Full text: Bacon, Francis: Sylva sylvarum

Butwe, that hold firm to the Works of God, and to the Senſe, which
is Gods Lamp, (Lucerna Dei Spiraculum Hominis) will enquire with all So-
briety and Severity, whether there be to be found in the Foot-ſteps of Na-
ture 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 labor of Hercules in purging the
Stable of Augeas, to ſeparate from Superſtitious and Magical Arts and Ob-
ſervations, any thing that is clean and pure Natural, and not to be either
contemned or condemned. And although we ſhall have occaſion to
ſpeak of this in more places then one, yet we will now make ſome entrance

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 In-
fection 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 Minde to
Minde, or from Spirit to Spirit, the Impreſſion taketh, but is encountred
and overcome by the Minde and Spirit, which is Paſſive, before it work any
manifeſt effect: And therefore they work moſt upon weak Mindes and
Spirits; as thoſe of Women, Sick Perſons, Superſtitious and fearful Per-
ſons, Children, and young Creatures.


in Conſort
of Spirits, and
the Force of

35. 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.

Men are to be admoniſhed on the other ſide, that they do not eaſily give
placeand creditto theſe operations, becauſe they ſucceed many times: For
the cauſe of this ſucceſs is (oft) to be truly aſcribed unto the force of Affecti-
on 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 Planets Seal
or a Ring, or ſome part of a Beaſt, believing ſtrongly that it will help him to
obtain his Love, or to keep him from danger of hurt in Fight, or to prevail in
a Sute, & c. it may make him more active and induſtrious; and again more
confident and perſiſting, then 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 binde and mate the weaker
ſort of Mindes; and the ſtate of Humane Actions is ſo variable, that to try
things oft, and never to give over, doth wonders: Therefore it were a meer
fallacy and miſtaking to aſcribe that to the Force of Imagination upon an-
other 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 ſhew in due place.



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 di-
vers wiſe Judges have preſcribed and cautioned, Men may not too raſhly


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