Chill from the river blows the windThen again it many times happens that our sense deceives us. So that when we feel cold garments or cold wool, we believe we feel them to be moist, by reason of the substance which is common to both, and of their natures which are coherent and familiar one with another. But in climates where the cold is extreme, it oftentimes breaks and cracks both pots and vessels, whether made of earth or brass,—none empty, but all full, the cold giving force and might to the liquor within,—which made Theophrastus say, that the air breaks those vessels, making use of the cold as of a hammer; whether more eloquently or more truly spoken, I leave you to judge. For then vessels full of pitch or milk should be more subject to be broken by the air. But water seems to be cold of itself, and that primitively too; for in respect of the coldness of it, it is opposite to the heat of the fire; as to drought in respect of its moisture, and to ponderosity in regard of its lightness. Lastly, fire is altogether of a dissipating and dividing nature; water, of a nature to fasten and contain, holding and joining together by virtue of its moisture. Which was the reason why Empedocles called fire ‘a pernicious contention,’ but water a ‘tenacious friendship.’ For the nourishment of fire is that which changes into fire, and it changes that which is as it were of kin and familiar to it. What is contrary to it, as water, cannot be changed by it, or at least only with great difficulty. True it is, that as for itself, as I may so say, it cannot be burned; but as for green wood and wet straw, it overcomes them with much struggling, while the heat and cold contending together, by reason of their moisture and their natural antipathy, [p. 324] produce only a dull flame, clouded with smoke, that makes little progress upon the materials.
Before the coming morn.
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1 Odyss. V. 469.
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