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

3. Of Micrography, and of Magnifying and Mul∣tiplying 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 nei∣ther 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 a∣ny 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 mis∣shaped: Page  8 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 ob∣ject. Besides, there are so many alterations made by several lights, their shadows, refractions, reflexi∣ons, as also several lines, points, mediums, inter∣posing 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 fi∣gures, as partly Artificial, and partly Natural: for Art may make some metal, as Pewter, which is be∣tween 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 pre∣sent 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 ex∣ample; a Lowse by the help of a Magnifying-glass, appears like a Lobster, where the Microscope enlarg∣ing and magnifying each part of it, makes them big∣ger and rounder then naturally they are. The truth Page  9 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, Multiply∣ing, and the like optick Glasses, may, and do often∣times 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 ap∣pear of several figures or shapes, according to the seve∣ral 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 bo∣dy, neither would or could they pierce without tear∣ing and rending, if their bodies were so uneven; and if the Picture of a young beautiful Lady should be Page  10 drawn according to the representation of the Micro∣scope, or according to the various refraction and re∣flection of light through such like glasses, it would be so far from being like her, as it would not be like a hu∣mane face, but rather a Monster, then a picture of Na∣ture. Wherefore those that invented Microscopes, and such like dioptrical Glasses, at first, did, in my o∣pinion, the world more injury then benefit; for this Art has intoxicated so many mens brains, and wholly imployed their thoughts and bodily actions about phae∣nomena, 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 bene∣ficial 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 contri∣vances in the Art of Architecture to build us houses, or for the advancing of trade and traffick to provide ne∣cessaries for us to live, or for the decrease of nice distin∣ctions 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 Page  11 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 ra∣ther 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, Ar∣chitecture, or the like necessary and profitable imploy∣ments, yet before the Vulgar sort would learn to un∣derstand 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 Wea∣vers 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 pre∣sents, can any body imagine that a Beggar would be∣lieve 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 Mi∣croscope presents, what advantage would it be for Page  12 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 bet∣ter discerned by those that eat their flesh, then by Mi∣crographers that look upon their colours and exterior figures through a Magnifying-glass. In short, Mag∣nifying-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 be∣fore, 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 natu∣ral 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 Page  13 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 alter∣ing 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 Infi∣nite.) But wise Nature taking delight in variety, her parts, which are her Creatures, must of necessity do so too.