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The Philosophy of Natural Magic, by Henry Cornelius Agrippa, L. W. de Laurence ed. [1913], at


Of the Virtues of Things Natural, Depending Immediately upon Elements.

Of the natural virtues of things, some are Elementary, as to heat, to cool, to moisten, to dry; and they are called operations, or first qualities; and the second act: for these qualities only do wholly change the whole substance, which none of the other qualities can do. And some are in things compounded of Elements, and these are more than first qualities, and such are those that are maturating, digesting, resolving, mollifying, hardening, restringing, absterging, corroding, burning, opening, evaporating, strengthening, mitigating, conglutinating, obstructing, expelling, retaining, attracting, repercussing, stupefying, bestowing, lubrifying and many more. Elementary qualities do many things in a mixed body which they cannot do in the Elements themselves. And these operations are called secondary qualities, because they follow the nature and proportion of the mixtion of the first virtues, as largely it is treated of in physic books. As maturation, which is the operation of natural heat, according to a certain proportion in the substance of the matter, so induration is the operation of cold; so also is congelation, and so of the rest. And these operations sometimes act upon a certain member, as such which provoke water, milk, the flow, and they are called third qualities, which follow the second, as the second do the first. According, therefore, to these first, second, and third qualities many diseases are both cured and caused. Many things also there are artificially made, which men much wonder at; as is Fire which burns Water,

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which they call the Greek Fire, of which Aristotle teacheth many compositions in his particular treatise of this subject. In like manner there is made a Fire that is extinguished with oil, and is kindled with cold water, when it is sprinkled upon it; and a Fire which is kindled either with Rain, Wind or the Sun; and there is made a Fire which is called burning Water, the confection whereof is well known, and it consumes nothing but itself. And also there are made Fires that cannot be quenched, and incombustible Oils and perpetual Lamps, which can be extinguished neither with wind, nor water, nor any other way; which seems utterly incredible, but that there had been such a most famous Lamp, which once did shine in the Temple of Venus, in which the stone Asbestos did burn, which being once fired can never be extinguished. Also, on the contrary, Wood, or any other combustible matter may be so ordered, that it can receive no harm from the Fire; and there are made certain confections, with which the hands being anointed, we may carry red-hot iron in them, or put them into melted metal; or go with our whole bodies, being first anointed therewith, into the Fire without any manner of harm; and such like things as these may be done. There is also a kind of flax, which Pliny calls Asbestum, the Greeks call Asbeson, which is not consumed by Fire, of which Anaxilaus saith, that a tree compassed about with it may be cut down with insensible blows, that cannot be heard.

Next: Chapter X. Of the Occult Virtues of Things