Observations upon experimental philosophy to which is added The description of a new blazing world
Newcastle, Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of, 1624?-1674.
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TIs probable, some will say, that my much writing is a disease; but what disease they will judg it to be, I can∣not tell; I do verily believe they will take it to be a disease of the Brain, but surely they cannot call it an Apoplexical or Lethargical disease: Perhaps they will say, it is an extravagant, or at least a Fantastical disease; but I hope they will rather call it a disease of wit. But, let them give it what name they please, yet of this I am sure, that if much writing be a disease, then the best Philosophers, both Moral and Page  [unnumbered] Natural, as also the best Divines, Lawyers, Physiti∣ans, Poets, Historians, Orators, Mathematicians, Chy∣mists, and many more have been grievously sick, and Seneca, Plinius, Aristotle, Cicero, Tacitus, Plutarch, Euclid, Homer, Virgil, Ovid, St. Augustin. St. Am∣brose, Scotus, Hippocrates, Galen, Paracelsus, and hundreds more, have been at deaths door with the dis∣ease of writing; but to be infected with the same dis∣ease, which the devoutest, wisest, wittiest, subtilest, most learned and eloquent men have been troubled withal, is no disgrace, but the greatest honour, even to the most ambitious person in the world: and next to the honour of being thus infected, it is also a great delight and pleasure to me, as being the onely Pastime which imploys my idle hours; in so much, that, were I sure no body did read my Works, yet I would not quit my pastime for all this; for although they should not delight others, yet they delight me; and if all Women that have no imployment in worldly affairs, should but spend their time as harmlesly as I do, they would not commit such faults as many are accused of.

I confess, there are many useless and superfluous Books, and perchance mine will add to the number of them; especially is it to be observed, that there have been in this latter age, as many Writers of Natural Philosophy, as in former ages there have been of Moral Philosophy; which multitude, I fear, will produce such a confusion of Truth and Falshood, as the number Page  [unnumbered] of Moral Writers formerly did, with their over-nice divisions of Vertues and vices, whereby they did puzle their Readers so, that they knew not how to distinguish between them. The like, I doubt, will prove amongst our Natural Philosophers, who by their extracted, or rather distracted arguments, confound both Divinity and Natural Philosophy, Sense and Reason, Nature and Art, so much as in time we shall have rather a Chaos, then a well-order'd Universe by their doctrine: Be∣sides, many of their Writings are but parcels taken from the ancient; but such Writers are like those unconsci∣onable men in Civil Wars, which endeavour to pull down the hereditary Mansions of Noble-men and Gentlemen, to build a Cottage of their own; for so do they pull down the learning of Ancient Authors, to render themselves famous in composing Books of their own. But though this Age does ruine Pa∣laces, to make Cottages; Churches, to make Con∣venticles; and Universities to make private Col∣ledges; and endeavour not onely to wound, but to kill and bury the Fame of such meritorious Persons as the Ancient were, yet, I, hope God of his mercy will preserve State, Church, and Schools, from ruine and destruction; Nor do I think their weak works will be able to overcome the strong wits of the Ancient; for setting aside some few of our Moderns, all the rest are but like dead and withered leaves, in comparison to lovely and lively Plants; and as for Arts, I am confi∣dent, Page  [unnumbered] that where there is one good Art found in these latter ages, there are two better old Arts lost, both of the AEgyptians, Grecians, Romans, and many other an∣cient Nations; (when I say lost, I mean in relation to our knowledg, not in Nature; for nothing can be lost in Nature) Truly, the Art of Augury was far more beneficial then the lately invented Art of Micrography; for I cannot perceive any great advantage this Art doth bring us. Also the Ecclipse of the Sun and Moon was not found out by Telescopes, nor the motions of the Load∣stone, nor the Art of the Card, nor the Art of Guns and Gun-powder, nor the Art of Printing, and the like, by Microscopes; nay, if it be true, that Te∣lescopes make appear the spots in the Sun and Moon, or discover some new Stars, what benefit is that to us? Or if Microscopes do truly represent the exterior parts and superficies of some minute Creatures, what advantages it our knowledg? For unless they could dis∣cover their interior, corporeal, figurative motions, and the obscure actions of Nature, or the causes which make such or such Creatures, I see no great benefit or ad∣vantage they yield to man: Or if they discover how re∣flected light makes loose and superficial Colours, such as no sooner percieved, but are again dissolved; what benefit is that to man? For neither Painters nor Dy∣ers can inclose and mix that Atomical dust, and those reflections of light to serve them for any use. Where∣fore, in my opinion, it is both time and labour lost; for Page  [unnumbered] the inspection of the exterior parts of Vegetables, doth not give us any knowledg how to Sow, Set, Plant, and Graft; so that a Gardener or Husbandman will gain no advantage at all by this Art: The inspection of a Bee, through a Microscope, will bring him no more Honey, nor the inspection of a grain more Corn; neither will the inspection of dusty Atomes, and reflections of light, teach Painters how to make and mix Colours, although it may perhaps be an advantage to a decayed Ladies face, by placing her self in such or such a refle∣ction of Light, where the dusty Atomes may hide her wrinkles. The truth is, most of these Arts are Fal∣lacies, rather then discoveries of Truth; for Sense de∣ludes more then it gives a true Information, and an ex∣terior inspection through an Optick glass, is so decei∣ving, that it cannot be relied upon: Wherefore Re∣gular Reason is the best guide to all Arts, as I shall make it appear in this following Treatise.

It may be the World will judg it a fault in me, that I oppose so many eminent and ingenious Writers, but I do it not out of a contradicting or wrangling nature, but out of an endeavour to find out truth, or at least the probability of truth, according to that proportion of sense and reason Nature has bestowed upon me; for as I have heard my Noble Lord say, that in the Art of Riding and Fencing, there is but one Truth, but ma∣ny Falshoods and Fallacies: So it may be said of Natural Philophy and Divinity; for there is but one Funda∣mental Page  [unnumbered] Truth in each, and I am as ambitious of finding out the truth of Nature, as an honourable Dueller is of gaining fame and repute; for as he will fight with none but an honourable and valiant opposite, so am I resolved to argue with none but those which have the renown of being famous and subtil Philosophers; and therefore as I have had the courage to argue hereto∣fore with some famous and eminent Writers in Spe∣culative Philosophy; so have I taken upon me in this present work, to make some reflections also upon some of our Modern Experimental and Dioptrical Writers. They will perhaps think my self an inconsiderable op∣posite, because I am not of their Sex, and therefore strive to hit my Opinions with a side stroke, rather co∣vertly, then openly and directly; but if this should chance, the impartial World, I hope, will grant me so much Justice as to consider my honesty, and their fallacy, and pass such a judgment as will declare them to be Patrons, not onely to Truth, but also to Justice and Equity; for which Heaven will grant them their reward, and time will record their noble and worthy Actions in the Register of Fame, to be kept in everlast∣ing Memory.