Chapter 6

Of Terrestriall Body, and of the Elements in Generall

BODY Terrestriall is either Simple, or mixt.

The simple are cal’d Elements, which are the material constituent parts of all other bodyes1 these ware commonly accounted 4, Fire, Water, Earth, and Air. thus Aristotle. Cartes makes 3 matters which he denominated of the 1st 2d and 3d Element.

1. Crasse matter (cal’d matter of the 3d Element) is that (sais he) of which all Terrestriall bodyes are made.

2. Tenuious, Subtile Globulous, Coelestiall matter (cal’d of the 2d Element) of which he supposeth the Sun, and fixt stars, as all luminous bodyes to be made.

3. Most tenuious, or [most] Subtile the strait matter (of the first Element) of this he makes [not any] body at all, but will have it imployed to permeate all other bodyes to fill up all the pores, and vacuities between their minute parts, and so to further their motion without a vacuum.

Gassendus and other Atomists will have but one kind of matter for all things (which they call corpuscles or little bodyes) which (say they) are variously shaped, and have between them little vacuities or Empty pores (vacuums Interspersed) these they say may, yea must be allowed for the help of motion, that being unable otherwise to be performed. Chymists say there be 5 Principles (Elements, or Matters) of body for so many by art of fire they can Seperate, and make Sensibly distinct, namely, Salt, (which fixes) Water (to moysten) Sulphur, ([oil or fat] which is apt to flame) Mercury, or Spirit (which is apt to fly away) and Earth (to dry). Other Chymists will have but two Elements namly particles; Active and passive.

1. Active, which are Salt, Sulphur, and Mercury.

2. Pasive, which are Water, and Earth.

4 Antients Elements, 3 now will doe

Atomists [one], Chymists some 5, some 2

These things premised, let us take a Veiw of what the Antients say of their 4 Elements, which they Usually consider in order to their deffinition, Absolutly, and respectively.

1. Absolutly, and So they define an Element a simple body made or composed of Elementary matter and Form. So that [they] make it a Compound tho not a mixt.

2. Respectively, in Order to mixt bodyes, and So Elements are body[es] out of which all bodyes mixt are composed at first, and into which they are at last resolved; but they are not resolvable into any former bodyes that are Specifically distinct from themselves.

N.B. Therefore (Say the Chymists) they are 5 for so many can we resolve a body into (as is before noted).

After the definitions follow the Affections in General



1. Absolute are such as appertayn to them without respect to any other body; as Elementary Qualities, and these either 1st or Second.

1. First Qualities which are primary in them and they are either



1. Active are heat, and cold.

1. Heat, a Quality congregating (that is gathering togather) Homogeneals, (that is bodyes of the Same or like name and nature,) and segregating (that is seperating) Heterogenials (of diverse nature) thus metals of diverse lumps melted by heat do [run] into one. So also in the burning of Wood the Sulphurious and watry [parts (being in Some respects alike) do fly up together in the] Smoak driven up by the heat, whereas the Earthy and Saline (being [congeniall] one to the other) do fall down into the Asshes.

2. Cold on the Contrary congregates Heterogeneous, as well as [Homogeniall] bodyes; So wood, Water, Stones, etc: are all by [cold] compacted into one lump of Ice, which Heat will again soon make to fall asunder.

2. Passive are moyst, and dry.

1. Moist Humidity (or rather [indeed] fluidity) is a Quality whereby a body is easily contained in the bounds (or hollow Surface) of another body, and with difficulty under its own, So Water is Easily kept togather in the hollow Surface of a Glass but Spatters abroad if cast [forth] on the floor.

2. Dry, Siccity, (or rather Solidity or stiffness.) whereby bodyes (on the contrary) are easyly contain’d in their own surface hardly in anothers as a Stone that will not conform its self to the shape of a Glass.

N.Β. That Humid, and fluid are mention’d to be but one Quality yet they seam to be very different; for a thing may be dry and yet frely flow, as the sand of an hour Glass. The only answer in the case is that Sand is not one body Except by Accident [18] as all aggregates, and heaps are; but the present distinction concerns bodyes that are one directly, (as Water) and not by accident (as Sand [is]). thus say the Aristotelians. But the Atomists will have all fluids to be but heaps of round particles which by that figure have an Easy motion; thus powdered plaister of paris will boyle like milk.

first Qualities of Elements do lie,

In active Hot [and cold]; passive, [moyst], and dry.

2. Second Qualities of Elements are those which are said to arise from the 4 first, which do affect only, or affect and move.

1. Those that do affect only without motion, [or] do not from their own nature cause the motion of a body. Such as these opposite paires. Density, and Rarity, Crassitude, and [Tenuitude], etc:

1. Density, and Rarity; a body is Dense that is full of its self, or that is compact having few or small pores; or, has much matter in [little] Surface. So Gold is said to be most dense. But Rare is to be very Porous having little matter in much Space, as a Spunge, or Cork.

N.B. Rare is there taken Phylosophically not as Vulgarly for that which is scarce.

2. Crassitude, and tenuity. By Crass, or Grose, understand (not as Vulgarly a big, thick or fatt body but,) that which is unapt to enter into the pores of another body, and on the other hand tenuious is (not Slender, but) that which is apt to enter into pores, as all fluids are Generally; So the rayes of light pass through the strait pores of Glass; how soever small they be; and So Fire insinuates [itself] into the least Pores of the most dense bodyes; as of Gold when it melts it: And thus we see Air More tenuious than [Water], and fire than Air because it can pass [where] the other cannot.

3. Hardness, and Softness; Hard yeilds not to touch as Soft bodyes doe; So when wax is heated it yeilds to impression but not when [it is] cold.

4. Toughness, and Brittleness, this is fragile having parts easy to be Seperated, but that not So; having parts Strongly adhearing togather. Now these are said to come to pass partly from the position, partly from the figure of [the] particles, whereof the body is composed, for suppose the minute parts [are] luminous (i.e. of Plain, and flat Surface) these will stick Close togather as we see in Greater bodyes; Two flat marbles exactly pollish’d, and laid plain, to plain may be easily slipt apart; but hardly by any force pul’d assunder; because then there would be a vacuity in the middle; ere the Air coul[d] rush in from the sides to fill it. So if the minute parts be [hamated], ([i.e.] hooked) as burs they must [needs hitch the one] in [the] other which if intermingled with parts apt for fluidity it makes that which we call Clamminess; as in bird lime, etc: So if the particles are Straited (or long) and these interwoven traverse or wreathed they will hold togather; as we see in the Wool of yarn, yarn of Cloath, Splinters of wood which [we may] observe in the cleaving thereof with a Wedge.

5. Elasticity (or Springiness) and flexableness so as to stand bent; the difference we see in steel, and lead. The reason of Elasticity by Dr Petty is Judged to be a magnetick virtue in Each of the particles whereby they incline to stand in a line so as their amicable poles may touch each other; and therefore if they are removed from that verticity they will of their own accord [recurr thereunto]. I know not a better Solution of this P[h]ainominon more of this after in the Chapters of air and metals.

6. Aridness which hinders motion and Sliperyness which promotes it; Hence we apply Oile or Grease to Wheeles, the Oily particles being round do truckle under weight, as pease scattered on the floor may Give a man a fall; these and other such like 2d Qualities are ascribed by the Antients to be derived from the 4 first Qualities of Elements. but latter men do chuse rather to solve them mechanically by the figure, and site of the matter or particles of the body[es] to which they do belong, as is before explained concerning some of them.

2. [There] are [other] 2d Qualities which are said by the Antients to affect and move, of which kind they only mention 2, Gravity and levity.

1. Gravity is a Quality (say they) arising from cold cheifly and causing bodyes to discend or tend towards the Center this they call Gravitation an Endeavour, or Inclination to be as near the Center as it can; and this without an Impediment is alwayes in the strait perpendicular line.

2. Levity on the contrary assend[s], and is Cheifly from heat; but this is no wayes [allowed] by latter phylosophers who assert that all bodyes are heavy or tending to the center of the Globe to which they do belong, and that this is obedience to the law of nature, as is after noted in Locomotion, [so] that all motion upwards is (not by tendency but) by Violence [and] pressure, as may be seen in the discourse of Sinking, and Swiming and [there] it appears that those bodyes which are called light are only less heavy than their neighbours by whom they are poysed up; this is manifest in a ball of wood drop’t from on high into water; for it discend[s] in the air, because heavyer than that is and So proceeds to the bottom of the water; because of the Violent Velocoty acquired in the aforesaid discent; but when it comes to the bottom, it Stayes not there but ascends to the Upper Surface of the water because the water is heavier than the wood; and yet the wood is never the lighter for this ascent. [19]

Gravity [is] an attribute that moves,

Downward; and Levity that upward loves

N.B. To this Kind of affections may be referred Elasticity (before mentioned) Magnetism and Electrical virtue2 all which do also cause motion, but of these after in a more proper place.

And thus much of these cal’d absolute Qualities.

2. Respective Qualities of Elements are accounted by the Antient[s] 2 figure, and Mutual transmutation.

1. Figure (as respecting the Universe.) round; this they say is natural though some Elements by Accident are varied into other figures; which may be thus explained. If the body of the Earth ware reduced into small sands, they would not stand up in mountains and hills, but endeavouring all of them to be as near the Center as possible would necessarily fall into an Exact Globe; because then all its parts would [be] in the nearest possible access to the Center, then would the Water which is less heavy than the Earth flow everywhere round about it, then the Air about the Water, and lastly the fire about the Air (according to the old hypothisis.) And thus would all in round figures (at least as to their exteriour surface) compleatly fill the hallow surface of the Imaginary orb of the moon. But by accident it is otherwise in Earth and Water; for to provide dry land for terrestriall animals; Rocks (as bones) ware created to hold up the Earth of the Hills above the Water, and so both the upper surface of the Earth, and the neather of the Water do become uneven. Drops indeed of water [are round] but it is not So much from the nature of the Element as from the nature of a fluid [endeavouring] to hold its continuity; for hereby it [is] obliged to flow as near as possible to its own proper (namly the drops) center; and therefore by consequence into a round figure, (as is before noted)

2. Mutual transmutation by which they respect one the other, and are Changed one into another. This is (say they) either,

1. Social; which is when two Elements club to make a 3d as when fire and water are turn’d into air, (this they supposed to be in the Evapporation of water) but indeed this is a common mistake for the Water is but devided into lesser parts dispersed, and carried away else where; but remains water still.

2. Solitary when one Element is turned into another (as much to be doubted as the former.) This is either mediate, or Immediate.

1. Mediate when one Element is transmuted by the mediation of another; as water into fire by being first turn’d into Air. And Such are called Dissimbolics that is which agree not in any of the 4 Qualities for fire is hot and dry, Water cold and moist.

2. Immediate turned Immediatly; these are Symbolics which have some one of the first Qualities common between them thus Air and Water agree in Humidity etc: But indeed all this of transmuting Elements seams to be but Goats wool: for there is either no such Change, or if there be, they are neither simple bodyes nor Elements for this warrs with their former notion in the Definition of principles where they say that they are neither made of one another, nor of any other bodyes, Now Elements may well be accounted principles, and this may Suffice concerning Elements in General.