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

14. Of Natural Productions.

I Cannot wonder with those, who admire that a Creature which inhabits the air, doth yet produce a Creature, that for some time lives in the water as a fish, and afterward becomes an inhabitant of the air, for this is but a production of one animal from another; but what is more, I observe that there are producti∣ons of and from Creatures of quite different kinds; as for example, that Vegetables can and do breed A∣nimals, and Animals, Minerals and Vegetables, and so forth: Neither do I so much wonder at this, be∣cause I observe that all Creatures of Nature are Page  37 produced but out of one matter, which is common to all, and that there are continual and perpetual genera∣tions and productions in Nature, as well as there are perpetual dissolutions. But yet I cannot believe, that some sorts of Creatures should be produced on a sudden by the way of transmigration or translation of parts, which is the most usual way of natural productions; for both natural and artificial productions are performed by degrees, which requires time, and is not done in an instant. Neither can I believe, that all natural things are produced by the way of seeds or eggs; for when I consider the variety of Nature, it will not give me leave to think that all things are produced after one and the same manner or way, by reason the figurative motions are too different, and too diversly various, to be tied to one way of acting in all productions; Where∣fore as some Productions are done by the way of trans∣migration or translation of parts, as for example, the Generation of Man, and other Animals, and others by a bare Metamorphosis or Transformation of their own parts into some other figure, as in the Generation of Maggots out of Cheese, or in the production of Ice out of water, and many the like, so each way has its own particular motions, which no particular Creature can persectly know. I have mentioned in my Philo∣sophical* Letters, that no animal Creature can be pro∣duced by the way of Metamorphosing, which is a change of Motions in the same parts of Matter, but (as Page  38 I do also express in the same place) I mean such ani∣mals which are produced one from another, and where the production of one is not caused by the destruction of the other; such Creatures, I say, it is impossible they should be produced by a bare Metamorphosis, without Transmigration or Translation of parts from the Generator: but such insects, as Maggots, and seve∣ral sorts of Worms and Flies, and the like, which have no Generator of their own kind, but are bred out of Cheese, Earth and Dung, &c. their Production is onely by the way of Metamorphosing, and not Trans∣slation of parts. Neither can I believe, as some do, that the Sun is the common Generator of all those in∣sects that are bred within the Earth; for there are not onely Productions of Minerals and Vegetables, but also of Animals in the Earth deeper then the Sun can reach, and the heat of the Sun can pierce no further then cold can, which is not above two yards from the surface of the Earth, at least in our climate: But why may not the Earth, without the help of the Sun, produce Animal Creatures, as well as a piece of Cheese in a deep Cel∣lar, where neither the Sun nor his Beams enter? Tru∣ly, I wonder men will confine all Productions to one principal agent, and make the Sun the common Generator of all or most living insects, and yet confess that Nature is so full of variety, and that the Genera∣tions and Productions of insects are so various, as not onely the same kind of Creature may be produced from Page  39 several kinds of ways, but the very same Creature may produce several kinds. Nevertheless, I believe that natural Creatures are more numerously and vari∣ously produced by dissolution of particulars by the way of Metamorphosing, then by a continued propagation of their own species by the way of translation of parts; and that Nature hath many more ways of Productions, then by seeds or seminal Principles, even in Vegetables, witness the Generation or Production of Moss, and the like Vegetables that grow on Stones, Walls, dead A∣nimals sculls, tops of houses, &c. so that he who doth confine Nature but to one way of acting or moving, had better to deprive her of all motion, for Nature be∣ing Infinite, has also infinite ways of acting in her par∣ticulars. Some are of opinion, that the seed of Moss being exceeding small and light, is taken up, and carried to and fro in the air into every place, and by the falling drops of rain, is wash'd down out of it, and so dispersed into all places, and there takes onely root and propagates where it finds a convenient soil for it to thrive in; but this is onely a wild fancy, and has no ground, and no experimental Writer shall ever per∣swade me, that by his Dioptrical glasses he has made any such experiment; wherefore I insist upon sense and rea∣son, which inform me of the various productions of Na∣ture, which cannot be reduced to one principal kind, but are more numerous then mans particular and finite reason can conceive. Neither is it a wonder to see Page  40 Plants grow out of the Earth without any waste of the Earth, by reason there are perpetual compositi∣ons and divisions in Nature, which are nothing else but an uniting and disjoyning of parts to and from parts, and prove that there is an interchangeable in∣gress and egress, or a reciprocal breathing in all Na∣tures parts, not perceptible by man; so that no man can tell the association of parts, and growing motions of any one, much less of all Creatures.