Department of History
University of California, Irvine
 Instructor:    Dr. Barbara J. Becker


Week 4.  Sensation

 excerpts from
A Philosophical Essay... (1672)
by Dr. Thomas Sherley (1638-1678)

3 of 3: Sections 5 & 8


Section the Fifth.

THat Vegetables are nourished by water, will plainly appear from hence, that no Plants do either grow, or increase without the assistance of water; either by the way of Rain, or Dew, or else by the overflowing of some Spring, or River; for if they be destitute of water, they dye, and wither.

And it is commonly known, that the tops of Rosemary, Marjoram, Mint, Baume, Penny-ryal, Crows-foot, and many other Plants, will thrive, flourish, and grow to a large Bulk [without being Planted in the Earth,] if they be only put into a Glass with fair water in it; into which they will shoot out springy Roots, and from whence they will gather sufficient Nourishment to become large Plants.

To confirm which I shall relate a couple of very remarkable passages; the one borrowed from that honourable Philosopher, Mr. Boyl; the other from that Learned Naturalist, Helmont.

Mr. Boyl tells us, that he caused a certain quantity of Earth to be digged up, baked in an Oven, and weighed; and then put into an Earthen Pot, in the which he set the seed of a Squash, which grew very fast, [though planted too late, viz. in the Moneth of May] it being watered only with Spring, or Rain-water:  in October [by reason of the approaching Winter] he caused it to be taken up, and the weight of it, with its stalk, and leaves, was found to be two pounds, twelve Ounces; and the Earth [in which it grew] being baked as before, it was found to be exactly the same weight.

Helmont's Relation is this:  He took, he saith, two hundred pounds weight of Earth, which was dryed in an Oven, and putting it into an Earthen Pot, he moystened it with Rain-water, and in it he Planted the trunck of a Willow-Tree, which weighed five pounds, [covering the Pot with an Iron cover, which had a hole for the Tree to grow out at,] and at the end of five years, he took up the Tree, and found it to weigh one hundred sixty nine pound, three Ounces; and the Earth being dryed, was of the same weight as at first.

Now if this be throughly consider'd, from what can we possibly suppose, the bulk of the Swash, and this great addition of 164. pounds weight to the Tree, did proceed but from meer water; there being nothing else added to either of them? and no doubt, Nature observeth the same course in producing all other Vegetables; whether springing up from their innate Seeds, or transplanted into other soyls:  for the Earth is only a Receptacle to receive the seeds of things, [and to sustain the weight of Minerals, Animals, and Vegetables:  which Seeds conceive in the water; where they beget themselves Bodies, and from which all Plants arise; and by the power of the Architectonick Spirit of the seed, fermenting the particles of water, do proceed the stalks, wood, leaves, flowers, fruit, grain, [or Casket of the real seed] as also the Colours, Odors, Tastes, and all the specificate qualities of the Plant, according to the Idea wrapt up in the bosom of the seed.  Animals also are nourished by water; some immediately, others mediately.

Immediately, from meer water, as Salmon, Sturgeon, and several other sorts of Fish, in whose stomacks no food, that I know of, was ever yet found.  And to confirm this; Rondeletius {French physician and naturalist, Guillaume Rondelet (1507-1566)} [an Author of good credit] affirms, that his Wife kept a Fish in a large glass, and fed it with nothing but water [so long] till it grew so big, that it could no longer be contained in the glass; which they were forced to break to get it out.

Those living Creatures that are nourished immediately by water and Vegetables, are most sort of Cattel proper for food; so that in these Beasts, which feed upon Corn, Grass, and other Herbs, [which are really but water, once removed from its primitive simplicity by the power of Seeds,] water is a second time transmuted, by the Ferment of a Beasts stomack, by which it is changed into Chyle, Blood, Milk, Urine, Flesh, Bones, Fat, Sinews, &c. and all these different one from another, according to the species of the Beasts that feed upon them.

Now these Creatures, and their parts [as the flesh and milk of beasts] serve for food to those Animals that are nourished mediately from water; such are Men, and divers Wild beasts, who live upon the flesh, milk, and blood of Cattel, and by the Ferments of whose stomacks these things are again Transmuted into another kind of Chyle, blood, flesh, bones, milk, Urine, &c. which juices of our bodies are still but water, disguised by the operation of different feeds, and Ferments; which is quickly discovered by distilling them: for, if our blood be distilled, five or six parts of seven will rise in Phlegm [which is easily reducible into simple water, as we have shewed in the last Section before this.]

Nay, the sperm of Man [by which we propagate our selves;] is nothing but water [Originally] altered by the several Ferments of the body, and circulated in the seminal Vessels.

Upon this Subject there is much good matter to be found in that ingenious man, Simpson {late-17th century English physician and alchemist, William Simpson (fl. 1669-1679)}, in his Hydrologia {1669}.

It now remains, that we prove the growth, and nourishment of Metals and stones from water:  which that we may the better do, I think it necessary, in the first place, to discover, whether they do really grow, and increase or no; for some men believe, that God Created them at first, when he formed the world; but that since they do neither grow, nor increase: which error we shall endeavour to confute by several good Observations, taken from approved Authors.

Almost all the Mystical Chymists have handled this point so obscurely, that though they have asserted, that metals and stones do grow and increase, and that they are generated from a seminal principle; yet have they proved nothing clearly; but left it as a principle to be granted, without any further dispute.

'Tis a known truth in Cornwall, that after all the Tin, that could be found in a Mine, hath been taken out, and theMine filled up with Earth; yet within thirty years they have opened them again, and found more Tin generated:  of which Dr. Jordan doth take notice also, and in the above-cited place he sayes thus:

The like hath been observed in Iron, as Gandentius Merula {Italian physician and alchemist Gaudenzio Merula (1500-1550)} Reports of Ilna {?}, an Island in the Adriatick Sea, under the Venetians, where Iron is bred continually, as fast as they can work it; which is confirmed also by Agricola, and Baccius {Italian physician and naturalist, Andrea Bacci (1524-1600)}The like we reade of at Saga in Lygiis, where they dig over their Mines every ten years.

And of Ilna it is remembred by Virgil, who saith, Ilnaque inexhaustis Chalybum generosa metallis.  {Book X, line 174 of Virgil's Aeneiad reads:  insula inexhaustis Chalybum generosa metallis (an isle renown'd for steel, and unexhausted mines.)  The insula (isle) being referred to is Ilva (Elba) which is located in the Mediterranean Sea off the Tuscan coast was indeed known in ancient times for its productive and seemingly inexhaustible iron mines.} 

John Mathesius {German clergyman and mineral collector, Johannes Mathesius (1504-1565)} giveth us Examples of almost all sorts of Minerals, and Metals, which he had observed to grow, and regenerate.  The like Examples you may find in Leonardus Thurnisserus; Erastus affirms, that he did see in St. Joachim's Dale, Silver grow upon a Beam of wood, which was placed in the Pit to support the work; and when it was rotten, the Work-men coming to set new Timber in the place, found the Silver sticking to the Old Beam.  Also he reports, that in Germany there hath been unripe, and unconcocted silver found in Mines, which the best Workmen affirmed would become Silver in less than thirty years.  The like Modestinus {German alchemist Modestin Fachs (fl. 1567)}, Fucchius {German physician and botanist Leonhardt Fuchs (1501-1566)?}, and Mathesius, affirm, of unripe, and liquid Silver; which when the Workmen find, they use to say, we are come too soon.

And Rulandus saith [speaking of Silver that is to be found Naturally purified in the Mine;] ... And this pure Silver doth embrace the Stone with most fine Plates; it sometimes also doth bear the shope of hair, sometimes of little twiggs, sometimes of a Globe, as though wrap'd about with thred, white, or red; sometimes it appeareth in the shape of a Tree, Mountain, Instrument, Herbs, and of other things.

Mr. Boyl tells us from Gerrhardus, thus.... 

In the Vale of Joachim, Dr. Shreter {Austrian-born German mercantilist and alchemist, Baron Wilhelm von Schröder (1640-1688)} is a witness, that Silver, in the manner of Grass, had grown out of the stones of the Mine, as from a Root, the length of a finger; who hath shewed these veins, very pleasant to behold, and admirable, at his own House, and given of them to others.

And to shew you, that Metals do grow even like Vegetables, it is very remarkable what is quoted by Webster, out of Peter Martyr {Italian-born chronicler of Spanish exploits in the New World, Peter Martyr d'Anghiera (1457-1526)}, Councellour to the Emperour Charles the Fifth, in these words: 

They have found by Experience, that the Vein of Gold is a Living Tree, and that the same by all wayes spreadeth, and springeth from the Root, by the soft pores and passages of the Earth, putteth forth branches even to the uppermost part of the Earth; and ceaseth not till it discover it self to the open Air; at which time it sheweth forth certain beautiful colours in the stead of flowers:  round stones of Golden Earth, instead of fruit, and thin Plates in stead of leaves:  These are they which are dispersed through the whole Island [he is speaking of Hispaniola] by the course of the Rivers, Eruptions of the Springs out of the Mountains, and other falls of the Floods:  for they think, such grains are not ingendered where they are gathered, especially on the dry Land, but otherwise in the Rivers.  They say, that the root of the Golden Tree extendeth to the Centre of the Earth, and there taketh nourishment of increase; for the deeper that they digg, they find the trunck the bigger, as far as they may follow it for abundance of water, springing in the Mountains:  of the branches of this Tree, they find some as small as a thread, and others as big as a mans finger, according to the largeness, or streightness of the Rifts, and Clefts; they have sometimes lighted upon whole Caves, sustained, and born up, as it were, by Golden Pillars, and this in the way by which the branches ascend: the which being filled with the substance of the Trunck, creeping from beneath the branch, maketh it self way, by which it may pass out.  It is oftentimes divided by incountring with some kind of hard stone; yet is it in other Clefts nourished by the exhalations and Virtue of the Root.

To which I might add what Fallopius saith of Sulphur, [viz.] ...: 

For there are places, from whence if this Year the Sulphur be digged out, and forbearing to dig, by the space of four years, the Mine-men return, and find them all full of Sulphur, as before.

And that Salt-Petre groweth, and increaseth, our common Salt-Petremen will justifie; for after they have extracted all the Salt that they can get out of the Earth that yieldeth it, in two or three years after, they work the same Earth [which for that purpose they carefully lay up] over again; and it yields them a considerable quantity of Salt-Petre, as before.

And concerning Table-Salt, Matthias Untzerus {German physician and chemist, Matthias Unzer (1581-1624)} produceth many Testimonies from credible Authors, that besides that which is made of Salt-Springs, there are in Spain, the Indies, and divers other parts of the World, large Mountains of Salt, which as fast as they can be digg'd, grow again, and are quickly filled with Salt.

And for Lead, [besides what Galen observeth of its increase, both in bulk, and weight, by being kept in a damp Cellar,] Boccatius Certaldus, as he is cited by Mr. Boyl, saith thus of its growth:  Fesularum Mons, &c. Of the Mountain of Fesula, a Village near Florence, that it hath Lead-stones; which if they be digg'd up, yet in a short space of time they will be supplied afresh, and generated anew.  I might instance in many more particulars, but I think these sufficient.

That Stones do grow, and are made since the Creation, every mans Observations will sufficiently acquaint him:  And the Histories cited in the first Section of this Discourse do confirm; and that they are nourished by water, is apparent from the Scituation of Rocks in the Sea, the production of Pebbles in the bottom of Rivers, and that both Mountains, and also gravelly places, are never destitute, or unaccompanied of Springs and Rivulets.

And Paracelsus, I remember [somewhere] giveth us this Experiment, to prove that stones do grow, and are nourished by water; viz. that if a Flint, or Pebble be put in a glass Vessel, and Rain, or Spring-water put upon it, and distilled from it, if this be often repeated, it will cause the stones to grow so bigg, that at last it will fill up the Glass that contained it.

That Metals, and Minerals are nourished by water, is more than probable from hence, that no considerable Mines are found without a great conflux of waters; which the Work-men are forced to make drains and Pumps to carry away, that they may work dry.

And there is an Experiment, written by Monsieur De Rochas {French physician, Henri de Rochas (fl. 1620-1640)} [a considerable French Author, and Transcribed from him by the Honourable, Mr. Boyl] which I shall here insert. 

Having [saith he] discerned such great wonders by the Natural Operation of water, I would know what might be done with it by Art, imitating Nature; wherefore I took water which I well knew not to be compounded with any other thing than the Spirit of Life; and with a heat artificial, continual, and proportionate, I prepared it, and disposed it, by graduations of Coagulation, Congelation, and Fixation, untill it was turned into Earth; which Earth produced Animals, Vegetables, and Minerals:  The Animals did eat, move of themselves, &c. and by the true Anatomy I made of them, I found they were composed of much Sulphur, little Mercury, and less Salt:  the Minerals began to grow, and increase, by converting into their own Nature one part of the Earth; they were solid, and heavy; and by this truly demonstrative Science, namely, Chymistry, I found they were composed of much Salt, little Sulphur, and less Mercury.

According to this Experiment, Minerals were Generated out of, and nourished by water.

From what hath been related, both in this and the fore-going Section, concerning the growth, increase, and Vegetability both of Metals, Minerals, and Stones; as also concerning those Mineral, Metalline, and stony juices, called Gur, [or Bur] Soap-coal, and the Medulla Lapidis, &c. I think it will appear, that both Metals, and Stones, are made, do grow, and are nourished, daily, and at this time; and that from water, of which they were at first made, by the power of their Seeds:  And this is the reason, that Metals, and Mines are now usually found in those places where for many Years before there were; as both Sandivogius, and Helmont assure us ...: 

From hence it is come to pass, that Minerals may be found in places, where before a thousand years since, there have been none.  And Helmont, thus:... For places which have wanted [or had no] Mines in times past, will in their own time, their Seed being ripened, restore Usury, equal to the richer sort [of Mines] because the Roots, or Mineral Ferments, are seated immediately in the place; and their full time being come, they [pant] or breathe without [weariness] or loathing:  and when it hath gained a compleat Seed, then the Gas which is seated in the water of that place, receiveth that seed of the place, which afterwards begets the Sulphur of the water with Child; condenseth the water, and by degrees turneth, or transplants it into a Mineral water.

And, to conclude this Section, I will give you the Judgment of that great Naturalist, Helmont, by way of confirmation; because I find him exactly to correspond with all that I have hitherto delivered.

His words are these, which you shall find in his Imago Fermenti; which because they are long, I will only give you their sence in English[:] 

And indeed because the Schools have been unacquainted with Ferments, they have also been ignorant, that solid Bodies are framed only of water, and Ferment:  for I have taught, that Vegetables, and Grain, and whatsoever Bodies are nourished by them, do proceed only from water:  for the Fisher-man never found any food in the stomack of a Salmon; if therefore the Salmon be made of water only, [even that of Rivers,] he is also nourished by it.  So the Sturgeon wants a mouth, and appeareth only with a little hole below in his Throat, whereby the whole fish draweth nothing besides water.  Therefore every Fish is nourished, and made of water, if not immediately, yet at least by Seeds, and Ferments, if the water be impregnat therewith.  From the Salt Sea every fresh Fish is drawn; therefore the Ferment [of the Fish] turneth Salt into no Salt, or at least water into it self.  Lastly, Shell-fish do form to themselves stony shells of water, in stead of Bones; even as also all kind of snails do; and Sea-Salt, which scarce yieldeth to the force of a very strong fire, groweth sweet by the Ferment in Fishes; and their flesh becometh volatile:  for, at the time of distributing the nourishment, it is wholly dissipated, without a residence, or dreg.  So also Salt passeth over into its Original Element of water; and the Sea, though it receive salt Streams, yet is not every day increased in saltness.  So the most unmixed, and most purest water, under the Equinoctial Line becometh hory, and stinketh:  strait-way it getteth the colour of a half burnt brick, then it is greenish, then red, and quaketh very remarkably, which afterwards of its own accord returns to it self again:  truly this cometh to pass by reason of the conceived Ferment of that place, which being consumed, all these appearances cease.  So the most pure Fountain-water groweth filthy, through the musty Ferment of the Vessel; it conceiveth worms, breedeth Gnats, and is covered with a skin.  Fenns putrifie from the bottom, and hence arise Frogs, Shell-fish, Snails, Horse-leaches, Herbs, &c. also swiming Herbs do cover the water, being contented with drinking only of this putrid water.  And even as stones are from Fountains wherein a stony Seed exists; So the Earth stinking with Metallick Ferments, doth make out of water, a Metalline, or Mineral Bur; but the water being in other places shut up in the Earth, if it be nigh the Air, and stirred up with a little heat, it putrifieth by continuance, and is no longer water, but the juice Leffas of Plants; by the force of which hory Ferment, a Power is conferred on the Earth of budding forth Herbs.  For that putrifying juice by the prick of a little heat doth ascend in smoak, becomes spungy, and is compassed with a skin, because the ferments therein hid require it.  Therefore that putrefaction hath the office of a Ferment, and the Virtue of a Seed, and by degrees it obtaineth some measure of Life, and hasteneth by the Virtue of its Seeds into the Nature of Archeuss.  Therefore this putrid juice of the Earth, is Leffas:  from whence springs every Plant not having visible seed, which nevertheless bring forth seeds, according to their destinations.  Therefore there are as many rank, putrid, musty smells, as there are proper savours of things.  For Odors are not only the Messengers of Savours, but also their promiscuous Parents.  The smoak Leffas being now comprest together, doth first grow pale, then somewhat yellowish, and presently after is of a whitish green colour, and at last fully green.  And the power of the several species being unfolded, it gains divers marks, and different colours:  in which course it imitates the Example of the water under the Equinoctial Line.  Yet in this it differs, that those waters have borrowed too Spiritual and volatile a Ferment from the Stars, and place, without a Corporal hory putrefaction; and therefore through their too frail Seed they presently return into themselves.  But Leffas is constrained to finish the Act, [and obey the Power] of the Conceived Seed.  Therefore Rain Conceiving a hory Ferment, is made Leffas, and is sucked in by the lustfull Roots:  'Tis experienced also, that within this Kitchin [of the Root] there is a new hory putrefaction produced by the Ferment which is Tenant there; by and by it is brought from thence to the Bark [which is as it were the Liver of the Plant,] where it is inriched with a new Ferment of that part, and is made a Herby, or Woody juice; and at length it being come to Maturity, it is made Wood, an Herb, or becometh Fruit.  If the Arm, or Stem of a Tree shall be putrefied under the Earth, then the Bark or Rinde becometh dry, and cleaveth assunder, and sendeth forth a smoak by its own Ferment, which in the beginning is spungy, but at length hardens into a true Root:  and so Planted Branches become Trees by the abridgment of Art.

Therefore it is now evident, there is no mixture of Elements, and that all Bodies primitively, and materially are made of water, by the help of Seeds, and their Ferments; and that the Seeds being worn out, and exhausted by Acting, all Bodies do at length return into their Ancient principle of water:  yea, that Ferments do sometimes work more strongly than fire, because that fire can turn great stones into Lime, and burn wood into ashes, but there it stops; but notwithstanding, if they shall assume a Ferment in the Earth, they return into the juice of Leffas, and at last into simple water.  For Stones, and Bricks, do of their own accord decline into Saltpetre.  Lastly, Glass which is unconquered by the fire, and uncorrupted by the Air, in a few years putrifieth by continuance [in the Earth] and undergoes the Laws of Nature, &c.

Having now gone through the two first Arguments, by which I proposed to prove the Doctrine I have asserted, which Arguments were grounded on two generally received and allowed Axioms, [viz.] Those things which are the last in the resolving, [or retexing] of a Body, the same are found to be the first in its composition.  Secondly, we are nourished by those things of which we are made, [or consist.]  And having, I hope, sufficiently proved by both of them, that Water is the Original Matter, and Seeds the Efficients of all Bodies; I am now come to the third, and last Argument, which was to shew, and prove a necesssity of all Bodies being formed out of water; because neither the four Elements of the Aristotelians, nor the three Principles of the Old Chymists, no, not yet the five of the Modern Chymists, can possibly concur to the constituting of Bodies, as either their Primary Matter, or Efficient; they being themselves but great disguised Schemes of one and the same Catholick Matter, Water, from whence they themselves were made; and into which they are ultimately to be resolved, and uniformly to be reduced....

Section the Eighth.

...But to return from whence I digressed, I shall in short say thus much of the ... manner how the Ideas and Seeds do work upon Matter, and form themselves Bodies; which they perform on this manner:

First, by their Fermentative faculty, [or Springy power] they put the Body of the water into a peculiar sort of motion, by which they congregate those particles, which are most agreeable to their design, and consequently fittest to adhere, and stick to each other.

Secondly, they break the rest into convenient shapes, and Sizes:

And Thirdly, by this motion they also put these particles into commodious Postures, and Scituations amongst themselves, and by these means frame themselves Bodies, exactly correspondent to their own præconceived Figures....

Thus then, I hope, I have proved, that I am of the same Judgement with the Antientest, and best Philosophers; viz. that there is but two Principles of all things, Efficients, and Matter; Seeds, and Water.

And now having cleared the Doctrine proposed; I intend in the last place, to inquire, How those Transmutations of different Bodies into Stone, the Historyes of which you will find set down in the first Section of this discourse, were performed:  upon which, I will only Touch, and so Conclude.

It is the Opinion of some Men, that the change of Leaves, Mosse, Wood, Leather, and other Substances, into Stone, [wrought by those Petrifying Waters, and Caves, I have mentioned in the first Section of this Essay] are no real Transmutations of those Bodies into Stone, by the Operation of a Petrifying Seed; but that they are nothing else, but the apposition of certain small Stony Particles, hid in the Water, to those Bodies immersed in them; and that by this means they become Crusted over with a stony Coat or Bark, and so they become increased both in Bulk, and Weight, by continual addition.  But if this were so, then indeed the Leaves, Wood, &c. cast into these Waters, would not be really transchanged into perfect Stony Nature; but only seemingly so.

Nevertheless, if we look warily into the thing, we shall have Cause to believe, that there is, not only an Aggregation of these small Stony particles, and an incrustation upon the outside of those things put into the Water; but even that the smallest Atomes of the Wood, Leather, &c. are really Petrifyed; in so much, that we can discern them to be no other then Stones, not only by our Eyes alone, but by them assisted with the best Microscopes.  Nor if they be examined by the Fire, will they make any other Confession:  For they will not burn like Wood, but calcine like Stones; and though great peices of Wood, and Trees, will not be so soon converted into Stone, as Twiggs, Leaves, or Moss, are; yet by continuance of Time, great bulkes of Wood will be Stonifyed totally, both within, and without; so that by these kind of Waters, bodies are not only Crusted over with stone, but the Wood, Leaves, &c. are really and truly changed into Stone.  I do not deny, but that there may be an affixing of some stony Corpuscles Latent in these Waters, which may increase both the bulk and weight of those things Changed by them; but that this is all, that I deny.

For, if so, then those Bodies thus changed, would not be altered into a true Stony Nature, per minima, and in their smallest parts, internally, as Experience shews they are; and though the Explicating, how this Change is Wrought, is somewhat difficult, yet in all probability it is thus.

The Saxeous, or Rocky Seed, contained in these Waters, [which is so fine, and subtile a Vapour, that it is Invisible; as I have before shewed all true Seedes are,] doth penetrate those Bodies which come within the Sphere of its Activity; and by reason of its Subtilty, passeth through the pores of the Wood, or other Body, to be changed:  by which permeating those Bodies, it doth these four things:

First, it Extruds the Globuli Aetherei [as the Cartesians Phrase it] or the Airy Particles Lodged in their pores:

Secondly, it puts the Particles of those Bodies into a new and different motion, from that they were in before; by which meanes they become broken into Figures, and Sizes, and obtain new and convenient Situations.

Thirdly it intangleth and Lodgeth it self intimately amongst the smallest parts of those Bodies; by which meanes their parts being drawn closer together, they obtain a greater Weight and Solidity:

And lastly, it Acts as a Ferment, and by reason of its Contiguity, and Touch with every small part of the matter it doth, as Leaven useth to do, [though mixed with a much greater quantity of Dough, then it self] Convert the whole into its own Nature.

So also this Stonifying Seed, by its operating Ferment, doth transchange every particle of the matter it is joyned unto, into perfect Stone; according to its Idea or Image, Connatural with it self.

As to those Conversions of Animals into Stone, related in ... the first Section of this Essay; they also are wrought by the same powerful Operations of a petressent Seed or vapour; and by the same Circumstances, and Contrivances: which sheweth, that the strength and Power of a Petrifying Seed is above, and beyond all other:  For, other sorts of Seeds do require, that the subject matter be reduced into a sequatious juice, or obedient Liquor, and Consequently doth require, that the Figure, and Shape of the precedent Concrete be destroyed, or else they cannot Act.  But the Petrifying Seed, the Human, or other Living Cretures Figure being still intire, without any intervening putrefaction, or dissolution of the matter, doth transchange ... the whole, throughout the whole; that is, as well the Bones, as the Blood, and Skin:  So that here is not an incrustation of the Stony matter upon the External parts, [only] but a real change, intrinsically, and throughout, of the Bony, Fleshy, and Sinnewy parts of the Animal into a stony Substance.

By the same operations Water it self is converted into Stone, [viz. by, the power of Petrifying Seeds] as we may see [in] the first Section:  As also doth appear by the Relation of those that have seen those Famous Grots in France, called, Les Caves Goutieres, where the Drops falling from the top of the Cave, doth [even in its falling] coagulate before your eyes into little Stones.  Now this Transmutation of Water into Stone, by a Petrescent Seed, is not only much more usual, than the change of other Substances is, but also much Easier:  For Water is a Primary, simple, liquid, tremulous Body, consisting of very minute parts, already in Motion, and therefore readily obeying the Command of all sorts of Seedes.

Nature is uniforme in her manner of produceing Bodies, and therefore, as I have demonstrated in the body of this Discourse, as she usually, nay constantly produceth, both Animals, Vegetables, and Mettals, from liquid Principles, viz. Water, so doth she most commonly Stones; which before their becomming such hard Bodies, ... their matter was in a loose, open, and fluid Forme:  And, as I have shewed, the Spiritual Seedes of Vigetables, do assimilate, and change Water, into Mint, Rosemary, &c. According to the diverse Ideas, and characters of their peculiar Kindes; so also the Stony Seedes, do form themselves Bodies out of Water; and these of very different Figures, Compaction, and Colours; and this is done sometimes suddenly, sometimes slowly, and by length of time:  Now, the difference of compaction, and hardness, that we find in Stones, as also their sudden or slow Coagulation, depends chiefely upon the plenty, or paucity of the stony Seed, or Spirit, in respect to the quantity of the matter to be wrought upon, and changed by it.  But the difference of the Figure, is chiefely to be referred to the peculiar Nature of the Seed, and its Idea; [as we see in Christals, and other Stones, which have a determinate Figure:]  and sometimes it is to be referred to the vessel, or place, containing the Water, or other Liquor, before its conversion into Stone, And for the Colour, that is also chiefely caused by the operation of the peculiar sort of stony Seed; which in its working upon the Water, hath given it a determinate Texture, and superficies; by which it reflects and modifies the Light, after a peculiar manner.  But sometimes it is to be referred also to the Waters being impregnated with the Tinctures of some Mineral or Mettallin Bodies, before its coagulation.  As Granets containe the Tincture of Iron in them; and therefore are drawn by the Loadstone.

But to put it out of all doubt, that Stones were at first Water; [or at least, some Liquid Matter] I will Cite a passage or two out of the Works of my often mentioned, Honourable Friend, Mr. Boyle.  His words are these:

And here I will Confess further, that I have oftentimes doubted, whether or no not only Consistent Bodyes, but some of the most Solid Ones in the World, may not have been Fluid in the form, either of Steemes, or Liquors, before their Coalition and their Concretion either into Stones, or other Mineral Bodies.

And then speaking of the Opinion of some Men, who will have it, that Stones, and Mettals, [were indeed Created at the beginning of the World by God, but that since they] are neither Made, nor do Grow, and increase:  He further saies [viz. that they were once in a fluid forme] thus:

Of this, besides what we elsewhere deliver Concerning it, we shall anon have Occasion to mention some Proofs; and therefore we shall now only mention two or three instances:  the first whereof shall be, that we saw, among the rarities of a Person, exceedingly Curious of them, a Stone flat on the outside, on one of whose internal surfaces was most Lively Ingraven, the Figure of a small Fish, with all the Finns, Scales, &c. which was affirmed to have been inclosed in the Body of ... that Stone, and to have been accidentally discovered, when the Stone chancing to receive a rude Knock upon its Edge, split a sunder.  I Remember also that a while since a House-keeper of mine in the Countrey informed me, that whilest a little before, he Caused in my absence one of my Walls to be repaired; the Mason, I was wont to imploy, Casually breaking a Stone, to make use of it about the Building, found in it [to his Wonder] a peece of Wood, that seemed part of the branch of some Tree, and Consequently was afterwards inclosed with that solid Case wherein he found it.  This Example seemes to me a more cogent Proof of the increase of Stones, then some others, that Eminent Naturalists much rely on, for reasons discoursed of in an other place.

And again, he tells us in the same place, that He hath seen several large Stones, such as they make Statues of, that when they were sawed, and broken, had Caveties in them, which contained Mettals, and other substances:  And I my self have observed pebbles inclosed in great free Stones.  And it is commonly known, that Spiders and Toads have been found upon the breaking of great Stones, inclosed in their innermost substance.

And now I have shewed you, how agreeable I am with this Learned Person in this Doctrine concerning the matter, and growth of Stones; I will also shew you his Opinion, as to their Efficient:  for he says;

I know that not only profest Chymists, but other persons who are deservedly ranked amongst the Modern Philosophers, do with much Confidence entirely ascribe the induration, and especially the Lapidescence of Bodies, to a certaine secret internal principal, by some of them called a Forme, and by others a Petrifying Seed, lurking for the most part in some Liquid Vehicle:  And for my part, having had the opportunity to be in a place, where I could in a dry Mould, and a very elevated peice of Ground, cause to be digged out several Christalline Bodies, whose smooth sides, and Angles, were as Exquisitly figured, as if they had bin wrought by a skillful Artist a cutting of precious Stones; and having also had the opportunity to consider divers exactly or regularly shaped Stones, and other Minerals, some digged out of the Earth by my Friends, and some yet growing upon Stones, newly Torn from the Rocks, I am very forward to grant that [as I elsewhere intimate] it is a Plastick Principal implanted by the most wise Creator, in certain parcels of matter, that doth produce in such Concretions, as well the hard Consistance, as the determinate Figure.

Thus far He; Then which, what more consonant to the Doctrine I have asserted in this Discourse?

Conclude we then [and I hope at least upon probable Grounds] since we have not only the before cited Authorities, both of the best Antient, and Modern Philosophers; and also are taught by the experiments, and Manual Operations laid down in this Discourse, which shew us the reduction of all bodies ultimately into Water; and their Nourishment from thence; as also from the inaptitude of at least two of the four Aristotalian Elements [viz. Fire, and Aire] to concur to the Constituting of Bodies; and likewise from the Compound Nature, of two of the Old Chymical Principles, viz. Sulphur and Salt:  and from the same compound Nature of four of our moderne Chymists Principles, viz. Oyle, Salt, Spirit, Earth, which all of them are further reducible into Water, and therefore not to be allowed for Principles; as I have before demonstrated:  Let us then, I say, conclude in, and acknowledge the truth of the Moysaick, Platonick, and Helmontian Doctrine.

That is, that all Bodies consist but of two Parts, or Priniciples, Matter, and Seed; that their Universal Matter is Water:  That the Seedes of things do from this Matter, [by the help of Fermentation] alter, break, and new compose the Particles of which it Consists, till they have formed a Body, Exactly Corresponding to the Images, or Idea's contained in themselves:  Also that the true Seedes, of all things, are of a very subtle Nature, and Invisible, and are secundary Idea's and Images; and that they are Connexed to, and depend upon their Primary Idea's, and Exemplars; which are Inherent and resident in God himself:  And that for that reason they Act with Designe, and to a purposed End, which they constantly, and regularly Accomplish; and this is somewhat Analogous to reason in them.  Lastly, that Nature, or the Law of Kind, is uniforme in its productions thus far, that it makes all Bodies out of Water, by the power of invisible Seedes; so that the Matter of all Bodies is Identically the same.  And that they are all of them reducible into the same Matter at Last:  But that their Seeds are various, and therefore produce different Effects upon the same Matter:  yet do they all agree in this, viz. That they are all invisible Beings, and all of them have a dependance upon their Exemplars, which are the Decrees of God, and are constantly inherent in him.


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  • Philosophical Letters between Mr. [John] Ray (1628-1705) and several of his Ingenious Correspondents.... (1718)
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