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

Chap. VI.

Concerning strange Experiments.

TO our former discourse we may adjoyn such work as are effected without Figurations. We may have an artificial composition of Saltpeter, and other ingredients; or of the oil of Red Petrolei, Oleum rubrum
and other things, or with Maltha, Naphtha, with such like, which will burn at what distance we please, with which Pliny reports, Lib. 2. Chap. 104. that he kept a City against the whole Roman Army: For by casting down Maltha he could burn a Souldier, though he had on his Armour. In the next place, to these we may place the Grecian fire, Ignis Gracus. and other combustibles. To proceed, Lamps may be made to burn, and waters to keep hot perpetually. For I know many things which are not consumed in the fire, as the Salamanders skin Talk, with others, which by some adjunct both are inflamed and shine, yet are not consumed, but rather purified. Besides these, we may speak of divers admirable peeces of * Nature. * Art it should be, as I suppose. As the making Thunder and Lighting in the Air; yea with a greater advantage of horrour, then those which are onely produced by Nature. For a very competent quantity of matter rightly prepared (the bignesse of ones thumb) will make a most hideous noise and corruscation, this may be done several wayes; by which a City or Army may be overcome, much after the fashion as Gideon overcame that vast Army of the Midianites with three hundred men, by the breaking of their Pitchers, and shining of their Lamps, together with the sudden leaping forth of the fire, and inestimable crackings. These would appear strange, if they were designed to their just height both of proportion and matter. I might produce many strange works of another kind, which though they bring no sensible profit, yet contain an ineffible spectacle of wit, and may be applied to the probation of all such secrets, as the ignorant crew will not imbrace. Such might I name the attraction, of Iron to the Loadstone, a thing so incredulous, as none save an eye-witnesse would believe. And in this attraction of Iron, experience will show a diligent searcher, more wonders than any vulgar capacity can entertain.

But to proceed to greater, and more than these. There is an attraction of gold, silver, and all other metals, by a certain stone, much after the same manner. Silver and all other metals. Plin.Hist.l.36. cap.20. Aliter Vinegar. Besides one stone will runne to the heap. Plants may have their mutual concurrence, and the parts of sensible creatures locally divided, will naturally move to a mutual imbracement. The consideration whereof makes me think, that there is not any thing, whether in divine or outward matters too difficult for my faith. To proceed higher, The whole power of the Mathematicks may compose a spherical Engine, according to Ptolomies frame in eight Almagest; which sincerely describes both longitude and latitude of all Celestial Bodies; but to give them a natural diurnal motion is not in the power of the Mathematicks. However a discreet head-piece would do well to try the making hereof of such materials and artifice, as it might have a natural diurnal motion. Which seems to me possible; and because many things are moved with the motion of the Heavens, as Comets, the Sea tides, with several other things, which are turned about either in the whole or in part. Such a work might be thought more miraculous, and of a vaster benefit than any thing hitherto mentioned. For the perfecting of this would frustrate all other, whether the more curious, or the more vulgar Astronomical Instruments, which surely would be more valuable than a Kings Coffers; and yet there may matters be brought to passe, which though they will not reach so near a miracle, yet of farre greater publick and private profit. As the producing so much gold or silver, as we please, not by the work of Nature yet accomplishment of Art: seeing there may be ten and seven wayes of gold, eight by the mixture of silver with gold; and the first way is made by sixteen parts of gold with some parts of silver, which will attain the four and twentieth degree of gold, Quid sint decem & septem modi auri, octo seilicet ex admixtione argenticum auro, & primus modus sit. alwayes augmenting one degree of gold with one of silver, and so for the mixture of brasse with gold. So the last way is * * Ex from. by the four and twenty degrees of pure gold without mixture of other metal. And beyond this, Nature knows no further progresse, as experience tels us. Though Art may augment gold in the degrees of purity, even to infinitenesse, and compleat silver, without the least cheat: And yet that which seems more rare than all this is, That though the rational soul (hath so farre its free-will, as) it cannot be compelled, yet may effectually be excited,induced and disposed freely to alter its affections, desires and behaviours to the dictates of another man. And this may not only be practiced upon one particular person, but upon a whole Army, City, or Body of a Nation living under one Region, if we believe experience. And this experience, Aristotle discloseth in his Book of Secrets, both of an Army, Region and single person. And thus I have well nigh finished my thoughts of Nature and Art.

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