The Spagyrical Anatomy Of Water

Water seems to be a body so very homogeneous, as if neither nature nor art could discover any heterogeneity in the parts thereof. Thus indeed it seems to the eye of the vulgar, but to that of a philosopher far otherwise, as I shall endeavor to make credible by presenting to your consideration a twofold process of the discovering of the dissimilarity of parts thereof, whereof the one is natural only, and the other artificial. But before I speak of either, it must be premised that in the element of water there is great plenty of the spirit of the world which is more predominant in it than in any other element, for the use and benefit of universal nature, and that this spirit has three distinct substances, viz. salt, sulphur, and mercury. Now, by salt we must understand a substance very dry, vital, and radical, having in it the beginning of corporification, as I may call it. By sulphur, a substance ful1 of light and vital heat, or vivifying fire, containing in itself the beginning of motion, and by mercury we must understand a substance abounding with radical moisture, with which the sulphur of life, or vital fire, is cherished and preserved. Now, these substances which are in the spirit of the world make all fountains and waters, but with some difference, according to the predominancy of either. This several predominancy therefore is the ground of the variety of productions. I say "of productions" because all things are produced out of water. For water is both the sperm and the menstruum of the world; the former, because it includes the seed of everything; the latter, because the sperm of nature is putrefied in it, so that the seed included in it should be actuated and take upon it the diverse forms of things, and because by it the seed itself, and all things produced of seed, grow and are increased. Now, this being premised, I shall show you what the natural process is which I shall make plain by instancing in three several productions. viz. of the spawn of frogs, of stones and of vegetables.

The spawn of frogs is produced after this manner, viz. the sulphur which is in the water, being by the heat of the sun resolved and dissolved, is greedily and with delight conceived by the element of water, even as the sperm of a male is by the matrix of the female, and that upon this account. The water wants siccity which the sulphur has and, therefore exceedingly desiring it, does greedily attract it to itself. Sulphur also wants humidity and, therefore, attracts the humidity of the water. Moreover, the humidity of the water has the humidity of the salt laid up occultly in it. Also, the sulphur cherishes the humidity of the fire and desires nothing more than the humidity of the salt that is in the water. Sulphur also contains the siccity of the salt, whence it is that salt requires a siccity from the sulphur. And thus do these attractive virtues mutually act upon each other's subject. Now, by this means there is a conception made in the water which now begins to be turgid, puffed up, and troubled, as also to be grosser and more slimy, until out of the spermatic vessels the sperms be cast upward, in which sperms after a while appear black specks which are the seed of the frogs and by the heat of the sun are in a short time turned into the same, by which it appears there are dissimilar parts in water.

Stones are produced out of water that has a mucilaginous mercury which the salt, with which it abounds, fixes into stones. This you may see clearly by putting stones into water, for they will after a time contract a mucilaginous slimy matter which, being taken out of the water and set in the sun, becomes to be of a stony nature. And whence come those stones, gravel, and sand which we see in springs ? They are not washed down out of the mountains and hills (as some think) from whence the waters spring. Neither were they in the earth before the springs broke forth (as some imagine) and now appear by washing away of the earth from them. For if you dig around the springs, even beyond the heads of them, you shall find no stones at all in the earth, only in the veins thereof through which the water runs. Now, the reason of the smallness of the stones is the continual motion of the water which hinders them from being united into a continued bigness. I shall make a further confirmation of this in the artificial process of manifesting the heterogeneity of water. I shall here only add the assertion of Helmont, saying that with his alkahest all stones and, indeed, all things may be turned into water. If so, then you know what the maxim is, viz., all things may be resolved into that from whence they had their beginning.

Vegetables are produced out of water, as you may clearly see by the waters sending forth plants that have no roots fixed in the bottom, of which sort is the herb called "duckweed" which puts forth a little string into the water which is as it were the root thereof. For the confirmation of this, that this herb may be produced out of mere water, there is a gentleman at this time in the city, of no small worth, that says he had fair water standing in a glass diverse years, and at last a plant sprang out of it. Also, if you put some plants, as water mint, etc., into a glass of fair water, it will germinate and shoot out into a great length, and also take root in the water, which root will in a short time be so increased and extended as to fill up the glass; but you must remember that you put fresh water into the glass once in two or three days. Hereunto, also, may be added the experiment of Helmont concerning the growth of a tree. For (says he) I took two hundred pound weight of earth dried in an oven and put it into a vessel, in which I set a willow tree which weighed five pounds which, by the addition of water to the earth, did in five years time grow to such a bigness as that it weighed 169 pounds, at which time I also dried and weighed the earth, and within two ounces it retained its former weight. Besides, the ancients have observed that some herbs have grown out of snow, being putrefied. And do not we see that all vegetables are nourished and increased with an insipid water, for what else is their juice? If you cut a vine in the month of March, it will drop diverse gallons of insipid water which water if it had remained in the trunk of the vine would in a little time have been digested into leaves, stalks, and grapes, which grapes also by a further maturation would have yielded a wine, out of which you might have extracted a burning spirit. Now, I say, although this insipid water be by the specifical sulphur and salt of the vine fixed into the stalks, leaves, and grapes of the vine, yet these give it not a corporificative matter, for that it had before, and an aptitude and potentiality to become what afterwards it proves to be. For indeed stalks, leaves, and grapes were potentially in it before, all which now it becomes to be actually by virtue of the sun and of the aforesaid sulphur and salt, whereof as I said could not add any bulk to them. Moreover, do not we see that when things are burned and putrefied, they ascend up into the air by way of vapor and fume and then descend by way of insipid dew or rain? Now, what do all these signify but that from water are all things produced, and in it are dissimilar parts? The artificial process is this: take of what water you please, whether well water, fountain, river, or rain water, as much as you please. Let it settle three or four hours until the slime thereof separates itself. Then digest it the space of a month, after which time evaporate the fourth part by a very gentle heat and cast it away, being but the phlegm. Then distill off the remainder of the water until the feces only be left, which feces will be a slimy saltish substance. This middle substance distill again as before, casting away every time the fourth part, as phlegm, and keeping the feces by themselves for a further use, and this do seven times. Note that after the fourth or fifth distillation the water will distill over like milk, coloring the head of your still so that it can hardly be washed or scoured off. This pure water after the seventh distillation will leave no feces behind, and if you digest it three months it will be coagulated into stones and crystals which some magnify very much for the cure of inward and outward putrefactions, out of which also may be made a dissolving spirit. Note that as this water stands in digestion you may see diverse curious colors. Now, as for the feces which I spoke of (which indeed all waters, even the sweetest, leave at the bottom) being as I said a saltish slime and in taste, as it were, a medium between salt and nitre, take them and distill them in a retort in sand. There will first come forth a white fume which, being condensed, descends in a straight line to the bottom. Next will come over a red oil of great efficacy, exceeding the virtues of the spirit of salt or nitre. For confirmation of part of this process, take May dew gathered in the morning (when it has not rained the night before) and put it into a glass vessel, covered with a parchment pricked full of holes, and set it in the heat of the sun for the space of four months. There will store of green feces fall to the bottom, the residue of the water being white and clear. Now by all this you may conclude what manner of dissimilarity there is in the parts of water. I shall add but one observation more, and so conclude this subject.

Take a flint out of river water and put it into a gourd glass. Pour upon it as much river water as will fill the glass. Evaporate this water until the flint be dry. Then pour on more fresh water. Do this so long until the flint will fill up the glass (for in a little time it will fill it up and become to be of the form or figure of the glass) for it attracts to itself the mucilaginousness of the water which, indeed, is a slimy saltish matter and the true matter of stones. And thus you shall have that done by art in few days which nature would have been perfecting many years and, indeed, just such a flint as is produced in the rivers. Anyone that should see this flint in the glass would wonder how it should come in there. You may break your glass and take out your flint.

There are diverse such processes which may be used but, in effect, they may demonstrate but little more concerning the potential heterogeneity of water and, therefore, to avoid tediousness, I shall here end with the anatomy of water, concerning which if anyone can make a further illustration, let him be candid and impart it and I shall be glad to learn of him and, in the meantime, let him accept of these, my endeavors.

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