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

26. Of the Measures, Degrees, and different sorts of Heat and Cold.

SOme Experimental Philosophers are much inqui∣sitive into the measures of Heat and Cold; and as we have setled standards for weight and magnitude, and time, so they endeavour to measure the varying temperature, and gradual differences of heat and cold; but do what they can, their artificial measures or weights neither will nor can be so exact as the Page  94 natural are, to wit, so as not to make them err in more or less: Neither is it possible, that all the degrees of heat and cold in Nature can be measured; for no man can measure what he doth not know, and who knows all the different sorts of heats and colds? Nay, if man did endeavour to measure onely one sort of heat or cold, as for example, the degrees of the heat or cold∣ness of the air, how is it possible that he should do it, by reason of the continual change of the motions of heat or cold of the air, which are so inconstant, that it were surer to measure the fluidity of the air, then to mea∣sure the degrees of heat or cold of the air; for the tem∣per of the air and of its heat and cold, may vary so, as many times we shall never find the same measure a∣gain. Wherefore if we desire to have some knowledg of the degrees of some sorts of heat or cold, my opi∣nion is, that we may more easily attain to it by the help of rational perception, then by a sensitive inspe∣ction of artificial Weather-glasses, or the like; for reason goes beyond sense; and although the sensitive perception is best next the rational, yet the rational is above the sensitive. But some of the learned conceive the degrees of heat and cold are made by bare divisions, whenas, in my opinion, they are made by the several degrees of their corporeal figurative motions: They do also imagine, that there's no degree but must ascend from one, to two; from two, to three; and so forth through all numbers: and that from one to twenty, Page  95 there be so many degrees as there be numbers; when as, in my opinion, there's no more but one degree re∣quired from one to a Million, or more; for though both in Nature and Art there are degrees from one sin∣gle figure to another, yet there may also be but one de∣gree from one to a million, without reckoning any intermediate degrees or figures: so that a body, when it moves quick or slow, needs not to go through all the intermediate degrees of quickness or slowness, as to move quicker and quicker, slower and slower; but may immediately move from a very slow, to a very quick degree: the truth is, no man is able to measure the infinite degrees of natural motions; for though Na∣ture consists of particular finites, yet it doth also consist of infinite particulars; finite in figure, infinite in num∣ber; and who can number from finite to infinite? But having discoursed hereof elsewhere, I return to heat and cold, aud let others dispute whether the degrees of heat and cold in the air, be the same with the degrees of animal perceptions, or with the degrees of animal cold and heat; my opinion is, that there being several sorts, and several particular heats and colds, they cannot be just alike each other, but there's some difference betwixt them; as for example, there are shaking, freezing, chilly, windy, numb, stiff, rare, dense, moist, dry, contracting, dilating, ascending, descending, and o∣ther numerous sorts of colds; nay, there are some sorts of candied figures made by heat, which appear as if Page  96 they were frozen: Also there are fluid colds which are not wet, as well as fluid heats that are not dry; for Phlegm is fluid, and yet not wet; and some sorts of air are fluid, and not wet; I say some, not all; for some are hot and moist, others hot and dry. The same may be said of some sorts of heat and cold; for some are moist, and some dry; and there may be at one and the same time a moist cold in the air, and a dry cold in water; which, in my opinion, is the reason that in sealed Weather-glasses, according to some Experimenters re∣lations, sometimes the air doth not shrink, but rather seems to be expanded when the weather grows colder, and that the water contracts; not that the cold contra∣ction of water causes an expansion of the air to prevent a Vacuum; for there cannot be any such thing as a Va∣cuum in Nature; but that there is a moist cold in the air, and a dry cold in the water, whereof the dry cold causes a contraction, and the moist cold an expansion; nay, there is often a moist and dry cold in the air at one and the same time; so that some parts of the air may have a moist cold, and the next adjoying parts a dry cold, and that but in a very little compass; for there may be such contractions and dilations in Nature, which make not a hairs breadth difference, Nature being so subtil and curious, as no particular can trace her ways; and therefore when I speak of contractions and dilati∣ons, I do not mean they are all such gross actions per∣ceptible by our exterior senses as the works of Art, but Page  97 such as the curiosity of Nature works. Concerning the several sorts of animal heat and cold, they are quite different from the Elemental, and other sorts of heat and cold; for some men may have cold fits of an Ague under the Line, or in the hottest Climates; and others Burning-Feavers under the Poles, or in the coldest climates. 'Tis true, that Animals, by their perceptions, may pattern out the heat or cold of the air, but these perceptions are not always regular or per∣fect; neither are the objects at all times exactly pre∣sented as they should, which may cause an obscurity both in Art, and in particular sensitive perceptions, and through this variety the same sort of Creatures may have different perceptions of the same sorts of heat and cold. Besides it is to be observed, that some parts or Creatures, as for example, Water, and the like li∣quors, if kept close from the perception either of heat or cold, will neither freeze, nor grow hot; and if Ice and Snow be kept in a deep Pit, from the exterior ob∣ject of heat, it will never thaw, but continne Ice or Snow, whenas being placed near the perception of the Sun, Fire, or warm Air, its exterior figure will alter from being Ice to Water, and from being cold to hot, or to an intermediate temper betwixt both; nay, it may alter from an extream degree of cold to an extream degree of heat, according as the exterior object of heat doth occasion the sensitive perceptive motions of Water or Ice to work; for extreams are Page  98 apt to alter the natural temper of a particular Creature, and many times so as to cause a total dissolution of its in∣terior natural figure; (when I name extreams, I do not mean any uttermost extreams in Nature; for Na∣ture being Infinite, and her particular actions being poised and ballanced by opposites, can never run into extreams; but I call them so in reference onely to our perception, as we use to say, it is extream hot, or ex∣tream cold) And the reason of it is, that Water by its natural perceptive motions imitates the motions of heat or cold, but being kept from the perception of them, it cannot imitate them. The same reason may be given upon the experiment, that some bodies being put into water, will be preserved from being frozen or congealed; for they being in water, are not onely kept from the perception of cold, but the water doth as a guard preserve them; which guard, if it be overcome, that is, if the water begin to freeze, then they will do so too. But yet all colds are not airy, nor all heats sunny or fiery; for a man, as I mentioned before, may have shaking fits of an Ague in the hottest climate, or season, and burning fits of a Fever in the coldest cli∣mate or season; and as there is difference between ele∣mental and animal cold and heat, so betwixt other sorts; so that it is but in vain to prove all sorts of heat and cold by Artificial Weather-glasses, suppressions and eleva∣tions of water, Atmosphaerical parts, and the like; for it is not the air that makes all cold, no not that cold Page  99 which is called Elementary, no more then it makes heat; but the corporeal, figurative, self-moving, per∣ceptive, rational and sensitive parts of Nature, which make all other Creatures, make also heat and cold. Some Learned make much ado about Antiperistasis, and the flight of those two contrary qualities, heat and cold, from each other; where, according to their opi∣nion, one of them being surrounded and besieged by the other, retires to the innermost parts of the body which it possesses, and there by recollecting its forces, and a∣nimating it self to a defence, is intended or increased in its degree, and so becomes able to resist its adversary; which they prove by the cold expelled from the Earth, and Water by the Sun-beams, which they say retires to the middle region of the Air, and there defends it self against the heat that is in the two other, viz. the upper, and the lower Regions; and so it doth in the Earth; for, say they, we find in Summer, when the air is sultry hot, the cold retreats into Cellars and Vaults, and in Winter when the air is cold, they are the Sanctuary and receptacle of heat; so that the water in wells and springs, and the like places under ground, is found warm and smoaking, when as the water which is expo∣sed to the open air, by cold is congealed into Ice. But whatsoever their opinion be, I cannot believe that heat and cold run from each other as Children at Boe-peep; for concerning the Earths being warm in Winter, and cold in Summer, it is not, in my opinion, caused by Page  100 hot or cold Atoms, flying like Birds out of their nests, and returning to the same; nor is the Earth like a Store∣house, that hoards up cold and heat at several seasons in the year, but there is a natural temper of cold and heat as well in the Earth, as in other Creatures; and that Vaults, Wells, and Springs under ground, are warm in Winter, when the exterior air is cold; the reason is, not that the heat of the air, or the Calorifick atomes, as they call them, are retired thither to defend themselves from the coldness of the air; but they being so deep in the Earth where the cold cannot enter, are kept from the perception of cold, so as they cannot imitate so well the motions of cold as other Creatures that are exposed to the open air. The like may be said of the heat of the Sun in Summer, which cannot pene∣trate deeper into the bowels of the Earth then cold can. The truth is, the Earth is to them like an Umbrello, which defends or keeps men from the Sun, rain, wind, dust, &c. but although it defends them from the heat of the Sun, or coldness of wind, yet they have those qua∣lities naturally within themselves, sometimes more, and sometimes less: and so has the Earth its natural temper of heat and cold; But what Umbrello the middle regi∣on has, whether it be some Planet, or any thing else, I am not able to determine, unless I had been there and observed it; nay, ten to one but I might even then have been mistaken. Wherefore all the contentions and disputes about the doctrine of Antiperistasis, are, in my Page  101 judgment, to little purpose, since we are not able to know all the differences of heat and cold; for if men con∣ceive there is but one heat and cold in Nature, they are mistaken; and much more if they think they can measure all the several sorts of heat and cold in all Crea∣tures by artificial experiments; for as much as a Na∣tural man differs from an artificial statue or picture of a man, so much differs a natural effect from an artifici∣al, which can neither be so good, nor so lasting as a na∣tural one: If Charles's Wain, the Axes of the Earth, and the motions of the Planets, were like the pole, or axes, or wheels of a Coach, they would soon be out of order. Indeed artificial things are pretty toys to imploy idle time; nay, some are very useful for our conveni∣ency, but yet they are but Natures bastards or change∣lings, if I may so call them; and though Nature takes so much delight in variety, that she is pleased with them, yet they are not to be compared to her wise and funda∣mental actions; for Nature, being a wise and provi∣dent Lady, governs her parts very wisely, methodi∣cally and orderly; also she is very industrious, and hates to be idle, which makes her imploy her time as a good Huswife doth, in Brewing, Baking, Churning, Spinning, Sowing, &c. as also in Preserving for those that love Sweet-meats, and in Distilling for those that take delight in Cordials; for she has numerous imploy∣ments, and being infinitely self-moving, never wants work, but her artificial works are her works of delight, Page  102 pleasure and pastime: Wherefore those that imploy their time in Artificial Experiments, consider onely Natures sporting or playing actions; but those that view her wise Government, in ordering all her parts, and consider her changes, alterations and tempers in parti∣culars, and their causes, spend their time more usefully and profitably; and truly to what purpose should a man beat his brains, and weary his body with labours about that wherein he shall lose more time, then gain knowledg? But if any one would take delight in such things, my opinion is, that our female sex would be the fittest for it, for they most commonly take pleasure in making of Sweet-meats, Possets, several sorts of Pyes, Puddings, and the like; not so much for their own eat∣ing, as to imploy their idle time; and it may be, they would prove good Experimental Philosophers, and in∣form the world how to make artificial Snow by their Creams or Possets beaten into froth, and Ice by their clear, candied or crusted quiddinies or conserves of fruits; and Frost by their candied herbs and flowers; and Hail by their small comfits made of water and sugar with whites of Eggs; and many other the like figures which resemble Beasts, Birds, Vegetables, Mine∣rals, &c. But the men should study the causes of those Experiments, and by this society the Commonwealth would find a great benefit; for the Woman was given to Man not onely to delight, but to help and assist him; and I am confident, Women would labour as much Page  103 with Fire and Furnace as Men, for they'l make good Cordials and Spirits; but whether they would find out the Philosophers-stone, I doubt; for our sex is more apt to waste, then to make Gold; however, I would have them try, especially those that have means to spend; for who knows but Women might be more happy in finding it out, then Men, and then would Men have reason to imploy their time in more profi∣table studies, then in useless Experiments.