it work any manifest effect. And therefore they work most upon weak minds and spirits; as those of women, sick persons, superstitious and fearful persons, children, and young creatures:

Nescio quis teneros oculus mihi fascinat agnos:

The poet speaketh not of sheep, but of lambs. As for the weakness of the power of them upon kings and magistrates, it may be ascribed, besides the main, which is the protection of God over those that execute his place, to the weakness of the imagination of the imaginant: for it is hard for a witch or a sorcerer to put on a belief that they can hurt such persons.

902. MEN are to be admonished, on the other side, that they do not easily give place and credit to these operations, because they succeed many times; for the cause of this success is oft to be truly ascribed unto the force of affection and imagination upon the body agent; and then by a secondary means it may work upon a diverse body: as for example, if a man carry a planet's seal, or a ring, or some part of a beast, believing strongly that it will help him to obtain his love; or to keep him from danger of hurt in fight; or to prevail in a suit, etc. it may make him more active and industrious: and again, more confident and persisting, than otherwise he would be. Now the great effects that may come of industry and perseverance, especially in civil business, who knoweth not? For we see audacity doth almost bind and mate the weaker sort of minds; and the state of human actions is so variable, that to try things oft, and never to give over, doth wonders: therefore it were a mere fallacy and mistaking to ascribe that to the. force of imagination upon another body which is but the force of imagination upon the proper body; for there is no doubt but that imagination and vehement affection work greatly upon the body of the imagi nant; as we shall shew in due place.

903. MEN are to be admonished, that as they are not to mistake the causes of these operations; so much less they are to mistake the fact or effect; and rashly to take that for done which is not done. And therefore, as divers wise judges have prescribed and cautioned, men may not too rashly believe the confessions of witches, nor yet the evidence against them. For the witches themselves are imaginative, and be

lieve oft-times they do that which they do not: and people are credulous in that point, and ready to impute accidents and natural operations to witchcraft. It is worthy the observing, that both in ancient and late times, as in the Thessalian witches, and the meetings of witches that have been recorded by so many late confessions, the great wonders which they tell, of carrying in the air, transforming themselves into other bodies, etc. are still reported to be wrought, not by incantations or ceremonies, but by ointments, and anointing themselves all over. This may justly move a man to think that these fables are the effects of imagination for it is certain that ointments do all, if they be laid on any thing thick, by stopping of the pores, shut in the vapours, and send them to the head extremely. And for the particular ingredients of those magical ointments, it is like they are opiate and soporiferous. For anointing of the forehead, neck, feet, back-bone, we know, is used for procuring dead sleeps: and if any man say that this effect would be better done by inward potions; answer may be made, that the medicines which go to the ointments are so strong, that if they were used inwards, they would kill those that use them: and therefore they work potently, though outwards.

We will divide the several kinds of the operations by transmission of spirits and imagination, which will give no small light to the experiments that follow. All operations by transmission of spirits and imagination have this; that they work at distance, and not at touch; and they are these being distinguished.

904. THE first is the transmission or emission of the thinner and more airy parts of bodies; as in odours and infections; and this is, of all the rest, the most corporeal. But you must remember withal, that there be a number of those emissions, both wholesome and unwholesome, that give no smell at all: for the plague, many times when it is taken, giveth no scent at all: and there be many good and healthful airs that do appear by habitation and other proofs, that differ not in smell from other airs. And under

this head you may place all imbibitions of air, where the substance is material, odour-like; whereof some nevertheless are strange, and very suddenly diffused; as the alteration which the air receiveth in Egypt, almost immediately, upon the rising of the river of Nilus, whereof we have spoken.

905. THE second is the transmission or emission of those things that we call spiritual species: as visibles and sounds; the one whereof we have handled, and the other we shall handle in due place. These move swiftly, and at great distance; but then they require a medium well disposed, and their transmission is easily stopped.

906. THE third is the emissions, which cause attraction of certain bodies at distance; wherein though the loadstone be commonly placed in the first rank, yet we think good to except it, and refer it to another head but the drawing of amber and jet, and other electric bodies, and the attraction in gold of the spirit of quicksilver at distance; and the attraction of heat at distance; and that of fire to naphtha; and that of some herbs to water, though at distance; and divers others; we shall handle, but yet not under this present title, but under the title of attraction in general.

907. THE fourth is the emission of spirits, and immateriate powers and virtues, in those things which work by the universal configuration and sympathy of the world; not by forms, or celestial influxes, as is vainly taught and received, but by the primitive nature of matter, and the seeds of things. Of this kind is, as we yet suppose, the working of the loadstone, which is by consent with the globe of the earth: of this kind is the motion of gravity, which is by consent of dense bodies with the globe of the earth: of this kind is some disposition of bodies to rotation, and particularly from east to west: of which kind we conceive the main float and refloat of the sea is, which is by consent of the universe, as part of the diurnal motion. These immateriate virtues have this property differing from others; that the diversity of

« AnteriorContinuar »