Full text: Bacon, Francis: Sylva sylvarum

Natural Hiſtory; Semper-vive, which will put out Branches, two or three years: But it is true,
that commonly they wrap the Root in a cloth beſmeared with Oyl; and
renew it once in a half year. The like is reported by ſome of the An-
cients of the ſtalks of Lillies. The cauſe is, for that theſe Plants have a
ſtrong denſe, and ſucculent moiſture, which is not aptto exhale; and ſo
is able, from the old ſtore, without drawing help from the Earth, to ſuffice
the ſprouting of the Plant: And this ſprouting is chiefly in the late Spring,
or early Summer; which are the times of putting forth. We ſee alſo,
that ſtumps of Trees, lying out of the Ground, will put forth Sprouts for
a time. But it is a noble tryal, and of very great conſequence, to try
whether theſe things, in the ſprouting, do encreaſe weight; which muſt be
tryed, by weighing them before they be hanged up; and afterwards again,
when they are ſprouted. For if they increaſe not in weight, then it is no
more but this, That what they ſend forth in the ſprout, they leeſe in ſome
other part; but if they gather weight, then it is Magnale Naturæ: For it
ſheweth, that Air may be made ſo to be condenſed, as to be converted in-
to a denſe Body; whereas the race and period of all things, here above the
Earth, is to extenuate and turn things to be more pneumatical, and rare; and not to be retrograde, from pneumatical to that which is denſe. It
ſheweth alſo, that Air can nouriſh; which is another great matter of con-
ſequence. Note, that to try this, the Experiment of the Semper-vive, muſt
be made without oyling the cloth; for elſe, it may be, the Plant receiveth
nouriſhment from the Oyl,

FLame and Air do not mingle, except it be in an inſtant; or in the Vital
Spirits of vegetables, and living Creatures. In Gunpowder, the force of
it hath been aſcribed to rarefaction of the earthly ſubſtance into Flame. And thus far it is true; and then (forſooth) it is become another Element; the form where [?] of occupieth more place; and ſo, of Neceſſity, followeth
a Dilatation: And therefore, leſt two Bodies ſhould be in one place,
there muſt needs alſo follow an Expulſion of the Pellet, or blowing up
of the Mine. But theſe are crude and ignorant ſpeculations: For Flame,
if there were nothing elſe, except it were in a very great quantity, will be
ſuffocate with any hard body, ſuch as a Pellet is, or the Barrel of a Gun; ſo as the flame would not expel the hard body, but the hard body would kill
the flame, and notſuffer it to kindle, or ſpred. But the cauſe of this ſo po-
tent a motion is the Nitre (which we call otherwiſe Salt-Peter) which
having in it a notable crude and windy Spirit, firſt by the heat of the Fire
ſuddenly dilateth it ſelf; (and we know that ſimple Air, being preterna-
turally attenuated by heat, will make it ſelf room, and break, and blow
up that which reſiſteth it.) And ſecondly, when the Nitre hath dilated it
ſelf, it blo weth abroad the flame as an in ward Bellows. And therefore we
ſee that Brimſtone, Pitch, Camphire, U ildfire, and divers other inflamable
matters; though they burn cruelly, and are hard to quench, yet they make
no ſuch fiery wind, as Gunpowder doth: And on the other fide, we ſee that
Quick-ſilver (which is a moſt crude and watry Body) heated, and pent in,
hath the like force with Gunpowder. As for living Creatures, it is certain,
their Vital Spirits are a ſubſtance compounded of an airy and flamy mat-
ter; and though Air and Flame, being free, will not well mingle; yet
bound in by a Body that hath ſome fixing, they will. For that you may beſt ſee
in thoſe two Bodies (which are their Aliments) Water and Oyl; for they
likewiſe will not well mingle of themſelves, but in the Bodies of Plants,

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