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· which theweth an acid to abound and diffuse itself throughout the air. . 139. By this same air fire is kindled, the lamp of life preserved, respiration, digestion, nutrition, the pulse of the heart and motion of all the murcles seem to be performed. Air therefore is a general agent, not only exercing its own, but calling forth the qualities or powers of all other bodies, by a division, comminution, and agitation of their particles, causing them to fly off and become voJatile and active.
140. Nothing ferments, vegetates, or putrefies without air, which operates with all the virtues of the bodies included in it ; that is, of all nature ; there being no drug, falutary or poisonous, whose virtues are not breathed into the air. The air there. fore is an active mass of numberless different principles, the general source of corruption and gené. ration ; on one hand dividing, abrading, and cara rying off the particles of bodies, that is, corrupting or dissolving them ; on the other, producing new ones into being; destroying and bestowing forms without intermission.
141. The seeds of things seem to lye latent in the air, ready to appear and produce their kind, whenever they light on a proper matrix. The extremely small seeds of fern, mosses, mushrooms, and some other plants are concealed and wafced aa bout in the air, every part whereof seems replete with seeds of one kind or other. The whole at. mosphere seems alive. There is every where acid to corrode, and feed to engender. Iron will ruft, and mold will grow in all places. Virgin earth becomes fertile, crops of new plants ever and anon Thew themselves; all which demonstrates the air to be a common seminary and receptable of all vivifying principles.
142. Air may also be said to be the seminary of minerals and metals, as it is of vegetables. Mr. Boyle informs us, that the exhausted ores of tin and iron being exposed to the air become again impregnated with metal, and that ore of alum having lost it's salt recovers it after the same manner. And numberless instances there are of salts produced by the air, that vast collection or treasury of active principles, from which all sublunary bodies seem to derive their forms, and on which animals depend for their life and breath.
143. That there is some latent vivifying spirit difpersed throughout the air common experience Mheweth ; inasmuch as it is necessary both to vegetables and animals (b) whether terrestrial or aquatic, neither beasts, insects, birds, nor fishes being able to sublist without air. Nor doth all air fuffice, there being some quality or ingredient, of which when air is deprived, it becometh unfit to maintain either life or flame. And this even though the air should rerain it's elasticity; which, by the bye, is an argument that air doch not act only as an antagonist to the intercostal muscles. It hath both that and many other uses. It gives and preserves a proper tone to the vessels : this elaftic Auid promotes all fecretions: it's oscillations keep every part
in motion: it pervades and actuates the whole animal system, producing great variety of effects, and even opposite in different parts, cooling at the fame time and heacing, distending and contracting, co'agulating and resolving, giving and taking, suftaining life and impairing it, pressing without and expanding within, abrading some parts, at the fame time insinuating and supplying others, pro. ducing various vibrations in the fibres, and fer
(b) 138, 139.
ments in the Auids; all which must · needs ensue from such a subtile, active, heterogeneous and elastic Auid.. · 144. But there is, as we have observed, some one quality or ingredient in the air, on which life more immediately and principally depends. What that is, though men are not agreed, yet it is agreed it must be the same thing that supports the vital and the common Aame; it being found that when air, by often breathing in it, is become unfit for the one, it will no longer serve for the other. The like is observable in poisonous damps or steams, wherein Aame cannot be kindled. As is evident in the Grotto del cane near Naples. And here it occurs, to recommend the plunging them into cold w.iter, as an experiment to be tried on persons affected by breathing a poisonous vapour in old vaults, mines, deep holes or cavities under ground. Which, I am apt to think, might save the lives of several, by what I have seen practised on a dog convulsed, and in all appearance dead, but instantly reviving on being taken out of the abovementioned Grotto and thrown into a lake adjacent.
145. Air, the general menftruum and seminary, seemeth to be only an aggregate of the volatile parts of all natural beings, which varioufly combined and agitated produce many various effects. Small particles in a near and close situation strongly act upon each other, attracting, repelling, vibrating. Hince divers fermentations, and all the variety of meteors, tempelts, and concussions both of earth and firmament. Nor is the microcosm less affected chereby. Being pent up in the viscera, vessels, and membranes of the body, by it's falts, sulphurs, and elastic power, it engenders cholics, spasms, hysteric disorders and other maladies. 146. The specific quality of air is taken to be
I 2 :
permanent elasticity. Mr. Boyle is exprefly of this opinion. And yet, whether there be any fuchthing as permanently elastic air may be doubted;' there being many things which seem to rob the air of this quality, or at least lefsen and suspend it's exertion. The falts and sulphurs, for instance, that float in the air abate much of it's elasticity by their attraction. a 147. Upon the whole it is manifeft, that air is no distinct element, but a mass or mixture of things the most heterogeneous and even opposite to each other (m), which become air, by acquiring an elasticity and volatility from the attraction of some active, subtile substance; whether it be called fire, æther, light, or the vital spirit of the world; in like manner as the particles of antimony, of them. selves not volatile, are carried off in fublimation and rendered volatile, by cohering with the particles of sal ammoniac. But action and reaction being equal, the spring of this æthereal spirit is diminished by being in parted. Ic's velocity and subtilty are also less from it's being mixed with grosser particles. Hence sound moves slower than light, as mud than water.
148. Whether air be only freed and fixed, or generated and destroyed, it is certain that air begins and ceases to exert or few itself, Much by experiments seems to be generated, not only from animals, fruits, and vegetables, but also from hard. bodies. And it is observed by Sir Isaac Newton, that air produced from hard bodies is most elastic,
The transmutation of elements, each into other, hath been anciently held. In Plutarch we find in was the opinion of Heraclitus, that the death of fire was a birth to air, and the death of air a birth: FO water. This opinion is also maintained by (m) 137, 145.
Sir Isaac Newton. Though it may be questioned, whether what is thought a change be not only a disguise.
149. Fire seems the most elastic and expansive of all bodies. It communicates this quality to moist. vapours and dry exhalations, when it heats and a.; gitates their parts, cohering closely with them, overcoming their former mutual attraction, and causing them, instead thereof, reciprocally to repel each other and fly asunder, with a force pro, porcionable to that wherewith they had cohered. ;
150. Therefore in air we may conceive two parts, the one more gross which was raised and, · carried off from the bodies of this terraqueous mass: the other a fine subtile spirit by means whereof the former is rendered volatile and elastic. Together they compose a medium, whose elasticity. is less than that of pure æther, fire, or spirit, in proportion to the quantity of salts, yapours, and heterogeneous particles contained therein. Hence it follows, that there is no such thing as a pure simple element of air. It follows also, that on the higheft mountains air should be more rare than in proportion to the vulgar rule, of the spaces being reciprocally as the pressures : and so in fact it is said to have been found, by the gentlemen of the French Academy of Sciences.
151. Æcher, fire, or spirit being attracted and clogged by heterogeneous particles becometh less active ; and the particles cohering with those of æther, become more active than before. Air therefore is a mass of various particles, abraded and sublimated from wet and dry bodies of all sorts, cohering with particles of æther ; the whole permeated by pure æther, or light, or fire : for these words are used promiscuoully by ancient philoso, phers.