Boo the Cat. 1987-2002.
Alexander Ross (1652) Arcana Microcosmi, Book II, Chapter 7, pp. 131-137
1. The diversities and vertues of Bezar stones. 2. A woman conceived in a Bath, of an Incubus. 3. Strange actions performed by sleepers, and the causes thereof. Lots Incest in his sleep. 4. Some Animals live long without food: The Camelions food is only air; the contrary reasons answered: Air turns to water, and is the pabulous supply of fire.
MOnardes [in historia Bezoaris] speaks of some who were poisoned by drinking out of a puddle where Toads, Snakes, and other virulent vermin had laid their spawn, but were cured by taking Bezar two or three times. Bauhinus [c. 34. 36.] speaks of divers diseases cured by this stone; and it is known by daily experience, that it is used with good successe in pestilential Fevers, as Synertus shews, Syn. l. 4. de Feb. c. 8. It is also good in divers other maladies both to cure and prevent them: Yet Doctor Brown thinks [ we are daily gulled in the Beza, whereof many are false, Book 3. c. 23.] I deny not but some adulterat Bezars there are, yet we must not think all fals, or that we are gulled, because we do not see the wished effects: For Synertus (l. 4. de Feb. c. 8.) shews, that the best Bezar faileth, if the just dose be not given. For some out of fearfulness give but a grain or two, whereas he hath given eight or ten grains with good succcesse. Again, the operation of it is hindred oftentimes by mixing it with other Simples: It proves also ineffectual, if any thing else be given too soon after, or if the stomach be not clear when it is exhibited. For as the spirit of Tartar and Vitriol by themselves will work powerfully; but being mixed, lose their operate qualities and taste: so doth Bezar many times mixed with other things. Now this stone is bred in a bag under the stomach of some beasts, which in form resemble our Goats: In the East-Indies they have horns, but in the West none: The Oriental stones are the best, a grain whereof hath been sold for four Ducats. Some of them are as big as a Goose Egg: they have divers forms, and divers colours, some yellow, some green, some black; the best are bred in those beasts that feed on the hills, and on aromatick hearbs, which are not found in the valleys: they grow like Onions wrapt about with many tunciles or crusts. Acosta (l. 4. c. 42.) sheweth, that in the midst of some of them are found pins, straws, or sticks, about which matter doth gather, which by degees increaseth and hardneth till it come to a just magnitude. In the midst of those stones are found sometimes odoriferous hearbs. Mathiolus and Renodæus hold those for the best stones in the midst of which are found dust or gravel. The Indians use the pouder of Bezar, not only against inward diseases, but also with it they cure their wounds and Carbuncles, or Boils. Acosta (l. 4. c. 42.) relates the observations of the Peruans, who say, that the best stone is bred in a beast called Vieugne, which feeds upon a poisonable hearb, by which it preserves it self from the grasse, and waters that are poisoned by venomous beasts. He that will see more of this stone, let him read those above named, and likewise Boutius, Baccius, Toll, and others.
II. That story is strange of the Woman which conceived in a Bath by attracting the mans sperm who bathed in the same place: This is affirmed by Averroes (Anat. l. 8. quæst. 11.) but denied by Laurentius, del Rio, and some others, whom Doctor Brown in this followeth.1 Hee that denyeth a matter of fact, must bring good witnesses to the contrary, or else shew the impossibility of the fact, which they do not. For we shall find this conception possible, if either we consider the nature of the Matrix, which by a strange instinct and appetite attracteth the sperm to it (for which cause Plato calls it (zwon epequmitikon) even as the stomach attracteth meat and drink, though in some distance from it: Or if wee consider that the seminal spirits in the warm water might be a while preserved from evaporating; and therefore what they say of the longitude of the organ in which the seed is refrigerated, it is not to the purposse, except they could prove it to be so in all: But the contrary is found in the long organ of great beasts, wherein the sperm is no ways damaged. Besides, the heat of the bath might have some proportion to that of the Matrix; whereas the organ of emission is not so hot, as consisting most of nervous and spermatical parts. Again, we see that the sperm of Fishes, in which there are seminal spirits, is not prejudiced by the water where it is shed; but the male fishes cast their seed upon the spawn which the females leave in the water, as Aristotle, Pliny, Ælian, Albertus and others, do shew. Lastly, wee must not think all the stories false which are written of the Incubi, which were evil spirits conveying the masculine seed to the place of generation, of which there have been conceptions. For to deny this, saith Augustine, (lib. 15. de Civit. Dei, cap. 23.) doth argue impudence, considering the many testimonies and examples of the same: yet I deny not but the imagination is sometimes deluded, but not still, as Wierus thinks; and I know also, that Incubus is the same dissease with Ephialtes; yet it will not follow, that there are no evill spirits called Incubi and Succubi: For, to deny such, were to accuse the ancient Doctors of the Church, and the Ecclesiastick Histories of falshood, which affirm that the Catechumeni were much troubled with these Incubi. This were also to contradict the common consent of all Nations, and experience. There is then a double Incubus, the one natural, called efialthV, which is caused in sleep by a frigid grosse vapour filling the ventricles of the brain, and prohibiting the animall spirits to passe through the nerves, whereby the imagination is hurt, so that they think they are oppressed with a great weight. This disease is much like the Epilepsia, but somwhat milde. The other Incubus is Diabolical.
III. That some men can in their sleep perform those actions which they neither could nor durst do when awaked, is known by Histories and experience. Marianus (cap. ad audientiam) witnesseth, that he had a Maid, who in her sleep could rise and make bread, as if she had been awaked. Francis Mendoza (l. 6. de Flor.) knew one who would rise in his sleep, and in the night time walked out with his naked sword, with which hee struck some of the City guard; but at last being wounded, was awaked. Tirannel (in Mendoza) speaks of an English man in Paris, who rose in his sleep, went down towards the river Sene; where, having met with a Boy, he killed him, and so returned (being all this while asleep) to his bed. Hortius (de noctambulis) writes of one who in his sleep usually would arise, go up and down the stairs, lock and unlock his chests. He speaks of another, who dreamed he was to ride a Journy, riseth, puts on his cloaths, boots and spurs, gets up into the Window, where he sate stradling, beating the wals with his spurs, till hee was awaked. And he sheweth, that at Helmsted one rose in his sleep, went down the stairs into a Court; from thence toward the Kitchin, neer which was a deep Wel: into this he went down, holding fast to the stones by his hands and feet; but when hee touched the water, with the cold thereof he was awaked; and finding in what danger he was, gave a pitiful out-cry, which awaked those in the house, who having found him, got him out, and brought him to his bed, where he lay many days speechlesse and immoveable, being extreamly weakened with fear, cold, and crying. Another story he hath no lesse strange then this, of a young Gentleman who in his sleep arose naked, carrying his shirt in his hand, and by the help of a rope clambers up to a high Turret in the Castle where he then was: Here he findes a nest of Mag-pies, which he robs, and puts the young ones in his shirt; and so by the same rope comes down again, and returns to his bed: The next morning being awaked, tells his brother how he dreamed that he had robb'd a Pies nest; and withal wondring what was become of his shirt, riseth and findes it at his beds feet, with the young birds wrapt up in it. To these examples, wee may add that of Lot, who in his sleep begot his two daughters with childe: This Dr. Brown (Book 7. c. 6.)2 will not admit, though he hath a direct Text of Scripture against him: For there it is said, Gen. 19. That Lot neither knew when his daughters lay down, nor when they rose up. Which words are expounded by Irenæus (c. 51. cont. Hæres.) That Lot had neither pleasure, nor consent, nor sense, nor knowledge of this all: Chrysostome affirms the same, expounding these words, Lot (saith he, Hom. 44. in Genes.) was so intoxicated with wine, that he knew not at all what he did, lest he should be guilty of so great a crime; acting in this neither wittingly nor willingly. S. Austin is of the same minde, (Cont. manic. l. 22.) and other Expositors.3 Now if one ask, how sleeping men can do such things? I answer, it is partly by the strength of imagination, which is more active in sleep then when we are awake. 2. All sleepers are not apt for such actions; but such whose natures are melancholy or cholerick, whose spirits are more fervent, subtil, and agile then others, moving the muscles4, and by them the body, though the outward senses be bound up by sleep. 3. They catch not that hurt in their sleep, which they would do if awaked; because their senses are not avocated by other objects, they have no apprehension of fear, their imagination is more intent in sleep; and withal their Genius or good Angel is carefull of them.
IV. I read of divers both beasts and men, which have lived a long time without meat or drink: We know that Swallows, Cuckows, dormice, & diuers other animals, fast all the Winter. The like is recorded of Lizards, Serpents, Water-Crocodiles, Bears, and other ravenous beasts, whose bodies by reason of their humidity and rapacity, are full of crudities, by which they are fed in the Winter. Mendosa (de Flor. Philos. Probl. 24.) speaks of a Hen in his time, which lived eighty dayes without food and water. Cardan (de subtil. l. 10.) writes, that the Indian bird called Manucodiata, lives only in the aire upon dew as Grashoppers do.5 Rondiletius (l. 2. de Piscib. c. 12.) shews, that his wife kept a fish three years in a glasse, without any other food but water; and yet the fish grew so big, that the glasse could not at last contain it. And I have kept Spiders my self in a glasse, which I dismissed after they had fasted nine months. The Camelion also liveth upon the air, Obscitans vescitur, follicans ruminat, de vento cibus, saith Tertullian (in Pallio.)6 I have seen a Camelion which was brought hither from Africa by sea, and kept in a box, which all the while was never seen to feed on any thing else but air. Yet D. Brown (Book 3., c. 21.) will not have the air to be his food for these reasons: 1. Because Aristotle and Ælian speak nothing of this. Ans. Neither do they speak any thing against it, which likely they would have done, if they had thought their feeding on aire had been fabulous. they do not speak of what food each animal is sustained: and though they doe not speak of this airy food, yet Pliny, and others do.7 2. Scaliger writes, that Claudius saw a Camelion lick up a fly from his breast. And Bellonius upon exenteration found flies in the Camelions belly. Answ. So I have seen Dogs and Cats eat Flies; Monkies and Turkies eat Spiders, and Dogs eat grasse; yet it will not follow, that they feed on these, but rather eat them out of wantonnesse, or for physick; so doth the Camelion sometimes eat flies; and so doth the Ostridge eat Iron, and divers birds swallow stones. 3. There are found in this animal the guts, the stomach, and other parts for nutrition, which had been superfluous if it feed on aire only. Answ. These parts are not superfluous, though they feed on air, but necessary; because the air on which they feed, is not pure, but mixed, and therefore nutritive. Again, they were to eat sometimes flies, for pleasure or physick, therefore the stomach was necessary. Moreover, we must not think every thing in nature superfluous, whereof wee can give no reason; for so wee may accuse her for giving eyes to Wonts, teats to Men, goats and Dogs, whereof they make no use. And why she is so bountiful to the Fox, and so niggardly to the Ape, in giving the one too great a tail, the other none at all. 4. He reasons From the bignesse of the Camelions tongue, and the slimy matter in it, that air cannot be its nutriment. Answ. Its tongue was made to catch flies, but not for nutriment, as is said: and that slimy matter is given as well for its prey, as for the destruction of Serpents its enemies: for it useth upon the sight of a Serpent, to let fall that slimy matter on his head, with which he is presently killed. 5. The air cannot nourish, because it hath no taste.8 Ans. Tast belongs not to the nourishment, for they who have lost their tast, are not therefore the lesse nourished. Again, though the pure air be tastelesse, yet air thickned and moistned, is not so as we may perceive by the divers tasts in waters. Besides, though the air be tastelesse to us, it may be otherwise to the Camelion. 6. There can be no transmutation of air into the body nourished, because there is no familiarity between air and a living body. Ans. This may be true of pure air, but not of mixed, and of our bodies, not of the Camelions. Besides, divers creatures live on dew, which is but watrish air; and how many in Arabia are fed with Manna, which is both begot of and in the air. 7. Nutriment is condensated by the natural heat, but air by the bodies heat is rarified. Ans. The contrary of this is seen continually by the air we breath out, which is still thicker then that we take in: For though the heat doth rarifie the air, yet by the moisture of our bodies it is thickned. 8. All aliment must remain some time in the body; but air is presently expelled. Answ. The air which is attracted by the Lungs, and serves for refrigeration of the heart, is quickly again expelled, because it is to stay no longer then it performs its office, which is to refrigerate; but that air on which the Camelion and other creatures feed, must and doth stay longer. 9. Air in regard of our natural heat, is cold, and so contrary; but aliment is potentially the same. Ans. All aliment is contrary at first, or else there could bee no action, and so no nutrition. Again, what is cold, is potentially the same with our bodies, in respect of the substance, not of the quality. Besides, how many sorts of cold meats, fish, fruits, hearbs, sallets do men eat in Summer, which notwithstanding are the same potentially with their bodies. 10. Some deny air to be an aliment, or that it entreth into mixt bodies, and its not easie to demonstrate, that it is convertible into water; and we doubt that air is the pabulous supply of fire, much lesse that flame is properly air kindled. Ans. Some have denyed Snow to be white, or fire hot, therefore no wonder if some fantastical heads deny air to be an element, or that it entreth into mixt bodies. Danæus indeed thinks air and water to be all one, because water is quickly turned into air, and because they have great affinity: but this is against himself; for what can be turned into another substance is not the same, nothing is convertible into it self: and if air be water, because this can be turned into that, then water is earth; for in many caves water drops turn to stones, and so we shall make but one element. Again, if air enter not into mixt bodies, what is that unctuous humidity or oyl which we finde in all perfect mixt bodies? It cannot be fire nor earth; for these are neither unctuous nor humid: nor can it be water; for though that be humid, it is not unctuous, it must needs then be air. Again, when the Doctor saith, It is not easie to demonstrate the conversion of air into water; he denieth both sense and reason: for this conversion is as demonstrable as our respiration in winter, when the air which a man attracteth, is turned into water drops on his beard, sheets, rugs, and blankets: reason also shews this; for if water can be turned into air, why cannot air be turned into water, both communicating in the symbolical quality of humidity. Lastly, his doubting, and the Lord Verulams denying air to be the pabulous supply of fire, is causless: For I ask, what is it that substantially maintains the fire? They answer, It is combustible matter in the kindled body. But in this they trifle: for I ask what this combustible matter is? Earth it cannot be; for earth, 1. as earth, is not combustible; and we see that after the fire is spent, earth remains in ashes. Nor can it be water; for that maintains not the fire, but extinguisheth it. It must then necessarily be air: for we see by daily experience, that the more of this unctuous or aereal humidity is in the fewel, the more apt it is to burn. And when this is spent, the fire dieth, as we see in candles, lamps, torcches, links, and whatsoever hath pinguedinous matter in it. Fernelius indeed gives a threefold food to the fire; to wit, combustible stuffe, smoak, and air; but all this may be reduced to air: For nothing is combustible, which hath not in it aereal humidity: and smoak is nothing else but air cloathed with the fiery quality of siccity and calidity, wanting nothing but light to make it fire. Therefore we see how quickly smoak is turned into flame, and this into smoak again. to conclude, air is the very life of fire, which would quickly die, if it received not animation by ventilation.9 This we see in cupping-glasses, how nimbly the fire, when almost extinguished, will upon a little vent suck the air to it.
1. In Book VII, chapter 16. Browne does not reject the story outright, but his reasons for doubting it are mainly incorrect.
2. Sic; actually chapter 16.
3. Irenæus contr. Hær., Book V, Chap. XXXI, 1. St. John Chrysostome's Homilies on Genesis are not yet on line. Augustine's attitude towards Lot is ambivalent in the Reply to Faustulus, but he does say (among other things) what Ross has him say, Book XXII, 44. The passage, Genesis 19:31-36, hardly requires explication, and does not say that Lot was asleep:
 And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth:  Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.  And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.  And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.  And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.  Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.
4. 1652 has "bmuscles", where the b has crept up from the following line, which reads "outward senses be ound" etc.
5. Most of these creatures are mentioned by Browne. Ross has made exactly the erroneous argument that Browne says leads to this vulgar tenet. On the manucodiata, and a possible reason for the belief he lived on air or dew, see this note (in French). Various other peculiarities of the species are noted at L'Enciclopedia dei Mostri:: La Manucodiata (in Italian).
6. Tertullian, de Pallio, ca. III.3.
7. Pliny, HN XI.91 (englished by Holland) says that they (and "stelliones", about which he is actually writing) live on air, or dew (textual variants), and "a few spiders".
8. Needless to say, but I'll point it out from time to time anyway, Ross seriously misrepresents Browne's argument, here and nearly everywhere else. Browne argues that the chamaeleon has a tongue, which can serve only a limited number of purposes, one of which is taste. Since air has no taste, he says, that is a purpose that can be eliminated when investigating the reasons for the existence and the structure of the chamaeleon's tongue. He does not argue that the air cannot be nutriment because it has no taste. In any case, this and his other argument are but corollary demonstrations to the observations (1) that chamaeleons have been seen to eat and (2) that food has been found in their stomachs and guts.
9. True enough; which is why Browne makes the distinction between the "pabulous" essential of fire that is, what burns and other essentials, such as air. Ross will return to this subject in the next chapter.
This page is by James Eason