Friar Bacon His Discovery of the Miracles of Art, Nature, and Magick

Chap. III.


Of the force of Speech, and a Check to Magick.

IN regard truth must not receive the least injury, we should take more exact notice how every agent communicateth the Virtue and Species which is in it to other extrinsecal objects; I mean not only the substantial Virtue, but even Active Accidents, such as are in tertia specie Qualitatis.

As for the Virtues which flows from the Creature, some of them are sensible, some insensible. Man which is both the most noble corporeity, and dignified rational soul, hath no lesse than other things heat and spirits exhaling from him and so may no lesse than other things emit and dispose of his Virtues and Species to external Objects.

Some creatures we know have power to metamorphose and alter their objects. Plin. Nat.Hist. lib.39.c.4. As the Basilisk, who kils by sight alone. The Wolf, if she first see a man before the man see him, makes the man hoarse. Plin. lib.8.cap. 22. Solin. Poly. cap 8. Plin. lib.8. cap.30. Solin.c 30. The Hyæna suffers not the dog which comes within his shadow to bark (as Solinus de mirabili bus mundi, and others) And Aristotle lib.3. de Vegetab. saith, That Female Palm-trees bring forth fruit to maturity by the smell of their Males. And Mares in some Kingdoms impregnate by the smell of Horses (as Solinus affirms.) Aristotle in his Secrets assures us of several other contingencies which issue from the Species and Virtues of Plants and Animals. Hence I argue, If Plants and Animals, which are inferiour in dignity to our humane Nature, can emit, then surely may man more abundantly emit Species, Virtues and Colours to the alteration of external Bodies. To this purpose is that, which Aristotle tels us (Lib. de somno & Vigilia) a menstruous woman looking in a glasse, doth infect it with spots, like clouds of blood. Solinus further writes, Cap.6. vid. & C.Plin. l.7.c.2. That in Scythia there are women which have two sights in one eye. (Hence Ovid, Nos et pupilla duplex) and that these women by their glances kill men. In the Norhern Country some are said to have an evil eye, and to do harm by their looks, yea though they do it not voluntarily. And we our selves know, That men of an evil complexion, full of contagious infirmities, as Leprosie, the Falling-sickness, spotted Feaver, bleer-eyed, or the like, infects those men in their company: While on the other side, men of a sound and wholesome complexion, especially young men, do by their very presence exhilerate and comfort others; which no question, as Galen in his Techne, proceeds from their pure spirits wholsome and delightsome vapours, their sweet natural colour, and from such Species and Virtues as they emit. He holds sight by emission.

That man whose soul The soul sinful or not, works morally, not physically to the hurt of others, but the man who hath a body may do something Medicante corpre. is defiled with many hainous sins, his Body infirme, his Complexion evil, and hath a vehement fancy and desire to hurt his neighbour, may bring more inconveniences, then another man. The Reason may be, the Nature of Complexion and infirmity yeelds obedience to the thoughts of the Heart, and is more augmented by the intervention of our desires. Hence it is that a leprous person, who is solicitous, desirous and fancying to infect some one or other in the room, may more easily and forceably effect it, than he which hath no such intention, fancy or desire. For (as Avicen observes in the fore cited place) the nature of the body is obedient to the thoughts, and more intent fancies of the soul. And (as Avicen in the 3d Metaph. affirms) the thought is the first mover, after that the desire is made conformable to the thought, then after that the natural virtue, which is in the members, obeys the desire and thought; and thus it is both in good and bad effects. Hence it is that a young man of a good Complexion, healthfull, fair, well featured Body, having his soul not debauched with sinne, but of a strong fancy and vehement desire to compasse the effecting of some magnificent designe, withall adding the power of his Virtues, Species and natural heat; He may by the force of these *Spirits, * Al. Species. Vapours and influences work both more powerfully and vehemently, than if he should want any of these fore going qualifications, especially strong affections and forceable imaginations. Hence I conclude, Men by the concurrence of the foresaid Causes, Words and Works being the Instruments, bring great undertakings to perfection.

As for words, they are hatched within, by the thoughts and desires of the mind, sent abroad by heat, Vocale arteries, and motion of the Spirits. The places of their generation are in open passages, by which there is a great efflux of such spirits, heat, vapours, virtues, and Species, as are made by the soul and heart. And therefore words may so farre cause alterations by these parts or passages, as their Nature will extend. For it's evident, That breathings, yawnings, several resolutions of Spirits and heat come thorow these open passages from the heart and inward parts: Now if these words come from an infirm and evil complexionated body, they are constantly obnoxious. But if from a pure sound and wholsome constitution, they are very beneficial and comfortable. It's clear then, That the bare generation and prolation of words joyned with desire and intention are considerable in natural operations. Hereupon we do justly say, Vox viva magnum habet virtutem; Living words are of great Virtue. Not that they have any such Virtue of doing or undoing, as Magicians speak of, but only they have the Virtue of Nature, which makes me put in this Caution of being extream cautelous herein. For a man may, as many have already done, erre on both hands: Some wholly denying any operation of words: Others superfluously decline to a Magical use thereof. Our duties should be to have a care of such Books, as are fraught with Charms, Figures, Orizons, Conjurations, Sacrifices, or the like, because they are purely Magical. For instance, the Book De Officiis Spirituum,liber de morte animæ, liber de arte notoria with infinite others, containing neither precepts of Nature or Art, having nothing save Magical Fopperies. Yet herewithall we must remember, there are many Books commonly reputed to be Magical, but have no other fault then discovering the dignity of wisdome. What Books are suspicious, and what not; Every discreet Readers experience will show him. The Book which discovers natural or artificial operations imbrace; that which is void of either or leave both, as suspitious and unworthy the consideration of any wise man. 'Tis usual with Magicians, to treat of both unnecessary and superfluous subjects. 'Twas excellently said of Isaac (in lib. de Febribus,) The rational soul is not impeded in its operations, unlesse by the Manicles of ignorance. And Aristotle is of opinion, (in lib. secret.) That a clear and strong intellect, being impregnated by the influences of divine Virtue, may attain to anything which is necessary. And in 3d Meteor, he saith, There is no influence or power, but from God. In the Conclusion of his Ethics, There is no Virtue, whether Moral or Natural without divine influence. Hence it is, that when we discourse of particular agents, we exclude not the Regiment of the universal Agent, and first Cause of all things. For every first Cause hath more influence on the Effect, than any second Cause, as he speaks in the first proposition of Causes.

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