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

8. Of the beard of a wild Oat.

THose that have observed through a Microscope the beard of a wild Oat, do relate that it is onely a small black or brown bristle, growing out of the side of the inner husk, which covers the grain of a wild Oat, and appears like a small wreath'd sprig with two clefts; if it be wetted in water, it will appear to unwreath it self, and by degrees to streighten its knee, and the two clefts will become streight; but if it be suffered to dry again, it will by degrees wreath it self again, and so return into its former posture: The cause of which they suppose to be the differing texture of its parts, which seeming to have two substances, one very porous, loose and spongy, Page  22 into which the watry steams of air may very easily be forced, which thereby will grow swell'd and extended; and a second, more hard and close, into which the wa∣ter cannot at all or very little penetrate; and this retain∣ing always the same dimensions, but the other stretch∣ing and shrinking, according as there is more or less water or moisture in its pores, 'tis thought to produce this unwreathing and wreathing. But that this kind of motion, whether it be caused by heat and cold, or by dryness and moisture, or by any greater or less force, proceeding either from gravity and weight, or from wind, which is the motion of the air, or from some spring∣ing body, or the like, should be the very first foot-step of sensation and animate motion, and the most plain, simple and obvious contrivance that Nature has made use of to produce a motion next to that of rarefaction and condensation by heat and cold, as their opinion is, I shall not easily be perswaded to believe; for if Ani∣mate motion was produced this way, it would, in my opinion, be but a weak and irregular motion. Nei∣ther can I conceive how these, or any other parts, could be set a moving, if Nature her self were not self∣moving, but onely moved: Nor can I believe, that the exterior parts of objects are able to inform us of all their interior motions; for our humane optick sense looks no further then the exterior and superficial parts of solid or dense bodies, and all Creatures have several corporeal figurative motions one within another, which Page  23 cannot be perceived neither by our exterior senses, nor by their exterior motions; as for example, our Optick sense can perceive and see through a transparent body, but yet it cannot perceive what that transparent bodies figurative motions are, or what is the true cause of its transparentness; neither is any Art able to assist our sight with such optick instruments as may give us a true information thereof; for what a perfect natural eye cannot perceive, surely no glass will be able to pre∣sent.