Chap. V.

Compendiously of sundry other common Tenents, concerning Mineral and Terreous Bodies, which examined, prove either false or dubious.

1. AND first we hear it in every mouth, and in many good Authors read it, That a Diamond, which is the hardest of stones, not yielding unto Steel, Emery, or any thing but its own powder, is yet made soft, or broke by the blood of a Goat. Thus much is affirmed by Pliny, Solinus, Albertus, Cyprian, Austin, Isidore, and many Christian Writers; alluding herein unto the heart of man and the precious bloud of our Saviour, who was typified by the Goat that was slain, and the scape-Goat in the Wilderness; and at the effusion of whose bloud, not only the hard hearts of his enemies relented, but the stony rocks and vail of the Temple were shattered. But this I perceive is easier affirmed then proved. For Lapidaries, and such as profess the art of cutting this stone, do generally deny it; and they that seem to countenance it, have in their deliveries so qualified it, that little from thence of moment can be inferred for it. For first, the holy Fathers, without a further enquiry did take it for granted, and rested upon the authority of the first deliverers. As for Albertus, he promiseth this effect, but conditionally, not except the Goat drink wine, and be fed with Siler montanum, petroselinum, and such herbs as are conceived of power to break the stone in the bladder. But the words of Pliny, from whom most likely the rest at first derived it, if strictly considered, do rather overthrow, then any way advantage this effect. His words are these: Hircino rumpitur sanguine, nec aliter quam recenti, calidoque macerata, & sic quoque multis ictibus, tunc etiam præterquam eximias incudes malleosque ferreos frangens. That is, it is broken with Goat's blood, but not except it be fresh and warm, and that not without many blows, and then also it will break the best Anvils and Hammers of Iron. And answerable hereto, is the assertion of Isidore and Solinus. By which account, a Diamond steeped in Goats bloud, rather increaseth in hardness, then acquireth any softness by the infusion; for the best we have are comminuible without it; and are so far from breaking hammers, that they submit unto pistillation, and resist not an ordinary pestle.

Upon this conceit arose perhaps the discovery of another; that the bloud of a Goat was soveraign for the Stone, as it stands commended by many good Writers, and brings up the composition in the powder1 of Nicolaus, and the Electuary of the Queen of Colein.[2] Or rather because it was found an excellent medicine for the Stone, and its ability commended by some to dissolve the hardest thereof; it might be conceived by amplifying apprehensions, to be able to break a Diamond; and so it came to be ordered that the Goat should be fed with saxifragous herbs, and such as are conceived of power to break the stone. However it were, as the effect is false in the one, so is it surely very doubtful in the other. For although inwardly received it may be very diuretick, and expulse the stone in the Kidneys; yet how it should dissolve or break that in the bladder, will require a further dispute; and perhaps would be more reasonably tried by a warm injection thereof, then as it is commonly used. Wherein notwithstanding, we should rather rely upon the urine in a castling's bladder, a resolution of Crabs eyes,[3] or the second distillation of Urine, as Helmont hath commended; or rather (if any such might be found) a Chilifactory menstruum or digestive preparation drawn from species or individuals, whose stomacks peculiarly dissolve lapideous bodies.

2. That Glass is poison, according unto common conceit, I know not how to grant. Not onely from the innocency of its ingredients, that is, fine Sand, and the ashes of Glass-wort or Fearn, which in themselves are harmless and useful;[4] or because I find it by many commended for the Stone, but also from experience, as having given unto Dogs above a dram thereof, subtilly powdered in Butter and Paste, without any visible disturbance.{5}

The conceit is surely grounded upon the visible mischief of Glass grosly or coursly powdered, for that indeed is mortally noxious, and effectually used by some to destroy Mice and Rats; for by reason of its acuteness and angularity, it commonly excoriates the parts through which it passeth, and solicits them unto a continual expulsion. Whereupon there ensues fearful symptomes, not much unlike those which attend the action of poison. From whence notwithstanding, we cannot with propriety impose upon it that name, either by occult or elementary quality, which he that concedeth will much enlarge the Catalogue or Lists of Poisons. For many things, neither deleterious by substance or quality, are yet destructive by figure, or some occasional activity. So are Leeches destructive, and by some accounted poison; not properly, that is by temperamental contrariety, occult form, or so much as elemental repugnancy; but because being inwardly taken they fasten upon the veins, and occasion an effusion of bloud, which cannot be easily stanched. So a Sponge is mischievous, not in it self, for in its powder it is harmless; but because being received unto the stomach it swelleth, and occasioning a continual distension, induceth a strangulation. So Pins, Needles, ears of Rye or Barley may be poison. So Daniel destroyed the Dragon by a composition of three things, whereof neither was poison alone, nor properly all together, that is, Pitch, Fat, and Hair, according as is expressed in the History. Then Daniel took Pitch, and Fat, and Hair, and did seeth them together, and made lumps thereof, these he put in the Dragons mouth, and so he burst asunder.[6] That is, the Fat and Pitch being cleaving bodies, and the Hair continually extimulating the parts: by the action of the one, Nature was provoked to expell, but by the tenacity of the other forced to retain: so that there being left no passage in or out, the Dragon brake in pieces. It must therefore be taken of grosly-powdered Glass, what is delivered by Grevinus: and from the same must that mortal dysentery which is related by Sanctorius. And in the same sense shall we only allow a Diamond to be poison; and whereby as some relate Paracelsus himself was poisoned. So even the precious fragments and cordial gems which are of frequent use in Physick, and in themselves confessed of useful faculties; received in gross and angular Powders, may so offend the bowels, as to procure desperate languors, or cause most dangerous fluxes.

That Glass may be rendred malleable and pliable unto the hammer, many conceive, and some make little doubt, when they read in Dio, Pliny, and Petronius, that one unhappily effected it for Tiberius. Which notwithstanding must needs seem strange unto such as consider, that bodies are ductile from a tenacious humidity, which so holdeth the parts together; that though they dilate or extend, they part not from each other. That bodies run into Glass, when the volatile parts are exhaled, and the continuating humour separated: the Salt and Earth, that is, the fixed parts remaining. And therefore vitrification maketh bodies brittle, as destroying the viscous humours which hinder the disruption of parts. Which may be verified even in the bodies of Metals. For Glass of Lead or Tin is fragile, when that glutinous Sulphur hath been fired out, which made their bodies ductile.

He that would most probably attempt it, must experiment upon Gold. Whose fixed and flying parts are so conjoined, whose Sulphur and continuating principle is so united unto the Salt, that some may be hoped to remain to hinder fragility after vitrification. But how to proceed, though after frequent corrosion, as that upon the agency of fire, it should not revive into its proper body before it comes to vitrifie, will prove no easie discovery.

3. That Gold inwardly taken, either in substance, infusion, decoction or extinction, is a cordial of great efficacy, in sundry Medical uses, although a practice much used, is also much questioned, and by no man determined beyond dispute. There are hereof I perceive two extream opinions; some excessively magnifying it, and probably beyond its deserts; others extreamly vilifying it, and perhaps below its demerits. Some affirming it a powerful Medicine in many diseases, others averring that so used, it is effectual in none: and in this number are very eminent Physicians, Erastus, Duretus, Rondeletius, Brassavolus, and many other; who beside the strigments and sudorous adhesions from mens hands, acknowledge that nothing proceedeth from Gold in the usual decoction thereof. Now the capital reason that led men unto this opinion, was their observation of the inseparable nature of Gold: it being excluded in the same quantity as it was received, without alteration of parts, or diminution of its gravity.

Now herein to deliver somewhat which in a middle way may be entertained; we first affirm, that the substance of Gold is invincible by the powerfullest action of natural heat; and that not only alimentally in a substantial mutation, but also medicamentally in any corporeal conversion. As is very evident, not only in the swallowing of golden bullets, but in the lesser and foliate divisions thereof: passing the stomach and guts even as it doth the throat, that is, without abatement of weight or consistence. So that it entereth not the veins with those electuaries, wherein it is mixed: but taketh leave of the permeant parts, at the mouths of the Meseraicks, or Lacteal Vessels, and accompanieth the inconvertible portion unto the siege. Nor is its substantial conversion expectible in any composition or aliment wherein it is taken. And therefore that was truly a starving absurdity, which befel the wishes of Midas.[7] And little credit there is to be given to the golden Hen, related by Wendlerus.[8] So in the extinction of Gold, we must not conceive it parteth with any of its salt or dissoluble principle thereby, as we may affirm of Iron; for the parts thereof are fixed beyond division, nor will they separate upon the strongest test of fire. This we affirm of pure Gold: for that which is currant and passeth in stamps amongst us, by reason of its allay, which is a proportion of Silver or Copper mixed therewith, is actually dequantitated by fire, and possibly by frequent extinction.

Secondly, Although the substance of Gold be not immuted or its gravity sensibly decreased, yet that from thence some vertue may proceed either in substantial reception or infusion we cannot safely deny. For possible it is that bodies may emit vertue and operation without abatement of weight; as is evident in the Loadstone, whose effluencies are continual, and communicable without a minoration of gravity. And the like is observable in Bodies electrical, whose emissions are less subtile. So will a Diamond or Saphire emit an effluvium sufficient to move the Needle or a Straw, without diminution of weight. Nor will polished Amber although it send forth a gross and corporal exhalement, be found a long time defective upon the exactest scales. Which is more easily conceivable in a continued and tenacious effluvium, whereof a great part retreats into its body.

Thirdly, If amulets do work by emanations from their bodies, upon those parts whereunto they are appended, and are not yet observed to abate their weight; if they produce visible and real effects by imponderous and invisible emissions, it maybe unjust to deny the possible efficacy of Gold, in the non-omission of weight, or deperdition of any ponderous particles.

Lastly, Since Stibium or Glass of Antimony, since also its Regulus will manifestly communicate unto Water or Wine, a purging and vomitory operation; and yet the body it self, though after iterated infusions, cannot be found to abate either vertue or weight: we shall not deny but Gold may do the like, that is, impart some effluences unto the infusion, which carry with them the separable subtilties thereof.

That therefore this Metal thus received, hath any undeniable effect, we shall not imperiously determine, although beside the former experiments, many more may induce us to believe it. But since the point is dubious and not yet authentically decided, it will be no discretion to depend on disputable remedies; but rather in cases of known danger, to have recourse unto medicines of known and approved activity. For, beside the benefit accruing unto the sick, hereby may be avoided a gross and frequent errour, commonly committed in the use of doubtful remedies, conjointly with those which are of approved vertues; that is to impute the cure unto the conceited remedy, or place it on that whereon they place their opinion. Whose operation although it be nothing, or its concurrence not considerable, yet doth it obtain the name of the whole cure: and carrieth often the honour of the capital energie, which had no finger in it.

Herein exact and critical trial should be made by publick enjoinment, whereby determination might be setled beyond debate: for since thereby, not only the bodies of men, but great Treasures might be preserved, it is not only an errour of Physick, but folly of State, to doubt thereof any longer.

4. That a pot full of ashes, will still contain as much water as it would without them, although by Aristotle in his Problems taken for granted, and so received by most, is not effectable upon the strictest experiment I could ever make. For when the airy intersticies are filled, and as much of the salt of the ashes as the water will imbibe is dissolved, there remains a gross and terreous portion at the bottom, which will possess a space by it self, according whereto there will remain a quantity of Water not receivable; so will it come to pass in a pot of salt, although decrepitated; and so also in a pot of Snow. For so much it will want in reception, as its solution taketh up, according unto the bulk whereof, there will remain a portion of Water not to be admitted. So a Glass stuffed with pieces of Sponge will want about a sixth part of what it would receive without it. So Sugar will not dissolve beyond the capacity of the Water, nor a Metal in aqua fortis be corroded beyond its reception. And so a pint of salt of Tartar exposed unto a moist air until it dissolve, will make far more liquor, or as some term it oyl, then the former measure will contain.

Nor is it only the exclusion of air by water, or repletion of cavities possessed thereby, which causeth a pot of ashes to admit so great a quantity of Water, but also the solution of the salt of the ashes into the body of the dissolvent. So a pot of ashes will receive somewhat more of hot Water then of cold, for the warm water imbibeth more of the Salt; and a vessel of ashes more then one of pin-dust or filings of Iron; and a Glass full of Water will yet drink in a proportion of Salt or Sugar without overflowing.

Nevertheless to make the experiment with most advantage, and in which sense it approacheth nearest the truth, it must be made in ashes throughly burnt and well reverberated by fire, after the salt thereof hath been drawn out by iterated decoctions. For then the body being reduced nearer unto Earth, and emptied of all other principles, which had former ingression unto it, becometh more porous, and greedily drinketh in water. He that hath beheld what quantity of Lead the test of saltless ashes will imbibe, upon the refining of Silver, hath encouragement to think it will do very much more in water.

5. Of white powder and such as is discharged without report, there is no small noise in the World: but how far agreeable unto truth, few I perceive are able to determine. Herein therefore to satisfie the doubts of some, and amuse the credulity of others, We first declare, that Gunpowder consisteth of three ingredients, Salt-petre, Small-coal, and Brimstone. Salt-petre although it be also natural and found in several places, yet is that of common use as an artificial Salt, drawn from the infusion of salt Earth, as that of Stales, Stables, Dove-houses, Cellers, and other covered places, where the rain can neither dissolve, nor the Sun approach to resolve it. Brimstone is a Mineral body of fat and inflamable parts, and this is either used crude, and called Sulphur Vive, and is of a sadder colour; or after depuration, such as we have in magdeleons or rolls, of a lighter yellow. Small-coal is known unto all, and for this use is made of Sallow, Willow, Alder, Hazel, and the like; which three proportionably mixed, tempered, and formed into granulary bodies, do make up that Powder which is in use for Guns.

Now all these, although they bear a share in the discharge, yet have they distinct intentions, and different offices in the composition. From Brimstone proceedeth the piercing and powerful firing; for Small-coal and Petre together will onely spit, nor vigorously continue the ignition. From Small-coal ensueth the black colour and quick accension; for neither Brimstone nor Petre, although in Powder, will take fire like Small-coal, nor will they easily kindle upon the sparks of a Flint; as neither will Camphire, a body very inflamable: but Small-coal is equivalent to Tinder, and serveth to light the Sulphur. It may also serve to diffuse the ignition through every part of the mixture; and being of more gross and fixed parts, may seem to moderate the activity of Salt-petre, and prevent too hasty rarefaction. From Salt-petre proceedeth the force and the report; for Sulphur and Small-coal mixed will not take fire with noise, or exilition, and Powder which is made of impure and greasie Petre hath but a weak emission, and giveth a faint report. And therefore in the three sorts of Powder the strongest containeth most Salt-petre, and the proportion thereof is about ten parts of Petre, unto one of Coal and Sulphur.

But the immediate cause of the Report, is the vehement commotion of the air upon the sudden and violent eruption of the Powder; for that being suddenly fired, and almost together, upon this high rarefacation, requireth by many degrees a greater space then before its body occupied; but finding resistance, it actively forceth his way, and by concussion of the air occasioneth the Report. Now with what violence it forceth upon the air, may easily be conceived, if we admit what Cardan affirmeth, that the Powder fired doth occupy an hundred times a greater space then its own bulk; or rather what Snellius more exactly accounteth; that it exceedeth its former space no less then 12000 and 500 times. And this is the reason not only of this fulminating report of Guns, but may resolve the cause of those terrible cracks, and affrighting noises of Heaven; that is, the nitrous and sulphureous exhalations, set on fire in the Clouds; whereupon requiring a larger place, they force out their way, not only with the breaking of the cloud, but the laceration of the air about it. When if the matter be spirituous, and the cloud compact, the noise is great and terrible: If the cloud be thin, and the Materials weak, the eruption is languid, ending in coruscations and flashes without noise, although but at the distance of two miles; which is esteemed the remotest distance of clouds. And therefore such lightnings do seldom any harm. And therefore also it is prodigious to have thunder in a clear sky, as is observably recorded in some Histories.

From the like cause may also proceed subterraneous Thunders and Earthquakes, when sulphureous and nitreous veins being fired, upon rarefaction do force their way through bodies that resist them. Where if the kindled matter be plentiful, and the Mine close and firm about it, subversion of Hills and Towns doth sometimes follow: If scanty, weak, and the Earth hollow or porous, there only ensueth some faint concussion or tremulous and quaking Motion. Surely, a main reason why the Ancients were so imperfect in the doctrine of Meteors, was their ignorance of Gun-powder and Fire-works, which best discover the causes of many thereof.

Now therefore he that would destroy the report of Powder, must work upon the Petre; he that would exchange the colour, must think how to alter the Small-coal. For the one, that is, to make white Powder, it is surely many ways feasible: The best I know is by the powder of rotten Willows, Spunk, or Touch-wood prepared, might perhaps make it Russet: and some, as Beringuccio affirmeth,9 have promised to make it Red. All which notwithstanding doth little concern the Report, for that, as we have shewed, depends on another Ingredient. And therefore also under the colour of black, this principle is very variable; for it is made not onely by Willow, Alder, Hazel, &c. But some above all commend the coals of Flax and Rushes, and some also contend the same may be effected with Tinder.

As for the other, that is, to destroy the Report, it is reasonably attempted but two ways; either by quite leaving out, or else by silencing the Salt-petre. How to abate the vigour thereof, or silence its bombulation, a way is promised by Porta, not only in general terms by some fat bodies, but in particular by Borax and butter mixed in a due proportion; which saith he, will so go off as scarce to be heard by the discharger; and indeed plentifully mixed, it will almost take off the Report, and also the force of the charge. That it may be thus made without Salt-petre, I have met with but one example, that is, of Alphonsus Duke of Ferrara, who in the relation of Brassavolus and Cardan,10 invented such a Powder as would discharge a bullet without Report.

That therefore white Powder there may be, there is no absurdity; that also such a one as may give no report, we will not deny a possibility. But this however, contrived either with or without Salt-petre, will surely be of little force, and the effects thereof no way to be feared: For as it omits of Report so will it of effectual exclusion, and so the charge be of little force which is excluded. For thus much is reported of that famous Powder of Alphonsus, which was not of force enough to kill a Chicken, according to the delivery of Brassavolus. Jamque pulvis inventus est qui glandem sine bombo projicit, nec tamen vehementer ut vel pullum interficere possit.

It is not to be denied, there are ways to discharge a bullet, not only with Powder that makes no noise, but without any Powder at all; as is done by Water and Wind guns, but these afford no fulminating Report, and depend on single principles. And even in ordinary Powder there are pretended other ways to alter the noise and strength of the discharge; and the best, if not only way, consists in the quality of the Nitre: for as for other ways which make either additions or alterations in the Powder, or charge, I find therein no effect: That unto every pound of Sulphur, an adjection of one ounce of Quick-silver, or unto every pound of Petre, one ounce of Sal Armoniac will much intend the force, and consequently the Report, as Beringuccio hath delivered, I find no success therein. That a piece of Opium will dead the force and blow, as some have promised, I find herein no such peculiarity, no more then in any Gun or viscose body: and as much effect there is to be found from Scammony. That a bullet dipped in oyl by preventing the transpiration of air, will carry farther, and pierce deeper, as Porta affirmeth, my experience cannot discern. That Quick-silver is more destructive then shot, is surely not to be made out; for it will scarce make any penetration, and discharged from a Pistol, will hardly pierce through a Parchment. That Vinegar, spirits of Wine, or the distilled water of Orange-pills, wherewith the Powder is tempered, are more effectual unto the Report then common Water, as some do promise, I shall not affirm; but may assuredly more conduce unto the preservation and durance of the Powder, as Cataneo hath well observed.11

That the heads of arrows and bullets have been discharged with that force, as to melt or grow red hot in their flight, though commonly received, and taken up by Aristotle in his Meteors, is not so easily allowable by any, who shall consider, that a Bullet of Wax will mischief without melting; that an Arrow or Bullet discharged against Linen or Paper do not set them on fire; and hardly apprehend how an Iron should grow red hot, since the swiftest motion at hand will not keep one red that hath been made red by fire; as may be observed in swinging a red hot Iron about, or fastning it into a Wheel; which under that motion will sooner grow cold then without it. That a Bullet also mounts upward upon the horizontall or point-blank discharge, many Artists do not allow: who contend that it describeth a parabolical and bowing line, by reason of its natural gravity inclining it always downward.

But, Beside the prevalence from Salt-petre, as Master-ingredient in the mixture; Sulphur may hold a greater use in the composition and further activity in the exclusion, then is by most conceived. For Sulphur vive makes better Powder then common Sulphur, which nevertheless is of a quick accension. For Small-coal, Salt-petre, and Camphire made into Powder will be of little force, wherein notwithstanding there wants not the accending ingredient. And Camphire though it flame well, yet will not flush so lively, or defecate Salt-petre, if you inject it thereon, like Sulphur; as in the preparation of Sal prunellæ. And lastly, though many ways may be found to light this Powder, yet is there none I know to make a strong and vigorous Powder of Salt-petre, without the admixtion of Sulphur. Arsenic red and yellow, that is Orpement and Sandarach may perhaps do something, as being inflamable and containing Sulphur in them; but containing also a salt, and mercurial mixtion, they will be of little effect; and white or crystalline Arsenic of less, for that being artificial, and sublimed with salt, will not endure flammation.

This Antipathy or contention between Salt-petre and Sulphur upon an actual fire, in their compleat and distinct bodies, is also manifested in their preparations, and bodies which invisibly contain them. Thus in the preparation of Crocus Metallorum; the matter kindleth and flusheth like Gunpowder, wherein notwithstanding, there is nothing but Antimony and Salt-petre. But this may proceed from the Sulphur of Antimony, not enduring the society of Salt-petre; for after three or four accensions, through a fresh addition of Petre, the Powder will flush no more, for the sulphur of the Antimony is quite exhaled. Thus Iron in Aqua fortis will fall into ebullition, with noise and emication, as also a crass and fumid exhalation, which are caused from this combat of the sulphur of Iron, with the acid and nitrous spirits of Aqua fortis. So is it also in Aurum fulminans, or Powder of Gold dissolved in Aqua Regis, and precipitated with oyl of Tartar, which will kindle without an actual fire, and afford a report like Gun-powder; that is not as Crollius affirmeth from any Antipathy between Sal Armoniac and Tartar, but rather between the nitrous spirits of Aqua Regis, commixed per minima with the sulphur of Gold, as Sennertus12 hath observed.

6. That Coral (which is a Lithophyton or stone-plant, and groweth at the bottom of the Sea) is soft under Water, but waxeth hard in the air, although the assertion of Dioscorides, Pliny, and consequently Solinus, Isidore, Rueus, and many others, and stands believed by most, we have some reason to doubt, especially if we conceive with common Believers, a total softness at the bottom, and this induration to be singly made by the air, not only from so sudden a petrifaction and strange induration, not easily made out from the qualities of air, but because we find it rejected by experimental enquiries. Johannes Beguinus in his Chapter of the tincture of Coral,13 undertakes to clear the World of this Error, from the express experiment of John Baptista de Nicole, who was Over-seer of the gathering of Coral upon the Kingdom of Thunis. This Gentleman, saith he, desirous to find the nature of Coral, and to be resolved how it groweth at the bottom of the Sea, caused a man to go down no less then a hundred fathom, with express to take notice whether it were hard or soft in the place where it groweth. Who returning, brought in each hand a branch of Coral, affirming it was as hard at the bottom, as in the air where he delivered it. The same was also confirmed by a trial of his own, handling it a fathom under water before it felt the air. Bœtius in his acurate Tract De Gemmis, is of the same opinion, not ascribing its concretion unto the air, but the coagulating spirits of Salt, and lapidifical juice of the Sea, which entring the parts of that Plant, overcomes its vegetability, and converts it into a lapideous substance. And this, saith he, doth happen when the Plant is ready to decay; for all Coral is not hard, and in many concreted Plants some parts remain unpetrified, that is the quick and livelier parts remain as Wood, and were never yet converted. Now that Plants and ligneous bodies may indurate under Water without approachment of air, we have experiments in Coralline, with many Coralloidal concretions; and that little stony Plant which Mr. Johnson nameth, Hippuris coralloides, and Gesner, foliis mansu Arenosis, we have found in fresh water, which is the less concretive portion of that Element. We have also with us the visible petrification of Wood in many waters, whereof so much as is covered with water converteth into stone; as much as is above it and in the air, retaineth the form of Wood, and continueth as before.

Now though in a middle way we may concede, that some are soft and others hard; yet whether all Coral were first a woody substance, and afterward converted; or rather some thereof were never such, but from the sprouting spirit of Salt, were able even in their stony natures to ramifie and send forth branches; as is observable in some stones, in silver and metallick bodies, is not without some question. And such at least might some of those be, which Fioravanti observed to grow upon Bricks at the bottom of the Sea, upon the coast of Barbarie.14

7. We are not thoroughly resolved concerning Porcellane or China dishes, that according to common belief they are made of Earth, which lieth in preparation about an hundred years under ground; for the relations thereof are not onely divers, but contrary, and Authors agree not herein. Guido Pancirollus will have them made of Egg-shells, Lobster-shells, and Gypsum laid up in the Earth the space of 80 years: of the same affirmation is Scaliger, and the common opinion of most. Ramuzuius in his Navigations is of a contrary assertion, that they are made out of Earth, not laid under ground, but hardned in the Sun and Wind, the space of forty years. But Gonzales de Mendoza, a man imployed into China from Philip the second King of Spain, upon enquiry and ocular experience, delivered a way different from all these. For inquiring into the artifice thereof, he found they were made of a Chalky Earth; which beaten and steeped in water, affordeth a cream or fatness on the top, and a gross subsidence at the bottom; out of the cream of superfluitance, the finest dishes, saith he, are made, out of the residence thereof the courser; which being formed, they gild or paint, and not after an hundred years, but presently commit unto the furnace. This, saith he, is known by experience, and more probable then what Odoardus Barbosa hath delivered, that they are made of shells, and buried under earth an hundred years. And answerable in all points hereto, is the relation of Linschotten, a diligent enquirer, in his Oriental Navigations. Later confirmation may be had from Alvarez the Jesuit, who lived long in those parts, in his relations of China. That Porcellane Vessels were made but in one Town of the Province of Chiamsi: That the earth was brought out of other Provinces, but for the advantage of water, which makes them more polite and perspicuous, they were only made in this. That they were wrought and fashioned like those of other Countries, whereof some were tincted blew, some red, others yellow, of which colour only they presented unto the King.

The latest account hereof may be found in the voyage of the Dutch Embassadors sent from Batavia unto the Emperour of China, printed in French 1665. which plainly informeth, that the Earth whereof Porcellane dishes are made, is brought from the Mountains of Hoang, and being formed into square loaves, is brought by water, and marked with the Emperour's Seal: that the Earth it self is very lean, fine, and shining like Sand: and that it is prepared and fashioned after the same manner which the Italians observe in the fine Earthen Vessels of Faventia or Fuenca: that they are so reserved concerning that Artifice, that 'tis only revealed from Father unto Son: that they are painted with Indico baked in a fire for fifteen days together, and with very dry and not smoaking Wood: which when the Author had seen he could hardly contain from laughter at the common opinion above rejected by us.

Now if any enquire, why being so commonly made, and in so short a time, they are become so scarce, or not at all to be had? The Answer is given by these last Relators, that under great penalties it is forbidden to carry the first sort out of the Country. And of those surely the properties must be verified, which by Scaliger and others are ascribed unto China-dishes: That they admit no poison, that they strike fire, that they will grow hot no higher then the liquor in them ariseth. For such as pass amongst us, and under the name of the finest, will only strike fire, but not discover Aconite, Mercury, or Arsenic; but may be useful in dysenteries and fluxes beyond the other.

8. Whether a Carbuncle (which is esteemed the best and biggest of Rubies) doth flame in the dark, or shine like a coal in the night, though generally agreed on by common Believers, is very much questioned by many. By Milius, who accounts it a Vulgar Error: By the learned Bœtius, who could not find it verified in that famous one of Rodulphus, which was a big as an Egg, and esteemed the best in Europe. Wherefore although we dispute not the possibility, and the like is said to have been observed in some Diamonds, yet whether herein there be not too high an apprehension, and above its natural radiancy, is not without just doubt: however it be granted a very splendid Gem, and whose sparks may somewhat resemble the glances of fire, and Metaphorically deserve that name. And therefore when it is conceived by some, that this Stone in the Brest-plate of Aaron respected the Tribe of Dan, who burnt the City of Laish; and Sampson of the same Tribe, who fired the Corn of the Philistines; in some sense it may be admitted, and is no intollerable conception.

As for that Indian Stone that shined so brightly in the Night, and pretended to have been shewn to many in the Court of France, as Andreus Chioccus hath declared out of Thuanus, it proved but an imposture, as that eminent Philosopher Licetus hath discovered,15 and therefore in the revised Editions of Thuanus, it is not to be found. As for the Phosphorus or Bononian Stone,16 which exposed unto the Sun, and then closely shut up, will afterward afford a light in the dark; it is of unlike consideration, for that requireth the calcination or reduction into a dry powder by fire, whereby it imbibeth the light in the vaporous humidity of the air about it, and therefore maintaineth its light not long, but goes out when the vaporous vehicle is consumed.

9. Whether the Ætites or Eagle-stone hath that eminent property to promote delivery or restrain abortion, respectively applied to lower or upward parts of the body, we shall not discourage common practice by our question: but whether they answer the account thereof, as to be taken out of Eagles nests, co-operating in Women unto such effects, as they are conceived toward the young Eagles: or whether the single signature of one stone included in the matrix and belly of another, were not sufficient at first, to derive this vertue of the pregnant Stone, upon others in impregnation, may yet be farther considered. Many sorts there are of this ratling Stone, beside the Geodes, containing a softer substance in it. Divers are found in England, and one we met with on the Sea-shore, but because many of eminent use are pretended to be brought from Iseland, wherein are divers airies of Eagles; we cannot omit to deliver what we received from a learned person in that Country, Ætites an in nidis Aquilarum aliquando fuerit repertus, nescio. Nostra certè memoria, etiam inquirentibus non contiget invenisse, quare in fabulis habendum.17

10. Terrible apprehensions and answerable unto their names, are raised of Fayrie stones, and Elves spurs, found commonly with us in Stone, Chalk, and Marl-pits, which notwithstanding are no more then Echinometrites and Belemnites, the Sea-Hedg-Hog, and the Dart-stone, arising from some siliceous Roots, and softer then that of Flint, the Master-stone, lying more regularly in courses, and arising from the primary and strongest spirit of the Mine. Of the Echinites, such as are found in Chalk-pits are white, glassie, and built upon a Chalky inside; some of an hard and flinty substance, are found in Stone-pits and elsewhere. Common opinion commendeth them for the Stone, but are most practically used against Films in Horses eyes.

11. Lastly, He must have more heads then Rome had Hills, that makes out half of those vertues ascribed unto stones, and their not only Medical, but Magical proprieties, which are to be found in Authors of great Name. In Psellus, Serapian, Evax, Albertus, Aleazar, Marbodetus; in Maiolus, Rueus, Mylius, and many more.

That Lapis Lasuli hath in it a purgative faculty we know; that Bezoar is Antidotal,18 Lapis Judaicus diuretical,19 Coral Antepileptical,20 we will not deny. That Cornelians, Jaspis, Heliotropes, and Blood-stones, may be of vertue to those intentions they are implied, experience and visible effects will make us grant. But that an Amethyst prevents inebriation, that an Emerald will break if worn in copulation. That a Diamond laid under the pillow, will betray the incontinency of a wife. That a Saphire is preservative against inchantments; that the fume of an Agath will avert a tempest, or the wearing of a Crysoprase make one out of love with Gold; as some have delivered, we are yet, I confess, to believe, and in that infidelity are likely to end our dayes. And therefore, they which in the explication of the two Beryls upon the Ephod, or the twelve stones in the Rational or Brest-plate of Aaron, or those twelve which garnished the wall of the holy City in the Apocalyps,[21] have drawn their significations from such as these; or declared their symbolical verities from such traditional falsities, have surely corrupted the sincerity of their Analogies, or misunderstood the mystery of their intentions.

Most men conceive that the twelve stones in Aarons brestplate made a Jewel surpassing any, and not to be parallel'd; which notwithstanding will hardly be made out from the description of the Text, for the names of the Tribes were engraven thereon, which must notably abate their lustre. Beside, it is not clear made out that the best of Gemms, a Diamond, was amongst them; nor is to be found in the list thereof, set down by the Jerusalem Thargum, wherein we find the darker stones of Sardius, Sardonix, and Jasper; and if we receive them under those names wherein they are usually described, it is not hard to contrive a more illustrious and splendent Jewel. But being not ordained for meer lustre by diaphanous and pure tralucencies, their mysterious significations became more considerable then their Gemmary substances; and those no doubt did nobly answer the intention of the Institutor. Beside some may doubt whether there be twelve distinct species of noble tralucent Gemms in nature, at least yet known unto us, and such as may not be referred unto some of those in high esteem among us, which come short of the number of twelve; which to make up we must find out some others to match and join with the Diamond, Beryl, Saphyr, Emerald, Amethyst, Topaz, Crysolit, Jacynth, Ruby, and if we may admit it in this number, the Oriental Granat.[22]


* [My or others' notes are in square brackets]; Browne's marginalia is unmarked; {passages or notes from unpublished material by Browne is in curly braces}. Ross deals with this chapter in Arcana Microcosmi, II.19.2.

1 Pulvis Lithontripticus.

2 [That is, the Electuary of the Queen, by physicians of Cologne.]

3 [A concretion found in the stomachs of crustaceans, consisting largely of carbonate of lime.]

4 [Indeed, the French pickle glasswort or salicorne. It is quite good.]

5 {1646 continues: And the tryal thereof we the rather did make in that animall, because Grevinus in his Treaty of poysons, affirmeth that dogges are inevitably destroyed thereby.}

6 [In the deuterocanonical book of Bel, 1:27:2 (KJV)]

7 [Ovid Metamorphoses 11]

8 [Who claimed to have produced a chicken with gold markings by feeding it on gold. Unlike Perdue chickens, who are made golden on the inside on a diet of marigolds.]

9 In his Pyrotechnia.

10 De examine Salium.

11 Cat. avertimenti intorno a un Bombardiero.

12 De consensu Chymicorum, &c.

13 In the French Copy.

14 Gans Histor. Coral.

15 Licet. de quæsti. per Epistolas.

16 Licet. de lapide Bononiensi.

17 Theodorus Ionas Hitterdalæ Pastor

18 Against poison.

19 Provoking Urine.

20 Against the Falling-sickness.

21 [Exodus 39: the stones (in the KJV version): [Exod 39:10] the first row was a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle; [11] And the second row, an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond; [12] And the third row, a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. Revelation 21: the stones are jasper, sapphire, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolyte, beryl, topaz, chrysoprasus, jacinth, amethyst.]

22 [1672 and 1686 have "Gianat", presumably a typo for "Granat", garnet.]

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