CHAP. VI. Of the wonderfull Natures of Water, Aire, and Winds.
THe other two Elements, viz. Water, and Aire are not less efficacious then the former; neither is nature want∣ing to work wonderfull things in them. There is so great a necessity of Water, that without it no livin• thing can live. No Hearb, nor Plant whatsoever, without the moistening of Water can branch forth. In it is the Seminary vertue of all things, especially of Animals, whose seed is manifestly wate∣rish. The seeds also of Trees, and Plants, although they are earthy, must notwithstanding of necessity be rotted in Water, before they can be fruitfull; whether they be imbibed with the moisture of the Earth, or with Dew, or Rain, or any other Water that is on purpose put to them. For Moses writes, that only Earth, and Water bring forth a living soul. But he as∣cribes a twofold production of things to Water, viz. of things swimming in the VVaters, and of things flying in the Aire Page 12 above the Earth. And that those productions that are made in, and upon the Earth, are partly attributed to the very Water, the same Scripture testifies, where it saith that the Plants, and the Hearbs did not grow, because God had not caused it to rain upon the Earth. Such is the efficacy of this Element of Water, that Spirituall regeneration cannot be done without it, as Christ himself testified to Nicodemus. Very great also is the vertue of it in the Religious Worship of God, in expiations, and purifications; yea, the necessity of it is no less then that of Fire. Infinite are the benefits, and divers are the uses thereof, as being that by vertue of which all things subsist, are gene∣rated, nourished, and increased. Thence it was that Thales of Miletus, and Hesiod concluded that Water was the beginning of all things, and said it was the first of all the Elements, and the most potent, and that because it hath the mastery over all the rest. For, as Pliny saith, Waters swallow up the Earth, extinguish flames, ascend on high, and by the stretching forth of the clouds, challenge the Heaven for their own: the same falling down become the Cause of all things that grow in the Earth. Very many are the wonders that are done by Waters, according to the Writings of Pliny, Solinus, and many other Historians, of the wonderfull vertue whereof, Ovid also makes mention in these Verses.
It remains that I speak of the Aire. This is a vitall spirit, passing through all Beings, giving life, and subsistence to all things, binding, moving, and filling all things. Hence it is that the Hebrew Doctors reckon it not amongst the Elements, but count it as a Medium or glew, joyning things together, and as the resounding spirit of the worlds instrument. It immedi∣atly receives into it self the influencies of all Celestiall bodies, and then communicates them to the other Elements, as also to all mixt bodies: Also it receives into it self, as if it were a divine Looking-glass, the species of all things, as well naturall, as ar∣tificiall, as also of all manner of speeches, and retains them; And carrying them with it, and entering into the bodies of Men, and other Animals, through their pores, makes an Im∣pression upon them, as well when they sleep, as when they be awake, and affords matter for divers strange Dreams and Di∣vinations. Hence they say it is, that a man passing by a place where a man was slain, or the Carkase newly hid, is moved with fear and dread; because the Aire in that place being full of the dreadfull species of Man-slaughter, doth, being breathed in, move and trouble the spirit of the man with the like speci∣es, whence it is that he comes to be afraid. For every thing that makes a sudden impression, astonisheth nature. Whence it is, that many Philosophers were of opinion that Aire is the cause of dreams, and of many other impressions of the mind, through the prolonging of Images, or similitudes, or species (which are fallen from things, and speeches, multiplyed in the very Aire) untill they come to the senses, and then to the phan∣tasy, and soul of him that receives them, which being freed from cares, and no way hindred, expecting to meet such kind of species, is informed by them. For the species of things, al∣though of their own proper nature, they are carryed to the senses of men, and other animals in generall, may notwith∣standing get some impression from the Heaven, whilest they Page 15 be in the Aire, by reason of which, together with the aptness and disposition of him that receives them, they may be carryed to the sence of one, rather then of another. And hence it is possible naturally, and far from all manner of superstition, no other spirit coming between, that a man should be able in a very time to signifie his mind unto another man, abiding at a very long and unknown distance from him; although he can∣not precisely give an estimate of the time when it is, yet of ne∣cessity it must be within 24. hours; and I my self know how to do it, and have often done it. The same also in time past did the Abbot Tritenius both know and do. Also when cer∣tain appearances, not only spirituall, but also naturall do flow forth from things, that is to say, by a certain kind of flowings forth of bodies from bodies, and do gather strength in the Air, they offer, and shew themselves to us as well through light as motion, as well to the sight as to other senses, and sometimes work wonderfull things upon us, as Plotinus proves and teach∣eth. And we see how by the South wind the Air is condensed into thin clouds, in which, as in a Looking-glass are reflected representations at a great distance of Castles, Mountains, Horses, and Men, and other things, which when the clouds are gone, presently vanish. And Aristotle in his Meteors shews, that a Rainbow is conceived in a cloud of the Aire, as in a Looking-glass. And Albertus saith, that the effigies of bodies may by the strength of nature, in a moist Aire be easily repre∣sented, in the same manner as the representations of things are in things. And Aristotle tels of a man, to whom it happened by reason of the weakness of his sight, that the Aire that was near to him, became as it were a Looking-glass to him, and the optick beam did reflect back upon himself, and could not pe∣netrate the Aire, so that whithersoever he went, he thought he saw his own image, with his face towards him, go before him. In like manner, by the artificialness of some certain Look∣ing-glasses, may be produced at a distance in the Aire, beside the Looking-glasses, what images we please; which when ig∣norant men see, they think they see the appearances of spirits, or souls; when indeed they are nothing else but semblances Page 16 kin to themselves, and without life. And it is well known, if in a dark place where there is no light but by the coming in of a beam of the Sun somewhere through a litle hole, a white paper, or plain Looking-glass be set up against that light, that there may be seen upon them, whatsoever things are done without, being shined upon by the Sun. And there is another sleight, or trick yet more wonderfull. If any one shall take images artificially painted, or written letters, and in a clear night set them against the beams of the full Moon, whose resem∣blances being multiplyed in the Aire, and caught upward, and reflected back together with the beams of the Moon, any other man that is privy to the thing, at a long distance sees, reads, and knows them in the very compass, and Circle of the Moon, which Art of declaring secrets is indeed very profitable for Towns, and Cities that are besieged, being a thing which Py∣thagoras long since did often do, and which is not unknown to some in these dayes, I will not except my self. And all these, and many more, and greater then these are grounded in the very nature of the Aire, and have their reasons, and causes declared in Mathematicks, and Optics. And as these re∣semblances are reflected back to the sight, so also sometimes to the hearing, as is manifest in the Echo. But there are more secret arts then these, and such whereby any one may at a very remote distance hear, and understand what another speaks, or whispers softly.
There are also from the airy Element VVinds. For they are nothing else, but Air moved, and stirred up. Of these there are four that are principall, blowing from the four cor∣ners of the Heaven, viz. Notus from the South, Boreas from the North, Zephyrus from the West, Eurus from the East, which Pontanus comprehending in these verses, saith,
Page 17Notus is the Southern Wind, cloudy, moist, warm, and sick∣ly, which Hieronimus cals the butler of the rains. Ovid describes it thus.
But Boreas is contrary to Notus, and is the Northern Wind, fierce, and roaring, and discussing clouds, makes the Aire serene, and binds the Water with Frost. Him doth Ovid thus bring in speaking of himself.