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

4. Nature cannot be known by any of her Parts.

IAm not of Plinius's Opinion, That Nature in her whole power is never more wholly seen then in her smal∣lest Works; For how can Nature be seen in a part, when as Infinite cannot be known neither in nor by any Part, much less a small Part? Nay, were Nature a great finite body, it could not be perceived intirely in and by a small or minute part, no more then a humane eye can see all this world Celestial and Terestial at once. 'Tis true, Reason being joyned to Sense, may make a better discovery then if they were sepa∣rated; Page  11 but as the humane optick sense is not capable to perceive the greatest, so neither the smallest creatures exterior, much less their interior parts, although as∣sisted by Art; for Art, (as I mentioned before) many times deludes rather then informs, making hermaphro∣ditical figures; and Nature has more variety and cu∣riosity in the several forms, and figurative corporeal mo∣tions of one of the smallest creatures, then the most ob∣serving and clearest optick sense can perceive. But mi∣stake me not; I do not say, that Arts are not profi∣table, but that they are not truly and thorowly intelli∣gent or knowing of all Natures works; for seve∣ral Arts are like several other Creatures, which have their particular natures, faculties and proprieties, be∣yond which they cannot go, and one Creature is not able to comprehend or know all other Creatures, no not any one single Creature perfectly, which ifso, then none can inform what it doth not know. Nay, not onely one particular Creature is not able to know it, but not one particular kind or sort of Creatures: as for example; all Man-kind that ever have liv'd, or are at present living in this world, could never find out the truth of Nature, even in the least of her parts, nay, not in themselves: For what man is he that knows the figurative corporeal motions, which make him to be such a Creature as Man, or that make any part of him? and what Man or Art can inform us truly of the figurative motions that make the nature of blood, flesh, Page  12 bones, &c. or can give a reason why the heart is trian∣gular, and the head spherical, and so for every diffe∣rently-shaped part of his body? I will not say, but that Man may guess at it, but not infallibly know it by any Art; wherefore Reason will more truly disco∣ver so much of Nature as is discoverable to one kind or fort of Creatures, then Art can do; for Art must attend Reason as the chief Mistris of Information, which in time may make her a more prudent and pro∣fitable servant then she is; for in this age she is be∣come rather vain then profitable, striving to act be∣yond her power, as I do undertake to write beyond my experience, for which, 'tis probable Artists will condemn me; but if I err, I ask their pardon, and pray them to consider the Nature of our sex, which makes us, for the most part, obstinate and wilful in our opinions, and most commonly impertinently foolish: And if the Art of Micrography can but find out the figurative corporeal motions that make or cause us to be thus, it will be an Art of great same, for by that Artists may come to discover more hidden causes and effects; but yet I doubt they will hardly find out the interior nature of our fex by the exterior form of their faces or countenances, although very curious, and full of variety of several beauties; nay, I dare on the contrary say, had a young beautiful La∣dy such a face as the Microscope expresses, she would not onely have no lovers, bnt be rather a Monster of Page  13 Art, then a picture of Nature, and have an aversion, at least a dislike to her own exterior figure and shape; and perchance if a Lowse or Flea, or such like insect, should look through a Microscope, it would be as much affrighted with its own exterior figure, as a young beautiful Lady when she appears ill-favoured by Art. I do not say this, as if Optick Glasses could not present the true figure of an Original; for if they do not ex∣ceed the compass of natural dimensions, they may; but when they endeavour to go beyond them, and do more then Nature has done, they rather present mon∣strous, then truly natural figures. Wherefore those, in my opinion, are the best Artists, that keep nearest to Natures Rules, and endeavour not to know more then what is possible for a finite part or creature to know; for surely there is no better way to be rightly and truly informed of Natures works, then by study∣ing Natures corporeal figurative motions, by the means of which study, they will practise Arts (as far as Art is able to be practised) more easily and success∣fully then they will do without it. But to conclude this discourse, some parts of Nature are more indued with regular reason then others, which is the cause that some creatures of one and the same fort or kind, as for exam∣ple, Mankind, are more wife and ingenious then others; and therefore it is not art, but regular sense and reason, that makes some more knowing, and some more wife and ingenious then others; and the irregular motions Page  14 of sense and reason that make some more ignorant or more extravagant in their opinions then others.