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Title: Novum Organum - Or True Suggestions for the Interpretation of Nature
Author: Bacon, Francis
Language: English
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They who have presumed to dogmatize on nature, as on some well
investigated subject, either from self-conceit or arrogance, and in the
professorial style, have inflicted the greatest injury on philosophy
and learning. For they have tended to stifle and interrupt inquiry
exactly in proportion as they have prevailed in bringing others to
their opinion: and their own activity has not counterbalanced the
mischief they have occasioned by corrupting and destroying that of
others. They again who have entered upon a contrary course, and
asserted that nothing whatever can be known, whether they have fallen
into this opinion from their hatred of the ancient sophists, or from
the hesitation of their minds, or from an exuberance of learning, have
certainly adduced reasons for it which are by no means contemptible.
They have not, however, derived their opinion from true sources,
and, hurried on by their zeal and some affectation, have certainly
exceeded due moderation. But the more ancient Greeks (whose writings
have perished), held a more prudent mean, between the arrogance of
dogmatism, and the despair of scepticism; and though too frequently
intermingling complaints and indignation at the difficulty of inquiry,
and the obscurity of things, and champing, as it were, the bit, have
still persisted in pressing their point, and pursuing their intercourse
with nature; thinking, as it seems, that the better method was not to
dispute upon the very point of the possibility of anything being known,
but to put it to the test of experience. Yet they themselves, by only
employing the power of the understanding, have not adopted a fixed
rule, but have laid their whole stress upon intense meditation, and a
continual exercise and perpetual agitation of the mind.

Our method, though difficult in its operation, is easily explained.
It consists in determining the degrees of certainty, while we, as it
were, restore the senses to their former rank, but generally reject
that operation of the mind which follows close upon the senses, and
open and establish a new and certain course for the mind from the first
actual perceptions of the senses themselves. This, no doubt, was the
view taken by those who have assigned so much to logic; showing clearly
thereby that they sought some support for the mind, and suspected its
natural and spontaneous mode of action. But this is now employed too
late as a remedy, when all is clearly lost, and after the mind, by
the daily habit and intercourse of life, has come prepossessed with
corrupted doctrines, and filled with the vainest idols. The art of
logic therefore being (as we have mentioned), too late a precaution,[1]
and in no way remedying the matter, has tended more to confirm errors,
than to disclose truth. Our only remaining hope and salvation is to
begin the whole labor of the mind again; not leaving it to itself,
but directing it perpetually from the very first, and attaining our
end as it were by mechanical aid. If men, for instance, had attempted
mechanical labors with their hands alone, and without the power and aid
of instruments, as they have not hesitated to carry on the labors of
their understanding with the unaided efforts of their mind, they would
have been able to move and overcome but little, though they had exerted
their utmost and united powers. And just to pause awhile on this
comparison, and look into it as a mirror; let us ask, if any obelisk of
a remarkable size were perchance required to be moved, for the purpose
of gracing a triumph or any similar pageant, and men were to attempt it
with their bare hands, would not any sober spectator avow it to be an
act of the greatest madness? And if they should increase the number of
workmen, and imagine that they could thus succeed, would he not think
so still more? But if they chose to make a selection, and to remove
the weak, and only employ the strong and vigorous, thinking by this
means, at any rate, to achieve their object, would he not say that they
were more fondly deranged? Nay, if not content with this, they were
to determine on consulting the athletic art, and were to give orders
for all to appear with their hands, arms, and muscles regularly oiled
and prepared, would he not exclaim that they were taking pains to rave
by method and design? Yet men are hurried on with the same senseless
energy and useless combination in intellectual matters, as long as
they expect great results either from the number and agreement, or the
excellence and acuteness of their wits; or even strengthen their minds
with logic, which may be considered as an athletic preparation, but yet
do not desist (if we rightly consider the matter) from applying their
own understandings merely with all this zeal and effort. While nothing
is more clear, than that in every great work executed by the hand of
man without machines or implements, it is impossible for the strength
of individuals to be increased, or for that of the multitude to combine.

Having premised so much, we lay down two points on which we would
admonish mankind, lest they should fail to see or to observe them. The
first of these is, that it is our good fortune (as we consider it), for
the sake of extinguishing and removing contradiction and irritation of
mind, to leave the honor and reverence due to the ancients untouched
and undiminished, so that we can perform our intended work, and yet
enjoy the benefit of our respectful moderation. For if we should
profess to offer something better than the ancients, and yet should
pursue the same course as they have done, we could never, by any
artifice, contrive to avoid the imputation of having engaged in a
contest or rivalry as to our respective wits, excellences, or talents;
which, though neither inadmissible nor new (for why should we not blame
and point out anything that is imperfectly discovered or laid down by
them, of our own right, a right common to all?), yet however just and
allowable, would perhaps be scarcely an equal match, on account of
the disproportion of our strength. But since our present plan leads
up to open an entirely different course to the understanding, and one
unattempted and unknown to them, the case is altered. There is an end
to party zeal, and we only take upon ourselves the character of a
guide, which requires a moderate share of authority and good fortune,
rather than talents and excellence. The first admonition relates to
persons, the next to things.

We make no attempt to disturb the system of philosophy that now
prevails, or any other which may or will exist, either more correct or
more complete. For we deny not that the received system of philosophy,
and others of a similar nature, encourage discussion, embellish
harangues, are employed, and are of service in the duties of the
professor, and the affairs of civil life. Nay, we openly express and
declare that the philosophy we offer will not be very useful in such
respects. It is not obvious, nor to be understood in a cursory view,
nor does it flatter the mind in its preconceived notions, nor will
it descend to the level of the generality of mankind unless by its
advantages and effects.

Let there exist then (and may it be of advantage to both), two sources,
and two distributions of learning, and in like manner two tribes, and
as it were kindred families of contemplators or philosophers, without
any hostility or alienation between them; but rather allied and united
by mutual assistance. Let there be in short one method of cultivating
the sciences, and another of discovering them. And as for those who
prefer and more readily receive the former, on account of their haste
or from motives arising from their ordinary life, or because they
are unable from weakness of mind to comprehend and embrace the other
(which must necessarily be the case with by far the greater number),
let us wish that they may prosper as they desire in their undertaking,
and attain what they pursue. But if any individual desire, and is
anxious not merely to adhere to, and make use of present discoveries,
but to penetrate still further, and not to overcome his adversaries
in disputes, but nature by labor, not in short to give elegant and
specious opinions, but to know to a certainty and demonstration, let
him, as a true son of science (if such be his wish), join with us; that
when he has left the antechambers of nature trodden by the multitude,
an entrance may at last be discovered to her inner apartments. And
in order to be better understood, and to render our meaning more
familiar by assigning determinate names, we have accustomed ourselves
to call the one method the anticipation of the mind, and the other the
interpretation of nature.

We have still one request left. We have at least reflected and taken
pains in order to render our propositions not only true, but of easy
and familiar access to men’s minds, however wonderfully prepossessed
and limited. Yet it is but just that we should obtain this favor from
mankind (especially in so great a restoration of learning and the
sciences), that whosoever may be desirous of forming any determination
upon an opinion of this our work either from his own perceptions, or
the crowd of authorities, or the forms of demonstrations, he will not
expect to be able to do so in a cursory manner, and while attending
to other matters; but in order to have a thorough knowledge of the
subject, will himself by degrees attempt the course which we describe
and maintain; will be accustomed to the subtilty of things which is
manifested by experience; and will correct the depraved and deeply
rooted habits of his mind by a seasonable, and, as it were, just
hesitation: and then, finally (if he will), use his judgment when he
has begun to be master of himself.


[1] Because it was idle to draw a logical conclusion from false
principles, error being propagated as much by false premises, which
logic does not pretend to examine, as by illegitimate inference. Hence,
as Bacon says further on, men being easily led to confound legitimate
inference with truth, were confirmed in their errors by the very
subtilty of their genius.--_Ed._



I. Man, as the minister and interpreter of nature, does and understands
as much as his observations on the order of nature, either with regard
to things or the mind, permit him, and neither knows nor is capable of

II. The unassisted hand and the understanding left to itself possess
but little power. Effects are produced by the means of instruments and
helps, which the understanding requires no less than the hand; and as
instruments either promote or regulate the motion of the hand, so those
that are applied to the mind prompt or protect the understanding.

III. Knowledge and human power are synonymous, since the ignorance
of the cause frustrates the effect; for nature is only subdued by
submission, and that which in contemplative philosophy corresponds with
the cause in practical science becomes the rule.

IV. Man while operating can only apply or withdraw natural bodies;
nature internally performs the rest.

V. Those who become practically versed in nature are, the mechanic, the
mathematician, the physician, the alchemist, and the _magician_,[2] but
all (as matters now stand) with faint efforts and meagre success.

VI. It would be madness and inconsistency to suppose that things which
have never yet been performed can be performed without employing some
hitherto untried means.

VII. The creations of the mind and hand appear very numerous, if we
judge by books and manufactures; but all that variety consists of
an excessive refinement, and of deductions from a few well known
matters--_not of a number of axioms_.[3]

VIII. Even the effects already discovered are due to chance and
experiment rather than to the sciences; for our present sciences are
nothing more than peculiar arrangements of matters already discovered,
and not methods for discovery or plans for new operations.

IX. The sole cause and root of almost every defect in the sciences is
this, that while we falsely admire and extol the powers of the human
mind, we do not search for its real helps.

X. The subtilty of nature is far beyond that of sense or of the
understanding: so that the specious meditations, speculations, and
theories of mankind are but a kind of insanity, only there is no one to
stand by and observe it.

XI. As the present sciences are useless for the discovery of effects,
so the present system of logic[4] is useless for the discovery of the

XII. The present system of logic rather assists in confirming and
rendering inveterate the errors founded on vulgar notions than in
searching after truth, and is therefore more hurtful than useful.

XIII. The syllogism is not applied to the principles of the sciences,
and is of no avail in intermediate axioms,[5] as being very unequal to
the subtilty of nature. It forces assent, therefore, and not things.

XIV. The syllogism consists of propositions; propositions of words;
words are the signs of notions. If, therefore, the notions (which form
the basis of the whole) be confused and carelessly abstracted from
things, there is no solidity in the superstructure. Our only hope,
then, is in genuine induction.

XV. We have no sound notions either in logic or physics; substance,
quality, action, passion, and existence are not clear notions; much
less weight, levity, density, tenuity, moisture, dryness, generation,
corruption, attraction, repulsion, element, matter, form, and the
like. They are all fantastical and ill-defined.

XVI. The notions of less abstract natures, as man, dog, dove, and the
immediate perceptions of sense, as heat, cold, white, black, do not
deceive us materially, yet even these are sometimes confused by the
mutability of matter and the intermixture of things. All the rest which
men have hitherto employed are errors, and improperly abstracted and
deduced from things.

XVII. There is the same degree of licentiousness and error in forming
axioms as in abstracting notions, and that in the first principles,
which depend on common induction; still more is this the case in axioms
and inferior propositions derived from syllogisms.

XVIII. The present discoveries in science are such as lie immediately
beneath the surface of common notions. It is necessary, however, to
penetrate the more secret and remote parts of nature, in order to
abstract both notions and axioms from things by a more certain and
guarded method.

XIX. There are and can exist but two ways of investigating and
discovering truth. The one hurries on rapidly from the senses and
particulars to the most general axioms, and from them, as principles
and their supposed indisputable truth, derives and discovers the
intermediate axioms. This is the way now in use. The other constructs
its axioms from the senses and particulars, by ascending continually
and gradually, till it finally arrives at the most general axioms,
which is the true but unattempted way.

XX. The understanding when left to itself proceeds by the same way as
that which it would have adopted under the guidance of logic, namely,
the first; for the mind is fond of starting off to generalities, that
it may avoid labor, and after dwelling a little on a subject is
fatigued by experiment. But those evils are augmented by logic, for the
sake of the ostentation of dispute.

XXI. The understanding, when left to itself in a man of a steady,
patient, and reflecting disposition (especially when unimpeded by
received doctrines), makes some attempt in the right way, but with
little effect, since the understanding, undirected and unassisted,
is unequal to and unfit for the task of vanquishing the obscurity of

XXII. Each of these two ways begins from the senses and particulars,
and ends in the greatest generalities. But they are immeasurably
different; for the one merely touches cursorily the limits of
experiment and particulars, while the other runs duly and regularly
through them--the one from the very outset lays down some abstract and
useless generalities, the other gradually rises to those principles
which are really the most common in nature.[6]

XXIII. There is no small difference between the idols of the human mind
and the ideas of the Divine mind--that is to say, between certain idle
dogmas and the real stamp and impression of created objects, as they
are found in nature.

XXIV. Axioms determined upon in argument can never assist in the
discovery of new effects; for the subtilty of nature is vastly superior
to that of argument. But axioms properly and regularly abstracted from
particulars easily point out and define new particulars, and therefore
impart activity to the sciences.

XXV. The axioms now in use are derived from a scanty handful, as it
were, of experience, and a few particulars of frequent occurrence,
whence they are of much the same dimensions or extent as their origin.
And if any neglected or unknown instance occurs, the axiom is saved by
some frivolous distinction, when it would be more consistent with truth
to amend it.

XXVI. We are wont, for the sake of distinction, to call that human
reasoning which we apply to nature the anticipation of nature (as being
rash and premature), and that which is properly deduced from things the
interpretation of nature.

XXVII. Anticipations are sufficiently powerful in producing unanimity,
for if men were all to become even uniformly mad, they might agree
tolerably well with each other.

XXVIII. Anticipations again, will be assented to much more readily
than interpretations, because being deduced from a few instances, and
these principally of familiar occurrence, they immediately hit the
understanding and satisfy the imagination; while, on the contrary,
interpretations, being deduced from various subjects, and these widely
dispersed, cannot suddenly strike the understanding, so that in common
estimation they must appear difficult and discordant, and almost like
the mysteries of faith.

XXIX. In sciences founded on opinions and dogmas, it is right to make
use of anticipations and logic if you wish to force assent rather than

XXX. If all the capacities of all ages should unite and combine and
transmit their labors, no great progress will be made in learning
by anticipations, because the radical errors, and those which occur
in the first process of the mind, are not cured by the excellence of
subsequent means and remedies.

XXXI. It is in vain to expect any great progress in the sciences by the
superinducing or ingrafting new matters upon old. An instauration must
be made from the very foundations, if we do not wish to revolve forever
in a circle, making only some slight and contemptible progress.

XXXII. The ancient authors and all others are left in undisputed
possession of their honors; for we enter into no comparison of capacity
or talent, but of method, and assume the part of a guide rather than of
a critic.

XXXIII. To speak plainly, no correct judgment can be formed either of
our method or its discoveries by those anticipations which are now in
common use; for it is not to be required of us to submit ourselves to
the judgment of the very method we ourselves arraign.

XXXIV. Nor is it an easy matter to deliver and explain our sentiments;
for those things which are in themselves new can yet be only understood
from some analogy to what is old.

XXXV. Alexander Borgia[7] said of the expedition of the French into
Italy that they came with chalk in their hands to mark up their
lodgings, and not with weapons to force their passage. Even so do we
wish our philosophy to make its way quietly into those minds that are
fit for it, and of good capacity; for we have no need of contention
where we differ in first principles, and in our very notions, and even
in our forms of demonstration.

XXXVI. We have but one simple method of delivering our sentiments,
namely, we must bring men to particulars and their regular series and
order, and they must for a while renounce their notions, and begin to
form an acquaintance with things.

XXXVII. Our method and that of the sceptics[8] agree in some respects
at first setting out, but differ most widely, and are completely
opposed to each other in their conclusion; for they roundly assert that
nothing can be known; we, that but a small part of nature can be known,
by the present method; their next step, however, is to destroy the
authority of the senses and understanding, while we invent and supply
them with assistance.

XXXVIII. The idols and false notions which have already preoccupied the
human understanding, and are deeply rooted in it, not only so beset
men’s minds that they become difficult of access, but even when access
is obtained will again meet and trouble us in the instauration of the
sciences, unless mankind when forewarned guard themselves with all
possible care against them.

XXXIX. Four species of idols beset the human mind,[9] to which (for
distinction’s sake) we have assigned names, calling the first Idols of
the Tribe, the second Idols of the Den, the third Idols of the Market,
the fourth Idols of the Theatre.

XL. The formation of notions and axioms on the foundation of true
induction is the only fitting remedy by which we can ward off and expel
these idols. It is, however, of great service to point them out; for
the doctrine of idols bears the same relation to the interpretation of
nature as that of the confutation of sophisms does to common logic.[10]

XLI. The idols of the tribe are inherent in human nature and the very
tribe or race of man; for man’s sense is falsely asserted to be the
standard of things; on the contrary, all the perceptions both of the
senses and the mind bear reference to man and not to the universe,
and the human mind resembles those uneven mirrors which impart their
own properties to different objects, from which rays are emitted and
distort and disfigure them.[11]

XLII. The idols of the den are those of each individual; for everybody
(in addition to the errors common to the race of man) has his own
individual den or cavern, which intercepts and corrupts the light of
nature, either from his own peculiar and singular disposition, or from
his education and intercourse with others, or from his reading, and
the authority acquired by those whom he reverences and admires, or
from the different impressions produced on the mind, as it happens to
be preoccupied and predisposed, or equable and tranquil, and the like;
so that the spirit of man (according to its several dispositions), is
variable, confused, and as it were actuated by chance; and Heraclitus
said well that men search for knowledge in lesser worlds, and not in
the greater or common world.

XLIII. There are also idols formed by the reciprocal intercourse and
society of man with man, which we call idols of the market, from the
commerce and association of men with each other; for men converse by
means of language, but words are formed at the will of the generality,
and there arises from a bad and unapt formation of words a wonderful
obstruction to the mind. Nor can the definitions and explanations with
which learned men are wont to guard and protect themselves in some
instances afford a complete remedy--words still manifestly force the
understanding, throw everything into confusion, and lead mankind into
vain and innumerable controversies and fallacies.

XLIV. Lastly, there are idols which have crept into men’s minds from
the various dogmas of peculiar systems of philosophy, and also from the
perverted rules of demonstration, and these we denominate idols of the
theatre: for we regard all the systems of philosophy hitherto received
or imagined, as so many plays brought out and performed, creating
fictitious and theatrical worlds. Nor do we speak only of the present
systems, or of the philosophy and sects of the ancients, since numerous
other plays of a similar nature can be still composed and made to agree
with each other, the causes of the most opposite errors being generally
the same. Nor, again, do we allude merely to general systems, but also
to many elements and axioms of sciences which have become inveterate by
tradition, implicit credence, and neglect. We must, however, discuss
each species of idols more fully and distinctly in order to guard the
human understanding against them.

XLV. The human understanding, from its peculiar nature, easily supposes
a greater degree of order and equality in things than it really finds;
and although many things in nature be _sui generis_ and most irregular,
will yet invent parallels and conjugates and relatives, where no
such thing is. Hence the fiction, that all celestial bodies move in
perfect circles, thus rejecting entirely spiral and serpentine lines
(except as explanatory terms).[12] Hence also the element of fire
is introduced with its peculiar orbit,[13] to keep square with those
other three which are objects of our senses. The relative rarity of the
elements (as they are called) is arbitrarily made to vary in tenfold
progression, with many other dreams of the like nature.[14] Nor is this
folly confined to theories, but it is to be met with even in simple

XLVI. The human understanding, when any proposition has been once
laid down (either from general admission and belief, or from the
pleasure it affords), forces everything else to add fresh support and
confirmation; and although most cogent and abundant instances may
exist to the contrary, yet either does not observe or despises them,
or gets rid of and rejects them by some distinction, with violent
and injurious prejudice, rather than sacrifice the authority of its
first conclusions. It was well answered by him[15] who was shown in a
temple the votive tablets suspended by such as had escaped the peril of
shipwreck, and was pressed as to whether he would then recognize the
power of the gods, by an inquiry, But where are the portraits of those
who have perished in spite of their vows? All superstition is much
the same, whether it be that of astrology, dreams, omens, retributive
judgment, or the like, in all of which the deluded believers observe
events which are fulfilled, but neglect and pass over their failure,
though it be much more common. But this evil insinuates itself still
more craftily in philosophy and the sciences, in which a settled maxim
vitiates and governs every other circumstance, though the latter be
much more worthy of confidence. Besides, even in the absence of that
eagerness and want of thought (which we have mentioned), it is the
peculiar and perpetual error of the human understanding to be more
moved and excited by affirmatives than negatives, whereas it ought duly
and regularly to be impartial; nay, in establishing any true axiom the
negative instance is the most powerful.

XLVII. The human understanding is most excited by that which strikes
and enters the mind at once and suddenly, and by which the imagination
is immediately filled and inflated. It then begins almost imperceptibly
to conceive and suppose that everything is similar to the few objects
which have taken possession of the mind, while it is very slow and
unfit for the transition to the remote and heterogeneous instances by
which axioms are tried as by fire, unless the office be imposed upon it
by severe regulations and a powerful authority.

XLVIII. The human understanding is active and cannot halt or rest, but
even, though without effect, still presses forward. Thus we cannot
conceive of any end or external boundary of the world, and it seems
necessarily to occur to us that there must be something beyond. Nor can
we imagine how eternity has flowed on down to the present day, since
the usually received distinction of an infinity, a parte ante and a
parte post,[16] cannot hold good; for it would thence follow that one
infinity is greater than another, and also that infinity is wasting
away and tending to an end. There is the same difficulty in considering
the infinite divisibility of lines, arising from the weakness of our
minds, which weakness interferes to still greater disadvantage with the
discovery of causes; for although the greatest generalities in nature
must be positive, just as they are found, and in fact not causable,
yet the human understanding, incapable of resting, seeks for something
more intelligible. Thus, however, while aiming at further progress, it
falls back to what is actually less advanced, namely, final causes;
for they are clearly more allied to man’s own nature, than the system
of the universe, and from this source they have wonderfully corrupted
philosophy. But he would be an unskilful and shallow philosopher who
should seek for causes in the greatest generalities, and not be
anxious to discover them in subordinate objects.

XLIX. The human understanding resembles not a dry light, but admits
a tincture of the will[17] and passions, which generate their own
system accordingly; for man always believes more readily that which
he prefers. He, therefore, rejects difficulties for want of patience
in investigation; sobriety, because it limits his hope; the depths of
nature, from superstition; the light of experiment, from arrogance
and pride, lest his mind should appear to be occupied with common
and varying objects; paradoxes, from a fear of the opinion of the
vulgar; in short, his feelings imbue and corrupt his understanding in
innumerable and sometimes imperceptible ways.

L. But by far the greatest impediment and aberration of the human
understanding proceeds from the dulness, incompetence, and errors
of the senses; since whatever strikes the senses preponderates over
everything, however superior, which does not immediately strike them.
Hence contemplation mostly ceases with sight, and a very scanty, or
perhaps no regard is paid to invisible objects. The entire operation,
therefore, of spirits inclosed in tangible bodies[18] is concealed,
and escapes us. All that more delicate change of formation in the
parts of coarser substances (vulgarly called alteration, but in fact
a change of position in the smallest particles) is equally unknown;
and yet, unless the two matters we have mentioned be explored and
brought to light, no great effect can be produced in nature. Again,
the very nature of common air, and all bodies of less density (of
which there are many) is almost unknown; for the senses are weak and
erring, nor can instruments be of great use in extending their sphere
or acuteness--all the better interpretations of nature are worked out
by instances, and fit and apt experiments, where the senses only judge
of the experiment, the experiment of nature and the thing itself.

LI. The human understanding is, by its own nature, prone to
abstraction, and supposes that which is fluctuating to be fixed. But
it is better to dissect than abstract nature: such was the method
employed by the school of Democritus,[19] which made greater progress
in penetrating nature than the rest. It is best to consider matter, its
conformation, and the changes of that conformation, its own action,[20]
and the law of this action or motion; for forms are a mere fiction
of the human mind, unless you will call the laws of action by that

LII. Such are the idols of the tribe, which arise either from the
uniformity of the constitution of man’s spirit, or its prejudices, or
its limited faculties or restless agitation, or from the interference
of the passions, or the incompetence of the senses, or the mode of
their impressions.

LIII. The idols of the den derive their origin from the peculiar nature
of each individual’s mind and body, and also from education, habit, and
accident; and although they be various and manifold, yet we will treat
of some that require the greatest caution, and exert the greatest power
in polluting the understanding.

LIV. Some men become attached to particular sciences and
contemplations, either from supposing themselves the authors and
inventors of them, or from having bestowed the greatest pains upon
such subjects, and thus become most habituated to them.[22] If men of
this description apply themselves to philosophy and contemplations of
a universal nature, they wrest and corrupt them by their preconceived
fancies, of which Aristotle affords us a single instance, who made
his natural philosophy completely subservient to his logic, and thus
rendered it little more than useless and disputatious. The chemists,
again, have formed a fanciful philosophy with the most confined views,
from a few experiments of the furnace. Gilbert,[23] too, having
employed himself most assiduously in the consideration of the magnet,
immediately established a system of philosophy to coincide with his
favorite pursuit.

LV. The greatest and, perhaps, radical distinction between different
men’s dispositions for philosophy and the sciences is this, that
some are more vigorous and active in observing the differences of
things, others in observing their resemblances; for a steady and acute
disposition can fix its thoughts, and dwell upon and adhere to a point,
through all the refinements of differences, but those that are sublime
and discursive recognize and compare even the most delicate and general
resemblances; each of them readily falls into excess, by catching
either at nice distinctions or shadows of resemblance.

LVI. Some dispositions evince an unbounded admiration of antiquity,
others eagerly embrace novelty, and but few can preserve the just
medium, so as neither to tear up what the ancients have correctly laid
down, nor to despise the just innovations of the moderns. But this
is very prejudicial to the sciences and philosophy, and instead of a
correct judgment we have but the factions of the ancients and moderns.
Truth is not to be sought in the good fortune of any particular
conjuncture of time, which is uncertain, but in the light of nature
and experience, which is eternal. Such factions, therefore, are to be
abjured, and the understanding must not allow them to hurry it on to

LVII. The contemplation of nature and of bodies in their individual
form distracts and weakens the understanding; but the contemplation
of nature and of bodies in their general composition and formation
stupefies and relaxes it. We have a good instance of this in the school
of Leucippus and Democritus compared with others, for they applied
themselves so much to particulars as almost to neglect the general
structure of things, while the others were so astounded while gazing
on the structure that they did not penetrate the simplicity of nature.
These two species of contemplation must, therefore, be interchanged,
and each employed in its turn, in order to render the understanding at
once penetrating and capacious, and to avoid the inconveniences we have
mentioned, and the idols that result from them.

LVIII. Let such, therefore, be our precautions in contemplation, that
we may ward off and expel the idols of the den, which mostly owe their
birth either to some predominant pursuit, or, secondly, to an excess
in synthesis and analysis, or, thirdly, to a party zeal in favor
of certain ages, or, fourthly, to the extent or narrowness of the
subject. In general, he who contemplates nature should suspect whatever
particularly takes and fixes his understanding, and should use so much
the more caution to preserve it equable and unprejudiced.

LIX. The idols of the market are the most troublesome of all, those
namely which have entwined themselves round the understanding from the
associations of words and names. For men imagine that their reason
governs words, while, in fact, words react upon the understanding; and
this has rendered philosophy and the sciences sophistical and inactive.
Words are generally formed in a popular sense, and define things by
those broad lines which are most obvious to the vulgar mind; but when
a more acute understanding or more diligent observation is anxious to
vary those lines, and to adapt them more accurately to nature, words
oppose it. Hence the great and solemn disputes of learned men often
terminate in controversies about words and names, in regard to which it
would be better (imitating the caution of mathematicians) to proceed
more advisedly in the first instance, and to bring such disputes to
a regular issue by definitions. Such definitions, however, cannot
remedy the evil in natural and material objects, because they consist
themselves of words, and these words produce others;[24] so that we
must necessarily have recourse to particular instances, and their
regular series and arrangement, as we shall mention when we come to
the mode and scheme of determining notions and axioms.

LX. The idols imposed upon the understanding by words are of two
kinds. They are either the names of things which have no existence
(for as some objects are from inattention left without a name, so
names are formed by fanciful imaginations which are without an
object), or they are the names of actual objects, but confused, badly
defined, and hastily and irregularly abstracted from things. Fortune,
the _primum mobile_, the planetary orbits,[25] the element of fire,
and the like fictions, which owe their birth to futile and false
theories, are instances of the first kind. And this species of idols
is removed with greater facility, because it can be exterminated by
the constant refutation or the desuetude of the theories themselves.
The others, which are created by vicious and unskilful abstraction,
are intricate and deeply rooted. Take some word, for instance, as
moist, and let us examine how far the different significations of this
word are consistent. It will be found that the word moist is nothing
but a confused sign of different actions admitted of no settled and
defined uniformity. For it means that which easily diffuses itself
over another body; that which is indeterminable and cannot be brought
to a consistency; that which yields easily in every direction; that
which is easily divided and dispersed; that which is easily united and
collected; that which easily flows and is put in motion; that which
easily adheres to, and wets another body; that which is easily reduced
to a liquid state though previously solid. When, therefore, you come
to predicate or impose this name, in one sense flame is moist, in
another air is not moist, in another fine powder is moist, in another
glass is moist; so that it is quite clear that this notion is hastily
abstracted from water only, and common ordinary liquors, without any
due verification of it.

There are, however, different degrees of distortion and mistake
in words. One of the least faulty classes is that of the names of
substances, particularly of the less abstract and more defined species
(those then of chalk and mud are good, of earth bad); words signifying
actions are more faulty, as to generate, to corrupt, to change; but the
most faulty are those denoting qualities (except the immediate objects
of sense), as heavy, light, rare, dense. Yet in all of these there must
be some notions a little better than others, in proportion as a greater
or less number of things come before the senses.

LXI. The idols of the theatre are not innate, nor do they introduce
themselves secretly into the understanding, but they are manifestly
instilled and cherished by the fictions of theories and depraved rules
of demonstration. To attempt, however, or undertake their confutation
would not be consistent with our declarations. For since we neither
agree in our principles nor our demonstrations, all argument is out
of the question. And it is fortunate that the ancients are left in
possession of their honors. We detract nothing from them, seeing our
whole doctrine relates only to the path to be pursued. The lame (as
they say) in the path outstrip the swift who wander from it, and it
is clear that the very skill and swiftness of him who runs not in the
right direction must increase his aberration.

Our method of discovering the sciences is such as to leave little to
the acuteness and strength of wit, and indeed rather to level wit and
intellect. For as in the drawing of a straight line, or accurate circle
by the hand, much depends on its steadiness and practice, but if a
ruler or compass be employed there is little occasion for either; so
it is with our method. Although, however, we enter into no individual
confutations, yet a little must be said, first, of the sects and
general divisions of these species of theories; secondly, something
further to show that there are external signs of their weakness; and,
lastly, we must consider the causes of so great a misfortune, and so
long and general a unanimity in error, that we may thus render the
access to truth less difficult, and that the human understanding may
the more readily be purified, and brought to dismiss its idols.

LXII. The idols of the theatre, or of theories, are numerous, and may,
and perhaps will, be still more so. For unless men’s minds had been now
occupied for many ages in religious and theological considerations, and
civil governments (especially monarchies), had been averse to novelties
of that nature even in theory (so that men must apply to them with some
risk and injury to their own fortunes, and not only without reward,
but subject to contumely and envy), there is no doubt that many other
sects of philosophers and theorists would have been introduced, like
those which formerly flourished in such diversified abundance among the
Greeks. For as many imaginary theories of the heavens can be deduced
from the phenomena of the sky, so it is even more easy to found many
dogmas upon the phenomena of philosophy--and the plot of this our
theatre resembles those of the poetical, where the plots which are
invented for the stage are more consistent, elegant, and pleasurable
than those taken from real history.

In general, men take for the groundwork of their philosophy either
too much from a few topics, or too little from many; in either case
their philosophy is founded on too narrow a basis of experiment and
natural history, and decides on too scanty grounds. For the theoretic
philosopher seizes various common circumstances by experiment, without
reducing them to certainty or examining and frequently considering
them, and relies for the rest upon meditation and the activity of his

There are other philosophers who have diligently and accurately
attended to a few experiments, and have thence presumed to deduce and
invent systems of philosophy, forming everything to conformity with

A third set, from their faith and religious veneration, introduce
theology and traditions; the absurdity of some among them having
proceeded so far as to seek and derive the sciences from spirits and
genii. There are, therefore, three sources of error and three species
of false philosophy; the sophistic, empiric, and superstitious.

LXIII. Aristotle affords the most eminent instance of the first; for
he corrupted natural philosophy by logic--thus he formed the world of
categories, assigned to the human soul, the noblest of substances, a
genus determined by words of secondary operation, treated of density
and rarity (by which bodies occupy a greater or lesser space), by the
frigid distinctions of action and power, asserted that there was a
peculiar and proper motion in all bodies, and that if they shared
in any other motion, it was owing to an external moving cause, and
imposed innumerable arbitrary distinctions upon the nature of things;
being everywhere more anxious as to definitions in teaching and the
accuracy of the wording of his propositions, than the internal truth
of things. And this is best shown by a comparison of his philosophy
with the others of greatest repute among the Greeks. For the similar
parts of Anaxagoras, the atoms of Leucippus and Democritus, the heaven
and earth of Parmenides, the discord and concord of Empedocles,[26]
the resolution of bodies into the common nature of fire, and their
condensation according to Heraclitus, exhibit some sprinkling of
natural philosophy, the nature of things, and experiment; while
Aristotle’s physics are mere logical terms, and he remodelled the
same subject in his metaphysics under a more imposing title, and more
as a realist than a nominalist. Nor is much stress to be laid on his
frequent recourse to experiment in his books on animals, his problems,
and other treatises; for he had already decided, without having
properly consulted experience as the basis of his decisions and axioms,
and after having so decided, he drags experiment along as a captive
constrained to accommodate herself to his decisions: so that he is even
more to be blamed than his modern followers (of the scholastic school)
who have deserted her altogether.

LXIV. The empiric school produces dogmas of a more deformed and
monstrous nature than the sophistic or theoretic school; not being
founded in the light of common notions (which, however poor and
superstitious, is yet in a manner universal, and of a general
tendency), but in the confined obscurity of a few experiments. Hence
this species of philosophy appears probable, and almost certain to
those who are daily practiced in such experiments, and have thus
corrupted their imagination, but incredible and futile to others. We
have a strong instance of this in the alchemists and their dogmas; it
would be difficult to find another in this age, unless perhaps in the
philosophy of Gilbert.[27] We could not, however, neglect to caution
others against this school, because we already foresee and augur, that
if men be hereafter induced by our exhortations to apply seriously
to experiments (bidding farewell to the sophistic doctrines), there
will then be imminent danger from empirics, owing to the premature
and forward haste of the understanding, and its jumping or flying to
generalities and the principles of things. We ought, therefore, already
to meet the evil.

LXV. The corruption of philosophy by the mixing of it up with
superstition and theology, is of a much wider extent, and is
most injurious to it both as a whole and in parts. For the human
understanding is no less exposed to the impressions of fancy, than to
those of vulgar notions. The disputatious and sophistic school entraps
the understanding, while the fanciful, bombastic, and, as it were,
poetical school, rather flatters it.

There is a clear example of this among the Greeks, especially in
Pythagoras, where, however, the superstition is coarse and overcharged,
but it is more dangerous and refined in Plato and his school. This
evil is found also in some branches of other systems of philosophy,
where it introduces abstracted forms, final and first causes, omitting
frequently the intermediate and the like. Against it we must use the
greatest caution; for the apotheosis of error is the greatest evil
of all, and when folly is worshipped, it is, as it were, a plague
spot upon the understanding. Yet some of the moderns have indulged
this folly with such consummate inconsiderateness, that they have
endeavored to build a system of natural philosophy on the first chapter
of Genesis, the book of Job, and other parts of Scripture; seeking
thus the dead among the living.[28] And this folly is the more to be
prevented and restrained, because not only fantastical philosophy, but
heretical religion spring from the absurd mixture of matters divine
and human. It is therefore most wise soberly to render unto faith the
things that are faith’s.

LXVI. Having spoken of the vicious authority of the systems founded
either on vulgar notions, or on a few experiments, or on superstition,
we must now consider the faulty subjects for contemplation, especially
in natural philosophy. The human understanding is perverted by
observing the power of mechanical arts, in which bodies are very
materially changed by composition or separation, and is induced to
suppose that something similar takes place in the universal nature
of things. Hence the fiction of elements, and their co-operation in
forming natural bodies.[29] Again, when man reflects upon the entire
liberty of nature, he meets with particular species of things, as
animals, plants, minerals, and is thence easily led to imagine that
there exist in nature certain primary forms which she strives to
produce, and that all variation from them arises from some impediment
or error which she is exposed to in completing her work, or from the
collision or metamorphosis of different species. The first hypothesis
has produced the doctrine of elementary properties, the second that
of occult properties and specific powers; and both lead to trifling
courses of reflection, in which the mind acquiesces, and is thus
diverted from more important subjects. But physicians exercise a much
more useful labor in the consideration of the secondary qualities of
things, and the operations of attraction, repulsion, attenuation,
inspissation, dilatation, astringency, separation, maturation, and the
like; and would do still more if they would not corrupt these proper
observations by the two systems I have alluded to, of elementary
qualities and specific powers, by which they either reduce the
secondary to first qualities, and their subtile and immeasurable
composition, or at any rate neglect to advance by greater and
more diligent observation to the third and fourth qualities, thus
terminating their contemplation prematurely. Nor are these powers (or
the like) to be investigated only among the medicines for the human
body, but also in all changes of other natural bodies.

A greater evil arises from the contemplation and investigation rather
of the stationary principles of things from which, than of the active
by which things themselves are created. For the former only serve for
discussion, the latter for practice. Nor is any value to be set on
those common differences of motion which are observed in the received
system of natural philosophy, as generation, corruption, augmentation,
diminution, alteration, and translation. For this is their meaning:
if a body, unchanged in other respects, is moved from its place, this
is translation; if the place and species be given, but the quantity
changed, it is alteration; but if, from such a change, the mass and
quantity of the body do not continue the same, this is the motion
of augmentation and diminution; if the change be continued so as to
vary the species and substance, and transfuse them to others, this is
generation and corruption. All this is merely popular, and by no means
penetrates into nature; and these are but the measures and bounds of
motion, and not different species of it; they merely suggest how far,
and not how or whence. For they exhibit neither the affections of
bodies nor the process of their parts, but merely establish a division
of that motion, which coarsely exhibits to the senses matter in its
varied form. Even when they wish to point out something relative to
the causes of motion, and to establish a division of them, they most
absurdly introduce natural and violent motion, which is also a popular
notion, since every violent motion is also in fact natural, that is to
say, the external efficient puts nature in action in a different manner
to that which she had previously employed.

But if, neglecting these, any one were, for instance, to observe
that there is in bodies a tendency of adhesion, so as not to suffer
the unity of nature to be completely separated or broken, and a
_vacuum_[30] to be formed, or that they have a tendency to return to
their natural dimensions or tension, so that, if compressed or extended
within or beyond it, they immediately strive to recover themselves, and
resume their former volume and extent; or that they have a tendency to
congregate into masses with similar bodies--the dense, for instance,
toward the circumference of the earth, the thin and rare toward that of
the heavens. These and the like are true physical genera of motions,
but the others are clearly logical and scholastic, as appears plainly
from a comparison of the two.

Another considerable evil is, that men in their systems and
contemplations bestow their labor upon the investigation and discussion
of the principles of things and the extreme limits of nature, although
all utility and means of action consist in the intermediate objects.
Hence men cease not to abstract nature till they arrive at potential
and shapeless matter,[31] and still persist in their dissection, till
they arrive at atoms; and yet were all this true, it would be of little
use to advance man’s estate.

LXVII. The understanding must also be cautioned against the
intemperance of systems, so far as regards its giving or withholding
its assent; for such intemperance appears to fix and perpetuate idols,
so as to leave no means of removing them.

These excesses are of two kinds. The first is seen in those who
decide hastily, and render the sciences positive and dictatorial. The
other in those who have introduced scepticism, and vague unbounded
inquiry. The former subdues, the latter enervates the understanding.
The Aristotelian philosophy, after destroying other systems (as the
Ottomans[32] do their brethren) by its disputatious confutations,
decided upon everything, and Aristotle himself then raises up questions
at will, in order to settle them; so that everything should be certain
and decided, a method now in use among his successors.

The school of Plato introduced scepticism, first, as it were in joke
and irony, from their dislike to Protagoras, Hippias,[33] and others,
who were ashamed of appearing not to doubt upon any subject. But the
new academy dogmatized in their scepticism, and held it as their tenet.
Although this method be more honest than arbitrary decision (for its
followers allege that they by no means confound all inquiry, like
Pyrrho and his disciples, but hold doctrines which they can follow as
probable, though they cannot maintain them to be true), yet when the
human mind has once despaired of discovering truth, everything begins
to languish. Hence men turn aside into pleasant controversies and
discussions, and into a sort of wandering over subjects rather than
sustain any rigorous investigation. But as we observed at first, we
are not to deny the authority of the human senses and understanding,
although weak, but rather to furnish them with assistance.

LXVIII. We have now treated of each kind of idols, and their qualities,
all of which must be abjured and renounced with firm and solemn
resolution, and the understanding must be completely freed and cleared
of them, so that the access to the kingdom of man, which is founded
on the sciences, may resemble that to the kingdom of heaven, where no
admission is conceded except to children.

LXIX. Vicious demonstrations are the muniments and support of idols,
and those which we possess in logic, merely subject and enslave the
world to human thoughts, and thoughts to words. But demonstrations
are in some manner themselves systems of philosophy and science; for
such as they are, and accordingly as they are regularly or improperly
established, such will be the resulting systems of philosophy and
contemplation. But those which we employ in the whole process leading
from the senses and things to axioms and conclusions, are fallacious
and incompetent. This process is fourfold, and the errors are in equal
number. In the first place the impressions of the senses are erroneous,
for they fail and deceive us. We must supply defects by substitutions,
and fallacies by their correction. Secondly, notions are improperly
abstracted from the senses, and indeterminate and confused when they
ought to be the reverse. Thirdly, the induction that is employed is
improper, for it determines the principles of sciences by simple
enumeration,[34] without adopting exclusions and resolutions, or just
separations of nature. Lastly, the usual method of discovery and proof,
by first establishing the most general propositions, then applying and
proving the intermediate axioms according to them, is the parent of
error and the calamity of every science. But we will treat more fully
of that which we now slightly touch upon, when we come to lay down the
true way of interpreting nature, after having gone through the above
expiatory process and purification of the mind.

LXX. But experience is by far the best demonstration, provided it
adhere to the experiment actually made, for if that experiment be
transferred to other subjects apparently similar, unless with proper
and methodical caution it becomes fallacious. The present method of
experiment is blind and stupid; hence men wandering and roaming without
any determined course, and consulting mere chance, are hurried about
to various points, and advance but little--at one time they are happy,
at another their attention is distracted, and they always find that
they want something further. Men generally make their experiments
carelessly, and as it were in sport, making some little variation
in a known experiment, and then if they fail they become disgusted
and give up the attempt; nay, if they set to work more seriously,
steadily, and assiduously, yet they waste all their time on probing
some solitary matter, as Gilbert on the magnet, and the alchemists on
gold. But such conduct shows their method to be no less unskilful than
mean; for nobody can successfully investigate the nature of any object
by considering that object alone; the inquiry must be more generally

Even when men build any science and theory upon experiment, yet they
almost always turn with premature and hasty zeal to practice, not
merely on account of the advantage and benefit to be derived from
it, but in order to seize upon some security in a new undertaking of
their not employing the remainder of their labor unprofitably, and by
making themselves conspicuous, to acquire a greater name for their
pursuit. Hence, like Atalanta, they leave the course to pick up the
golden apple, interrupting their speed, and giving up the victory. But
in the true course of experiment, and in extending it to new effects,
we should imitate the Divine foresight and order; for God on the first
day only created light, and assigned a whole day to that work without
creating any material substance thereon. In like manner we must first,
by every kind of experiment, elicit the discovery of causes and true
axioms, and seek for experiments which may afford light rather than
profit. Axioms, when rightly investigated and established, prepare
us not for a limited but abundant practice, and bring in their train
whole troops of effects. But we will treat hereafter of the ways of
experience, which are not less beset and interrupted than those of
judgment; having spoken at present of common experience only as a
bad species of demonstration, the order of our subject now requires
some mention of those external signs of the weakness in practice of
the received systems of philosophy and contemplation[35] which we
referred to above, and of the causes of a circumstance at first sight
so wonderful and incredible. For the knowledge of these external
signs prepares the way for assent, and the explanation of the causes
removes the wonder; and these two circumstances are of material use in
extirpating more easily and gently the idols from the understanding.

LXXI. The sciences we possess have been principally derived from
the Greeks; for the addition of the Roman, Arabic, or more modern
writers, are but few and of small importance, and such as they are,
are founded on the basis of Greek invention. But the wisdom of the
Greeks was professional and disputatious, and thus most adverse to
the investigation of truth. The name, therefore, of sophists, which
the contemptuous spirit of those who deemed themselves philosophers,
rejected and transferred to the rhetoricians--Gorgias,[36]
Protagoras, Hippias, Polus--might well suit the whole tribe, such
as Plato, Aristotle, Zeno, Epicurus, Theophrastus, and their
successors--Chrysippus, Carneades, and the rest. There was only
this difference between them--the former were mercenary vagabonds,
travelling about to different states, making a show of their wisdom,
and requiring pay; the latter more dignified and noble, in possession
of fixed habitations, opening schools, and teaching philosophy
gratuitously. Both, however (though differing in other respects), were
professorial, and reduced every subject to controversy, establishing
and defending certain sects and dogmas of philosophy, so that their
doctrines were nearly (what Dionysius not unaptly objected to Plato)
the talk of idle old men to ignorant youths. But the more ancient
Greeks, as Empedocles, Anaxagoras, Leucippus, Democritus, Parmenides,
Heraclitus, Xenophanes, Philolaus, and the rest[37] (for I omit
Pythagoras as being superstitious), did not (that we are aware) open
schools, but betook themselves to the investigation of truth with
greater silence and with more severity and simplicity, that is, with
less affectation and ostentation. Hence in our opinion they acted
more advisedly, however their works may have been eclipsed in course
of time by those lighter productions which better correspond with
and please the apprehensions and passions of the vulgar; for time,
like a river,[38] bears down to us that which is light and inflated,
and sinks that which is heavy and solid. Nor were even these more
ancient philosophers free from the national defect, but inclined too
much to the ambition and vanity of forming a sect, and captivating
public opinion, and we must despair of any inquiry after truth when it
condescends to such trifles. Nor must we omit the opinion, or rather
prophecy, of an Egyptian priest with regard to the Greeks, that they
would forever remain children, without any antiquity of knowledge or
knowledge of antiquity; for they certainly have this in common with
children, that they are prone to talking, and incapable of generation,
their wisdom being loquacious and unproductive of effects. Hence the
external signs derived from the origin and birthplace of our present
philosophy are not favorable.

LXXII. Nor are those much better which can be deduced from the
character of the time and age, than the former from that of the country
and nation; for in that age the knowledge both of time and of the world
was confined and meagre, which is one of the worst evils for those who
rely entirely on experience--they had not a thousand years of history
worthy of that name, but mere fables and ancient traditions; they were
acquainted with but a small portion of the regions and countries of the
world, for they indiscriminately called all nations situated far toward
the north Scythians, all those to the west Celts; they knew nothing of
Africa but the nearest part of Ethiopia, or of Asia beyond the Ganges,
and had not even heard any sure and clear tradition of the regions of
the New World. Besides, a vast number of climates and zones, in which
innumerable nations live and breathe, were pronounced by them to be
uninhabitable; nay, the travels of Democritus, Plato, and Pythagoras,
which were not extensive, but rather mere excursions from home, were
considered as something vast. But in our times many parts of the New
World, and every extremity of the Old, are well known, and the mass of
experiments has been infinitely increased; wherefore, if external signs
were to be taken from the time of the nativity or procreation (as in
astrology), nothing extraordinary could be predicted of these early
systems of philosophy.

LXXIII. Of all signs there is none more certain or worthy than that
of the fruits produced, for the fruits and effects are the sureties
and vouchers, as it were, for the truth of philosophy. Now, from the
systems of the Greeks, and their subordinate divisions in particular
branches of the sciences during so long a period, scarcely one single
experiment can be culled that has a tendency to elevate or assist
mankind, and can be fairly set down to the speculations and doctrines
of their philosophy. Celsus candidly and wisely confesses as much,
when he observes that experiments were first discovered in medicine,
and that men afterward built their philosophical systems upon them,
and searched for and assigned causes, instead of the inverse method of
discovering and deriving experiments from philosophy and the knowledge
of causes; it is not, therefore, wonderful that the Egyptians (who
bestowed divinity and sacred honors on the authors of new inventions)
should have consecrated more images of brutes than of men, for the
brutes by their natural instinct made many discoveries, while men
derived but few from discussion and the conclusions of reason.

The industry of the alchemists has produced some effect, by chance,
however, and casualty, or from varying their experiments (as mechanics
also do), and not from any regular art or theory, the theory they have
imagined rather tending to disturb than to assist experiment. Those,
too, who have occupied themselves with natural magic (as they term it)
have made but few discoveries, and those of small import, and bordering
on imposture; for which reason, in the same manner as we are cautioned
by religion to show our faith by our works, we may very properly apply
the principle to philosophy, and judge of it by its works, accounting
that to be futile which is unproductive, and still more so if, instead
of grapes and olives, it yield but the thistle and thorns of dispute
and contention.

LXXIV. Other signs may be selected from the increase and progress of
particular systems of philosophy and the sciences; for those which are
founded on nature grow and increase, while those which are founded
on opinion change and increase not. If, therefore, the theories we
have mentioned were not like plants, torn up by the roots, but grew
in the womb of nature, and were nourished by her, that which for the
last two thousand years has taken place would never have happened,
namely, that the sciences still continue in their beaten track, and
nearly stationary, without having received any important increase,
nay, having, on the contrary, rather bloomed under the hands of their
first author, and then faded away. But we see that the case is reversed
in the mechanical arts, which are founded on nature and the light
of experience, for they (as long as they are popular) seem full of
life, and uninterruptedly thrive and grow, being at first rude, then
convenient, lastly polished, and perpetually improved.

LXXV. There is yet another sign (if such it may be termed, being
rather an evidence, and one of the strongest nature), namely, the
actual confession of those very authorities whom men now follow; for
even they who decide on things so daringly, yet at times, when they
reflect, betake themselves to complaints about the subtilty of nature,
the obscurity of things, and the weakness of man’s wit. If they would
merely do this, they might perhaps deter those who are of a timid
disposition from further inquiry, but would excite and stimulate those
of a more active and confident turn to further advances. They are
not, however, satisfied with confessing so much of themselves, but
consider everything which has been either unknown or unattempted by
themselves or their teachers, as beyond the limits of possibility,
and thus, with most consummate pride and envy, convert the defects of
their own discoveries into a calumny on nature and a source of despair
to every one else. Hence arose the New Academy, which openly professed
scepticism,[39] and consigned mankind to eternal darkness; hence the
notion that forms, or the true differences of things (which are in
fact the laws of simple action), are beyond man’s reach, and cannot
possibly be discovered; hence those notions in the active and operative
branches, that the heat of the sun and of fire are totally different,
so as to prevent men from supposing that they can elicit or form, by
means of fire, anything similar to the operations of nature; and again,
that composition only is the work of man and mixture of nature, so
as to prevent men from expecting the generation or transformation of
natural bodies by art. Men will, therefore, easily allow themselves to
be persuaded by this sign not to engage their fortunes and labor in
speculations, which are not only desperate, but actually devoted to

LXXVI. Nor should we omit the sign afforded by the great dissension
formerly prevalent among philosophers, and the variety of schools,
which sufficiently show that the way was not well prepared that leads
from the senses to the understanding, since the same groundwork of
philosophy (namely, the nature of things), was torn and divided into
such widely differing and multifarious errors. And although in these
days the dissensions and differences of opinions with regard to first
principles and entire systems are nearly extinct,[40] yet there remain
innumerable questions and controversies with regard to particular
branches of philosophy. So that it is manifest that there is nothing
sure or sound either in the systems themselves or in the methods of

LXXVII. With regard to the supposition that there is a general
unanimity as to the philosophy of Aristotle, because the other systems
of the ancients ceased and became obsolete on its promulgation, and
nothing better has been since discovered; whence it appears that it is
so well determined and founded, as to have united the suffrages of both
ages; we will observe--1st. That the notion of other ancient systems
having ceased after the publication of the works of Aristotle is false,
for the works of the ancient philosophers subsisted long after that
event, even to the time of Cicero, and the subsequent ages. But at a
later period, when human learning had, as it were, been wrecked in the
inundation of barbarians into the Roman empire, then the systems of
Aristotle and Plato were preserved in the waves of ages, like planks
of a lighter and less solid nature. 2d. The notion of unanimity, on
a clear inspection, is found to be fallacious. For true unanimity
is that which proceeds from a free judgment, arriving at the same
conclusion, after an investigation of the fact. Now, by far the greater
number of those who have assented to the philosophy of Aristotle,
have bound themselves down to it from prejudice and the authority
of others, so that it is rather obsequiousness and concurrence than
unanimity. But even if it were real and extensive unanimity, so far
from being esteemed a true and solid confirmation, it should even
lead to a violent presumption to the contrary. For there is no worse
augury in intellectual matters than that derived from unanimity, with
the exception of divinity and politics, where suffrages are allowed
to decide. For nothing pleases the multitude, unless it strike the
imagination or bind down the understanding, as we have observed above,
with the shackles of vulgar notions. Hence we may well transfer
Phocion’s remark from morals to the intellect: “That men should
immediately examine what error or fault they have committed, when the
multitude concurs with, and applauds them.”[42] This then is one of
the most unfavorable signs. All the signs, therefore, of the truth and
soundness of the received systems of philosophy and the sciences are
unpropitious, whether taken from their origin, their fruits, their
progress, the confessions of their authors, or from unanimity.

LXXVIII. We now come to the causes of errors,[43] and of such
perseverance in them for ages. These are sufficiently numerous and
powerful to remove all wonder, that what we now offer should have so
long been concealed from, and have escaped the notice of mankind, and
to render it more worthy of astonishment, that it should even now have
entered any one’s mind, or become the subject of his thoughts; and
that it should have done so, we consider rather the gift of fortune
than of any extraordinary talent, and as the offspring of time rather
than wit. But, in the first place, the number of ages is reduced to
very narrow limits, on a proper consideration of the matter. For out
of twenty-five[44] centuries, with which the memory and learning of
man are conversant, scarcely six can be set apart and selected as
fertile in science and favorable to its progress. For there are deserts
and wastes in times as in countries, and we can only reckon up three
revolutions and epochs of philosophy. 1. The Greek. 2. The Roman.
3. Our own, that is the philosophy of the western nations of Europe:
and scarcely two centuries can with justice be assigned to each. The
intermediate ages of the world were unfortunate both in the quantity
and richness of the sciences produced. Nor need we mention the Arabs,
or the scholastic philosophy, which, in those ages, ground down the
sciences by their numerous treatises, more than they increased their
weight. The first cause, then, of such insignificant progress in the
sciences, is rightly referred to the small proportion of time which has
been favorable thereto.

LXXIX. A second cause offers itself, which is certainly of the greatest
importance; namely, that in those very ages in which men’s wit and
literature flourished considerably, or even moderately, but a small
part of their industry was bestowed on natural philosophy, the great
mother of the sciences. For every art and science torn from this root
may, perhaps, be polished, and put into a serviceable shape, but can
admit of little growth. It is well known, that after the Christian
religion had been acknowledged, and arrived at maturity, by far the
best wits were busied upon theology, where the highest rewards offered
themselves, and every species of assistance was abundantly supplied,
and the study of which was the principal occupation of the western
European nations during the third epoch; the rather because literature
flourished about the very time when controversies concerning religion
first began to bud forth. 2. In the preceding ages, during the second
epoch (that of the Romans), philosophical meditation and labor was
chiefly occupied and wasted in moral philosophy (the theology of
the heathens): besides, the greatest minds in these times applied
themselves to civil affairs, on account of the magnitude of the Roman
empire, which required the labor of many. 3. The age during which
natural philosophy appeared principally to flourish among the Greeks,
was but a short period, since in the more ancient times the seven sages
(with the exception of Thales), applied themselves to moral philosophy
and politics, and at a later period, after Socrates had brought
down philosophy from heaven to earth, moral philosophy became more
prevalent, and diverted men’s attention from natural. Nay, the very
period during which physical inquiries flourished, was corrupted and
rendered useless by contradictions, and the ambition of new opinions.
Since, therefore, during these three epochs, natural philosophy has
been materially neglected or impeded, it is not at all surprising
that men should have made but little progress in it, seeing they were
attending to an entirely different matter.

LXXX. Add to this that natural philosophy, especially of late, has
seldom gained exclusive possession of an individual free from all other
pursuits, even among those who have applied themselves to it, unless
there may be an example or two of some monk studying in his cell, or
some nobleman in his villa.[45] She has rather been made a passage and
bridge to other pursuits.

Thus has this great mother of the sciences been degraded most
unworthily to the situation of a handmaid, and made to wait upon
medicine or mathematical operations, and to wash the immature minds
of youth, and imbue them with a first dye, that they may afterward be
more ready to receive and retain another. In the meantime, let no one
expect any great progress in the sciences (especially their operative
part), unless natural philosophy be applied to particular sciences,
and particular sciences again referred back to natural philosophy. For
want of this, astronomy, optics, music, many mechanical arts, medicine
itself, and (what perhaps is more wonderful), moral and political
philosophy, and the logical sciences have no depth, but only glide over
the surface and variety of things; because these sciences, when they
have been once partitioned out and established, are no longer nourished
by natural philosophy, which would have imparted fresh vigor and
growth to them from the sources and genuine contemplation of motion,
rays, sounds, texture, and conformation of bodies, and the affections
and capacity of the understanding. But we can little wonder that the
sciences grow not when separated from their roots.

LXXXI. There is another powerful and great cause of the little
advancement of the sciences, which is this; it is impossible to advance
properly in the course when the goal is not properly fixed. But the
real and legitimate goal of the sciences is the endowment of human
life with new inventions and riches. The great crowd of teachers know
nothing of this, but consist of dictatorial hirelings; unless it so
happen that some artisan of an acute genius, and ambitious of fame,
gives up his time to a new discovery, which is generally attended with
a loss of property. The majority, so far from proposing to themselves
the augmentation of the mass of arts and sciences, make no other use
of an inquiry into the mass already before them, than is afforded by
the conversion of it to some use in their lectures, or to gain, or
to the acquirement of a name, and the like. But if one out of the
multitude be found, who courts science from real zeal, and on his own
account, even he will be seen rather to follow contemplation, and the
variety of theories, than a severe and strict investigation of truth.
Again, if there even be an unusually strict investigator of truth, yet
will he propose to himself, as the test of truth, the satisfaction
of his mind and understanding, as to the causes of things long since
known, and not such a test as to lead to some new earnest of effects,
and a new light in axioms. If, therefore, no one have laid down the
real end of science, we cannot wonder that there should be error in
points subordinate to that end.

LXXXII. But, in like manner, as the end and goal of science is
ill defined, so, even were the case otherwise, men have chosen an
erroneous and impassable direction. For it is sufficient to astonish
any reflecting mind, that nobody should have cared or wished to open
and complete a way for the understanding, setting off from the senses,
and regular, well-conducted experiment; but that everything has been
abandoned either to the mists of tradition, the whirl and confusion of
argument, or the waves and mazes of chance, and desultory, ill-combined
experiment. Now, let any one but consider soberly and diligently
the nature of the path men have been accustomed to pursue in the
investigation and discovery of any matter, and he will doubtless first
observe the rude and inartificial manner of discovery most familiar to
mankind: which is no other than this. When any one prepares himself for
discovery, he first inquires and obtains a full account of all that
has been said on the subject by others, then adds his own reflections,
and stirs up and, as it were, invokes his own spirit, after much
mental labor, to disclose its oracles. All which is a method without
foundation, and merely turns on opinion.

Another, perhaps, calls in logic to assist him in discovery, which
bears only a nominal relation to his purpose. For the discoveries of
logic are not discoveries of principles and leading axioms, but only
of what appears to accord with them.[46] And when men become curious
and importunate, and give trouble, interrupting her about her proofs,
and the discovery of principles or first axioms, she puts them off with
her usual answer, referring them to faith, and ordering them to swear
allegiance to each art in its own department.

There remains but mere experience, which, when it offers itself, is
called chance; when it is sought after, experiment.[47] But this kind
of experience is nothing but a loose fagot; and mere groping in the
dark, as men at night try all means of discovering the right road,
while it would be better and more prudent either to wait for day, or
procure a light, and then proceed. On the contrary, the real order of
experience begins by setting up a light, and then shows the road by it,
commencing with a regulated and digested, not a misplaced and vague
course of experiment, and thence deducing axioms, and from those axioms
new experiments: for not even the Divine Word proceeded to operate on
the general mass of things without due order.

Let men, therefore, cease to wonder if the whole course of science be
not run, when all have wandered from the path; quitting it entirely,
and deserting experience, or involving themselves in its mazes, and
wandering about, while a regularly combined system would lead them in
a sure track through its wilds to the open day of axioms.

LXXXIII. The evil, however, has been wonderfully increased by an
opinion, or inveterate conceit, which is both vainglorious and
prejudicial, namely, that the dignity of the human mind is lowered by
long and frequent intercourse with experiments and particulars, which
are the objects of sense, and confined to matter; especially since such
matters generally require labor in investigation, are mean subjects
for meditation, harsh in discourse, unproductive in practice, infinite
in number, and delicate in their subtilty. Hence we have seen the true
path not only deserted, but intercepted and blocked up, experience
being rejected with disgust, and not merely neglected or improperly

LXXXIV. Again, the reverence for antiquity,[48] and the authority of
men who have been esteemed great in philosophy, and general unanimity,
have retarded men from advancing in science, and almost enchanted them.
As to unanimity, we have spoken of it above.

The opinion which men cherish of antiquity is altogether idle, and
scarcely accords with the term. For the old age and increasing years
of the world should in reality be considered as antiquity, and this is
rather the character of our own times than of the less advanced age of
the world in those of the ancients; for the latter, with respect to
ourselves, are ancient and elder, with respect to the world modern
and younger. And as we expect a greater knowledge of human affairs,
and more mature judgment from an old man than from a youth, on account
of his experience, and the variety and number of things he has seen,
heard, and meditated upon, so we have reason to expect much greater
things of our own age (if it knew but its strength and would essay and
exert it) than from antiquity, since the world has grown older, and its
stock has been increased and accumulated with an infinite number of
experiments and observations.

We must also take into our consideration that many objects in nature
fit to throw light upon philosophy have been exposed to our view, and
discovered by means of long voyages and travels, in which our times
have abounded. It would, indeed, be dishonorable to mankind, if the
regions of the material globe, the earth, the sea, and stars, should
be so prodigiously developed and illustrated in our age, and yet the
boundaries of the intellectual globe should be confined to the narrow
discoveries of the ancients.

With regard to authority, it is the greatest weakness to attribute
infinite credit to particular authors, and to refuse his own
prerogative to time, the author of all authors, and, therefore, of all
authority. For truth is rightly named the daughter of time, not of
authority. It is not wonderful, therefore, if the bonds of antiquity,
authority, and unanimity, have so enchained the power of man, that he
is unable (as if bewitched) to become familiar with things themselves.

LXXXV. Nor is it only the admiration of antiquity, authority, and
unanimity, that has forced man’s industry to rest satisfied with
present discoveries, but, also, the admiration of the effects already
placed within his power. For whoever passes in review the variety
of subjects, and the beautiful apparatus collected and introduced by
the mechanical arts for the service of mankind, will certainly be
rather inclined to admire our wealth than to perceive our poverty:
not considering that the observations of man and operations of nature
(which are the souls and first movers of that variety) are few, and
not of deep research; the rest must be attributed merely to man’s
patience, and the delicate and well-regulated motion of the hand or of
instruments. To take an instance, the manufacture of clocks is delicate
and accurate, and appears to imitate the heavenly bodies in its wheels,
and the pulse of animals in its regular oscillation, yet it only
depends upon one or two axioms of nature.

Again, if one consider the refinement of the liberal arts, or even that
exhibited in the preparation of natural bodies in mechanical arts and
the like, as the discovery of the heavenly motions in astronomy, of
harmony in music, of the letters of the alphabet[49] (still unadopted
by the Chinese) in grammar; or, again, in mechanical operations, the
productions of Bacchus and Ceres, that is, the preparation of wine
and beer, the making of bread, or even the luxuries of the table,
distillation, and the like; if one reflect also, and consider for how
long a period of ages (for all the above, except distillation, are
ancient) these things have been brought to their present state of
perfection, and (as we instanced in clocks) to how few observations and
axioms of nature they may be referred, and how easily, and as it were,
by obvious chance or contemplation, they might be discovered, one
would soon cease to admire and rather pity the human lot on account of
its vast want and dearth of things and discoveries for so many ages.
Yet even the discoveries we have mentioned were more ancient than
philosophy and the intellectual arts; so that (to say the truth) when
contemplation and doctrinal science began, the discovery of useful
works ceased.

But if any one turn from the manufactories to libraries, and be
inclined to admire the immense variety of books offered to our view,
let him but examine and diligently inspect the matter and contents of
these books, and his astonishment will certainly change its object: for
when he finds no end of repetitions, and how much men do and speak the
same thing over again, he will pass from admiration of this variety to
astonishment at the poverty and scarcity of matter, which has hitherto
possessed and filled men’s minds.

But if any one should condescend to consider such sciences as are
deemed rather curious than sound, and take a full view of the
operations of the alchemists or magii, he will perhaps hesitate whether
he ought rather to laugh or to weep. For the alchemist cherishes
eternal hope, and when his labors succeed not, accuses his own
mistakes, deeming, in his self-accusation, that he has not properly
understood the words of art or of his authors; upon which he listens
to tradition and vague whispers, or imagines there is some slight
unsteadiness in the minute details of his practice, and then has
recourse to an endless repetition of experiments: and in the meantime,
when, in his casual experiments, he falls upon something in appearance
new, or of some degree of utility, he consoles himself with such an
earnest, and ostentatiously publishes them, keeping up his hope of
the final result. Nor can it be denied that the alchemists have made
several discoveries, and presented mankind with useful inventions. But
we may well apply to them the fable of the old man, who bequeathed to
his sons some gold buried in his garden, pretending not to know the
exact spot, whereupon they worked diligently in digging the vineyard,
and though they found no gold, the vintage was rendered more abundant
by their labor.

The followers of natural magic, who explain everything by sympathy
and antipathy, have assigned false powers and marvellous operations
to things by gratuitous and idle conjectures: and if they have ever
produced any effects, they are rather wonderful and novel than of any
real benefit or utility.

In superstitious magic (if we say anything at all about it) we must
chiefly observe, that there are only some peculiar and definite objects
with which the curious and superstitious arts have, in every nation and
age, and even under every religion, been able to exercise and amuse
themselves. Let us, therefore, pass them over. In the meantime we
cannot wonder that the false notion of plenty should have occasioned

LXXXVI. The admiration of mankind with regard to the arts and sciences,
which is of itself sufficiently simple and almost puerile, has been
increased by the craft and artifices of those who have treated the
sciences, and delivered them down to posterity. For they propose and
produce them to our view so fashioned, and as it were masked, as to
make them pass for perfect and complete. For if you consider their
method and divisions, they appear to embrace and comprise everything
which can relate to the subject. And although this frame be badly
filled up and resemble an empty bladder, yet it presents to the vulgar
understanding the form and appearance of a perfect science.

The first and most ancient investigators of truth were wont, on the
contrary, with more honesty and success, to throw all the knowledge
they wished to gather from contemplation, and to lay up for use, into
aphorisms, or short scattered sentences unconnected by any method, and
without pretending or professing to comprehend any entire art. But
according to the present system, we cannot wonder that men seek nothing
beyond that which is handed down to them as perfect, and already
extended to its full complement.

LXXXVII. The ancient theories have received additional support and
credit from the absurdity and levity of those who have promoted the
new, especially in the active and practical part of natural philosophy.
For there have been many silly and fantastical fellows who, from
credulity or imposture, have loaded mankind with promises, announcing
and boasting of the prolongation of life, the retarding of old age,
the alleviation of pains, the remedying of natural defects, the
deception of the senses, the restraint and excitement of the passions,
the illumination and exaltation of the intellectual faculties, the
transmutation of substances, the unlimited intensity and multiplication
of motion, the impressions and changes of the air, the bringing into
our power the management of celestial influences, the divination of
future events, the representation of distant objects, the revelation of
hidden objects, and the like. One would not be very wrong in observing
with regard to such pretenders, that there is as much difference in
philosophy, between their absurdity and real science, as there is in
history between the exploits of Cæsar or Alexander, and those of
Amadis de Gaul and Arthur of Britain. For those illustrious generals
are found to have actually performed greater exploits than such
fictitious heroes are even pretended to have accomplished, by the
means, however, of real action, and not by any fabulous and portentous
power. Yet it is not right to suffer our belief in true history to be
diminished, because it is sometimes injured and violated by fables. In
the meantime we cannot wonder that great prejudice has been excited
against any new propositions (especially when coupled with any mention
of effects to be produced), by the conduct of impostors who have
made a similar attempt; for their extreme absurdity, and the disgust
occasioned by it, has even to this day overpowered every spirited
attempt of the kind.

LXXXVIII. Want of energy, and the littleness and futility of the tasks
that human industry has undertaken, have produced much greater injury
to the sciences: and yet (to make it still worse) that very want of
energy manifests itself in conjunction with arrogance and disdain.

For, in the first place, one excuse, now from its repetition become
familiar, is to be observed in every art, namely, that its promoters
convert the weakness of the art itself into a calumny upon nature:
and whatever it in their hands fails to effect, they pronounce to be
physically impossible. But how can the art ever be condemned while it
acts as judge in its own cause? Even the present system of philosophy
cherishes in its bosom certain positions or dogmas, which (it will be
found on diligent inquiry) are calculated to produce a full conviction
that no difficult, commanding, and powerful operation upon nature ought
to be anticipated through the means of art; we instanced[50] above the
alleged different quality of heat in the sun and fire, and composition
and mixture. Upon an accurate observation the whole tendency of such
positions is wilfully to circumscribe man’s power, and to produce a
despair of the means of invention and contrivance, which would not only
confound the promises of hope, but cut the very springs and sinews of
industry, and throw aside even the chances of experience. The only
object of such philosophers is to acquire the reputation of perfection
for their own art, and they are anxious to obtain the most silly and
abandoned renown, by causing a belief that whatever has not yet been
invented and understood can never be so hereafter. But if any one
attempt to give himself up to things, and to discover something new;
yet he will only propose and destine for his object the investigation
and discovery of some one invention, and nothing more; as the nature
of the magnet, the tides, the heavenly system, and the like, which
appear enveloped in some degree of mystery, and have hitherto been
treated with but little success. Now it is the greatest proof of want
of skill, to investigate the nature of any object in itself alone; for
that same nature, which seems concealed and hidden in some instances,
is manifest and almost palpable in others, and excites wonder in the
former, while it hardly attracts attention in the latter.[51] Thus the
nature of consistency is scarcely observed in wood or stone, but passed
over by the term solid without any further inquiry about the repulsion
of separation or the solution of continuity. But in water-bubbles the
same circumstance appears matter of delicate and ingenious research,
for they form themselves into thin pellicles, curiously shaped into
hemispheres, so as for an instant to avoid the solution of continuity.

In general those very things which are considered as secret are
manifest and common in other objects, but will never be clearly seen
if the experiments and contemplation of man be directed to themselves
only. Yet it commonly happens, that if, in the mechanical arts, any
one bring old discoveries to a finer polish, or more elegant height of
ornament, or unite and compound them, or apply them more readily to
practice, or exhibit them on a less heavy and voluminous scale, and the
like, they will pass off as new.

We cannot, therefore, wonder that no magnificent discoveries, worthy
of mankind, have been brought to light, while men are satisfied and
delighted with such scanty and puerile tasks, nay, even think that they
have pursued or attained some great object in their accomplishment.

LXXXIX. Nor should we neglect to observe that natural philosophy has,
in every age, met with a troublesome and difficult opponent: I mean
superstition, and a blind and immoderate zeal for religion. For we see
that, among the Greeks, those who first disclosed the natural causes of
thunder and storms to the yet untrained ears of man were condemned as
guilty of impiety toward the gods.[52] Nor did some of the old fathers
of Christianity treat those much better who showed by the most positive
proofs (such as no one now disputes) that the earth is spherical, and
thence asserted that there were antipodes.[53]

Even in the present state of things the condition of discussions on
natural philosophy is rendered more difficult and dangerous by the
summaries and methods of divines, who, after reducing divinity into
such order as they could, and brought it into a scientific form, have
proceeded to mingle an undue proportion of the contentious and thorny
philosophy of Aristotle with the substance of religion.[54]

The fictions of those who have not feared to deduce and confirm the
truth of the Christian religion by the principles and authority of
philosophers, tend to the same end, though in a different manner.[55]
They celebrate the union of faith and the senses as though it were
legitimate, with great pomp and solemnity, and gratify men’s pleasing
minds with a variety, but in the meantime confound most improperly
things divine and human. Moreover, in these mixtures of divinity and
philosophy the received doctrines of the latter are alone included,
and any novelty, even though it be an improvement, scarcely escapes
banishment and extermination.

In short, you may find all access to any species of philosophy, however
pure, intercepted by the ignorance of divines. Some in their simplicity
are apprehensive that a too deep inquiry into nature may penetrate
beyond the proper bounds of decorum, transferring and absurdly applying
what is said of sacred mysteries in Holy Writ against those who
pry into divine secrets, to the mysteries of nature, which are not
forbidden by any prohibition. Others with more cunning imagine and
consider, that if secondary causes be unknown, everything may more
easily be referred to the Divine hand and wand, a matter, as they
think, of the greatest consequence to religion, but which can only
really mean that God wishes to be gratified by means of falsehood.
Others fear, from past example, lest motion and change in philosophy
should terminate in an attack upon religion. Lastly, there are others
who appear anxious lest there should be something discovered in the
investigation of nature to overthrow, or at least shake, religion,
particularly among the unlearned. The last two apprehensions appear
to resemble animal instinct, as if men were diffident, in the bottom
of their minds and secret meditations, of the strength of religion
and the empire of faith over the senses, and therefore feared that
some danger awaited them from an inquiry into nature. But any one who
properly considers the subject will find natural philosophy to be,
after the Word of God, the surest remedy against superstition, and the
most approved support of faith. She is, therefore, rightly bestowed
upon religion as a most faithful attendant, for the one exhibits the
will and the other the power of God. Nor was he wrong who observed,
“Ye err, not knowing the Scriptures and the power of God,” thus uniting
in one bond the revelation of his will and the contemplation of his
power. In the meanwhile, it is not wonderful that the progress of
natural philosophy has been restrained, since religion, which has so
much influence on men’s minds, has been led and hurried to oppose her
through the ignorance of some and the imprudent zeal of others.

XC. Again, in the habits and regulations of schools, universities,
and the like assemblies, destined for the abode of learned men and
the improvement of learning, everything is found to be opposed to
the progress of the sciences; for the lectures and exercises are so
ordered, that anything out of the common track can scarcely enter the
thoughts and contemplations of the mind. If, however, one or two have
perhaps dared to use their liberty, they can only impose the labor on
themselves, without deriving any advantage from the association of
others; and if they put up with this, they will find their industry and
spirit of no slight disadvantage to them in making their fortune; for
the pursuits of men in such situations are, as it were, chained down
to the writings of particular authors, and if any one dare to dissent
from them he is immediately attacked as a turbulent and revolutionary
spirit. Yet how great is the difference between civil matters and
the arts, for there is not the same danger from new activity and new
light. In civil matters even a change for the better is suspected
on account of the commotion it occasions, for civil government is
supported by authority, unanimity, fame, and public opinion, and not
by demonstration. In the arts and sciences, on the contrary, every
department should resound, as in mines, with new works and advances.
And this is the rational, though not the actual view of the case, for
that administration and government of science we have spoken of is
wont too rigorously to repress its growth.

XCI. And even should the odium I have alluded to be avoided, yet it is
sufficient to repress the increase of science that such attempts and
industry pass unrewarded; for the cultivation of science and its reward
belong not to the same individual. The advancement of science is the
work of a powerful genius, the prize and reward belong to the vulgar or
to princes, who (with a few exceptions) are scarcely moderately well
informed. Nay, such progress is not only deprived of the rewards and
beneficence of individuals, but even of popular praise; for it is above
the reach of the generality, and easily overwhelmed and extinguished
by the winds of common opinions. It is not wonderful, therefore, that
little success has attended that which has been little honored.

XCII. But by far the greatest obstacle to the advancement of the
sciences, and the undertaking of any new attempt or department, is to
be found in men’s despair and the idea of impossibility; for men of a
prudent and exact turn of thought are altogether diffident in matters
of this nature, considering the obscurity of nature, the shortness of
life, the deception of the senses, and weakness of the judgment. They
think, therefore, that in the revolutions of ages and of the world
there are certain floods and ebbs of the sciences, and that they grow
and flourish at one time, and wither and fall off at another, that when
they have attained a certain degree and condition they can proceed no

If, therefore, any one believe or promise greater things, they impute
it to an uncurbed and immature mind, and imagine that such efforts
begin pleasantly, then become laborious, and end in confusion.
And since such thoughts easily enter the minds of men of dignity
and excellent judgment, we must really take heed lest we should be
captivated by our affection for an excellent and most beautiful
object, and relax or diminish the severity of our judgment; and we
must diligently examine what gleam of hope shines upon us, and in what
direction it manifests itself, so that, banishing her lighter dreams,
we may discuss and weigh whatever appears of more sound importance. We
must consult the prudence of ordinary life, too, which is diffident
upon principle, and in all human matters augurs the worst. Let us,
then, speak of hope, especially as we are not vain promisers, nor
are willing to enforce or insnare men’s judgment, but would rather
lead them willingly forward. And although we shall employ the most
cogent means of enforcing hope when we bring them to particulars,
and especially those which are digested and arranged in our Tables
of Invention (the subject partly of the second, but principally of
the fourth part of the Instauration), which are, indeed, rather
the very object of our hopes than hope itself; yet to proceed more
leniently we must treat of the preparation of men’s minds, of which
the manifestation of hope forms no slight part; for without it all
that we have said tends rather to produce a gloom than to encourage
activity or quicken the industry of experiment, by causing them to
have a worse and more contemptuous opinion of things as they are than
they now entertain, and to perceive and feel more thoroughly their
unfortunate condition. We must, therefore, disclose and prefix our
reasons for not thinking the hope of success improbable, as Columbus,
before his wonderful voyage over the Atlantic, gave the reasons of his
conviction that new lands and continents might be discovered besides
those already known; and these reasons, though at first rejected, were
yet proved by subsequent experience, and were the causes and beginnings
of the greatest events.

XCIII. Let us begin from God, and show that our pursuit from its
exceeding goodness clearly proceeds from him, the author of good and
father of light. Now, in all divine works the smallest beginnings lead
assuredly to some result, and the remark in spiritual matters that
“the kingdom of God cometh without observation,” is also found to be
true in every great work of Divine Providence, so that everything
glides quietly on without confusion or noise, and the matter is
achieved before men either think or perceive that it is commenced.
Nor should we neglect to mention the prophecy of Daniel, of the last
days of the world, “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be
increased,”[56] thus plainly hinting and suggesting that fate (which
is Providence) would cause the complete circuit of the globe (now
accomplished, or at least going forward by means of so many distant
voyages), and the increase of learning to happen at the same epoch.

XCIV. We will next give a most potent reason for hope deduced from
the errors of the past, and the ways still unattempted; for well
was an ill-governed state thus reproved, “That which is worst with
regard to the past should appear most consolatory for the future;
for if you had done all that your duty commanded, and your affairs
proceeded no better, you could not even hope for their improvement;
but since their present unhappy situation is not owing to the force of
circumstances, but to your own errors, you have reason to hope that by
banishing or correcting the latter you can produce a great change for
the better in the former.” So if men had, during the many years that
have elapsed, adhered to the right way of discovering and cultivating
the sciences without being able to advance, it would be assuredly bold
and presumptuous to imagine it possible to improve; but if they have
mistaken the way and wasted their labor on improper objects, it follows
that the difficulty does not arise from things themselves, which are
not in our power, but from the human understanding, its practice and
application, which is susceptible of remedy and correction. Our best
plan, therefore, is to expose these errors; for in proportion as they
impeded the past, so do they afford reason to hope for the future. And
although we have touched upon them above, yet we think it right to give
a brief, bare, and simple enumeration of them in this place.

XCV. Those who have treated of the sciences have been either empirics
or dogmatical.[57] The former like ants only heap up and use their
store, the latter like spiders spin out their own webs. The bee, a
mean between both, extracts matter from the flowers of the garden and
the field, but works and fashions it by its own efforts. The true
labor of philosophy resembles hers, for it neither relies entirely or
principally on the powers of the mind, nor yet lays up in the memory
the matter afforded by the experiments of natural history and mechanics
in its raw state, but changes and works it in the understanding. We
have good reason, therefore, to derive hope from a closer and purer
alliance of these faculties (the experimental and rational) than has
yet been attempted.

XCVI. Natural philosophy is not yet to be found unadulterated, but is
impure and corrupted--by logic in the school of Aristotle, by natural
theology in that of Plato,[58] by mathematics in the second school of
Plato (that of Proclus and others)[59] which ought rather to terminate
natural philosophy than to generate or create it. We may, therefore,
hope for better results from pure and unmixed natural philosophy.

XCVII. No one has yet been found possessed of sufficient firmness
and severity to resolve upon and undertake the task of entirely
abolishing common theories and notions, and applying the mind afresh,
when thus cleared and levelled, to particular researches; hence our
human reasoning is a mere farrago and crude mass made up of a great
deal of credulity and accident, and the puerile notions it originally

But if a man of mature age, unprejudiced senses, and clear mind, would
betake himself anew to experience and particulars, we might hope much
more from such a one; in which respect we promise ourselves the fortune
of Alexander the Great, and let none accuse us of vanity till they have
heard the tale, which is intended to check vanity.

For Æschines spoke thus of Alexander and his exploits: “We live not
the life of mortals, but are born at such a period that posterity will
relate and declare our prodigies”; as if he considered the exploits of
Alexander to be miraculous.

But in succeeding ages[60] Livy took a better view of the fact, and
has made some such observation as this upon Alexander: “That he did no
more than dare to despise insignificance.” So in our opinion posterity
will judge of us, that we have achieved no great matters, but only set
less account upon what is considered important; for the meantime (as
we have before observed) our only hope is in the regeneration of the
sciences, by regularly raising them on the foundation of experience and
building them anew, which I think none can venture to affirm to have
been already done or even thought of.

XCVIII. The foundations of experience (our sole resource) have
hitherto failed completely or have been very weak; nor has a store
and collection of particular facts, capable of informing the mind or
in any way satisfactory, been either sought after or amassed. On the
contrary, learned, but idle and indolent, men have received some mere
reports of experience, traditions as it were of dreams, as establishing
or confirming their philosophy, and have not hesitated to allow them
the weight of legitimate evidence. So that a system has been pursued
in philosophy with regard to experience resembling that of a kingdom
or state which would direct its councils and affairs according to the
gossip of city and street politicians, instead of the letters and
reports of ambassadors and messengers worthy of credit. Nothing is
rightly inquired into, or verified, noted, weighed, or measured, in
natural history; indefinite and vague observation produces fallacious
and uncertain information. If this appear strange, or our complaint
somewhat too unjust (because Aristotle himself, so distinguished a
man and supported by the wealth of so great a king, has completed an
accurate history of animals, to which others with greater diligence
but less noise have made considerable additions, and others again
have composed copious histories and notices of plants, metals, and
fossils), it will arise from a want of sufficiently attending to and
comprehending our present observations; for a natural history compiled
on its own account, and one collected for the mind’s information as a
foundation for philosophy, are two different things. They differ in
several respects, but principally in this--the former contains only
the varieties of natural species without the experiments of mechanical
arts; for as in ordinary life every person’s disposition, and the
concealed feelings of the mind and passions are most drawn out when
they are disturbed--so the secrets of nature betray themselves more
readily when tormented by art than when left to their own course. We
must begin, therefore, to entertain hopes of natural philosophy then
only, when we have a better compilation of natural history, its real
basis and support.

XCIX. Again, even in the abundance of mechanical experiments, there
is a very great scarcity of those which best inform and assist
the understanding. For the mechanic, little solicitous about the
investigation of truth, neither directs his attention, nor applies his
hand to anything that is not of service to his business. But our hope
of further progress in the sciences will then only be well founded,
when numerous experiments shall be received and collected into natural
history, which, though of no use in themselves, assist materially in
the discovery of causes and axioms; which experiments we have termed
enlightening, to distinguish them from those which are profitable. They
possess this wonderful property and nature, that they never deceive
or fail you; for being used only to discover the natural cause of
some object, whatever be the result, they equally satisfy your aim by
deciding the question.

C. We must not only search for, and procure a greater number of
experiments, but also introduce a completely different method, order,
and progress of continuing and promoting experience. For vague and
arbitrary experience is (as we have observed), mere groping in the
dark, and rather astonishes than instructs. But when experience shall
proceed regularly and uninterruptedly by a determined rule, we may
entertain better hopes of the sciences.

CI. But after having collected and prepared an abundance and store of
natural history, and of the experience required for the operations
of the understanding or philosophy, still the understanding is as
incapable of acting on such materials of itself, with the aid of memory
alone, as any person would be of retaining and achieving, by memory,
the computation of an almanac. Yet meditation has hitherto done more
for discovery than writing, and no experiments have been committed to
paper. We cannot, however, approve of any mode of discovery without
writing, and when that comes into more general use, we may have further

CII. Besides this, there is such a multitude and host, as it were, of
particular objects, and lying so widely dispersed, as to distract and
confuse the understanding; and we can, therefore, hope for no advantage
from its skirmishing, and quick movements and incursions, unless we
put its forces in due order and array, by means of proper and well
arranged, and, as it were, living tables of discovery of these matters,
which are the subject of investigation, and the mind then apply itself
to the ready prepared and digested aid which such tables afford.

CIII. When we have thus properly and regularly placed before the eyes
a collection of particulars, we must not immediately proceed to the
investigation and discovery of new particulars or effects, or, at
least, if we do so, must not rest satisfied therewith. For, though
we do not deny that by transferring the experiments from one art to
another (when all the experiments of each have been collected and
arranged, and have been acquired by the knowledge, and subjected to
the judgment of a single individual), many new experiments may be
discovered tending to benefit society and mankind, by what we term
literate experience; yet comparatively insignificant results are to be
expected thence, while the more important are to be derived from the
new light of axioms, deduced by certain method and rule from the above
particulars, and pointing out and defining new particulars in their
turn. Our road is not a long plain, but rises and falls, ascending to
axioms, and descending to effects.

CIV. Nor can we suffer the understanding to jump and fly from
particulars to remote and most general axioms (such as are termed the
principles of arts and things), and thus prove and make out their
intermediate axioms according to the supposed unshaken truth of the
former. This, however, has always been done to the present time from
the natural bent of the understanding, educated too, and accustomed to
this very method, by the syllogistic mode of demonstration. But we can
then only augur well for the sciences, when the assent shall proceed by
a true scale and successive steps, without interruption or breach, from
particulars to the lesser axioms, thence to the intermediate (rising
one above the other), and lastly, to the most general. For the lowest
axioms differ but little from bare experiment;[61] the highest and most
general (as they are esteemed at present), are notional, abstract, and
of no real weight. The intermediate are true, solid, full of life, and
upon them depend the business and fortune of mankind; beyond these are
the really general, but not abstract, axioms, which are truly limited
by the intermediate.

We must not then add wings, but rather lead and ballast to the
understanding, to prevent its jumping or flying, which has not yet been
done; but whenever this takes place, we may entertain greater hopes of
the sciences.

CV. In forming axioms, we must invent a different form of induction
from that hitherto in use; not only for the proof and discovery of
principles (as they are called), but also of minor, intermediate, and,
in short, every kind of axioms. The induction which proceeds by simple
enumeration is puerile, leads to uncertain conclusions, and is exposed
to danger from one contradictory instance, deciding generally from too
small a number of facts, and those only the most obvious. But a really
useful induction for the discovery and demonstration of the arts and
sciences, should separate nature by proper rejections and exclusions,
and then conclude for the affirmative, after collecting a sufficient
number of negatives. Now this has not been done, nor even attempted,
except perhaps by Plato, who certainly uses this form of induction in
some measure, to sift definitions and ideas. But much of what has never
yet entered the thoughts of man must necessarily be employed, in order
to exhibit a good and legitimate mode of induction or demonstration,
so as even to render it essential for us to bestow more pains upon
it than have hitherto been bestowed on syllogisms. The assistance of
induction is to serve us not only in the discovery of axioms, but
also in defining our notions. Much indeed is to be hoped from such an
induction as has been described.

CVI. In forming our axioms from induction, we must examine and try
whether the axiom we derive be only fitted and calculated for the
particular instances from which it is deduced, or whether it be more
extensive and general. If it be the latter, we must observe, whether
it confirm its own extent and generality by giving surety, as it were,
in pointing out new particulars, so that we may neither stop at actual
discoveries, nor with a careless grasp catch at shadows and abstract
forms, instead of substances of a determinate nature: and as soon as we
act thus, well authorized hope may with reason be said to beam upon us.

CVII. Here, too, we may again repeat what we have said above,
concerning the extending of natural philosophy and reducing particular
sciences to that one, so as to prevent any schism or dismembering of
the sciences; without which we cannot hope to advance.

CVIII. Such are the observations we would make in order to remove
despair and excite hope, by bidding farewell to the errors of past
ages, or by their correction. Let us examine whether there be other
grounds for hope. And, first, if many useful discoveries have occurred
to mankind by chance or opportunity, without investigation or attention
on their part, it must necessarily be acknowledged that much more may
be brought to light by investigation and attention, if it be regular
and orderly, not hasty and interrupted. For although it may now and
then happen that one falls by chance upon something that had before
escaped considerable efforts and laborious inquiries, yet undoubtedly
the reverse is generally the case. We may, therefore, hope for further,
better, and more frequent results from man’s reason, industry, method,
and application, than from chance and mere animal instinct, and the
like, which have hitherto been the sources of invention.

CIX. We may also derive some reason for hope from the circumstance
of several actual inventions being of such a nature, that scarcely
any one could have formed a conjecture about them previously to their
discovery, but would rather have ridiculed them as impossible. For
men are wont to guess about new subjects from those they are already
acquainted with, and the hasty and vitiated fancies they have thence
formed: than which there cannot be a more fallacious mode of reasoning,
because much of that which is derived from the sources of things does
not flow in their usual channel.

If, for instance, before the discovery of cannon, one had described
its effects in the following manner: There is a new invention by which
walls and the greatest bulwarks can be shaken and overthrown from a
considerable distance; men would have begun to contrive various means
of multiplying the force of projectiles and machines by means of
weights and wheels, and other modes of battering and projecting. But
it is improbable that any imagination or fancy would have hit upon a
fiery blast, expanding and developing itself so suddenly and violently,
because none would have seen an instance at all resembling it, except
perhaps in earthquakes or thunder, which they would have immediately
rejected as the great operations of nature, not to be imitated by man.

So, if before the discovery of silk thread, any one had observed, that
a species of thread had been discovered, fit for dresses and furniture,
far surpassing the thread of worsted or flax in fineness, and at the
same time in tenacity, beauty, and softness; men would have begun
to imagine something about Chinese plants, or the fine hair of some
animals, or the feathers or down of birds, but certainly would never
have had an idea of its being spun by a small worm, in so copious a
manner, and renewed annually. But if any one had ventured to suggest
the silkworm, he would have been laughed at as if dreaming of some new
manufacture from spiders.

So again, if before the discovery of the compass, any one had said,
that an instrument had been invented, by which the quarters and points
of the heavens could be exactly taken and distinguished, men would
have entered into disquisitions on the refinement of astronomical
instruments, and the like, from the excitement of their imaginations;
but the thought of anything being discovered, which, not being a
celestial body, but a mere mineral or metallic substance, should yet
in its motion agree with that of such bodies, would have appeared
absolutely incredible. Yet were these facts, and the like (unknown for
so many ages) not discovered at last either by philosophy or reasoning,
but by chance and opportunity; and (as we have observed), they are of a
nature most heterogeneous, and remote from what was hitherto known, so
that no previous knowledge could lead to them.

We may, therefore, well hope[62] that many excellent and useful matters
are yet treasured up in the bosom of nature, bearing no relation or
analogy to our actual discoveries, but out of the common track of
our imagination, and still undiscovered, and which will doubtless be
brought to light in the course and lapse of years, as the others have
been before them; but in the way we now point out, they may rapidly and
at once be both represented and anticipated.

CX. There are, moreover, some inventions which render it probable
that men may pass and hurry over the most noble discoveries which
lie immediately before them. For however the discovery of gunpowder,
silk, the compass, sugar, paper, or the like, may appear to depend on
peculiar properties of things and nature, printing at least involves
no contrivance which is not clear and almost obvious. But from want
of observing that although the arrangement of the types of letters
required more trouble than writing with the hand, yet these types once
arranged serve for innumerable impressions, while manuscript only
affords one copy; and again, from want of observing that ink might be
thickened so as to stain without running (which was necessary, seeing
the letters face upward, and the impression is made from above), this
most beautiful invention (which assists so materially the propagation
of learning) remained unknown for so many ages.

The human mind is often so awkward and ill-regulated in the career of
invention that it is at first diffident, and then despises itself. For
it appears at first incredible that any such discovery should be made,
and when it has been made, it appears incredible that it should so long
have escaped men’s research. All which affords good reason for the
hope that a vast mass of inventions yet remains, which may be deduced
not only from the investigation of new modes of operation, but also
from transferring, comparing, and applying these already known, by the
method of what we have termed literate experience.

CXI. Nor should we omit another ground of hope. Let men only consider
(if they will) their infinite expenditure of talent, time, and
fortune, in matters and studies of far inferior importance and value;
a small portion of which applied to sound and solid learning would be
sufficient to overcome every difficulty. And we have thought right to
add this observation, because we candidly own that such a collection of
natural and experimental history as we have traced in our own mind, and
as is really necessary, is a great and as it were royal work, requiring
much labor and expense.

CXII. In the meantime let no one be alarmed at the multitude of
particulars, but rather inclined to hope on that very account. For the
particular phenomena of the arts and nature are in reality but as a
handful, when compared with the fictions of the imagination removed and
separated from the evidence of facts. The termination of our method
is clear, and I had almost said near at hand; the other admits of no
termination, but only of infinite confusion. For men have hitherto
dwelt but little, or rather only slightly touched upon experience,
while they have wasted much time on theories and the fictions of the
imagination. If we had but any one who could actually answer our
interrogations of nature, the invention of all causes and sciences
would be the labor of but a few years.

CXIII. We think some ground of hope is afforded by our own example,
which is not mentioned for the sake of boasting, but as a useful
remark. Let those who distrust their own powers observe myself, one who
have among my contemporaries been the most engaged in public business,
who am not very strong in health (which causes a great loss of time),
and am the first explorer of this course, following the guidance of
none, nor even communicating my thoughts to a single individual; yet
having once firmly entered in the right way, and submitting the powers
of my mind to things, I have somewhat advanced (as I make bold to
think) the matter I now treat of. Then let others consider what may
be hoped from men who enjoy abundant leisure, from united labors, and
the succession of ages, after these suggestions on our part, especially
in a course which is not confined, like theories, to individuals,
but admits of the best distribution and union of labor and effect,
particularly in collecting experiments. For men will then only begin to
know their own power, when each performs a separate part, instead of
undertaking in crowds the same work.

CXIV. Lastly, though a much more faint and uncertain breeze of hope
were to spring up from our new continent, yet we consider it necessary
to make the experiment, if we would not show a dastard spirit. For
the risk attending want of success is not to be compared with that
of neglecting the attempt; the former is attended with the loss of
a little human labor, the latter with that of an immense benefit.
For these and other reasons it appears to us that there is abundant
ground to hope, and to induce not only those who are sanguine to make
experiment, but even those who are cautious and sober to give their

CXV. Such are the grounds for banishing despair, hitherto one of the
most powerful causes of the delay and restraint to which the sciences
have been subjected; in treating of which we have at the same time
discussed the signs and causes of the errors, idleness, and ignorance
that have prevailed; seeing especially that the more refined causes,
which are not open to popular judgment and observation, may be referred
to our remarks on the idols of the human mind.

Here, too, we should close the demolishing branch of our Instauration,
which is comprised in three confutations: 1, the confutation of natural
human reason left to itself; 2, the confutation of demonstration; 3,
the confutation of theories, or received systems of philosophy and
doctrines. Our confutation has followed such a course as was open to
it, namely, the exposing of the signs of error, and the producing
evidence of the causes of it: for we could adopt no other, differing as
we do both in first principles and demonstrations from others.

It is time for us therefore to come to the art itself, and the rule for
the interpretation of nature: there is, however, still something which
must not be passed over. For the intent of this first book of aphorisms
being to prepare the mind for understanding, as well as admitting, what
follows, we must now, after having cleansed, polished, and levelled
its surface, place it in a good position, and as it were a benevolent
aspect toward our propositions; seeing that prejudice in new matters
may be produced not only by the strength of preconceived notions, but
also by a false anticipation or expectation of the matter proposed. We
shall therefore endeavor to induce good and correct opinions of what we
offer, although this be only necessary for the moment, and as it were
laid out at interest, until the matter itself be well understood.

CXVI. First, then, we must desire men not to suppose that we are
ambitious of founding any philosophical sect, like the ancient Greeks,
or some moderns, as Telesius, Patricius, and Severinus.[63] For neither
is this our intention, nor do we think that peculiar abstract opinions
on nature and the principles of things are of much importance to men’s
fortunes, since it were easy to revive many ancient theories, and
to introduce many new ones; as, for instance, many hypotheses with
regard to the heavens can be formed, differing in themselves, and yet
sufficiently according with the phenomena.

We bestow not our labor on such theoretical and, at the same time,
useless topics. On the contrary, our determination is that of trying,
whether we can lay a firmer foundation, and extend to a greater
distance the boundaries of human power and dignity. And although here
and there, upon some particular points, we hold (in our own opinion)
more true and certain, and I might even say, more advantageous tenets
than those in general repute (which we have collected in the fifth part
of our Instauration), yet we offer no universal or complete theory.
The time does not yet appear to us to be arrived, and we entertain no
hope of our life being prolonged to the completion of the sixth part of
the Instauration (which is destined for philosophy discovered by the
interpretation of nature), but are content if we proceed quietly and
usefully in our intermediate pursuit, scattering, in the meantime, the
seeds of less adulterated truth for posterity, and, at least, commence
the great work.

CXVII. And, as we pretend not to found a sect, so do we neither offer
nor promise particular effects; which may occasion some to object to
us, that since we so often speak of effects, and consider everything
in its relation to that end, we ought also to give some earnest of
producing them. Our course and method, however (as we have often said,
and again repeat), is such as not to deduce effects from effects, nor
experiments from experiments (as the empirics do), but in our capacity
of legitimate interpreters of nature, to deduce causes and axioms from
effects and experiments; and new effects and experiments from those
causes and axioms.

And although any one of moderate intelligence and ability will observe
the indications and sketches of many noble effects in our tables of
inventions (which form the fourth part of the Instauration), and also
in the examples of particular instances cited in the second part, as
well as in our observations on history (which is the subject of the
third part); yet we candidly confess that our present natural history,
whether compiled from books or our own inquiries, is not sufficiently
copious and well ascertained to satisfy, or even assist, a proper

If, therefore, there be any one who is more disposed and prepared for
mechanical art, and ingenious in discovering effects, than in the mere
management of experiment, we allow him to employ his industry in
gathering many of the fruits of our history and tables in this way,
and applying them to effects, receiving them as interest till he can
obtain the principal. For our own part, having a greater object in
view, we condemn all hasty and premature rest in such pursuits as we
would Atalanta’s apple (to use a common allusion of ours); for we are
not childishly ambitious of golden fruit, but use all our efforts to
make the course of art outstrip nature, and we hasten not to reap moss
or the green blade, but wait for a ripe harvest.

CXVIII. There will be some, without doubt, who, on a perusal of our
history and tables of invention, will meet with some uncertainty,
or perhaps fallacy, in the experiments themselves, and will thence
perhaps imagine that our discoveries are built on false foundations and
principles. There is, however, really nothing in this, since it must
needs happen in beginnings.[64] For it is the same as if in writing
or printing one or two letters were wrongly turned or misplaced,
which is no great inconvenience to the reader, who can easily by his
own eye correct the error; let men in the same way conclude, that
many experiments in natural history may be erroneously believed and
admitted, which are easily expunged and rejected afterward, by the
discovery of causes and axioms. It is, however, true, that if these
errors in natural history and experiments become great, frequent, and
continued, they cannot be corrected and amended by any dexterity of
wit or art. If then, even in our natural history, well examined and
compiled with such diligence, strictness, and (I might say) reverential
scruples, there be now and then something false and erroneous in
the details, what must we say of the common natural history, which
is so negligent and careless when compared with ours? or of systems
of philosophy and the sciences, based on such loose soil (or rather
quicksand)? Let none then be alarmed by such observations.

CXIX. Again, our history and experiments will contain much that
is light and common, mean and illiberal, too refined and merely
speculative, and, as it were, of no use, and this perhaps may divert
and alienate the attention of mankind.

With regard to what is common; let men reflect, that they have hitherto
been used to do nothing but refer and adapt the causes of things of
rare occurrence to those of things which more frequently happen,
without any investigation of the causes of the latter, taking them for
granted and admitted.

Hence, they do not inquire into the causes of gravity, the rotation of
the heavenly bodies, heat, cold, light, hardness, softness, rarity,
density, liquidity, solidity, animation, inanimation, similitude,
difference, organic formation, but taking them to be self-evident,
manifest, and admitted, they dispute and decide upon other matters of
less frequent and familiar occurrence.

But we (who know that no judgment can be formed of that which is rare
or remarkable, and much less anything new brought to light, without
a previous regular examination and discovery of the causes of that
which is common, and the causes again of those causes) are necessarily
compelled to admit the most common objects into our history. Besides,
we have observed that nothing has been so injurious to philosophy as
this circumstance, namely, that familiar and frequent objects do not
arrest and detain men’s contemplation, but are carelessly admitted,
and their causes never inquired after; so that information on unknown
subjects is not more often wanted than attention to those which are

CXX. With regard to the meanness, or even the filthiness of
particulars, for which (as Pliny observes), an apology is requisite,
such subjects are no less worthy of admission into natural history
than the most magnificent and costly; nor do they at all pollute
natural history, for the sun enters alike the palace and the privy,
and is not thereby polluted. We neither dedicate nor raise a capitol
or pyramid to the pride of man, but rear a holy temple in his mind,
on the model of the universe, which model therefore we imitate. For
that which is deserving of existence is deserving of knowledge, the
image of existence. Now the mean and splendid alike exist. Nay, as
the finest odors are sometimes produced from putrid matter (such as
musk and civet), so does valuable light and information emanate from
mean and sordid instances. But we have already said too much, for such
fastidious feelings are childish and effeminate.

CXXI. The next point requires a more accurate consideration, namely,
that many parts of our history will appear to the vulgar, or even any
mind accustomed to the present state of things, fantastically and
uselessly refined. Hence, we have in regard to this matter said from
the first, and must again repeat, that we look for experiments that
shall afford light rather than profit, imitating the divine creation,
which, as we have often observed, only produced light on the first
day, and assigned that whole day to its creation, without adding any
material work.

If any one, then, imagine such matters to be of no use, he might
equally suppose light to be of no use, because it is neither solid
nor material. For, in fact, the knowledge of simple natures, when
sufficiently investigated and defined, resembles light, which, though
of no great use in itself, affords access to the general mysteries
of effects, and with a peculiar power comprehends and draws with
it whole bands and troops of effects, and the sources of the most
valuable axioms. So also the elements of letters have of themselves
separately no meaning, and are of no use, yet are they, as it were,
the original matter in the composition and preparation of speech. The
seeds of substances, whose effect is powerful, are of no use except in
their growth, and the scattered rays of light itself avail not unless

But if speculative subtilties give offence, what must we say of the
scholastic philosophers who indulged in them to such excess? And those
subtilties were wasted on words, or, at least, common notions (which
is the same thing), not on things or nature, and alike unproductive of
benefit in their origin and their consequences: in no way resembling
ours, which are at present useless, but in their consequences of
infinite benefit. Let men be assured that all subtile disputes and
discursive efforts of the mind are late and preposterous, when they
are introduced subsequently to the discovery of axioms, and that their
true, or, at any rate, chief opportunity is, when experiment is to be
weighed and axioms to be derived from it. They otherwise catch and
grasp at nature, but never seize or detain her: and we may well apply
to nature that which has been said of opportunity or fortune, that she
wears a lock in front, but is bald behind.

In short, we may reply decisively to those who despise any part of
natural history as being vulgar, mean, or subtile, and useless in its
origin, in the words of a poor woman to a haughty prince,[65] who had
rejected her petition as unworthy, and beneath the dignity of his
majesty: “Then cease to reign”; for it is quite certain that the empire
of nature can neither be obtained nor administered by one who refuses
to pay attention to such matters as being poor and too minute.

CXXII. Again, it may be objected to us as being singular and harsh,
that we should with one stroke and assault, as it were, banish all
authorities and sciences, and that too by our own efforts, without
requiring the assistance and support of any of the ancients.

Now we are aware, that had we been ready to act otherwise than
sincerely, it was not difficult to refer our present method to
remote ages, prior to those of the Greeks (since the sciences in all
probability flourished more in their natural state, though silently,
than when they were paraded with the fifes and trumpets of the Greeks);
or even (in parts, at least) to some of the Greeks themselves, and to
derive authority and honor from thence; as men of no family labor to
raise and form nobility for themselves in some ancient line, by the
help of genealogies. Trusting, however, to the evidence of facts, we
reject every kind of fiction and imposture; and think it of no more
consequence to our subject, whether future discoveries were known to
the ancients, and set or rose according to the vicissitudes of events
and lapse of ages, than it would be of importance to mankind to know
whether the new world be the island of Atlantis,[66] and known to the
ancients, or be now discovered for the first time.

With regard to the universal censure we have bestowed, it is quite
clear, to any one who properly considers the matter, that it is both
more probable and more modest than any partial one could have been. For
if the errors had not been rooted in the primary notions, some well
conducted discoveries must have corrected others that were deficient.
But since the errors were fundamental, and of such a nature, that
men may be said rather to have neglected or passed over things, than
to have formed a wrong or false judgment of them, it is little to be
wondered at, that they did not obtain what they never aimed at, nor
arrive at a goal which they had not determined, nor perform a course
which they had neither entered upon nor adhered to.

With regard to our presumption, we allow that if we were to assume a
power of drawing a more perfect straight line or circle than any one
else, by superior steadiness of hand or acuteness of eye, it would lead
to a comparison of talent; but if one merely assert that he can draw
a more perfect line or circle with a ruler or compasses, than another
can by his unassisted hand or eye, he surely cannot be said to boast
of much. Now this applies not only to our first original attempt, but
also to those who shall hereafter apply themselves to the pursuit. For
our method of discovering the sciences merely levels men’s wits, and
leaves but little to their superiority, since it achieves everything by
the most certain rules and demonstrations. Whence (as we have often
observed), our attempt is to be attributed to fortune rather than
talent, and is the offspring of time rather than of wit. For a certain
sort of chance has no less effect upon our thoughts than on our acts
and deeds.

CXXIII. We may, therefore, apply to ourselves the joke of him who said,
that water and wine drinkers could not think alike,[67] especially as
it hits the matter so well. For others, both ancients and moderns,
have in the sciences drank a crude liquor like water, either flowing
of itself from the understanding, or drawn up by logic as the wheel
draws up the bucket. But we drink and pledge others with a liquor made
of many well-ripened grapes, collected and plucked from particular
branches, squeezed in the press, and at last clarified and fermented in
a vessel. It is not, therefore, wonderful that we should not agree with

CXXIV. Another objection will without doubt be made, namely, that we
have not ourselves established a correct, or the best goal or aim
of the sciences (the very defect we blame in others). For they will
say that the contemplation of truth is more dignified and exalted
than any utility or extent of effects; but that our dwelling so long
and anxiously on experience and matter, and the fluctuating state of
particulars, fastens the mind to earth, or rather casts it down into an
abyss of confusion and disturbance, and separates and removes it from a
much more divine state, the quiet and tranquillity of abstract wisdom.
We willingly assent to their reasoning, and are most anxious to effect
the very point they hint at and require. For we are founding a real
model of the world in the understanding, such as it is found to be, not
such as man’s reason has distorted. Now this cannot be done without
dissecting and anatomizing the world most diligently; but we declare it
necessary to destroy completely the vain, little and, as it were, apish
imitations of the world, which have been formed in various systems of
philosophy by men’s fancies. Let men learn (as we have said above) the
difference that exists between the idols of the human mind and the
ideas of the divine mind. The former are mere arbitrary abstractions;
the latter the true marks of the Creator on his creatures, as they are
imprinted on, and defined in matter, by true and exquisite touches.
Truth, therefore, and utility, are here perfectly identical, and the
effects are of more value as pledges of truth than from the benefit
they confer on men.

CXXV. Others may object that we are only doing that which has already
been done, and that the ancients followed the same course as ourselves.
They may imagine, therefore, that, after all this stir and exertion,
we shall at last arrive at some of those systems that prevailed among
the ancients: for that they, too, when commencing their meditations,
laid up a great store of instances and particulars, and digested them
under topics and titles in their commonplace books, and so worked out
their systems and arts, and then decided upon what they discovered,
and related now and then some examples to confirm and throw light upon
their doctrine; but thought it superfluous and troublesome to publish
their notes, minutes, and commonplaces, and therefore followed the
example of builders who remove the scaffolding and ladders when the
building is finished. Nor can we indeed believe the case to have been
otherwise. But to any one, not entirely forgetful of our previous
observations, it will be easy to answer this objection or rather
scruple; for we allow that the ancients had a particular form of
investigation and discovery, and their writings show it. But it was
of such a nature, that they immediately flew from a few instances and
particulars (after adding some common notions, and a few generally
received opinions most in vogue) to the most general conclusions or the
principles of the sciences, and then by their intermediate propositions
deduced their inferior conclusions, and tried them by the test of the
immovable and settled truth of the first, and so constructed their art.
Lastly, if some new particulars and instances were brought forward,
which contradicted their dogmas, they either with great subtilty
reduced them to one system, by distinctions or explanations of their
own rules, or got rid of them clumsily as exceptions, laboring most
pertinaciously in the meantime to accommodate the causes of such as
were not contradictory to their own principles. Their natural history
and their experience were both far from being what they ought to have
been, and their flying off to generalities ruined everything.

CXXVI. Another objection will be made against us, that we prohibit
decisions and the laying down of certain principles, till we arrive
regularly at generalities by the intermediate steps, and thus keep the
judgment in suspense and lead to uncertainty. But our object is not
uncertainty but fitting certainty, for we derogate not from the senses
but assist them, and despise not the understanding but direct it. It is
better to know what is necessary, and not to imagine we are fully in
possession of it, than to imagine that we are fully in possession of
it, and yet in reality to know nothing which we ought.

CXXVII. Again, some may raise this question rather than objection,
whether we talk of perfecting natural philosophy alone according
to our method, or the other sciences also, such as logic, ethics,
politics. We certainly intend to comprehend them all. And as common
logic, which regulates matters by syllogisms, is applied not only to
natural, but also to every other science, so our inductive method
likewise comprehends them all.[68] For we form a history and tables of
invention for anger, fear, shame, and the like, and also for examples
in civil life, and the mental operations of memory, composition,
division, judgment, and the rest, as well as for heat and cold, light,
vegetation, and the like. But since our method of interpretation,
after preparing and arranging a history, does not content itself with
examining the operations and disquisitions of the mind like common
logic, but also inspects the nature of things, we so regulate the mind
that it may be enabled to apply itself in every respect correctly to
that nature. On that account we deliver numerous and various precepts
in our doctrine of interpretation, so that they may apply in some
measure to the method of discovering the quality and condition of the
subject matter of investigation.

CXXVIII. Let none even doubt whether we are anxious to destroy and
demolish the philosophy, arts, and sciences, which are now in use.
On the contrary, we readily cherish their practice, cultivation,
and honor; for we by no means interfere to prevent the prevalent
system from encouraging discussion, adorning discourses, or being
employed serviceably in the chair of the professor or the practice
of common life, and being taken, in short, by general consent as
current coin. Nay, we plainly declare, that the system we offer will
not be very suitable for such purposes, not being easily adapted
to vulgar apprehensions, except by effects and works. To show our
sincerity in professing our regard and friendly disposition toward
the received sciences, we can refer to the evidence of our published
writings (especially our books on the Advancement of Learning). We
will not, therefore, endeavor to evince it any further by words; but
content ourselves with steadily and professedly premising, that no
great progress can be made by the present methods in the theory or
contemplation of science, and that they cannot be made to produce any
very abundant effects.

CXXIX. It remains for us to say a few words on the excellence of our
proposed end. If we had done so before, we might have appeared merely
to express our wishes, but now that we have excited hope and removed
prejudices, it will perhaps have greater weight. Had we performed and
completely accomplished the whole, without frequently calling in others
to assist in our labors, we should then have refrained from saying
any more, lest we should be thought to extol our own deserts. Since,
however, the industry of others must be quickened, and their courage
roused and inflamed, it is right to recall some points to their memory.

First, then, the introduction of great inventions appears one of the
most distinguished of human actions, and the ancients so considered it;
for they assigned divine honors to the authors of inventions, but only
heroic honors to those who displayed civil merit (such as the founders
of cities and empire legislators, the deliverers of their country from
lasting misfortunes, the quellers of tyrants, and the like). And if any
one rightly compare them, he will find the judgment of antiquity to be
correct; for the benefits derived from inventions may extend to mankind
in general, but civil benefits to particular spots alone; the latter,
moreover, last but for a time, the former forever. Civil reformation
seldom is carried on without violence and confusion, while inventions
are a blessing and a benefit without injuring or afflicting any.

Inventions are also, as it were, new creations and imitations of divine
works, as was expressed by the poet:[69]

  “Primum frugiferos fœtus mortalibus ægris
   Dididerant quondam præstanti nomine Athenæ
   Et _recreaverunt_ vitam legesque rogarunt.”

And it is worthy of remark in Solomon, that while he flourished in the
possession of his empire, in wealth, in the magnificence of his works,
in his court, his household, his fleet, the splendor of his name, and
the most unbounded admiration of mankind, he still placed his glory in
none of these, but declared[70] that it is the glory of God to conceal
a thing, but the glory of a king to search it out.

Again, let any one but consider the immense difference between men’s
lives in the most polished countries of Europe, and in any wild and
barbarous region of the new Indies, he will think it so great, that man
may be said to be a god unto man, not only on account of mutual aid and
benefits, but from their comparative states--the result of the arts,
and not of the soil or climate.

Again, we should notice the force, effect, and consequences of
inventions, which are nowhere more conspicuous than in those three
which were unknown to the ancients; namely, printing, gunpowder, and
the compass. For these three have changed the appearance and state of
the whole world: first in literature, then in warfare, and lastly in
navigation; and innumerable changes have been thence derived, so that
no empire, sect, or star, appears to have exercised a greater power and
influence on human affairs than these mechanical discoveries.

It will, perhaps, be as well to distinguish three species and degrees
of ambition. First, that of men who are anxious to enlarge their own
power in their country, which is a vulgar and degenerate kind; next,
that of men who strive to enlarge the power and empire of their country
over mankind, which is more dignified but not less covetous; but if one
were to endeavor to renew and enlarge the power and empire of mankind
in general over the universe, such ambition (if it may be so termed)
is both more sound and more noble than the other two. Now the empire of
man over things is founded on the arts and sciences alone, for nature
is only to be commanded by obeying her.

Besides this, if the benefit of any particular invention has had such
an effect as to induce men to consider him greater than a man, who has
thus obliged the whole race, how much more exalted will that discovery
be, which leads to the easy discovery of everything else! Yet (to
speak the truth) in the same manner as we are very thankful for light
which enables us to enter on our way, to practice arts, to read, to
distinguish each other, and yet sight is more excellent and beautiful
than the various uses of light; so is the contemplation of things as
they are, free from superstition or imposture, error or confusion, much
more dignified in itself than all the advantage to be derived from

Lastly, let none be alarmed at the objection of the arts and sciences
becoming depraved to malevolent or luxurious purposes and the like, for
the same can be said of every worldly good; talent, courage, strength,
beauty, riches, light itself, and the rest. Only let mankind regain
their rights over nature, assigned to them by the gift of God, and
obtain that power, whose exercise will be governed by right reason and
true religion.

CXXX. But it is time for us to lay down the art of interpreting nature,
to which we attribute no absolute necessity (as if nothing could be
done without it) nor perfection, although we think that our precepts
are most useful and correct. For we are of opinion, that if men had
at their command a proper history of nature and experience, and would
apply themselves steadily to it, and could bind themselves to two
things: 1, to lay aside received opinions and notions; 2, to restrain
themselves, till the proper season, from generalization, they might,
by the proper and genuine exertion of their minds, fall into our way
of interpretation without the aid of any art. For interpretation is
the true and natural act of the mind, when all obstacles are removed:
certainly, however, everything will be more ready and better fixed by
our precepts.

Yet do we not affirm that no addition can be made to them; on the
contrary, considering the mind in its connection with things, and not
merely relatively to its own powers, we ought to be persuaded that the
art of invention can be made to grow with the inventions themselves.


[2] Bacon uses the term in its ancient sense, and means one who,
knowing the occult properties of bodies, is able to startle the
ignorant by drawing out of them wonderful and unforeseen changes. See
the 85th aphorism of this book, and the 5th cap. book iii. of the De
Augmentis Scientiarum, where he speaks more clearly.--_Ed._

[3] By this term axiomata, Bacon here speaks of general principles, or
universal laws. In the 19th aphorism he employs the term to express
any proposition collected from facts by induction, and thus fitted to
become the starting-point of deductive reasoning. In the last and more
rigorous sense of the term, Bacon held they arose from experience. See
Whewell’s “Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences,” vol. i. p. 74; and
Mill’s “Logic,” vol. i. p. 311; and the June “Quarterly,” 1841, for the
modern phase of the discussion.--_Ed._

[4] Bacon here attributes to the Aristotelian logic the erroneous
consequences which sprung out of its abuse. The demonstrative forms it
exhibits, whether verbally or mathematically expressed, are necessary
to the support, verification, and extension of induction, and when
the propositions they embrace are founded on an accurate and close
observation of facts, the conclusions to which they lead, even in moral
science, may be regarded as certain as the facts wrested out of nature
by direct experiment. In physics such forms are absolutely required
to generalize the results of experience, and to connect intermediate
axioms with laws still more general, as is sufficiently attested by the
fact, that no science since Bacon’s day has ceased to be experimental
by the mere method of induction, and that all become exact only so far
as they rise above experience, and connect their isolated phenomena
with general laws by the principles of deductive reasoning. So far,
then, are these forms from being useless, that they are absolutely
essential to the advancement of the sciences, and in no case can be
looked on as detrimental, except when obtruded in the place of direct
experiment, or employed as a means of deducing conclusions about nature
from imaginary hypotheses and abstract conceptions. This had been
unfortunately the practice of the Greeks. From the rapid development
geometry received in their hands, they imagined the same method would
lead to results equally brilliant in natural science, and snatching up
some abstract principle, which they carefully removed from the test of
experiment, imagined they could reason out from it all the laws and
external appearances of the universe. The scholastics were impelled
along the same path, not only by precedent, but by profession. Theology
was the only science which received from them a consistent development,
and the _à priori_ grounds on which it rested prevented them from
employing any other method in the pursuit of natural phenomena. Thus,
forms of demonstration, in themselves accurate, and of momentous value
in their proper sphere, became confounded with fable, and led men into
the idea they were exploring truth when they were only accurately
deducing error from error. One principle ever so slightly deflected,
like a false quantity in an equation, could be sufficient to infect the
whole series of conclusions of which it was the base; and though the
philosopher might subsequently deduce a thousand consecutive inferences
with the utmost accuracy or precision, he would only succeed in drawing
out very methodically nine hundred and ninety-nine errors.--_Ed._

[5] It would appear from this and the two preceding aphorisms, that
Bacon fell into the error of denying the utility of the syllogism in
the very part of inductive science where it is essentially required.
Logic, like mathematics, is purely a formal process, and must, as
the scaffolding to the building, be employed to arrange facts in the
structure of a science, and not to form any portion of its groundwork,
or to supply the materials of which the system is to be composed. The
word syllogism, like most other psychological terms, has no fixed or
original signification, but is sometimes employed, as it was by the
Greeks, to denote general reasoning, and at others to point out the
formal method of deducing a particular inference from two or more
general propositions. Bacon does not confine the term within the
boundaries of express definition, but leaves us to infer that he took
it in the latter sense, from his custom of associating the term with
the wranglings of the schools. The scholastics, it is true, abused the
deductive syllogism, by employing it in its naked, skeleton-like form,
and confounding it with the whole breadth of logical theory; but their
errors are not to be visited on Aristotle, who never dreamed of playing
with formal syllogisms, and, least of all, mistook the descending for
the ascending series of inference. In our mind we are of accord with
the Stagyrite, who propounds, as far as we can interpret him, two modes
of investigating truth--the one by which we ascend from particular and
singular facts to general laws and axioms, and the other by which we
descend from universal propositions to the individual cases which they
virtually include. Logic, therefore, must equally vindicate the formal
purity of the synthetic illation by which it ascends to the whole, as
the analytic process by which it descends to the parts. The deductive
and inductive syllogism are of equal significance in building up any
body of truth, and whoever restricts logic to either process, mistakes
one-half of its province for the whole; and if he acts upon his error,
will paralyze his methods, and strike the noblest part of science with

[6] The Latin is, _ad ea quæ revera sunt naturæ notiora_. This
expression, _naturæ notiora_, _naturæ notior_, is so frequently
employed by Bacon, that we may conclude it to point to some
distinguishing feature in the Baconian physics. It properly refers
to the most evident principles and laws of nature, and springs from
that system which regards the material universe as endowed with
intelligence, and acting according to rules either fashioned or clearly
understood by itself.--_Ed._

[7] This Borgia was Alexander VI., and the expedition alluded to that
in which Charles VIII. overran the Italian peninsula in five months.
Bacon uses the same illustration in concluding his survey of natural
philosophy, in the second book of the “De Augmentis.”--_Ed._

[8] _Ratio eorum qui acatalepsiam tenuerunt._ Bacon alludes to
the members of the later academy, who held the ἀκατάληψια, or the
impossibility of comprehending anything. His translator, however, makes
him refer to the sceptics, who neither dogmatized about the known or
the unknown, but simply held, that as all knowledge was relative, πρòς
πάντα τι, man could never arrive at absolute truth, and therefore could
not with certainty affirm or deny anything.--_Ed._

[9] It is argued by Hallam, with some appearance of truth, that idols
is not the correct translation of εἴδωλα, from which the original
idola is manifestly derived; but that Bacon used it in the literal
sense attached to it by the Greeks, as a species of illusion, or false
appearance, and not as a species of divinity before which the mind bows
down. If Hallam be right, Bacon is saved from the odium of an analogy
which his foreign commentators are not far wrong in denouncing as
barbarous; but this service is rendered at the expense of the men who
have attached an opposite meaning to the word, among whom are Brown,
Playfair and Dugald Stewart.--_Ed._

[10] We cannot see how these idols have less to do with sophistical
paralogisms than with natural philosophy. The process of scientific
induction involves only the first elements of reasoning, and presents
such a clear and tangible surface, as to allow no lurking-place for
prejudice; while questions of politics and morals, to which the
deductive method, or common logic, as Bacon calls it, is peculiarly
applicable, are ever liable to be swayed or perverted by the prejudices
he enumerates. After mathematics, physical science is the least
amenable to the illusions of feeling; each portion having been already
tested by experiment and observation, is fitted into its place in the
system, with all the rigor of the geometrical method; affection or
prejudice cannot, as in matters of taste, history or religion, select
fragmentary pieces, and form a system of their own. The whole must be
admitted, or the structure of authoritative reason razed to the ground.
It is needless to say that the idols enumerated present only another
interpretation of the substance of logical fallacies.--_Ed._

[11] The propensity to this illusion may be viewed in the spirit of
system, or hasty generalization, which is still one of the chief
obstacles in the path of modern science.--_Ed._

[12] Though Kepler had, when Bacon wrote this, already demonstrated his
three great laws concerning the elliptical path of the planets, neither
Bacon nor Descartes seems to have known or assented to his discoveries.
Our author deemed the startling astronomical announcements of his time
to be mere theoretic solutions of the phenomena of the heavens, not so
perfect as those advanced by antiquity, but still deserving a praise
for the ingenuity displayed in their contrivance. Bacon believed a
hundred such systems might exist, and though true in their explanation
of phenomena, yet might all more or less differ, according to the
preconceived notions which their framers brought to the survey of the
heavens. He even thought he might put in his claim to the notice of
posterity for his astronomical ingenuity, and, as Ptolemy had labored
by means of epicycles and eccentrics, and Kepler with ellipses, to
explain the laws of planetary motion, Bacon thought the mystery would
unfold itself quite as philosophically through spiral labyrinths and
serpentine lines. What the details of his system were, we are left to
conjecture, and that from a very meagre but naïve account of one of his
inventions which he has left in his Miscellany MSS.--_Ed._

[13] _Hinc elementum ignis cum orbe suo introductum est._ Bacon saw
in fire the mere result of a certain combination of action, and
was consequently led to deny its elementary character. The ancient
physicists attributed an orbit to each of the four elements, into which
they resolved the universe, and supposed their spheres to involve each
other. The orbit of the earth was in the centre, that of fire at the
circumference. For Bacon’s inquisition into the nature of heat, and its
complete failure, see the commencement of the second book of the Novum

[14] Robert Fludd is the theorist alluded to, who had supposed the
gravity of the earth to be ten times heavier than water, that of water
ten times heavier than air, and that of air ten times heavier than

[15] Diagoras. The same allusion occurs in the second part of the
Advancement of Learning, where Bacon treats of the idols of the mind.

[16] A scholastic term, to signify the two eternities of past and
future duration, that stretch out on both sides of the narrow isthmus
(time) occupied by man. It must be remembered that Bacon lived before
the doctrine of limits gave rise to the higher calculus, and therefore
could have no conception of different denominations of infinities:
on the other hand he would have thought the man insane who should
have talked to him about lines infinitely great, inclosing angles
infinitely little; that a right line, which is a right line so long
as it is finite, by changing infinitely little its direction, becomes
an infinite curve, and that a curve may become infinitely less than
another curve; that there are infinite squares and infinite cubes, and
infinites of infinites, all greater than one another, and the last
but one of which is nothing in comparison with the last. Yet half a
century sufficed from Bacon’s time, to make this nomenclature, which
would have appeared to him the excess of frenzy, not only reasonable
but necessary, to grasp the higher demonstrations of physical

[17] Spinoza, in his letter to Oldenberg (Op. Posth. p. 398), considers
this aphorism based on a wrong conception of the origin of error,
and, believing it to be fundamental, was led to reject Bacon’s method
altogether. Spinoza refused to acknowledge in man any such thing as a
will, and resolved all his volitions into particular acts, which he
considered to be as fatally determined by a chain of physical causes as
any effects in nature.--_Ed._

[18] _Operatio spirituum in corporibus tangibilibus._ Bacon
distinguished with the schools the gross and tangible parts of bodies,
from such as were volatile and intangible. These, in conformity with
the scholastic language, he terms spirits, and frequently returns to
their operations in the 2d book.--_Ed._

[19] Democritus, of Abdera, a disciple of Leucippus, born B.C. 470,
died 360; all his works are destroyed. He is said to be the author of
the doctrine of atoms: he denied the immortality of the soul, and first
taught that the milky way was occasioned by a confused light from a
multitude of stars. He may be considered as the parent of experimental
philosophy, in the prosecution of which he was so ardent as to declare
that he would prefer the discovery of one of the causes of natural
phenomena, to the possession of the diadem of Persia. Democritus
imposed on the blind credulity of his contemporaries, and, like Roger
Bacon, astonished them by his inventions.--_Ed._

[20] The Latin is _actus purus_, another scholastic expression to
denote the action of the substance, which composes the essence of the
body apart from its accidental qualities. For an exposition of the
various kinds of motions he contemplates, the reader may refer to the
48th aphorism of the 2d book.--_Ed._

[21] The scholastics after Aristotle distinguished in a subject three
modes of beings: viz., the power or faculty, the act, and the habitude,
or in other words that which is able to exist, what exists actually,
and what continues to exist. Bacon means that is necessary to fix our
attention not on that which can or ought to be, but on that which
actually is; not on the right, but on the fact.--_Ed._

[22] The inference to be drawn from this is to suspect that kind of
evidence which is most consonant to our inclinations, and not to admit
any notion as real except we can base it firmly upon that kind of
demonstration which is peculiar to the subject, not to our impression.
Sometimes the mode of proof may be consonant to our inclinations, and
to the subject at the same time, as in the case of Pythagoras, when he
applied his beloved numbers to the solution of astronomical phenomena;
or in that of Descartes, when he reasoned geometrically concerning the
nature of the soul. Such examples cannot be censured with justice,
inasmuch as the methods pursued were adapted to the end of the inquiry.
The remark in the text can only apply to those philosophers who attempt
to build up a moral or theological system by the instruments of
induction alone, or who rush, with the geometrical axiom, and the _à
priori_ syllogism, to the investigation of nature. The means in such
cases are totally inadequate to the object in view.--_Ed._

[23] Gilbert lived toward the close of the sixteenth century, and was
court physician to both Elizabeth and James. In his work alluded to
in the text he continually asserts the advantages of the experimental
over the _à priori_ method in physical inquiry, and succeeded when
his censor failed in giving a practical example of the utility of his
precepts. His “De Magnete” contains all the fundamental parts of the
science, and these so perfectly treated, that we have nothing to add to
them at the present day.

Gilbert adopted the Copernican system, and even spoke of the contrary
theory as utterly absurd, grounding his argument on the vast velocities
which such a supposition requires us to ascribe to the heavenly

[24] The Latin text adds “without end”; but Bacon is scarcely right
in supposing that the descent from complex ideas and propositions to
those of simple nature, involve the analyst in a series of continuous
and interminable definitions. For in the gradual and analytical scale,
there is a bar beyond which we cannot go, as there is a summit bounded
by the limited variations of our conceptions. Logical definitions, to
fulfil their conditions, or indeed to be of any avail, must be given in
simpler terms than the object which is sought to be defined; now this,
in the case of primordial notions and objects of sense, is impossible;
therefore we are obliged to rest satisfied with the mere names of our

[25] The ancients supposed the planets to describe an exact circle
round the south. As observations increased and facts were disclosed,
which were irreconcilable with this supposition, the earth was removed
from the centre to some other point in the circle, and the planets were
supposed to revolve in a smaller circle (epicycle) round an imaginary
point, which in its turn described a circle of which the earth was
the centre. In proportion as observation elicited fresh facts,
contradictory to these representations, other epicycles and eccentrics
were added, involving additional confusion. Though Kepler had swept
away all these complicated theories in the preceding century, by the
demonstration of his three laws, which established the elliptical
course of the planets, Bacon regarded him and Copernicus in the same
light as Ptolemy and Xenophanes.--_Ed._

[26] Empedocles, of Agrigentum, flourished 444 B.C. He was the
disciple of Telanges the Pythagorean, and warmly adopted the doctrine
of transmigration. He resolved the universe into the four ordinary
elements, the principles of whose composition were life and happiness,
or concord and amity, but whose decomposition brought forth death and
evil, or discord and hatred. Heraclitus held matter to be indifferent
to any peculiar form, but as it became rarer or more dense, it took the
appearance of fire, air, earth and water. Fire, however, he believed to
be the elementary principle out of which the others were evolved. This
was also the belief of Lucretius. See book i. 783, etc.

[27] It is thus the Vulcanists and Neptunians have framed their
opposite theories in geology. Phrenology is a modern instance of hasty

[28] In Scripture everything which concerns the passing interests of
the body is called dead; the only living knowledge having regard to the
eternal interest of the soul.--_Ed._

[29] In mechanics and the general sciences, causes compound their
effects, or in other words, it is generally possible to deduce _à
priori_ the consequence of introducing complex agencies into any
experiment, by allowing for the effect of each of the simple causes
which enter into their composition. In chemistry and physiology a
contrary law holds; the causes which they embody generally uniting
to form distinct substances, and to introduce unforeseen laws and
combinations. The deductive method here is consequently inapplicable,
and we are forced back upon experiment.

Bacon in the text is hardly consistent with himself, as he admits in
the second book the doctrine, to which modern discovery points, of the
reciprocal transmutation of the elements. What seemed poetic fiction
in the theories of Pythagoras and Seneca, assumes the appearance of
scientific fact in the hands of Baron Caynard.--_Ed._

[30] Galileo had recently adopted the notion that nature abhorred a
vacuum for an axiomatic principle, and it was not till Torricelli, his
disciple, had given practical proof of the utility of Bacon’s method,
by the discovery of the barometer (1643) that this error, as also that
expressed below, and believed by Bacon, concerning the homœopathic
tendencies of bodies, was destroyed.--_Ed._

[31] _Donec ad materiam potentialem et informem ventum fuerit._ Nearly
all the ancient philosophers admitted the existence of a certain
primitive and shapeless matter as the substratum of things which the
creative power had reduced to fixed proportions, and resolved into
specific substances. The expression potential matter refers to that
substance forming the basis of the Peripatetic system, which virtually
contained all the forms that it was in the power of the efficient cause
to draw out of it.--_Ed._

[32] An allusion to the humanity of the _Sultans_, who, in their
earlier histories are represented as signalizing their accession to
the throne by the destruction of their family, to remove the danger of
rivalry and the terrors of civil war.--_Ed._

[33] The text is “in odium veterum sophistarum, Protagoræ, Hippiæ,
et reliquorum.” Those were called sophists, who, _ostentationis aut
questus causa philosophabantur_. (Acad. Prior. ii. 72.) They had
corrupted and degraded philosophy before Socrates. Protagoras of
Abdera (Ἄβδηρα), the most celebrated, taught that man is the measure
of all things, by which he meant not only that all which can be known
is known only as it related to our faculties, but also that apart from
our faculties nothing can be known. The sceptics equally held that
knowledge was probable only as it related to our faculties, but they
stopped there, and did not, like the sophist, dogmatize about the
unknown. The works of Protagoras were condemned for their impiety, and
publicly burned by the ædiles of Athens, who appear to have discharged
the office of common hangmen to the literary blasphemers of their

[34] Bacon is hardly correct in implying that the _enumerationem
per simplicem_ was the only light in which the ancients looked upon
induction, as they appear to have regarded it as only one, and that
the least important, of its species. Aristotle expressly considers
induction in a perfect or dialectic sense, and in an imperfect or
rhetorical sense. Thus if a genus (=G=), contains four species (=A=,
=B=, =C=, =D=), the syllogism would lead us to infer, that what is true
of =G=, is true of any one of the four. But perfect induction would
reason, that what we can prove of =A=, =B=, =C=, =D=, separately, we
may properly state as true of =G=, the whole genus. This is evidently
a formal argument as demonstrative as the syllogism. In necessary
matters, however, legitimate induction may claim a wider province,
and infer of the whole genus what is only apparent in a part of
the species. Such are those inductive inferences which concern the
laws of nature, the immutability of forms, by which Bacon strove to
erect his new system of philosophy. The Stagyrite, however, looked
upon _enumerationem per simplicem_, without any regard to the nature
of the matter, or to the completeness of the species, with as much
reprehensive caution as Bacon, and guarded his readers against it as
the source of innumerable errors.--_Ed._

[35] See Ax. lxi. toward the end. This subject extends to Ax. lxxviii.

[36] Gorgias of Leontium went to Athens in 424 B.C. He and Polus were
disciples of Empedocles, whom we have already noticed (Aphorism 63),
where he sustained the three famous propositions, that nothing exists,
that nothing can be known, and that it is out of the power of man
to transmit or communicate intelligence. He is reckoned one of the
earliest writers on the art of rhetoric, and for that reason, Plato
called his elegant dialogue on that subject after his name.

[37] Chrysippus, a stoic philosopher of Soli in Cilicia, Campestris,
born in 280, died in the 143d Olympiad, 208 B.C. He was equally
distinguished for natural abilities and industry, seldom suffering
a day to elapse without writing 500 lines. He wrote several hundred
volumes, of which three hundred were on logical subjects; but in all,
borrowed largely from others. He was very fond of the _sorites_ in
argument, which is hence called by Persius the heap of Chrysippus.
He was called the Column of the Portico, a name given to the Stoical
School from Zeno, its founder, who had given his lessons under the

Carneades, born about 215, died in 130. He attached himself to
Chrysippus, and sustained with _éclat_ the scepticism of the academy.
The Athenians sent him with Critolaus and Diogenes as ambassador
to Rome, where he attracted the attention of his new auditory by
the subtilty of his reasoning, and the fluency and vehemence of his
language. Before Galba and Cato the Censor, he harangued with great
variety of thought and copiousness of diction in praise of justice.
The next day, to establish his doctrine of the uncertainty of human
knowledge, he undertook to refute all his arguments. He maintained
with the New Academy, that the senses, the imagination, and the
understanding frequently deceive us, and therefore cannot be infallible
judges of truth, but that from the impressions produced on the mind by
means of the senses, we infer appearances of truth or probabilities.
Nevertheless, with respect to the conduct of life, Carneades held that
probable opinions are a sufficient guide.

Xenophanes, a Greek philosopher, of Colophon, born in 556, the founder
of the Eleatic school, which owes its fame principally to Parmenides.
Wild in his opinions about astronomy, he supposed that the stars were
extinguished every morning, and rekindled at night; that eclipses were
occasioned by the temporary extinction of the sun, and that there were
several suns for the convenience of the different climates of the
earth. Yet this man held the chair of philosophy at Athens for seventy

Philolaus, a Pythagorean philosopher of Crotona, B.C. 374. He first
supported the diurnal motion of the earth round its axis, and its
annual motion round the sun. Cicero (Acad. iv. 39) has ascribed this
opinion to the Syracusan philosopher Nicetas, and likewise to Plato.
From this passage, it is most probable that Copernicus got the idea of
the system he afterward established. Bacon, in the Advancement of Human
Learning, charges Gilbert with restoring the doctrines of Philolaus,
because he ventured to support the Copernican theory.--_Ed._

[38] Bacon is equally conspicuous for the use and abuse of analogical
illustrations. The levity, as Stuart Mill very properly observes, by
which substances float on a stream, and the levity which is synonymous
with worthlessness, have nothing beside the name in common; and to
show how little value there is in the figure, we need only change the
word into buoyancy, to turn the semblance of Bacon’s argument against

[39] We have before observed, that the New Academy did not profess
skepticism, but the ἀκατάληψια, or incomprehensibility of the absolute
essences of things. Even modern physicists are not wanting, to assert
with this school that the utmost knowledge we can obtain is relative,
and necessarily short of absolute certainty. It is not without an
appearance of truth that these philosophers maintain that our ideas
and perceptions do not express the nature of the things which they
represent, but only the effects of the peculiar organs by which they
are conveyed to the understanding, so that were these organs changed,
we should have different conceptions of their nature. That constitution
of air which is dark to man is luminous to bats and owls.

[40] Owing to the universal prevalence of Aristotelism.

[41] It must be remembered, that when Bacon wrote, algebra was in its
infancy, and the doctrine of units and infinitesimals undiscovered.

[42] Because the vulgar make up the overwhelming majority in such
decisions, and generally allow their judgments to be swayed by passion
or prejudice.

[43] See end of Axiom lxi. The subject extends to Axiom xc.

[44] If we adopt the statement of Herodotus, who places the Homeric
era 400 years back from his time, Homer lived about 900 years before
Christ. On adding this number to the sixteen centuries of the Christian
era which had elapsed up to Bacon’s time, we get the twenty-five
centuries he mentions. The Homeric epoch is the furthest point in
antiquity from which Bacon could reckon with any degree of certainty.
Hesiod, if he were not contemporary, immediately preceded him.

The epoch of Greek philosophy may be included between Thales and
Plato, that is, from the 35th to the 88th Olympiad; that of the Roman,
between Terence and Pliny. The modern revolution, in which Bacon is
one of the central figures, took its rise from the time of Dante and
Petrarch, who lived at the commencement of the fourteenth century; and
to which, on account of the invention of printing, and the universal
spread of literature, which has rendered a second destruction of
learning impossible, it is difficult to foresee any other end than the
extinction of the race of man.--_Ed._

[45] The allusion is evidently to Roger Bacon and Réné Descartes.--_Ed._

[46] From the abuse of the scholastics, who mistook the _à priori_
method, the deductive syllogism, for the entire province of

[47] See Aphorism xcv.

[48] The incongruity to which Bacon alludes appears to spring from
confounding two things, which are not only distinct, but affect human
knowledge in inverse proportion, viz., the experience which terminates
with life, with that experience which one century transmits to

[49] The Chinese characters resemble, in many respects, the
hieroglyphics of the Egyptians, being adapted to represent ideas, not

[50] See Axiom 75.

[51] The methods by which Newton carried the rule and compass to the
boundaries of creation is a sufficient comment on the sagacity of the
text. The same cause which globulizes a bubble, has rounded the earth,
and the same law which draws a stone to its surface, keeps the moon in
her orbit. It was by calculating and ascertaining these principles upon
substances entirely at his disposal that this great philosopher was
enabled to give us a key to unlock the mysteries of the universe.--_Ed._

[52] See the “Clouds” of Aristophanes, where Socrates is represented as
chasing Jupiter out of the sky, by resolving thunderstorms into aërial
concussions and whirlwinds.--_Ed._

[53] Robespierre was the latest victim of this bigotry. In his younger
days he attempted to introduce Franklin’s lightning conductor into
France, but was persecuted by those whose lives he sought to protect,
as one audaciously striving to avert the designs of Providence.--_Ed._

[54] We can hardly agree with the text. The scholastics, in building
up a system of divinity, certainly had recourse to the deductive
syllogism, because the inductive was totally inapplicable, except as
a verificatory process. With regard to the technical form in which
they marshalled their arguments, which is what our author aims at in
his censure, they owed nothing at all to Aristotle, the conducting a
dispute in naked syllogistic fashion having originated entirely with

[55] Bacon cannot be supposed to allude to those divines who have
attempted to show that the progress of physical science is confirmatory
of revelation, but only to such as have built up a system of faith out
of their own refinements on nature and revelation, as Patricius and
Emanuel Swedenborg.--_Ed._

[56] Daniel xii. 4.

[57] Bacon, in this Aphorism, appears to have entertained a fair
idea of the use of the inductive and deductive methods in scientific
inquiry, though his want of geometrical knowledge must have hindered
him from accurately determining the precise functions of each, as
it certainly led him in other parts of the Organon (V. Aph. 82), to
undervalue the deductive, and, as he calls it, the dogmatic method, and
to rely too much upon empiricism.--_Ed._

[58] The reader may consult the note of the 23d Aphorism for the fault
which Bacon censures, and, if he wish to pursue the subject further,
may read Plato’s Timæus, where that philosopher explains his system
in detail. Bacon, however, is hardly consistent in one part of his
censure, for he also talks about the spirit and appetites of inanimate
substances, and that so frequently, as to preclude the supposition that
he is employing metaphor.--_Ed._

[59] Proclus flourished about the beginning of the fifth century,
and was the successor of Plotinus, Porphyry and Iamblicus, who, in
the two preceding centuries, had revived the doctrines of Plato, and
assailed the Christian religion. The allusion in the text must be
assigned to Iamblicus, who, in the fourth century, had republished
the Pythagorean theology of numbers, and endeavored to construct the
world out of arithmetic, thinking everything could be solved by the
aid of proportions and geometry. Bacon must not be understood in the
text to censure the use but the abuse of mathematics and physical
investigations, as in the “De Augmentis” (lib. iv. c. 6), he enumerates
the multiplicity of demonstration scientific facts admit of, from this

[60] See Livy, lib. ix. c. 17, where, in a digression on the probable
effect of a contest between Rome and Alexander the Great, he says: “Non
cum Dario rem esse dixisset: quem mulierum ac spadonum agmen trahentem
inter purpuram atque aurum, oneratum fortunæ apparatibus, prædam
veriùs quam hostem, nihil aliud quam ausus vana contemnere, incruentus

[61] The lowest axioms are such as spring from simple experience--such
as in chemistry, that animal substances yield no fixed salt by
calcination; in music, that concords intermixed with discords make
harmony, etc. Intermediate axioms advance a step further, being the
result of reflection, which, applied to our experimental knowledge,
deduces laws from them, such as in optics of the first degree of
generality, that the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of
reflection; and in mechanics, Kepler’s three laws of motion, while
his general law, that all bodies attract each other with forces
proportional to their masses, and inversely as the squares of their
distances, may be taken as one of the highest axioms. Yet so far is
this principle from being only notional or abstract, it has presented
us with a key which fits into the intricate wards of the heavens, and
has laid bare to our gaze the principal mechanism of the universe.
But natural philosophy in Bacon’s day had not advanced beyond
intermediate axioms, and the term notional or abstract is applied to
those general axioms then current, not founded on the solid principles
of inductive inquiry, but based upon _à priori_ reasoning and airy

[62] This hope has been abundantly realized in the discovery of gravity
and the decomposition of light, mainly by the inductive method. To a
better philosophy we may also attribute the discovery of electricity,
galvanism and their mutual connection with each other, and magnetism,
the inventions of the air-pump, steam-engine and the chronometer.

[63] As Bacon very frequently cites these authors, a slight notice
of their labors may not be unacceptable to the reader. Bernardinus
Telesius, born at Cosenza, in 1508, combated the Aristotelian system
in a work entitled “De Rerum Natura juxta propria principia,” _i.e._,
according to principles of his own. The proem of the work announces his
design was to show that “the construction of the world, the magnitude
and nature of the bodies contained in it, are not to be investigated by
reasoning, which was done by the ancients, but are to be apprehended
by the senses, and collected from the things themselves.” He had,
however, no sooner laid down this principle than he departed from it
in practice, and pursued the deductive method he so much condemned in
his predecessors. His first step was an assumption of principles as
arbitrary as any of the empirical notions of antiquity; at the outset
of his book he very quietly takes it for granted that heat is the
principle of motion, cold of immobility, matter being assumed as the
corporeal substratum, in which these incorporeal and active agents
carry on their operations. Out of these abstract and ill-defined
conceptions Telesius builds up a system quite as complete, symmetrical,
and imaginative as any of the structures of antiquity.

Francis Patricius, born at Cherso, in Dalmatia, about 1529, was another
physicist who rose up against Aristotle, and announced the dawn of a
new philosophy. In 1593 appeared his “Nova de Universis Philosophia.”
He lays down a string of axioms, in which scholastic notions, physical
discoveries, and theological dogmas, are strangely commingled, and
erects upon them a system which represents all the grotesque features
of theological empiricism.

Severinus, born in Jutland, in 1529, published an attack on Aristotle’s
natural history, but adopted fantasies which the Stagyrite ridiculed
in his own day. He was a follower of Paracelsus, a Swiss enthusiast
of the fifteenth century, who ignored the ancient doctrine of the
four elements for salt, sulphur and mercury, and allied chemistry and
medicine with mysticism.--_Ed._

[64] Bacon’s apology is sound, and completely answers those German
and French critics, who have refused him a niche in the philosophical
pantheon. One German commentator, too modest to reveal his name,
accuses Bacon of ignorance of the calculus, though, in his day, Wallis
had not yet stumbled upon the laws of continuous fractions; while
Count de Maistre, in a coarse attack upon his genius, expresses his
astonishment at finding Bacon unacquainted with discoveries which were
not heard of till a century after his death.--_Ed._

[65] Philip of Macedon.

[66] See Plato’s Timæus.

[67] The saying of Philocrates when he differed from Demosthenes.--_Ed._

[68] The old error of placing the deductive syllogism in antagonism to
the inductive, as if they were not both parts of one system or refused
to cohere together. So far from there being any radical opposition
between them, it would not be difficult to show that Bacon’s method
was syllogistic in his sense of the term. For the suppressed premise
of every Baconian enthymeme, viz., the acknowledged uniformity of the
laws of nature as stated in the axiom, whatever has once occurred will
occur again, must be assumed as the basis of every conclusion which he
draws before we can admit its legitimacy. The opposition, therefore,
of Bacon’s method could not be directed against the old logic, for
it assumed and exemplified its principles, but rather to the abusive
application which the ancients made of this science, on turning its
powers to the development of abstract principles which they imagined
to be pregnant with the solution of the latent mysteries of the
universe. Bacon justly overthrew these ideal notions, and accepted of
no principle as a basis which was not guaranteed by actual experiment
and observation; and so far he laid the foundations of a sound
philosophy by turning the inductive logic to its proper account in the
interpretation of nature.

[69] This is the opening of the Sixth Book of Lucretius. Bacon probably
quoted from memory; the lines are--

  “Primæ frugiferos fœtus mortalibus ægris
   Dididerunt quondam præclaro nomine Athenæ
   Et recreaverunt,” etc.

   The teeming corn, that feeble mortals crave,
   First, and long since, renowned Athens gave,
   And cheered their life--then taught to frame their laws.

[70] Prov. xxv. 2.



I. To generate and superinduce a new nature or new natures, upon a
given body, is the labor and aim of human power: while to discover the
form or true difference of a given nature, or the nature[71] to which
such nature is owing, or source from which it emanates (for these terms
approach nearest to an explanation of our meaning), is the labor and
discovery of human knowledge; and subordinate to these primary labors
are two others of a secondary nature and inferior stamp. Under the
first must be ranked the transformation of concrete bodies from one to
another, which is possible within certain limits; under the second, the
discovery, in every species of generation and motion, of the latent
and uninterrupted process from the manifest efficient and manifest
subject matter up to the given form: and a like discovery of the latent
conformation of bodies which are at rest instead of being in motion.

II. The unhappy state of man’s actual knowledge is manifested even
by the common assertions of the vulgar. It is rightly laid down that
true knowledge is that which is deduced from causes. The division of
four causes also is not amiss: matter, form, the efficient, and end
or final cause.[72] Of these, however, the latter is so far from
being beneficial, that it even corrupts the sciences, except in the
intercourse of man with man. The discovery of form is considered
desperate. As for the efficient cause and matter (according to the
present system of inquiry and the received opinions concerning them,
by which they are placed remote from, and without any latent process
toward form), they are but desultory and superficial, and of scarcely
any avail to real and active knowledge. Nor are we unmindful of our
having pointed out and corrected above the error of the human mind, in
assigning the first qualities of essence to forms.[73] For although
nothing exists in nature except individual bodies,[74] exhibiting clear
individual effects according to particular laws, yet in each branch of
learning, that very law, its investigation, discovery, and development,
are the foundation both of theory and practice. This law, therefore,
and its parallel in each science, is what we understand by the term
form,[75] adopting that word because it has grown into common use, and
is of familiar occurrence.

III. He who has learned the cause of a particular nature (such as
whiteness or heat), in particular subjects only, has acquired but
an imperfect knowledge: as he who can induce a certain effect upon
particular substances only, among those which are susceptible of it,
has acquired but an imperfect power. But he who has only learned the
efficient and material cause (which causes are variable and mere
vehicles conveying form to particular substances) may perhaps arrive
at some new discoveries in matters of a similar nature, and prepared
for the purpose, but does not stir the limits of things which are much
more deeply rooted; while he who is acquainted with forms, comprehends
the unity of nature in substances apparently most distinct from each
other. He can disclose and bring forward, therefore (though it has
never yet been done), things which neither the vicissitudes of nature,
nor the industry of experiment, nor chance itself, would ever have
brought about, and which would forever have escaped man’s thoughts;
from the discovery of forms, therefore, results genuine theory and free

IV. Although there is a most intimate connection, and almost an
identity between the ways of human power and human knowledge, yet,
on account of the pernicious and inveterate habit of dwelling upon
abstractions, it is by far the safest method to commence and build
up the sciences from those foundations which bear a relation to the
practical division, and to let them mark out and limit the theoretical.
We must consider, therefore, what precepts, or what direction or guide,
a person would most desire, in order to generate and superinduce any
nature upon a given body: and this not in abstruse, but in the plainest

For instance, if a person should wish to superinduce the yellow color
of gold upon silver, or an additional weight (observing always the laws
of matter) or transparency on an opaque stone, or tenacity in glass,
or vegetation on a substance which is not vegetable, we must (I say)
consider what species of precept or guide this person would prefer.
And, first, he will doubtless be anxious to be shown some method that
will neither fail in effect, nor deceive him in the trial of it;
secondly, he will be anxious that the prescribed method should not
restrict him and tie him down to peculiar means, and certain particular
methods of acting; for he will, perhaps, be at loss, and without the
power or opportunity of collecting and procuring such means. Now if
there be other means and methods (besides those prescribed) of creating
such a nature, they will perhaps be of such a kind as are in his
power, yet by the confined limits of the precept he will be deprived
of reaping any advantage from them; thirdly, he will be anxious to be
shown something not so difficult as the required effect itself, but
approaching more nearly to practice.

We will lay this down, therefore, as the genuine and perfect rule of
practice, that it should be certain, free and preparatory, or having
relation to practice. And this is the same thing as the discovery of a
true form; for the form of any nature is such, that when it is assigned
the particular nature infallibly follows. It is, therefore, always
present when that nature is present, and universally attests such
presence, and is inherent in the whole of it. The same form is of such
a character, that if it be removed the particular nature infallibly
vanishes. It is, therefore, absent, whenever that nature is absent,
and perpetually testifies such absence, and exists in no other nature.
Lastly, the true form is such, that it deduces the particular nature
from some source of essence existing in many subjects, and more known
(as they term it) to nature, than the form itself. Such, then, is our
determination and rule with regard to a genuine and perfect theoretical
axiom, that a nature be found convertible with a given nature, and yet
such as to limit the more known nature, in the manner of a real genus.
But these two rules, the practical and theoretical, are in fact the
same, and that which is most useful in practice is most correct in

V. But the rule or axiom for the transformation of bodies is of two
kinds. The first regards the body as an aggregate or combination of
simple natures. Thus, in gold are united the following circumstances:
it is yellow, heavy, of a certain weight, malleable and ductile to a
certain extent; it is not volatile, loses part of its substance by
fire, melts in a particular manner, is separated and dissolved by
particular methods, and so of the other natures observable in gold.
An axiom, therefore, of this kind deduces the subject from the forms
of simple natures; for he who has acquired the forms and methods of
superinducing yellowness, weight, ductility, stability, deliquescence,
solution, and the like, and their degrees and modes, will consider and
contrive how to unite them in any body, so as to transform[76] it into
gold. And this method of operating belongs to primary action; for it is
the same thing to produce one or many simple natures, except that man
is more confined and restricted in his operations, if many be required,
on account of the difficulty of uniting many natures together. It must,
however, be observed, that this method of operating (which considers
natures as simple though in a concrete body) sets out from what is
constant, eternal, and universal in nature, and opens such broad paths
to human power, as the thoughts of man can in the present state of
things scarcely comprehend or figure to itself.

The second kind of axiom (which depends on the discovery of the latent
process) does not proceed by simple natures, but by concrete bodies,
as they are found in nature and in its usual course. For instance,
suppose the inquiry to be, from what beginnings, in what manner, and by
what process gold or any metal or stone is generated from the original
menstruum, or its elements, up to the perfect mineral: or, in like
manner, by what process plants are generated, from the first concretion
of juices in the earth, or from seeds, up to the perfect plant, with
the whole successive motion, and varied and uninterrupted efforts of
nature; and the same inquiry be made as to a regularly deduced system
of the generation of animals from coition to birth, and so on of other

Nor is this species of inquiry confined to the mere generation of
bodies, but it is applicable to other changes and labors of nature.
For instance, where an inquiry is made into the whole series and
continued operation of the nutritive process, from the first reception
of the food to its complete assimilation to the recipient;[77] or
into the voluntary motion of animals, from the first impression of
the imagination, and the continuous effects of the spirits, up to the
bending and motion of the joints; or into the free motion of the tongue
and lips, and other accessories which give utterance to articulate
sounds. For all these investigations relate to concrete or associated
natures artificially brought together, and take into consideration
certain particular and special habits of nature, and not those
fundamental and general laws which constitute forms. It must, however,
be plainly owned, that this method appears more prompt and easy, and of
greater promise than the primary one.

In like manner the operative branch, which answers to this
contemplative branch, extends and advances its operation from that
which is usually observed in nature, to other subjects immediately
connected with it, or not very remote from such immediate connection.
But the higher and radical operations upon nature depend entirely
on the primary axioms. Besides, even where man has not the means
of acting, but only of acquiring knowledge, as in astronomy (for
man cannot act upon, change, or transform the heavenly bodies), the
investigation of facts or truth, as well as the knowledge of causes
and coincidences, must be referred to those primary and universal
axioms that regard simple natures; such as the nature of spontaneous
rotation, attraction, or the magnetic force, and many others which
are more common than the heavenly bodies themselves. For let no one
hope to determine the question whether the earth or heaven revolve in
the diurnal motion, unless he have first comprehended the nature of
spontaneous rotation.

VI. But the latent process of which we speak, is far from being obvious
to men’s minds, beset as they now are. For we mean not the measures,
symptoms, or degrees of any process which can be exhibited in the
bodies themselves, but simply a continued process, which, for the most
part, escapes the observation of the senses.

For instance, in all generations and transformations of bodies, we must
inquire, what is in the act of being lost and escaping, what remains,
what is being added, what is being diluted, what is being contracted,
what is being united, what is being separated, what is continuous, what
is broken off, what is urging forward, what impedes, what predominates,
what is subservient, and many other circumstances.

Nor are these inquiries again to be made in the mere generation
and transformation of bodies only, but in all other alterations and
fluctuations we must in like manner inquire; what precedes, what
succeeds, what is quick, what is slow, what produces and what governs
motion, and the like. All which matters are unknown and unattempted by
the sciences, in their present heavy and inactive state. For, since
every natural act is brought about by the smallest efforts,[78] or at
least such as are too small to strike our senses, let no one hope that
he will be able to direct or change nature unless he have properly
comprehended and observed these efforts.

VII. In like manner, the investigation and discovery of the latent
conformation in bodies is no less new, than the discovery of the
latent process and form. For we as yet are doubtless only admitted to
the antechamber of nature, and do not prepare an entrance into her
presence-room. But nobody can endue a given body with a new nature, or
transform it successfully and appropriately into a new body, without
possessing a complete knowledge of the body so to be changed or
transformed. For he will run into vain, or, at least, into difficult
and perverse methods, ill adapted to the nature of the body upon which
he operates. A clear path, therefore, toward this object also must be
thrown open, and well supported.

Labor is well and usefully bestowed upon the anatomy of organized
bodies, such as those of men and animals, which appears to be a subtile
matter, and a useful examination of nature. The species of anatomy,
however, is that of first sight, open to the senses, and takes place
only in organized bodies. It is obvious, and of ready access, when
compared with the real anatomy of latent conformation in bodies which
are considered similar, particularly in specific objects and their
parts; as those of iron, stone, and the similar parts of plants and
animals, as the root, the leaf, the flower, the flesh, the blood,
and bones, etc. Yet human industry has not completely neglected this
species of anatomy; for we have an instance of it in the separation of
similar bodies by distillation, and other solutions, which shows the
dissimilarity of the compound by the union of the homogeneous parts.
These methods are useful, and of importance to our inquiry, although
attended generally with fallacy: for many natures are assigned and
attributed to the separate bodies, as if they had previously existed in
the compound, which, in reality, are recently bestowed and superinduced
by fire and heat, and the other modes of separation. Besides, it is,
after all, but a small part of the labor of discovering the real
conformation in the compound, which is so subtile and nice, that it is
rather confused and lost by the operation of the fire, than discovered
and brought to light.

A separation and solution of bodies, therefore, is to be effected, not
by fire indeed, but rather by reasoning and true induction, with the
assistance of experiment, and by a comparison with other bodies, and a
reduction to those simple natures and their forms which meet, and are
combined in the compound; and we must assuredly pass from Vulcan to
Minerva, if we wish to bring to light the real texture and conformation
of bodies, upon which every occult and (as it is sometimes called)
specific property and virtue of things depends, and whence also every
rule of powerful change and transformation is deduced.

For instance, we must examine what spirit is in every body,[79]
what tangible essence; whether that spirit is copious and exuberant,
or meagre and scarce, fine or coarse, aëriform or igniform, active
or sluggish, weak or robust, progressive or retrograde, abrupt or
continuous, agreeing with external and surrounding objects, or
differing from them, etc. In like manner must we treat tangible essence
(which admits of as many distinctions as the spirit), and its hairs,
fibres, and varied texture. Again, the situation of the spirit in
the corporeal mass, its pores, passages, veins, and cells, and the
rudiments or first essays of the organic body, are subject to the
same examination. In these, however, as in our former inquiries, and
therefore in the whole investigation of latent conformation, the only
genuine and clear light which completely dispels all darkness and
subtile difficulties, is admitted by means of the primary axioms.

VIII. This method will not bring us to atoms,[80] which takes for
granted the vacuum, and immutability of matter (neither of which
hypotheses is correct), but to the real particles such as we discover
them to be. Nor is there any ground for alarm at this refinement
as if it were inexplicable, for, on the contrary, the more inquiry
is directed to simple natures, the more will everything be placed
in a plain and perspicuous light, since we transfer our attention
from the complicated to the simple, from the incommensurable to
the commensurable, from surds to rational quantities, from the
indefinite and vague to the definite and certain; as when we arrive
at the elements of letters, and the simple tones of concords. The
investigation of nature is best conducted when mathematics are applied
to physics. Again, let none be alarmed at vast numbers and fractions,
for in calculation it is as easy to set down or to reflect upon a
thousand as a unit, or the thousandth part of an integer as an integer

IX.[81] From the two kinds of axioms above specified, arise the two
divisions of philosophy and the sciences, and we will use the commonly
adopted terms which approach the nearest to our meaning, in our own
sense. Let the investigation of forms, which (in reasoning at least,
and after their own laws), are eternal and immutable, constitute
metaphysics,[82] and let the investigation of the efficient cause of
matter, latent process, and latent conformation (which all relate
merely to the ordinary course of nature, and not to her fundamental and
eternal laws), constitute physics. Parallel to these, let there be two
practical divisions; to physics that of mechanics, and to metaphysics
that of magic, in the purest sense of the term, as applied to its ample
means, and its command over nature.

X. The object of our philosophy being thus laid down, we proceed to
precepts, in the most clear and regular order. The signs for the
interpretation of nature comprehend two divisions; the first regards
the eliciting or creating of axioms from experiment, the second the
deducing or deriving of new experiments from axioms. The first admits
of three subdivisions into ministrations. 1. To the senses. 2. To the
memory. 3. To the mind or reason.

For we must first prepare as a foundation for the whole, a complete
and accurate natural and experimental history. We must not imagine or
invent, but discover the acts and properties of nature.

But natural and experimental history is so varied and diffuse, that
it confounds and distracts the understanding unless it be fixed
and exhibited in due order. We must, therefore, form tables and
co-ordinations of instances, upon such a plan, and in such order that
the understanding may be enabled to act upon them.

Even when this is done, the understanding, left to itself and to its
own operation, is incompetent and unfit to construct its axioms without
direction and support. Our third ministration, therefore, must be true
and legitimate induction, the very key of interpretation. We must
begin, however, at the end, and go back again to the others.

XI. The investigation of forms proceeds thus: a nature being given, we
must first present to the understanding all the known instances which
agree in the same nature, although the subject matter be considerably
diversified. And this collection must be made as a mere history, and
without any premature reflection, or too great degree of refinement.
For instance; take the investigation of the form of heat.

_Instances agreeing in the Form of Heat_

1. The rays of the sun, particularly in summer, and at noon.

2. The same reflected and condensed, as between mountains, or along
walls, and particularly in burning mirrors.

3. Ignited meteors.

4. Burning lightning.

5. Eruptions of flames from the cavities of mountains, etc.

6. Flame of every kind.

7. Ignited solids.

8. Natural warm baths.

9. Warm or heated liquids.

10. Warm vapors and smoke; and the air itself, which admits a most
powerful and violent heat if confined, as in reverberating furnaces.

11. Damp hot weather, arising from the constitution of the air, without
any reference to the time of the year.

12. Confined and subterraneous air in some caverns, particularly in

13. All shaggy substances, as wool, the skins of animals, and the
plumage of birds, contain some heat.

14. All bodies, both solid and liquid, dense and rare (as the air
itself), placed near fire for any time.

15. Sparks arising from the violent percussion of flint and steel.

16. All bodies rubbed violently, as stone, wood, cloth, etc., so that
rudders, and axles of wheels, sometimes catch fire, and the West
Indians obtain fire by attrition.

17. Green and moist vegetable matter confined and rubbed together,
as roses, peas in baskets; so hay, if it be damp when stacked, often
catches fire.

18. Quicklime sprinkled with water.

19. Iron, when first dissolved by acids in a glass, and without any
application to fire; the same of tin, but not so intensely.

20. Animals, particularly internally; although the heat is not
perceivable by the touch in insects, on account of their small size.

21. Horse dung, and the like excrement from other animals, when fresh.

22. Strong oil of sulphur and of vitriol exhibit the operation of heat
in burning linen.

23. As does the oil of marjoram, and like substances, in burning the
bony substance of the teeth.

24. Strong and well rectified spirits of wine exhibit the same effects;
so that white of eggs when thrown into it grows hard and white, almost
in the same manner as when boiled, and bread becomes burned and brown
as if toasted.

25. Aromatic substances and warm plants, as the dracunculus [arum], old
nasturtium, etc., which, though they be not warm to the touch (whether
whole or pulverized), yet are discovered by the tongue and palate to be
warm and almost burning when slightly masticated.

26. Strong vinegar and all acids, on any part of the body not clothed
with the epidermis, as the eye, tongue, or any wounded part, or where
the skin is removed, excite a pain differing but little from that
produced by heat.

27. Even a severe and intense cold produces a sensation of burning.[83]

  “Nec Boreæ penetrabile frigus adurit.”

28. Other instances.

We are wont to call this a table of existence and presence.

XII. We must next present to the understanding instances which do not
admit of the given nature, for form (as we have observed) ought no less
to be absent where the given nature is absent, than to be present where
it is present. If, however, we were to examine every instance, our
labor would be infinite.

Negatives, therefore, must be classed under the affirmatives, and the
want of the given nature must be inquired into more particularly in
objects which have a very close connection with those others in which
it is present and manifest. And this we are wont to term a table of
deviation or of absence in proximity.

_Proximate Instances wanting the Nature of Heat_

The rays of the moon, stars, and comets, are not found to be warm to
the touch, nay, the severest cold has been observed to take place
at the full of the moon. Yet the larger fixed stars are supposed to
increase and render more intense the heat of the sun, as he approaches
them, when the sun is in the sign of the Lion, for instance, and in the

The rays of the sun in what is called the middle region of the air
give no heat, to account for which the commonly assigned reason is
satisfactory; namely, that that region is neither sufficiently near to
the body of the sun whence the rays emanate, nor to the earth whence
they are reflected. And the fact is manifested by snow being perpetual
on the tops of mountains, unless extremely lofty. But it is observed,
on the other hand, by some, that at the Peak of Teneriffe, and also
among the Andes of Peru, the tops of the mountains are free from snow,
which only lies in the lower part as you ascend. Besides, the air on
the summit of these mountains is found to be by no means cold, but only
thin and sharp; so much so, that in the Andes it pricks and hurts the
eyes from its extreme sharpness, and even excites the orifice of the
stomach and produces vomiting. The ancients also observed, that the
rarity of the air on the summit of Olympus was such, that those who
ascended it were obliged to carry sponges moistened with vinegar and
water, and to apply them now and then to their nostrils, as the air was
not dense enough for their respiration; on the summit of which mountain
it is also related, there reigned so great a serenity and calm, free
from rain, snow, or wind, that the letters traced upon the ashes of the
sacrifices on the altar of Jupiter, by the fingers of those who had
offered them, would remain undisturbed till the next year. Those even,
who at this day go to the top of the Peak of Teneriffe, walk by night
and not in the daytime, and are advised and pressed by their guides, as
soon as the sun rises, to make haste in their descent, on account of
the danger (apparently arising from the rarity of the atmosphere), lest
their breathing should be relaxed and suffocated.[85]

The reflection of the solar rays in the polar regions is found to
be weak and inefficient in producing heat, so that the Dutch, who
wintered in Nova Zembla, and expected that their vessel would be
freed about the beginning of July from the obstruction of the mass of
ice which had blocked it up, were disappointed and obliged to embark
in their boat. Hence the direct rays of the sun appear to have but
little power even on the plain, and when reflected, unless they are
multiplied and condensed, which takes place when the sun tends more
to the perpendicular; for, then, the incidence of the rays occurs at
more acute angles, so that the reflected rays are nearer to each other,
while, on the contrary, when the sun is in a very oblique position,
the angles of incidence are very obtuse, and the reflected rays at a
greater distance. In the meantime it must be observed, that there may
be many operations of the solar rays, relating, too, to the nature of
heat, which are not proportioned to our touch, so that, with regard to
us, they do not tend to produce warmth, but, with regard to some other
bodies, have their due effect in producing it.

Let the following experiment be made. Take a lens the reverse of a
burning-glass, and place it between the hand and the solar rays, and
observe whether it diminish the heat of the sun as a burning-glass
increases it. For it is clear, with regard to the visual rays, that in
proportion as the lens is made of unequal thickness in the middle and
at its sides, the images appear either more diffused or contracted. It
should be seen, therefore, if the same be true with regard to heat.

Let the experiment be well tried, whether the lunar rays can be
received and collected by the strongest and best burning-glasses, so as
to produce even the least degree of heat.[86] But if that degree be,
perhaps, so subtile and weak, as not to be perceived or ascertained
by the touch, we must have recourse to those glasses which indicate
the warm or cold state of the atmosphere, and let the lunar rays fall
through the burning-glass on the top of this thermometer, and then
notice if the water be depressed by the heat.[87]

Let the burning-glass be tried on warm objects which emit no luminous
rays, as heated but not ignited iron or stone, or hot water, or the
like; and observe whether the heat become increased and condensed, as
happens with the solar rays.

Let it be tried on common flame.

The effect of comets (if we can reckon them among meteors[88]) in
augmenting the heat of the season is not found to be constant or
clear, although droughts have generally been observed to follow them.
However, luminous lines, and pillars, and openings, and the like,
appear more often in winter than in summer, and especially with the
most intense cold but joined with drought. Lightning, and coruscations,
and thunder, however, rarely happen in winter; and generally at the
time of the greatest heats. The appearances we term falling stars are
generally supposed to consist of some shining and inflamed viscous
substance, rather than of violently hot matter; but let this be further

Some coruscations emit light without burning, but are never accompanied
by thunder.

Eructations and eruptions of flame are to be found in cold climates
as well as in hot, as in Iceland and Greenland; just as the trees of
cold countries are sometimes inflammable and more pitchy and resinous
than in warm, as the fir, pine, and the like. But the position and
nature of the soil, where such eruptions are wont to happen, is not yet
sufficiently investigated to enable us to subjoin a negative instance
to the affirmative.

All flame is constantly more or less warm, and this instance is not
altogether negative; yet it is said that the ignis fatuus (as it is
called), and which sometimes is driven against walls, has but little
heat; perhaps it resembles that of spirits of wine, which is mild and
gentle. That flame, however, appears yet milder, which in some well
authenticated and serious histories is said to have appeared round the
head and hair of boys and virgins, and instead of burning their hair,
merely to have played about it. And it is most certain that a sort of
flash, without any evident heat, has sometimes been seen about a horse
when sweating at night, or in damp weather. It is also a well known
fact,[89] and it was almost considered as a miracle, that a few years
since a girl’s apron sparkled when a little shaken or rubbed, which
was, perhaps, occasioned by the alum or salts with which the apron
was imbued, and which, after having been stuck together and incrusted
rather strongly, were broken by the friction. It is well known that
all sugar, whether candied or plain, if it be hard, will sparkle when
broken or scraped in the dark. In like manner sea and salt water is
sometimes found to shine at night when struck violently by the oar. The
foam of the sea when agitated by tempests also sparkles at night, and
the Spaniards call this appearance the sea’s lungs. It has not been
sufficiently ascertained what degree of heat attends the flame which
the ancient sailors called Castor and Pollux, and the moderns call
St. Ermus’ fire.

Every ignited body that is red-hot is always warm, although without
flame, nor is any negative instance subjoined to this affirmative.
Rotten wood, however, approaches nearly to it, for it shines at night,
and yet is not found to be warm; and the putrefying scales of fish
which shine in the same manner are not warm to the touch, nor the body
of the glowworm, or of the fly called Lucciola.[90]

The situation and nature of the soil of natural warm baths has not been
sufficiently investigated, and therefore a negative instance is not

To the instances of warm liquids we may subjoin the negative one of the
peculiar nature of liquids in general; for no tangible liquid is known
that is at once warm in its nature and constantly continues warm; but
their heat is only superinduced as an adventitious nature for a limited
time, so that those which are extremely warm in their power and effect,
as spirits of wine, chemical aromatic oils, the oils of vitriol and
sulphur, and the like, and which speedily burn, are yet cold at first
to the touch, and the water of natural baths, poured into any vessel
and separated from its source, cools down like water heated by the
fire. It is, however, true that oily substances are rather less cold
to the touch than those that are aqueous, oil for instance than water,
silk than linen; but this belongs to the table of degrees of cold.

In like manner we may subjoin a negative instance to that of warm
vapor, derived from the nature of vapor itself, as far as we are
acquainted with it. For exhalations from oily substances, though easily
inflammable, are yet never warm unless recently exhaled from some warm

The same may be said of the instance of air; for we never perceive that
air is warm unless confined or pressed, or manifestly heated by the
sun, by fire, or some other warm body.

A negative instance is exhibited in weather by its coldness with an
east or north wind, beyond what the season would lead us to expect,
just as the contrary takes place with the south or west winds. An
inclination to rain (especially in winter) attends warm weather, and to
frost cold weather.

A negative instance as to air confined in caverns may be observed in
summer. Indeed, we should make a more diligent inquiry into the nature
of confined air. For in the first place the qualities of air in its own
nature with regard to heat and cold may reasonably be the subject of
doubt; for air evidently derives its heat from the effects of celestial
bodies, and possibly its cold from the exhalation of the earth, and
in the mid region of air (as it is termed) from cold vapors and snow,
so that no judgment can be formed of the nature of air by that which
is out of doors and exposed, but a more correct one might be derived
from confined air. It is necessary, however, that the air should be
inclosed in a vessel of such materials as would not imbue it with heat
or cold of themselves, nor easily admit the influence of the external
atmosphere. The experiment should be made, therefore, with an earthen
jar, covered with folds of leather to protect it from the external
air, and the air should be kept three or four days in this vessel well
closed. On opening the jar, the degree of heat may be ascertained
either by the hand or a graduated glass tube.

There is a similar doubt as to whether the warmth of wool, skins,
feathers, and the like, is derived from a slight inherent heat, since
they are animal excretions, or from their being of a certain fat and
oily nature that accords with heat, or merely from the confinement and
separation of air which we spoke of in the preceding paragraph;[91] for
all air appears to possess a certain degree of warmth when separated
from the external atmosphere. Let an experiment be made, therefore,
with fibrous substances of linen, and not of wool, feathers, or silk,
which are animal excretions. For it is to be observed that all powders
(where air is manifestly inclosed) are less cold than the substances
when whole, just as we imagine froth (which contains air) to be less
cold than the liquid itself.

We have here no exactly negative instance, for we are not acquainted
with any body tangible or spirituous which does not admit of heat when
exposed to the fire. There is, however, this difference, that some
admit it more rapidly, as air, oil, and water, others more slowly, as
stone and metals.[92] This, however, belongs to the table of degrees.

No negative is here subjoined, except the remark that sparks are not
kindled by flint and steel, or any other hard substance, unless some
small particles of the stone or metal are struck off, and that the air
never forms them by friction, as is commonly supposed; besides, the
sparks from the weight of the ignited substance have a tendency to
descend rather than to rise, and when extinguished become a sort of
dark ash.

We are of opinion that here again there is no negative; for we are not
acquainted with any tangible body which does not become decidedly warm
by friction, so that the ancients feigned that the gods had no other
means or power of creating heat than the friction of air, by rapid
and violent rotation. On this point, however, further inquiry must be
made, whether bodies projected by machines (as balls from cannon) do
not derive some degree of heat from meeting the air, which renders
them somewhat warm when they fall. The air in motion rather cools
than heats, as in the winds, the bellows, or breath when the mouth is
contracted. The motion, however, in such instances is not sufficiently
rapid to excite heat, and is applied to a body of air, and not to its
component parts, so that it is not surprising that heat should not be

We must make a more diligent inquiry into this instance; for herbs and
green and moist vegetables appear to possess a latent heat, so small,
however, as not to be perceived by the touch in single specimens, but
when they are united and confined, so that their spirit cannot exhale
into the air, and they rather warm each other, their heat is at once
manifested, and even flame occasionally in suitable substances.

Here, too, we must make a more diligent inquiry; for quicklime, when
sprinkled with water, appears to conceive heat, either from its being
collected into one point (as we observed of herbs when confined), or
from the irritation and exasperation of the fiery spirit by water,
which occasions a conflict and struggle. The true reason will more
readily be shown if oil be used instead of water, for oil will
equally tend to collect the confined spirit, but not to irritate.
The experiment may be made more general, both by using the ashes and
calcined products of different bodies and by pouring different liquids
upon them.

A negative instance may be subjoined of other metals which are more
soft and soluble; for leaf gold dissolved by aqua regia, or lead by
aqua fortis, are not warm to the touch while dissolving, no more is
quicksilver (as far as I remember), but silver excites a slight heat,
and so does copper, and tin yet more plainly, and most of all iron and
steel, which excite not only a powerful heat, but a violent bubbling.
The heat, therefore, appears to be occasioned by the struggle which
takes place when these strong dissolvents penetrate, dig into, and tear
asunder the parts of those substances, while the substances themselves
resist. When, however, the substances yield more easily, scarcely any
heat is excited.

There is no negative instance with regard to the heat of animals,
except in insects (as has been observed), owing to their small size;
for in fishes, as compared with land animals, a lower degree rather
than a deprivation of heat is observable. In plants and vegetables,
both as to their exudations and pith when freshly exposed, there is no
sensible degree of heat. But in animals there is a great difference
in the degree, both in particular parts (for the heat varies near the
heart, the brain, and the extremities) and in the circumstances in
which they are placed, such as violent exercise and fevers.

Here, again, there is scarcely a negative instance. I might add that
the excrements of animals, even when they are no longer fresh, possess
evidently some effective heat, as is shown by their enriching the soil.

Such liquids (whether oily or watery) as are intensely acrid exhibit
the effects of heat, by the separation and burning of bodies after
some little action upon them, yet they are not at first warm to the
touch, but they act according to their affinity and the pores of the
substances to which they are applied; for aqua regia dissolves gold but
not silver--on the contrary, aqua fortis dissolves silver but not gold;
neither of them dissolves glass, and so of the rest.

Let spirits of wine be tried on wood, or butter, wax, or pitch, to see
if this will melt them at all by their heat; for the twenty-fourth
instance shows that they possess properties resembling those of heat in
causing incrustation. Let an experiment also be made with a graduated
glass or calendar,[93] concave at the top, by pouring well-rectified
spirits of wine into the cavity, and covering it up in order that they
may the better retain their heat, then observe whether their heat make
the water descend.

Spices and acrid herbs are sensibly warm to the palate, and still
more so when taken internally; one should see, therefore, on what
other substances they exhibit the effects of heat. Now, sailors tell
us that when large quantities of spices are suddenly opened, after
having been shut up for some time, there is some danger of fever and
inflammation to those who stir them or take them out. An experiment
might, therefore, be made whether such spices and herbs, when produced,
will, like smoke, dry fish and meat hung up over them.

There is an acrid effect and a degree of penetration in cold liquids,
such as vinegar and oil of vitriol, as well as in warm, such as oil of
marjoram and the like; they have, therefore, an equal effect in causing
animated substances to smart, and separating and consuming inanimate
parts. There is not any negative instance as to this, nor does there
exist any animal pain unaccompanied by the sensation of heat.

There are many effects common to cold and heat, however different
in their process; for snowballs appear to burn boys’ hands after
a little time, and cold no less than fire preserves bodies from
putrefaction--besides both heat and cold contract bodies. But it is
better to refer these instances and the like to the investigation of

XIII. In the third place we must exhibit to the understanding the
instances in which that nature, which is the object of our inquiries,
is present in a greater or less degree, either by comparing its
increase and decrease in the same object, or its degree in different
objects; for since the form of a thing is its very essence, and the
thing only differs from its form as the apparent from the actual
object, or the exterior from the interior, or that which is considered
with relation to man from that which is considered with relation to the
universe; it necessarily follows that no nature can be considered a
real form which does not uniformly diminish and increase with the given
nature. We are wont to call this our Table of Degrees, or Comparative

_Table of the Degrees or Comparative Instances of Heat_

We will first speak of those bodies which exhibit no degree of heat
sensible to the touch, but appear rather to possess a potential heat,
or disposition and preparation for it. We will then go on to others,
which are actually warm to the touch, and observe the strength and
degree of it.

1. There is no known solid or tangible body which is by its own nature
originally warm; for neither stone, metal, sulphur, fossils, wood,
water, nor dead animal carcasses are found warm. The warm springs in
baths appear to be heated accidentally, by flame, subterraneous fire
(such as is thrown up by Etna and many other mountains), or by the
contact of certain bodies, as heat is exhibited in the dissolution of
iron and tin. The degree of heat, therefore, in inanimate objects is
not sensible to our touch; but they differ in their degrees of cold,
for wood and metal are not equally cold.[94] This, however, belongs to
the Table of Degrees of Cold.

2. But with regard to potential heat and predisposition to flame, we
find many inanimate substances wonderfully adapted to it, as sulphur,
naphtha, and saltpetre.

3. Bodies which have previously acquired heat, as horse dung from the
animal, or lime, and perhaps ashes and soot from fire, retain some
latent portion of it. Hence distillations and separations of substances
are effected by burying them in horse dung, and heat is excited in
lime by sprinkling it with water (as has been before observed).

4. In the vegetable world we know of no plant, nor part of any plant
(as the exudations or pith) that is warm to man’s touch. Yet (as we
have before observed) green weeds grow warm when confined, and some
vegetables are warm and others cold to our internal touch, _i.e._, the
palate and stomach, or even after a while to our external skin (as is
shown in plasters and ointments).

5. We know of nothing in the various parts of animals, when dead or
detached from the rest, that is warm to the touch; for horse dung
itself does not retain its heat, unless it be confined and buried. All
dung, however, appears to possess a potential heat, as in manuring
fields; so also dead bodies are endued with this latent and potential
heat to such a degree, that in cemeteries where people are interred
daily the earth acquires a secret heat, which consumes any recently
deposited body much sooner than pure earth; and they tell you that the
people of the East are acquainted with a fine soft cloth, made of the
down of birds, which can melt butter wrapped gently up in it by its own

6. Manures, such as every kind of dung, chalk, sea-sand, salt and the
like, have some disposition toward heat.

7. All putrefaction exhibits some slight degree of heat, though not
enough to be perceptible by the touch; for neither the substances which
by putrefaction are converted into animalculæ,[95] as flesh and cheese,
nor rotten wood which shines in the dark, are warm to the touch. The
heat, however, of putrid substances displays itself occasionally in a
disgusting and strong scent.

8. The first degree of heat, therefore, in substances which are warm
to the human touch appears to be that of animals, and this admits of a
great variety of degrees, for the lowest (as in insects) is scarcely
perceptible, the highest scarcely equals that of the sun’s rays in
warm climates and weather, and is not so acute as to be insufferable
to the hand. It is said, however, of Constantius, and some others of
a very dry constitution and habit of body, that when attacked with
violent fevers, they became so warm as to appear almost to burn the
hand applied to them.

9. Animals become more warm by motion and exercise, wine and feasting,
venery, burning fevers, and grief.

10. In the paroxysm of intermittent fevers the patients are at first
seized with cold and shivering, but soon afterward become more heated
than at first--in burning and pestilential fevers they are hot from the

11. Let further inquiry be made into the comparative heat of different
animals, as fishes, quadrupeds, serpents, birds, and also of the
different species, as the lion, the kite, or man; for, according to the
vulgar opinion, fishes are the least warm internally, and birds the
most, particularly doves, hawks, and ostriches.

12. Let further inquiry be made as to the comparative heat in different
parts and limbs of the same animal; for milk, blood, seed, and eggs are
moderately warm, and less hot than the outward flesh of the animal when
in motion or agitated. The degree of heat of the brain, stomach, heart,
and the rest, has not yet been equally well investigated.

13. All animals are externally cold in winter and cold weather, but are
thought to be internally warmer.

14. The heat of the heavenly bodies, even in the warmest climates and
seasons, never reaches such a pitch as to light or burn the driest wood
or straw, or even tinder without the aid of burning-glasses. It can,
however, raise vapor from moist substances.

15. Astronomers tell us that some stars are hotter than others. Mars
is considered the warmest after the Sun, then Jupiter, then Venus. The
Moon and, above all, Saturn, are considered to be cold. Among the fixed
stars Sirius is thought the warmest, then Cor Leonis or Regulus, then
the lesser Dog-star.

16. The sun gives out more heat as it approaches toward the
perpendicular or zenith, which may be supposed to be the case with the
other planets, according to their degree of heat; for instance, that
Jupiter gives out more heat when situated beneath Cancer or Leo than
when he is beneath Capricorn and Aquarius.

17. It is to be supposed that the sun and other planets give more
heat in perigee, from their approximation to the earth, than when in
apogee. But if in any country the sun should be both in its perigee
and nearer to the perpendicular at the same time, it must necessarily
give out more heat than in a country where it is also in perigee,
but situated more obliquely; so that the comparative altitude of the
planets should be observed, and their approach to or declination from
the perpendicular in different countries.

18. The sun and other planets are thought also to give out more heat in
proportion as they are nearer to the larger fixed stars, as when the
sun is in Leo he is nearer Cor Leonis, Cauda Leonis, Spica Virginis,
Sirius, and the lesser Dog-star, than when he is in Cancer, where,
however, he approaches nearer to the perpendicular. It is probable,
also, that the quarters of the heavens produce a greater heat (though
not perceptibly), in proportion as they are adorned with a greater
number of stars, particularly those of the first magnitude.

19. On the whole, the heat of the heavenly bodies is augmented in three
ways: 1. The approach to the perpendicular; 2. Proximity or their
perigee; 3. The conjunction or union of stars.

20. There is a very considerable difference between the degree of heat
in animals, and even in the rays of the heavenly bodies (as they reach
us), and the heat of the most gentle flame, and even of all ignited
substances, nay, liquids, or the air itself when unusually heated by
fire. For the flame of spirit of wine, though diffused and uncollected,
is yet able to set straw, linen, or paper on fire, which animal heat,
or that of the sun, will never accomplish without a burning-glass.

21. There are, however, many degrees of strength and weakness in flame
and ignited bodies: but no diligent inquiry has been made in this
respect, and we must, therefore, pass it hastily over. Of all flames,
that of spirits of wine appears to be the most gentle, except perhaps
the ignis fatuus, or the flashes from the perspiration of animals.
After this we should be inclined to place the flame of light and porous
vegetables, such as straw, reeds, and dried leaves; from which the
flame of hair or feathers differs but little. Then, perhaps, comes
the flame of wood, particularly that which contains but little rosin
or pitch; that of small wood, however (such as is usually tied up in
fagots), is milder than that of the trunks or roots of trees. This can
be easily tried in iron furnaces, where a fire of fagots or branches
of trees is of little service. Next follows the flame of oil, tallow,
wax, and the like oily and fat substances, which are not very violent.
But a most powerful heat is found in pitch and rosin, and a still
greater in sulphur, camphor, naphtha, saltpetre, and salts (after they
have discharged their crude matter), and in their compounds; as in
gunpowder, Greek fire (vulgarly called wild fire), and its varieties,
which possess such a stubborn heat as scarcely to be extinguished by

22. We consider that the flame which results from some imperfect metals
is very strong and active; but on all these points further inquiry
should be made.

23. The flame of vivid lightning appears to exceed all the above, so as
sometimes to have melted even wrought iron into drops, which the other
flames cannot accomplish.

24. In ignited bodies there are different degrees of heat, concerning
which, also, a diligent inquiry has not been made. We consider the
faintest heat to be that of tinder, touchwood, and dry rope match,
such as is used for discharging cannon. Next follows that of ignited
charcoal or cinders, and even bricks, and the like; but the most
violent is that of ignited metals, as iron, copper, and the like.
Further inquiry, however, must be made into this also.

25. Some ignited bodies are found to be much warmer than some flames;
for instance, red hot iron is much warmer, and burns more than the
flame of spirits of wine.

26. Some bodies even not ignited, but only heated by the fire, as
boiling water, and the air confined in reverberatories, surpass in heat
many flames and ignited substances.

27. Motion increases heat,[96] as is shown in the bellows and the
blowpipe; for the harder metals are not dissolved or melted by steady
quiet fire, without the aid of the blowpipe.

28. Let an experiment be made with burning-glasses; in which respect I
have observed, that if a glass be placed at the distance of ten inches,
for instance, from the combustible object, it does not kindle or burn
it so readily, as if the glass be placed at the distance of five inches
(for instance), and be then gradually and slowly withdrawn to the
distance of ten inches. The cone and focus of the rays, however, are
the same, but the mere motion increases the effect of the heat.

29. Conflagrations, which take place with a high wind, are thought to
make greater way against than with the wind, because when the wind
slackens, the flame recoils more rapidly than it advances when the wind
is favorable.

30. Flame does not burst out or arise unless it have some hollow
space to move and exert itself in, except in the exploding flame of
gunpowder, and the like, where the compression and confinement of the
flame increase its fury.

31. The anvil becomes so hot by the hammer, that if it were a thin
plate it might probably grow red, like ignited iron by repeated
strokes. Let the experiment be tried.

32. But in ignited bodies that are porous, so as to leave room for the
fire to move itself, if its motion be prevented by strong compression,
the fire is immediately extinguished; thus it is with tinder, or the
burning snuff of a candle or lamp, or even hot charcoal or cinders;
for when they are squeezed by snuffers, or the foot, and the like, the
effect of the fire instantly ceases.

33. The approach toward a hot body increases heat in proportion to the
approximation; a similar effect to that of light, for the nearer any
object is placed toward the light, the more visible it becomes.

34. The[97] union of different heats increases heat, unless the
substances be mixed; for a large and small fire in the same spot tend
mutually to increase each other’s heat, but lukewarm water poured into
boiling water cools it.

35. The continued neighborhood of a warm body increases heat. For the
heat, which perpetually passes and emanates from it, being mixed with
that which preceded it, multiplies the whole. A fire, for instance,
does not warm a room in half an hour as much as the same fire would in
an hour. This does not apply to light, for a lamp or candle placed in
a spot gives no more light by remaining there, than it did at first.

36. The irritation of surrounding cold increases heat, as may be seen
in fires during a sharp frost. We think that this is owing not merely
to the confinement and compression of the heat (which forms a sort
of union), but also by the exasperation of it, as when the air or a
stick are violently compressed or bent, they recoil, not only to the
point they first occupied, but still further back. Let an accurate
experiment, therefore, be made with a stick, or something of the kind,
put into the flame, in order to see whether it be not sooner burned at
the sides than in the middle of it.[98]

37. There are many degrees in the susceptibility of heat. And, first,
it must be observed how much a low gentle heat changes and partially
warms even the bodies least susceptible of it. For even the heat of the
hand imparts a little warmth to a ball of lead or other metal held a
short time in it; so easily is heat transmitted and excited, without
any apparent change in the body.

38. Of all bodies that we are acquainted with, air admits and loses
heat the most readily, which is admirably seen in weather-glasses,
whose construction is as follows: Take a glass with a hollow belly, and
a thin and long neck; turn it upside down, and place it with its mouth
downward into another glass vessel containing water; the end of the
tube touching the bottom of the vessel, and the tube itself leaning a
little on the edge, so as to be fixed upright. In order to do this more
readily, let a little wax be applied to the edge, not, however, so as
to block up the orifice, lest, by preventing the air from escaping, the
motion, which we shall presently speak of, and which is very gentle and
delicate, should be impeded.

Before the first glass be inserted in the other, its upper part (the
belly) should be warmed at the fire. Then upon placing it as we have
described, the air (which was dilated by the heat), after a sufficient
time has been allowed for it to lose the additional temperature, will
restore and contract itself to the same dimensions as that of the
external or common atmosphere at the moment of immersion, and the water
will be attracted upward in the tube to a proportionate extent. A long
narrow slip of paper should be attached to the tube, divided into as
many degrees as you please. You will then perceive, as the weather
grows warmer or colder, that the air contracts itself into a narrower
space in cold weather and dilates in the warm, which will be exhibited
by the rising of the water as the air contracts itself, and its
depression as the air dilates. The sensibility of the air with regard
to heat or cold is so delicate and exquisite, that it far exceeds the
human touch, so that a ray of sunshine, the heat of the breath, and
much more, that of the hand placed on the top of the tube, immediately
causes an evident depression of the water. We think, however, that the
spirit of animals possesses a much more delicate susceptibility of heat
and cold, only that it is impeded and blunted by the grossness of their

39. After air, we consider those bodies to be most sensible of heat,
which have been recently changed and contracted by cold, as snow and
ice; for they begin to be dissolved and melt with the first mild
weather. Next, perhaps, follows quicksilver; then greasy substances,
as oil, butter, and the like; then wood; then water; lastly, stones
and metals, which do not easily grow hot, particularly toward their
centre.[99] When heated, however, they retain their temperature for
a very long time; so that a brick or stone, or hot iron, plunged in
a basin of cold water, and kept there for a quarter of an hour or
thereabout, retains such a heat as not to admit of being touched.

40. The less massive the body is, the more readily it grows warm at the
approach of a heated body, which shows that heat with us is somewhat
averse to a tangible mass.[100]

41. Heat with regard to the human senses and touch is various and
relative, so that lukewarm water appears hot if the hand be cold, and
cold if the hand be hot.

XIV. Any one may readily see how poor we are in history, since in the
above tables, besides occasionally inserting traditions and report
instead of approved history and authentic instances (always, however,
adding some note if their credit or authority be doubtful), we are
often forced to subjoin, “Let the experiment be tried--Let further
inquiry be made.”

XV. We are wont to term the office and use of these three tables the
presenting a review of instances to the understanding; and when this
has been done, induction itself is to be brought into action. For on an
individual review of all the instances a nature is to be found, such
as always to be present and absent with the given nature, to increase
and decrease with it, and, as we have said, to form a more common
limit of the nature. If the mind attempt this affirmatively from the
first (which it always will when left to itself), there will spring up
phantoms, mere theories and ill-defined notions, with axioms requiring
daily correction. These will, doubtless, be better or worse, according
to the power and strength of the understanding which creates them. But
it is only for God (the bestower and creator of forms), and perhaps
for angels and intelligences, at once to recognize forms affirmatively
at the first glance of contemplation: man, at lest, is unable to do so,
and is only allowed to proceed first by negatives, and then to conclude
with affirmatives, after every species of exclusion.

XVI. We must, therefore, effect a complete solution and separation of
nature; not by fire, but by the mind, that divine fire. The first work
of legitimate induction, in the discovery of forms, is rejection, or
the exclusive instances of individual natures, which are not found in
some one instance where the given nature is present, or are found in
any one instance where it is absent, or are found to increase in any
one instance where the given nature decreases, or the reverse. After an
exclusion correctly effected, an affirmative form will remain as the
residuum, solid, true, and well defined, while all volatile opinions
go off in smoke. This is readily said; but we must arrive at it by a
circuitous route. We shall perhaps, however, omit nothing that can
facilitate our progress.

XVII. The first and almost perpetual precaution and warning which
we consider necessary is this; that none should suppose from the
great part assigned by us to forms, that we mean such forms as the
meditations and thoughts of men have hitherto been accustomed to. In
the first place, we do not at present mean the concrete forms, which
(as we have observed) are in the common course of things compounded
of simple natures, as those of a lion, an eagle, a rose, gold, or the
like. The moment for discussing these will arrive when we come to treat
of the latent process and latent conformation, and the discovery of
them as they exist in what are called substances, or concrete natures.

Nor again, would we be thought to mean (even when treating of simple
natures) any abstract forms or ideas, either undefined or badly defined
in matter. For when we speak of forms, we mean nothing else than those
laws and regulations of simple action which arrange and constitute any
simple nature, such as heat, light, weight, in every species of matter,
and in a susceptible subject. The form of heat or form of light,
therefore, means no more than the law of heat or the law of light.
Nor do we ever abstract or withdraw ourselves from things, and the
operative branch of philosophy. When, therefore, we say (for instance)
in our investigation of the form of heat, Reject rarity, or, Rarity is
not of the form of heat, it is the same as if we were to say, Man can
superinduce heat on a dense body, or the reverse, Man can abstract or
ward off heat from a rare body.

But if our forms appear to any one to be somewhat abstracted, from
their mingling and uniting heterogeneous objects (the heat, for
instance, of the heavenly bodies appears to be very different from that
of fire; the fixed red of the rose and the like, from that which is
apparent in the rainbow, or the radiation of opal or the diamond;[101]
death by drowning, from that by burning, the sword, apoplexy, or
consumption; and yet they all agree in the common natures of heat,
redness, and death), let him be assured that his understanding is
inthralled by habit, by general appearances and hypotheses. For it
is most certain that, however heterogeneous and distinct, they agree
in the form or law which regulates heat, redness, or death; and that
human power cannot be emancipated and freed from the common course
of nature, and expanded and exalted to new efficients and new modes
of operation, except by the revelation and invention of forms of this
nature. But after this[102] union of nature, which is the principal
point, we will afterward, in its proper place, treat of the divisions
and ramifications of nature, whether ordinary or internal and more real.

XVIII. We must now offer an example of the exclusion or rejection
of natures found by the tables of review, not to be of the form of
heat; first premising that not only each table is sufficient for the
rejection of any nature, but even each single instance contained in
them. For it is clear from what has been said that every contradictory
instance destroys a hypothesis as to the form. Still, however, for the
sake of clearness, and in order to show more plainly the use of the
tables, we redouble or repeat the exclusive.

_An Example of the Exclusive Table, or of the Rejection of Natures
from the Form of Heat_

1. On account of the sun’s rays, reject elementary (or terrestrial)

2. On account of common fire, and particularly subterranean fires
(which are the most remote and secluded from the rays of the heavenly
bodies), reject celestial nature.

3. On account of the heat acquired by every description of substances
(as minerals, vegetables, the external parts of animals, water, oil,
air, etc.) by mere approximation to the fire or any warm body, reject
all variety and delicate texture of bodies.

4. On account of iron and ignited metals, which warm other bodies, and
yet neither lose their weight nor substance, reject the imparting or
mixing of the substance of the heating body.

5. On account of boiling water and air, and also those metals and other
solid bodies which are heated, but not to ignition, or red heat, reject
flame or light.

6. On account of the rays of the moon and other heavenly bodies (except
the sun), again reject flame or light.

7. On account of the comparison between red-hot iron and the flame of
spirits of wine (for the iron is more hot and less bright, while the
flame of spirits of wine is more bright and less hot), again reject
flame and light.

8. On account of gold and other ignited metals, which are of the
greatest specific density, reject rarity.

9. On account of air, which is generally found to be cold and yet
continues rare, reject rarity.

10. On account of ignited iron,[103] which does not swell in bulk, but
retains the same apparent dimension, reject the absolute expansive
motion of the whole.

11. On account of the expansion of the air in thermometers and the
like, which is absolutely moved and expanded to the eye, and yet
acquires no manifest increase of heat, again reject absolute or
expansive motion of the whole.

12. On account of the ready application of heat to all substances
without any destruction or remarkable alteration of them, reject
destructive nature or the violent communication of any new nature.

13. On account of the agreement and conformity of the effects produced
by cold and heat, reject both expansive and contracting motion as
regards the whole.

14. On account of the heat excited by friction, reject principal
nature, by which we mean that which exists positively, and is not
caused by a preceding nature.

There are other natures to be rejected; but we are merely offering
examples, and not perfect tables.

None of the above natures are of the form of heat; and man is freed
from them all in his operation upon heat.

XIX. In the exclusive table are laid the foundations of true induction,
which is not, however, completed until the affirmative be attained. Nor
is the exclusive table perfect, nor can it be so at first. For it is
clearly a rejection of simple natures; but if we have not as yet good
and just notions of simple natures, how can the exclusive table be made
correct? Some of the above, as the notion of elementary and celestial
nature, and rarity, are vague and ill defined. We, therefore, who are
neither ignorant nor forgetful of the great work which we attempt, in
rendering the human understanding adequate to things and nature, by
no means rest satisfied with what we have hitherto enforced, but push
the matter further, and contrive and prepare more powerful aid for the
use of the understanding, which we will next subjoin. And, indeed, in
the interpretation of nature the mind is to be so prepared and formed,
as to rest itself on proper degrees of certainty, and yet to remember
(especially at first) that what is present depends much upon what
remains behind.

XX. Since, however, truth emerges more readily from error than
confusion, we consider it useful to leave the understanding at liberty
to exert itself and attempt the interpretation of nature in the
affirmative, after having constructed and weighed the three tables of
preparation, such as we have laid them down, both from the instances
there collected, and others occurring elsewhere. Which attempt we are
wont to call the liberty of the understanding, or the commencement of
interpretation, or the first vintage.

_The First Vintage of the Form of Heat_

It must be observed that the form of anything is inherent (as appears
clearly from our premises) in each individual instance in which the
thing itself is inherent, or it would not be a form. No contradictory
instance, therefore, can be alleged. The form, however, is found
to be much more conspicuous and evident in some instances than in
others; in those (for example) where its nature is less restrained
and embarrassed, and reduced to rule by other natures. Such instances
we are wont to term coruscations, or conspicuous instances. We must
proceed, then, to the first vintage of the form of heat.

From the instances taken collectively, as well as singly, the nature
whose limit is heat appears to be motion. This is chiefly exhibited in
flame, which is in constant motion, and in warm or boiling liquids,
which are likewise in constant motion. It is also shown in the
excitement or increase of heat by motion, as by bellows and draughts:
for which see Inst. 29, Tab. 3, and by other species of motion, as in
Inst. 28 and 31, Tab. 3. It is also shown by the extinction of fire
and heat upon any strong pressure, which restrains and puts a stop to
motion; for which see Inst. 30 and 32, Tab. 3. It is further shown
by this circumstance, namely, that every substance is destroyed, or
at least materially changed, by strong and powerful fire and heat:
whence it is clear that tumult and confusion are occasioned by heat,
together with a violent motion in the internal parts of bodies; and
this gradually tends to their dissolution.

What we have said with regard to motion must be thus understood, when
taken as the genus of heat: it must not be thought that heat generates
motion, or motion heat (though in some respects this be true), but
that the very essence of heat, or the substantial self[104] of heat,
is motion and nothing else, limited, however, by certain differences
which we will presently add, after giving some cautions for avoiding

Sensible heat is relative, and regards man, not universe; and is
rightly held to be merely the effect of heat on animal spirit. It is
even variable in itself, since the same body (in different states of
sensation) excites the feeling of heat and of cold; this is shown by
Inst. 41, Tab. 3.

Nor should we confound the communication of heat or its transitive
nature, by which a body grows warm at the approach of a heated body,
with the form of heat; for heat is one thing and heating another. Heat
can be excited by friction without any previous heating body, and,
therefore, heating is excluded from the form of heat. Even when heat is
excited by the approach of a hot body, this depends not on the form of
heat, but on another more profound and common nature; namely, that of
assimilation and multiplication, about which a separate inquiry must be

The notion of fire is vulgar, and of no assistance; it is merely
compounded of the conjunction of heat and light in any body, as in
ordinary flame and red-hot substances.

Laying aside all ambiguity, therefore, we must lastly consider the true
differences which limit motion and render it the form of heat.

I. The first difference is, that heat is an expansive motion, by which
the body strives to dilate itself, and to occupy a greater space than
before. This difference is principally seen in flame, where the smoke
or thick vapor is clearly dilated and bursts into flame.

It is also shown in all boiling liquids, which swell, rise, and boil
up to the sight, and the process of expansion is urged forward till
they are converted into a much more extended and dilated body than the
liquid itself, such as steam, smoke, or air.

It is also shown in wood and combustibles where exudation sometimes
takes place, and evaporation always.

It is also shown in the melting of metals, which, being very compact,
do not easily swell and dilate, but yet their spirit, when dilated
and desirous of further expansion, forces and urges its thicker parts
into dissolution, and if the heat be pushed still further, reduces a
considerable part of them into a volatile state.

It is also shown in iron or stones, which though not melted or
dissolved, are however softened. The same circumstance takes place in
sticks of wood, which become flexible when a little heated in warm

It is most readily observed in air, which instantly and manifestly
expands with a small degree of heat, as in Inst. 38, Tab. 3.

It is also shown in the contrary nature of cold; for cold contracts
and narrows every substance;[105] so that in intense frosts nails fall
out of the wall and brass cracks, and heated glass exposed suddenly to
the cold cracks and breaks. So the air, by a slight degree of cold,
contracts itself, as in Inst. 38, Tab. 3. More will be said of this in
the inquiry into cold.

Nor is it to be wondered at if cold and heat exhibit many common
effects (for which see Inst. 32, Tab. 2), since two differences, of
which we shall presently speak, belong to each nature: although in
the present difference the effects be diametrically opposed to each
other. For heat occasions an expansive and dilating motion, but cold a
contracting and condensing motion.

II. The second difference is a modification of the preceding, namely,
that heat is an expansive motion, tending toward the exterior, but at
the same time bearing the body upward. For there is no doubt that there
be many compound motions, as an arrow or dart, for instance, has both a
rotatory and progressive motion. In the same way the motion of heat is
both expansive and tending upward.

This difference is shown by putting the tongs or poker into the fire.
If placed perpendicularly with the hand above, they soon burn it, but
much less speedily if the hand hold them sloping or from below.

It is also conspicuous in distillations _per descensum_, which men are
wont to employ with delicate flowers, whose scent easily evaporates.
Their industry has devised placing the fire above instead of below,
that it may scorch less; for not only flame but all heat has an upward

Let an experiment be made on the contrary nature of cold, whether its
contraction be downward, as the expansion of heat is upward. Take,
therefore, two iron rods or two glass tubes, alike in other respects,
and warm them a little, and place a sponge, dipped in cold water, or
some snow, below the one and above the other. We are of opinion that
the extremities will grow cold in that rod first where it is placed
beneath, as the contrary takes place with regard to heat.

III. The third difference is this; that heat is not a uniform expansive
motion of the whole, but of the small particles of the body; and this
motion being at the same time restrained, repulsed, and reflected,
becomes alternating, perpetually hurrying, striving, struggling, and
irritated by the repercussion, which is the source of the violence of
flame and heat.

But this difference is chiefly shown in flame and boiling liquids,
which always hurry, swell, and subside again in detached parts.

It is also shown in bodies of such hard texture as not to swell or
dilate in bulk, such as red-hot iron, in which the heat is most violent.

It is also shown by the fires burning most briskly in the coldest

It is also shown by this, that when the air is dilated in the
thermometer uniformly and equably, without any impediment or repulsion,
the heat is not perceptible. In confined draughts also, although they
break out very violently, no remarkable heat is perceived, because
the motion affects the whole, without any alternating motion in the
particles; for which reason try whether flame do not burn more at the
sides than in its centre.

It is also shown in this, that all burning proceeds by the minute pores
of bodies--undermining, penetrating, piercing, and pricking them as if
with an infinite number of needle-points. Hence all strong acids (if
adapted to the body on which they act) exhibit the effects of fire,
from their corroding and pungent nature.

The difference of which we now speak is common also to the nature of
cold, in which the contracting motion is restrained by the resistance
of expansion, as in heat the expansive motion is restrained by the
resistance of contraction.

Whether, therefore, the particles of matter penetrate inward or
outward, the reasoning is the same, though the power be very different,
because we have nothing on earth which is intensely cold.

IV. The fourth difference is a modification of the preceding, namely,
that this stimulating or penetrating motion should be rapid and never
sluggish, and should take place not in the very minutest particles, but
rather in those of some tolerable dimensions.

It is shown by comparing the effects of fire with those of time. Time
dries, consumes, undermines, and reduces to ashes as well as fire, and
perhaps to a much finer degree; but as its motion is very slow, and
attacks very minute particles, no heat is perceived.

It is also shown in a comparison of the dissolution of iron and gold;
for gold is dissolved without the excitement of any heat, but iron with
a vehement excitement of it, although most in the same time, because in
the former the penetration of the separating acid is mild, and gently
insinuates itself, and the particles of gold yield easily, but the
penetration of iron is violent, and attended with some struggle, and
its particles are more obstinate.

It is partially shown, also, in some gangrenes and mortifications of
flesh, which do not excite great heat or pain, from the gentle nature
of the putrefaction.

Let this suffice for a first vintage, or the commencement of the
interpretation of the form of heat by the liberty of the understanding.

From this first vintage the form or true definition of heat (considered
relatively to the universe and not to the sense) is briefly thus--Heat
is an expansive motion restrained, and striving to exert itself in the
smaller particles.[106] The expansion is modified by its tendency to
rise, though expanding toward the exterior; and the effort is modified
by its not being sluggish, but active and somewhat violent.

With regard to the operative definition, the matter is the same. If you
are able to excite a dilating or expansive motion in any natural body,
and so to repress that motion and force it on itself as not to allow
the expansion to proceed equally, but only to be partially exerted and
partially repressed, you will beyond all doubt produce heat, without
any consideration as to whether the body be of earth (or elementary, as
they term it), or imbued with celestial influence, luminous or opaque,
rare or dense, locally expanded or contained within the bounds of its
first dimensions, verging to dissolution or remaining fixed, animal,
vegetable, or mineral, water, or oil, or air, or any other substance
whatever susceptible of such motion. Sensible heat is the same, but
considered relatively to the senses. Let us now proceed to further

XXI. After our tables of first review, our rejection or exclusive
table, and the first vintage derived from them, we must advance to the
remaining helps of the understanding with regard to the interpretation
of nature, and a true and perfect induction, in offering which we
will take the examples of cold and heat where tables are necessary,
but where fewer instances are required we will go through a variety
of others, so as neither to confound investigation nor to narrow our

In the first place, therefore, we will treat of prerogative
instances;[107] 2. Of the supports of induction; 3. Of the correction
of induction; 4. Of varying the investigation according to the
nature of the subject; 5. Of the prerogative natures with respect to
investigation, or of what should be the first or last objects of our
research; 6. Of the limits of investigation, or a synopsis of all
natures that exist in the universe; 7. Of the application to practical
purposes, or of what relates to man; 8. Of the preparations for
investigation; 9. And lastly, of the ascending and descending scale of

XXII. Among the prerogative instances we will first mention solitary
instances. Solitary instances are those which exhibit the required
nature in subjects that have nothing in common with any other subject
than the nature in question, or which do not exhibit the required
nature in subjects resembling others in every respect except that
of the nature in question; for these instances manifestly remove
prolixity, and accelerate and confirm exclusion, so that a few of them
are of as much avail as many.

For instance, let the inquiry be the nature of color. Prisms,
crystalline gems, which yield colors not only internally but on the
wall, dews, etc., are solitary instances; for they have nothing in
common with the fixed colors in flowers and colored gems, metals,
woods, etc., except the color itself. Hence we easily deduce that
color is nothing but a modification of the image of the incident and
absorbed light, occasioned in the former case by the different degrees
of incidence, in the latter by the various textures and forms of
bodies.[109] These are solitary instances as regards similitude.

Again, in the same inquiry the distinct veins of white and black in
marble, and the variegated colors of flowers of the same species, are
solitary instances; for the black and white of marble, and the spots of
white and purple in the flowers of the stock, agree in every respect
but that of color. Thence we easily deduce that color has not much to
do with the intrinsic natures of any body, but depends only on the
coarser and as it were mechanical arrangement of the parts. These are
solitary instances as regards difference. We call them both solitary or
wild, to borrow a word from the astronomers.

XXIII. In the second rank of prerogative instances we will consider
migrating instances. In these the required nature passes toward
generation, having no previous existence, or toward corruption, having
first existed. In each of these divisions, therefore, the instances
are always twofold, or rather it is one instance, first in motion or
on its passage, and then brought to the opposite conclusion. These
instances not only hasten and confirm exclusion, but also reduce
affirmation, or the form itself, to a narrow compass; for the form
must be something conferred by this migration, or, on the contrary,
removed and destroyed by it; and although all exclusion advances
affirmation, yet this takes place more directly in the same than in
different subjects; but if the form (as it is quite clear from what
has been advanced) exhibit itself in one subject, it leads to all. The
more simple the migration is, the more valuable is the instance. These
migrating instances are, moreover, very useful in practice, for since
they manifest the form, coupled with that which causes or destroys it,
they point out the right practice in some subjects, and thence there
is an easy transition to those with which they are most allied. There
is, however, a degree of danger which demands caution, namely, lest
they should refer the form too much to its efficient cause, and imbue,
or at least tinge, the understanding with a false notion of the form
from the appearance of such cause, which is never more than a vehicle
or conveyance of the form. This may easily be remedied by a proper
application of exclusion.

Let us then give an example of a migrating instance. Let whiteness be
the required nature. An instance which passes toward generation is
glass in its entire and in its powdered state, or water in its natural
state, and when agitated to froth; for glass when entire, and water in
its natural state, are transparent and not white, but powdered glass
and the froth of water are white and not transparent. We must inquire,
therefore, what has happened to the glass or water in the course of
this migration; for it is manifest that the form of whiteness is
conveyed and introduced by the bruising of the glass and the agitation
of the water; but nothing is found to have been introduced but a
diminishing of the parts of the glass and water and the insertion
of air. Yet this is no slight progress toward discovering the form
of whiteness, namely, that two bodies, in themselves more or less
transparent (as air and water, or air and glass), when brought into
contact in minute portions, exhibit whiteness from the unequal
refraction of the rays of light.

But here we must also give an example of the danger and caution of
which we spoke; for instance, it will readily occur to an understanding
perverted by efficients, that air is always necessary for producing the
form of whiteness, or that whiteness is only generated by transparent
bodies, which suppositions are both false, and proved to be so by
many exclusions; nay, it will rather appear (without any particular
regard to air or the like), that all bodies which are even in such of
their parts as affect the sight exhibit transparency, those which are
uneven and of simple texture whiteness, those which are uneven and of
compound but regular texture all the other colors except black, but
those which are uneven and of a compound irregular and confused texture
exhibit blackness. An example has been given, therefore, of an instance
migrating toward generation in the required nature of whiteness. An
instance migrating toward corruption in the same nature is that of
dissolving froth or snow, for they lose their whiteness and assume the
transparency of water in its pure state without air.

Nor should we by any means omit to state, that under migrating
instances we must comprehend not only those which pass toward
generation and destruction, but also those which pass toward increase
or decrease, for they, too, assist in the discovery of the form, as is
clear from our definition of a form and the Table of Degrees. Hence
paper, which is white when dry, is less white when moistened (from
the exclusion of air and admission of water), and tends more to
transparency. The reason is the same as in the above instances.[110]

XXIV. In the third rank of prerogative instances we will class
conspicuous instances, of which we spoke in our first vintage of the
form of heat, and which we are also wont to call coruscations, or free
and predominant instances. They are such as show the required nature
in its bare substantial shape, and at its height or greatest degree
of power, emancipated and free from all impediments, or at least
overcoming, suppressing, and restraining them by the strength of its
qualities; for since every body is susceptible of many united forms of
natures in the concrete, the consequence is that they mutually deaden,
depress, break, and confine each other, and the individual forms are
obscured. But there are some subjects in which the required nature
exists in its full vigor rather than in others, either from the absence
of any impediment, or the predominance of its quality. Such instances
are eminently conspicuous. But even in these care must be taken, and
the hastiness of the understanding checked, for whatever makes a show
of the form, and forces it forward, is to be suspected, and recourse
must be had to severe and diligent exclusion.

For example, let heat be the required nature. The thermometer is a
conspicuous instance of the expansive motion, which (as has been
observed) constitutes the chief part of the form of heat; for although
flame clearly exhibits expansion, yet from its being extinguished every
moment, it does not exhibit the progress of expansion. Boiling water
again, from its rapid conversion into vapor, does not so well exhibit
the expansion of water in its own shape, while red-hot iron and the
like are so far from showing this progress, that, on the contrary, the
expansion itself is scarcely evident to the senses, on account of its
spirit being repressed and weakened by the compact and coarse particles
which subdue and restrain it. But the thermometer strikingly exhibits
the expansion of the air as being evident and progressive, durable and
not transitory.[111]

Take another example. Let the required nature be weight. Quicksilver
is a conspicuous instance of weight; for it is far heavier than any
other substance except gold, which is not much heavier, and it is a
better instance than gold for the purpose of indicating the form of
weight; for gold is solid and consistent, which qualities must be
referred to density, but quicksilver is liquid and teeming with spirit,
yet much heavier than the diamond and other substances considered to
be most solid; whence it is shown that the form of gravity or weight
predominates only in the quantity of matter, and not in the close
fitting of it.[112]

XXV. In the fourth rank of prerogative instances we will class
clandestine instances, which we are also wont to call twilight
instances; they are as it were opposed to the conspicuous instances,
for they show the required nature in its lowest state of efficacy, and
as it were its cradle and first rudiments, making an effort and a sort
of first attempt, but concealed and subdued by a contrary nature. Such
instances are, however, of great importance in discovering forms, for
as the conspicuous tend easily to differences, so do the clandestine
best lead to genera, that is, to those common natures of which the
required natures are only the limits.

As an example, let consistency, or that which confines itself, be
the required nature, the opposite of which is a liquid or flowing
state. The clandestine instances are such as exhibit some weak and low
degree of consistency in fluids, as a water bubble, which is a sort
of consistent and bounded pellicle formed out of the substance of the
water. So eaves’ droppings, if there be enough water to follow them,
draw themselves out into a thin thread, not to break the continuity
of the water, but if there be not enough to follow, the water forms
itself into a round drop, which is the best form to prevent a breach
of continuity; and at the moment the thread ceases, and the water
begins to fall in drops, the thread of water recoils upward to avoid
such a breach. Nay, in metals, which when melted are liquid but more
tenacious, the melted drops often recoil and are suspended. There is
something similar in the instance of the child’s looking-glass, which
little boys will sometimes form of spittle between rushes, and where
the same pellicle of water is observable; and still more in that other
amusement of children, when they take some water rendered a little
more tenacious by soap, and inflate it with a pipe, forming the water
into a sort of castle of bubbles, which assumes such consistency, by
the interposition of the air, as to admit of being thrown some little
distance without bursting. The best example is that of froth and snow,
which assume such consistency as almost to admit of being cut, although
composed of air and water, both liquids. All these circumstances
clearly show that the terms liquid and consistent are merely vulgar
notions adapted to the sense, and that in reality all bodies have a
tendency to avoid a breach of continuity, faint and weak in bodies
composed of homogeneous parts (as is the case with liquids), but more
vivid and powerful in those composed of heterogeneous parts, because
the approach of heterogeneous matter binds bodies together, while the
insinuation of homogeneous matter loosens and relaxes them.

Again, to take another example, let the required nature be attraction
or the cohesion of bodies. The most remarkable conspicuous instance
with regard to its form is the magnet. The contrary nature to
attraction is non-attraction, though in a similar substance. Thus
iron does not attract iron, lead lead, wood wood, nor water water.
But the clandestine instance is that of the magnet armed with iron,
or rather that of iron in the magnet so armed. For its nature is such
that the magnet when armed does not attract iron more powerfully at
any given distance than when unarmed; but if the iron be brought in
contact with the armed magnet, the latter will sustain a much greater
weight than the simple magnet, from the resemblance of substance in the
two portions of iron, a quality altogether clandestine and hidden in
the iron until the magnet was introduced. It is manifest, therefore,
that the form of cohesion is something which is vivid and robust in
the magnet, and hidden and weak in the iron. It is to be observed,
also, that small wooden arrows without an iron point, when discharged
from large mortars, penetrate further into wooden substances (such
as the ribs of ships or the like), than the same arrows pointed with
iron,[113] owing to the similarity of substance, though this quality
was previously latent in the wood. Again, although in the mass air does
not appear to attract air, nor water water, yet when one bubble is
brought near another, they are both more readily dissolved, from the
tendency to contact of the water with the water, and the air with the
air.[114] These clandestine instances (which are, as has been observed,
of the most important service) are principally to be observed in small
portions of bodies, for the larger masses observe more universal and
general forms, as will be mentioned in its proper place.[115]

XXVI. In the fifth rank of prerogative instances we will class
constitutive instances, which we are wont also to call collective
instances. They constitute a species or lesser form, as it were, of the
required nature. For since the real forms (which are always convertible
with the given nature) lie at some depth, and are not easily
discovered, the necessity of the case and the infirmity of the human
understanding require that the particular forms, which collect certain
groups of instances (but by no means all) into some common notion,
should not be neglected, but most diligently observed. For whatever
unites nature, even imperfectly, opens the way to the discovery of the
form. The instances, therefore, which are serviceable in this respect
are of no mean power, but endowed with some degree of prerogative.

Here, nevertheless, great care must be taken that, after the discovery
of several of these particular forms, and the establishing of certain
partitions or divisions of the required nature derived from them, the
human understanding do not at once rest satisfied, without preparing
for the investigation of the great or leading form, and taking it for
granted that nature is compound and divided from its very root, despise
and reject any further union as a point of superfluous refinement, and
tending to mere abstraction.

For instance, let the required nature be memory, or that which
excites and assists memory. The constitutive instances are order or
distribution, which manifestly assists memory: topics or commonplaces
in artificial memory, which may be either places in their literal
sense, as a gate, a corner, a window, and the like, or familiar persons
and marks, or anything else (provided it be arranged in a determinate
order), as animals, plants, and words, letters, characters, historical
persons, and the like, of which, however, some are more convenient than
others. All these commonplaces materially assist memory, and raise it
far above its natural strength. Verse, too, is recollected and learned
more easily than prose. From this group of three instances--order,
the commonplaces of artificial memory, and verses--is constituted
one species of aid for the memory,[116] which may be well termed a
separation from infinity. For when a man strives to recollect or recall
anything to memory, without a preconceived notion or perception of
the object of his search, he inquires about, and labors, and turns
from point to point, as if involved in infinity. But if he have any
preconceived notion, this infinity is separated off, and the range of
his memory is brought within closer limits. In the three instances
given above, the preconceived notion is clear and determined. In the
first, it must be something that agrees with order; in the second, an
image which has some relation or agreement with the fixed commonplaces;
in the third, words which fall into a verse: and thus infinity is
divided off. Other instances will offer another species, namely,
that whatever brings the intellect into contact with something that
strikes the sense (the principal point of artificial memory), assists
the memory. Others again offer another species, namely, whatever
excites an impression by any powerful passion, as fear, shame, wonder,
delight, assists the memory. Other instances will afford another
species: thus those impressions remain most fixed in the memory which
are taken from the mind when clear and least occupied by preceding
or succeeding notions, such as the things we learn in childhood, or
imagine before sleep, and the first time of any circumstance happening.
Other instances afford the following species: namely, that a multitude
of circumstances or handles assist the memory, such as writing in
paragraphs, reading aloud, or recitation. Lastly, other instances
afford still another species: thus the things we anticipate, and which
rouse our attention, are more easily remembered than transient events;
as if you read any work twenty times over, you will not learn it by
heart so readily as if you were to read it but ten times, trying each
time to repeat it, and when your memory fails you looking into the
book. There are, therefore, six lesser forms, as it were, of things
which assist the memory: namely--1, the separation of infinity; 2, the
connection of the mind with the senses; 3, the impression in strong
passion; 4, the impression on the mind when pure; 5, the multitude of
handles; 6, anticipation.

Again, for example’s sake, let the required nature be taste or the
power of tasting. The following instances are constitutive: 1. Those
who do not smell, but are deprived by nature of that sense, do not
perceive or distinguish rancid or putrid food by their taste, nor
garlic from roses, and the like. 2. Again, those whose nostrils are
obstructed by accident (such as a cold) do not distinguish any putrid
or rancid matter from anything sprinkled with rose-water. 3. If those
who suffer from a cold blow their noses violently at the very moment
in which they have anything fetid or perfumed in their mouth, or on
their palate, they instantly have a clear perception of the fetor or
perfume. These instances afford and constitute this species or division
of taste, namely, that it is in part nothing else than an internal
smelling, passing and descending through the upper passages of the
nostrils to the mouth and palate. But, on the other hand, those whose
power of smelling is deficient or obstructed, perceive what is salt,
sweet, pungent, acid, rough, and bitter, and the like, as well as any
one else: so that the taste is clearly something compounded of the
internal smelling, and an exquisite species of touch which we will not
here discuss.

Again, as another example, let the required nature be the communication
of quality, without intermixture of substance. The instance of light
will afford or constitute one species of communication, heat and
the magnet another. For the communication of light is momentary and
immediately arrested upon the removal of the original light. But heat,
and the magnetic force, when once transmitted to or excited in another
body, remain fixed for a considerable time after the removal of the

In fine, the prerogative of constitutive instances is considerable,
for they materially assist the definitions (especially in detail) and
the divisions or partitions of natures, concerning which Plato has
well said, “He who can properly define and divide is to be considered
a god.”[117]

XXVII. In the sixth rank of prerogative instances we will place similar
or proportionate instances, which we are also wont to call physical
parallels, or resemblances. They are such as exhibit the resemblances
and connection of things, not in minor forms (as the constitutive do),
but at once in the concrete. They are, therefore, as it were, the first
and lowest steps toward the union of nature; nor do they immediately
establish any axiom, but merely indicate and observe a certain relation
of bodies to each other. But although they be not of much assistance
in discovering forms, yet they are of great advantage in disclosing
the frame of parts of the universe, upon whose members they practice
a species of anatomy, and thence occasionally lead us gently on to
sublime and noble axioms, especially such as relate to the construction
of the world, rather than to simple natures and forms.

As an example, take the following similar instances: a mirror and the
eye; the formation of the ear, and places which return an echo. From
such similarity, besides observing the resemblance (which is useful
for many purposes), it is easy to collect and form this axiom. That
the organs of the senses, and bodies which produce reflections to the
senses, are of a similar nature. Again, the understanding once informed
of this, rises easily to a higher and nobler axiom; namely, that the
only distinction between sensitive and inanimate bodies, in those
points in which they agree and sympathize, is this: in the former,
animal spirit is added to the arrangement of the body, in the latter it
is wanting. So that there might be as many senses in animals as there
are points of agreement with inanimate bodies, if the animated body
were perforated, so as to allow the spirit to have access to the limb
properly disposed for action, as a fit organ. And, on the other hand,
there are, without doubt, as many motions in an inanimate as there are
senses in the animated body, though the animal spirit be absent. There
must, however, be many more motions in inanimate bodies than senses in
the animated, from the small number of organs of sense. A very plain
example of this is afforded by pains. For, as animals are liable to
many kinds and various descriptions of pains (such as those of burning,
of intense cold, of pricking, squeezing, stretching, and the like),
so is it most certain, that the same circumstances, as far as motion
is concerned, happen to inanimate bodies, such as wood or stone when
burned, frozen, pricked, cut, bent, bruised, and the like; although
there be no sensation, owing to the absence of animal spirit.

Again, wonderful as it may appear, the roots and branches of trees
are similar instances. For every vegetable swells and throws out its
constituent parts toward the circumference, both upward and downward.
And there is no difference between the roots and branches, except that
the root is buried in the earth, and the branches are exposed to the
air and sun. For if one take a young and vigorous shoot, and bend it
down to a small portion of loose earth, although it be not fixed to
the ground, yet will it immediately produce a root, and not a branch.
And, _vice versâ_, if earth be placed above, and so forced down with a
stone or any hard substance, as to confine the plant and prevent its
branching upward, it will throw out branches into the air downward.

The gums of trees, and most rock gems, are similar instances; for both
of them are exudations and filtered juices, derived in the former
instance from trees, in the latter from stones; the brightness and
clearness of both arising from a delicate and accurate filtering. For
nearly the same reason, the hair of animals is less beautiful and vivid
in its color than the plumage of most birds, because the juices are
less delicately filtered through the skin than through the quills.

The scrotum of males and matrix of females are also similar instances;
so that the noble formation which constitutes the difference of the
sexes appears to differ only as to the one being internal and the other
external; a greater degree of heat causing the genitals to protrude in
the male, while the heat of the female being too weak to effect this,
they are retained internally.

The fins of fishes and the feet of quadrupeds, or the feet and wings of
birds, are similar instances; to which Aristotle adds the four folds in
the motion of serpents;[118] so that in the formation of the universe,
the motion of animals appears to be chiefly effected by four joints or

The teeth of land animals, and the beaks of birds, are similar
instances, whence it is clear, that in all perfect animals there is a
determination of some hard substance toward the mouth.

Again, the resemblance and conformity of man to an inverted plant
is not absurd. For the head is the root of the nerves and animal
faculties, and the seminal parts are the lowest, not including the
extremities of the legs and arms. But in the plant, the root (which
resembles the head) is regularly placed in the lowest, and the seeds in
the highest part.[119]

Lastly, we must particularly recommend and suggest, that man’s present
industry in the investigation and compilation of natural history be
entirely changed, and directed to the reverse of the present system.
For it has hitherto been active and curious in noting the variety of
things, and explaining the accurate differences of animals, vegetables,
and minerals, most of which are the mere sport of nature, rather
than of any real utility as concerns the sciences. Pursuits of this
nature are certainly agreeable, and sometimes of practical advantage,
but contribute little or nothing to the thorough investigation of
nature. Our labor must therefore be directed toward inquiring into and
observing resemblances and analogies, both in the whole and its parts,
for they unite nature, and lay the foundation of the sciences.

Here, however, a severe and rigorous caution must be observed, that we
only consider as similar and proportionate instances, those which (as
we first observed) point out physical resemblances; that is, real and
substantial resemblances, deeply founded in nature, and not casual and
superficial, much less superstitious or curious; such as those which
are constantly put forward by the writers on natural magic (the most
idle of men, and who are scarcely fit to be named in connection with
such serious matters as we now treat of), who, with much vanity and
folly, describe, and sometimes too, invent, unmeaning resemblances and

But leaving such to themselves, similar instances are not to be
neglected, in the greater portions of the world’s conformation; such
as Africa and the Peruvian continent, which reaches to the Straits of
Magellan; both of which possess a similar isthmus and similar capes, a
circumstance not to be attributed to mere accident.

Again, the New and Old World are both of them broad and expanded toward
the north, and narrow and pointed toward the south.

Again, we have very remarkable similar instances in the intense cold,
toward the middle regions (as it is termed) of the air, and the violent
fires which are often found to burst from subterraneous spots, the
similarity consisting in both being ends and extremes; the extreme of
the nature of cold, for instance, is toward the boundary of heaven,
and that of the nature of heat toward the centre of the earth, by a
similar species of opposition or rejection of the contrary nature.

Lastly, in the axioms of the sciences, there is a similarity of
instances worthy of observation. Thus the rhetorical trope which is
called surprise, is similar to that of music termed the declining of
a cadence. Again--the mathematical postulate, that things which are
equal to the same are equal to one another, is similar to the form of
the syllogism in logic, which unites things agreeing in the middle
term.[120] Lastly, a certain degree of sagacity in collecting and
searching for physical points of similarity, is very useful in many

XXVIII. In the seventh rank of prerogative instances, we will place
singular instances, which we are also wont to call irregular or
heteroclite (to borrow a term from the grammarians). They are such
as exhibit bodies in the concrete, of an apparently extravagant and
separate nature, agreeing but little with other things of the same
species. For, while the similar instances resemble each other, those
we now speak of are only like themselves. Their use is much the same
with that of clandestine instances: they bring out and unite nature,
and discover genera or common natures, which must afterward be limited
by real differences. Nor should we desist from inquiry, until the
properties and qualities of those things, which may be deemed miracles,
as it were, of nature, be reduced to, and comprehended in, some form or
certain law; so that all irregularity or singularity may be found to
depend on some common form; and the miracle only consists in accurate
differences, degree, and rare coincidence, not in the species itself.
Man’s meditation proceeds no further at present, than just to consider
things of this kind as the secrets and vast efforts of nature, without
an assignable cause, and, as it were, exceptions to general rules.

As examples of singular instances, we have the sun and moon among
the heavenly bodies; the magnet among minerals; quicksilver among
metals; the elephant among quadrupeds; the venereal sensation among
the different kinds of touch; the scent of sporting dogs among those
of smell. The letter S, too, is considered by the grammarians as sui
generis, from its easily uniting with double or triple consonants,
which no other letter will. These instances are of great value, because
they excite and keep alive inquiry, and correct an understanding
depraved by habit and the common course of things.

XXIX. In the eighth rank of prerogative instances, we will place
deviating instances, such as the errors of nature, or strange and
monstrous objects, in which nature deviates and turns from her
ordinary course. For the errors of nature differ from singular
instances, inasmuch as the latter are the miracles of species, the
former of individuals. Their use is much the same, for they rectify the
understanding in opposition to habit, and reveal common forms. For with
regard to these, also, we must not desist from inquiry, till we discern
the cause of the deviation. The cause does not, however, in such cases
rise to a regular form, but only to the latent process toward such a
form. For he who is acquainted with the paths of nature, will more
readily observe her deviations; and, _vice versâ_, he who has learned
her deviations will be able more accurately to describe her paths.

They differ again from singular instances, by being much more apt for
practice and the operative branch. For it would be very difficult to
generate new species, but less so to vary known species, and thus
produce many rare and unusual results.[122] The passage from the
miracles of nature to those of art is easy; for if nature be once
seized in her variations, and the cause be manifest, it will be easy to
lead her by art to such deviation as she was at first led to by chance;
and not only to that but others, since deviations on the one side
lead and open the way to others in every direction. Of this we do not
require any examples, since they are so abundant. For a compilation, or
particular natural history, must be made of all monsters and prodigious
births of nature; of everything, in short, which is new, rare and
unusual in nature. This should be done with a rigorous selection, so as
to be worthy of credit. Those are most to be suspected which depend
upon superstition, as the prodigies of Livy, and those perhaps, but
little less, which are found in the works of writers on natural magic,
or even alchemy, and the like; for such men, as it were, are the very
suitors and lovers of fables; but our instances should be derived from
some grave and credible history, and faithful narration.

XXX. In the ninth rank of prerogative instances, we will place
bordering instances, which we are also wont to term participants. They
are such as exhibit those species of bodies which appear to be composed
of two species, or to be the rudiments between the one and the other.
They may well be classed with the singular or heteroclite instances;
for in the whole system of things, they are rare and extraordinary. Yet
from their dignity, they must be treated of and classed separately,
for they point out admirably the order and constitution of things, and
suggest the causes of the number and quality of the more common species
in the universe, leading the understanding from that which is, to that
which is possible.

We have examples of them in moss, which is something between
putrescence and a plant;[123] in some comets, which hold a place
between stars and ignited meteors; in flying fishes, between fishes and
birds; and in bats, between birds and quadrupeds.[124] Again,

  Simia quam similis turpissima bestia nobis.

We have also biformed fœtus, mingled species and the like.

XXXI. In the tenth rank of prerogative instances, we will place the
instances of power, or the fasces (to borrow a term from the insignia
of empire), which we are also wont to call the wit or hands of man.
These are such works as are most noble and perfect, and, as it were,
the masterpieces in every art. For since our principal object is to
make nature subservient to the state and wants of man, it becomes us
well to note and enumerate the works, which have long since been in the
power of man, especially those which are most polished and perfect:
because the passage from these to new and hitherto undiscovered
works, is more easy and feasible. For if any one, after an attentive
contemplation of such works as are extant, be willing to push forward
in his design with alacrity and vigor, he will undoubtedly either
advance them, or turn them to something within their immediate reach,
or even apply and transfer them to some more noble purpose.

Nor is this all: for as the understanding is elevated and raised by
rare and unusual works of nature, to investigate and discover the forms
which include them also, so is the same effect frequently produced by
the excellent and wonderful works of art; and even to a greater degree,
because the mode of effecting and constructing the miracles of art is
generally plain, while that of effecting the miracles of nature is more
obscure. Great care, however, must be taken, that they do not depress
the understanding, and fix it, as it were, to earth.

For there is some danger, lest the understanding should be astonished
and chained down, and as it were bewitched, by such works of art, as
appear to be the very summit and pinnacle of human industry, so as not
to become familiar with them, but rather to suppose that nothing of
the kind can be accomplished, unless the same means be employed, with
perhaps a little more diligence, and more accurate preparation.

Now, on the contrary, it may be stated as a fact, that the ways and
means hitherto discovered and observed, of effecting any matter or
work, are for the most part of little value, and that all really
efficient power depends, and is really to be deduced from the sources
of forms, none of which have yet been discovered.

Thus (as we have before observed), had any one meditated on ballistic
machines, and battering rams, as they were used by the ancients,
whatever application he might have exerted, and though he might have
consumed a whole life in the pursuit, yet would he never have hit upon
the invention of flaming engines, acting by means of gunpowder; nor
would any person, who had made woollen manufactories and cotton the
subject of his observation and reflection, have ever discovered thereby
the nature of the silkworm or of silk.

Hence all the most noble discoveries have (if you observe) come to
light, not by any gradual improvement and extension of the arts, but
merely by chance; while nothing imitates or anticipates chance (which
is wont to act at intervals of ages) but the invention of forms.

There is no necessity for adducing any particular examples of these
instances, since they are abundant. The plan to be pursued is this:
all the mechanical, and even the liberal arts (as far as they are
practical), should be visited and thoroughly examined, and thence there
should be formed a compilation or particular history of the great
masterpieces, or most finished works in each, as well as of the mode
of carrying them into effect.

Nor do we confine the diligence to be used in such a compilation to the
leading works and secrets only of every art, and such as excite wonder;
for wonder is engendered by rarity, since that which is rare, although
it be compounded of ordinary natures, always begets wonder.

On the contrary, that which is really wonderful, from some specific
difference distinguishing it from other species, is carelessly
observed, if it be but familiar. Yet the singular instances of art
should be observed no less than those of nature, which we have before
spoken of: and as in the latter we have classed the sun, the moon, the
magnet, and the like, all of them most familiar to us, but yet in their
nature singular, so should we proceed with the singular instances of

For example: paper, a very common substance, is a singular instance
of art; for if you consider the subject attentively, you will find
that artificial substances are either woven by straight and transverse
lines, as silk, woollen, or linen cloth, and the like; or coagulated
from concrete juices, such as brick, earthenware, glass, enamel,
porcelain and the like, which admit of a polish if they be compact, but
if not, become hard without being polished; all which latter substances
are brittle, and not adherent or tenacious. On the contrary, paper is
a tenacious substance, which can be cut and torn, so as to resemble
and almost rival the skin of any animal, or the leaf of vegetables,
and the like works of nature; being neither brittle like glass, nor
woven like cloth, but having fibres and not distinct threads, just as
natural substances, so that scarcely anything similar can be found
among artificial substances, and it is absolutely singular. And in
artificial works we should certainly prefer those which approach the
nearest to an imitation of nature, or, on the other hand, powerfully
govern and change her course.

Again, in these instances which we term the wit and hands of man,
charms and conjuring should not be altogether despised, for although
mere amusements, and of little use, yet they may afford considerable

Lastly, superstition and magic (in its common acceptation) are not to
be entirely omitted; for although they be overwhelmed by a mass of lies
and fables, yet some investigation should be made, to see if there be
really any latent natural operation in them; as in fascination, and the
fortifying of the imagination, the sympathy of distant objects, the
transmission of impressions from spirit to spirit no less than from
body to body, and the like.

XXXII. From the foregoing remarks, it is clear that the last five
species of instances (the similar, singular, deviating and bordering
instances, and those of power) should not be reserved for the
investigation of any given nature, as the preceding and many of the
succeeding instances must, but a collection of them should be made at
once, in the style of a particular history, so that they may arrange
the matter which enters the understanding, and correct its depraved
habit, for it is necessarily imbued, corrupted, perverted and distorted
by daily and habitual impressions.

They are to be used, therefore, as a preparative, for the purpose of
rectifying and purifying the understanding; for whatever withdraws it
from habit, levels and planes down its surface for the reception of the
dry and pure light of true notions.

These instances, moreover, level and prepare the way for the operative
branch, as we will mention in its proper place when speaking of the
practical deductions.

XXXIII. In the eleventh rank of prerogative instances we will place
accompanying and hostile instances. These are such as exhibit any body
or concrete, where the required nature is constantly found, as an
inseparable companion, or, on the contrary, where the required nature
is constantly avoided, and excluded from attendance, as an enemy. From
these instances may be formed certain and universal propositions,
either affirmative or negative; the subject of which will be the
concrete body, and the predicate the required nature. For particular
propositions are by no means fixed, when the required nature is found
to fluctuate and change in the concrete, either approaching and
acquired, or receding and laid aside. Hence particular propositions
have no great prerogative, except in the case of migration, of which we
have spoken above. Yet such particular propositions are of great use,
when compared with the universal, as will be mentioned in its proper
place. Nor do we require absolute affirmation or negation, even in
universal propositions, for if the exceptions be singular or rare, it
is sufficient for our purpose.

The use of accompanying instances is to narrow the affirmative of
form; for as it is narrowed by the migrating instances, where the form
must necessarily be something communicated or destroyed by the act of
migration, so it is narrowed by accompanying instances, where the form
must necessarily be something which enters into the concretion of the
body, or, on the contrary, is repugnant to it; and one who is well
acquainted with the constitution or formation of the body, will not be
far from bringing to light the form of the required nature.

For example: let the required nature be heat. Flame is an accompanying
instance; for in water, air, stone, metal, and many other substances,
heat is variable, and can approach or retire; but all flame is hot,
so that heat always accompanies the concretion of flame. We have no
hostile instance of heat; for the senses are unacquainted with the
interior of the earth, and there is no concretion of any known body
which is not susceptible of heat.

Again, let solidity be the required nature. Air is a hostile instance;
for metals may be liquid or solid, so may glass; even water may become
solid by congelation, but air cannot become solid or lose its fluidity.

With regard to these instances of fixed propositions, there are
two points to be observed, which are of importance. First, that
if there be no universal affirmative or negative, it be carefully
noted as not existing. Thus, in heat, we have observed that there
exists no universal negative, in such substances, at least, as have
come to our knowledge. Again, if the required nature be eternity or
incorruptibility, we have no universal affirmative within our sphere,
for these qualities cannot be predicated of any bodies below the
heavens, or above the interior of the earth. Secondly, to our general
propositions as to any concrete, whether affirmative or negative, we
should subjoin the concretes which appear to approach nearest to the
non-existing substances; such as the most gentle or least-burning
flames in heat, or gold in incorruptibility, since it approaches
nearest to it. For they all serve to show the limit of existence and
non-existence, and circumscribe forms, so that they cannot wander
beyond the conditions of matter.

XXXIV. In the twelfth rank of prerogative instances, we will class
those subjunctive instances, of which we spoke in the last aphorism,
and which we are also wont to call instances of extremity or limits;
for they are not only serviceable when subjoined to fixed propositions,
but also of themselves and from their own nature. They indicate with
sufficient precision the real divisions of nature, and measures of
things, and the “how far” nature effects or allows of anything, and
her passage thence to something else. Such are gold in weight, iron in
hardness, the whale in the size of animals, the dog in smell, the flame
of gunpowder in rapid expansion, and others of a like nature. Nor are
we to pass over the extremes in defect, as well as in abundance, as
spirits of wine in weight, the touchstone in softness, the worms upon
the skin in the size of animals, and the like.

XXXV. In the thirteenth rank of prerogative instances we will place
those of alliance or union. They are such as mingle and unite natures
held to be heterogeneous, and observed and marked as such in received

These instances show that the operation and effect, which is considered
peculiar to some one of such heterogeneous natures, may also be
attributed to another nature styled heterogeneous, so as to prove that
the difference of the natures is not real nor essential, but a mere
modification of a common nature. They are very serviceable, therefore,
in elevating and carrying on the mind, from differences to genera,
and in removing those phantoms and images of things, which meet it in
disguise in concrete substances.

For example: let the required nature be heat. The classification
of heat into three kinds, that of the celestial bodies, that of
animals, and that of fire, appears to be settled and admitted; and
these kinds of heat, especially one of them compared with the other
two, are supposed to be different, and clearly heterogeneous in
their essence and species, or specific nature, since the heat of the
heavenly bodies and of animals generates and cherishes, while that of
fire corrupts and destroys. We have an instance of alliance, then,
in a very common experiment, that of a vine branch admitted into a
building where there is a constant fire, by which the grapes ripen a
whole month sooner than in the air; so that fruit upon the tree can
be ripened by fire, although this appear the peculiar effect of the
sun. From this beginning, therefore, the understanding rejects all
essential difference, and easily ascends to the investigation of the
real differences between the heat of the sun and that of fire, by which
their operation is rendered dissimilar, although they partake of a
common nature.

These differences will be found to be four in number. 1. The heat of
the sun is much milder and gentler in degree than that of fire. 2. It
is much more moist in quality, especially as it is transmitted to us
through the air. 3. Which is the chief point, it is very unequal,
advancing and increased at one time, retiring and diminished at
another, which mainly contributes to the generation of bodies. For
Aristotle rightly asserted, that the principal cause of generation and
corruption on the surface of the earth was the oblique path of the sun
in the zodiac, whence its heat becomes very unequal, partly from the
alternation of night and day, partly from the succession of summer and
winter. Yet must he immediately corrupt and pervert his discovery,
by dictating to nature according to his habit, and dogmatically
assigning the cause of generation to the approach of the sun, and
that of corruption to its retreat; while, in fact, each circumstance
indifferently and not respectively contributes both to generation and
corruption; for unequal heat tends to generate and corrupt, as equable
heat does to preserve. 4. The fourth difference between the heat of the
sun and fire is of great consequence; namely, that the sun, gradually,
and for a length of time, insinuates its effects, while those of fire
(urged by the impatience of man) are brought to a termination in a
shorter space of time. But if any one were to pay attention to the
tempering of fire, and reducing it to a more moderate and gentle degree
(which may be done in various ways), and then were to sprinkle and mix
a degree of humidity with it; and, above all, were to imitate the sun
in its inequality; and, lastly, were patiently to suffer some delay
(not such, however, as is proportioned to the effects of the sun,
but more than men usually admit of in those of fire), he would soon
banish the notion of any difference, and would attempt, or equal, or
perhaps sometimes surpass the effect of the sun, by the heat of fire.
A like instance of alliance is that of reviving butterflies, benumbed
and nearly dead from cold, by the gentle warmth of fire; so that fire
is no less able to revive animals than to ripen vegetables. We may
also mention the celebrated invention of Fracastorius, of applying a
pan considerably heated to the head in desperate cases of apoplexy,
which clearly expands the animal spirits, when compressed and almost
extinguished by the humors and obstructions of the brain, and excites
them to action, as the fire would operate on water or air, and in the
result produces life. Eggs are sometimes hatched by the heat of fire,
an exact imitation of animal heat; and there are many instances of the
like nature, so that no one can doubt that the heat of fire, in many
cases, can be modified till it resemble that of the heavenly bodies and
of animals.

Again, let the required natures be motion and rest. There appears to
be a settled classification, grounded on the deepest philosophy, that
natural bodies either revolve, move in a straight line, or stand still
and rest. For there is either motion without limit, or continuance
within a certain limit, or a translation toward a certain limit. The
eternal motion of revolution appears peculiar to the heavenly bodies,
rest to this our globe, and the other bodies (heavy and light, as they
are termed, that is to say, placed out of their natural position) are
borne in a straight line to masses or aggregates which resemble them,
the light toward the heaven, the heavy toward the earth; and all this
is very fine language.

But we have an instance of alliance in low comets, which revolve,
though far below the heavens; and the fiction of Aristotle, of the
comet being fixed to, or necessarily following some star, has been
long since exploded; not only because it is improbable in itself, but
from the evident fact of the discursive and irregular motion of comets
through various parts of the heavens.[125]

Another instance of alliance is that of the motion of air, which
appears to revolve from east to west within the tropics, where the
circles of revolution are the greatest.

The flow and ebb of the sea would perhaps be another instance, if the
water were once found to have a motion of revolution, though slow and
hardly perceptible, from east to west, subject, however, to a reaction
twice a day. If this be so, it is clear that the motion of revolution
is not confined to the celestial bodies, but is shared, also, by air
and water.

Again--the supposed peculiar disposition of light bodies to rise is
rather shaken; and here we may find an instance of alliance in a water
bubble. For if air be placed under water, it rises rapidly toward
the surface by that striking motion (as Democritus terms it) with
which the descending water strikes the air and raises it, not by any
struggle or effort of the air itself; and when it has reached the
surface of the water, it is prevented from ascending any further, by
the slight resistance it meets with in the water, which does not allow
an immediate separation of its parts, so that the tendency of the air
to rise must be very slight.

Again, let the required nature be weight. It is certainly a received
classification, that dense and solid bodies are borne toward the centre
of the earth, and rare and light bodies to the circumference of the
heavens, as their appropriate places. As far as relates to places
(though these things have much weight in the schools), the notion of
there being any determinate place is absurd and puerile. Philosophers
trifle, therefore, when they tell you, that if the earth were
perforated, heavy bodies would stop on their arrival at the centre.
This centre would indeed be an efficacious nothing, or mathematical
point, could it affect bodies or be sought by them, for a body is not
acted upon except by a body.[126] In fact, this tendency to ascend
and descend is either in the conformation of the moving body, or in
its harmony and sympathy with another body. But if any dense and solid
body be found, which does not, however, tend toward the earth, the
classification is at an end. Now, if we allow of Gilbert’s opinion,
that the magnetic power of the earth, in attracting heavy bodies, is
not extended beyond the limit of its peculiar virtue (which operates
always at a fixed distance and no further),[127] and this be proved by
some instance, such an instance will be one of alliance in our present
subject. The nearest approach to it is that of waterspouts, frequently
seen by persons navigating the Atlantic toward either of the Indies.
For the force and mass of the water suddenly effused by waterspouts,
appears to be so considerable, that the water must have been collected
previously, and have remained fixed where it was formed, until it was
afterward forced down by some violent cause, rather than made to fall
by the natural motion of gravity: so that it may be conjectured that
a dense and compact mass, at a great distance from the earth, may be
suspended as the earth itself is, and would not fall, unless forced
down. We do not, however, affirm this as certain. In the meanwhile,
both in this respect and many others, it will readily be seen how
deficient we are in natural history, since we are forced to have
recourse to suppositions for examples, instead of ascertained instances.

Again, let the required nature be the discursive power of the mind.
The classification of human reason and animal instinct appears to be
perfectly correct. Yet there are some instances of the actions of
brutes which seem to show that they, too, can syllogize. Thus it is
related, that a crow, which had nearly perished from thirst in a great
drought, saw some water in the hollow trunk of a tree, but as it was
too narrow for him to get into it, he continued to throw in pebbles,
which made the water rise till he could drink; and it afterward became
a proverb.

Again, let the required nature be vision. The classification
appears real and certain, which considers light as that which is
originally visible, and confers the power of seeing; and color, as
being secondarily visible, and not capable of being seen without
light, so as to appear a mere image or modification of light. Yet
there are instances of alliance in each respect; as in snow when in
great quantities, and in the flame of sulphur; the one being a color
originally and in itself light, the other a light verging toward

XXXVI. In the fourteenth rank of prerogative instances, we will place
the instances of the cross, borrowing our metaphor from the crosses
erected where two roads meet, to point out the different directions.
We are wont also to call them decisive and judicial instances, and in
some cases instances of the oracle and of command. Their nature is as
follows: When in investigating any nature the understanding is, as it
were, balanced, and uncertain to which of two or more natures the cause
of the required nature should be assigned, on account of the frequent
and usual concurrence of several natures, the instances of the cross
show that the union of one nature with the required nature is firm
and indissoluble, while that of the other is unsteady and separable;
by which means the question is decided, and the first is received as
the cause, while the other is dismissed and rejected. Such instances,
therefore, afford great light, and are of great weight, so that the
course of interpretation sometimes terminates, and is completed in
them. Sometimes, however, they are found among the instances already
observed, but they are generally new, being expressly and purposely
sought for and applied, and brought to light only by attentive and
active diligence.

For example: let the required nature be the flow and ebb of the sea,
which is repeated twice a day, at intervals of six hours between each
advance and retreat, with some little difference, agreeing with the
motion of the moon. We have here the following crossways:

This motion must be occasioned either by the advancing and the retiring
of the sea, like water shaken in a basin, which leaves one side while
it washes the other; or by the rising of the sea from the bottom,
and its again subsiding, like boiling water. But a doubt arises, to
which of these causes we should assign the flow and ebb. If the first
assertion be admitted, it follows, that when there is a flood on
one side, there must at the same time be an ebb on another, and the
question therefore is reduced to this. Now Acosta, and some others,
after a diligent inquiry, have observed that the flood tide takes place
on the coast of Florida, and the opposite coasts of Spain and Africa,
at the same time, as does also the ebb; and that there is not, on the
contrary, a flood tide at Florida when there is an ebb on the coasts
of Spain and Africa. Yet if one consider the subject attentively,
this does not prove the necessity of a rising motion, nor refute the
notion of a progressive motion. For the motion may be progressive, and
yet inundate the opposite shores of a channel at the same time; as if
the waters be forced and driven together from some other quarter, for
instance, which takes place in rivers, for they flow and ebb toward
each bank at the same time, yet their motion is clearly progressive,
being that of the waters from the sea entering their mouths. So it may
happen, that the waters coming in a vast body from the eastern Indian
Ocean are driven together, and forced into the channel of the Atlantic,
and therefore inundate both coasts at once. We must inquire, therefore,
if there be any other channel by which the waters can at the same time
sink and ebb; and the Southern Ocean at once suggests itself, which is
not less than the Atlantic, but rather broader and more extensive than
is requisite for this effect.

We at length arrive, then, at an instance of the cross, which is this.
If it be positively discovered, that when the flood sets in toward
the opposite coasts of Florida and Spain in the Atlantic, there is at
the same time a flood tide on the coasts of Peru and the back part
of China, in the Southern Ocean, then assuredly, from this decisive
instance, we must reject the assertion, that the flood and ebb of the
sea, about which we inquire, takes place by progressive motion; for
no other sea or place is left where there can be an ebb. But this may
most easily be learned, by inquiring of the inhabitants of Panama and
Lima (where the two oceans are separated by a narrow isthmus), whether
the flood and ebb takes place on the opposite sides of the isthmus
at the same time, or the reverse. This decision or rejection appears
certain, if it be granted that the earth is fixed; but if the earth
revolves, it may perhaps happen, that from the unequal revolution (as
regards velocity) of the earth and the waters of the sea, there may
be a violent forcing of the waters into a mass, forming the flood,
and a subsequent relaxation of them (when they can no longer bear the
accumulation), forming the ebb. A separate inquiry must be made into
this. Even with this hypothesis, however, it remains equally true, that
there must be an ebb somewhere, at the same time that there is a flood
in another quarter.

Again, let the required nature be the latter of the two motions we
have supposed; namely, that of a rising and subsiding motion, if it
should happen that upon diligent examination the progressive motion
be rejected. We have, then, three ways before us, with regard to this
nature. The motion, by which the waters raise themselves, and again
fall back, in the floods and ebbs, without the addition of any other
water rolled toward them, must take place in one of the three following
ways: Either the supply of water emanates from the interior of the
earth, and returns back again; or there is really no greater quantity
of water, but the same water (without any augmentation of its quantity)
is extended or rarefied, so as to occupy a greater space and dimension,
and again contracts itself; or there is neither an additional supply
nor any extension, but the same waters (with regard to quantity,
density, or rarity) raise themselves and fall from sympathy, by some
magnetic power attracting and calling them up, as it were, from
above. Let us then (passing over the first two motions) reduce the
investigation to the last, and inquire if there be any such elevation
of the water by sympathy or a magnetic force; and it is evident, in the
first place, that the whole mass of water being placed in the trench
or cavity of the sea, cannot be raised at once, because there would
not be enough to cover the bottom, so that if there be any tendency of
this kind in the water to raise itself, yet it would be interrupted
and checked by the cohesion of things, or (as the common expression
is) that there may be no vacuum. The water, therefore, must rise on
one side, and for that reason be diminished and ebb on another. But it
will again necessarily follow that the magnetic power not being able to
operate on the whole, operates most intensely on the centre, so as to
raise the waters there, which, when thus raised successively, desert
and abandon the sides.[129]

We at length arrive, then, at an instance of the cross, which is this:
if it be found that during the ebb the surface of the waters at sea
is more curved and round, from the waters rising in the middle, and
sinking at the sides or coast, and if, during a flood, it be more even
and level, from the waters returning to their former position, then
assuredly, by this decisive instance, the raising of them by a magnetic
force can be admitted; if otherwise, it must be entirely rejected.
It is not difficult to make the experiment (by sounding in straits),
whether the sea be deeper toward the middle in ebbs, than in floods.
But it must be observed, if this be the case, that (contrary to common
opinion) the waters rise in ebbs, and only return to their former
position in floods, so as to bathe and inundate the coast.

Again, let the required nature be the spontaneous motion of revolution,
and particularly, whether the diurnal motion, by which the sun and
stars appear to us to rise and set, be a real motion of revolution in
the heavenly bodies, or only apparent in them, and real in the earth.
There may be an instance of the cross of the following nature. If there
be discovered any motion in the ocean from east to west, though very
languid and weak, and if the same motion be discovered rather more
swift in the air (particularly within the tropics, where it is more
perceptible from the circles being greater). If it be discovered also
in the low comets, and be already quick and powerful in them; if it
be found also in the planets, but so tempered and regulated as to be
slower in those nearest the earth, and quicker in those at the greatest
distance, being quickest of all in the heavens, then the diurnal motion
should certainly be considered as real in the heavens, and that of the
earth must be rejected; for it will be evident that the motion from
east to west is part of the system of the world and universal; since it
is most rapid in the height of the heavens, and gradually grows weaker,
till it stops and is extinguished in rest at the earth.

Again, let the required nature be that other motion of revolution,
so celebrated among astronomers, which is contrary to the diurnal,
namely, from west to east--and which the ancient astronomers assign
to the planets, and even to the starry sphere, but Copernicus and his
followers to the earth also--and let it be examined whether any such
motion be found in nature, or it be rather a fiction and hypothesis
for abridging and facilitating calculation, and for promoting that
fine notion of effecting the heavenly motions by perfect circles; for
there is nothing which proves such a motion in heavenly objects to be
true and real, either in a planet’s not returning in its diurnal motion
to the same point of the starry sphere, or in the pole of the zodiac
being different from that of the world, which two circumstances have
occasioned this notion. For the first phenomenon is well accounted for
by the spheres overtaking or falling behind each other, and the second
by spiral lines; so that the inaccuracy of the return and declination
to the tropics may be rather modifications of the one diurnal motion
than contrary motions, or about different poles. And it is most
certain, if we consider ourselves for a moment as part of the vulgar
(setting aside the fictions of astronomers and the school, who are
wont undeservedly to attack the senses in many respects, and to affect
obscurity), that the apparent motion is such as we have said, a model
of which we have sometimes caused to be represented by wires in a sort
of a machine.

We may take the following instances of the cross upon this subject. If
it be found in any history worthy of credit, that there has existed any
comet, high or low, which has not revolved in manifest harmony (however
irregularly) with the diurnal motion, then we may decide so far as to
allow such a motion to be possible in nature. But if nothing of the
sort be found, it must be suspected, and recourse must be had to other
instances of the cross.

Again, let the required nature be weight or gravity. Heavy and
ponderous bodies must, either of their own nature, tend toward the
centre of the earth by their peculiar formation, or must be attracted
and hurried by the corporeal mass of the earth itself, as being an
assemblage of similar bodies, and be drawn to it by sympathy. But if
the latter be the cause, it follows that the nearer bodies approach to
the earth, the more powerfully and rapidly they must be borne toward
it, and the further they are distant, the more faintly and slowly (as
is the case in magnetic attractions), and that this must happen within
a given distance; so that if they be separated at such a distance from
the earth that the power of the earth cannot act upon them, they will
remain suspended like the earth, and not fall at all.[130]

The following instance of the cross may be adopted. Take a clock moved
by leaden weights,[131] and another by a spring, and let them be set
well together, so that one be neither quicker nor slower than the
other; then let the clock moved by weights be placed on the top of
a very high church, and the other be kept below, and let it be well
observed, if the former move slower than it did, from the diminished
power of the weights. Let the same experiment be made at the bottom
of mines worked to a considerable depth, in order to see whether the
clock move more quickly from the increased power of the weights. But
if this power be found to diminish at a height, and to increase in
subterraneous places, the attraction of the corporeal mass of the earth
may be taken as the cause of weight.

Again, let the required nature be the polarity of the steel needle when
touched with the magnet. We have these two ways with regard to this
nature--Either the touch of the magnet must communicate polarity to
the steel toward the north and south, or else it may only excite and
prepare it, while the actual motion is occasioned by the presence of
the earth, which Gilbert considers to be the case, and endeavors to
prove with so much labor. The particulars he has inquired into with
such ingenious zeal amount to this--1. An iron bolt placed for a long
time toward the north and south acquires polarity from this habit,
without the touch of the magnet, as if the earth itself operating
but weakly from its distance (for the surface or outer crust of the
earth does not, in his opinion, possess the magnetic power), yet, by
long continued motion, could supply the place of the magnet, excite
the iron, and convert and change it when excited. 2. Iron, at a red
or white heat, when quenched in a direction parallel to the north
and south, also acquires polarity without the touch of the magnet, as
if the parts of iron being put in motion by ignition, and afterward
recovering themselves, were, at the moment of being quenched, more
susceptible and sensitive of the power emanating from the earth, than
at other times, and therefore as it were excited. But these points,
though well observed, do not completely prove his assertion.

An instance of the cross on this point might be as follows: Let a small
magnetic globe be taken, and its poles marked, and placed toward the
east and west, not toward the north and south, and let it continue
thus. Then let an untouched needle be placed over it, and suffered
to remain so for six or seven days. Now, the needle (for this is not
disputed), while it remains over the magnet, will leave the poles of
the world and turn to those of the magnet, and therefore, as long as it
remains in the above position, will turn to the east and west. But if
the needle, when removed from the magnet and placed upon a pivot, be
found immediately to turn to the north and south, or even by degrees
to return thither, then the presence of the earth must be considered
as the cause, but if it remains turned as at first, toward the east
and west, or lose its polarity, then that cause must be suspected, and
further inquiry made.

Again, let the required nature be the corporeal substance of the
moon, whether it be rare, fiery, and aërial (as most of the ancient
philosophers have thought), or solid and dense (as Gilbert and many
of the moderns, with some of the ancients, hold).[132] The reasons
for this latter opinion are grounded chiefly upon this, that the
moon reflects the sun’s rays, and that light does not appear capable
of being reflected except by solids. The instances of the cross will
therefore (if any) be such as to exhibit reflection by a rare body,
such as flame, if it be but sufficiently dense. Now, certainly, one
of the reasons of twilight is the reflection[133] of the rays of the
sun by the upper part of the atmosphere. We see the sun’s rays also
reflected on fine evenings by streaks of moist clouds, with a splendor
not less, but perhaps more bright and glorious than that reflected
from the body of the moon, and yet it is not clear that those clouds
have formed into a dense body of water. We see, also, that the dark
air behind the windows at night reflects the light of a candle in the
same manner as a dense body would do.[134] The experiment should also
be made of causing the sun’s rays to fall through a hole upon some dark
and bluish flame. The unconfined rays of the sun, when falling on faint
flames, do certainly appear to deaden them, and render them more like
white smoke than flames. These are the only instances which occur at
present of the nature of those of the cross, and better perhaps can
be found. But it must always be observed that reflection is not to
be expected from flame, unless it be of some depth, for otherwise it
becomes nearly transparent. This at least may be considered certain,
that light is always either received and transmitted or reflected by an
even surface.

Again, let the required nature be the motion of projectiles (such
as darts, arrows, and balls) through the air. The school, in its
usual manner, treats this very carelessly, considering it enough to
distinguish it by the name of violent motion, from that which they
term natural, and as far as regards the first percussion or impulse,
satisfies itself by its axiom, that two bodies cannot exist in one
place, or there would be a penetration of dimensions. With regard to
this nature we have these two crossways--The motion must arise either
from the air carrying the projected body, and collecting behind it,
like a stream behind boats, or the wind behind straws; or from the
parts of the body itself not supporting the impression, but pushing
themselves forward in succession to ease it. Fracastorius, and nearly
all those who have entered into any refined inquiry upon the subject,
adopt the first. Nor can it be doubted that the air has some effect,
yet the other motion is without doubt real, as is clear from a vast
number of experiments. Among others we may take this instance of the
cross, namely, that a thin plate or wire of iron rather stiff, or even
a reed or pen split in two, when drawn up and bent between the finger
and thumb, will leap forward; for it is clear that this cannot be
attributed to the air’s being collected behind the body, because the
source of motion is in the centre of the plate or pen, and not in its

Again, let the required nature be the rapid and powerful motion of the
explosion of gunpowder, by which such vast masses are upheaved, and
such weights discharged as we observe in large mines and mortars, there
are two crossways before us with regard to this nature. This motion
is excited either by the mere effort of the body expanding itself when
inflamed, or by the assisting effort of the crude spirit, which escapes
rapidly from fire, and bursts violently from the surrounding flame as
from a prison. The school, however, and common opinion only consider
the first effort; for men think that they are great philosophers when
they assert that flame, from the form of the element, is endowed with
a kind of necessity of occupying a greater space than the same body
had occupied when in the form of powder, and that thence proceeds the
motion in question. In the meantime they do not observe, that although
this may be true, on the supposition of flame being generated, yet the
generation may be impeded by a weight of sufficient force to compress
and suffocate it, so that no such necessity exists as they assert. They
are right, indeed, in imagining that the expansion and the consequent
emission or removal of the opposing body, is necessary if flame be once
generated, but such a necessity is avoided if the solid opposing mass
suppress the flame before it be generated; and we in fact see that
flame, especially at the moment of its generation, is mild and gentle,
and requires a hollow space where it can play and try its force. The
great violence of the effect, therefore, cannot be attributed to this
cause; but the truth is, that the generation of these exploding flames
and fiery blasts arises from the conflict of two bodies of a decidedly
opposite nature--the one very inflammable, as is the sulphur, the
other having an antipathy to flame, namely, the crude spirit of the
nitre; so that an extraordinary conflict takes place while the sulphur
is becoming inflamed as far as it can (for the third body, the willow
charcoal, merely incorporates and conveniently unites the two others),
and the spirit of nitre is escaping, as far also as it can, and at
the same time expanding itself (for air, and all crude substances,
and water are expanded by heat), fanning thus, in every direction,
the flame of the sulphur by its escape and violence, just as if by
invisible bellows.

Two kinds of instances of the cross might here be used--the one of
very inflammable substances, such as sulphur and camphor, naphtha and
the like, and their compounds, which take fire more readily and easily
than gunpowder if left to themselves (and this shows that the effort
to catch fire does not of itself produce such a prodigious effect);
the other of substances which avoid and repel flame, such as all
salts; for we see that when they are cast into the fire, the aqueous
spirit escapes with a crackling noise before flame is produced, which
also happens in a less degree in stiff leaves, from the escape of
the aqueous part before the oily part has caught fire. This is more
particularly observed in quicksilver, which is not improperly called
mineral water, and which, without any inflammation, nearly equals the
force of gunpowder by simple explosion and expansion, and is said, when
mixed with gunpowder, to increase its force.

Again, let the required nature be the transitory nature of flame and
its momentaneous extinction; for to us the nature of flame does not
appear to be fixed or settled, but to be generated from moment to
moment, and to be every instant extinguished; it being clear that
those flames which continue and last, do not owe their continuance to
the same mass of flame, but to a continued succession of new flame
regularly generated, and that the same identical flame does not
continue. This is easily shown by removing the food or source of the
flame, when it at once goes out. We have the two following crossways
with regard to this nature:

This momentary nature either arises from the cessation of the cause
which first produced it, as in light, sounds, and violent motions,
as they are termed, or flame may be capable, by its own nature, of
duration, but is subjected to some violence from the contrary natures
which surround it, and is destroyed.

We may therefore adopt the following instance of the cross. We see
to what a height the flames rise in great conflagrations; for as the
base of the flame becomes more extensive, its vertex is more lofty.
It appears, then, that the commencement of the extinction takes place
at the sides, where the flame is compressed by the air, and is ill
at ease; but the centre of the flame, which is untouched by the air
and surrounded by flame, continues the same, and is not extinguished
until compressed by degrees by the air attacking it from the sides.
All flame, therefore, is pyramidal, having its base near the source,
and its vertex pointed from its being resisted by the air, and not
supplied from the source. On the contrary, the smoke, which is narrow
at the base, expands in its ascent, and resembles an inverted pyramid,
because the air admits the smoke, but compresses the flame; for let
no one dream that the lighted flame is air, since they are clearly

The instance of the cross will be more accurate, if the experiment can
be made by flames of different colors. Take, therefore, a small metal
sconce, and place a lighted taper in it, then put it in a basin, and
pour a small quantity of spirits of wine round the sconce, so as not to
reach its edge, and light the spirit. Now the flame of the spirit will
be blue, and that of the taper yellow; observe, therefore, whether the
latter (which can easily be distinguished from the former by its color,
for flames do not mix immediately, as liquids do) continue pyramidal,
or tend more to a globular figure, since there is nothing to destroy or
compress it. If the latter result be observed, it must be considered
as settled, that flame continues positively the same, while inclosed
within another flame, and not exposed to the resisting force of the air.

Let this suffice for the instances of the cross. We have dwelt the
longer upon them in order gradually to teach and accustom mankind to
judge of nature by these instances, and enlightening experiments, and
not by probable reasons.[135]

XXXVII. We will treat of the instances of divorce as the fifteenth of
our prerogative instances. They indicate the separation of natures of
the most common occurrence. They differ, however, from those subjoined
to the accompanying instances; for the instances of divorce point out
the separation of a particular nature from some concrete substance with
which it is usually found in conjunction, while the hostile instances
point out the total separation of one nature from another. They differ,
also, from the instances of the cross, because they decide nothing, but
only inform us that the one nature is capable of being separated from
the other. They are of use in exposing false forms, and dissipating
hasty theories derived from obvious facts; so that they add ballast and
weight, as it were, to the understanding.

For instance, let the acquired natures be those four which Telesius
terms associates, and of the same family, namely, heat, light, rarity,
and mobility, or promptitude to motion; yet many instances of divorce
can be discovered between them. Air is rare and easily moved, but
neither hot nor light; the moon is light but not hot; boiling water is
warm but not light; the motion of the needle in the compass is swift
and active, and yet its substance is cold, dense, and opaque; and there
are many similar examples.

Again, let the required natures be corporeal nature and natural action.
The latter appears incapable of subsisting without some body, yet may
we, perhaps, even here find an instance of divorce, as in the magnetic
motion, which draws the iron to the magnet, and heavy bodies to the
globe of the earth; to which we may add other actions which operate at
a distance. For such action takes place in time, by distinct moments,
not in an instant; and in space, by regular degrees and distances.
There is, therefore, some one moment of time and some interval of
space, in which the power or action is suspended between the two bodies
creating the motion. Our consideration, then, is reduced to this,
whether the bodies which are the extremes of motion prepare or alter
the intermediate bodies, so that the power advances from one extreme
to the other by succession and actual contact, and in the meantime
exists in some intermediate body; or whether there exists in reality
nothing but the bodies, the power, and the space? In the case of the
rays of light, sounds, and heat, and some other objects which operate
at a distance, it is indeed probable that the intermediate bodies
are prepared and altered, the more so because a qualified medium is
required for their operation. But the magnetic or attractive power
admits of an indifferent medium, and it is not impeded in any. But
if that power or action is independent of the intermediate body, it
follows that it is a natural power or action existing in a certain time
and space without any body, since it exists neither in the extreme nor
in the intermediate bodies. Hence the magnetic action may be taken as
an instance of divorce of corporeal nature and natural action; to which
we may add, as a corollary and an advantage not to be neglected, that
it may be taken as a proof of essence and substance being separate and
incorporeal, even by those who philosophize according to the senses.
For if natural power and action emanating from a body can exist at any
time and place entirely without any body, it is nearly a proof that
it can also emanate originally from an incorporeal substance; for a
corporeal nature appears to be no less necessary for supporting and
conveying, than for exciting or generating natural action.

XXXVIII. Next follow five classes of instances which we are wont to
call by the general term of instances of the lamp, or of immediate
information. They are such as assist the senses; for since every
interpretation of nature sets out from the senses, and leads, by a
regular fixed and well-established road, from the perceptions of
the senses to those of the understanding (which are true notions
and axioms), it necessarily follows, that in proportion as the
representatives or ministerings of the senses are more abundant and
accurate, everything else must be more easy and successful.

The first of these five sets of instances of the lamp, strengthen,
enlarge, and correct the immediate operations of the senses; the second
reduce to the sphere of the senses such matters as are beyond it; the
third indicate the continued process or series of such things and
motions, as for the most part are only observed in their termination,
or in periods; the fourth supply the absolute wants of the senses; the
fifth excite their attention and observation, and at the same time
limit the subtilty of things. We will now proceed to speak of them

XXXIX. In the sixteenth rank, then, of prerogative instances, we will
place the instances of the door or gate, by which name we designate
such as assist the immediate action of the senses. It is obvious,
that sight holds the first rank among the senses, with regard to
information, for which reason we must seek principally helps for that
sense. These helps appear to be threefold, either to enable it to
perceive objects not naturally seen, or to see them from a greater
distance, or to see them more accurately and distinctly.

We have an example of the first (not to speak of spectacles and the
like, which only correct and remove the infirmity of a deficient
sight, and therefore give no further information) in the lately
invented microscopes, which exhibit the latent and invisible minutiæ
of substances, and their hidden formation and motion, by wonderfully
increasing their apparent magnitude. By their assistance we behold
with astonishment the accurate form and outline of a flea, moss, and
animalculæ, as well as their previously invisible color and motion.
It is said, also, that an apparently straight line, drawn with a
pen or pencil, is discovered by such a microscope to be very uneven
and curved, because neither the motion of the hand, when assisted
by a ruler, nor the impression of ink or color, are really regular,
although the irregularities are so minute as not to be perceptible
without the assistance of the microscope. Men have (as is usual in
new and wonderful discoveries) added a superstitious remark, that
the microscope sheds a lustre on the works of nature, and dishonor
on those of art, which only means that the tissue of nature is much
more delicate than that of art. For the microscope is only of use for
minute objects, and Democritus, perhaps, if he had seen it, would have
exulted in the thought of a means being discovered for seeing his atom,
which he affirmed to be entirely invisible. But the inadequacy of these
microscopes, for the observation of any but the most minute bodies, and
even of those if parts of a larger body, destroys their utility; for
if the invention could be extended to greater bodies, or the minute
parts of greater bodies, so that a piece of cloth would appear like a
net, and the latent minutiæ and irregularities of gems, liquids, urine,
blood, wounds, and many other things could be rendered visible, the
greatest advantage would, without doubt, be derived.

We have an instance of the second kind in the telescope, discovered
by the wonderful exertions of Galileo; by the assistance of which a
nearer intercourse may be opened (as by boats or vessels) between
ourselves and the heavenly objects. For by its aid we are assured
that the Milky Way is but a knot or constellation of small stars,
clearly defined and separate, which the ancients only conjectured to
be the case; whence it appears to be capable of demonstration, that
the spaces of the planetary orbits (as they are termed) are not quite
destitute of other stars, but that the heaven begins to glitter with
stars before we arrive at the starry sphere, although they may be too
small to be visible without the telescope. By the telescope, also, we
can behold the revolutions of smaller stars round Jupiter, whence it
may be conjectured that there are several centres of motion among the
stars. By its assistance, also, the irregularity of light and shade on
the moon’s surface is more clearly observed and determined, so as to
allow of a sort of selenography.[136] By the telescope we see the spots
in the sun, and other similar phenomena; all of which are most noble
discoveries, as far as credit can be safely given to demonstrations
of this nature, which are on this account very suspicious, namely,
that experiment stops at these few, and nothing further has yet
been discovered by the same method, among objects equally worthy of

We have instances of the third kind in measuring-rods, astrolabes,
and the like, which do not enlarge, but correct and guide the sight.
If there be other instances which assist the other senses in their
immediate and individual action, yet if they add nothing further to
their information they are not apposite to our present purpose, and we
have therefore said nothing of them.

XL. In the seventeenth rank of prerogative instances we will place
citing instances (to borrow a term from the tribunals), because they
cite those things to appear, which have not yet appeared. We are wont
also to call them invoking instances, and their property is that of
reducing to the sphere of the senses objects which do not immediately
fall within it.

Objects escape the senses either from their distance, or the
intervention of other bodies, or because they are not calculated
to make an impression upon the senses, or because they are not in
sufficient quantity to strike the senses, or because there is not
sufficient time for their acting upon the senses, or because the
impression is too violent, or because the senses are previously filled
and possessed by the object, so as to leave no room for any new motion.
These remarks apply principally to sight, and next to touch, which two
senses act extensively in giving information, and that too upon general
objects, while the remaining three inform us only, as it were, by their
immediate action, and as to specific objects.

There can be no reduction to the sphere of the senses in the first
case, unless in the place of the object, which cannot be perceived
on account of the distance, there be added or substituted some other
object, which can excite and strike the sense from a greater distance,
as in the communication of intelligence by fires, bells, and the like.

In the second case we effect this reduction by rendering those things
which are concealed by the interposition of other bodies, and which
cannot easily be laid open, evident to the senses by means of that
which lies at the surface, or proceeds from the interior; thus the
state of the body is judged of by the pulse, urine, etc.

The third and fourth cases apply to many subjects, and the reduction
to the sphere of the senses must be obtained from every quarter in the
investigation of things. There are many examples. It is obvious that
air, and spirit, and the like, whose whole substance is extremely rare
and delicate, can neither be seen nor touched--a reduction, therefore,
to the senses becomes necessary in every investigation relating to such

Let the required nature, therefore, be the action and motion of the
spirit inclosed in tangible bodies; for every tangible body with which
we are acquainted contains an invisible and intangible spirit, over
which it is drawn, and which it seems to clothe. This spirit being
emitted from a tangible substance, leaves the body contracted and dry;
when retained, it softens and melts it; when neither wholly emitted nor
retained, it models it, endows it with limbs, assimilates, manifests,
organizes it, and the like. All these points are reduced to the sphere
of the senses by manifest effects.

For in every tangible and inanimate body the inclosed spirit at first
increases, and as it were feeds on the tangible parts which are most
open and prepared for it; and when it has digested and modified them,
and turned them into spirit, it escapes with them. This formation and
increase of spirit is rendered sensible by the diminution of weight;
for in every desiccation something is lost in quantity, not only of
the spirit previously existing in the body, but of the body itself,
which was previously tangible, and has been recently changed, for the
spirit itself has no weight. The departure or emission of spirit is
rendered sensible in the rust of metals, and other putrefactions of a
like nature, which stop before they arrive at the rudiments of life,
which belong to the third species of process.[137] In compact bodies
the spirit does not find pores and passages for its escape, and is
therefore obliged to force out, and drive before it, the tangible parts
also, which consequently protrude, whence arises rust and the like. The
contraction of the tangible parts, occasioned by the emission of part
of the spirit (whence arises desiccation), is rendered sensible by the
increased hardness of the substance, and still more by the fissures,
contractions, shrivelling, and folds of the bodies thus produced. For
the parts of wood split and contract, skins become shrivelled, and not
only that, but, if the spirit be emitted suddenly by the heat of the
fire, become so hastily contracted as to twist and roll themselves up.

On the contrary, when the spirit is retained, and yet expanded and
excited by heat or the like (which happens in solid and tenacious
bodies), then the bodies are softened, as in hot iron; or flow, as in
metals; or melt, as in gums, wax, and the like. The contrary effects
of heat, therefore (hardening some substances and melting others), are
easily reconciled,[138] because the spirit is emitted in the former,
and agitated and retained in the latter; the latter action is that of
heat and the spirit, the former that of the tangible parts themselves,
after the spirit’s emission.

But when the spirit is neither entirely retained nor emitted, but
only strives and exercises itself, within its limits, and meets with
tangible parts, which obey and readily follow it wherever it leads
them, then follows the formation of an organic body, and of limbs, and
the other vital actions of vegetables and animals. These are rendered
sensible chiefly by diligent observation of the first beginnings, and
rudiments or effects of life in animalculæ sprung from putrefaction, as
in the eggs of ants, worms, mosses, frogs after rain, etc. Both a mild
heat and a pliant substance, however, are necessary for the production
of life, in order that the spirit may neither hastily escape, nor be
restrained by the obstinacy of the parts, so as not to be able to bend
and model them like wax.

Again, the difference of spirit which is important and of effect
in many points (as unconnected spirit, branching spirit, branching
and cellular spirit, the first of which is that of all inanimate
substances, the second of vegetables, and the third of animals), is
placed, as it were, before the eyes by many reducing instances.

Again, it is clear that the more refined tissue and conformation of
things (though forming the whole body of visible or tangible objects)
are neither visible nor tangible. Our information, therefore, must
here also be derived from reduction to the sphere of the senses. But
the most radical and primary difference of formation depends on the
abundance or scarcity of matter within the same space or dimensions.
For the other formations which regard the dissimilarity of the parts
contained in the same body, and their collocation and position, are
secondary in comparison with the former.

Let the required nature then be the expansion or coherence of matter in
different bodies, or the quantity of matter relative to the dimensions
of each. For there is nothing in nature more true than the twofold
proposition--that nothing proceeds from nothing and that nothing is
reduced to nothing, but that the quantum, or sum total of matter, is
constant, and is neither increased nor diminished. Nor is it less true,
that out of this given quantity of matter, there is a greater or less
quantity, contained within the same space or dimensions according to
the difference of bodies; as, for instance, water contains more than
air. So that if any one were to assert that a given content of water
can be changed into an equal content of air, it is the same as if he
were to assert that something can be reduced into nothing. On the
contrary, if any one were to assert that a given content of air can be
changed into an equal content of water, it is the same as if he were
to assert that something can proceed from nothing. From this abundance
or scarcity of matter are properly derived the notions of density and
rarity, which are taken in various and promiscuous senses.

This third assertion may be considered as being also sufficiently
certain; namely, that the greater or less quantity of matter in this or
that body, may, by comparison, be reduced to calculation, and exact, or
nearly exact, proportion. Thus, if one should say that there is such
an accumulation of matter in a given quantity of gold, that it would
require twenty-one times the quantity in dimension of spirits of wine,
to make up the same quantity of matter, it would not be far from the

The accumulation of matter, however, and its relative quantity, are
rendered sensible by weight; for weight is proportionate to the
quantity of matter, as regards the parts of a tangible substance, but
spirit and its quantity of matter are not to be computed by weight,
which spirit rather diminishes than augments.

We have made a tolerably accurate table of weight, in which we have
selected the weights and size of all the metals, the principal
minerals, stones, liquids, oils, and many other natural and artificial
bodies: a very useful proceeding both as regards theory and practice,
and which is capable of revealing many unexpected results. Nor is this
of little consequence, that it serves to demonstrate that the whole
range of the variety of tangible bodies with which we are acquainted
(we mean tolerably close, and not spongy, hollow bodies, which are for
a considerable part filled with air), does not exceed the ratio of one
to twenty-one. So limited is nature, or at least that part of it to
which we are most habituated.

We have also thought it deserving our industry, to try if we could
arrive at the ratio of intangible or pneumatic bodies to tangible
bodies, which we attempted by the following contrivance. We took a
vial capable of containing about an ounce, using a small vessel in
order to effect the subsequent evaporation with less heat. We filled
this vial, almost to the neck, with spirits of wine, selecting it as
the tangible body which, by our table, was the rarest, and contained a
less quantity of matter in a given space than all other tangible bodies
which are compact and not hollow. Then we noted exactly the weight
of the liquid and vial. We next took a bladder, containing about two
pints, and squeezed all the air out of it, as completely as possible,
and until the sides of the bladder met. We first, however, rubbed the
bladder gently with oil, so as to make it air-tight, by closing its
pores with the oil. We tied the bladder tightly round the mouth of the
vial, which we had inserted in it, and with a piece of waxed thread
to make it fit better and more tightly, and then placed the vial on
some hot coals in a brazier. The vapor or steam of the spirit, dilated
and become aëriform by the heat, gradually swelled out the bladder,
and stretched it in every direction like a sail. As soon as that was
accomplished, we removed the vial from the fire and placed it on a
carpet, that it might not be cracked by the cold; we also pricked the
bladder immediately, that the steam might not return to a liquid state
by the cessation of heat, and confound the proportions. We then removed
the bladder, and again took the weight of the spirit which remained;
and so calculated the quantity which had been converted into vapor, or
an aëriform shape, and then examined how much space had been occupied
by the body in its form of spirits of wine in the vial, and how much,
on the other hand, had been occupied by it in its aëriform shape in the
bladder, and subtracted the results; from which it was clear that the
body, thus converted and changed, acquired an expansion of one hundred
times beyond its former bulk.

Again, let the required nature be heat or cold, of such a degree as
not to be sensible from its weakness. They are rendered sensible by
the thermometer, as we described it above;[139] for the cold and heat
are not actually perceived by the touch, but heat expands and cold
contracts the air. Nor, again, is that expansion or contraction of the
air in itself visible, but the air when expanded depresses the water,
and when contracted raises it, which is the first reduction to sight.

Again, let the required nature be the mixture of bodies; namely,
how much aqueous, oleaginous or spirituous, ashy or salt parts they
contain; or, as a particular example, how much butter, cheese, and whey
there is in milk, and the like. These things are rendered sensible by
artificial and skilful separations in tangible substances; and the
nature of the spirit in them, though not immediately perceptible, is
nevertheless discovered by the various motions and efforts of bodies.
And, indeed, in this branch men have labored hard in distillations
and artificial separations, but with little more success than in
their other experiments now in use; their methods being mere guesses
and blind attempts, and more industrious than intelligent; and what
is worst of all, without any imitation or rivalry of nature, but
rather by violent heats and too energetic agents, to the destruction
of any delicate conformation, in which principally consist the
hidden virtues and sympathies. Nor do men in these separations ever
attend to or observe what we have before pointed out; namely, that
in attacking bodies by fire, or other methods, many qualities are
superinduced by the fire itself, and the other bodies used to effect
the separation, which were not originally in the compound. Hence arise
most extraordinary fallacies; for the mass of vapor which is emitted
from water by fire, for instance, did not exist as vapor or air in the
water, but is chiefly created by the expansion of the water by the heat
of the fire.

So, in general, all delicate experiments on natural or artificial
bodies, by which the genuine are distinguished from the adulterated,
and the better from the more common, should be referred to this
division; for they bring that which is not the object of the senses
within their sphere. They are therefore to be everywhere diligently
sought after.

With regard to the fifth cause of objects escaping our senses, it is
clear that the action of the sense takes place by motion, and this
motion is time. If, therefore, the motion of any body be either so slow
or so swift as not to be proportioned to the necessary momentum which
operates on the senses, the object is not perceived at all; as in the
motion of the hour hand, and that, again, of a musket-ball. The motion
which is imperceptible by the senses from its slowness, is readily and
usually rendered sensible by the accumulation of motion; that which is
imperceptible from its velocity, has not as yet been well measured; it
is necessary, however, that this should be done in some cases, with a
view to a proper investigation of nature.

The sixth case, where the sense is impeded by the power of the object,
admits of a reduction to the sensible sphere, either by removing the
object to a greater distance, or by deadening its effects by the
interposition of a medium, which may weaken and not destroy the object;
or by the admission of its reflection where the direct impression is
too strong, as that of the sun in a basin of water.

The seventh case, where the senses are so overcharged with the object
as to leave no further room, scarcely occurs except in the smell or
taste, and is not of much consequence as regards our present subject.
Let what we have said, therefore, suffice with regard to the reduction
to the sensible sphere of objects not naturally within its compass.

Sometimes, however, this reduction is not extended to the senses of
man, but to those of some other animal, whose senses, in some points,
exceed those of man; as (with regard to some scents) to that of the
dog, and with regard to light existing imperceptibly in the air, when
not illuminated from any extraneous source, to the sense of the cat,
the owl, and other animals which see by night. For Telesius has well
observed, that there appears to be an original portion of light even
in the air itself,[140] although but slight and meagre, and of no use
for the most part to the eyes of men, and those of the generality
of animals; because those animals to whose senses this light is
proportioned can see by night, which does not, in all probability,
proceed from their seeing either without light or by any internal light.

Here, too, we would observe, that we at present discuss only the
wants of the senses, and their remedies; for their deceptions must be
referred to the inquiries appropriated to the senses, and sensible
objects; except that important deception, which makes them define
objects in their relation to man, and not in their relation to the
universe, and which is only corrected by universal reasoning and

XLI. In the eighteenth rank of prerogative instances we will class the
instances of the road, which we are also wont to call itinerant and
jointed instances. They are such as indicate the gradually continued
motions of nature. This species of instances escapes rather our
observation than our senses; for men are wonderfully indolent upon
this subject, consulting nature in a desultory manner, and at periodic
intervals, when bodies have been regularly finished and completed,
and not during her work. But if any one were desirous of examining
and contemplating the talents and industry of an artificer, he would
not merely wish to see the rude materials of his art, and then his
work when finished, but rather to be present while he is at labor,
and proceeding with his work. Something of the same kind should be
done with regard to nature. For instance, if any one investigate the
vegetation of plants, he should observe from the first sowing of any
seed (which can easily be done, by pulling up every day seeds which
have been two, three, or four days in the ground, and examining them
diligently), how and when the seed begins to swell and break, and be
filled, as it were, with spirit; then how it begins to burst the bark
and push out fibres, raising itself a little at the same time, unless
the ground be very stiff; then how it pushes out these fibres, some
downward for roots, others upward for the stem, sometimes also creeping
laterally, if it find the earth open and more yielding on one side, and
the like. The same should be done in observing the hatching of eggs,
where we may easily see the process of animation and organization, and
what parts are formed of the yolk, and what of the white of the egg,
and the like. The same may be said of the inquiry into the formation
of animals from putrefaction; for it would not be so humane to inquire
into perfect and terrestrial animals, by cutting the fœtus from the
womb; but opportunities may perhaps be offered of abortions, animals
killed in hunting, and the like. Nature, therefore, must, as it were,
be watched, as being more easily observed by night than by day: for
contemplations of this kind may be considered as carried on by night,
from the minuteness and perpetual burning of our watch-light.

The same must be attempted with inanimate objects, which we have
ourselves done by inquiring into the opening of liquids by fire.
For the mode in which water expands is different from that observed
in wine, vinegar, or verjuice, and very different, again, from that
observed in milk and oil, and the like; and this was easily seen by
boiling them with slow heat, in a glass vessel, through which the
whole may be clearly perceived. But we merely mention this, intending
to treat of it more at large and more closely when we come to the
discovery of the latent process; for it should always be remembered
that we do not here treat of things themselves, but merely propose

XLII. In the nineteenth rank of prerogative instances we will class
supplementary or substitutive instances, which we are also wont to call
instances of refuge. They are such as supply information, where the
senses are entirely deficient, and we therefore have recourse to them
when appropriate instances cannot be obtained. This substitution is
twofold, either by approximation or by analogy. For instance, there is
no known medium which entirely prevents the effect of the magnet in
attracting iron--neither gold, nor silver, nor stone, nor glass, wood,
water, oil, cloth, or fibrous bodies, air, flame, or the like. Yet by
accurate experiment, a medium may perhaps be found which would deaden
its effect, more than another comparatively and in degree; as, for
instance, the magnet would not perhaps attract iron through the same
thickness of gold as of air, or the same quantity of ignited as of cold
silver, and so on; for we have not ourselves made the experiment, but
it will suffice as an example. Again, there is no known body which is
not susceptible of heat, when brought near the fire; yet air becomes
warm much sooner than stone. These are examples of substitution by

Substitution by analogy is useful, but less sure, and therefore to be
adopted with some judgment. It serves to reduce that which is not the
object of the senses to their sphere, not by the perceptible operations
of the imperceptible body, but by the consideration of some similar
perceptible body. For instance, let the subject for inquiry be the
mixture of spirits, which are invisible bodies. There appears to be
some relation between bodies and their sources or support. Now, the
source of flame seems to be oil and fat; that of air, water, and watery
substances; for flame increases over the exhalation of oil, and air
over that of water. One must therefore consider the mixture of oil and
water, which is manifest to the senses, since that of air and flame in
general escapes the senses. But oil and water mix very imperfectly by
composition or stirring, while they are exactly and nicely mixed in
herbs, blood, and the parts of animals. Something similar, therefore,
may take place in the mixture of flame and air in spirituous
substances, not bearing mixture very well by simple collision, while
they appear, however, to be well mixed in the spirits of plants and

Again, if the inquiry do not relate to perfect mixtures of spirits,
but merely to their composition, as whether they easily incorporate
with each other, or there be rather (as an example) certain winds and
exhalations, or other spiritual bodies, which do not mix with common
air, but only adhere to and float in it in globules and drops, and
are rather broken and pounded by the air, than received into, and
incorporated with it; this cannot be perceived in common air, and other
aëriform substances, on account of the rarity of the bodies, but an
image, as it were, of this process may be conceived in such liquids
as quicksilver, oil, water, and even air, when broken and dissipated
it ascends in small portions through water, and also in the thicker
kinds of smoke; lastly, in dust, raised and remaining in the air, in
all of which there is no incorporation: and the above representation
in this respect is not a bad one, if it be first diligently
investigated, whether there can be such a difference of nature between
spirituous substances, as between liquids, for then these images might
conveniently be substituted by analogy.

And although we have observed of these supplementary instances, that
information is to be derived from them, when appropriate instances are
wanting, by way of refuge, yet we would have it understood, that they
are also of great use, when the appropriate instances are at hand, in
order to confirm the information afforded by them; of which we will
speak more at length, when our subject leads us, in due course, to the
support of induction.

XLIII. In the twentieth rank of prerogative instances we will place
lancing instances, which we are also wont (but for a different reason)
to call twitching instances. We adopt the latter name, because they
twitch the understanding, and the former because they pierce nature,
whence we style them occasionally the instances of Democritus.[143]
They are such as warn the understanding of the admirable and
exquisite subtilty of nature, so that it becomes roused and awakened
to attention, observation, and proper inquiry; as, for instance,
that a little drop of ink should be drawn out into so many letters;
that silver merely gilt on its surface should be stretched to such a
length of gilt wire; that a little worm, such as you may find on the
skin, should possess both a spirit and a varied conformation of its
parts; that a little saffron should imbue a whole tub of water with
its color; that a little musk or aroma should imbue a much greater
extent of air with its perfume; that a cloud of smoke should be
raised by a little incense; that such accurate differences of sounds
as articulate words should be conveyed in all directions through the
air, and even penetrate the pores of wood and water (though they
become much weakened), that they should be, moreover, reflected, and
that with such distinctness and velocity; that light and color should
for such an extent and so rapidly pass through solid bodies, such as
glass and water, with so great and so exquisite a variety of images,
and should be refracted and reflected; that the magnet should attract
through every description of body, even the most compact; but (what
is still more wonderful) that in all these cases the action of one
should not impede that of another in a common medium, such as air;
and that there should be borne through the air, at the same time, so
many images of visible objects, so many impulses of articulation, so
many different perfumes, as of the violet, rose, etc., besides cold and
heat, and magnetic attractions; all of them, I say, at once, without
any impediment from each other, as if each had its paths and peculiar
passage set apart for it, without infringing against or meeting each

To these lancing instances, however, we are wont, not without some
advantage, to add those which we call the limits of such instances.
Thus, in the cases we have pointed out, one action does not disturb or
impede another of a different nature, yet those of a similar nature
subdue and extinguish each other; as the light of the sun does that of
the candle, the sound of a cannon that of the voice, a strong perfume a
more delicate one, a powerful heat a more gentle one, a plate of iron
between the magnet and other iron the effect of the magnet. But the
proper place for mentioning these will be also among the supports of

XLIV. We have now spoken of the instances which assist the senses,
and which are principally of service as regards information; for
information begins from the senses. But our whole labor terminates in
practice, and as the former is the beginning, so is the latter the
end of our subject. The following instances, therefore, will be those
which are chiefly useful in practice. They are comprehended in two
classes, and are seven in number. We call them all by the general name
of practical instances. Now there are two defects in practice, and as
many divisions of important instances. Practice is either deceptive or
too laborious. It is generally deceptive (especially after a diligent
examination of natures), on account of the power and actions of
bodies being ill defined and determined. Now the powers and actions
of bodies are defined and determined either by space or by time, or
by the quantity at a given period, or by the predominance of energy;
and if these four circumstances be not well and diligently considered,
the sciences may indeed be beautiful in theory, but are of no effect
in practice. We call the four instances referred to this class,
mathematical instances and instances of measure.

Practice is laborious either from the multitude of instruments, or
the bulk of matter and substances requisite for any given work. Those
instances, therefore, are valuable, which either direct practice to
that which is of most consequence to mankind, or lessen the number of
instruments or of matter to be worked upon. We assign to the three
instances relating to this class, the common name of propitious or
benevolent instances. We will now separately discuss these seven
instances, and conclude with them that part of our work which relates
to the prerogative or illustrious instances.

XLV. In the twenty-first rank of prerogative instances we will place
the instances of the rod or rule, which we are also wont to call the
instances of completion or _non ultrà_. For the powers and motions of
bodies do not act and take effect through indefinite and accidental,
but through limited and certain spaces; and it is of great importance
to practice that these should be understood and noted in every nature
which is investigated, not only to prevent deception, but to render
practice more extensive and efficient. For it is sometimes possible to
extend these powers, and bring the distance, as it were, nearer, as in
the example of telescopes.

Many powers act and take effect only by actual touch, as in the
percussion of bodies, where the one does not remove the other, unless
the impelling touch the impelled body. External applications in
medicine, as ointment and plasters, do not exercise their efficacy
except when in contact with the body. Lastly, the objects of touch and
taste only strike those senses when in contact with their organs.

Other powers act at a distance, though it be very small, of which but
few have as yet been noted, although there be more than men suspect;
this happens (to take everyday instances) when amber or jet attracts
straws, bubbles dissolve bubbles, some purgative medicines draw humors
from above, and the like. The magnetic power by which iron and the
magnet, or two magnets, are attracted together, acts within a definite
and narrow sphere, but if there be any magnetic power emanating from
the earth a little below its surface, and affecting the needle in its
polarity, it must act at a great distance.

Again, if there be any magnetic force which acts by sympathy between
the globe of the earth and heavy bodies, or between that of the moon
and the waters of the sea (as seems most probable from the particular
floods and ebbs which occur twice in the month), or between the starry
sphere and the planets, by which they are summoned and raised to their
apogees, these must all operate at very great distances.[144]

Again, some conflagrations and the kindling of flames take place
at very considerable distances with particular substances, as they
report of the naphtha of Babylon. Heat, too, insinuates itself at wide
distances, as does also cold, so that the masses of ice which are
broken off and float upon the Northern Ocean, and are borne through the
Atlantic to the coast of Canada, become perceptible by the inhabitants,
and strike them with cold from a distance. Perfumes also (though here
there appears to be always some corporeal emission) act at remarkable
distances, as is experienced by persons sailing by the coast of
Florida, or parts of Spain, where there are whole woods of lemons,
oranges, and other odoriferous plants, or rosemary and marjoram bushes,
and the like. Lastly, the rays of light and the impressions of sound
act at extensive distances.

Yet all these powers, whether acting at a small or great distance,
certainly act within definite distances, which are well ascertained
by nature, so that there is a limit depending either on the mass or
quantity of the bodies, the vigor or faintness of the powers, or the
favorable or impeding nature of the medium, all of which should be
taken into account and observed. We must also note the boundaries of
violent motions, such as missiles, projectiles, wheels and the like,
since they are also manifestly confined to certain limits.

Some motions and virtues are to be found of a directly contrary nature
to these, which act in contact but not at a distance; namely, such as
operate at a distance and not in contact, and again act with less force
at a less distance, and the reverse. Sight, for instance, is not easily
effective in contact, but requires a medium and distance; although I
remember having heard from a person deserving of credit, that in being
cured of a cataract (which was done by putting a small silver needle
within the first coat of the eye, to remove the thin pellicle of the
cataract, and force it into a corner of the eye), he had distinctly
seen the needle moving across the pupil. Still, though this may be
true, it is clear that large bodies cannot be seen well or distinctly,
unless at the vertex of a cone, where the rays from the object meet
at some distance from the eye. In old persons the eye sees better if
the object be moved a little further, and not nearer. Again, it is
certain that in projectiles the impact is not so violent at too short
a distance as a little afterward.[145] Such are the observations to be
made on the measure of motions as regards distance.

There is another measure of motion in space which must not be passed
over, not relating to progressive but spherical motion--that is,
the expansion of bodies into a greater, or their contraction into a
lesser sphere. For in our measure of this motion we must inquire what
degree of compression or extension bodies easily and readily admit of,
according to their nature, and at what point they begin to resist it,
so as at last to bear it no further--as when an inflated bladder is
compressed, it allows a certain compression of the air, but if this be
increased, the air does not suffer it, and the bladder is burst.

We have proved this by a more delicate experiment. We took a metal
bell, of a light and thin sort, such as is used for salt-cellars, and
immersed it in a basin of water, so as to carry the air contained in
its interior down with it to the bottom of the basin. We had first,
however, placed a small globe at the bottom of the basin, over which
we placed the bell. The result was, that if the globe were small
compared with the interior of the bell, the air would contract itself,
and be compressed without being forced out, but if it were too large
for the air readily to yield to it, the latter became impatient of the
pressure, raised the bell partly up, and ascended in bubbles.

To prove, also, the extension (as well as the compression) which air
admits of, we adopted the following method:--We took a glass egg, with
a small hole at one end; we drew out the air by violent suction at
this hole, and then closed the hole with the finger, immersed the egg
in water, and then removed the finger. The air being constrained by
the effort made in suction, and dilated beyond its natural state, and
therefore striving to recover and contract itself (so that if the egg
had not been immersed in water, it would have drawn in the air with a
hissing sound), now drew in a sufficient quantity of water to allow
the air to recover its former dimensions.[146]

It is well ascertained that rare bodies (such as air) admit of
considerable contraction, as has been before observed; but tangible
bodies (such as water) admit of it much less readily, and to a less
extent. We investigated the latter point by the following experiment:

We had a leaden globe made, capable of containing about two pints, wine
measure, and of tolerable thickness, so as to support considerable
pressure. We poured water into it through an aperture, which we
afterward closed with melted lead, as soon as the globe was filled with
water, so that the whole became perfectly solid. We next flattened the
two opposite sides with a heavy hammer, which necessarily caused the
water to occupy a less space, since the sphere is the solid of greatest
content; and when hammering failed from the resistance of the water,
we made use of a mill or press, till at last the water, refusing to
submit to a greater pressure, exuded like a fine dew through the solid
lead. We then computed the extent to which the original space had been
reduced, and concluded that water admitted such a degree of compression
when constrained by great violence.

The more solid, dry or compact bodies, such as stones, wood and metals,
admit of much less, and indeed scarcely any perceptible compression or
expansion, but escape by breaking, slipping forward, or other efforts;
as appears in bending wood, or steel for watch-springs, in projectiles,
hammering and many other motions, all of which, together with their
degrees, are to be observed and examined in the investigation of
nature, either to a certainty, or by estimation, or comparison, as
opportunity permits.

XLVI. In the twenty-second rank of prerogative instances we will
place the instances of the course, which we are also wont to call
water instances, borrowing our expression from the water hour-glasses
employed by the ancients instead of those with sand. They are such as
measure nature by the moments of time, as the last instances do by the
degrees of space. For all motion or natural action takes place in time,
more or less rapidly, but still in determined moments well ascertained
by nature. Even those actions which appear to take effect suddenly, and
in the twinkling of an eye (as we express it), are found to admit of
greater or less rapidity.

In the first place, then, we see that the return of the heavenly bodies
to the same place takes place in regular times, as does the flood and
ebb of the sea. The descent of heavy bodies toward the earth, and
the ascent of light bodies toward the heavenly sphere, take place in
definite times,[147] according to the nature of the body, and of the
medium through which it moves. The sailing of ships, the motions of
animals, the transmission of projectiles, all take place in times
the sums of which can be computed. With regard to heat, we see that
boys in winter bathe their hands in the flame without being burned;
and conjurers, by quick and regular movements, overturn vessels filled
with wine or water, and replace them without spilling the liquid, with
several similar instances. The compression, expansion and eruption
of several bodies, take place more or less rapidly, according to the
nature of the body and its motion, but still in definite moments.

In the explosion of several cannon at once (which are sometimes heard
at the distance of thirty miles), the sound of those nearest to the
spot is heard before that of the most distant. Even in sight (whose
action is most rapid), it is clear that a definite time is necessary
for its exertion, which is proved by certain objects being invisible
from the velocity of their motion, such as a musket-ball; for the
flight of the ball is too swift to allow an impression of its figure to
be conveyed to the sight.

This last instance, and others of a like nature, have sometimes excited
in us a most marvellous doubt, no less than whether the image of the
sky and stars is perceived as at the actual moment of its existence,
or rather a little after, and whether there is not (with regard to the
visible appearance of the heavenly bodies) a true and apparent time,
as well as a true and apparent place, which is observed by astronomers
in parallaxes. It appeared so incredible to us, that the images or
radiations of heavenly bodies could suddenly be conveyed through such
immense spaces to the sight, and it seemed that they ought rather to be
transmitted in a definite time.[148] That doubt, however (as far as
regards any great difference between the true and apparent time), was
subsequently completely set at rest, when we considered the infinite
loss and diminution of size as regards the real and apparent magnitude
of a star, occasioned by its distance, and at the same time observed
at how great a distance (at least sixty miles) bodies which are merely
white can be suddenly seen by us. For there is no doubt, that the light
of the heavenly bodies not only far surpasses the vivid appearance of
white, but even the light of any flame (with which we are acquainted)
in the vigor of its radiation. The immense velocity of the bodies
themselves, which is perceived in their diurnal motion, and has so
astonished thinking men, that they have been more ready to believe in
the motion of the earth, renders the motion of radiation from them
(marvellous as it is in its rapidity) more worthy of belief. That
which has weighed most with us, however, is, that if there were any
considerable interval of time between the reality and the appearance,
the images would often be interrupted and confused by clouds formed in
the meantime, and similar disturbances of the medium. Let this suffice
with regard to the simple measures of time.

It is not merely the absolute, but still more the relative measure of
motions and actions which must be inquired into, for this latter is
of great use and application. We perceive that the flame of firearms
is seen sooner than the sound is heard, although the ball must have
struck the air before the flame, which was behind it, could escape:
the reason of which is, that light moves with greater velocity than
sound. We perceive, also, that visible images are received by the sight
with greater rapidity than they are dismissed, and for this reason, a
violin string touched with the finger appears double or triple, because
the new image is received before the former one is dismissed. Hence,
also, rings when spinning appear globular, and a lighted torch, borne
rapidly along at night, appears to have a tail. Upon the principle of
the inequality of motion, also, Galileo attempted an explanation of
the flood and ebb of the sea, supposing the earth to move rapidly, and
the water slowly, by which means the water, after accumulating, would
at intervals fall back, as is shown in a vessel of water made to move
rapidly. He has, however, imagined this on data which cannot be granted
(namely, the earth’s motion), and besides, does not satisfactorily
account for the tide taking place every six hours.

An example of our present point (the relative measure of motion), and,
at the same time, of its remarkable use of which we have spoken, is
conspicuous in mines filled with gunpowder, where immense weights of
earth, buildings, and the like, are overthrown and prostrated by a
small quantity of powder; the reason of which is decidedly this, that
the motion of the expansion of the gunpowder is much more rapid than
that of gravity,[149] which would resist it, so that the former has
terminated before the latter has commenced. Hence, also, in missiles,
a strong blow will not carry them so far as a sharp and rapid one.
Nor could a small portion of animal spirit in animals, especially in
such vast bodies as those of the whale and elephant, have ever bent or
directed such a mass of body, were it not owing to the velocity of the
former, and the slowness of the latter in resisting its motion.

In short, this point is one of the principal foundations of the magic
experiments (of which we shall presently speak), where a small mass
of matter overcomes and regulates a much larger, if there but be an
anticipation of motion, by the velocity of one before the other is
prepared to act.

Finally, the point of the first and last should be observed in all
natural actions. Thus, in an infusion of rhubarb the purgative property
is first extracted, and then the astringent; we have experienced
something of the same kind in steeping violets in vinegar, which first
extracts the sweet and delicate odor of the flower, and then the
more earthy part, which disturbs the perfume; so that if the violets
be steeped a whole day, a much fainter perfume is extracted than if
they were steeped for a quarter of an hour only, and then taken out;
and since the odoriferous spirit in the violet is not abundant, let
other and fresh violets be steeped in the vinegar every quarter of an
hour, as many as six times, when the infusion becomes so strengthened,
that although the violets have not altogether remained there for more
than one hour and a half, there remains a most pleasing perfume, not
inferior to the flower itself, for a whole year. It must be observed,
however, that the perfume does not acquire its full strength till
about a month after the infusion. In the distillation of aromatic
plants macerated in spirits of wine, it is well known that an aqueous
and useless phlegm rises first, then water containing more of the
spirit, and, lastly, water containing more of the aroma; and many
observations of the like kind, well worthy of notice, are to be made in
distillations. But let these suffice as examples.[150]

XLVII. In the twenty-third rank of prerogative instances we will place
instances of quantity, which we are also wont to call the doses of
nature (borrowing a word from medicine). They are such as measure the
powers by the quantity of bodies, and point out the effect of the
quantity in the degree of power. And in the first place, some powers
only subsist in the universal quantity, or such as bears a relation to
the confirmation and fabric of the universe. Thus the earth is fixed,
its parts fall. The waters in the sea flow and ebb, but not in the
rivers, except by the admission of the sea. Then, again, almost all
particular powers act according to the greater or less quantity of the
body. Large masses of water are not easily rendered foul, small are.
New wine and beer become ripe and drinkable in small skins much more
readily than in large casks. If a herb be placed in a considerable
quantity of liquid, infusion takes place rather than impregnation;
if in less, the reverse. A bath, therefore, and a light sprinkling,
produce different effects on the human body. Light dew, again, never
falls, but is dissipated and incorporated with the air; thus we see
that in breathing on gems, the slight quantity of moisture, like a
small cloud in the air, is immediately dissolved. Again, a piece of
the same magnet does not attract so much iron as the whole magnet did.
There are some powers where the smallness of the quantity is of more
avail; as in boring, a sharp point pierces more readily than a blunt
one; the diamond, when pointed, makes an impression on glass, and the

Here, too, we must not rest contented with a vague result, but inquire
into the exact proportion of quantity requisite for a particular
exertion of power; for one would be apt to suppose that the power bears
an exact proportion to the quantity; that if a leaden bullet of one
ounce, for instance, would fall in a given time, one of two ounces
ought to fall twice as rapidly, which is most erroneous. Nor does the
same ratio prevail in every kind of power, their difference being
considerable. The measure, therefore, must be determined by experiment,
and not by probability or conjecture.

Lastly, we must in all our investigations of nature observe what
quantity, or dose, of the body is requisite for a given effect, and
must at the same time be guarded against estimating it at too much or
too little.

XLVIII. In the twenty-fourth rank of prerogative instances we will
place wrestling instances, which we are also wont to call instances
of predominance. They are such as point out the predominance and
submission of powers compared with each other, and which of them is the
more energetic and superior, or more weak and inferior. For the motions
and effects of bodies are compounded, decomposed, and combined, no less
than the bodies themselves. We will exhibit, therefore, the principal
kinds of motions or active powers, in order that their comparative
strength, and thence a demonstration and definition of the instances in
question, may be rendered more clear.

Let the first motion be that of the resistance of matter, which exists
in every particle, and completely prevents its annihilation; so that
no conflagration, weight, pressure, violence, or length of time can
reduce even the smallest portion of matter to nothing, or prevent it
from being something, and occupying some space, and delivering itself
(whatever straits it be put to), by changing its form or place, or, if
that be impossible, remaining as it is; nor can it ever happen that it
should either be nothing or nowhere. This motion is designated by the
schools (which generally name and define everything by its effects and
inconveniences rather than by its inherent cause) by the axiom, that
two bodies cannot exist in the same place, or they call it a motion to
prevent the penetration of dimensions. It is useless to give examples
of this motion, since it exists in every body.

Let the second motion be that which we term the motion of connection,
by which bodies do not allow themselves to be separated at any point
from the contact of another body, delighting, as it were, in the
mutual connection and contact. This is called by the schools a motion
to prevent a vacuum. It takes place when water is drawn up by suction
or a syringe, the flesh by cupping, or when the water remains without
escaping from perforated jars, unless the mouth be opened to admit the
air, and innumerable instances of a like nature.

Let the third be that which we term the motion of liberty, by which
bodies strive to deliver themselves from any unnatural pressure or
tension, and to restore themselves to the dimensions suited to their
mass; and of which, also, there are innumerable examples. Thus, we have
examples of their escaping from pressure, in the water in swimming, in
the air in flying, in the water again in rowing, and in the air in the
undulation of the winds, and in springs of watches. An exact instance
of the motion of compressed air is seen in children’s popguns, which
they make by scooping out elder-branches or some such matter, and
forcing in a piece of some pulpy root or the like, at each end; then
they force the root or other pellet with a ramrod to the opposite end,
from which the lower pellet is emitted and projected with a report,
and that before it is touched by the other piece of root or pellet,
or by the ramrod. We have examples of their escape from tension, in
the motion of the air that remains in glass eggs after suction, in
strings, leather, and cloth, which recoil after tension, unless it be
long continued. The schools define this by the term of motion from the
form of the element; injudiciously enough, since this motion is to be
found not only in air, water, or fire, but in every species of solid,
as wood, iron, lead, cloth, parchment, etc., each of which has its own
proper size, and is with difficulty stretched to any other. Since,
however, this motion of liberty is the most obvious of all, and to be
seen in an infinite number of cases, it will be as well to distinguish
it correctly and clearly; for some most carelessly confound this with
the two others of resistance and connection; namely, the freedom from
pressure with the former, and that from tension with the latter, as if
bodies when compressed yielded or expanded to prevent a penetration of
dimensions, and when stretched rebounded and contracted themselves to
prevent a vacuum. But if the air, when compressed, could be brought to
the density of water, or wood to that of stone, there would be no need
of any penetration of dimensions, and yet the compression would be much
greater than they actually admit of. So if water could be expanded till
it became as rare as air, or stone as rare as wood, there would be no
need of a vacuum, and yet the expansion would be much greater than they
actually admit of.

We do not, therefore, arrive at a penetration of dimensions or a vacuum
before the extremes of condensation and rarefaction, while the motion
we speak of stops and exerts itself much within them, and is nothing
more than a desire of bodies to preserve their specific density (or,
if it be preferred, their form), and not to desert them suddenly, but
only to change by degrees, and of their own accord. It is, however,
much more necessary to intimate to mankind (because many other points
depend upon this), that the violent motion which we call mechanical,
and Democritus (who, in explaining his primary motions, is to be ranked
even below the middling class of philosophers) termed the motion of a
blow, is nothing else than this motion of liberty, namely, a tendency
to relaxation from compression. For in all simple impulsion or flight
through the air, the body is not displaced or moved in space, until its
parts are placed in an unnatural state, and compressed by the impelling
force. When that takes place, the different parts urging the other in
succession, the whole is moved, and that with a rotatory as well as
progressive motion, in order that the parts may, by this means also,
set themselves at liberty, or more readily submit. Let this suffice for
the motion in question.

Let the fourth be that which we term the motion of matter, and which
is opposed to the last; for in the motion of liberty, bodies abhor,
reject, and avoid, a new size or volume, or any new expansion or
contraction (for these different terms have the same meaning), and
strive, with all their power, to rebound and resume their former
density; on the contrary, in the motion of matter, they are anxious
to acquire a new volume or dimension, and attempt it willingly and
rapidly, and occasionally by a most vigorous effort, as in the example
of gunpowder. The most powerful, or at least most frequent, though not
the only instruments of this motion, are heat and cold. For instance,
the air, if expanded by tension (as by suction in the glass egg),
struggles anxiously to restore itself; but if heat be applied, it
strives, on the contrary, to dilate itself, and longs for a larger
volume, regularly passing and migrating into it, as into a new form (as
it is termed); nor after a certain degree of expansion is it anxious
to return, unless it be invited to do so by the application of cold,
which is not indeed a return, but a fresh change. So also water, when
confined by compression, resists, and wishes to become as it was
before, namely, more expanded; but if there happen an intense and
continued cold, it changes itself readily, and of its own accord, into
the condensed state of ice; and if the cold be long continued, without
any intervening warmth (as in grottoes and deep caves), it is changed
into crystal or similar matter, and never resumes its form.

Let the fifth be that which we term the motion of continuity. We do
not understand by this simple and primary continuity with any other
body (for that is the motion of connection), but the continuity of
a particular body in itself; for it is most certain that all bodies
abhor a solution of continuity, some more and some less, but all
partially. In hard bodies (such as steel and glass) the resistance to
an interruption of continuity is most powerful and efficacious, while
although in liquids it appears to be faint and languid, yet it is not
altogether null, but exists in the lowest degree, and shows itself in
many experiments, such as bubbles, the round form of drops, the thin
threads which drip from roofs, the cohesion of glutinous substances,
and the like. It is most conspicuous, however, if an attempt be made to
push this separation to still smaller particles. Thus, in mortars, the
pestle produces no effect after a certain degree of contusion, water
does not penetrate small fissures, and the air itself, notwithstanding
its subtilty, does not penetrate the pores of solid vessels at once,
but only by long-continued insinuation.

Let the sixth be that which we term the motion of acquisition, or the
motion of need.[151] It is that by which bodies placed among others
of a heterogeneous and, as it were, hostile nature, if they meet with
the means or opportunity of avoiding them, and uniting themselves with
others of a more analogous nature, even when these latter are not
closely allied to them, immediately seize and, as it were, select them,
and appear to consider it as something acquired (whence we derive the
name), and to have need of these latter bodies. For instance, gold, or
any other metal in leaf, does not like the neighborhood of air; if,
therefore, they meet with any tangible and thick substance (such as the
finger, paper, or the like), they immediately adhere to it, and are
not easily torn from it. Paper, too, and cloth, and the like, do not
agree with the air, which is inherent and mixed in their pores. They
readily, therefore, imbibe water or other liquids, and get rid of the
air. Sugar, or a sponge, dipped in water or wine, and though part of
it be out of the water or wine, and at some height above it, will yet
gradually absorb them.[152]

Hence an excellent rule is derived for the opening and dissolution of
bodies; for (not to mention corrosive and strong waters, which force
their way) if a body can be found which is more adapted, suited, and
friendly to a given solid, than that with which it is by some necessity
united, the given solid immediately opens and dissolves itself to
receive the former, and excludes or removes the latter.[153] Nor is the
effect or power of this motion confined to contact, for the electric
energy (of which Gilbert and others after him have told so many fables)
is only the energy excited in a body by gentle friction, and which does
not endure the air, but prefers some tangible substance if there be any
at hand.

Let the seventh be that which we term the motion of greater
congregation, by which bodies are borne toward masses of a similar
nature, for instance, heavy bodies toward the earth, light to the
sphere of heaven. The schools termed this natural motion, by a
superficial consideration of it, because produced by no external
visible agent, which made them consider it innate in the substances; or
perhaps because it does not cease, which is little to be wondered at,
since heaven and earth are always present, while the causes and sources
of many other motions are sometimes absent and sometimes present.
They therefore called this perpetual and proper, because it is never
interrupted, but instantly takes place when the others are interrupted,
and they called the others adscititious. The former, however, is in
reality weak and slow, since it yields, and is inferior to the others
as long as they act, unless the mass of the body be great; and although
this motion have so filled men’s minds, as almost to have obscured all
others, yet they know but little about it, and commit many errors in
its estimate.

Let the eighth be that which we term the motion of lesser congregation,
by which the homogeneous parts in any body separate themselves from
the heterogeneous and unite together, and whole bodies of a similar
substance coalesce and tend toward each other, and are sometimes
congregated, attracted, and meet, from some distance; thus in milk the
cream rises after a certain time, and in wine the dregs and tartar
sink; which effects are not to be attributed to gravity and levity
only, so as to account for the rising of some parts and the sinking
of others, but much more to the desire of the homogeneous bodies to
meet and unite. This motion differs from that of need in two points:
1st, because the latter is the stimulus of a malignant and contrary
nature, while in this of which we treat (if there be no impediment or
restraint), the parts are united by their affinity, although there be
no foreign nature to create a struggle; 2dly, because the union is
closer and more select. For in the other motion, bodies which have no
great affinity unite, if they can but avoid the hostile body, while in
this, substances which are connected by a decided kindred resemblance
come together and are molded into one. It is a motion existing in all
compound bodies, and would be readily seen in each, if it were not
confined and checked by the other affections and necessities of bodies
which disturb the union.

This motion is usually confined in the three following manners: by
the torpor of the bodies; by the power of the predominating body; by
external motion. With regard to the first, it is certain that there
is more or less sluggishness in tangible bodies, and an abhorrence of
locomotion; so that unless excited they prefer remaining contented with
their actual state, to placing themselves in a better position. There
are three means of breaking through this sluggishness--heat; the active
power of a similar body; vivid and powerful motion. With regard to
the first, heat is, on this account, defined as that which separates
heterogeneous, and draws together homogeneous substances; a definition
of the Peripatetics which is justly ridiculed by Gilbert, who says it
is as if one were to define man to be that which sows wheat and plants
vineyards; being only a definition deduced from effects, and those but
partial. But it is still more to be blamed, because those effects, such
as they are, are not a peculiar property of heat, but a mere accident
(for cold, as we shall afterward show, does the same), arising from
the desire of the homogeneous parts to unite; the heat then assists
them in breaking through that sluggishness which before restrained
their desire. With regard to the assistance derived from the power of
a similar body, it is most conspicuous in the magnet when armed with
steel, for it excites in the steel a power of adhering to steel, as a
homogeneous substance, the power of the magnet breaking through the
sluggishness of the steel. With regard to the assistance of motion,
it is seen in wooden arrows or points, which penetrate more deeply
into wood than if they were tipped with iron, from the similarity
of the substance, the swiftness of the motion breaking through the
sluggishness of the wood; of which two last experiments we have spoken
above in the aphorism on clandestine instances.[154]

The confinement of the motion of lesser congregation, which arises
from the power of the predominant body, is shown in the decomposition
of blood and urine by cold. For as long as these substances are filled
with the active spirit, which regulates and restrains each of their
component parts, as the predominant ruler of the whole, the several
different parts do not collect themselves separately on account of the
check; but as soon as that spirit has evaporated, or has been choked by
the cold, then the decomposed parts unite, according to their natural
desire. Hence it happens, that all bodies which contain a sharp spirit
(as salts and the like), last without decomposition, owing to the
permanent and durable power of the predominating and imperious spirit.

The confinement of the motion of lesser congregation, which arises from
external motion, is very evident in that agitation of bodies which
preserves them from putrefaction. For all putrefaction depends on the
congregation of the homogeneous parts, whence, by degrees, there ensues
a corruption of the first form (as it is called), and the generation of
another. For the decomposition of the original form, which is itself
the union of the homogeneous parts, precedes the putrefaction, which
prepares the way for the generation of another. This decomposition,
if not interrupted, is simple; but if there be various obstacles,
putrefactions ensue, which are the rudiments of a new generation. But
if (to come to our present point) a frequent agitation be excited by
external motion, the motion toward union (which is delicate and gentle,
and requires to be free from all external influence) is disturbed, and
ceases; which we perceive to be the case in innumerable instances.
Thus, the daily agitation or flowing of water prevents putrefaction;
winds prevent the air from being pestilent; corn turned about and
shaken in granaries continues clean: in short, everything which is
externally agitated will with difficulty rot internally.

We must not omit that union of the parts of bodies which is the
principal cause of induration and desiccation. When the spirit or
moisture, which has evaporated into spirit, has escaped from a porous
body (such as wood, bone, parchment, and the like), the thicker parts
are drawn together, and united with a greater effort, and induration
or desiccation is the consequence; and this we attribute not so much
to the motion of connection (in order to prevent a vacuum), as to this
motion of friendship and union.

Union from a distance is rare, and yet is to be met with in more
instances than are generally observed. We perceive it when one bubble
dissolves another, when medicines attract humors from a similarity of
substance, when one string moves another in unison with it on different
instruments, and the like. We are of opinion that this motion is very
prevalent also in animal spirits, but are quite ignorant of the fact.
It is, however, conspicuous in the magnet, and magnetized iron. While
speaking of the motions of the magnet, we must plainly distinguish
them, for there are four distinct powers or effects of the magnet which
should not be confounded, although the wonder and astonishment of
mankind has classed them together. 1. The attraction of the magnet to
the magnet, or of iron to the magnet, or of magnetized iron to iron.
2. Its polarity toward the north and south, and its variation. 3. Its
penetration through gold, glass, stone, and all other substances.
4. The communication of power from the mineral to iron, and from iron
to iron, without any communication of the substances. Here, however, we
only speak of the first. There is also a singular motion of attraction
between quicksilver and gold, so that the gold attracts quicksilver
even when made use of in ointment; and those who work surrounded by
the vapors of quicksilver, are wont to hold a piece of gold in their
mouths, to collect the exhalations, which would otherwise attack their
heads and bones, and this piece soon grows white.[155] Let this suffice
for the motion of lesser congregation.

Let the ninth be the magnetic motion, which, although of the nature of
that last mentioned, yet, when operating at great distances, and on
great masses, deserves a separate inquiry, especially if it neither
begin in contact, as most motions of congregation do, nor end by
bringing the substances into contact, as all do, but only raise them,
and make them swell without any further effect. For if the moon raise
the waters, or cause moist substances to swell, or if the starry
sphere attract the planets toward their apogees, or the sun confine
the planets Mercury and Venus to within a certain distance of his
mass;[156] these motions do not appear capable of being classed under
either of those of congregation, but to be, as it were, intermediately
and imperfectly congregative, and thus to form a distinct species.

Let the tenth motion be that of avoidance, or that which is opposed
to the motion of lesser congregation, by which bodies, with a kind of
antipathy, avoid and disperse, and separate themselves from, or refuse
to unite themselves with others of a hostile nature. For although this
may sometimes appear to be an accidental motion, necessarily attendant
upon that of the lesser congregation, because the homogeneous parts
cannot unite, unless the heterogeneous be first removed and excluded,
yet it is still to be classed separately,[157] and considered as a
distinct species, because, in many cases, the desire of avoidance
appears to be more marked than that of union.

It is very conspicuous in the excrements of animals, nor less, perhaps,
in objects odious to particular senses, especially the smell and
taste; for a fetid smell is rejected by the nose, so as to produce a
sympathetic motion of expulsion at the mouth of the stomach; a bitter
and rough taste is rejected by the palate or throat, so as to produce
a sympathetic concussion and shivering of the head. This motion is
visible also in other cases. Thus it is observed in some kinds of
antiperistasis, as in the middle region of the air, the cold of which
appears to be occasioned by the rejection of cold from the regions
of the heavenly bodies; and also in the heat and combustion observed
in subterranean spots, which appear to be owing to the rejection of
heat from the centre of the earth. For heat and cold, when in small
quantities, mutually destroy each other, while in larger quantities,
like armies equally matched, they remove and eject each other in
open conflict. It is said, also that cinnamon and other perfumes
retain their odor longer when placed near privies and foul places,
because they will not unite and mix with stinks. It is well known that
quicksilver, which would otherwise reunite into a complete mass, is
prevented from so doing by man’s spittle, pork lard, turpentine and
the like, from the little affinity of its parts with those substances,
so that when surrounded by them it draws itself back, and its
avoidance of these intervening obstacles is greater than its desire of
reuniting itself to its homogeneous parts; which is what they term the
mortification of quicksilver. Again, the difference in weight of oil
and water is not the only reason for their refusing to mix, but it is
also owing to the little affinity of the two; for spirits of wine,
which are lighter than oil, mix very well with water. A very remarkable
instance of the motion in question is seen in nitre, and crude bodies
of a like nature, which abhor flame, as may be observed in gunpowder,
quicksilver and gold. The avoidance of one pole of the magnet by iron
is not (as Gilbert has well observed), strictly speaking, an avoidance,
but a conformity, or attraction to a more convenient situation.

Let the eleventh motion be that of assimilation, or self-multiplication,
or simple generation, by which latter term we do not mean the simple
generation of integral bodies, such as plants or animals, but of
homogeneous bodies. By this motion homogeneous bodies convert those
which are allied to them, or at least well disposed and prepared, into
their own substance and nature. Thus flame multiplies itself over
vapors and oily substances and generates fresh flame; the air over
water and watery substances multiplies itself and generates fresh air;
the vegetable and animal spirit, over the thin particles of a watery
or oleaginous spirit contained in its food, multiplies itself and
generates fresh spirit; the solid parts of plants and animals, as the
leaf, flower, the flesh, bone and the like, each of them assimilate
some part of the juices contained in their food, and generate a
successive and daily substance. For let none rave with Paracelsus, who
(blinded by his distillations) would have it, that nutrition takes
place by mere separation, and that the eye, nose, brain and liver lie
concealed in bread and meat, the root, leaf and flower, in the juice of
the earth; asserting that just as the artist brings out a leaf, flower,
eye, nose, hand, foot and the like, from a rude mass of stone or wood
by the separation and rejection of what is superfluous; so the great
artist within us brings out our several limbs and parts by separation
and rejection. But to leave such trifling, it is most certain that
all the parts of vegetables and animals, as well the homogeneous as
organic, first of all attract those juices contained in their food,
which are nearly common, or at least not very different, and then
assimilate and convert them into their own nature. Nor does this
assimilation, or simple generation, take place in animated bodies only,
but the inanimate also participate in the same property (as we have
observed of flame and air), and that languid spirit, which is contained
in every tangible animated substance, is perpetually working upon the
coarser parts, and converting them into spirit, which afterward is
exhaled, whence ensues a diminution of weight, and a desiccation of
which we have spoken elsewhere.[158]

Nor should we, in speaking of assimilation, neglect to mention the
accretion which is usually distinguished from aliment, and which is
observed when mud grows into a mass between stones, and is converted
into a stony substance, and the scaly substance round the teeth is
converted into one no less hard than the teeth themselves; for we are
of opinion that there exists in all bodies a desire of assimilation,
as well as of uniting with homogeneous masses. Each of these powers,
however, is confined, although in different manners, and should be
diligently investigated, because they are connected with the revival
of old age. Lastly, it is worthy of observation, that in the nine
preceding motions, bodies appear to aim at the mere preservation of
their nature, while in this they attempt its propagation.

Let the twelfth motion be that of excitement, which appears to be
a species of the last, and is sometimes mentioned by us under that
name. It is, like that, a diffusive, communicative, transitive and
multiplying motion; and they agree remarkably in their effect, although
they differ in their mode of action, and in their subject matter. The
former proceeds imperiously and with authority; it orders and compels
the assimilated to be converted and changed into the assimilating
body. The latter proceeds by art, insinuation and stealth, inviting
and disposing the excited toward the nature of the exciting body. The
former both multiplies and transforms bodies and substances; thus a
greater quantity of flame, air, spirit and flesh is formed; but in
the latter, the powers only are multiplied and changed, and heat,
the magnetic power, and putrefaction, in the above instances, are
increased. Heat does not diffuse itself when heating other bodies
by any communication of the original heat, but only by exciting the
parts of the heated body to that motion which is the form of heat, and
of which we spoke in the first vintage of the nature of heat. Heat,
therefore, is excited much less rapidly and readily in stone or metal
than in air, on account of the inaptitude and sluggishness of those
bodies in acquiring that motion, so that it is probable, that there may
be some substances, toward the centre of the earth, quite incapable of
being heated, on account of their density, which may deprive them of
the spirit by which the motion of excitement is usually commenced. Thus
also the magnet creates in the iron a new disposition of its parts, and
a conformable motion, without losing any of its virtue. So the leaven
of bread, yeast, rennet and some poisons, excite and invite successive
and continued motion in dough, beer, cheese or the human body; not so
much from the power of the exciting, as the predisposition and yielding
of the excited body.

Let the thirteenth motion be that of impression, which is also a
species of motion of assimilation, and the most subtile of diffusive
motions. We have thought it right, however, to consider it as a
distinct species, on account of its remarkable difference from the
last two; for the simple motion of assimilation transforms the bodies
themselves, so that if you remove the first agent, you diminish not
the effect of those which succeed; thus, neither the first lighting
of flame, nor the first conversion into air, are of any importance to
the flame or air next generated. So, also, the motion of excitement
still continues for a considerable time after the removal of the first
agent, as in a heated body on the removal of the original heat, in the
excited iron on the removal of the magnet, and in the dough on the
removal of the leaven. But the motion of impression, although diffusive
and transitive, appears, nevertheless, to depend on the first agent,
so that upon the removal of the latter the former immediately fails
and perishes; for which reason also it takes effect in a moment, or at
least a very short space of time. We are wont to call the two former
motions the motions of the generation of Jupiter, because when born
they continue to exist; and the latter, the motion of the generation
of Saturn, because it is immediately devoured and absorbed. It may be
seen in three instances: 1, in the rays of light; 2, in the percussions
of sounds; 3, in magnetic attractions as regards communication. For,
on the removal of light, colors and all its other images disappear,
as on the cessation of the first percussion and the vibration of the
body, sound soon fails, and although sounds are agitated by the wind,
like waves, yet it is to be observed, that the same sound does not
last during the whole time of the reverberation. Thus, when a bell is
struck, the sound appears to be continued for a considerable time, and
one might easily be led into the mistake of supposing it to float and
remain in the air during the whole time, which is most erroneous.[159]
For the reverberation is not one identical sound, but the repetition
of sounds, which is made manifest by stopping and confining the
sonorous body; thus, if a bell be stopped and held tightly, so as to
be immovable, the sound fails, and there is no further reverberation,
and if a musical string be touched after the first vibration, either
with the finger (as in the harp), or a quill (as in the harpsichord),
the sound immediately ceases. If the magnet be removed the iron falls.
The moon, however, cannot be removed from the sea, nor the earth from
a heavy falling body, and we can, therefore, make no experiment upon
them; but the case is the same.

Let the fourteenth motion be that configuration or position, by
which bodies appear to desire a peculiar situation, collocation, and
configuration with others, rather than union or separation. This is
a very abstruse notion, and has not been well investigated; and, in
some instances, appears to occur almost without any cause, although
we be mistaken in supposing this to be really the case. For if it be
asked, why the heavens revolve from east to west, rather than from
west to east, or why they turn on poles situate near the Bears, rather
than round Orion or any other part of the heaven, such a question
appears to be unreasonable, since these phenomena should be received
as determinate and the objects of our experience. There are, indeed,
some ultimate and self-existing phenomena in nature, but those which
we have just mentioned are not to be referred to that class: for we
attribute them to a certain harmony and consent of the universe, which
has not yet been properly observed. But if the motion of the earth from
west to east be allowed, the same question may be put, for it must also
revolve round certain poles, and why should they be placed where they
are, rather than elsewhere? The polarity and variation of the needle
come under our present head. There is also observed in both natural and
artificial bodies, especially solids rather than fluids, a particular
collocation and position of parts, resembling hairs or fibres, which
should be diligently investigated, since, without a discovery of them,
bodies cannot be conveniently controlled or wrought upon. The eddies
observable in liquids by which, when compressed, they successively
raise different parts of their mass before they can escape, so as to
equalize the pressure, is more correctly assigned to the motion of

Let the fifteenth motion be that of transmission or of passage, by
which the powers of bodies are more or less impeded or advanced by
the medium, according to the nature of the bodies and their effective
powers, and also according to that of the medium. For one medium is
adapted to light, another to sound, another to heat and cold, another
to magnetic action, and so on with regard to the other actions.

Let the sixteenth be that which we term the royal or political motion,
by which the predominant and governing parts of any body check,
subdue, reduce, and regulate the others, and force them to unite,
separate, stand still, move, or assume a certain position, not from any
inclination of their own, but according to a certain order, and as best
suits the convenience of the governing part, so that there is a sort
of dominion and civil government exercised by the ruling part over its
subjects. The motion is very conspicuous in the spirits of animals,
where, as long as it is in force, it tempers all the motions of the
other parts. It is found in a less degree in other bodies, as we have
observed in blood and urine, which are not decomposed until the spirit,
which mixed and retained their parts, has been emitted or extinguished.
Nor is this motion peculiar to spirits only, although in most bodies
the spirit predominates, owing to its rapid motion and penetration;
for the grosser parts predominate in denser bodies, which are not
filled with a quick and active spirit (such as exists in quicksilver
or vitriol), so that unless this check or yoke be thrown off by some
contrivance, there is no hope of any transformation of such bodies. And
let not any one suppose that we have forgotten our subject, because
we speak of predominance in this classification of motions, which is
made entirely with the view of assisting the investigation of wrestling
instances, or instances of predominance. For we do not now treat of
the general predominance of motions or powers, but of that of parts in
whole bodies, which constitutes the particular species here considered.

Let the seventeenth motion be the spontaneous motion of revolution,
by which bodies having a tendency to move, and placed in a favorable
situation, enjoy their peculiar nature, pursuing themselves and nothing
else, and seeking, as it were, to embrace themselves. For bodies seem
either to move without any limit, or to tend toward a limit, arrived at
which they either revolve according to their peculiar nature, or rest.
Those which are favorably situated, and have a tendency to motion,
move in a circle with an eternal and unlimited motion; those which
are favorably situated and abhor motion, rest. Those which are not
favorably situated move in a straight line (as their shortest path),
in order to unite with others of a congenial nature. This motion of
revolution admits of nine differences: 1, with regard to the centre
about which the bodies move; 2, the poles round which they move; 3,
the circumference or orbit relatively to its distance from the centre;
4, the velocity, or greater or less speed with which they revolve;
5, the direction of the motion as from east to west, or the reverse;
6, the deviation from a perfect circle, by spiral lines at a greater
or less distance from the centre; 7, the deviation from the circle,
by spiral lines at a greater or less distance from the poles; 8, the
greater or less distance of these spirals from each other; 9, and
lastly, the variation of the poles if they be movable; which, however,
only affects revolution when circular. The motion in question is,
according to common and long-received opinion, considered to be that
of the heavenly bodies. There exists, however, with regard to this, a
considerable dispute between some of the ancients as well as moderns,
who have attributed a motion of revolution to the earth. A much more
reasonable controversy, perhaps, exists (if it be not a matter beyond
dispute), whether the motion in question (on the hypothesis of the
earth’s being fixed) is confined to the heavens, or rather descends and
is communicated to the air and water. The rotation of missiles, as in
darts, musket-balls, and the like, we refer entirely to the motion of

Let the eighteenth motion be that of trepidation,[160] to which (in
the sense assigned to it by astronomers) we do not give much credit;
but in our serious and general search after the tendencies of natural
bodies, this motion occurs, and appears worthy of forming a distinct
species. It is the motion of an (as it were) eternal captivity; when
bodies, for instance, being placed not altogether according to their
nature, and yet not exactly ill, constantly tremble, and are restless,
not contented with their position, and yet not daring to advance.
Such is the motion of the heart and pulse of animals, and it must
necessarily occur in all bodies which are situated in a mean state,
between conveniences and inconveniences; so that being removed from
their proper position, they strive to escape, are repulsed, and again
continue to make the attempt.

Let the nineteenth and last motion be one which can scarcely be termed
a motion, and yet is one; and which we may call the motion of repose,
or of abhorrence of motion. It is by this motion that the earth stands
by its own weight, while its extremes move toward the middle, not
to an imaginary centre, but in order to unite. It is owing to the
same tendency, that all bodies of considerable density abhor motion,
and their only tendency is not to move, which nature they preserve,
although excited and urged in a variety of ways to motion. But if they
be compelled to move, yet do they always appear anxious to recover
their former state, and to cease from motion, in which respect they
certainly appear active, and attempt it with sufficient swiftness and
rapidity, as if fatigued, and impatient of delay. We can only have a
partial representation of this tendency, because with us every tangible
substance is not only not condensed to the utmost, but even some spirit
is added, owing to the action and concocting influence of the heavenly

We have now, therefore, exhibited the species, or simple elements of
the motions, tendencies, and active powers, which are most universal
in nature; and no small portion of natural science has been thus
sketched out. We do not, however, deny that other instances can perhaps
be added, and our divisions changed according to some more natural
order of things, and also reduced to a less number; in which respect
we do not allude to any abstract classification, as if one were to
say, that bodies desire the preservation, exaltation, propagation, or
fruition of their nature; or, that motion tends to the preservation and
benefit either of the universe (as in the case of those of resistance
and connection), or of extensive wholes, as in the case of those of
the greater congregation, revolution, and abhorrence of motion, or
of particular forms, as in the case of the others. For although such
remarks be just, yet, unless they terminate in matter and construction,
according to true definitions, they are speculative, and of little use.
In the meantime, our classification will suffice, and be of much use
in the consideration of the predominance of powers, and examining the
wrestling instances which constitute our present subject.

For of the motions here laid down, some are quite invincible, some more
powerful than others, which they confine, check, and modify; others
extend to a greater distance, others are more immediate and swift,
others strengthen, increase, and accelerate the rest.

The motion of resistance is most adamantine and invincible. We are
yet in doubt whether such be the nature of that of connection; for
we cannot with certainty determine whether there be a vacuum, either
extensive or intermixed with matter. Of one thing, however, we are
satisfied, that the reason assigned by Leucippus and Democritus for
the introduction of a vacuum (namely, that the same bodies could not
otherwise comprehend, and fill greater and less spaces) is false. For
there is clearly a folding of matter, by which it wraps and unwraps
itself in space within certain limits, without the intervention of a
vacuum. Nor is there two thousand times more of vacuum in air than in
gold, as there should be on this hypothesis; a fact demonstrated by
the very powerful energies of fluids (which would otherwise float like
fine dust _in vacuo_), and many other proofs. The other motions direct,
and are directed by each other, according to their strength, quantity,
excitement, emission, or the assistance or impediments they meet with.

For instance; some armed magnets hold and support iron of sixty times
their own weight; so far does the motion of lesser congregation
predominate over that of the greater; but if the weight be increased,
it yields. A lever of a certain strength will raise a given weight,
and so far the motion of liberty predominates over that of the greater
congregation, but if the weight be greater, the former motion yields.
A piece of leather stretched to a certain point does not break, and
so far the motion of continuity predominates over that of tension,
but if the tension be greater, the leather breaks, and the motion of
continuity yields. A certain quantity of water flows through a chink,
and so far the motion of greater congregation predominates over that
of continuity, but if the chink be smaller it yields. If a musket be
charged with ball and powdered sulphur alone, and fire be applied,
the ball is not discharged, in which case the motion of greater
congregation overcomes that of matter; but when gunpowder is used, the
motion of matter in the sulphur predominates, being assisted by that
motion, and the motion of avoidance in the nitre; and so of the rest.
For wrestling instances (which show the predominance of powers, and in
what manner and proportion they predominate and yield) must be searched
for with active and industrious diligence.

The methods and nature of this yielding must also be diligently
examined, as for instance, whether the motions completely cease, or
exert themselves, but are constrained. For in the bodies with which
we are acquainted, there is no real but an apparent rest, either in
the whole or in parts. This apparent rest is occasioned either by
equilibrium, or the absolute predominance of motions. By equilibrium,
as in the scales of the balance, which rest if the weights be equal. By
predominance, as in perforated jars, in which the water rests, and is
prevented from falling by the predominance of the motion of connection.
It is, however, to be observed (as we have said before), how far the
yielding motions exert themselves. For if a man be held stretched out
on the ground against his will, with arms and legs bound down, or
otherwise confined, and yet strive with all his power to get up, the
struggle is not the less, although ineffectual. The real state of the
case (namely, whether the yielding motion be, as it were, annihilated
by the predominance, or there be rather a continued, although an
invisible effort) will, perhaps, appear in the concurrence of motions,
although it escape our notice in their conflict. For instance: let an
experiment be made with muskets; whether a musket-ball, at its utmost
range in a straight line, or (as it is commonly called) point-blank,
strike with less force when projected upward, where the motion of the
blow is simple, than when projected downward, where the motion of
gravity concurs with the blow.

The rules of such instances of predominance as occur should be
collected: such as the following; the more general the desired
advantage is, the stronger will be the motion; the motion of
connection, for instance, which relates to the intercourse of the parts
of the universe, is more powerful than that of gravity, which relates
to the intercourse of dense bodies only. Again, the desire of a private
good does not in general prevail against that of a public one, except
where the quantities are small. Would that such were the case in civil

XLIX. In the twenty-fifth rank of prerogative instances we will place
suggesting instances; such as suggest, or point out, that which is
advantageous to mankind; for bare power and knowledge in themselves
exalt rather than enrich human nature. We must, therefore, select from
the general store such things as are most useful to mankind. We shall
have a better opportunity of discussing these when we treat of the
application to practice; besides, in the work of interpretation, we
leave room, on every subject, for the human or optative chart; for it
is a part of science to make judicious inquiries and wishes.

L. In the twenty-sixth rank of prerogative instances we will place the
generally useful instances. They are such as relate to various points,
and frequently occur, sparing by that means considerable labor and new
trials. The proper place for treating of instruments and contrivances,
will be that in which we speak of the application to practice, and the
methods of experiment. All that has hitherto been ascertained, and
made use of, will be described in the particular history of each art.
At present, we will subjoin a few general examples of the instances in

Man acts, then, upon natural bodies (besides merely bringing them
together or removing them) by seven principal methods: 1, by the
exclusion of all that impedes and disturbs; 2, by compression,
extension, agitation, and the like; 3, by heat and cold; 4, by
detention in a suitable place; 5, by checking or directing motion;
6, by peculiar harmonies; 7, by a seasonable and proper alternation,
series, and succession of all these, or, at least, of some of them.

1. With regard to the first--common air, which is always at hand, and
forces its admission, as also the rays of the heavenly bodies, create
much disturbance. Whatever, therefore, tends to exclude them may
well be considered as generally useful. The substance and thickness
of vessels in which bodies are placed when prepared for operations
may be referred to this head. So also may the accurate methods of
closing vessels by consolidation, or the _lutum sapientiæ_, as the
chemists call it. The exclusion of air by means of liquids at the
extremity is also very useful, as when they pour oil on wine, or the
juices of herbs, which by spreading itself upon the top like a cover,
preserves them uninjured from the air. Powders, also, are serviceable,
for although they contain air mixed up in them, yet they ward off
the power of the mass of circumambient air, which is seen in the
preservation of grapes and other fruits in sand or flour. Wax, honey,
pitch, and other resinous bodies, are well used in order to make the
exclusion more perfect, and to remove the air and celestial influence.
We have sometimes made an experiment by placing a vessel or other
bodies in quicksilver, the most dense of all substances capable of
being poured round others. Grottoes and subterraneous caves are of
great use in keeping off the effects of the sun, and the predatory
action of air, and in the north of Germany are used for granaries.
The depositing of bodies at the bottom of water may be also mentioned
here; and I remember having heard of some bottles of wine being let
down into a deep well in order to cool them, but left there by chance,
carelessness, and forgetfulness for several years, and then taken out;
by which means the wine not only escaped becoming flat or dead, but
was much more excellent in flavor, arising (as it appears) from a more
complete mixture of its parts. But if the case require that bodies
should be sunk to the bottom of water, as in rivers or the sea, and
yet should not touch the water, nor be inclosed in sealed vessels, but
surrounded only by air, it would be right to use that vessel which has
been sometimes employed under water above ships that have sunk, in
order to enable the divers to remain below and breathe occasionally
by turns. It was of the following nature: A hollow tub of metal was
formed, and sunk so as to have its bottom parallel with the surface of
the water; it thus carried down with it to the bottom of the sea all
the air contained in the tub. It stood upon three feet (like a tripod),
being of rather less height than a man, so that, when the diver was
in want of breath, he could put his head into the hollow of the tub,
breathe, and then continue his work. We hear that some sort of boat
or vessel has now been invented, capable of carrying men some distance
under water. Any bodies, however, can easily be suspended under some
such vessel as we have mentioned, which has occasioned our remarks upon
the experiment.

Another advantage of the careful and hermetical closing of bodies is
this--not only the admission of external air is prevented (of which we
have treated), but the spirit of bodies also is prevented from making
its escape, which is an internal operation. For any one operating on
natural bodies must be certain as to their quantity, and that nothing
has evaporated or escaped, since profound alterations take place in
bodies, when art prevents the loss or escape of any portion, while
nature prevents their annihilation. With regard to this circumstance,
a false idea has prevailed (which if true would make us despair of
preserving quantity without diminution), namely, that the spirit of
bodies, and air when rarefied by a great degree of heat, cannot be so
kept in by being inclosed in any vessel as not to escape by the small
pores. Men are led into this idea by the common experiments of a cup
inverted over water, with a candle or piece of lighted paper in it,
by which the water is drawn up, and of those cups which, when heated,
draw up the flesh. For they think that in each experiment the rarefied
air escapes, and that its quantity is therefore diminished, by which
means the water or flesh rises by the motion of connection. This is,
however, most incorrect. For the air is not diminished in quantity, but
contracted in dimensions,[161] nor does this motion of the rising of
the water begin till the flame is extinguished, or the air cooled, so
that physicians place cold sponges, moistened with water, on the cups,
in order to increase their attraction. There is, therefore, no reason
why men should fear much from the ready escape of air: for although it
be true that the most solid bodies have their pores, yet neither air,
nor spirit, readily suffers itself to be rarefied to such an extreme
degree; just as water will not escape by a small chink.

2. With regard to the second of the seven above-mentioned methods, we
must especially observe, that compression and similar violence have a
most powerful effect either in producing locomotion, and other motions
of the same nature, as may be observed in engines and projectiles, or
in destroying the organic body, and those qualities, which consist
entirely in motion (for all life, and every description of flame and
ignition are destroyed by compression, which also injures and deranges
every machine); or in destroying those qualities which consist in
position and a coarse difference of parts, as in colors; for the color
of a flower when whole, differs from that it presents when bruised, and
the same may be observed of whole and powdered amber; or in tastes,
for the taste of a pear before it is ripe, and of the same pear when
bruised and softened, is different, since it becomes perceptibly
more sweet. But such violence is of little avail in the more noble
transformations and changes of homogeneous bodies, for they do not,
by such means, acquire any constantly and permanently new state, but
one that is transitory, and always struggling to return to its former
habit and freedom. It would not, however, be useless to make some
more diligent experiments with regard to this; whether, for instance,
the condensation of a perfectly homogeneous body (such as air, water,
oil, and the like) or their rarefaction, when effected by violence,
can become permanent, fixed, and, as it were, so changed, as to become
a nature. This might at first be tried by simple perseverance, and
then by means of helps and harmonies. It might readily have been
attempted (if we had but thought of it), when we condensed water (as
was mentioned above), by hammering and compression, until it burst
out. For we ought to have left the flattened globe untouched for some
days, and then to have drawn off the water, in order to try whether it
would have immediately occupied the same dimensions as it did before
the condensation. If it had not done so, either immediately, or soon
afterward, the condensation would have appeared to have been rendered
constant; if not, it would have appeared that a restitution took place,
and that the condensation had been transitory. Something of the same
kind might have been tried with the glass eggs; the egg should have
been sealed up suddenly and firmly, after a complete exhaustion of
the air, and should have been allowed to remain so for some days, and
it might then have been tried whether, on opening the aperture, the
air would be drawn in with a hissing noise, or whether as much water
would be drawn into it when immersed, as would have been drawn into it
at first, if it had not continued sealed. For it is probable (or, at
least, worth making the experiment) that this might have happened, or
might happen, because perseverance has a similar effect upon bodies
which are a little less homogeneous. A stick bent together for some
time does not rebound, which is not owing to any loss of quantity in
the wood during the time, for the same would occur (after a larger
time) in a plate of steel, which does not evaporate. If the experiment
of simple perseverance should fail, the matter should not be given up,
but other means should be employed. For it would be no small advantage,
if bodies could be endued with fixed and constant natures by violence.
Air could then be converted into water by condensation, with other
similar effects; for man is more the master of violent motions than of
any other means.

3. The third of our seven methods is referred to that great practical
engine of nature, as well as of art, cold and heat. Here, man’s power
limps, as it were, with one leg. For we possess the heat of fire, which
is infinitely more powerful and intense than that of the sun (as it
reaches us), and that of animals. But we want cold,[162] except such
as we can obtain in winter, in caverns, or by surrounding objects
with snow and ice, which, perhaps, may be compared in degree with
the noontide heat of the sun in tropical countries, increased by the
reflection of mountains and walls. For this degree of heat and cold can
be borne for a short period only by animals, yet it is nothing compared
with the heat of a burning furnace, or the corresponding degree of
cold.[163] Everything with us has a tendency to become rarefied,
dry and wasted, and nothing to become condensed or soft, except
by mixtures, and, as it were, spurious methods. Instances of cold,
therefore, should be searched for most diligently, such as may be found
by exposing bodies upon buildings in a hard frost, in subterraneous
caverns, by surrounding bodies with snow and ice in deep places
excavated for that purpose, by letting bodies down into wells, by
burying bodies in quicksilver and metals, by immersing them in streams
which petrify wood, by burying them in the earth (which the Chinese
are reported to do with their china, masses of which, made for that
purpose, are said to remain in the ground for forty or fifty years, and
to be transmitted to their heirs as a sort of artificial mine) and the
like. The condensations which take place in nature, by means of cold,
should also be investigated, that by learning their causes, they may
be introduced into the arts; such as are observed in the exudation of
marble and stones, in the dew upon the panes of glass in a room toward
morning after a frosty night, in the formation and the gathering of
vapors under the earth into water, whence spring fountains and the like.

Besides the substances which are cold to the touch, there are others
which have also the effect of cold, and condense; they appear, however,
to act only upon the bodies of animals, and scarcely any further. Of
these we have many instances, in medicines and plasters. Some condense
the flesh and tangible parts, such as astringent and inspissating
medicines, others the spirits, such as soporifics. There are two modes
of condensing the spirits, by soporifics or provocatives to sleep;
the one by calming the motion, the other by expelling the spirit. The
violet, dried roses, lettuces, and other benign or mild remedies,
by their friendly and gently cooling vapors, invite the spirits to
unite, and restrain their violent and perturbed motion. Rose-water,
for instance, applied to the nostrils in fainting fits, causes the
resolved and relaxed spirits to recover themselves, and, as it were,
cherishes them. But opiates, and the like, banish the spirits by
their malignant and hostile quality. If they be applied, therefore,
externally, the spirits immediately quit the part and no longer readily
flow into it; but if they be taken internally, their vapor, mounting
to the head, expels, in all directions, the spirits contained in the
ventricles of the brain, and since these spirits retreat, but cannot
escape, they consequently meet and are condensed, and are sometimes
completely extinguished and suffocated; although the same opiates, when
taken in moderation, by a secondary accident (the condensation which
succeeds their union), strengthen the spirits, render them more robust,
and check their useless and inflammatory motion, by which means they
contribute not a little to the cure of diseases, and the prolongation
of life.

The preparations of bodies, also, for the reception of cold should not
be omitted, such as that water a little warmed is more easily frozen
than that which is quite cold, and the like.

Moreover, since nature supplies cold so sparingly, we must act like the
apothecaries, who, when they cannot obtain any simple ingredient, take
a succedaneum, or _quid pro quo_, as they term it, such as aloes for
xylobalsamum, cassia for cinnamon. In the same manner we should look
diligently about us, to ascertain whether there may be any substitutes
for cold, that is to say, in what other manner condensation can be
effected, which is the peculiar operation of cold. Such condensations
appear hitherto to be of four kinds only. 1. By simple compression,
which is of little avail toward permanent condensation, on account
of the elasticity of substances, but may still, however, be of some
assistance. 2. By the contraction of the coarser, after the escape
or departure of the finer parts of a given body; as is exemplified
in induration by fire, and the repeated heating and extinguishing of
metals, and the like. 3. By the cohesion of the most solid homogeneous
parts of a given body, which were previously separated, and mixed with
others less solid, as in the return of sublimated mercury to its simple
state, in which it occupies much less space than it did in powder, and
the same may be observed of the cleansing of all metals from their
dross. 4. By harmony, or the application of substances which condense
by some latent power. These harmonies are as yet but rarely observed,
at which we cannot be surprised, since there is little to hope for from
their investigation, unless the discovery of forms and confirmation
be attained. With regard to animal bodies, it is not to be questioned
that there are many internal and external medicines which condense
by harmony, as we have before observed, but this action is rare in
inanimate bodies. Written accounts, as well as report, have certainly
spoken of a tree in one of the Tercera or Canary Islands (for I do
not exactly recollect which) that drips perpetually, so as to supply
the inhabitants, in some degree, with water; and Paracelsus says that
the herb called _ros solis_ is filled with dew at noon, while the sun
gives out its greatest heat, and all other herbs around it are dry. We
treat both these accounts as fables; they would, however, if true, be
of the most important service, and most worthy of examination. As to
the honey-dew, resembling manna, which is found in May on the leaves
of the oak, we are of opinion that it is not condensed by any harmony
or peculiarity of the oak leaf, but that while it falls equally upon
other leaves it is retained and continues on those of the oak, because
their texture is closer, and not so porous as that of most of the other

With regard to heat, man possesses abundant means and power; but his
observation and inquiry are defective in some respects, and those of
the greatest importance, notwithstanding the boasting of quacks. For
the effects of intense heat are examined and observed, while those of
a more gentle degree of heat, being of the most frequent occurrence
in the paths of nature, are, on that very account, least known. We
see, therefore, the furnaces, which are most esteemed, employed in
increasing the spirits of bodies to a great extent, as in the strong
acids, and some chemical oils; while the tangible parts are hardened,
and, when the volatile part has escaped, become sometimes fixed; the
homogeneous parts are separated, and the heterogeneous incorporated and
agglomerated in a coarse lump; and (what is chiefly worthy of remark)
the junction of compound bodies, and the more delicate conformations
are destroyed and confounded. But the operation of a less violent heat
should be tried and investigated, by which more delicate mixtures and
regular conformations may be produced and elicited, according to the
example of nature, and in imitation of the effect of the sun, which we
have alluded to in the aphorism on the instances of alliance. For the
works of nature are carried on in much smaller portions, and in more
delicate and varied positions than those of fire, as we now employ
it. But man will then appear to have really augmented his power, when
the works of nature can be imitated in species, perfected in power,
and varied in quantity; to which should be added the acceleration in
point of time. Rust, for instance, is the result of a long process, but
_crocus martis_ is obtained immediately; and the same may be observed
of natural verdigris and ceruse. Crystal is formed slowly, while glass
is blown immediately: stones increase slowly, while bricks are baked
immediately, etc. In the meantime (with regard to our present subject)
every different species of heat should, with its peculiar effects, be
diligently collected and inquired into; that of the heavenly bodies,
whether their rays be direct, reflected, or refracted, or condensed by
a burning-glass; that of lightning, flame, and ignited charcoal; that
of fire of different materials, either open or confined, straitened or
overflowing, qualified by the different forms of the furnaces, excited
by the bellows, or quiescent, removed to a greater or less distance,
or passing through different media; moist heats, such as the _balneum
Mariæ_, and the dunghill; the external and internal heat of animals;
dry heats, such as the heat of ashes, lime, warm sand; in short, the
nature of every kind of heat, and its degrees.

We should, however, particularly attend to the investigation and
discovery of the effects and operations of heat, when made to approach
and retire by degrees, regularly, periodically, and by proper intervals
of space and time. For this systematical inequality is in truth the
daughter of heaven and mother of generation, nor can any great result
be expected from a vehement, precipitate, or desultory heat. For this
is not only most evident in vegetables, but in the wombs of animals
also there arises a great inequality of heat, from the motion, sleep,
food, and passions of the female. The same inequality prevails in
those subterraneous beds where metals and fossils are perpetually
forming, which renders yet more remarkable the ignorance of some of the
reformed alchemists, who imagined they could attain their object by the
equable heat of lamps, or the like, burning uniformly. Let this suffice
concerning the operation and effects of heat; nor is it time for us
to investigate them thoroughly before the forms and conformations
of bodies have been further examined and brought to light. When we
have determined upon our models, we may seek, apply, and arrange our

4. The fourth mode of action is by continuance, the very steward and
almoner, as it were, of nature. We apply the term continuance to the
abandonment of a body to itself for an observable time, guarded and
protected in the meanwhile from all external force. For the internal
motion then commences to betray and exert itself when the external and
adventitious is removed. The effects of time, however, are far more
delicate than those of fire. Wine, for instance, cannot be clarified
by fire as it is by continuance. Nor are the ashes produced by
combustion so fine as the particles dissolved or wasted by the lapse
of ages. The incorporations and mixtures, which are hurried by fire,
are very inferior to those obtained by continuance; and the various
conformations assumed by bodies left to themselves, such as mouldiness,
etc., are put a stop to by fire or a strong heat. It is not, in the
meantime, unimportant to remark that there is a certain degree of
violence in the motion of bodies entirely confined; for the confinement
impedes the proper motion of the body. Continuance in an open vessel,
therefore, is useful for separations, and in one hermetically sealed
for mixtures, that in a vessel partly closed, but admitting the air,
for putrefaction. But instances of the operation and effect of
continuance must be collected diligently from every quarter.

5. The direction of motion (which is the fifth method of action) is
of no small use. We adopt this term, when speaking of a body which,
meeting with another, either arrests, repels, allows, or directs
its original motion. This is the case principally in the figure and
position of vessels. An upright cone, for instance, promotes the
condensation of vapor in alembics, but when reversed, as in inverted
vessels, it assists the refining of sugar. Sometimes a curved form,
or one alternately contracted and dilated, is required. Strainers may
be ranged under this head, where the opposed body opens a way for
one portion of another substance and impedes the rest. Nor is this
process or any other direction of motion carried on externally only,
but sometimes by one body within another. Thus, pebbles are thrown
into water to collect the muddy particles, and syrups are refined by
the white of an egg, which glues the grosser particles together so as
to facilitate their removal. Telesius, indeed, rashly and ignorantly
enough attributes the formation of animals to this cause, by means of
the channels and folds of the womb. He ought to have observed a similar
formation of the young in eggs which have no wrinkles or inequalities.
One may observe a real result of this direction of motion in casting
and modelling.

6. The effects produced by harmony and aversion (which is the
sixth method) are frequently buried in obscurity; for these occult
and specific properties (as they are termed), the sympathies and
antipathies, are for the most part but a corruption of philosophy. Nor
can we form any great expectation of the discovery of the harmony which
exists between natural objects, before that of their forms and simple
conformations, for it is nothing more than the symmetry between these
forms and conformations.

The greater and more universal species of harmony are not, however,
so wholly obscure, and with them, therefore, we must commence. The
first and principal distinction between them is this; that some bodies
differ considerably in the abundance and rarity of their substance, but
correspond in their conformation; others, on the contrary, correspond
in the former and differ in the latter. Thus the chemists have well
observed, that in their trial of first principles sulphur and mercury,
as it were, pervade the universe; their reasoning about salt, however,
is absurd, and merely introduced to comprise earthy dry fixed bodies.
In the other two, indeed, one of the most universal species of natural
harmony manifests itself. Thus there is a correspondence between
sulphur, oil, greasy exhalations, flame, and, perhaps, the substance of
the stars. On the other hand, there is a like correspondence between
mercury, water, aqueous vapor, air, and, perhaps, pure inter-sidereal
ether. Yet do these two quaternions, or great natural tribes (each
within its own limits), differ immensely in quantity and density of
substance, while they generally agree in conformation, as is manifest
in many instances. On the other hand, the metals agree in such quantity
and density (especially when compared with vegetables, etc.), but
differ in many respects in conformation. Animals and vegetables, in
like manner, vary in their almost infinite modes of conformation, but
range within very limited degrees of quantity and density of substance.

The next most general correspondence is that between individual bodies
and those which supply them by way of menstruum or support. Inquiry,
therefore, must be made as to the climate, soil, and depth at which
each metal is generated, and the same of gems, whether produced in
rocks or mines, also as to the soil in which particular trees, shrubs,
and herbs, mostly grow and, as it were, delight; and as to the best
species of manure, whether dung, chalk, sea sand, or ashes, etc., and
their different propriety and advantage according to the variety of
soils. So also the grafting and setting of trees and plants (as regards
the readiness of grafting one particular species on another) depends
very much upon harmony, and it would be amusing to try an experiment
I have lately heard of, in grafting forest trees (garden trees alone
having hitherto been adopted), by which means the leaves and fruit
are enlarged, and the trees produce more shade. The specific food of
animals again should be observed, as well as that which cannot be used.
Thus the carnivorous cannot be fed on herbs, for which reason the order
of feuilletans, the experiment having been made, has nearly vanished;
human nature being incapable of supporting their regimen, although the
human will has more power over the bodily frame than that of other
animals. The different kinds of putrefaction from which animals are
generated should be noted.

The harmony of principal bodies with those subordinate to them (such
indeed may be deemed those we have alluded to above) are sufficiently
manifest, to which may be added those that exist between different
bodies and their objects, and, since these latter are more apparent,
they may throw great light when well observed and diligently examined
upon those which are more latent.

The more internal harmony and aversion, or friendship and enmity
(for superstition and folly have rendered the terms of sympathy and
antipathy almost disgusting), have been either falsely assigned,
or mixed with fable, or most rarely discovered from neglect. For if
one were to allege that there is an enmity between the vine and the
cabbage, because they will not come up well when sown together, there
is a sufficient reason for it in the succulent and absorbent nature
of each plant, so that the one defrauds the other. Again, if one were
to say that there is a harmony and friendship between the corn and
the corn-flower, or the wild poppy, because the latter seldom grow
anywhere but in cultivated soils, he ought rather to say, there is an
enmity between them, for the poppy and the corn-flower are produced and
created by those juices which the corn has left and rejected, so that
the sowing of the corn prepares the ground for their production. And
there are a vast number of similar false assertions. As for fables,
they must be totally exterminated. There remains, then, but a scanty
supply of such species of harmony as has borne the test of experiment,
such as that between the magnet and iron, gold and quicksilver, and
the like. In chemical experiments on metals, however, there are some
others worthy of notice, but the greatest abundance (where the whole
are so few in numbers) is discovered in certain medicines, which,
from their occult and specific qualities (as they are termed), affect
particular limbs, humors, diseases, or constitutions. Nor should we
omit the harmony between the motion and phenomena of the moon, and
their effects on lower bodies, which may be brought together by an
accurate and honest selection from the experiments of agriculture,
navigation, and medicine, or of other sciences. By as much as these
general instances, however, of more latent harmony, are rare, with
so much the more diligence are they to be inquired after, through
tradition, and faithful and honest reports, but without rashness
and credulity, with an anxious and, as it were, hesitating degree of
reliance. There remains one species of harmony which, though simple in
its mode of action, is yet most valuable in its use, and must by no
means be omitted, but rather diligently investigated. It is the ready
or difficult coition or union of bodies in composition, or simple
juxtaposition. For some bodies readily and willingly mix, and are
incorporated, others tardily and perversely; thus powders mix best with
water, chalk and ashes with oils, and the like. Nor are these instances
of readiness and aversion to mixture to be alone collected, but others,
also, of the collocation, distribution, and digestion of the parts when
mingled, and the predominance after the mixture is complete.

7. Lastly, there remains the seventh, and last of the seven, modes
of action; namely, that by the alternation and interchange of the
other six; but of this, it will not be the right time to offer any
examples, until some deeper investigation shall have taken place of
each of the others. The series, or chain of this alternation, in its
mode of application to separate effects, is no less powerful in its
operation than difficult to be traced. But men are possessed with the
most extreme impatience, both of such inquiries, and their practical
application, although it be the clew of the labyrinth in all greater
works. Thus far of the generally useful instances.

LI. The twenty-seventh and last place we will assign to the magical
instances, a term which we apply to those where the matter or efficient
agent is scanty or small, in comparison with the grandeur of the work
or effect produced; so that even when common they appear miraculous,
some at first sight, others even upon more attentive observation.
Nature, however, of herself, supplies these but sparingly. What she
will do when her whole store is thrown open, and after the discovery
of forms, processes, and conformation, will appear hereafter. As far
as we can yet conjecture, these magic effects are produced in three
ways, either by self-multiplication, as in fire, and the poisons termed
specific, and the motions transferred and multiplied from wheel to
wheel; or by the excitement, or, as it were, invitation of another
substance, as in the magnet, which excites innumerable needles without
losing or diminishing its power; and again in leaven, and the like; or
by the excess of rapidity of one species of motion over another, as
has been observed in the case of gunpowder, cannon, and mines. The two
former require an investigation of harmonies, the latter of a measure
of motion. Whether there be any mode of changing bodies _per minima_
(as it is termed), and transferring the delicate conformations of
matter, which is of importance in all transformations of bodies, so as
to enable art to effect, in a short time, that which nature works out
by divers expedients, is a point of which we have as yet no indication.
But, as we aspire to the extremest and highest results in that which is
solid and true, so do we ever detest, and, as far as in us lies, expel
all that is empty and vain.

LII. Let this suffice as to the respective dignity of prerogatives of
instances. But it must be noted, that in this our organ, we treat of
logic, and not of philosophy. Seeing, however, that our logic instructs
and informs the understanding, in order that it may not, with the small
hooks, as it were, of the mind, catch at, and grasp mere abstractions,
but rather actually penetrate nature, and discover the properties and
effects of bodies, and the determinate laws of their substance (so
that this science of ours springs from the nature of things, as well as
from that of the mind); it is not to be wondered at, if it have been
continually interspersed and illustrated with natural observations and
experiments, as instances of our method. The prerogative instances are,
as appears from what has preceded, twenty-seven in number, and are
termed, solitary instances, migrating instances, conspicuous instances,
clandestine instances, constitutive instances, similar instances,
singular instances, deviating instances, bordering instances,
instances of power, accompanying and hostile instances, subjunctive
instances, instances of alliance, instances of the cross, instances
of divorce, instances of the gate, citing instances, instances of the
road, supplementary instances, lancing instances, instances of the
rod, instances of the course, doses of nature, wrestling instances,
suggesting instances, generally useful instances, and magical
instances. The advantage, by which these instances excel the more
ordinary, regards specifically either theory or practice, or both. With
regard to theory, they assist either the senses or the understanding;
the senses, as in the five instances of the lamp; the understanding,
either by expediting the exclusive mode of arriving at the form, as in
solitary instances, or by confining, and more immediately indicating
the affirmative, as in the migrating, conspicuous, accompanying, and
subjunctive instances; or by elevating the understanding, and leading
it to general and common natures, and that either immediately, as in
the clandestine and singular instances, and those of alliance; or very
nearly so, as in the constitutive; or still less so, as in the similar
instances; or by correcting the understanding of its habits, as in
the deviating instances; or by leading to the grand form or fabric of
the universe, as in the bordering instances; or by guarding it from
false forms and causes, as in those of the cross and of divorce. With
regard to practice, they either point it out, or measure, or elevate
it. They point it out, either by showing where we must commence in
order not to repeat the labors of others, as in the instances of power;
or by inducing us to aspire to that which may be possible, as in the
suggesting instances; the four mathematical instances measure it. The
generally useful and the magical elevate it.

Again, out of these twenty-seven instances, some must be collected
immediately, without waiting for a particular investigation of
properties. Such are the similar, singular, deviating, and bordering
instances, those of power, and of the gate, and suggesting, generally
useful, and magical instances; for these either assist and cure
the understanding and senses, or furnish our general practice. The
remainder are to be collected when we finish our synoptical tables for
the work of the interpreter, upon any particular nature; for these
instances, honored and gifted with such prerogatives, are like the
soul amid the vulgar crowd of instances, and (as we from the first
observed) a few of them are worth a multitude of the others. When,
therefore, we are forming our tables they must be searched out with the
greatest zeal, and placed in the table. And, since mention must be made
of them in what follows, a treatise upon their nature has necessarily
been prefixed. We must next, however, proceed to the supports and
corrections of induction, and thence to concretes, the latent process,
and latent conformations, and the other matters, which we have
enumerated in their order in the twenty-first aphorism, in order that,
like good and faithful guardians, we may yield up their fortune to
mankind upon the emancipation and majority of their understanding;
from which must necessarily follow an improvement of their estate, and
an increase of their power over nature. For man, by the fall, lost
at once his state of innocence, and his empire over creation, both
of which can be partially recovered even in this life, the first by
religion and faith, the second by the arts and sciences. For creation
did not become entirely and utterly rebellious by the curse, but in
consequence of the Divine decree, “in the sweat of thy brow shalt
thou eat bread,” she is compelled by our labors (not assuredly by our
disputes or magical ceremonies), at length, to afford mankind in some
degree his bread, that is to say, to supply man’s daily wants.



[71] Τὸ τὶ ἦν εἶναι, or ἦν οὐσία of Aristotle.--See lib. iii. Metap.

[72] These divisions are from Aristotle’s Metaphysics, where they are
termed, 1. ὓλη ἢ τὸ ὑποκείμενον. 2. τὸ τὶ ἦν εἶναι. 3. ὅθεν ἡ ἀρχὴ τῆς
κινήσεως. 4. τὸ οὗ ἕνεκεν--καὶ τὸ ἀγαθόν.

[73] See Aphorism li. and second paragraph of Aphorism lxv. in the
first book.

[74] Bacon means, that although there exist in nature only
individualities, yet a certain number of these may have common
properties, and be controlled by the same laws. Now, these homogeneous
qualities which distinguish them from other individuals, lead us to
class them under one expression, and sometimes under a single term. Yet
these classes are only pure conceptions in Bacon’s opinion, and cannot
be taken for distinct substances. He evidently here aims a blow at the
Realists, who concluded that the essence which united individualities
in a class was the only real and immutable existence in nature,
inasmuch as it entered into their ideas of individual substances as
a distinct and essential property, and continued in the mind as the
mold, type or pattern of the class, while its individual forms were
undergoing perpetual renovation and decay.--_Ed._

[75] Bacon’s definition is obscure. All the idea we have of a law of
nature consists in invariable sequence between certain classes of
phenomena; but this cannot be the complete sense attached by Bacon to
the term form, as he employs it in the fourth aphorism as convertible
with the nature of any object; and again, in the first aphorism, as
the _natura naturans_, or general law or condition in any substance
or quality--_natura naturata_--which is whatever its form is, or that
particular combination of forces which impresses a certain nature upon
matter subject to its influence. Thus, in the Newtonian sense, the
form of whiteness would be that combination of the seven primitive
rays of light which give rise to that color. In combination with this
word, and affording a still further insight into its meaning, we have
the phrases, _latens processus ad formam, et latens schematismus
corporum_. Now, the _latens schematismus_ signifies the internal
texture, structure, or configuration of bodies, or the result of the
respective situation of all the parts of a body; while the _latens
processus ad formam_ points out the gradation of movements which takes
place among the molecula of bodies when they either conserve or change
their figure. Hence we may consider the form of any quality in body
as something convertible with that quality, _i.e._, when it exists
the quality is present, and _vice versâ_. In this sense, the form of
a thing differs only from its efficient cause in being permanent,
whereas we apply cause to that which exists in order of time. The
_latens processus_ and _latens schematismus_ are subordinate to form,
as concrete exemplifications of its essence. The former is the secret
and invisible process by which change is effected, and involves the
principle since called the law of continuity. Thus, the succession of
events between the application of the match to the expulsion of the
bullet is an instance of latent progress which we can now trace with
some degree of accuracy. It also more directly refers to the operation
by which one form or condition of being is induced upon another. For
example, when the surface of iron becomes rusty, or when water is
converted into steam, some change has taken place, or latent process
from one form to another. Mechanics afford many exemplifications of
the first latent process we have denoted, and chemistry of the second.
The _latens schematismus_ is that visible structure of bodies on
which so many of their properties depend. When we inquire into the
constitution of crystals, and into the internal structure of plants, we
are examining into their latent schematism.--_Ed._

[76] By the recent discoveries in electric magnetism, copper wires,
or, indeed, wires of any metal, may be transformed into magnets; the
magnetic law, or form, having been to that extent discovered.

[77] Haller has pursued this investigation in his “Physiology,”
and has left his successors little else to do than repeat his

[78] Bacon here first seems pregnant with the important development of
the higher calculus, which, in the hands of Newton and Descartes, was
to effect as great a revolution in philosophy as his method.--_Ed._

[79] By spirit, Bacon here plainly implies material fluid too fine to
be grasped by the unassisted sense, which rather operates than reasons.
We sometimes adopt the same mode of expression, as in the words spirits
of nitre, spirits of wine. Some such agency has been assumed by nearly
all the modern physicists, a few of whom, along with Bacon, would leave
us to gather from their expressions, that they believe such bodies
endowed with the sentient powers of perception. As another specimen
of his sentiment on this subject, we may refer to a paragraph on the
decomposition of compounds, in his essay on death, beginning--“The
spirit which exists in all living bodies, keeps all the parts in due
subjection; when it escapes, the body decomposes, or the similar parts

[80] The theory of the Epicureans and others. The atoms are supposed
to be invisible, unalterable particles, endued with all the properties
of the given body, and forming that body by their union. They must
be separated, of course, which either takes a vacuum for granted, or
introduces a tertium quid into the composition of the body.

[81] Compare the three following aphorisms with the last three chapters
of the third book of the “De Augmentis Scientiarum.”

[82] Bacon gives this unfortunate term its proper signification; μετα,
in composition, with the Greeks signifying change or mutation. Most of
our readers, no doubt, are aware that the obtrusion of this word into
technical philosophy was purely capricious, and is of no older date
than the publication of Aristotle’s works by Andronicus of Rhodes, one
of the learned men into whose hands the manuscripts of that philosopher
fell, after they were brought by Sylla from Athens to Rome. To fourteen
books in these MSS. with no distinguishing title, Andronicus is said to
have prefixed the words τα μετα τα φυσικα, to denote the place which
they ought to hold either in the order of Aristotle’s arrangement, or
in that of study. These books treat first of those subjects which are
common to matter and mind; secondly, of things separate from matter,
_i.e._ of God, and of the subordinate spirits, which were supposed by
the Peripatetics to watch over particular portions of the universe. The
followers of Aristotle accepted the whimsical title of Andronicus, and
in their usual manner allowed a word to unite things into one science
which were plainly heterogeneous. Their error was adopted by the
Peripatetics of the Christian Church. The schoolmen added to the notion
of ontology, the science of the mind, or pneumatology, and as that
genus of being has since become extinct with the schools, metaphysics
thus in modern parlance comes to be synonymous with psychology. It were
to be wished that Bacon’s definition of the term had been accepted, and
mental science delivered from one of the greatest monstrosities in its
nomenclature, yet Bacon whimsically enough in his De Augmentis includes
mathematics in metaphysics.--_Ed._


  “Ne tenues pluviæ, rapidive potentia solis
   Acrior, aut Boreæ penetrabile frigus adurat.”
                                 --Virg. Georg. i. 92, 93.

[84] This notion, which he repeats again, and particularizes in the
18th aph. of this book, is borrowed from the ancients, and we need not
say is as wise as their other astronomical conjectures. The sun also
approaches stars quite as large in other quarters of the zodiac, when
it looks down upon the earth through the murky clouds of winter. When
that luminary is in Leo, the heat of the earth is certainly greater
than at any other period, but this arises from the accumulation of heat
after the solstice, for the same reason that the maximum heat of the
day is at two o’clock instead of noon.--_Ed._

[85] Bouguer, employed by Louis XIV. in philosophical researches,
ascended the Andes to discover the globular form of the earth, and
published an account of his passage, which verifies the statement of

[86] Montanari asserts in his book against the astrologers that he
had satisfied himself by numerous and oft-repeated experiments, that
the lunar rays gathered to a focus produced a sensible degree of
heat. Muschenbröck, however, adopts the opposite opinion, and asserts
that himself, De la Hire, Villet, and Tschirnhausen had tried with
that view the strongest burning-glasses in vain. (Opera de Igne.) De
la Lande makes a similar confession in his Astronomy (vol. ii. vii.
§ 1413). Bouguer, whom we have just quoted, demonstrated that the
light of the moon was 300,000 degrees less than that of the sun; it
would consequently be necessary to invent a glass with an absorbing
power 300,000 degrees greater than those ordinarily in use, to try the
experiment Bacon speaks of.--_Ed._

[87] In this thermometer, mercury was not dilated by heat or contracted
by cold, as the one now in use, but a mass of air employed instead,
which filled the cavity of the bulb. This being placed in an inverted
position to ours, that is to say, with the bulb uppermost, pressed
down the liquor when the air became dilated by heat, as ours press
it upward; and when the heat diminished, the liquor rose to occupy
the place vacated by the air, as the one now in use descends. It
consequently was liable to be affected by a change in the temperature,
as by the weight of air, and could afford only a rude standard of
accuracy in scientific investigations. This thermometer was not Bacon’s
own contrivance, as is commonly supposed, but that of Drebbel.--_Ed._

[88] La Lande is indignant that the Chaldeans should have more correct
notions of the nature of comets than the modern physicists, and charges
Bacon with entertaining the idea that they were the mere effects of
vapor and heat. This passage, with two others more positive, in the
“De Aug.” (cap. xl.) and the “Descript. Globi Intellect.” (cap. vi.)
certainly afford ground for the assertion; but if Bacon erred, he erred
with Galileo, and with the foremost spirits of the times. It is true
that Pythagoras and Seneca had asserted their belief in the solidity
of these bodies, but the wide dominion which Aristotle subsequently
exercised, threw their opinions into the shade, and made the opposite
doctrine everywhere paramount.--_Ed._

[89] Was it a silk apron which exhibited electric sparks? Silk was then

[90] The Italian fire-fly.

[91] This last is found to be the real reason, air not being a good
conductor, and therefore not allowing the escape of heat. The confined
air is disengaged when these substances are placed under an exhausted

[92] This is erroneous. Air, in fact, is one of the worst, and metals
are the best conductors of heat.

[93] See No. 28 in the table of the degrees of heat.

[94] Bacon here mistakes sensation confined to ourselves for an
internal property of distinct substances. Metals are denser than wood,
and our bodies consequently coming into contact with more particles of
matter when we touch them, lose a greater quantity of heat than in the
case of lighter substances.--_Ed._

[95] This was the ancient opinion, but the moderns incline to the
belief that these insects are produced by generation or fecundity
from seeds deposited by their tribes in bodies on the verge of

[96] The correct measure of the activity of flame may be obtained by
multiplying its natural force into the square of its velocity. On this
account the flame of vivid lightning mentioned in No. 23 contains so
much vigor, its velocity being greater than that arising from other

[97] The fires supply fresh heat, the water has only a certain quantity
of heat, which being diffused over a fresh supply of cooler water, must
be on the whole lowered.

[98] If condensation were the cause of the greater heat, Bacon
concludes the centre of the flame would be the hotter part, and _vice
versâ_. The fact is, neither of the causes assigned by Bacon is the
true one; for the fire burns more quickly only because the draught of
air is more rapid, the cold dense air pressing rapidly into the heated
room and toward the chimney.--_Ed._

[99] Bacon appears to have confounded combustibility and fusibility
with susceptibility of heat; for though the metals will certainly
neither dissolve as soon as ice or butter, nor be consumed as soon
as wood, that only shows that different degrees of heat are required
to produce similar effects on different bodies; but metals much more
readily acquire and transmit the same degree of heat than any of the
above substances. The rapid transmission renders them generally cold
to the touch. The convenience of fixing wooden handles to vessels
containing hot water illustrates these observations.

[100] Another singular error, the truth being, that solid bodies are
the best conductors; but of course where heat is diffused over a large
mass, it is less in each part, than if that part alone absorbed the
whole quantum of heat.--_Ed._

[101] This general law or form has been well illustrated by Newton’s
discovery of the decomposition of colors.

[102] _I.e._, the common link or form which connects the various
kinds of natures, such as the different hot or red natures enumerated
above.--See Aphorism iii. part 2.

[103] This is erroneous--all metals expand considerably when heated.

[104] “Quid ipsum,” the τὸ τὶ ἦν εἶναι of Aristotle.

[105] To show the error of the text, we need only mention the case
of water, which, when confined in corked vases, and exposed to the
action of a freezing atmosphere, is sure to swell out and break those
vessels which are not sufficiently large to contain its expanded
volume. Megalotti narrates a hundred other instances of a similar

[106] Bacon’s inquisition into the nature of heat, as an example of
the mode of interpreting nature, cannot be looked upon otherwise than
as a complete failure. Though the exact nature of this phenomenon is
still an obscure and controverted matter, the science of thermotics
now consists of many important truths, and to none of these truths is
there so much as an approximation in Bacon’s process. The steps by
which this science really advanced were the discovery of a measure of
a heat or temperature, the establishment of the laws of conduction and
radiation, of the laws of specific heat, latent heat, and the like.
Such advances have led to Ampère’s hypothesis, that heat consists in
the vibrations of an imponderable fluid; and to Laplace’s theory, that
temperature consists in the internal radiation of a similar medium.
These hypotheses cannot yet be said to be even probable, but at least
they are so modified as to include some of the preceding laws which
are firmly established, whereas Bacon’s “form,” or true definition of
heat, as stated in the text, includes no laws of phenomena, explains no
process, and is indeed itself an example of illicit generalization.

In all the details of his example of heat he is unfortunate. He
includes in his collection of instances, the _hot_ tastes of aromatic
plants, the caustic effects of acids, and many other facts which
cannot be ascribed to heat without a studious laxity in the use of the

[107] By this term Bacon understands general phenomena, taken in order
from the great mass of indiscriminative facts, which, as they lie in
nature, are apt to generate confusion by their number, indistinctness
and complication. Such classes of phenomena, as being peculiarly
suggestive of causation, he quaintly classes under the title of
prerogative inquiries, either seduced by the fanciful analogy, which
such instances bore to the _prerogativa centuria_ in the Roman Comitia,
or justly considering them as Herschel supposes to hold a kind of
prerogative dignity from being peculiarly suggestive of causation.

Two high authorities in physical science (v. Herschel, Nat. Phil.,
art. 192; Whewell’s Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, vol. ii.
p. 243) pronounce these instances of little service in the task of
induction, being for the most part classed not according to the ideas
which they involve, or to any obvious circumstance in the facts of
which they consist, but according to the extent and manner of their
influence upon the inquiry in which they are employed. Thus we
have solitary instances, migrating instances, ostensive instances,
clandestine instances, so termed according to the degree in which
they exhibit, or seem to exhibit, the property, whose nature we would
examine. We have guide-post instances, crucial instances, instances of
the parted road, of the doorway, of the lamp, according to the guidance
they supply to our advance. Whewell remarks that such a classification
is much of the same nature as if, having to teach the art of building,
we were to describe tools with reference to the amount and place of the
work which they must do, instead of pointing out their construction
and use; as if we were to inform the pupil that we must have tools for
lifting a stone up, tools for moving it sidewise, tools for laying it
square, and tools for cementing it firmly. The means are thus lost
in the end, and we reap the fruits of unmethodical arrangement in
the confusion of cross division. In addition, all the instances are
leavened with the error of confounding the laws with the causes of
phenomena, and we are urged to adopt the fundamental error of seeking
therein the universal agents, or general causes of phenomena, without
ascending the gradual steps of intermediate laws.--_Ed._

[108] Of these nine general heads no more than the first is prosecuted
by the author.

[109] This very nearly approaches to Sir I. Newton’s discovery of the
decomposition of light by the prism.

[110] The mineral kingdom, as displaying the same nature in all its
gradations, from the shells so perfect in structure in limestone to the
finer marbles in which their nature gradually disappears, is the great
theatre for instances of migration.--_Ed._

[111] Bacon was not aware of the fact since brought to light by
Römer, that down to fourteen fathoms from the earth’s mean level
the thermometer remains fixed at the tenth degree, but that as the
thermometer descends below that depth the heat increases in a ratio
proportionate to the descent, which happens with little variation in
all climates. Buffon considers this a proof of a central fire in our

[112] All the diversities of bodies depend upon two principles, _i.e._,
the quantity and the position of the elements that enter into their
composition. The primary difference is not that which depends on the
greatest or least quantity of material elements, but that which depends
on their position. It was the quick perception of this truth that made
Leibnitz say that to complete mathematics it was necessary to join to
the analysis of quantity the analysis of position.--_Ed._

[113] Query?

[114] The real cause of this phenomenon is the attraction of the
surface-water in the vessel by the sides of the bubbles. When the
bubbles approach, the sides nearest each other both tend to raise the
small space of water between them, and consequently less water is
raised by each of these nearer sides than by the exterior part of the
bubble, and the greater weight of the water raised on the exterior
parts pushes the bubbles together. In the same manner a bubble near
the side of a vessel is pushed toward it; the vessel and bubble both
drawing the water that is between them. The latter phenomenon cannot be
explained on Bacon’s hypothesis.

[115] Modern discoveries appear to bear out the sagacity of Bacon’s
remark, and the experiments of Baron Cagnard may be regarded as a first
step toward its full demonstration. After the new facts elicited by
that philosopher, there can be little doubt that the solid, liquid
and aëriform state of bodies are merely stages in a progress of
gradual transition from one extreme to the other, and that however
strongly marked the distinctions between them may appear, they will
ultimately turn out to be separated by no sudden or violent line of
demarcation, but slide into each other by imperceptible gradations.
Bacon’s suggestion, however, is as old as Pythagoras, and perhaps
simultaneous with the first dawn of philosophic reason. The doctrine of
the reciprocal transmutation of the elements underlies all the physical
systems of the ancients, and was adopted by the Epicureans as well as
the Stoics. Ovid opens his last book of the Metamorphoses with the
poetry of the subject, where he expressly points to the hint of Bacon:--

                          ----“Tenuatus in auras
  Aëraque humor abit, etc., etc.
  *       *       *       *       *       *
  Inde retro redeunt, idemque retexitur ordo.”--xv. 246–249.

and Seneca, in the third book of his Natural Philosophy, quest. iv.,
states the opinion in more precise language than either the ancient
bard or the modern philosopher.--_Ed._

[116] The author’s own system of Memoria Technica may be found in
the De Augmentis, chap. xv. We may add that, notwithstanding Bacon’s
assertion that he intended his method to apply to religion, politics,
and morals, this is the only lengthy illustration he has adduced of any
subject out of the domain of physical science.--_Ed._

[117] The collective instances here meant are no other than general
facts or laws of some degree of generality, and are themselves the
result of induction. For example, the system of Jupiter, or Saturn
with its satellites, is a collective instance, and materially assisted
in securing the admission of the Copernican system. We have here in
miniature, and displayed at one view, a system analogous to that of the
planets about the sun, of which, from the circumstance of our being
involved in it, and unfavorably situated for seeing it otherwise than
in detail, we are incapacitated from forming a general idea, but by
slow and progressive efforts of reason.

But there is a species of collective instance which Bacon does not seem
to have contemplated, in which particular phenomena are presented in
such numbers at once, as to make the induction of their law a matter
of ocular inspection. For example, the parabolic form assumed by a
jet of water spouted out of a hole is a collective instance of the
velocities and directions of the motions of all the particles which
compose it seen together, and which thus leads us without trouble to
recognize the law of the motion of a projectile. Again, the beautiful
figures exhibited by sand strewed on regular plates of glass or metal
set in vibration, are collective instances of an infinite number of
points which remain at rest while the remainder of the plate vibrates,
and in consequence afford us an insight into the law which regulates
their arrangement and sequence throughout the whole surface. The richly
colored lemniscates seen around the optic axis of crystals exposed to
polarized light afford a striking instance of the same kind, pointing
at once to the general mathematical expression of the law which
regulates their production. Such collective instances as these lead us
to a general law by an induction which offers itself spontaneously,
and thus furnish advanced posts in philosophical exploration. The laws
of Kepler, which Bacon ignored on account of his want of mathematical
taste, may be cited as a collective instance. The first is, that the
planets move in elliptical orbits, having the sun for their common
focus. The second, that about this focus the _radius vector_ of each
planet describes equal areas in equal times. The third, that the
squares of the periodic times of the planets are as the cubes of their
mean distance from the sun. This collective instance “opened the way”
to the discovery of the Newtonian law of gravitation.--_Ed._

[118] Is not this very hasty generalization? Do serpents move with four
folds only? Observe also the motion of centipedes and other insects.

[119] Shaw states another point of difference between the objects cited
in the text--animals having their roots within, while plants have
theirs without; for their lacteals nearly correspond with the fibres of
the roots in plants; so that animals seem nourished within themselves
as plants are without.--_Ed._

[120] Bacon falls into an error here in regarding the syllogism as
something distinct from the reasoning faculty, and only one of its
forms. It is not generally true that the syllogism is only a form of
reasoning by which we unite ideas which accord with the middle term.
This agreement is not even essential to accurate syllogisms; when the
relation of the two things compared to the third is one of equality or
similitude, it of course follows that the two things compared may be
pronounced equal, or like to each other. But if the relation between
these terms exist in a different form, then it is not true that the
two extremes stand in the same relation to each other as to the middle
term. For instance, if =A= is double of =B=, and =B= double of =C=,
then =A= is quadruple of =C=. But then the relation of =A= to =C= is
different from that of =A= to =B= and of =B= to =C=.--_Ed._

[121] Comparative anatomy is full of analogies of this kind. Those
between natural and artificial productions are well worthy of
attention, and sometimes lead to important discoveries. By observing
an analogy of this kind between the plan used in hydraulic engines for
preventing the counter-current of a fluid, and a similar contrivance in
the blood vessels, Harvey was led to the discovery of the circulation
of the blood.--_Ed._

[122] This is well illustrated in plants, for the gardener can produce
endless varieties of any known species, but can never produce a new
species itself.

[123] The discoveries of Tournefort have placed moss in the class
of plants. The fish alluded to below are to be found only in the

[124] There is, however, no real approximation to birds in either the
flying fish or bat, any more than a man approximates to a fish because
he can swim. The wings of the flying fish and bat are mere expansions
of skin, bearing no resemblance whatever to those of birds.--_Ed._

[125] Seneca was a sounder astronomer than Bacon. He ridiculed the idea
of the motion of any heavenly bodies being irregular, and predicted
that the day would come, when the laws which guided the revolution
of these bodies would be proved to be identical with those which
controlled the motions of the planets. The anticipation, was realized
by Newton.--_Ed._

[126] But see Bacon’s own corollary at the end of the Instances of
Divorce, Aphorism xxxvii. If Bacon’s remark be accepted, the censure
will fall upon Newton and the system so generally received at the
present day. It is, however, unjust, as the centre of which Newton so
often speaks is not a point with an active inherent force, but only
the result of all the particular and reciprocal attractions of the
different parts of the planet acting upon one spot. It is evident, that
if all these forces were united in this centre, that the sum would be
equal to all their partial effects.--_Ed._

[127] Since Newton’s discovery of the law of gravitation, we find that
the attractive force of the earth must extend to an infinite distance.
Bacon himself alludes to the operation of this attractive force at
great distances in the Instances of the Rod, Aphorism xlv.

[128] Snow reflects light, but is not a source of light.

[129] Bacon’s sagacity here foreshadows Newton’s theory of the tides.

[130] The error in the text arose from Bacon’s impression that
the earth was immovable. It is evident, since gravitation acts at
an infinite distance, that no such point could be found; and even
supposing the impossible point of equilibrium discovered, the body
could not maintain its position an instant, but would be hurried, at
the first movement of the heavenly bodies, in the direction of the
dominant gravitating power.--_Ed._

[131] Fly clocks are referred to in the text, not pendulum clocks,
which were not known in England till 1662. The former, though clumsy
and rude in their construction, still embodied sound mechanical
principles. The comparison of the effect of a spring with that of a
weight in producing certain motions in certain times on altitudes and
in mines, has recently been tried by Professors Airy and Whewell in
Dalcoath mine, by means of a pendulum, which is only a weight moved by
gravity, and a chronometer balance moved and regulated by a spring.
In his thirty-seventh Aphorism, Bacon also speaks of gravity as an
incorporeal power, acting at a distance, and requiring time for its
transmission; a consideration which occurred at a later period to
Laplace in one of his most delicate investigations.

Crucial instances, as Herschel remarks, afford the readiest and
securest means of eliminating extraneous causes, and deciding between
the claims of rival hypotheses; especially when these, running parallel
to each other, in the explanation of great classes of phenomena, at
length come to be placed at issue upon a single fact. A curious example
is given by M. Fresnel, as decisive in his mind of the question between
the two great theories on the nature of light, which, since the time
of Newton and Huyghens, have divided philosophers. When two very clean
glasses are laid one on the other, if they be not perfectly flat, but
one or both, in an almost imperceptible degree, convex or prominent,
beautiful and vivid colors will be seen between them; and if these be
viewed through a red glass, their appearance will be that of alternate
dark and bright stripes. These stripes are formed between the two
surfaces in apparent contact, and being applicable on both theories,
are appealed to by their respective supporters as strong confirmatory
facts; but there is a difference in one circumstance, according as
one or other theory is employed to explain them. In the case of the
Huyghenian theory, the intervals between the bright stripes ought to
appear absolutely black, when a prism is used for the upper glass, in
the other half bright. This curious case of difference was tried, as
soon as the opposing consequences of the two theories were noted by
M. Fresnel, and the result is stated by him to be decisive in favor
of that theory which makes light to consist in the vibrations of an
elastic medium.--_Ed._

[132] Bacon plainly, from this passage, was inclined to believe that
the moon, like the comets, was nothing more than illuminated vapor. The
Newtonian law, however, has not only established its solidity, but its
density and weight. A sufficient proof of the former is afforded by the
attraction of the sea, and the moon’s motion round the earth.--_Ed._

[133] Rather the refraction; the sky or air, however, _reflects_ the
blue rays of light.

[134] The polished surface of the glass causes the reflection in this
case, and not the air; and a hat or other black surface put behind the
window in the daytime will enable the glass to reflect distinctly for
the same reason, namely, that the reflected rays are not mixed and
confused with those transmitted from the other side of the window.

[135] These instances, which Bacon seems to consider as a great
discovery, are nothing more than disjunctive propositions combined
with dilemmas. In proposing to explain an effect, we commence with
the enumeration of the different causes which seem connected with
its production; then with the aid of one or more dilemmas, we
eliminate each of the phenomena accidental to its composition, and
conclude with attributing the effect to the residue. For instance, a
certain phenomenon (_a_) is produced either by phenomenon (=B=) or
phenomenon (=C=); but =C= cannot be the cause of _a_, for it is found
in =D=, =E=, =F=, neither of which are connected with _a_. Then the
true cause of phenomenon (_a_) must be phenomenon (=B=).

This species of reasoning is liable to several paralogisms, against
which Bacon has not guarded his readers, from the very fact that he
stumbled into them unwittingly himself. The two principal ones are
false exclusions and defective enumerations. Bacon, in his survey of
the causes which are able to concur in producing the phenomena of the
tides, takes no account of the periodic melting of the Polar ice, or
the expansion of water by the solar heat; nor does he fare better in
his exclusions. For the attraction of the planets and the progression
and retrograde motion communicated by the earth’s diurnal revolution,
can plainly affect the sea together, and have a simultaneous influence
on its surface.

Bacon is hardly just or consistent in his censure of Ramus; the end of
whose dichotomy was only to render reasoning by dilemma, and crucial
instances, more certain in their results, by reducing the divisions
which composed their parts to two sets of contradictory propositions.
The affirmative or negative of one would then necessarily have led to
the acceptance or rejection of the other.--_Ed._

[136] Père Shenier first pointed out the spots on the sun’s disk, and
by the marks which they afforded him, computed its revolution to be
performed in twenty-five days and some hours.--_Ed._

[137] Rust is now well known to be a chemical combination of oxygen
with the metal, and the metal when rusty acquires additional weight.
His theory as to the generation of animals, is deduced from the
erroneous notion of the possibility of spontaneous generation (as it
was termed). See the next paragraph but one.


  “Limus ut hic durescit, et hæc ut cera liquescit
   Uno eodemque igni.”--Virg. Ecl. viii.

[139] See Table of Degrees, No. 38.

[140] Riccati, and all modern physicists, discover some portion of
light in every body, which seems to confirm the passage in Genesis that
assigns to this substance priority in creation.--_Ed._

[141] As instances of this kind, which the progress of science since
the time of Bacon affords, we may cite the air-pump and the barometer,
for manifesting the weight and elasticity of air: the measurement
of the velocity of light, by means of the occultation of Jupiter’s
satellites and the aberration of the fixed stars: the experiments
in electricity and galvanism, and in the greater part of pneumatic
chemistry. In all these cases scientific facts are elicited, which
sense could never have revealed to us.--_Ed._

[142] The itinerant instances, as well as frontier instances, are
cases in which we are enabled to trace the general law of continuity
which seems to pervade all nature, and which has been aptly embodied
in the sentence, “natura non agit per saltum.” The pursuit of this law
into phenomena where its application is not at first sight obvious,
has opened a mine of physical discovery, and led us to perceive an
intimate connection between facts which at first seemed hostile to each
other. For example, the transparency of gold-leaf, which permits a
bluish-green light to pass through it, is a frontier instance between
transparent and opaque bodies, by exhibiting a body of the glass
generally regarded the most opaque in nature, as still possessed of
some slight degree of transparency. It thus proves that the quality
of opacity is not a contrary or antagonistic quality to that of
transparency, but only its extreme lowest degree.

[143] Alluding to his theory of atoms.

[144] Observe the approximation to Newton’s theory. The same notion
repeated still more clearly in the ninth motion. Newton believed
that the planets might so conspire as to derange the earth’s annual
revolution, and to elongate the line of the apsides and ellipsis that
the earth describes in its annual revolution round the sun. In the
supposition that all the planets meet on the same straight line, Venus
and Mercury on one side of the sun, and the earth, moon, Mars, Jupiter
and Saturn on the side diametrically opposite; then Saturn would
attract Jupiter, Jupiter Mars, Mars the moon, which must in its turn
attract the earth in proportion to the force with which it was drawn
out of its orbit. The result of this combined action on our planet
would elongate its ecliptic orbit, and so far draw it from the source
of heat, as to produce an intensity of cold destructive to animal
life. But this movement would immediately cease with the planetary
concurrence which produced it, and the earth, like a compressed spring,
bound almost as near to the sun as she had been drawn from it, the
reaction of the heat on its surface being about as intense as the cold
caused by the first removal was severe. The earth, until it gained its
regular track, would thus alternately vibrate between each side of
its orbit, with successive changes in its atmosphere, proportional to
the square of the variation of its distance from the sun. In no place
is Bacon’s genius more conspicuous than in these repeated guesses at
truth. He would have been a strong Copernican, had not Gilbert defended
the system.--_Ed._

[145] This is not true except when the projectile acquires greater
velocity at every successive instant of its course, which is never
the case except with falling bodies. Bacon appears to have been led
into the opinion from observing that gunshots pierce many objects
at a distance from which they rebound when brought within a certain
proximity of contact. This apparent inconsistency, however, arises from
the resistance of the parts of the object, which velocity combined with
force is necessary to overcome.--_Ed._

[146] This passage shows that the pressure of the external atmosphere,
which forces the water into the egg, was not in Bacon’s time

[147] We have already alluded, in a note prefixed to the same aphorism
of the first book, to Newton’s error of the absolute lightness of
bodies. In speaking again of the volatile or spiritual substances
(Aph. xl. b. ii.) which he supposed with the Platonists and some of the
schoolmen to enter into the composition of every body, he ascribes to
them a power of lessening the weight of the material coating in which
he supposes them inclosed. It would appear from these passages and the
text that Bacon had no idea of the relative density of bodies, and the
capability which some have to diminish the specific gravity of the
heavier substances by the dilation of their parts; or if he had, the
reveries in which Aristotle indulged in treating of the soul, about the
appetency of bodies to fly to kindred substances--flame and spirit to
the sky, and solid opaque substances to the earth, must have vitiated
his mind.--_Ed._

[148] Römer, a Danish astronomer, was the first to demonstrate, by
connecting the irregularities of the eclipses of Jupiter’s satellites
with their distances from the earth, the necessity of time for the
propagation of light. The idea occurred to Dominic Cassini as well as
Bacon, but both allowed the discovery to slip out of their hands.--_Ed._

[149] The author in the text confounds inertness, which is a simple
indifference of bodies to action, with gravity, which is a force acting
always in proportion to their density. He falls into the same error
further on.--_Ed._

[150] The experiments of the last two classes of instances are
considered only in relation to practice, and Bacon does not so much as
mention their infinitely greater importance in the theoretical part of
induction. The important law of gravitation in physical astronomy could
never have been demonstrated but by such observations and experiments
as assigned accurate geometrical measures to the quantities compared.
It was necessary to determine with precision the demi-diameter of the
earth, the velocity of falling bodies at its surface, the distance of
the moon, and the speed with which she describes her orbit, before the
relation could be discovered between the force which draws a stone to
the ground and that which retains the moon in her sphere.

In many cases the result of a number of particular facts, or the
collective instances rising out of them, can only be discovered by
geometry, which so far becomes necessary to complete the work of
induction. For instance, in the case of optics, when light passes from
one transparent medium to another, it is refracted, and the angle
which the ray of incidence makes with the superficies which bounds the
two media determines that which the refracted ray makes with the same
superficies. Now, all experiment can do for us in this case is, to
determine for any particular angle of incidence the corresponding angle
of refraction. But with respect to the general rule which in every
possible case deduces one of these angles from the other, or expresses
the constant and invariable relation which subsists between them,
experiment gives no direct information. Geometry must, consequently,
be called in, which, when a constant though unknown relation subsists
between two angles, or two variable qualities of any kind, and when
an indefinite number of values of those quantities are assigned,
furnishes infallible means of discovering that unknown relation either
accurately or by approximation. In this way it has been found, when
the two media remain the same, the cosines of the above-mentioned
angles have a constant ratio to each other. Hence, when the relations
of the simple elements of phenomena are discovered to afford a general
rule which will apply to any concrete case, the deductive method must
be applied, and the elementary principles made through its agency to
account for the laws of their more complex combinations. The reflection
and refraction of light by the rain falling from a cloud opposite to
the sun was thought, even before Newton’s day, to contain the _form_ of
the rainbow. This philosopher transformed a probable conjecture into
a certain fact when he deduced from the known laws of reflection and
refraction the breadth of the colored arch, the diameter of the circle
of which it is a part, and the relation of the latter to the place
of the spectator and the sun. Doubt was at once silenced when there
came out of his calculus a combination of the same laws of the simple
elements of optics answering to the phenomena in nature.--_Ed._

[151] As far as this motion results from attraction and repulsion, it
is only a simple consequence of the last two.--_Ed._

[152] These two cases are now resolved into the property of the
capillary tubes and present only another feature of the law of

[153] This is one of the most useful practical methods in chemistry at
the present day.

[154] See Aphorism xxv.

[155] Query?

[156] Observe this approximation to Newton’s theory.

[157] Those differences which are generated by the masses and
respective distances of bodies are only differences of quantity, and
not specific; consequently those three classes are only one.--_Ed._

[158] See the citing instances, Aphorism xl.

[159] Aristotle’s doctrine, that sound takes place when bodies
strike the air, which the modern science of acoustics has completely
established, was rejected by Bacon in a treatise upon the same subject:
“The collision or thrusting of air,” he says, “which they will have to
be the cause of sound, neither denotes the form nor the latent process
of sound, but is a term of ignorance and of superficial contemplation.”
To get out of the difficulty, he betook himself to his theory of
spirits, a species of phenomena which he constantly introduces to give
himself the air of explaining things he could not understand, or would
not admit upon the hypothesis of his opponents.--_Ed._

[160] The motion of trepidation, as Bacon calls it, was attributed
by the ancient astronomers to the eight spheres, relative to the
precession of the equinoxes. Galileo was the first to observe this kind
of lunar motion.--_Ed._

[161] Part of the air is expanded and escapes, and part is consumed
by the flame. When condensed, therefore, by the cold application,
it cannot offer sufficient resistance to the external atmosphere to
prevent the liquid or flesh from being forced into the glass.

[162] Heat can now be abstracted by a very simple process, till the
degree of cold be of almost any required intensity.--_Ed._

[163] It is impossible to compare a degree of heat with a degree of
cold, without the assumption of some arbitrary test, to which the
degrees are to be referred. In the next sentence Bacon appears to have
taken the power of animal life to support heat or cold as the test, and
then the comparison can only be between the degree of heat or of cold
that will produce death.

The zero must be arbitrary which divides equally a certain degree of
heat from a certain degree of cold.--_Ed._

[164] It may often be observed on the leaves of the lime and other

[Transcriber’s Notes:

  Punctuation errors were corrected.
  Inconsistent hyphenation was retained.
  “De la Lande” and “La Lande” both appear in text and were retained.
  “Shenier”, editor’s spelling of “Scheiner”, was retained.
  On p. 37, a paragraph break was inserted before "There is a clear
    example ...".
  On p. 44, “the” was changed from “The” (the usual method).
  On p. 85, “that” was changed from “That” (that a species).
  On p. 86, “that” was changed from “That” (that an instrument).
  On p. 118, “aëriform” was changed from “aeriform” (aëriform or
  On p. 178, “borrow” was changed from “brorrow” (to borrow a term
    from the grammarians).
  On p. 204, “sufficiently” was changed from “sufficietly” (but
    sufficiently dense).
  On p. 219, “quantity” was changed from “quanity” (quantity of gold).
  In footnote [5], “psychological” was changed from “pyschological”
    (most other psychological).
  In footnote [23], “that” was changed from “tha” (that we have
  In footnote [33], "72" was changed from “22” (Acad. Prior. ii. 72.).
  In footnote [60], “ix.” was changed from “x.” (Livy, lib. ix.).
  In footnote [71], “οὐσία” was changed from “οὐδία”.
  In footnote [86], “necessary” was changed from “necesary” (necessary
    to invent).
  In footnote [87], “liquor” was changed from “liqour” (the liquor
  In footnote [161], “the” was changed from “th” (by the flame).]

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