« PreviousContinue »
A PHILOSOPHICAL ESSAY,
"; TREATING OF
The most probable Cause of that grand Mystery of Nature,
THE FLUX AND REFLUX,
OR, FLOWING AND EBBING OF THE SEA.
London : Printed by T. M. for T. Passinger, at the Three Bibles, on the middle of
London Bridge, 1673. Quarto, containing eighteen pages.
To the Icarned and judicious Sir John Marsham, of Whoornes-Place in
Kent, Knight and Baronet, one of the six clerks' of his Majesty's High Court of Chanccry.
SIR, When the sun opens the curtains of the east, and gilds and enamels the fringes of the
firmament with his early beams, the lesser lights resign themselves up to his, and muffle themselves up in their own obscurity, as being vanquished with an excess of splendor; so the meaper and pettier censures shall look faint and dim, if you, that arc the great luminary in the orb of learning, shall shed a propitious beam and inAuence upon this crude essay, which will not only rescue it from the virulency of detraction, but so foment and improve it, that it will bourge on and flourish under your protection : so that, though it owe its birth to my pen, it will intitle its verdure and perfection to your candid acceptance of it ; now it is offered up to yours, from the hands of him, who is,
Your most affectionate Servant,
THERE is a huge variety of opinions, that intitle themselves to hare
. unwound the cause of this grand mystery of nature, the flux and reflux of the sea; but they are erected upon untenable principles, and so intwined and complicater, that I may say of them, as Florus did of the mountainous inhabitants of the Alps, Pluris erat invenire quam vincere ; it is a greater difficulty to trace out and unravel them, than to subvert or dismantle them.
The First Opinion is, Of Leonardus Lessius, who affirms, that the motion of reciprocation or replication, commonly stiled, the flux and reflux of the sea, intitles its primitive and original causality, to the supernatural guidance and managery of an angel ; but if the strength of man be seen in his reason, and the strength of reason evidenced in his judgment, and the strength of judgment manifested in his knowledge, all these three, by this frail opinion, must be destroyed; for, who will ever attempt by a noble win. nowing and industrious pursuit and inquest after the more eminent but cloudy and abstruse causes of nature, to unlock the mysteries of them, which are laid up in her gloomy cabinet, when he can affirm, that their operation owes its original emanation, or effiux, to the supernatural con. duct of an angel, and this at last will become the common sanctuary to • shelter a universal ignorance? Indeed, I do not deny, but the hand of God's special providence is sometimes stretched out and extended to support nature, when she is feeble and faint in her operations, or else to knit and twist extraordinary causes with extraordinary effects, when she is not able to perfect and perform this union, and then only when she is defective either in her strength or in her light; but to do it always, and assert that these extraordinary efforts of God's special providence are visibly manifested at all times, and in all seasons, is to ravel and discompose the chain of second causes, whose operations are still interwoven with the concourse and concomitance of the first. But the irregularity of this opinion will further appear by this question, Why have not the Baltick, Eusine, and Caspian seas this flux and reflux of waters, by this angelical motion; since they are as capable of it, as other parts of the ocean abroad, that daily receive it? Besides, it is absurd to imagine that seas, divided by such vast intervals, should at one and the same instant swell into tides, and fall into ebbings, by the transport and managery of one single angel, and yet these waters, being equally moved, should produce such different fluxes and refluxes. And now, I hope, by this time, wise men will laugh at this opinion, not in applause, but contempt of the vanity of it.
The Second Opinion is, That of our countryman Lydiat, wbo avers, that the flux and reflux of the sea owes its primitive efficiency to subterraneous fires, fed and fo. mented by a stock either of sulphurous or else of bituminous matter; but this position of his meets with so many ruinous and destructive diffi. culties, that it is almost impossible to reconcile it to truth ; for it is by all agreed, that the flux and reflux of the sea is periodical in its revolu. tion, and so determined, fixed, and certain ; but, if this opinion of his should be assented to, where there is not this collection of sulphurous and bituminous matter (as on the coast of Norway, and other places) there would be no tides at all. Besides, where this stock of combustible matter is wholly wasted and impaired, the flux and reflux of the sea must wholly cease. But then, secondly, why should not the Dead Sea in Palestine, or the lake Asphaltites, that has such an eminent congestion of bitumen transfused through the bowels of it, be capable of prodigious
tides? But this, we know, is contradicted by all experience. Thirdly, why should not the Baltick Sea, that is replenished with many bitumi. nous particles, as appears from the generation of amber, which most do conclude to be a coagulum or concretion of salt, sulphur, and bitumen, and which is frequently found upon the coast of Liesland, Courland, and Prussia, have these tides and ebbings, wbich every one knows to be contrary to all observation? Fourthly, why do not the tides upon the coasts of Sicily and Naples swell to a very important height, since both their circumambient shores abound with such a copious quantity of sulphur? But this we know is evidently false, the sea not swelling upon those coast to a diameter of above three or four feet, when it is at the highest. But, last of all, if you ask Lydiat, wbat superior cause produces these subterraneous fires, he will tell you, that it is the reflexion of the beams* of the sun upon the convex superficies of the sea. To this I answer, that, by the consent of many eminent philosophers, the rays of the sun never operate by penetration upon that watery body above fifteen cubits, and so impossible, where the sea is of any considerable depth, to produce these subterraneous fires. And thus, I think, I have sufficiently dis. armed his opinion.
The Third Opinion is, That the fiux and reflux of the sea is caused by some prodigious eddies and whirlpools, that suck and transport the sea from the north to the south; and from the south to the north; that there is such a vast whirlpool upon the coast of Norway, is most certain, which is by mariners stiled, the Navel of the Sea: but, that there is such an one in the southern hemisphere to refund back the sea by a motion of replication, no observations either of Ramusius, Linschoten, or the niore curious De Leat have ever discovered to us, whose searches and inquisitions into the mysteries of the East Indian and West Indian seas were never yet cavilled or quarrelled at: Besides, if there were any such in those parts, upon the reciprocal return of the southern waters toward the north, that multitude of angry circles, which discompose, by reason of that volumi. nous whirlpool, the face of the Norwegian sea, would every twenty-four hours disband, and be smooth, as the aspect of peace, and even as the margin of a pool, wben it is not disordered into wrinkles by the rough breath of a ruder tempest. But this is contradictory to the daily obser. vation of the inhabitants that confine upon the fringes of this stupendous . whirlpool.
Thus, I think likewise, this opinion, that is supported by such feeble crutches, is at last overturned.
The Fourth Opinion. But, as some have found out a navel, so Kepler hath found out the lungs of the sea; for he asseveres the terrestial globe to be but one great.
animal, and that the flux and reflux of the sea does proceed from the • systole and diastole, or the contraction and expansion of its spacious lungs. But then I ask, first, whether does this motion result, either from air, or some spirit? Or, secondly, does it issue either from a sensi,
live or rational soul? And, thirdly, I enquire upon what coast these pro. digious lungs are situated? And, until the abettors of this wild opinion, if there be any such, do give some satisfactory answers to these queries, this opinion is demolished by a bare negation of it.
The Fifth Opinion is, Of Picus Mirandula, that this increase and decrease of water is caused per mutuas et benevolas aquarum allicientias; that is, by a motion of aggregation or sympathetical connexion, by which water does vigorously endeavour to unite and combine with water. But, if this were granted, streams would seek to intwine with streams, and lakes twist with lakes, till, at last, long before this, the world must have suffered under the angry baptism of a public deluge. Secondly, where there is this mo. tion of aggregation or connexion, the tides would swell to an important height, as in the Caspian, Euxine, and Baltick seas, where all geogra. phers, that have displayed to us the topography of those places, have discovered to us, that a multitude of huge rivers do daily disembogue themselves: And, on the other side, those seas that do not swell with the additional supplies of very few or no rivers, as the Norwegian ocean, and others, would have very little or no tides at all; both wbich are evi. dently false, and repugnant to daily observation : therefore, this opinion of his, established upon such frail principles, does easily shrink and languish into its own ruin.
The Sixth Opinion Does aver, that the sea does intitle the causality of its flux and reflux to some currents that either set from east to west, or from north to south: but, if this were assented to, the Red sea, the Euxine sea, and the Bal. tick sea, would improve themselves to a huge increase of tides, consider. ing all three are fed by a communication of perpetual currents; but this is manifestly false, for the Red sea and Eusine have little or no tides, and the Baltick sea none at all. Therefore I wave this opinion as altogether erroneous.
The Seventh Opinion, Intitles the motion of the earth to be the cause of the motion of the sea : those, who abet this opinion, affirm three things : • First, that the earth and sea have but one centre, to render the whole globe more regularly and uniformly orbicular, and so more apt for that motion they are designed to receive.
Secondly, they assert, that every part and particle of this spherical body is so tied and threaded together by a magnetical union, that it is impossible that the least atom should start out of its natural situation, being fastened and fettered to its station by so inexpugnable a magnetism.
Thirdly, that its motion is circular ; now the flux and reflux of the sea is motus transversus, or a motion of reciprocation and rejection, like water that is justled, and thrown from side to side, in a pail or bowl. Now, if it should move circularly, every part would move so evenly and magnetically, that there would be no Aux or reflux of the sea at all.