Observations Upon Experimental Philosophy

  1. Whether Artificial Effects may be called Natural, and in what sense.

IN my former discourses I have declared that Art produces

Hermaphroditical Effects, that is, such as are partly Natural, and partly Artificial; but the question is, whether those Hermaphroditical Effects may not be called Natural Effects as well as others, or whether they be Effects quite different and distinct from Natural? My answer is, When I call Artificial effects Hermaphroditical, or such as are not Natural; I do not speak of Nature in general, as if they were something else besides Nature; for Art it self is natural, and an effect of Nature, and cannot produce any thing that is beyond, or not within Nature;

wherefore artificial effects can no more be excluded from Nature, then any ordinary effect or Creature of Nature; But when I say they are not natural, I understand the particular nature of every Creature, according to its own kind of species; for as there is Infinite Nature which may be called General Nature, or Nature in General, which includes and comprehends all the effects and Creatures that lie within her, and belong to her, as being parts of her own self-moving body; so there are also particular natures in every Creature, which are the innate, proper and inherent interior and substantial forms and figures of every Creature, according to their own kind or species, by which each Creature or part of Nature is discerned or distinguished from the other; as for example, although an Animal and a Vegetable be fellow Creatures, and both Natural, because Material, yet their interior particular Natures are not the same, because they are not of the same kind, but each has its own particular Nature quite different from the other; and these particular Natures are nothing else but a change of corporeal figurative motions, which make this diversity of figures; for were the same interior and natural motions found in an Animal as are in a Vegetable, an Animal would be a Vegetable, and a Vegetable an Animal without any difference; and after this rate there would be no variety at all in Nature; but self-motion acting diversly and variously, not onely in every kind and species, but in every particular Creature and part of Nature, causeth that wonderful variety which appears every where even to our admiration in all parts of Nature. But to return to artificial effects, it is known that Nature has her own ways in her actions, and that there are constant productions in every kind and sort of natural Creatures, which Nature observes in the propagation and increase of them; whose general manner and way is always the same; (I say, general, because there are many variations in the particular motions belonging to the production of every particular Creature.) For example, all Mankind is produced after one and the same manner or way, to wit, by the copulation of two persons of each Sex; and so are other sorts of Creatures produced other ways: also a perfect Creature is produced in the same shape, and has the same interior and exterior figure as is proper to it according to the nature of its kind and species to which it belongs, and this is properly called a natural production:

But when the figurative motions in particular productions do not move after this ordinary way, as in the productions of Monsters, it is called a praeter-natural or irregular production, proceeding from the irregularity of motions; not praeternatural in respect to general Nature, but in respect to the proper and particular nature of the figure. And in this regard I call Artifical effects Hermaphroditical, that is, partly Natural, and partly Artificial; Natural, because Art cannot produce any thing without natural matter, nor without the assistance of natural motions, but artificial, because it works not after the way of natural productions;

  1. Of Micrography, and of Magnifying and Multiplying Glasses.

Although I am not able to give a solid judgment of the Art of Micrography, and the several dioptrical instruments belonging thereto, by reason I have neither studied nor practised that Art; yet of this I am confident, that this same Art, with all its Instruments, is not able to discover the interior natural motions of any part or creature of Nature; nay, the questions is, whether it can represent yet the exterior shapes and motions so exactly, as naturally they are; for Art doth more easily alter then inform: As for example; Art makes Cylinders, Concave and Convex-glasses, and the like, which represent the figure of an object in no part exactly and truly, but very deformed and misshaped: also a Glass that is flaw’d, crack’d, or broke, or cut into the figure of Lozanges, Triangles, Squares, or the like, will present numerous pictures of one object. Besides, there are so many alterations made by several lights, their shadows, refractions, reflexions, as also several lines, points, mediums, interposing and intermixing parts, forms and positions, as the truth of an object will hardly be known; for the perception of sight, and so of the rest of the senses, goes no further then the exterior

Parts of the object presented; and though the Perception may be true, when the object is truly presented, yet when the presentation is false, the information must be false also. And it is to be observed, that Art, for the most part, makes hermaphroditical, that is, mixt figures, as partly Artificial, and partly Natural: for Art may make some metal, as Pewter, which is between Tin and Lead, as also Brass, and numerous other things of mixt natures; In the like manner may Artificial Glasses present objects, partly Natural, and partly Artificial; nay, put the case they can present the natural figure of an object, yet that natural figure may be presented in as monstrous a shape, as it may appear mis-shapen rather then natural: For example; a Lowse by the help of a Magnifying-glass, appears like a Lobster, where the Microscope enlarging and magnifying each part of it, makes them bigger and rounder then naturally they are.

The truth is, the more the figure by Art is magnified, the more it appears mis-shapen from the natural, in so much as each joynt will appear as a diseased, swell’d and tumid body, ready and ripe for incision. But mistake me not; I do not say, that no Glass presents the true picture of an object; but onely that Magnifying, Multiplying, and the like optick Glasses, may, and do oftentimes present falsly the picture of an exterior object; I say, the Picture, because it is not the real body of the object which the Glass presents, but the Glass onely figures or patterns out the picture presented in and by the Glass, and there may easily mistakes be committed in taking Copies from Copies. Nay, Artists do confess themselves, that Flies, and the like, will appear of several figures or shapes, according to the several reflections, refractions, mediums and positions of several lights; which if so, how can they tell or judg which is the truest light, position, or medium, that doth present the object naturally as it is? and if not, then an edge may very well seem flat, and a point of a needle a globe; but if the edge of a knife, or point of a needle were naturally and really so as the microscope presents them, they would never be so useful as they are; for a flat or broad plain-edged knife would not cut, nor a blunt globe pierce so suddenly another body, neither would or could they pierce without tearing and rending, if their bodies were so uneven; and if the Picture of a young beautiful Lady should be

drawn according to the representation of the Microscope, or according to the various refraction and reflection of light through such like glasses, it would be so far from being like her, as it would not be like a humane face, but rather a Monster, then a picture of Nature. Wherefore those that invented Microscopes, and such like dioptrical Glasses, at first, did, in my opinion, the world more injury then benefit; for this Art has intoxicated so many mens brains, and wholly imployed their thoughts and bodily actions about phaenomena, or the exterior figures of objects, as all better Arts and Studies are laid aside; nay, those that are not as earnest and active in such imployments as they, are, by many of them, accounted unprofitable subjects to the Commonwealth of Learning. But though there be numerous Books written of the wonders of these Glasses, yet I cannot perceive any such, at best, they are but superficial wonders, as I may call them. But could Experimental Philosophers find out more beneficial Arts then our Fore-fathers have done, either for the better increase of Vegetables and brute Animals to nourish our bodies, or better and commodious contrivances in the Art of Architecture to build us houses, or for the advancing of trade and traffick to provide necessaries for us to live, or for the decrease of nice distinctions and sophistical disputes in Churches, Schools and Courts of Judicature, to make men live in unity, peace and neighbourly sriendship, it would not onely be

worth their labour, but of as much praise as could be given to them: But as Boys that play with watry Bubblesa, or fling Dustb into each others Eyes, or make a Hobby-horsec of Snow, are worthy of reproof rather then praise; for wasting their time with useless sports; so those that addict themselves to unprofitable Arts, spend more time then they reap benefit thereby. Nay, could they benefit men either in Husbandry, Architecture, or the like necessary and profitable imployments, yet before the Vulgar sort would learn to understand them, the world would want Bread to eat, and Houses to dwell in, as also Cloths to keep them from the inconveniences of the inconstant weather. But truly, although Spinsters were most experienced in this Art, yet they will never be able to spin Silk, Thred, or Wool, &c. from loose Atomes; neither will Weavers weave a Web of Light from the Sun’s Rays, nor an Architect build an House of the bubbles of Water and Air, unless they be Poetical Spinsters, Weavers and Architects; and if a Painter should draw a Lowse as big as a Crab, and of that shape as the Microscope presents, can any body imagine that a Beggar would believe it to be true? but if he did, what advantage would it be to the Beggar? for it doth neither instruct him how to avoid breeding them, or how to catch them, or to hinder them from biting. Again: if a Painter should paint Birds according to those Colours the Microscope presents, what advantage would it be for Fowlers to take them? Truly, no Fowler will be able to distinguish several Birds through a Microscope, neither by their shapes nor colours; They will be better discerned by those that eat their flesh, then by Micrographers that look upon their colours and exterior figures through a Magnifying-glass. In short, Magnifying-glasses are like a high heel to a short legg, which if it be made too high, it is apt to make the wearer fall, and at the best, can do no more then represent exterior figures in a bigger, and so in a more deformed shape and posture then naturally they are; but as for the interior form and motions of a Creature, as I said before, they can no more represent them, then Telescopes can the interior essence and nature of the Sun, and what matter it consists of; for if one that never had seen Milk before, should look upon it through a Microscope, he would never be able to discover the interior parts of Milk by that instrument, were it the best that is in the World; neither the Whey, nor the Butter, nor the Curds.

Wherefore the best optick is a perfect natural Eye, and a regular sensitive perception, and the best judg is Reason, and the best study is Rational Contemplation joyned with the observations of regular sense, but not deiuding Arts; for Art is not onely gross in comparison to Nature, but, for the most part, deformed and defective, and at best produces mixt or hermaphroditical figures, that is, a third figure between Nature and Art: which proves, that natural Reason is above artificial Sense,

as I may call it: wherefore those Arts are the best and surest Informers, that alter Nature least, and they the greatest deluders that alter Nature most, I mean, the particular Nature of each particular Creature; (for Art is so far from altering Infinite Nature, that it is no more in comparison to it, then a little Flie to an Elephant, no not so much, for there is no comparison between finite and Infinite.) But wise Nature taking delight in variety, her parts, which are her Creatures, must of necessity do so too.

Description of a New Blazing World

Their Priests and Governours were Princes of the Imperial Blood, and made Eunuches for that pur∣pose; and as for the ordinary sort of men in that part of the World where the Emperor resided, they were of

several Complexions; not white, black, tawny, olive or ash-coloured; but some appear’d of an Azure, some of a deep Purple, some of a Grass-green, some of a Scarlet, some of an Orange-colour, &c. Which Colours and Complexions, whether they were made by the bare reflection of light, without the assistance of small particles, or by the help of well-ranged and order’d Atomes; or by a continual agitation of little Globules; or by some pressing and reacting motion, I am not able to determine.

The rest of the Inhabitants of that World, were men of several different sorts, shapes, figures, dispositions, and humors, as I have already made mention heretofore; some were Bear-men, some Worm-men, some Fish- or Mear-men, otherwise called Syrenes; some Bird-men, some Fly-men, some Ant-men, some Geese-men, some Spider-men, some Lice-men, some Fox-men, some Ape-men, some Jack-daw-men, some Magpie-men, some Parrot-men, some Satyrs, some Gyants, and many more, which I cannot all remember; and of these several sorts of men, each followed such a profession as was most proper for the nature of their species, which the Empress encouraged them in, especially those that had applied themselves to the study of several Arts and Sciences; for they were as ingenious and witty in the invention of profitable and useful Arts, as we are in our world, nay, more; and to that end she erected Schools, and founded several Societies. The Bear-men were to be her Experimental Philosophers, the Bird-men her Astronomers, the Fly Worm-and Fish-men her Natural Philosophers, the Ape-men her Chymists, the Satyrs her Galenick Physicians, the Fox-men her Polititians, the Spider- and Lice-men her Mathematicians, the Jackdaw-Magpie and Parrot-men her Orators and Logicians, the Gyants her Architects, &c. But before all things, she having got

a soveraign power from the Emperor over all the World, desired to be informed both of the manner of their Religion and Government, and to that end she called the Priests and States-men, to give her an account of either. Of the States-men she enquired, first, Why they had so few Laws? To which they answered, That many Laws made many Divisions, which most commonly did breed factions, and at last brake out into open wars. Next, she asked, Why they preferred the Monarchical form of Government before any other? They answered, That as it was natural for one body to have but one head, so it was also natural for a Politick body to have but one Governor; and that a Common-wealth, which had many Governors was like a Monster of many heads:

besides, said they, a Monarchy is a divine form of Government, and agrees most with our Religion; for as there is but one God, whom we all unanimously worship and adore with one Faith, so we are resolved to have but one Emperor, to whom we all submit with one obedience.

Then the Empress seeing that the several sorts of her Subjects had each their Churches apart, asked the Priests whether they were of several Religions? They answered her Majesty, That there was no more but one Religion in all that World, nor no diversity of opinions in that same Religion; for though there were several sorts of men, yet had they all but one opinion concerning the Worship and Adoration of God. The Empress asked them, Whether they were Jews, Turks, or Christians? We do not know, said they, what Religions those are; but we do all unanimously acknowledg, worship and adore the Onely, Omnipotent, and Eternal God, with all reverence, submission, and duty. Again, the Empress enquired, Whether they had several Forms of Worship? They answered, No: For our Devotion and Worship consists onely in Prayers, which we frame according to our several necessities, in Petitions, Humiliations, Thanksgiving, & c, Truly, replied the Empress, I thought you had been either Jews, or Turks, because I never perceived any Women in your Congregations; But what is the reason, you bar them from your religious Assemblies? It is not fit, said they, that Men and Women should be promiscuously together in time of Religious Worship; for their company hinders Devotion, and makes many, instead of praying to God, direct their devotion to their Mistresses. But, asked the Empress, Have they no Congregation of their own, to perform the duties of Divine Worship, as well as Men? No, answered they: but they stay at home, and say their Prayers by themselves in their Closets. Then the Empress desir’d to know the reason why the Priests and Governors of their World were made Eunuchs? They answer’d, To keep them from Marriage: For Women and Children most commonly make disturbance both in Church and State. But, said she, Women and Children have no employment in Church or State. ‘Tis true, answer’d they; but although they are not admitted to publick employments, yet are they so prevalent with their Husbands and Parents, that many times by their importunate perswasions, they cause as much, nay, more mischief secretly, then if they had the management of publick affairs.

Lastly, They shewed the Emperess a Flea, and a Lowse; which Creatures through the Microscope appear’d so terrible to her sight, that they had almost put her into a swoon; the description of all their parts would be very tedious to relate, and therefore I’le forbear it at this present. The Emperess after the view of those strangely-shaped Creatures, pitied much those that are molested with them, especially poor Beggars, which although they have nothing to live on themselves, are yet necessitated to maintain and feed of their own flesh and blood, a company of such terrible Creatures called Lice, who instead of thanks, do reward them with pains, and torment them for giving them nourishment and food. But after the Emperess had seen the shapes of these monstrous Creatures, she desir’d to know whether their Microscopes could hinder their biting, or at least shew some means how to avoid them? To which they answered, That such Arts were mechanical and below that noble study of Microscopical observations.

Then the Emperess asked them whether they had not such sorts of Glasses that could enlarge and magnifie the shapes of great bodies, as well as they had done of little ones? Whereupon they took one of their best and largest Microscopes, and endeavoured to view a Whale thorow it; but alas! the shape of the Whale was so big, that its circumference went beyond the magnifying quality of the Glass; whether the error proceeded from the Glass, or from a wrong position of the Whale against the reflection of light, I cannot certainly tell. The Emperess seeing the insufficiency of those Magnifying-glasses, that they were not able to enlarge all sorts of objects, asked the Bear-men whether they could not make glasses of a contrary nature to those they had shewed her, to wit, such as instead of enlarging or magnifying the shape or figure of an object, could contract it beneath its natural proportion: Which, in obedience to her Majesties Commands, they did; and viewing through one of the best of them, a huge and mighty Whale appear’d no bigger then a Sprat; nay, through some no bigger then a Vinegar-Eele; and through their ordinary ones, an Elephant seemed no bigger then a Flea; a Camel no bigger then a Lowse; and an Ostrich no bigger then a Mite. To relate all their optick observations through the several sorts of their Glasses, would be a tedious work, and tire even the most patient Reader, wherefore I’le pass them by; onely this was very remarkable and worthy to be taken notice of, that notwithstanding their great skil, industry and ingenuity in Experimental Philosophy, they could yet by no means contrive such Glasses, by the help of which they could spy out a Vacuum, with all its dimensions, nor Immaterial substances, Non-beings, and Mixt-beings, or such as are between something and nothing; which they were very much troubled at, hoping that yet, in time, by long study and practice, they might perhaps attain to it.
The Bird-and Bear-men being dismissed, the Emperess called both the Syrenes, or Fish-men, and the Worm-men, to deliver their observations which they had made, both within the Seas, and the Earth. First she enquired of the Fish-men whence the saltness of the Sea did proceed? To which they answered, That there was a volatile salt in those parts of the Earth, which as a bosom contain the Waters of the Sea, which salt being imbibed by the Sea, became fixt; and this imbibing motion was that they call’d the Ebbing and Flowing of the Sea; for, said they, the rising and swelling of the water, is caused by those parts of the volatile salt as are not so easily imbibed, which striving to ascend above the water, bear it up with such a motion, as Man, or some other animal Creature, in a violent certainly those may be said to be of such a mixt nature, that is, partly flesh, and partly fish: But how is it possible, replied the Emperess, that they should live both in Water, and on the Earth, since those Animals that live by the respiration of air, cannot live within Water, and those that live in Water, cannot live by the respiration of Air, as experience doth sufficiently witness. They answered her Majesty, That as there were different sorts of Creatures, so they had also different ways of respirations; for respiration, said they, was nothing else but a composition and division of parts, and the motions of nature being infinitely various, it was impossible that all Creatures should have the like motions; wherefore it was not necessary, that all animal Creatures should be bound to live either by the air, or by water onely, but according as Nature had ordered it convenient to their species.

The Emperess seem’d very well satisfied with their answer, and desired to be further informed, Whether all animal Creatures did con∣tinue their species by a successive propagation of parti∣culars, and whether in every species the off-spring did always resemble their Generator or Producer, both in their interior and exterior figures? They answered her Majesty, That some species or sorts of Creatures, were kept up by a successive propagation of an off∣spring that was like the producer, but some were not; of the first rank, said they, are all those animals that are of different sexes, besides several others; but of the second rank are for the most part those we call insects, whose production proceds from such causes as have no conformity or likeness with their produced effects; as for example, Maggots bred out of Cheese, and se∣veral others generated out of Earth, Water, and the like.

But said the Emperess, there is some likeness between Maggots and Cheese, for Cheese has no blood, and so neither have Maggots; besides, they have almost the same taste which Cheese has. This proves nothing, answered they; for Maggots have a visible, local, progressive motion, which Cheese hath not. The Emperess replied, That when all the Cheese was turned into Maggots, it might be said to have local, progressive motion. They answered, That when the Cheese by its own figurative motions was changed into Maggots, it was no more Cheese. The Emperess confessed that she observed Nature was infinitely various in her works, and that though the species of Creatures did continue, yet their particulars were subject to infinite changes. But since you have informed me, said she, of the various sorts and productions of animal Creatures, I desire you to tell me what you have observed of their sensitive perceptions? Truly, answered they, Your Majesty puts a very hard question to us, and we shall hardly be able to give a satisfactory answer to it; for there are many different sorts of Creatures, which as they have all different perceptions, so they have also different organs, which our senses are not able to discover, onely in an Oystershell we have with admiration observed, that the common sensorium of the Oyster lies just at the closing of the shells, where the pressure and reaction may be perceived by the opening and shutting of the shells every tide.


After all this, the Emperess desired the Worm-men to give her a true Relation how frost was made upon the Earth? To which they answered, That it was made much after the manner and description of the Fish- and Bird-men, concerning the Congelation of Water into Ice and Snow, by a commixture of saline and acid particles; which relation added a great light to the Ape-men, who were the Chymists, concerning their Chymical principles, Salt, Sulphur and Mercury. But, said the Emperess, if it be so, it will require an infinite multitude of saline particles to produce such a great quantity of Ice, Frost and Snow: besides, said she, when Snow, Ice and Frost, turn again into their former principle, I would fain know what becomes of those saline particles? But neither the Wor-men, nor the Fish-and Bird-men, could give her an answer to it.

Critical Text

An Eare-ring round may well a Zodiacke bee,
Wherein a Sun goeth round, and we not see.
And Planets seven about that Sun may move,
And Hee stand still, as some wise men would prove.
And fixed Stars, like twinkling Diamonds, plac’d
About this Eare-ring, which a World is vast.
That same which doth the Eare-ring hold, the hole,
Is that, which we do call the Pole.
There nipping Frosts may be, and Winter cold,
Yet never on the Ladies Eare take hold.
And Lightings, Thunder, and great Winds may blow
Within this Eare-ring, yet the Eare not know.
There Seas may ebb, and flow, where Fishes swim,
And Islands be, where Spices grow therin.

Egerton 1910  f.  1