The Sceptical Chymist
by Robert Boyle
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

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 together, however afterwards they are so Confounded that I should rather call them Concretions, or Resulting Bodies, than mixt ones; and though, perhaps, some other and better Account may be propos'd, upon which the name of mistion may remain; yet if what I have said be thought Reason, I shall not wrangle about Words, though I think it fitter to alter a Terme of Art, then reject a new Truth, because it suits not with it. If it be also Objected that this Notion of mine, concerning mixtion, though it may be allow'd, when Bodies already Compounded are put to be mingl'd, yet it is not applicable to those mixtions that are immediately made of the Elements, or Principles themselves; I Answer in the first place, that I here Consider the Nature of mixtion somewhat more Generally, then the Chymists, who yet cannot deny that there are oftentimes Mixtures, and those very durable ones, made of Bodies that are not Elementary. And in the next place, that though it may be probably pretended that in those Mixtures that are made immediately of the Bodies that are call'd Principles or Elements, the mingl'd Ingredients may better retain their own Nature in the Compounded Mass, and be more easily separated from thence; yet, besides that it may be doubted, whether there be any such Primary Bodies, I see not why the reason I alleadg'd, of the destructibility of the Ingredients of Bodies in General, may not sometimes be Applicable to Salt Sulphur or Mercury; 'till it be shewn upon what account we are to believe them Priviledged. And however, (if you please but to recall to mind, to what purpose I told you at First, I meant to speak of Mistion at this Time) you will perhaps allow that what I have hitherto Discoursed about it may not only give some Light to the Nature of it in general (especially when I shall have an Opportunity to Declare to you my thoughts on that subject more fully) but may on some Occasions also be Serviceable to me in the Insuing Part of this Discourse.

But, to look back Now to that part of our Discourse, whence this Excursion concerning Mistion has so long diverted us, though we there Deduc'd, from the differing Substances obtained from a Plant nourished only with Water, and from some other things, that it was not necessary that nature should alwaies compound a Body at first of all such differing bodies as the fire could afterwards make it afford; yet this is not all that may be collected from those Experiments. For from them there seems also Deducible something that Subverts an other Foundation of the Chymical Doctrine. For since that (as we have seen) out of fair Water alone, not only Spirit, but Oyle, and Salt, and Earth may be Produced; It will follow that Salt and Sulphur are not Primogeneal Bodies, and principles, since they are every Day made out of plain Water by the Texture which the Seed or Seminal principle of plants puts it into. And this would not perhaps seem so strange, if through pride, or negligence, We were not Wont to Overlook the Obvious and Familiar Workings of Nature; For if We consider what slight Qualities they are that serve to denominate one of the Tria Prima, We shall find that Nature do's frequently enough work as great Alterations in divers parcells of matter: For to be readily dissoluble in water, is enough to make the body that is so, passe for a Salt. And yet I see not why from a new shufling and Disposition of the Component Particles of a body, it should be much harder for Nature to compose a body dissoluble in Water, of a portion of Water that was not so before, then of the Liquid substance of an Egg, which will easily mix with Water, to produce by the bare warmth of a hatching Hen, Membrans, Feathers, Tendons, and other parts, that are not dissoluble in Water as that Liquid Substance was: Nor is the Hardness and Brittleness of Salt more difficult for Nature to introduce into such a yielding body as Water, then it is for her to make the Bones of a Chick out of the tender Substance of the Liquors of an Egg. But instead of prosecuting this consideration, as I easily might, I will proceed, as soon as I have taken notice of an objection that lies in my Way. For I easily foresee it will be alledged, that the above mentioned Examples are all taken from Plants, and Animals, in whom the Matter is Fashioned by the Plastick power of the seed, or something analogous thereunto. Whereas the Fire do's not act like any of the Seminal Principles, but destroyes them all, when they come within its Reach. But to this I shall need at present to make but this easy Answer, That whether it be a Seminal Principle, or any other which fashions that Matter after those various manners I have mentioned to You, yet 'tis Evident, that either by the Plastick principle Alone, or that and Heat Together, or by some Other cause capable to contex the matter, it is yet possible that the matter may be Anew contriv'd into such Bodies. And 'tis only for the Possibility of this that I am now contending.



The Third Part.

What I have hitherto Discours'd, Eleutherius, (sayes his Friend to Him) has, I presume, shew'n You, that a Considering Man may very well question the Truth of those very Suppositions which Chymists as well as Peripateticks, without proving, take for granted; and upon which Depends the Validity of the Inferences they draw from their Experiments. Wherefore having dispach't that, which though a Chymist Perhaps will not, yet I do, look upon as the most Important, as well as Difficult, part of my Task, it will now be Seasonable for me to proceed to the Consideration of the Experiments themselves, wherein they are wont so much to Triumph and Glory. And these will the rather deserve a serious Examination, because those that Alledge them are wont to do it with so much Confidence and Ostentation, that they have hitherto impos'd upon almost all Persons, without excepting Philosophers and Physitians themselves, who have read their Books, or heard them talk. For some learned Men have been content rather to beleeve what they so boldly Affirm, then be at the trouble and charge, to try whether or no it be True. Others again, who have Curiosity enough to Examine the Truth of what is Averr'd, want Skill and Opportunity to do what they Desire. And the Generality even of Learned Men, seeing the Chymists (not contenting themselves with the Schools to amuse the World with empty words) Actually Perform'd divers strange things, and, among those Resolve Compound Bodies into several Substances not known by former Philosophers to be contain'd in them: Men I say, seeing these Things, and Hearing with what Confidence Chymists Averr the Substances Obtain'd from Compound Bodies by the Fire to be the True Elements, or, (as they speak) Hypostaticall Principles of them, are forward to think it but Just as well as Modest, that according to the Logicians Rule, the Skilfull Artists should be Credited in their own Art; Especially when those things whose Nature they so Confidently take upon them to teach others are not only Productions of their own Skill, but such as others Know not else what to make of.

But though (Continues Carneades) the Chymists have been able upon some or other of the mention'd Acounts, not only to Delight but Amaze, and almost to bewitch even Learned Men; yet such as You and I, who are not unpractis'd in the Trade, must not suffer our Selves to be impos'd upon by hard Names, or bold Assertions; nor to be dazl'd by that Light which should but assist us to discern things the more clearly. It is one thing to be able to help Nature to produce things, and another thing to Understand well the Nature of the things produc'd. As we see, that many Persons that can beget Children, are for all that as Ignorant of the Number and Nature of the parts, especially the internal ones, that Constitute a Childs Body, as they that never were Parents. Nor do I Doubt, but you'l excuse me, if as I thank the Chymists for the things their Analysis shews me, so I take the Liberty to consider how many, and what they are, without being astonish'd at them; as if, whosoever hath Skill enough to shew men some new thing of his own making, had the Right to make them believe whatsoever he pleases to tell them concerning it.

Wherefore I will now proceed to my Third General Consideration, which is, That it does not appear, that Three is precisely and Universally the Number of the Distinct Substances or Elements, whereinto mixt Bodies are resoluble by the Fire; I mean that 'tis not prov'd by Chymists, that all the Compound Bodies, which are granted to be perfectly mixt, are upon their Chymical Analysis divisible each of them into just Three Distinct Substances, neither more nor less, which are wont to be lookt upon as Elementary, or may as well be reputed so as those that are so reputed. Which last Clause I subjoyne, to prevent your Objecting, that some of the Substances I may have occasion to mention by and by, are not perfectly Homogeneous, nor Consequently worthy of the name of Principles. For that which I am now to consider, is, into how many Differing Substances, that may plausibly pass for the Elementary Ingredients of a mix'd Body, it may be Analyz'd by the Fire; but whether each of these be un-compounded, I reserve to examine, when I shall come to the next General Consideration; where I hope to evince, that the Substances which the Chymists not only allow, but assert to be the Component Principles of the Body resolv'd into them, are not wont to be uncompounded.

Now there are two Kind of Arguments (pursues Carneades) which may be brought to make my Third Proposition seem probable; one sort of them being of a more Speculative Nature, and the other drawn from Experience. To begin then with the first of these.

But as Carneades was going to do as he had said, Eleutherius interrupted him, by saying with a somewhat smiling countenance;

If you have no mind I should think, that the Proverb, That Good Wits have bad Memories, is Rational and Applicable to You, You must not Forget now you are upon the Speculative Considerations, that may relate to the Number of the Elements; that your Self did not long since Deliver and Concede some Propositions in Favour of the Chymical Doctrine, which I may without disparagement to you think it uneasie, even for Carneades to answer.

I have not, replies he, Forgot the Concessions you mean; but I hope too, that you have not forgot neither with what Cautions they were made, when I had not yet assumed the Person I am now sustaining. But however, I shall to content You, so discourse of my Third general consideration, as to let You see, That I am not Unmindful of the things you would have me remember.

To talk then again according to such principles as I then made use of, I shall represent, that if it be granted rational to suppose, as I then did, that the Elements consisted at first of certain small and primary Coalitions of the minute Particles of matter into Corpuscles very numerous, and very like each other, It will not be absurd to conceive, that such primary Clusters may be of far more sorts then three or five; and consequently, that we need not suppose, that in each of the compound Bodies we are treating of there should be found just three sorts of such primitive Coalitions, as we are speaking of.

And if according to this Notion we allow a considerable number of differing Elements, I may add, that it seems very possible, that to the constitution of one sort of mixt Bodies two kinds of Elementary ones may suffice (as I lately Exemplify'd to you, in that most durable Concrete, Glass,) another sort of Mixts may be compos'd of three Elements, another of four, another of five, and another perhaps of many more. So that according to this Notion, there can be no determinate number assign'd, as that of the Elements; of all sorts of compound Bodies whatsoever, it being very probable that some Concretes consist of fewer, some of more Elements. Nay, it does not seem Impossible, according to these Principles, but that there may be two sorts of Mixts, whereof the one may not have any of all the same Elements as the other consists of; as we oftentimes see two words, whereof the one has not any one of the Letters to be met with in the other; or as we often meet with diverse Electuaries, in which no Ingredient (except Sugar) is common to any two of them. I will not here debate whether there may not be a multitude of these Corpuscles, which by reason of their being primary and simple, might be called Elementary, if several sorts of them should convene to compose any Body, which are as yet free, and neither as yet contex'd and entangl'd with primary Corpuscles of other kinds, but remains liable to be subdu'd and fashion'd by Seminal Principles, or the like powerful and Transmuting Agent, by whom they may be so connected among themselves, or with the parts of one of the bodies, as to make the compound Bodies, whose Ingredients they are, resoluble into more, or other Elements then those that Chymists have hitherto taken notice of.

To all which I may add, that since it appears, by what I observ'd to you of the permanency of Gold and Silver, that even Corpuscles that are not of an Elementary but compounded Nature, may be of so durable a Texture, as to remain indissoluble in the ordinary Analysis that Chymists make of Bodies by the Fire; 'Tis not impossible but that, though there were but three Elements, yet there may be a greater number of Bodies, which the wonted wayes of Anatomy will not discover to be no Elementary Bodies.

But, sayes Carneades, having thus far, in compliance to you, talk't conjecturally of the number of the Elements, 'tis now time to consider, not of how many Elements it is possible that Nature may compound mix'd Bodies, but (at least as farr as the ordinary Experiments of Chymists will informe us) of how many she doth make them up.

I say then, that it does not by these sufficiently appear to me, that there is any one determinate number of Elements to be uniformly met with in all the several sorts of Bodies allow'd to be perfectly mixt.

And for the more distinct proof of this Proposition, I shall in the first place Represent, That there are divers Bodies, which I could never see by fire divided into so many as three Elementary substances. I would fain (as I said lately to Philoponus) see that fixt and noble Metal we call Gold separated into Salt, Sulphur and Mercury: and if any man will submit to a competent forfeiture in case of failing, I shall willingly in case of prosperous successe pay both for the Materials and the charges of such an Experiment. 'Tis not, that after what I have try'd my self I dare peremptorily deny, that there may out of Gold be extracted a certain substance, which I cannot hinder Chymists from calling its Tincture or Sulphur; and which leaves the remaining Body depriv'd of its wonted colour. Nor am I sure, that there cannot be drawn out of the same Metal a real quick and running Mercury. But for the Salt of Gold, I never could either see it, or be satisfied that there was ever such a thing separated, in rerum natura, by the relation of any credible eye witnesse. And for the several Processes that Promise that effect, the materials that must be wrought upon are somewhat too pretious and costly to be wasted upon so groundlesse adventures, of which not only the successe is doubtful, but the very possibility is not yet demonstrated. Yet that which most deterres me from such tryalls, is not their chargeablenesse, but their unsatisfactorinesse, though they should succeed. For the Extraction of this golden Salt being in Chymists Processes prescribed to be effected by corrosive Menstruums, or the Intervention of other Saline Bodies, it will remain doubtful to a wary person, whether the Emergent Salt be that of the Gold it self; or of the Saline Bodies or Spirits employ'd to prepare it; For that such disguises of Metals do often impose upon Artists, I am sure Eleutherius is not so much a stranger to Chymistry as to ignore. I would likewise willingly see the three principles separated from the pure sort of Virgin-Sand, from Osteocolla, from refined Silver, from Quicksilver, freed from its adventitious Sulphur, from Venetian Talk [Transcriber's Note: Talck], which by long detention in an extreme Reverberium, I could but divide into smaller Particles, (not the constituent principles,) Nay, which, when I caused it to be kept, I know not how long, in a Glasse-house fire, came out in the Figure it's Lumps had when put in, though alter'd to an almost Amethystine colour; and from divers other Bodies, which it were now unnecessary to enumerate. For though I dare not absolutely affirme it to be impossible to Analyze these Bodies into their Tria Prima; yet because, neither my own Experiments, nor any competent Testimony hath hitherto either taught me how such an Analysis may be made, or satisfy'd me, that it hath been so, I must take the Liberty to refrain from believing it, till the Chymists prove it, or give us intelligible and practicable Processes to performe what they pretend. For whilst they affect that AEnigmatical obscurity with which they are wont to puzzle the Readers of their divulg'd Processes concerning the Analyticall Preparation of Gold or Mercury, they leave wary persons much unsatisfyed whether or no the differing Substances, they promise to produce, be truly the Hypostatical Principles, or only some intermixtures of the divided Bodies with those employ'd to work upon them, as is Evident in the seeming Crystalls of Silver, and those of Mercury; which though by some inconsiderately supposed to be the Salts of those Metalls, are plainly but mixtures of the Metalline Bodies, with the Saline parts of Aqua fortis or other corrosive Liquors; as is evident by their being reducible into Silver or Quicksilver, as they were before.

I cannot but Confesse (saith Eleutherius) that though Chymists may upon probable grounds affirm themselves Able to obtain their Tria Prima, from Animals and Vegetables, yet I have often wondred that they should so confidently pretend also to resolve all Metalline and other Mineral bodies into Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury. For 'tis a saying almost Proverbial, among those Chymists themselves that are accounted Philosophers; and our famous Countryman Roger Bacon has particularly adopted it; that Facilius est aurum facere quam destruere. And I fear, with You, that Gold is not the only Mineral from which Chymists are wont fruitlessly to attempt the separating of their three Principles. I know indeed (continues Eleutherius) that the Learned Sennertus, even in that book where he takes not upon him to play the Advocate for the Chymists, but the Umpier betwixt them and the Peripateticks, expresses himself roundly, thus;[11] Salem omnibus inesse (mixtis scilicet) & ex iis fieri posse omnibus in resolutionibus Chymicis versatis notissimum est. And in the next Page, Quod de sale dixi, saies he, Idem de Sulphure dici potest: but by his favour I must see very good proofs, before I believe such general Assertions, how boldly soever made; and he that would convince me of their truth, must first teach me some true and practicable way of separating Salt and Sulphur from Gold, Silver, and those many different sort of Stones, that a violent Fire does not bring to Lime, but to Fusion; and not only I, for my own part, never saw any of those newly nam'd Bodies so resolved; but Helmont, who was much better vers'd in the Chymical Anatomizing of Bodies then either Sennertus or I, has somewhere this resolute passage;[12] Scio (saies he) ex arena, silicibus & saxis, non Calcariis, nunquam Sulphur aut Mercurium trahi posse; Nay Quercetanus himself, though the grand stickler for the Tria Prima, has this Confession of the Irresolubleness of Diamonds;[13] Adamas (saith he) omnium factus Lapidum solidissimus ac durissimus ex arctissima videlicet trium principiorum unione ac Cohaerentia, quae nulla arte separationis in solutionem principiorum suorum spiritualium disjungi potest. And indeed, pursues Eleutherius, I was not only glad, but somewhat surprized to find you inclined to Admit that there may be a Sulphur and a running Mercury drawn from Gold; for unlesse you do (as your expression seem'd to intimate) take the word Sulphur in a very loose sence, I must doubt whether our Chymists can separate a Sulphur from Gold: For when I saw you make the experiment that I suppose invited you to speak as you did, I did not judge the golden Tincture to be the true principle of Sulphur extracted from the body, but an aggregate of some such highly colour'd parts of the Gold, as a Chymist would have called a Sulphur incombustible, which in plain English seems to be little better than to call it a Sulphur and no Sulphur. And as for Metalline Mercuries, I had not wondred at it, though you had expressed much more severity in speaking of them: For I remember that having once met an old and famous Artist, who had long been (and still is) Chymist to a great Monarch, the repute he had of a very honest man invited me to desire him to tell me ingenuously whether or no, among his many labours, he had ever really extracted a true and running Mercury out of Metalls; to which question he freely replyed, that he had never separated a true Mercury from any Metal; nor had ever seen it really done by any man else. And though Gold is, of all Metalls, That, whose Mercury Chymists have most endeavoured to extract, and which they do the most brag they have extracted; yet the Experienced Angelus Sala, in his Spagyrical account of the seven Terrestrial Planets (that is the seven metalls) affords us this memorable Testimony, to, our present purpose; Quanquam (saies he) &c. experientia tamen (quam stultorum Magistrum [Errata: Magistram] vocamus) certe Comprobavit, Mercurium auri adeo fixum, maturum, & arcte cum reliquis ejusdem corporis substantiis conjungi, ut nullo modo retrogredi possit. To which he sub-joynes, that he himself had seen much Labour spent upon that Design, but could never see any such Mercury produc'd thereby. And I easily beleeve what he annexes; that he had often seen Detected many tricks and Impostures of Cheating Alchymists. For, the most part of those that are fond of such Charlatans, being unskilfull or Credulous, or both, 'tis very easie for such as have some Skill, much craft, more boldness, and no Conscience, to impose upon them; and therefore, though many profess'd Alchymists, and divers Persons of Quality have told me that they have made or seen the Mercury of Gold, or of this or that other Metal; yet I have been still apt to fear that either these persons have had a Design to deceive others; or have not had Skill and circumspection enough to keep themselves from being deceived.

[Footnote 11: Sennert. lib. de cons. & dissens. pag. 147.]

[Footnote 12: Helmon. pag. 409.]

[Footnote 13: Quercet. apud Billich. in Thessalo redivivo. pag. 99.]

You recall to my mind (sayes Carneades) a certain Experiment I once devis'd, innocently to deceive some persons, and let them and others see how little is to be built upon the affirmation of those that are either unskillfull or unwary, when they tell us they have seen Alchymists make the Mercury of this or that Metal; and to make this the more evident, I made my Experiment much more Slight, Short and Simple, than the Chymists usuall processes to Extract Metalline Mercuries; which Operations being commonly more Elaborate and Intricate, and requiring a much more longer time, give the Alchymists a greater opportunity to Cozen, and Consequently are more Obnoxious to the Spectators suspicion. And that wherein I endeavour'd to make my Experiment look the more like a True Analysis, was, that I not only pretended as well as others to extract a Mercury from the Metal I wrought upon, but likewise to separate a large proportion of manifest and inflamable Sulphur. I take then, of the filings of Copper, about a Drachme or two, of common sublimate, powder'd, the like Weight, and Sal Armoniack near about as much as of Sublimate; these three being well mingl'd together I put into a small Vial with a long neck, or, which I find better, into a Glass Urinall, which (having first stopped it with Cotton) to avoid the Noxious Fumes, I approach by degrees to a competent Fire of well kindled coals, or (which looks better, but more endangers the Glass) to the Flame of a candle; and after a while the bottom of the Glass being held Just upon 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 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 AEnigmatically, 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 from Elementary simplicity, and may be yet look'd upon as mixt Bodies, most of them also retaining, somewhat at least, if not very much, of the Nature of those Concretes whence they were forc'd.

I am glad (sayes Eleutherius) to see the Vanity or Envy of the canting Chymists thus discover'd and chastis'd; and I could wish, that Learned Men would conspire together to make these deluding Writers sensible, that they must no longe [Transcriber's Note: longer] hope with Impunity to abuse the World. For whilst such Men are quietly permitted to publish Books with promising Titles, and therein to Assert what they please, and contradict others, and ev'n themselves as they please, with as little danger of being confuted as of being understood, they are encourag'd to get themselves a name, at the cost of the Readers, by finding that intelligent Men are wont for the reason newly mention'd, to let their Books and Them alone: And the ignorant and credulous (of which the number is still much greater then that of the other) are forward to admire most what they least understand. But if Judicious men skill'd in Chymical affaires shall once agree to write clearly and plainly of them, and thereby keep men from being stunn'd, as it were, or imposd upon by dark or empty Words; 'tis to be hop'd that these men finding that they can no longer write impertinently and absurdly, without being laugh'd at for doing so, will be reduc'd either to write nothing, or Books that may teach us something, and not rob men, as formerly, of invaluable Time; and so ceasing to trouble the World with Riddles or Impertinencies, we shall either by their Books receive an Advantage, or by their silence escape an Inconvenience.

But after all this is said (continues Eleutherius) it may be represented in favour of the Chymists, that, in one regard the Liberty they take in using names, if it be excusable at any time, may be more so when they speak of the substances whereinto their Analysis resolves mixt Bodies: Since as Parents have the Right to name their own Children, it has ever been allow'd to the Authors of new Inventions, to Impose Names upon them. And therefore the subjects we speak of being so the Productions of the Chymist's Art, as not to be otherwise, but by it, obtainable; it seems but equitable to give the Artists leave to name them as they please: considering also that none are so fit and likely to teach us what those Bodies are, as they to whom we ow'd them.

I told You already (sayes Carneades) that there is great Difference betwixt the being able to make Experiments, and the being able to give a Philosophical Account of them. And I will not now add, that many a Mine-digger may meet, whilst he follows his work, with a Gemm or a Mineral which he knowes not what to make of, till he shews it a Jeweller or a Mineralist to be inform'd what it is. But that which I would rather have here observ'd, is, That the Chymists I am now in debate with have given up the Liberty You challeng'd for them, of using Names at Pleasure, and confin'd Themselves by their Descriptions, though but such as they are, of their Principles; so that although they might freely have call'd any thing their Analysis presents them with, either Sulphur, or Mercury, or Gas, or Blas, or what they pleas'd; yet when they have told me that Sulphur (for instance) is a Primogeneal and simple Body, Inflamable, Odorous, &c. they must give me leave to dis-believe them, if they tell me that a Body that is either compounded or uninflamable is such a Sulphur; and to think they play with words, when they teach that Gold and some other Minerals abound with an Incombustible Sulphur, which is as proper an Expression, as a Sun-shine Night, or Fluid Ice.

But before I descend to the Mention of Particulars belonging to my Fourth Consideration, I think it convenient to premise a few Generals; some of which I shall the less need to insist on at present, because I have Touched on them already.

And first I must invite you to take notice of a certain passage in Helmont;[14] which though I have not Found much heeded by his Readers, He Himself mentions as a notable thing, and I take to be a very considerable one; for whereas the Distill'd oyle of oyle-olive, though drawn per se is (as I have try'd) of a very sharp and fretting Quality, and of an odious tast, He tells us that Simple oyle being only digested with Paracelsus's sal circulatum, is reduc'd into dissimilar parts, and yields a sweet Oyle, very differing from the oyle distill'd, from [Errata: distill'd from] sallet oyle; as also that by the same way there may be separated from Wine a very sweet and gentle Spirit, partaking of a far other and nobler quality then that which is immediately drawn by distillation and call'd Dephlegm'd Aqua vitae, from whose Acrimony this other spirit is exceedingly remote, although the sal circulatum that makes these Anatomies be separated from the Analyz'd Bodies, in the same weight and with the same qualities it had before; which Affirmation of Helmont if we admit to be true, we must acknowledge that there may be a very great disparity betwixt bodies of the same denomination (as several oyles, or several spirits) separable from compound Bodies: For, besides the differences I shall anon take notice of, betwixt those distill'd Oyles that are commonly known to Chymists, it appears by this, that by means of the Sal Circulatum, There may be quite another sort of Oyles obtain'd from the same Body; and who knowes but that there may be yet other Agents found in Nature, by whose help there may, whether by Transmutation or otherwise, be obtain'd from the Bodies Vulgarly call'd Mixt, Oyles or other substances, Differing from those of the same Denomination, known either to Vulgar Chymists, or even to Helmont Himself: but for fear You should tell me, that this is but a conjecture grounded upon another Man's Relation, whose Truth we have not the means to Experiment, I will not Insist upon it; but leaving You to Consider of it at leasure, I shall proceed to what is next.

[Footnote 14: Illud notabile, in vino esse Spiritum quendam mitiorem ulterioris & nobilioris qualitatis participem quā qui immediate per distillationem elicitur diciturque aqua vitae dephlegmata, quod facilius in simplici Olivarum oleo ad oculum spectatur. Quippe distillatum oleum absque laterum aut tigularum [Errata: tegularum] additamento, quodque oleum Philosophorum dicitur, multum dissert ab ejus oleitate; quae elicitur prius reducto oleo simplici in partes dissimilares sola digestione & Salis circulati Paracelsici appositione; siquidem sal circulatum idem in pondere & quantitatibus pristinis ab oleo segregatur postquam oleum olivarum in sui heterogeneitates est dispositum. Dulce enim tunc Oleum Olivarum ex oleo, prout & suavissimus vini spiritus a vino hoc pacto separantur, longeque ab aquae vitae acrimonia distinctus.—Helmont. Aura vitalis, pag. 725.]

Secondly, Then if that be True which was the Opinion of Lucippus, Democritus, and other prime Anatomists of old, and is in our dayes reviv'd by no mean Philosophers; namely, That our Culinary Fire, such as Chymists use, consists of swarmes of little Bodies swiftly moving, which by their smallness and motion are able to permeate the sollidest and Compactest Bodies, and even Glass it Self; If this (I say) be True, since we see that In flints and other Concretes, the Fiery part is Incorporated with the Grosser, it will not be Irrationall to conjecture, that multitudes of these Fiery Corpuscles, getting in at the Pores of the Glass, may associate themselves with the parts of the mixt Body whereon they work, and with them Constitute new Kinds of Compound Bodies, according as the Shape, Size, and other Affections of the Parts of the Dissipated Body happen to dispose them, in Reference to such Combinations; of which also there may be the greater Number; if it be likewise granted that the Corpuscles of the Fire, though all exceeding minute, and very swiftly moved, are not all of the same bigness, nor Figure. And if I had not Weightier Considerations to Discourse to you of, I could name to you, to Countenance what I have newly said, some particular Experiments by which I have been Deduc'd to think, that the Particles of an open Fire working upon some Bodies may really Associate themselves therewith, and add to the Quantity. But because I am not so sure, that when the Fire works upon Bodies included in Glasses, it does it by a reall Trajection of the Fiery Corpuscles themselves, through the Substance of the Glass, I will proceed to what is next to be mention'd.

I could (sayes Eleutherius) help you to some Proofes, whereby I think it may be made very probable, that when the Fire acts immediately upon a Body, some of its Corpuscles may stick to those of the burnt Body, as they seem to do in Quicklime, but in greater numbers, and more permanently. But for fear of retarding Your Progress, I shall desire you to deferr this Enquiry till another time, and proceed as you intended.

You may then in the next place (sayes Carneades) observe with me, that not only there are some Bodies, as Gold, and Silver, which do not by the usual Examens, made by Fire, Discover themselves to be mixt; but if (as You may Remember I formerly told You) it be a De-compound Body that is Dissipable into several Substances, by being expos'd to the Fire it may be resolv'd into such as are neither Elementary, nor such as it was upon its last mixture Compounded of; but into new Kinds of mixts. Of this I have already given You some Examples in Sope, Sugar of Lead, and Vitrioll. Now if we shall Consider that there are some Bodies, as well Natural, (as that I last nam'd) as Factitious, manifestly De-compounded; That in the Bowells of the Earth Nature may, as we see she sometimes does, make strange Mixtures; That Animals are nourish'd with other Animals and Plants; And, that these themselves have almost all of them their Nutriment and Growth, either from a certain Nitrous Juice Harbour'd in the Pores of the Earth, or from the Excrements of Animalls, or from the putrify'd Bodies, either of living Creatures or Vegetables, or from other Substances of a Compounded Nature; If, I say, we consider this, it may seem probable, that there may be among the Works of Nature (not to mention those of Art) a greater Number of De-compound Bodies, then men take Notice of; And indeed, as I have formerly also observ'd, it does not at all appear, that all Mixtures must be of Elementary Bodies; but it seems farr more probable, that there are divers sorts of compound Bodies, even in regard of all or some of their Ingredients, consider'd Antecedently to their Mixture. For though some seem to be made up by the immediate Coalitions of the Elements, or Principles themselves, and therefore may be call'd Prima Mista, or Mista Primaria; yet it seems that many other Bodies are mingl'd (if I may so speak) at the second hand, their immediate Ingredients being not Elementary, but these primary Mixts newly spoken of; And from divers of these Secondary sort of Mixts may result, by a further Composition, a Third sort, and so onwards. Nor is it improbable, that some Bodies are made up of Mixt Bodies, not all of the same Order, but of several; as (for Instance) a Concrete may consist of Ingredients, whereof the one may have been a primary, the other a Secondary Mixt Body; (as I have in Native Cinnaber, by my way of Resolving it, found both that Courser the [Errata: delete "the"] part that seems more properly to be Oar, and a Combustible Sulphur, and a Running Mercury:) or perhaps without any Ingredient of this latter sort, it may be compos'd of Mixt Bodies, some of them of the first, and some of the third Kind; And this may perhaps be somewhat Illustrated by reflecting upon what happens in some Chymical Preparations of those Medicines which they call their Bezoardicum's. For first, they take Antimony and Iron, which may be look'd upon as Prima Mista; of these they compound a Starry Regulus, and to this they add according to their Intention, either Gold, or Silver, which makes with it a new and further Composition. To this they add Sublimate, which is it self a De-compound body, (consisting of common Quicksilver, and divers Salts United by Sublimation into a Crystalline Substance) and from this Sublimate, and the other Metalline Mixtures, they draw a Liquor, which may be allow'd to be of a yet more Compounded Nature. If it be true, as Chymists affirm it, that by this Art some of the Gold or Silver mingl'd with the Regulus may be carry'd over the Helme with it by the Sublimate; as indeed a Skilfull and Candid person complain'd to me a while since, That an experienc'd Friend of His and mine, having by such a way brought over a great Deal of Gold, in hope to do something further with it, which might be gainfull to him, has not only miss'd of his Aim, but is unable to recover his Volatiliz'd Gold out of the Antimonial butter, wherewith it is strictly united.

Now (Continues Carneades) if a Compound body consist of Ingredients that are not meerly Elementary; it is not hard to conceive, that the Substances into which the Fire Dissolves it, though seemingly Homogeneous enough, may be of a Compounded Nature, those parts of each body that are most of Kin associating themselves into a Compound of a new Kind. As when (for example sake) I have caus'd Vitrioll and Sal Armoniack, and Salt Petre to be mingl'd and Destill'd together, the Liquor that came over manifested it self not to be either Spirit of Nitre, or of Sal Armoniack, or of Vitrioll. For none of these would dissolve crude gold, which yet my Liquor was able readily to do; and thereby manifested it self to be a new Compound, consisting at least of Spirit of Nitre, and Sal Armoniack, (for the latter dissolv'd in the former, will Work on Gold) which nevertheless are not by any known way separable, and consequently would not pass for a Mixt Body, if we our selves did not, to obtain it, put and Distill together divers Concretes, whose Distinct Operations were known before hand. And, to add on this Occasion the Experiment I lately promis'd You, because it is Applicable to our present purpose, I shall Acquaint You, that suspecting the Common Oyle of Vitrioll not to be altogether such a simple Liquor as Chymists presume it, I mingl'd it with an equal or a Double Quantity (for I try'd the Experiment more then once) of common Oyle of Turpentine, such as together with the other Liquor I bought at the Drugsters. And having carefully (for the Experiment is Nice, and somewhat dangerous) Distill'd the Mixture in a small Glass Retort, I obtain'd according to my Desire, (besides the two Liquors I had put in) a pretty Quantity of a certain substance, which sticking all about the Neck of the Retort Discover'd it self to be Sulphur, not only by a very strong Sulphureous smell, and by the colour of Brimstone; but also by this, That being put upon a coal, it was immediately kindl'd, and burn'd like common Sulphur. And of this Substance I have yet by me some little Parcells, which You may command and examine when you please. So that from this Experiment I may deduce either one, or both of these Propositions, That a real Sulphur may be made by the Conjunction of two such Substances as Chymists take for Elementary, And which did not either of them apart appear to have any such body in it; or that Oyle of Vitrioll though a Distill'd Liquor, and taken for part of the Saline Principle of the Concrete that yields it, may yet be so Compounded a body as to contain, besides its Saline part, a Sulphur like common brimstone, which would hardly be it self a simple or un-compounded body.

I might (pursues Carneades) remind You, that I formerly represented it, as possible, That as there may be more Elements then five, or six; so the Elements of one body may be Different from those of another; whence it would follow, that from the Resolution of De-compound body [Errata: bodies], there may result Mixts of an altogether new kind, by the Coalition of Elements that never perhaps conven'd before. I might, I say, mind You of this, and add divers things to this second Consideration; but for fear of wanting time I willingly pretermit them, to pass on to the third, which is this, That the Fire does not alwayes barely resolve or take asunder, but may also after a new manner mingle and compound together the parts (whether Elementary or not) of the Body Dissipated by it.

This is so evident, sayes Carneades, in some obvious Examples, that I cannot but wonder at their Supiness that have not taken notice of it. For when Wood being burnt in a Chimney is dissipated by the Fire into Smoke and Ashes, that smoke composes soot, which is so far from being any one of the principles of the Wood, that (as I noted above) you may by a further Analysis separate five or six distinct substances from it. And as for the remaining Ashes, the Chymists themselves teach us, that by a further degree of fire they may be indissolubly united into glass. 'Tis true, that the Analysis which the Chymists principally build upon is made, not in the open air, but in close Vessels; but however, the Examples lately produc'd may invite you shrewdly to suspect, That heat may as well compound as dissipate the Parts of mixt Bodies: and not to tell you, that I have known a Vitrification made even in close vessels, I must remind you that the Flowers of Antimony, and those of Sulphur, are very mix'd Bodies, though they ascend in close vessells: And that 'twas in stopt glasses that I brought up the whole Body of Camphire. And whereas it may be objected, that all these Examples are of Bodies forc'd up in a dry, not a Fluid forme, as are the Liquors wont to be obtain'd by distillation; I answer, That besides that 'tis possible, that a Body may be chang'd from Consistent to Fluid, or from Fluid to Consistent, without being otherwise much altered, as may appear by the Easiness wherewith in Winter, without any Addition or Separation of Visible Ingredients, the same substance may be quickly harden'd into brittle Ice, and thaw'd again into Fluid Water; Besides this, I say it would be consider'd, that common Quick-silver it self, which the Eminentest Chymists confess to be a mixt Body, may be Driven over the Helme in its Pristine forme of Quicksilver, and consequently, in that of a Liquor. And certainly 'tis possible that very compounded Bodies may concur to Constitute Liquors; Since, not to mention that I have found it possible, by the help of a certain Menstruum, to distill Gold it self through a Retort, even with a Moderate Fire: Let us but consider what happens in Butter of Antimony. For if that be carefully rectify'd, it may be reduc'd into a very clear Liquor; and yet if You cast a quantity of fair water upon it, there will quickly precipitate a Ponderous and Vomitive Calx, which made before a considerable part of the Liquor, and yet is indeed (though some eminent Chymists would have it Mercurial) an Antimonial Body carryed over and kept dissolv'd by the Salts of the Sublimate, and consequently a compounded one; as You may find if You will have the Curiosity to Examine this White powder by a skilful Reduction. And that You may not think that Bodies as compounded as flowers of Brimstone cannot be brought to Concurr to Constitute Distill'd Liquors; And also That You may not imagine with Divers Learned Men that pretend no small skill in Chymistry, that at least no mixt Body can be brought over the Helme, but by corrosive Salts, I am ready to shew You, when You please, among other wayes of bringing over Flowers of Brimstone (perhaps I might add even Mineral Sulphurs) some, wherein I employ none but Oleaginous bodies to make Volatile Liquors, in which not only the colour, but (which is a much surer mark) the smell and some Operations manifest that there is brought over a Sulphur that makes part of the Liquor.

One thing more there is, Eleutherius, sayes Carneades, which is so pertinent to my present purpose, that though I have touch'd upon it before, I cannot but on this occasion take notice of it. And it is this, That the Qualities or Accidents, upon whose account Chymists are wont to call a portion of Matter by the name of Mercury or some other of their Principles, are not such but that 'tis possible as Great (and therefore why not the like?) may be produc'd by such changes of Texture, and other Alterations, as the Fire may make in the small Parts of a Body. I have already prov'd, when I discours'd of the second General Consideration, by what happens to plants nourish'd only with fair water, and Eggs hatch'd into Chickens, that by changing the disposition of the component parts of a Body, Nature is able to effect as great Changes in a parcell of Matter reputed similar, as those requisite to Denominate one of the Tria Prima. And though Helmont do somewhere wittily call the Fire the Destructor and the Artificial Death of Things; And although another Eminent Chymist and Physitian be pleas'd to build upon this, That Fire can never generate any thing but Fire; Yet You will, I doubt not, be of another mind, If You consider how many new sorts of mixt Bodies Chymists themselves have produc'd by means of the Fire: And particularly, if You consider how that Noble and Permanent Body, Glass, is not only manifestly produc'd by the violent action of the Fire, but has never, for ought we know, been produc'd any other way. And indeed it seems but an inconsiderate Assertion of some Helmontians, that every sort of Body of a Peculiar Denomination must be produc'd by some Seminal power; as I think I could evince, if I thought it so necessary, as it is for me to hasten to what I have further to discourse. Nor need it much move us, that there are some who look upon whatsoever the Fire is employ'd to produce, not as upon Natural but Artificial Bodies. For there is not alwaies such a difference as many imagine betwixt the one and the other: Nor is it so easy as they think, clearly to assigne that which Properly, Constantly, and Sufficiently, Discriminates them. But not to engage my self in so nice a Disquisition, it may now suffice to observe, that a thing is commonly termed Artificial, when a parcel of matter is by the Artificers hand, or Tools, or both, brought to such a shape or Form, as he Design'd before-hand in his Mind: Whereas in many of the Chymical Productions the effect would be produc'd whether the Artificer intended it or no; and is oftentimes very much other then he Intended or Look't for; and the Instruments employ'd, are not Tools Artificially fashion'd and shaped, like those of Tradesmen, for this or that particular Work; but, for the most part, Agents of Nature's own providing, and whose chief Powers of Operation they receive from their own Nature or Texture, not the Artificer. And indeed, the Fire is as well a Natural Agent as Seed: And the Chymist that imployes it, does but apply Natural Agents and Patients, who being thus brought together, and acting according to their respective Natures, performe the worke themselves; as Apples, Plums, or other fruit, are natural Productions, though the Gardiner bring and fasten together the Sciens of the Stock, and both Water, and do perhaps divers other wayes Contribute to its bearing fruit. But, to proceed to what I was going to say, You may observe with me, Eleutherius, that, as I told You once before, Qualities sleight enough may serve to Denominate a Chymical Principle. For, when they anatomize a compound Body by the Fire, if they get a Substance inflamable, and that will not mingle with Water, that they presently call Sulphur; what is sapid and Dissoluble in Water, that must pass for Salt; Whatsoever is fix'd and indissoluble in Water, that they name Earth. And I was going to add, that, whatsoever Volatile substance they know not what to make of, not to say, whatsoever they please, that they call Mercury. But that these Qualities may either be produc'd, otherwise then by such as they call Seminal Agents, or may belong to bodies of a compounded Nature, may be shewn, among other Instances, in Glass made of ashes, where the exceeding strongly-tasted Alcalizate Salt joyning with the Earth becomes insipid, and with it constitutes a Body, which though also dry, fixt, and indissoluble in Water, is yet manifestly a mixt Body; and made so by the Fire itself.

And I remmember to our present purpose, that Helmont,[15] amongst other Medicines that he commends, has a short processe, wherein, though the Directions for Practice are but obscurely intimated; yet I have some reason not to Dis-believe the Process, without affirming or denying any thing about the vertues of the remedy to be made by it. Quando (sayes he) oleum cinnamomi &c. suo sali alkali miscetur absque omni aqua, trium mensium artificiosa occultaque circulatione, totum in salem volatilem commutatum est, vere essentiam sui simplicis in nobis exprimit, & usque in prima nostri constitutivasese ingerit. A not unlike Processe he delivers in another place; from whence, if we suppose him to say true, I may argue, that since by the Fire there may be produc'd a substance that is as well Saline and volatile as the Salt of Harts-horn, blood, &c. which pass for Elementary; and since that this Volatile Salt is really compounded of a Chymical Oyle and a fixt Salt, the one made Volatile by the other, and both associated by the fire, it may well be suspected that other Substances, emerging upon the Dissipation of Bodies by the Fire, may be new sorts of Mixts, and consist of Substances of differing natures; and particularly, I have sometimes suspected, that since the Volatile Salts of Blood, Harts-horn, &c. are figitive [Errata: fugitive] and endow'd with an exceeding strong smell, either that Chymists do Erroneously ascribe all odours to sulphurs, or that such Salts consist of some oyly parts well incorporated with the Saline ones. And the like conjecture I have also made concerning Spirit of Vinager, which, though the Chymists think one of the Principles of that Body, and though being an Acid Spirit it seems to be much less of kin then Volatile Salts to sulphurs; yet, not to mention its piercing smell; which I know not with what congruity the Chymist will deduce from Salt, I wonder they have not taken notice of what their own Tyrocinium Chymicum teach us concerning the Destillation of Saccharum Saturni; out of which Beguinus[16] assures Us, that he distill'd, besides a very fine spirit, no lesse then two Oyles, the one blood-red and ponderous, but the other swimming upon the top of the Spirit, and of a yellow colour; of which he sayes that he kept then some by him, to verify what he delivers. And though I remember not that I have had two distinct Oyles from Sugar of Lead, yet that it will though distill'd without addition yield some Oyle, disagrees not with my Experience. I know the Chymists will be apt to pretend, that these Oyls are but the volatiliz'd sulphur of the lead; and will perhaps argue it from what Beguinus relates, that when the Distillation is ended, you'l find a Caput Mortuum extreamly black, and (as he speaks) nullius momenti, as if the Body, or at least the chief part of the Metal it self were by the distillation carried over the Helme. But since you know as well as I that Saccharum Saturni is a kind of Magistery, made only by calcining of Lead per se, dissolving it in distill'd Vinager, and crystalizing the solution; if I had leasure to tell You how Differing a thing I did upon examination find the Caput Mortuum, so sleighted by Beguinus, to be from what he represents it, I believe you would think the conjecture propos'd less probable then one or other of these three; either that this Oyle did formerly concur to constitute the Spirit of Vinager, and so that what passes for a Chymical Principle may yet be further resoluble into distinct substances; or that some parts of the Spirit together with some parts of the Lead may constitute a Chymical Oyle, which therefore though it pass for Homogeneous, may be a very compounded Body: or at least that by the action of the Distill'd Vinager and the Saturnine Calx one upon another, part of the Liquor may be so alter'd as to be transmuted from an Acid Spirit into an Oyle. And though the truth of either of the two former conjectures would make the example I have reflected on more pertinent to my present argument; yet you'l easily discern, the Third and last Conjecture cannot be unserviceable to confirm some other passages of my discourse.

[Footnote 15: Helmont pag. 412.]

[Footnote 16: Tyroc. Chym. L. 1. C. 4.]

To return then to what I was saying just before I mention'd Helmont's Experiment, I shall subjoyne, That Chymists must confess also that in the perfectly Dephlegm'd spirit of Wine, or other Fermented Liquors, that which they call the Sulphur of the Concrete loses, by the Fermentation, the Property of Oyle, (which the Chymists likewise take to be the true Sulphur of the Mixt) of being unminglable with the Water. And if You will credit Helmont,[17] all [Errata: a pound] of the purest Spirit of Wine may barely by the help of pure Salt of Tartar (which is but the fixed Salt of Wine) be resolv'd or Transmuted into scarce half an ounce of Salt, and as much Elementary Water as amounts to the remaining part of the mention'd weight. And it may (as I think I formerly also noted) be doubted, whether that Fixt and Alcalizate Salt, which is so unanimously agreed on to be the Saline Principle of incinerated Bodies, be not, as 'tis Alcalizate, a Production of the Fire? For though the tast of Tartar, for Example, seem to argue that it contains a Salt before it be burn'd, yet that Salt being very Acid is of a quite Differing Tast from the Lixiviate Salt of Calcin'd Tartar. And though it be not truly Objected against the Chymists, that they obtain all Salts they make, by reducing the Body they work on into Ashes with Violent Fires, (since Hartshorn, Amber, Blood, and divers other Mixts yield a copious Salt before they be burn'd to Ashes) yet this Volatile Salt Differs much, as we shall see anon, from the Fixt Alcalizate Salt I speak of; which for ought I remember is not producible by any known Way, without Incineration. 'Tis not unknown to Chymists, that Quicksilver may be Precipitated, without Addition, into a dry Powder, that remains so in Water. And some eminent Spagyrists, and even Raimund Lully himself, teach, that meerly by the Fire Quicksilver may in convenient Vessels be reduc'd (at least in great part) into a thin Liquor like Water, and minglable with it. So that by the bare Action of the Fire, 'tis possible, that the parts of a mixt Body should be so dispos'd after new and differing manners, that it may be sometimes of one consistence, sometimes of another; And may in one State be dispos'd to be mingl'd with Water, and in another not. I could also shew you, that Bodies from which apart Chymists cannot obtain any thing that is Combustible, may by being associated together, and by the help of the Fire, afford an inflamable Substance. And that on the other side, 'tis possible for a Body to be inflamable, from which it would very much puzzle any ordinary Chymist; and perhaps any other, to separate an inflamable Principle or Ingredient. Wherefore, since the Principles of Chymists may receive their Denominations from Qualities, which it often exceeds not the power of Art, nor alwayes that of the Fire to produce; And since such Qualities may be found in Bodies that differ so much in other Qualities from one another, that they need not be allow'd to agree in that pure and simple Nature, which Principles, to be so indeed, must have; it may justly be suspected, that many Productions of the Fire that are shew'd us by Chymists, as the Principles of the Concrete that afforded them, may be but a new kind of Mixts. And to annex, on this Occasion, to these arguments taken from the Nature of the thing, one of those which Logicians call ad Hominem, I shall desire You to take Notice, that though Paracelsus Himself, and some that are so mistaken as to think he could not be so, have ventur'd to teach, that not only the bodies here below, but the Elements themselves, and all the other Parts of the Universe, are compos'd of Salt, Sulphur and Mercury; yet the learned Sennertus, and all the more wary Chymists, have rejected that conceit, and do many of them confess, that the Tria Prima are each of them made up of the four Elements; and others of them make Earth and Water concur with Salt, Sulphur and Mercury, to the Constitution of Mixt bodies. So that one sort of these Spagyrists, notwithstanding the specious Titles they give to the productions of the Fire, do in effect grant what I contend for. And, of the other sort I may well demand, to what Kind of Bodies the Phlegme and dead Earth, to be met with in Chymical Resolutions, are to be referr'd? For either they must say, with Paracelsus, but against their own Concessions as well as against Experience, that these are also compos'd of the Tria Prima, whereof they cannot separate any one from either of them; or else they must confess that two of the vastest Bodies here below, Earth, and Water, are neither of them compos'd of the Tria Prima; and that consequently those three are not the Universal, and Adequate Ingredients, neither of all Sublunary Bodies, nor even of all mixt Bodies.

[Footnote 17: Ostendi alias, quomodo lib. una aquae vitae combibita in sale Tartari siccato, vix fiat semuncia salis, caeterum totum corpus fiat aqua Elementalis. Helmont. in Aura vitali.]

I know that the chief of these Chymists represent, that though the Distinct Substances into which they divide mixt bodies by the Fire, are not pure and Homogeneous; yet since the four Elements into which the Aristotelians pretend to resolve the like bodies by the same Agent, are not simple neither, as themselves acknowledge, 'tis as allowable for the Chymists to call the one Principles, as for the Peripateticks to call the other Elements; since in both cases the Imposition of the name is grounded only upon the Predominancy of that Element whose name is ascrib'd to it. Nor shall I deny, that this Argument of the Chymists is no ill one against the Aristotelians. But what Answer can it prove to me, who you know am disputing against the Aristotelian Elements, as the Chymicall Principles, and must not look upon any body as a true Principle or Element, but as yet compounded, which is not perfectly Homogeneous, but is further Resoluble into any number of Distinct Substances how small soever. And as for the Chymists calling a body Salt, or Sulphur, or Mercury, upon pretence that the Principle of the same name is predominant in it, That it self is an Acknowledgment of what I contend for; namely that these productions of the Fire, are yet compounded bodies. And yet whilst this is granted, it is affirm'd, but not prov'd, that the reputed Salt, or Sulphur, or Mercury, consists mainly of one body that deserves the name of a principle of the same Denomination. For how do Chymists make it appear that there are any such primitive and simple bodies in those we are speaking of; since 'tis upon the matter confess'd by the answer lately made, that these are not such? And if they pretend by Reason to evince what they affirm, what becomes of their confident boasts, that the Chymists [Errata: Chymist] (whom they therefore, after Beguinus, call a Philosophus or Opifex Sensatus) can convince our Eyes, by manifestly shewing in any mixt body those simple substances he teaches them to be compos'd of? And indeed, for the Chymists to have recourse in this case to other proofs then Experiments, as it is to wave the grand Argument that has all this while been given out for a Demonstrative One; so it releases me from the obligation to prosecute a Dispute wherein I am not engag'd to Examine any but Experimentall proofs. I know it may plausibly Enough be Represented, in favour of the Chymists, that it being evident that much the greater part of any thing they call Salt, or Sulphur, or Mercury, is really such; it would be very rigid to deny those Substances the names ascribed them, only because of some sleight mixture of another Body; since not only the Peripateticks call particular parcels of matter Elementary, though they acknowledge that Elements are not to be anywhere found pure, at least here below; And since especially there is a manifest Analogie and Resemblance betwixt the bodies obtainable by Chymical Anatomies and the principles whose names are given them; I have, I say, consider'd that these things may be represented: But as for what is drawn from the Custome of the Peripateticks, I have already told You, that though it may be employ'd against Them, Yet it is not available against me who allow nothing to be an Element that is not perfectly Homogeneous. And whereas it is alledg'd, that the Predominant Principle ought to give a name to the substance wherein it abounds; I answer, that that might much more reasonably be said, if either we or the Chymists had seen Nature take pure Salt, pure Sulphur, and pure Mercury, and compound of them every sort of Mixt Bodies. But, since 'tis to experience that they appeal, we must not take it for granted, that the Distill'd Oyle (for instance) of a plant is mainly compos'd of the pure principle call'd Sulphur, till they have given us an ocular proof, that there is in that sort of Plants such an Homogeneous Sulphur. For as for the specious argument, which is drawn from the Resemblance betwixt the Productions of the Fire, and the Respective, either Aristotelian Elements, or Chymical Principles, by whose names they are call'd; it will appear more plausible then cogent, if You will but recall to mind the state of the controversie; which is not, whether or no there be obtain'd from mixt Bodies certain substances that agree in outward appearance, or in some Qualities with Quicksilver or Brimstone, or some such obvious or copious Body; But whether or no all Bodies confess'd to be perfectly mixt were compos'd of, and are resoluble into a determinate number of primary unmixt Bodies. For, if you keep the state of the question in your Eye, you'l easily discerne that there is much of what should be Demonstrated, left unprov'd by those Chymical Experiments we are Examining. But (not to repeat what I have already discover'd more at large) I shall now take notice, that it will not presently follow, that because a Production of the Fire has some affinity with some of the greater Masses of matter here below, that therefore they are both of the same Nature, and deserve the same Name; for the Chymists are not content, that flame should be look't upon as a parcel of the Element of Fire, though it be hot, dry, and active, because it wants some other Qualities belonging to the nature of Elementary fire. Nor will they let the Peripateticks call Ashes, or Quicklime, Earth, notwithstanding the many likenesses between them; because they are not tastlesse, as Elementary Earth ought to be: But if you should ask me, what then it is, that all the Chymical Anatomies of Bodies do prove, if they prove not that they consist of the three Principles into which the fire resolves them? I answer, that their Dissections may be granted to prove, that some mixt bodies (for in many it will not hold) are by the fire, when they are included in close Vessels, (for that Condition also is often requisite) dissolube [Transcriber's Note: dissoluble] into several Substances differing in some Qualities, but principally in Consistence. So that out of most of them may be obtain'd a fixt substance partly saline, and partly insipid, an unctuous Liquor, and another Liquor or more that without being unctuous have a manifest taste. Now if Chymists will agree to call the dry and sapid substance salt, the Unctous liquor Sulphur, and the other Mercury, I shall not much quarrel with them for so doing: But if they will tell me that Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury, are simple and primary bodies whereof each mixt body was actually compounded, and which was really in it antecedently to the operation of the fire, they must give me leave to doubt whether (whatever their other arguments may do) their Experiments prove all this. And if they will also tell me that the Substances their Anatomies are wont to afford them, are pure and similar, as Principles ought to be, they must give me leave to believe my own senses; and their own confessions, before their bare Assertions. And that you may not (Eleutherius) think I deal so rigidly with them, because I scruple to Take these Productions of the Fire for such as the Chymists would have them pass for, upon the account of their having some affinity with them; consider a little with me, that in regard an Element or Principle ought to be perfectly Similar and Homogeneous, there is no just cause why I should rather give the body propos'd the Name of this or that Element or Principle, because it has a resemblance to it in some obvious Quality, rather then deny it that name upon the account of divers other Qualities, wherein the propos'd Bodies are unlike; and if you do but consider what sleight and easily producible qualities they are that suffice, as I have already more then once observ'd, to Denominate a Chymical Principle or an Element, you'l not, I hope, think my wariness to be destitute either of Example, or else of Reason. For we see that the Chymists will not allow the Aristotelians that the Salt in Ashes ought to be called Earth, though the Saline and Terrestrial part symbolize in weight, in dryness, in fixness and fusibility, only because the one is sapid and dissoluble in Water, and the other not: Besides, we see that sapidness and volatility are wont to denominate the Chymists Mercury or Spirit; and yet how many Bodies, think you, may agree in those Qualities which may yet be of very differing natures, and disagree in qualities either more numerous, or more considerable, or both. For not only Spirit of Nitre, Aqua Fortis, Spirit of Salt, Spirit of Oyle of Vitriol, Spirit of Allome, Spirit of Vinager, and all Saline Liquors Distill'd from Animal Bodies, but all the Acetous Spirits of Woods freed from their Vinager; All these, I say, and many others must belong to the Chymists Mercury, though it appear not why some of them should more be comprehended under one denomination then the Chymists Sulphur, or Oyle should likewise be; for their Distill'd Oyles are also Fluid, Volatile, and Tastable, as well as their Mercury; Nor is it Necessary, that their Sulphur should be Unctuous or Dissoluble in Water, since they generally referr Spirit of Wine to Sulphurs, although that Spirit be not Unctuous, and will freely mingle with Water. So that bare Inflamability must constitute the Essence of the Chymists Sulphur; as uninflamablenesse joyned with any taste is enough to intitle a Distill'd Liquor to be their Mercury. Now since I can further observe to You, that Spirit of Nitre and Spirit of Harts-horne being pour'd together will boile and hisse and tosse up one another into the air, which the Chymists make signes of great Antipathy in the Natures of Bodies (as indeed these Spirits differ much both in Taste, Smell, and Operations;) Since I elsewhere tell you of my having made two sorts of Oyle out of the same mans blood, that would not mingle with one another; And since I might tell You Divers Examples I have met with, of the Contrariety of Bodies which according to the Chymists must be huddl'd up together under one Denomination; I leave you to Judge whether such a multitude of Substances as may agree in these sleight Qualities, and yet Disagree in Others more Considerable, are more worthy to be call'd by the Name of a Principle (which ought to be pure and homogeneous,) than to have appellations given them that may make them differ, in name too, from the bodies from which they so wildly differ in Nature. And hence also, by the bye, you may perceive that 'tis not unreasonable to distrust the Chymists way of Argumentation, when being unable to shew us that such a Liquor is (for Example) purely saline, they prove, that at least salt is much the predominant principle, because that the propos'd substance is strongly tasted, and all Tast proceeds from salt; whereas those Spirits, such as spirit of Tartar, spirit of Harts-horn, and the like, which are reckoned to be the Mercuries of the Bodies that afford them, have manifestly a strong and piercing tast, and so has (according to what I formerly noted) the spirit of Box &c. even after the acid Liquor that concurr'd to compose it has been separated from it. And indeed, if sapidness belong not to the spirit or Mercurial Principle of Vegitables and Animals: I scarce know how it will be discriminated from their phlegm, since by the absence of Inflamability it must be distinguish'd from their sulphur, which affords me another Example, to prove how unacurate the Chymical Doctrine is in our present Case; since not only the spirits of Vegitables and Animals, but their Oyles are very strongly tasted, as he that shall but wet his tongue with Chymical Oyle of Cinnamon, or of Cloves, or even of Turpentine, may quickly find, to his smart. And not only I never try'd any Chymical Oyles whose tast was not very manifest and strong; but a skilful and inquisitive person who made it his business by elaborate operations to depurate Chymical Oyles, and reduce them to an Elementary simplicity, Informes us, that he never was able to make them at all Tastless; whence I might inferr, that the proof Chymists confidently give us of a bodies being saline, is so far from demonstrating the Predominancy, that it does not clearly Evince so much as the presence of the saline Principle in it. But I will not (pursues Carneades) remind you, that the Volatile salt of Harts-horn, Amber, Blood, &c. are exceeding strongly scented, notwithstanding that most Chymists deduce Odours from Sulphur, and from them argue the Predominancy of that Principle in the Odorous body, because I must not so much as add any new Examples of the incompetency of this sort of Chymical arguments; since having already detain'd You but too long in those generals that appertain to my fourth consideration, 'tis time that I proceed to the particulars themselves, to which I thought fit they should be previous:

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6     Next Part
Home - Random Browse