Observations upon experimental philosophy to which is added The description of a new blazing world
Newcastle, Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of, 1624?-1674.

23. Of the Nature of Water.

THe Ascending of VVater in Pipes, Pumps, and the like Engines, is commonly alledged as an ar∣gument to prove there is no Vacuum: But, in my opi∣nion, VVater, or the like things that are moist, liquid and wet, their interior corporeal and natural motion is flowing, as being of a dilating figure; and when other parts or Creatures suppress those liquors, so that they cannot rise, they will dilate; but when solid and heavy bodies are put into them as Stones, Metals, &c. which do sink, then they will rise above them, as being their nature to over-flow any other body, if they can have the better of it, or get passage: For concerning the Page  79 floating of some bodies, the reason is not so much their levity or porousness, but both their exterior shape, and the waters restlesness or activity, the several parts of water endeavouring to drive those floating bodies from them; like as when several men playing at Ball, or Shittle-cock, or the like, endeavour to beat those things from and to each other; or like as one should blow up a feather into the Air, which makes it not onely keep up in the air, but to wave about: The like doth water with floating bodies; and the lighter the floating parts are, the more power have the liquid parts to force and thrust them about. And this is also the reason why two floating bodies of one Nature endeavour to meet and joyn, because by joyning they receive more strength to resist the force of the watry parts: The same may be said when as floating bodies stick or join to the sides of Vessels; but many times the watry parts will not suffer them to be at rest or quiet, but drive them from their strong holds or defences. Concerning the suppression of water, and of some floating bodies in wa∣ter by air or light, as that air and light should suppress water, and bodies floating upon it (as some do con∣ceive) I see no reason to believe it; but the con∣trary rather appears by the levity of air, which is so much lighter, and therefore of less force then either the floating bodies, or the water on which they float. Some again are of opinion, That Water is a more dense bo∣dy then Ice, and prove it by the Refractions of light, Page  80 because VVater doth more refract the rays of light then Ice doth: but whatsoever their experiments be, yet my reason can hardly believe it; for although Ice may be more transparent then water, yet it may be more dense then water: for Glass is more transparent then water, and yet more dense then water; and some bo∣dies will not be trasparent if they be thick, that is, if they have a great number of parts upon parts, when as they will be transparent if they be thin, that is, if they have few thin parts upon each other; so that transparent bodies may be darkned, and those that are not transparent of themselves, may be made so by the thickness or thinness of parts, that one may see or not see through them; and thus a thin body of Water, may be more transparent then a thick body of Ice, and a thin body of Ice may be more transparent then a thick body of water. As for the expansion of Water, it doth not prove, that Wa∣ter is more dense then Ice, but on the contrary, it rather proves, that it is more rare; for that body whose parts are close and united, is more dense then that whose parts are fluid and dilating. Neither doth Expansion alter the interior nature of a body, any more then con∣traction, but it alters onely the exterior posture; as for example, when a man puts his body into several postures, it doth not alter him from being a man, to some other Creature, for the stretching of his legs, spreading out of his armes, puffing up his cheeks, &c. changes his nature, or natural figure, no more then Page  81 when he contracts his limbs close together, crumpling up his body, or folding his armes, &c. but his posture is onely changed; the like for the expansions and contra∣ctions of other sorts of Creatures. Nor can I readily give my assent to their opinion, that some liquors are more dense then others; I mean such as are perfectly moist, liquid and wet, as water is; for there be numerous sorts of liquors, which are not throughly wet as water; and although their Circular lines may be different, as some edged, some pointed, some twisted, and the like; yet they do not differ so much, but that their inherent fi∣gures are all of Circular lines; for the interior nature or figure of water, and so of all other moist and wet li∣quors, is Circular: and it is observable, that as Art may be an occasion of diminishing those points or edges of the Circular lines of some liquors, or of untwisting them; so it may also be an occasion that some liquid and wet bodies may become so pointed, edged, twisted, &c. as may occasion those circles to move or turn into such or such exterior figures, not onely into triangular, square, round, and several other forms or figures, as appears in Ice, Hail, Frost, and flakes of Snow, but in∣to such figures as they name Spirits; which several sorts of figures belonging all to one sort of Creatures, may cause several refractions, reflections and inflections of the rayes of light. Wherefore Mechanicks may very much be mistaken concerning the truth of the interior Nature of bodies, or natural Creatures, by Page  82 judging them onely according to their exterior fi∣gures.