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Bacon’s Apples: A Case Study in Baconian Experimentation

Part of the International Archives of the History of Ideas Archives internationales d'histoire des idées book series (ARCH,volume 218)


This chapter investigates a specific case of Baconian experimentation, that is, a series of controlled experimental trials Bacon undertook in order to study the processes of maturation and putrefaction. The results of these trials were repeatedly used by Francis Bacon in his writings to illustrate the motions of spirits enclosed in matter. In this chapter, I reconstruct some of Bacon’s experiments with apples placed under different circumstances and conditions, as recorded in Historia vitae et mortis, De vijs mortis, Novum organum and Sylva Sylvarum. I argue that they help reassess several problematic aspects concerning Bacon’s attitude towards the experimental knowledge of nature. Firstly, they offer a paradigmatic situation in which one can explore Bacon’s creative and critical handling of sources. Secondly, they show Bacon at work as an experimenter who carefully and accurately observed, recorded and imagined interesting experimental set-ups and variations of experimental parameters, while displaying an interest in experimental methodology and the limits of experimental procedure. Finally, Bacon’s apples are a good way of exemplifying the multiple uses and functions experiments play in his natural and experimental histories.


  • Classical Tradition
  • Quick Lime
  • Traditional Recipe
  • Ancient Tradition
  • Ancient Recipe

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Research for this chapter has been carried out with the support of the ERC Starting Grant 241125 MOM. My thanks to Guido Giglioni and James A.T. Lancaster for their useful suggestions and comments on this chapter.

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  1. 1.

    This is one of the seven modes of operation ( modi operandi -->) presented in the Novum organum under the name ‘multi-purpose instances’ (instantiae polichrestae). The multi-purpose instances are said to ‘promote practice’ (Bacon 2004, 445). They also formalize the order--> which one should follow when operating upon bodies in an experimental process. The fourth mode of operation is called a ‘lapse of time (per moram)’. Bacon provides the following definition of it: ‘Lapse of time is what I call it when any body is left to itself for a good while, armed and defended in the meantime against any external force. For when extraneous and extrinsic motions stop, then do the ones working within show and perfect themselves’ (435).

  2. 2.

    Versions of the same can be found in the Sylva Sylvarum, Experiments 343, 379 and 624–629.

  3. 3.

    Della Porta’s Natural Magic was a sixteenth-century bestseller and remained extremely popular throughout the seventeenth century. The first edition, in four books, was published in Naples in 1558 and was almost immediately translated into Italian (1560), French (1565), Dutch (1566) and German (1612). --> Della Porta published a second, augmented edition in twenty books (Naples, 1589), including in it a substantial amount of his own experiments with plants and fruits, together with experimental endeavours dealing with optics and magnetism. The second edition of -->Della Porta’s Natural Magic was also translated into Italian (1611), French (1606), English (1658) and German (1680). On the differences between the first and s-->econd edition see Balbiani 2001. In this chapter, I will refer to the Latin edition published in Frankfurt in 1591 and to the English translation (anonymous) published in 1658. Unless otherwise stated, all quotations in--> English come from Della Porta 1658, and the Latin quotations -->come from Della Porta 1591.

  4. 4.

    Although Graham Rees--> has contested this verdict as early as 1981, it is owing to recent interest--> devoted to techniques of reading, writing and the tradition of common-places that Bacon’s own methods of ‘research’ have become the focus of more thorough investigations. On Bacon’s methods of -->common-placing, see Vine 2008, 2011; Yeo 2014; Stewart 2013. See also Rees 1981. On Bacon’s -->handling of classical--> sources, more generally, see Giglioni 2012; Jalobeanu 2008, 2012; Rusu 2013.

  5. 5.

    For a more general -->assessment of Bacon’s reading of -->Della Porta see Rusu 2013. Recent studies have discussed several ‘experimental’ aspects of--> Della Porta’s Magia naturalis. See Borelli 2014, Jalobeanu and Pastorino 2014.

  6. 6.

    These examples belong to a particular class of experiments in the Sylva Sylvarum called ‘promiscuous experiments’. See Bacon 1857–1874, II, 542.

  7. 7.

    Compare this passage with the following one from -->Pliny, Historia naturalis, XV, 18 (in Philemon Holland’s translation): ‘And more particularly, for Grape bunches they would be gathered with a foot or heele from the old hard wood… then be hung up within a great new earthen vessel well pitched; with the head or lid thereof thoroughly stopped and plastered up close, to exclude all aire… Some againe there be who keepe Grapes together with their braunch, after the same manner in plaster; but so, as both ends of the said braunch, after the same sticke in the head of the sea-Onion Squilla: and others let Grape-clusters hang within hogheads and pipes having wine in them: but so, -->as the grapes touch not--> the wine in any case’ (Pliny and Holland 1601, 441).

  8. 8.

    Scholars tend to distinguish sharply between the Roman tradition of husbandry--> as preserved in books on de re rustica and the more modern tradition of --> natural history (histories of plants and herbals). The first is a discipline midway between ‘economics’ (in the Aristotelian sense) and agriculture. In the sixteenth century, this discipline of husbandry became very popular in Italy and France (and subsequently in the rest--> of Europe). The ancient sources of this tradition were Marcus Porcius Cato’s De agricultura (c. 160 BC), Marcus Terentius Varro’s De re rustica (c. 37 BC) and Lucius Iunius Moderatus Columella’s De re rustica (60–65 AD). To these were later added compilations such as a fifth-century book on res rusticae --> by Palladius--> and the later Geoponica (tenth century AD). By the mid-sixteenth century, these sources often appeared bound together under the common name De re rustica (see, for example, Giocondo 1514) and many -->books in the vernacular had been added to this ancient tradition. Part translation, part adaptation of ancient traditions, these works became quite popular, translated and adjusted to ‘local’ contexts. Such, for example, is Charles Estienne’s compilation from -->Columella,‘adapted’ to French agricultural practices and--> further translated and adapted into English by Richard Surflet--> (see Estienne and Liébault 1570; Estienne and Surflet 1600; Orsi 2005). Although the--> situation becomes more complex -->when it comes to the -->flourishing literature on agriculture and gardening-->, nevertheless, with respect to the kind of recipes and experiments concerning the preservation of fruits, this division remains useful. This material belongs mainly to a particular chapter in books on husbandry, a chapter dedicated to preserving and increasing ‘household stuff’in a farm. On the reception -->of the classical tradition -->of husbandry, see Fussell 1969 and Bushnell 2003.

  9. 9.

    On the relation between Della Porta--> and the tradition of ‘secrets’, see Eamon--> 1984, 1994; Ruscelli [Alexis of Piedmont] 1984; Orsi 2005.

  10. 10.

    In this instance, by ‘usefulness’ Bacon understands ‘productivity’, that is, experiments which prove to be conducive to new inventions and experiments. He explicitly mentions modern ‘technologies’ in this chapter, as in the recipe--> for the artificial freezing of water. See Bacon 1857–1874, IV, 369; III, 362–363.

  11. 11.

    Pliny-->, Historia naturalis, XV, xviii, 62: ‘E proximis quidam altius curam repetunt, deputarique statim poma ac vites ad hunc usum praecipiunt decrescente luna, post horam diei tertiam, caelo sereno aut siccis ventis. Similiter deligi et ex locis siccis et ante perfectam maturitatem, addito ut luna infra terram sit’. --> See Pliny 1949–1962, IV, 331.

  12. 12.

    On the more general interest--> in producing glass cheap -->enough to be used for greenhouses and gardening-->, see Thick 2010, 57ff.

  13. 13.

    Oropothecas is a term introduced by--> Varro to designate a place for storing fruits. With -->Della Porta it becomes a technological device which isolates fruit from the damages produced by heat--> and variations in the air--> (see Della Porta 1589, 175). The English translator renders this term as ‘fruit-safes’ or ‘artificial fruit-safes’. For a more general discussion in Della Porta, see his work Villae libri XII, Chap. 28, entitled -->‘De oropothecis’ (Della Porta 1592, 56–57).

  14. 14.

    See also Della Porta 1658, 126: ‘For -->I have oft-times observed it, being seriously imployed in these affairs, that if the air--> be uniform, and without alteration, the fruits and flowers that have been shut up in vessels of glass, have lasted long without any putrefaction-->: but when once they felt any alteration in the air, presently they began to putrefy. For this cause--> are those vessels to be drowned in Cistern, or ditches, or some place underneath the ground, that so the variable alterations of the air may not be felt by the fruit’.

  15. 15.

    See also Della Porta 1589, 85: ‘Fructus, -->uti diximus, in vitreas phialas conditos, ac vitrariorum fornaci, vel tubulo lumini clausos sub cisternis mergimus, et ad annos incorruptos servamus. Eodem modo clausos flores in oblongo vase, et collo ut diximus occluso, scilicet per Hermetis sigillum, ut dicunt, et sub aquis mersos, diu, multumque recentes asservavimus. Item mustum in vas sigiluum vitreatum clausum, et pondere sub acquis demersum, ad anuum, ut posuimus invenimus’.

  16. 16.

    The recipe--> is listed under the very general title: ‘How all things that are shut up, may be preserved -->for many years’ (Della Porta 1658, 128).

  17. 17.

    Della Porta 1658, 130–131: ‘things that are shut up, -->even for ever, if we wrap them up in some commixtion of other things, so that the air--> may not pierce them through; but especially, if the commixtion it self--> be such, as is not subject to putrefaction-->’.

  18. 18.

    Under the title ‘Quicksilver will preserve all things from putretude’, Della Porta provides a general recipe--> for placing fruits in vessels and ‘cast[ing] quicksilver upon them’, in order--> to ‘preserve -->them long and well’ (Della Porta 1658, 140).

  19. 19.

    Della Porta claims that all things can be--> preserved in distilled wine, which is ‘free from all putrefaction--> whatsoever: wherefore all things that are drenched in this kind of liquor, if the vessel be carefully closed up, must needs last unputrefied even for a hole age, nay for -->all eternity’ (Della Porta 1658, 134).

  20. 20.

    The chapter on fruit-safes ends with a paragraph on the preserving powers of cold-->: ‘I have seen flesh and fish preserved from putrefaction-->, for a whole moneth together in very cold places, without any other art at all besides the coldness of the place. In rooms that are made under the ground, and very cold, where there cometh neither heat-->, nor any Southerly winde, but that they are continually cold and dry, almost every thing may be preserved without putrefaction. [In subterraneis locis, et frigidissimis, ubi omnis calor, et austrinus ventus exclusus est, ubi perpetua siccitas et frigiditas est, Omnia imputrida, asservantur]’. The passage continues with two observations: first, that ‘in a certain monastery’ near Naples, human cadavers (hominum cadavera) were preserved ‘for many years together’, and second, that fruits placed in ‘pits of snow’ have survived the winter completely unchanged. -->From this, Della Porta concludes that ‘there is nothing better and more available for the preservation of any thing, then is the -->dryness and the coldness of such places as they are laid up in, to be kept. [In summa nil praestabilius ad rerum conservationem, --> quam loci siccitas, vel frigiditas valet]’ (Della Porta 1658, 116–117; Della Porta 1591, 178).

  21. 21.

    As -->Eamon has shown, in the sixteenth century the terms ‘secrets’ and ‘experiments’ were sometimes used interchangeably to denote a recipe--> or a formula that had actually been put to the test. In these trials there is always a mixture of bookish sources and new inventions. The ‘experimenters’ sometimes collaborate -->along the way in -->collecting recipes. See Eamon and Paheau 1984, 333; Eamon 1985, 484.

  22. 22.

    Book XII of Columella’s De re rustica deals with--> the duties and ‘offices’ of the farmer’s wife. They extend from taking care of the household stuff, provisions and furniture, to ministering to the health--> of the household. The preservation and conservation of the products of the farm forms the most important part of the chapter. Recipes are offered for picking herbs, fruits and vegetables, storing them, making preserves, oil, wine and -->distilled drinks. See Columella 1745, XII, 500ff.

  23. 23.

    Book 4 of Magia naturalis also contains materials developed more fully in his Villa. As Orsi has shown, Della Porta used the results of his investigations in Villa to expand (to the point of rewriting) -->the first edition of the Magia naturalis (see Della Porta 1592 and Orsi 2005).

  24. 24.

    See, for example, the additions and changes made to the organization of the translation and adaptation of Book 12 of Columella’s De re rustica by Charles Estienne-->, Jean Liebault--> and Richard Surflet. --> In Estienne’s Agriculture (1570), the contributions of the farmer’s wife are redefined. She is in charge of the health--> of the household and of the breeding of cattle and fowls. The breeding of fowls extends also to pheasants, doves and peacocks. Meanwhile, the parts about preserving fruits, making wine and olive oil are redistributed in the chapters dedicated to gardens. In Richard Surflet’s edition of Estienne’s Maison Rustique, or the Countrie Farme, the medical contributions of the farmer’s wife, for example, are widely extended. So are the sections on the medicinal properties of herbs, fruits and vegetables--> cultivated on the--> property (Estienne and Liébault 1570; Estienne and Surflet 1600).

  25. 25.

    More generally, Della Porta’s --> interest--> is in producing marvelous objects ( meraviglia -->), objects that will create wonder--> and testify the power of the magician (see Orsi 2005; Balbiani 2001). Della Porta’s -->critical discussion--> of ancient sources of husbandry-->, however, is also worth noting. In Book 4, he constantly engages in comparisons of ancient recipes, sometimes specifically rejecting one in favor of -->another. See, for example, Della Porta 1658, 112.

  26. 26.

    One of the recurrent topics of Book 4 is the preservation of human bodies in cold-->, in snow and honey. Della Porta also gives a recipe--> for --> -->mummification (Della Porta 1658, 140–141).

  27. 27.

    Almost every chapter of Book 4 begins with a selection of ancient recipes followed by what Della Porta claims to be his own trials and recipes. Sometimes this is also announced at the beginning of the chapter. For example: ‘We have shewed before, that, if we would preserve fruit long, we must keep away both heat--> and moisture from them; both which qualities are found in the air-->. Wherefore we will first set down the devices of Antiquity in this behalf, and then our own device and -->experiments’ (Della Porta 1658, 123. See also Della Porta 1658, 112, 114, 120).

  28. 28.

    Della Porta 1658, 130: ‘ -->I have endeavoured my self--> in this Practise, how to keep fruits without putrefaction-->, and for this cause-->, I laid up all kinds of fruits in vessels of glass filled with honey, that so I might prove, which might be preserved longest: and I found great difference among them, some kinds lasting long and some but a little while. For, the fruits that were by their own kind, full of moisture, did attaint the honey: so that the honey begin it self attained, was not possibly able to preserve the fruit from putrefaction. Grapes, Figgs and Peaches are soon putrified by reason--> of their moistness; quinces, apples and pears do last longer uncorrupted; but Nutts will last green and sound a whole year together’. See also his similar discussion about the limits of other traditional recipes for the preservation of fruits, such as keeping them in wine -->and vinegar (Della Porta 1658, 134).

  29. 29.

    This phrase encompasses not only variations of temperature and humidity, but also other qualities of the air-->, such as a certain tendency to putrefy or produce putrefaction--> determined by a particular astral configuration, for instance, a ‘pestilence’ of the air. For a more extended -->discussion, see Della Porta 1592, 56–57.

  30. 30.

    An elaborate discussion of the agents of putrefaction--> can be found in Della Porta’s Villa, where the focus is less on experiments and the production of marvelous effects and more on theoretical debates over the agents and causes of putrefaction -->amongst the ancients (see Della Porta 1592, 51–53).

  31. 31.

    I have used Graham Rees’s transcription of -->Bacon’s manuscript in Rees 1981. The reference is to Della Porta’s 1591--> edition of Magia naturalis. The recipe--> in the 1658 translation reads: ‘If you would have leaven last you all the year, when the new wine hath boiled in the vessels, skim off the froth that boils on the top, and mingle with it Millet-meal, and work it well together, and make morsels of it, which dry in the Sun, and lay up in a moist place; and you may take a sufficient quantity and use it for leaven’ (Della Porta 1658, 142).

  32. 32.

    For example, fol. 39r contains a list of ‘Infusions or Burialls of Bodies in Earth’, in which various substances are mentioned, such as eggs, wax, flowers, flesh and oyster shells. Some of the objects are marked with a star, suggesting perhaps that that particular trial--> was done or ‘sorted out’. Marked with stars are oranges, apples and ‘A Bottle of Beare’. The list ends with an interesting remark concerning the repetition of the suggested trials: ‘Each in 3 seueral places’ (Bacon 1996, 403).

  33. 33.

    For a more general discussion of Bacon’s criticisms of Della Porta’s experiments, recipes and ‘technologies’ see also Rusu 2013.

  34. 34.

    In the corresponding passage, -->Della Porta refers to one of Martial’s Epigrams (IV, 59), where the Roman poet had described the amber that enclosed a viper as a nobler and more lasting tomb than the one of Cleopatra herself: ‘Flentibus Heliadum ramis dum vipera repit | Fluxit in obstantem succina gemma feram, | Quae dum miratur pingui se rore teneri, | Concreto riguit vincta repente gelu, | Ne tibi regali placeas, Cleopatra, sepulchro, | -->Vipera si tumulo nobiliore iacet’ (Della Porta 1658, 128; Della Porta 1589, 85).

  35. 35.

    Bacon argues that as far as ‘human working on natural bodies’ is concerned, ‘much upset’is caused by the ‘common air--> which is all round, and thrusts itself upon us, and by the rays of the heavenly bodies’. As a result, it is essential that such factors be eliminated. Under the multi-purpose --> instances (instantiae polychrestae), he discusses the theory and ‘technology-->’ underlying the creation--> of these sealing devices (Bacon 2004, 418–419).

  36. 36.

    Bacon also notes that the exclusion of air-->, far from preventing putrefaction-->, speeds it up in those bodies ‘that need emission of spirits to discharge some of the superfluous moisture’. This is why clothes that are not regularly aired breed mold, or grains that are stored over winter and are not regularly turned over become moldy (Bacon 1857–1874, II, 454).

  37. 37.

    See, for example, ‘A piece of raw flesh buried in Quicksilver for 9 daies, came forth fresh, and some bloud had wrought it selfe out, and lay on the outside of the Quick-silver, and about the stick that kept it downe. It was waxed a little blacker on the outside only, but not--> apparently hardened’ (Rees 1981, 402).

  38. 38.

    The popularity of Hugh Platt’s Jewell House in the seventeenth century is subject to contention. While Deborah Harkness makes a case for the book’s popularity, Malcolm--> Thick claims that by comparison with other works by Platt, Jewell House is the least popular. It is fair to say, however, that the book went through a second edition in 1653 and parts of it were published separately as -->pamphlets. See Harkness 2007; Thick 2010.

  39. 39.

    For Platt’s reading -->of Della Porta’s Magia naturalis, see Mukherjee 2010 and Thick 2010.

  40. 40.

    For a discussion of Platt’s Florae and a discussion of Bacon’s borrowings of gardening--> recipes from it see Rusu 2013.

  41. 41.

    Platt 1608, A4: ‘And I make no question, but that if hee [Della Porta] had knowne this part of vegetale Philosophy… he would have penned the same as a Sphinx, and rolld it up in the most cloudy and darksome speech that he could possibly have devised’.

  42. 42.

    Harkness 2007, 248–249. For a more nuanced discussion--> of Platt’s projects and outlook, see Thick 2010.

  43. 43.

    Platt also offers a recipe--> for manufacturing a silver tree and a glass bell, and discusses distillation as a means of preventing water from putrefying.

  44. 44.

    See also his recipe--> on ‘[h]ow to nip or close a glass with a pair of hot tongs, which is commonly called Sigillum Hermetis’ (Platt 1594, 87).

  45. 45.

    Platt claims that preserving fruits in glass bottles is to be preferred, particularly by comparison with more traditional recipes, which suggest the coating of fruits in ‘wax well tempered with Turpentine, Pitch, Rosen, Sweet suet, or Barrows greace’. Such techniques are deemed useless for those fruits which ‘begin to rot first at the core, as the Katherin pear, & divers other sorts of fruit do’ (Platt 1594, 2–3).

  46. 46.

    The recipe--> for the Sigillum Hermetis, i.e., of how to seal a glass by melting its top with a pair of tongs, is given in Platt 1594, 87–88.

  47. 47.

    The inflated pig bladder is one of Bacon’s favorite instruments for the study of rarefaction--> and condensation-->. Trials for keeping flowers, fish or one’s hand inside an inflated bladder are also recorded in the manuscript and published versions of the Sylva Sylvarum.

  48. 48.

    On Platt’s alchemical matter theory and -->its sources, see Thick 2010.

  49. 49.

    Platt 1594, 87: ‘For there can be certain wild spirits within who can endure no imprisonment, but if they can find no way, they will make way, bearing out before them both lock, bolt and hinges, and yet they are such as the Philosopher cannot want, though the vulgar sort know no use of them’.

  50. 50.

    This is why Platt ends his recipe--> of the Sigillum Hermetis with a discussion concerning the type of spirit enclosed in bodies. ‘Distilled oyl’ or water can be kept for a long time in a sealed glass vessel. Meanwhile, ‘the juyce of any strong or fiery plant, as also of any decoction that is apt to work it self--> into a body, as new must, or the strong wort wither of ale or beer, least you do not onely misspend your time your liquor, and break your glass, but also happen to get a shrewd turn your self if you be within gunshot. For there be certain wild spirits within who can endure no imprisonment, but if they can find no way, they will make way, bearing out before them both lock, bolt and hinges, and yet they are such as the Philosopher cannot want, though the vulgar sort know no use of them’ (Platt 1594, 87–88).

  51. 51.

    Platt is also advocating the use of sugar and sugared syrups to make preservatives. In this, he differs from Della Porta who is solely interested in the preservative powers of honey. See, for example, Platt 1594, 190–191.

  52. 52.

    At the end of his posthumous Floraes Paradise (1608) one can find ‘An offer of some new, rare and profitable inventions’, that is, a list of ‘secrets’ on offer (for sale), amongst which is how to make English wine, or how to produce cider which, through a process of maturation-->, will taste like claret or ‘Rhenish wine’ (Platt 1608, P3).

  53. 53.

    Platt 1594, 181–182: ‘And so I have kept both the juyce of cowslips which (if I be not deceived) will not last long by any ordinary course of preserving, and the juyce of Orenges simply of themselves without any addition, as sound and perfect at the years end, as they were the first day or rather (to speak truly) somewhat exalted in kind. But because such secrets are fitter for a Philosophers laboratory-->, then a gentlewomans closet, I will not here offer that disgrace unto nature, to discover and magistery upon so base an occasion. And as concerning the keeping of Orenges and Limons in the same state, bigness, colour, & taste, as they are brought us out of Spain, or Portugal, it may be that in my next labours I will write at large thereof, and in plain terms, according to those undoubted and approved trials which I have often made in mine own house for many years together’.

  54. 54.

    See also Platt 1594, 187.

  55. 55.

    Chief amongst these is the use of nitre. For Platt on the use of nitre for embalming, see Platt 1594, 101. Bacon extensively uses what he believes are the restorative powers of nitre, and recommends it as an important agent in the prolongation of life-->. On the other hand, the manuscript of the Sylva Sylvarum records that ‘Nitre maketh Bread and Flesh--> both more short and || Nitre || more tender’ (Rees 1981, 408).

  56. 56.

    Platt’s recipes for the acceleration/maturation--> of beer and his process of ‘restoring’ ‘stale beer’, as recorded at Platt 1594, 57 ff., are almost identical with Bacon’s similar experiments in the Sylva Sylvarum (310, 314 and 315).

  57. 57.

    Platt has numerous experiments and recipes for the production and preservation of beer and cider. He also wrote a manifesto for the promotion of English wines, entitled An Offer of Some New, Rare and Profitable Inventions (1608). In it he alludes to his methods of speeding up fermentation and maturation--> with marvelous results, such as making cider very close in taste to ‘Rhenish wines’ (see Platt 1608, P3).

  58. 58.

    Sometimes the language--> which Platt and Bacon use to talk about the purpose of their experimental research is strikingly similar. This is how the ‘Epistle to the Reader’ in Floraes Paradise ends: ‘And thus, gentle Reader, having acquainted thee with my long, costly, and laborious Collections, not written at adventure, or by any imaginary conceit in a Schollers private Studie, but wrung out of the earth, by the painfull hand of experience; and having also given thee a touch of Nature, whom no man--> as yet every durst send naked into the worlde, without the veyle; and expecting, by thy good encouragement for higher and deeper discoveries hereafter, I leave thee to the God--> of Nature, from whom all the true light of Nature proceedeth’ (Platt 1608).

  59. 59.

    They also seem to have quite similar view about how putrefaction--> can be turned into vivification--> by a ‘controlled process’. As a result, they are both interested in fertilizers and fertilization and argue for the controlled use of nitre, marl and dung. See Platt 1594 and Bacon 1857–1874, II, 525ff.

  60. 60.

    On Bacon’s matter--> theory, see Rees 1977, 1996; Weeks, Sophie 2007a, b; Giglioni 2010.

  61. 61.

    For Platt, experiments are not merely illustrations of his matter theory; rather, he often employs his matter theory as necessary background knowledge--> for devising or interpreting a given experiment.

  62. 62.

    This series appears in the Sylva Sylvarum as Experiments 325, 326, 333, 858 and 861.

  63. 63.

    It can also have the function of an aide-mémoire (either to remember when a particular experiment or observation was made, or to remember an idea to be tried in the future). My thanks to -->Guido Giglioni for pointing this out to me.

  64. 64.

    See, for example, ‘Probatum per Maister Andr. Hill’, or ‘Probatum per Master Colborn’ in experiments concerning grafting (Platt 1608, 135, 137, 149). Sometimes the sources are only identified by their initials. In some cases, the term probatum is missing, while in others the experiments end with a further query-->. Platt’s sources can be gardeners, practitioners in glass-making and other mechanical arts-->, and even other authors writing about husbandry--> -->. On Platt’s -->experts, see Mukherjee 2010; Thick 2010.

  65. 65.

    The ways in which a lemon grows mold are described in other experiments throughout the Sylva Sylvarum. See, for example, Bacon 1857–1874, II, 453.

  66. 66.

    See also Jalobeanu 2013.

  67. 67.

    Bacon in Rees 1981, 406: ‘Put a green Apple into Hay, and leaue another | of the same Apples to compare with it, and see | how much sooner the one will sweeten and ripen || before || < then > the other’.

  68. 68.

    Among those experiments clearly stating the need for a control group are 317–322, 385 and 401 in the Sylva Sylvarum.

  69. 69.

    On the various strata of De vijs mortis and the composition of the manuscript, see Rees’s ‘Introduction’ to Bacon 1996.


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Jalobeanu, D. (2016). Bacon’s Apples: A Case Study in Baconian Experimentation. In: Giglioni, G., Lancaster, J., Corneanu, S., Jalobeanu, D. (eds) Francis Bacon on Motion and Power. International Archives of the History of Ideas Archives internationales d'histoire des idées, vol 218. Springer, Cham.

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