Ephemeri vita, or, The natural history and anatomy of the Ephemeron, a fly that lives but five hours written originally in Low-Dutch by Jo. Swammerdam ...

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Ephemeri vita, or, The natural history and anatomy of the Ephemeron, a fly that lives but five hours written originally in Low-Dutch by Jo. Swammerdam ...
Swammerdam, Jan, 1637-1680.
London :: Printed for Henry Faithorne and John Kersey ...,

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Subject terms
Insects -- Anatomy.
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"Ephemeri vita, or, The natural history and anatomy of the Ephemeron, a fly that lives but five hours written originally in Low-Dutch by Jo. Swammerdam ..." In the digital collection Early English Books Online. https://name.umdl.umich.edu/A62018.0001.001. University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 20, 2024.


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The Ephemeron does flye Three days, and sometimes on the Fourth day. Other sorts of Ephemerons.

THE Ephemerons, as was said at first do flie for Three dayes on the Surface of the water; but with this distinction: that those which have risen many thousands of them out of the water, and flown the first day, die the same day: living out of the water in the whole but about Five hours; on the Second day a great number rise again out of the water, and flye and die the same day, and so on the Third day; and then all cease till the same season the next following year.

The truth hereof is known to many persons, who live near those Rivers, who see the same yearly; yet I have seen them also flie the Fourth day, but in no great number; as on the Fifth day also; and therefore I judge these Worms were later fitted for flight than those that flew before; or were letted by sickness or otherwise. As also that those which appeared sooner, were sooner fit for their flight; and for this reason I see not but that the Ephemeron might appear some few days sooner or later than the precise time; for that by experience it is found that they sometimes appear about 14 days sooner or later, according as the season of the year is more or less agreeable.

The other sort of Insects have almost a like set time for their Change, which being come they cannot hin∣der, as I have often found, and have indeavoured by several ways to retard their Change but in vain; for the time being come they will force it forward although by the endeavoured obstruction, it prove their hurt or destruction: at which time notwithstanding by these endeavoured obstructions their Limbs are so compressed,

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that being dead all the pleat-folds of their inward and hidden parts may easily be examined, which is of no small use for those who labour i the search of these things.

If all what is hitherto related of the Ephemeron be well considered, the saying of Moufet will prove true, viz. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 sive Diaria mirabilis Musca est, sive for∣mam sive vitae brevitatem spectemus. That the Ephemeron is a wonderful Flie if its Form and brevity of life be considered; but what he farther saith thereof, as also Aldrovandus; Ionstonus and Clutius, with those other Writers that have writ thereof, agreeth not much with truth; except that the Insect they have described be some other than what we have described; for there are different kinds of Ephemorons, only I advise that whoever in these matters desireth truth, that himself seek it in nature, which exceedeth all Writers, and teacheth us more in a minutes time, than in years can be learned in Books without her. Nature is an open book, in which her wonders are more intelligible than in the relations of men subject to many mistakes, from which I acknowledge my self not free.

I wondered to observe in the book of Augerius Clu∣tius▪ that the Ephemeron of Dortman is only drawn from a weak Memory or fancy, which observed by Goedard who was informed by many observations of that kind, he hath endeavoured to mend, by his own conceit and judgment, but very badly, for he hath changed nothing therein but what he judged to be mishaped; having left the whole draught which was first made only by Memory, as it were; whereby appeareth how inconsiderately the error com∣mitted by the one hath been endeavoured to be mended by the other: which for that he only endeavoured to do by his conceit, hath consequently doubled the error, for that he endeavoured to make it to appear more true-like, and yet he acknowledgeth never to have seen the Infect. Wherefore the great Harvey hath well said, Ex sens permanet sensatum; ex permanentia sensati fit

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memoria: ex multipliei memoriâ experientia: ab experi∣entia ratio universalis; definitiones & maxima, sive axi∣omata communia, cognitionis certissima principia.

At the time when I was searching and examining the nature of this Insect, I have seen several sorts of Ephemerons, but I have never seen that of Hoefnagel represented by Clutius, and which also is to be found in the Figures of the said Hoefnagel, except once in the way to Diemermeer I found the Nympha thereof, which was hurt by being trodden on, I judg'd it then to be derived from a black and toothed Water-worm which hath a thick rumpled skin, and arrived to its full growth, leaveth the water, and creeping on land, there changeth into a Nympha; which in time attaineth the shape of the Ephemeron represented by Hoefnagel, and afterwards shooteth again its Eggs in the water. That there are also other sorts of Insects, and also some kinds of Ephemerons which I can shew, as among other, some sorts which I have met with, and caught in France in the River Loire by Saumur, which in shape differ little from those with us, only much smaller. I have once seen the same Flie in great troops; chancing to walk one Evening on the Bridg over the River by Saumur, some of those which flew had yet fast on their Tails, the Second Skin which they were shedding, with which they flew to and again over the Bridg; I cannot relate more of this sort; nor of the other sorts, of which I have kept some, and of which there are none which live so short a time as doth our Ephemeron. Some of those kinds live longer than others do, which causeth me to conclude that there are yet more differences to be observed in them; and therefore that the Writers are not wholly to be rejected that write somewhat of these, and other like Insects they have seen in other Countries, not wholly agreeing with our Ephemeron: and it would be a great presumption in us to conclude otherwise, for God is endless in the variety of his Works, which notwith∣standing

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they here and there differ in some accidents, yet in the chief parts they all agree, which is one of Gods greatest wonders in nature; so that it might be said that he had Created but one Animal hidden under several outward shapes, and endless wonderful accidents.

Being in the year 1670. in the Village Slouton by Amsterdam in the month of Iune, where as I walked towards the Evening through the Fields, I met with such an infinite number of small Insects somewhat big∣ger than Gnats, which rested on my body, that I was even covered therewith. Every one of these while resting on my body shed a thin Film, which done they imme∣diately repaired again to the waters, where they, like the greater Ephemeron sport above the Surface of the water. The Original of these Insects is not much un∣like that of our Ephemeron, for that they also live in Ditches and Trenches of water, which also at their set times Change by shedding two Skins; the one in the water, the other on Land. The Worms of this small Ephemeron differ herein from the greater, in that they live not in the Clay, or in Cells, but on stony and Sandy ground, and are therefore of a stronger Constitution, than the larger Ephemerons, and their Skin agreeing more with that of the Lobster and Prawn. They have also on the sides of their bodies Gills and Finns, when in the middle of Summer if you take a stone out of the Rhine or Leck, as also out of some In∣land waters, you will find some of these Worms sit∣ting thereon; which is also found in other Countries and Rivers: as I have found in the Loire, the Seine, and other Rivers of France: Whereby it appeareth that there are many sorts of Ephemerons, and that therefore those Authors are not to be rejected when they describe an Ephemeron differing from ours. The said Worms with what I have besides represented of the Ephemeron, I can for the most part shew any one to the life; for that I have hitherto kept them by me, for a clearer demonstra∣tion of what I have writ.

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