The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

Page 68 of 76

Q. Why is it, if the stone do congeal and wax hard through heat, we use not contrary things to dissolve it by coldness, but light things, as parsley, fennel and the like? A. It is thought, to fall out by an excessive scorching heat, by which the stones do crumble into sand, as in the manner of earthen vessels, which, when they are overheated or roasted, turn to sand. And by this means it happens that small stones are avoided, together with sand, in making water. Sometimes cold drink thrusts out the stone, the kidneys being stretched and casting it out by a great effort; thus easing the belly of its burden. Besides, it often happens that immoderate heat of the kidneys, or of the veins of the back (through which the stone doth grow) is quenched with coldness.

Q. Why is the curing of an ulcer or bile in the kidneys or bladder very hard? A. Because the urine being sharp, doth ulcerate the sore. Ulcers are worse to cure in the bladder than in the kidneys, because urine stays in the former, but runs away from the latter.

Q. Why do chaff and straw keep water hot, but make snow cold? A. Because the nature of chaff wants a manifest quantity; seeing, therefore that of its own nature, it can easily be mingled, and consumed by that which it is annexed onto, it easily assumes the same nature, and being put into hot things, it is easily hot, heats again, and keeps hot; and on the contrary, being made cold by the snow, and making the snow cold it keeps in its coldness.

Q. Why have we oftentimes a pain in making water? A. Because sharp choler issuing out, and pricking the bladder of the urine, doth provoke and stir up the whole body to ease the part offended, and to expel the humour moderately. This doth happen most of all unto children, because they have moist excrements by reason of their often drinking.

Q. Why have some medicines of one kind contrary effects, as experience proves; for mastich doth expel, dissolve and also knit; and vinegar cools and heats? A. Because there are some small invisible bodies in them, not in confusion, but by interposition; as sand moistened doth clog together and seem to be but one body, though indeed there are many small bodies in sand. And since this is so, it is not absurd that the contrary qualities and virtues should be hidden in mastich, and that nature hath given that virtue to these bodies.

Q. Why do nurses rock and move their children when they would rock them to sleep? A. To the end that the humours being scattered by moving, may move the brains; but those of more years cannot endure this.

Q. Why doth oil, being drunk, cause one to vomit, and especially yellow choler? A. Because being light, and ascending upwards it provoketh the nutriment in the stomach, and lifteth it up; and so, the stomach being grieved, summoneth the ejective virtue to vomit, and especially choler, because that is light and consisteth of subtle parts, and therefore the sooner carried upward; for when it is mingled with any moist thing, it runneth into the highest room.

Q. Why doth not oil mingle with moist things? A. Because, being pliant, soft and thick in itself, it cannot be divided into parts, and so cannot be mingled; neither if it be put on the earth can it enter into it.

Q. Why are water and oil frozen in cold weather, and wine and vinegar not? A. Because that oil being without quality, and fit to be compounded with anything, is cold quickly and so extremely that it is most cold. Water being cold of nature, doth easily freeze when it is made colder than its own nature. Wine being hot, and of subtle parts, suffereth no freezing.

Q. Why do contrary things in quality bring forth the same effect? A. That which is moist is hardened and bound alike by heat and cold. Snow and liquid do freeze with cold; a plaster and gravel in the bladder are made dry with heat. The effect indeed is the same, but by two divers actions; the heat doth consume and eat the abundance of moisture; but the cold stopping and shutting with its over much thickness, doth wring out the filthy humidity, like as a sponge wrung with the hand doth cast out the water which it hath in the pores and small passages.

Q. Why doth a shaking or quivering seize us oftentimes when any fearful matter doth happen, as a great noise or a crack made, the sudden downfall of water, or the fall of a large tree? A. Because that oftentimes the humours being digested and consumed by time and made thin and weak, all the heat vehemently, suddenly and sharply flying into the inward part of the body, consumeth the humours which cause the disease. So treacle hath this effect, and many such like, which are hot and dry when taken after connexion.

Q. Why do steel glasses shine so clearly? A. Because they are lined in the inside with white lead, whose nature is shining, and being put to glass, which is lucid and transparent, doth shine much more; and casts its beams through its passages, and without the body of the glass; and by that means the glass is very shining and clear.

Q. Why do we see ourselves in glasses and clear water? A. Because the quality of the sight, passing into the bright bodies by reflection, doth return again on the beam of the eyes, as the image of him who looketh on it.

Q. What is the reason that if you cast a stone in standing water which is near the surface of the earth, it causes many circles, and not if the water be deep in the earth? A. Because the stone, with the vehemence of the cast, doth agitate the water in every part of it, until it come to the bottom; and if there be a very great vehemence in the throw, the circle is still greater, the stone going down to the bottom causing many circles. For, first of all, it doth divide the outermost and superficial parts of the water in many parts, and so, always going down to the bottom, again dividing the water, it maketh another circle, and this is done successively until the stone resteth; and because the vehemence of the stone is slackened, still as it goes down, of necessity the last circle is less than the first, because by that and also by its force the water is divided.

Q. Why are such as are deaf by nature, dumb? A. Because they cannot speak and express that which they never hear. Some physicians do say, that there is one knitting and uniting of sinews belonging to the like disposition. But such as are dumb by accident are not deaf at all, for then there ariseth a local passion.

Q. Why doth itching arise when an ulcer doth wax whole and phlegm ceases? A. Because the part which is healed and made sound doth pursue the relic of the humours which remained there against nature, and which was the cause of the bile, and so going out through the skin, and dissolving itself, doth originally cause the itch.

Q. How comes a man to sneeze oftener and more vehemently than a beast? A. Because he uses more meats and drinks, and of more different sorts, and that more than is requisite; the which, when he cannot digest as he would, he doth gather together much air and spirit, by reason of much humidity; the spirits then very subtle, ascending into the head, often force a man to void them, and so provoke sneezing. The noise caused thereby proceeds from a vehement spirit or breath passing through the conduit of the nostrils, as belching doth from the stomach or farting by the fundament, the voice by the throat, and a sound by the ear.

Q. How come the hair and nails of dead people to grow? A. Because the flesh rotting, withering and falling away, that which was hidden about the root of the hair doth now appear as growing. Some say that it grows indeed, because carcasses are dissolved in the beginning to many excrements and superfluities by putrefaction. These going out at the uppermost parts of the body by some passages, do increase the growth of the hair.

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