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This makes me admire at those who affirm the air to be cold because it is dark and obscure, unless it be because they find others affirming it to be hot because it is light. For dark is not so proper and familiar to cold, as heavy and stable; for many things that are void of heat partake of splendor and light, but there is nothing cold that is light, nimble, or apt to ascend upward. Even the clouds themselves, while they preserve the nature of air, tower aloft in the sky; but changing into moisture, they presently fall down, and having admitted coldness, they lose their lightness as well as their heat. And so on the other side, having regained their heat, they again return to motion, their substance being carried upward as soon as it is changed into air.

[p. 320] Neither is the argument produced from corruption true. For nothing that perishes is corrupted into what is opposite, but by what is opposite to it; as fire extinguished by water changes into air. And therefore Aeschylus spake not merely like a tragedian but like a philosopher, when he said,

The water curb, that punishment of fire.

In like manner Homer opposed in battle Vulcan to the river, and Apollo to Neptune, more like a philosopher than a poet or mythologist. And Archilochus spoke not amiss of a woman whose thoughts were contrary to her words, when he said,

She, weaving subtle trains and sly vagaries,
Fire in one hand, in th' other water carries.

Among the Persians there were several customs of supplication, of which the chiefest, and that which would admit of no refusal, was when the suppliant, taking fire in his hand and entering into a river, threatened, if his supplications were denied, to throw the fire into the water. But though his suit were granted him, yet he was punished for threatening, as being against the law and contrary to Nature. And this is a vulgar proverb in everybody's mouth, to mix fire with water, spoken of those that would attempt impossibilities; to show that water is an enemy to fire, and being extinguished thereby, is destroyed and punished by it,—not by the air, which, upon the change and destruction of it, receives and entertains the substance of it. For if that into which the thing destroyed is changed be contrary to it, why does fire seem contrary to air more than water? For air changes into water by condensation, but into fire by dissipation; as, on the other side, water is turned into air by separation, into earth by condensation. Which, in my opinion, happens by reason of the propriety and near affinity between both, not from any thing of contrariety and hostility one to another. Others there are, [p. 321] that, which way soever they maintain it, spoil the argument. For it is most irrational to say that water is congealed by the air, when they never saw the air congealed in their lives. For clouds, fogs, and mists are no congelations, but thickenings and condensations of the air moist and full of vapors; but a dry air void of moisture never undergoes refrigeration to such a degree. For there are some mountains that never admit of a cloud, nor dew, nor mist, their tops being so high as to reach into an air that is pure and void of moisture. Whence it is manifest that it is the condensation and consistency below, which contributes that cold and moisture to the air which is mixed with it.

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