Boo the Cat. 1987-2002.
Alexander Ross (1652) Arcana Microcosmi, Book II, Chapter 18, pp. 188-193.
1. That Chrystal is of water, proved, and the contrary objections answered; how it differs from Ice. 2. The Loadstone moves not; its Antipathy with Garlick. Of the Adamant, Versoria, Amber, &c.
THat Crystall was at first Water, then Ice, and at last by extream cold hardned into a stone, was the opinion of the ancient Philosophers, and of Scaliger the best of the Modern; but Mathiolus, Cardan, Boëtius de Boöte, and Agricola, with some others, will have it to be a Minerall body hardned not by cold, but by heat, or a Minerall spirit. Of this opinion is the Doctor (Book I. Cap. .)1 but his reasons are not satisfactory: For first (saith he) Minerall spirits resist congelation, but Ice is water congeald by cold. Answ. He takes this for granted which is not: For he is to prove Crystal a mineral, and that 'tis hardned by a mineral spirit, which he doth not. Again, all Minerals resist not congelation, but further it sometimes as he sheweth himselfe of Snow and Salt by the fire side turned into Ice, and of water converted into Ice, by Salt-peter. Besides, all minerals are not hard; for Quicksilver is not, nor can mineral spirits harden their own bodies or keep them from dissolving into liquor, it is the external heat or cold that doth it, not the internal spirit, as we see in Salt, which dissolves into water if it be not hardned by the heat of Sun or fire, and so will Ice dissolve into water, if the cold grow remiss or the heat prevaile. If then a Mineral spirit cannot harden its own body, how can it harden the body of water? What mineral spirits are there in cold water to harden it into Ice? Spirits are hot, therefore apter to dissolve water then harden it; but we see manifestly that it is cold and not spirits which causeth Ice: the same cold in some Caves where the Sun never comes, nor heat, converteth water-drops into stones and the cold of some waters metamorphise stickes, leaves and trees, pieces of lether, nut-shels, and such like stuffe into stones; why then may not cold convert Ice into a higher degree of hardnesse, and prepare it for reception of a new forme, which gives it the essence and name of Crystall. 2. [A liquation in Crystal may be effected, but not without some difficulty; but Ice may dissolve in any way of heat.] Answ. The difficult melting of the one, and easie liquation of the other, will not prove that Crystal was not Ice, but that it is not ice. For as Scaliger saith, Valde à seipso differt quo fit, dum sit, & cum est, Ice before it attains the hardnesse of a stone, or Crystall, is yet water formally, and Crystal only materially, or in the way of preparation. But when it ceaseth to be ice, it assumes the form of crystal, and wil not deny its original, that it was once Ice, which now is a stone. The matter then of crystal, is water, and it is made of Ice, because it was water, by which Ice it hath stept up to the forme of a stone. 3. They are differenced by supernatation, or floating upon water, for crystal will sink, but ice will swim in water. Answ. Its no wonder to see a stone sink and ice swim; for crystal when it was ice, swimmed, being now a stsone, sinks; as being a body more compact, hard, solid, and ponderous: so a stick will swim, but when it is converted to a stone, it sinks. The argument therefore is good thus: Crystal sinks, Ice swims, therefore crystal is not ice; but it will not follow, therfore crystal was not ice. 4. They are distinguished in substance of parts, and the accidents thereof, that is, in colour and figure, for ice is a similary body, but the body of crystal is mixed, and containeth in it sulphure, for being struck with steel, it sends forth sparks, which are not caused by collision of two hard bodies, but they are inflamable effluences discharged from the bodies collided; for a steel and flint being both met, will not readily strike fire. Answ. Crystal is not so much distinguished either in substance or accidents, from ice, as a chick is from an egge, and yet the chick was an egg.
What wonder is it, if crystal having received a new form, be distinguished from ice, whereas we see greater distinctions daily in our own nutrition, our bloud, flesh, and bones, have neither the colour, figure, or substance of corn, fruits, hearbs, roots, and other meats we feed upon. In the same rose-leaf there be distinct qualities and operations, one part being restringent, the other laxative; the same Rhubarb as it is differently prepared differently worketh, one way by loosning, another way by binding the belly. Let us not deny that distinction to a natural, which we give to an artificial preparation; there are distinct colours in one and the same leaf of a gillyflower, or tulip. Again, when he saith, That ice is a similary body, but Crystal is mixed; Here is no opposition, for similary and dissimilary, are opposite, not similary and mixed, for a similary body may be mixed; so is flesh, so is bloud, so is ice, except he will make2 it a pure element. And when he saith, Crystal containeth sulphure in it; This is very unlikely, for sulphure is hot and inflammable, it is also viscous and fat, it is of a piercing quality and of an ungrateful smel, none of which qualities we finde in crystal. In fiery mountains there is most sulphure, in snowy mountains, most crystal; but his reason to prove there is sulphure in crystal, is invalid, because saith he, being struck with steel, it sends forth sparks;3 by this reason he may prove there is sulphure in every hard thing, even in wood and sticks, for by attrition, or any other violent motion, they are inflamable, as the Americans know, who use no other way to kindle their fires; but the attrition of flicks. Arrows will burn in the air, their Lead will melt, bels, mil-stones, and cart-wheels, will grow extream hot with motion, and so wil water; is there sulphure in all these? And here he contradicts himself, when he saith, That the sparks are not sent forth by collision of two hard bodies, but they are inflamable effluences discharged from the bodies collided. I would know how these effluences can be discharged, if the bodies be not collided, and how they can bee collided without collision.4 These sparks then are doubtlesse the accension of the of the aire,5 and aerial parts of these hard bodies, by motion and collision, being no way hindered by wetting the Steele and Flint, for I have tried the contrary by wetting both, and yet the Sparks fly out as readily, as if both had been dried; so they will out of Flints taken out of Rivers, where they have been perpetually moist, so that the sparks are not quenched at their eruption, because the air is not wet, though the Steel and Flint be. 5. They are (saith he) differenced in the places of their generation; For Crystall is found in Regions where Ice is seldom seen Answ. It is sufficient that in those Regions where Crystall is found, Ice is sometimes seen; and as Ice is there but seldome seen, so Crystall is there but seldome found: the best and greatest quantities are found in cold and snowy Countries. Again, though in those hotter Countries the air above is warm, yet in the bowels of the earth it is as cold, or rather colder, then elsewhere by antiperistasis; and that is sufficient to prove Crystal may be there generated. 6. They have contrary qualities elementall, and uses medicinall. Answ. It is true, Ice is moist, and Crystall dry: so water is moist, and salt is dry; will it therefore follow, that salt is not generated of water? Allum, Salt-peter, Vitriol, are all hard and dry, so are the bones in our flesh, the teeth in our gums, the stones in fruits, yet all are begot of soft and moist materials. As for their contrary medicinall uses, I question not, whereas there are in one and the same simple (as I shewed but now) contrary effects.
II. In the 2, 3, and 4 Chapters of the second book, the Doctor hath divers pretty and pleasant Discourses of the Loadstone and Amber, yet to some passages I cannot assent; as 1. when he saith, There is coition, syndrome, and concourse of the Load-stone and Iron to each other; For I doe not think that the stone is moved at all to the Iron, for every naturall motion hath its reason and end; the end of attraction in animals and vegitables is for aliment; the motion of stones and other heavy bodies downward, is to enjoy their Matrix, or Center: but no end can be assigned why the Loadstone should draw or move towards the Iron: the motion therefore is in the Iron, and other metals, which are moved to the Loadstone, as to their Matrix, saith Scaliger; therefore it is no more wonder for Iron to move to the Loadstone, then to move downwards, the end and efficient cause being the same in both motions, to wit, the enjoyment of their proper place or matrix. 2. Whereas the ancients held that garlick hindred the attraction of the Loadstone, he contradicts this by experience; but I cannot think the ancient Sages would write so confidently of that which they had no experience; of, being a thing so obvious and easie to try; therefore I suppose they had a stronger kind of garlick, then is with us, which made Horace write so invectively against it, calling it poison and worse then hemlock.6 3. He denies the vertue of the Adamant in hindring the Loadstones attraction, which the Ancients affirm. It seems our diamonds have not this vertue, but this is no sufficient reason to deny the vertue of the Adamant, for though our diamond be a kind of Adamant; yet it is not that kind which the Ancients speak of; for Pliny reckoneth six kinds of Adamants.7 4. He takes Versoria in Plautus, with Turnebus, for the rope that turns about the ship;8 but if versoria there signifies a rope, it must be false Latine, for funis must be understood, therefore Plautus would rather have said versorius; but I rather take it with Joseph Scaliger, upon Manilius, and with Pineda, for a turninng back and taking the contrary way: so that it is an adjective, and via is to be understood; the same phrase Plautus useth in Trinumuni, when Stasinus bids Charmides return to his master, cape versoriam recipe te ad herum; or else versoria is taken for the helm by which the ship is turned about. 5. He will not have amber a vegitable, but a mineral concretion, as is delivered by Boetius.9 Answ. Boetius delivers, that there are three sorts of Amber, to wit, minerals, animals, and vegitables, the first is begot of a bituminous exhalation or oil; the second of the fat of animals, the third of the gum of trees; he tels us also that because oftentimes in Amber are found spiders, flies, and other insects, with pieces of sticks and straws, which the gum falling from the trees, might lick up, or involve. That all Amber is vegitable, and the juice of trees, even that which is gathered in the sea, because saith he, much land hath been drowned by the sea, and gained from the sea again, as he shews of the Netherlands. Cardan denies not but all Amber is the juice of trees, yet made bituminous by the heat of the sea; and Salmuth upon Pancerol, tels us that the Ancients called that only Amber, which distilled from the trees, whence Saint Ambrose cals it the tears of the shrub; therefore though it be thickned by heat or cold, or the sea-water, it is not therefore to be called a Minerall, but a Vegitable, as having its originall and essence from Vegitables. Scaliger writes, That there is a kind of black Amber gathered in those Seaswhere there is greatest store of Whales; and therefore Amber is called Whale by the inhabitants of Morocco and Fez, as believing it is a substance proceeding from the Whale: But whether it be true Amber, may be doubted, and I do not find that among the Ancients Succinum signified any thing else, but the Gum of Trees, concrete into a solid substance, and of this mind is Petrus Bellonius, in his Observations.
1. Sic. Pseudodoxia II.i. ", but his" etc. is "buth is" in 1652. To gauge the effectiveness of Ross's arguments, it is an interesting experiment to substitute, say, "mouse" for "ice", thereby proving that crystal is hardened mouse.
2. 1652 has "wil lmake".
3. Ross's reading is disingenuous, largely based on skipping part of the sentence and a purposefully over-strict reading of "sulphureous", which did not necessarily imply the element sulfur. Wood (and people) of course contains sulfur, which, to go a bit further, is in its pure state tasteless and odorless.
4. Browne says no such thing. He says that the sparks are not caused by accension of the air on the collision, but rather by something within the bodies that collide. That is, whatever a spark is made of comes from the flint, not from air.
5. Sic. I have puzzled over the logical leap implicit in that "then" but have not been able to make sense of it.
6. This may well be the silliest and most disingenuous of all Ross's arguments. Horace: Epodes III.
7. Pliny HN xxvii.56. So what, we may ask, if none of them affects the loadstone.
8. See Mercator l. 842. The word occurs as well in the Trinummus, l. 1026, where the expression in which it is used clearly means something like "about sail". versoria = vorsoria = "the rope used to control a sail". Ross's pseudo-etymological argument is suspicious on many grounds. In any case, it does not affect Browne's point: that the word does not signify a compass. In the next chapter, Ross will argue "against" Browne that the ancients did not have the compass.
9. Pseudodoxia II.iv. In a sense, Browne is correct, as amber is essentially fossilized; that is, it has lost its volatiles, undergone chemical changes, and had some mineral replacement while under ground. It is certainly no longer a "vegitable", but neither is it (in Browne's sense) a "mineral concretion".
This page is by James Eason