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ter; for swift-running waters vapour not so much as standing waters; or else to the concoction of the water; for waters well concocted vapour not so much as waters raw; no more than waters upon the fire do vapour so much after some time of boiling as at the first. And it is true that the water of Nilus is sweeter than other waters in taste; and it is excellent good for the stone, and hypochondriacal melancholy, which sheweth it is lenifying; and it runneth through a country of a hot climate, and flat, without shade, either of woods or hills, whereby the sun must needs have great power to concoct it. As for the air, from whence I conceive this want of showers cometh chiefly, the cause must be, for that the air is of itself thin and thirsty; and as soon as ever it getteth any moisture from the water, it imbibeth and dissipateth it in the whole body of the air, and suffereth it not to remain in vapour, whereby it might breed rain.
Experiment solitary touching clarification.
768. IT hath been touched in the title of percolations, namely, such as are inwards, that the whites of eggs and milk do clarify; and it is certain, that in Egypt they prepare and clarify the water of Nile, by putting it into great jars of stone, and stirring it about with a few stamped almonds, wherewith they also besmear the mouth of the vessel; and so draw it off, after it hath rested some time. It were good to try this clarifying with almonds in new beer, or muste, to hasten and perfect the clarifying.
Experiment solitary touching plants without leaves.
769. THERE be scarce to be found any vegetables that have branches and no leaves, except you allow coral for one. But there is also in the desarts of S. Macaria, in Egypt, a plant which is long, leafless, brown of colour, and branched like coral, save that it closeth at the top. This being set in water within a house, spreadeth and displayeth strangely; and the people thereabout have a superstitious belief, that in the labour of women it helpeth to the easy deliverance.
Experiment solitary touching the materials of glass.
770. THE crystalline Venice glass is reported to be a mixture in equal portions of stones brought from Pavia by the river Ticinum, and the ashes of a weed, called by the Arabs kal, which is gathered in a desart between Alexandria and Rosetta; and is by the Egyptians used first for fuel; and then they crush the ashes into lumps like a stone, and so sell them to the Venetians for their glass-works.
Experiment solitary touching prohibition of putrefaction, and the long conservation of bodies.
771. Ir is strange, and well to be noted, how long carcases have continued uncorrupt, and in their former dimensions, as appeareth in the mummies of Egypt; having lasted, as is conceived, some of them, three thousand years. It is true, they find means to draw forth the brains, and to take forth the entrails, which are the parts aptest to corrupt. But that is nothing to the wonder: for we see what a soft and corruptible substance the flesh of all the other parts of the body is. But it should seem, that, according to our observation and axiom in our hundredth experiment, putrefaction, which we conceive to be so natural a period of bodies, is but an accident; and that matter maketh not that haste to corruption that is conceived. And therefore bodies in shining amber, in quicksilver, in balms," whereof we now speak, in wax, in honey, in gums, and, it may be, in conservatories of snow, etc. are preserved very long. It need not go for repetition, if we resume again that which we said in the aforesaid experiment concerning annihilation; namely, that if you provide against three causes of putrefaction, bodies will not corrupt: the first is, that the air be excluded, for that undermineth the body, and conspireth with the spirit of the body to dissolve it. The second is, that the body adjacent and ambient be not commaterial, but merely heterogeneal towards the body that is to be preserved; for if nothing can be received by the one, nothing can
issue from the other; such are quicksilver and white amber, to herbs, and flies, and such bodies. The third is, that the body to be preserved be not of that gross that it may corrupt within itself, although no part of it issue into the body adjacent: and therefore it must be rather thin and small, than of bulk. There is a fourth remedy also, which is, that if the body to be preserved be of bulk, as a corpse is, then the body that encloseth it must have a virtue to draw forth, and dry the moisture of the inward body; for else the putrefaction will play within, though nothing issue forth. I remember Livy doth relate, that there were found at a time two coffins of lead in a tomb; whereof the one contained the body of king Numa, it being some four hundred years after his death: and the other, his books of sacred rites and ceremonies, and the discipline of the pontiffs; and that in the coffin that had the body, there was nothing at all to be seen, but a little light cinders about the sides; but in the coffin that had the books, they were found as fresh as if they had been but newly written, being written on parchment, and covered over with watchcandles of wax three or four fold. By this it seemeth that the Romans in Numa's time were not so good embalmers as the Egyptians were; which was the cause that the body was utterly consumed. But I find in Plutarch, and others, that when Augustus Cæsar visited the sepulchre of Alexander the Great in Alexandria, he found the body to keep its dimension; but withal, that notwithstanding all the embalming, which no doubt was of the best, the body was so tender, as Cæsar, touching but the nose of it, defaced it. Which maketh me find it very strange, that the Egyptian mummies should be reported to be as hard as stone-pitch; for I find no difference but one, which indeed may be very material; namely, that the ancient Egyptian mummies were shrowded in a number of folds of linen, besmeared with gums, in manner of sear-cloth, which it doth not appear was practised upon the body of Alexander.
Experiment solitary touching the abundance of
772. NEAR the castle of Caty, and by the wells of Assan, in the land of Idumæa, a great part of the way you would think the sea were near at hand, though it be a good distance off and it is nothing but the shining of the nitre upon the sea sands, such abundance of nitre the shores there do put forth.
Experiment solitary touching bodies that are borne up by water.
773. THE Dead Sea, which vomiteth up bitumen, is of that crassitude, as living bodies bound hand and foot cast into it have been borne up, and not sunk; which sheweth, that all sinking into water is but an over-weight of the body put into the water in respect of the water; so that you may make water so strong and heavy, of quicksilver, perhaps, or the like, as may bear up iron; of which I see no use, but imposture. We see also, that all metals, except gold, for the same reason, swim upon quicksilver.
Experiment solitary touching fuel that consumeth little or nothing.
774. Ir is reported, that at the foot of a hill near the mare mortuum there is a black stone, whereof pilgrims make fires, which burneth like a coal, and diminisheth not, but only waxeth brighter and whiter. That it should do so is not strange: for we see iron red-hot burneth, and consumeth not; but the strangeness is, that it should continue any time so: for iron, as soon as it is out of the fire, deadeth straightways. Certainly it were a thing of great use and profit, if you could find out fuel that would burn hot, and yet last long: neither am I altogether incredulous, but there may be such candles as they say are made of salamander's wool; being a kind of mineral, which whiteneth also in the burning, and consumeth not. The question is this; flame must be made of somewhat, and commonly it is made of some tangible
body which hath weight: but it is not impossible perhaps that it should be made of spirit, or vapour, in a body, which spirit or vapour hath no weight, such as is the matter of ignis fatuus. But then you will say, that that vapour also can last but a short time: to that it may be answered, that by the help of oil, and wax, and other candle-stuff, the flame may continue, and the wick not burn.
Experiment solitary economical touching cheap fuel.
775. SEA-COAL lasts longer than charcoal; and charcoal of roots, being coaled into great pieces, lasts longer than ordinary charcoal. Turf and peat, and cow-sheards, are cheap fuels, and last long. Smallcoal, or brier-coal, poured upon charcoal, make them last longer. Sedge is a cheap fuel to brew or bake with the rather because it is good for nothing else. Trial would be made of some mixture of sea-coal with earth or chalk; for if that mixture be, as the sea-coal men use it, privily, to make the bulk of the coal greater, it is deceit; but if it be used purposely, and be made known, it is saving.
Experiment solitary touching the gathering of wind for freshness.
776. It is at this day in use in Gaza, to couch potsherds or vessels of earth in their walls, to gather the wind from the top, and to pass it down in spouts into rooms. It is a device for freshness in great heats: and it is said, there are some rooms in Italy and Spain for freshness, and gathering the winds and air in the heats of summer; but they be but pennings of the winds, and enlarging them again, and making them reverberate, and go round in circles, rather than this device of spouts in the wall.
Experiment solitary touching the trials of airs.
777. THERE would be used much diligence in the choice of some bodies and places, as it were, for the tasting of air; to discover the wholesomeness or unwholesomeness, as well of seasons, as of the seats of