Chapter 15

Of Watry Meteors

WATRY meteors are made up of Vapours or moist Exhalation [licked] up by the Sun-beams rebounding from moist places, and carryed up to the middle region of the Air, or at least toward[s] it where they are again cooled, and condensed, these [Meteors] assend no higher, and therefore are all in the middle or lower [region].

1. In the Middle are 4. Cloud, Rain, Snow, haill.1

1. Cloud a multitude of little bubles of Water, Each filled with a particle of fiery matter which [bubbles] while they are at Some distance one from another they are not broaken but swim about in the Air, of these [clouds] some are said to be [Sterill, some pregnant.]

1. Sterill, or barren is when these bubbles are at a greater distance [47] and less in plenty These Clouds are White and yeald no rain. But the Woolsacks [(as they are called)] in August soon Change their Collour (by access of more vapours) and pour down rain, somtimes too much for the harvest labourers.

2. Pregnant of showers [(on the Contrary,) many] bubbles Close set, of a blackish hue and in next disposition to rain.

2. Rain is water falling down from these fertile clouds when many of the little bubbles are thrust Close togather, whereby there is an arrest upon their motion; this being not agreable to the Agile fiery particles it breaks the Enclosure, and gets away; then the Sides of the bubble falling togather, it can no longer Swim in the Air, [it] falls down, and one (parhaps) in the fall breaks many [more] that stand in the way, and so they come down togather. All the business of Clouds and rain may be apprehended by considering the Steams of a Pott, Sticking Close togather in little drops on the Cover. And the like [in the art] of distillation, which Emulates, (or Imitates) the work of nature, hence [that] Motto of London Distillers (out of Deuteronomy. [32]. 2.) Drop as the rain and Distill as the Dew.

[Bright Sterill clouds, dark pregnant pooles do fill,

From these wise Nature doth the rains distill.]

Rain is either prodigious or Natural.

1. Prodigious [(as tis call’d)] or Unusuall; [Such as] of Frogs, blood, etc: many of which are fabulously Storied, and what is true in Effect have not their probable causes assigned; by Instance in 2 or 3 you may Guess at the rest.

1. Frogs Supposed to drop from the Clouds, because somtimes, and in a particular place multitudes of little froggs are seen Immediately after [a shower] none being observed there before, which may be thus solved; The frogg-spawn of some adjacent pool being come to [the] maturity [of] having legs creep out of the water, into the Grass, and parhaps in the Coole of the night get a pretty way from the pool so as not to find the way back again; now tis their [interest] all the day to avoid the Scorching heat of the Sun, [and therefore] to ly as close the roots of the Grass as they can thus they may shade, and feed themselves for some dayes till a lusty Shower falls which invites them out of their lurking places to play and Skip about [in] their connatural water.

2. Bloud, or Inck (so called) because [the drops are of those colours which] have sometimes fallen on Stones, cloathes, etc: Usually in a small Circuit of place, the reason may be thus conceived; Some [Mineral], or Vitriolick Steams have been lifted up and hung in the Air till a Shower washes them down and the drops becom tinged thereby, as we commonly see water variously Coloured by infusions well known to Chymists; and most notable in that Circumforaneous water drinker who pouring down Clear water, would by Vomiting render variety of colours in diverse Glasses, that received his returned water; this was done partly by Somwhat in his mouth as a bagg of log-wood, a bladder of brandy etc: and partly by [the rinsing] of the Glasses with Severall kind[s] of Acid liquors (as Vinigar, [Spirit] of Vitriol, Solution, of [Allum], etc:) [all] which before the water came did disappear [in the glass].2

3. Star stones found in abundance near lead mines after a great Shower which indeed conveighs them not thither; but washing away the Dirt [only] discovers them to our [view].

4. Wheat (or other small things) may be snatched up in one place [by a whirlwind], and [soon after] let fall in another, and then it as really rains wheat as the Gentlemans fool saw it rain beans and beakon. But indeed if there be any true wonders in this kind for which a naturall Cause has not [been] nor cannot (with Satisfaction) be assigned we may either acknowledge an Immediate hand of God [therein] (as in the raining fire, and brimstone on Sodom, etc:) or in a humble Silence Set down and meditate on his infinite power and wisdom.

Prodigious rains of froggs blood, Stars, and Wheat

Upon the Vulgar wits do put a Cheat.

2. Natural [rain is that] for which a naturall cause may be [given] of this note the kinds and Effects.

1. [The] Kinds, and that either from [the Number, or magnitude of rain drops.]

1. The [number of the rain drops] much or little [is] according to the Quantity of the prepared vapour.

2. The Magnitude of drops [is] Small, from [on high, as in Spring Clouds] when the [height] of the fall Splits the drops in peices; the like we see in the spouts of high buildings, [on the contrary] Great [drops are] from [low] Clouds, as in the declining parts of the year when the steams dont rise so high.

2. The Effects [of rain] are too well known to be enlarged on, only that of causing plants to Spring deserves [a] Speciall notice, and may be thus conceived. The Nitre and Sulphur of the Earth Volatalized, and ascending is by [the] rain dissolved and So made fit to Enter the pores of the [plant]; by the Same [rain] also are the superficiall crevises of the Earth stoped, So as the nitrous and sulphurious steams dont exhale but [rather] find their way through the plant[s]; then through the Earth beside it, but when the Sun has Exhaled the Water again [so as] the pores of the [Earth] are opened, [then do] these steams get away to be-[48]come the matter of thunder, and leave the plant to languish for want of nourishment.

Rains Kinds are Quantity, and magnitudes

Effects plants Growth while steam dissolves in [clouds]

3. Snow is a Watry meteor discending from a watry Cloud prepared for rain but meeting with much nitre it is coagulated thereby, and falls down [in flakes] white to a proverb. In hot Countryes is no Snow not for want of nitre in the Air (as appears by their Great thunders) but [because] the Strongly reflected sunbeams [melt it before] it [comes] to ground hence upon the tops of highest mountains [Snow] is found [even] in the hotest countryes, and here in England (I have observed) that the same dark Cloud has afforded plentifull snow in the high mo[o]res of Davenshere, and at the same time abundance of rain, and no Snow in the warmer south hams, within 10 miles distance [of the Moores].

4. Haile is a farther degree of the same Coagulation, even when the rain has begun to [fall and been] formed into drops. This may be either by [Greater] Quantity of Nitre or [by] longer stay of the Water with it, or by a Stronger impression thereof by some Wind thereupon. And hence may be those hail showers somtimes in [the very] summer which are alwayes accompanied with [a] brisk no[r]therly wind, as to [the] magnitude more than ordinary it may be from falling far and Gathering much snowy matter about it in the fall, as [we see] snow balls are farther increased by rolling. But for the Prodigious hail mingled with fire on Egypt (Exodus. 9) and the Great hail stones cast down on the Armies of the 5 Kings of the Amorites (Joshua. 10.) and Such like; No Phylosopher must pretend to Explicate seeing [the] scripture ascribes them to the immediate hand of God, as Instances of his transcendent Glorious power, and execution of his righteous judgments upon his Enimyes.

While snow from Nitre has its Generation

Hard hail its rise from more coagulation.

Thus much for watry meteors of the middle region.

2. In the Lower Region are some watry meteors as Mist, Dew, hoare, Ice.

1. Mist [is] a Great Quantity of Vapour the same matter [with] rain not raised high enough to compleat that work but hovering nigh the Surface of the Earth The appearance of [mist] is commonly before [and] after rain but [the rain before which it is, is] not presently to Succeed [but may be deferred] (perhaps 3 or 4 Dayes or more) because the matter is not as yet sufficiently prepared. Such mists are those in the mornings about the latter end of August which commonly Cause Great rains in the End of September; and whereas they mostly Vanish in [the] rising higher from the Earth by the Suns heat (and So [presage] for the present a fair and hot day) this is because their parts in the Circumferentiall ascent have more room to seperate, and So become little clouds, [which] by Greater, and greater Distance at last [do utterly disappear] according to the rule of opticks, [yet there they are, and] tarry till more [of their fellows] come to them [which] joyning all togather become great Clouds again, [these being] aloft [and] keeping off the Suns rayes from us [do] Cool, and Chill our Air and at last fall down into rain. By this consideration [we] may solve that unusuall [and] (to some) frightfull Darkness which happened between 10 and 11 in the morning of [the] lords day in January 1679 over many parts of the City of london.3 A very thick mist arose in the morning twas cleared from the Earth about 9; [and] at the same time the Sityzens kindled their Coal fires to dress their [Dinner]; the thik smoak ascending at first was choaked [by] the [great] fogg that was spread abroad over the tops of the houses. Thereby the Smoak also spread itself under the Mist and caused the darkness which appeared riddish against the Windows, Soon after a little wind arising in the N.E. Carryed off the mist, and So the darkness removed by degrees toward Lambeth and Clappam etc: and [so] after a while the Mist arising higher by the heat of the Day gave way for the smoak to ascend [also], and [then] the Darkness wholly Vanished. After Great rains mists are common in the Evening[s] being only the steams of the rain from the warm Earth these having so weak a cause to raise them ascend not far but fall down again in dew, and hence they are commonly prognosticks of fair weather.

Mists in the Morning many Clouds do gather,

for after rain evening mists shew fair weather

[2.] Dew is a diminitive rain the steams being raised but a little from the Earth by the Dayes heat, [and] are condensed by the nights Cold and So fall down again to the Earth. In Egypt tis Sayed to Supply wholly the defect of rain, and indeed in all hot countryes they are very great where the sensible temper of the atmosphere, in the Day and in the night time are very disproportionable. Dews are either [Pure or Mixt].

1. Pure [is only] watry Such as [rise and] fall any time of the year when the night air is undisturbed with wind.

2. Mixt with some other Exhalations the most Eminent of this kind are


Manna [49]

1. Hony or Mildew is the steam[s] of flowers and plants spread in the Sumers Air, and mingled with the Ordinary Dew falls [on plants. This mildew] according to the plants it falls on is either hurtfull or advantageous.

1. Hurtfull to corn in little Enclosures near high trees, and hedges, and in very fat, and rank land, for there the mildew is drank in by the porous stalks before the Grain is perfect, and full and Stops the passage of the juyce which should nourish it. This Malady of Corn is call’d the rust, whose best prevention [natural] is wind, or rain by streightning or filling the pores, or by Shaking or Washing [off] the meldew. Artificially, [there] is [Sometimes] Used a rope stretched by two men in a foggy morning and drawn gently over the Corn to brush away the Dew.

2. Profitable, what falls on other plants, that drink it not in but hold it out till the Sun [drawing] off the Superfluous Moisture the remainder is perfect hony. Such are the Oake, Hazell, Alder, etc: from whence [the] bees gather their hony and carry it home for their winter provision.

N.B. Hence it follows that bees make not hony, but find it; though tis possible [that] by their warmth in the hive it may have some [perfective] digestion.

N.B. Hence also tis a Vulgar Error that bees gather hony from flowers, for that which they gather from them is but a mealy Exudence, and is called Sandarack, and is [their] Spring meat for [the] Nourishment of their young before the hony season [comes]. This they bring home sticking [it on] the Down of their thighs [and that] only in breeding time. but hony they Carry in a bag within their bodyes, and wax (which is the Gum of certain plants) in their mouths; we may therefore Say Hony is from all flowers gathered by the Sun, and dropt on Certain leaves where the bees find it.

[Meldew from flowers hurtfull to Corn we See,

But profitably Gathered by the Bee.]

2. Manna is supposed to be the same Exhalation of flowers but concocted more, and concrete[d] by the Greater heat of the Sun; and tis not improbable [that] some peculiar mineral steams proper to the place dos help this [concoction]; from whence parhaps it may have its purgative Virtue; and that it is found in some particular and not in all places of the same climate. ’Tis found in some hotter countryes on a certain Kind of Ash, only Distinguishable from other[s] by this Effect. This tree dos not only hold [up] the Manna (as other leaves do the hony) but probably affords [also] some Exudancies to help [the] concretion.

N.B. The Manna wherewith the Israellites were fed was quite different from Natural Manna, [for]

1. That melted with [the] heat, this hardens.

2. That was food for all Ages, Sexes, and constitutions; this Solutive medicine for all

3. That fell only 6 Dayes (not on the Sabbath) [ours] fals indifferently at all times.

4. That was Ground in a mill or beaten in a Morter; this needs it not.

5. That Corrupted in a day; this lasts a Year or more, but if there ware somthing of the nature of manna in it, yet [tis manifest] there were many miracles about it.

[Our Manna’s natural; But Israelis Strange;

Melted, food falls not Still, ground, apt to change.]

3. Hoare is but Dew frozen; Sign of rain.

4. Ice is water congealed not in the Air (as Snow) nor in drops (as hail) but in the [Still Water on the Earth:] tis done as the Other coagulations by the [Nitre] of the Air. So Judged by the freezing of snow mingled with salt even near the fire as we commonly know the manner is thus conceived, Supposing the Watter be Externally Quiet (Whence the Still parts of the rivers are [frequently] frozen [when the rest are not]) the particles of Niter in sufficient Quantity are [thrust] (whether by weight or figure) into the pores of [the] water So as to obstruct the motion of [the] Internal particles and thereby removing its fluidity, yet before the Work is compleated it meeting with some other and [adverse] particles in the Water (perhaps Sulphurious) there arises a Contest, a Small fermentation, and Ebullition, Whence bubbles arising [and] yet Stayed in their ascent are lodged in the Ice, and thereby Swels [its] bulk herby taking up more room than the water of which it was made it has diverse Effects Such as breaking of [full] bottles [when they] are Close Stopt; allwayes [Swimming] on the Surface of the Water, and if thickned by snow falling thereon it makes the high floating Islands of Ice met with at sea by No[r]thern Navigators. There is one P[h]ainomina that crosses this Hypothisis, and that is the little water that Stands in horse-tracks, Cart-tracks, and other small puddles, in hard frost have but a [little] thin skin of Ice at [the] top under which is an Empty Space, all the Water being Gone. Now this would make a man suspect, that as in condensation of Stone, or drying of Clay the parts Shrinking one from the other leave the hollow cleft between. So the water condensing rather than dilating in the Upper part [shrinks from the other part] of the Water, [which is also condensed] among the [Earthy parts] at the bottome. [50] But tis probable that in Ice the Case is not So, rather the upper part of the little puddle being frozen, and the Ground [both] about it, and under it [at the same time] being smitten with frost, the Moisture of the Earth in freezing dilates itself, and rises upwards, and because the Earthy parts cannot flow as the [Water does] [therefore] the Upper surface of the frozen Earth [is] not [Equal] (as the Surface of the [Water is]) but full of Cracks [and] Crannyes, herby the little water in the puddle yet unfrozen Sinks down into the Earth and there loseth itself, and this conjecture seams confirmed by the contrary Effect in a basen of Earth, or Pewter whose bottom cannot [be] so [opened], for there is never any hollowness under the Ice, but if the frost prevail the Water (made Ice) is all in a lump close home to the bottom. The force of [the Dilation] in [Ice] is great which Mr Boile in his discourse of cold demonstrates by Experiments of raising great weights [by freizing]. The Dissolution of Ice by warmth is the calling forth these fixing (yet volatile) particles of nitre, and thereby leaving the water to its natural fluidity.

In lower regions of the Air are found

Mist, Dew, Hoare, Ice, or frost upon the Ground