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Hence it is that the widely-diffused sea is impregnated with the flavour of salt, in consequence of what is sweet and mild being evaporated from it, which the force of fire easily accomplishes; while all the more acrid and thick matter is left behind; on which account the water of the sea is less salt at some depth than at the surface. And this is a more true cause of the acrid flavour, than that the sea is the continued perspiration of the land1, or that the greater part of the dry vapour is mixed with it, or that the nature of the earth is such that it impregnates the waters, and, as it were, medicates them2. Among the prodigies which have occurred, there is one which happened when Dionysius, the tyrant of Sicily, was expelled from his kingdom; that, for the space of one day, the water in the harbour became sweet.

(101.) The moon, on the contrary, is said to be a feminine and delicate planet, and also nocturnal; also that it resolves humours and draws them out, but does not carry them off. It is manifest that the carcases of wild beasts are rendered putrid by its beams, that, during sleep, it draws up the accumulated torpor into the head, that it melts ice, and relaxes all things by its moistening spirit3. Thus the changes of nature compensate each other, and are always adequate to their destined purpose; some of them congealing the elements of the stars and others dissolving them. The moon is said to be fed by fresh, and the sun by salt water.

1 "Terræ sudor;" according to Aristotle, Meteor. ii. 4: this opinion. was adopted by some of the ancients.

2 The commentators discuss at considerable length the relative merits of the three hypotheses here proposed, to account for the saltness of the ocean; all of which are equally unfounded. See Hardouin in Lemaire, i. 434, 435. Aristotle's opinion on this subject is contained in his Meteor.

3 It is not easy to ascertain the origin of the very general opinion respecting the peculiar physical action of the moon. The alleged facts are, for the most part, without foundation, and I am not aware of any circumstance which could, originally, have made them a part of the popular creed of so many nations, ancient as well as modern. Perhaps some of the effects which have been ascribed to the specific action of the moon, may be explained by the lower temperature and greater dampness of the air, during the absence of the sun.

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