Page images
PDF
EPUB

CENTURY X.

Experiments in consort touching the transmission and influx of immateriate virtues, and the force of imagination.

The philosophy of Pythagoras, which was full of superstition, did first plant a monstrous imagination, which afterwards was, by the school of Plato and others, watered and nourished. It was, that the world was one entire perfect living creature; insomuch as Apollonius of Tyana, a Pythagorean prophet, affirmed, that the ebbing and flowing of the sea was the respiration of the world, drawing in water as breath, and putting it forth again. They went on, and inferred, that if the world were a living creature, it had a soul and spirit; which also they held, calling it spiritus mundi, the spirit or soul of the world: by which they did not intend God, for they did admit of a Deity besides, but only the soul or essential form of the universe. This foundation being laid, they might build upon it what they would; for in a living creature, though never so great, as for example, in a great whale, the sense and the affects of any one part of the body instantly make a transcursion throughout the whole body; so that by this they did insinuate, that no distance of place, nor want of indisposition of matter, could hinder magical operations; but that, for example, we might here in Europe have sense and feeling of that which was done in China; and likewise we might work any effect without and against matter; and this not holpen by the co-operation of angels or spirits, but only by the unity and harmony of nature. There were some also that staid not here; but went farther, and held, that if the spirit of man, whom they call the microcosm, do give a fit touch to the spirit of the world, by strong imaginations and beliefs, it might command nature; for Paracelsus, and some darksome authors of magic, do ascribe to imagination exalted the power of miracle-working faith. With these vast and bottomless follies men have been in part entertained.

But we, that hold firm to the works of God, and to the sense, which is God's lamp, " lucema Dei spiraculum hominis," will inquire with all sobriety and severity, whether there be to be found in the footsteps of nature, any such transmission and influx of immateriate virtues; and what the force of imagination is; either upon the body imaginant, or upon another body: wherein it will be like that labour of Hercules, in purging the stable of Augeas, to separate from superstition and magical arts and observations, any thing that is clean and pure natural j and not to be either contemned or condemned. And although we shall have occasion to speak of this in more places than one, yet we will now make some entrance thereinto.

Experiments in consort, monitory, touching transmission of spirits, and the force of imagination.

901. Men are to be admonished that they do not

withdraw credit from the operations by transmission of spirits, and force of imagination, because the effects fail sometimes. For as in infection, and contagion from body to body, as the plague, and the like, it is most certain that the infection is received, many times, by the body passive, but yet is, by the strength and good disposition thereof, repulsed and wrought out, before it be formed into a disease; so much more in impressions from mind to mind, or from spirit to spirit, the impression taketh, but is encountered and overcome by the mind and spirit, which is passive, before it work any manifest effect. And therefore they work most upon weak minds and spirits; as those of women, sick persons, superstitious and fearful persons, children, and young creatures:

"Nescio quis teneros oculus mihi fascinat agnos:"

The poet speaketh not of sheep, but of lambs. As for the weakness of the power of them upon kings and magistrates, it may be ascribed, besides the main, which is the protection of God over those that execute his place, to the weakness of the imagination of the imaginant: for it is hard for a witch or a sorcerer to put on a belief that they can hurt such persons.

902. Men are to be admonished, on the other side, that they do not easily give place and credit to these operations, because they succeed many times; for the cause of this success is oft to be truly ascribed unto the force of affection and imagination upon the body agent; and then by a secondary means it may work upon a diverse body: as for example, if a man carry a planet's seal, or a ring, or some part of a beast, believing strongly that it will help him to obtain his love j or to keep him from danger of hurt in fight; or to prevail in a suit, &c. it may make him more active and industrious: and again, more confident and persisting, than otherwise he would be. Now the great effects that may come of industry and perseverance, especially in civil business, who knoweth not? For we see audacity doth almost bind and mate the weaker sort of minds; and the state of human actions is so variable, that to try things oft, and never to give over, doth wonders: therefore it were a mere fallacy and mistaking to ascribe that to the force of imagination upon another body which is but the force of imagination upon the proper body; for there is no doubt but that imagination and vehement affection work greatly upon the body of the imaginant; as we shall show in due place.

903. Men are to be admonished, that as they are not to mistake the causes of these operations; so much less they are to mistake the fact or effect; and rashly to take that for done which is not done. And therefore, as divers wise judges have prescribed and cautioned, men may not too rashly believe the confessions of witches, nor yet the evidence against them. For the witches themselves are imaginative, and believe ofttimes they do that which they do not: and people are credulous in that point, and ready to impute accidents and natural operations to witchcraft. It is worthy the observing, that both in ancient and late times, as in the Thessalian witches, and the meetings of witches that have been recorded by so many late confessions, the great wonders which they tell, of carrying in the air, transforming themselves into other bodies, &c. are still reported to be wrought, not by incantations or ceremonies, but by ointments, and anointing themselves all over. This may justly move a man to think that these fables are the effects of imagination: for it is certain that ointments do all, if they be laid on any thing thick, by stopping of the pores, shut in the vapours, and send them to the head extremely. And for the particular ingredients of those magical ointments, it is like they are opiate and soporiferous. For anointing of the forehead, neck, feet, backbone, we know, is used for procuring dead sleeps: and if any man say that this effect would be better done by inward potions; answer may be made, that the medicines which go to the ointments are so strong, that if they were used inwards, they would kill those that use them: and therefore they work potently, though outwards.

We will divide the several kinds of the operations bv transmission of spirits and imagination, which will give no small light to the experiments that follow. All operations by transmission of spirits and imagination have this; that they work at distance, and not at touch; and they are these being distinguished.

904. The first is the transmission or emission of the thinner and more airy parts of bodies; as in odours and infections: and this is, of all the rest, the most corporeal.

But you must remember withal, that there be a number of those emissions, both wholesome and unwholesome, that give no smell at all: for the plague, many times when it is taken, giveth no scent at all: and there be many good and healthful airs that do sppear by habitation and other proofs, that differ not in smell from other airs. And under this head you may place all imbibitions of air, where the substance is material, odour-like; whereof some nevertheless are strange, and very suddenly diffused; as •he alteration which the air receiveth in ./Egypt, almost immediately, upon the rising of the river of Nilus, whereof we have spoken.

905. The second is the transmission or emission of those things that we call spiritual species: as visibles and sounds; the one whereof we have handled, and the other we shall handle in due place. These move swiftly, and at great distance; but then 'hey require a medium well disposed, and their transmission is easily stopped.

906. The third is the emissions, which canse attraction of certain bodies at distance; wherein though the loadstone be commonly placed in the first rank, yet we think good to except it, and refer it to another head: but the drawing of amber and jet, and other electric bodies, and the attraction in gold of the spirit of quick-silver at distance; and the attraction of heat

at distance; and that of fire to naphtha; and that of some herbs to water, though at distance; and divers others; we shall handle, but yet not under this present title, but under the title of attraction in general.

907. The fourth is the emission of spirits, and immateriate powers and virtues, in those things which work by the universal configuration and sympathy of the world; not by forms, or celestial influxes, as is vainly taught and received, but by the primitive nature of matter, and the seeds of things. Of this kind is, as we yet suppose, the working of the loadstone, which is by consent with the globe of the earth: of this kind is the motion of gravity, which is by consent of dense bodies with the globe of the earth: of this kind is some disposition of bodies to rotation, and particularly from east to west: of which kind we conceive the main float and refloat of the sea is, which is by consent of the universe, as part of the diurnal motion. These immateriate virtues have this property differing from others; that the diversity of the medium hindereth them not; but they pass through all mediums, yet at determinate distances. And of these we shall speak, as they are incident to several titles.

908. The fifth is the emission of spirits; and this is the principal in our intention to handle now in this place; namely, the operation of the spirits of the mind of man upon other spirits: and this is of a double nature; the operations of the affections, if they be vehement; and the operation of the imagination, if it be strong. But these two are so coupled, as we shall handle them together; for when an envious or amorous aspect doth infect the spirits of another, there is joined both affection and imagination.

909. The sixth is, the influxes of the heavenly bodies, besides those two manifest ones, of heat and light. But these we will handle where we handle the celestial bodies and motions.

910. The seventh is the operations of sympathy, which the writers of natural magic have brought into an art or precept: and it is this; that if yon desire to superinduce any virtue or disposition upon a person, you should take the living creature, in which that virtue is most eminent, and in perfection; of that creature you must take the parts wherein that virtue chiefly is collocate: again, you must take those parts in the time and act when that virtue is most in exercise; and then you must apply it to that part of man wherein that virtue chiefly consisteth. As if you would superinduce courage and fortitude, take a lion or a cock; and take the heart, tooth, or paw of the lion; or the heart or spur of the cock: take those parts immediately after the lion or the cock have been in fight; and let them be worn upon a man's heart or wrist. Of these and such like sympathies, we shall speak under this present title.

911. The eighth and last is, an emission of immateriate virtues; such as we are a little doubtful to propound, it is so prodigious; but that it is so constantly avouched by many: and we have set it down as a law to ourselves, to examine things to the bottom; and not to receive upon credit, or reject upon improbabilities, until there hath passed a due examination. This is the sympathy of individuals; for as there is a sympathy of species, so it may be there is a sympathy of individuals: that is, that in things, or the parts of things that have been once contiguous or entire, there should remain a transmission of virtue from the one to the other: as between the weapon and the wound. Whereupon is blazed abroad the operation of unguentum teli: and so of a piece of lard, or stick of elder, &c. that if part of it be consumed or putrified, it will work upon the other part severed. Now we will pursue the instances themselves.

Experiments in consort touching emission of spirits in vapour or exhalation, odour-like.

912. The plague is many times taken without manifest sense, as hath been said. And they report, that where it is found, it hath a scent of the smell of a mellow apple; and, as some say, of May-flowers: and it is also received, that smells of flowers that are mellow and luscious, are ill for the plague; as white lilies, cowslips, and hyacinths.

913. The plague is not easily received by such as continually are about them that have the plague; as keepers of the sick, and physicians; nor again by such as take antidotes, either inward, as mithridate, juniper-berries, rue, leaf and seed, &c. or outward, as angelica, zedoary, and the like, in the mouth; tar, galbanum, and the like in perfume; nor again by old people, and such as are of a dry and cold complexion. On the other side, the plague taketh soonest hold of those that come out of a fresh air, and of those that are fasting, and of children; and it is likewise noted to go in a blood, more than to a stranger.

914. The most pernicious infection, next the plague, is the smell of the jail, when prisoners have been long, and close, and nastily kept; whereof we have had in our time experience twice or thrice j when both the judges that set upon the jail, and numbers of those that attended the business or were present, sickened upon it, and died. Therefore it were good wisdom, that in such cases the jail were aired before they be brought forth.

915. Out of question, if such foul smells be made by art, and by the hand, they consist chiefly of man's flesh or sweat putrified; for they are not those stinks which the nostrils straight abhor and expel, that are most pernicious; but such airs as have some similitude with man's body; and so insinuate themselves, and betray the spirits. There may be great danger in using such compositions, in great meetings of people within houses; as in churches, at arraignments, at plays and solemnities, and the like: for poisoning of air is no less dangerous than poisoning of water, which hath been used by the Turks in the wars, and was used by Emmanuel Comnenus towards the christians, when they passed through his country to the Holy Land. And these impoisonments of air are the more dangerous in meetings of people, because the much breath of people doth farther the reception of the infection; and therefore, where any such thing is

feared, it were good those public places were perfumed, before the assemblies.

916. The empoisonment of particular persons by odours, hath been reported to be in perfumed gloves,

\ or the like: and it is like, they mingle the poison \hat is deadly, with some smells that are sweet, Which also maketh it the sooner received. Plagues also have been raised by anointings of the chinks of doors, and the like; not so much by the touch, as for that it is common for men, when they find any thing wet upon their fingers, to put them to their nose; which men therefore should take heed how they do. The best is, that these compositions of infectious airs cannot be made without danger of death to them that make them. But then again, they may have some antidotes to save themselves; so that men ought not to be secure of it.

917. There have been in divers countries great plagues by the putrefaction of great swarms of grasshoppers and locusts, when they have been dead and cast upon heaps. «

918. It happeneth often in mines, that there are damps which kill, either by suffocation, or by the poisonous nature of the mineral; and those that deal much in refining, or other works about metals and minerals, have their brains hurt and stupified by the metalline vapours. Amongst which it is noted, that the spirits of quicksilver either fly to the skull, teeth, or bones; insomuch as gilders use to have a piece of gold in their mouth, to draw the spirits of the quicksilver; which gold afterwards they find to be whitened. There are also certain lakes and pits, such as that of Avernus, that poison birds, as is _ said, which fly over them, or men that stay too long about them.

919. The vapour of charcoal, or sea-coal, in a close room, hath killed many; and it is the more dangerous, because it cometh without any ill smell, but stealeth on by little and little, inducing only a faintness, without any manifest strangling. When the Dutchmen wintered at Nova Zembla, and that they could gather no more sticks, they fell to make fire of some sea-coal they had, wherewith, at first, they were much refreshed; but a little after they had set about the fire, there grew a general silence and lothness to speak amongst them; and immediately after, one of the weakest of the company fell down in a swoon ; whereupon they doubting what it was, opened their door to let in air, and so saved themselves. The effect, no doubt, is wrought by the inspissation of the air; and so of the breath ami spirits. The like ensueth in rooms newly plaistered, if a fire be made in them; whereof no less man than the emperor Jovinianus died.

920. Vide the experiment 803, touching the infectious nature of the air, upon the first showers, after a long drought.

921. It hath come to pass, that some apothecaries, upon stamping of colloquintida, have been put into a great scouring by the vapour only.

922. It hath been a practice to burn a pepper they call Guinea-pepper, which hath such a strong spirit, that it provoketh a continual sneezing in those that are in the room.

923. It is an ancient tradition, that blear-eyes infect sound eyes; and that a menstruous woman, looking upon a glass, doth rust it: nay, they have an opinion which seemeth fabulous, that menstruous women going over a field or garden, do corn and herbs good by killing the worms.

924. The tradition is no less ancient, that the basilisk killeth by aspect; and that the wolf, if he see a man first, by aspect striketh a man hoarse.

925. Perfumes convenient do dry and strengthen the brain, and stay rheums and defluxions, as we find in fume of rosemary dried, and lignum aloes; and calamus taken at the mouth and nostrils: and no doubt there be other perfumes that do moisten and refresh, and are fit to be used in burning agues, consumptions, and too much wakefulness; such as are rose-water, vinegar, lemon-peels, violets, the leaves of vines sprinkled with a little rose-water, &c.

926. They do use in sudden faintings and swoonings to put a handkerchief with rose-water or a little vinegar to the nose; which gathereth together again the spirits, which are upon point to resolve and fall away.

927. Tobacco comforteth the spirits, and dischargeth weariness, which it worketh partly by opening, but chiefly by the opiate virtue, which condenseth the spirits. It were good therefore to try the taking of fumes by pipes, as they do in tobacco, of other things; as well to dry and comfort, as for other intentions. I wish trial be made of the drying fume of rosemary, and lignum aloes, beforementioned, in pipe; and so of nutmeg, and folium indum, &c.

928. The following of the plough hath been approved for refreshing the spirits and procuring appetite; but to do it in the ploughing for wheat or rye, is not so good, because the earth has spent her sweet breath in vegetables put forth in summer. It is better therefore to do it when you sow barley. But because ploughing is tied to seasons, it is best to take the air of the earth new turned up, by digging with the spade, or standing by him that diggeth. Gentlewomen may do themselves much good by kneeling upon a cushion, and weeding. And these things you may practise in the best seasons; which is ever the early spring, before the earth putteth forth the vegetables, and in the sweetest earth you can choose. It would be done also when the dew is a little off the ground, lest the vapour be too moist. I knew a great man that lived long, who had a clean clod of earth brought to him every morning as he sat in his bed; and he would hold his head over it a good pretty while. I commend also, sometimes, in digging of new earth, to pour in some Malmsey or Greek wine, that the vapour of the earth and wine together may comfort the spirits the more; provided always it be not taken for a heathen sacrifice, or libation to the earth.

29. They have in physic use of pomanders, and knots of powders, for drying of rheums, comforting of the heart, provoking of sleep, &c. For though those things be not so strong as perfumes, yet you may have them continually in your hand; whereas perfumes you can take but at times: and besides, vol- i. o

there be divers things that breathe better of themselves, than when they come to the fire; as nigella romana, the seed of melanthium, amomum, &c.

930. There be two things which, inwardly used, do cool and condense the spirits; and I wish the same to be tried outwardly in vapours. The one is nitre, which I would have dissolved in Malmsey, or Greek wine, and so the smell of the wine taken j or if you would have it more forcible, pour of it upon a firepan, well heated, as they do rose-water and vinegar. The other is the distilled water of wild poppy, which I wish to be mingled, at half, with rose-water, and so taken with some mixture of a few cloves in a perfuming-pan. The like would be done with the distilled water of saffron flowers.

931. Smells of musk, and amber, and civet, are thought to farther venereous appetite; which they may do by the refreshing and calling forth of the spirits.

932. Incense and nidorous smells, such as were of sacrifices, were thought to intoxicate the brain, and to dispose men to devotion: which they may do by a kind of sadness, and contristation of the spirits: and partly also by heating and exalting them. We see that amongst the Jews the principal perfume of the sanctuary was forbidden all common uses.

933. There be some perfumes prescribed by the writers of natural magic, which procure pleasant dreams: and some others, as they say, that procure prophetical dreams j as the seeds of flax, flea-wort, &c.

934. It is certain, that odours do, in a small degree, nourish; especially the odour of wine: and we see men an hungered do love to smell hot bread. It is related that Democritus, when he lay a dying, heard a woman in the house complain, that she should be kept from being at a feast and solemnity, which she much desired to see, because there would be a corpse in the house; whereupon he caused loaves of new bread to be sent for, and opened them, and poured a little wine into them; and so kept himself alive with the odour of them, till the feast was past. I knew a gentleman that would fast, sometimes three or four, yea, five days, without meat, bread, or drink; but the same man used to have continually a great wisp of herbs that he smelled on: and amongst those herbs, some esculent herbs of strong scent j as onions, garlic, leeks, and the like.

935. They do use, for the accident of the mother, to burn feathers and other things of ill odour: and by those ill smells the rising of the mother is put down.

936. There be airs which the physicians advise their patients to remove unto, in consumptions or upon recovery of long sicknesses: which, commonly, are plain champains, but grazing, and not over-grown with heath or the like; or else timber-shades, as in forests, and the like. It is noted also, that groves of bays do forbid pestilent airs; which was accounted a great cause of the wholesome air of Antiochia. There be also some soils that put forth odorate herbs of themselves; as wild thyme, wild marjoram, pennyroyal, camomile; and in which the brier roses smell almost like musk-roses; which, no doubt, are signs that do discover an excellent air.

937. It were good for men to think of having healthful air in their houses; which will never he if the rooms he low roofed, or full of windows and doors; for the one maketh the air close, and not fresh, nnd the other maketh it exceeding unequal; which is a great enemy to health. The windows also should not be high up to the roof, which is in use for beauty and magnificence, but low. Also stonewalls are not wholesome; but timber is more wholesome; and especially brick: nay, it hath been used by some with great success to make their walls thick; and to put a lay of chalk between the bricks, to take away all dampishness.

Experiment solitary touching the emission of spiritual species which affect the senses.

938. These emissions, as we said before, are handled, and ought to be handled by themselves under their proper titles: that is, visibles and audibles, each n part: in this place it shall suffice to give some general observations common to both. First, they seem to be incorporeal. Secondly, they work swiftly. Thirdly, they work at large distances. Fourthly, in curious varieties. Fifthly, they are not effective of any thing; nor leave no work behind them; but are energies merely: for their working upon mirrors and places of echo doth not alter any thing in those bodies; hut it is the same action with the original, only rcpcrcussed. And as for the shaking of windows, or rarifying the air by great noises; and the heat caused by burningglasses, they are rather concomitants of the audible nnd visible species, than the effects of them. Sixthly, they seem to be of so tender and weak a nature, as they affect only such a rare and attenuate substance, as is the spirit of living creatures.

Experiments in consort touching the emission of immateriute virtues from the minds and spirits of men, either by affections, or by imaginations, or by other impressions.

939. It is mentioned in some stories, that where children have been exposed, or taken away young from their parents; and that afterwards they have approached to their parents' presence, the parents, though thoy have not known them, have had a secret joy or other alteration thereupon.

940. There was an ./Egyptian soothsayer, that made Antonius believe, that his genius, which otherwise was brave and confident, was in the presence of Octavianus Ca?sar, poor and cowardly : and therefore he advised him to absent himself as much as he could, and remove far from him. This soothsayer was thought to be suborned by Cleopatra, to make him live in ./Egypt, and other remote places from Rome. Howsoever the conceit of a predominant or mastering spirit of one man over another, is ancient, and received still, even in vulgar opinion.

941. There are conceits, that some men that are of an ill and melancholy nature, do incline the company into which they come to be sad and illdisposed; and cbntrariwise, that others that are of a jovial nature, do dispose the company to be merry iitid cheerful. And again, that some men are lucky

to be kept company with and employed : and others unlucky. Certainly, it is agreeable to reason, that there are at the least some light effluxions from spirit to spirit, when men are in presence one with another, as well as from body to body.

942. It hath been observed, that old men who have loved young company, and been conversant continually with them, have been of long life ; their spirits, as it seemeth, being recreated by such company. Such were the ancient sophists and rhetoricians; which ever had young auditors and disciples; as Gorgias, Protagoras, Isocrates, &c. who lived till they were a hundred years old. And so likewise did many of the grammarians and schoolmasters; such as was Orbilius, &c.

943. Audacity and confidence doth, in civil business, so great effects, as a man may reasonably doubt, that besides the very daring, and earnestness, and persisting, and importunity, there should be some secret binding, and stooping of other men's spirits to such persons.

944. The affections, no doubt, do make the spirits more powerful and active; and especially those affections which draw the spirits into the eyes: which are two; love, and envy, which is called oculus mains. As for love, the Platonists, some of them, go so far as to hold that the spirit of the lover doth pass into the spirits of the person loved; which causeth the desire of return into the body whence it was emitted: whereupon followeth that appetite of contact and conjunction which is in lovers. And this is observed likewise, that the aspects which procure love, are not gazings, but sudden glances and darlings of the eye. As for envy, that emitteth some malign and poisonous spirit, which taketh hold of the spirit of another; and is likewise of greatest force when the cast of the eye is oblique. It hath been noted also, that it is most dangerous when an envious eye is east upon persons in glory, and triumph, and joy. The reason whereof is, for that at such times the spirits come forth most into the outward parts, and so meet the percussion of the envious eye more at hand: and therefore it hath been noted, that after great triumphs, men have been ill-disposed for some days following. We see the opinion of fascination is ancient, for both effects; of procuring love; and sickness caused by envy: and fascination is ever by the eye. But yet if there be any such infection from spirit to spirit, there is no doubt but that it worketh by presence, and not by the eye alone; yet most forcibly by the eye.

945. Fear and shame are likewise infective; for we see that the starting of one will make another ready to start: and when one man is out of countenance in a company, others do likewise blush in his behalf.

Now we will speak of the force of imagination upon other bodies; and of the means to exalt and strengthen it. Imagination, in this place, I understand to be, the representation of an individual thought. Imagination is of three kinds: the first joined with belief of that which is to come; the

« PreviousContinue »