« PreviousContinue »
Put into it a cube of wood, that may fill it as close as may be; and let it have a cover of iron, as strong at least as the sides; and let it be well luted, after the manner of the chemists. Then place the vessel within burning coals, kept quick kindled for some few hours space. Then take the vessel from the fire, and take off the cover, and see what is become of the wood. I conceive, that since all inflammation and evaporation are utterly prohibited, and the body still turned upon itself, that one of these two effects will follow either that the body of the wood will be turned into a kind of amalgama, as the chemists call it, or that the finer part will be turned into air, and the grosser stick as it were baked, and incrustate upon the sides of the vessel, being become of a denser matter than the wood itself crude. And for another trial, take also water, and put it in the like vessel, stopped as before; but use a gentler heat, and remove the vessel sometimes from the fire; and again, after some small time, when it is cold, renew the heating of it; and repeat this alteration some few times: and if you can once bring to pass, that the water, which is one of the simplest of bodies, be changed in colour, odour, or taste, after the manner of compound bodies, you may be sure that there is a great work wrought in nature, and a notable entrance made into strange changes of bodies and productions; and also a way made to do that by fire, in small time, which the sun and age do in long time. But of the admirable effects of this distillation in close, for so we will call it, which is like the wombs and matrices of living creatures, where nothing expireth nor separateth, we will speak fully, in the due place; not that we aim at the making of Paracelsus's pygmies, or any such prodigious follies; but that we know the effects of heat will be such, as will scarce fall under the conceit of man, if the force of it be altogether kept in.
Experiment solitary touching the impossibility of annihilation.
100. THERE is nothing more certain in nature than that it is impossible for any body to be utterly anniEhilated; but that as it was the work of the omnipotency of God to make somewhat of nothing, so it requireth the like omnipotency to turn somewhat into nothing. And therefore it is well said by an obscure writer of the sect of the chemists, that there is no such way to effect the strange transmutations of bodies, as to endeavour and urge by all means the reducing of them to nothing. And herein is contained also a great secret of preservation of bodies from change; for if you can prohibit, that they neither turn into air, because no air cometh to them; nor go into the bodies adjacent, because they are utterly heterogeneal; nor make a round and circulation within themselves; they will never change, though they be in their nature never so perishable or mutable. We see how flies, and spiders, and the like, get a sepulchre in amber, more durable than the monument and embalming of the body of any king. And I conceive the like will be of bodies put into quicksilver. But then they must be but thin, as a leaf, or a piece paper or parchment; for if they have a greater crassitude, they will alter in their own body, though they spend not. But of this we shall speak more when we handle the title of conservation of bodies.
Experiments in consort touching Music.
MUSIC, in the practice, hath been well pursued, and in good variety; but in the theory, and especially in the yielding of the causes of the practic, very weakly; being reduced into certain mystical subtilties of no use and not much truth. We shall, therefore, after our manner, join the contemplative and active part together.
101. ALL sounds are either musical sounds, which we call tones; whereunto there may be an harmony; which sounds are ever equal; as singing, the sounds of stringed and wind instruments, the ringing of bells, etc. or immusical sounds, which are ever unequal; such as are the voice in speaking, all whisperings, all voices of beasts and birds, except they be singingbirds, all percussions of stones, wood, parchment, skins, as in drums, and infinite others.
102. THE sounds that produce tones, are ever from such bodies as are in their parts and pores equal; as well as the sounds themselves are equal; and such are the percussions of metal, as in bells; of glass, as in the fillipping of a drinking glass; of air, as in mens voices whilst they sing, in pipes, whistles, organs, stringed instruments, etc. and of water, as in the nightingale pipes of regals, or organs, and other hydraulics; which the ancients had, and Nero did so much esteem, but are now lost. And if any man think, that the string of the bow and the string of the viol are neither of them equal bodies, and yet produce tones, he is in an error. For the sound is not created between the bow or plectrum and the string; but between the string and the air; no more than it is between the finger or quill, and the string in other instruments. So there
are, in effect, but three percussions that create tones; percussions of metals, comprehending glass and the like, percussions of air, and percussions of water.
103. THE diapason or eight in music is the sweetest concord, in so much as it is in effect an unison; as we see in lutes that are strung in the base strings with two strings, one an eight above another; which make but as one sound. And every eighth note in ascent, as from eight to fifteen, from fifteen to twenty-two, and so in infinitum, are but scales of diapason. The cause is dark, and hath not been rendred by any; and therefore would be better contemplated. It seemeth that air, which is the subject of sounds, in sounds that are not tones, which are all unequal, as hath been said, admitteth much variety; as we see in the voices of living creatures; and likewise in the voices of several men, for we are capable to discern several men by their voices, and in the conjugation of letters, whence articulate sounds proceed; which of all others are most various. But in the sounds which we call tones, that are ever equal, the air is not able to cast itself into any such variety; but is forced to recur into one and the same posture or figure, only differing in greatness and smallness. So we see figures may be made of lines, crooked and straight, in infinite variety, where there is inequality; but circles, or squares, or triangles equilateral, which are all figures of equal lines, can differ but in greater or lesser.
104. IT is to be noted, the rather lest any man should think, that there is any thing in this number of eight, to create the diapason, that this computation of eight is a thing rather received, than any true computation. For a true computation ought ever to be by distribution into equal portions. Now there be intervenient in the rise of eight, in tones, two beemolls, or half notes: so as if you divide the tones equally, the eight is but seven whole and equal notes; and if you subdivide that into half-notes, as it is in the stops of a lute, it maketh the number of thirteen.
105. YET this is true, that in the ordinary rises and falls of the voice of man, not measuring the tone
by whole notes, and half-notes, which is the equal measure, there fall out to be two beemolls, as hath been said, between the unison and the diapason: and this varying is natural. For if a man would endeavour to raise or fall his voice, still by half-notes, like the stops of a lute; or by whole notes alone without halfs, as far as an eight; he will not be able to frame his voice unto it. Which sheweth, that after every three whole notes, nature requireth, for all harmonical use, one half-note to be interposed.
106. IT is to be considered, that whatsoever virtue is in numbers, for conducing to concent of notes, is rather to be ascribed to the ante-number, than to the entire number; as namely, that the sound returneth after six or after twelve; so that the seventh or the thirteenth is not the matter, but the sixth or the twelfth; and the seventh and the thirteenth are but the limits and boundaries of the return.
107. THE Concords in music which are perfect or semiperfect, between the unison and the diapason, are the fifth, which is the most perfect; the third next; and the sixth, which is more harsh: and, as the ancients esteemed, and so do myself and some other yet, the fourth which they call diatessaron. As for the tenth, twelfth, thirteenth, and so in infinitum; they be but recurrences of the former, viz. of the third, the fifth, and the sixth; being an eight respectively from them.
108. For discords, the second and the seventh are of all others the most odious, in harmony, to the sense; whereof the one is next above the unison, the other next under the diapason: which may shew, that harmony requireth a competent distance of notes.
109. IN harmony, if there be not a discord to the base, it doth not disturb the harmony, though there be a discord to the higher parts; so the discord be not of the two that are odious; and therefore the ordinary concent of four parts consisteth of an eight, a fifth, and a third to the base; but that fifth is a fourth to the treble, and the third is a sixth. And the cause is, for that the base striking more air, doth overcome and