Chapter 14

Jointed instances


18. The instances of the road or the itinerant and jointed instances

41 These indicate the gradually continued motions of nature.

This[225] species of instances escapes our observation than our senses.

Men are wonderfully indolent on this.

They consult nature in a desultory manner, and at periodic intervals, when bodies have been regularly finished and completed, and not during her work.

Anyone who wanted to examine the talents of an artificer should see him working.

This should be done with nature.

For instance, the first sowing of any seed then:

  • how and when the it begins to swell and break and be filled with spirit
  • how it begins to burst the bark and push out fibres raising itself slowly
  • how it pushes out these fibres, some downward for roots, others upward for the stem, sometimes also creeping laterally,
  • etc

The same should be done in observing the hatching of eggs in:

  • the process of animation and organization,
  • and what parts are formed of the yolk, and what of the white of the egg, and the like. The same may be said of the inquiry into the formation of animals from putrefaction; for it would not be so humane to inquire into perfect and terrestrial animals, by cutting the fœtus from the womb; but opportunities may perhaps be offered of abortions, animals killed in hunting, and the like. Nature, therefore, must, as it were, be watched, as being[226] more easily observed by night than by day: for contemplations of this kind may be considered as carried on by night, from the minuteness and perpetual burning of our watch-light.

The same must be attempted with inanimate objects, which we have ourselves done by inquiring into the opening of liquids by fire. For the mode in which water expands is different from that observed in wine, vinegar, or verjuice, and very different, again, from that observed in milk and oil, and the like; and this was easily seen by boiling them with slow heat, in a glass vessel, through which the whole may be clearly perceived. But we merely mention this, intending to treat of it more at large and more closely when we come to the discovery of the latent process; for it should always be remembered that we do not here treat of things themselves, but merely propose examples.[142]

19. Instances of refuge or supplementary or substitutive instances

42 These supply information, where the senses are entirely deficient, and we therefore have recourse to them when appropriate instances cannot be obtained.

This substitution is[227] twofold, either by:

  • approximation or
  • analogy.

There is no known medium which entirely prevents the effect of the magnet in attracting iron—neither gold, nor silver, nor stone, nor glass, wood, water, oil, cloth, or fibrous bodies, air, flame, or the like. Yet by accurate experiment, a medium may perhaps be found which would deaden its effect, more than another comparatively and in degree; as, for instance, the magnet would not perhaps attract iron through the same thickness of gold as of air, or the same quantity of ignited as of cold silver, and so on; for we have not ourselves made the experiment, but it will suffice as an example. Again, there is no known body which is not susceptible of heat, when brought near the fire; yet air becomes warm much sooner than stone. These are examples of substitution by approximation.

Substitution by analogy is useful, but less sure, and therefore to be adopted with some judgment. It serves to reduce that which is not the object of the senses to their sphere, not by the perceptible operations of the imperceptible body, but by the consideration of some similar perceptible body. For instance, let the subject for inquiry be the mixture of spirits, which are invisible bodies. There appears to be some relation between bodies and their sources or support. Now, the source of flame seems to be oil and fat; that of air, water, and watery substances; for flame increases over the exhalation of oil, and air over that of water. One must therefore consider the mixture of oil and water, which is manifest to the senses, since that of air and flame in general escapes the senses. But oil and water mix very imperfectly by composition or stirring, while they are exactly and nicely mixed in herbs, blood, and the parts of animals. Something similar, therefore, may take place in[228] the mixture of flame and air in spirituous substances, not bearing mixture very well by simple collision, while they appear, however, to be well mixed in the spirits of plants and animals.

Again, if the inquiry do not relate to perfect mixtures of spirits, but merely to their composition, as whether they easily incorporate with each other, or there be rather (as an example) certain winds and exhalations, or other spiritual bodies, which do not mix with common air, but only adhere to and float in it in globules and drops, and are rather broken and pounded by the air, than received into, and incorporated with it; this cannot be perceived in common air, and other aëriform substances, on account of the rarity of the bodies, but an image, as it were, of this process may be conceived in such liquids as quicksilver, oil, water, and even air, when broken and dissipated it ascends in small portions through water, and also in the thicker kinds of smoke; lastly, in dust, raised and remaining in the air, in all of which there is no incorporation: and the above representation in this respect is not a bad one, if it be first diligently investigated, whether there can be such a difference of nature between spirituous substances, as between liquids, for then these images might conveniently be substituted by analogy.

And although we have observed of these supplementary instances, that information is to be derived from them, when appropriate instances are wanting, by way of refuge, yet we would have it understood, that they are also of great use, when the appropriate instances are at hand, in order to confirm the information afforded by them; of which we will speak more at length, when our subject leads us, in due course, to the support of induction.

20. Twitching instances or Lancing instances or the instances of Democritus

43 These they twitch the understanding and lance or pierce nature. This is also why we call them occasionally the instances of Democritus.[143]

These warn the understanding of the admirable and exquisite subtilty of nature, so that it becomes roused and awakened to attention, observation, and proper inquiry.

For example, a little drop of ink being drawn out into so many letters.

; that silver merely gilt on its surface should be stretched to such a length of gilt wire;

that a little worm, such as you may find on the skin, should possess both a spirit and a varied conformation of its parts;

that a little saffron should imbue a whole tub of water with its color; that a little musk or aroma should imbue a much greater extent of air with its perfume;

that a cloud of smoke should be raised by a little incense;

that such accurate differences of sounds as articulate words should be conveyed in all directions through the air, and even penetrate the pores of wood and water (though they become much weakened),

that they should be, moreover, reflected, and that with such distinctness and velocity;

that light and color should for such an extent and so rapidly pass through solid bodies, such as glass and water, with so great and so exquisite a variety of images, and should be refracted and reflected; that the magnet should attract through every description of body, even the most compact;

In all these cases, the action of one should not impede that of another in a common[230] medium, such as air;

that there should be borne through the air, at the same time, so many images of visible objects, so many impulses of articulation, so many different perfumes, as of the violet, rose, etc., besides cold and heat, and magnetic attractions; all of them, I say, at once, without any impediment from each other, as if each had its paths and peculiar passage set apart for it, without infringing against or meeting each other.

To these lancing instances, however, we are wont, not without some advantage, to add those which we call the limits of such instances.

Thus, in the cases we have pointed out, one action does not disturb or impede another of a different nature, yet those of a similar nature subdue and extinguish each other; as the light of the sun does that of the candle, the sound of a cannon that of the voice, a strong perfume a more delicate one, a powerful heat a more gentle one, a plate of iron between the magnet and other iron the effect of the magnet. But the proper place for mentioning these will be also among the supports of induction.

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