Observations upon experimental philosophy to which is added The description of a new blazing world
Newcastle, Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of, 1624?-1674.

10. Of a Butter-flie.

COncerning the Generation of Butter-flies, whe∣ther they be produced by the way of Eggs, as some Experimental Philosophers do relate, or any o∣ther ways; or whether they be all produced after one and the same manner, shall not be my task now to de∣termine; but I will onely give my Readers a short ac∣count of what I my self have observed: When I lived beyond the Seas in Banishment with my Noble Lord, one of my Maids brought upon an old piece of wood, or stone (which it was I cannot perfectly remember) something to me which seemed to grow out of that same piece; it was about the length of half an inch or less, the tail was short and square, and seemed to be a Vege∣table, for it was as green as a green small stalk, grow∣ing out of the aforesaid piece of stone or wood; the Page  27 part next the tail was like a thin skin, wherein one might perceive a perfect pulsation, and was big in pro∣portion to the rest of the parts; The part next to that, was less in compass, and harder, but of such a substance as it was like Pewter or Tin: The last and extreme part opposite to the first mentioned green tail or stalk, seem'd like a head, round, onely it had two little points or horns before, which head seem'd to the eye and touch, like a stone, so that this Creature appeared partly a Ve∣getable, Animal and Mineral; But what is more, it was in a continual motion, for the whole body of it seemed to struggle as if it would get loose from that piece of wood or stone the tail was joyned to, or out of which it grew; But I cutting and dividing its tail from the said piece, it ceased to move, and I did not regard it any further. After some while I found just such ano∣ther insect, which I laid by upon the window, and one morning I spied two Butter-flies playing about it; which, knowing the window had been close shut all the while, and finding the insect all empty, and onely like a bare shell or skin, I supposed had been bred out of it; for the shell was not onely hollow and thin, but so brittle as it straight fell into pieces, and did somewhat resem∣ble the skin of a Snake when it is cast; and it is obser∣vable, that two Butter-flies were produced out of one shell, which I supposed to be male and female. But yet this latter I will not certainly affirm, for I could not discern them with my eyes, except I had had some Mi∣croscope, Page  28 but a thousand to one I might have been also deceived by it; and had I opened this insect, or shell, at first, it might perhaps have given those But∣ter-flies an untimely death, or rather hinder'd their production. This is all I have observed of But∣ter-flies, but I have heard also that Caterpillars are transformed into Butter-flies; whether it be true or not, I will not dispute, onely this I dare say, that I have seen Caterpillers spin as Silk-worms do, an oval ball about their seed, or rather about themselves.