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John Baptista Porta
(Giambattista della Porta) (1537-1615
"The Proeme" Chapter I - "How diverse ways to proc re Fire may be prepared!" Chapter II - ""f the Compositio#s for Fire$ that o r A#cestors sed!" Chapter III - ""f the diverse Compositio#s of G #powder!" Chapter I% - "How Pipes may be made to cast o t Fire!" Chapter % - "How Fireballs are made that are shot off i# &rass G #s!" Chapter %I - ""f Compositio#s with b r#i#' (aters!" Chapter %II - "How &alls are made of )etals that will cast forth fire a#d Iro# wed'es!"
es #o #oise! "f pipes that vomit forth deadly fires$ a#d of fires that ca##ot be 1 e#ched$ a#d that will ra'e #der water at the very bottom of it$ whereby the seas re#d as #der$ as if they . of those of o r days! 0o have here the compositio#s of terrible G #powder that ma.""f .""f diverse compositio#s for fire!" Chapter *I .ome -+perime#ts of Fires!" Chapter *III . ope# walls a#d cities$ a#d totally s bvert them! A#d i# sea fi'hts$ to the i#fi#ite r i# of mortal me#$ a#d whereby they ofte# fr strate the malicio s e#terprises of their e#emies! The matter is very sef l a#d wo#derf l$ a#d there is #othi#' i# the world that more fri'hte#s a#d terrifies the mi#ds of me#! God is comi#' to / d'e the world by fire! I shall describe the mi'hty hot fires of o r a#cestors$ which they sed to besie'e places with$ a#d I shall add those that are of later i#ve#tio#$ that far e+ceed them! A#d lastly$ I shall spea."How it may be$ that a ca#dle shall b r# co#ti# ally!" The Proe e Before I leave off to write of fire$ I shall treat of that da#'ero s fire that wor."Fire-compositio#s for Festival days!" Chapter *II .Chapter %III .s wo#derf l thi#'s$ which the v l'ar call Artificial Fire$ which the comma#ders of armies a#d 'e#erals$ se lame#tably i# diverse artifices a#d mo#stro s desi'#s$ to brea.es a #oise$ a#d the# of that which ma."How i# plai# 'ro #d$ a#d #der waters$ mi#es may be prese#tly d '!" Chapter I* ."(hat thi#'s are 'ood to e+ti#' ish the fire!" Chapter * .
of 2 ic. Colopho#ia. "il of rosinous T rpe#ti#e.altpeter. !fter the set time. Pound them all. 6i#seed. and 3istil it. and mingle them.7s 'rease. and mingling them together.e a fiery compositio#$ that the . of 5aphtha. double to them all.were #dermi#ed by the 'reat viole#ce of the flames strivi#' a'ai#st them$ a#d are lifted p i#to the air$ that ships are draw# by the mo#stro s ' lfs! "f fire balls that fly with 'litteri#' fire$ a#d terrify troops of horseme#$ a#d overthrow them! . "hicken the 6i1 or either with Pi'eo#7s 3 #'.o that we are come almost to eter#al fires! !hapter " ""f diverse compositio#s for fire!" # shall speak of diverse compositions for fire to be used for diverse uses. #ood that . # may .silver (otherwise then I showed in 3istilli#') of 4 #iper. that it may be like Pap. . put it into a 8etort. Camphire. "To ma. But men say )! Gracch s was the author of this invention. A1 a %ita refined from all flegm. Put them up in a gla ed vessel.i#dle!" It consists of these things. finely sifted. or with G #powder. always renewing the dung. and 3 c. Let there be Pitch. and let them ferment two months in horse dung.
and it would draw the flame at a great distance. #herefore. and ready to fire. !s it came to touch the wood that was newly smeared with 8osi#. it will have such a wonderful force to take fire. a part of !sia. Pi'eo#7s 3 #' easily takes fire by the . But "il of 6i#seed is stronger than it. took fire. but it will draw the fire to it. it fired the 8osi#. then other places smeared with 8osi#. that it is almost impossible to (uench it. and the "il fired by it. and burns. if you mingle &rimsto#e with it. lighting torches made of these things. "Fire that is 1 e#ched with "il$ is . it was not to be put out. let the vessel overheat. or of fire touch it. it is so thin. penetrating and hot. and vapored in the the midsummer. Pi'eo#7s 3 #' was cast forth. and hardly let it go. will cast the flame afar off. and that Camphire is a kind of it. will fire of itself. Gale# reports. If you cast in "il or mud. that some old women in their plays.is smeared over with this mi$ture. and the window. "A most scaldi#' "il!" #hen I would prepare the most e$cellent compositions of burning "il.i#dled with water!" It is thus made. and grew hot. and by degrees part of the house began to take hold.7s 'rease is very prevalent in fireworks. %oreover. that will retain fire. #. that it will fly into the air. it will (uench it. &et what was 3istilled was thin. But it revives and flames more. and touched a window that was near. # beams. that it can hardly be shut up in a vessel. that it is most subtle. that it seemed a miracle to the beholders. it should take fire within. and physicians praise it e$tremely. because it has a mighty force to inflame all. and set in the summer sun. passed over "yber. but with great labor. so vehemently. or other things. it makes other things penetrate. combustible. it soon laid hold of the whole house. the air takes fire. that in %ysia. 3 c. 'or if you 3istill it often. by heat of the . and if the light of a candle. I 3istilled common "il in a 8etort. and when once the covering of house began to flame. . I shall show how to 3istil. that once kindled. !nd the glass being opened. if you cast in water. I said that 5aphtha will burn in water. and as it is most subtle and hot. so it takes fire vehemently. It must be distilled with great cunning. when it was corrupted. 6ivy relates. and to be (uenched with "il. a house was so set on fire. I said it was the property of &it me# to take fire from water.
to#e is bred in a certain river of )cythia. will scent it. "ake a new earthen pot. and put them together. may be carried safely through winds and tempests.3ioscorides says. of this they make four candles. and then with half Camphire. of which mi$ture make our torches. 5ica#der speaks of this stone thus. and run to the tops of the mountains. and T rpe#ti#e. nor far off.e #or smell!" #hen soldiers or hunters go secretly by day or night. put in your wicks to drink up part of the mi$ture. add G #powder. !lso there is made. two parts Colopho#ia. cover it. that the whole pot may be filled. *r thus. that the Thracia# . and (a+. "hen melt in a &rass pot e(ual parts of &rimsto#e. so laid in rounds. three of (a+.hepherds bri#' This sto#e from the 8iver Po#t s$ Poets si#'! "Torches that will #ot be p t o t by the wi#ds!" "hey are made with &rimsto#e. G #powder. and .to#e be b r#t i# fire$ A#d wet with water$ the flame will aspire$ & t oil will 1 e#ch it! Thracia# . 'or wild beasts. with &rimsto#e. nor make any smoke. *f this mi$ture then they make their candles.oin them together. and T rpe#ti#e. they use sometimes to make a )atch. and to what is left in the kettle. they cast in (uick &rimsto#e. It has the force of 4et. "ake them out and dry them. and (uenched with "il. if once kindled. Boil wicks of Hemp or Cotto# in water.altpeter . "hese are good for armies to march by. and they will forcibly resist all things. #herefore torches made with (a+ and &rimsto#e. "A cord that set o# fire$ shall #either smo. like as &it me#. the name of it is Po#t s. "ake them out. with . #hen it is dried. #hen they are melted. In the middle that is empty. &rimsto#e. that being lighted. or for other necessary things. if the )atch smell. *thers use such+ they boil the wick of the torches in . will neither smell near hand. they say it is inflamed by water. of each a like (uantity. and put into it a new cord so handsomely.altpeter and water. that no more can go in. If that the Thracia# . for that is hardly put out. and lute it well three or . they wet them with &rimsto#e and A1 a %ita.
#hen it is dissolved. stop the chinks with Clay still. It is fit to show you some to use a solemn times. put under. "That whe# a ma# comes i#to his chamber$the whole air may ta. . !nd if sometimes the smoke come forth. and lastly red hot. that all the water may resolve into smoke. as to give you occasion to find out higher matters.four times. !hapter "# "Fire-compositio#s for festival days!" # have shown you terrible and monstrous Firewor. and the air by the candle light. #hen the vessel is full with water. and will much terrify one that goes in. may not get forth. like an oven. If you dissolve in the water a little ) s. Let some man enter into the chamber with a lighted candle in his hand. -ot so much for use. without any flame. for it will soon dissolve in it. and fill the chamber. I shall show then how to make one. Light this cord. that first it may grow hot. !nd the whole chamber will be in a flame.. and opening the pot. and it will neither smoke nor smell. for the whole business depends on this. that the vapor that e$hales. you shall find the cord black. then very hot. cut small. or Amber-'reese.s. and put Camphire into it. "hen make a fire round about it. !nd it will be so thin. that you scarce perceive it. after the flame you shall smell a curious scent.e fire!" "ake a great (uantity of the best refined A1 a vita. by degrees. !lso there is made. like coal. "hen heaped up under the coals. let it grow cold of itself. let it boil with coals. that it may have no vent. will take fire all about. shut the windows and the chamber doors.
and cast them into the belly of the 0etort by the neck. and kindled with fires. !nd shall do the same four times. If Camphire be dissolved in A1 a vita. and in them let thread boil. "his will burn e$ceedingly and never cease till it is all consumed. you shall see the air full of sparks.les o t of his mo th!" . and yet will not scald you. !nd then shall draw forth the "il by a vehement fire. that some deservedly call it I#fer#al "il. his ointment. held in your hands. !nd mingling this "il again with . !nd as you throw the powder into the air. !nd fall from a loft. )ome call it Hermes. Put into it 2 ic. bind it to the wicks of candles. and set them on fire. 'or the same will fly up high. Tartar. or parchments. you shall see )erpents with great delight.$ a#d spar. is made for the theater. as they fall lighted through the air.lime.lime. and with that 'illets. "-ati#' i# the dar. Fra#.alt and 2 ic. or Amber finely. be lighted. and it will burn the less. and (uick &rimsto#e. it will presently take fire. Beat Colopho#ia. If when it is on fire. If you put it into a vessel with a very large mouth. /istil it once again. be smeared."-+ceedi#' b r#i#' water!" "hus. It will burn. ")a#y ca#dles shall be li'hted prese#tly!" *n festival days. and put flame near it. you cast it against a wall. "To cast flame a 'reat way$" /o thus. ! solemn pleasant fire. /raw out the water of them with a glass 8etort. If you will have that.lime. and put a lighted candle between your fingers. and let them pass through. !nd make little balls. let it pass through the flame of the candle. as I hear they are wont to do among the "urks. )hall /istil them again. &ou shall boil &rimsto#e and "rpime#t with "il. !nd being dried again. . !ny man may. But if you desire. paper. and shall mingle them with common "il. 'or when one head is lighted. #hen it is dry. "ake old strong black (i#e.alt. or by night out tat the window. the flame will run to them all. But if you take e(ual parts of 2 ic. !nd hold them in the palm of your hand.alt. !n "il will will come forth that will burn wonderfully. and .i#ce#se.
"That & llets from &rass G #s$ may e#ter deeper!" &ou may easily try this against a wall. !nd every part . that they will penetrated and leave no marks where they entered or came out. !nd they will do the same. "he reason is easy. though all the inward parts be bruised and beaten through. the flames striving within. that are without the ranks of the rest. But they may give you occasion to think on greater matters by them. or plank set up. !nd it is thus. slight. I held it better to conceal them. "his & llet shot off by force of fire. that what things are heavy. will go in twice as far as otherwise. If you will. as if one should rub a Firebra#d. Let the ball rather go into the hollow of it. are solid. 1onsider. But wet it with "il before you put it in.It is pleasant for the spectators. 'or the "il takes away the occasion of the airs breathing forth. and so subtle.ointed. cast forth the & llet with more violence. 'ar Ca#dy.ome -+perime#ts of Fires!" # will set down some e$periments. Let a man eat . and yet no mark of the & llet shall appear. ". !nd so cast it in.hoot a ma# thro 'h with a & llet$ a#d #o place shall be se#t where it we#t i#$ or came forth!" "he mind of a man is so cunning. I can also by a cunning artifice. !hapter "## ""f . as if they were dis. as we shall show more at large. )o also will the & llets of &rass G #s penetrate with more force. for as he breaks it with his teeth. they will penetrate through arms of proof. sparkles will seem to fly out of his mouth. though they be united. then wide. 'or all bents being stopped. that it has invented a way to shoot a man (uite through with a & llet. !nd if you 6ard the & llets.
2 ic. that no sicissure or vent may appear in the paper. 'ill them with powder of . . and put fire to it again. and may carry the smoke into the faces of our enemies. and feed it with powder. But first we must consider the wind.. "A G # dischar'e ofte#$ a#d yet #o more powder was p t i#!" 'amous soldiers use this. that the powder put in above. !hapter "### . I can. so that they may go in at the mouths of the &rass G #s. and Ars#ic. !nd putting fire to it. "&li#d yo r eyes with the smo. after the G #powder. when enemies come to storm the city. Pepper. they can hardly save their eyes. Putting G #powder to the To ch-hole. !nd in a short time it will discharge twice. but for small handguns. "hen put your measure of powder in atop.will act by itself alone. and stamp in your & llet. that casting away their weapons.e!" "his may much profit. as it would do being united. I have said thus. Presently thrust in a sharp instrument at the vent hole. to do mischief. the upper ball shall be shot off with its powder. to take away all occasions from ignorant and wicked people. %i#e ashes. and glued fast. will so trouble them. let it be put into the G #. !nd put them into the hollow of it. and make a hole in the Cartrid'e. and drawing out the G #stic. It is thus. 'ill that hollow place with powder and & llet. 'or by force of fire. 'irst. I saw. Let there be measure made like 6a#thor#s. if it comes at the eyes of the enemy. #rap a paper three or four times about the 8ammer that is put into the hollow mouth of the G #.lime. !nd the smoke of the powder.phorbi m. 2ere and there let the & llets be stopped in. that it may be at the backs of our men. may come to the vent hole beneath. but loosely. will these paper frames break. not only for &rass Ca##o#. blimate.
by report of my friends. because I kept a coal under ashes. But this is most false. #hen this was broken. which the priest shall always keep lighted. "il of 4 #iper from the wood will last long. there was a )arble . But this failed. because the coals of that wood may be kept a whole year alive under ashes. that there was at 0ome. and it would not last two. !t /elphi it was watched by widows. and of Apollo. when the %edes burnt that temple. and in that there was found a little light still burning. in which there was a candle. #e read in the roman histories. that this Perpet al Fire was always kept so by the %estal 5 #s. nor yet one day. !nd then in the time of the civil war. and of )i#erva. and that being opened. it went out. &et I read about the town !teste near Padua. But let us see first whether the A#cie#ts ever attempted it. #hence I collect this may be done. or did it. in which there was another little pitcher. 'or I remember that I have read in many authors. it went out. and it came to the light. *ther say. there were found and seen with their eyes. !s we find it in Pl tarch. putting under wood day by day. at /elphi. #hich seems very contrary to the reason of the corruptible things of this world. and is sooner wasted away then . !nd the "il of the wood burns most vehemently. #hich by the hands of some ignorant fellows.ep lchre of some 0oman found. who took care. that it should never go out. whether it ma be that a candle once lighted. in the 6ife of 5 ma. But this seems to be false. !nd so the flame was put out. #herefore. 'or "il of metals will not burn. by always pouring in of "il. )ome say that "il of metals may last long. the fire was not perpetual in the temples of the gods of the Ge#tiles. a perpetual fire kindled. !nd in our time. at !thens. in the temple of the goddess %esta. God appointed by )oses in the scriptures. and to be past belief. in the island -esis. a %ial was found with it. pouring it rudely forth. should never be put out. and almost perpetually. was broken. But this is false. about the year 344. Let us see if we can do the same. that stands in -aples. and was done by our ancestors. and of )ithridates. It was shut in before the coming of our )avior. I shall discover. there was found an earthen pitcher. *f the same sort was that fire. "he fire shall always burn upon mine alter. )ome others I have heard of."How it may be$ that a ca#dle shall b r# co#ti# ally!" B efore we end this book. that it should never go forth.
it will burn always and never waste. !fter some months. of which kind it is. 'or as I often have labored in chemical matters. and make trial . !nd when it was enough. that parts Gold and . and never consume. that had the same chance. !fter some time I opened the vessel. when the flames took within. %oreover. But e$perience is against this opinion. 2 ic. !nd no man yet was ever seen to draw "il from the stone Amia#ts that would burn. many years. But it is an ignorant thing to imagine. and seems to burn only at that time. !nd "il 3istilled from it will burn no more than a stone of A1 a fortis. that I heard of by my friend. )ome say (and they do not think foolishly) that fire in a %ial does not always burn. !t last. Tartar. 'or a wick made thereof. that the wick is not consumed by fire. as the ashes do. when as he thought of no such matter. the "il at the air coming to it flamed again. a glass well stopped. !nd that they might not lie in the dark. and smoke. should burn always and never waste. )ome boast they have drawn "il from the incombustible stone. has been seen to flame. "herefore if "il be 3istilled from it.alt will bun continually.lime. will never be burnt. !nd then covering and 6 ti#' the vessel well. I covered the pot with clothes to put it out. and took fire.alt. !nd yet burns always. 'or who saw a candle shut up close in a glass %ial. I may say.alt into "il. when he went to open it to see his work. being opened. &et this follows not that "il drawn from . "hat their souls might en. and not be consumed. "herefore we must think on another e$periment.common "il. #hat I had burnt. and forgot by me after the things were burned in it. yet that follows not that "il e$tracted from it. I forgot. they endeavored all they could to send out this light. he set it into a vehement fire. if you put "il always to it.oy light continually. !nd being left so for many months. when I boiled 6i#seed "il for the press. thinking that flame cannot consume that. that an "il may be made that shall burn always. and burn. he set it by till it was cold. But if that be true. will last always. until it was all evaporated. yet it never burned before. a flame suddenly flew out of the vessel. but they might be the same things. it makes the "il in the lamp last twice as long. !nd the the same has happened to many more. presently takes fire. that so soon as it comes to air. But in the %ial there is some composition laid up. *thers think that "il drawn from common . "his may be true.ilver. and set on fire some things. and to give light5 'or the A#cie#ts thought that the souls of the dead did always rest in the grave. and to keep its flaming (uality. #herefore some other thing must be thought on. 'or when he had boiled 6ithar'e. which I affirm to be true. and Ci##aber in %i#e'ar. 'or if you cast .
#herefore if a flame were shut up in a glass. and all things run to nothing. because the air can come in nowhere to fill up the emptiness of the 7ial. -ow search.of it. It must be a Li(uor or some subtle substance. fire. It cannot be e$tinguished. industry. and all the vent holes stopped close. It turns to "il and kindles again. But how the flame should be lighted within side. But this must be held for a rare and firm principle in 5at re7s shop. then there can be any such thing. &ou have heard the beginnings. "here are many wonders declared in this book. !nd if then it can be shut up in the glass. and many more shall be set down. that have no other cause. The $n% . !nd the frame of the work will sooner break asunder. labor and make trial. when the glass is shut it will last always. "his is worth the while to know. that the cause of wonders is because there can be no %ac m. and that will evaporate but little. and cunning. being it cannot be dissolved into air. it would last continually. if it could las one moment. !nd it were not possible for it to be put out. !nd so it will always by course afford fuel for the light. "he "il is always turned into smoke. and this. #hich may easily be performed by burning6glasses.
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