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

27. Of Congealation and Freezing.

THe Congelation of Water into Ice, Snow, Hail, and the like, is made by its own corporeal figu∣rative motions, which upon the perception of the ex∣terior object of cold, by the way of imitation, do con∣tract and condense water into such or such a figure. Some are of opinion, that Water, or the like liquors, are not contracted, but expanded or rarified by freez∣ing; which they prove both by the levity of congealed Water, and the breaking of Glasses, Earthen Bottles, or other the like Vessels in which water is contained when it freezes: But although I' mentioned in my for∣mer discourse, that there are several sorts of colds, as for example, moist and dry colds, whereof these con∣tract and condense, those dilate and rarifie; so that there are cold dilations, as well as cold contractions; yet Freezing or Congelation being none of the sorts Page  104 of moist, but of dry colds; it is not made by expand∣ing or dilating, but by contracting and condensing motions; for, that liquid bodies when frozen are more extended, 'tis not the freezing motions that cause those extensions; but water being of a dilative nature, its interior parts strive against the exterior, which figu∣rative motions do imitate the motions of cold, or frost, and in that strife the water becomes extended or dilated, when congealed into Ice: But the question is, Whether solid bodies do dilate or extend when they freeze? and my opinion is they do not; for that solid bodies, as Metal, and the like, are apt to break in a hard frost, doth not prove an expansion, but the division of their parts is rather made by contraction; for though the motions of cold in metal are not so much exteriously contracting as to be perceived by our optick sense, in its bulk or exterior magnitude, as they are in the body of water, whose interior nature is dilative; yet by the division which cold causes, it may well be believed, that freezing hath an interior contractive effect, other∣wise it could not divide so as many times it doth; Wherefore I believe that solid bodies break by an ex∣tream and extraordinary contraction of their interior parts, and not by an extraordinary expansion. Be∣sides this breaking shews a strong self-motion in the action of congealing or freezing, for the motions of cold are as strong and quick as the motions of heat: Nay, even those Experimental Philosophers which Page  105 are so much for expansion, confess themselves that wa∣ter is thicker and heavier in Winter then in Summer; and that Ships draw less water, and that the water can bear greater burdens in Winter then in Summer; which doth not prove a rarefaction and expansion, but rather a contraction and condensation of water by cold: They likewise affirm, that some spirituous liquors of a mixt nature, will not expand, but on the contrary, do vi∣sibly contract in the act of freezing. Concerning the levity of Ice, I cannot believe it to be caused by expan∣sion; for expansion will not make it lighter, but 'tis onely a change of the exterior shape or figure of the body; Neither doth Ice prove Light, because it will float a∣bove water; for a great Ship of wood which is very heavy, will swim, when as other sorts of bodies that are light and little, will sink. Nor are minute bubbles the cause of the Ice's levity, which some do conceive to stick within the Ice, and make it light; for this is but a light and airy opinion, which has no firm ground; and it might as well be said that airy bubles are the cause that a Ship keeps above water; but though wind and sails make a Ship swim faster, yet they will not hinder it from sinking. The truth is, the chief cause of the levity or gravity of bodies, is quantity of bulk, shape, purity and rarity, or grosness and den∣sity, and not minute bubles, or insensible atomes, or pores, unless porous bodies be of less quantity in wa∣ter, then some dense bodies of the same magnitude. And Page  106 thus it is the Triangular figure of Snow that makes it light, and the squareness that makes Ice heavier then Snow; for if Snow were porous, and its pores were fill'd with atomes, it would be much heavier then its principle, Water. Besides, It is to be observed, that not all kind of Water is of the same weight, by reason there are several sorts of Circle-lines which make wa∣ter; and therefore those that measure all water alike, may be mistaken; for some Circle-lines may be gross, some fine, some sharp, some broad, some pointed, &c. all which may cause a different weight of water. Wherefore freezing, in my opinion, is not caused by rarifying and dilating, but by contracting, condensing and retenting motions: and truly if Ice were expanded by congelation, I would fain know, whether its ex∣pansions be equal with the degrees of its hardness; which if so, a drop of water might be expanded to a great bigness; nay, if all frozen liquors should be inlarged or extended in magnitude, according to the strength of the freezing motions, a drop of water at the Poles would become, I will not say a mountain, but a very large body. Neither can rarefaction, in my o∣pinion, be the cause of the Ice's expansion; for not all rarified bodies do extend; and therefore I do rather believe a clarefaction in Ice, then a rarefaction, which are different things. But some may object, That hot and swelling bodies do dilate, and diffuse heat and scent without an expansion of their substance. I answer, Page  107 That is more then any one is able to prove: the truth is, when a fiery-coal, and an odoriferous body cast heat and scent (as we use to say) 'tis not that they do really and actually expand or dilate heat or scent without bo∣dy, for there can be no such thing as an immaterial heat or scent: neither can Nothing be dilated or expanded, but both heat and scent being one thing with the hot and smelling body, are as exterior objects patterned out by the sensitive motions of the sentient body, and so are felt and smelt, not by an actual emission of their own parts, or some heating and smelling atomes, or an immaterial heat and smell, but by an imitation of the perceptive motions in the sentient subject. The like for cold; for great shelves or mountains of Ice, do not expand cold beyond their icy bodies; but the air patterns out the cold, and so doth the perception of those Sea∣men that sail into cold Countries; for it is well to be observed, that there is a stint or proportion in all natures corporeal figurative motions, to wit, in her particulars, as we may plainly see in every particular sort or species of Creatures, and their constant and orderly producti∣ons; for though particular Creatures may change into an infinite variety of figures, by the infinite variety of natures corporeal figurative motions, yet each kind or sort is stinted so much as it cannot run into extreams, nor make a confusion, although it makes a distinguish∣ment between every particular Creature even in one and the same sort. And hence we may conclude, that Page  108 Nature is neither absolutely necessitated, nor has an absolute free-will; for she is so much necessitated, that she depends upon the All-powerfull God, and can∣not work beyond her self, or beyond her own nature; and yet hath so much liberty, that in her particulars she works as she pleaseth, and as God has given her power; but she being wise, acts according to her in∣finite natural wisdom, which is the cause of her or∣derly Government in all particular productions, changes and dissolutions, so that all Creatures in their particular kinds, do move and work as Nature pleases, orders and directs; and therefore, as it is impossible for Nature to go beyond her self; so it is likewise im∣possible that any particular body should extend be∣yond it self or its natural figure. I will not say, that heat or cold, or other parts and figures of Nature, may not occasion other bodies to dilate or extend; but my meaning is, that no heat or cold can extend without body, or beyond body, and that they are figured and patterned out by the motions of the sentient, which imitating or patterning motions of the sentient body cannot be so perfect or strong as the original motions in the object it self. Neither do I say, that all parts or bodies do imitate, but some, and at some times there will be more Imitators then at others, and sometimes none at all; and the imitations are according as the imi∣tating or patterning parts are disposed, or as the object is presented. Concerning the degrees of a visible Page  109 expansion, they cannot be declared otherwise then by the visibly extended body, nor be perceived by us, but by the optick sense: But, mistake me not, I do not mean, that the degrees of heat and cold can onely be perceived by our optick sense, but I speak of bodies vi∣sibly expanded by heat and cold; for some degrees and sorts of heat and cold are subject to the humane per∣ception of sight, some to the perception of touch, some to both, and some to none of them; there being so ma∣ny various sorts and degrees both of heat and cold, as they cannot be altogether subject to our grosser exte∣rior senses, but those which are, are perceived, as I said, by our perception of sight and touch; for although our sensitive perceptions do often commit errors and mistakes, either through their own irregularity, or some other ways; yet next to the rational, they are the best informers we have; for no man can naturally go beyond his rational and sensitive perception. And thus, in my opinion, the nature of Congelation is not effect∣ed by expanding or dilating, but contracting and con∣densing motions in the parts of the sentient body, which motions in the congelation of water do not alter the in∣terior nature of water, but onely contract its exterior figure into the figure either of Ice, Snow, Hail, Hoar∣frost, or the like, which may be proved by their return into the former figure of water, whensoever they dis∣solve; for wheresoever is a total change, or alteration of the interior natural motions of a Creature, when Page  110 once dissolved, it will never regain its former figure; and therefore although the exterior figures of con∣gealed water are various and different, yet they have all but one interior figure, which is water, into which they return as into their principle, whensoever they change their exterior figures by dissolving and dilating motions; for as a laughing and frowning countenance doth not change the nature of a man, so neither do they the nature of water. I do not speak of artificial, but of natural congealed figures, whose congelation is made by their own natural figurative motions; But although all congelations are some certain kind of motions, yet there may be as many particular sorts of congelations, as there are several sorts of frozen or congealed bodies; for though I name but one figure of Snow, another of Ice, another of Hail, &c. yet I do not deny, but there may be numerous particular sorts and figures of Ice, Snow, Hail, &c. all which may have their several freezing or congealing motions; nay, freezing in this respect may very well be compared to burning, as be∣ing opposite actions; and as there are various sorts of burning, much differing from each other, so there are of freezing; for although all burning is of the nature of fire, yet not all burning is an elemental fire; for ex∣ample, Lime, and some Vegetables, and other Crea∣tures have burning effects, and yet are not an Elemen∣tal fire: neither doth the Sun and ordinary fire burn just alike. The same may be said of Freezing; and I Page  111 observe, that fluid and rare parts are more apt to freeze, then solid and dense bodies; for I do not believe all sorts of metal can freeze, so as water, or watery liquors, unless they were made liquid. I will not say, that Mi∣nerals are altogether insensible of cold or frost, but they do not freeze like liquid bodies; nay, not all liquid bodies will freeze; as for example, some sorts of spiri∣tuous liquors, Oil, Vinous spirits, Chymical ex∣tracts, &c. which proves, that not all (that is to say) the infinite parts of Nature, are subject to one particu∣lar kind of action, to wit, the action of freezing; for if Congelation did extend to the infinite parts of Nature, it would not be a finite and particular, but an infinite action; but, as I said, liquid bodies are more apt to freeze, (especially water and watery liquors,) then dense and hard bodies, or some sorts of oil, and spirits; for, as we see that fire cannot have the same operation on all bodies alike, but some it causes to consume and turn to ashes, some it hardens, some it softens, and on some it hath no power at all: So its opposite Frost or Cold cannot congeal every natural body, but onely those which are apt to freeze or imitate the motions of cold. Neither do all these bodies freeze alike, but some slower, some quicker; some into such, and some into another figure; as for example, even in one kind of Creatures, as animals; some Beasts, as Foxes, Bears, and the like, are not so much sensible of cold, as Man, and some other animal Creatures; and dead animals, Page  112 or parts of dead animals, will freeze much sooner then those which are living; not that living animals have more natural life then those we call dead; for animals, when dissolved from their animal figure, although they have not animal life, yet they have life according to the nature of the figure into which they did change; but, because of their different perceptions; for a dead or dissolved animal, as it is of another kind of figure then a living animal, so it has also another kind of percep∣tion, which causes it to freeze sooner then a living ani∣mal doth. But I cannot apprehend what some Learned mean by the powerful effects of cold upon inanimate bodies; whether they mean, that cold is onely animate, and all other bodies inanimate; or whether both cold and other bodies on which it works, be inanimate; if the later, I cannot conceive how inanimate bodies can work upon each other, I mean such bodies as have nei∣ther life nor motion, for without life or motion there can be no action: but if the former, I would fain know whether Cold be self-moving? if not, I ask, What is that which moves it? Is it an Immaterial Spirit, or some corporeal being? If an Immaterial Spirit, we must allow, that this Spirit is either self-moving, or must be moved by another; if it be moved by another Being, and that same Being again by another; we shall after this manner run into infinite, and conclude no∣thing; But if that Imaterial Spirit have self-mo∣tion, why may not a natural corporeal being have the Page  113 like? they being both Creatures of God, who can as well grant self-motion to a corporeal, as to an incorpo∣real Being; nay, I am not able to comprehend how Motion can be attributed to a Spirit; I mean, natural motion, which is onely a propriety of a body, or of a corporeal Being: but if Cold be self-moving, then Nature is self-moving; for the cause can be no less then the effect; and if Nature be self-moving, no part of Nature can be inanimate; for as the body is, so are its parts; and as the cause, so its effects. Thus some Learned do puzle themselves and the world with useless distinctions into animate and inanimate Crea∣tures, and are so much afraid of self-motion, as they will rather maintain absurdities and errors, then allow any other self-motion in Nature, but what is in them∣selves; for they would fain be above Nature, and petty Gods, if they could but make themselves Infi∣nite; not considering that they are but parts of Na∣ture, as all other Creatnres: Wherefore I, for my part, will rather believe as sense and reason guides me, and not according to interest, so as to extoll my own kind above all the rest, or above Nature her self. And thus to return to Cold; as Congelation is not a Universal or Infinite action, which extends to the In∣finite parts of Nature, and causes not the like effects in those Creatures that are perceptible of it; so I do also observe, that not any other sorts of bodies but Water will congeal into the figure of Snow, when as Page  114 there are many that will turn into the figure of Ice; be∣sides, I observe that air doth not freeze beyond its de∣gree of consistency; for if it did, no animal Creature would be able to breath, since all or most of them are subject to such a sort of respiration, as requires a certain intermediate degree of air, neither too thick, nor too thin; what respirations other Creatures require, I am not able to determine; for as there are several infinite parts and actions of Nature, so also several sorts of Re∣spirations; and I believe, that what is called the ebbing and flowing of the Sea, may be the Seas Respiration; for Nature has ordered for every part or Creature that which is most fitting and proper for it.

Concerning Artificial Congelations, as to turn Water or Snow into the figure of Ice, by the commix∣ture of Salt, Nitre, Allum, or the like, it may, very probably, be effected; for Water and watery liquors, their interior figure being Circular, may easily change, by contracting that Circular figure into a Triangle or square; that is, into Ice or Snow, (for Water, in my opinion, has a round or Circular interior figure, Snow a Triangular, and Ice a square; I do not mean an ex∣act Mathematical Triangle or Square, but such a one as is proper for their figures) and that the mixture of those, or the like ingredients, being shaken together in a Vial, doth produce films of Ice on the outside of the Glass, as Experimenters relate; proves, not onely that the motions of Cold are very strong, but also that Page  115 there is perception in all parts of Nature, and that all Congelations, both natural and artificial, are made by the corporeal perceptive motions which the sentient has of exterior cold; which is also the reason, that Salt being mixt with Snow, makes the liquor always freeze first on that side of the Vessel where the mixture is; for those parts which are nearest, will imitate first the mo∣tions of frost, and after them the neighbouring parts, until they be all turned into Ice: The truth is, that all or most artificial experiments are the best arguments to evince, there is perception in all corporeal parts of Na∣ture; for as parts are joyned, or commix with parts; so they move or work accordingly into such or such fi∣gures, either by the way of imitation, or otherwise; for their motions are so various, as it is impossible for one particulare to describe them all; but no motion can be without perception, because every part or particle of Nature, as it is self-moving, so it is also self-knowing and perceptive; for Matter, Self-motion, Knowledg and Perception, are all but one thing, and no more dif∣fering nor separable from each other, then Body, Place, Magnitude, Colour and Figure; Wherefore Expe∣rimental Philosophers cannot justly blame me for main∣taining the opinion of Self-motion, and a general Per∣ception in Nature.

But to return to Artificial Congelations; there is as much difference between Natural and Artificial Ice and Snow, as there is between Chalk and Cheese; or Page  116 between a natural Child, and a Baby made of Paste or Wax, and Gummed-silk; or between artificial Glass, and natural Diamonds; the like may be said of Hail, Frost, Wind, &c. for though their exterior figures do resemble, yet their interior natures are quite dif∣ferent; and therefore, although by the help of Art some may make Ice of Water or Snow, yet we cannot conclude from hence that all natural Ice is made the same way, by saline particles, or acid Spirits, and the like; for if Nature should work like Art, she would produce a man like as a Carver makes a statue, or a Painter draws a picture: besides, it would require a world of such saline or acid particles to make all the Ice that is in Nature. Indeed it is as much absurdity, as im∣possibility, to constitute some particular action the common principle of all natural heat or cold, and to make a Universal cause of a particular effect; for no particular Part or Action can be prime in Nature, or a fundamental principle of other Creatures or actions, although it may occasion some Creatures to move after such or such a way. Wherefore those that will needs have a Primum Frigidum, or some Body which they suppose must of necessity be supremely cold, and by participation of which, all other cold Bodies ob∣tain that quality, whereof some do contend for Earth, some for Water, others for Air; some for Nitre, and others for Salt, do all break their heads to no purpose; for first, there are no extreams in Nature, and there∣fore Page  117 no Body can be supreamely cold, nor supreamly hot: Next, as I said, it is impossible to make one par∣ticular sort of Creatures the principle of all the various sorts of heat or cold that are in Nature; for there is an Elemental heat and cold, a Vegetable, Mineral, Ani∣mal heat and cold; and there may be many other sorts which we do not know; and how can either Earth or Water, or Nitre, or Salt, be the Principle of all these different colds? Concerning the Earth, we see that some parts of the Earth are hot, and some cold; the like of Water and Air; and the same parts which are now hot, will often in a moment grow cold, which shews they are as much subject to the perception of heat and cold, as some other Creatures, and doth plainly deny to them the possibility of being a Primum Frigidum. I have mentioned in my Poetical Works, that there is a Sun in the Center of the Earth; and in another place, I have described a Chymical heat; but these being but Poetical Fancies, I will not draw them to any serious proofs; onely this I will say, that there may be degrees of heat and cold in the Earth, and in Water, as well as there are in the Air; for certainly the Earth is not with∣out Motion, a dull, dead, moveless and inanimate body; but it is as much interiously active, as Air and Water are exteriously; which is evident enough by the various productions of Vegetables, Minerals, and other bodies that derive their off-spring out of the Earth: And as for Nitre and Salt, although they may Page  118 occasion some sorts of Colds in some sorts of Bodies, like as some sorts of food, or tempers of Air, or the like, may work such or such effects in some sorts of Creatures; yet this doth not prove that they are the onely cause of all kinds of heat and cold that are in Nature. The truth is, if Air, Water, Earth, Nitre, or Salt, or insensible, roving and wandering atomes should be the only cause of cold; then there would be no difference of hot and cold climates, but it would freeze as well under the Line, as it doth at the Poles. But there's such a stir kept about Atoms, as that they are so full of action, and produce all things in the world, and yet none describes by what means they move, or from whence they have this active power.

Lastly, Some are of opinion, that the chief cause of all cold, and its effects, is wind; which they describe to be air moved in a considerable quantity, and that either forwards onely, or in an undulating motion; which opinion, in my judgment, is as erroneous as any of the former, and infers another absurdity, which is, that all Winds are of the same nature, when as there are as many several sorts and differences of Winds, as of other Creatures; for there are several Winds in several Creatures; Winds in the Earth are of another kind then those in the Air, and the Wind of an animal breath, is different from both; nay, those that are in the air, are of different sorts; some cold and dry, some hot and moist, and some temperate, &c.Page  119 which how they can all produce the effect of cold or freezing by the compression of the air, I am not able to judg: onely this I dare say, that if Wind causes cold or frost; then in the midst of the Summer, or in hot Climates, a vehement wind would always pro∣duce a great Frost; besides it would prove, that there must of necessity be far greater winds at the Poles, then under the AEquinoctial, there being the greatest cold: Neither will this principle be able to resolve the que∣stion, why a man that has an Ague feels a shaking cold, even under the Line, and in the coldest weather when there is no stirring of the least wind: All which proves, that it is very improbable that Wind should be the principle of all Natural Cold, and therefore it remains firm, that self-moving Matter, or corporeal, figurative self-motion, as it is the Prime and onely cause of all natural effects, so it is also of Cold, and Heat, and Wind, and of all the changes and altera∣tions in Nature; which is, and hath always been my constant, and, in my simple judgment, the most probable and rational opinion in Natural Philoso∣phy.