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VOL. IL \ 


L Mercury: or, the Secret and Swift 
Messenger. Shewing how a Man 
may with Privacy and Speed com- 
municate his Thq,agfats to a Friend 
at any Distance. '• 

IL Mathematical Magic: or the Won* 

ders that may be performed by Me- 

dianical Geometry. 
lU. An Abstract of his Essay towards a 

Real Character, and a Philotophical 



UtanStrtett Fitter lane, 





■ • 




VOL. 11. 



X^HE dependence of this knowledge in nature. The authors 
that have treated of it. Its relation to the art of gram- 
mar 1 

II. The conditions requisite to secrecy : the use of it in the 
matter of speech, either by fables of the heathen, or 
parables of scripture 7 

III. Concerning that secrecy of speech, which consists in the 
words, either by inventing new ones, as in canting, 
conjuring, or by changing of the known language^ 
whether inversion, transmutation, diminution, or aug- 
mentation 11 

rV. Concerning the secret conveyances of any written message 
in use amongst the ancients^ either by land, water, or 
the open air 13 

V. Of that secrecy which consists in the materials of writing, 

whether the paper or the ink 19 

VI. Secret writing with the common letters, by changing of 

their places 24 

VII. Concerning secret writing with equal letters, by changing 

their powers. The use of this amongst the Jews and 
Romans. The key-character 27 

VIII. Of secret writing by more letters than are requisite to the 

intended meaning 31 

IX. Of concealing any written sense under barbarous words, 
and such as shall not seem to be of any signification. 
How all the letters may be expressed by any five, 
t^ree, or two of them. Of writing with a double al- 
phabet. How from these two last ways together, there 
may be contrived the best kind of secret writing 34 





X« Of writing any secret sense bv fewer letters than are re- 
quired to the words of it. The use of this amongst the 
Jews and Romans 40 

XL Of writing by invented characters. The distinction of 
these into such as signify, either letters, words, or no- 
tions. The seneral rufes of unfolding and obscuring 
any letter* cnaracter. How to express any sense, 
either by points, or lines, or figures 49 

XII. Of characters that express words. The first invention 
of these. Of those that signify things and notions, as 
hieroglyphics, and emblems 4d 

XIIL Concerning an universal character, that may be legible 
to all nations and languages. 1'he benefit and possi- 
bility of this 53 

XIV. Concerning the thli'd way of secret discoursing by signs 
and vestures, which may signify either ex congruo, 
vel placito 56 

XV. Concerning the swiftness of informations, either by qua- 
lities, as the impression of imagination, and the sen- 
sitive specie^ ; or, by spiritual substances, as angels... Oft 

XVI. Concerning the swiftness of conveyance by bodies, whe- 

ther inanimate, as arrows, bullets; or animate, as 
men, beasts, birds 6S^ 

XVII. Of secret and swift informations by the species of sound 61. 

XVIII. Concerning a language that may consist only of tunes ^ 
and musical notes, without any articulate sound 73 

XIX. Of those common relations that concern secret and 
swift informations by the species of sight, which are 
either fabulous, or magical 75 

XX. Of informations by significatory fires and smoke. 
Their antiquity. The true manner of using them to 
this purpnia. That these were meant in Nuntius 
Inanimatus ., ^ 79 



I. The excellency of these arts. Why they were con- 

cealed by the ancients. The authors that have treated 

of them 91 

II. Concerning the name of this art. That it may properly 

be stiled liberal. The subject and nature ot it 95 

III. Of the first mechanical faculty, the balance 98 

IV. Concerning the second mtchanic faculty, the leaver ... 103 

V. How tlie natural motion of living creatures is conform- 

able to these artificial rules x.. 105 

VI. CoDoerning the wheel 110 

Vil. CoDCcrniag the pulley 113 

t\ " 


Chap. Pago 

VIII. Of the wedge , 119 

IX. Of the screw 121 

X. An inquiry into the magnificent works of the ancients, 
which much exceeding our latter times, may seem 
to infer a decay in these mechanical arts 1 24 

XI. That the ancients had divers motives and means for such 

vast magnificent works, which we have not 127 

XII. Concerning the force of the mechanic faculties ; parti- 

cularly the balance and leaver. How they may be 
contrived to move the whole world, or any conceiv- 
able weight 133 

XIII. Of the wheel : by multiplication of which, it is easy to 

move any imaginable weight 13$ 

XIV. Concerning the infinite strength of wheels, pullies, and 

. screws. That it is possible, by the multiplication of 
these, to pull up any oak by the roots with a hair, 
lift it up with a straw, or blow it up with one's 
breath, or to perform the greatest labour with the 
least power .....^ 140 

XV. Concerning the proportion of slowness and swiftness in 

mechanical motions 146 

XVI. That it is possible to contrive such an artificial motion, 
as shall be of a slowness proportionable to the swift- 
ness of the heavens 149 

XVII. Of swiftness : how it may be increased to any kind of 

proportion. Concemins the ereat force of Archi- 
meaes his engines. Of the balTista 153 

XVIII. Concerning the cat<4pult2e, or engines for arrows 160 

XIX. A comparison betwixt these ancient engines, and the 

gunpowder instruments now in use 102 

XX. That it is possible to contrive such an artificial motion, 
as may be equally swift with the supposed motion of 
the heavens « 166 



I. The divers kinds of automata, or self-movers. Of mills, 
and the contrivance of several motions by rarified 
air. A brief digression concerning wind-guns ...... 169 

II. Of a sailing chariot, that may without horses be driven 

on the land by the wind, as ships are on the sea ... 175 

III. Concerning the fixed automata, clocks, spheres, repre- 
senting the heavenly motions : the several excellen- 
cies tnat are most commendable in such kind of 
contrivances , 179 


Chip. If* 

IV. Of the moveable and gradient auioma^ representiirg 

the motions of living creatures, various sounds, oT 
birds, or beasts, and some of them articulate 186 

V. Concerning the possibility of framing an ark fer tubma- 

rine navigations. Tne difficulties and convenien- 
cies of such a contrivance 188 

VI. Of the volant automata, Archytas, his dove, and Regio- 

montanus his eagle. The possibility, and great use- 
fulness of such inventions I9i 

VII. Concerning the art of flying. The several ways whereby 

this hath been, or may be attempted 19f v 

VIII. A resolution of the two chief difficulties that seem to op- ': 

pose the possibility of a flying chariot 204 ^ 

IX. Of a perpetual motion. The seeming facility and real 
difficulty of any such contrivance. The several 
ways whereby it hath been attempted, particularly 
by chemistry 211 

X. Of subterraneous lamps ; divers historical relations con- 
cerning their duration for many hundred years to- 
gether 21S 

XI. Several opinions concerning the nature and reason of 

these perpetual lamps 218 

XII. The most probable conjecture, how these lamps were 

framed 222 

XIII. Concerning several attempts of contriviog a perpetual 

motion by magnetical virtues 227 

XIV. The seeming probability of effecting a continual mo- 

tion by solia weights, m a hollow wheel or sphere ... 230 

XV. Of composing a perpetual motion by fluid weights. 

Concerning Archimedes's water-«crew. The great 
probability of accomplishing this inquiry by the 
nelp of that ; with the fallibleness of it upon ex- 
perience 23f 

An Abstract of Dr. Wilkins's Essay towards a Real Cha- 
racter, and a Philosophical Language m . . . . 247 










- \ 

** .^ 






My Lord, 

TDo here once more present your Lordship with the 
fruit of my leisure studies, as a testimony of my 
readiness to serve you in those sacred matters, to zvhich 
I devote my more serious hours. I should not have 
presumed to this dedication, had I not been encouraged 
by that generousness and sweetness of disposition, 
which does so eminently adorn your Lordship* s place 
and abilities. 


If your Lordship please to excuse this poldness, and 
to vouchsafe this pamphlet a shelter under your fa- 
vourable patronage, you shall thereby encourage me 
in those higher studies, which may be more agreeable 
to that relation wherein Island, as being 

Your Lordship's servant and chaplain. 





nPHAT which first occasioned this discourse, was 
the reading of a little pamphlet, stiled Nuntius 
InanimatuSy commonly ascribed to a late reverend 
bishop; wherein he affirms, that there are certain 
ways to discourse with a friend, though he were in 
a close dungeon, in a besieged city, or a hundred 
miles off. 

Which promises, at the first perusal, did rather 


raise my wonder than belief, having before that 
time observed nothing that might give any satisfac- 
tion in these particulars. And I should have es- 
teemed them altogether fabulous, had it not been 
for the credit of their reputed author. 

After this, I did collect all such notes to this 
purpose, as I met with in the course of my other 

From whence when I have received full satis- 
faction, I did for mine own farther delight compose 
them into this method. 

I have already attained mine own ends, both in 
the delight of composing this, and the occasion of' 
publishing it : and therefore need not either fear the 
censure of others, or beg their favour. I could 
never yet discern, that any reader hath shewed the 
more charity for the author*s bespeaking it. 







TJ EST Maia's son, sometimes interpreter 
^\^ Of gods, and to us men their messenger: 
Take not such pains as thou hast done of old. 
To teach men hieroglyphics, and to unfold 
Egyptian hidden characters, and how 
Men writ in dark obscurity : for now 
Trithemius and Selenus both are grown 
Such cryptographers, as they scarce will own 
Thee for their master ; and decipherers know 
Such secret ways to write, thou ne'er didst show. 
These are but artists which thou didst inspire; 
But now thou of a Mercury art sire 
Of thine own name, a post with whom the wind^ 
Should it contend, would be left far behind. 
Whose message, as thy metal, strikes the gold 
Quite through a wedge of silver uncontrol'd ; 
And in a moment's space doth pass as far 
As from the arctic to th' antarctic star 
So proving what is said of influence, 
M^y now be said of his intelligence, 
They neither of them having such a quality 
As a relation to locality: 
No places distance hindering their commerce, 
Who freely traffic through the universe ; 
And inij minute can a voyage make 
Over the ocean's universal lake. 
This son of thine, could any words or piraise. 
His learning, worth, or reputation raise, 
We should be suitors to him to bestow 
Encomiums on himself, which we do owe 
Unto his worth, and use that eloquence, 
Which as his own, must claim pre-eminence : 
For thee, 'tis glory enough thou h^st'ason 
Of art, that hath thyself in art outdone. 

Sir Francis Kinaston^ Knt. 



OF old, who to the common good mvtWA 
Or mind or means, for it were demcd : 
But chiefly such who new inventions found ; 
Bacchus for wine, Ceres that till'd the ground. 
I know no reason time should breed such odds, 
( W have warrant for't) men now may be stil'd gods. 
By hiding who thou art, seek not to miss 
The glory due to such a work as this ; 
But set thy name, that thou may'st have the praise. 
Lest to the unknown God we altars raise. 

Anthony Auch£R, Esq. 


TO praise thy work, were to anticipate 
Thy reader's judgment, and to injure fate; 
Injustice to thyself; for real worth 
Needs not arts flattery to set it forth. 
Some chuse selected wits to write as friends. 
Whose verses, when the work fails, make amends, 
So as the buyer has his pennyworth. 
Though what the author write prove spumy froth. 
Thou, of a humour cross to that, hast chose 
A friend or two, whose verse hops like rough prose; 
From whose inexpert vein thou canst not look 
For lines that may enhance the price o'th' book. 
Let it commend itself, all we intend 
Is but to shew the world thou art our friend. 

Richard Hatton, Esq. 


READER, this author has not long ago 
Found out another world to this below: 
Though that alone might merit great renown, 
Yet in this book he goes beyond the moon : 
Beyond the moon indeed, for here you see 
That he from thence hath fetched down Mercury ; 
One that doth tell us things both strange and new. 
And yet believe 't they're not more strange than true. 
I'm loth to tell thee what rare things they be, 
Read thou the book, and then thou'lt tcH them me. 

ToB. WoRLRICH, J. C. DoCt. 







INIMITABLE Sir, we here <liscem 
Maxims the Stagirite himself might learn. 
Were Plato now alive he'd yield to you, 
Confessing something might be known anew. 
Fresh heresies (new-nothings) still appear 
As almanacks, the births of every year. 
This Dutchman writes a comment ; that translates ; 
A third transcribes ; your pen alone creates 
New necessary sciences: this art 
Lay undiscovered as the world's fifth part. 
But secrecy's no^ir publish'd; you reveal 
By demonstration how we may conceal. 

Our legates are but men, and often niay 
Great state af&irs unwillingly betray ; 
Caught by some sifting spies, or tell-tale wine, 
Which dig up secrets in the deepest mine. 
Sometimes, like fire peiit in, they outward break. 
And 'cause they should be silent, therefore speak. 

Nor are kings' writings safe: to guard their fame. 
Like Scaevola they wish their hand i'th' flame. 
Ink turns to blood ; they oft participate 
By wax and quill sad Icarus's fate. 
Hence noblemen's bad writing proves a plot ; 
Their letters are but lines, their names a knot. 

But now they shall no more seal their own fall ; 
No letters prove killing, or capital. 
Things pass unknown, and each ambassador's 
Strict as the breast of sacred confessors: 
Such as the inquisition cannot see ; 
Such as are forc'd neither by rack, nor fee. 
Swift secrecy descends to human powers ; 
That which was Pluto's helmet, now is ours. 
We shall not henceforth be in pay for air. 
Transported words being dear as precious ware ; 
Our thoughts will now arrive before they're stale ; 
They shall no more wait on the carrier's ale 
And hostess, two land-reiporaes, which bind 
All to a tortoise pace, though words be wind. 

t • 


Ttiis book's a better ark ; we brook no stay, 
Maugre the deepest flood, or foulest way. 
Commerce of goods and souk we owe to two, 
(Whose fames shall now be twins) Noah and You. 
Each bird is turn'd a parrot, and we see 
Esop's beasts made more eloquent by thee. 
Wooers again may wing their fetter'd love 
By Noah's trusty messenger the dove. 
Torches which us'd only to help our sight, 
(Like heavenly fires) do give our reason light. 
Death's haibingers, arrows, andbjilets prove 
Like Cupid's darts, ambassadors of love. 
Then your diviner hieroglyphics tell. 
How we may landskips read, and pictures spell. 
You teach how clouds inform, how smokes advise ; 
Thus saints with incense talk to deities. 
Thus by dumb creatures we instructed are. 
As the wise men were tutor'd by a star. 

Since we, true serpents like, do little wrong 
With any other member but the tongue ; 
You tell us how we may by gestures talk; 
How feet are made to speak, as well as walk; 
How eyes discourse, how mystic nods contrive; 
Making our knowledge too, intuitive. 
A bell no noise but rhetoric affords; 
Our music notes are speeches, sounds are words. 
Without a trope there's language in a flow'r. 
Conceits are smelt without a metaphor. 
Dark subtilties we how shall soon define, 
Each organ's turn'd the sense of discipline. 
*Tis to your care we owe that we may send 
Business unknown to any but our friend. 
That which is English friendship to my brother, 
May be thought Greek or nonsense to another. 
We now may Homer's Iliads confine. 
Not in a nut-shell, but a point, or line. 
Which art though't seem to exceed faith, yet who 
Tries it will find both truth and reason too. 
*Tis not like jugglers tricks, absurd, when shown; 
But more and more admir'd, the more 'tis known. 
Writing's an act of emanation. 
And tlioughts speed quick and far as day doth run. 

Richard West,C.C. Ox. 





The dependance of this knowledge in nature. The authors 
that have treated of it* Its relation to the art of 

EVERY rational creature, being of an imperfect and 
dependent happiness, is therefore naturally endowed 
with an ability to communicate its own thoughts and inten- 
tions ; that so by mutual services, it might the better pro- 
mote itself in the prosecution of its own well-being. 

And because there is so vast a difference betwixt a spirit 
and a body, therefore hath the wisdom of Providence con- 
trived a distinct way and means, whereby they are each of 
them enabled to discourse, according to the variety of their 
several natures. 

The angels or Spiritual substances, per insinuationem 
specierum^ (as the schoolmen speak*) by insinuating of 
the species, or an unveiling of their own natures in the 
knowledge of such particulars as they would discover to 
another. And since they are of an homogeneous and im- 
material essence, therefore do they hear, andknow, and 
speak, not with several parts, but with their whole sub- 

* Aquinas part 1. Qusest. 107. Zanch. de operibus Dei, part 1. 
L 3. c. 19. 



Stance. And though the apostle mentions the tongue ot 
angels*, yet that is only per conctssunitnn^ et ex ht/pih- 

But now, men that have organical bodies, cannot com- 
municate tlieir thoughts so easy and immediate a way. 
And therefore have need of some ccrporeal instrumentSi 
both for the receiving and conveying of knowledge. Unto 
both which functions, nature hath designed several parts. 
Amongst the rest, the ear is chiefly the sense of disci- 
pline or learning, and the tongue the instrument of teach- 
ing. The communion betwixt both these, is by speech 
or language, which was but one at first, but hath since been 
confounded into several kinds. And experience now shews, 
that a man is equally disposed for the learning of all, ac- 
cording as education shall direct him-f. Which would not 
be, if (as some fondly conceive) any one of them were na- 
tural unto us. For intus existens prohibct alieniim. 

Or suppose that a man could be brought up to the 
speaking of another tongue J, yet this would not hinder, but 
that he should still retain his knowledge of that which was 
natural. For if those which are gotten by art do not 
hinder one another, much less would they be any impedi^ 
mem to that which is from nature. And according to this 
it will follow, that most men should be of a double lan- 
guage, which is evidently false. Whence likewise you 
may guess at the absurdity of their enquiries, who have 
sought to find out the primitive tongue, by bringing up in- 
fants in such silent solitary places, where tliey might not 
hear the speech of others. 

Languages are so far natural unto us, as other arts and 
sciences. A man is born without any of them, but yet ca- 
pable of all. 

Now, because words are only for those that are present 
both in time and placx ; therefore to these there hath been 
added, the invention of letters and writing, which are such a 

* I Cor. xiii. 1. t Valiesius Sacr, Phil. cap. 3. 

X CsL Rhod. Ant. lect. i. 2. 9. c» 14. 


tfepresentation of our words (though more permanent) as 
our worlds are of our thoughts. By these we may discourse 
with them that are remote from us,. not only by the dis- 
tance of many miles, but also of many ages. Hujus usu 
scimiis maxime constare humanitatem vitie^ viejnm'iavi^ aC 
homtmon hnmortalitateni^ saith Pliny*. Quid hoc niagni" 
ficentius? Quid aque mirandiaii ? in quod ne mortis quidetn 
avida rapacitas jus ullum kabeaty Saith Rhodiginus. Tliis 
being the chiefest means both for the promoting of human 
society, and the perpetuating our names unto following 

How strange a thing this art of writing did seem at its 
first invention, we may guess by the late discovered Ame- 
ricans, who were amazed to sec men converse with books, 
and could scarce make themselves believe that a paper 
should speak; especially, when after all their attention and 
listening to any writing (as their custom Was) they could 
^ never perceive any words or sound to proceed from it. 

There is a pretty relation to this purpose, concerning an 
Indian slave ; who being sent by his master with a basket 
of figs and a letter, did by the way eat up a great part of 
his carriage, conveying the remainder unto the person to 
whom he was directed ; who when he had read the letter, 
and not finding the quantity of figs answerable to what 
was spoken of, he accuses the slave of eating them, tel- 
ling him what the letter said against himf. But the Indian 
^notwithstanding this proof) did confidently abjure the 
fact, cursing the paper, as being a false and lying witness. 
After this, being sent again with the like carriage, and a 
letter expressing the just number of figs that were to be 
delivered, he did again, according to his former practice, 
devour a great part of them by the way ; but before he 
meddled with any, (to prevent all following accusations) 
he first took the letter, and hid that under a great stone, 

* Nat. Ilisi. 1. I'i. c. 1 1. Antiq. lect. 1. 4. c. 3. 
t llermaniius Hugo dc Orig. Scribcndi Praef. 

B 2 



assuring himself, that if it did not see him eat the figSi it 
could never tell of him ; but being now more strongly ac- 
cused than before^ he confesses the fault, admiring the di- 
vinity of the paper, and for the future docs promise his 
best fidelity in every employment 

Such strange conceits did those wilder nations entertain, 
concerning tliis excellent invention. And doubtless it must 
needs argue a vast ability both of wit and memory in that 
man who did first confine all those different sounds of 
voice, (which seem to be almost of infinite variety) within 
the bounds of those few letters in the alphabet 

The first inventor of this was thought to be the Egyptian 
Mercury*, who is therefore stiled the messenger of the 
Gods. To which purpose the poets have furnished him 
with wings for swiftness and dispatch in his errands. And 
because the planet of that name was thought to observe a 
more various and obscure revolution than any of the rest, 
therefore likewise did they attribute unto him «uch secret 
and subtle motions, as might make him a trusty and pri- 
vate messenger, and so the fitter for tliat preferment to 
which for this invention they had advanced him. 

There is yet another way of discoursing, by signs and 
gestures ; and though it be not so common in practice as 
either of the other, yet in nature perhaps it is before them 
both, since infants are able this way to express them- 
selves, before they have the benefit of speech. 

But now, because none of these ways in ordinary usCt 
are either so secret or swift as some exigencies would re- 
quire ; therefore many of the ancients have busied them- 
selves in a further enquiry, how both these deficiencies 
may be remedied ; as conceiving ttart such a discovery 
would be of excellent use, especially for some occasions 
that are incident to statesmen and soldiers. 

That the ignorance of secret and swift conveyances, 
hath often proved fatal, not only to tlie ruin of particular 

* Cic. 1. 3. de Nat. Deor. Polyd. Vir. de Inventor. 1. I.e. 6. Vojalus 
de Grammaticar^ 1. 1. c. 9. Natal. Comes Mytho. L 5. c. 5. 



persons, but also of whole armies and kingdoms, may 
easily appear to any one that is but little versed in story, 
An^ therefore the redressing of these may be a subject 
worth our enquiry. 

Amongst the ancients that have most laboured in these 
particulars, -Sneas\ Cleomenes, and Democritus, (as they 
are cited by Polybius^) were for their inventions of this 
kind, more remarkably eminent. And that author^ him- 
self hath given us such an exact relation of the knowledge 
of antiquity in these things, that It is a wonder these fol* 
lowing ages should either take no more notice, or make 
no more use of it. Besides these, there is also Julius Afri- 
canus, and Philo Mechanicus, two ancient Grecians, who 
have likewise treated of this subject. 

The military significations in use amongst the Romans^ 
are handled by Vegetius* and Frontinus*. 

Their notes of secrecy, and abbreviation in writing, are 
largely set down by Valerius Probus^ and Pet. Diaconus. 
There is likewise a volume of these set forth by Janus 
Gruterus, which for their first invention are commonly 
ascribed unto Cicero and Seneca''. 

In latter times these particulars have been more flilly 
handled by the Abbot Trithemius®, Theodorus Bibliander% 
Baptista Porta'^, Cardan. Subtil. 1. 17. de var. C. 1 2. 6. Isaac 
Casaubon", Johannes Walchius**, Gustaphus Selenus^% 
Gerardus Vossius", Hermannus Hugo**, and divers others 
in particular languages. 

Amongst the rest, our English AristotlCi the learned Ve- 
tulam, in that work truly stiled the advancement of learn- 
ing, hath briefly contracted the whole substance of what 
may be said in thil subject. Where he refers it to the art 
of Grammar, noting it as a deficient part. And in refc- 

* Poliorcetica. ^'Hist. 1. 10. ' Polybius, ib. juxta finem. * De re mi- 
lit. 1.3. c. 5. *DeStrat. ^ L. de notis antiquus. '^ The father, ^ 
Polygraph, item de Stenograph. 'Tract de ratione commun. lingua- 
rum. *® Lib. de Zyphris. " Notis in ^neae Polyorcetica. " Fab. 9- 
*^ De Cryptog. " De Gram. L. 1 . c. 40. " L. de Or. Scrib. de Augm. 
Scientiar. 1. 6. c. 1. 

**• > 


rence to this is it handled by most of those authors who 
have treated of it. 

That art, in its true latitude comprehending a (reatyi 
concerning all the ways of discourse, whether by speechi 
or by writing, or by gesture, together with the several cir- 
cumstances pertaining to them. And so thU subject be- 
longs to the mint of knowledge ; expressions being current 
for conceits, as money is for valuatioi^s. 

Now as it will concern a man that deals in traffic, to un? 
derstand the several kinds of money, and that it may b^ 
framed of other materials besides silver and gold : so like- 
wise does it behove them vyho profess the knowledge of 
nature or reason, rightly to apprehend the several ways 
whereby they may be expressed. 

So that besides the usefplness of this subject for som^ 
special occasions, it doth also belong unto one of the libe^ 
ral arts. 

From which considerations we may infer, that these 
particulars are not so trivial, as perhaps otherways they 
would seem ; and that there is sufficient motive to excitp 
^ny industrious spirit unto a further search after them. 

Jn this following discourse I shall enquire, 

1. Concerning the secrecy of means, whereby to com« 
piunicate our thoughts. 

2. Concerning their swiftness, or quick passing at a|iy 
great distance. 

3. How they may be both joined tpgether in the co|i- 
vpyance of any message. 

In the prosecution of which, I 3hfill alsp mention (be- 
sides thp true discoveries) most of tjiose other ways, 
whether magical, or fabulous, th^t are repeived upon coii^- 
jpaqn tradition. 




The conditions requisite to secrecy : the use of it in the 

tnattfiT (hf .vhp.i»ch. either 


matter of speech^ either 

Fables of the heathen. 
Parables of scrzptvre. 

TO the exactness of secrecy in any way of discourse, 
there are these two qualifications requisite. 

1. That it be difficult to be unfolded, if it should be 
doubted of, or examined. 

2. That it be (if possible) altogether devoid of suspi" 
cion ; for so far as it is liable to this, it may be said tg 
come short in the very nature of secrecy ; since what is 
once suspected, is exposed to the danger of examination, 
and in a ready way to be discovered ^ but if not, yet a maa 
is more likely to be disappointed ia his intentions, when 
his proceedings are mistrusted. 

Both these conditions together are to be found but in 
few of the following instances ; only tliey are here speci- 
fied, to shew what a man should aim at, in the inventions 
of this nature. 

The art of secret information in the general, as it in- 
cludes all significatory signs, may be stiled crypto^neneses^ 
or private intimations. 

The particular ways of discoursing, were before inti- 
mated to be threefold. 

1. By speaking. 

2. By writing. 

3. By signs or gestures. ^, 
According to which variety, there are alw^ different 

ways of secrecy, 

\. Cryptologia, 

2. Cryptographia. 

3. Sern^eologia* 



Cryptohgia^ or tiie secrecy of speaking, may consist 

1 . In the matter. 

2. In the words. 

1. In the matter c when the thing we would utter is so 
concealed under the expression of some other matter, that 
it is not of obvious conceit. To which purpose are the 
metaphors, allegories, and divers other tropes of oratory \ 
which, so far as they concern the ornament of speech, do 
properly belong to rhetoric ; but as they may be applied 
for the secrecy of speech, sq arc they reducible unto this 
part of grammar. 

To this likewise appertains all that aenigmatical learning* 
unto which not only the learned heathen, but their gods 
also were so much devoted, as appears by the strange and 
frequent ambiguities of the oracles and sybils. And those 
were counted the most profound philosophers amongst 
them, who were best abl^e fpr the invention of such affected 

Of this kind also were all those mysterious fables, un- 
der which the ancients did veil tlie secrets of their religion 
and philosophy, counting it a pro|)hane thing to prostitute 
the hidden matters of either, unto vulgar apprehension* 
Quia sciunt inimicam esse natura, apertam nudaw^ue ex^ 
positionem sui; qua^ sicut vulgaribus hominum sensibttSp 
intellectum suij vario rerum tegmhie opeiimentogue suif^ 
fraxity ita a prudentibus arcana sua voluitperfabulosa trao 
tariy saith Macrobius*. The gods and nature would not 
themselves have hidden so many things from us, if they had 
intended them for common understandings, or that others 
should treat pf thjt?m after an easy and perspicuous way ; 
hence was it that the learned men of former times were so 
generally inclined to iiivolvc all their learning, in obscure 
and mysterious expressions. Thus did the Egyptian priests, 
the Pythagoreans, Platonicks, and ^Iniost all other sects 
and professions, 

* In Somn. Scip. lib. 1. cap. ^* 



And to this general custpm of those ages (we may guess) 
the Holy Ghost does allude, in the frequent parables both 
of the Old and New Testament. Parabola est sermo si-* 
militudinariusy qui aliud dicit^ aliut significat^ saith Aqui- 
nas *. It is such a speech of similitude, as says one thing 
and means another. The disciples do directly oppose it 
to plain speaking fy Behold now speakest thou plainly and 
no parables. , • 

And elsewhere it is intimated, that our Saviour did use 
tiiat manner of teaching for the secrecy of it: that those 
proud and perverse auditors, who would not apply them- 
selves to the obedience of his doctrine, might not so much 
as understand it:|:. To whom it is not given to kn^w the 
mysteries of the kingdom of God, to them all things are 
done in parables, that seeing they may see and not per- 
ceive, and hearing they m^ hear and not understand. 

The art of these was so to imply a secret argument §, that 
the adversary might unawares be brought over to an ac- 
knowledgment and confession of the thing we would have. 
Thus did Nathan unexpectedly discover to David, the 
cruelty and injustice of his proceedings in the case of 
Uriah ||. Thus did another prophet make Ahab condemn 
himself, for suffering the king of Syria to escape If* And 
by this mjeans did our Saviour in the parable of the vine- 
yard, and the unjust husbandman**, force the unbelieving 
Jews to a secret acknowledgment of those judgments they 
had themselves deserved. 

Of this nature was that argument of an ancient orator, 
who when the enemies had proposed peace upon this con- 
dition, that the city should banish their teachers and |>hiIo- 
sophers, he steps up and tells the people a tale, of certain 
wars betwixt the wolves and the sheep, and that the wolves 
promised to make a league, if the sheep would put away 

* Commen. in Isai. xiv. t John xvL 29. 

t Mat. xiii, 10, 1 1. Mark. iv. 1 1, 12. § Glo«. Phil. 1. 2. par. U 

pao 1 • Tract. 2. Sect, 5, || 2 Sam. xii. ^1 Kings zx. 39. 

^» Mat. xxi. 31, 


their mastiff-dogs. By this means better instructifig them 
of the danger and madness there would be, in yieldingto 
such a condition. 

The Jewish doctors do generally in their Talmud, and 
all their other writings, accustom themselves to a paraboli- 
cal way of teaching ; and it is observed, that maay of 
those horrid fables that are fathered upon them, do arise 
from a misapprehension of them in this particulars : whilst 
others interpret that according to the letter*, which they 
intended only for the moral. As that which one rabby re* 
lates, concerning a lion in the forest of Elay, that at the 
distance of four hundred leagues, did with his roaring shake 
down the walls of Rome, and make the women abortive. 
Wherein he did not affirm the existence of any such mona- 
ster, but only intimate the tenibleness and power of the di* 
vine majesty. But this by the way. 

By this art many men are able in their ordinary dis- 
courses, so secretly to convey th^ir counsels, or reproofsi, 
that none shall understand them, but those whom they 
concern. And this way of teaching hath a great advan* 
tage above any other, by reason it hath much more power 
in exciting the fancy and affections. Plain arguments and 
moral precepts barely proposed, are more flat in their ope^ 
ration, not so lively and persuasive, as when they steal in* 
to a man's assent, under the covert of a parable. 

To be expert in thb particular, is not in every man's 
power ; like poetry, it requires such a natural faculty as 
cannot be taught. But so far as it falls under the rules 
and directions of art, it belongs to the precepts of oratory. 

In the general it is to be observed. That in these cases a 
man must be very careful to make choice of such a subject, 
as may bear in it some proper analogy and resemblance to 
the chief business. And he must before-hand in his 
thoughts, so aptly contrive the several parts of the simili- 
tude, that they may fitly answer unto those particular pas^. 
sages which are of greatest consequence. 

* Scickard Examen. Commen. Rabbin, dis. 7. 





Concerning that secrecy of speech^ ffihick consists in 

the wordsi either 

By inventing new. ones, f Canting, 
as in. . . ^. . . . . (. CoNjURiNCt 

Or by a changing T Inversion. 

pf the khownj Transmutation^ 
language, whe- j Diminution. 
ther (^ Augmentation. 

THE secret ways of speaking, which consist in the mzU 
ter of discourse, have been abready handled. Those 
that are in the words are twofold. Either, 

1. By inventing new Words of our own, which shall sig-^ 
liify upon compact. 

2. Or by such an alteration of any known language, 
diat in pronunciation it shall seem as obscure, as if it were 
altogether barbarous. 

To the first kind we may refer the canting of beggars ; 
who though they retain the common particles, yet have 
imposed new names upon all such matters as may happen 
to be of greatest consequence and secrecy. 

And of this nature the charms of witches, and language 
of magicians seem to be. Though of these it may well be 
^doubted, whether they have any signification at all. And 
if they have, whether any understand them, but the devil 
himself. It is probable he did invent such horrid and bar* 
barous sounds, that by them he might more easily delude 
the weak imaginations of his credulous disciples. Martinus 
de Aries ^, an archdeacon in Navar, speaking of a conju- 
fing-book, that was found in a parish under his visitation, 

* Tract, de lupentitioiubuit 



repeats out of it these forms of discoursing with the devil. 
Conjuro te per eelim^ per alion^ per seboaiiy per adamn/^ 
per alielujah^ per tanti^ per archabuUriy &c. Anfi a little 
after, Sitis dlegati K constricti per ista sancta namina Deit 
A«r, allif habety sat 9 mUJilisgay adrdttagundi^ taU chamUe" 
ram, &c. And in another place, Corisciofiy Matatronf 
CaladafoHy Ozcozoy Yosiel, &c. 

In which forms the common particles and words of usual 
sense, are plainly set down in ordinary Latin ; but many of 
the other, which seem to have the greatest efficacy, arc 
of such secret sense, as I think no linguist can discover. 

The inventions of this kind do not fall under any parti-* 
cular rule or maxim, but nsay be equally infinite to the va- 
riety of articulate sounds. 

The second way of sectecy in speech*, is by an altera- 
tion of any known language, which is far more easy, and 
may prove of as much use for the privacy of it, as the 
other. This may be performed four ways. 

1. By inversion, when either the letters or syllables are 
spelled backwards. 

Mitto tibz Metulas cancros imitare legendo, where the 
word Salutem is expressed by an inversion of the letters. 
Or as in this other example, Stisho estad, veca biti, which 
by an inversion of the syllables, is Hostis adest^ cave tibu 

2. By transmutation, or a mutual changing of one let- 
ter for another in pronunciation ; answerable to that form 
of writing, mentioned in the seventh chapter. And though 
this may seem of great difficulty, yet use and experience 
will make it easy. 

3. By contracting some words, and leaving part of them 
out ; pronouncing them after some such way as they were 
wont to be both written and printed in ancient copies* 
Thus a a stands for anima, ArVs for Aristoteles. But this 
can be but of small use in the English tongue, because 
that does consist most of monosyllables. 

* Porta de furi. lit. 1. 1. cap 5. Selenus dc Cryptographia, 


4. By augmenting words with the addition of other let- 
ters. Of which kind is that secret way of discoursing in 
ordinary use, by doubling the vowels diat make the syl- 
lables and interposing G. or any other consonant, K. P. 
T. R. &c. or other syllables, as Porta lib. 1. cap. 5. de fur* 
tiv. liter, notis. Thus if I would say. Our plot is dis- 
covered, it must be pronounced thus, Ougour plogot igis 
digiscogffoegereged. Which does not seem so obscure in 
writing, as it will In speech and pronunciation. And it is 
so easy to be learnt, that I have known little children, al- 
most as soon as they could speak, discourse to one another 
as fast this way, as they could in their plainest English. 

But all these latter kinds of secrecy in speech, have this 
grand inconvenience in them, that they are not without 

There are some other ways of speaking by inarticulate 
sounds, which I shall mention afterwards. 


Concerning the secret corweyances of any written mes^ 
sage in use amongst the ancients. 

r Land. 

Either by ^ Water. 

(. The open air. 

THE secrecy of any written message f Conveyance, 
may consist either in the X Writing. 

1. In the conveyance, when the letter is so closely con- 
cealed in the carriage of it, as to delude the search and 
suspicion of the adversary. Of which kind ancient histo- 
rians do furnish us with divers relations, reducible in tlie 
general unto these three heads. Those that are 

* Chap. 17, 18. 


1. By Land. ' 

2. By Water. 

3. Through the open Air. 

^ 1. The secret conveyances by ^land, may be of num* 
berless variety ; but those an<^ent inventions of this naturCi 
which to my remembrance are most obvious and remark- 
able, are these. 

That of Harpi^us the Mede (mentioned by Herodotus 
and Justin*) who when he would exhort Cyrus to a con- 
spiracy against the king his uncle, (and not daring to com-<^ 
mit any such message to the ordinary way of conveyancCf 
especially since the king's jealousy h^d stopped up all pas-^ 
sages with spies and watchmen) he puts his letters into the 
belly of a hare, which, together with certain hunters nets, 
he delivered unto a trusty servant, who under this dis- 
guise of a huntsman, got an unsuspected passage to Cyrus. 
And Astyages himself was by this conspiracy bereaved 
of that kingdom which was then the greatest monarchy 
in the world. 

To this purpose likewise is that of Demaratus t> king of 
Sparta, who being banished from his own country, and 
received in the Persian court, when he there understood 
of Xerxes his design and preparation for a war with Greece, 
he used these means for the discovery of it unto his coun« 
trymen. Having written an epistle in a tablet of wood J, 
he covered over the letters with wax, and then committed 
it unto a trusty servant, to be delivered unto the magis-* 
trates of Lacedaemon ; who when they had received it, 
were for a long time in a perplexed consultation what it 
should mean ; they did see nothing written, and yet could 
not conceive but that it should import some weighty secret; 
till at length the king's sister did accidentally discover the 
writing under the wax: by which means the Grecians 

* Herod. 1. 1. cap. 123. Justin. 1. 1. 
f Justin. 1. 2. Se^ the like related of Hamucar. lb. 1. 21, 
X Such as formerly they were wont to write upon> whence the phrase 
Rasa tabula, and litera a litura. 


were so well provided for the following war, as to give a 
defeat to the greatest and most numerous army that is men- 
tioned in history. 

The fathers of the council of Ephesus*, when Nesto- 
rius was condemned, lining strictly debarred from all ordi-« 
nary ways of conveyances,' were fain to send unto Con- 
stantinople by one in the disguise of a beggar. 

Some messengers have been sent away in cofiins as be^ 
ing dead : some others in the disguise of brute creatures^ 
as those whom Josephus mentions in the siege of Jota- 
pata f , who crept out of the city by night like dogs. 

Others have conveyed letters to their imprisoned friends, 
by putting them into the food they were to receive, which 
is related of Polycrita. Laurentius Medicus J involving his 
epistles in a piece of bread, did send them by a certain 
• nobleman in the form of a beggar. There is another re- 
lation of one, who rolled up his letters in a wax- candle, 
bidding the messenger tell the party that was to receive it, 
that the candle would give him light for his business. There 
is yet a stranger conveyance spoken of in ^neas ||, by 
writing on leaves, and afterwards with these leaves cover- 
ing over some sore or putrid ulcer, where the enemy would 
never suspect any secret message. 

Others have carried epistles inscribed upon their own 
flesh, which is reckoned amongst those secret conveyances 
mentioned by Ovid. 

^ Caveat hoc custos,pro charta, conscia tcrgum 

Prabeat, inque suo cor pore uerba ferat%» 

But amongst all the ancient practices in this kind, there 
is none for the strangeness, to be compared unto that of 
Hystiaeus, mentioned by Herodotus, and out of him in 
Aulus Gellius^ -, who whilst he resided with Darius in Per- 

* Isaac Casa. Notis in jSlneae Polior. c. 31. 
t De Bello Judaic. 1. 3. c. 8. 

X Herm, Hugo de Orig. Scrib. c. 15. Solemn, de Crytographia, 1. 8. 
«.7. Il Poliorcet. c. 31- § De Arte Amand. 

IF Herod. L 5, c.35. Noctes Atti. 1. 17. c. 10. 


16 THE SECRET AN0 SWIfT :Af£88£NG£ll. 

sia^ being desirous to send unto Aristagons in GreoM^ 
about revolting from the Per»an govemment (conceming 
which they had before confeiTed together) but not know* 
ing well how at that distance to convey so dangerous a bu- 
siness witli sufficient secrecy, he at length contrived it aftet 
this manner : he chose one of his houshold-servants that 
was troubled with sore eyes, pretending that for his reco- 
very his hair must be shaved, and his head scarified ; in the 
perforoiance of which Hystiaeus took occasion to imprint 
his secret intentions on his servant's head ; and keeping 
him close at home till hi» hair was grown, he then told hincu 
that for his perfect recovery, he must travel into Greece^ 
unto Aristagoras, who by shaving his hair the second time* 
would certainly restore him. By which relation you may 
see what strange shifts the ancients were put unto, for 
want of skill in this subject that is here discoursed of. 

It is reported of some fugitive Jews* at the siege of Je* 
rusalem, who more securely to carry away their gold, did 
first melt it into bullets, and then swallow it down, venting 
it afterwards amongst their other excrements t« Now if a 
man had but his faculty, who could write Homer's Iliads in 
so small a volume as might be contained in a nut-shell; it 
were an easy matter for him, by this trick of the Jews» se- 
curely to convey a whole pacquct of letters. 

When all the land-passages have been stopped up, then 
have the ancients used other secret conveyances by wa- 
ter; writing their intentions on thin plates of lead, and 
fastening them to the arms or thighs of some expert swim- 
mer. Frontinus§ relates, that when LucuUus would in- 
form a besieged city of his coming to succour them, he put 
his letters into two bladders, betwixt which a common sol- 
dier in the disguise of a sea-monster, was appointed to swim 
into the city. There have been likewise more exquisite 
inventions to pass under the water, either by a man's self, 
or in a boat, wherein he might also carry provision, only 

* Joseph, de Bello Juda. L 6. c. 15. f Solin. Polyhist. c. 5. 

§ De Stratag. 1. 3. c. 13. 


Maviiig a loQg trunk or pipe, with a tunnel at the top of it, 
to let down fieah air. But for the prevention of ail such 
conveyances, the ancients were wont in their strictest 
sieges, to cross the rivers with strong nets ^, to fasten stakes 
in several parts of the channel with sharp irons, as the 
blades of swords, sticking upon them. 

3. Hence was it that there have been other means at- 
tempted through the open air, either by using birds, as 
pigeons and swallows, instead of messengers, of which I 
shall treat more particularly in the jaizteenth chapter. Ot 
else by fiistening a writing to an arrow, or the weight that 
is cast from a slings 

Somewhat of this natuit, was that intimation agreed 
upon betwixt David and Johathan f , thou^ that invention 
does somewhat savour of the ancient simplicity and rude- 
ness. It was a more exact invention mentioned by Hero- 
dotus % concerning Artabazus and Timoxenus, who when 
they could not come together, were wont to inform one 
another of any thing that concerned their afiairs^ by 
&stening a letter unto an arrow, and directing it unto some 
appointed place, where it might be received. 

Thus also Cleonymus || king of Lacedsemon, in the siege 
of the city Trezene, enjoined the soldiers to shoot several 
arrows into the town, with notes fastened untb them hav- 
ing this inscription, *Hx« rw icoXtv eXev^efostrai^f. I conie that 
I may restore this place to its liberty. Upon which the 
credulous and discontented inhabitants were very willing 
to let him enter. 

When Cicero was so straightly besieged by the Gauls, 
that the soldiers were almost ready to yield ; Caesar being 
desirous to encourage him with the news of some other 
forces that were to come unto his aid, did shoot an arrow 
into the city, with these words festened unto it, Casar Ci- 
cerom fidiidam optaif expecta auxilia. By which means 

* Plin. 1. 10. c. 37. t J Sam. xx. 

t Urania, me 1. 8. c. 1S8. H Folyaenus, 1. 2. See Plutarch in Cimon. 



the soldiers were persuaded to hold out so long, till these 
new succours did arrive aud break up the si^. 

The same thing might, also be done more securely, bj 
rolling up a note within Ihe head of an arrow, aad then 
shooting of it to a confederate's tent, or to any other ap- 
pointed place. 

To this purpose is that which Lypsius ^ relates out of 
Appian, concerning an ancient custom for the besieged to 
write their minds briefly in a little piece of lead, which 
they could witli a sling cast a great distance, and exactly 
hit any such particular place as should be agreed upon, 
where tlic confederate might receive it, and by the same 
meaos return an answer. 

Of this nature likewise are those kind of buUetSt lately 
invented in these German wars, in which they can shoot, 
not only letters, corn, and the like, but (which is the 
strangest) powder also into a besieged city. 

But amongst all other possible conveyances through the 
air, imagination itself cannot conceive any one more use- 
ful, than the invention of a flying chariot, which ]!mve 
mentioned elsewhere f* Since by this means a man may 
have as free a passage as a bird, which is not hindered, 
either by the highest walls, or the deepest rivers and 
trenches, or the most watchful centinels. But of this per* 
haps I may have occasion to treat more largely i||.joine 
other discourse. 


* Poliorctt. 1. 4. c. Dialog. 2. mentioned alto by Heliodor. Hiit. 
iCthio. 1. 94 t World in the Mood, chap. 14. 

- > 



Of thai secrecy which consists in the ynaterials qfwritingf 

whether the paper or ink. 


THE several inventions of the ancients, for the private 
conveyance of any written message, were the subject 
of the last chapter. 
The «ecrecy of writing may consist, 

TThe materials. 
Either in < or, 

(.The form. 

1. The materials of writing, are, the paper and ink* 
(or that which is instead of them), both which may be so 
privately ordered, that the inscribed sense shall not be dis- 
coverable, without certain helps and directions. 

l.The dbief contrivance of secrecy by the paper in use 
among the ancients, was, the Lacedemonian scytale ; the 
miasiStx of which was thus: there were provided two 
round staves, of an equal length and size, the magistrates 
always retaining one of them ^at home, and the other 
being carried abroad by the general, at his going forth to 
wv- When there was any secret business to be writ by it, 
their Manner was, to wrap a narrow thong of parchment 
about one of tliese staves, by a serpentine revolution, so 
that di9 edges of it might meet close together; upon both 
which edges they inscribed their epistle; whereas, the 
parchment being taken off*, there appeared nothing but 
pieces of letters on the sides of it, ivhich could not be 
joined together into the right sense, without the true 
•cytale. Thus is it briefly and fully described by Auso- 

Fel Lacedemoniam gcytalen imitare libeUi, 
Segmina pergameiy tereii, circumdata iigno^ 
Perpetuo inscribens versu, deinde sohitus, 
NoH respondentes sparso dabit ordinefornias, 


* Selenus de Ciyptogra. 1. 8. c. 1. 4. f Ausonius ad Paulinum. 

c 2 

• . 



You may read in Plutarch, how by this means Phania« 
baz did deceive Lysander *. 

It is true, indeed, that this way was not of such inextii* 
cable secrecy, but that, a little examination might have 
easily discovered it (as Scaligcrf truly observes); how- 
ever, in those ages, which were less versed in these kinds 
of experiments, it seemed much more secret than now it 
does unto us ; and in these times, there are such other 
means of pri^te discoursing, which even Scaliger's eyes 
(as good as they were) could not discover ]:• And there- 
fore it was too inconsiderate and magbterial a sentence of 
him, from thence to conclude all this kind of learning to 
be vain and useless, serving only for impostures and to per- 
plex the enquirer. 

It is certain, that some occasions may require the ex- 
actest privacy ; and it is as certain, that there qif y be some 
ways of secrecy, which it were madness for aiiiuito think 
he could unfold. Furari simile esse vUetur^ dH aliquem 
persuader ef tarn circumspectum hominem esse postCt^.n^ se i 
furtivo quodam scriptOf abdiiaque machinatione tuertfUmif 
nam astans quilibeU vel procul distans loquUvr^ K factum 
nunciaty ut rum solum d nemine perdpiatur^ sednesic pti- 
dem stgnificare quippiam posse existimeU saith Vegetius §. 
And Baptista Porta R, who had a strange and incredible abi- 
lity in discovering of secret Mrritings, yet doth ingeaiously 
confess, Multa esse posse furtiva scripta^ qme se interpret 
iaturum quenquxun pollicerij furor em M delirwm plane 

So that though the ancient inventions of this kind were 
too easily discoverable, yet Scaliger had no reason to con- 
clude this to be a needless art, or that therefore he could 
unfold any other way that might be invented. But this by 
the by. / 

^ The other material of writing, is, the ink, or that li- 

* In Vita Ly«andri. f Ewrc. 327. 

X Vosiius de Arte Gram. 1. 1. c. 40. § Veget. de re milit. 1. 3. 

Jj Prooem. 1. 3. de furtivis notit. 

. #■ . 


quor which is used instead of it ; by which means also there 
are sundry ways of secrecy, commonly mentioned in natu- 
ral magic *. 

Thus, if a man write with salt armoniac dissolved in 
water, the letters will not appear legible, till the paper be 
held by the fire : this others affirm to be true also in the 
juice of onions, lemons, with divers the like acid and cor- 
roding moistures. 

And on the contrary, those letters that are written with 
dissolved alum, will not be discernible, till the paper be 
dipped in water. 

There are some other juices, that do i)ot appear, till the 
paper be held betwixt a candle and the eye. , . 

That which is written with the water of putrified willow, 
or the distilled juice of glow-worms, will not be visible bgt in 
the dark ; as Porta affirms from his own experience f. 

There is. also a secret way of writing with two several 
inks, botb\pij^jQiem alike in colour, but the one being of that 
nature, that it will easily be rubbed or washed off, and the 

A man may likewise write secretly with a raw egg, the 
letters of which being thoroughly dried, let the wjiole pa- 
per be blacked over with ink, that it may appear without 
any inscription ; and when this ink is also well dried, if 
you do afterwards gently scrape it over with a knife, it will 
faU o# from those places, where before the words were 

Those letters tiw( were described with milk, or yri^e, or 

fet, or any other glutinous moisture, will not be legible, 

unless dust be first scattered upon them ; whiph, by ad- 

. hering to those places, will discover tl^e writing. This way 

is mentioned by Ovid % : 

Tttia quo^^est, fallitqye ocuhs h lacte. recenti 
Utera, cationis pulvere tange^ l^g^s. 

* Porca Magi»/>L 16. Wecker. de Sjecret. 1, 14. Joach., Fortius Ex- 
perient. Cardan. Sabt. 1. 17. Item de varietate, 1. 12. c. 61. 

t Qibliander de Eatione com. lin^uarum. De flgrtiv. Ut. 1. I.e. 15. 
% De ArteAmandi. 




And it is thought that Attalus made use of this device^ 
the better ^o excite the courage of his soldiers. Being be- 
fore the battle to sacrifice to the gods for success, as he 
pulled out the ftntrails of the beast, he described upon diem 
these words, Regis victoria^ which he had before written 
backward in his hand with some gummy juice. The en- 
trails being turned up and down by the priest, to find out 
their signification, the letters did by that means gather so 
much dust as to appear legible. By which. omen the sol- 
diers were so strangely heightened in their hopes and va^ 
lour, that they won the day. 

Unto these experiments of secrecy in the materials of 
writing, some add 'those other ways of expressing any pri- 
vate intimation, by drawing a string through the holes of a 
little tablet or board ^ ; these holes should be of the same 
number with the letters, unto which by compact they should 
l^e severally applied. The order of the ttadt|9s passing 
through them, may serve to express any iMMB^ and so 
consequently any sense we would discover. ^ 

To this purpose likewise is that other way of ^jrijpl^in^ 
formation, by divers knot9 tied upon a string, accoraO^ to 
certain distances, by which a man may as distinctly, and 
yet as secretly, express his meaning, as by any other way 
of discourse. For who would mistrust any private news 
or treachery to lie hid in a thread,wherein there was nothing 
to be discerned, but sundry confused knots, or other the 
like marks ? 

The manner of performing it is UUpi^ let there be a 
square piece of plate, or tablet of wood like a trencher, 
with the twenty-four letters described on the top of it, at 
equal distances, and after any order that may be agreed 
upon before-hand ; on both the opposite sides let there bp 
divers little teeth, on which the string nw^^be hitched or 
fastened for its several returns, as in the foOSwing figure. 


Gfist« Selenp^ de Cryptographia, i. 9. ci^ 


Jib c .1^ JgljMk Lm 

n op^ V s t (I 11* X J ^ 

" - »" I^' 

^r '*' 

- » - ^ 


* ^ 

<~" *■ 

p * 


<i»: I'- -* :: 



► -- I> 

<! " " 

-I . z> 

S^ - ^ ^ 

:::!:::: z> 


. -- i> 


r -- i> 


» -- i> 

^— *■ -, 



! - il> 



<::_:: ::" 

. ♦ 15" 

<: - » - - - 


<: : -^ 

* V 



<i _- -- 


Where the string is supposed to be fastened by a loop 
on the first tooth, towards the letter A, and afterwards to 
be drawn successively over all the rest The marks upon 
it do express the secret meaning ; Beware of this bearer, 
who is sent as 4 spy. over you. When it is taken off, and 
sent to a coaJ^Jlherate, he may easily understand its intcn-* 
(ton, by applying it to his own tablet, which must be an- 
^werable unto this. The instrument may be made much 
longer than is here expressed : but if the matter to be re- 
vealed should happen to be more tlian the tablet would 
bear, thea pucj it be supplied either by another string, or 
else by beaming again with that part of the same string 
wherein thejast letter was terminated. 

There n|^ be divers other inventions of tliis kind, but I 
have not observed any more remarkable tlia^i tliose which 
fire already mentioned. 




Secret writing with the canimon letters^ by changing iff 

their places. 

THAT secrecy which does consist \n Uu; fori^ of writ^ 
ing9 is when the words or letter? are so, framed by 
compact, that they ar^ not of ordinary signification *. The 
^lventions of this kind may^ both for their pleasure and be« 
nefit; justly challenge a place amongst our other studies f. 

St. Austin speaking of such human inventions as «re to 
be embrace^ or avoided, and rejecting all magical instttu« 
tions and conunerce with the devil, he adjoins, EiL veri 
qtue homines cum hominibus hahent^ assumendaf K maximc 
Uterarum figure J tic. Ex eo genere sunt etita^ ^^^9 9^^ 
qui didiceruntj proprie notarH appell^nt^r. UHlia sunt 
istOj nee discuntur illidte^ nee superstitiose vmplicani^ nee 
luxu enervantf sVtantum occupent^ ut majoribus rebuSf |piV 
bus inservire debentf nan sint impedimenfo %. 

This way of secret writing may be contfived^ either^ 

1 . By the common letters. 

2. Or by $pme invented nptes apd character^ instead ^ 

Both these being distinguisl^ble intp those kinds that 
contain either, , ^^' 

1. Equal. 

2. Or more. 

3. Or fewer signs than are naturally required to the true 
framing of the word. 

The particulars of these may be altered to siKh great va- 
riety as c^nnpt be reckoned) and therefor^ \ ^i^U specify 

_ , HI 

* Selenus de Cryptographia^ 1. 2. c. 5. 

f Ars notanim occultandi inter artet fubtilitate praettantes annume^ 
randa est. Cardan. Subtil. 1. 17. % De Dpctrin. Chrittiaiu^i !• ^, c«2^ 



> • '■ 

'tfiose only which seem most remarkable, either for their 
antiquity or usefulijiess. 

The way of secret writmg hj equal letters^ is, either by 
changing of 

1. Their places, or 

£• Their powers. 

1 • By altering of the places ; 

r Lines. 
jEither of the < Lettjcrs. 


1. A man may obscure the sense, by perplexing the or« 
der of the lines. If they be written, not only from the 
left hand to the right, but also from the right hAd to the 
left, as in the eastern languages ; or from the top to the 
bottom, and so upward again, as is commonly related to be 
usual amongst the inhabitants of Taprobana in the South 
Sea, witblhose in China and .Japan * : according to this 
Allowing example. 

^j e r f d 1 e e 1 I t 

I ^uuhhs nte 
p hot oav cS'p 
paht tit rhe 
unthel^ ets 
s die Ingaot 
yjws f>pnsdi 
e egeebmane 

In the reading of which, if you begin at the first letter 
towards the right hand, and so downwards, and then up* 
wards again, you may find these words expressed : * 

The pestiUmice doth still increase amongst us ; we shall 
pot he able to hold put the siege without fresh and speedy 

f Diqdor. Sic ^Itoth. L 2f Herman. I^ugo de Orig. Scrib. e. 8* 



2. A man may obscure the sense of his writbg, by trans- 
posing each letter, according to some unusual order* 
As, suppose the first letter should be at the latter end of 
the line, the second at the beginning, or the like. 

3. The meaning of any written message may be con- 
cealed, by altering the order both of the letters and the 
lines together. As if a man should write each letter in 
two several lines, thus : 


Teoliraelmsfnis esplvo weutel 
hsudesralo tai hd,upysre msyid 

The souldieA are ahnost famished ; supply kj, or we 

This way may be ybt further obscured, by placing them 
in \fo\xx lines ^, and after any disconttnuate order. As» 
suppose that the first letter be in the beginning of the first 
line, the second in the be^nning of the fourth line, the 
third in the aid of the first, the fourth in the end of the 
fourth, the fifth in the beginning of the second line, the 
sixth in the beginning of the third, the seventh in the end 
of the second, the eighth in the end of the third ; and so of 
the rest : as in this example. 

h a thfono ihkftoenil 
a noerroc gt tthmnvrl 
e a uomhte inlenett es 

Which in its resolution is this : 

We shaU make an irruption upon the enemy from the 
northy at ten of the clock this night. 

This way will yet $eem more obscure, if each line be 
severed into such words as may seem barbarous f. 
All these kinds may be varied unto divers other more in- 

* Or as many more at the length of the epistle shall require. 
'• t Walchitts, Fab. 9. 


tricate transpositions, accorduig as a man's fancy or occa- 
sion shall lead him. 


Concerning secret Writing with equal letters^ by changing 
their powers. The use of this amongst the Jews and 
Romans. The key-character. 

AS a written message may be concealed by changing 
the places of the letters, so likewise by changbg of 
their powers, putting one of them for another, as sup- 
pose L for A, and A for L, or the like : answerable to 
that kind of cabalism in the Jewish learning, which the 
tabbies call S3^*n% or comhinatio ; when the letters of the al- 
phabet are severally transposed, and taken one for another, 
after any known order *. Of which there be as many kinds, 
^. there maybe several combinations of the letters: but 
amongst the rest, they observe two of more frequent use. 
The first is stiled from the four first correspondent letters 
C33^M albam; in which they are thus opposite to one 

The other is firom the same reason called u;aii** athbash^ 
Whereip the letters are thus mutually opposed : 

^03DV35^pn\i;n ^ 

Both these kinds of secret writing, the Jewish doctors 
^nk to be frequently used by the sacred penmen of holy 
vmt; amongst whom, the prophet Isaiah and Jeremiah 
are observed to |>e of more especial note for their skill in 

f Schickard in Becbinath. Jiaperut. Disp. 1^ 4. Glassius Fhilaiog. 
i« 2* p4r* tn^:t. 2. 

, w 


By the first of these combinations, called Albam^ that 
place of Isaiah vii. 6. is usually interpreted ; where there 
is a person mentioned, under the unknown name of hH'yO 
Tabealf whom the prophet affirms to aspire unto the 
crown of Judah ; meaning, by a secret transmutation of the 
letters, rhfyi Remaliah the king of Israel, whom he was 
loth more expressly to nominate : and therefore he veils it 
by this kind of secrecy, instead of ^ writing the letter above 
]t p ; for O, the correspondent letter n ; and so b for tf, 
and te for b. Which being joined together^ 4o tpake btOD, 
instead of N^. 

By the second of these combinations, called Jthbashf is 
that place, Jerem. li. 1. translated ; where by the or^;inaI 
tp ^b Cor insurgentium contra met is meant csnwa the 
Chaidaeans : and therefore both the Taigum, and the Sep- 
tuagint do unanimously translate it so * ; as if in their ver- 
sion of it, they had chiefly respect unto this kind of caba* 
lism. So likewise in 41 verse of the same chapter, by the 
finned name of "ptrn;, is meant ^. 

This way of secret writing hath been also in use amongst 
the ancient Romans : thus Suetonius f relates of Julius 
Caesar, when he would convey any private business, he did 
usually write it, per quartam elementorum literam; that is 
D for A, £ for B, and so of (he rest, aft^r this order. 

defghiklmnopqrs tuwxyxahc 
abcdefghi klmnopqrstuwxyz 

Hasten unto me. 
Ldwxhq yqxr ph. 

And the same author reports of Octavius Augustus, that 
in the writing of his secrets, he did secundum elementum 
proprii loco substituere, set down the second letter for the 
first, as B ibr A, C for B, and for A a double x x. 

* Item c. S5. v. 26. fide Hieron. com. in eundem locum* 
t Sueton. in Tita ejui. A* Oelliut Noct. Attk, 1. 17. c, 9. 



But now, because such an epistle might be easily un- 
folded, being altogether written by the same way ; there- 
fore this kind of secrecy hath, by later invention, been fur* 
ther obscured, by writing each several word, or line, or 
letter, by a diverse alphabet. 

For tlie performance of this, two friends must before- 
hand, by compact, agree upon some certain form of words, 
diat may be instead of a key, serving both to close, and 
to unlock the writing; which words would be less discover- 
able, if they be barbarous, and of no signification. 

But for the easier apprehending of this, I shall explain 
it in an example. 

Suppose the key agreed upon, were only this one wj^d 

Having first framed several alphabets, according to each 
of its letters, thus: 


b t 




g h i 


1 m 

a o 


q r s 

t u w 

X y « 


q r 




w X y 


a b 

c d 


f g h 

i k 1 

m n o 


s t 




y z a 


c d 

e f g 

h i k 

1 m n 

o p q 


W X 






f g 

h i 


1 m n 

p q 

r s t 



e f 




k 1 m 


o p 

q r 


t u w 

X y z 

a b c 

f g 
o p 




1 m n 


p, q 

r 8 


U W X 

y z a 





t u w 


y * 

a b 


d e f 

g h 1 

k 1 m 


u w 
k 1 




a b c 


e f 

g h 



k 1 m 


q r s 




P 3 ^ 


t u 

W X 


z a b 

c d e 

f g h 


b c 




g h i 


1 m 


q r s 

t' u w 

X y z| 

I may write each line, or word, or letter, according. as 
the order of these alphabets shall direct. As in these. 



I. In the lines, 
Ixt hdkasytgh bkiycn 
xfi nrel fx matlmrck ; 
npkkfs pn, im oczs qdff 
uhyrox xr xlh hqmpmh. 

2. In the words. 

Ixt kfmcuawik gpodhs 
iru aery bs oiwnotem; 
bdyytg vs, dg bwp qdiF 
uhyrox ys gur ygcfcy. 

3. In the letters. 

Izz wshemltin m pzgcwy 
vfm zean xf kaxxznebr 

skgkoc hm, xr izzb awet 

rtm iox gh cht whmqwy. 

Which examples being unfolded, do each of them ex* 
press this inward meaning : 

The souldiers mutiny 
For want of victuals; 
Supply iiSf or they will 
Revolt to the enemy. 

These ways may be yet further obscured, if the first 
alphabet, (according to wliich the rest are described) be 
contrivedirfler any mixed order. As, suppose instead of 
the ordinary Abe, &c. there be written these letters, after 
this manner.- 


And then will they be liable to all those other differences 
\of secrecy, that are usually invented by the wheel cha- 
racter, which you may see largely described by Porta. 

There may be divers other ways to this purpose, but by 
these you may sufficiently discern the nature of the rest. 




Of secret writing by more letters than are requisite 

to the intended meaning. 

THE different kinds of secrecy by equal letters have 
been already handled. The next particular to be dis- 
cussed, is concerning the ways of hiding any private sense 
under more letters than are required to the words of it. 

Of which kind there may be divers particulars, some of 
them in use amongst the ancients. 

1. A writing may be so contrived, that only one letter in 
a verse shall be significant. As it was in those remarkable 
acrosticks made by a Sybil concerning our Saviour*; 
where the lettters at the beginning of each verse, being 
put together, made up these words, ly^fw Xqitrrog Qea vios 
trcarvf^' Jesus Christ the son of God, a Saviour. 

The translation of these you may see in St. Augustin dc 
Civit. Dei, lib. 18. cap. 23 1« And the original are men- 
tioned by Ludovicus Vives, in his notes upon tliat place. 

According unto this doth Plautus contrive the names of 
his comedies in the first letters of their arguments. But 
this way is so ordinary in practice, that it needs not any 
further explication. 

2. The inward sense hath likewise been conveyed fay 
some single letters of several words in the same verse. 
As in that common distich. 

Miito iibt caput Feneris, ventremqut Diarne 
Latronisque caput, posteriora canE. 

3. Sometimes one letter in each word was only signifi- 
cant. By which way of secret expression, the Holy Ghost 
(say the rabbies) hath purposely involved many sacred mys- 
teries in scripture. When these significant letters were at 


* Sybilla Erythraea. t Bed a, L de Sybillis. 


the beginning of each word, the cabalists in their learnings 
called such an implicit writing tnyn ^tO capita dicttonum. 
When they were at the latter end^ then Was it stiled 
fn^*n ^INO fines dicttonum. Both being reckoned as species 
of that cabalism which they called ppmou notdriconi im« 
posed by some later rabbles from the Latin word no^ 

Of the first sort, is that collection from those eminent 
words. Gen. xlix. 10. m rfw MD*. Shilo shall come, and in 
him, &c. where the capital letters make up the word w* 

So Psal. Ixxii. 17. D'lD'lsnn >Dtt; p> His name shall con« 
tinue, and in him shall be blessed, &c. which place does 
expressly treat concerning the Messias his name, and there- 
fore seems unto the Jews, to be of strong consequence for 
the proof of Christianity. For so much is that nation be* 
fooled in their absurd dotage upon these trivial literal col* 
lections, that a reason of this nature is of greater force un« 
to them, than the most evident solid demonstration that 
may be urged. Ludovicus Carret*, a famous Jew, physi- 
cian to the French king, being himself converted, and writ- 
ing an epistle to this purpose, unto those of his own na- 
tion, he does chiefiy insist upon the arguments of this kind, 
as being in his opinion of greatest ef&cacy to prove the 
truth of christian religion. 

Of the other sort is that passage. Gen. i. 1. nK D*n 
bt^ it*D where the final letters make up .the word HON or 
truth. Which kind of cabalism is six times repeated in 
the history of the creation. As if Moses by such an artifi- 
cial contrivance of the letters at the beginning of his writ- 
ings, did purposely commend unto our belief his following 
books. Unto this David is thought to allude, Psal. cxix. 
160. The beginning of thy word is ro* truth. Of 
this nature likewise is that observation from Exod. iii. 
13. no VDtt^ no 6. When they shall say untONme, what 

* Lib. Visorum DiviBoruxiu 




Is his name, &c. Where the filial letters answer miT 

It were an easy matter for a man th«t had leisure and 
i^atienee for « such enq^uiries, to find out suQdry arguments 
of this kind for any purpose. 

4. There is another way of hiding any secret sense un- 
der an ordinary epistle, by having a plate* with certain 
holes in it, through which (being laid upon the paper) a 
man may write those letter^ or wordis, that serve to ex- 
j)ress the iilward sense ; the other spaces being afterwards 
fiHed up ^ith such other wordSj ais in their conjunction to 
these former^ shall contain some common unsuspected 

5. There is also another intricate way to this purpose^ 
much insisted on by Trithemius, Porta, and Sylenus. 
When each usual word or form of an epistle, is varied to 
as many differences as there are letters, unto which they 
thust all of them be severally assigned. But these two lat- 
ter inventions (though they be of great secrecy, yet) be- 
cause they require so much labour and trouble iii the 
Writer, I shall therefore pass them over without any fur- 
ther enlargement 

* Canlan de subtiL 1. 17. Porta de furt. 1. 2. c 18. 

VOL. n. 


• / 



0^ concedlirtg amf written sense under barbarous words^ 
and such as shall not seem to be of any signification. 
How ail the letters may be expressed by any five^ ihree^ 
Or two of thenu Of liiriting with a double alphabet. 
HffW from these two last Ways together^ there may bt 
contrived the best kind of secret rthiting, 

ALL the ways of secrecy by mote letters, already spe- 
cified, do make the writing appear under some other 
sense, than' what is intended, and so consequently are 
more free from suspicion : there are likewise some other 
inventions to express any inward sense by barbarous words, 
wherein only the first, and middle, and last letters shall be 
significant. As in this example. 

Fildy^ fagodur wyndeeldrare discogure rantibradi 

Which in its resolution is 1)lo more than this : 

Fly for we are discovered. 

To this purpose likewise is that other way of expressing 
the whole alphabet by any five, or three, or two of the 
letters repeated;- And though such a writing, to ordinary 
appearance, will seem of no signification at all, and so may 
seem of less use ; yet because a right apprehension of these 
ways may conduce to the explication of some other parti- 
culars that follow, it will not be amiss therefore to set them 
down more distinctly. 

All the letters may be expressed by any five of them 
doubled. Suppose A B C D £. 


aa ab ac ad ae babbbc bdbe ca cb cc 

cij ce da db dc dd de ea eb ec ed ce 

According to which, these words, / am betray ed^ may 
be thus described. 

Bd a^cb abaedddbaaecaead. . ^ 




, « 

, Three letters being transposed through three places, do 
l^ve Sufficient difference^ whereby to express the whole 


aaa aab aac baa bba bbb bbc caa cca 


ccb ccc aba abb abc aca acb ace bca 

T V W X Y Z &. 

t>cb bcc bab cba ebb cbc bac 

Hasten unto 7ne. 
Caa aaa bca bcb bba abb bcc abb bcb abc aba bba. 

Two letters of the alphabet being transposed through 
five places, will yield thirty-two differences, and so will 
more than serve for the four and twenty letters; unto 
i^liich they may be thus applied. 

J. B. C. D. E. F. G. 

' Maaa. aaaab. aaaba, aaabb. aabaa aabab, aabba. 

H. I. K. L. M. N. O. 

aabbb, ahaaa. abaab. ababa. abaab. abbaa. abbab. 

P. 2. R. s. r, r, w. 

ubbba. abbbb. baaaa. baaab. baaba. baabb. babaa. 

X. r. z. 

babab. babba. babbb. 

aababababababba. aaaaabapaaaaaaababba. 

There is yet another way of secrecy by more letters 
than are naturally required to the inward sense ; if we 
write with a double alphabet, wherein each letter shall in 
the fkahion of it, bear some such small distinction from 
the other of the same kind, as is usual in common mixed 
writing. For example. 

The first Alphabet* 
D 2 


Ja.BhCcl>^ J!e.F/ $y. jt ft, 
ft.Kk.4j-Mm.nn.0o.Ip. Qq. 

1* Write an epistle of an ordinary matter, or (if it be 
needful) contrary to what you intend. Let the body of it 
consist chiefly of the first alphabet, only inserting (as you 
have occasion) such letters of the second, as may express 
tibat inward meaidag which you would reveal to a confe- 

For example, from those that are besieged. 

Vvceprosver stillino^ 

mam^ arty juti her 

cnbure mejiegi 


%eqt , 

*, - 


In which clause, the letters of the second alphabet arc 
oa]y significant, expressing this inward sense. 

^£eperitfi y^iiH nim^sr 

hetve u 



But because the differences bctw!xt tliese two alphabets 
may seem more easily discoverable, since they are both 
generally of the same kind, the letters of the second being 
all of them more round and full than the other ; therefore 
for their better secrecy in this particular, it were safer to 
Qiizthem both by compact, that they might not in thcm-p 
7 nohnn be distinguishable. 

■S^-'^Vow. if this kind of writing be mixed with the latter 

'irtty of ^crecy, by two letters transposed through five 

places, we m^y then write omnia per omTtia^ (which as ^ 

leahied man speaks^) is the highest; d^ee of this cy«t 


For supposing each letter of the first alphabet to be in^ 
stead of tlie letter A, and those of the other for B, we 
may easily inscribe any secret sense in any ordinary letter, 
only by a quintuple proportion of the writing infolding to 
(he writing infolded. As for example. 

' * Bacon. Augment, Sclent. I. 6. c. 8, 

> 9U 

"' ' ■ 1 ■ ■ 


5&m^ mien '\w^e tneefe at 

oy (m meoas UeJmejjS 
tne TWfidiw^ mot ivce 

The involved meaning of which clause is this: 

Fly ^ for we are discovered^ I am forced to write this. 

If you suppose each letter of the first alphabet to be iT\,w 
stead of A, and those of the second for B, then wil( the for^ 
mer clause he equivalent to this following description^ 























































































This way of secrecy may be serviceable for such occa- 
sions as these. Suppose a man were taken captive, he may 
by this means discover to his friends the secrets of the ene- 
my's campi under the outward form of a letter persuading 
them to yield. Or, suppose such a man were forced by his 
own hand-writing to betray his cause and party» though 
the words of it in common appearance may express what 
the enemy does desire ; yet the involved meaning (which 
shall be legible only to his confederates), may contain any 
thing else which he has a mind to discover to them : as in 
the former example. 

But now if there be a threefold alphabet (as is easy to 
contrive), then the inward writing will bear unto the out- 
ward but a triple proportion, which will be much morecon- 
irenient for enlarging of the private intimations. 

And this way of writing is justly to be preferred before 
any of the other, as containing in it more eminently, all 
those conditions that are desirable in such kind of inven-« 
tions. As, 

1. It is not very laborious either to write or read. 

2. It is very difficult to be decyphercd by the enemy, 

3. It is void of suspicion. 

But by the way, it is to be generally observed, that the 
mixture of divers kinds of secret writing together (as sup* 


pose this with the l^ey-cbaracter) will make the inwai^^ 
sense to be much more intricate and perplexed. 



Of writing amf secret sense by fewex letters than are r^- 
quired to the word^ of it* The me of this amongst the, 
Jews and Romans. 

AS the sense may be obscured by writing it with more 
letters than are required to the words of it, so like- 
wise by fewer. Abbreviations have been anciently use4 
in all the learned languages, especially in common forms, 
and phrases of frequent use. Sometimes by contracting 
words, when some parts of tt^em did stand for the whole ^.' 
So in the Hebrew, 'iDi for ira\ et totum illudy which is all 
one with our et cetera^ &c. 'ite for lOite secundum dicere, 
equivalent to our viz, or v* g> verbi gratia. So likewise in 

the Greek, X^ fof X{/(rro^, and <kvG^ for psi/^parxog* And in 

the Latin^ Dns for Dominus ; ad for animcy and the like. 
But these were rather for the speed of writing, than thq 

Sometimes words ^ere expressed only by then: first let- 
ters. Thus did the Jews write all their memorials, an^ 
common forms, which are largely handled by Buxtorf. 
Hence was it, that their captain Judas had bis name of 
Maccaby ; for being to fight against Antlochus, he gave that 
saying for hi$ watch-word, Exod. xv. mn» D»rf7&ea rOQ^ p. 
Who is like unto thee (O J-ord) amongst the gods ? in- 
scribing in his ensigns the capital letters of it, *^S0 Mac 
cabi. Whereupon after the victory, the soldiers stiled 
their captain by that name« 

It is observed by the tla})bies, that many grand mysteries 
are this way implied in the words of Scripture. Thus, where; 

* Buxtorf. de Abbreyiat. in initio. \ 

■ ■• • • • • . <r 



it i» said, Psakn Hi. 0D"> Many rise up against me, it is iftt 
terpreted from the several letters, Resh the Romans, Beth 
the Babylonians, Jod the Iomai^» or Gi:ecians, Mem the 
Medes. Answerable unto which, that pkfpe in Gen. xlix, 
10. (speaking of Shilo, unto whom nnpMhe gathering of 
the people shall be) is by another Rabby implied to the 
Jews, Christians, Heathens, and Turks. 

Upon these grounds likewise, is that argument to prove 
the trinity, from the firsf verse of Genesis, lyrfw Jt^D The 
word 0»^A^e Elohim, being of the plural number, is though^ 
to be that divine i^ame which denoteth th^ persons of 
the deity ; which persons are more particularly inti- 
mated in the letters of the verb iTOf that answers unto it : 
a Beth being put for p the Son, n Rerfi for rm the Holy 
Ghost, H Aleph for atM the Father. And if you will ber 
fifSYC the Jews, the holy spirit hath purposely involved in 
the words of scripture, every secret that belongs to any art 
pT vdence, under such cabaUsms as these. And if a man 
were but expert in unfolding of them, it were easy for him 
to get as much knowledge as Ada^ had in liis innocency, 
fit human nature is capable of. 

These kind of mysterious interpcetadoas from particular 
letters, do seem to be somewhat favoured, by God's addir 
tion of the letter n unto the name of Abraham and Sarah *, 
^ipon t|ie renewing of his covenant with them ; which in 
all likelihood was not without some secret mystery. That 
jbemg the chieif jetter of the tetragrammaton, might perhaps 
latiniate that ^^longst their other posterity, with the pro* 
mise of which he had then blessed them, they should also 
he the parents of the ^essias, who was Jehovah. 

This likewise others have confirmed from the example 
of Christ t, who calljt himself Alpha and Omega. Rev. 1. 8. 

But though sucl^ conjectures may be allowable in some 
particulars, yet to make all scriptures capable of the like 
secrets, does give such a latitude to men's roving and cor- 
xopt fancies^ as must needs occasion many wild and strange 

* Gen. xvii. 5.15. f Vide Tertul 1. de praescr. c. 50. 

r • 

J: • 



absurdities. And therefore Irenaeus* does fitly observe, 
that from such idle collections as these, many heresies of 
the Valentinians and Gnostics had their first beginnings. 

As this way of f hort writing by the first letters, was of 
ancient use among the Jews, so likewise amongst the Ro- 
mans, which appears from many of their contractions yet 
remaining, as S. P, J), Salutem plurimum dicit, S. Pq. /?• 
Senatus populitsque Somanus. C. B. Civis Banianus. 
U. C. Urbs condttd. And the like. 

These single letters were called syglie^ per syruopen^ 
from the obsolete word sigill^e^ whence sigillatim. They 
were usually inscribed in their coins, statues, arms, monu* 
ments, and public records. You may see them largely 
treated of by Valerius Probus t» where be affirms the study 
of them to be very necessary for one tjtat would under- 
stand the Roman ^flairs. His enim expiripiebant noniina 
curiaruniy tribuum^ iunnitiorumf sacerdoiiorufny poiestaium^ 
vrngistratuurn^pVi^eciuraTrinnysacroruynliidoniimt rerumur- 
banarumy rerummilitariumy colkgiorum^ decuriarumyfas^ 
torumy numeroruniy mensururuvhjuru cixdlisf -X similiu7n. 

They were first used by their notaries, at senates and, 
other public assemblies, and from thence retained in their 
statutes and civil laws : whence Manil|u$ makes it (h^ nptc> 
pf a good kwyer. 

— Qui iegum tabidas SC eonditajura 
J^overit, atque^notis levibus pendentia verba. 

, Thus (saith IsidorJ) (A) inversed y <J!d formerly stand 
for pupillOf and M^ inversed j^ for mulier. By these let- 
ters D. JE\ R. /• C P. is signified, De ea re ita censuerunt 

When the judges were to inscribe their several opinions 
on a little stone or tessera, to be cast into the urn; by the 
note A, they did absolve, by K § condenm; by JV. L. Ncn 

• Iren. 1. 1. c. 13. V 

f Lib. de liter, antiquis. As it is set forth by Jacobus Mazochius. 
% Isidor. Bibliand. de ratione com. ling. Pet* Crinit. Honest. Duc^ 
L 6. c. 8. 
§ From the Greek x^eT«S/K^£^. 




fifuet, they did intimate that they could not tell what tq 
make of tlie business, and did therefore suspend theis 

But because of those many, ambiguities which this con-r 
tracted way of writing wafi liable unto, and the great incon- 
y.eniences that might happen thereupon in the misinterpre- 
tation of laws; therefore the emperor Justinian did after- 
ward severely forbid any further use of them, as it were, 
galling in all those law-books that were so written*. JVi?- 
que enim licentiam aperimiLs ^x tali codice in judicium alt- 
, The chief purpose of these ancient abbreviations amongst 
jthe Romans, was properly for their speed. But it is easy 
to apprehend how by compact they may be contrived also 
^r secrecy. 

Pf writing hy[ invented characters^ 

The distinction of these into JwJrds^.'I 
>juch as .si^i?*fy, either, ^Notions. 5 

Whegenerc^l rules of unfolding and obscuring any letter^ 
charades. How to express any sense^ either by points, 
or liheSi or figures. 

BESIDES the ways of secret writing by the common 
letters, therq may likewise be divers others by in- 
vented notes. 

The difference of characters, whereby several languages 
are expressed, is part of the second general curse in the 
confusion of tongues ; for as before there was but one way 
of speaking, so also but one way of writing. And as now, 
not only nations, but particular men, niay discover their 

* lib. 1. Cod. Tit. 17. leg. 1, 2. 


thoughts by any different articulate sounds, so Itkewiae by 
any written signs. 

These invented characters i^ the general, are distin-!» 
|;uishable iuto such as signify, either 

I* Letters. 
2. Words. 
' 3* TkmgSi and noiions. 

Tirst, concerning those that signify lett$ rs : to which kind 
some learned mca^ refer the H«brew character that is now 
in use ; affirihing, that Ezra first inventecl it, thereby the 
better to conceal the secrets of their law, and that they 
might not have so much as their manner of writing com^ 
moflwitk the Samaritans* and other schismatics. 

It were but needless to set down any particulars of this. 
Idnd, since it is so easy for aay ordinary man to invent or 
vary them at pleasure. 

Tlie rules tliat ait^ usui^ prescribed, foa: the unfolding of 
such characters, are briefly these. 

1 . Endeavour to distinguish betwiixt the vowels and con- 
sonants. The vowels may be known by their frequency^ 
there word without sonie of them. If there be 
any single character in English, if: must be one of these 
three vowels, Oti^ o.. 

2. Search after the several powers of the letters : for the 
understanding of this, you must mark whkh of them are 
most common, and which more seldom usee. (Thb the 
printers in any language can easily inform you of^ who do 
accordingly provide their sets of letters.) Which of theni 
may be doubled, and which not, as H^ S, Xy Y. Andt 
then, for the number of vowels or consonants in the ban- 
ning, middle,, or end of words, a man must provide several 
tables,, whence he naay readily guess at any word, from the 
number and nature of the letters that make it : as, what 
words consist only of vowels ; what have one vowelt aiid 
one consonant \ whether the vowel be first, as^ in these 

* Hieronym. praef ad lib. Regum. Joseph Seal notis ad Euseb. 


WordSi anif an^ asy if^ m^ is^ it^ of^ on^oTfUs; or last, as 
\ in these words, Be^ he^ me^ Ay, dy^ (y, Twy, (y, doy tOy so^ 
&a And so for all other words, according to their several 
quantities and natures. 

These tables must be various, according to the difference 
of languages. There are divers the like rules to be ob- 
served, which are too tedious to recite ; you may see them 
largely handled by Baptista Porta, and Gustavus Selenm. 

The common rules of unfolding being once known, a 
fnan may the better tell how to delude them ; either by 
leaving out those letters that are of less use, as Hy K^ 2, 
Xy T ; and putting other characters instead of them, diat 
shall signify the vowels : so that the number of this in- 
dented alphabet will be perfect ; and the vowels, by rcaaon 
of their double character, less distinguishable. Or a noan 
may likewise delude the rules of discovery, by writing con- 
tinuateiy, without any distinction betwixt the words, or 
with a false distinction, or by Inserting nulls and non*s]gni« 
£cants, &c. 

These characters are besides liable to all those other 
ways whereby the common letters may be obscured, whe- 
ther by changing their places, or their powers. 

The particulars of this kind, may be of 5uch great variety, 
as cannot be distinctly recited : but it is the grand inconve- 
aience of all these ways of secrecy by invented characters, 
that they are not without suspicion. 

For the remedying of which, there have been some other 
inventions of writing by points, or lines, or figures ; wherein 
« man would never mistrust any private message, there 
being nothing to be discerned in these kinds of intimation « 
but only either some confused and casual, or else some 
mathematical descriptions \ as you may see in these fol- 
lowing examples. 



By Points alone. 


t ' 

J?y Lines alon^* 


* « 

The secret and swift messenosr* 


By Mathematical Figures, 

Each of which figures do express these words : 

TJiere is no safety but by flight. 

The direction both for the making and unfolding of these 
descriptions^ is this : let the alphabet be described at equal- 


Ttnt SSCltSf ANl>*SWlFT M£S6£NGRt; 

distances, upon some thin and narrow plate, pasteboard, of 
the like, thus : 














Ml it 



Let the sides of the paper which you are to write upoh^ 
be secretly divided into equal parts, according to the breadth 
of the plate ; and then by application of this to the epistle^ 
it is easy to conceive how such a writing may be both com- 
posed and resolved. The points^ the ends of the lines, and 
the angles of the figures, do each of them, by their diffe- 
rent situations, express a several letter. 

This may likewise be otheniqi^ performed, if the alpha- 
bet be contrived in u triangular form, the middle pait of it 
being cut out. 

I'he larger these directories are, by so much thfe less 11^ 
able unto error will the writing be, that is described from 

'It is easy to apprehend by these particulars, how a man 
may contrive any private saying in the form of a landscape^ 
or other picture*. There may be divers the like ways^ 
whereby this invention of secrecy may be further ob- 
scured ; but they are in themselves so 4)bvious, that they 
need not any larger explication^ 

• Joh. Walchius, Fab. 9, 




Of characters that express words. The first invention qf 
these. Of those that signify things and notions^ as hie* 
Toglyphics^ emblems. 

THE next particular to be discoursed of, is, concerning 
characters that express words. The writing by these 
IS [properly stiled Stenography, or short^hand ; Scriptyar^ 
compendium^ cam verba non perscribimus^ sed signamuSf 
saith Lypsius *. The art of them is, to contrive sucli 
figures for several syllables, as may easily be joined toge- 
' tlier in one form, according as different words shall require. 
Thus it is ordinary to represent any proper name by some 
such unusual character, as may contain in it all the letters 
of that name for which it is intended. Of this nature was 
that angular figure so much used by the Grecians of old, 
which might be resolved into the letters vyi5« t*j 


This mark was esteemed so sacred amongst the ancients, 
that Antiochus Soter, a perpetual conqueror, did always 
instamp it upon his coin, and inscribe it on his ensigns; 
unto which he did pretend to be admonished in a dream, 
by an apparition of Alexander the Great. And there are 
many superstitious women in these times, who believe this 
to be so lucky a character, that they always work it upon 
the swaddling clothes of tlieir young children, thinking 
thereby to make them more healthful and prosperous ia 

* Cent. l. ad Belg. Epi»t. 27. t Schikard Happer. Disp. 5. 



\ . 



I their lives. Unto this kind also, some refer the characters 
that are used in magic, which are maintained to have, not 
only a secret signification, but likewise a natural efficacy. 

This short-hand writing is now so ordinary in practice (it 

, being usual for any common mechanic both to write and 

invent it} that I shall not need to set down any particular 

example of it. In ancient times it was not so frequently 

used ; but then there was a twofold kind of it. 


These private characters were practised by the Roman 
magistrates, and others of eminent fevour amongst them ; 
who being often importuned to write in the commendation 
of those persons they knew not, were fein to agree upon 
some secret notes, whereby their serious epistles might be 
distinguished from those of form *. Whence the proverb 
arose, De meliori nota cominoidare. 

The other characters of public and common use, are 
many of them explained by Valerius Probus, in his book 
de jLiterif Antiqiiis; and there is a whole volume, or dic- 
tionary of them, set forth by Janus Gruterus. From the 
practice of these came the word notariusj as St. Austin t 

The fust invention of them is commonly ascribed to 
. Tyro, who was a servant unto Cicero. So Eusebius J, and 
Polydore Virgil §. But Trithemius affirms, that Cicero 
himself writ a treatise on this subject, which was afterwards 
augmented by St. Cyprian : and that he had found in an 
old iUirary, the copy of a psalter written in these charac- 
ters, inscribed by some ignorant man with this title, Psal^ 
terium in Lingiia Armeiiica. 

That Cicero || Was not unacquainted with these notes. 

f., * And therefore Pancirollus reckons it amongst these later inventions, 

I. de Kepert. tit. 14. Casaubon. notis in ^ne. Poiiorcet. c.31. De 
notii Tyronis & Scncc. 

t De Dpit. Christ. L 2. c.26. J In Chron. 

§ De invent, rerum, 1. 2. c. 8 De Polyc^r. 

II Ub. 13. ad Attic. £p. 32. 


may be evident from that passage to Atticus : 2uod ad te 
de legatis scripsif parum intellexit, credof quia hx (rv]|X£/«v 

Pet. Diaconus * attributes the first invention of these to 
the old poet Ennius ; whose beginnings in this kind, did 
afterwards receive successive addition from the works of 
Tyro, Phiiargirus, Aquila, and Seneca the father; by whom 
they were increased to the number of 5000. 

But Hermannus Hugot» a late Jesuit, will have this 
short-hand writing to be of far more ancient use \ affirming, 
that David alludes to the practice of it, in that phrase. 
Psalm xlv. 1. The pen of a ready writer. And that the 
writing upon the wall, in Dan. v. 25. which so puzzled the 
Chaldean wizards, was described in such kind of charac« 
t^rs. But whether this were so, or not, is not much mater- 
nal : it 18 sufficiently pertinent to the present enquiry, that' 
the use of these word-characters may well enough conduce 
to the secrecy of any written message. 

The third and last sort of signs, that have been anci- 
ently used for the expression of things and notions, are 
either hieroglyphics, or emblems* 

1. Ooncerning hieroglyphics. The word signifies sa« 
cred sculptures, which were engraven upon pillars, obe- 
lisks, pyramids, and other monuments, before the inven^* 
tion of letters. Thus the Egyptians % were wont to express 
their minds, by the pictures of such creatures as did bear 
in them some natural resemblance to the thing intended §. 
By the shape of a bee, they represented a king ; intimating, 
that he should be endowed with industry, honey, and a 
sting. By a serpent, with his tail in his mouth, the year, 
which returns into itself: and (which was a kind of pro- 
phetical hieroglyphic) by the sign of a cross, they did an- 
ciently denote spem venture saluiis^ or vitam etemamy as 

* Prolog, not. Conrad. Imp. Isidor. Ong. 1. 1. c. 21. 

t De Orig. tcribendi, c. 18. juxta finem. { Tacit. Annal. L U. 

I PoL Virgil, de Invent. 1. 3. c. 1 1. 

% 2 



Pet. Crinitus relates out of Ruffinus*. PhUo t reckons up 
the knowledge of these atuongst those other abstruse Egyp- 
tian arts, wherein Moses is said to be so expert. And Cle- 
mens relates of Pythagoras, how he was content to be cir- 
cumcisccty that so he might be admitted to the understand- 
ings *C^|l^ many and great mysteries which were- this 
way ranvBHed by the ancient priests, who did conceal all 
their Icartling under such kind of magical expressions, as 
the poet X stiles them. 

Nondumjlumineas Memphis contexere byblos 
Noverat, SC saxis tantum volucresque/ertequCf 
Scuiptaque servabani magicas artimalia linguas, 

Plutarch § speaks of a temple in Egypt dedicated to MT- 
nerva, in the front of which there was placed the image of 
an infant, an old man, a hawk, by which they did represent 
God ; a fish, the expression of hatred ; and a sea-horse, 
the common hieroglyphic of impudence: the construction 
of all being this ; O ye that are born to die, know that God 
hateth impudence. 

Of this nature were those presents sent unto Darius ||, 
when he was almost wearied in his war against the Scythi- 
ans ; which were, a bird, a mouse, a frog, and certain ar- 
rows; intimating, that unless the Persians could fly as 
birds, or hide themselves under water as frogs, or inhabit 
the caverns of the earth as mice, they should not escape 
the Scythian arrows. Of this kind likewise were some mi- 
litary signs amongst the Romans. When any thing was to 
be carried with silence and secrecy, they lifted up the re- 
presentation of a minotaur % ; thereby teaching the cap- 
tains, that their counsels and contrivances must be as inex- 
tricable as a labyrinth, which is feigned to be the habitation 
of that monster. 

* De honesta diacipiina, 1. 7. c. 2. 

t Lib. de vita Mosis. Lib. 1. Stromat. J Lucan. L 3. 

§ Ub. dc Isid. & Osiride. 

II Herodot. Mdpom. 1. 4. c. 130. CI. Alex. Strom. 5. 

^ Fierius Hieroglyph. 1. 3. c. 38. 


2. Like unto these hieroglyphics, are the expressions by 
emblems*. They were usually inserted as ornaments, 
upon vessels of gold, and other matters of state or pleasure. 
Of this nature are the stamps of many ancient medals, the 
impresses of arms, the frontispieces of books, &c« 

The kinds of them are chiefly twofold. 'Mt^ 

1. Natural. Which are grounded upon s^^^Tesem* 
blance in the property and essence of the tMtig^ them- 
selves. So a dolphin, which is a swift creature, being de- 
scribed upon an anchor, which serves for the stay and rest 
of a ship, signifiesyestina lente^ deliberation in counsel, and 
dispatch in execution : a young stork carrying the old one, 
filial gratitude, 

2. Historical Those that refer to some common rela- 
tion. So the picture of Prometheus gnawed by a vulture, 
signifies the desert of over-much curiosity. Phaeton, the 
folly of rashness. Narcissus, the punishment of selfclove. 

It was formerly esteemed a great sign of wit and inven- 
tion, handsomely to convey any noted saying under such 
kind of expressions* 


Concerning an universal character^ that may be legible to 
all nations and languages. The benefit and possibility/ 
of this, 

AFTER the fall of Adam, there were two general 
curses inflicted on mankind : the one upon their la- 
bours, the other upon their language. 

Against the first of these we do naturally endeavour to 
provide, by all those common arts and professions about 

* Emblems, from the Greek word 5]Ui€«AAfff3«i, interserere, injicere 




which the world is busied ; sedd&g thereby to abate the 
sweat of their brows in the earning of tbeir bread. 

Against the other, the best help that we can yet boast of» 
is the Latin tongue, and the other karned languages, which 
by reason of their generality, do somewhat restore us from 
the fipit confusion. But now if there were such an univer- 
sal character to express things and notions, as might be le- 
gible to all people and countries, so that men 6f several na- 
tions might with the same ease both write and read it, this 
invention would be a far greater advantage in this particu- 
lar, and mightily conduce to the spreading and promoting 
of all arts and sciences : because that great part of our time 
which is now required to the learning of words, inight then 
be employed in the study of things. Nay, the confusion at 
Babel might this way have been remedied, if every one 
could have expressed his own meaning by the same kind 
of character. But then perhaps the art of letters was not 

That such a manner of writing is already used in some 
parts of the world, the kingdoms of the high Levant, may 
evidently appear from divers credible relations. Trigaul- 
tius affirms, that though those of China and Japan* do as 
much differ in their language as the Hebrew and tlie 
Dutch ; yet either of them can, by this help of a common 
character, as well understand the books and letters of the 
others, as if they were only their own. 

And for some particulars, this general kind of writing is 
already attained amongst us also. 

1. Many nations do agree in the characters of the com- 
mon numbers, describing them either the Roman way by 
letters, as L IL V. X. C. D. M. or else the Barbarian way 
by figures, as 1. 2. 3. 10. &c. So likewise for that which 
we call philosophical number, which is any such measure 
whereby we judge the differences betwixt several sub- 
stances, whether in weight, or length, or capacity ; each of 

* Hfstor. Sinens. 1.1. c. 5. Bacon Augment. ScienU L6« c. 13. 

y99s. Gr. 1. 1. c. 41. Henn. Hugode Qrig. scrib. c. 4. 


these are expressed in sevei-al Iwguages by the same cha- 
racter. Thus 9 signifies a scruple, j a drachm, and so of 
the rest. 

2, The astronomers of several countries do express both 
the heavenly signs, and planets, and aspects by the same 
kindofnotes, as 7", y, n, 53, &C. hf, ^j (J, 9, 
*^ d. H=. A» D' S' Which characters (as it is 
tboi^t) were iirst invented by the ancient astrologers for 
the secrecy of them, the better to conceal their sacred and 
mysterious profession from vulgar capacity. 

3- The chymlcal treatises that are written in different 
Unguages, do all of them agree in the same form of writ- 
ing their minerals. Those that are attributed to any of the 
planets, are decypheied by the character of the planet to 
which they belong. The rest by other particular signs, as 
/^ for salt ammoniac, g for arsenic, &c, 

4. Musical notes In most countries are the same : nor is 
there any reason why there may not be such a general 
kind of writing invented for the expression of every tiling 
else as well as these particulars. 

In the contrivance of this there must be as many several 
cliaracters as there are primitive words. To which pur- 
pose the Hebrew is the best pattern, because that language 
consists of fewest radicals. 

Each of tliese primitives must have some particular 
marks to distinguish the cases, conjugations, or otlier ne- 
cessary variations of those derivatives that depend upon it. 

In the reading of such a wiiting, though men of seve- 
ral countries sliould each of them differ in their voices, and 
pronouncing several words, yet the sense would be still the 
same. As it is in the picture of a man, a horse, or tree ; 
which to all nations do express the same conceit, though 
each of tliese creatures be stiled by several names, accord- 
ing to the difference of languages. 

Suppose that astronomical sign IJ were to be pro- 
nounced, a Jew would caU it "it^-, a Grecian Tou^v ; an Ita- 


lian, toro; a Frenchpaan, taureau; a German, ^/ler ; ao 
Englishman, a btdL 

So likewise for that character, which in Tiro's notes dg-? 
nifies the world, a Jew would read it ban ; a Grecian Kw- 
|L^ ^ an Italian, U monde ; a Frenchman, /e monde ; a 
German, i^ft. Though several nations may differ in the 
expression of things, yet they all agree in the same conceit 
of them. , 

^OThe learning of this character wUI not be more difficult 
than the learning of any one language, because there needs 
iiot be j^iore signs for the expression of things, than there 
is now for the expression of words. Amongst those in 
China and Japan^ there is said to be about seven or eight 

The perfecting of such an invention were the only way 
to unite the seventy-two languages of the first confusion ; 
and therefore may very well deserve their endeavours who 
have bpth abilities and leisure for such kind of enquiries. 

V CHAP. xiy. 

Concerning the third way of secret discoursing by signs 
and gestures^ which may signify^ either 



rnpHE third lyay of discoursing was by sign? and ges- 
•**- tures, which (as they are serviceable to this purpose) 
may be distinguished into such as are significant, either 

1. £x CONGRUO. 


1. Ex congruo^ w^ien there Is some natural resemblance 
wd aifinity betwixt the action done, and the thipg to be 






f . 

cxprest. Of which kind are all those outward gestures* I 

whereby not only dumb ereatures, but men also do express , -j 

their inward passions^ whether of joy, anger, fear, &c. * j 

Sape tacens vocem verbaque vidtus hdbet. 

And the wise man notes it of the scorner, That he 
winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, J^ 
teacheth with his fingers*. 

Of this kind likewise are n;iany religious actions, and 
circumstances of divine worship, not only amongst the an- 
cient heathen, but some ^ that were particularly enjoined 
the priests and levites of the old law ; and some too that 
arc now in use in these times of the gospel. For by such 
\)odily gestures and signs, we may as well speak unto God 
ajs unto men. 

To this kind also are reducible those actions of form, 
that are required as necessary circumstances in many civil 
afiairs and public solemnities, which are usually such, as 
in themselves are apt to signify the thing for which they 
are meant, 

Bot now sometimes the intended meaning of these ges-* 
tures is concealed under a secret similitude. As it waslki 
that act of Thrasybulus, who being consulted with, how to 
maintain a tyranny that was newly usurped : he bid the 
messenger attend him in the field ; where with his wand 
he whipt pfi^ those higher ears of corn that did over-top the 
I'est ; intimating, that it consisted in cutting off the peers 
and nobUity, who were likely to be most impatient of sub*** 
jection. Th}s I may call a parabolical way of speaking by 

2. Ex placito^ when these signs have their signification 
from use and mutual x:ompact ; which kind of speaking, as 
it refers to lascivious intimations, is largely handled by 
Pxridf de Arte amandi. 

f frov. vi. 13. 





P^'erba superciliis sine voce loquentia dicanij 
Verba leges digitis, 6Cc» 

By the help of this it is common for men of several na* 
tions, ^hp understand not one another's languages, to en- 
tertain a mutual commerce and traffic. And it is a strange 
thing to behold, what dialogues of gestures there will pass 
betwixt such as are born both deaf and dumb ; who are 
able by this means alone, to answer and reply unto one 
another as directly if they had the benefit of speech. It is 
a great part of the state and niajesty belonging to the Turk- 
ish emperor, that he is attended by mutes, with whom 
he may discourse concerning any private business, which 
he would not have others to understand. 

It were a miserable thing for a rational soul to be impri- 
soned in such a body as had no way at all to express its 
cogitations; which would be so in all that are born deaf, 
if that which nature denied them, were not in this respect 
supplied by a second nature, custom and use. 

But (by the way) it is very observable which Valesius* 
relates of Pet. Pontius a friend of his, who by an unheard- 
of art taught the deaf to speak. Docens primum scriberey 
res ipsas digito indicando^ qtue characteribus illis signijica-^ 
rentur ; deinde ad motus lingiia^ qui characteribus respond 
derent provocando. First learning them to write the name 
of any thing he should point to ; and afterwards provoking 
them to such motions of the tongue as might answer the 
several words. It is probable that this invention well fol- 
lowed, might be of singular use for those that stand in 
need of such helps. Though certainly that was &r be- 
yond it, (if true) which is related of an ancient doctor, 
Gabriel Neale, that he could understand any word by the 
mere motion of the lips» pjlljUHf any utterance. 

The partiailar ways oflftitbuiiiing by gestures, are not 
to be numbered, as being i^ost of infinite variety, accord- 

ing as the several fancies of men shall impose significations 


* Sacra Fhilot. c. 3. 



upon all such signs or actions as are capable of sufficient 

But some there are of more especial note for their use 
and antiquity. Such is that upon the joints and fingers 
ofthe handy commonly stiled arthrologiay ox dactylohgia ; 
largely treated of by the venerable Bede*, Pieriusf, and 
others. In whom you may see, how the ancients were 
wont to express any number by the several postures of flic 
hands and fingers: the numbers under a hundred, were 
denoted by the left hand, and those above, by the right 
hand. Hence Juvenal |, commending Rylias for his old 
age, says, that he reckoned his years upon his right band. 

Foelix nimirum qui tot per stecula vitam 
Disiulity atque suos jam dextra computat annos» 

There are divers passages in the ancient authors, both 
sacred and profane, which do evidently allude to this 
kind of reckoning. 

Hence it is easy to conceive, how the letters as well 
as the numbers, may be thus applied to the several parts 
of the hand, so that a man might with divers touches, 
make up any sense that he hath occasion to discover un* 
to a confederate. 

This may be performed, either as the numbers are set 
down in the authors before-cited; or else by any other 
way of compact that may be agreed upon. 

As for example : let the tops of the fingers signify the 
five vowels ; the niiddle parts, the five first consonants ; 
the bottoms of them,'iQbe five next consonants ; the spaces 
betv^ixt the fingers the four next. One finger laid on the 
side of the hand may ^tpify T, two fingers V the conso- 
nant, three W, the little finger crossed X, tl^ wrist Y, 
the middle of tlie hand Z. ^,^,' "% 

But because such various gfeif^iiUilittions as are rcdrared to 
this, will not be without suspicion, therefore it ^c^^ het- 

* lib. de loqueli per gestum dlgitorum sive de iadigitatione. 

t Hieroglyphic. 1. 37. c. 1. &c. CsUui andq. lect. 1. 23. c. 12. 

i Satyr. 10. 




ter way, to impose significations upon such actions as ar© 
of more common unsuspected use ; as scratching of the 
heady rubbing the several parts of the face, winking of 
the eyes, twisting of the beard, &c. Any of which, or ail 
of them together, may be as well contrived to seiTe for 
this purpose, and with much more secrecy. 

In which art, if our gaming cheats, and popish miracle- 
impostors, were but well versed, it might much advantage 
them, in their cozeoing tr^de of life. 


Concerning the swiftness of informations^ either by quali' 
tieSf as the impression of imagination^ and the sensitive 
species; or by spirittuil substances^ as angles. 

HAVING already treated concerning the several ways 
of secrecy in discoursing, I shall in the next place 
enquire, how a man may with the greatest swiftness and 
speed, discover his intentions to one tliat is far distant 
from him. 

There is nothing (we say) so swift as thought, and yet 
the impression of these in another, might be as quick al- 
most as the first act, if there were but such a great power 
in imagination, as some later philosophers * have attri- 
buted to it. 

Next to the acts of thov^t, the species of sight do 
seem to be of the quickest motion. We see the light of 
the east will in a moment fill the hemisphere, and the eye 

* Marsii. Ficim Theolog. Platan. 1. 3. c. 1. Pomponadus de Incantat. 

<■ ■ 



does presently discern an object that is very remote. How 
we may by this means communicate our thoughts at great 
distances, I shall discourse afterwards. 

The substances that are most considerable for the swift- 
ness of their motion, are 

Amongst all created substances, there are not any of so 
swift a motion as angels or spirits. Because there is not 
either within their natures, any such indisposition and re- 
luctancy, or without them in the medium, any such impe- 
diment as may in the least manner retard their courses. 
And therefore have the ancient philosophers employed 
these as the causes of that mad celerity of the celestial 
orbs; though according to their suppositions, I think it 
would be a hard match, if there were a race to be run be- 
twixt the primum mobile and an angel. It being granted 
that neither of them could move in an instant, it would 
be but an even lay which should prove the swifter. 

From the fitness of spirits in this regard to convey any 
message, are they in the learned languages called mes- 

Now if a man had but such familiarity with one of 
these, as Socrates is said to have with his tutelary genius t; 
if we could send but one of them upon any enand, there 
would be no quicker way than this for the dispatch of 
business at all distances. 

That they have been often thus employed, is affirmed 
by divers relations. Vatinius being at Rome, was informed 
by an apparition of that victory which Paulus their general 
bad obtained over king Pcrses in Macedon, the very same 
day wherein the battle was fought ; which was a long time 
before any other messenger could arrive with the news J. 

* "wbo, Kyye\OQ, Angelus. 

+ Plutarch. Maximus Tyrius. Dissertat. 26. 27, 

X Lactant. last. L 2. ep. 8. Val. Max. 1. 1. c. 8. Florus, lib. 2. c. IS. 

^ ^\ 




And it is storied of many others, that whilst they have 
resided in remote countries, they have known the death of 
their friends, even in the very hour of their departure ; 
either by bleeding, or by dreams, or some such way of in- 
timation. Which, though it be commonly attributed to 
the operation of sympathy ; yet it is more probably to be 
ascribed unto the spirit or genius. There being a more 
especial acquaintance and commerce betwixt the tutelary 
angels of particular friends, they are sometimes by them 
informed (though at great distances) of such remaxkable 
accidents as befall one another. 

But this way there is little hopes to advantage our en-* 
quiry, because it isi^npt so easy to employ a good angel, 
nor safe dealing with a bad one. 

The abbot Trithemius, in his books concerning the se^ 
veral ways of secret and speedy discoursing, does pretend 
to handle the forms of conjuration, calling each kind of 
character by the name of spirits, thereby to deter the vul- 
gar from searching into his works. But under this pre- 
tence, he is thought also to deliver some diabolical magic. 
Especially in one place, where he speaks of the three sa- 
turnine angels, and certain images, by which, in the space 
of twenty-four hours, a man may be informed of new» 
from any part of the world *. And this was the main rea- 
son, why by Junius his advice, Frederic the second, prince 
palatine, did cause the original manuscript cjf that work ta 
be burned. Which action is so much (though it should 
seem \uijustly) blamed by Selenusf. 

* Vo9ntt0 Gram. I. 1. c. 41 . Polygraph. 1. 3. c. 1 6. 
t Cryptogr. L3.C.15. 




Concerning the swiftness of conveyance by bodies^ whether 
ina7iimate^ as arrows, bullets; or animate^ as menf 
beasts, birds. 

THE bodies that are most eminent for their swiftness, 
may be distinguished into such as are 

T-.^, J Inanimate. 

^'^^^'^ -IMATE. 

5 liJA 
I An 

These inanimate bodies, as arrows, bullets, &c. have 
only a violent motion ; which cannot therefore be con- 
tinued to so great a distance, as some occasions would re- 
quire : but for so much space as they do move, they are 
far swifter than the natural motion of any animated body. 
How these have been contrived to the speedy conveyance 
of secret messages, hath been formerly discoursed, in the 
fourth chapter, which I now forbear to repeat. 

Those living bodies that are most observable for their 
speed and celerity in messages, are either men, beasts, 
birds: though I doubt not, but that fishes also may be ser- 
viceable for this purpose, especially the dolphin, which is 
teported to be of the greatest swiftness, and most easily 
circurated, or made tame. 

Amongst the ancient footmen, there are some upon re- 
cord for their incredible swiftness. Lxdas is reported to 
be so quick in his running, Ut arenis pendentibiis &C cavo 
pulvere, nulla indicia relinqueret vestigiorum* ; that he 
left no impression of his footsteps on the hollow sands. 
And it is related of a boy amongst the Romans, being but 
eight years old, that did run five and forty miles in an af- 
ternoon. Anistius and Philonides, two footmen unto 
Akxander the Great, are said to have run 1200 stadia in 

* Soliotts Polyhist. c. 6. 


a day. Which relations will seem less incredible« if we 
consider the andent exercises and games of this kind, t^ 
gether with the public £uue and rewards for those fhat 
were most eminent. 

Amongst the variety of beasts, there are some of more 
especial note for their strength and swiftness. Scaliger * 
mentions a ^tory, (though he distrusts the trutb of it) of a 
certain beast espied ellead, two of whidi being joined in a 
little cart, are said to pass three hundred leagues a day 
upon the ice. 

In former ages, and in other countries, tlie dromedary, 
and camel, and mule, were of more common use ; but in 
these times and places, the horse (for the most part) serves 
instead of them all ; by the help of which, we have our 
swiftest means of ordinary conveyance. 'ITie custom of 
riding post, by renewing both horse and man at set stages, 
is of ancient invention. Herodotus f relates it to be used 
by Xerxes in the Grecian war ; and that it was by the 
Persians called AyyetpvftoV' The particulars that concern 
these kind of conveyances amongst the ancients, are 
largely handled by Hermannus Hugo^ Lib. 3. de Origine 
scribtndiy c. 14. 

Pliny X tells us of certain mares in Lusitania, which do 
conceive merely by the west wind ; that alone (without 
the copulation of any male) serving to actuate their heat, 
and to generate their young. Which are likewise men- 
tioned by Virgil §: 

Exceptant^ auras ieves, ^ sape sine idlis 
Conjugiis, vento gravicUe, SCc, 

Methinks these children of the wind should, for their 
fleetness, make excellent post-horses, and much conduce 
to tlie speedy conveyance of any message. 

The Paracelsians talk of natural means to extract the 
metal and spirit out of one horse, and infuse it into 

• Exer. 205. t I^b. 8. 98. 

% Nat. Hist. L 8. c. 4^. § Georg. 3. 



Afiother ; of enabling them to carry a man safely and 
swiftly through enemies, precipices, or other dangerous 
jptaces. And such Horses (say they) were used by the wise 
tnen of the East at our Saviour's nativity; for they had not 
otherwise been able to have kept pace with a star, or to 
have passed so great' a Journey as it was to Jerusalem, 
which is thought to be five or six hundred iiiSeS at the 
least, fi^m the places of their [balntation. If this conceit 
were feasible, it would much promote the speed of con- 
veyances ; but I think it may justly be referred amoitgst 
the other dreams of the melancholic chymics. 

Amongst all animate bodies, there is not any that have 
naturally so swift a motion as birds ; which if a man could 
well employ in the dispatch of any errand, tliere would be 
but little fear that such messenger should be either inter- 
cepted, or corrupted. 

That tliis hath been attempted, and effected by many of 
the ancients, is affirmed by divers relations. Pliny * tells 
us of Volaterranus, that he discovered a conquest he had 
gotten unto the city of Rome, by sending out swallows, 
which should fly thither, being anointed over with the co- 
lour of victory. And of another, who sending one of these 
birds into a besieged city (whence she was before taken 
from her young ones), and tying a string unto her with cer- 
tain knots upon t, did thereby shew, after what number of 
d»ys their aids would come ; at which time they should 
make an irruption upon the enemy. 

And elsewhere, in the same bookt> he relates, how 
Hircius the consul, and Brutus who was besieged in Mutina, 
did this way maintain mutual intelligence, by tying their 
letters unto such pigeons, as were taught beforehand to fly 
from the tents to the city, and from thence to the tents 

How Thaurosthenes did by this means send the news of 

* Nat. Hist. 1. 10. c. 24. t Cap. 37. 

VOL. 11. ' F 


his Victory at Olympia, to his father at ^gina, is related by 

Anacreon has an ode upon such a pigeon, which he him- 
self had often used as a messenger, wherein the bird is 

feigned to say, 

Eyo 5' Avay.piovTi 


Keu vuv dpofig svmvs 

tJnto this invention also, Juvenal t is thought to allude ; 
where he says. 

Tanqimm I diversis pariibus orbis, 

Anxiu prtecipiti venisset episiola penna, 

Lypsius relates out of Varro J, that it was usual for the 
Roman magistrates when they went unto the theatre, or 
other such public meetings, whence they could not return 
at pleasure, to carry such a pigeon with them ; that if any 
unexpected business should happen, they might thereby 
give warning to their friends or families at home. 

By which relations you may see how commonly this in-* 
vention was practised amongst the ancients. Nor hath it 
been" less used in these later times, especially in those coun- 
tries where by reason of cofltinual wars and dissensions, 
there have been more particular and urgent necessity for 
such kind of conveyances. Nunc vulgatissiyna res est, co- 
liimbas habere i ad ejusmodijussa paratasy saith Casaubon- 
Haruyn opercy nostrates hoc hello civiliy frequenter adjuti 
suntf saith Godesc. Stewechius§. 

There are divers other stories to this purpose, but by 
these you may sufficiently discern the common practices of 

* Hist. Animalium, 1. 6. c. 7. f Sat. 4. juxta fin. 

X Saturn. Serm. 1. 2. c. 6. 

§ Not. in ^neae Poliorcet. c. 31. Comment, in Veget. I. 3. c. 5. 
See Nunt. Inanimax. concerning Amiraldus. Porta de fiirt, lit. I. 2. 
c. 21. concerning marches. Herm. Hugo de Or%;, scribendi, c. i5» 
Thuanus Hist. 1. 17. 


tins kind. As it is usual to bring up birds of prey, as 
hawks, cormorants, &c. to an obedience of their keepers; 
fco likewise have some attempted it in these other birds, 
teaching them the art of carrying messages. There is a 
smaller sort of pigeon, of a light body, and swift flight. 
Which is usually made choice of for such particulars ; and 
therefore the kind of them is commonly called by the 
name of Carriers. 

df secret and swift informations ty the species of sounds 

HAVING in the former chapters treated severally 
concerning the divers ways of secrecy and swiftness 
in discourse ; it remains that I now enquire (according to 
the method proposed), how both these may be joined to- 
gether in the conveyance of any message. The resolution 
of which, so far as it concerns tlie particulars already spe- 
cified, were but needless to repeat. 

That which does more immediately belong to the pre- 
sent quaere, and was the main occasion of this discourse, 
does refer to other ways of intimation, besides these in or- 
dinary use, of speaking, or writing, or gestures. For in 
the general we must note, that whatever is capable of a 
competent difference, perceptible to any sense, may be a 
sufficient means whereby to express the cogitations. It is 
more convenient, indeed, that these differences should be 
of as great ^riety as the letters of the alphabet ; but it is 
sufficient if they be but twofold, because two alone may, 
with somewhat more labour and time, be well enough con- 
trived to express all the rest. Thus any two letters or 
numbers, suppose A.. B. being transposed through five 
places, will yield thirty-two differences, and so conse- 
quently will superabundantly serve for the four and twenty 

F 2 


letters, as was before more largely explained in the ninth 

Now the sensitive species, whereby such informations 
must be conveyed, are, either the species of sound, or the 
species of sight : the ear and the eye being the only senses 
that are of quick perception, when their objects arc re- 

Vegetius* distinguisheth all significatory signs into these 
three sorts. 

1* Vocalia. By articulate sounds. 

2. Semivocalia. By inarticulate sounds. 

3. Muta, By the species of sight. 

The two last of these are chiefly pertinent to the present 
enquiry. Concerning wliich, in the general it may be con- 
cluded, that any sound, whether of trumpets, bells, can- 
nons, drums, &c. or any object of sight, whether flame, 
smoke, &c. which is capable of a double difference, may 
be a sufllicient means whereby to communicate the 

The particular application of these, to some experiments, 
I shall treat more distinctly in tiie remainder of this dis- 

First, Concerning the secrecy and swiftness of any mes- 
sage by the species of sound. Though these audible spe- 
cies be much slower than those of sight, yet are they far 
swifter than the natural motion of any corporeal *messen- 
ger. The chief use of these is for such as are within some 
competent nearness, as perhaps a mile o^. But they may 
also by frequent multiplication be continued to a far greater 

There is a relation in Ji|fcchCanierariusti|. if some that ^ * 
have heard their friends speaking to them diftnctiy, when . ^^'^^ 
they have been many miles asunder. Habm notos homines^ ^ 

neqiLe levesj K non indoctoSy qui affiiifuibitnf^se audiisse secum 
colloquentes disei^te^ eos quos tunc mulioimn millium pas- 

* De re m-lit. 1. 3. c. 5. 

t Procem. in lib. Plutar. de defectu oraculorusu 


mum ah esse certe scirent. But this he justly refers to dia- 
bolical magic, and the illusion of spirits. 

There are other natural experiments in this kind, of 
more especial note for their antiquity. ' Such was that of 
king Xerxes, related by Cleomenes, as he is cited by Sar- 
dus*. Cleomenes in libra de circulis ccelestibus scribit 
Xerxem toto itinere a Perside in Gr^ciavi siationes statu-- 
issey K iniis homines ita prope^ ut vocem alterius alter ex- 
audiret; quo m^do quadraginta horarum spatio^ ex Gracid 
in Persidem res nunciari poterat. But this invention, be- 
sides the great trouble and uncertainty of it, is also too 
gross for imitation, savouring somewhat of the rudeness of 
those former and more barbarous ages. 

Much beyond it was that experiment of the Romans, in 
the contrivance of the Picts wall, related by our learned 
Cambdenf; this wall was built by Severus in the north 
part of England, above a hundred miles long. The towers 
of it were about a mile distant from one another. Betwixt 
each of these towers there passed certain hollow pipes or 
trunks in the curtains of the wall, through which the de- 
fendants could presently inform one another of any thing 
that was necessary, as concerning that place wherein th^ 
enemy was most likely to assault them, &c. 

Since the wall is ruined, and this means of swift adver^ 
tisement taken away, there are many inhabitants thercr 
abouts, \<^hich hold their land by a tenure in cornage (as 
the lawyers speak) being bound by biowing'of a horn to dis-r 
cover the irruption of the eneniy. 

Th^re is another experiment to this purpose mentioned 
by Walchiu«t, who thinks it gobble so to contrive a 
fc^ trunk or hoHcNlr pipe, that it shall preserve the voice en- 
tirely for Certain! hours or days, so that a man may send hi$ 
words to a friend iiistead of his writing. There being al- 

* De rerum Inventor, lib. 2. 

t Britan. de Vallo, sive the Picts Wall, p. 654. Boter. Geog. 1. 2. & 
I 4. where he mentions also another wall of 8000 furlongs ia China^ 
; Fahul. P 


ways a certain space of intermission, for the passage of the 
voice, betwixt its going into these cavities, and its coming 
out ; he conceives that if both ends were seasonably stop- 
ped, whilst the sound was in the midst, it would continue 
;^ there till it had some vent. Iluic tubo verba nostra insur 

_.^ suiiremus^ U, cum probe viunitur tabellario comviiltajntiSy 

&c. When the friend to whom it is sent, shall receive and 
open it, the words shall come out distinctly, and in the 
same order wherein they were spoken. From such a con- 
trivance as this (saith the same author), did Albertus Mag- 
pus make his image, and friar Bacon his brazen head, iq 
ptter certain words. Which conceit (if it have any truth) 
may serve somewhat to extenuate the gross absurdity of 
that Popish relic, concerning Joseph's [hah] or the noise 
that he made (as other carpenters use) in fetching of a 
blow ; which is said to be preserved yet in a glass amongst 
other ancient relics. 

But against these fancies it is considerable, that the spcr 
cies of sound ;ire multiplied in the air, by a kind of contir 
fiuation and efflux from their first original, as the species of 
^ght are from any luminous body ; ejther of which being 
once separated from their causes, do presently vanish and 
.die. Now as it would be a mad thing for a man to endea- 
vour to catch the sun-beams, or inclose the light , upon 
Ih^ same grounds likewise must it needs be absurd, for 
'\ any one to attempt the shutting in of arlicujpte sounds: 
jsince both of them have equally the same iutrinsical and 
inseparable depcndance upon their efficient causes. 

True, indeed, the species of sound may seem to have 
some kind of self-coi)tinuance in the air, as in echoes ; 
but so likewise is it in proportion witli those of sight, as ii^ 
the quick turning round of a fire-stick, which will make the 
appearance of r. f?ery circle : and though the first kind of 
these be more lasting than the other, by reason their natu- 
|:al motion is not so quick, yet neither of them are of such 
^Juration as may be sufficient for the present enquiry. 

None of all these inventions already specified, do sufEr 
jciently perform the tusinesjs that js here enquired after ; 


nor are they either so generally or safely applicable for all 
places and exigencies. 

The discovery that is here promised, may be further 
serviceable for such cases as these. 

Suppose a friend were perfidiously clapped up in some 
close dungeon, and that we did not know exactly where, 
but could only guess at the place, within the latitude of half % 

a mile or somewhat more ; a man might very distinctly by 
these other inventions, discourse unto him. Or suppose 4 
city were straitly besieged, and there were either within it 
or without it, such a confederate, with whom we should ne» 
cessarily confer about sonie design ; w^ may by these means 
safely discover to him our intentions. By which you may 
guess that the messenger which h here employed, is of so 
strange a nature, as not to be barred out witli walls, or de- 
terred by enemies. 

To the performance of this, it is reouisite that there be 
two bells of different notes, or some such other audible and 
loud sounds, which we may command at pleasure, as mus.. 
kets, cannons, horns, drums, &c, By the va.rious sounding 
of these (according to the former table) a man may cksily 
express any letter, and so consequently any sense. 

These tables * I shall again rqpeat in this place : that of 
two letters may be contrived thus : 

A. B. C. D. E. F. G. V 

aaaaa. aaaab. aaaba. aaabb. aabaa. aabab. aabba. , 

H. I. K. L. M. N. * O. 

aabbb. abaaa. abaab. ababa. ababb. abbaa. abbab. 

P. Q. R. S. T. V. W. 

abbba. abbbb. baaaa. baaab* baaba. baabb. babaa. 

X. Y. Z. 

babab. babba. babbb. 

Suppose the word victuals were this way to be expressed ^ 
let tliQ bigger sound be represented by A, apd the lesser by 

* Cap. 9, 




■ t 




B, according to which, the word may be, thus made up by 
five of these sounds for each letter. 

V. I. C. T. U. A. L. 

baabb. abaaa. aaaba. baaba. baabb. aaaaa. ababa. 



That is, the lesser note sounded once, and then thQ 
bigger twice, and then again the lesser twice, as (baabb) 
will signify the letter (V.) So the bigger once, and then 
the lesser once, and after that the bigger thrice together, 
^ (abaaa) will represent the letter (I.) and so of the rest. 

If the sounds be capable of a triple difference, then each 
. letter may be expressed by a threefold sound, as may ap* 
l^ear by this other alphabet. 

A. B. C. D. E. F. Q. H. I. K. L. 

aaa. aab. aac. baa. bab. bba. bbb. bbc. caa, cba. ebb, 

M. N. O. P. Q. R. S. T. V. W. X. 
cbc. cca. ccb. ccc. aba. abb, abc. aca. acb. ace. bca* 

Y. Z. 

bcb. bcc. 

V. I, C. T. U, A. L. S. 

acb. caa. aac. aca. acb. aaa. ebb. abc. 

If these sounds do contain a quintuple difference, thea 
may every letter be signified by two sounds only, (which 
will much conduce to the speed and dispatch of such a 
message.) As you may see in tliis other table. 

A. B. C. D. j;. F. G. H. 1. K. L. M. N. O. P, 

^. ab. ac. ad. ae. ba. bb. be. bd. be. ca. cb. cc. cd. ce, 

Q. R. S. T. V. W. X. Y. Z. 

da. db. dc, dd. de. ea. eb. ec, ed, 

V. I. C. T. U. A L. S. 

de. bd. ac. dd. de. aa. ca. dc. 

It is related by Porta *, that when the citizens in the 
piege of Navarre were reduced to such great extremitiei^ 

* De»furt, lit. 1. 1, c. 5. 



that they were ready to yield, they did discover to their 
friends the greatness and kind of their wants, by discharg- 
ing divers cannons and ordnances in the nigfat-timo^ ac- 
cording to a certain order before agreed upon ; an J by this 
means did obtain such fitting supplies as preserved the^ 



Concerning a langttage that may consist only qfturtts and 
musical notes, without any articulate sound. 


IF the musical instrument that is used to this purpose^ Mfk:. 
able to express the ordinary notes, not only according 
to their different tones* but their times also, then may each 
letter of the alphabet be rendered by a single sound. 

Whence it will follow, that a man may frame a language, 
consisting only of tunes and such inarticulate sounds, as no 
letters can express. Which kind of speech is fancied to 
be usual amongst th^ lunary inhabitants, who (as Domingo 
Gonsales ♦ hath discovered) have contrived the letters of 
tlie alphabet upon the notes after some such order as this. 


Where the five vowels are represented by the min- 
nums on each of the five lines, being most of them placed 
according to their right order and consequence, only the 

* Or the Mjm in the Moon, written by the tame author of Nuntiut 




letters K. and Q. are left out, because they may be otlier- 

wise expressed. 
According to this alphabet of notes, these words, Gloria 

J)eo soli, must be thus contrived *: 

^ t o r t ^*DtoK/o£x 


Wci^ "^(["7^ 

By this you may easily discern how two musicians may 
discourse with one another, by playing upon their instru-* 
ments of music, ^s well as by talking with their instruments 
of speech. (And which is a singular curiosity) how the 
words of a song may be contrived in the tune of it. 

I suppose that these letters and notes might be disposed 

to answer one another, with better advantage than here 

they are expressed. And this perhaps, would be easy 

enough for those that are thoroughly versed in the grounds 

,, of music, unto whose further enquiry 1 do here only pro* 

T'posc this invention. 

But now if these inarticulate sounds be contrived for the 
expression, not of words and letters, but of things and no- 
tions (as was before explained, concerning the universal 
character), then might there be such a general language, 
as should be equally spcakable by all people and nations ; 
and so we might be restored from the second general curse« 
which is yet manifested, not only in the confusion of writ- 
ing, but also of speech. 

The utterance of these musical tunes may serve fbr the 
universal language, and the writing of them for the univer- 
sal character. As ajl nations do agree in the same conceit 
*of things, so likewise in the same conceit of harmonies. 

This curiosity (for aught I know) has npt yet been men- 

* See Dom. Gonsal. 94. 


it •- 


tioned by any author, but it may be (iF well considered) of 
€uch excellent use, as to deserve a more full and particular 
enlargement in a treatise by itself. 


Of those common relations that concern secret and swift in^ 
formations by the species of sight ; which are either fa^ 
bulouSi or magical, 

THE usual relations that concern secret and swift con- 
veyances by the species of sight, may be distinguished 
into such as are, either 

1. Fabulous. 

2. Magical. 

3. Natural and true. 

First, of those that are fabulous. In which kin(!, that of 
the loadstone is most remarkable, as it is maintained by Fa- 
mianus Strada^, in his imitation of Lucretius's stile, and 
divers others. The manner that is usually prescribed for. 
the performance of it, is thus: let there be two needlb8 
provided, of an equal length and bigness, being both of 
them touched with the same loadstone : let the letters o£ 
Jhe alphabet be placed Jn the circles on which they are 
nioved, as the points of the compass under the needle of 
the mariner's chart. . Let the friend that is to travel take 
one of them with him, first agreeing upon the days and 
hours wherein tliey should confertpgfther : at which times, 
if one of them inove the needle of his instrument to any 
letter of the alphabet, the other needle, by a sympathy, 
will move unto the same letter in the other instrument, 'H^ 

though they be never so far distant : and thus by several 
motions of the needle to the letters, they may easily make 
pp any words or sense which they have ^ mind to express. 

♦ Lib. 2. Prol. 6^ 

* < 





O utinam hac ratio scribendi prodeat usu ; 
Cauiior dC citior properaret epistola, nullas 
Latronum verita i7isidias,Jluviosqne morantes, 
Ipse suis princeps mantbus sibi corific^et rem, Sec, 

Saith Strada. But this invention is altogether imaginaiy, 
having no foundation in any real experiment. You may 
see it frequently confuted in those that treat concerning 
raagnetical virtues. Non solum exhibilandi sunfy sed etiam 
male muictandi phUosophicdfendd^ fabularum isti procit* 
sores^ qui suis portentis deterrent homines a praclaiissinio 
causarum studio; saith Cabaeus to this purpose *. 

The first occasion of these relations, was, the proof of 
that strange immaterial power of the loadstone, whereby it 
did work through thick and solid bodies, as a table, or 
wall, or the like ; as also of that directive virtue, whereby 
it always tends to the poles ; from whence others have 
^ A conjectured, that it might be serviceable also for such a bu- 
siness, at so great a distance. 

But against this, it is considerable, 

1. That every natural agent is supposed to have some 
certain sphere, which determines its activity. 

2. That magnetical operations do not arise (as sonxe 
fondly conceive) fron^ a sympathetical conformation of na- 
tures, whicih is the same at all distances ; but from such a 
diffusion of these magnetical qualities through tlie medium,, 
that they may be continued from the agent to the patient. 
And so these natural powers will not be of so great an ex- 
tent, as they are supposed in this experiment. 

The utmost distance, at which we may discourse with 
another by these magnetical virtues, is, two or three feet, 
or thereabouts ; and this' we may do, though it be through 
a wall of that thickness. Fieri enim posse me docuit expe^ 
rientia, utope magnetis^ K instrumenti adidaptati^ amicus, 
cum amico, in cubiculo proximo^ trans crassum rrjiurum 
(puta bipetalem) coHoquatur^ animi sui sententiam imper»^. 
tiaty Sf ad quasita respondeat ; saith a late author f. But 

* Philosoph. Magnet. 1. 4. c, 10. 

f S. \Yard MagnetU Redact, c. 40. See Cabasus Phil. Magn. 1. 4. c.U< 




in this experiment, it is not only the secondary virtue of the 
needles that can be thus effectual (as is supposed in the 
former invention), but there must be the help also of the 
loadstone itself. 

As for the reason why these magnetical powers are able 
to work through solid bodies ; it is considerable, that any 
quality may be diffused through such a substance, as hath 
no natural repugnancy unto it. We see, the light does pass 
as well through hot bodies as cold, through solid as fluid, 
&c. only opacity keeps it out, because that quality alone is 
contrary to its nature. So likewise is it with magnetical 
virtues, which do equally spread themselves through all 
kind of bodies, whether rare or dense, diaphanous or opa- 
cous ; there being no quality contrary to this, because it is 
that general endowment of the whole globe, that universal 
quality to which all other particulars are naturally subser- 

The second sort of relations to this purpose, are such as 
refer to diabolical magic; of which kind is that invention 
thought to be, which is commonly ascribed to Pythagoras; 
of whom it is reported, that he could write any thing in the 
body of the moon, so as it might be legible to another at a 
great distance. Agrippa * affirms this to be naturally pos- 
sible, and the way of performing it not unknown to him- 
self, with some others in his time. And Fredericus Ris- 
ner f seems to believe it ; for speaking of the strange expe- 
riments to be wrought by some glasses, be adds, Deniqtic 
cerio artificio^ depictas imagines^ aut scriptas literas, node 
Serena^ plen^ luH4e sic opponi possunt^ ut radiis lunam irra- 
diantibiLSy tdeoqtie refiexis^ videas H legaSy qua Constanti- 
7wpoli Lutetiam tibi nuncientur. 

Theft is an experiment in optics, to represent any writ- 
ing by the sun-beams, upon a wall, or a front of a house : 
for which purpose, the letters must be first described with 
wax, or some other opacous colour, upon the surface of the 

* Occult, Philcisoph. L 1. c. 6. 

t Optic. 1. 3. prop. 6. Speculorum persuasio hoc pervasit^ &c« 


glass, in an inverted form ; which glass afterwards reflect- 
ing the light upon any wail in the shade, will discover these 
letters in the right form and order. Unto some such inven- 
tion I did first (before I had well considered these particu- 
lars) attribute the performance of those strange promises in; 
Nuncius tTtanimaiiis* ; but upon better thoughts it will be 
found, that the species of reflection in this experiment are 
so weak, that unless the glass and tlie letters be very big, ^ 
and the wall somewhat near, there will be no distinct ap- 
pearance of the writing. And therefore this way there can 
be no thoughts of contriving any reflected species, that 
shall be visible at so great a distance as the moon. Nor is 
there any other natural means conceivable, by which so 
strange an effect may be performed ; which is the reasonr 
that it is so frequently attrrbxited to (fiabolical magic, by al- 
most all the writers that have occasion to treat of it. 

But Agrippa in another place t speaking concerning this 
invention, affirms that it was performed thus : Pythagoras 
" did first describe with blood any letters which he thought 
fit, in some great glass, and then opposing the glass against 
the full moon, the letters wpuld appear through it, as if 
they were writ in the circumference c>f her body. 2Ha 
collibuisset sanguine perscripsit in spectu'oy quOy ad pleni lu- 
minis luna orbtm obversOy stanti a ter^^o^ res exaratas in 
4isco luna commonstravit. In which passage he seems to 
intimate, that this writing in the moon could not be visible 
at any great distance, (as it is related in (Common tradition) 
but that it did appear to such only, betwixt whose eyes 
and the moon this glass might be intei'jiosed. And ac- 
cording to this, the wonder of the relation^ ceases, nor may 
it truly be referred to diabolical magic. 

More properly reducible to this kind, are those in- 
chanted glasses mentioned in divers autharsj: in which 
some magicians are said to contain such fan iliar spirits, as 
do inform them of any business they shaH enquire after^ 

* World in the Moon, c. 7. f Agrippa de Vanit. Scient. c. 48* 
% Joach. Camersr. Frooem. in lib. Fiut. de defect. C^rac. 


THE SECRltt And «Wlt"t MESSENGER. 79 

t have heard a great pretender to the knowledge of all se- 
cret arts, confidently affirm, that he himself was able at 
that time, or any other, to shew me in a glass what was 
done in any part of the world ; what ships were sailing in 
the Mediterranean; who were walking in any street of 
any city in Spain, or the like. And this he did aver with 
all the laboured expressions of a strong confidence. The 
man, for his condition, was an Italian doctor of physic ; 
for his parts, he was known to be of extraordinary skill in 
the abstruser arts, but not altogether free from the suspi- 
cion of this unlawful magic. 



Of informations by significatory fires and smoke. Their 
antiquity. The true manner of using them to this pur* 
pose. That these were meant in Nuntius inanimatus. 

THE experiments of this kind that are true, and upon 
natural grounds, have been made either by fire in 
the night, or smoke and such other signs visible at a dis- 
tance in the day-time. 

These informations by signifiGatory fires, have been of 
ancient use. The first invention of them is commonly 
ascribed to Sinon in the Trojan wars. Specvlarem signi- 
ficationem Trojano Bello Sinon invenit, (saith Pliny*) 
This Was the sign upon which he agreed to unlock the 
wooden horse. 

Mxtiderat f 

Flammas cum regia puppis 

* Nat. Hist. 1. 7. c. 56. t VirgU. 


But Diodorus Siculus* a^hrms them to be practised hy « 
Medea in her conspiracy ^^ith Jason. AnH they are fire-' 
quently mentioned in other ancient historians* Herodo- 
tus f speaks of them in the Grecian war against Xerxes : 
and Thucydides J testifies of them in the onsets that were 
made by the Peloponnesians against Salamis, and in the 
siege of Corcyra. Appian speaking of Scipio at Numao-' 
tia, how he (Hvided his camp into divers companies, says, 
that he assigned each of them to several tribunes, with 
this charge, Si impeterentur ab hoste^ de dicy panno rubro 
in hasta sublato signijicarent § ; ck iwcte^ igne. If the ene- 
my did charge any of them, they should signify it to the 
others, in the day-time by holding up a red cloth, in t\\t 
night by fires. Vegetius 1| affirms it to be usual, when the 
army was divided, to inform one another, in the day by 
smoke, in the night by fires. These significatory fires 
were by the Grecians called 4>pu}fTo/ (saith Suidas) and 
sometimes Ihj^eia^ The use of them was chiefly for the 
answer of some particular quaere ^T* that was before agreed 
upon ; as concerning the coming of aids or enemies ; rf 
the enemies were coming, they weie wont to shake these 
torches, if tlie aids, they held them still (saith the scholiast 
upon Thucydides**). 

But they have by more exact inventions been enlarged 
to a greater latitude of signification: so that now, any 
thing which we have occasion to discover, may be ex- 
pressed by them ft* 

The ways by which they may be contrived to this pur- 
pose, are divers ; I shall specify only the chief of them. 

That which in ancient times was used by the Grecians, 
and is particularly treated of in PolybiusJJ, adviseth thus^ 
Let the letters be divided into five tablets or columns. 

* BibKoth. I. 4. f Polytnn. 1. 7. c. 18Z % Hitt. 1. 2. Item, I. S. 
So Curiius of Alex. M. 1. 5. ^ To this purpose rhe flags of truce or 
defiance. || De re milit. 1. 3. c. 5. Lips, de milit. Kom. lib. 5. Dia-' 
log. 9. IT .^eas Poliorc. c. 31. ** Schol. in 1. 2. Thucyd. 

tt Wecker de Secretis, 1. 14. c. 1 . Port, de Furt. lit. 1. 1 . c.l 0. Cardatt, 
de Yariet. Rerum, L 12. c. 6K %X Histr 1. 10. j^ata fin. 

"'4 . 

I II irf .IV V 










Let there be provided ten torches, £ve being placed on 
the right hand, and five on the left : let so many torches 
be lifted up on the nght hand, as may shew the number of 
the table; and so many on the left, as may shew the num- 
ber of that letter in it which you would express : as in this 
following example, wherein the several numbers, both 
at the light and left hand, do signiiy the word hasten. 
Tht right kand. The left hand. 


i — 



















1 1 

U — 


■ V 


That, IS, tw9 lights being lifted up on the right hand^ 
shew the second column; and at the same time three 
torches appearing on the left hand, denote the third let- 
ter in that column, which is H. Thus a single torch being 
discovered on both sides, doth signify the first letter of th» 
first column, which is A ; and so of the rest. 

There is another way mentioned by Joachimus Fortius*^ 
unto the performance of which there are only three lights 
required: one torch being shewed alone, shall signify the 
eight first letters, J. B. C. D. £. F. G. H. Two toge- 
^ ther, the eight next, I. K. L. M. N. 0. P. 2. And all 

three the rest, B. *?. T. V. W. X. Y. Z. 

One light being discovered once, signifies^; if twice, 
B: two lights being shewed once, do denote the letter /; 
if twice, A", &c. 

According to this way, if I would express the word 
J-AMIN, the torches must be contrived ; one light must be 
lifted up six times for the letter F\ one light once for A ; 
two lights four times for M\ two lights once for /; two 
lights five times for JVL • . 

But here it will be requulte that there be some intcrmis- 
. N sion betwixt the expression of several letters, because 

•^ otherwise there must needs be a great confusion amongst 

those that belong to the same number of torches. In 
which respect, this way is much more tedious and inconve- 
nient than the former invention out of Polybius. 

It is easy to conceive, how by the alphabet consisting of 
two letters transposed through five places, such a manner 
of discoursing may be otherwise contrived, only by two 
torches. But then there must be five shews, to express 
cveiy letter. 

There is another way of speaking, by the differences of 

motion in two lights ; which for its quickness and speed, 

*. is much to be preferred before any of tlie rest; the man- 

^ ner of it is thus : provide two torches on long poles : le^ 

them be placed so far from one another, that they may 

^ lib. de Experiment. 


seem unto your confederate to be about four cubits dis- '^. 
tance. By the divers elevations or depressions of these, 
inclining of them to the right hand, or to the left, severally 
or both together, it is easy to express all the alphabet, 

One light alone being discovered, must stand for A\ 
lifted up, for E\ depressed, for /; inclined to the right 
haad, for O ; unto the left hand, for V. 

Two lights elevated, for B ; depressed, for Q ; inclined 
to the right hand, for D ; to the left hand, for F. 

Two lights being still discovered, and the torch at the 
right hand being lifted up, shall signify G\ being de- 
pressed, H\ incKned to the right hand, K \ to the left 
hand^ Z» 

The torch at the left hand, being elevated, shall stand 
for M ; depressed, for N\ inclined to the right hand, for 
P ; to the left hand for 2. 

The torch at the right hand being moved towards the 
left hand, and that at the left hand being at the same time 
moved towards the right hand, shall signify R : the right 
hand torch being inclined to the" left hand, and the other 
at the same time being elevated, signifies *$*; being de- 
pressed, T : the left hand torch being inclined to the right 
hand, and the other at the same time being elevated, 
signifies W \ being depressed, X. 

The right hand torch being inclined to the right hand, 
and the other at the same time being elevated, may stand 
for Y ; being depressed, for 2. 

When any thing is thus to be expressed, the two torches 
being discovered, must remain without any motion, so 
long, till the confederate shall by other lights shew soifp . 
sign, that he is ready to take notice. After every one of 
these particular motions, the torches must be carefully 
hidden and obscured, that so the several letters expressed 
by them, may be the better distinguished. 

The day-time informations by smoke, cannot so con- 
veniently be ordered according to this latter contrivance, 
and therefore must be managed by some of those other 
ways that .were ^ecified before : to which purpose there 

G 2 


must be some tunnels provided, for the orderly inclosing an4 
conveying up the smoke. The other particulars concerning 
this, are in themselves easy enough to be apprehended. 

How these significatory signs will be visible at a great 
distance. How by multiplication of them in ^several 
places, they may be contrived for many scores of miles, 
will easily be discerned from the situation and use of bea- 
cons*, by which the intimations of public danger and pre- 
parations, have been oftentimes suddenly spread over this 
whole island. 

This may further be advantaged by the use of Galilaeus 
his perspective. 

It is storied of the inhabitants in China, that when any 
merchants do happen upon the shores of that kingdom, 
they are presently examined, whence they come, what 
commodities they bring, and of what number they are f : 
which being known, the watch (set for that purpose) do 
presently inform the king of their answers, by smoke in 
the day, and fires in the night : who by the same means 
does as speedily return them his pleasure, whether they 
shall be admitted or kept out: and so th^t is easily dis- 
patched in some few hours, which could not be performed 
the ordinary way, without the trouble of many days. 

The practice of all these secret and swift messages, may 
perhaps seem very difficult at the first; but so does also 
the art of writing and reading to an unlettered manj : cus- 
tom and experience will make the one as facile and ready 
as the other. 

That these ways of information already explained, 
whether by the species of sound or sight, are the same 
with those intimated in Nuntius Inanimatus, may be 
clearly evident to any one who does but thoroughly peruse 
that discourse, and compare it with divers other the like 
passages of the same author in his Domingo Gonsales. 

1 . For the species of sound, his words are these §, jiu- 
ribus nihil percipi nisi personunif neminern fugit. Erii 

♦ See Barcia. Argon. 1. 1. f Busbequius Epist. Tur. ep. 4. 

I Polyb, 1. 10. % Nunc, Inanimr p. 1&. 


igitur necesse ut is^ cut aliquid avditii mediante rmnciatum 
fuerity sonos cmdiaty eosque distinguibiles pro numero au^ 
ddendorum ; qua cum sint infinita^ infinita^ etiam sit opcrT-^ 
i€ty sonorum edendoruvi varietas. Satis tamen erit ut diS" 
tinguantur vel genere^ vet tempore^ modo etiam SC numero. 
Which passage together with that other invention in Do- 
mingo Gonsales, concerning the language of the lunary 
inhabitants, before explained in the eighteenth chapter; 
I say, both these, being compared with the discoveries and 
experiments of the same kind that are here discoursed o^ 
may plainly manifest, that they are both performed by the 
same means. - 

3. For the species of sight, his words are these*, Si ocu* 
lis amid absentis aliquid cupis representare^ idque citius 
quam corpus aliqmd sublunar e ad locum tarn longo inter" 
vallo disjunctum possit per/errij oportet ut idea, sive for^ 
ma visibilesy augeantur^ quantitate^ multiplicentur numero^ 
H pro rerum signijitan^arum varietate varientur^ vel qua- 
litatCy vel quantitate^ vel sitUy vel ordine. Which passage 
being compared with that other way of compact, betwixt 
Gonsales and his man Diego, mentioned in the other dis- 
course ; it may evidently appear, that the ways of intima- 
tion which were there meant, are performed after the 
same manner, according to which they are here dis- 
coursed of. 

He docs indeed mention out of Busbequius, the practice 
of those informations amongst 'the inhabitants of China, 
and thinks that they were used too by the Romans ; but 
withal he wonders how that now amongst us, they should 
be altogether forgotten; and the restoring of them to 
these places and times, seems to be his chief aim, in the 
promises of that discourse. 

The particular example which he mentions, is this : sup- 
pose that one at London would send a message to Bristol, 
Wells, Exeter, or though it were any remoter place : Neque 
enim longinquitatem via multum moror^ si dttur facultas 

* Nunc. Inanim. p. 16. 



stemendiy K permeabilem efficiendi. That is, the greatness 
of distance can be no impediment, if the space betwixt be 
fitted with such high mountains, and beacon hills, as may 
serve for these kind of discoveries. Suppose (I say) this 
messenger should set forth from London, in the very point 
of noon, he would notwithstanding arrive at Bristol before 
twelve of the clock that day : that is, a message may by 
these means be conveyed so great a distance, in fewer mi- 
nutes than those which make the difference betwixt the 
two meridians of those places. 

If according to this, we should interpret that passage out 
of Trithcmius*, concerning the three saturnine angels, 
that in twenty-four hours can convey news from any part 
of the world ; that author might then in one respect, be 
fireed from the aspersion of diabolical magic, which for 
this very reason hath heretofore been imputed to him. 
But this by the way. 

It may be, the resolution of those great promises in Nun- 
cius Inanimatus, to $uch easy causes as they are here 
ascribed unto, will not be answerable to men's expecta- 
tion ; every one will be apt to mistrust some greater mat- 
ter than is here exprest : but it is thus also in every other 
the like particular; for ignorance is the mother of wonder, 
and wonder does usually create unto itself many wild ima- 
ginations ; which is the reason why men's fancies are so 
prone to attribute all unusual and unknown events, unto 
stranger causes than either natu?:e or art hath designed 
for them. 


The poets t have feigned Mercury to b^ the chief pa- 
tron of thieves and treachery, 

* See before cap. 15. 

t Horat. I. 1. Od. 10. Ovid. Metam. 1. U. Homer, ui Hymnis, 
Kat. Comes. Mytholog. 1. 5. c. 5. 


To which purpose they relate that he filched from Vcr 
pns her girdle, as she embraced him in congratulation of a 
victory ; that he robbed Jupiter of his sceptre, and would 
have stolen his thunderbolt too, but that he-feared to burn 
his fingers. And the astrologers obs.erve, that those who 
are born under this planet, are naturally addicted to thefl 
and cheating. 

If it be feared that this discourse may unhappily adf^ 
vantage others in such unlawful courses^ it is considerable, 
that it does not only teach how tp deceive, but conse- 
quently also how to discover delusions. And then besides, 
the chief expefiments are of such nature, that they cannot 
be frequently practised, without just cause of suspicion, 
when as it is in the magistrates power to prevent them. 
However, it will not follow, that every thing must be sup- 
prest which may be abused. There is nothing hath more 
occasioned troubles and contention, than the art of writ- 
ing, which is the reason why the inventor of it is fabled to 
have sown serpents teeth *. And yet it was but a barba-r 
rous act of Thamus, the Egyptian king, therefore to for- 
bid the learning of letters : we may as well cut out our 
tongues, because that member is a world of wickedness f. 
If all those useful inventions that are liable to abuse, 
should therefore be concealed, there is not any- art or 
science which might be lawfully profest. 

* Call. Rh<ftantiq, lect. 1. 92. c. 15. f Jamin iu. 


. V 












Being one of the most easy, pleasant, useful (and yet 
most neglected Part) of the Mathematics. 

Not before treated of in this Language^ 









The excellency of these arts. Why they were concealed bjf 
the ancients. The authors that have treated of them. 

ALL those various studies about which the sons of 
men do busy their endeavours, may be geaeralljT 
comprised under these three kinds. 




To the first of these, is reducible, not only the specula* 
tion of theological truths, but also the practice of those 
virtues, which may advantage our minds in the enquiry 
after their proper happiness. And these arts alone may 
truly be stiled liberal, Qm^ liberum faciunt hominem^ qui^ 
bus cur a virtus est^ (saith the divine Stoic ^) which set a 
man at liberty from his lusts and passions* 

* Sen. £p. 88. 


To the second may be referred all that knowledge 
which concerns tlie frame of this great universe, or the 
usual course of providence in the government of thesQ 
created things. 

To the last do belong all those inventions, whereby na-r 
ture is any way quickened or advanced in her defects : 
these artificial experiments being (as it were) but so many 
essays, whereby men do naturally attempt to restore them- 
selves from the first general curse inflicted upon their 

The following discourse does properly appertain to this 
latter kind. 
^ Now art may be said, either to imitate nature, as in 
Ihnning and pictures^ or to h^lp nature, as in medicine ; 
or to overcome and^ advance nature, as in these mechanical 
disciplines, which in this respect are by so much to be pre- 
ferred before the other, by how much their end and power 
is more excellent. Nor arc they therefore to be esteemed 
less noble, because more practical ; since our best and 
most divine knowledge is intended for action ; and those 
may justly be counted barren studies, which do not con- 
duce to practice as their proper end. 

But so apt are we to contemn every thing which is 
common, that the ancient philosophers esteemed it a great 
part of wisdom to conceal their learning from vulgar ap- 
prehension or use, thereby the better to maintain it in its 
' due honour and respect. And therefore did they generally 
veil all their arts and sciences under such mystical expres- 
sions as might excite the people's wonder and reverence ; 
fearing lest a more easy and familiar discovery, might ex- 
pose them to contempt. Sic ipsa mt/steriafabularum cu- 
' niculis operiuntUTy summatibus tantrnn viris^ sapientia wi- 
terpretey veri arcani consciis ; contenti sint reliquiy ad ve- , 
neratumemf figuris defendentibits d vilitate secretum^ saith 
a Platonic *. 

* Macrobiu9 Somiu Scip* 1. I.e. 2. 


Hence was it, that the ancient mathematicians did place 
all their learning in abstracted speculations; refusing to 
debase the principles of that noble profession unto mecha* 
nical experiments« Insomuch that those very authors 
amongst them, who were most eminent for their inven- 
tions of this kind, and were willing by their own practice 
to manifest unto the world those artificial wonders that 
might be wrought by these arts^ as Daedalus, Archytas, 
Archimedes, &c. were notwithstanding so much infected 
with this blind superstition, as not to leave any thing in 
writing concerning the grounds and manner of these ope- 

Quintilian^ speaking to this purpose of ArchimedeSt 
saith thus. 2uamvis iantum tamgtce singularem geotne^ 
iria usurriy Archimedes^ singtUaribus exempHs^ i( admiran" 
dis operibtis osienderit^ propter qua non humane sed divine 
scientie laudem sit adepius^ hasit tamen in ilia Platonis 
persuasipne^ nee tdlam mechanicam literam prodere voluit. 

By which means, posterity hath unhappily lost, not only 
the benefit of those particular discoveries, but also the pro- 
ficiency of those arts in general. For when once the 
learned men did forbid the reducing of them to particular 
use, and vulgar experiment; others did thereupon refuse 
these studies themselves, as being but empty and useless 
speculations f. Whence it came to pass that the science 
of geometry was so universally neglected, receiving little 
or no addition for many hundred years together. 

Amongst these ancients, the divine Plato is observed to 
be one of the greatest sticklers for this fond opinion ; 
severely dehorting all his followers from prostituting ma- 
thematical principles, unto common apprehension or prac- 
tice J. Like the envious emperor Tiberius, who is re- 
ported to have killed an artificer for making glass mal- 
leable, fearing lest thereby the price of metals might be 
debased. So he, in his superstition to philoso'phy, would 

* Quint. 1. I. c. 10. t Pet. Ram. Schol. Mathem. 1. 1. 

tPlin.Nat. 1. 36.C.26. 



rather cbuse to deprive the world of alt those useful and 
excellent inventions which might be thence contrived, 
than to expose that profession unto the contempt of the 
^orant vulgar. 

But his scholar. Aristotle *, (as in many other particulars, 
so likewise in this) did justly oppose him, and became him« 
self one of the first authors that hath writ any methodical 
discourse concerning these arts ; chusing rather a certain 
and general benefit, before the hazard that might accrue 
firom the vain and groundless disrespect of some ignorant 
persons. Being aa -i&r from esteeming geometry disho- 
noured b/ the application of it to mechanical practices, 
that he rather thought it to be thereby adorned, as with 
curious variety, and to be exalted unto its natural end. 
And whereas the mathematicians of those former ages, did 
possess all their learning as covetous men do their wealth, 
only in thought and notion ; the judicious Aristotle, like 
a vdse steward, did lay it out to particular use and im- 
provement ; rightly preferring the reality and substance of 
public benefit, before the shadows of some retired specu- 
lation, or vulgar opinion. 

Since him there have been divers other authors who 
have been eminent for their writings of this nature. Such 
were Hero Alexandrinus, Hero Mechanicus, Pappus Alex- 
andrinus, Proclus Mathematicus, Vitruvius, Guidus Ubal- 
dus, Henricus Monantholius, Galileus, Guevara, Mersen- 
nus, Bettinus, &c. Besides many others that have treated 
largely of several engines, as Augustin Ramelli, Vittorio 
Zoncha, Jacobus Bessonius, Vegetius, Lipsius. 

Most of which authors I have perused, and shall willingly 
acknowledge myself a debto^ to them for many things in 
this following dicourse. 

* Arist. Quscst. Mcchani. 

Archimedes; or, mechanical pawERs. 95 

CHAP. 11. 

Concerning the name of this art. That it. may properly 
, be 9tiled liberaL The subject and nature of it. 




THE word mechanic is thought to be deHved oro n* 
/x»)X8; lieu aveiVf multum ascendere^ pertingere : intimat- 
mg the efGcacy and force of such inventions.. Or else %aqx 
fivf %tfiV£iV> (saith Eustathius) quia hiscere fubnsmity because 
these arts are so full of pleasant variety, that they admit 
tioi either of sloth or weariness *. 

According to ordinary signification, the word is used in 
opposition to the liberal arts: whereas in propriety of 
Speech those employments alone may be styled illiberal, ^ 

which require only some bodily exercise, as manufactures, C 

trades, &c. And on the contrary, that discipline which 
discovers the general causes, effects, and proprieties of 
things, may truly be esteemed as a species of philosophy. 

But here it should be noted, that this art is usually dis* 
tinguished into a twofold kind f. 



The lational is that which treats of those principles and 
fundamental notions, which may concern these mechanical 

The chirurgical or manual doth refer to the making of 
these instruments, and the exercising of such particular ex- 
periments. As in the works of architecture, fortifications, 
and the like. 

The first of these is the subject of this discourse, and 
may properly be styled liberal, as justly deserving the pro- 

* Lypsius Poliorcet. 1. 2. Dial. 3. That's a senseless absurd etymo- 
lt>gy, imposed by some, Quia intellectus in eis machatur, as if these 
arts did prostitute and adulterate the understanding. 

f Pappus Procem. in Collect. Mathem. 1. 8. 




$ecution of an ingenious mind. For if we consider it ac- 
cording to its birth find original, we shall find it to spring 
from honourable pat^iitage, being produced by geometry 
on the one side, and. natuiml philosophy on the other. If 
•^cording to its use and benefit, we may then discern that 
to this-should Be referred all those arts and professions, so 
necessary for hunKin society, whereby nature is not only 
directed in her usual course, but sometimes also com- 
manded against her own law. The particulars that con«>. 
ccrn architecture, navigation, husbandry, military affairs, 
&c. are most of them reducible to this art, both for their 
invention and use. 

Those other disciplines of logic, rhetoric, &c. do not 
snore protect and adorn the mind, than these mechanical 
powers do the body. 

And therefore are they well worthy to be entertained 
with greater industry and respect, than they commonly 
meet with in these times ; wherein there be very many 
that pretend to be masters in all the liberal arts, who scarce 
understand any thing in these particulars. 

• The subject of this art is concerning the heaviness of 
several bodies, or the proportion that is required betwixt 
any weight, in relation to the power which may be able to 
move it. And so it refers likewise to violent and artificial 
motion, as philosophy doth to that which is natural. 

The proper end for which this ait is intended, is to teach 
how by understanding the true difference betwixt the 
weight and the power, a man may add such a fitting sup-> 
plement to the strength of the power, that it shall be able 
to move any conceiveable weight, though it should never 
so much exceed that force which the power is naturally 
endowed with. 

The art itself may be thus described to be a mathemati- 
cal discipline, which by the help of geometrical principles 
doth teach to contrive several weights and powers unto 
any kind, either of motion, or rest, according as the dxti^ 
ficer shall determine. 


If it be doubted how this may be esteemed a species of 
ihathematicsy when as it treats of weights, and not of 
quantity ^ : for satisfactio^ to this, there are two particu^ 
lars considerable. 

1. Mathematics in its latitude is usually divided into 
pure and mixed : and though the pure do handle only abstract 
Quantity in general, as geomtetry, arithmetic: yet that 
which is mixed, doth consider Ihe quantity of some parti- 
cidar determinate subject. So astronomy handles the 
quantity of heavenly motions ; music of sounds, and me* 
chanics of weights and powers. 

2. Heaviness or weight is not hei^ considered^ as being 
such a natural quality, whereby condensed bodies do of 
themselves tend downwards ; but rather, as being an afiec* 
tion, whereby they may be measured. And in this senscy 
Aristotle himself refers it amongst the other species* of 
quantity t, as having the same proper essence, which is to 
be compounded of integral parts. So a pound doth con- 
sist of ounces, drams, scruples. Whence it is evident, 
that there is not any such repugnancy in the subject of 
this art, as may hinder it from being a true species of 

* Day. Rivaltus praef . in 1. Archim. it cehtro graTitatii. 
t Metaph. 1. 10. c. 2. 



CHAP. m. 

Of the first mechanical faculty ^ the Balance. 

THE mechanical faculties by wliich tlie experiments 
of this nature must be contrived, are usually reckoned 
to be these six. 

1. Libra. 

2. Vectis. 

3. Axis in Peritrochio. 

4. Trochlea. 

5. (hmeus. 

6. Cochka. 

1. The Balance. 

2. The Leaver. 

3. The Wheel. 

4. The Pulley. 

5. The Wedge. 

6. The Screw. 

Unto, some of which» the force of all mechanical inven- 
tions must necessarily be reduced. I shall speak of them 
severally^ and in this order. 

First) concerning the balance : this and the leaver are 
usually confounded together, as being but one faculty ; be- 
cause the general grounds and proportions of cither's force 
is so exactly the same. But for better distinction, and 
more clear discovery of their natures, I shall treat of them 

The first invention of the balance is commonly at^i-^ 
buted to Astrea, who is therefore deified for the goddess 
of Justice ; and that instrument itself advanced amongst the 
celestial signs. 

The particulars concerning it ate so commonly known, 
and of such easy experiment, that they will not need any 
large explication. The chief end and purpose of it, is for 
the distinction of several ponderosities: for the under- 
standing of which, we must note, that if the length of the 
sides in the balance, and the weights at the ends of them, 
be both mutually equal, then the beam will be in a hori- 
zontal situation. But on the contrary, if either the weights 
alone^ be equal, and not their distances, or tHe distances 


ftlone, and not the weights, then the beam will aocordifigly 
As in this following diagram. 


j^ C O K 

Suppose an equal weight at C, unto that at B ; (which 
points are hcth equally distant from the centxe A) it is 
evident that then the beam B F will hang horizontally. 
But if the weight supposed at C, be unequal to that at B, 
or if there be an equal weight at D E, or any of the other 
unequal distances ; the beam must then necessarily de- 

With this kind of balance, it is usual, by the help only 
of one weight, to measure sundry different gravities^ 
wiiether more or less, than that by which they are mea*- 
iured^. As by the exampje here described, a man may 
with one pound alone, weigh any other body within ten 
pounds ; because the heaviness of any weight doth in- 
trease proportionably to its distance from the centre. 
Thus one pound at D, will equiponderate unto two pounds 
at B; because the distance A D is double unto AB. 
And for the same reason, one pound at JF, will equipon- 
derate to three pound at B ; and one pound at F, unto tent 
at B; because there is still the same disproportion be- 
twixt their seVerd distances. 

This kind of balance is usually stiled Bomana siaiera. 
It seems to be of ancient use, and is mentioned by Aris- 
totle t under the name of Cp«A«>^. 

Hence it is eaiy to apprehend how that &lse balance 
may be connposed, so often condemned by the wise men, 

^Cardan. Subtil. 1. 1. f Mechin* c. 2h 

>* ^ 


as being an abomination to the Lord *. If the sides of the 
beam be not equally divided, as suppose one have 10 parts 
and the other 1 1 ; then any two weights that differ accord- 
ing to this proportion, (the heavier being placed on the 
shorter side, and the lighter on the longer) will equiponde- 
rate ; and yet both the scales being empty, will hang in 
itquilibriOf as if they were exactly just and truef: as ia 
this description. 


Suppose A C to have 1 1 such parts, whereof A B ha9 
but 10, and yet both of them to be in themselves of equal 
weight ; it is certain, that whether the scales be empty, or 
whether in the scale D we put 11 pound, and at £ 10 
pound; yet both of them shall equiponderate, because 
there is just such a disproportion in the length of the sides 
A C, being unto A B, as 1 1 to 10. 

The frequency of such cozenages in these days, may be 
evident from common experielice; and that they were 
used also in former ages, may appear from Aristotle's tes^ 
timony concerning the merchants in his time]:. For the 
remedying of such abuses, the ancients did appoint divers 
officers, stiled ?;uyo(rTctrcu ||, who were to overlook the com- 
mon measures. 

So great care was there amongst th^ Jews, for the pre- 
servation of commutative justice from all abuse and &lsi<» 
fication in this kind, that the public standards and br^inals^ 

* Frov. zi. 1. xvi. 11. item xx. 10. SS. 

t Pappus Collect. Math. 1. 8. J Quaesiion. Mechan. c. 2. Budaeoft. 

II Heace the proverb^ Zygostatica fides. 


by which all other measures were to be tried and allowed^ 
were with much religion preserved in the sanctuary ; the 
Care of them being comniitted to the priests and levites, 
whose office it was to look unto all manner of measures and 
size. Hence is that frequent expression, according to the 
shekel of the sanctuary; and that law, all thy estimations 
shall be according to the shekel of the sanctuary* : which 
doth not refer to any weight, or coin, distinct from, and 
more than the vulgar, (as some fondly conceive), but doth 
oidy oblige men in their dealing and traffic, to make use of 
such just measures, as were agreeable unto the public stand- 
ards that were kept in the sanctuary. 

The manner how such deceitful balances may be disco- 
vered is, by changing the weights into each other scale, and 
then the inequality will be manifest. 

From the former grounds rightly apprehended, it is easy 
to conceive how a man may find out the just proportion of 
a weight, which in any point given, shall equiponderate to 
several weights given, hanging in several places of the 

Some of these balances are made so exact, (those espe- 
cially which the refiners use) as to be sensibly turned with 
the eightieth part of a grain : which (though it may seem 
very strange) is nothing to what Capellus t relates of one at 
Sedan, that woyld turn with the fopr byndredth jpart of a 

There are several contrivances to make use of these, ux 
meawmng the weight of blows, the force of powder* the 
strength of strings, or other oblong substances ; condensed 
air : the distinct proportion of several metals mixed toge- 
ther ; the different gravity of divers bodies in the water, 
from what they have in the open air ; with divers the likje 
ingenious inquiries. 

* I Chron. zxiii. 29. Exod. xxx. 13. Lev. xxvii^ ^5. 
f Depondenbus&nummit, U 1< 

1 ' 



Cimceming the second mechanic faculty ^ the Leaver* 

THE second mechanical faculty is the leaver: the first 
invention of it is usually ascribed to Neptune, and re^ 
presented by his trident, which in the Greek are both called 
by one name^, and are not very unlike in form, being both 
<^them somewhat broader at one end, than in the other 

There is one main principle concerping it, which is (as 
it were) the very sum and epitome of this whole art* 
The meaning of it is thus expressed by Aristotle : 'O ro 
wwifieuw fiofoe 9fcg ro tuwVf to /xtfxoc tr^ to /jli) xo; «n/2i7£T0i^£V* 
That is, as the weight is to an equivalent power, so is the 
distance betwixt the weight and the centre unto the dis- 
tance betwixt the centre and the power, and so recipro- 
cally. Or thus, the power that doth equiponderate with 
any weight, must have the same proportion unto it, as there 
is betwistt the|r several distances from the eentre or fiilcit 
inent i as in this foUowiog figure. 

lag. « • * 







Where suppose the leaver to be represented by the 
length AB, the centre ox prop t at the point C, the weight 
to be sustained D, the pqwer that doth uphold it £• 

* f^^c* Aristotle Quaest. Mechan. cap. 4.. Archimedes, de JEqui- 
ponderant. 1. 1. prop. 7. Vitruvius Architect. 1. 10. c. 8. 

+ This Aristotle calls insrojotoxXiw ; Yitnmusj presno; Whaldui , fiilci- 
memum; Dan. Barbaru^jscabellum, s 

*■ 4. «. 

^ - .., .C 


Now the meaning of the foresaid principle doth inlport 
tlius^miich ; tliat the power at E, must bear the same pro- 
portion to the weight D, as the distance C A doth to the 
other C B ; which, because it is octuple in the present ex- 
ample, therefore it will follow that one pound at B, or E, 
will equiponderate to eight pounds at A, or D ; as is ex- 
pressed in the figure. The ground of which maxim is this, 
because the point C is supposed to be the centre of gravity, 
on either side of which, the parts are of equal weight, 

And this kind of proportion is not only to be observed 
when the power doth press downwards, (as in the former 
example) but also in the other species of violent motion ;. 
as lifting, drawing, and the like. Thus if the prop or 
fulciment were supposed to be at the extremity of th|9 

23 1^ 9 49 c 

as iqi this diagram at A, then the weight B would require 
such a difference in the strengths or powers that did sustain 
it, as there is betwixt the several distances AC, and BC. 
For as the distance A B ii unto A C, -so is the power at C 
to the weight at B ; that is the power at A must be double 
to that at C, because the distance B C is twice as much as 
B A *. From whence it is easy to conceive, how any burtheii 
carried betwixt two persons, may be proportioned according 
to their different strengths. If the weight were imagined 
to hang at the number 2, then the power at C would sus- 
tain but two of those parts, whereof that at A did uphold 
16. If it be supposed at the figure 3, then the strength at 
C, to that at A> would be but as three to fifteen. But if it 
were situated at the figure 9, then each of the extremities 
would particijpate of it alike ; because that being the mid- 
dle, both the distances are equal. If at the number ] 2| 
then the strength at C Is requu*ed to be double unto that at 
A. And In the like manner are we to conceive of the other 
intermediate division^. 

* The right understanding 'of this d(Hh much condace to the expiici^^ 
tlon of the pulley. ^ 




Thus also must it be, if we suppo^ the power to be 
placed betwixt the fulciment and the weight, as in tliis ex-r 


Where, as AC is to A B so is the power at B, to the 
weight at C. 

Hence . likewise n^ay we conceive the reason why it 15 
much harder to carry any long substance, either on the 
shoulders, or in the hand, if it be held by either of the ex^ 
tremes, than y it be sustained by the middle of it. The 
strength that must equiponderate at the nearer end, somcr 
times increasing the«weight almost double to what it is ii^ 

Ima^e the point A to be the place where any long 
substance (as suppose a pike) is sustained ; it is evident 
firom the former principle, that the strength at B (which 
makes it lie level) must be equal to all the length A C, which 
IS almost the whole pike. 

And as it is in the depressing, or elevating, so likewise is 
it in the drawing of any weight, as a coach, plough, or th^ 


■ A*. 





Jjet the line D B represent the pole or carriage on which 
the burthen is sustained, aiid the line AC the cross-bar ; at 
leach of its extremities, there is a several spring-tree G H, 
and IK, to which either horses or o^en may be fastened. 
Now because A and C are equally distant from the middle 
B, therefore in this case the strength must be equal on both 
jsides ; but if we suppose one of these spring-trees to be 
fastened unto the points £ or F, then the strength required 
to draw on that side, will be so much more, as the distance 
£B or FB is less than that of AB ; that is, either as three 
to four, as EB to B A, or as one to two, as FB to B A. 
3o that the beast fastened at A, will not draw so much by 
a quartjsr as the other at E, but half as much^ one at F. 

Whfence it is easy to conceive h^w a husbandman Ccuni 
irueqvales veniunt ad aratra JTwenciJ may proportion the 
labour of drawing, according to the several strength of his 

Unto this mechanical faculty should be reduced sundry 
other instruments in common use. Thus the oars, stern, 
masts, &c. according to their force whereby they give mo- 
tion to the ship, are to be conceived under this head *. 

Thus likewise for that engine, whereby brewers and 
dyers do commonly draw- water, which Aristotle calls 
HVikovemf and others toUenon. This being the same kin4 
of instrument by which Archimedes drew up the ships, of 
JM^arcellu? t* 


flow the natural unqiion of living creatures is conformablt 

to fbe^e artificial rules. 

THE former principle being already explained, concern- 
,. ing artificial and dead motions, it will not be altogether 
impertinent, if In the next place we apply it unto those that 

^ Arist. Mechan. c. 5, 6, 7. Vide Guevar. Comment. 
f Mechaa, c. 2d. Pet. Crinitus, de honesta disciplina> U 19. c. 2, calls 
k comipdj Tellenon. 


are natural in living bodies, and examine whedier these also 
are not governed by the same kind of proportions. 

In all perfect living creatures, there is a twofold kind of 
motive instruments : 

1. Primary, the muscles. 

2. Secondary, the members. 

The muscleS/ are naturally fitted to be instruments of 
motion, by the manner of their frame and composure ; con* 
sjsting of flesh as their chief material, and besides of nerves, 
ligatures, veins, arteries, and membranes. 

The nerves serve for the conveyance of the motive fa- 
culty from the brain. The ligatures for the strengthening 
of Uiem, that they may not flag and languish in their mo* 
tions. The veins for their nourishment. The arteries for 
the supplying of them with spirit and natural vigour. The 
membranes for the comprehension or inclosure of all these 
together, and for the distinction of one muscle from another* 
There are besides divers fibra, or hairy substances, which 
nature hath bestowed for the farther corroborating of their 
motions ; these being dispersed through every muscle, do 
so join together in the end of them, as to make entire 
nervous bodies, which are called tendons, almost like the 
gristles. Now this (saith Galen *J may fitly be compared 
to the broader part of the leaver, that is put under the 
weight ; which, as it ought to be so much the stronger, by 
how much it is put to a greateY force, so likewise by this, 
doth nature enable the muscles and nerves for those mo- 
tions, which otherwise would be too difficult for them. 

Whence it may evidently appear, that according to the 
Opinion of that eminent physician, these natural motions 
are regulated by the like grounds with the artificial. 

2. Thus also is it in tliose secondary instruments of 
motion, the membei^s : amongst which, the hand is o^avov 
e^yctvuVf the instrument of instruments, (as Galen f stiles 
it;) and as the soul ofman doth bear in it the image of tbq 

* De Placit. Ilippoc. & Platon. L I. cap. 10. '^ 
\ De uiu part. 1. 1. c. 2. 


divine wisdom and providence, so this part of the body 
seems in siome sort to represent the omhipotency of God; 
whilst it is able to perform stich various and wonderful ef- 
fects by the help of this art. But now for its own proper 
natural strengjth, in the lifting any great weight, this is al- 
ways proportioned according to its extension from the 
bodyi being of least force when it is fully stret<:hed out, or 
at arms-end, (as we say) because then the shoulder-joint 
s as the centre of its motion, from which the hand in 
tjiat posture being very remote, the weight of any thing it 
)iolds must be accordingly augmented. Whereas the arm 
being: drawn in, the elbow-joint doth then become its 
centre, which will diminish the weight propprtionably, as 
that part is nearer unto it than the other. 

To this purpose also, there is another subtle problem 
proposed by Aristotle ^, concerning the postures of sitting 
and rising up. The quaere is this : why a man cannot rise 
up from his seat, unless he first either bend his body for- 
irard, or thrust his feet backward ? 

In the posture of sitting, our legs are supposed to make a 
right angle with our thi^, and they with our backs, as in 
Miis figure. 




* # 



* • 



* Mecban. cSU 



Where let A B represent the back, BC the thighs, C D 
the legs. Now it is evident, that a man cannot rise from 
this posture, unless either the back AB do first incline unto 
F, to make an acute angle with the thighs B C ; or else that 
the legs C D do incline towards £, which may also make 
an acute angle with the thighs BC ; or lastly, unless both 
of them do incline to the points G H, where they may be 
included in the same perpendicular. 

For the resolution of which, the philosopher proposes 
these two particulars. 

1. A right angle (saith he) is a kind of equality, and that 
being naturally the cause of rest, must needs be an impedi- 
ment to the motion of rising. 

2. Because when either of the parts are brought into an 
acute angle, the head being removed over the feet, or they 
under the head ; in such a posture the whole man is much 
nearer disposed to the form of standing, wherein all these 
parts are in one strait perpendicular line, than he is by the 
other of right angles^ in which the back and legs are two 
parallels ; or that of turning these strait angles into obtuse, 
which would not make an erect posture, but declining. ' 

But neither of these particulars (as I conceive) do fully 
satisfy the present quaere ; neither do the commentators, 
Mon^ntholius, or Guevara, better resolve it. Rather suppose 
BC to be a vectis or leaver, towards the middle of which is 
the place of the fulciment, AB as the weight, CD the 
power thiat is to raise it. 

Now the body being situate in this rectangular form, the 
weight A B must needs be augmented proportionably to its 
distance from the fulciment, which is about half the thighs; 
whereas, if we suppose either the weight to be inclined unto. 
F, or the power to E, ox both of them to G H ; then thero 
is nothing to be lifted up, but the bare weight itself; which 
in this situation, is not at all increased with any addition 
by distance. 

For in these conclusions concerning the leaver, we must 
always imagine that point which is touched by a perpendi- 
cular from the centre of gravity, to be one of the ternjs* 


So that the diverse elevation or depression of the instru- 
xnent^ will infer a great alteration in the weight itself; 
as may more clearly be discerned by this following dia- 

Where A is supposed to be the place of the prop, or 
fulciment; BC, a leaver which stands horizontally; the 
power and the weight belonging unto it being equal, both 
in themselves, and also in their distances from the prop. 

But now suppose this instrument to be altered according 
to the situation D E ; then the weight D wilj be diminished ^ 
by so much; as the perpendicular from its centre of gravity 
H I, doth fall nearer to the prop or fulciment at A : and 
the power at E will be so much augmented, as the per- 
pendicular from its centre K£ does^fall farther from the 
pomt at A. And so oh the contrary, in that other situation 
of the leaver, F G : whence it is easy to conceive the true 
reason, why th& inclining of the body, or the putting back of 
the leg, should so much conduce to the facility of rising. 

From these grounds likewise may we understand, why 
the knees should be most weary inascending, and the thighs 
in descending ; which is, because the weight of the body 
doth bear most upon the knee-joints, in raising itself up ; 
and most upon the muscles of the thighs, when it stays 
itself in coming down ^ 

* Sif Francis Bacon's Natural History. Experiment 73 1 . 


There are divers other natural problems to this pur^ 
^se, which I forbear to recite. We do not so much at 
go, or siti or iise» without the uie of this mechanicai ge^ 

Concerning the Wheel. 

THE thir4 mechanical faculty is conunonly stiled axis 
in peritrochio *. It consists of an axis, or cylinder^ 
havinig a rundle about it, wherein there are fastened divers 
spokes, by which the whole may be turned round i accord- 
ing to this figure. 


Where BC does represent the cylinder, which issup* 
posed to move upon a smaller axis at £ ; (this being all 
one, in comparison to the several proportions, as if it were 

* Called likewise ay0'. Aritt. Mechan. c. 14. 


a mere* mathematical line;) LXjr istherundJe, or wheel; 
H F I Ky several spokes or handles that are fastened in it ; 
Dy the p^ace where the cord is fastened, for the drawing or 
lifting up of any weight. 

The force of this instrument doth consist in that dispro- 
portion of distance which there is betwixt the semidiame- 
ter of the cylinder A B, and the semidiameter of the rundle 
with the spokeSy F A. For let us conceive the line F B to 
be as a leaver, wherein A is the centre or fulciment, B the 
place of the weight, and F of the power. Now it is evi- 
dent from the former principles, that by how much the 
distance F A is greater than A B, by so much less need the 
power be at F, in respect of the weight at B. Suppose A B 
to be as the tenth part of A F, then that power or strength, 
which is but as a hundred pound at F, will be equal to a 
thousand pound at B. 

For the clearer explication of this faculty, it will not be 
ambs to consider the form of it, as it will appear, being 
more fully exposed to the view : as in this other diag^am^ 

Suppose A B for thie semidiameter of the axis or cy- 
Imdfry and A C £»r the semidiameter of the rundle with 


r . 

1% ' 

■ t 

Mtf^ AllCHIMEDE^; OR, MECiIanICAL roWEi^. 

the spokes ; then the power at C, which will be able ta 
support the we%;ht D, must bear the same proportion unto^^ 
it, as > A B doth to A C : so that by how much shorter the 
distance A B is, in comparison to the distance A C, by so 
much les^ need the power he at C, which may be able to 
support the weight D hanging at B. 

And so likewise is it for the other spokes or handle^^ 
E F G H ; at either of which, if we conceive any power, 
which shall move according to the same circumference 
wherein these handles are placed ; then the strength of this 
power will be all one, as if it were at C. But now, sup- 
posing a dead weight hanging at any of them, (as at E) then 
the disproportion will vary : the power being so much less 
than that at C, by how mudi the line A C is longer than 
AI ; the weight K being of the same force at E, as if it were 
hung at I, in which point the perpendicular of its gravity 
doth cut the diameter. 

The chief advantage which this instrument doth bestow 
above that of the leaver, doth consist in this particular : in 
a leaver, the motion can be continued only for so short a 
space, as may be answerable to that little distance betwixt 
the fulciment and the weight ; which is always by so much 
lesser, as the disproportion betwixt the weight and the 
power is greater, and the motion itself more easy : but now 
in this invention, that inconvenience is remedied ; for by a 
frequent rotation of the axis^ the weight may be moved fot 
any height, of length, as occasion shall require. 

Unto this faculty may we refer the force of all those en- 
gines, which consist of wheels with teeth in them. 

Hence also may we discern the reason, why sundry in- 
struments in common use, are framed after the like form 
with these following figures. 







All which are feut several kinds of this third mechanical 
-faculty, in whidh the points ABC do represent the placea 
of the power, the fulciment, and the weight; the powci? 
being in the same proportion unto the weight, as BC is 
unto BA. 


Chap, vil 

Cifnceming the Pullef. 

THAT which is reckoned for the fourth faculty, iA tho 
ptiltey t which is of such ordinary use, that it need$ 
not any particular description The chief parts of it are 
divers little rundles, that are moveable about their proper 
axes*. These are usually divided^ according to their se- 
veral situations, into the upper and lower. If an engine 


* Arist. Mechan. c, 19. 

ir4 AllcmM£b£S ; or, mechanical PdWBRi. 

have two of these rundles above, and two below, it is usually 
called iioxeeffTOft if three, r^uneurogt if many, «oXuff7«sffTO^. 

The lower puliies only do give force to the motion. If 
we suppose a weight to hang upon any of the upper rundles, 
it will then require a power that in itself shall be fully equal 
for the sustaining of it. , 


C F 


The dianietet AC being as the beam of a balance, of 
which B is the prop or centre ; now the parts A and C 
being equally distant from this centre, therefore the power 
at £ must be equal to the weight at D ; it being all one, as 
if the power and the weight were fastened by two several 
strings, at the ends of the balance F G. 

Now all the upper puliies being of the same nature, it 
must necessarily follow, that none of them do in themselves 
conduce to the easing of the power, or lightening the 
weight, but only for the greater conveniency of the mo^ 
tion ; the cords by this means runniqg more easily moved, 
than otherwise they would. 

But now, suppose the weight to be sustained above the 
pulley, as it is in all those of the lower sort ; and then the 
power which supports it, need be but h^ as much as the 
weight itself. 


^D H 



Let A C represent the diameter of a lower pulley, on 
whose centre at B the weight is fastened, one end of the 
cord being tied to a hook at D. Now it is evident, that 
half the weight is sustained at D, so that there is but the 
other half left to be sustained by the power at E : it being 
all one, as if the weight were tied unto the middle of the 
balance FG, whose ends were upheld by two several 
strings, FH, and GL 

And this same subduple proportion will still remain, 
though we suppose an upper pulley joined to the.power ; 
a^ in these two other iiguries. 

I 8 


Where the power at A is equal to the weight at B : now 
the weight at B being but hatf the ponderosity C, therefore 
the power at A, notwithstanding the addition of the upper 
rundle, must be equivalent to half the weight ; and as the 
upper pulley alone doth not abate any thing of the weight, 
so neither being joined with the lower ; and the same sub- 
duple difference 1>etwixt the power and the weight, which 
is^ caused by the lower pulley alone, doth still remain unai* 
tered, though there be an upper pulley added unto it. 

Now, as one of these under-pullies doth abate half of 
that heaviness which the weight hath in itself, and cause 
the power to be in a subdiq>le proportion unto it; so two of 
Chem do abate half of that which remains, and cause a sub- 
quadruple proportion betwixt the weight and the power; 
three of them a subsextuple, four a suboctople: and so for 
^vc, six, or as many as shall be required ; they will all of 
them ^imi^ish the wei^t, according to this proportion* 


Suppose the weight in itself to be 1200 pound, the ap- 
plying unto it one of these tower pulleys, will make it but 
as 600 ; two of them, as 300 ; three of them, as 1 50; &c. 

But now, if we conceive the fir^ part of the string to be 
fastened unto the lower piilley, as in this other figure at F ; 

then the power at A> frill be In a subtriple proportion to 
the weight E, because the heaviness would be then equally 
divided unto the three points of the lower diameter B, C, D» 
each of them supporting a, like share of the burthen. If 
unto this lower puUcy there were added another, then the 
power would be unto the weight in a subquintuple propor- 
tion. If a third, a aubsextuple, and so of the rest For 
we must note, that the cords in this instrument are as so 
iriany powers, and the rundles as so many leavers, or ba- 


Mence it is easy to conceive, how the strength of the 
power may be proportioned according to any such d^ree, 
as shall be requir^ ; and how any weight given n»y be 
moved by any power given. 

it is not material to the force of this instrument, whether 
the rundles of it be big or little, if they be made equal to 
one another in their several orders; but it is most conveni- 
ent, that the upper should each of them increase as they 
are higher, and the other as they are lower; because by 
this means the cords will be kept ^om tanglipg. 

These pulleys may be multiplied according to sundry 
different situations, not only when they are subordinate, as 
in the former examples, but also when they are placed col- 

From the former grounds it it easy to contrive a ladder, 
by which a man may pull himself up unto any height. For 
the performance of this, there is |*equired pnly aji upp^r 
fipd a lowfsr ruiidle. 

Tq the i^i^ermost of these at A, there should be fastened 
^ sharp grapple or cramp of iron, whic)i n)ay be apt to take 


hold of any place wherie it lights. This part being first cast 
up and fastened^ and the staff D £, at the nether end, be« 
ing put betwixt the legs, so that » man may sit upon the 
other B C, and take hold of the cord at F, it is evident that 
the weight of the person at E, will be but equal to half so 
much strength at F; so that a man inay easily pull himself 
up to the place required, by leaning but little more thaa 
half of his own weight on the string F. Or if the pulleys 
be multiplied, this experiment may then be wrought with 
Ies3 labour* 


0/ the Wedge. 

THE fifth mechanical faculty is the wedge, which is a 
known instrument, commonly used in the cleaving of 
wood. The efficacy and great strength pf it mfty be rer 
solved unto these two particulars ; 

1. The form of it 

2. The manner whereby the power is impressed upon itf 
which is by the force of blows. 

1 . The form of it represents (as }t were) twf leavers. 






Each s}de A D, and A £, beii^ one, the'polnts B C, being 
instead of several props or fulciments; the weight to be 
moved at A, and the power that should move it, being ap* 
plied to the top D £^ by the force of some 8tr<dELe or blow* 
lis Aristotle * hath es^j^ldq^d the several parts of this facultj. 

^ Mecl\an. c. IS^ 


But now, because this instrument may be so used that the 
point of it shall not touch th^ body to be moved, as in these 
other figures: 


, i 





Therefore T/bald US hath more exactly applied the seve- 
ral parts of it according to this form, that the point A, 
should be as the common fulpiment| in which both the sides 
do meet, and (as it were) uphold one another; the points 
B, and C, representing that part of the leavers where th« 
weight is placed. 

It is a general rule, that the more acute the angles of 
these wedges are, by so much more easy will their motion 
1^ ; the force being more easily impressed, and the space 
i^herein the body is moved, being so much the less. 

The second particular whereby this faculty hath its force^ 
is the manner whereby the power is imprest upon it, wl^ich 
is by a stroke or blow ; the efficacy of which doth much 
exceed ^ny other strength. For though we suppose a 
Wedge being laid on a piece of timber, to be pressed down 
with never so great a weight j nay, thpugh we should apply 
unto it tlie power of those other mechanical engines, the 
pulley, screw, &c. yet the effect would be scarce consider- 
able in comparison to that of a blow. The true reason of 
which, is one of the greatest subtilties in nature, nor is it 
fully rendered by any of those who have undertaken the 
resolution of it. Aristotle, Cardan, and Scaliger*, do ge- 
nerally ascribe it unto the swiftness of that motion : but 
ttjere seems to be some&ing more in the matter than so ; 

5 Mepban. ^» 10. SD])til. 1,^7. pa^ercit. 331, 

^ A- » 


for otherwise it would follow that the quick stroke of a light 
hammer should be of greater efficacy than any softer and 
more gentle striking pf a great sledge; Or according to 
this, how should it come to pass, that the force of an arrow 
or bullet discharged near at hand (when the impression of 
that violence whereby they arc carried, Is most fresh, and 
so in probability the motion at its swiftest) i^ yet notwith* 
standing much less than it would be at a greater distance. 
There is therefore further considerable, the quality of tha^ 
instrument by which this motion is given, and also the con- 
veniency of distance through which it passes. 

Unto this faculty is usually reduced the force of files, saws, 
hatchets, &c. which are as it were but so many wedges 
f^tenpd unto ayectis or leaver. 


Of the Screw. 

npHAT which is usually recited for the sixth and l«s^ 
?4k mechanic faculty, is the screw, which is described to 
hp a kind of. wedge that is multiplied, or .continued by a 
helical revolution about a cylinder; receiving its motion not 
from any stroke, but from a vectis at one end of it ^. It 
Jis.iisually distinguished into t^o several kinds: the male 
which is meant in the former description, and the 'female 
iwbicli is of a concave superficies. 

f Ps^pus Collect. Matbemat. 1 8. 



The former is noted in the fignre with the letter A, the 
other with B. 

Aristotle himself doth not so much as mention this in- 
strument, which yet notwithstanding is of greater force and 
subtilty than any of the rest. It is chiefly applied to the 
squeezing or pressing of things downwards, as in the presses 
for printing; for wine, oil, and extracting the juice from 
other fruits. In the performance of which, the strength 
of one man, may be of greater force than the weight of a 
heavy mountain. It is likewise used for the elevating or 
lifting up of weights. 

The advantage of this faculty above the rest, doth mainly 
consist in this: the other instruments do requite so niiTch 
strength for the supporting of the weight to be moved, as 
may be equal unto it, besides that other superadded power 
whereby it is out-weighed and moved ; so Aat in the ope-r 
rations by these, a man does always spend himself in a con-* 
tinued labour. 

Thus (for example) a weight that is lifted up by a wheel 
or pulley, will of itself descend, if there be not an equal 
power to sustain it. But now in the composure of a screw, 
this inconvenience is perfectly remedied ; for so much force 
as is communicated unto this faculty from the power that is 
applied unto it, is still retained by the very frame and na- 
ture of the instrument itself; since the motion of it cannot 
possibly return, but from the very same place where it first 
began. Whence it comes to pass, that any weight lifted 
up with the ass^sta^ce pf this engine, may Ukewise b^ sus- 

tained hj it without the help of anjruexteroal power ; and 
cannot again descend unto ita foraier place, unless the han- 
dle of the screw (where the motion ^rst began) hfi turned 
back : so that' all the strength of the power may be employ- 
ed in the motion of the weigld. and none spent in the sus- 
taining of it. 

The chief incoDveniencc of this instrument is, that in a 
short space it will be screwed unto its full length, and then 
it cannot be of any further use for the continuance of the 
motion, pnless tt be returned back, and undone again as at 
the first. But this is usually remedied by another inven- 
tion, commonly styled a perpetual screw, which hath the 
motion of a wheel, and the force of a screw, being both ia- 

For the composure of which, instead of the female, or 
concave sci'ew, there must be a little wheel with some 
notches in it, equivalent to teeth*, by which the othermay 
take hold of it, and turn it round, as in these other figures. 

This latter engine does so fat exceed all other contiv- 
ancestothis purpose, that it may justly seem a wonder why 
it is not of as common use in these times and places, as any 

I * It iiuiedin tomewaichft. 

12^ All(^HXii£I>£S;. OH* MECHANIC AI« POW£l^« 

CflAP. X. 

jiu enquiry into the magnificent works of the ancients^ 
which mtuh exceeding our latter tiriiesy may seem to 
infer a decay in these mechanical arts. 

THUS have I briefly treated concerning the general 
principles of mechanics, together with the distinct 
proportions betwixt the weight and the power in each se-» 
veral faculty of it : whence it is easy to conceive the tyuth 
an j ground of those famous ancient monuments, which 
seem almost incredible to these following ages. And be^ 
cause many of them recorded by antiquity, were of such 
vast labour and magnificence, and so mightily dispropdrtl- 
onabl^ to human strength, it shall not therefore be imper- 
tinent unto the purpose I aim at, for to specify some of the 
most remarkable anaongst them, ^nd to enquire into the 
means and occasion upon which they were first attempted* 
Amongst the Egyptians we read of divers pyramids of 
so vast a magnitude, as time itself in the space of so many 
hundred years hath qot yet devoured. Herodptus* men- 
tions one of them, erected by Cleopcs an Egyptian king, 
wherein there was qot any one stone less than 30 foot long, 
all of them being fetched from Arabia. And not much 
^ after, the same author relates, how Amasis, another Egyp- 
tian, made himself a house of one entire stone, which was 
21 cubits long, 14 broad, and 8 cubits high. The same 
Amasis is reported to have made the statue of a sphink. 
Or Egyptian cat, all of one single stone ; whose length wa9 
143 foot, its height 62 foot, the compass of this statue's head 
^contaimng^l02 footf. In one of the Egyptiaiv temples 
tonsecrated to Jppiter, there is related to be an obeUsk, 
consisting of 4 smaragds or emeralds ; the whole is 40 cu- 
bits high, 4 cubits broad at the bottom, and two at the 
top J. Sesostris the kuig of Egypt, in a temple at Mem* 

* Lib. 2. c. 175. f Piin. 1. 313. c. 12. J Plin. 1. 37. cap.^. 

j)his,' dedicated to Vulcan, is reported to have erected two 
statues ; one for himself, the other for his wife, both con- 
sisting of two several stones, each of which were 30 cubits 

Amongst the Jews we read in sacred writ of Solomon*s 
temple, which for its state and magnificence, might haye 
been justly reckoned amongst the other wonders of the 
world; whetein besides the great riches of the materials, 
there were works too of as great labour. Pillars of brass 
18 cubits high, and 1 2 cubits round ; great and costly stones 
for the foundation of it f : Josephus| tells us that some of 
them were 40 cubits, others 45 cubits long. And in the 
same chapter he mentions the three famous towers built 
by Herod; wherein every stone being of white marble, 
was 20 cubits long, 10 broad, and 5 high. And which was 
the greatest wonder, the old wall itself was situated on a 
steep rising ground, and yet the hills upon it, on the tops 
of which these towers were placed, were abouf 30 cubits 
high, that it is scarce imaginable by what strength so many 
stones of such great magnitude should be conveyed to so 
high a place. 

Amongst the Grecians we read of the Ephesian temple 
dedicated to Diana; wherein there were 127 columns 
made of so many several stones, each of them 60 foot 
high, being all taken out of the quarries iu Asia||. It is 
storied also of the brazen colossus, or great statue in the 
island of Rhodes, that it was 10 cubits high. The thumbs 
of it being so big that no man could grasp one of them 
about with- both his arms; when it stood upright, a ship 
might have passed betwixt the legs of it, wij^ all its sails 
fully displayed ; being thrown down by an eaie^uake, the 
brass of iC did load 900 camels §. But above all ancient 
designs to this purpose, that would have been most won^ 
derful, which a Grecian architect ^T did propound untQ 

* I^odor. Sicul. Biblioth. 1. 1 . lect. Z, 

f 1 King. vii. 15. v. 17. • t I>e Belio Jud. L 6. cap. 6. 

II Plin. 1. 36. cap. 14. Pancirol. Deperd. Tit. 32. 

§ l^iin. L 34. qap. 3, IT Vicruy»Archit.l.2. 


Alexander, to cut the mountain Athos into the fonn of a 
statue, which in his right hand should hold a town oqpable 
of ten thousand men« and in his left a vessel to receive all 
the Water that flowed from the several springs in the moui|^ 
tain. But whether Alexander in his ambition did fear that 
such an idol should have more honour than he himself, or 
whether in his good husbandry, he thought that such a 
microcosm (if I may so style it) would have cost him al- 
most as much as the conquering of this great world, or 
whatevier else was the reason, he refused to attempt it 

Amongst the Romans we read of a brazen colossiay 
made at the command and charges of Nero *, which Was 
120 foot high ; Martial calls it sydereus, or starry. 

Hie uii sydereus propius videi astra colossus^ 

And it is storied of M. Curio f that he erected two theatres 
sufficiently capacious of people, contrived moveable upon 
certain hinges; sometimes there were several plays and 
shows in each of them, neither being any disturbance to 
the other; and sometimes they were both turned about^ 
with the people in them, and the ends meeting together, 
did make a perfect amphitheatre; so that the spectators 
which were in either of them, might jointly behold the 
same spectacles. 

There were besides at Rome sundry obelisks]:, made 
of so many entire stones, some of them 40, some 80, and 
others 90 cubits high. The chief of them were brought out 
of Egypt, where they were dug out of divers quarries, and 
being wrought into form, were afterwards (not without in- 
credible labour, and infinite charges) conveyed unto Rome. 
In the year 1586, there was erected an old obelisk which 
had been formerly dedicated unto the memory of Julius 
Caesar. It was one solid stone, being an ophite or kind of 
spotted marble. The height of it was 107 foot, the bi^eadth 
of it at the bottom was 1 2 foot, at the top . 8. Its whole 
weight is reckoned to be 956148 pounds; besides ihe hea-> 

♦ Suet. Ner. f PandroL Deperd. Tit. 29. J Mem Tit. 3 1 . 


vlness of all those instruments that were used about it^ 
which (as it is thought) could not amount to less than 
1042824 pounds. It was transplaced at the charges of pope 
Sixtus the fifth, from the left side of the Vatican unto a 
more eminent place about a hundred foot off, where now 
it stands. The moving of this obelisk is celebrated by the 
vrritings of above 56 several authors, (saith Monantholius*;) 
all of them mentioning it, not without much wonder and 
praise. Now if it seem so strange and glorious an attempt 
to move this obelisk for so little a space, what then may we 
think of the carriage of it out of Egypt, and divers other 
for greater works performed by antiquity ? This may seem 
to infer that these mechanical arts are now lost, and decayed 
amongst the many other ruins of time: which yet notwith- 
standing cannot be granted, without much ingratitude to 
those learned men, whose labours in this kind we enjoy^ 
and may justly boast of. And therefore for our better un- 
derstanding of these particulars, it will not be amiss to en* 
quire Both why, and how such works should be performed 
in those former and ruder ages, which are not, and (as it 
should seem) cannot be effected in these later and more, 
learned times. In the examination of which, we shall find 
that it is not the Want of art that disables us for them, since 
these mechanical discoveries are altogether as perfect, and 
(I think) much more exact now, than they were heretofore ; 
but it is, because we have not either the same motives to 
attempt such works, or the same means to effect them as 
the ancients had. 


That (he ancients had divers motives and means for such 
vast magnificent works^ which we have not. 

THE motives by which tliey were excited to such mag- 
nificent attempts, we may conceive to be chiefly 

three ; 

* Comment, in Mechan. Arist. c. 19. 


S Religion. 

1. Religion. Hence was it that most of these stately 
buildings were intended for some sacred use, being either 
temples or tombs *, all of them dedicated to some of their 
deities. It was an inbred principle in those ancient hea- 
then, that they could not chuse but merit very much by^ 
being liberal in their outward services. And therefore we 
read of Croesus f, that being overcome in a battle, and 

.takeil by Cyrus, he did revile the gods of ingratitude, be- 
cause they had no better care of him, who had so fre- 
quently adored them with costly oblations. And as they 
did conceive themselves bound to part with their lives in 
defence of their religion, so likewise to employ their ut- 
most power and estate about any such design which might 
promote or advance it. Whereas now, the generality of 
men, especially the wisest sort amongst them, are' in this 
respect of another opinion, counting such great and im-* 
mense labours, to be at the best but glorious vanities. The 
temple of Solomon indeed was to be a type, and therefore 
it was necessary that it should be so extraordinarily mag- 
nificent, otherwise perhaps a much cheaper structure might 
have been as commendable and serviceable. 

2. Policy. That by this means they might find out em- 
ployment for the people, who of themselves being not 
jDuch civilized, might by idleness quickly grow to such a 
rudeness and barbarism, as not to be bounded within any 
laws of government. Again, by this means the riches of 
the kingdom did not lie idly in their kings treasuries, but 
was always in motion; which could not but be a great ad- 
vantage and improvement to the commonwealth]:. And 
perhaps some of them feared lest if they should leave too 
much money unto their successors, it might be an occasion 
to ensnare them in such idle and vain courses, as would 
ruin their kingdoms: whereas in these latter ages, none oT 

* As Pyramids, Obeliskj. f Herodot. 1. I. 

t Plin. 1. 6. c, 12. 


all these politic incitements can be of any force, because 
tiovf there is employment enough for all, and money little 
enough for every one, 

3. Ambition to be known unto posterity; and hence 
likewise arose that incredible labour and care they bestowed, 
to leave such monuments behind them as might continue 
for ever*, and make them famous unto all after-ages. 
This was the reason of Absalom's pillar, spoken of in 
scripture, to keep his name in remembrance f. And 
doubtless this too was the end which many other of the 
ancients have aimed at, in those (as they thought) everlast- 
ing buildings. 

But now these later ages arc much more active and stir- 
ring; so that every ambitious man may find so much bu- 
siness for the present, that he shall scarce have any leisure 
to trouble himself about the future. And therefore in all 
these respects, there is a great disproportion betwixt the 
incitements of those former and these later times unto such 
magnificent attempts. 

Again, ^ they differ much in their motives unto them, 
so likewise in the means of effecting them. 

There was formerly more leisure and opportunity, both 
for the great men to undertake such works, and for the peo- 
ple to perfect them. Those past ages were more quiet and 
peaceable, the princes rather wanting employment, than 
being overpressed with it, and therefore were willing to 
make choice of such great designs, about which to busy 
themselves. Whereas now the world is grown more po- 
litic, and therefore more troublesome; every great man 
having other private and necessary business about which 
to employ both his time and means. And so likewise for 
the common people, who then living more wildly, without ' 
being confined to particular trades and professions, might 
be more easily collected about such famous employments; 
whereas now, if a prince have any occasion for an army, it 
is very hard for him to raise so great a multitude as were 

* Pial.iv. 11. f 2 Sam. i." 18. 

VOL. II. je 


usually employed about these magnificent buildings. Wc! 
iread of 360000 men that were busied for twenty years ill 
making one of the Egyptian pyramids. And Herodotus * 
tells us of 1000000 men who were as long in building ano- 
ther of them. About the carriage of one stone for Amasis 
the distance of twenty days journey, tlicre was for three 
years together employed 2000 chosen men, governors^ bc-» 
sides many other under-labourers. It was the opinion of 
Josephus t and Nazianzen, that these pyramids were built 
by Joseph for granaries against the years of famine. Others 
tliink that the brick made by the children of Israel was 
enrployed about the framing of them, because we read that 
the tower of Babel did consist of brick or artificial stone. 
Gen- xi. 3. And if these were the labourers that were bu- 
sied about them, it is no wonder though they were of so 
vast a magnitude ; for we read that the children of Israel 
at their coming out of Egypt, were numbered to be six 
liundred thousand, and three thousand, and five hundred 
and fifty men, Numb. i. 46. So many handfuls of earth 
would almost make a mountain, and therefore we may ea- 
sily believe that so great a multitude in so long a space as 
their bondage lasted, for above four hundred years, might 
well enough accomplish such vast designs. 

In the building of Solomon's temple, there were three- 
score and ten thousand that bare burtliens, and fourscore 
thousand hewers in the mountains, 1 Kings v. 15. 

The Ephesian temple was built by all Asia joining toge- 
ther ; the 1 27 pillars were made by so ihany kings, accord- 
ing to their several successions, the whole work being not 
finished under the space of two hundred and fifteen years. 
Whereas thetransplacing of that obelisk at Rome by Sixtus 
the Vth, (spoken of before) was done in some few days by 
five or six hundred men ; and as the work was much less 
than many other recorded by antiquity, so the means by 
which it was wrought, was yet far less in this respect tlian 
what is related of them. 

♦Lib. 2. t Antiq. I.2.C.5. 


2. The abundance of wealth, which was then ingrossed 
in the possession of some fc^w particular persons, being now 
diffused amongst a far greater number. There is now a 
greater equality amongst mankind, and the flourishing of, 
arts and sciences hath so stirred up the sparks of men's 
natural nobility, and made them of such active and indus- 
trious spirits, as to free themselves in a great measure from 
that slavery, which those former and wilder nations were 
subjected unto. 

In building one of the pyramids, there was expended 
for the maintenance of the labourers with radish and oni- 
ons, no less than eighteen hundred talents, which is reck- 
oned to amount unto 1880000 crowns, or thereabouts. 
And considering the cheapness of these things in those 
times and places, so much money might go farther than a 
sum ten times greater could do in the maintenance of so 
many now. 

In SoIomon^s temple we know how the extraordinary 
riches of that king, the general flourishing of the whole 
state, and the liberality of the people did jointly concur to 
the building of the temple. Pecuniarum copia et populi 
largitaSf majora dictu conabaiur^ (saith Josephus*.) The 
Rhodian colossus is reported to have cost three hundred 
talents the making ; and so were all those other famous 
monuments of proportionable expence. 

Pancirollusf speaking of those tlieatres that were erect- 
ed at the charges of some private Roman citizens, saith 
thus : nostro hoc saculo vel rex satis haberet quod ageret 
adificio ejusmodi erigendo; and a little after upon the like 
occasion, res niehercule miraculosuy qua noshis temporibus 
vir d poientissimo aliquo regepossit exhiberi. 

3. Add unto the two former considerations, that exact 
care and indefatigable industry which they bestowed in the 
raising of those structures; these being the chief and only 
designs on which many of them did employ all their best 
thoughts and utmost endeavours. Cleopes an Egyptian 

* De Bell. Jud. 1. 6. cap, 6. f Deperd. Tit. 18. 



king is reported to have been so desirous to finish one oF 
the pyramids, that having spent all about it he was worthy 
or could possibljr procure, he was forced at last to prostitute 
his own daughter for hec6Bsary maintenance. And we 
read of Ramises * another king of Egypt, how that he was 
so careful to erect an obelisk, about which he had employed 
20000 mciit that when he feared lest tjirough the negli- 
gence of the artificers, or weakness of the engine, the stone 
^ght fall and break, he tied his own son to the top of it» 
that so the care of his safety might make the workmen 
more circumspect in their business. And what strange 
matters may be effected by the mere diligence and labour 
of great multitudes, we may easily discern from the wild 
Indians, who having not the art or advantage of engines^ 
did yet by their unwearied industry remove stones of an 
incredible greatness. Acosta f relates that he himself mea- 
sured one at Tiaguanaco, which was thirty-eight foot long» 
eighteen broad, and six thick ; and he affirms, that in their 
stateliest edifices there were many other of much vaster 

From all which considerations, it may appear, that thb 
strangeness of those ancient monuments above any that are 
now efiected, does not necessarily infer any defect of art in 
Ihese later ages. And I conceive, it were as easy to de- 
monstrate the mechanical arts in these times to be so far 
beyond the knowledge of former ages, tliat had we but the 
same means as the ancients had, we might effect far greater 
matters than any they attempted, and that too in a shorter^ 
space, and with less labour. 

^ Plin. 1. 36. c. 9. t Histor. Ind. L 6. c. U. 



concerning the force of the mechanic faculties ; particularly 
the Balance and Leaver. Hem they may be contrived to 
move the whole worlds or any conceivable weight. 

ALL these magnificent works of the ancients before 
specified, are scarce considerable in respect of art, 
if we compare them with the famous speeches and acts of 
Archimedes : of whom it is reported, that he was frequently 
wont to say, how that he could move datum pondus^ cum 
data potentid; the greatest conceivable weight, with the 
least conceivable power : and that if he did but know 
where to stand and fasten his instrument, he could move 
the world, all this great globe of sea and land. Which 
promises, though they were altogether above the vulgar 
apprehension^ or belief, yet because his acts were son^e- 
what answerable thereunto, therefore the king of Syracuse 
did enact a law, whereby every man wa5 bound to believe 
whatever Archimedes would affirm. 

It is easy to demonstrate the geometrical truth of those 
strange assertions, by examining theni according ^o ^ach 
of the forenamed mechanic faculties, every one of which 
is of infinite power. 

To begin with the two first of them, the balance and the 
leaver, (which I here join together, because the propor- 
tions of both are wholly alike ;) it is certain, though there 
should be the greatest imaginable weight, and the least 
imaginable power, (suppose the whole world, and the 
strength of one man, or infant;) yet if we conceive the 
same disproportion betwixt their several distances in the 
former faculties, from the fulciment, orcentFe oiF gravity, 
they would both equiponderate. And if the distance of 
the power from the centre, in comparison to the distance 
of the weight, were but any thing more than the heaviness 
of the weight is in respect of the power, it may then bo 


evident from the former principles, that the power would 
be of greater force than the weight, and consequently able 
to move it. 


Thus, if we suppose this great globe at A to contain 
J400000000000000000000000 pounds,* allowing a hundred 
pounds for each cubical foot in it, (as Stevinius * hath cal- 
culated) yet a manor child at D, whose strength perhaps 
is but equivalent to one hundred, or ten pounds weight, 
may be able to outweigh and move it ; if there be but a 
}it,tle greater disproportion betwixt the two distances C D 
and C B, than there is betwixt the heaviness of the weight, 
and the strength of the power ; that is, if the distance C D, 
unto the other distance CB, be any thing more than 
^OOOOOOOOQOOOOOOOOOOOOOO unto 100 or 10, every or- 
dinary instrument doth include all these parts really, though 
not sensibly distinguished. 

Under this latter faculty, I did before mention that en* 
^ne, by which Archimedes drew up the Roman ships at 
the siege of Syracuse t« This is usually stiled ToUenon, 
being of the same form with that which is commonly used 
by brewers and dyer^, for the drawing of water. It con^ 
si^ts pf two posts ^ the ouQ fastened perpendicularly in the 

♦ Static. L 3. prop. 10. 

t Lipsius Poliorcet. L 1. Dialog. 6. 


ground, the other being jointed on cross to the top of it. 
At the end he fastened a strong hook or grapple of iron, 
which being let over the wall to the river, he would thereby 
take hold of tlie ships, as they passed under; and after- 
wards, by applying some weight, or perhaps the force of 
screws to the other end, he would thereby lift them into the 
open air; where having swinged them up and down till he 
had shaken out the men and goods that were in them, he 
would then dash the vessels against the rocks, or drowa 
them in their sudden fall: insomuch that ^farcellus, the 
Roman general, was wont to say, rov af v vaw/v ctvrs Kvct^i^SDf 
£K ^a}\MTlHg A^%/jULvjJvi *. That Archimedes made use of 
his ships instead of buckets to draw water with. 

This faculty will be of the same force, not only when if 
is continued in one, but also when it is multiplied in divers 
instruments; as may be conceived in this other form; 
which I do not mention, as if it could be serviceable for any 
other motion, (since the space by which the weight would 
be moved, will be*so little as not to fall under sense) but 
only for the better explication of this mechanic principle, 
and for the right understanding of that force arising from 
multiplication in the other faculties, which do all depend 
upon this. The wheel, and pulley, and screw, being but 
as so many leavers of a circular form and motion, whose 
strengtli may be therefore continued to a greater space. 

Imagine the weight A to be a hundred thousand pounds, 
and the distance of that point, wherein every leaver touches 
either the weight, or one another from the point where 
they touch the prop, to be but one such part, whereof the 

* Plutarch in his life. 


remainder contains ten; then according to the former 
grounds, 10000 at B will equiponderate to A, which is 
1 00000; so that the second leaver hath but 10000 pounds 
to move. Now, because this observes the same propor- 
tions with the other, in the distances of its several points, 
therefore 1000 pounds at C will be of equal weight to the 
former : and the weight at C being but as a thousand pound, 
that which is but as a hundred at D, will be answerable 
unto it; and so still in the same propoition, that which is 
but 10 at E, will be equal to 100 at D ; and that which is 
but one pound at F, will also be equal to ten at E. Whence 
it is manifest, that one pound at F is equal to 100000 at A; 
and the weight must always be diminished in the same 
' proportion as ten to one, because in the multiplication of 
these leavers, the distance of the point where the instru- 
ment toucbps the weight, from that where it touches the 
prop, is , but as one such part, whereof the remainder 
contains ten. But now if we imagine it to be as the 
thousandth part, then must the weight be diminished 
according to this proportion; and then in the same 
multiplication of leavers, 1 pound will be equal to 
J 000 000 000 000 000 pounds : so that though wc^suppose 
the weight to be never so heavy, yet let the disproportion 
of distances be greater, or the leavers more, and any little 
power may move it. 

'^ S?e the figures, c. 6, 



Of the Wheel : iy multiplication of which^ it is e(W/ to 

move any imaginable weight* 

THE whed, or axis in peritrochio, was before demon- 
strated to be of equivalent force with the former fa- 
culties*. If we conceive the same difference betwixt the 
semidiameter of the wheels, or spokes A C, and the semi- 
diameter of the axis A B, as there is betwixt the weight of 
the world, and the strength of a man ; it may then be evi- * 
dent, that this strength of one man, by the help of such an 
instrument, will equiponderate to the weight of the whole 
world. And if the semidiameter of the wheel A C, be 
but any thing more in respect of the semidiameter of the . 
axis A B, than the weight of the world supposed at D, is 
in comparison to the strength of a man at C ; it may then 
be manifest from the same grounds, that this strength will 
be of so much greater force than the weight, 'and conse- 
quently able to move it. 

The force of this faculty may be more conveniently un- 
derstood and used by the multiplication of several wheels*, 
together with nuts belonging unto each of them ; as it may 
be easily experimented in the ordinary jacks that are used 
for the roasting of meat, which commonly consist but of 
three wheels; and yet if we suppose a man tied in the 
place of the weight, it were easy by a single hair fastened 
unto the fly or balance of the jack, to draw him up from 
the ground : as will be evident from this following figure. 

* An engine of many wheels is commonly called gloi socomui. 


Where suppose the length of the fly or balance in com- 
parison to the breadth of its axis, to be is 10 to one, and 
so for the three other wheels in respect of the nuts that be- 
long unto them ; (though this dilference be oftentimes less, 
as we may well allow it to be) ; withal suppose the weight 
{or a man tied in the place of it) to be a hundred pounds : I 
say according to tliis supposidon, it is evident that tlie 
power at the balance which shall be equal to the weight, 
need be but as 1 to 10000. For the iirst axis is conceived 
to be but as the tenth part of its wheel ; and therefore 
though the weight in itself be as 10000, yet unto a power^ 
that hath tliis advantage, it is but as 1000, and therefore 
this thousand unto the like power at the second wheel, will 
bo but as 100, and this 100 at the third but as 10; and 


lastly, this ten at the balance but as one. But the weight 
was before supposed to be 100, which to the first wheel 
will be but 10, to the second as one, to the third as a deci-^ 
mal, or one tenth to the sails as one hundredth part * so 
that if the hair be but strong enough to lift r^m^f ^^^ ^h 
one ten thousandth part of a man, or (which is ail one) 
one hundredth part of a pound, it may as well serve by the 
help of this instrument for the drawing of him up. And 
though there be not altogether so great a disproportion 
betwixt the several parts of a jack (as in many perhaps 
there is not ;) and though a man may be heavier than is 
here supposed, yet it is withal considerable, that the strength, 
of a hair is able to bear n^uch more than the hundredth 
part of a pound. 

Upon this ground Mersennus * tells us out of Solomon 
de Cavet, that if there were an engine of twelve wheels, 
each of them with teeth, as also the axes or nuts that be- 
long unto them ; if the diameter of these wheels were unto 
each axis as a hundred to one ; and if we suppose tliese 
wheels to be so placed, that the teeth of the one might 
take hold of the axis that belongs unto the next, and that 
the axis of the handle may turn the first wheel, and the 
weight be tied- unto the axis of the last ; with such an en- 
gine as this, saith he, a child (if he could stand anywhere 
without this earth) might with jpuch ease move it towards 

For according to the former supposition, that this globe 
of sea and land did contain as many hundred pounds as it 
doth cubical feet, viz. 2400000000000000000000000, it 
may be evident that any strength, whose force is but equi- 
valent to three pounds, will by such an engine be able to 
move it. 

Of this kind was that engine so highly extolled by Ste- 
vinus t, which he calls pancration, or omnipotent, prefer- 
ring it before the inventions of Archimedes. It consisted 

* Comment in Gen. c. 1 . v, 10. art. 6. Dc viribus motricibus,Theor. 1 6# 
f De Static, praxi. 


of wheels and nuts, as that before specified is supposed. 
Hither also should be referred the force of racks, which 
serve for bending of the strongest bows *, as also that little 
pocket engine, wherewith a man may break or wrench open 
any door, together with divers the like instruments in com- 
mon use. 



Concerning the wfinite Jlrength of JVheds^ Pullies^ tnid 
Screws. That it is possible by the multiplication of these^ 
to pull up any oak by the roots with a hair^ lift it up with 
a straWf or blow it up with one*s breathy or to perform the 
greatest labour with the least power. 

FROM what hath been before delivered concerning the 
nature of the pulley, it is easy to understand how this 
faculty also may be proportioned betwixt any weight, and 
any power, as being likewise of infinite strength. 

It is reported of Archimedes, that with an engine of pul- 
lies, to which he applied only his left hand, he lifted up 
5000 bushels of corn at once t> and drew a ship with all its 
lading upon dry land. This engine Zetzes calls trispatum, 
or trispastum, which signifies only a threefold pulley : but 
herein he doth evidently mistake, for it is not possible that 
this alone should sei-ve for the motion of so great a weight ; 
because such an engine can but make a subsextuple, or at 
most a subseptuple proportion betwixt the weight and 
power ; which is much too little to reconcile the strength of 
a man unto so much heaviness. Therefore Ubaldus % dotli 
more properly style it, polyspaston ; or an instrument of 
many pullics. How many, were easy to find out, if we 

« Ramelli, fig. 160. f 7000 saith Zetzes^ Chiliad. 2. Hist. 32. 

X YxstU ad. Median. , 


Aid exactly know the weight of ftose ancient measures ; 
supposing them to be the same with our bushel in England, 
which contains 64 pints or pounds, the whole would amount 
to 3200004K)unds ; half of which would be lightened by 
the help of one pulley, three quarters by two pullicSi and . 
so onward, according to this subduple, subquadruple, and 
subsextuple proportion. So tliat if we conceive the strength 
of the left hand to be equivalent unto twenty or forty 
pounds, it is easy to find out how many pulties are required 
to enable it for the motion of so great a weight. 

Upon this ground Mersennus * tells us, that any little 
(child with an engine of an hundred double puUies, might 
easily move this great globe of earth, though it were much 
heavier than it is*. And in reference to this kind of engine 
(saith Monantholius f) are we to understand that assertion 
of Archimedes, (as he more immediately intended it) con«> 
cerniHg the possibility of moving the world. 

The wedge was before demonstrated to be as a double 
vectis or leaver, and therefore it would be needless to ex* 
plain particularly how this likewise may be contrived of iiu 
finite force. 

The screw is capable of multiplication^ as well as any of 
the other faculties, and may perhaps be more serviceable 
for such gi*eat weights, than any of the rest. Archimedei 
his engine of greatest strengtli, called caristion, is by some 
tliought to consist of these, jixes habebat cum infiniiis 
cochleisX* And that other engine of liis called helix^ 
(mentioned by || Athenaeus) wherewith he lifted Hiero*3 
great ship into the sea, without any other help, is most 
likely to be framed of perpetual screws, saith Rivaltus. 

Whence it may evidently appear, that each of thesQ 
mechanic faculties are of infinite power, and may be con- 
trived proportionable unto dlEy conceivable weight. And 
that no natural strength is anyway comparable unto these 
^irtificial inventions. 

* Comment in Gen. c. i. v. 10. art. 6. 

f Praef ad. Mechan Aristotle. 

X Stevin. de Static, praz. See Besson. 

I) Deipnoiophist. 1. 5. Oper. ester. Ajrchimedyi 


It 18 reported of Sampson ^» that he could carry the gates 
of a city upon his shoulders ; and that the strongest bonds 
were unto him but as flax burnt with fire, and yet his hair 
being shaved off, all his strength departed from him. We 
read of Milo f that he could carry an ox upon his back, 
and yet when he tried to tear an oak asunder that was 
somewhat riven before, having drawn it to its utmost, it 
suddenly joined together again, catching his hands in the 
cleft, and so strongly manacled him, that he became a prey 
to the wild beasts. 

But now by these mechanical contrivances, it were easy 
to have made one of Sampson's hairs that was shaved off*, 
to have been of more strength than all of them when they 
were on. By the help of these arts it is possible (as I shall 
demonstrate) for any man to lift up the greatest oak by the 
roots with a straw, to pull it up with a hair, or to blow it up 
with his breath. 

Suppose the roots of an oak to extend a thousand foot 
square, (which is almost a quarter of a mile) and fuity foot 
deep, each cubical foot being an hundred pound weight ; 
which tliough it be much beyond the extension of any tree, 
or the weight of earth ; the compass of the roots in the 
ground (according to common opinion) not extending fur- 
ther than the branches of it in the air, and the depth of it 
not above ten foot, beyond which the greatest rain doth 
not penetrate (saith Seneca %,) Ego vinearum diligens 
fossor affirmo nullam pluviam esse tarn magnam^ qua ter^ 
ram ultra decern pedes in altitudinem madefaciat. And 
because the root must receive its nourishment from the 
help of showers, therefore it is probable that it doth not go 
below them. So tliat (I say) though the proportions sup- 
posed do much exceed the real truth, yet it is considerable 
that some great overplus mii^^e allowed for that labour 
which there will ht in the forcible divulsion or separation 
of the parts of the earth which are continued. 

* Judges xv» t A. Gell. Noct. Att. 1, 15. c. 1(J. 

t Nat. Qu. L 3. c. 7. 

According to this supposition, the work of forcing up the 
oak by the roots will be eqmvalent to the lifting up of 
4000000000 pound weight, which by the advantage of such 
an engine, as is here described, may be easily performed 
with the least conceivable power. 

The whole force of this engine doth consist in two 
double pullics, twelve wlicels, and a sail. One of these 
jJuHics at tlie bottom will diminish half of the weight, so 
that it shall be but as 2000000000, and the other pulley wiU 


abate i three quarters of it; so that it shall be but as 
1000000000. And because the begmning of the string 
being fastened unto the lower pulley^ makes the power tp 
be in a subquintuple proportion unto the weight, there* 
fore a power that shall be as fO00O0O0OO» that is, a sub- 
quadruple, will be so much stronger than the weight, and 
consequently able to move it *. Now suppose the breadth 
of all the axes and nuts to be unto the diameters- of the 
wheel as ten to one ; and it will then be evident that to » 
power at the 

First wheel, the weight is but as 100000000; 

To the second as 1 0000000 : 

To the third as 1000000: 

To the fourth as 100000: 

To the fifth as 10000: 

To the sixth as 1000: 

To the seventh as 100: ' 

Totheeightlias 10: 

To the ninth as 1 : 

To the tenth as ^ , one decimal : 

To the eleventh as ^^^^ : 

To the twelfth as ^oot^ • 

And to the sails yet less : 

So that if the strength of the straw, or hair, or breath, be 
but equal to the weight of one thousandth part of a 
pound, it may be of sufficient force to pull up the oak. 

If in this engine we suppose the disproportion betwixt 
the wheels and nuts to be as a hundred to one, then it is 
very evident that the same strength of brcath, or a hair, 
or a straw, would be able to move the whole world, as will 
be easily found by calculation Let this great globe of sea 
and l«ind be imagined (as before) to weigh so many 
hundred pounds as it contains cubical feet; namely, 
2400000000000000000000000 pounds. This will be to 
tlie first pulley, 1200000000000000000000000. To the 
second less than 600000000000000000000000. But for 

^. See chap. viii. 


more easy and convenient reckoning, let it be supposed to 

be somewhat more, viz. 100000000000000000000000. This 

To the first wheel will be but as 1 0000000000000000000000. 

To the second as .... 100000000000000000000. 

To the third as . . 4 . 1000000000000000000. 

To the fourth as .... 10000000000000000. 

To the fifth as . . . . . 100000000000000. 

To the sixth as .... 1000000000000. 

To the seventh as . * . . . lOOOOOOOOOO. 

To the eighth as. .... 100000000. 

To the ninth as * ... 1 000000. 

To the tenth as . . . . 10000. 

To the eleventh as . * . 100* 

To the twelfth as ... * l * 

To the sails as t^. 

So that a power which is much less than the hundredth 
part of a pound will be able to move the world. 

It were needless to set down any particular explication, 
how such mechanical strength may be applied unto all 
the kinds of local motion ; since this is in itself so facil and 
obvious, that eveiy ordinary artificer doth sufficiently un* 
derstand it. 

The species of lojcal violent motion are by Aristotle * 
reckoned to be these four : pulsio, tractio, vectio, vertigo ; 
thrusting, drawing, caiTying, turning; unto some of which 
all these artificial operations must necessarily be reduced, 
the strength of any power being equally appliable unto all 
of them : so that there is no work impossible to these con- 
trivances ; but there may be as much acted by this art, as 
can be fancied by imagination. 

♦ Phyi. 1.7. C.3. 

Vol. lU 

146 Archimedes; or, mechanical powers. 



Concerning the proportion of slmness and swiftness in 

mechanical motions. 

HAVING already discoursed concerning the strength 
of these mechanical faculties ; it remains, for the 
more perfect ditcorery of their natures, that we treat 
sbmewKat concerding those two differences of artificial 
motbn : slowness, and swiftness : without the right under- 
Standing of which, a man shall be exposed to many absurd 
mistakes, in attempting of those things which are either in 
themselves impossible, or else not to be performed with 
Such means as are applied unto them. I may safely affirm, 
that many, if not most mis(takes in these mechanical de* 
signs, do ariise from a misapprehension of that difference 
which there will be betwixt the Slowness or swiftness of the 
weight and power, in comparison to the propOrticHi of their 
several strengths. 

Hence it is, that so many engines invented for mines and 
waterworks, do So often fail in the performance of that for 
which they were intended ; because the artificers many 
times do forget to allow so much time for the working of 
their engine, as naay be proportionable to the difference 
betwixt the weight and power that belong unto them: 
whereas, he that rightly understands the grounds of this 
art, may as easily find out the difference of space and time 
required to the motion of the weight and power, as he may 
their different strengths ; and not only tell how any power 
may move any weight, but also in what a space of time it 
may move it any space or distance. 

If it were possible to contrive such an invention, whereby 
any conceivable weight may be moved by any conceivable 
power, both with the same quickness and speed, (as it is in 
those things which are immediately stirred by the hand, 
without the help of any other iastrttment ,) Uie vrorki of 


liature would be then too much subjected to the power of 
art> and men might be thereby encouraged (with the 
builders of Babcl» or the rebel giants) to such bold designs 
as would not beconie a created being. And therefore the 
wisdom of providence hath so confined these human arts, 
that what any invention hath in the strength of its motion, 
is abated in the slowness of it ; and what it hath in the ex-' 
traordinary quickness of its motion, must be allowed for in 
the great strength that is required unto it. 

For it is to be observed as a general rule, that the space 
of time or place, in which the weight is moved, ih'compa- 
rison to that in wliich the power doth move, is in the same 
proportion as they themselves are unto one another; 

So that if there be any great difference betwixt the 
strength of the weight and the power, the same kind of 
differences will there be in the spaces of their motion. 

To illustrate this by an example ; 

Let the line GAB represent a balance, or leaver t the 
weight being supposed at the point G, the fiilciment at A, 
and the power sustaining the weight at B. Suppose the 
point G, unto which the weight is fastened, to he elevated 
unto F, and the opposite point B to be deprei^d unto C i 



It is evident that the arch, F G, or (which is all one) D E, 
doth shew the space of the weight, and the arch B C the 
motion of the power. Now both these arches have the 
same proportion unto one another, as there is betwixt the 
weight and the power, or (which is all one) as there is be- 
twixt their several distances from the fulciment. Suppose 
AG unto A S to be as one unto four; it may then be evi- 
dent, that F G, or D E, will be in the same proportion unto 
BC : for as any two semidiameters are unto one another, 
so are the several circumferences described by them, as also 
any proportional parts of the same circumferences. 

And as the weight and power do thus differ in the spaces 
of thblr motions, so likewise in the slowness of it ; the one 
x^oving the whole distance B C, in the same timfe Wherein 
the ^her passes only GF. So that the motion of the 
powet from B to C, is four times swifter than that of the 
weight from G to F. And thus will it be, if we supposeihe 
disproportions to be far greater ; whether or iio we conceive 
it, either by a continuation of the same instrument and fa- 
culty, as in the former example ; or by a multiplication of 
divers, as in pullies, wheels, &c. By how much the power 
is in itself less than the weight, by so much will the motion 
of the weight be slower than that of the power. 

To this purpose, I shall briefly touch at one of the dia- 
grams expressed before in the twelfth chapter, concerning 
the multiplication of leavers* 

In which, as each Instrument doth diminish the weight 
according to a decuple proportion, so also dQ they diminish 
the space and slowness Of its motion. For if we should 
conceive the first leaver B to be depressed unto its lowest, 
suppose tra foot, yet the weight A would not be raised 


above one foot : but now the second leaver, at its.utmost» 
could move but a tenth part of the first, and the third leaver 
but a tenth part of the second ; and so of the rest. So that 
the last leaver F being depressed, will p&ss a space 100000 
greater, and by a motion, 100000 swifter than the weight 
at A. 

Thus are we to conceive of all the other faculties, 
wherein there is constantly the same disproportion betwixt 
the weight and power, in respect of the spaces and slowness 
of their motions, as there is betwixt their several gravities. 
If the ppwer be unto the weight but as one unto a hundred, 
then the space through which the weight moves, will be a 
hundred times less, and consequently the motion of the 
weight a hundred times slower than that of the power. 

So that it is but a vain and impossible fancy for any one 
to think that he can move a great weight with a little 
power, in a little space; but in all these mechanical at- 
tempts, tliat advantage which is gotten in the strength of 
the motion, must be still allowed for the slowness of it. 

Though these contrivances do so extremely increase the 
power, yet they do proportionably protract the time^ 
That which by such helps one man may do in a hundred 
days, may be done by the immediate strength of a hu^idre^ 
men in one day, 


That it is possible to contrive such an artificial motion^ as 
shall be of a slowness proportionable to the swiftness of 
the heavens. 

IT were a pretty subtilty to inquire after, whether or no 
it be not possible to contrive such an artificial motion, 
that should be in such a proportion slow, as the heavens 
are supposed to be swift. 



For the exact resolution of which, it would be requisite 
that we should first pitch upon some medium, or indifferent 
motion, by the distance from which, we may judge of the 
proportions on either side, whether slowness, or swiftness. 
Now, because there is not any such natural medium, which 
may be absolutely stiled an indifferent motion, but that the 
swiftness and slowness of every thing is still proportioned 
either to the quantity of bodies in which they are, or some 
other paiticular end for which they are designed; there- 
fore we must take liberty to suppose such a motion ; and 
this we may conceive to be about 1000 paces, or U mile in 
an hour. 

The starry heaven, or 8th sphere, is thought to move 
42398437 miles in the same space : so that if it may be 
demonstrated tjiat; it is possible to contrive such a motion, 
which going on in a constant direct course, shall pass but 
the 42398437 part of a mile in an hour; it will then be 
evident, that aq artificial motion may be slow, in the same 
proportion as the heavens are swift. 

Now it was before manifested, that according to the 
difference betwixt the weight and power, so will the dif- 
ference be betwixt the slownesss or swiftness of their mo- 
tions ; whence it will follow, that in such an engine, wherein 
the weight shall be 42398437 pounds, and the power that 
doth equiponderate it, but the 42398437 part of a pound 
(which is easy to contrive) in this engine the power being 
supposed to move with such a swiftness as may be an? 
swerable to a mile an hour, the weight will pass but the 
42398437 part of a mile in the same space, and so conse- 
quently will be proportionably slow unto the swiftness of 
the heavens. 

It is related by our countryman I. Dee ♦, that he and 
Cardan being both together in their travels, did see an in- 
strument which was at first sold for twenty talents of gold, 
wherein there was one wheel, which constantly moving 

* Preface to Euclid. 



rounid amongst the rest, did not {taish one revolution under 
the space of seven thousand years. 

But if we farther consider such an instrument of wheels 
as was mentioned before in the fourteenth chapter, with 
which the wliole world might be easily moved, we shall 
then find that the motion of the weight by that, must be 
much more slow^ than the heavens are swift. For though 
we suppose (saith Stevinus *) the handle of such an en- 
gine with twelve wh(eels to be turned about 4000 times 
in an hour (which is as often as a man's pulse doth beat) 
yet in ten years space the weight by this would not be 
moved above '^\y* 0000000000000000 parts of one foot, 
which is nothing near so much as a hair's breadth. And 
it could not pass an inch in 1000000 years, saith Mer* 
sennus t- 

The truth of which we may more easily conceive, if we 
consider the frame and manner of this twelve wheeled en- 
gine. Suppose that in each axis or nut, there were ten 
teeth, and on each wheel a thousand ; t^en the sails of thi^ 
engine must be turned a hundred times, before the firs^ 
wheel, (reckoning downward) could be moved round once, 
and ten thousand ^imes before the second wh^el can finish 
one revolution, ai^^ sp through the twelve wheels, acicord**^ 
ing to this multiplied proportion. 

So that besides the wonder which there i§, in the force 
of these mechanical motions, the extreme slowness of 
them is no less admirable. If a man considers that a body 
should remain in such a constant direct motion, that thefe 
could not be one minute of time, wherein it did not rid 
some space and pass on further, and yet that this body 
in many years together should not move so far as a hair> 

Which notwithstanding <n^y evidently appear from th^ 
former instance. For since it is a natural principle, that 
there can be no penetration of bodies ; and since it is sup- 
posed, that each of the parts in this engine do touch onp 

* De Stat, pract. t PKaenom. Mechan. Prop. i\» 


another ii| their superficies ; therefore it must necessarily 
follow, that the weight does begin and continue to move 
with the power ; and (however it is insensible) yet it is 
certain tliere must be such a motion so extremely slow as 
is here specified. So full is this art of rare and incredible 

I knew it is the assertion of Cardan *, Motusvaldc tardh 
necessario qyietes habent intermedias. Extreme slow mo- 
tions have necessarily some intermediate stops and rests. 
But this is only said, not proved, and he speaks it from 
sensible experiments, which in this case are fallible : our 
senses being very incompetent judges of the several pro-j* 
portions, whether greatness or littleness, slowness or swift* 
ness, which there may be amongst things in nature. For 
ought we know, there may be some organical bodies as 
much less than ours, as the earth is bigger. We see what 
iBtrange discoveries of extreme minute bodies, (as lice, 
wheal- worms, mites, and the like) arc made by the mi- 
firoscope, wherein then: several parts (which are altogether 
invisible to the bare eye) will distinctly appear: and per- 
haps there may be otlier insects that live upon them as they 
do upon us. It is certain that our senses are extremely dis- 
proportioned for compiehending the whole compass and 
latitude of things. And- because there may be such dif-« 
ference in the motion as well as in the magnitude of bo- 
dies ; therefore, though such extreme slowness may seem 
altogether impossible to sense and common apprehension, 
yet this can be no sufficient argument against the reality 


♦ De Varietate Rerum^ 1. p. c. 47» 





Of Swiftness : how it may be increased to any kind of 
proportion. Concerning the great force of Archimedes 
his engines. Of the Ballista. 

BY that which hath been already explained concerning 
the slowness of motion, we may the better understand 
the nature of swiftness, both of them (as is the nature of 
opposites) being produced by contrary causes. As the 
greatness of the weight in respect of the power, and the 
great distance of the power from the fulciment in compa- 
rison to that of the weight, does cause a slow motion ; so 
the greatness of the power above the weight, and the greater 
distance of the weight from the centre, in comparison to 
that of the power, does cause a swift motion. 

And as it is possible to contrive a motion unto any kind 
of slowness, by finding out an answerable disproportion 
betwixt the weight and power, so likewise unto any kind of 
swiftness : for so much as the Weight does exceed the 
power, by so much will the motion of the weight be slower, 
and so much as the power does exceed the weight, by so 
much will the motioi^ of the weight be swifter. 


In the diagram set down before, if we suppose F to be 
the place of the power, and C of the weight, the point A 
being the fulciment or centre, then in the same space of 
time wherein the power does move from F to G, the 
weight will pass from C to B. These distances having the 
same disproportion unto one another, as there is betwixt 
AF and A C, which is supposed to be qua.druple. So that 
in this example, the weight will move four times swifter 
than the power ; and according ^ the power does exceed 
the weight in any greater disproportion, so will the swift- 
ness of the weight be augmented. 

Hence may we conceive the reason of that great force 
which there is in slings, which have so much a greater 
swiftness than a stone thrown from the hand, by how much 
the end of the sling is farther off from the shoulder-joint, 
which is the centre of motion. The sacred history con- 
cerning David's victory over Goliath * may sufficiently 
evidence the force of these. Vegetius t relates that it was 
usual this way to strike a man dead, and beat the soul out 
of his body, without so much as breaking his armour, or 
fetching blood. MembiHs integris lathale tainen vtUnus 
important^ £sf sine invidia sanguinis^ hostis lapidis iciu 

In the use of these, many of the ancients have been 
of very exquisite and admirable skill. We read of seven 
hundred Benjamites left-handed> that could sling a stone at 
a hair's breadth, and not miss }. And tifere is the like sto- 
ried of a whole nation amongst the Indians, who from th^ir 
excellency in this art, wer^ ^tiled Baleares ||. They were 
so strict in teaching this art unto their young onfia» ut eibum 
pu£r d matre non accipitj nisi quern ipsa manstranie per^ 
cussit ; that the mother wduld not. give any meat to her 
child, till (being set at some distance) he could hit it with 

* 1 Sam. xvii. 49. t liptius Pofior. 1. 4. Dialogue 21. 

% Judges XX. 16. 

II Affo TV ^ayoinii Dlodor. Sicttl. Biblioth* ]. 5. L. Florus Hist. 1. 3. 
cap. 8. lo. Boemus Aubanut de moribus gentium^ 1. 3. c, 26. 


For the farther ilUistration of this subject, concerning the 
swiftness of motion, I shall briefly specify some particu- 
lars concerning the engines of war used by the ancients. 
Amongst these, the most famous and admirable were those 
invented by Archimedes ; by which he did perform such 
strange exploits, a$ (were they not related by so many and 
such judicious authors) would scarce seem credible even to 
these more learned ages. The acts of that most famous 
(engineer, are largely set down by Poly bins*, Tzetzesf, 
ProclusJ, Plutarch II, Livy§, and divers others. From the 
first of whom alone, we may have sufficient evidence for 
the truth of thos^ relations : for besides that he is an author 
noted to be very grave and serious in his discourse, and 
does solemnly promise in one place If that he will relate 
nothing, but what either he himself was an eye-witness of, 
or else what he had received from those that were so : I 
say, besides all this, it is considerable, that he himself was 
born not above thirty years after the siege of Syracuse. 
And afterwards having occasion to tarry some weeks in 
that city, when he travelled with Scipio, he might there 
perhaps see those engines himself, or at least take his in- 
formation jfrom such as were eye-witnesses of their 'foi^ce: 
so that there can be no colourable pretence for any to dis- 
trust the particulars related of them. 

In brief, the sum of their reports is this. When the 
Roman forces under the conduct of Marcellus, had laid 
siege unto that famous city, (of which, both by their former 
successes, and their present strength, they could not chuse 
but promise thezmelves a speedy victory;) yet the arts of 
this one mathematician, notwithstanding all their policies 
and resolutions, did still beat them back to their great dis- 
advantage. Whether they were near the wall, or farther 
from it, they were still exposed to the force of his engines. 

* Histor. 1. 4. t Histor. Chilios 2. Hittor. J5. 

t Lib.2.c>3. II Marcellus. § Hf»uvA2^' 

% Histor. 1. 4. juxta muium. 


' «/r«v- From the multitude of those stones and arrows 
which he shot against them> was he stiled eKoroyxj^iq or 
Briareus*. Those defensive engines that were made by 
the Romans in the form of pent-houses f, for to cover the 
assailants from the weapons of. the besieged, these would 
he presently batter in pieces with great stones and blocks. 
Those high towers erected in some of. the ships, out of 
which the Romans might more conveniently fight with the 
defendants on the wall, these also were so broken by his 
engines, that no cannon, or other instrument of gunpow- 
der, (saith a learned man J) had tliey been then in use, 
could have done greater mischief. In brief, he did so mo- 
lest them with bis frequent and prodigious batteries, that 
the common soldiers were utterly discouraged from any 
hopes of success. 

What was the particular frame and manner of these en« 
gines, cannot certainly be determined; but to contrive 
such a$ may perform the like strange effects, were not 
very difficult to any one who is thoroughly versed in the 
grounds of this art. Though perhaps those of Archimedes, 
in respect of divers circumstances, were much more exact 
and proper for the purposes to which they were intended, 
than the invention of others could be ; he himself being sq 
extrs^ordinarily subtle and ingenious above the common 
sort of men. 

It is probable that the general kind of these engines were 
th* same with those that were* used afterwards,^ amongst 
the Romans and other nations. These were commonly 
divided into two sorts; stiled ballists, catapultae, both 
which names are sometimes used promiscuously || ; but ac- 
cording to their propriety, ballista § does signify an engine 

♦ Cari. Rhod. Ant. lect. 1. 2. c. 16. f Pluteus Testudo. 

I Sir Walt. Raleigh, Histor. 1. 5. c. 3. § 16. 

II Vid. Naudaeum de Stud. Militar. 1. 2. 

^ A^ro 78 ^TJiHif called also ^i^o^oxof, Trtrpo^oXQ;. Fundibalus, Petrarla. 


for the shooting of stones, and catapulta for darts or 

The former of these was fitted either to carry divers 
lesser stones, or else one greatest one. Some of these en- 
gines made for great stones, have been proportioned to so 
vast and immense a weight, as may seem almost incredi- 
ble; which occasioned that in Lucan, 

At saxum qnoties ingenti verberis ictu 
Excuiitur, qualisrupes quam vert ice montU 
Abscidit inlpulsu veniorum adjiUa vetustas, 
Frangit cuncta rumes; nee tantuni corpora pressa 
Exanimatf totos cum sanguine dissipat artus. 

With these they could easily batter down the walls and 
towers of any fort. So Ovid. 

Quam grave baUistte moenia pulsat onus. 

And Statins 

^uo turbine beltic^ quondam, 
Librati saliunt portarum in cUiustra molares. 

The stones that were cast firom these, were of any form, 
enormes et septUchraleSf mill-stones or tomb-stones*. 
Sometimes for the farther annoyance and terror of any be- 
sieged place, they would by these throw into it dead bo- 
dies, either of men or horses, and sometimes only parts of 
them, as men's heads. 

Athenasust mentions one of these ballistae that was 
proportioned unto a stone of three talents weight, each 
talent being 120 pounds (saith VitruviusJ,) so that the 
whole will amount to 360 pounds. But it is storied of 
Archimedes II, that he casta stone into one of Marcellus 
his ships, which was found to weigh ten talents. There is 
some difference amongst authors §, concerning what kind 
of talent this should be understood, but it is certain that in 
Plutarch*s time, (from whom we have this relation) one 
talent did amount to 120 pounds (saith Suidas:) according 

* Ldpsius Poliorcet. 1.3. Dial. 3. f Deipnosoph. 1. 5. 

{ Archit. 1. 10. cult. Xi^ov JfKaraXaiTw. || Plut. Marceil. 

§ Dav. Rivakus Comment, in Archira. Oper.Ext. 


to which account, the stone itself was of no leas than twelve 
hundred pounds weight. A weapon (one would think) bfg| 
enough for those rebel giants that fought against the gods;' 
Now the greatest cannon in use, does not carry above 64 
pound weight, which is far short of the strength in these 
mathematical contrivances ^. Amongst the Turks indeed, 
there have been sometimes used such powder instruments, 
as may equal the force of those invented by Archimedes. 
Gab. Naudsus f tells us of one bullet shot from them at 
the siege of Constantinople, which was' of above 1200 
pound weight ; this he affirms from the relation of an arch- 
bishop, who was then present, and did see it ; the piece 
could not be drawn by less than a hundred and fifty yoke 
of oxen, which might almost have ^served to draw away 
the town itself. But though there hath been perhaps some 
one or two cannons of such a prodigious magnitude* yet it 
is certain that the biggest in common use, does come far 
short of that strengtli which was ordinarily in these me« 
chanical engines. 

There are divers figures 6f these ballistae, set out by 
. Vegetius, Lipsius, and others J ; but being without any ex- 
plication, it is not very facil to discover in what their forces 
did consist. 

I have here expressed one of them most easy to be ap- 
prehended; from the understanding of which, you n^ay the 
better guess at the nature of the rest. 

* Naudaeus de Studio Milk. 1. 2. f De Stud. Mil. L 2* 

J See Rob. Valteurius de Re Milit. L 10. c. 4. 

y ■ 


Thai great box or cavity at A, is supposed to be full of 
totne beavy weight, and is forced up by the turning of the 
axis and spokes B C. The stone or bullet to be discharged, 
being in a kind of sling at D; which when the gieater 
weight A descends, will be violently whirled upwards, till 
that end of the sling at £, coming to the top will fly o£^ 
and discharge the stone as the skilful artist should direct it. 





Concerning the Catapultay or engines for an^cftvs. 

THE other kind of engine was called catapulta^, «nro r^( 
xekr^g^ which signifies a spear or dart, because it was 
used for the shooting off such weapons f : some of tliese 
were proportioned unto spears of twelve cubits long ; they 
did carry with so great a force, ut interdum nimio ardore 
scintillanU (saith Ammianus^) that the weapons dis^ 
charged from them were sometimes (if you can believe it) 
set on fire by the swiftness of their motion. 

The first invention of these is commonly ascribed to 
Dionysius the younget ||, who is said to have made them 
amongst his other preparations against Carthage. But we 
have good reason to think them of more ancient Use, be- 
cause we read in scripture, that Uzziab made in Jerusiftem 
engines invented by cunning men to shobt arrows and great 
stones withal §: though, it is likely these inventions were 
much bettered by the experience of after ages. 

The usual form of these catapuUae, was much after the 
manner of great bows placed on carriages, and wound up 
by the strength of several persons. And from that great 
force which we find in lesser bows, we may easily guess at 
the greater power of these other engines^. It is related of 
the Turkish bow, that it can strike an arrow through ^ 
piece of steel or brass two inches thick, and being headed 
only with wood, it pierces timber of eight inches^. Which 
though it may seem incredible, yet it is attested by the ex- 
perience of divers unquestionable witnesses: Baiclay in his 
Icon Animorumy a man of sufficient credit, affirms that he 

* In Greek wtrwnikrns* t Athenaeus. Deipoot. 1. 5. 

J lib. 23. UpsiusPoliorcet. 1. 3.Diai2. 

II Diod. Sicul. Biblioth. 1. 14 . Sardus de Invent. Rerum, 1. 2. 

§ 2 Chron. xxvi. 15. U Sir Fran. Bacon, Nat. Hist. Exp. 704. 


MFas an eye-witness, how one of these bows with a Uttle 
arrow did pierce throi^ a piece of steel three lingera 
thick. And yet these bows being somewhat like the long 
bows in use amongst us, were bent only by a man's imme- 
diate strength, vfithout (he help of any bender or rack that 
are used to others. 

Some Turkish bows are of that strength, as to pierce a 
' plank of six inches in thickness, (I spe^ what I have seen) 
saith M.Jo. Greaves in his pyramodographia. How much 
greater fbrce then may we conceive to be impressed by the 
catapult i 

lliese were sometimes framed for the discharging of 
two or three arrows t<^ether, so that each of them might 
be directed unto a several aim. But it were as easy to 
contrive them after the like manner for the carriage of 
twenty arrows, or more; as in this figure. 

Both these kinds of engines, when they were used at the 
3iege of any city, were commonly carried in a great 
wooden turret (first invented by Demetrius*.) It was 

• Who wai therefore itiled Po&orceiet. TKi kbd of turr^ wa» fint 
vied at the uege of Cfprui, and i* ihiu dewiibfid b^r Diodnili Skul, 
fiiblnth. 1. 30. 



driven upon four wheels at the bottom, each of its sides 
being forty-five cubits, its height ninety. The whole was 
divided in nine several partitions, every one of which did 
contain divers engines for battery: from its use in the bat- 
tering and taking of cities it is stiled by the name of he- 

He that would be informed in the nature of bows, let 
him consult Mersenrms de BaUistica et Jcontismologia^ 
where there are divers subtile enquiries and demonstra- 
tions, concerning the strength required to the bending of 
them to any distance, the force they have in the dis- 
charge, according to several bents, the strength required to 
be in the string of them, the seyeral proportions of swiftness 
and distance in an arrow shot vertically, or horizontally, or 

Those strange effects of the Turkish bow (mentioned be- 
fore) so much exceeding the force of others, which yet re- 
quire far gl^ater strength for the bending of them, may 
probably be ascribed either to the natural cause of attraction 
by similitude of sub3tance (as the Lord Bacon conjectures:) 
for in these experiments the head of the arrow should be of 
the same substance (whether steel or wood) with that 
which it pierces : or else to that just proportion betwixt the 
weight of the arro^, and the strength of the bow, which 
must needs much conduce to the force of it, and may per- 
haps be more exactly BisCoveted in these, than it is com- 
monly in otjiers. ^ 


A Comparison betwixt these ancient Engines , and the Gtm^ 

powder Instruments now in use^ 

r"* shall not be altogether impertinent to enquire some- 
what concerning the advantages and disadvantages be- 
twixt those military offensive engines used amongst the 
ancients, and those of these later ages. 


In which enquiry there are two particulars to be chiefly 

1. The force of these several contrivances, or the ut- 
most that may be done by them. 

2. Their price, or the greatness of the charges required 
unto them. 

1. As for the force of these ancient inventions, it may 
sufficiently appear from those many credible relations 
mentioned before ; to which may be added that in Jose- 
phus*, which he sets down from his own eye-sight, being 
himself a chief captain at the siege of Jotapata, where these 
events happened. He tells us that besides the multitude of 
persons, who were sldn by these Roman engines, being 
not able to avoid their force, by reason tliey were placed so 
far oflF, and out of sight ; besides this, they did also carry 
such great stones, with so great a violence, that they did 
therewith batter down their walls and towers. A great 
bellied woman walking about the city in the ^J-time, had 
her child struck out of her womb, and carried half a furlong 
from her. A soldier standing by his captain Josephus, on 
the wall, had his head struck off by anot^her stone sent from 
these Roman engines, and his brains carried three fur- 
longs off. 

To this purpose Cardan t relates out of Ammianus 
Marcellinus. Tanto impetuferiur lapis ui uno viso lapide^^ 
quamvis intacti barbarifuttrint ab eo, destiterunt ci pugnd et 
abierunt. Many foreign people being so amazed at the 
strange force of these engines, that they durst not contest 
with those who were masters of such inventions. It is 
frequently asserted, that bullets have been melted in the 
air, by that extremity of violent motion imprest from these 

Furtdaque contorto transverberat dera plumbo, 
Et mediis liquida glandes in nvbibus errant, 

* De Bcllo Judaico, 1. 3. c. 9. t De Variet. 1. J 2. c. 58. 

M 2 


So Lucan, speaking of the same engines. 


Indefacei et saxa volant, spatioque solutte 
Aeris el calida liquefacta pondere glandes. 

Which relations, though they may seem somewhat poetical 
and improbable, yet Aristotle himself {de Coeloy lib. 2. c. 1.) 
dotli suppose them as unquestionable. From whence it 
may be inferred, that the force of these engines does ra-^ 
tlier exceed than come short of our gunpowder inven- 

Add to this that opinion of a learned man * (which I 
cited before) that Archimedes in the siege of Syracuse f 
did more mischief with his engines, tlian could have been 
wrought by any cannons, had they been then in use* 

In this perhaps there may be some disadvantage, because 
thesp mathematical engines cannot be so easily and speedily 
wound up, and so certainly levelled as the other may. 

2. As for flie price oi; charges of both these, it may be 
Considered uinti|[.tj;ire^: particulars : 

1 . Their niakingi J\: 

2. Their carriage or conveyance.. 

3. Their charge and discharging. 

In all which respects, the cannons now in use, are of 
much greater cost than these other inventions. 

1. The making or price of these gun-powder instruments 
is extremely expensive, as may be easily judged by the 
weight of their materials. A whole cannon weighing 
commonly 8000 pounds, a half cannon 5000, a culverin 
4500, a demiculVerin 3000 ; which whether it be in iroa 
or brass, must needs be very costly, only for the matter of 
them ; besides the farther charges required for the form 
and making of them, which in the whole must needs 
amount to several hundred pounds. Whereas these ma- 
thematical inventions consisting chiefly of timber, and 

* Sir Walt, Raleigh. Hist. 1. 5. c. 3. sect. 16. 
f See Lipsius de Militii RomanA^ 1. 5. 


cords, may be much more cheaply made ; the several de- 
grees of them which shall answer in proportion to the 
strength of those other, lieing at the least ten time5 
cheaper; that is, ten engines that shall be of equal force 
either to a cannon or demicannon, culverin or demicul- 
verin, may be framed at the same price that one of th^se 
will amount to : so that in this respect there is a great in- 

2. As for their carriage or conveyance ; a whole cannon 
does require at the least 90 men, or 16 horses, for the 
draught of it; a half cannon 56 men, or 9 horses; a culve- 
rin 50 men, or 8 horses; a demiculverin 36 men, or % 
horses ; supposing the way to be hard and plain, in whica 
notwithstanding the motion will be very slow. But if the 
passage prove rising and steep, oj; rotten and dirty^ then 
they will require a much greater, strength and charge for 
the conveyance of them. Whereas these other inventions 
are in themselves more light (if there be occasion for the 
draught of them) being easily taken asund^ into several 
parts. And besides, their materials are to be found every 
where, so that they need not be carried up and down at all, 
but may be easily made in the place where they are to be 

3. The materials required to the charging of these gun- 
powder instruments, are very costjy. A whole cannon re- 
quiring for every charge 40 pounds of powder, and a bullet 
of 64 pounds ^ a half cannon 18 pounds of powder, and a 
bullet of 24 pounds; a culverin 16 pounds of powder, and 
a bullet of 19 pounds ; a demiculverin 9 pounds of powder, 
and a bullet of 12 pounds: whereas those other engines 
may be charged only with stones, or (which may serve for 
terror) with dead bodies, or any such materials as every 
place will afford without any cost. 

So then, put all these together: if it be so that those an- 
cient inventions did not come short of these other in regard 
of force, and if they do so much excel them in divers other 
respects ; it should seem then, that they ate much more 


commodious than these latter inventions, and should be 
preferred before them. But this enquiry cannot be fully 
determined without particular experience of both. 


That it is possible to contrive such an artificial motion^ 
as may be equalh^ swift with the supposed motion of the 

F>R the conclusion of this. disco;urse, I shall briefly ex* 
amine (as before concerning slowness) whether it be 
possible to contrive such an artificial motion, as may be 
equal unto the supposed swiftness of the heavens. Thi^ 
question hath been formerly proposed and answered by 
Cardan *, where he applies it unto the swiftness of the 
moon's orb ; but that orb being the lowest of all, and con-> 
sequentiy of a dull and sluggish motion, in comparison to 
the rest ; therefore it will perhaps be more convenient to 
iinderstand the question concerning the eighth sphere, or 
starry heaven. 

For the true resolution of this, it should be first observed, 
t^t a material substance is altogether incapable of so great 
9 celerity, as is usually ascrib^4 to the celestial orbs, (as I 
have proved elsewhere t>) and therefore the quaere is not 
to be understood of any real ^nd experimental, but oply 
notional, and geometrical contrivance. 

Now that the swiftness of motion may be thus increased 
according to any conceivable proportion, will be manifest 
from what hath been formerly delivered concerning the 
grounds and nature of slowness and swiftness. For ac^ 

f Pe V4riet. Jlerum. 1. ?. c. ^7. -j- Prop, 9, 

Arcmiuedes; or, mechakical poweki.- 161 
cording as we shall suppose the power to exceed the 
we^ht: so may tlie motioa of the weight be swifleithau 
that of the power. 

But to aziswer more particularly: let us imagine every 
wheel in this following figure to have a hundred teeth in it» 
and every nut ten : 


It may then be evident, tliat one revolution of the first 
wheel, will turn the nut, and consequently the second wheel 
on the same axis ten times, the third wheel a hundred 
times, the fourth a thousand times, the fiflh 10000, the 
sixth a hundred thousand times, the seventh 1000000 
times, the eighth 10000000 times, the ninth lOOOOOOOO 
times, the sails 1000000000 times: so that if we suppose 
the compass of these sails to be five foot, or one pace : 
and that the first wheel is turned about after the rate of one 

. f- 

* ■ ■ . • 

- r % 

■ ■ ^ . *• 


thousand times ia an' hour : it will then be evident, that 
the sails shall be turned iOOOOOOOOOOOO times, and conse- 
quently shall pass. 100000000 miles in the same space. 
Whereas a star in the equator (according to common hy- 
podiesis) does move but 42398437 miles in an hour : and 
therefore it is evident that it b possible geometrically to 
contrive such an artificial motion, as shall be of greater 
twiftness then the supposed revolutions of the heavens. 

♦ "^ 

I ■ 







The divers kinds of Automata^ or Self-mwers* Of MittSf 
and tiie contrivance of several motions by rarijud air^ 
A brief digression concerning Wind-guns. 

AMONGST the variety of artificial motions, those are 
of most use and pleasure, in which, by the application 
of some continued strength, there is bestowed a regular 
and lasting motion. 

These we call the aurro^unety or self-movers : which name» 
in its utmost latitude, is sometimes ascribed unto those mo« 
tions, that are contrived from the strength of living crea* 
tures, as chariots, carts, &c. But in its strictness and pro- 
priety, it Is only appiiable unto such inventions, wherein 
the motion is caused either by something that belongs unto 
its own frame, or else by some external inanimate agent* 

Whence these aurofutrx are easily flistinguishable into 
two sorts: 

1. Those that are moved by something which is extria-> 
slcal unto their own frame } as ntUls, by water or wind. 


2. Those that receive tlicir motion from something that 
does belong to the frame itself; as clocks, watches^ by- 
weights, springs, or the like. 

Of both which sorts, there have been many excellent 
inventions: in the recital of them, I shall insist chiefly on 
such as are most eminent for tlieir rarity and subtilty* 

Amongst the auToiiara, that receive their motion firom 
some external agent, those of more common use are mills. 

And first, the water-mills; which are thought to be be- 
fore tlie other, though neither the first author, nor so much 
as the time wherein they were invented is fully known. 
And therefore Polydore Virgil * refers them amongst other 
fatherless inventions. Pliny f indeed ^oth mention them, 
as being commonly used in his time; and yet others affirm, 
that Belisarius, in the reign of Justinian, did first invent 
them: whence Pancirollus ]: concludes, that it is likely 
their use was for some space intermitted, and being after- 
wards renewed again, they were then thought to be first 

However, it is certain that this invention hath much 
abridged and advantaged the labours of men, who were be- 
fore condemned unto this slavery ||, as now unto the galleys. 
And as the force of waters hath been useful for this, so 
likewise may it be contrived to divers other purposes. . 
Herein doth the skill of an artificer chiefly consist, in the 
application of these common motions unto various and be- 
neficial ends ; making them serviceable, not only for the 
grinding of corn, but for the preparing of iron, or other 
ore; the making of paper, the elevating of water, or the 

To this purpose also are the mills that are driven by 
wind, which are so much more convenient than the other, 
by how much their situations may be more easy and com<* 
mon. The motions of these may likewise be accommo* 
dated to as various uses as the other ; there being scarce 

* De Itivent. Rerum, 1. Ircj 18. f Nat. Hist. 1. 18. c. 10, 

X J)e Repert. Tit. 22. i| Ad piitmuro. 



any labour, to the performance of which, an ingeniou3 ar* 
tificer cannot apply them. To the sawing of timber, the 
ploughing of land, or any other the like service, which can* 
not be dispatched the ordinary way, without much toil and 
tediousness. And it is a wonderful thing to consider, how 
much, men's labours might be eased and contracted in sun* 
dry particulars, if such as were well skilled in the princijiles 
and practices of these mechanical experiments, would but 
thoroughly apply their studies unto the enlargement of such 

There are some other motions by wind or air, which 
(though they are not so common as the other, yet) may 
prove of excellent curiosity, * and singular use. Such was 
that musical instrument invented by Cornelius Dreble; 
which being set in the sunshine, would of itself render a 
soft and pleasant harmony ; but being removed into the 
shade, would presently become silent. The reason of it 
was this: the warmth of the sun working upon some mois« 
ture within it, an^ rarifying the inward air unto so great an 
extension that it must needs seek for vent or issue, did 
thereby give several motions unto the instrument *. 

Somewhat of this nature are the aeiolipiles, which are 
concave vessels, consisting of sdme such material as may 
endure the fire, having a small hole, at which they are filled 
with water, and out of which (when the vessels arc heated) 
the air doth issue forth with a strong and lasting violence. 
These are frequently used for the exciting and contracting 
of heat in the melting of glasses, or metals: they may also 
he contrived to be serviceable for sundry other pleasant 
uses; as for the moving of sails in a chimney-comer; the 
motion of which sails may be applied to the turning of a 
$pit» or the like. 

* Marcell. Vrankhein. Epist. ad Joh. Emestum. Like that statue of 
Memnon, in Egypt^ whick makes a strange noise wheneyer the sun be« 
gins to shine ut>on it. Tacit. Annal 2. Strabo affirms, that he had both 
seen and heard it. 


But there is a better invention to this purpose, mentioned 
in Cardan *, whereby a spit may be turned (without the 
help of weights) by the motion of the air that ascends the 
chimney; and it may be useful for the roafiting of many, 
or great joints: for as the fire must be increased according 
to the quantity of meat, so the force of the instrument will 
be augmented proportionably to the fire. In which con- 
trivance, there are these conveniences above the jacks of 
ordinary use: 

1. It makes little or no noise in the motion. 

2. It needs no winding up, but will constantly move of 
itself, while there is any fire to xarify the air. 

3. It is much cheaper than the other instruments that are 
commonly used to this purpose; there being require^ unto 
it only a pair of sails, which must be placed in that part of 
the chimney where it begins to be straitened ; and one 
wheel, to the aiis of which the spit-line knust be fastened, 
according to this' following diagram. 

* De Variet, Rorum^ 1. 12. c. 58, 

« • » 







The motion of these sails may likewise be serviceable 
for sundry other purposes, besides the turning of a spit ; for 
the chiming of bells, or other musical devices; and there 
cannot be any mure pleasant contrivance for continual and 
cheap music. It may be useful also for the reeling of yarn, 
the rocking of a cradle, with divers the like domestic occa- 
sions. Foe (as was said before) any constant motion being 
given, it is easy for an ingenious artificer to apply it unto 
various services. 

These sails will always move both day and night, if there 
is but any fire under them, and sometimes though there be 
none. For, if the air without be much colder than tliat 
within the room, then must tht$ which is more warm and 


rarified, naturally ascend through the give place 
unto the more condensed and heavy, which does usually 
blow ift at every chmk or cranny, as experience shews. 

Unto this kind of motion may be reduced all those re- 
presentations of iiving creatures, whether binds, or beasts^ 
invented by Ctcsibius, which were for the most part per- 
formed by the motion of air, being forced up either by 
rarefaction, with fire, or else by compression, through the 
fall of some heavier body, as water, which by posseting the 
place of the air, did thereby drive it to seek for some other 

I cannot here omit (though it be not altogether so perti- 
nent) to mention that late ingenious invention of the wind- 
gun, which is charged by the forcible compression >i3f air, 
being injected through a syringe ; the strife and distention 
of the imprisoned air, serving by the help of little fietUs or 
shuts within ; to stop and keep close the vents by which it 
was admitted. The force of it in the dischatge is almost 
equal to our powder-guns. I have found upon frequent 
trials (saith Mersennus^) that a leaden bullet shot from one 
of these guns against a stone wall, the space of 24 paces 
from it, will be beaten into a thin ptate. It would be a 
considerable addition to this experiment, which the same 
author mentions a little after, whereby he will make the 
same charge of air to serve for the discharge of several ar- 
rows or bullets after one another, by giving the air only so 
much room, as may immediately serve to impress a vio- 
lence in sending away the arrow or bullet, and tlien screw- 
ing it down again to its former confinement, to fit it fbir 
another shooting. But against this there may be many 
considerable doubts, which I cannot stand to discuss. 

* Fhaenomena pneumatica, prop. 32. 


CHAP. 11. 

Of a Sailing, Chariot^ that may mthout horses he driven m 
the land by the wind^ as ships are an the sea. 

THE force of wind in the motion of sails may be ap- 
plied also to the driving of a chariot, by which a man 
may sail oh the land, as well as by a ship on the water. 
The labour of horses or other beasts, which are usually 
applied to this purpose, being artificially supplied by the 
strength of winds. 

That such chariots are commonly used in the champion 
plain/ of China, is frequently affirmed by divers credible 
authors. Botcrus mentions that they have been tried also 
in Spain*, though with what succ<^ he doth not specify. 
But above all other experiments to this purpose, that sailing 
chariot at Sceyeling in Holland, is more eminently remark- 
able. It was made by the direction of Stephihus, and is 
celebrated by many authors. Walceius t affirms it to be 
of so great a swiftness for its motion, and. yet of so great ^ 
capacity for its burthen : ut in medio freto secundis ventis 
commissas naveSy velodtaie multis parasangis post se relin- 
quaty et paucarum horarum spatio^ viginti aut triginta mil^ 
liaria germanica continue cursu emetiatur^ concreditosque 
sibi plus mimis vectores sex aut decern^ in petitum locum 
trans/eratf/adllimo illius ad clavum qui sedet nutUy qua* 
quaversum minimo la bore velis xommissum, mirabile hoc 
continenti currus navigium dirigentis. That it did far ex- 
ceed the speed of any ship, thbugh we should suppose it to 
be carried in the open sea with never so prosperous wind : 
and that in some few hours space it would convey six or 
ten persons, 20 or 30 German miles, and all this with very 
little labour of him that sitteth at the stern, who may easily 
guide the course of it as he pleas<^tli. 

* De Incremento Urbium, 1. I.e. 10. 
t Fabularum Decas, Fab. 9, 


That eminent inquisitive nuin Peireskius, having travelled 
to Sceveling for the sight said experience of this chariot^ 
would frequently after with much wonder mention the ex- 
treme swiftness of its motion. Conmieniorare solebat siun 
porem quo correptus fuerai cum vento translatus citatissimo 
rum perseniiscere tamen^ nempe tarn citus erai quam vetUm K 
Though the wind were in itself very swift and strong, yet 
to passengers in this chariot it would not be at all discern- 
ible, because they did go with an equal swiftness to the 
wind itself: men that ran before it seeming to go back- 
wards, things which seem at a great distance being presently 
overtaken and left behind. In two hours space it would 
pass from Sceveling to Putten, which are distant from one 
another above 14 hararia milliaria^ (saith the same av^thor,) 
that is, more than two and forty miles. 

Grotius is very copious and elegant in the celebrating of 
this invention, and the author of it, in divers epigrams. 

Feniivolum Jtphys deduxit in aquora navim, 

Jupiter in Stellas^ stthereamque domuni. 
In terrestre solum virtus Stevinia, nam nee 

Tiphy tutanfuerat^ ncc Jovis istud opus f. 

And in another place | : 

Imposuii plausiro vectantem carbasa, nialuni 

An polius navi, svbdidit ille rotas f 
— Scandit aquas navis currus ruit acre prono, 

Et merito dicas hie volat, ilia natat. "^ 

These relations did at the first seem unto me, (and per« 
haps they will so to others) somewhat strange and incredi- 
ble. But upon farther enquiry, I have heard them fre- 
quently attested from the particular eye-sight and experi- 
ence of such eminent persons, whose names I dare not cite 
in a business of this nature, which in those parts is so ver^ 
common, and little observed. 

I have not met with any author who doth treat particu- 

* Pet. Gassendus, Vita Peireikii^ L 8. 
/f Grotii Poeniata, £p. 19. { Ep. 5. 


larly concerning the manner of framing this chariot, though 
Grotius mentions an elegant description of it in copper by 
one Geynius * ; and Hondius in one of his large maps of 
Asia, does give another conjectural description of the like 
chariots used in China. 

The form of it is related to be very siinple and plaia^ 
alter this manner. 

The body of it being somewhat like a boat, movingupon 
fournheelsof an equal bigness, with two sails like those in a 
ship; there being some contrivance to turn and steer it, by 
moving a rudder which is placed beyond the tv?o hindmost 
wheels ; and for the stoppii^ of it, this must be done, 
iritlier by letting down the sail, or turning it from the wind. 

• Epg.20.ct2l. 



Of this kind thcyhave frequently in Holland other little 
vessels for one or two persons to go upon the ice, having 
sledges instead of wheels, being diiven with a sail ; the 
bodies of tlxm like little boats, that if the ice should break, 
they might yet safely carry a man upon the water, where 
the sail would be still useful for the motion of it. 

I have often thought that it would be worth the experi- 
ment to enquire, whether or no such a sailing chariot might 
not be more conveniently framed with moveable sails, 
whose force may be imprest fimm their mo^on, equivalent 
to those in a wind-mill. Their foremost wheels (as in 
other chariots) for the greater facility, being somewhat 
lower than the other, answerable to this figure. 


In which the sails are so contrived, that the wind from 
any coast wiU have a force upon them to turn them about; 
and the motion of these sails must needs turn the wheels, 
and consequently carry on the Chariot itself to any place 
(though fully against the wind) whither^ it shall be 

The chief doubt will be, whether in such a contrivance, 
every little ruggedness or unevenness of the ground, will 
not cause such a jolting of the chariot, as to hinder the 
motion of its sails. But this perhaps (if it should prove so) 
is capable of several remedies. 

I have often wondered, why none of our gentry who 
live near great plains, and smooth champiqns, have at^^ 
tempted any thing to this purpose. The experiments of 
this kind being very pleasant, and not costly : what could 
be more delightful, or better husbandry, than to make use 
of the wind (which costs nothing, and eats nothing) instead 
of horses? This being very easy to be effected by those^ 
the convenience of whose habitations doth accommodate 
thein for such experiments. 




Concerning the fixed automata^ clocks^ spheres, representing 
the heavenly motions : the several excellencies that are 
most commendable in such kind df contrivances. 

THE second kind of avrofiotru were described to be 
such engines, as did receive a regular and lasting mo- 
tion from something belonging to their own frame, whether 
weights, or springs,, &c. 

They are usually distinguished into uvTOfueru (mirec, fixed 
and stationary ; vmctyovra, moveable and transient. 

1. The fixed are such as move only according to their 
several parts, and not according to their whole frame; in 

N 2 


which, though each wheel hath a distinct rotation, yet the 
whole doth still remain unmoved. The chiefest kind of 
these are the clocks and watches in ordinary use ; the framr 
ing of which is so commonly known by every mechanic, 
that I shall not trouble the reader with any explication of 
it He that desires fuller satisfaction, may see them parti- 
cularly described by Cardan *, D. Flood t» and others. 

The first invention of these (saith Panciroliust) was 
taken from that experiment in the multiplication of wheels, 
mentioned in Vitruvius||, where he speaks of an instru- 
ment, whereby a man may know how many miles o|r paces 
he doth go in any spac6 of time, whether or no he do pass 
by water in a boat. Or ship, or by land in a chariot, or 
coach : they have been contrived also into little pocket-in- 
struments, by which, after a man hath walked a whole day 
together, he may easily know how many steps he hath 
taken. I forbear to etiter upon a larger explication of 
these kind of engines^ because they are impertinent unto 
the chief business that I have proposed for this discourse. 
The reader may see them more particularly described in 
the above-cited place ofVitruvius, in Cardan §, Bessonius^, 
an J others ; I have here only mentioned them, as being 
the first occasion of the chiefest mnoiutrruy that are now in 

Of the same kind with our clocks and watches (though 
perhaps more elaborate, and subtle) was that sphere in- 
vented by Archimedes, which did represent the heavenly 
motions : the diurnal, and annual courses of the suni the 
changes, and aspects of the moon, &c. ** This is frequently 
celebrated in the writings of the ancients, particularly in 
that known epigram of Claudian: 

* De Varict. Rer. I. 9. c. 47. f Tract. 2. part. 7. 1. 1. cap. 4. 

t R^ert.Tit. 10. , II Architect. 1. 10. c. 14. § Subril. 1. 18. 

% Theatnim Instrumentorum. "Weckerde Secretis, 1. 15. c. 32. 
•* Mentioned by Cicero, Tuscul, Quaest. 1. 1. item De Nat. 
Deorum, L 2. 



Jupiter in parvo cum cemeret athera vitrop 

Risitf et ad superos talia dicta dedit ; 
fJuccine mortalis progresta petentia cur^ f 
, Jam meus infragili luditur otbe labors 
Jurapoli, rerumquefidem, legesque deorum, 

Ecce Si/racusius transtulit arte senex, 
Iticlusus variis fafnulatur * spiritus astris, 

Et vivum certis motihus urget opus, 
Percurrit proprium mentitus signifer annum ; 

Et simulata novo Cy^Uhia niense redit, 
Jamque suum volvens audax ifidustria mundum 

Gaudetf et humand sidera mente regit, 
Qidd fatso insontem tonitru Salmonea miror f 

jEmula Jiatura parva reperta manus. 

Excellently translated by T. Randolph : . . 

Jove saw the heavens fram'd in a little gl^sf. 
And laughing, to the gods these words did pais ; 
Comes then the power of mortal cares so far? 
In brittle orbs my labours acted are. 
The statutes of the poles, thefeith of things, 
The laws of gods, this Syracusian brings 
Hither by art : spirits inclos'd attend 
Their several spheres, and with set motions bend. 
The living work : each year the feigned suHjj 
Each month returns the counterfeited mo<m. 
And viewing now her world, bold industry 
Grows proud, (o know the heavens his subjects be. 
]^lieve, Salmoneus hath false thunders thrown^ 
For a poor h^d is nature's rival grown. 


But, that this engine should be made of glass, is scarco 
credible. Lactantius f mentioning the relation of it, a& 
firms it to consist of brass, which is more likely. It may 
be the outside or case was glass, and the firaftie itself of 
brass. Coelius Rhodoginus { speaking of the wonderous 
art in the contrivance of this sphere, breaks out into this 
quaere. Nonne igitur miraculorum omnium^ maximupi 
viiraculum est homo ? He might have said maihematictis : 

* The secret force from which the motion was impressed^ 
t Instit. 1. 2. c. 5. t Antlq. iect. 1 2. c. 16. 



and another to this purpose *. Sic manus ejus naturantt 
Ut naiura ipsa manum iviitata putetur. Pappus t tells us, 
that Archimedes writ a book de sph^eropceiay concerning 
the manner of framing such engines; and after him, Pos^ 
sidonius composed another discourse on the same subject; 
though now either the ignorance, or the envy of time hath 
deprived us of both those works. And yet the art itself is 
not quite perished, for we read of divers the like contri-p 
Vances in these latter times. Agrippa affirms J that he 
himself had seen 3uch a sphere ; and Ramus tells us hoiy 
lie beheld two of then^ in Paris, the one brought thither 
amongst other spoils from Sicily, and the other out of G^r-a 
many. And it is commonly reported, that there is yet 
such a sphere at Strasbourg in Germany. Rivaltus || relates 
how Marinus Burgesius a Norman made two of them in 
France for the king. And perhaps these latter (saith he) 
V^ere more exact than the former, because the heavenly re- 
Volutions are now much better understood than before, 
And besides it is questionable, whether the use of steeU 
iBprings was known in those ancient times ; the applicatioi^ 
qf which unto these kind of spheres, must needs be much 
snore convenient than weights. 

It is related also of the consul Boethius §, that aqiongst 
other mathematical contrivances, (for which he was fa- 
mous) he ma^e a sphere to represent the sun's motion \ 
iRrhich wa§ so much ajimired, and talked of in those times, 
that Gundibaldvis, king of Burgundy, did purposely send 
over ambassadors to Theodoricus the emperor, with in«f 
treaties that he would be a means to procure one of thes^ 
spheres from Boethius ; the emperor thinking hereby to 
make his kingdom more fampus and terrible unto foreign 
Rations, doth write an epistle to Boethius, persuading hini 

* Guid, Ubaldus Pr»f. ad Mechan. 

+ Collect. Mathem. Prooem, ad 1. 8. 

t De Vanit. Scient.c.22. Scjiol. Mathem. 1. 1.' So Cardan too, 1. 17. 
Alonanth. in Mecha. Arist. Com. c. 1. Dr. HackwelJ, Apol. 1. 3. c. 10, 
fpct. 1. II De Vita Archimedi*. ^ * 

^ Cassiodor. Chron, Pet. Bertiui Praef. ad Consolat. Philoi. 


to send this instrument. Quoties non sunt credituri guoti 
videinjit ? Quoties hanc veritatern lusoria somnia putabunt 9 
Et quanto fuerint a stuport converstf 7ion auiebunt se 
/equates nobis dicere^ apud qtws sciunt sapientes talia cogi-- 
tasse. So much were all these kind of inventions admired 
in those xuder and darker times: whereas the instruments 
that are now in use amongst us (though not so much ex- 
tolled) yet do altogether equal (if not exceed) the other, 
both in usefulness and subtilty. The chiefest of these 
former engines receiving their motion from weights, and 
not from springs, (which as, I said before) are of later and 
more excellent invention*. 

The particular circumstances, for which the automata 
of tliis kind are most eminent, may be reduced to these 

1 . The lastingness of th<)ir motion, witliout needing of 
any new supply ; for which ptJi*pose there have been some 
watches contrived to continue without winding up for a 
week together, or longer. 

2. The easiness and simplicity of their composition ; art 
itself being but the facilitating and contracting of ordinary 
operations; therefore the more ea^y and compendious such 
inventions are, the more artificial should they be esteemed. 
And the addition of any such unnecessary parts, as may be 
supplied some other way, is a sure sign of unskilfulness and 
ignorance. Those antiquated engines that did consist of 
such a needless multitude of wheels, and springs, and 
screws, (like the old hypothesis of the heavens) may be 
compared to the notions of a confused knowledge, which 
arc always full of perplexity and complications, and seldom 
in order; whereas the inventions of art are more regular, 
simple, and perspicuous, like the apprehensions of a distinct 
^nd thoroughly-informed judgment. In tl;iis respect the 
manner of framing the ordinary automata hathi b^en much 
bettered in these later times above the former, and shall 
hereafter perhaps be yet more advantaged. These kind of 

^ Polyd. Virgil de Invent. Ilerum> 1. 2. c. 5. Cardan SubtiL 


experiments (like all other human arts) receiving additioflv 
from every day's experiment. 

To this purpose there is an invention consisting only of 
one hollow orb or wheel, whereby tlie hours may be as 
truly distinguished, as by any ordinary clock or watch. 
This wheel should be divided into several cavities, through 
each of which successively either sand or water must be 
contrived to pass ; the heaviness of these bodies (being al- 
ways in the ascending side of the wheel) must be counter- 
poised by a plummet that may be fastened about the pulley 
on the axis: this plummet will leisurely descend, according 
as the sand by running out of one cavity into the next, doth 
make the several parts of the wheel lighter or heavier, and 
80 consequently there will be produced an equal and lasting 
motion, which may be easily applied to the distinction of 

3. The multitude and variety of those services for which 
they may be useful. Unto this kind may we refer those 
watches by which a man may tell not only the hour of the 
day, but the minute of th^ hour, tlie day of the month, the 
age and aspects of the moon, &c. Of this nature likewise 
was that larum mentioned by Walchius *, which though it 
were but (wo or three inches big, yet would both wake a 
man, and of itself light a candle for him at any set hour of 
the night. And those weights or springs which are of so 
great force as to turn a millf, (as some have l3een con^ 
trived) may be easily applied to more various and difficult 

4. The littleness of their frame. Nunquam ar^ inagis 
^uaw in minimis nola ^si (saith Aquinas.) The smallness 
of the engine doth much commend the skill of the artificer; 
to this purpose there have been watches contrived in the 
forth and quantity of a jewel for the ear, where the striking 
of the minutes may constantly whisper unto us, how our 
|ives do slide away by a swift succession. Cardan % teHs 

•* Fab. 0. t K amel. fig. 130. 

I De Subtil. 1. 2. item 1. 17. . 


US of a smith who made a watch in the jewel of a ring, to 
be worn on the finger, which did shew the hours, (rwn se» 
lum sagitta^ sed ictuj not only by the hand, but by the fin* 
ger too (as I may say) by pricking it every hour. 


Of the moveable and gradient automata^ representing th^ 
viotions of living creatures^ varums sounds^ of birdSf or 
beastSy and some of them articulate. 

THUS much of.those automata, which were said to be 
fixed and stationary. 
The other kind to be enquired after, are those that are 
moveable and transient, which are described to be such en- 
gines as move not only according to their several parts, but 
also according to their whole frames. These are a|;^ disk 
tfnguishable into two sorts; 

1. Gradient. 

2. Volant 

1. The gradient or ambulatory, are such as require some 
basis or bottom to uphold them in their motions*. Such 
were those strange inventions (commonly attributed to 
Daedalus) of self-moving statues, which (unless they were 
violently detained) would of themselves run away. Ari3- 
totle t aiSrms that Daedalus did this by putting quipksilver 
into them. But this wpuld have been too gross a way for 
%o excellent an artificer; it is more likely that he did it 
with wheels and weights. Gf this kind likewise were Vul- 
can's Tripodes, celebrated by Homer |, that were made to 
move up and down the house, and fight with one another ||. 

** Plato in Menonc. Arist.Folit. 1. 1. c.3, 
+ Dc Anima, 1. I.e. 3. 1 Iliad. 18. 

11 There have beep also chariots driyeQ by the fb^e of a spring C91H 
irived within them. 



He might as well have contrived them into joumeymca 
statues, each of which with a hammer in his hand should 
have worked at the forge. 

But amongst these fighting images, that in Cardan * may 
deserve a mention, which holding in its hand a golden 
apple, beautified with many costly jewels ; if any man of- 
fered to take it, the statue presently shot him to death. 
The touching of this apple serving to discharge several 
sliort bows, or other the like instruments that were sectetly 
couched within the body of the image. By such a treachery 
was king Chennettus murdered (as Boetius relates,) 

It h so common an experiment in these times to repre- 
sent tlie persons and actions of any story by such self-mov- 
ing images, that I shall not need to explain the manner how 
the wheels and springs are oCMtrived within the^. 

Amongst these gradient automata, that iron spider incn- 
tioned in Walchius t> is more especially remarkable, which 
being but of an ordinary bigness, besides tlie outward simi^ 
litude, (which was very exact) had the same kind of mo- 
tions with a living spider, and did creep up ^id down as if 
it had been alive. It must needs argue a wonderful art and 
accurateness, to contrive all the instruments requisite for 
such a motion in so small a frame. 

There have been also other motions contrived from 
m^netical qualities, which will shew the more wonderful, 
because there is no apparent reason of their motion, there 
being not. the least contiguity or depend ancc upon any 
other body that may occasion it ; but it is all one as if they 
should move up and down in the open air. Get a glass 
sphere, fill it with such liquoi*s as may be clear of the same 
colour, immixable, such as are oil of tartar, and spirit of 
wine : in which it is easy so to poise a little globe or other 
statue, that it shall swim in the centre. Under this glass 
sphere, there should be a loadstonp concealed > by the mp- 

* De Variet. Rerura, 1. 12. c. 58. 

f Fab. 9. There have been other inventions to move on the water. 
Navigium sponte mobile, ac siti remigii autorem, faciam nuUo negotio^ 
saith Scaligcr, £xerc. 326. 


tion of which, this statue (having a needle touched within 
it) will move up and down, and may be contrived to shew 
the hour or sign. See several inventions of this kind ia 
Kirclier de Arte Magnetica, 1.2. 

There have been some artificial images, which besides 
their several postures in walking up and down, have been 
niade also to give several sounds, whether of birds, as 
larks, cuckoos, &c. or beasts, as hares, foxes. The voices 
of which creatures shall be rendered as clearly and distinctly 
by these artificial images, as they are by those natural living 
bodies, which they represent. 

There have been some inventions also wliich have been 
able for the utterance of articulate sounds, as the speaking 
of certain words. Such are some of the Egyptian idols 
related to be. Such was the brazen head made by Friar 


Bacon *, and that statue, in the framing of which Albertus 
Magnus bestowed thirty years, broken by Aquinas, who 
came to see it, purposely that he might boast, how in one 
minute he had ruined the labour of so many years. 

Now the ground and reason how these sounds were con* 
trived, may be worth our inquiry. 

First then, for those of birds or beasts, they were made 
from such pipes or calls, as may express the several tones 
of those creatur'^s which are represented : these calls ara 
$o« commonly known and used, that they need not any fur« 
ther explication. 

But now, about articulate sounds there is much greater 
difficulty. Walchius t thinks it possible entirely to pre* 
serve the voice, or aqy words spoken, in a hollow trunk, ov 
pipe, and that this pipe being rightly opened, the words 
will come out of it in the same order wherein they were 
spoken. Somewhat like that cold country, where the peo- 
ple's discourse doth freeze in the air all winter, and may be 
heard the next summer, or at a great thaw. But this con- 
jecture will need no refutation. 

f Cocl Rhod. l^ct. An?. 1. 2. c. 17. Maiolus C6[i(X^. + Fab. 9. 


The more substantial way for such a discovery, is by 
marking how nature herself doth employ the several in- 
struments of speech, the tongue, lips, throat, teeth, &c. 
To this purpose the Hebrews have assigned each Jetter 
unto its proper instrument. And besides^ we should ob- 
serve what inarticulate sounds do resemble any of the par- 
ticular letters *. Thus we may note the trembling iff wa- 
ter to be like the letter L, the quenching of hot things to 
the letter Z, the sound of strings, unto the letters N g, the 
jirking of a switch the letter Q, &c. By an exact observa- 
tion of these particulars, it is (perhaps) possible to make Sk 
Statue speak some words. 


Concerning ihe possibility of framing an Ark for subtna-r 
rine navigations. The difficulties and conveniencies ef 
such a contrivance. 

IT will not be altogether impertinent unto the discourses 
of th^se gradient automata, to mention what Merseq- 
nus t doth so largely and pleasantly descant upon, con- 
cerning the making of a ship, wherein men may safely 
' swim under the water. 

Th^t such a contrivance is fi^asible and may be effected, 
is beyond ail question, because it hath been already expe- 
rimented here in England by Cornelius Dreble ; but how 
to improve it unto public use and advantage, so as to be 
serviceable for remote voyages, the carrying of any con- 
siderable number of men, with provisions and commodities, 
wpuld bp of such excel]ei(t use, as may deserve some furthef 

* Bacon Nat. Hist. Exper. 139. 200, 
t Tract, de Magnetis Proprietatibus. 


Concerning which there are two things chiefly conrf- 
derable. ' ' 

The many . difficulties^ with their remedies4 
The great conveniences. 

1. The difficulties are generally reducible to these three 
heads : 

1. The letting out, or receiving in any thingi as there 
shall be occasion, without the admission of water. If it 
have not such a convenience, these kind of voyages must 
needs be very dangerous and uncomfortable, both by reason 
of many noisome, offensive things, which should be thrust 
out, and many other needful things which should be re- 
ceived in. Now herein will consist the difficulty, how to 
contrive the opening of this vessel so, that any thing may 
be put in or out, and yet the water not rush into it with 
much violence, as it doth usually in the leak of a ship. ^. 

In whicli case, this may be a proper remedy ; let there 
be certain leather bags made of several bignesses, which 
for the matter of them should be both tractable for the use 
and managing of them, and strong to keep out the water ; 
for the figure of them, being long and open at both ends. 
Answerable to these, let there be divers windows, or open 
places in the frame of the ship, round the sides of which 
one end of these bags may be fixed, the other end coming 
within the ship, being to open and shut as a purse. Now 
if we suppose this bag thus fastened, to be tied close about 
towards the window, then any thing that is to be sent out, 
may be safely put into that end within the ship, which being 
again close shut, and the other end loosened, the thing may 
be safely sent out without the admission of any water. 

So again, when any thing is to be taken in, it must be 
first received into that part of the bag towards the window, 
which being (after the thing is within it) close tied about, 
the other cud may then be safely opened. It is easy to 
conceive, how by this means any thing or person may be 
sent out, or received in, as there shall be occasion ; how 
the water, which will perhaps by degrees leak into several 


parts, may be emptied out again, with divers the like ad* 
vantages. Though if there should be any leak at tlie bot- 
tom of this vessel, yet very little water would get in, be* 
cause no air could get out. 

2. The second difficulty in such an ark will be the mo- 
tion or fixing of it according to occasion : the directing of 
it to several places, as the voyage shall be designed, with- 
out which, it would be very useless, if it were to remain 
only in one place, or were to remove only blindfold, without 
any certain direction : and the contrivance of this may 
seem very difficult, because these submarine navigators will 
Want the usual advantages of winds and tides for motion^ 
and the sight of the heavens for direction. 

But tliese difficulties may be thus remedied ; as for the 
progressive motion of it, this may be effected by the help 
of several oars, which in the outward ends of them, shall 
be like the fins of a fish to contract and dilate. The pas- 
sage where they are admitted into the ship being tied about 
with such leather bags (as were mentioned before) to keep 
out the water. It will not be convenient perhaps that the 
motion in these voyages should be very swift, because ot 
those obsei*vations and discoveries to be made at the hot-* 
torn of the sea, which in a little space may abundantly re-* 
compence the slowness of its progress. 

If this ark be so ballast as to be of equal weight with 
the like magnitude of water, It will then be easily moveable 
in any part of it. 

As for the ascent of it, this may be easily contrived, if 
there be some great weight at the bottom of the ship (being 
part of its ballast) which by some cord within may be 
loosened from it : as this weight is let lower, so will the 
ship ascend from it (if need be) to the very surface of the 
water ; and again, as it is pulled close to the ship, so will it 

For direction of this ark, the mariner's needle may be 
useful in respect of the latitude of places ; and the course 
of this ship being more regular than others, by reason it is 
not subject to tempests or unequal winds, may more cer- 
tainly guide them in judging of the longitude of places. 


3. But the greatest difficulty of all will be this, how the 
air may be supplied for respiration : how constant fires 
may be kept in it for light and the dressing of food, how- 
those vicissitudes of rarefaction and condensation may- be 

It is observed, that a barrel or cap, whose cavity will 
contain eight cubical feet of air, will not serve a urinator or 
diver for respiration, above one quarter of an hour ; the 
breath which is often sucked in and out, being so corrupted 
by the mixture of vapours, that nature rejects it as unser- 
viceable. Now in an hour a man will need at least three 


hundred and sixty respirations, betwixt every one of which 
there shall be ten second minutes, and consequently a great 
change and supply of air will be necessary for many persons, 
and any long space. 

And so likewise for the keeping of fire ; a close vessel 
containing ten cubical feet of air, will not suffer a wax can* 
die of an ounce to burn in it above an hour before it be suf- 
focated ; though this proportion (saith Mersennus) doth 
not equally increase for several lights, because four flames 
of an equal magnitude will be kept alive the space of sixteen 
second minutes, though one of these flames alone in the 
same vessel will not last above thirty-five, or at most thirty 
seconds ; which may be easily tried in large glass bottles, 
having wax candles lighted in them, and with their mouth$^ 
inverted in water. 

For the resolution of this difficulty, though I will not say 
that a man may, by custom (which in other things doth 
produce such strange incredible effects) be enabled to live 
in the open water, as the fishes do, the inspiration and ex- 
piration of water serving instead of air, this being usual with 
many fishes that have lungs ; yet it is certain, that long use 
and custom may strengthen men against many such incon- 
veniencies of this kind, which to unexperienced persons 
may prove very hazardous: and so it will not perhaps be 
unto these so necessary, to have the air for breathing sp 
pure and defccated| as is required for others. 

- * 


But further^ there arc in this case these three! things con- 
siderable : 

1. That the vessel in itself should be of a large capacity, 
that as the air in it is corrupted in one part, so it may be 
purified and renewed in the other : or if the mere refrige- 
ration of the air would fit it for breathing, this might be 
somewhat helped with bellows, which would cod it by 

2. It is not altogether improbable, that the lamps or fires 
in the middle of it, like the reflected beams in the first re- 
gion, rarefying the air, and the circumambient coldness to- 
wards the sides of the vessel, like the second region, cooling 
and condensing of it, would make such a vicissitude and 
change of air, as might fit it for all its proper uses. 

3. Or if neither of these conjectures will help, yet Mer- 
sennus tells us in another place *, that there is in France 
one Barrieus a diver, who hath lately found out another art, 
whereby a man might easily continue under water for six 
hours together ; and whereas ten cubical feet of air will 
not serve another diver to breathe in for half an hour, he 
by the help of a cavity, not above one or two foot at most, 
will have breath enough for six hours, and a lantern scarce 
above the usual size to keep a candle burning as long as a 
man please, which (if it be true, and were commonly 
known) might be a sufficient help against this greatest dif- 

As for the many advantages and conveniehcies of such a 
contrivance, it is not easy to recite them. 

1. It is private ; a man may thus go to any coast of the 
world invisibly, without being discovered or prevented iu 
his journey. 

2. It is safe ; from the uncertainty of tides, and the vio- 
lence of tempests, which do never move the sea above five 
or six paces deep. From pirates and robbers which do so 
infest other voyages. From ice and great frosts, which do 
SO much endanger the passages towards the poles. 

* Harmon. I. 4. prop. G. Monit. 5. 


3. It may be of very great advantage against a navy of 
linemies, who by this means may be undermined in the 
water, and blown up. 

4. It may be of special use fdr the relief of any place that 
is besieged by water, to convey unto thpm invisible sup- 
plies ; and so likewise for the surprisal of any place that is 
accessible by waten 

5. It may be of unspeakable benefit for submarine expe- 
riments and discoveries ; as. 

The several proportions of swiftness betwixt the ascent 
of a bladder, cork, or any other light substance, in com- 
parison to the descent of stories or lead. The deep caverns^ 
and subterraneous passages, where the sea-water, in the 
course of its circulation, doth vent itself into other places* 
and the like. The nature and kinds of fishes, the several 
arts of catching them, by alluring them with lights^ by 
placing divers nets about the sides of this vessel, shooting 
the greater sort of them with guns, which may be put out 
of the ship by the help of such bags as were mentioned be- 
fore, with divers the like artifices and treacheries, which 
may be more successfully practised by such who live so fa- 
miliarly together. These fish may serve not only for food, 
but for fewel likewise, in respect of that oil which may be 
extracted from them ; the way of dressing meat by lamps, 
being in many respects the most convenient for such a 

The many fresh springs that may probably be met with, 
in the bottom of the sea, will serve for the supply of drink, 
and other occasions. 

But above all, the discovery of submarine treasures is 
more especially considerable ; not only in regard of what 
hath been drowned by wrecks, but the several precious 
things that grow there ; as pearl, coral, mines ; with innu-^ 
merable other things of great value, which may be much 
more easily found out, and fetched up by the help of tliis^ 
than by any other usual way of the urinators. 

VOL. II. o 


To which purpose, this great vessel may have some 
lesser cabins tied about it, at various distances ; wherein 
several persons, as scouts, may be lodged for the taking of 
observations, according as the admiral shall direct them: 
some of them being frequently sent up to the surface of the 
Water, as there shall be occasion. 

All kind of arts and manufactures may be exercised in 
this vessel. The observations made by it, may be both 
written, and (if need were) printed here likewise. Several 
colonies may thus inhabit, having their children bom, and 
bred up without the knowledge of land, who could not 
chuse but be amazed with strange conceits upon the disco* 
very of this upper world. 

I am not able to judge what other advantages there may 
be suggested, or whether experiment would fully answer to 
these national conjectures. But however, because the in* 
vention did unto me seem ingenious and new, being not 
impertinent to the present inquiry, therefore I thought it 
might be worth the mentioning. 


0/ the t>clani Automata^ Archytas his Dove^ and Re^ 
giofnonianus his Eagle. The possibility y and great use^ 
fulness of such inventions. 

THE volant, or flying automata, are such mechanical 
contrivances as have a self-motion, whereby they are 
carried aloft in the open air like the flight of birds. Such 
was that wooden dove made by Archytas, a citizen of Ta- 
rentum, and one of Plato's acquaintance : and that wooden 
eagle framed by Regiomontanus at Noremberg, which, by 
way of triumpbi did fly out of the city to meet Charles the 



DJCDALUS; 0&9 mechanical MOtlONS. 19^S 

Fifth. This latter author is also reported to have made an 
iron fly, Qua ex artijicis manu egtessa^ convivas circum* 
volitavit^ tandenique veliiti defessa in domini manus reversa 
est ; which, when he invited any of his friends, would fly 
to each of them round the table, and at length (as being 
weary) return unto its master *. 

Cardan t seems to doubt the possibility of any such 
contrivance: his reason is, because the instruments of it 
must be firm and strong, and consequently they will be too 
heavy to be carried by their own force ; but yet (saith he) 
if it be a little helped in the first rising, and ir there be any 
wind to assist it in the flight, then there is nothing to hinder/ 
but that such motions may be possible. So that he doth in 
effiect grant as much as may be suSicient for the truth and 
credit of those ancient relations ; and to distrust them 
without a stronger argument, must needs argue a blind and 
perverse incredibility. As for hi§ objection concerning the 
heaviness of the materials in such sm invention, it may be 
answered, tliat it is easy to contrive such springs, and other 
instruments, whose strength shall much exceed their hea- 
viness. Nor can he shew any cause why these mechanical 
motions may not be as strong, (though not so lasting) as 
the natural strength of living creatures. 

Scaliger J conceives the framing of such volant auto- 
mata to be very easy. Volantis columba machinulamf 
cujus autorem Archytam traduntj vel fdcillime profiteri 
audeo. Those ancient motions were thought to be con- 
trived by the force of some included air : so Gellius J, 

^ Dloi^. Laer. I. 8. Pet. Crinitus de honest, discip. L 17. c. 12; 

Hamus Schol. Mathem. I. 2. Dubartas 6 days, 1 W. L Dee Preface to 

t De Variet. Eerum, lib. 12. c. 58. $ Subtil. Exercit. 326, 

II Noct. Attic. 1. 10. cap. 12. where bethinks it so strange an inven- 
tion, that he styles it res abhorrens a fide. A than. Kircher de Magnete. ' 
i. 2. par. 4. Proem, doth promise a large discourse concerning these ki^d' 
of inventions in another treatise, which he styles CEdipus ^gyptiacus. 

o 2 


tta erat scilicet libramentis suspensum^ et aura spiintus nt* 
clusa, aique occulta consitumy He, As if there had been 
some Jamp, or other fire within it, which might produce 
such a forcible rarefaction, as should give a motion to the 
whole frame. 

But this may be better performed by the strength of 
some such spring, as is commonly used in watches. This 
spring may be applied unto one wheel, which shall give an 
equal motion to both the wings ; these wings having unto 
' each of them another smaller spring, by which they may 
be contracted and lifted up : so that being forcibly de- 
pressed by the strength of the great and stronger spring* 
and lifted up again by the other two ; according to this sup- 
position, it is easy to concave how the motion of flight may 
ibe performed and continued. 

The wings may be made either of several substances 
joined, like the feathers in ordinary fowl, as Daedalus i» 
feigned to contrive them, according to that in the poet» 

Jgnoias ardmum- dimittit in artes, 
Naturamque novut, nam poftit in ordine pennas 
A minimo cosptas longam breviore sequerite, 
Ut clivo crevisse putes^ SCc *. f 

Or else of one continuate substance, like those of batsw 
In framing of both which, the best guidance is to follow 
(as near as may be) the direction of nature, this being but 
an imitation of a natural work. Now in both these, thc^ 
strength of each part is proportioned to tlie force of its em- 
ployment. But nothing in this kind can be perfectly de- 
termined without a particular trial. 

Though the composing of such motions may be a suf- 
ficient reward to any one's industry in the searching afte^r 
them, as being in themselves of excellent curiosity, yet there 
are some other inventions depend upon them of more ge- 
neral benefit, and greater importance. For, if there be any 
such artificial contrivances that can fly in the air, (as is evi- 
dent from the former relations^ together with the grounds 

^ Ovid.Metam. 1.6. 


here specified, and, I doubt not, may be easily effected by 
a diligent and ingenious artificer) then it will clearly follow, 
that it is possible also for a man to fly himself; it being easy 
from the same grounds, to frame an instrument whcreia 
any one may sit, and give such a motion unto it, as shal| 
convey him aloft through the air ; than which there is not 
any imaginable invention, that could prove of greater be- 
nefit to the world, or glory to the author ; and therefore it 
may justly deserve their inquiry, who have both leisure and 
means for such experiments. 

But in these practical studies, unless a man be able to go 
tlie trial of things, he will perform but little. In such mat^- 

-"—^ Studium sine divite vend, 

(as the poet Saith *) a general speculation, without particular 
experiment, may conjecture at many things, but can cer- 
tainly effect nothing ; and therefore I shall only propose 
unto the world, the theory and general grounds that may 
conduce to the easy and more perfect discovery of the sub- 
ject in question, for the encouragement of those that have 
both minds and means for such experiments.; This same 
^holar's fate, 

Res angusta domi, and 
^T^ Curia suppellex, 

is that which hinders the promoting of learning in sundry 
particulars, and robs tlie world of many excellent inventions* 
We read of Aristotle, that he was allowed by his pupil 
Alexander eight hundred talents a year, for the payment of 
fishers, fowlers, and hunters, who were to bring him in se- 
veral creatures, that soby bis particular experience of their 
parts and dispositions, he might be more fitly prepared to 
write of their natures. The reason why the world hath not 
njany Aristotlcs, is because it hath so few Alexanders, 

Amongst other impediments of any strange invention, or 
atte^lpts, it is non^ of the meanest discouragement^, that 

* Horace. 


f hey are so generally derided by common opinion ; being 
esteemed only as the dreams of a melancholy and distem- 
pered fancy. Eusebius * speaking, with what necessity 
every thing is confined by the laws of nature, and the de- 
crees of providence, so that nothing can go out of that way 
ijnto which naturally it is designed ; as a fish cannot reside 
on the land, nor a man in the water, or aloft in the air; in- 
fers, that therefore none will venture upon any such vain 
attempt, as passing in the air, vi luKu^xoXutQ voffvuutrx eof 
«£{/T£(ro/, unless his brain be a little craved with the humour 
of melancholy ; whereupon he advises that we should not in 
any particular, endeavour to transgress the bounds of nature, 
hie orrery f%ovTa to auyjt^ rx Tm 7r7*jvwv vki tij Jfuf/v, and 
^ince we are destitute of wings, not to imitate the Sight of 
birds. That saying of the poet, 

Demens, qui r^imbos, et rion tiniiahile, fulmen, &c f, 

tath been an old censure, applied unto such as venture^ 
Vpon any strange or incredible attempt. 

Hence may we conceive the reason, why there is so little 
intimation in the writings of antiquity, concerning the pos* 
nihility of any such invention. The ancients durst not $Q 
IHuch as mention the art of flying, but in a fable. 

Ddsdalus, ut fama est, fugiens Minoia regno, 
Prtepetibus pennis atisiis se credere ccelq, 
Jnsuetum per Her gelidas enavit ad arctos, &c. 

It was the custom of those former ages, in their over- 
niuch gratjtude, to advance tlie first authors of any useful 
discovery amongst the number of their gods. And Daedalus^ 
being so famous amongst them for sundry mechanical in- 
ventions (especially the sails of ships) though they did no( 
for these place him in the heavens, yet they have promoted 
him as near as they could, feigning him to ^y aloft in 
the air, when as he did but fly in a swift ship, as Dio- 
dorus relates die historical truth on which th^t fiction i^ 
grounded }. 

• Coatra. Hierocl. Confut. I. J. ^ Virgil'g E^t^A^ L 6» 

% So ^mebius too. 



Concerning the art of Flying. The several ways whereby 
this hath been, q?' may be attempted. 

I HAVE formerly in two other discourses * mentioned 
the possibility of this art of flying, and intimated a farther 
inquiry into it, which is a kind of engagement to some 
fuller disquisitions and conjectui-es to that purpose. 

There are four several ways whereby thi* flying in the air 
hath been, or may be attempted. Two of them by the 
strength of other things, ^nd two of them by our owa 

1 . By spirits, or alngels. 

2. By the help of fowls. 

3. By wings fastened immediately to the body. 

4. By a flying chariot. 

1. For the first, we read of divers that have passed 
swiftly in the air, by the help of spirits and angelsf.f 5 
whether good aqgels, as Elias :|: was carried unto heaven in 
a fiery chariot, as Philip || was conveyed to Azotus, and 
H^bakkuk from Jewry to Babylon, and back again immedi<* 
ately § : or by evil angels, as our Saviour was carried by the 
devil to the top of a high mountain, and to the pinnacle of 
the temple 1[. Thus witches are commonly related to pas$ 
unto their usual meetings, in some remote place ; and, as 
they do s^U winds unto mariners **, so likewise are they 
sometimes hired to carry men speedily through the open 
air. Acosta ft aflirms, that such kind of passages are 
U3ual amongst divers sorcerers with the Indians at this day, 


* World m the ^Ioon, cap. 14. Mercury ; or, the Secret and Swift 
Messenger, c. 4. 
f Zanch. de Oper. part 1. 1. 4. $ 2 Kings, ii. 11. 

II Act3 viii. 39. § Dan. Apoc.39. H Lukeiv. * 

** Erastui de Lamus. tt Hist. lad. 1. 5. c. 26. 


So Kepler, in his astronomical dream, doth fancy « 
witd^ to be conveyed unto the moon by her familiar. 

Simon Magus was so eminent for miraculous sorceries, 
that all the people in Samaria, from the least to the 
^eatest, did esteem him as the great power of God ♦. 
And so fampus wa^ he at Rome, that the emperor erected 
a statue to him with this inscription, Simoni Deo sancto t» 
It is storied of this magician, that having challenged Sjaint 
Peter to do miracles with him, he attempted to fly from th^ 
Capitol to the Aventine Hill ; but when he was in the midst 
of the way, Saint Peter's prayers did overcome his sorce-» 
rics, and violently bring him tQ tjie ground ; in which falj 
Jiaving broke his thigh, within 4 while aftpr he died J. 

But none of all these relations may conduce to the disco-? 
Very of this experiment, as it is here inquired after, upon 
natural and artificial grounds. 

2. There are others, who have conjectured a possibility 
of being conveyed tlirough the air by the help of fowls , 
to which purpose, that fiction of the ganzas is the most 
pleasant and probable. They are supposed to be great 
yowl, of a strong lasting flight, and easily tameable : divers 
of which may be so brought up, as to join together in the? 
Carrying the weight of a man, so as each pf them shall 
partake his proportionable share of the burthen, and the 
person that is carried may by certain reins, direct and steer 
them in their couyses. Hpwever this may seem a strange 
proposal, yet it is not certainly more improbable th^ many 
other arts, wherein the industry of ingenious men hath in- 
>f tructed these brute creatures. And I am very confident^ 
that one vjrhose genius doth enable him for such kind of 
experiments upon leisure, and the advantage of such helps 
as are requisite for various and frequent trials, might eft 
feet some strange things by this kin^i of inquiry, 

* Acts viii. 10. t Hegesip. 1. 3. c.2. 

X Pol. Virgil, lie Inven. Herum, 1. $. c. 3. f et. Criuitus de Honeit^ 
Jpisdplin. 1. 8. c. U inistrvist^ |hi^ relation ^ fabulous. Non eninfi X^ica^ 


It IS reported as a custom amongst the Leucatians, that 
they were wont upon a superstition, to precipitate a man 
from some high clifFinto the sea, tying about him with 
strings at some distance, many great fowls, and fixing upon 
his body divers feathers, spread to break the fail ; which 
(saith the learned Bacon *, if it were diligently and exactly 
contrived) would be able to hold up, and carry any propor* 
tionable weight ; and therefore he advises others to think 
further upon this experiment, as giving some light to the 
invention of the art of flying. 

3. It is the more obvious and common opinion, that this 
may be effected by wings fastened immediately to the body, 
this coming nearest to the imitation of nature, which should 
be observed in such attempts as these. This is that way 
•which Fredericus Hermann us, in his little discourse de arte 
volandi, doth only mention and insist upon ; and if we may 
trust credible story, it hath been frequently attempted not 
without some success f. It is related of a certain English 
inonk, called Elmerus, about the Confessor'$ time, that he 
did by such wings fly from a tower above a furlong ;,and 
80 another from Saint Mark's steeple in Venice ; another 
at Norinberg ; and Busbequius speaks of a Turk in Con* 
stantinople, who attempted something this way |. M. Bur- 
ton mentioning this quotation, doth believe that some new- 
fangled wit (it is his cynical phrase) will some time or otheir 
find out this art. Though the truth is, ipost of these 
artists did unfortunately miscarry by falling down, and 
breaking their arms pr legs, yet that may be imputed to 
their want of experience, and too much fear, which must 
needs possess men in such daqgerQus and strange attempts ||. 
Those things that seeni very diflSicuIt and fearful at the first, 
may grow very facil after frequent tfial and exercise ; and 
therefore he that would effect any thing in this kind, must 
be brought up to the constant practice of it from his youth; 

* Nat. Hist, experim. 886 f So the ancient British Bladudt. 

t Eraestus Burgravus in Panoplia Fhysico-Vukania. Stunni^s k^ JLalt 
{Jngus Kesolut. 

|[ Melancholy, part 2. t^ct. 1. mem. 3, 



trying first only to use his wings, in running on Sie ground, 
as an ostrich or tame goose will do, touching the earth with 
his toes ; and so by degrees learn to rise higher, till he 
ehall attain unto skill and confidence. I have heard it from 
credible testimony, that one of our own nation hath pro- 
ceeded so far in this experiment, that he was able by the 
help of wings, in such a running pace, to step constantly ten 
yards at a time. 

It is not more incredible, that frequent practice and 
custom should enable a man for this, than for many other 
things which we see confirmed by experience. What 
strange agility and activeness do our common tumblers and 
dancers on the rope attain to by continual exercise ? It is 
related of certain Indians *, that they are able, when 4 
horse is running in his full career, to stand upright on his 
back, to turn then>selves round, to leap down, gathering up 
any thing from the ground, and immediately to leap up 
again, to shoot exactly at any mark, the horse not inter-* 
mitting his course : and so upon two horses together, the 
man setting one of his feet upon each of them. These 
things may seem impossible to others, and it would be very 
dangerous for any one to attempt them, who hath not first 
gradually attained to these arts by long practice and trial; 
and why may not such practice enable him as well for this 
other experiment, as for these things ? 

There are others, who have invented ways to walk upori 
the water as regularly and firmly as upon the land. There 
are some so accustomed to tliis element, that it hath been 
almost as natural to them as to the fish ; men that could re^- 
main for above an hour together under water. Pontanus 
mentions one, who could swim above a hundred miles* to- 
gether, from one shore to another, with great speed, and at 
all times of thfe year. And it is storied of a certain young 
man, a Sitrillan by birth, and a diver by profession, who 
had so continually used himself to the water, that he coul^ 
not enjoy his health out of it^ If at any time he staid wift 

^ MafHeus Hist. Ind. 1. 1. 


his friends on the land, he should be so toi'mentcd with ^ 
pain in his stomach, that he was forced for his healtU to 
return back again to sea ; wherein he kept his usual resi- 
dence, and when he saw any ships, his custom was to swim 
to them for relief; which kind of life he continued till he 
was an old man, and died *. 

I mention these things, to shew the great power of prac- 
tice and custom, which might more probably succeed in this 
experiment of flying (if it were but regularly attempted) 
than in such strange effects as these. 

It is a usual practice in these times, for our funambulones^ 
or dancers on the rope, to attempt somewhat like to flying, 
when they will, with their heads forwards, slide down a long 
cord extended ; being fastened at one end to the top of some 
high tower, and the other at some distance on the ground, 
with wings fixed to their shoulders, by the shaking of which 
they will break the force of their descent. It would seem 
that some attempts of this kind were usual amongst the 
Romans. To which that expression in Salvian f may re- 
fer 5 where, amongst other public shews of the theatre, he 
^lentions the Petaniinaria ; which word (saith Jo. Brassi- 
canus t) is scarce to be found in any other author, being not 
mentioned either in Julius Pollux, or Politian. It is pro- 
bably derived from the (Jreek word iceruff^tiit which signifies 
to fly, and may refer to such kind of rope dancers. 

But now, because the arms extended are but weak, and 
easily wearied, therefore the motions by them are like to be 
but short and slow, answerable it may be to the flight of 
such domestic fowl as are most contersant on the ground, 
which of themselves we seg are quickly weary ; and there-* 
fore much more would the arpi of a maOt ^^ being not na-^ 
turally designed to such a motion. 

It were therefore worth the inquiry, to consider whether 
this might not be more probably cfiected by the labour of 
(he feet, which iy:e naturally more atoong and indefatigable : 

^. Trefttiie of Cuftopa, t P© Gwber. Dei, L ^ 

^ AjasiOt, in Saivi 



in which contrivance the wings should come down from tb^ 
shoulders on each side, as in the other, but the motion of 
them should be from the legs being thrust out, and drawn 
in again one after another, so as each leg should, move both 
wings ; by which means a man should (as it were) walk or 
climb up into the air ; and then the hands and airms might 
be at leisure to help and direct the motion, or for any other 
service proportionable to their strength. Which conjecture 
is not without good probability, and some special advantages 
above the other. 

4. But the fourth and last way seems unto me altogether 
as probable, and much more useful than any of the rest 
And that is by a flying chariot, which may be so contrived 
as to carry a man within it; and though the strength of a 
spring might perhaps be serviceable for the motion of this 
engine, yet it were better to have it assisted by the labourof 
some intelligent mover, as the heavenly orbs are supposed 
to be turned. And therefore if it were made big enough to 
carry sundry persons together, then each of them in their 
several turns might successively labour in the causing of this 
motion ; which thereby would be much more constant and 
lasting, than it could otherwise be, if it did wholly depend 
on the strength of the same person. This contrivance being 
as much to be preferred before any of the other, as swim- 
ming in a ship before swimming in the water. 


A resoliUion of the two chitf difficulties that seem to oppose 

the possibility of ajlying chariot, 

THE chief difficulties against the possibility of any such 
contrivance may be fully removed in &e resolution of 
these two queries. 

1. Whether an engine of such capacity and weighs 
may be supported by so thin and light a body as the air ? 


2. Whether the strength of the persons within it may be 
sufficient for the motion of it ? 

1. Concerning the first; when Callias * was required by 
the men of Rhodes, to take up that great helepolis, brought 
against them by Demetrius, (as he had done before unto 
some less which he himself had made) he answered that 
it could not be done. Nonnulla enim sunt giue in exem* 
plaribus videniur similia^ cum autem crescere caeperunt^ rfi- 
labuntur f. Because those things that appear probable in 
lesser models, when they are increased to a greater propor- 
tion, do thereby exceed the power of art. For example, 
though a man may make an instrument to bore a hole, an 
inch wide, or half an inch, and so less ; yet to bore a hole 
of a foot wide, or two foot, is not so much as to be thought 
of. Thus, though the air may be able to uphold some 
lesser bodies, as those^ of birds, yet when the quantity of 
them is increased to any great extension, it may justly be 
-doubted, whether they will not exceed the proportion that 
is naturally required unto such kind of bodies. 

To this I answer, that the engine can never be too big or 
too heavy, if the space which it possesses in the aii*, and Uic 
motive-faculty in the instrument be answerable to it« 
weight. That saying of Callias was but a groundless shifts 
and evasion, whereby he did endeavour to palliate his own 
ignorance and disability. The utmost truth which seems 
to be implied in it, is this : that there may be some bodies 
of so great a bigness, and gravity, that it is very difficult to 
apply so much force unto any particular instrument, as shall 
be able to move them. 

Against the example it may be affirmed and easily proved, 
that it is equally possible to bore a hole of any bigness, as 
well great as little, if we suppose the instrument, and the 
strength, and the application of this strength to be propor- 
tionable ; but because of the difficulty of these concurrent 
circumstances in those greater and more unusual operations, 
therefore do they falsely seem to be absolutely impossible. 

%-VitniYius Aichit. 1. 1 0« e. 22. f So RamuS| Schol. Mathem. 1. 1 . 


earth, are able to continue their motion for a long time anif 
way, with little labour or weariness. , . 

It is certain from common relation and experience that 
inany birds do cross the seas for divers hundred miles to- 
gether*. Sundry of them amongst us, which are of a 
•hort wing and flight, as blackbirds, nightingales, &c. do 
fly from us into Germany, and other remoter countries. 
And mariners do conamonly affirm that they have found 
some fowl above six hundred miles from any land. Now if 
we should suppose these birds to labour so much in those 
long joumies, as they do when they fly in our sight and 
near the earth, it were impossible for any of them to pass 
so far without resting. And therefore it is probable, that 
they do mount unto so high a place in the air, where the 
natural heaviness of their bodies does prove but little or no 
impediment to their flight : though perhaps either hunger, 
or the sight of ships, or the like accident, may sometimes 
occasion their descending lower ; as we may guess of those 
birds which mariners have thus beheld, and divers others 
that have been drowned and cast up by the sea. 

Whence it may appear, that the motion of this chariot 
(though it may be diflicult at the first) yet will still be easier 
Us it ascends higher, till at length it shall become utterly 
devoid of gravity, when the least strength will be able to 
bestow upon it a swift motion : as I have proved more at 
large in another discourse f* 

But then, (may some object) if it be supposed that a man 
in the aethereal air does lose his own heaviness, how shall 
he contribute any force towards the motion of this instru-^ 
ment ? 

I answer, the strength of any living creature in these ex- 
ternal motions, is something really distinct from, and su- 
peradded unto its natural gravity : as common experience 
may shew, not only in tlie impression of blows or violent 
motions, as a river hawk will strike a fowl with a far greater 
force, than the mere descent or heaviness of his body could 

* Flin. 1. 10. c.g3« t World in the Moon, cap. 14. 

« .■ 


possibly perform : but also in those actions which are done 
without such help, as tlic pinching of the finger, the biting 
of the teeth, &c. all which are of much greater strength'- 
than can proceed from the mere heaviness^of those parts. 

As for the other, particular doubts, concernijig the ex- 
treme thinness and coldness of this artbereal air, by reason 
of which, it may seem to be altogether impassible, I have 
already resolved them in the above-icited discourse. 

The uses of such a chariot may be various : besides the 
discoveries which might be thereby made iii tlie lunary 
world, it would be serviceable also for the conveyance of a 
man to any remote place of this earth : as suppose to the 
Indies or antipodes. For when once it was elevated for 
some few miles, so as to be above that orb of magnetic 
virtue, whi«:h is carried about by the earth's diurnal revo- 
lution, it might then be very easily and speedily directed to 
any particular place of this great globe* 

If the place which we intended were under the same 
parallel, why then the earth's revolution once in twenty- 
four hours, would bring it to be under us ; so that it would 
be but descending in a straight line, and we might presently 
be there. If it were under any other parallel, it would then 
only require that we should direct it in the same meridian, 
till we did come to that parallel ; and then (as before) a 
man might easily descend unto it. 

It would be one great advantage in this kind of travelling, 
that one should be perfectly freed from all inconveniencies 
of ways or weather, not having any extremity of heat or 
cold, or tempests to molest him. This aethereal air being 
perpetually in an equal temper and calmness. Pars su- 
perior viundi ordinatior estj nee in nub em eogiiury nee in 
tempestateyn irnpellitur^ nee versatur in turhinemy omni 
tuviultu carets inferior a fulminant *. The upper parts of 
the world are always quiet and serene, no winds and blus- 
tering there, they are these lower cloudy regions that are 
so full of tempests and combustion. 

* Sen de Ira, I. 3. c. 6. Pacem summa tencnt. Lucaa. 



As for the manner how the force of a spring, or (instead 
of that) the strength of any living person, may be applied to 
the motion of these wings of the chariot, it may easily he 
apprehended from what was formerly delivered. 

There are divers other particulars to be more fully in- 
quired after, for the perfecting of such a flying chariot ; as 
concerning the proportion of tlie wings both for the length 
and breadth, in comparison to the weight which is to be 
carried by them * ; as also concerning those special con- 
trivances, whereby the strength of these wings may be se- 
verally applied, either to ascent, descent, progressive, or a 
turning motion ; all which, and divers the like inquiries can 
only be resolved by particular experiments. We know the 
invention of sailing in ships does continually receive some 
new addition from the experience of every age, and hath 
been a long while growing up to that perfection unto which 
it is now arrived. And so must it be expected for this like- 
wise, which may at first perhaps seem pei*plexed with many 
difficulties and inconveniencies, and yet upon the experience 
of frequent trials, many things may be suggested to make it 
more facil and commodious. 

He that would regularly attempt any thing to this pur- 
pose, should observe this progress in his experiments ; he 
should first make inquiry what kind of wings would be most 
useful to this end ; those of a bat being most easily imitable, 
and perhaps nature did by them purposely intend some in- 
timation to direct us in such expcrinjcnts ; that creature 
being not properly a bird, because not amongst the (rjipara, 
to imply that other kind of creatures are capable of flying 
as well as birds ; and if any should attempt it, that would be 
the best pattern for imitation. 

After this he may try what may be effected by the force 
of springs in lower models, answerable unto Archytas his 
dove, and Regiomontanus his eagle : in which he must be 
careful to observe the various proportions betwixt the 

* As well too long as too short, too broad as too narrow, may be an 
impediment to the motion, by making it more difficiili, slow, ai\d flag- 



Strength of tht spring, the heaviness of the body, tbe 
breadth ciFthe icings, the swiftness of the motion, itcj. 

From these he may by degrees ascend to some larger 


Of a perpetual' motion. The seefiiing facility and ^eal 
difficultif of any such contrivance. The several Ways 
whereby it hath been attemptedy particularly by chy* 

IT is the chief inconvenience of all the automata before^ 
mentioned, tliat they need a frequent repair of new 
strength, the causes whence their motion do6s proceed 
being subject to fail, and come to a period j and therefore 
it would be worth our inquiry^ to examine whether or no 
there may be made any such artificial contrivance, which 
might have the principle of moving from itself; so that the 
present motiorl should constantly be the cause of that whidx 

This is that great secret in art, which, like the philoso- 
pher's stone in nature, hath been the business and study of 
many more refined wits, fot divers ages together ; and it 
jflnay well be questioned, whether either of them as yet hath 
ever been found out ; though if this have, yet, like the 
other, it is not plainly treated of by any author. 

Not but that there are sundry discourses concerning this 
subject, but they are rather conjectures than experiments. 
And though many inventions in this kind, may at first view 
bear a great shew of probability, yet they will fail, being 
brought to trial, and will not answer in practice what they 
promised in speculation. Any one who hath been versed in 
these experiments must needs acknowledge that he hath 
been often deceived in his strongest confidence ; when the 
imagination hath contrived the whole frame of such an in* 

V 2 




strument, and conceives that the event must infallibly an* 
swer its hopes, yet then docs it strangely deceive in the 
proof, and discovers to us some defect which we did not 
before take notice of. 

Hence it is, that you shall scarce talk wifh any one who 
hath never so little smattering in these arts, but he will in- 
stantly promise such a motion, as being but an easy at- 
chievement, till further trial and experience hath taught 
him the difficulty of it. There being no inquury that does 
more entice with the probability, and deceive with the sub- 
tilty. What one speaks wittily concerning the philoso- 
pher's stone, may be justly applied to thiSt^ai it is casta 
meretrixy a chaste whore ; quia rrmUos imdtaU neminem 
admittity because it allures many, but admits none. 

I shall briefly recite the several wtfjfB whereby this hath 
been attempted, or seems most likely to be effected; | 
thereby to contract and facilitate the inquiries of those who 
are addicted to these Idnd of experiments ; for when they 
know the defects of other inventions, they may the more 
easily avoid the same, or the like in their own. 

The ways whereby this hath been attempted, may be 
generally reduced to these three kinds : 

1. By chymical extractions. 

2. By magnetical virtues. 

3. By the natural affection of gravity. 

1. The discovery of this hath been attempted by chy- 
mistry. Paracelsus and his followers have bragged, that by 
their separations and extractions, they can make a little 
world which shall have the same perpetual motions with 
this microcosm, with the representation of all meteors, 
thunder, snow, raio, the courses of the sea in its ebbs and 
flows, and the like ; but these miraculous promises would 
require as great a faith to believe them, as a power to per- 
form them: Md though they often talk of such great 

At niisquam toi09 inter qui talia curant, 
jipparet ullus, qui re jnirdcula tanta 
Comprohet ■ ' " ■ 


yet we can never see them confirmed by any real experi- 
ment ; and then besides, every particular author in that art 
hath such a distinct language of his own, (all of them being 
80 full of allegories and affected obscurities) that it is very 
bard for any one (unless he be thoroughly versed amongst ^ 

them) to find out what they mean, much more to try it. 

One of these ways (as I find it set down *) is thi«. Mix 
five ounces of 5 , witli an equal weight of y , grind them 
together with ten ounces of sublimate, dissolve them in a 
cellar upon some marble for the space of four days, till 
they become like oil olive; distil this with fire of chaff, or 
driving fire, and it will sublime into a dry substance: and so 
by repeating of these dissolvings and distillings, there will 
be at length produced divers small atoms, which being put 
into a glass well luted, and kept dry, will have a perpetual , 

motion. ' ^ * 

I cannot say any tiling from experience against this; but 
methinks it does not seem very probable, bedlose things 
that are forced up to such a vigorousness and activity as 
these ingredients seem to be by their frequent sublimatings 
and distillings, are not likely to be of any duration; the 
more any tiling is stretched beyoiid its usual nature, tbo 
less does it last; violence and perpetuity being no compa- 
nions. And then besides, suppose it true, yet such a mo- 
tion could not well be applied to any use, which must needs * 
take much from the delight of it. 

Amongst the chymical experiments to this purpose, may 
be reckoned up that famous motion invented by Cornelivs 
Dreble, and made for king James f; wherein was repre- 
sented the constant revolutions of the sun and moon, and 
that without the help either of springs or weights. Mar- 
cellus VranckheinJ, speaking of the means whereby it 
was perfonned, he calls it, scintillula aimaa ma^neticie 
fnundh sea astralis et imciisibiiis spiritus; being that grand 

* Etten. Mathem. Rccreat. prob. 118. 

t Celebrated in an epigram by Hugo GrotluSi 1. I. 

J Epist. ad Erncstum do Lamp. Vitae. 



secret, for the discovery of which, those dictators of plU« 
losophy, Democritus, Pytliagoras, Plato, did travel. unto th^ 
gymnosophists, and Indian priests. The author himself 
in his discourse upon it, does not at all reveal the way how 
it was performed. But there is one Thomas Tymme *t 
who was a familiar acquaintance of his, and did often pry 
into his works, (as he professes himself) who aflirms it to 
be done thus ; by extracting a fiery spirit out of tlie inineral 
matter, joining the same with his proper air, which included 
in the axletree (of the first moving wheel) being hollow, 
carrieth the other wheels, making a continual rotation, ex- 
cept issue or vent be given in this hollow axletree, whereby 
the imprisoned spirit may get fqrth t« 

What strange things may be done by such extractions, I 
know not, and therefore dare not condemn this relation as 
impossible ; but methinks it sounds rather like a chymical 
dream, than a philosophical Uuth. It seems this impri- 
soned spirit is now set at liberty, or else is grown weary, 
for the instrument (as I have heard) hath stood still for 
many years. It is here considerable that any force is 
weakest near the centre of a wheel ; and therefore though 
such a spirit might of itself have an agitation, yet it is not 
easily conceivable how it should have strength enough to 
cany the wheels about with it. And then the absurdity of 
the author's citing this, would make one mistrust his mis- 
take ; he urges it as a strong argument against Copernicus, 
as if because Dreble did thus contrive in an engine the re- 
volution of the heavens, and the immoveableness of the 
earth, therefore it must needs follow that it is the heavens 
which are moved, and not the earth. If his relation were 
no truer than his consequence, it had not been worth the 


4 O 

* Epist. ad Jacobum Regem. 

t Philosophical DiaJogue, Confer. 2. cap. 3. 




Of subterraneotis lamps; divers historical relations con- 
cerning their duration for many hundred years to-^ 

UNTO this kind of chymical experiments, we may 
most probably reduce those perpetual lamps, which 
for many hundred years together have continued burning 
without any new supply in the sepulchres of the ancients, 
and might (for ought we know) have remained so for ever. 
All fire, and especially flame, being of an active and stir^ 
ring nature, it cannot therefore subsist without motion; 
whence it may seem, that this great enquiry hath been this 
way accomplished : and therefore it will be worth our ex- 
amination to search further into the particulars that concern 
this experiment. Though it be not so proper to the chief 
purpose of this discourse, which concerns mechanical geo- 
metry, yet the subtilty and curiosity of it may abundantly 
requite the impertinency. 

There are sundry authors, who treat of this subject on 
the by, and in some particular passages, but none that I 
know of (except Fortunius Licetus*) that hath writ pur- 
posely any set and large discourse concerning it ; out of 
whom I shall borrow many of those relations and opinions, 
which may most naturally conduce to the present enquiry. 
For our fuller understanding of this, there are these par-r 
ticulars to be explained: 

1 . $Th or quod sit. 
f cur sit, 
^- ^'^^' Xquomidosit. 
1. First then, for the oT/, or that there have been such 
lamps, it may be evident from sundry plain and undeniable 
testimonies: St. Aastin f mentions one of them in a temple 

* Lib. de reconditis Amiquorum Lucernis. 
t DeCivitat. Dei,1.2l.c. 6. 


dedicated to Venus, which was always exposed (o the open 
weather, and could never be consumed or extinguished. 
To him assents the judicious Zanchy*. Pancyrollus t 
mentions a lamp found in lus time, in the sepulchre qf 
TuUia, Cicero's daughter, which had continued there for 
about 1550 years, but was presently extinguished upon the 
admission of new air. And it is commonly related of Ce- 
drenus, that in Justinian's time there was another burning 
lamp found in an old wall at Edess^ J, which had remained 
so for above 500 years, there being a crucifix placed by it, 
whence it should seem, that they were in use also amongst 
some christians. 

But more especially remarkable is that relation celcr 
brated by so many authors, concerning Olybius's lamp^ 
which had continued burning for 1500 years. The story is 
thus: as a rustic was digging the ground by Padua, he found 
an urn or earthen pot, in which there was another urn, and 
in this lesser, a lamp clearly burning ; on each side of it 
there were two other vessels, each of them full of a pure 
liquor; the one of gold, the other of silver. £gQ chymue 
artisy (simodo vera potest esse ars chymia) jurare ausim 
elernenia et materiani ^omniunh (saith Maturantius, who 
had the possession of Jhese things after they were taken up.) 
On the bigger of these urns there was this inscription : 

Plutofii sacrum niwins ne atfingitefures, 

Ignotum est vobis hoc quod in orbe latet, 
I^amque elenienta gravi cluusit digesta labore 

Fase sub hoc modico, Maximus Olyhius. 
Adsil fcccutido ciistos sibi ccpia cornu, 

Ne taiiti pretiinn depereat ladcis. 

The lesser urn was thus inscribed : 

Abite hiuc pessimifures, 

Vos quid vultis, ves/ris cum oculis emissitis T 

Abite hiriCy vestro cum Mercurio 

Petasato caduceaipque, 

Dommi hoc maximum ^ Afaximus Oli/bius 

Plutoni sacrum Jaclt, 

* De Operibus Dei, pars 1. 1. 4. c. 12. f IJe deperd. Tit. 35. 

J Or Andoch. Licetus de Lucernis, 1. 1, c. 7. 

1 ' 


'' ' . ' I 

Whence we may probably conjecture that it was some 
chymical secret, by which this was contrived. 

Baptista Porta * tells us of another lamp burning in an 
old marble sepulchre, belonging to some of the ancient 
Romans, inclosed in a glass vial, found in his time, about 
the year 1550, in the isle Nesis, which had been buried 
there before our Saviour's coming. 

In the tonib of Pallas, the Arcadian who was slain by 
Turnus in the Trojan war, there was found another burning 
lamp, in the year of our Lord 1401 1« Whence it should 
seem, that it had continued there for above two thousand 
and six hundred years : and being taken out, it did remain 
burning, notwithstanding either wind or water, with which 
some did strive to quench it ; nor could it be extinguished 
till they had spilt the liquor that was in it. 

Ludovicus Vives J tells us of another lamp, that did con- 
tinue burning for 1050 years, which was found a little be- 
fore his time. 

Such a lamp is likewise related to be seen in the sepul- 
chre of Francis Rosicrosse, as is more largely expressed in 
the confession of that fraternity. 

There is another relation of a certain man, who upon oc- 
casion digging somewhat deep in the ground did meet with 
something like a door, having a wall on each hand of it i 
from which having cleared the earth, he forced open this 
door, upon this there was discovered a fair vault, and to- 
wards the further side of it, the statue of a man in armour, 
sitting by a table, leaning upon his left arm, and holding a 
sceptre in his right hand, with a lamp burning before him 5 
the floor of this vault being so contrived, that upon the 
first step into it, the statue would erect itself from its leaning 
posture ; upon the second step it did lift up the scepter to 
strike, and before a mdfn could approach near enough to 
take hold of the lamp, the statue did strike and break it to 

* Mag. Natural. 1. 12. cap. ult, 

t Chron. Martin. Fort. Licet, de Lucem. 1. 1. c. 11. 

X Not. ad August, de Civit. Dei, 1. 21. c. §. 


pieces : such care was there taken that it might not be stolen 
away, or discovered. 

Our learned Cambden in his description of Yorhshire * 
speaking of the tomb of Constantius Chlorus, broken up in 
these later years, mentions such a lamp to be found 
within it. 

There are sundry other relations to this purpose. 2iwd 
itdlucei^nas attm^tj ill^ in omnibus fere numuTn^iis inve- 
fiiuntur^ (saith Gutherius f.) In most of the ancient monu- 
ments there is some kind of lamp, (though of the ordinary 
sort :) but those persons who were of greatest note and 
wisdom, did procure such as might last without supply, for 
so many ages together. PanciroUus % t^Us us, that it was 
usual for the nobles amongst the Romans, to take special 
care in their last wills, that they might have a lamp in their 
monuments. And to this purpose they did usually give li-- 
berty unto some of their slaves on this condition, that they 
should be watchful in maintaining and preserving it. From 
all which relations, the first particular of this enquiry, con- 
cerning the being or existence of such lamps, may suffice 
fcntly appear. 


Several opinions concerning the nature and reason tf these 

perpetual Lamps. 

THERE are two opinions to be answered, w:hich do 
utterly overtlirow the chief consequence from these 

1. Some think that these lights so often discovered in the 
ancient tombs, were not fire or flame, but only some of 
those bright bodies v^hich do usually shine in dark 

* Pag. 572. + De Jure Manium, 1. 2. c.32. 

% De perdit. Tit. 62. 



2. Others grant them to be fire, but yet think them to 
be then first enkindled by the admission of new air, when 
these sepulchres were opened. 

1. There are divers bodies (saith Aristotle*) which shine 
in the dark, as rotten wood, the scales of some fishes, 
stones, the glowworm, the eyes of divers creatures. Car-* 
dan t tells us of a bird in New Spain, called cocoyum, 
whose whole body is very bright, but his eyes almost equal 
to the light of a candle, by which alone in a dark night, one 
may both write and read : by these the Indians (saith he) 
used to eat their feasting suppers. 

It is commonly relate^ and believed, that a carbuncle 
does shine in the dark like a burning coal, from whence it 
hath its name J. To which purpose there is a story in 
-^lian II of a stork, that by a certain woman was cured of a 
broken tliigh, in gratitude to whom, this fowl afterwards 
flying by her, did let fall into her Jap a bright carbuncle, 
which (saith he) would in the night time shine as clear as a 
lamp. But tliis and the like old relations are now generally 
disbelieved and rejected by learned men: doctissimorum 
omnium consensUy hujusrrwdi gemma non inveniuntuVy (saith 
Boetius de Boot§) a ma i very much skilled in, and inqui- 
sitive after such matters ; nor is there any one of name that 
does from his own eye-sight or experience, affirm the real 
existence of any gem so qualified. 

Some have thought that the light in ancient tombs hath 
been occasioned from some such bodies as these ^. For if 
there had been any possibility to preserve fire so long a 
space, it is likely then that the Israelites would have known 
the way, who were to keep i^ perpetually for their sa- 

But to this opinion it might be replied, that none of these 
noctilucK, or night-shining bodies have been observed in 
any of the ancient sepulchres, and therefore this is a mere 

* De Anima, 1.2. C.7.. f Su')Lil. 1. 9. 

% Carlo Pyropu*. || Histona Anim. L 8- 

§ De Lapid. et Gemmis, 1. 2. e. 8. 
% Vide Licet, de Lucem. 1. 2^ 



imaginary conjecture; and then besides, some of these 
lamps have been taken out burning, and continued so for a 
considerable space afterwards. As for the supposed con- 
veniency of them, for the perpetuating of the holy &e 
amongst the Jews, it may as well be feared lest these should 
have occasioned their idolatry, unto which that nation was 
so strongly addicted, upon every slight occasion ; nor may 
it seem strange, if the providence of God should rather 
permit this fire sometimes to go out, that so by their ear- 
nest prayers, being again renewed from heaven, (as it 
sometimes was*) the people's faith might be tlie better stir- 
red up and strengthened by such frequent miracles. 

2. It is the opinion of Gutherius f, that these lamps have 
not continued burning for so long a space, as they are sup* 
posed in the former relations; but that they were then 
first enflamed by the admission of new air, or such other 
occasion, when the sepulchres were opened : as we see in 
those fat earthy vapours of divers sorts, wjiich are often- 
times enkindled into a flame. And it is said, that there 
are some chymical ways, whereby iron may be so heated, 
that being closely luted in a glass, it shall constantly retain 
the fire for any space of time, though it were for a thou- 
sand years or more ; at the end of which, if the glass be 
opened, and the fresh air admitted, the iron shall be as red 
hot as if it were newly taken out of the fire. 

But for answer to this opinion, it is considerable that 
some urns have had inscriptions on them, expressing that 
the lamps within them were burning, when they were first 
burled. To which may be added the experience of those 
which have continued so for a good space afterwards ; 
whereas the inflammation of fat and viscous vapours does 
presently vanish. The lamp which was found in the isle 
Nesis, did burn clearly while it was inclosed in the glass, 
but that being broken, was presently extinguished. As fo^ 
th^t idtiymical relation, it may rather serve to prove that 


* Levit.ix. 24. 2 Chron. vH. 1. 1 Kings xviii. 38. 
t De Jure Manium, 1. 2. c. 3i\ 


fire may continue so many ages, without consuming any 

So that notwithstanding the opposite opinions, yet it i» 
more probable that there have been such lamps as have 
remained burning> without any new supply, for many hun- 
dred years together ; which was the first particular to be 

2. Concerning the reason why the ancients were so 
careful in this particular, there are divers opinions. Some 
think it to be an expression of their belief, concerning the 
soul's immortality, after its departure out ojF the body ; a 
lamp amongst the Egyptians being the hieroglyphic of 
life. And therefore they that could not procure such 
lamps, were yet careful to have the image and representa- 
tion of them engraved on their tombs. . 

Others conceive them to be by way of gratitude to those 
infernal deities, who took the charge and custody of their 
dead bodies, remaining always with them in their tombs, 
and were therefore called dii manes. 

Otliers are of opinion, that these lamps were only in- 
tended to make their sepulchres more pleasant and light- 
some, that they might not seem to be imprisoned in a dis- 
mal and uncomfortable place. True indeed, the dead body 
cannot be sensible of this light, no more could it of its want 
of burial ; yet the same instinct which did excite it to the 
desire of one, did also occasion the other. 

Licetus * concludes this ancient custom to have a ^double 
end. 1. Politic, for the distinction of such as were nobly 
born, in whose monuments only tliey were used. 2. Na- 
tural, to preserve the body and soul from darkness ; for it 
was a common opinion amongst them, that the souls also 
were much conversant about those places where tlie bodies 
were buried. 

* De Lucemis, 1. 3. c. 8, 



JThe most probable conjecttafe^ how these lamps vsert 


THE greatest difficulty of this enquiry doth consist in 
this last particular, concerning the manner how, or 
by what possible means any such perpetual flame may be 

For the discovery of which, there arc two thidgs to be 
more especially considered. 

1. The snuff, or wick, which must administer unto the 

2. The oil, which must nourish it. 

For the first, it is generally granted that there arc divers 
substances which will retain fire without consuming: such 
is that mineral which they call the salamanders wool, salth 
our learned Bacon *. Ipse expertiis sum villas salamandrse 
rum consumi, saith Joachimus Fortius f* And Weaker J, 
from his own knowledge, affirms the same of plumeallum, 
that being formed into the likeness of a wick, will administer 
to the fiame, and yet not consume itself. Of this nature 
likewise was that which the ancients did call linum vivumHf 
or asbestinum : of this they were wont to make garments, 
tliat were not destroyed, but purified by fire ; and whereas 
the spots or foulness of other clothes are washed out, id 
these they were usually burnt away. The bodies of the 
ancient kings were wrapped in such garments, when they 
were put in the funeral pile, that their ashes might be 
therein preserved, without the mixture of any other §. The 
materials of them were not firom any herb or vegetable^ as 
other textiles, but from a stone called amiantus; which 

* Nat, Hist. Exper, 774. f Lib. Exper. 

X De Secretis, 1. 3. c. 2. 

II Orlinumcarpasium. Plutarch, de Oracul. Defectu. 
§ Plm. Hist. 1. 19. c. 1, 


being bruised by a hammer, and its earthly nature shaken 
out, retains certain hairy substances, which may be spun 
and woven, as ^mp or flax. Pliny says, that for thepre- 
ciousness of it,it did almost equal the price of pearls. 
, Pancirollus* tolls us, that it was very rare, and esteemd|(r. 
precious in antient times, but now is scarce found or known 
in any places, and therefore he reckons it amongst the 
things that are lost. But L. Vives f afSrms, that he hath 
often seen wicks made of it at Paris, and the same matter 
woven into a napkin at Lovaine, which was cleansed by 
being burnt in the fire. 

It is probable from these various relations, that there were 
several sorts of it; some of a more precious, other of a 
baser kind, that was found in Cyprus, the deserts of India, 
and a certain province of Asia ; this being comnion in some 
parts of Italy, but is so short and brittle, that it cannot be 
spun into a thread; and therefore is useful only for the 
wicks of perpetual lamps; saith Boetius de Boot J. Some 
of this, or very like it, J have upon enquiry lately procured 
and experimented ; but whether it be the stone asbestus, 
or only plumeallum, I cannot certainly affirm; for it seems 
they are both so very like, as to be commonly sold for one 
another (saith the same author.) However, it does truly 
agree in this common quality ascribed unto both, of being 
incombustibJe, and not consumable by fire: but yet there 
is this inconvenience, that it doth contract so much fuligi- 
nous matter from the earthly parts of the oil, (though it 
was tried with some of the purest oil which is ordinary to 
be bought) that in a very few days it did choke and extin- 
guish the flame. There may possibly be some chymical 
way, so to purify and defecate tliis oil, that it shall not 
spend into a sooty matter. 

However, if the liquor be of a close and glutinous con- 
sistency, it may burn without any snufF, as we see in cam- 
phire, and some other bituminous substances. And it is 

* De pcrd. Tit. 4. f In August, de Civit. Dei, 1. 21. c, 6. 

% De Lapid. et Gcmmis, 1. 2, c. 204. 


probable that most of the ancient lamps were of this kind, 
because the exactcst relations (to my remembrance) do not 
mention any that have been found with such wicks. 

But herein will consist the greatest difficulty^, to find out 
what invention there might be for their duration : concern- 
ing which there are sundry opinions. 

St. Austin * speaking of that lamp in one of the heathen 
temples, thinks that it might either be done by magic, (the 
devil thinking thereby to promote the worship and esteem 
of that idol to which it was dedicated) or else, that the art 
of man might make it of some such material, as the stone 
asbestus, which being once kindled, will bum without being 
consumed f . As others (saith he) have contrived as great 
a wonder in appearance, from the natural virtue of another 
stone, making an iron image seem to hang in the air, by 
reason of two loadstones, the one being placed in the ceil- 
ing, the other in the floor. 

Otliersare of opinion, that this may be effected in a hol- 
low vessel, exactly luted or stopped up in all the vent? of 
it : and then, if a lamp be supposed to burn in it but for the 
least moment of time, it must continue so always, or else 
there would be a vacuum, which nature is not capable of. 
If you ask how it shall be nourished, it is answered, that 
the oil of it being turned into smoke and vapours, will again 
be converted into its former nature ; for otherwise, if it 
should remain rarified in so thin a substance, then there 
would not be room enough for that fume which must suc- 
ceed it; and so on the other side, there might be some 
danger of the penetration of bodies, which nature doth as 
much abhor. To prevent both which, as it is in the chy- 
mical circulations, where the same body is oftentimes 
turned from liquor into vapour, and from vapour into liquor 
again ; so in this experiment, the same oil shall be turned 
into fume, and that fume shall again convert into oil. Al- 
ways provided, that this oil which nourishes the lamp, be 

* DeCiv. Dei, I. 21. c. 6. 

t Zanch. de Operibus Dei, par. 1. 1. 4, c. 12. 


JbJfeDALUS; dR/kEdHAl^ldAL MbTiol^S. lJ25 

^tipposed of so close and tenacious a substance, that may 
Mowly evaporate^^and so there Will be the more leisure for 
liature to perfect these circulations. According to which 
contrivanccji the ^mp within this vessel can never fiiil, be- 
ing always supplied with sufficient nourishment. That 
which was found in the isle Nesis, iftcldsed in a glass-vial, 
mentioned by Baptista Porta, is thought to be made after 
some such rtianner as this. ' 

Others conceive it possible to extradt such ail oil out of 
some minerals, which shall for a long space serve to nou- 
rish the flame of a lamp, with very little or no expenCe of 
its own substance *. To which purpose (say they) if gold 
be dissolved into an unctuous bumoiir, or if the radical 
moisture of that metal were separated, it might be, contrived 
to burn (perhaps for ever, or at least) for tnany ages toge- 
ther, without being consumed. For, if gold itself (as ex- 
perience shews) be so untameable by the fire, that after 
many meltings and violent heats, it does scarce diminish, 
it i§ probable then, that being dissolved into an oily sub-^ 
stance, it might for many hundred years together continue 

There is a little chymical diseourse, to ptove that urim 
and thummim is to be made by art. The author of this 
treatise affirms that place. Gen. vi. 16. where God tells 
Noah, a window shalt thou niake in the ark, to be very 
unfitly rendered in our translation, a window; because the 
original word ^MTi: signifies properly splendour, or light : and 
then besides, the air being at that time so extremely dark- 
ened with the clouds of that excessive rain, a window could 
be but of very little use in regard of light, unless there were 
some other help for it. From whence he conjectures, that 
both this splendour, and so likewise the urim and thummim 
were artificial chymical preparations of light, answerable to 
these subterraneous lamps ; or in his own phrase, it was the 
universal spirit fixed in a transparent body. 

♦ Wolphang. Lazius, 1.3.c. 18. Camb. Brit.p 513. 
VOL. XI. <L 



It is the opinion of Licetus*, (who hath more exactly 
searched into the subtilties of this enquiry ) that fire does 
not need any humour for the nourishment of it, hut only 
to detain it from flying upwards: for, heing in itself one of 
the chief elements (saith he out of Theophrastus) it were 
absurd to think that it could not subsist without something 
to feed it. As for that substance which is consumed by it, 
this cannot be said to foment or preserve the same fire, but 
only to generate new. For the better understanding of 
this, we must observe, that there may be a threefold pro- 
portion betwixt fire, and the humour, or matter of it. Either 
the humour does exceed the strength of the fire, or the 
fire does exceed the humour; and according to both these, 
the fiame doth presently vanish. Or else lastly, they may 
be both equal in their virtues, (as it is betwixt the radical 
moisture, and natural heat in living creatures) and then nei- 
ther of them can overcome, or destroy the other. 

Thoseancient lamps of such long duration, were of this 
latter kind : but now, because the qualities of heat or coldi 
dryness or moisture in the ambient air, may alter this equa- 
lity of proportion betwixt them, and maJce one stronger 
than the other; therefore to prevent this, the ancients did 
hide these lamps in some caverns of the earth, or close 
monuments. And hence is it, that at the opening of these, 
the admission of new air unto the lamp does usually cause 
so great an inequality betwixt the flame and the oil, that it ' 

is presently extinguished. 

But still, the greatest difficulty remains how to make any 
such exact proportion betwixt an unctuous humour, and j 

such an active quality as the heat of fire ; or this equality 
being made, it is yet a furtlier difficulty, how it may be 
preserved. To which purpose, Licetus thinks it possible to 1 

extract an inflammable oil from the^tone asbestus, amiantus, i 

or the metal gold; which being of the same pure and ho- ' 

mogeneous nature with those bodies, shall be so propor- 
tioned unto the heat of fire, thatit cannot be eonsum(^ by it ; 



tnif ^dbg once inflamed, should continue for many ages, 
witbout any sensible diminution. 

If it be in the power of chymistry to perform such strange '^f 

efiects, as are commonly experimented in that which they 
call aurum fulminans, one scruple of which shall give a 
louder blow, and be of greater force In descent, than half a 
pound of ordinary gunpowder in ascent; why may it not be 
as feasible by the same art, to extract such an oil as is here 
enquired'* after ? since it must needs be more difficult to 
make a fire, (which of its own inclination shall tend down- 
wards) than to contrive such an unctuous liquor, wherein 
fire shall be maint4ined for maay years without any new 

Thus have I briefly set down the relations and opinions 
of divers learned men, concerning these perpetual lamps ; 
of which^ though there have been so many sundry kinds, 
and several ways to make them, (some being able to resist 
any violence of weathers, others bfeing easily extinguished 
by any little alteration of the air, some being inclosed 
round about within glass, others being open;) yet now 
they are all of them utterly perished amongst the other 
ruins of time ; and those who are most versed in the search 
after them, have only recovered such dark conjectures, 
from which a man cannot clearly deducq^aoy evident prin« 
ciple, that may encourage him to a particuhf triaL 


Concerning several attempts of contriving a perpetml vtof, 

tint by magnetical virtues. 

THE second way whereby the making of a perpetual 
motion hath been attempted, is by magnetical virtues ; 
which are not without some strong probabilities of proving 
eflectualto this purpose: especially when we consider, that 
the heavenly revolutions, (being aa the first pattern imi* 


-t ,v 


tated and aimed at in these attempts) are all of them p^- 
formed by the help of these qualities. This great orb of 
earth, and all the other planets, being but as so many mag- 
neticai globes, endowed with such various and continual 
motions, as may be most agreeable to the purposes for 
which they were intended. And therefore most of the 
authors *, who treat concerning this invention, do agree, 
that the likeliest way to effect it, is by these Idnd of qua- 

It was the opinion of Pet. Peregrinus, and there is an. 
example pretended for it in Bettinus, (Apiar. 9. Progym. 5, 
pro. 11.) that a magnetical globe, or terella, being rightly 
placed upon its poles, would of itself have a constant rota^ 
tion, like the diurnal motion of the earth: but this is com- 
monly exploded, as being against all experience. 

Others t think it possible, so^o contrive several pieces of 
steel and a loadstone, that by their continual attraction and 
expulsion of one another, they may cause a perpetual revo* 
lution of a wheel. Of this opinion were Taisner|, Pet. 
Peregrinus ||, and Cardan §, out of Antonius de Fantis. But 
D. Gilbert, who was more especially versed in magnetical 
experiments, concludes it to be a vain and groundless 

But amongst all these kind of inventions, that is most 
likely, wherein a loadstone is so disposed, that it shall 
draw unto it on a reclined plane, a bullet of steel, which 
steel as it ascends near to the loadstone, may be contrived 
to fall down through some hole in the plane, and so to re- 
turn unto the place from whence at first it began to move ; 
and being there, the loadstone will again attract it upwards, 
till coming to this hole, it will fall down again; and so the 
motion shall be perpetual, as may be more easily conceiva* 
ble by this figure. 

* Gilbert <ie Magnet. Cabxus Vhilos. Magnet. 1. 4. c. 20. 

t Athanas.Kircher, de Arte Magnet. 1. 1 . par. S.prop. l5. item 1.3. p. 4. 

X Tract, de motu continuo. 

II De Rota perpetui Motus, par. 2. c. 3. 

i De Varieu Rerum, I d. c. 48. De Magnet. L 2. Ck 3I». 


Suppose the loadstone to be represented at A B, which, 
though it have not strength enough to attract the huUet C 
direcdy fiooi the ground, yet may do it by the help of the 
plane EF' Now.^when the bullet is come to the top of 
this plane, its own gravity (which is supposed to exceed the 
strength of the loadstone) will make it fall into that bole at 
E ; and the force it receives in this fall, will carry it with 
such a violence unto the other end of this arch, that it will 
open the passage which is there made for it, and by its te- 
turn will again shut it ; so that the bullet, (as at the first) is 
in the same place whence it was attracted* and conse- 
quently must move perpetually. - . 

But however this jnvenUoa may s«cm to be of such 
Strong probability, yet there are sundry particulars which 
may prove it insufficient : for, 

1. This bullet of steel must first be touched, and have 
Its several poles, or else there can be litde or no attraction 
of it. Suppose C in the steel to be aijswerable unto A io. 
the stone, and to B ; in the attraction, C D must always be- 
directed answerable to A B, and so the jnotion will he 
more difficult, by reason there can be no rotation, or turn- ' 
ing round of the bullet, but it must slide up with the line 
C D, answerable to the axis A B. 

2. In its fall from K to G, which is motas elamentaris, 
and proceeds from its gravity, there must needs be a rota- 
tion of it, and so it is odds but it happens wrong in the rise, 
the poles in the bullet being not in the same direction to 


those in the magnet: and if in this reflux» it should so fall 
out) that D should be directed towards B» there should be 
rather a flight than an attraction, since thote two ends do 
repel, and not draw one another. 

3. If the loadstone A B have so much strength, that it 
can attract the bullet in F when it is not turned round, but 
does only slide upon the plane, whereas its own gravity 
would roll it downwards ; then it is evident, the sphere of 
its activity and strength would be so increased when it ap- 
proaches much nearer, that it would not need the assistance 
of the plane, but would draw it immediately to itself without 
that help ; and so the bullet would not fall down through 
the hole, but ascend to the stone, and consequently cease 
its motion : for, if the loadstone be of force enough to draw 
the bullet on the plane, at the distance F B, then most the 
3trength of it be sufficient to attract it immediately unto it- 
self, when it is so much nearer as £ B. And if die gravity 
of the bullet be supposed so much to exceed the strength of 
the magnet, that it cannot draw it directly when it is so near, 
then will it not be able to attract the bullet pp the plane, 
when it is so much further off. 

So that none of all the$e magnetical experiments, which 
have been as yet discovered, are sufficient for the effecting 
of a perpetual motion, though these kind of qualities seem 
most conducible unto it, and perhaps hereafter it may be I 

contrived from them. ' 


J'he seeming probability of effecting a continual motion by 
solid weights^ in a hollow wheel or sphere. 

THE third way whereby the making of a perpetual po- 
tion hath been attempted, is by the natural affection 
of gravity ; when the heaviness of several bodies is so con* 
trived, that the same motion which they give in their def> 
§Q^ntf may be able to parry them up again. 



But, (against the possibility of any such invention) it is 
thus objected by Cardan *. All sublunary bodies have a 
direct motion either of ascent, or descent; which, because 
it does refer to some term, therefore cannot be perpetual, 
but must needs cease, when it is arrived at the place unto 
which it naturally tends. 

I answer, though this may prove that there is no natural 
motion of any particular heavy body', which is perpetual, 
yet it doth not hinder, but that it is possible from them to 
contrive such an artificial revolution, as shall constantly be 
the cause of itself. 

Those bodies which may be servigeable to this purpose, 
are distinguishable into two kinds. 

1. Solid and consistent, as weights of metal, or the like. 

2. Fluid, or sliding ; as water, sand, &c. 

Bodi these ways have been attempted by many, though 
with very little or no success. Other men's conjectures in 
this kind you may see set down by divers authors f. It 
would be too tedious to repeat them over, or set forth their 
draughts. I shall only mention two new ones, wliich (if I 
am not over-partial) seem altogether as probable as any of 
these kinds that have been yet invented ; and till experience 
had discovered their defect sind insufficiency, I did certainly 
conclude them to be infallible. 

The first of these contrivances was by solid weights being 
placed in some hollow wheel or sphere, unto which they 
should give a perpetual revolution : for (as the philosopher t 
Juith largely proved) only a circCilar motion can properly be 

But for the better conceiving of this invention, it is re^ 
quisite that we rightly understand some prihciples in iro- 
chilics, or the art of wheel-instruments : as chie6y, the re- 
lation betwixt the parts of 3: wheel, and those of a balance; 
the several proportions in the semidiameter of a ^heel, 

* Subtil. 1. 17, De Var. Kerum, 1. 9. c. 48. 
t D. Flud. Tract. 2. pars 7. 1. 2. c, 4. et 7. 
J Arist,Phy».1.8,c. 12 


being answerable to the sides In a balance, where the 

weight is multiplied according to its distance irom tho 

Thus, suppose the centre to be at A, and the diameter 
of the wheel D C to be divided into equal parts (as is here 
expressed) it is evident, according to the former groufld, 
that one pound at C will equiponderate to five pound at B, 
because there is such a proportion betwixt their several dis- 
tances from the centre. And it is not material, whether 
or no tliese several weights be placed horizontally; for 
though B do hang lower than C, yet this ^oes not at ail 
concern the heaviness; or though the plummet C were 
placed much higher than it is at £, or lower at F, yet would 
it still retain the same weight which it had at C; because 
these plummets (as in the nature of all heavy bodies) do 
tend downwards by a strait line : so that their several gra- 
vities are to be measured by that part of the horizontal 
Bemidiameter, which is directly either below or above them, 
T)iuB when the plummet C shall be mored either to G Of 

t Ariit.Mecban'C.2. Den 



H> it will lose i of its former heaviness, and be equally 
ponderous as if it were placed in the balance at number 3 ; 
and if we suppose it to be situated at I or K, then the weight 
of it will lie wholly upon the centre, and not at all conduce 
to the motion of the wheel on either side. So that the 
Strait lines which pass through the divisions of the diameteff 
may serve to measure the heaviness of any weight in its 
several situations. 

These things thoroughly considered, it seems very pos- 
sible and easy for a man to contrive the plummets of a 
wheel, that they may be always heavier in their fall, than in 
their ascent i and so consequently, that they should give a 
perpetual motion to the wheel itself; since it is impossible 
for that to remain unmoved, as long as one side in it is hea- 
vier than the other. 

For the performance of this, the weights must be so or- 
dered. 1. 'that in their descent they may fall froix| the 
centre, and in their ascent may rise nearer to it. 2. That 
the fall of each plummet may begin the motion of that 
Vgbkh $hould $ucceed it. As in this following diagram ; 


Where there are 1 6 plummets, 8 in the inward circlep 
and as mfU^y in the outward, (thp inequality being to ari$e 



from their situation, it is therefore most colivenient that At 
number of them be even.) The 8 inward plumniet& are 
supposed to be in themselves so much heavier than the 
other, that in the wheel they may be of equal weight with 
those above them, and then the ^11 of these will be of suf- 
ficient force to bring down the other. For example, if the 
outward be each of them four ounces, then the inward must 
be five ; because the outward is distant from the centre five 
of those parts, whereof the inward is but four. Each pair 
of these weights should be joined together by a little string 
or chain, which must be fastened about the middle, betwixt 
the bullet and the centre of that plummet which is to &U 
first, and at the top of the other. 

When these bullets in their descent are al their farthest 
distance from the centre of the wheel, then shall they be 
stopped, and rest on the pins placed to that purpose ; and 
so in their rising, there must be other pins to keep them in 
a convenient posture and distance fcotn the centre, lest 
approaching too near unto it, they thereby becoitte unfit to 
fall, when they shall come to the top of the descending 

This may be otherwise contrived with some different cir- 
cumstances, but they will all redound to the same efiect 
By such an engine it seems very probable, that a man may 
prod uce a perpetual motion. Tlie distance of the plununeta 
from the centre increasing their weight on one side, and 
their being tied to one another, causing a constant succes* 
sion in their falling. 

But now, upon experience I have found this to be falla* 
cious, and the reason may sufficiently appear by a calcula- 
tion of the heaviness of each plummet, according to it$ se- 
veral situation ; which may easily be done by those perpen-> 
diculars that cut the diameter, (as was before explained, 
and is here expressed in five of the plummets on the de^ 
scending side.) From such a calculation it will be evident, 
that both the sides of this wheel will equiponderate ; and so 
consequently that the supposed inequality whence the mo- 
tion should proceed, is but imaginary and groundlQ8$. Qa 



the descending side, the heaviness of each plumnoiet may be 
measured according to these numbers, (supposing the dia* 
meter of the wheel to be divided into twenty parts, and 
each of those sub-divided into four.) 

The outward plummets. The inward plummets* 

^ 10 V The sum 24. •<!J ^> 

Li 0) (3 0) 

The sum I9« 

On the ascending side, the weights are to be reckoned 
according to these degrees. 

The outward. The inward. 

4 1 

The sum 24. ^52^ ^^^ ^""* ^^* 

2 1 

The sum of which last numbers is equal with the formeiv 
and therefore both the sides of such a wheel, in this situa- 
tion will equiponderate. 

If it be objected, that the plummet A should be contrived 
to pull down the other at B, and then the descending side 
will be heavier than the other. 

For answer to this, it is considerable, 

1. That these bullets towards the top of the wheel, 
cannot descend till they come to a certain kind of inclina- 
tion* ^ V 

2. That any lower bullet hanging upon the other above 
it, to pull it down, must be conceived, as if the weight of it 
were in that point where its string touches the upper; at 
which point this bullet will be of less heaviness in respect 
of the wheel, than if it did rest in its own place: so tha^ 
both the side$ of it, in any kind of situation may equipon^ 



Of composing a perpettial motion by fluid weights. Con- 
cerning Archimedes^ s water-screw. The great probabi- 
lity of accomplishing this enquiry by the help of thati 
with the fallibleness of it upon experiment. 

THAT ithich I shall mention as the last way, for the 
trial of this experiment; is by contriving it in some 
water-instrument ; which may seem altogether as probable 
and easy as any of the rest ; because that element by reason 
of its fluid and subtle nature (whereby of its pwn accord it 
searches out the lower and more narrow passages) may be 
most pliable to the mind of the artificer. Now the usual 
means for the ascent of water, is either by suckers or forces, 
or something equivalent thereunto : neither of which may 
be conveniently applied unto such a work as this, because 
there is required unto each of them so much or more 
strength, as may be answerable to the full weight of the 
water that is to be drawn up ; and then besides, they move 
for the most part by fits and snatches, so that it is not easily 
conceivable, how they should conduce unto such a motion, 
which by reason of its perpetuity must be regular and 

But amongst all other ways to this purpose, that invention 
of Archimedes is incomparably the best, which is usually 
called cochlea, or the water-screw ; being framed by the 
helical revolution of a cavity about a cylinder. We faafe 
not any discourse from the author himself concemiiq>;^iJt^ 
nor is it certain whether he ever writ any thing to this pux^ 
pose. But if he did, yet as the injury of time hath deprived 
us of many other his excellent works, so likewise of this 
amongst the rest. 

Athenaeus* speaking of that great ship built by Hiero, 
in the framing of which, there were three huudre4 earpe^n 

* Peipnoiop. L 5. 



tcrs employed for a year together, besides many other hire- 
lings for carriages, and such servile works ; mentions this 
instrument as being instead of a pump for that vast ship ; 
by the help of which, one man might easily and speedily 
drain out the water, Uiough it were very deep. 

Diodorus Siculus* speaking of this engine,, tells us, that 
Archimedes invented it when he was in Egypt, and that it 
was used in that country, for the draining of those pits and 
lower grounds, whence the waters of Nilus could not re- 
turn. C()iAoTf%V8 y oyros rs opyiti/H xa6' VTfp3oA*|v, (saith the 
same author.) It being an engine so ingenious and artifi- 
cial, as cannot be sufficiently expressed or commended. 
And so (it should seem) *the smith in Milan conceived it to 
be, who having without any teaching or information found 
it out, and therefore thinking himself to be the first inven- 
tor, fell mad with the mere joy of it t* , 

The nature and manner of making this, is more largely 
handled by Vitruvius J. 

The figure of it is after this manner : 



Where you see there is a cylinder A A, and a spiral ca- 
vity or pipe twining about it, according to equal revolutions 

* BibUoth. K 1. f G^dan. Subdl. 1. 1. De Sapient. L 5. 

t Architect. 1.10. c. IK , 



B B. The axis and centers of its motions are at the pointi 
C D ; upon which being turned, it will so happen, that the 
same part of the pipe which was now lowermosty will pre- 
sently become higher, so that the wat^r does ascend by 
descending ; ascending in comparison to the whole instru- 
ment, and descending in respect of its several parts. This 
being one of the strangest wonders amongst those many 
wherein these mathematical arts do abound, that a heavy 
body should rise by falling down, and the farther it passes 
by his own natural motion of descent, by so much 
higher still shall it ascend ; which though it seem so evi* 
dently to contradict all reason and |>hilosophy, yet in this 
instrument it may be manifested both by demonstration 
and sense. 

This pipe or cavity, for the matter of it, cannot easily be 
made of metal, by reason of its often turnings ; but for 
trial, there might be such a cavity cut in a colunm of wood, 
and afterwards covered over with tin-plate. 

For the form and manner of making this screw, Vitruvius 
does prescribe these two rules: 

1. That there must be an equality observed betwixt the 
breadth of the pipe, and the distance of its several circmh* 

2. That there must be such a proportion betwixt the 
length of the instrument, and its elevation, as is answerable 
to the pythagorical trigon. If the hypotenusal, or screw be 
five, the perpendicular or elevation must be tliree, and the 
basis four*. / 

However, (with his leave) neither of these proportions 
are generally necessary, but should be varied accordii^ to 
other cucumstances. As for the breadth of the pipe in 
respect of its revolutions, it is left at liberty, and may be 
contrived according to the quantity of water which it should 
contain. The chief thing to be considered, is the obliquity 
or closeness of these circumvolutions. For the nearer 
they are unto one another, the higher may the instrument 

* David Kvalc. Com. in Archim. opera eatter. 


be erected ; there being no other guide for its true elevation 
but this. 

And because the right understanding of this particular is 
one of the principal matters that concerns the use of this 
engine, therefore I shall endeavour with brevity and per- 
spicuity to explain it. The first thing to be enquired after* 
is, what kind of inclination these helical revolutions of the 
cylinder have unto the horizon; which may be thus found 


Let A B represent a. cylinder with two perfect revolu- 
tions in it, unto which cylinder the perpendicular line C D 
is equal; the basis D £ being supposed to be double unto 
the compass or circumference of the cylinder. Now it is 
certain, that the angl6 C £ D, is tlic same witli that by 
which the revolutions on the cylinder arc framed, and that 
the line E C, in comparison to the basis E D, does shew 
the inclination of these revolutions unto the horizon. The 
grounds and demonstration of this arc more fully set down 
by Guidus Ubaldus, in his Mechanics, and that other trea- 
tise De Cochlea, which he writ purposely for the explica- 
tion of this instrument, where the subtilties of it are largely 
and excellently handled. 

Now if this screw which was before perpendicular, be 
nipposed to decline unto the horizon by Uie angle F BG, as 
in this second &ure ; 




flicn the inclination of the revolutions in it will be increased 
by the angle EDH; though these revolutions will still re- 
main in a kind of ascent, so that water cannot be turned 
through them. 

But now, if the screw be placed so far declining, that the 
angle of its inclination F B G, be less than the angle EC D» 
in the triangle; as in this other diagram under the former; 
then the revolutions of it will descend to the horizon, as 
does the line EC; and in such a posture, if the screw be 
turned tound, water will ascend through its cavity. Whence 
it is easy to conceive the certain declination, wherein any 
screw must be placed for its own conveyance of water up- 
wards. Any point betwixt H and D being in descent, but 
yet the more the screw declines downwards towards D, by 
so much the more water will be carried up by it. 

If you would know the just quantity of water which every 
revolution does contain and carry, according to any incli* 
nation of the cylinder; this may be easily found, by ascrib- 
ing on it an ellipsis, parallel to the horizon; which ellipsis 
will shew how much of the revolution is empty, and how 
much full *. 

The true inclination of the screw being found, together 
with the certain quantity of water which every helix does 
contain ; it is further tonsiderable, that the water by this 
instrument does ascend naturally of itself, without any 

* See a further explication of this in Ubaldus de Cochlea, L 2. prop. S5. 



Violence or labour ; and that the heaviness of it does lie 
chiefly upon the centres or axis of the cylinder, both its 
sides being of equal weight saith Ubaldus * : so that (it 
should seem) though we suppose each revolution to have an 
equal quantity of water, yet the screw will remain with any 
part upwards, (according as it shall be set) without turning 
itself either way. And therefore the least strength being 
added to either of its sides, should make it descend, ac- 
cording to that common maxim of Archimedes t.; any ad- 
dition will make that which equiponderates. with another^ 
to tend downwards. 

But now, because the weight of this instrument, and the 
water in it does lean wholly upon the axis, hence is it (saith 
Ubaldus) that the gratkig and rubbing of these axes against 
the sockets wherein they are placed, will cause some inep- 
titude and resistency to that rotation of the cylinder ; which 
would otherwise ensue upon the addition of the least 
weight to any one side ; but (saith the same author) any 
pdwer that is greater than this resistency which does arise 
from the axis, will serve for the turning of it round. 

These things considered together, it will hence appear, 
how a perpetual iliotion may seem easily contrivable. 
For if there were but such a water-wheel made on this in- 
strument, upon which the stream that is carried up niay fall 
in Its descent, it would turn the screw round, and by that 
means convey as much water up as is required to move it ; 
so that the motion niust needs be continual, since the same 
weight which in its fall does turn the wheel, is by the turning 
of the wheel carried up again. 

Or if the water falling upon one wheel, would not be 
forcible enough for this effect, why then there might be two 
or three, or more, according as the length and elevation of 
tlie instrument will admit : by iMfftich means, the weight of 
it may be so multiplied in the fall, that it shall be equiva- 

* Ubaldus de Cochlea, 1. 3. prop. 4. 
t De j£quipond. Suppos. 3. 



lent to twice or thrice that quantity of water which ascends. 
As may be more plmnly discerned by tb'a followix% dia- 
gram : 

Where the figure L M, at the bottom, does represent a 
wooden cylinder with helical cavities cut in it ; which at 
A B, is supposed to be covered over with tin-plates, and 
three water-wheels upon it H I K. The lower cistern 
which contains the water being C D. Now this cylinder 
being turned round, all tlie water which from the cistern 
ascends through it, will fall into the vessel at E, and from 
that vessel being conveyed upon the water-wheel H, shaU 
consequently give a circular motion to the whole screw : or 
if this alone should be too weak for tlie turning of it, tliea 
the same water which falls from the wheel H, being re- 
ceived into the other vessel F, may from thence again de- 
scend 00 the wheel I ; by which means Uie force of it will 


be doubled *. An^if this be yet insufficient, then may the 
water which falls on the second wheel I, be received into 
the other vessel G, «nd from thence again descend on the 
third wheel at K : and so for as many other wheels as the 
instrument is capable of. So that besides the greater dis- 
tance of these three streams from the centre or axis, by 
which they are made so much heavier, and besides, that -the 
fall of this outward water is forcibly and violent, whereas 
the ascent of that witliin is natural; besides all this, there 
is thrice as much water to turn the screw, as is carried up 
by it. , 

But on the other side, if all the water falling upon one 
wheel, would be able to turn it round, then half of it would 
serve with two wheels ; and the rest may be so disposed of 
in the fall, as to serve unto some other useful delightful 

When I first thought of this invention, I could scarce 
forbear with Archimedes to cry out ev^^ciy ev^Hciy it seem- 
ing so infallible a way for the effecting of a perpetual mo- 
tion, that nothing could be so much as probably objected 
against it : but upon trial and experience I find it altogether 
insufficient for any such purpose, and that for these two 
reasons : 

1 . The water that ascends will not make any consider- 
able stream in the fall. 

2. This stream (though multiplied) will riot be of force 
enough to turn about the screw. 

1. The water ascends gently, and by intermissions ; but 
it falls continuately, and with force ; each of the three ves- 
sels being supposed full at the first, that so the weight of 
the water in them might add the greater strength and 
swiftness to the streams, that descend from them. Now 
this swiftness of motion will cause so great a difference be- 
twixt them, that one of these little streams may spend 

* There is another like contrivance tb this purpose in Pet. Bettin 
Apiar. 4. Pogym. 1. Prop. 10. but with much less advantage than it it 
here proposed. 


more water in the fall, than a stream six times bigger in the 
ascent, though we should suppose both of them to be con- 
tinuate : how much more then, when as the ascending 
water is vented by fits and intermissions ; every circumvo- 
lution voiding only so much as is contained in one helix ? 
and in this particular, one that is not versed in these kind 
of experiments, may be easily deceived. 

But secondly, though there were so great a disproportioa, 
yet notwithstanding, the force of these outward streams 
might well enough serve for the turning of the screw; 
if it were so, that both its sides would equiponderate the 
water being in them (as Ubaldus hath affirmed.) But now, 
upon farther examination, we shall find this assertion of 
his to be utterly against both reason and experience. 
And herein does consist the chief mistake of this con- 
trivance : for the ascending side of the screw is made by 
the water contained in it, so much heavier than the de- 
scending side, that these outward streams thus applied, 
will not be of force enough to make them equiponderate, 
much less to move the whole ; as may be more easily 
discerned by this fig. 

Where A B represents a screw covered over, C D E one 
heUx, or revolution of it, C D the ascending side, E D the 
descending side, the point D the middle. Thie horizontal 
line C F, shewing how much of the helix is filled with wa- 
ter, viz. of the ascending side, from C the beginning of the 
helix, to D the middle of it ;.and^!lia the descendin|[ iside. 


from D the middle, to the point G, where the horizontal 
does cut the helix. Now it is evident, that this latter part 
D G, is notliing near so much, and consequently not so 
heavy as the other D C. And thus is it iii all the other re- 
volutions ; which, as they are either more or larger, so 
will the difficulty of this motion be increased. Whence it 
will appear, that the outward streams which descend, must 
be of 80 much force, as to countervail all that weight 
whereby the ascending side in every one of these rcvolu- 
lutions does exceed the other. And though this may be 
effected by making the, water-wheels larger, yet then the 
motion will be so slow, that the screw will not be able to 
supply the outward streams. 

There is anotlier contrivance to this purpose, mentioned 
by Kircher de Magnete, 1. 2. p. 4. depending upon the heat 
of the sun, and the force of winds ; but it is liable to such 
abundance of exceptions, that it is scarce worth the men- 
tioning, and does by no means deserve the confidence of 
any ingenious artist. 

Thus have I briefly explained the probabilities and de- 
fects of those subtle contrivances, whereby the making of 
a perpetual motion hath been attempted. I would be loth 
to discourage the inquiry of any ingenious artificer, by de- 
nying the possibility of effecting it with any of these me- 
chanical helps * : but yet (I conceive) if those principles 
which concern the slowness of the power, yi comparison to 
the greatness of the weight, were rightly understood, and 
thoroughly considered, they would make this experiment to 
seem (if not altogether impossible) yet much more difficult 
than otherwise perhaps it will appear. However, the in- 
quiring after it cannot but deserve our endeavours, as being 
one of the most noble amongst all these mechanical subtle- 
ties. And (as it is in the fable of him who dug the vine- 
yard for a hid treasure, though he 'Id not find the money, 
yet he thereby made tlie ground more fruitful ; so) tliough 
we do not attain to the effecting of this particular, yet our 

* TreatJCd of before, I. 1. c. 


searching after it may discover so many other excellent sub- 
tleties, as shall abundantly recompense the labour of our 

And then besides, it may be another encouragement, to 
consider the pleasure of such speculations which do ravish 
and sublime the thoughts with more clear angelical content- 
ments. Archimedes was generally so taken up in the de- 
light of tliese mathematical studies of this familiar siren, (as 
Plutarch * stiles them) that he forgot both his meat and 
drink, and other necessities of nature; nay, that he neglected 
the saving of his life, when that rude soldier, in the pride 
and haste of victory, would not give him leisure to finish 
his demonstration. What a ravishment was tliat, when 
having found out the way to measure Hiero*s crown, he 
leaped out of the bath, and (as if he were suddenly pos-r 
sessed) ran naked up and down, crying fi^i^x^, ev^vinct ! It 
is storied of Thales, that in his joy and gratitude for one of 
these mathematical inventions, he went presently to the 
temple, and there offered up a solemn sacrifice. And Py- 
thagoras, upon the like occasion, is related to have sa- 
crificed a hundred oxen. The justice of providence having 
so contrived it, that the pleasure which there is in the suc- 
cess of such inventions, should be proportioned to the 
great difficulty and labour of their inquiry. 

* Oixtin; xrtt (Tj^fiiit Tiuvv^' Plutarch. Marcell. Joan. Tzctzcs, Chil. 2, 
Hist, 35. Valcr. Maxim. 1. 8. c. 7. 







Whkh was printed by order of the Royal Society, 1 668. 

IT appears by the autlior's dedication to the president, 
council, and fellows of the royal society, that they had 
several times required his papers of him relating to this 
subject, and'that in obedience to their orders, he had re- 
duced them into method. He tells them, he was not so 
vain as to think he had finished this great undertaking with 
all the advantages of which it was capable : nor was he so 
diffident of his essay, but that he thought it sufficient for 
what it pretended to, viz. the distinct expression of all 
things and notions that fall under discourse. He was sen- 
sible of sundry defects in several parts of the book, and 
therefore desired they would appoint some of their number 
to consider the whole, and to offer their observations as to 
what they thought fit to be amended. Accordingly several 
of the society, as appears by the Philosophical Transac- 
tions of Monday, May 18, 1668, were appointed to answer 
his desire, for the furthering and facilitating the practice of 
what he aimed at. But what progress they made in it does 
not appear. Our author was sensible that his design might 
lie neglected as other good designs had done ; and the only 
expediei^t he could think of to prevent it, was, that it might 
be sent abroad with the approbation of the royal society. 


which might provoke at least the learned part of the world 
to take notice of, and encourage it, according as they should 
think it deserved. 

The advantages proposed by this philosophical language 
were, the facilitating of mutual commerce among the se- 
veral nations of the world; the improving of natural know- 
ledge ; and the propagation of religion : our author was also 
of opinion, that it might contribute much to the clearing of 
some modern differences m religion, by unmasking many 
wild errors that shelter themselves under the disguise of 
affected phrases: which being philosophically unfolded, 
and rendered according to the genuine and natural im- 
portance of words, would appear to be inconsistencies and 
contradictions ; and several of these pretended mysterious 
profound notions, expressed in big swelling words, by which 
men set up for reputation, being this way examined, would 
either appear to be nonsense, or very jejune.% But what- 
ever might be the issue of this attempt, as to the establi^- 
ing of a real character, and bringing it into common vtst 
among several nations of the world, of which our author 
had but very slender expectations, yet of this he was con- 
fident, that the reducing of all things and notions to such 
kind of tables as he proposed, were it as completely done as 
it might be, would prove the shortest and plainest way for 
the attainment of real knowledge, that had yet been of- 
fered to the world. To which he added, that he thought 
his tables, as now they are, were a much better and readier 
course for training up men in the knowledge of things, than 
any other way that he knev^of And indeed since his de- 
sign of the real diaracter is wholly neglected, that seems 
now to be the principal use of the book, und alone makes it 
truly valuable. 

In his preface to the reader he gives an account how he 
dmc to engage in this work, viz. that by his converse with 
Dr. Seth Ward, then bishop of Salisbury, upon the various 
desiderata, proposed by learned men to be still wanting to 
the advancement of several parts of learning, he found this 
of an universal character, to be one of the principal and 

I " 


most feasible, if regularly prosecuted; but most of tliose 
who had attempted any thing like it, mistook their founda- 
tion, by proposing a character according to some particular 
language, without reference to the nature of things, and that 
common notion of them wherein mankind agrees : this sug- 
gestion gave him the first distinct apprehension of the pro- 
per course to be taken for advancing such a design. 

He says It was a considerable time after this before he 
attempted it; and the first occasion of it was ; his desire to 
assist another person in framing a real character from the 
natural notion of things. In order to promote that person's 
design, he drew up the tables of substances, or the species 
of natural bodies, reduced under their several heads, much 
the same as they are published in this Essay. But the per- 
son thinking this method of too great a compass, and con- 
ceiving that he could provide for all the chief radicals in a 
tnucb shorter and easier way, he did not make use of the 
doctor's tables. Our author however being convinced that 
this was tlie only way to effect such a work, and being un- 
willing to lose so much pains, he went on with the other 
tables of accidents, and then attempted the reduction of all 
other words in the dictionary to these tables, either as they 
were synonimous to them, or to be defined by them; 
which was a true way to try the fulness of those tables ; and 
likewise a help to learners, who without such a direction, 
might not perhaps be able at first to find out the true place 
and notion of many words. 

For the farther compleating of this work, our author found 
it necessary to frame such a natural grammar, as might be 
suited to the philosophy of speech, abstracting from many 
unnecessary rules belonging to instituted languages. 

He takes notice of the assistance he received firom hisr 
learned firiends in several faculties; particularly from Mr. 
Francis Willoughby, as to the several species of animals'; 
from Mr. John Ray, as to the tables of plants ; and for the 
other principal difficulties from Dr. William Lloyd, than 
whom he knew none fitter, because of his accurate judg- 
ment in philology and philosophy ; and to him particularly 


he owed the suiting the tables to the dictionary, and the 
drawing up of the dictionary itself, which he doubts not will 
be found the most perfect ever yet made for the English 

It is observable however, that though he mentions others 
of his friends by name, from whom he had any light or help 
towards this design, he does not at all name Mr. George 
Dalgarno, a Scotch gentleman, born at Aberdeen, and bred 
in the university there, who printed a book upon the same 
subject, and with the same, view, before him. This is th^ 
more remarkable, because Dr. Wilkins's own name is 
printed in the margin of King Charles the Second's letter, 
prefixed to Mr. Dalgarno's book, as one of tliose who in- 
formed his majesty of Mr. Dalgarno's design ; and ** ap- 
proved it as a thing that might be of singular use to facilitate 
an intercourse between people of different languages, and 
consequently a proper and effectual means for advancing 
all the parts of real and useful knowledge, civilizing barba* 
rous nations, propagating, the gospel, and increasing traffic 
and commerce ; which prevailed with his majesty to grant 
his said letters of recommendation to as many of his sub- 
jects, especially the clergy, as were truly apprehensive and 
sensible of the defectiveness of art, chiefly in this particular 
of language, what a great loss mankind is at thereby, how 
acceptable it would be before God, and praiseworthy among 
meay to encourage and advance those ways of learning, 
wherein the general good of mankind is intended ; that such 
persons would, as their affections shall incline them, and 
their places enable them, put their helping hands to the 
banging forth this (as yet) infant design, now sticking in the 

These are the words of his majesty's letters, wherein he 
was pleased to declare he would give some token of hi^ 
royal favour for the helping forward that so laudable an4 
hopeful enterprize. 

There is no conjecture to be made why the Bishop 
should have forborne to natne*this gentleman, but what i& 
to be collected from his own epistle, and from Mr. Dal^ 


garno's book. In the former it appears that the Bishop 
had formed his tables for the assistance of another person 
in so worthy an undertaking ; but that person did not think 
fit to make use of those tables. And by Mr. Dalgarno's 
book, it is evident that he was in his judgment against those 
tables, as being too tedious and difficult, and such as philo- 
sophers were hot agreed in, and by consequence other men 
of different languages and nations, could not have the same 
ideas about them ; by which it is probable he gave the Bi- 
shop some disgust, which might be the occasion why he did 
not mention his name. 

The title of Mr. Dalgarno's book is, Ars Signorumy vulgo 
Character Universalis et Lingua Philosophica. Sua pote- 
runty homines diversissimorum idiornaiuWy spatio duarum 
septimanaruniy t>mnia avimi sui sensa (in rebus familiar 
ribusj non minus intelligibiliter^ sive scribendoy sive lo- 
piendoy mutuo commiinicarey guam Unguis propriis vernal 
culis, Praterea^ hinc etiam poterunf juvenes philosophic, 
principia et veram logica praxin, citius et facilius multo 
imbibere, quam ex vulgaribus philosophorum scriptis. 

This is enough to shew that Mr. Dalgarno's design, 
though he differed in the method, was the same, in the 
main, with the Bishop's, to which we now return. He 
divides his book into four parts; the first contains the 
prolegomena, and is divided into five chapters. The first 
chapter hath four sections: the firjt contains the intro- 
duction ; the second, the original of languages ; wherein 
he delivers his opinion, that the first language was con- 
created with our first parents. The rise of the confu- 
sion of languages is well enough known, but what num- 
ber of languages sprung up at that confusion, is not cer« 
tain ; the most received conjecture is, that they were se- 
venty, or spventy-two, though there be strong probabi- 
lities to prove that there were not so many, and that the 
first dispersion did not divide piankind into so many colo- 
nies. But the languages now used in the world do far ex- 
ceed this number. Pliny and Strabo make mention of three 
Isinndred nations of different languages, from whence peo- 
ple tesorted to Dioscuria, a great mart town in Colchos ; 



which considering the narrow compass of traffic, before the 
invention of the magnetic needle, must needs be but a 
small proportion, in comparison to the rest of the world. 
Some American histories say, that in every eighty miles of 
that country, the inhabitants speak a different language. 
Joseph Scaliger reckons eleven mother tongues in Europe, 
which have no dependance on one another ; but they are so 
well known, that we need not insist upon them. Besides 
this difference of languages in their first derivation, every 
particular tongue has its several dialects in one and the 
same nation. The Hebrew is by many learaed men supposed 
to be the fi«t mother tongue of those nt)w known in the 
world. When the Jews were captives at Babylon, their lan- 
guage was mixed with the Chaldean ; and after the captivity, 
the pure Hebrew ceased to be vulgar, and remained only 
amongst learned men, as we find by Nehemiali, viii. 7, 8. 
And the pure Hebrew now in being is only that of the Old 
Testament ; which though sufficient to express what is there 
intended, is not so for conversation, and therefore is guessed 
not to be the same which was concreated with our first pa^ 
rents, and spoken in paradise. 

The second chapter consists of four sections. The first 
concerns the various changes to which all vulgar tongues 
are obnoxious. The second gives proofs of such changes 
in the English tongue in the Lord's prayer, from the year of 
Christ 700, to 1 537. The third section determines in the 
affirmative, that several of the ancient langus^es are lost, 
ismce it is evident from the instance~of our own, that ift 
some few hundreds of years, a language may be so changed, 
as tobe scarce intelligible. The fourth section accounts for 
the rise and occasion of new languages^ which -he says 
proceeds from commerce, and mixture of Mople by con- 
quests, marriage of princes, or otherwise, jdn fdataaces in 
that called the Malayan tongue, the newest in the wotld^ and 
as common among the natives of the East Indies, dsLatin and 
French in Europe. It was invented or occasioned by a con- 
course of fishermen from Pegu, Siam, Bengala, and other 
nations at Malacca, where they built the town of that name. 


and agreed upon a distinct language made up of the easiest 
words belonging to each nation. 

The third chapter consists of four sections. The first 
treats of the original of letters and writing. Our author 
tells us, if is most generally agreed that Adam in process of 
tinie, upon his experience of the great necessity of letters, 
did first invent the ancient Hebrew character ; but he re- 
jects those particular alphabets which are by some ascribed 
to Adani, Enoch, and Noah ; and adds, that it has been 
abundadtljr cleared by learned men, that the ancient He- 
brew character has the priority before any now known. 
And it is none of the least arguments for the truth and di- 
vine authority of the holy scriptures, to consider the general 
concurrence of all manner of evidence for the antiquity of 
the Hebrew, and the derivation of all other letter's from it. 
la the second section he gives us the opinion of many of the 
ancients, to confirm the derivation of other letters and lan- 
guages from the Hebrew. In the third, he shews us that the 
use of letters is less ancient, and the kinds of them less nu- 
merous than the languages themselves. He proves this by 
several instances, that many nations do not yet understand 
the use of letters, and that though the German and French 
tongues be ancient, it is not much above four hundred years 
since Jbooks began to be writ in those languages ; and the 
reason why letters are less numerous than languages, is, 
that several nations borrowed the use of letters from their 
neighbours, and adapted them to their own languages. 
In the fourth section, he gives us an account of the hiero- 
glyphics of the ancients, which was a mere shift they were 
put to for want of letters, and was a slight and imperfect in- 
vention, suitable to those first and ruder ages. He treats 
abb of the secret and occult ways of writing, taught by the 
abbot Trithemws, for which he was falsely accused of 
magic.. He gives us some hints about letters or marks used 
by the ancients^for brevity sake ; of which nature is short- 
hand, so common in England. In the fifth section, he 
gives an account of some ancient attempts towards a real 
character, to signify things and notions. And in the sixth 
Inferos us, that no alphabet now in being, was invented at 



once, or by rules of art ; but all of them, except flie He* 
brew, were taken up by imitation. 

The fourth chapter consists of six sections, sfhe first 
treats of the defects in the common alphabet, as to their 
true order, which is inartificial and confused, the vowels and 
consonants being huddled together without any distinc- 
tion ; whereas the vowels and consonants should be re« 
duced into classes, according to their several kinds. In 
the second section, he takes nodce of the redundancy 
and deficiency of the Hebrew alphabet, and likewise of 
the Greek and Latin. In the third section, he shews that 
tliey are very uncertain as to their powers and signifi* 
cation; of which he gives several instances in our own lan- 
guage. In the fourth section, he takes notice that the 
names of the letters in most alphabets are very improperly 
expressed by words of several syllables. In this respect* 
the Roman and English alphabet are more convenient than 
the rest, though not without some defects of the same na- 
ture. In the fifth section, he says their figures do not cor- 
respond sufficiently with their natures ^nd powers, and ob- 
serves that the manner of writing the oriental tongues firom 
right to left is as unnatural as to write with light on the 
wrong side. In the sixth section,- he takes notice of the 
defects of words as well as letters ; some of them being 
equivocal, others synonimous, besides the irregularities in 
grammar, and the difference betwixt writing and pro- 
nouncing words. On this occasion, he takes notice of the 
endeavours of Sir Thomas Smith and others, to rectify our 
English orthography, though we still obstinately retain the 
errors of our ancestors. 

The fifth chapter has three sections. The first maintains, 
that neither letters nor languages have been regularly estab- 
lished by rules of art : nor could it be ot|ierwise, because 
grammar (by which they should be regulated) is of a much 
later invention than tlie languages themselves ; as is evident 
from the Hebrew ; which, though the oldest of all, was not 
reduced into order of grammar till the year 1040. In the 
second, he treats of the natural ground and principle of the 
everal ways of cQOimunication among men ; where he tells 


US, that as they generally agree in the same principle of 
reason^, they likewise agree in the same internal notion or 
apprehension of things; and those internal notions they 
communicate to the ear by sounds, and particularly by 
words, and to the eye they communicate them by motion 
and figure, &c. and more particularly by writing : so that 
if men should generally agree upon the same way of ex- 
pression as they agree in the same notion, we should then 
be free from that curse of the confusion of tongues, and all 
the unhappy consequences of it. This is only to be done 
by some one language and character to be universally prac- 
tised, and enjoined by authority; which cannot be ex- 
pected without an universal monarchy ; and perhaps not 
then : or else by some method which (without such autho- 
rity) might engage men to learn it, because of its facility and 
usefulness, which was the design of this Essay. The third 
section informs us, that in order to this, the first thing to be 
considered, was a just enumeration and description of such 
things as were to have marks or names assigned them, and 
to be so contrived, as to be full and adequate without re- 
dundancy or defect as to tlieir number, and regular as to 
their place and order. And if every thing and notion had 
a distinct mark, with some provision to express grammati- 
cal derivations and inflections, it would answer one great 
end of a real character, to signify things and not words. 
And if several distinct words were assigned for the names 
of such things, with fixed rules for such grammatical deri- 
vations and inflections as are natural and necessary, it would 
make a more easy and convenient language than any yet in 

Then if these marks or notes could be. so contrived, as 
to have such a dependance upon, and relation to one ano- 
ther, as might suit the nature of the things and notions they 
represent; and likewise, if the names of things could be so 
ordered, as to contain such an aflSnity or opposition in their 
letters and sounds, as might some way answer tlie nature of 
the things they signify, it would be a further advantage, by 
which, besides helping the memory by natural method, the 

J - 


understanding would be improved; and by learning tho 
characters and names of things, we should likewise learn 
their natures. 

Thus our author concludes the first part, and comes to 
the second; which contains a regular enumeration and 
description of all those things and notions to which names 
are to be assigned, and forms a system of universal philoso- 
phy. This part is divided into twelve chapters. The first 
contains six sections. The first section has a scheme of 
genus's, or more common heads of things belonging to this 
design. Then he shews how each of them may be subdi- 
vided by its peculiar differences, which for the lietter con* 
Tcniency of the design, he determines for most part to tlie 
number of six, except in the numerous tribes of herbs, 
trees, exanguious animals, fishes, and birds, which cannpt 
be comprehended in so narrow a compass. Then he enu^n 
merates the several species belonging to each of those dif- 
ferences, in such an order and dependance, as may contri- 
bute to define them, and determine their primary significa-^ 
tions. These species he commonly joins together in pair^ 
for helping tlie memory; and so likewise are some of the 
genus's and differences ; those things which naturally have 
opposites, are joined with them, according to such opposi- 
tion, whether single or double ; and those things that have 
no opposites, are commonly joined together widi respect to 
some affinity which they have to one another, though 
sometimes those affinities are less proper and more remote t 
there being several things shifted into those places, because 
the author did not know how to provide for them better. 
The second section relates to the more general notions of 
things, and the difficulty of establishing those notions aright. 
The third treats of transcendentals general. The fourth of 
transcendental relations mixed. The fifth of transcenden- 
tal relations of action; and the sixth of the severat notions 
belonging to grammar or logic. But these things being di*- 
gested into tables, we must refer the reader to the book ilr 
self, for a distinct idea of them. 

The second chapter consists of two sections. The fiist 



|i concerning God ; and the second concerning the several 
^ings and notions reducible under that collective genus of 
the world : which is also digested into tables. 

The third chapter consists of three sections. The first 
is of elements and meteors; the second of stones ; and the 
third of metals ; digested also into tables. 

The fourth chapter has seven sections. The first of 
plants ; the second concerning a more general distribution 
of them; the third, fourth, and fifth, treat of herbs; con- 
sidered according to their leaves, flowers, and seed-vessels. 
The sixth treats of shrubs; and the seventh of trees. All 
of them likewise in tables* 

The fifth chapter has six sections. The first concerns 
animals, and the general distribution of tliem; the second 
is of exanguious animals; the third offish; the fourth of 
birds; the fifth of beasts; and the sixth has a digression 
concerning Noah's ark : wherein he maintains the truth and 
authority of the scripture, against the ot)jections of atheists 
and heretics, that a vessel of such dimensions could not 
contain so vast a multitude of animals, with«the whole 
year's provision for them. 

The sixth chapter relates to tlie parts of animate bodies ; 
first, peculiar; secondly, general; and these are also di- 
gested into tables. 

The seventh chapter relates to the predicament of quan- 
tity. 1. Of magnitude. 2. Of space. 3. Of measurq. 
AH digested into tables. 

The eighth chapter relates to quality, and its several ge- 
nus's. 1. Of natural power. 2. Of habit. 3. Of manners, 
-ff. Of sensible quality. 5. Of diseases. With the various 
differences and species under each. 

The ninth chapter treats of action, and its several genus'i. 
1. Spiritual. 2. Corporeal. 3. Motion. 4. Operation. 

Tlie tenth chapter concerns more private relation. 1 . Of 
fehiily relation ; with the several kinds of things belonging' 
'to those in that capacity, eitlier as possessions, or provi-* 

■ VOL. II. s 


■ ■ t 


■i I 

'J u 


The eleventh chapter concerns public relations; as civil, 
judiciary, naval, military, and ecclesiastical. 

The twelfth chapter explains the design of the foregoing 
tables ; gives particular instances of the six principal genus's 
of its has some notes concerning opposites and sy nonymas ; 
and an account of such things as ought not to be provided 
for in those tables. 

Tlie third paf t contains a philosophical grammar ; and 
is divided into fourteen chapters. 

The first chaptef concerns the several kinds and parts of 
grammar. 2. Of etymology ; and the more general scheme 
of integrals and particles. 3. Of nouns in general. 4. Of 
substantives common, denoting either things, actions, or 
persons. 5. Rules concerning nouns of action. 6. Of 
substahtives abstracts. 1. Of adjectives, according to the 
true philosophical notion of them. 8. The true notion of 
a verb. 9. Of derived adverbs. 10. A general scheme of 
the forementioned jderivations. 

The second chapter concerns particles in general. 2. Of 
the copula. 3. Of pronouns more generally. 4. More 
particularly. 5. Of interjections more generally. 6. Morcf 

The third chapter treats of prepositions in general. 2. 
The particular kinds of them enumerated. 3. An explica- 
tion of the four last combinations of them, relating to place * '\ 
or time. 

The fourth chapter concerns adverbs in general. 2. Hie 
particular kinds of them. 3. Conjunctions. 

The fifth chapter treats of articles. 2. Of Moods. 3. 
Of Tenses. 4. The most distinct way of expressing the 
differences of time. 

The sixth chapter concerns transcendental particles, and 
the end and use of them. 2. The usual ways for enlarging 
the sense of words in instituted languages. 3. The general 
heads of transcendental particles. 

The seventh chapter has instances of the great useful- 
ness of those transcendental particles; with directions how 
they are to be applied. 





May it please your Highness^ 

T SHOULD not thus have presented my diversions 
where I owe my study and business^ but that 
where all is due, a man may not Justly with-hold any 

ms following discourse was composed some years 
since, at my spare hours in the university. The sub-- 
ject of it is mixed mathematics y which I did the 
rather at such times make choice of, as being for the 
tleasure of it more proper for recreation, and for the 
^-^Jccility, more suitable to my abilities and leisure. 
' / should not, ^ Sir, have been ambitious of any so 
^reat (I could not of any better) patronage, had not 
my relation both engaged and emboldejied me to this 

They that know your Highness, how great an en- 
courager you are, and hozo able a judge in all kind of 
ingenious arts and literature, must needs acknowledge 
your pressures and low condition td be none of the least 
mischiefs (amongst those many other) under which the 
commonwealth of learning does now suffer. 

r • 



// would in many respects much conduce to the ge- 
neral advancement of religion and learning j if the re- 
formed churches y in whose cause and defence your fa- 
mily hath so deeply sufferddy were but effectual^ 
mindful of their engagements to it. And particularly, 
if these present unJiappy differences of this natiouy did 
not occasion too much forgetfubiess of their former 
zeal and prof essiom for the vindicating of your fa- 
mily , and the restoring of your Highness: the hasten- 
ing and accomplishment of which, together with the 
increase, of all heavenly blessings upon your Highness, 
shaU be the hearty daily prayer of. 

Your Highnesses 

piost humbly and most devoted 
servant and chaplainy 




r' 16 related of Heraclitus, that when his scholars 
had found him in a tradesman's shop, whither 
they were ashamed to enter ; he told them, 2uod 
neque tali loco dii desunt immortales i that the gods 
were as well conversant in such places, as in others : 
intimating, that a divine power and wisdom might 
be discerned, even in those common arts which are 
60 much despised : and though the manual exer- 
cise and practice of them be esteemed ignoble, yet 
the study of their general causes and principles, 
cannot be prejudicial to any other (though the most 
sacred) profession. 

It hath been my usual custom in the course of 
my other studies, to propose divers mathematical 
or philosophical enquiries, for the recreation of my 
leisure hours ; and as I could gather satisfaction, 
to compose them into some form and method. 

Some of these have been formerly published, and 
I have now ventured forth this discoune ; wherein, 
besides the great delight and pleasure (which every 
rational reader must needs find in such notions as 
parry with them their own evidence and demon- 
stration) there is also much real benefit to be learned) 
particularly for such gentlemen as employ their 
estates in those chargeable adventures of draining 
mines, coalpits, &c. who may from hence learn the 
chief grounds and nature of engines, and thereby 
more easily avoid the delusions of any cheating im- 
postor : and also for such common artificers, as are 
Well skilled in the practice of these arts, who may 
be much advantaged by the right understanding of 
|hpir grounds ^nd theory. 


Ramus * hath observed, that fhe reason why 
Germany hath been so eminent for mechanical in- 
ventions, is, because there have been public lec- 
tures of this kind instituted amongst them ; and 
those, not only in the learned languages, but also. 
in the vulgar tongue, for the capacity of every un- 
lettered ingenious artificer. 

This whole discourse I call Mathematical Ma- 
gic; because the art of such mechanical inventions 
as are here chiefly insisted upon, hath been for- 
merly so stiled f , and in allusion to vulgar opinion, 
which doth commonly attribute all such strange 
operations unto the power of magic ; for which 
reason the ancients did name this art, OxuiiMroronfriyivif 
or Mirajidorum Effectrix. 

The first book is called Archimedes, because he 
was the chicfest in discovering of mechanical 

The second is stiled by the name of Daedalus, 
who is related to be one of the first and most fa- 
mous amongst the ancients, for his skill in making 
automata, or self-moving engines : both these being 
twc^of the first authors, that did reduce mathema- 
tical principles unto mechanical experiments. 

Other discourses of this kind, are for the most 
part large and voluminous, of great price, and 
hardly gotten ; and besides, there are not any of 
them (that I know of) in our vulgar tongue, for 
which these mechanical arts of all other are most 
proper. These inconveniences are here in some 
measure remedied ; together with the addition (if 
I mistake not) of divers things very considerable, 
and not insisted upon by others. 

* Schol. Mathem. 1. 2. f Agrippa, de Vaut. Scicnt. c. 42. 


The eighth chapter treats of the accidental dilferenccs of 
wotds. 1. Inflexion. 2. Derivation. 3. Composition. 

The ninth chapter is of the second part of grammar, 
called syntax. 

The tenth chapter is of orthography ; and contains three 
sections. I'he iirst concerning letters; and the authors 
who have treated of this subject: of whom Dr. Wallis 
seems with the greatest accurateness and subtilty to have 
considered the philosophy of articulate sounds. The se- 
cond contains a brief table of all such kinds of simple sounds, 
us can be framed with the mouths of men. The third con- 
tains a further explanation of this table, as to the organs of 
speech, and as to the letters framed by those organs. 

The eleventh treats of vowels. The twelfth of conso- 
nants. The thirteenth of compound vowels and conso- 
nants. The fourteenth treats of the accidents of letters : 
1. Their names. 2. Their order. 3. Affinities and op- 
positions. 4. Their figures ; with a twofold instance of a 
niore regular character for the letters: the latter of which 
may be esteemed natural. 5. Of pronunciation. 6. The 
several letters disused by several nations. 

The fourth part contains a real character and philoso- 
phical language. This consists of six chapters: the first 
treats of a proposal of one kind of real character amongst 
many others which might be ofTered both for the integrals, 
whether genus's, differences, or species, together with the 
derivations and inflexions belonging to them ; as likewise 
for all the several kinds of particles. Here our autlior ac- 
quaints us, that it were exceeding desirable that the names 
of things might consist of such sounds as should bear in 
them some analogy to their natures, and the figure or cha- 
racter of these names should bear some proper resemblance 
to those sounds; but he does not understand how this cha- 
racter can be adjusted any otherwise than by institution: 
and in the framing of those characters, he says, special re- 
gard must be had to these four properties. 1 . That the 
figure be plain and easy, so as it may be made by one or 
at most by two strokes of the pen, 2. That they be suffi- 


ciently distinguished from "one another. 3. Graceful to 
the eye. 4. Metliodical. But we naust refer to the book 
itself for our autlior's specimen. 

The second ciiapter contains an instance of this real cha- 
racter in the Lord's prayer and creed. 

The third shews how this character may be made af&ble 
in a distinct language, and what kind of letters or syllables 
may be conveniently assigned to each character. 

The fouith has a comparison of the Lord's prayer and 
creed in this language, with 50 other languages as to the 
facility and euphony of k. llie fifth contains directions 
for the more easy learning this character and language ; 
with a brief table containing the radicals both integrals and 
particles, together with the character and language by 
which each of them are to be expressed. 

The sixth is a comparison betwixt this natural philosophi- 
cal grammar, and that of other instituted languages^ parti- 
cularly the Latin, in respect of the multitude of unneces- 
sary rules, and of anomalisms. It treats also concerning 
the China character; the several attempts and proposals 
made by others towards a new kind of character and lan- 
guage, and the advantage in respect of facility which this 
pliilosophical language has above the Latin. In the last 
place comes an alphabetical dictionary wherein all English 
words according to their various significations, are either 
referred to their places in the philosophical tables, or ex- 
plained by such words as are in tliose tables. 


C. WbSttingham, Prhttrr,