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

Transcriber's Notes:

This e-book was prepared from a facsimile of the 1661 first edition and contains spelling, capitalization, and punctuation inconsistencies typical of the era. These have been preserved as they appear in the original.

Printer errors have also been preserved. Those mentioned in the Errata at the end of the book are noted with [Errata: corrected text]. Other obvious printer errors are noted with [Transcriber's Note: corrected text] where the meaning might be unclear without the correction. See also the printer's note preceding the Errata, which contains material omitted from the text (the place where it should be inserted is marked in the text with a Transcriber's Note).

There are a number of sidenotes in this book, most of which function as footnotes (e.g., citations to other works) and some of which function as true sidenotes. For the sake of clarity, sidenotes functioning as footnotes have been converted to numbered footnotes, with number markers at appropriate places in the text.

A character with a macron is represented by an equal sign. E.g., ā indicates "a" with macron.

A table of contents has been provided for the reader's convenience.





Doubts & Paradoxes,

Touching the


Commonly call'd


As they are wont to be Propos'd and Defended by the Generality of


Whereunto is praemis'd Part of another Discourse relating to the same Subject.


The Honourable ROBERT BOYLE, Esq;


Printed by J. Cadwell for J. Crooke, and are to be Sold at the Ship in St. Paul's Church-Yard.



A Praeface Introductory Physiological Considerations The First Part The Second Part The Third Part The Fourth Part The Fifth Part The Sixth Part The Conclusion Printer's Note Errata




To the following Treatise.

To give the Reader an account, Why the following Treatise is suffer'd to pass abroad so maim'd and imperfect, I must inform him that 'tis now long since, that to gratify an ingenious Gentleman, I set down some of the Reasons that kept me from fully acquiescing either in the Peripatetical, or in the Chymical Doctrine, of the Material Principles of mixt Bodies. This Discourse some years after falling into the hands of some Learned men, had the good luck to be so favourably receiv'd, and advantageously spoken of by them, that having had more then ordinary Invitations given me to make it publick, I thought fit to review it, that I might retrench some things that seem'd not so fit to be shewn to every Reader, And substitute some of those other things that occurr'd to me of the trials and observations I had since made. What became of my papers, I elsewhere mention in a Preface where I complain of it: But since I writ That, I found many sheets that belong'd to the subjects I am now about to discourse of. Wherefore seeing that I had then in my hands as much of the first Dialogue as was requisite to state the Case, and serve for an Introduction as well to the conference betwixt Carneades and Eleutherius, as to some other Dialogues, which for certain reasons are not now herewith publish'd, I resolv'd to supply, as well as I could, the Contents of a Paper belonging to the second of the following Discourses, which I could not possibly retrive, though it were the chief of them all. And having once more try'd the Opinion of Friends, but not of the same, about this imperfect work, I found it such, that I was content in complyance with their Desires; that not only it should be publish'd, but that it should be publish'd as soon as conveniently might be. I had indeed all along the Dialogues spoken of my self, as of a third Person; For, they containing Discourses which were among the first Treatises that I ventur'd long ago to write of matters Philosophical, I had reason to desire, with the Painter, to latere pone tabulam, and hear what men would say of them, before I own'd my self to be their Author. But besides that now I find, 'tis not unknown to many who it is that writ them, I am made to believe that 'tis not inexpedient, they should be known to come from a Person not altogether a stranger to Chymical Affairs. And I made the lesse scruple to let them come abroad uncompleated, partly, because my affairs and Prae-ingagements to publish divers other Treatises allow'd me small hopes of being able in a great while to compleat these Dialogues. And partly, because I am not unapt to think, that they may come abroad seasonably enough, though not for the Authors reputation, yet for other purposes. For I observe, that of late Chymistry begins, as indeed it deserves, to be cultivated by Learned Men who before despis'd it; and to be pretended to by many who never cultivated it, that they may be thought not to ignore it: Whence it is come to passe, that divers Chymical Notions about Matters Philosophical are taken for granted and employ'd, and so adopted by very eminent Writers both Naturalists and Physitians. Now this I fear may prove somewhat prejudicial to the Advancement of solid Philosophy: For though I am a great Lover of Chymical Experiments, and though I have no mean esteem of divers Chymical Remedies, yet I distinguish these from their Notions about the causes of things, and their manner of Generation. And for ought I can hitherto discern, there are a thousand Phaenomena in Nature, besides a Multitude of Accidents relating to the humane Body, which will scarcely be clearly & satisfactorily made out by them that confine themselves to deduce things from Salt, Sulphur and Mercury, and the other Notions peculiar to the Chymists, without taking much more Notice than they are wont to do, of the Motions and Figures, of the small Parts of Matter, and the other more Catholick and Fruitful affections of Bodies. Wherefore it will not perhaps be now unseasonable to let our Carneades warne Men, not to subscribe to the grand Doctrine of the Chymists touching their three Hypostatical Principles, till they have a little examin'd it, and consider'd, how they can clear it from his Objections, divers of which 'tis like they may never have thought on; since a Chymist scarce would, and none but a Chymist could propose them. I hope also it will not be unacceptable to several Ingenious Persons, who are unwilling to determine of any important Controversie, without a previous consideration of what may be said on both sides, and yet have greater desires to understand Chymical Matters, than Opportunities of learning them, to find here together, besides several Experiments of my own purposely made to Illustrate the Doctrine of the Elements, divers others scarce to be met with, otherwise then Scatter'd among many Chymical Books. And to Find these Associated Experiments so Deliver'd as that an Ordinary Reader, if he be but Acquainted with the usuall Chymical Termes, may easily enough Understand Them; and even a wary One may safely rely on Them. These Things I add, because a Person any Thing vers'd in the Writings of Chymists cannot but Discern by their obscure, Ambiguous, and almost AEnigmatical Way of expressing what they pretend to Teach, that they have no Mind, to be understood at all, but by the Sons of Art (as they call them) nor to be Understood even by these without Difficulty And Hazardous Tryalls. Insomuch that some of Them Scarce ever speak so candidly, as when they make use of that known Chymical Sentence; Ubi palam locuti fumus, ibi nihil diximus. And as the obscurity of what some Writers deliver makes it very difficult to be understood; so the Unfaithfulness of too many others makes it unfit to be reli'd on. For though unwillingly, Yet I must for the truths sake, and the Readers, warne him not to be forward to believe Chymical Experiments when they are set down only by way of Prescriptions, and not of Relations; that is, unless he that delivers them mentions his doing it upon his own particular knowledge, or upon the Relation of some credible person, avowing it upon his own experience. For I am troubled, I must complain, that even Eminent Writers, both Physitians and Philosophers, whom I can easily name, if it be requir'd, have of late suffer'd themselves to be so far impos'd upon, as to Publish and Build upon Chymical Experiments, which questionless they never try'd; for if they had, they would, as well as I, have found them not to be true. And indeed it were to be wish'd, that now that those begin to quote Chymical Experiments that are not themselves Acquainted with Chymical Operations, men would Leave off that Indefinite Way of Vouching the Chymists say this, or the Chymists affirme that, and would rather for each Experiment they alledge name the Author or Authors, upon whose credit they relate it; For, by this means they would secure themselves from the suspition of falshood (to which the other Practice Exposes them) and they would Leave the Reader to Judge of what is fit for him to Believe of what is Deliver'd, whilst they employ not their own great names to Countenance doubtfull Relations; and they will also do Justice to the Inventors or Publishers of true Experiments, as well as upon the Obtruders of false ones. Whereas by that general Way of quoting the Chymists, the candid Writer is Defrauded of the particular Praise, and the Impostor escapes the Personal Disgrace that is due to him.

The remaining Part of this Praeface must be imploy'd in saying something for Carneades, and something for my Self.

And first, Carneades hopes that he will be thought to have disputed civilly and Modestly enough for one that was to play the Antagonist and the Sceptick. And if he any where seem to sleight his Adversaries Tenents and Arguments, he is willing to have it look'd upon as what he was induc'd to, not so much by his Opinion of them, as the Examples of Themistius and Philoponus, and the custom of such kind of Disputes.

Next, In case that some of his Arguments shall not be thought of the most Cogent sort that may be, he hopes it will be consider'd that it ought not to be Expected, that they should be So. For, his Part being chiefly but to propose Doubts and Scruples, he does enough, if he shews that his Adversaries Arguments are not strongly Concluding, though his own be not so neither. And if there should appear any disagreement betwixt the things he delivers in divers passages, he hopes it will be consider'd, that it is not necessary that all the things a Sceptick Proposes, should be consonant; since it being his work to Suggest doubts against the Opinion he questions, it is allowable for him to propose two or more severall Hypotheses about the same thing: And to say that it may be accounted for this way, or that way, or the other Way, though these wayes be perhaps inconsistent among Themselves. Because it is enough for him, if either of the proposed Hypotheses be but as probable as that he calls a question. And if he proposes many that are Each of them probable, he does the more satisfie his doubts, by making it appear the more difficult to be sure, that that which they alwayes differ from is the true. And our Carneades by holding the Negative, he has this Advantage, that if among all the Instances he brings to invalidate all the Vulgar Doctrine of those he Disputes with, any one be Irrefragable, that alone is sufficient to overthrow a Doctrine which Universally asserts what he opposes. For, it cannot be true, that all Bodies whatsoever that are reckon'd among the Perfectly mixt Ones, are Compounded of such a Determinate Number of such or such Ingredients, in case any one such Body can be produc'd, that is not so compounded; and he hopes too, that Accurateness will be the less expected from him, because his undertaking obliges him to maintain such Opinions in Chymistry, and that chiefly by Chymical Arguments, as are Contrary to the very Principles of the Chymists; From whose writings it is not Therefore like he should receive any intentionall Assistance, except from some Passages of the Bold and Ingenious Helmont, with whom he yet disagrees in many things (which reduce him to explicate Divers Chymical Phaenomena, according to other Notions;) And of whose Ratiocinations, not only some seem very Extravagant, but even the Rest are not wont to be as considerable as his Experiments. And though it be True indeed, that some Aristotelians have occasionally written against the Chymical Doctrine he Oppugnes, yet since they have done it according to their Principles, And since our Carneades must as well oppose their Hypothesis as that of the Spagyrist, he was fain to fight his Adversaries with their own Weapons, Those of the Peripatetick being Improper, if not hurtfull for a Person of his Tenents; besides that those Aristotelians, (at Least, those he met with,) that have written against the Chymists, seem to have had so little Experimental Knowledge in Chymical Matters, that by their frequent Mistakes and unskilfull Way of Oppugning, they have too often expos'd Themselves to the Derision of their Adversaries, for writing so Confidently against what they appear so little to understand.

And Lastly, Carneades hopes, he shall doe the Ingenious this Piece of service, that by having Thus drawn the Chymists Doctrine out of their Dark and Smoakie Laboratories, and both brought it into the open light, and shewn the weakness of their Proofs, that have hitherto been wont to be brought for it, either Judicious Men shall henceforth be allowed calmly and after due information to disbelieve it, or those abler Chymists, that are zealous for the reputation of it, will be oblig'd to speak plainer then hitherto has been done, and maintain it by better Experiments and Arguments then Those Carneades hath examin'd: so That he hopes, the Curious will one Way or other Derive either satisfaction or instruction from his endeavours. And as he is ready to make good the profession he makes in the close of his Discourse, he being ready to be better inform'd, so he expects either to be indeed inform'd, or to be let alone. For Though if any Truly knowing Chymists shall Think fit in a civil and rational way to shew him any truth touching the matter in Dispute That he yet discernes not, Carneades will not refuse either to admit, or to own a Conviction: yet if any impertinent Person shall, either to get Himself a Name, or for what other end soever, wilfully or carelesly mistake the State of the Controversie, or the sence of his Arguments, or shall rail instead of arguing, as hath been done of Late in Print by divers Chymists;[1] or lastly, shall write against them in a canting way; I mean, shall express himself in ambiguous or obscure termes, or argue from experiments not intelligibly enough Deliver'd, Carneades professes, That he values his time so much, as not to think the answering such Trifles worth the loss of it.

[Footnote 1: G. and F. and H. and others, in their books against one another.]

And now having said thus much for Carneades, I hope the Reader will give me leave to say something too for my self.

And first, if some morose Readers shall find fault with my having made the Interlocutors upon occasion complement with one another, and that I have almost all along written these Dialogues in a stile more Fashionable then That of meer scholars is wont to be, I hope I shall be excus'd by them that shall consider, that to keep a due decorum in the Discourses, it was fit that in a book written by a Gentleman, and wherein only Gentlemen are introduc'd as speakers, the Language should be more smooth, and the Expressions more civil than is usual in the more Scholastick way of writing. And indeed, I am not sorry to have this Opportunity of giving an example how to manage even Disputes with Civility; whence perhaps some Readers will be assisted to discern a Difference betwixt Bluntness of speech and Strength of reason, and find that a man may be a Champion for Truth, without being an Enemy to Civility; and may confute an Opinion without railing at Them that hold it; To whom he that desires to convince and not to provoke them, must make some amends by his Civility to their Persons, for his severity to their mistakes; and must say as little else as he can, to displease them, when he says that they are in an error.

But perhaps other Readers will be less apt to find fault with the Civility of my Disputants, than the Chymists will be, upon the reading of some Passages of the following Dialogue, to accuse Carneades of Asperity. But if I have made my Sceptick sometimes speak sleightingly of the Opinions he opposes, I hope it will not be found that I have done any more, than became the Part he was to act of an Opponent: Especially, if what I have made him say be compar'd with what the Prince of the Romane Orators himself makes both great Persons and Friends say of one anothers Opinions, in his excellent Dialogues, De Natura Deorum: And I shall scarce be suspected of Partiality, in the case, by them that take Notice that there is full as much (if not far more) liberty of sleighting their Adversaries Tenents to be met with in the Discourses of those with whom Carneades disputes. Nor needed I make the Interlocutors speak otherwise then freely in a Dialogue, wherein it was sufficiently intimated, that I meant not to declare my own Opinion of the Arguments propos'd, much lesse of the whole Controversy it self otherwise than as it may by an attentive Reader be guess'd at by some Passages of Carneades: (I say, some Passages, because I make not all that he says, especially in the heat of Disputation, mine,) partly in this Discourse, and partly in some other Dialogues betwixt the same speakers (though they treat not immediately of the Elements) which have long layn by me, and expect the Entertainment that these present Discourses will meet with. And indeed they will much mistake me, that shall conclude from what I now publish, that I am at Defyance with Chymistry, or would make my Readers so. I hope the Specimina I have lately publish'd of an attempt to shew the usefulness of Chymical Experiments to Contemplative Philosophers, will give those that shall read them other thoughts of me: & I had a design (but wanted opportunity) to publish with these Papers an Essay I have lying by me, the greater part of which is Apologetical for one sort of Chymists. And at least, as for those that know me, I hope the pain I have taken in the fire will both convince them, that I am far from being an Enemy to the Chymists Art, (though I am no friend to many that disgrace it by professing it,) and perswade them to believe me when I declare that I distinguish betwixt those Chymists that are either Cheats, or but Laborants, and the true Adepti; By whom, could I enjoy their Conversation, I would both willingly and thankfully be instructed; especially concerning the Nature and Generation of Metals: And possibly, those that know how little I have remitted of my former addictedness to make Chymical Experiments, will easily believe, that one of the chief Designes of this Sceptical Discourse was, not so much to discredit Chymistry, as to give an occasion and a kind of necessity to the more knowing Artists to lay aside a little of their over-great Reservedness, & either explicate or prove the Chymical Theory better than ordinary Chymists have done, or by enriching us with some of their nobler secrets to evince that Their art is able to make amends even for the deficiencies of their Theory: And thus much I shall here make bold to add, that we shall much undervalue Chymistry, if we imagine, that it cannot teach us things farr more useful, not only to Physick but to Philosophy, than those that are hitherto known to vulgar Chymists. And yet as for inferiour Spagyrists themselves, they have by their labours deserv'd so well of the Common-wealth of Learning, that methinks 'tis Pity they should ever misse the Truth which they have so industriously sought. And though I be no Admirer of the Theorical Part of their Art, yet my conjectures will much deceive me, if the Practical Part be not much more cultivated than hitherto it has been, and do not both employ Philosophy and Philosophers, and help to make men such. Nor would I that have been diverted by other Studies as well as affairs, be thought to pretend being a profound Spagyrist, by finding so many faults in the Doctrine wherein the Generality of Chymists scruples not to Acquiesce: For besides that 'tis most commonly far easier to frame Objections against any propos'd Hypothesis, than to propose an Hypothesis not lyable to Objections (besides this I say) 'tis no such great matter, if whereas Beginners in Chymistry are commonly at once imbu'd with the Theory and Operations of their profession, I who had the good Fortune to Learn the Operations from illiterate Persons, upon whose credit I was not Tempted to take up any opinion about them, should consider things with lesse prejudice, and consequently with other Eyes than the Generality of Learners; And should be more dispos'd to accommodate the Phaenomena that occur'd to me to other Notions than to those of the Spagyrists. And having at first entertain'd a suspition That the Vulgar Principles were lesse General and comprehensive, or lesse considerately Deduc'd from Chymical Operations, than was believ'd; it was not uneasie for me both to Take notice of divers Phaenomena, overlook'd by prepossest Persons, that seem'd not to suite so well with the Hermetical Doctrine; and, to devise some Experiments likely to furnish me with Objections against it, not known to many, that having practis'd Chymistry longer perchance then I have yet liv'd, may have far more Experience, Than I, of particular processes.

To conclude, whether the Notions I have propos'd, and the Experiments I have communicated, be considerable, or not, I willingly leave others to Judge; and This only I shall say for my Self, That I have endeavour'd to deliver matters of Fact, so faithfully, that I may as well assist the lesse skilful Readers to examine the Chymical Hypothesis, as provoke the Spagyrical Philosophers to illustrate it: which if they do, and that either the Chymical opinion, or the Peripatetick, or any other Theory of the Elements differing from that I am most inclin'd to, shall be intelligibly explicated, and duly prov'd to me; what I have hitherto discours'd will not hinder it from making a Proselyte of a Person that Loves Fluctuation of Judgment little enough to be willing to be eas'd of it by any thing but Error.




The experiments wont to be employed to evince either the IV Peripatetick Elements, or the III Chymical Principles of Mixt Bodies.

Part of the First Dialogue.

I Perceive that divers of my Friends have thought it very strange to hear me speak so irresolvedly, as I have been wont to do, concerning those things which some take to be the Elements, and others to be the Principles of all mixt Bodies. But I blush not to acknowledge that I much lesse scruple to confess that I Doubt, when I do so, then to profess that I Know what I do not: And I should have much stronger Expectations then I dare yet entertain, to see Philosophy solidly establish't, if men would more carefully distinguish those things that they know, from those that they ignore or do but think, and then explicate clearly the things they conceive they understand, acknowledge ingenuously what it is they ignore, and profess so candidly their Doubts, that the industry of intelligent persons might be set on work to make further enquiries, and the easiness of less discerning Men might not be impos'd on. But because a more particular accompt will probably be expected of my unsatisfyedness not only with the Peripatetick, but with the Chymical Doctrine of the Primitive Ingredients of Bodies: It may possibly serve to satisfy others of the excusableness of my disatisfaction to peruse the ensuing Relation of what passed a while since at a meeting of persons of several opinions, in a place that need not here be named; where the subject whereof we have been speaking, was amply and variously discours'd of.

It was on one of the fairest dayes of this Summer that the inquisitive Eleutherius came to invite me to make a visit with him to his friend Carneades. I readily consented to this motion, telling him that if he would but permit me to go first and make an excuse at a place not far off, where I had at that hour appointed to meet, but not about a business either of moment, or that could not well admit of a delay, I would presently wait on him, because of my knowing Carneades to be so conversant with nature and with Furnaces, and so unconfin'd to vulgar Opinions, that he would probably by some ingenious Paradox or other, give our mindes at least a pleasing Exercise, and perhaps enrich them with some solid instruction. Eleutherius then first going with me to the place where my Apology was to be made, I accompanied him to the lodging of Carneades, where when we were come, we were told by the Servants, that he was retired with a couple of Friends (whose names they also told us) to one of the Arbours in his Garden, to enjoy under its coole shades a delightful protection from the yet troublesome heat of the Sun.

Eleutherius being perfectly acquainted with that Garden immediately led me to the Arbour, and relying on the intimate familiarity that had been long cherish'd betwixt him and Carneades; in spight of my Reluctancy to what might look like an intrusion upon his privacy, drawing me by the hand, he abruptly entered the Arbour, where we found Carneades, Philoponus, and Themistius, sitting close about a little round Table, on which besides paper, pen, and inke, there lay two or three open Books; Carneades appeared not at all troubled at this surprise, but rising from the Table, received his Friend with open looks and armes, and welcoming me also with his wonted freedom and civility, invited us to rest our selves by him, which, as soon as we had exchanged with his two Friends (who were ours also) the civilities accustomed on such occasions, we did. And he presently after we had seated our selves, shutting the Books that lay open, and turning to us with a smiling countenance seemed ready to begin some such unconcerning discourse as is wont to pass or rather waste the time in promiscuous companies.

But Eleutherius guessing at what he meant to do, prevented him by telling him, I perceive Carneades by the books that you have been now shutting, and much more by the posture wherein I found Persons qualifi'd [Errata: so qualify'd] to discourse of serious matters; and so accustom'd to do it, that you three were before our coming, engag'd in some Philosophical conference, which I hope you will either prosecute, and allow us to be partakers of, in recompence of the freedome we have us'd in presuming to surprise you, or else give us leave to repair the injury we should otherwise do you, by leaving you to the freedom we have interrupted, and punishing our selves for our boldness by depriving our selves of the happiness of your company. With these last words he and I rose up, as if we meant to be gone, But Carneades suddenly laying hold on his arme, and stopping him by it, smileingly told him, We are not so forward to lose good company as you seem to imagine; especially since you are pleas'd to desire to be present at what we shall say, about such a Subject as that You found us considering. For that, being the number of the Elements, Principles, or Materiall Ingredients of Bodies, is an enquiry whose truth is of that Importance, and of that Difficulty, that it may as well deserve as require to be searched into by such skilfull Indagators of Nature as your selves. And therefore we sent to invite the bold and acute Leucippus to lend us some light by his Atomical Paradox, upon which we expected such pregnant hints, that 'twas not without a great deal of trouble that we had lately word brought us that he was not to be found; and we had likewise begg'd the Assistance of your presence and thoughts, had not the messenger we employ'd to Leucippus inform'd us, that as he was going, he saw you both pass by towards another part of the Town; And this frustrated expectation of Leucippus his company, who told me but last night that he would be ready to give me a meeting where I pleas'd to day, having very long suspended our conference about the freshly mention'd Subject, it was so newly begun when you came in, that we shall scarce need to repeat any thing to acquaint you with what has pass'd betwixt us before your arrival, so that I cannot but look upon it as a fortunate Accident that you should come so seasonably, to be not hearers alone, but we hope Interlocutors at our conference. For we shall not only allow of your presence at it, but desire your Assistance in it; which I adde both for other reasons, and because though these learned Gentlemen (sayes he, turning to his two friends) need not fear to discourse before any Auditory, provided it be intelligent enough to understand them, yet for my part (continues he with a new smile,) I shall not dare to vent my unpremeditated thoughts before two such Criticks, unless by promising to take your turnes of speaking, You will allow me mine of quarrelling, with what has been said. He and his friends added divers things to convince us that they were both desirous that we should hear them, and resolved against our doing so, unless we allowed them sometimes to hear us. Elutherius [Transcriber's Note: Eleutherius] after having a while fruitlesly endeavoured to obtain leave to be silent promis'd he would not be so alwayes, provided that he were permitted according to the freedom of his Genious and Principles to side with one of them in the managing of one Argument, and, if he saw cause, with his Antagonist, in the Prosecution of another, without being confin'd to stick to any one party or Opinion, which was after some debate accorded him. But I conscious to my own Disability's told them resolutely that I was as much more willing as more fit to be a hearer then a speaker, among such knowing Persons, and on so abstruse a Subject. And that therefore I beseeched them without necessitating me to proclaim my weaknesses, to allow me to lessen them by being a silent Auditor of their Discourses: to suffer me to be at which I could present them no motive, save that their instructions would make them in me a more intelligent Admirer. I added, that I desir'd not to be idle whilst they were imploy'd, but would if they pleas'd, by writing down in short hand what should be delivered, preserve Discourses that I knew would merit to be lasting. At first Carneades and his two friends utterly rejected this motion; and all that my Resoluteness to make use of my ears, not tongue, at their debates, could do, was to make them acquiesce in the Proposition of Eleutherius, who thinking himself concern'd, because he brought me thither, to afford me some faint assistance, was content that I should register their Arguments, that I might be the better able after the conclusion of their conference to give them my sence upon the Subject of it, (The number of Elements or Principles:) which he promis'd I should do at the end of the present Debates, if time would permit, or else at our next meeting. And this being by him undertaken in my name, though without my consent, the company would by no means receive my Protestation against it, but casting, all at once, their eyes on Carneades, they did by that and their unanimous silence, invite him to begin; which (after a short pause, during which he turn'd himself to Eleutherius and me) he did in this manner.

Notwithstanding the subtile reasonings I have met with in the books of the Peripateticks, and the pretty experiments that have been shew'd me in the Laboratories of Chymists, I am of so diffident, or dull a Nature, as to think that if neither of them can bring more cogent arguments to evince the truth of their assertion then are wont to be brought; a Man may rationally enough retain some doubts concerning the very number of those materiall Ingredients of mixt bodies, which some would have us call Elements, and others principles. Indeed when I considered that the Tenents concerning the Elements are as considerable amongst the Doctrines of natural Philosophy as the Elements themselves are among the bodies of the Universe, I expected to find those Opinions solidly establish'd, upon which so many others are superstructed. But when I took the pains impartially to examine the bodies themselves that are said to result from the blended Elements, and to torture them into a confession of their constituent Principles, I was quickly induc'd to think that the number of the Elements has been contended about by Philosophers with more earnestness then success. This unsatisfiedness of mine has been much wonder'd at, by these two Gentlemen (at which words he pointed at Themistius and Philoponus) who though they differ almost as much betwixt themselves about the question we are to consider, as I do from either of them, yet they both agree very well in this, that there is a determinate number of such ingredients as I was just now speaking of, and that what that number is, I say not, may be, (for what may not such as they perswade?) but is wont to be clearly enough demonstrated both by Reason and Experience. This has occasion'd our present Conference. For our Discourse this afternoon, having fallen from one subject to another, and at length setl'd on this, they proffer'd to demonstrate to me, each of them the truth of his opinion, out of both the Topicks that I have freshly nam'd. But on the former (that of Reason strictly so taken) we declin'd insisting at the present, lest we should not have time enough before supper to go thorough the Reasons and Experiments too. The latter of which we unanimously thought the most requisite to be seriously examin'd. I must desire you then to take notice Gentlemen (continued Carneades) that my present business doth not oblige me so to declare my own opinion on the Subject in question, as to assert or deny the truth either of the Peripatetick, or the Chymical Doctrine concerning the number of the Elements, but only to shew you that neither of these Doctrines hath been satisfactorily proved by the arguments commonly alledged on its behalfe. So that if I really discern (as perhaps I think I do) that there may be a more rational account then ordinary, given of one of these opinions, I am left free to declare my self of it, notwithstanding my present engagement, it being obvious to all your observation, that a solid truth may be generally maintained by no other, then incompetent Arguments. And to this Declaration I hope it will be needless to add, that my task obliges me not to answer the Arguments that may be drawn either for Themistius or Philoponus's Opinion from the Topick of reason, as opposed to experiments; since 'tis these only that I am to examine and not all these neither, but such of them alone as either of them shall think fit to insist on, and as have hitherto been wont to be brought either to prove that 'tis the four Peripatetick Elements, or that 'tis the three Chymical Principles that all compounded bodies consist of. These things (adds Carneades) I thought my self obliged to premise, partly lest you should do these Gentlemen (pointing at Themistius and Philoponus, and smiling on them) the injury of measuring their parts by the arguments they are ready to propose, the lawes of our Conference confining them to make use of those that the vulgar of Philosophers (for even of them there is a vulgar) has drawn up to their hands; and partly, that you should not condemn me of presumption for disputing against persons over whom I can hope for no advantage, that I must not derive from the nature, or rules of our controversy, wherein I have but a negative to defend, and wherein too I am like on several occasions to have the Assistance of one of my disagreeing adversaries against the other.

Philoponus and Themistius soon returned this complement with civilities of the like nature, in which Eleutherius perceiving them engaged, to prevent the further loss of that time of which they were not like to have very much to spare, he minded them that their present businesse was not to exchange complements, but Arguments: and then addressing his speech to Carneades, I esteem it no small happinesse (saies he) that I am come here so luckily this Evening. For I have been long disquieted with Doubts concerning this very subject which you are now ready to debate. And since a Question of this importance is to be now discussed by persons that maintain such variety of opinions concerning it, and are both so able to enquire after truth, and so ready to embrace it by whomsoever and on what occasion soever it is presented them; I cannot but promise my self that I shall before we part either lose my Doubts or the hopes of ever finding them resolved; Eleutherius paused not here; but to prevent their answer, added almost in the same breath; and I am not a little pleased to find that you are resolved on this occasion to insist rather on Experiments then Syllogismes. For I, and no doubt You, have long observed, that those Dialectical subtleties, that the Schoolmen too often employ about Physiological Mysteries, are wont much more to declare the wit of him that uses them, then increase the knowledge or remove the doubts of sober lovers of truth. And such captious subtleties do indeed often puzzle and sometimes silence men, but rarely satisfy them. Being like the tricks of Jugglers, whereby men doubt not but they are cheated, though oftentimes they cannot declare by what slights they are imposed on. And therefore I think you have done very wisely to make it your businesse to consider the Phaenomena relating to the present Question, which have been afforded by experiments, especially since it might seem injurious to our senses, by whose mediation we acquire so much of the knowledge we have of things corporal, to have recourse to far-fetched and abstracted Ratiocination [Errata: Ratiocinations], to know what are the sensible ingredients of those sensible things that we daily see and handle, and are supposed to have the liberty to untwist (if I may so speak) into the primitive bodies they consist of. He annexed that he wished therefore they would no longer delay his expected satisfaction, if they had not, as he feared they had, forgotten something preparatory to their debate; and that was to lay down what should be all along understood by the word Principle or Element. Carneades thank'd him for his admonition, but told him that they had not been unmindful of so requisite a thing. But that being Gentlemen and very far from the litigious humour of loving to wrangle about words or terms or notions as empty; they had before his coming in, readily agreed promiscuously to use when they pleased, Elements and Principles as terms equivalent: and to understand both by the one and the other, those primitive and simple Bodies of which the mixt ones are said to be composed, and into which they are ultimately resolved. And upon the same account (he added) we agreed to discourse of the opinions to be debated, as we have found them maintained by the Generality of the assertors of the four Elements of the one party, and of those that receive the three Principles on the other, without tying our selves to enquire scrupulously what notion either Aristotle or Paracelsus, or this or that Interpreter, or follower of either of those great persons, framed of Elements or Principles; our design being to examine, not what these or those writers thought or taught, but what we find to be the obvious and most general opinion of those, who are willing to be accounted Favourers of the Peripatetick or Chymical Doctrine, concerning this subject.

I see not (saies Eleutherius) why you might not immediately begin to argue, if you were but agreed which of your two friendly Adversaries shall be first heard. And it being quickly resolv'd on that Themistius should first propose the Proofs for his Opinion, because it was the antienter, and the more general, he made not the company expect long before he thus addressed himself to Eleutherius, as to the Person least interessed in the dispute.

If you have taken sufficient notice of the late Confession which was made by Carneades, and which (though his Civility dressed it up in complementall Expressions) was exacted of him by his Justice, I suppose You will be easily made sensible, that I engage in this Controversie with great and peculiar Disadvantages, besides those which his Parts and my Personal Disabilities would bring to any other cause to be maintained by me against him. For he justly apprehending the force of truth, though speaking by no better a tongue then mine, has made it the chief condition of our Duell, that I should lay aside the best Weapons I have, and those I can best handle; Whereas if I were allowed the freedom, in pleading for the four Elements, to employ the Arguments suggested to me by Reason to demonstrate them, I should almost as little doubt of making You a Proselyte to those unsever'd Teachers, Truth and Aristotle, as I do of your Candour and your Judgment. And I hope you will however consider, that that great Favorite and Interpreter of Nature, Aristotle, who was (as his Organum witnesses) the greatest Master of Logick that ever liv'd, disclaim'd the course taken by other petty Philosophers (Antient and Modern) who not attending the Coherence and Consequences of their Opinions, are more sollicitous to make each particular Opinion plausible independently upon the the [Transcriber's Note: extra "the" in original] rest, then to frame them all so, as not only to be consistent together, but to support each other. For that great Man in his vast and comprehensive Intellect, so fram'd each of his Notions, that being curiously adapted into one Systeme, they need not each of them any other defence then that which their mutuall Coherence gives them: As 'tis in an Arch, where each single stone, which if sever'd from the rest would be perhaps defenceless, is sufficiently secur'd by the solidity and entireness of the whole Fabrick of which it is a part. How justly this may be apply'd to the present case, I could easily shew You, if I were permitted to declare to You, how harmonious Aristotles Doctrine of the Elements is with his other Principles of Philosophy; and how rationally he has deduc'd their number from that of the combinations of the four first Qualities from the kinds of simple Motion belonging to simple bodies, and from I know not how many other Principles and Phaenomena of Nature, which so conspire with his Doctrine of the Elements, that they mutually strengthen and support each other. But since 'tis forbidden me to insist on Reflections of this kind, I must proceed to tell You, that though the Assertors of the four Elements value Reason so highly, and are furnish'd with Arguments enough drawn from thence, to be satisfi'd that there must be four Elements, though no Man had ever yet made any sensible tryal to discover their Number, yet they are not destitute of Experience to satisfie others that are wont to be more sway'd by their senses then their Reason. And I shall proceed to consider the testimony of Experience, when I shall have first advertis'd You, that if Men were as perfectly rational as 'tis to be wish'd they were, this sensible way of Probation would be as needless as 'tis wont to be imperfect. For it is much more high and Philosophical to discover things a priore, then a posteriore. And therefore the Peripateticks have not been very sollicitous to gather Experiments to prove their Doctrines, contenting themselves with a few only, to satisfie those that are not capable of a Nobler Conviction. And indeed they employ Experiments rather to illustrate then to demonstrate their Doctrines, as Astronomers use Sphaeres of pastboard, to descend to the capacities of such as must be taught by their senses, for want of being arriv'd to a clear apprehension of purely Mathematical Notions and Truths. I speak thus Eleutherius (adds Themistius) only to do right to Reason, and not out of Diffidence of the Experimental proof I am to alledge. For though I shall name but one, yet it is such a one as will make all other appear as needless as it self will be found Satisfactory. For if You but consider a piece of green-Wood burning in a Chimney, You will readily discern in the disbanded parts of it the four Elements, of which we teach It and other mixt bodies to be compos'd. The fire discovers it self in the flame by its own light; the smoke by ascending to the top of the chimney, and there readily vanishing into air, like a River losing it self in the Sea, sufficiently manifests to what Element it belongs and gladly returnes. The water in its own form boyling and hissing at the ends of the burning Wood betrayes it self to more then one of our senses; and the ashes by their weight, their firiness, and their dryness, put it past doubt that they belong to the Element of Earth. If I spoke (continues Themistius) to less knowing Persons, I would perhaps make some Excuse for building upon such an obvious and easie Analysis, but 'twould be, I fear, injurious, not to think such an Apology needless to You, who are too judicious either to think it necessary that Experiments to prove obvious truths should be farr fetch'd, or to wonder that among so many mixt Bodies that are compounded of the four Elements, some of them should upon a slight Analysis manifestly exhibite the Ingredients they consist of. Especially since it is very agreeable to the Goodness of Nature, to disclose, even in some of the most obvious Experiments that Men make, a Truth so important, and so requisite to be taken notice of by them. Besides that our Analysis by how much the more obvious we make it, by so much the more suittable it will be to the Nature of that Doctrine which 'tis alledged to prove, which being as clear and intelligible to the Understanding as obvious to the sense, tis no marvail the learned part of Mankind should so long and so generally imbrace it. For this Doctrine is very different from the whimseys of Chymists and other Modern Innovators, of whose Hypotheses we may observe, as Naturalists do of less perfect Animals, that as they are hastily form'd, so they are commonly short liv'd. For so these, as they are often fram'd in one week, are perhaps thought fit to be laughed at the next; and being built perchance but upon two or three Experiments are destroyed by a third or fourth, whereas the doctrine of the four Elements was fram'd by Aristotle after he had leasurely considered those Theories of former Philosophers, which are now with great applause revived, as discovered by these latter ages; And had so judiciously detected and supplyed the Errors and defects of former Hypotheses concerning the Elements, that his Doctrine of them has been ever since deservedly embraced by the letter'd part of Mankind: All the Philosophers that preceded him having in their several ages contributed to the compleatness of this Doctrine, as those of succeeding times have acquiesc'd in it. Nor has an Hypothesis so deliberately and maturely established been called in Question till in the last Century Paracelsus and some few other sooty Empiricks, rather then (as they are fain to call themselves) Philosophers, having their eyes darken'd, and their Brains troubl'd with the smoke of their own Furnaces, began to rail at the Peripatetick Doctrine, which they were too illiterate to understand, and to tell the credulous World, that they could see but three Ingredients in mixt Bodies; which to gain themselves the repute of Inventors, they endeavoured to disguise by calling them, instead of Earth, and Fire, and Vapour, Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury; to which they gave the canting title of Hypostatical Principles: but when they came to describe them, they shewed how little they understood what they meant by them, by disagreeing as much from one another, as from the truth they agreed in opposing: For they deliver their Hypotheses as darkly as their Processes; and 'tis almost as impossible for any sober Man to find their meaning, as 'tis for them to find their Elixir. And indeed nothing has spread their Philosophy, but their great Brags and undertakings; notwithstanding all which, (sayes Themistius smiling) I scarce know any thing they have performed worth wondering at, save that they have been able to draw Philoponus to their Party, and to engage him to the Defence of an unintelligible Hypothesis, who knowes so well as he does, that Principles ought to be like Diamonds, as well very clear, as perfectly solid.

Themistius having after these last words declared by his silence, that he had finished his Discourse, Carneades addressing himself, as his Adversary had done, to Eleutherius, returned this Answer to it, I hop'd for [Errata: for a] Demonstration, but I perceive Themistius hopes to put me off with a Harangue, wherein he cannot have given me a greater Opinion of his Parts, then he has given me Distrust for his Hypothesis, since for it even a Man of such Learning can bring no better Arguments. The Rhetorical part of his Discourse, though it make not the least part of it, I shall say nothing to, designing to examine only the Argumentative part, and leaving it to Philoponus to answer those passages wherein either Paracelsus or Chymists are concern'd: I shall observe to You, that in what he has said besides, he makes it his Business to do these two things. The one to propose and make out an Experiment to demonstrate the common Opinion about the four Elements; And the other, to insinuate divers things which he thinks may repair the weakness of his Argument, from Experience, and upon other Accounts bring some credit to the otherwise defenceless Doctrine he maintains.

To begin then with his Experiment of the burning Wood, it seems to me to be obnoxious to not a few considerable Exceptions.

And first, if I would now deal rigidly with my Adversary, I might here make a great Question of the very way of Probation which he and others employ, without the least scruple, to evince, that the Bodies commonly call'd mixt, are made up of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire, which they are pleas'd also to call Elements; namely that upon the suppos'd Analysis made by the fire, of the former sort of Concretes, there are wont to emerge Bodies resembling those which they take for the Elements. For not to Anticipate here what I foresee I shall have occasion to insist on, when I come to discourse with Philoponus concerning the right that fire has to pass for the proper and Universal Instrument of Analysing mixt Bodies, not to Anticipate that, I say, if I were dispos'd to wrangle, I might alledge, that by Themistius his Experiment it would appear rather that those he calls Elements, are made of those he calls mixt Bodies, then mix'd Bodies of the Elements. For in Themistius's Analyz'd Wood, and in other Bodies dissipated and alter'd by the fire, it appears, and he confesses, that which he takes for Elementary Fire and Water, are made out of the Concrete; but it appears not that the Concrete was made up of Fire and Water. Nor has either He, or any Man, for ought I know, of his perswasion, yet prov'd that nothing can be obtained from a Body by the fire that was not Pre-existent in it.

At this unexpected objection, not only Themistius, but the rest of the company appear'd not a little surpriz'd; but after a while Philoponus conceiving his opinion, as well as that of Aristotle, concern'd in that Objection, You cannot sure (sayes he to Carneades) propose this Difficulty; not to call it Cavill, otherwise then as an Exercise of wit, and not as laying any weight upon it. For how can that be separated from a thing that was not existent in it. When, for instance, a Refiner mingles Gold and Lead, and exposing this Mixture upon a Cuppell to the violence of the fire, thereby separates it into pure and refulgent Gold and Lead (which driven off together with the Dross of the Gold is thence call'd Lithargyrium Auri) can any man doubt that sees these two so differing substances separated from the Mass, that they were existent in it before it was committed to the fire.

I should (replies Carneades) allow your Argument to prove something, if, as Men see the Refiners commonly take before hand both Lead and Gold to make the Mass you speak of, so we did see Nature pull down a parcell of the Element of Fire, that is fancy'd to be plac'd I know not how many thousand Leagues off, contiguous to the Orb of the Moon, and to blend it with a quantity of each of the three other Elements, to compose every mixt Body, upon whose Resolution the Fire presents us with Fire, and Earth, and the rest. And let me add, Philoponus, that to make your Reasoning cogent, it must be first prov'd, that the fire do's only take the Elementary Ingredients asunder, without otherwise altering them. For else 'tis obvious, that Bodies may afford substances which were not pre-existent in them; as Flesh too long kept produces Magots, and old Cheese Mites, which I suppose you will not affirm to be Ingredients of those Bodies. Now that fire do's not alwayes barely separate the Elementary parts, but sometimes at least alter also the Ingredients of Bodies, if I did not expect ere long a better occasion to prove it, I might make probable out of your very Instance, wherein there is nothing Elementary separated by the great violence of the Refiners fire: the Gold and Lead which are the two Ingredients separated upon the Analysis being confessedly yet perfectly mixt Bodies, and the Litharge being Lead indeed; but such Lead as is differing in consistence and other Qualities from what it was before. To which I must add that I have sometimes seen, and so questionlesse have you much oftener, some parcells of Glasse adhering to the Test or Cuppel, and this Glass though Emergent as well as the Gold or Litharge upon your Analysis, you will not I hope allow to have been a third Ingredient of the Mass out of which the fire produc'd it.

Both Philoponus and Themistius were about to reply, when Eleutherius apprehending that the Prosecution of this Dispute would take up time, which might be better employ'd, thought fit to prevent them by saying to Carneades: You made at least half a Promise, when you first propos'd this Objection, that you would not (now at least) insist on it, nor indeed does it seem to be of absolute necessity to your cause, that you should. For though you should grant that there are Elements, it would not follow that there must be precisely four. And therefore I hope you will proceed to acquaint us with your other and more considerable Objections against Themistius's Opinion, especially since there is so great a Disproportion in Bulke betwixt the Earth, Water and Air, on the one part, and those little parcells of resembling substances, that the fire separates from Concretes on the other part, that I can scarce think that you are serious, when to lose no advantage against your Adversary, you seem to deny it to be rational, to conclude these great simple Bodies to be the Elements, and not the Products of compounded ones.

What you alledge (replies Carneades) of the Vastness of the Earth and Water, has long since made me willing to allow them to be the greatest and chief Masses of Matter to be met with here below: But I think I could shew You, if You would give me leave, that this will prove only that the Elements, as You call them, are the chief Bodies that make up the neighbouring part of the World, but not that they are such Ingredients as every mixt Body must consist of. But since You challenge me of something of a Promise, though it be not an entire one, Yet I shall willingly perform it. And indeed I intended not when I first mention'd this Objection, to insist on it at present against Themistius, (as I plainly intimated in my way of proposing it:) being only desirous to let you see, that though I discern'd my Advantages, yet I was willing to forego some of them, rather then appear a rigid Adversary of a Cause so weak, that it may with safety be favourably dealt with. But I must here profess, and desire You to take Notice of it, that though I pass on to another Argument, it is not because I think this first invalid. For You will find in the Progress of our Dispute, that I had some reason to question the very way of Probation imploy'd both by Peripateticks and Chymists, to evince the being and number of the Elements. For that there are such, and that they are wont to be separated by the Analysis made by Fire, is indeed taken for granted by both Parties, but has not (for ought I know) been so much as plausibly attempted to be proved by either. Hoping then that when we come to that part of our Debate, wherein Considerations relating to this Matter are to be treated of, you will remember what I have now said, and that I do rather for a while suppose, then absolutely grant the truth of what I have question'd, I will proceed to another Objection.

And hereupon Eleutherius having promis'd him not to be unmindfull, when time should serve, of what he had declar'd.

I consider then (sayes Carneades) in the next place, that there are divers Bodies out of which Themistius will not prove in haste, that there can be so many Elements as four extracted by the Fire. And I should perchance trouble him if I should ask him what Peripatetick can shew us, (I say not, all the four Elements, for that would be too rigid a Question, but) any one of them extracted out of Gold by any degree of Fire whatsoever. Nor is Gold the only Bodie in Nature that would puzzle an Aristotelian, that is no more [Errata: (that is no more)] to analyze by the Fire into Elementary Bodies, since, for ought I have yet observ'd, both Silver and calcin'd Venetian Talck, and some other Concretes, not necessary here to be nam'd, are so fixt, that to reduce any of them into four Heterogeneous Substances has hitherto prov'd a Task much too hard, not only for the Disciples of Aristotle, but those of Vulcan, at least, whilst the latter have employ'd only Fire to make the Analysis.

The next Argument (continues Carneades) that I shall urge against Themistius's Opinion shall be this, That as there are divers Bodies whose Analysis by Fire cannot reduce them into so many Heterogeneous Substances or Ingregredients [Transcriber's Note: Ingredients] as four, so there are others which may be reduc'd into more, as the Blood (and divers other parts) of Men and other Animals, which yield when analyz'd five distinct Substances, Phlegme, Spirit, Oyle, Salt and Earth, as Experience has shewn us in distilling Mans Blood, Harts-Horns, and divers other Bodies that belonging to the Animal-Kingdom abound with not uneasily sequestrable Salt.





Doubts & Paradoxes,

Touching the




Are wont to Endeavour to Evince their





The True Principles of Things.

Utinam jam tenerentur omnia, & inoperta ac confessa Veritas esset! Nihil ex Decretis mutaremus. Nunc Veritatem cum eis qui docent, quaerimus. Sen.


Printed for J. Crooke, and are to be sold at the Ship in St. Pauls Church-Yard. 1661.



The First Part.

I am (sayes Carneades) so unwilling to deny Eleutherius any thing, that though, before the rest of the Company I am resolv'd to make good the part I have undertaken of a Sceptick; yet I shall readily, since you will have it so, lay aside for a while the Person of an Adversary to the Peripateticks and Chymists; and before I acquaint you with my Objections against their Opinions, acknowledge to you what may be (whether truly or not) tollerably enough added, in favour of a certain number of Principles of mixt Bodies, to that grand and known Argument from the Analysis of compound Bodies, which I may possibly hereafter be able to confute.

And that you may the more easily Examine, and the better Judge of what I have to say, I shall cast it into a pretty number of distinct Propositions, to which I shall not premise any thing; because I take it for granted, that you need not be advertis'd, that much of what I am to deliver, whether for or against a determinate number of Ingredients of mix'd Bodies, may be indifferently apply'd to the four Peripatetick Elements, and the three Chymical Principles, though divers of my Objections will more peculiarly belong to these last nam'd, because the Chymical Hypothesis seeming to be much more countenanc'd by Experience then the other, it will be expedient to insist chiefly upon the disproving of that; especially since most of the Arguments that are imploy'd against it, may, by a little variation, be made to conclude, at least as strongly against the less plausible, Aristotelian Doctrine.

To proceed then to my Propositions, I shall begin with this. That

[Sidenote: Propos. I.]

It seems not absurd to conceive that at the first Production of mixt Bodies, the Universal Matter whereof they among other Parts of the Universe consisted, was actually divided into little Particles of several sizes and shapes variously mov'd.

This (sayes Carneades) I suppose you will easily enough allow. For besides that which happens in the Generation, Corruption, Nutrition, and wasting of Bodies, that which we discover partly by our Microscopes of the extream littlenesse of even the scarce sensible parts of Concretes; and partly by the Chymical Resolutions of mixt Bodies, and by divers other Operations of Spagyrical Fires upon them, seems sufficiently to manifest their consisting of parts very minute and of differing Figures. And that there does also intervene a various local Motion of such small Bodies, will scarce be denied; whether we chuse to grant the Origine of Concretions assign'd by Epicurus, or that related by Moses. For the first, as you well know, supposes not only all mixt Bodies, but all others to be produc'd by the various and casual occursions of Atomes, moving themselves to and fro by an internal Principle in the Immense or rather Infinite Vacuum. And as for the inspir'd Historian, He, informing us that the great and Wise Author of Things did not immediately create Plants, Beasts, Birds, &c. but produc'd them out of those portions of the pre-existent, though created, Matter, that he calls Water and Earth, allows us to conceive, that the constituent Particles whereof these new Concretes were to consist, were variously moved in order to their being connected into the Bodies they were, by their various Coalitions and Textures, to compose.

But (continues Carneades) presuming that the first Proposition needs not be longer insisted on, I will pass on to the second, and tell you that

[Sidenote: Propos. II.]

Neither is it impossible that of these minute Particles divers of the smallest and neighbouring ones were here and there associated into minute Masses or Clusters, and did by their Coalitions constitute great store of such little primary Concretions or Masses as were not easily dissipable into such Particles as compos'd them.

To what may be deduc'd, in favour of this Assertion, from the Nature of the Thing it self, I will add something out of Experience, which though I have not known it used to such a purpose, seems to me more fairly to make out that there May be Elementary Bodies, then the more questionable Experiments of Peripateticks and Chymists prove that there Are such. I consider then that Gold will mix and be colliquated not only with Silver, Copper, Tin and Lead, but with Antimony, Regulus Martis and many other Minerals, with which it will compose Bodies very differing both from Gold, and the other Ingredients of the resulting Concretes. And the same Gold will also by common Aqua Regis, and (I speak it knowingly) by divers other Menstruums be reduc'd into a seeming Liquor, in so much that the Corpuscles of Gold will, with those of the Menstruum, pass through Cap-Paper, and with them also coagulate into a Crystalline Salt. And I have further try'd, that with a small quantity of a certain Saline Substance I prepar'd, I can easily enough sublime Gold into the form of red Crystalls of a considerable length; and many other wayes may Gold be disguis'd, and help to constitute Bodies of very differing Natures both from It and from one another, and neverthelesse be afterward reduc'd to the self-same Numerical, Yellow, Fixt, Ponderous and Malleable Gold it was before its commixture. Nor is it only the fixedst of Metals, but the most fugitive, that I may employ in favour of our Proposition: for Quicksilver will with divers Metals compose an Amalgam, with divers Menstruums it seems to be turn'd into a Liquor, with Aqua fortis will be brought into either a red or white Powder or precipitate, with Oyl of Vitriol into a pale Yellow one, with Sulphur it will compose a blood-red and volatile Cinaber, with some Saline Bodies it will ascend in form of a Salt which will be dissoluble in water; with Regulus of Antimony and Silver I have seen it sublim'd into a kinde of Crystals, with another Mixture I reduc'd it into a malleable Body, into a hard and brittle Substance by another: And some there are who affirm, that by proper Additaments they can reduce Quicksilver into Oyl, nay into Glass, to mention no more. And yet out of all these exotick Compounds, we may recover the very same running Mercury that was the main Ingredient of them, and was so disguis'd in them. Now the Reason (proceeds Carneades) that I have represented these things concerning Gold and Quicksilver, is, That it may not appear absurd to conceive, that such little primary Masses or Clusters, as our Proposition mentions, may remain undissipated, notwithstanding their entring into the composition of various Concretions, since the Corpuscle of Gold and Mercury, though they be not primary Concretions of the most minute Particles or matter, but confessedly mixt Bodies, are able to concurre plentifully to the composition of several very differing Bodies, without losing their own Nature or Texture, or having their cohaesion violated by the divorce of their associated parts or Ingredients.

Give me leave to add (sayes Eleutherius) on this occasion, to what you now observ'd, that as confidently as some Chymists, and other modern Innovators in Philosophy are wont to object against the Peripateticks, That from the mixture of their four Elements there could arise but an inconsiderable variety of compound Bodies; yet if the Aristotelians were but half as well vers'd in the works of Nature as they are in the Writings of their Master, the propos'd Objection would not so calmly triumph, as for want of Experiments they are fain to suffer it to do. For if we assigne to the Corpuscles, whereof each Element consists, a peculiar size and shape, it may easily enough be manifested, That such differingly figur'd Corpuscles may be mingled in such various Proportions, and may be connected so many several wayes, that an almost incredible number of variously qualified Concretes may be compos'd of them. Especially since the Corpuscles of one Element may barely, by being associated among themselves, make up little Masses of differing size and figure from their constituent parts: and since also to the strict union of such minute Bodies there seems oftentimes nothing requisite, besides the bare Contact of a great part of their Surfaces. And how great a variety of Phaenomena the same matter, without the addition of any other, and only several ways dispos'd or contexed, is able to exhibit, may partly appear by the multitude of differing Engins which by the contrivances of skilful Mechanitians, and the dexterity of expert Workmen, may be made of Iron alone. But in our present case being allow'd to deduce compound Bodies from four very differently qualified sorts of matter, he who shall but consider what you freshly took notice of concerning the new Concretes resulting from the mixture of incorporated Minerals, will scarce doubt but that the four Elements mannag'd by Natures Skill may afford a multitude of differing Compounds.

I am thus far of your minde (sayes Carneades) that the Aristotelians might with probability deduce a much greater number of compound Bodies from the mixture of their four Elements, than according to their present Hypothesis they can, if instead of vainly attempting to deduce the variety and properties of all mixt Bodies from the Combinations and Temperaments of the four Elements, as they are (among them) endowd with the four first Qualities, they had endeavoured to do it by the Bulk and Figure of the smallest parts of those supposed Elements. For from these more Catholick and Fruitfull Accidents of the Elementary matter may spring a great variety of Textures, upon whose Account a multitude of compound Bodies may very much differ from one another. And what I now observe touching the four Peripatetick Elements, may be also applyed, mutatis mutandis, (as they speak) to the Chymical Principles. But (to take notice of that by the by) both the one and the other, must, I fear, call in to their assistance something that is not Elementary, to excite or regulate the motion of the parts of the matter, and dispose them after the manner requisite to the Constitution of particular Concretes. For that otherwise they are like to give us but a very imperfect account of the Origine of very many mixt Bodies, It would, I think, be no hard matter to perswade you, if it would not spend time, and were no Digression, to examine, what they are wont to alledge of the Origine of the Textures and Qualities of mixt Bodies, from a certain substantial Form, whose Origination they leave more obscure than what it is assum'd to explicate.

But to proceed to a new Proposition.

[Sidenote: Propos. III.]

I shall not peremptorily deny, that from most of such mixt Bodies as partake either of Animal or Vegetable Nature, there may by the Help of the Fire, be actually obtain'd a determinate number (whether Three, Four or Five, or fewer or more) of Substances, worthy of differing Denominations.

Of the Experiments that induce me to make this Concession, I am like to have occasion enough to mention several in the prosecution of my Discourse. And therefore, that I may not hereafter be oblig'd to trouble You and my self with needless Repetitions, I shall now only desire you to take notice of such Experiments, when they shall be mention'd, and in your thoughts referre them hither.

To these three Concessions I have but this Fourth to add, That

[Sidenote: Propos. IV.]

It may likewise be granted, that those distinct Substances, which Concretes generally either afford or are made up of, may without very much Inconvenience be call'd the Elements or Principles of them.

When I said, without very much Inconvenience, I had in my Thoughts that sober Admonition of Galen, Cum de re constat, de verbis non est Litigandum. And therefore also I scruple not to say Elements or Principles, partly because the Chymists are wont to call the Ingredients of mixt Bodies, Principles, as the Aristotelians name them Elements; I would here exclude neither. And, partly, because it seems doubtfull whether the same Ingredients may not be call'd Principles? as not being compounded of any more primary Bodies: and Elements, in regard that all mix'd Bodies are compounded of them. But I thought it requisite to limit my Concession by premising the words, very much, to the word Inconvenience, because that though the Inconvenience of calling the distinct Substances, mention'd in the Proposition Elements or Principles, be not very great, yet that it is an Impropriety of Speech, and consequently in a matter of this moment not to be altogether overlook'd, You will perhaps think, as well as I, by that time you shall have heard the following part of my Discourse, by which you will best discern what Construction to put upon the former Propositions, and how far they may be look'd upon, as things that I concede as true, and how far as things I only represent as specious enough to be fit to be consider'd.

And now Eleutherius (continues Carneades) I must resume the person of a Sceptick, and as such, propose some part of what may be either dislik't, or at least doubted of in the common Hypothesis of the Chymists: which if I examine with a little the more freedom, I hope I need not desire you (a Person to whom I have the Happinesse of being so well known) to look upon it as something more suitable to the Employment whereto the Company has, for this Meeting, doom'd me; then either to my Humour or my Custom.

Now though I might present you many things against the Vulgar Chymical Opinion of the three Principles, and the Experiments wont to be alledg'd as Demonstrations of it, yet those I shall at present offer you may be conveniently enough comprehended in four Capital Considerations; touching all which I shall only premise this in general, That since it is not my present Task so much to assert an Hypothesis of my own, as to give an Account wherefore I suspect the Truth of that of the Chymists, it ought not to be expected that all my Objections should be of the most cogent sort, since it is reason enough to Doubt of a propos'd Opinion, that there appears no cogent Reason for it.

To come then to the Objections themselves; I consider in the first place, That notwithstanding what common Chymists have prov'd or taught, it may reasonably enough be Doubted, how far, and in what sence, Fire ought to be esteem'd the genuine and universal Instrument of analyzing mixt Bodies.

This Doubt, you may remember, was formerly mention'd, but so transiently discours'd of, that it will now be fit to insist upon it; And manifest that it was not so inconsiderately propos'd as our Adversaries then imagin'd.

But, before I enter any farther into this Disquisition, I cannot but here take notice, that it were to be wish'd, our Chymists had clearly inform'd us what kinde of Division of Bodies by Fire must determine the number of the Elements: For it is nothing near so easy as many seem to think, to determine distinctly the Effects of Heat, as I could easily manifest, if I had leasure to shew you how much the Operations of Fire may be diversify'd by Circumstances. But not wholly to pass by a matter of this Importance, I will first take notice to you, that Guajacum (for Instance) burnt with an open Fire in a Chimney, is sequestred into Ashes and Soot, whereas the same Wood distill'd in a Retort does yield far other Heterogeneities, (to use the Helmontian expression) and is resolv'd into Oyl, Spirit, Vinager, Water and Charcoal; the last of which to be reduc'd into Ashes, requires the being farther calcin'd then it can be in a close Vessel: Besides having kindled Amber, and held a clean Silver Spoon, or some other Concave and smooth Vessel over the Smoak of its Flame, I observ'd the Soot into which that Fume condens'd, to be very differing from any thing that I had observ'd to proceed from the steam of Amber purposely (for that is not usual) distilled per se in close Vessels. Thus having, for Tryals sake, kindled Camphire, and catcht the Smoak that copiously ascended out of the Flame, it condens'd into a Black and unctuous Soot, which would not have been guess'd by the Smell or other Properties to have proceeded from Camphire: whereas having (as I shall otherwhere more fully declare) expos'd a quantity of that Fugitive Concrete to a gentle heat in a close Glass-Vessel, it sublim'd up without seeming to have lost any thing of its whiteness, or its Nature, both which it retain'd, though afterwards I so encreased the Fire as to bring it to Fusion. And, besides Camphire, there are divers other Bodies (that I elsewhere name) in which the heat in close Vessels is not wont to make any separation of Heterogeneities, but only a comminution of Parts, those that rise first being Homogeneal with the others, though subdivided into smaller Particles: whence Sublimations have been stiled, The Pestles of the Chymists. But not here to mention what I elsewhere take notice of, concerning common Brimstone once or twice sublim'd, that expos'd to a moderate Fire in Subliming-Pots, it rises all into dry, and almost tastless, Flowers; Whereas being expos'd to a naked Fire it affords store of a Saline and Fretting Liquor: Not to mention this, I say, I will further observe to you, that as it is considerable in the Analysis of mixt Bodies, whether the Fire act on them when they are expos'd to the open Air, or shut up in close Vessels, so is the degree of Fire by which the Analysis is attempted of no small moment. For a milde Balneum will sever unfermented Blood (for Instance) but into Phlegme and Caput mortuum, the later whereof (which I have sometimes had) hard, brittle, and of divers Colours, (transparent almost like Tortoise-shell) press'd by a good Fire in a Retort yields a Spirit, an Oyl or two, and a volatile Salt, besides a [Errata: another] Caput mortuum. It may be also pertinent to our present Designe, to take notice of what happens in the making and distilling of Sope; for by one degree of Fire the Salt, the Water and the Oyl or Grease, whereof that factitious Concrete is made up, being boyl'd up together are easily brought to mingle and incorporate into one Mass; but by another and further degree of Heat the same Mass may be again divided into an oleagenous, an aqueous, a Saline, and an Earthy part. And so we may observe that impure Silver and Lead being expos'd together to a moderate Fire, will thereby be colliquated into one Mass, and mingle per minima, as they speak, whereas a much vehementer Fire will drive or carry off the baser Metals (I mean the Lead, and the Copper or other Alloy) from the Silver, though not, for ought appears, separate them from one another. Besides, when a Vegetable abounding in fixt Salt is analyz'd by a naked Fire, as one degree of Heat will reduce it into Ashes, (as the Chymists themselves teach us) so, by only a further degree of Fire, those Ashes may be vitrified and turn'd into Glass. I will not stay to examine how far a meere Chymist might on this occasion demand, If it be lawful for an Aristotelian to make Ashes, (which he mistakes for meere Earth) pass for an Element, because by one degree of Fire it may be produc'd, why a Chymist may not upon the like Principle argue, that Glass is one of the Elements of many Bodies, because that also may be obtain'd from them, barely by the Fire? I will not, I say, lose time to examine this, but observe, that by a Method of applying the Fire, such similar Bodies may be obtain'd from a Concrete, as Chymists have not been able to separate; either by barely burning it in an open Fire, or by barely distilling it in close Vessels. For to me it seems very considerable, and I wonder that men have taken so little notice of it, that I have not by any of the common wayes of Distillation in close Vessels, seen any separation made of such a volatile Salt as is afforded us by Wood, when that is first by an open Fire divided into Ashes and Soot, and that Soot is afterwards plac'd in a strong Retort, and compell'd by an urgent Fire to part with its Spirit, Oyl and Salt; for though I dare not peremptorily deny, that in the Liquors of Guajacum and other Woods distill'd in Retorts after the common manner, there may be Saline parts, which by reason of the Analogy may pretend to the name of some kinde of volatile Salts; yet questionless there is a great disparity betwixt such Salts and that which we have sometimes obtain'd upon the first Distillation of Soot (though for the most part it has not been separated from the first or second Rectification, and sometimes not till the third) For we could never yet see separated from Woods analyz'd only the vulgar way in close vessels any volatile Salt in a dry and Saline form, as that of Soot, which we have often had very Crystalline and Geometrically figur'd. And then, whereas the Saline parts of the Spirits of Guajacum, &c. appear upon distillation sluggish enough, the Salt of Soot seems to be one of the most volatile Bodies in all Nature; and if it be well made will readily ascend with the milde heat of a Furnace, warm'd only by the single Wieck of a Lamp, to the top of the highest Glass Vessels that are commonly made use of for Distillation: and besides all this, the taste and smell of the Salt of Soot are exceeding differing from those of the Spirits of Guajacum, &c. and the former not only smells and tastes much less like a vegetable Salt, than like that of Harts-horn, and other Animal Concretes; but in divers other Properties seems more of Kinne to the Family of Animals, than to that of vegetable Salts, as I may elsewhere (God permitting) have an occasion more particularly to declare. I might likewise by some other Examples manifest, That the Chymists, to have dealt clearly, ought to have more explicitly and particularly declar'd by what Degree of Fire, and in what manner of Application of it, they would have us Judge a Division made by the Fire to be a true Analysis into their Principles, and the Productions of it to deserve the name of Elementary Bodies. But it is time that I proceed to mention the particular Reasons that incline me to Doubt, whether the Fire be the true and universal Analyzer of mixt Bodies; of which Reasons what has been already objected may pass for one.

In the next place I observe, That there are some mixt Bodies from which it has not been yet made appear, that any degree of Fire can separate either Salt or Sulphur or Mercury, much less all the Three. The most obvious Instance of this Truth is Gold, which is a Body so fix'd, and wherein the Elementary Ingredients (if it have any) are so firmly united to each other, that we finde not in the operations wherein Gold is expos'd to the Fire, how violent soever, that it does discernably so much as lose of its fixednesse or weight, so far is it from being dissipated into those Principles, whereof one at least is acknowledged to be Fugitive enough; and so justly did the Spagyricall Poet somewhere exclaim,

Cuncta adeo miris illic compagibus harent.

And I must not omit on this occasion to mention to you, Eleutherius, the memorable Experiment that I remember I met with in Gasto Claveus,[2] who, though a Lawyer by Profession, seems to have had no small Curiosity and Experience in Chymical affairs: He relates then, that having put into one small Earthen Vessel an Ounce of the most pure Gold, and into another the like weight of pure Silver, he plac'd them both in that part of a Glass-house Furnace wherein the Workmen keep their Metal, (as our English Artificers call their Liquid Glass) continually melted, and that having there kept both the Gold and the Silver in constant Fusion for two Moneths together, he afterwards took them out of the Furnace and the Vessels, and weighing both of them again, found that the Silver had not lost above a 12th part of its weight, but the Gold had not of his lost any thing at all. And though our Author endeavours to give us of this a Scholastick Reason, which I suppose you would be as little satisfied with, as I was when I read it; yet for the matter of Fact, which will serve our present turne, he assures us, that though it be strange, yet Experience it self taught it him to be most true.

[Footnote 2: Gasto Claveus Apolog. Argur. & Chrysopera.]

And though there be not perhaps any other Body to be found so perfectly fix'd as Gold, yet there are divers others so fix'd or compos'd, at least of so strictly united parts, that I have not yet observ'd the Fire to separate from them any one of the Chymists Principles. I need not tell you what Complaints the more Candid and Judicious of the Chymists themselves are wont to make of those Boasters that confidently pretend, that they have extracted the Salt or Sulphur of Quicksilver, when they have disguis'd it by Additaments, wherewith it resembles the Concretes whose Names are given it; whereas by a skilful and rigid Examen, it may be easily enough stript of its Disguises, and made to appear again in the pristine form of running Mercury. The pretended Salts and Sulphurs being so far from being Elementary parts extracted out of the Bodie of Mercurie, that they are rather (to borrow a terme of the Grammarians) De-compound Bodies, made up of the whole Metal and the Menstruum or other Additaments imploy'd to disguise it. And as for Silver, I never could see any degree of Fire make it part with any of its three Principles. And though the Experiment lately mentioned from Claveus may beget a Suspition that Silver may be dissipated by Fire, provided it be extreamly violent and very lasting: yet it will not necessarily follow, that because the Fire was able at length to make the Silver lose a little of its weight, it was therefore able to dissipate it into its Principles. For first I might alledge that I have observ'd little Grains of Silver to lie hid in the small Cavities (perhaps glas'd over by a vitrifying heat) in Crucibles, wherein Silver has been long kept in Fusion, whence some Goldsmiths of my Acquaintance make a Benefit by grinding such Crucibles to powder, to recover out of them the latent particles of Silver. And hence I might argue, that perhaps Claveus was mistaken, and imagin'd that Silver to have been driven away by the Fire, that indeed lay in minute parts hid in his Crucible, in whose pores so small a quantity as he mist of so ponderous a Bodie might very well lie conceal'd.

But Secondly, admitting that some parts of the Silver were driven away by the violence of the Fire, what proof is there that it was either the Salt, the Sulphur, or the Mercury of the Metal, and not rather a part of it homogeneous to what remain'd? For besides, that the Silver that was left seem'd not sensibly alter'd, which probably would have appear'd, had so much of any one of its Principles been separated from it: We finde in other Mineral Bodies of a less permanent nature than Silver, that the Fire may divide them into such minute parts, as to be able to carry them away with its self, without at all destroying their Nature. Thus we see that in the refining of Silver, the Lead that is mix'd with it (to carry away the Copper or other ignoble Mineral that embases the Silver) will, if it be let alone, in time evaporate away upon the Test; but if (as is most usual amongst those that refine great quantities of Metals together) the Lead be blown off from the Silver by Bellowes, that which would else have gone away in the Form of unheeded steams, will in great part be collected not far from the Silver, in the Form of a darkish Powder or Calx, which, because it is blown off from Silver, they call Litharge of Silver. And thus Agricola[3] in divers places informs us, when Copper, or the Oare of it is colliquated by the violence of the Fire with Cadmia, the Sparks that in great multitudes do fly upwards do, some of them, stick to the vaulted Roofs of the Furnaces, in the form of little and (for the most part) White Bubbles, which therefore the Greeks, and, in Imitation of them, our Drugsters call Pompholix: and others more heavy partly adhere to the sides of the Furnace, and partly (especially if the Covers be not kept upon the Pots) fall to the Ground, and by reason of their Ashy Colour as well as Weight were called by the same Greeks [Greek: spodos], which, I need not tell you, in their Language signifies Ashes. I might add, that I have not found that from Venetian Talck (I say Venetian, because I have found other kinds of that Mineral more open) from the Lapis Ossifragus, (which the Shops call Ostiocolla) from Muscovia Glass, from pure and Fusible Sand, to mention now no other Concretes; those of my Acquaintance that have try'd have been able by the Fire to separate any one of the Hypostatical Principles, which you will the less scruple to believe, if you consider that Glass may be made by the bare Colliquation of the Salt and Earth remaining in the Ashes of a burnt Plant, and that yet common Glass, once made, does so far resist the violence of the Fire, that most Chymists think it a Body more undestroyable then Gold it self. For if the Artificer can so firmly unite such comparative gross Particles as those of Earth and Salt that make up common Ashes, into a Body indissoluble by Fire; why may not Nature associate in divers Bodies the more minute Elementary Corpuscles she has at hand too firmly to let them be separable by the Fire? And on this Occasion, Eleutherius, give me leave to mention to you two or three sleight Experiments, which will, I hope, be found more pertinent to our present Discourse, than at first perhaps they will appear. The first is, that, having (for Tryals sake) put a quantity of that Fugitive Concrete, Camphire, into a Glass Vessel, and plac'd it in a gentle Heat, I found it (not leaving behinde, according to my Estimate, not so much as one Grain) to sublime to the Top of the Vessel into Flowers: which in Whiteness, Smell, &c. seem'd not to differ from the Camphire it self. Another Experiment is that of Helmont, who in several places affirms, That a Coal kept in a Glass exactly clos'd will never be calcin'd to Ashes, though kept never so long in a strong Fire. To countenance which I shall tell you this Tryal of my own, That having sometimes distilled some Woods, as particularly Box, whilst our Caput mortuum remain'd in the Retort, it continued black like Charcoal, though the Retort were Earthen, and kept red-hot in a vehement Fire; but as soon as ever it was brought out of the candent Vessel into the open Air, the burning Coals did hastily degenerate or fall asunder, without the Assistance of any new Calcination, into pure white Ashes. And to these two I shall add but this obvious and known Observation, that common Sulphur (if it be pure and freed from its Vinager) being leasurely sublim'd in close Vessels, rises into dry Flowers, which may be presently melted into a Bodie of the same Nature with that which afforded them. Though if Brimstone be burnt in the open Air it gives, you know, a penetrating Fume, which being caught in a Glass-Bell condenses into that acid Liquor called Oyl of Sulphur per Campanam. The use I would make of these Experiments collated with what I lately told you out of Agricola is this, That even among the Bodies that are not fixt, there are divers of such a Texture, that it will be hard to make it appear, how the Fire, as Chymists are wont to imploy it, can resolve them into Elementary Substances. For some Bodies being of such a Texture that the Fire can drive them into the cooler and less hot part of the Vessels wherein they are included, and if need be, remove them from place to place to fly the greatest heat, more easily than it can divorce their Elements (especially without the Assistance of the Air) we see that our Chymists cannot Analyze them in close Vessels, and of other compound Bodies the open Fire can as little separate the Elements. For what can a naked Fire do to Analyze a mixt Bodie, if its component Principles be so minute, and so strictly united, that the Corpuscles of it need less heat to carry them up, than is requisite to divide them into their Principles. So that of some Bodies the Fire cannot in close Vessels make any Analysis at all, and others will in the open Air fly away in the Forms of Flowers or Liquors, before the Heat can prove able to divide them into their Principles. And this may hold, whether the various similar parts of a Concrete be combin'd by Nature or by Art; For in factitious Sal Armoniack we finde the common and the Urinous Salts so well mingled, that both in the open Fire, and in subliming Vessels they rise together as one Salt, which seems in such Vessels irresoluble by Fire alone. For I can shew you Sal Armoniack which after the ninth Sublimation does still retain its compounded Nature. And indeed I scarce know any one Mineral, from which by Fire alone Chymists are wont to sever any Substance simple enough to deserve the name of an Element or Principle. For though out of native Cinnaber they distill Quicksilver, and though from many of those Stones that the Ancients called Pyrites they sublime Brimstone, yet both that Quicksilver and this Sulphur being very often the same with the common Minerals that are sold in the Shops under those names, are themselves too much compounded Bodies to pass for the Elements of such. And thus much, Eleutherius, for the Second Argument that belongs to my First Consideration; the others I shall the lesse insist on, because I have dwelt so long upon this.

[Footnote 3: Agricola de Natura Fossil. Lib. 9. Cap. 11. & 12.]

Proceed we then in the next place to consider, That there are divers Separations to be made by other means, which either cannot at all, or else cannot so well be made by the Fire alone. When Gold and Silver are melted into one Mass, it would lay a great Obligation upon Refiners and Goldsmiths to teach them the Art of separating them by the Fire, without the trouble and charge they are fain to be at to sever them. Whereas they may be very easily parted by the Affusion of Spirit of Nitre or Aqua fortis (which the French therefore call Eau de Depart:) so likewise the Metalline part of Vitriol will not be so easily and conveniently separated from the Saline part even by a violent Fire, as by the Affusion of certain Alkalizate Salts in a liquid Form upon the Solution of Vitriol made in common water. For thereby the acid Salt of the Vitriol, leaving the Copper it had corroded to joyn with the added Salts, the Metalline part will be precipitated to the bottom almost like Mud. And that I may not give Instances only in De-compound Bodies, I will add a not useless one of another kinde. Not only Chymists have not been able (for ought is vulgarly known) by Fire alone to separate true Sulphur from Antimony; but though you may finde in their Books many plausible Processes of Extracting it, yet he that shall make as many fruitlesse Tryals as I have done to obtain it by, most of them will, I suppose, be easily perswaded, that the Productions of such Processes are Antimonial Sulphurs rather in Name than Nature. But though Antimony sublim'd by its self is reduc'd but to a volatile Powder, or Antimonial Flowers, of a compounded Nature like the Mineral that affords them: yet I remember that some years ago I sublim'd out of Antimony a Sulphur, and that in greater plenty then ever I saw obtain'd from that Mineral, by a Method which I shall therefore acquaint you with, because

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