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

7. Of the Stings of Nettles and Bees.

I Cannot approve the opinion of those, who believe that the swelling, burning, and smarting pain caused by the stinging of Nettles and Bees, doth proceed from a poysonous juice, that is contained within the points of Nettles, or stings of Bees; for it is commonly known, that Nettles, when young, are often-times eaten in Sallets, and minced into Broths; nay, when they are at their full growth, good-huswifes use to lay their Cream-cheeses in great Nettles, whereas, if there were any poyson in them, the interior parts of animal bo∣dies, after eating them, would swell and burn more then the exterior onely by touching them. And as for stings of Bees, whether they be poysonous or not, I will not certainly determine any thing, nor whether their stings be of no other use (as some say) then onely for defence or revenge; but this I know, that if a Bee once looseth its sting, it becomes a Drone; which if so, then surely the sting is useful to the Bee, either in making Wax and Honey, or in drawing, mixing and tempering the several sorts of juices, or in penetrating and piercing into Vegetables, or other bodies, after the manner of broaching or tapping, to cause the Liquor to issue out, or in framing the Page  21 structure of their comb, and the like; for surely Na∣ture doth not commonly make useless and unprofitable things, parts, or creatures: Neither doth her design tend to an evil effect, although I do not deny but that good and useful instruments may be and are often im∣ployed in evil actions. The truth is, I find that stings are of such kind of figures as fire is, and fire of such a kind of figure as stings are; but although they be all of one general kind, nevertheless they are different in their particular kinds; for as Animal kind contains ma∣ny several and different particular kinds or sorts of ani∣mals, so the like do Vegetables, and other kinds of Creatures.