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

33. Of the substance of the Sun, and of Fire.

THere are divers opinions concerning the matter or substance of the Sun; some imagine the Sun to be a solid body set on fire; others that it is a fluid body of fire, and others again, that it is onely a body of Light, and not of fire; so as I know not which opi∣nion to adhere to: but yet I do rather believe the Sun to be a solid, then a fluid body; by reason fluid bodies are more inconstant in their motions then solid bodies; witness Lightning, which is a fluid fire, and flashes out through the divided clouds, with such a force as water that is pumpt; and being extended beyond the degree of flame, alters to something else that is beyond our humane perception. Indeed, it is of the nature of Air, or else Air inflamed; and as some sorts of Air are more rare, subtil and searching then others, so are some sorts of Lightning, as 'tis known by experience: Page  151 or it is like several sorts of flame, that have several sorts of fuel to feed on; as for example, the flame of Oyl, the flame of Wood, the flame of Aqua-vitae, the flame of Gums, and the like; all which are very different, not onely in their several tempers and degrees of heat, but also in their several manners of burning or flaming; for the flame of Aqua-vitae is far thinner and blewer, then the flame of Wax, Wood, Tallow, or the like; in so much, that there is as much difference between them, as there is between the Azure Skie, and a white Cloud; which shews, that the flame of spirituous bodies is more airy and rare then the flame of others: For Flame is onely the rare and airy part of fire, and there is a na∣tural body of Fire, as well as of Air, Earth and Wa∣ter; and as there are several sorts of Earth, Water and Air, so there are also several sorts of Fire; and as there are springs of Water, and springs of Air, so there may also be springs of Fire and Flame. But to return to the Sun; though I am not able certainly to determine of what substance it is, yet to our perception it appears not to be a fluid, but a solid body, by reason it keeps constantly the same exterior figure, and never appears either ebbing or flowing, or flashing, as lightning is; nor does the whole figure of its body dissolve and change into another figure; nevertheless, it being a na∣tural creature, and consisting of self-moving parts, there is no question but its parts are subject to continual changes and alterations, although not perceptible by Page  152 our sight, by reason of its distance, and the weakness of our organs; for although this Terrestrial Globe, which we inhabit, in its outward figure, nay, in its interior nature remains still the same; yet its parts do continual∣ly change by perpetual compositions and dissolutions, as is evident, and needs no proof. The same may be said of the Sun, Moon, Stars and Planets; which are like a certain kind or species of Creatures; as for ex∣ample, Animal or Man-kind; which species do always last, although their particulars are subject to perpetual productions and dissolutions. And thus it is with all composed figures or parts of Nature, whose chief action is Respiration (if I may so call it) that is, composition and division of parts, caused by the self∣moving power of Nature.