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fire, the tube will fly through the air: this is clearly the rocket. He says that thunder may be imitated by folding some of the powder in a cover and tying it up tightly : this is the cracker. It thus appears that fireworks preceded fire-arms. To the same author we are Incombusindebted for prescriptions for making the skin tible men. incombustible, so that we may handle fire without being burnt. These, doubtless, were received as explanations of the legends of the times, which related how miracleworkers had washed their hands in melted copper, and sat at their ease in flaming straw.
Among the Saracen names that might be mentioned as cultivators of alchemy, we may recall El-Rasi, Arabian Ebid Durr, Djafar or Geber, Toghragé, who chemists. wrote an alchemical poem, and Dschildegi, one of whose works bears the significant title of “ The Lantern.” The definition of alchemy by some of these authors is very striking: the science of the balance, tho science of weight, the science of combustion.
To one of these chemists, Djafar, our attention may for a moment be drawn. He lived toward the end of the eighth century, and is honoured by Rhases, covers nitric Avicenna, and Kalid, the great Arabio phy- acid and aqua
regia, sicians, as their master. His name is memorable in chemistry, since it marks an epoch in that science of equal importance to that of Priestley and Lavoisier. He is the first to describe nitric acid and aqua regia. Before him no stronger acid was known than concentrated vinegar. We cannot conceive of chemistry as not possessing acids. Roger Bacon speaks of him as the magister magistrorum. He has perfectly just notions of the nature of spirits or gases, as we call them ; thus he says, “O son of the doctrine, when spirits fix themselves in bodies, they lose their form ; in their nature they are no longer Oxidation what they were. When you compel them to increnses
weight. be disengaged again, this is what happens : either the spirit alone escapes with the air, and the body remains fixed in the alembic, or the spirit and body escape together at the same time.” His doctrine respecting the nature of the metals, though erroneous, was not without a scientific value. A metal he considers to
He solves the
be a compound of sulphur, mercury, and arsenic, and hence he infers that transmutation is possible by varying the proportion of those ingredients. He knows that a metal, when calcined, increases in weight, a discovery of the greatest importance, as eventually brought to bear in the destruction of the doctrine of Phlogiston of Stahl, and which has been imputed to Europeans of a much later time. He describes the operations of distillation, sublimation, filtration, various chemical apparatus, waterbaths, sand-baths, cupels of bone-earth, of the use of which he gives a singularly clear description. A chemist reads with interest Djafar's antique method of obtaining nitrio acid by distilling in a retort Cyprus vitriol, alum, and
es the saltpetre. He sets forth its corrosive power, and problem of shows how it may be made to dissolve even potable gold gold itself, by adding a portion of sal ammoniac. Djafar may thus be considered as having solved the grand alchemical problem of obtaining gold in a potable stato. Of course, many trials must have been made on the influence of this solution on the animal system, respecting which such extravagant anticipations had been entertained. The disappointment that ensued was doubtless the reason that the records of these trials have not descended to us. With Djafar may be mentioned Rhazes, born A.D. 860,
. physician-in-chief to the great hospital at BagRhazes discovers sul dad. To him is due the first description of the
tid. preparation and properties of sulphuric acid. He obtained it, as the Nordhausen variety is still made, by the distillation of dried green vitriol. To him are also due the first indications of the preparation of absolute alcohol, by distilling spirit of wine from quick-lime. As Bechil dise a curious discovery made by the Saracens may covers phos- be mentioned the experiment of Achild Bechil, pborus. who, by distilling together the extract of urine, clay, lime, and powdered charcoal, obtained an artificial carbuncle, which shone in the dark “like a good moon." This was phosphorus.
And now there arose among Arabian physicians a correctness of thought and breadth of view altogether surprising. It might almost be supposed that the following lines were written by one of our own contemporaries;
they are, however, extracted from a chapter of Avicenna on the origin of mountains. This author was Ged
Geological born in the tenth century. “Mountains may views if
Avicenna. be due to two different causes. Either they are effects of upheavals of the crust of the earth, such as might occur during a violent earthquake, or they are the effect of water, which, cutting for itself a new route, has denuded the valleys, the strata being of different kinds, some soft, some hard. The winds and waters disintegrate the one, but leave the other intact. Most of the eminences of the earth have had this latter origin. It would require a long period of time for all such changes to be accomplished, during which the mountains themselves might be somewhat diminished in size. But that water has been the main cause of these effects is proved by the existence of fossil remains of aquatic and other animals on many mountains.” Avicenna also explains the nature of petrifying or incrusting waters, and mentions ærolites, out of one of which a sword-blade was made, but he adds that the metal was too brittle to be of any use. A mere catalogue of some of the works of Avicenna will indicate the condition of Arabian attainment. 1. On the ..
His works Utility and Advantage of Science; 2. Of Health indicate the and Remedies; 3. Canons of Physic; 4. On attainment of
the times. Astronomical Observations; 5. Mathematical Theorems ; 6. On the Arabic Language and its Properties ; 7. On the Origin of the Soul and Resurrection of the Body; 8. Demonstration of Collateral Lines on the Sphere; 9. An Abridgment of Euclid ; 10. On Finity and Infinity; 11. On Physics and Metaphysics ; 12. An Encyclopædia of Human Knowledge, in 20 vols., etc., etc. The perusal of such a catalogue is sufficient to excite profound attention when we remember the contempo raneous state of Europe.
The pursuit of the elixir made a well-marked impression upon Arab experimental science, confirm- Effect of the ing it in its medical application. At the founda- search for the tion of this application lay the principle that practical it is possible to relieve the diseases of the human medicine. body by purely material means. As the science advanced it gradually shook off its fetichisms, the spiritual receding
into insignificance, the material coming into bolder relief, Not, however, without great difficulty was a way forced for the great doctrine that the influence of substances on the constitution of man is altogether of a material kind, and not at all due to any indwelling or animating spirit; that it is of no kind of use to practise incantations over drugs, or to repeat prayers over the mortar in which medicines are being compounded, since the effect will be the same, whether this has been done or not; that there is no kind of efficacy in amulets, no virtue in charms; and that, though saint-relics may serve to excite the imagination of the ignorant, they are altogether beneath the attention of the philosopher. It was this last sentiment which brought Europe and
Africa into intellectual collision. The Saracen Hict between and Hebrew physicians had become thoroughly Europe and materialized. Throughout Christendom the
practice of medicine was altogether supernatural. It was in the hands of ecclesiastics; and saint relics, shrines, and miracle-cures were a source of boundless profit. On a subsequent page I shall have to describe the circumstances of the conflict that ensued between material philosophy on one side, and supernatur al jugglery on the other; to show how the Arab system gained the victory, and how, out of that victory, the industrial life of Europe arose. The Byzantine policy inaugurated in Constantinople and Alexandria was, happily for the world, in the end overthrown. To that future page I must postpone the great achievements of the Arabians in the fulness of their Age of Reason. When Europe was hardly more enlightened than Caffraria is now, the Saracens were cultivating and even creating science. Their triumphs in philosophy, mathematics, astronomny, chemistry, medicine, proved to be more glorious, more durable, and therefore more important than their military actions had been.
THE AGE OF FAITH IN THE WEST-(Continued).
IMAGE-WORSHIP AND THE MONKS.
Origin of IMAGE-WORSHIP.-Inutility of Images discovered in Asia and
Africa during the Saracen Wars.— Rise of Iconoclasm. The Emperors prohibit Image-worship.-The Monks, aided by court
Femalēs, sustain it.- Victory of the latter. Image-worship in the West sustained by the Popes.--Quarrel between the
Emperor and the Pope.-- The Pope, aided by the Monks, revolts and
allies himself with the Franks. THE MONKS.-History of the Rise and Development of Monasticism.
Hermits and Coenobites.-Spread of Monasticism from Egypt over Europe.—Monk Miracles and Legends.—Humanization of the monastic Establishments.—They materialize Religion, and impress their Ideas on Europe.
The Arabian influence, allying itself to philosophy, was henceforth productive of other than military results. To the loss of Africa and Asia was now added a disturbance impressed on Europe itself, ending in the decom- Influence of position of Christianity into two forms, Greek the Arabians, and Latin, and in three great political events—the emancipation of the popes from the emperors of Constantinople, the usurpation of power by a new dynasty in France, the reconstruction of the Roman empire in the West.
The dispute respecting the worship of images led to those great events. The acts of the Mohammedan khalifs and of the iconoclastic or image-breaking emperors occasioned that dispute.
Nothing could be more deplorable than the condition of Bouthern Europe when it first felt the intellectual influence of the Arabians. Its old Roman and Greek populations