Chapter 7

Of Elements, in Special, and first of Fire

ELEMENTS in Speciall (according to the Perepateticks) are 4—





as was collected (say they) by Aristotle from the combinations of the four first Qualities; So as there are two of them in Each Element, one in the highest the other in the remiss degrees; thus fire is most hot and dry; Water most cold, and fluid; Air most fluid and hot, Earth most dry, and cold.

Elements number Aristotle spies

In combinations of first Qualities.

About this distribution are moved many controversies; for some say fire (in its flame) is more fluid than Water, and in its body more dry than Earth; Air in Winter is more cold than Water: and Earth too (it seams) is more cold than water because more hard (for it is a received oppinion even among aristotelians that coldness is the Cause of hardness, as in Ice,) and if the air be made more cold in Winter, than water, by nitrous particles arising from the Earth then is the Earth the coldest rather than water.—But indeed in all this matter men feel in the dark; because they acknowledge no pure Element falls under our observation; how then can we make a Judgment of their first Qualities Natural to them and distinct from [those] accidentally in them. Besides they all confess the forms of Elements are not known, and therefore they [20] say they must be defin’d by their Properties or first Qualities but how shall we know what are their first Qualities; till we know the forms from which they should immediately flow. Therfore (to avoid this confusion) latter Phylosophers refer the whole business to matter variously modified; and disposed; and so they define them.1

1. Fire (according to the Antients) is an Element most hot, and dry. here they mean (not our culunary, or ordinary kitchen fire which is a concrete body but) that which is fancied above in the concave of the Moons orb; which they say dos not burn as ours, because of its tenuity whereas to burning is requ[i]red some Crass matter, whereby it may better adhere to the body to be burnt, hence a Cole, or Hot Iron burns more than a flame especially the flame of a tenuious matter; as, of Spirit of Wine, which if highly rectified is alltogather Innocuous, thus the fire of the Antients.—But (according to the Moderns) fire is matter briskly moved; therefore to kindle Such a fire is to beget Such a motion. And to continue it is to supply it with matter apt So to be moved. Matter moved briskly causeth attrition, or rubing of the particles [one] against another; [this causeth heat,] which continued, and intended becomes fire apt to communicate the like motion to particles of other bodyes. This Motion is helped by the blowing of bellowes, or other Strong wind thrusting the particles inflamed among the enflameables of the fewell and removing the Ashes which would obstruct the briskness of the motion, thus they solve the Striking of fire by flint and [steal], and the catching thereof by tinder. Also the kindling of fire by a burning Glass collecting diverss rayes of the Sun to a narrow space, where they rub each other and cause this motion; Also the Inflaming of Wett hay by putryfaction for the Volatile parts of the matter being restrained by the moisture are stirred more Vehemently to break out, for which when they found a Passage they become a flame.

Matters brisk motion fire hereby put on,

Fewell, Wine, flint, Glass, Put[r]efaction

Now because this motion cannot be continued without a Succession of Air to follow the moved parts; therefore fire is Extinguished by hind-ring this Succession; as the putting an Extinguisher over a Candle; Stoping the top and bottome of a Chimney; laying Wood or Coals too Close; or Heaping to much fewell on a [small] fire, or by the Pneumatiek Engine (or Air pump) when the Air is Evacuated.2 In General whatever is apt to stop this motion dos Extinguish fire; as for putting out fire in the stem of a Chimney fired, by shoting up a Gun; by pulvis fulminans, or the Cracling of Salt; as also the blowing out of a Candle; tis done by putting the fiery particles into such a motion (onwards) as thereby they are Seperated from the Combustible matter Lastly Water (in a Sufficient Quantity) for that its parts are not apt to take this motion, and therefore do hang in the way of those parts that are apt to be moved: but if it be but little, and the fire overcome it, to Rarefaction then does it move as the Air dos, and so is Subservient to the flame; as we see in the Smiths Coals, and Green ash wood.

Extinguish fire by Stoping motion

Blowing of flame, and pouring Water on.

2. The Species Sensible of fire are actuall, and potential.

1. Actual [fire] is again either Coale, or flame.

1. Coale or Solid body that seams to hold fire in it, is Such as has its volatile or motive parts restrained by Some particle[s] of other figures; Hereby the fire seams to be within it; but indeed there is only a little flame round about it, caused by the motion communicated to the adjacent parts of Air. Herby we see it luminous in the Surface but we cannot see into it as is manifest in [a] red or White hot Iron.

2. flame is where the Moveable parts are more free and can vibrate themselves more outward in the Air. Of this consider the Matter, Affections, [and Effects].

1. The Matter inflameable, is fatty, Sulphurious, Oilly, or Resinous.

2. The Affections are light motion, and adhæsion.

1. Light caused by flame is because of the motive parts thereof who can sufficiently Vibrate themselves, to give Vibration to Luminous particles (wherewith the Air is fil’d) that they may also vibrate the fine Spirits of our Eye (seated in the Optiek Nerves) So as that our Souls may perceive their motion; (Hence in the dark by a blow on the Eye a Spark, flame or light appears within because of a lik[e] motion in those Spirits) this Vibrating motion is in Strait lines the continuance of which being intercepted by any other dark body begets a Shaddow which is a partial privation of light; as Darkness is a totall: that is a Cessation of Motion in parts apt to cause light if they ware duly moved. And if a Greater light appears; it Swallows up the less; snatching the motion from it to itself; Hence ’tis that the Sun puts out fire when it Shines strongly on it; and we cannot see the flame [21] of a candle in a Window when the Sun dos [brightly] shine. So that flame may hence take this deffinition, fire causing light.3

2. The motion [of] flames tenuious parts is upwards by the pressure of some more heavy adjacent bodyes; So that it would Emerge, (like Cork put to the bottom of Water) [to] the uper surface of the atmosphere at least ware it not for its natural adhæsion to somthing here below, therefore.

3. Its adhæsion by the bottom to some more Solid body is only a receiving a continued Supply of inflameable parts the which once Spent the flame vanishes.

3. The Effects of fire (besides heat, and light mentioned) are various, and of great use for the service of men: Seperation [Denigration], etc:

1. Seperation or Heterogeneous parts whereof some

are carried above it

fall below it.

1. Carried above it as Smoak or steam, a Mixture of lighter, or more volatile parts of Water, Salt, and Sulphur, which were before in the composition of the body burnt. Smoake makes Soot in the Chimney; and Steam is the Ground of distillations.

2. falling below it are Ashes, and mixture of Earth, and the fixed Salt.

2. [Denigration], or making black; by peirsing multitudes of Small holes in the Surface of the body whereby it drinks in light, and reflects it not; for black is but the privation of light reflected as we may see in the hole of any wall which appears black.

3. [Exsiccation], or [Drying] by the Evaporation of the moisture; that is, giving the Watry particles motion enough to be gone from the body though not inflamation, [of which] they are not capable.

4. Induration or [hardning] (by consequence) of Such bodyes whose Softness is from moisture; as Clay.

5. fusion or melting by Insinuation into the body of metals, and putting their inward particles into motion which when it Ceases, leaves the parts in Quietness, and the body to hardness again.

6. Vitrification, (which is [the] utmost fusion) or making of Glass ’tis by removing the Heterogeneous earthy parts from those which are apt to flow (or melt) and in flowing [to] adhere (or stick Close togather).

7. Elixation, (coktion or dressing meat) is removing Such crude parts as are unapt for digestion and nourishment.

8. Refocillation, (or Cherishing the body) in cold seasons by putting our natural Spirits into convenient motion, for opening the pores, and promoting a due circulation of the blood, by melting the Clods thereof (Especially in the Extream parts, and capillary vessells)4 whereby the offensive [Steams] are Ejected, the Spirits Quickned, and dispersed through the whole body. And thus much of actual fire.

2. Potential fire is that which dos in it Self appear to the senses not to have any resemblance of fire, yet has many of the powers thereof manifest in the Effects; as burning Fermentation, (or Heating,) Ebullition (or boyling) and sending up fumes. Now Such bodyes, are Certain, Sharp or acid Salts, which have Volatile parts put into vehement motion by humour or Liquor (as Lime) or by the Salts of Some other bodyes, apt to work upon them; for their burning or fermentation is alwayes by mixing of Somthing heterogeneous; and this commonly is a Solution, or Liquor for if the Salts are dry or unmixt, their parts are Quiet, and have no such Agitation. Thus the Salt of a Minerall, and Vegetable mixt (as Spirit, and Tartar, and [Vitriol] put togather) will Cause Ebullition, and a Great fervour in the Liquors, which to touch are otherwise naturall[y] cold. And thus much of fire.

Effects produced by fire potential,

Make real fire though like it not at all.