Full text: Bacon, Francis: Sylva sylvarum

Century III. the original Sound: But we ſee what a number of exquiſite Inſtruments
muſt concur in ſpeaking of words, whereof there is no ſuch matter in the
returning oſ them, but onely a plain ſtop, and repercuſſion.

The exquiſite Differences of Articulate Sounds, carried along in the
Air, ſhew that they cannot be Signatures or Impreſſions in the Air, as hath
been well reſuted by the Ancients. For it is true, that Seals make excellent
Impreſſions; and ſo it may be thought of Sounds in their firſt generation: But then the Delation and Continuance of them, without any new ſealing,
ſhew apparently they cannot be Impreſſions.



All Sounds are ſuddenly made, and do ſuddenly periſh; but neither that,
nor the exquiſite Differences of them, is matter of ſo great admiration: For
the Quaverings, and Warblings of Lutes, and Pipes are as ſwift; and the
Tongue (which is no very fine Inſtrument) doth in ſpeech, make no fewer
motions, than there be letters in all the words which are uttered. But that
Sounds ſhould not onely be ſo ſpeedily generated, but carried ſo far every
way, in ſuch a momentany time, deſerveth more admiration. As for ex-
ample, If a man ſtand in the middle of a Field, and ſpeak aloud, he ſhall be
heard a Furlong in round, and that ſhall be in articulate Sounds, and thoſe
ſhall be entire in every little portion of the Air; and this ſhall be done in the
ſpace of leſs than a minute.



The ſudden Generation and Periſhing of Sounds, muſt be one of theſe
two ways: Either, that the Air ſuffereth ſome force by Sound, and then re-
ſtoreth it ſelf as Water doth; which being divided, maketh many circles,
tillit reſtore it ſelf to the Natural conſiſtence; or other wiſe, that the Air doth
willingly imbibe the Sound as grateful, but cannot maintain it; for that the
Air hath (as it ſhould ſeem) a ſecret and hidden Appetite of receiving the
Sound at the firſt; but then other groſs and more materiate qualities of the
Air ſtraight ways ſuffocate it, like unto Flame which is generated with
alacrity, but ſtraight quenched by the enmity of the Air, or other Ambient



There be theſe differences (in general) by which Sounds are divided: # 1. Muſical, Immuſical. # 2. Trebble, Baſe. # 3. Flat, Sharp. # 4. Soft, Loud. # 5. Exterior, Interior. # 6. Clean, Harſh, or Purling. # 7. Articulate, Inarticulate.

We have labored (as may appear) in this Inquiſition of Sounds diligently; # both becauſe Sound is one of the moſt hidden portions of Nature, (as
# we ſaid in the beginning) and becauſe it is a Vertue which may be called
# Incorporeal and Immateriate, whereof there be in Nature but few. Be-
# ſides, we were willing (now in theſe our firſt Centuries) to make a pattern
# or preſident of an Exact Inquiſition; and we ſhall do the like hereafter in
# ſome other ſubjects which require it. For we deſire that Men ſhould
# learn and perceive how ſevere a thing the true Inquiſition of Naturs is; # and ſhould accuſtom themſelves by the light of particulars, to enlarge
# their mindes to the amplitude of the World; and not to reduce the
# World to the narrowneſs of their Mindes.


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