« EelmineJätka »
which fheweth an acid to abound and diffufe itfelf throughout the air.
139. By this fame air fire is kindled, the lamp df life preserved, refpiration, digeftion, nutritionj the pulfe of the heart and motion of all the mufcles feem to be performed, Air therefore is a general agent, not only exerting its own, but calling forth the qualities or powers of all other bodies, by a divifion, comminution, and agitation of their particles, caufing them to fly off and become vblatile 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 poifonous, whofe virtues are not breathed into the air. Theair theretore is an active mafs of numberlefs different principles, the general fource of corruption and generation *, on one hand dividing, abrading, and carrying off the particles of bodies, that is, corrupting or diflblving them; on the other, producing new ones into being; deftroying and beftowing forms without intermiflion.
141. The feeds of things feem to lye latent in the air, ready to appear and produce their kind* whenever they light on a proper matrix. The extremely fmall feeds of fern, moffes, mufhrooms, and fome other plants are concealed and wafted about in the air, every part whereof feems replete with feeds of one kind or other. The whole atmofphere feems alive. There is every where acid to corrode, and feed to engender. Iron will ruft, and mold will grow in .ill places. Virgin earth becomes fertile, crops of new plants ever and anon fhew themfelves; all which demonftrates the air to be a common feminary and receptable of all vivifying principles.
Air may alfo be faid to be the feminary 6f minerals and metals, as it is of vegetables. Mr. Boyle informs us, that the exhaufted ores of tin and iron being expofed to the air become again impregnated with metal, and that ore of alum having loft it*s falt recovers it after the fame manner. And nurnberlefs inftances there are of falts produced by the air, that vaft collection or treafury of active principles, from which all fublunary bodies feemto derive their forms, and on which animals depend for their life and breath.
143. That there is fome latent vivifying fpirit
difperfed throughout the air common experience
fheweth; inafmuch as it is neceflary both to vege
tables and animals (&) whether terreftrial or aquatic,
neither beads, infects, birds, nor fifhes being able
to fubfift without air. Nor doth all air fuffice,
there being fome quality or ingredient, of which
when air is deprived, it becometh unfit to mairt
taih either life or flame. And this even though the
air fhoukl rerain it's elafticity; which, by the bye,
is an argument that air doth not act only as an an
tagonift to the intercoftal mufcles. It hath both
that and many other ufes. Irjjives and prefervesa
proper tone to the veflels: this elaftic fluid pro
motes all fecretions: it's ofcillations keep every part
in motion: it pervades and actuates the whole ani
mal fyftem, producing great variety of effects, and
even oppofite in different parts, cooling at the fame
time and heating, diftending and contracting, co
agulating and revolving, giving and taking, fuf
taining life and impairing it, prefling without and
expanding within, abrading fome parts, at the
fame time infinuating and fupplying others, pro
ducing various vibrations in the fibres, and fer
merits-in the fluids-} all which muft -needs cnfue from fuch a fubtile, active, heterogeneous and el.iflic fluid, .
144. But there is, as we have oblerved, fome 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 muft be the fame thing that fupports the vital and the common flame; it being found that when air, by often breathing in it, is become unfit for the one, it will no longer ferye for the other. The like is obfervable in po.ifonous damps or fteams, wherein flame cannot be kindled. As is evident in the Grotto del cane near Naples. And here it oc-' curs, to recommend the plunging them into cold water, as an experiment to be tried on perfons affected by breathing a poilbnous vapour in old vaults, mines, deep holes or cavities under ground. Which, I am apt to think, might favethe lives of feveral, by what I have feen pradtifed on a dog convulfed, and in all appearance dead, but inftantly reviving on being taken out of the abovementioned Qrotto and thrown into a lake adjacent.
145. Air, the general menftruum and feminary, feemeth 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 clofe fituation ftrongly aft upon each other, attracting, repelling, vibrating. H-nce divers fermentations, and all the variety of meteors, tempefts, and concuflions both of earth ami firmament. Nor is the microcofm lefs affected thereby. Being pent up in the vifcera, veffels, and membranes of the body, by it's falts, fulphurs, and ehftic power, it engenders cholics, fpafms, Jhyfteric diforders and other maladies.
146. The fpecific quality of air is taken to be
I 2 permanent
permanent elafticity. Mr. Boyle is exprefly of thw opinion. And yet, whether there be any fuch thing as permanently elaftic air may be doubted, there being many things which feem to rob the air of this quality, or at leaft leflen and fufpend it's exertion. The falts and fulphurs, for inftance, that float in the air abate much of it's elafticity by their attraction.
'147. Upon the whole it is manifeft, that air is no diftinct element, butamafs or mixture of things the mof t heterogeneous and even oppofite to each other (»»), which become air, by acquiring an elafticity and volatility from the attraction of fome active, fubtile fubftance; whether it be called fire, sether, light, or the vital fpirit of the world; in like manper as the particles of antimony, of themfelves not volatile, are carried off in fublimation. sind rendered volatile, by cohering with the particles of fal ammoniac. But action and reaction being equal, the fpring of this sethereal fpirit is diminifhed by being imparted. It's velocity and fubtilty are alfo lefs from it's being mixed with grofler particles. Jience found moves flower than light, as mud than water.
148. Whether air be only freed and fixed, or generated and deftroyed, it is certain that air begins and ceafes to exert or fhew itfelf, Much by experiments feems to be generated, not only from animals, fruits, and vegetables, but alfo from hard, bodies. And it is obferved by Sir Ifaac Newton, that air produced from hard bodies is moft elaftic.. The tranfmutation of elements, each into other, fiath 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 P> water. This opinion is alfo maintained by. (m) 137, 145.
Sir Tfatc Newton. Though it may be queftion«d, vrhether what is thought a change be not only a chfguife.
149. Fire feems the mod elaftic and expanfwe of all bodies. It communicates this quality to moitt vapours and dry exhalations, when it heats and a-. gitates their parts, cohering clofely with them, overcoming their former mutual attraction, and caufing them, inftead thereof, reciprocally to repel each other and fly afunder, with a force pro.portionable to that wherewith they had cohered.
150. Therefore in air we may conceive two parts, the one more grofs which was raifed and carried off from the bodies of this terraqueous mafs: the other a fine fubtile fpirit by means whereof the former is rendered volatile and elaftic. Together they compofe a medium, whofeelafticity is lefs than that of pure sether, fire, or fpirit, in proportion to the quantity of falts, vapours, and heterogeneous particles contained therein. Hence it follows, that there is no fueh thing as a pure fimple element of air. It follows alfo, that on the higheft mountains air fhould be more rare than in proportion to the vulgar rule, of the fpaces being reciprocally as the preflures: and fo in fact it is faid to have been found, by the gentlemen of the French Academy of Sciences.
151. ^Ether, fire, or fpirit being attracted and clogged by heterogeneous particles becometh left active; and the particles cohering with thofe of sether, become more active than before. Air therefore is a mafs of various particles, abraded and fublimated from wet and dry bodies of all forts, cohering with particles of sether; the whole permeated by pure sether, or ligty, .or fire: for thefc words are ufed promifcuoufly by ancient philofophers.