EXTRACTS FROM THE PREFACE.
IT is the great prerogative of Mankind above other Creatures, that we are not only able to behold the works of Nature, or barely to sustein our lives by them, but we have also the power of considering, comparing, altering, assisting, and improving them to various uses. And as this is the peculiar priviledge of humane Nature in general, so is it capable of being so far advanced by the helps of Art, and Experience, as to make some Men excel others in their Observations, and Deductions, almost as much as they do Beasts. By the addition of such artificial Instruments and methods, there may be, in some manner, a reparation made for the mischiefs, and imperfection, mankind has drawn upon it self, by negligence, and intemperance, and a wilful and superstitious deserting the Prescripts and Rules of Nature, whereby every man, both from a deriv'd corruption, innate and born with him, and from his breeding and converse with men, Is very subject to slip into all sorts of errors.
The only way which now remains for us to recover some degree of those former perfections, seems to be, by rectifying the operations of the Sense, the Memory, and Reason, since upon the evidence, the strength, the integrity, and the right correspondence of all these, all the light, by which our actions are to be guided, is to be renewed, and all our command over things is to be establisht.
It is therefore most worthy of our consideration, to recollect their several defects, that so we may the better understand how to supply these, and by what assistances we may inlarge their power, and secure them in performing their particular duties.
As for the actions of our Senses, we cannot but observe them to be in many particulars much outdone by those of other Creatures, and when at best, to be far short of the perfection they seem capable of: And these infirmities of the Senses arise from a double cause, either from the disproportion of the Object to the Organ, whereby an infinite number of things can never enter into them, or else from error in the Perception, that many things, which come within their reach, are not received in a right manner.
The like frailties are to be found in the Memory; we often let many things slip away from us, which deserve to be retain'd; and of those which we treasure up, a great part is either frivolous or false; and if good, and substantial, either in tract of time obliterated, or at best so overwhelmed and buried under more frothy notions, that when there is need of them, they are in vain sought for.
The two main foundations being so deceivable, it is no wonder, that all the succeeding works which we build upon them, of arguing, concluding, defining, judging, and all the other degrees of Reason, are lyable to the same imperfection, being, at best, either vain, or uncertain: So that the errors of the understanding are answerable to the two other, being defective both in the quantity and goodness of its knowledge; for the limits, to which our thoughts are confined, are small in respect of the vast extent of Nature it self; some parts of it are too large to be comprehended, and some too little to be perceived. And from thence it must follow, that not having a full sensation of the Object, we must be very lame and imperfect in our conceptions about it, and in all the propositions which we build upon it; hence we often take the shadow of things for the substance, small appearances for good similitudes, similitudes for definitions; and even many of those, which we think to be the most solid definitions, are rather expressions of our own mis-guided apprehensions then of the true nature of the things themselves.
The effects of these imperfections are manifested in different ways, according to the temper and disposition of the several minds of men, some they incline to gross ignorance and stupidity, and others to a presumptuous imposing on other mens Opinions, and a confident dogmatizing on matters, whereof there is no assurance to be given.
Thus all the uncertainty, and mistakes of humane actions, proceed either from the narrowness and wandring of our Senses, from the slipperiness or delusion of our Memory, from the confinement or rashness of our Understanding, so that 'tis no wonder, that our power over natural causes and effects is so slowly improv'd, seeing we are not only to contend with the obscurity and difficulty of the things whereon we work and think, but even the forces of our own minds conspire to betray us.
These being the dangers in the process of humane Reason, the remedies of them all can only proceed from the real, the mechanical, the experimental Philosophy, which has this advantage over the Philosophy of discourse and disputation, that whereas that chiefly aims at the subtilty of its Deductions and Conclusions, without much regard to the first ground-work, which ought to be well laid on the Sense and Memory; so this intends the right ordering of them all, and the making them serviceable to each other.
The first thing to be undertaken in this weighty work, is a watchfulness over the failings and an inlargement of the dominion, of the Senses.
To which end it is requisite, first, That there should. be a scrupulous choice, and a strict examination, of the reality, constancy, and certainty of the Particulars that we admit : This is the first rise whereon truth is to begin, and here the most severe, and most impartial diligence, must be imployed; the storing up of all, without any regard to evidence or use, will only tend to darkness and confusion. We must not therefore esteem the riches of our Philosophical treasure by the number only, but chiefly by the weight; the most vulgar Instances are not to be neglected, but above all, the most instructive are to be entertain'd; the footsteps of Nature are to be trac'd, not only in her ordinary course, but when she seems to be put to her shifts, to make many doublings and turnings, and to use some kind of art in indeavouring to avoid our discovery.
The next care to be taken, in respect of the Senses, is a supplying of their infirmities with Instruments, and, as it were, the adding of. artificial Organs to the natural; this in one of them has been of late years accomplisht with prodigious benefit to all sorts of useful knowledge, by the invention of Optical Glasses. By the means of Telescopes, there is nothing so far distant but may be represented to our view; and by the help of Microscopes, there is nothing so smal4 as to escape our inquiry; hence there is a new visible World discovered to the understanding. By this means the Heavens are open'd, and a vast number of new Stars, and new Motions, and new Productions appear in them, to which all the antient Astronomers were utterly Strangers. By this the Earth it self, which lyes so near us, under our feet, shews quite a new thing to us, and in every little particle of its matter, we now behold almost as great a variety of Creatures, as we were able before to reckon up in the whole Universe it self.
It seems not improbable, but that by these helps the subtilty of the composition of Bodies, the structure of their parts, the various texture of their matter, the instruments and manner of their inward motions, and all the other possible appearances of things, may come to be more fully discovered; all which the antient Peripateticks were content to comprehend in two general and (unless further explain'd) useless words of Matter and Form. From whence there may arise many admirable advantages, towards the increase of the Operative, and the Mechanick Knowledge, to which this Age seems so much inclined, because we may perhaps be inabled to discern all the secret workings of Nature, almost in the same manner as we do those that are the productions of Art, and are manag'd by Wheels, and Engines, and Springs, that were devised by humane Wit.
In this kind I here present to the World my imperfect Indeavours; which though they shall prove no other way considerable, yet, I hope, they may be in some measure useful to the main Design of a reformation in Philosophy, if it be only by shewing, that there is not so much requir'd towards it, any strength of imagination, or exactness of Method; or depth of Contemplation (though the addition of these, where they can be had, must needs produce a much more perfect composure) as a sincere Hand; and a faithful Eye, to examine, and to record, the things themselves as they appear.
And I beg my Reader, to let me take the boldness to assure him, that in this present condition of knowledge, a man so qualified, as I have indeavoured to be, only with resolution, and integrity, and plain intentions of imploying his Senses aright, may venture to compare the reality and the usefulness of his services, towards the true Philosophy, with those of other men, that are of much stronger, and more acute speculations, that shall not make use of the same method by the Senses.
The truth is, the Science of Nature has been already too long made only a work of the Brain and the Fancy: It is now high time that it should return to the plainness and soundness of Observations on material and obvious things. It is said of great Empires, That the best way to preserve them from decay, is to bring them back to the first Principles, and Arts, on which they did begin. The same is undoubtedly true in Philosophy, that by wandring far away into invisible Notions, has almost quite destroy'd it self, and it can never be recovered, or continued, but by returning into the same sensible paths, in which it did at first proceed.
If therefore the Reader expects froiu me any infallible Deductions, or certainty of Axioms, I am to say for my self, that those stronger Works of Wit and Imagination are above my weak Abilities; or if they had not been so, I would not have made use of them in this present Subject before me: Whereever he finds that I have ventur'd at any small Conjectures, at the causes of the things that I have observed, I beseech him to look upon them only as doubtful Problems, and uncertain ghesses, and not as unquestionable Conclusions, or matters of unconfutable Science; I have produced nothing here, with intent to bind his understanding to an implicit consent; I am so far from that, that I desire him, not absolutely to rely upon these Observations of my eyes, if he finds them contradicted by the future Ocular Experiments of sober and impartial Discoverers.
As for my part, I have obtained my end, if these my small Labours shall be thought fit to take up some place in the large stock of natural Observations, which so many hands are busie in providing. If I have contributed the meanest foundations whereon others may raise nobler Superstructures, I am abundantly satisfied; and all my ambition is, that I may serve to the great Philosophers of this Age, as the makers and the grinders of my Glasses did to me; that I may prepare and furnish them with some Materials, which they may afterwards order and manage with better skill, and to far greater advantage.
The next remedies in this universal cure of the Mind are to be applyed to the Memory, and they are to consist of such Directions as may inform us, what things are best to be stor'd up for our purpose, and which is the best way of so disposing them, that they may not only be kept in safity, but ready and convenient, to be at any time produc'd for use, as occasion shall require. But I will not here prevent my self in what I may say in another Discourse, wherein I shall make an attempt to propose some Considerations of the. manner of compiling a Natural and Artificial History, and of so ranging and registring its Particulars into Philosophical Tables, as may make them most useful for the raising of Axioms and Theories.
The last indeed is the most hazardous Enterprize, and yet the most necessary; and that is, to take such care that the Judg'ment and the Reason of Man (which is the third Faculty to be repair'd and improv'd) should receive such assistance, as to avoid the dangers to which it is by nature most subject. The Imperfections, which I have already mention'd, to which it is lyable, do either belong to the extent, or the goodness of its knowledge; and here the difficulty is the greater, least that which may be thought a remedy for the one should prove destructive to the other, least by seeking to inlarge our Knowledge, we should render it weak and uncertain; and least by being too scrupulous and exact about every Circumstance of it, we should confine and streighten it too much.
In both these the middle wayes are to be taken, nothing is to be omitted; and yet every thing to pass a mature deliberation No Intelligence from Men of all Professions, and quarters of the World, to be slighted; and yet all to be so severely examin'd; that there remain no room for doubt or instability; much rigour in admitting, much strictness in comparing, and above all, much slowness in debating, and shyness in determining, is to be practised. The Understanding is to order all the inferiour services of the lower Faculties; but yet it is to do this only as a lawful Master, and not as a Tyrant. It must not incroach upon their Offices, nor take upon it self the employments which belong to either of them. It must watch the irregularities of the Senses, but it must not go before them, or prevent their information. It must examine, range, and dispose of the bank which is laid up in the Memory; but it must be sure to make distinction between the sober and well collected heap, and the extravagant Ideas, and mistaken Images, which there it may sometimes light upon. So many are the links, upon which the true Philosophy depends, of which, if any one be loose, or weak, the whole chain is in danger of being dissolv'd; it is to begin with the Hands and Eyes, and to proceed on through the Memory, to be continued by the Reason; nor is it to stop there, but to come about to the Hands and Eyes again, and so, by a continual passage round from one Faculty to another, it is to be maintained in life and strength, as much as the body of man is by the circulation of the blood through the several parts of the body, the Arms, the Feet, the Lungs, the Heart, and the Head.
If once this method were followed with diligence and attention, there is nothing that lyes within the power of human Wit (or which is far more effectual) of human Industry, which we might not compass; we might not only hope for Inventions to equalize those of Copernicus, Galileo, Gilbert, Harvy, and of others, whose Names are almost lost, that were the Inventors of Gun-powder, the Seamans Compass, Printing, Etching, Graving, Microscopes, etc. but multitudes that may far exceed them: for even those discoveries seem to have been the products of some such method, though but imperfect; What may not be therefore expected from it if thoroughly prosecuted? Talking and contention of Arguments would soon be turn'd into labours; all the fine dreams of Opinions, and universal metaphysical natures, which the luxury of subtil Brains has devis'd, would quickly vanish, and give place to solid Histories, Experiments and Works. And as at first, mankind fell by tasting of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, so we, their Posterity, may be in part restor'd by the same way, not only by beholding and contemplating, but by tasting too those fruits of Natural knowledge, that were never yet forbidden.
From hence the World may be assisted with variety of Inventions, new matter for Sciences may be collected; the old improv'd; and their rust rubb'd away; and as it is by the benefit of Senses that we receive all our Skill in the works of Nature, so they also may be wonderfully benefited by it, and may be guided to an easier and more exact performance of their Offices; 'tis not unlikely, but that we may find out wherein our Senses are deficient, and as easily find wayes of repairing them.
The Indeavours of Skilful men have been most conversant about the assistance of the Eye, and many noble Productions have followed upon it; and from hence we may conclude, that there is a way open'd for advancing the operations, not only of all the other Senses, but even of the Eye it self; that which has been already done ought not to content us, but rather to incourage us to proceed further, and to attempt greater things in the same and different wayes.
'Tis not unlikely, but that there may be yet invented several other helps for the eye, as much exceeding those already found, as those do the bare eye, such as by which we may perhaps be able to discover living Creatures in the Moon, or other Planets, the ftgures of the compounding Particles of matter, and the particular Schematisms and Textures of Bodies.
And as Glasses have highly promoted our seeing, so 'tis not improbable, but that there may be found many Mechanical Inventions to improve our other Senses, of hearing, smelling, tasting, touching. 'Tis not impossible to hear a whisper a furlongs distance, it having been already done; and perhaps the nature of the thing would not make it more impossible, though that furlong should be ten times multiply'd. And though some famous Authors have affirm'd it impossible to hear through the thinnest plate of Muscovy glass; yet I know a way, by which 'tis easie enough to hear one speak through a wall a yard thick. It has not been yet thoroughly examin'd, how far Otocousticons may be improv'd, nor what other wayes there may be of quickning our hearing, or conveying sound through other bodies then the Air: for that that is not the only medium, I can assure the Reader, that I have, by the help of a distended wire, propagated the sound to a very considerable distance in an instant, or with as seemingly quick a motion as that of light, at least, incomparably swifter then that, which at the same time was propagated through the Air; and this not only in a straight line, or direct, but in one bended in many angles.
Nor are the other three so perfect, but that diligence, attention, and many mechanical contrivances, may also highly improve them. For since the sense of smelling seems to be made by the swift passage of the Air (impregnated with the steams and effluvia of several odorous Bodies) through the grisly meanders of the Nose whose surfaces are cover'd with a very sensible nerve, and moistened by a transudation from the processus mamillares of the Brain, and some adjoyning glandules, and by the moist steam of the Lungs, with a Liquor convenient for the reception of those effluvia and by the adhesion and mixing of those steams with that liquor, and thereby affecting the nerve, or perhaps by insinuating themselves into the juices of the brain, after the same manner, as I have in the following Observations intimated, the parts of Salt to pass through the skins of Effs, and Frogs. Since, I say, smelling seems to be made by some such way, 'tis not improbable, but that some contrivance, for making a great quantity of Air pass quick through the Nose, might as much promote the sense of smelling, as the any wayes hindring that passage does dull and destroy it. Several tryals I have made, both of hindring and promoting this sense, and have succeeded in some according to expectation; and indeed to me it seems capable of being improv'd, for the judging of the constitutions of many Bodies. Perhaps we may thereby also judge (as other Creatures seem to do) what is wholsome, what poyson; and in a word, what are the specifick properties of Bodies.
There may be also some other mechanical wayes found out, of sensibly perceiving the effluvia of Bodies; several Instances of which, were it here proper, I could give of Mineral steams and exhalations; and it seems not impossible, but that by some such wayes improved, may be discovered, what Minerals lye buried under the Earth, without the trouble to dig for them; some things to confirm this Conjecture may be found in Agricola, and other Writers of Minerals, speaking of the Vegetables that are apt to thrive, or pine, in those steams.
Whether also those steams, which seem to issue out of the Earth, and mix with the Air (and so to precipitate some aqueous Exhalations, wherewith 'tis impregnated) may not be by some way detected before they produce the effect, seems hard to determine; yet something of this kind I am able to discover, by an Instrument I contriv'd to shew all the minute variations in the pressure of the Air; by which I constantly find, that before, and during the time of rainy weather, the pressure of the Air is less, and in dry weather, but especially when an Eastern wind (which having past over vast tracts of Land is heavy with Earthy Particles) blows, it is much more, though these changes are varied according to very odd Laws.
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But this is but one way of discovering the effluvia of the Earth mixt with the Air; there may be perhaps many others, witness the Hygroscope, an Instrument whereby the watery steams volatile in the Air are discerned, which the Nose it self is not able to find. This I have describ'd in the following Tract in the Description of the Beard of a wild Oat. Others there are, may be discovered both by the Nose, and by other wayes also. Thus the smoak of burning Wood is smelt, seen, and sufficiently felt by the eyes: The fumes of burning Brimstone are smelt and discovered also by the destroying the Colours of Bodies, as by the whitening of a red Rose: And who knows, but that the Industry of man, following this method, may find out wayes of improving this sense to as great a degree of perfection as it is in any Animal, and perhaps yet higher.
Tis not improbable also, but that our taste may be very much improv'd, either by preparing our tast for the Body, as, after eating bitter things, Wine, or other Vinous liquors, are more sensibly tasted; or else by preparing Bodies for our tast; as the dissolving of Metals with acid Liquors, make them tastable, which were before altogether insipid; thus Lead becomes sweeter then Sugar, and Silver more bitter then Gall, Copper and Iron of most loathsome tasts. And indeed the business of this sense being to discover the presence of dissolved Bodies in Liquors put on the Tongue, or in general to discover that a fluid body has some solid body dissolv'd in it, and what they are; whatever contrivance makes this discovery improves this sense. In this kind the mixtures of Chymical Liquors afford many Instances; as the sweet Vinegar that is impregnated with Lead may be discovered to be so by the affusion of a little of an Alcalizate solution: The bitter liquor of Aqua fortis and Silver may be discover'd to be charg'd with that Metal, by laying in it some plates of Copper: 'Tis not improbable also, but there may be multitudes of other wayes of discovering the parts dissolv'd, or dissoluble in liquors; and what is this discovery but a kind of secundary tasting.
'Tis not improbable also, but that the sense of feeling may be highly improv'd, for that being a sense that judges of the more gross and robust motions of the Particles of Bodies, seems capable of being improv'd and assisted very many wayes. Thus for the distinguishing of Heat and Cold; the Weatherglass and Thermometer, which I have describ'd in this following Treatise, do exceedingly perfect it; by each of which the least variations of heat or cold, which the most Acute sense is not able to distinguish, are manifested. This is oftentimes further promoted also by the help of Burning-glasses, and the like, which collect and unite the radiating heat. Thus the roughness and smoothness of a Body is made much more sensible by the help of a Microscope, then by the most tender and delicate Hand. Perhaps, a Physitian might, by several other tangible proprieties, discover the constitution of a Body as well as by the Pulse. I do but instance in these, to shew what possibility there may be of many others, and what probability and hopes there were of finding them, if this method were followed; for the Offices of the five Senses being to detect either the subtil and curious Motions propagated through all pellucid or perfectly homogeneous Bodies; Or the more gross and vibrative Pulse communicated through the Air and all other convenient mediums, whether fluid or solid: Or the effluvia of Bodies dissolvd in the Air; Or the particles of bodies dissolv'd or dissoluble in Liquors, or the more quick and violent shaking motion of heat in all or any of these: whatsoever does any wayes promote any of these kinds of criteria, does afford a way of improving some one sense. And what a multitude of these would a diligent Man meet with in his inquiries? And this for the helping and promoting the sensitive faculty only.
Next, as for the Memory, or retentive faculty, we may be sufficiently instructed from the written Histories of civil actions, what great assistance may be afforded the Memory, in the committing to writing things observable in natural operations. If a Physitian be therefore accounted the more able in his Faculty, because he has had long experience and practice, the remembrance of which) though perhaps very imperfect, does regulate all his after actions: What ought to be thought of that man, that has not only a perfect register of his own experience, but is grown old with the experience of many hundreds of years, and many thousands of men.
And though of late, men, beginning to be sensible of this convenience, have here and there registered and printed some few Centuries, yet for the most part they are set down very lamely and imperfectly, and, I fear, many times not so truly, they seeming, several of them, to be design'd more for Ostentation then publique use: For, not to instance, that they do, for the most part, omit those Experiences they have made, wherein their Patients have miscarried, it is very easie to be perceiv'd, that they do all along hyperbolically extol their own Prescriptions, and vilifie those of others. Notwithstanding all which, these kinds of Histories are generally esteem'd useful, even to the ablest Physitian.
What may not he expected from the rational or deductive Faculty that is furnisht with such Materials, and those so readily adapted, and rang'd for use, that in a moment, as 'twere, thousands of Instances, serving for the illustration, determination, or invention, of almost any inquiry, may be represented even to the sight? How neer the nature of Axioms must all those Propositions be which are examin'd before so many witnesses? And how difficult will it be for any, though never so subtil an error in Philosophy, to scape from being discover'd, after it has indur'd the touch, and so many other tryals?
What kind of mechanical way, and physical invention also is there requir'd, that might not this way be found out? The Invention of a way to find the Longitude of places is easily perform'd, and that to as great perfection as is desir'd, or to as great an accurateness as the Latitude of places can be found at Sea; and perhaps yet also to a greater certainty then that has been hitherto found, as I shall very speedily freely manifest to the world. The way of flying in the Air seems principally unpracticable, by reason of the want of strength in humane muscles; if therefore that could be supplied, it were, I think, easie to make twenty contrivances to perform the office of Wings: What Attempts also I have made for the supplying that Defect, and my successes therein, which, I think, are wholly new, and not inconsiderable, I shall in another place relate.
'Tis not unlikely also, but that Chymists, if they followed this method, might find out their so much sought for Alkahest. What an universal Menstruum, which dissolves all sorts of Sulphureous Bodies, I have discover'd (which has not been before taken notice of as such) I have shewn in the sixteenth Observation.
What a prodigious variety of Inventions in Anatomy has this latter Age afforded, even in our own Bodies, in the very Heart, by which we live, and the Brain, which is the seat of our knowledge of other things? witness all the excellent Works of Pecquet, Bartholinus, Billius, and many others; and at home, of Doctor Harvy, Doctor Ent, Doctor Willis, Doctor Glisson. In Celestial Observations we have far exceeded all the Antients, even the Chaldeans and Egyptians themselves, whose vast Plains, high Towers, and clear Air; did not give them so great advantages over us, as we have over them by our Glasses. By the help of which, they have been very much outdone by the famous Galileo, Hevelius, Zulichem; and our own Countrymen, Mr. Rook, Doctor Wren, and the great Ornament of our Church and Nation, the Lord Bishop of Exeter. And to say no more in Aerial Discoveries, there has been a wonderful progress made by the Noble Engine of the most illustrious Mr. Boyle, whom it becomes me to mention with all honour, not only as my particular Patron, but as the Patron of Philosophy it self; which he every day increases by his Labours, and adorns by his Example.
The good success of all these great Men, and many others, and the now seemingly great obviousness of most of their and divers other Inventions, which from the beginning of the world have been, as 'twere, trod on, and yet not minded till these last inquisitive Ages (an Argument that there may be yet behind multitudes of the like) puts me in mind to recommend such Studies, and the prosecution of them by such methods, to the Gentlemen of our Nation, whose leisure makes them fit to undertake, and the plenty of their fortunes to accomplish, extraordinary things in this way. And I do not only propose this kind of Experimental Philosophy as a matter of high rapture and delight of the mind, but even as a material and sensible Pleasure. So vast is the variety of Objects which will come under their Inspections, so many different wayes there are of handling them, so great is the satisfaction of finding out new things, that I dare compare the contentment which they will injoy, not only to that of contemplation, but even to that which most men prefer of the very Senses themselves.
And if they will please to take any incouragement from so mean and so imperfect endeavours as mine, upon my own experience, I can assure them, without arrogance, That there has not been any inquiry or Problem in Mechanicks, that I have hitherto propounded to my self, but by a certain method (which I may on some other opportunity explain) I have been able presently to examine the possibility of it and if so, as easily to excogitate divers wayes of performing it: And indeed it is possible to do as much by this method in Mechanicks, as by Algebra can be perform'd in Geometry. Nor can I at all doubt, but that the same method is as applicable to Physical Enquiries, and as likely to find and reap thence as plentiful a crop of Inventions; and indeed there seems to be no subject so barren, but may with this good husbandry be highly improv'd.
Toward the prosecution of this method in Physical Inquiries, I have here and there gleaned up an handful of Observations, in the collection of most of which I made use of Microscopes, and some other Glasses and Instruments that improve the sense; which way I have herein taken, not that there are not multitudes of useful and pleasant Observables, yet uncollected, obvious enough without the helps of Art, but only to promote the use of Mechanical helps for the Senses, both in the surveying the already visible World, and for the discovery of many others hitherto unknown, and to make us, with the great Conqueror, to be affected that we have not yet overcome one World when there are so many others to be discovered, every considerable improvement of Telescopes or Microscopes producing new Worlds and Terra-Incognitas to our view.
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What the things are I observ'd, the following descriptions will manifest; in brief, they were either exceeding small Bodies, or exceeding small Pores, or exceeding small Motions, some of each of which the Reader will find in the following Notes, and such, as I presume, (many of them at least) will be new, and perhaps not less strange: Some specimen of each of which Heads the Reader will find in the subsequent delineations, and indeed of some more then I was willing there should be; which was occasioned by my first Intentions to print a much greater number then I have since found time to compleat. Of such therefore as I had, I selected only some few of every Head, which for some particulars seem'd most observable, rejecting the rest as superfluous to the present Design.
What each of the delineated Subjects are, the following descriptions annext to each will inform, of which I shall here, only once for all, add; That in divers of them the Gravers have pretty well follow'd my directions and draughts; and that in making of them, I indeavoured (as far as I was able) first to discover the true appearance, and next to make a plain representation of it. This I mention the rather, because of these kind of Objects there is much more difficulty to discover the true shape, then of those visible to the naked eye, the same Object seeming quite differing, in one position to the Light, from what it really is, and may be discover'd in another. And therefore I never began to make any draught before by many examinations in several lights, and in several positions to those lights, I had discover'd the true form. For it is exceeding difficult in some Objects, to distinguish between a prominency and a depression, between a shadow and a black stain, or a reflection and a whiteness in the colour. Besides, the transparency of most Objects renders them yet much more difficult then if they were opacous. The Eyes of a Fly in one kind of light appear almost like a Lattice, drill'd through with abundance of small holes; which probably may be the Reason, why the Ingenious Dr. Power seems to suppose them such. In the Sunshine they look like a Surface cover'd with golden Nails; in another posture, like a Surface cover'd with Pyramids; in another with Cones; and in other postures of quite other shapes; but that which exhibits the best, is the Light collected on the Object, by those means I have already describ'd.
And this was undertaken in prosecution of the Design which the ROYAL SOCIETY has propos'd to it self. For the Members of the Assembly having before their eyes so many fatal Instances of the errors and falshoods, in which the greatest part of mankind has so long wandred, because they rely'd upon the strength of humane Reason alone, have begun anew to correct all Hypotheses by sense, as Seamen do their dead Reckonings by Celestial Observations; and to this purpose it has been their principal indeavour to enlarge and strengthen the Senses by Medicine, and by such outward Instruments as are proper for their particular works. By this means they find some reason to suspect, that those effects of Bodies, which have been commonly attributed to Qualities, and those confess'd to be occult, are perform'd by the small Machines of Nature, which are not to be discern'd without these helps, seeming the meer products of Motion, Figure, and Magnitude; and that the Natural Textures, which some call the Plastick faculty, may be made in Looms, which a greater perfection of Opticks may make discernable by these Glasses; so as now they are no more puzzled about them, then the vulgar are to conceive, how Tapestry or flowered Stuffs are woven. And the ends of all these Inquiries they intend to be the Pleasure of Contemplative minds, but above all, the ease and dispatch of the labours of mens hands. They do indeed neglect no opportunity to bring all the rare things of Remote Countries within the compass of their knowledge and practice. But they still acknowledge their most useful Informations to arise from common things, and from diversifying their most ordinary operations upon them. They do not wholly reject Experiments of meer light and theory; but they principally aim at such, whose Applications will improve and facilitate the present way of Manual Arts. And though some men, who are perhaps taken up about less honourable Employments, are pleas'd to censure their proceedings, yet they can shew more fruits of their first three years, wherein they have assembled, then any other Society in Europe can for a much larger space of time. 'Tis true, such undertakings as theirs do commonly meet with small incouragement, because men are generally rather taken with the plausible and discursive, then the real and the solid part of Philosophy; yet by the good fortune of their institution, in an Age of all others the most inquisitive, they have been assisted by the contribution and presence of very many of the chief Nobility and Gentry, and others, who are some of the most considerable in their several Professions. But that that yet farther convinces me of the Real esteem that the more serious part of men have of this Society, is, that several Merchants, men who act in earnest (whose Object is meum and tuum, that great Rudder of humane affairs) have adventur'd considerable sums of Money, to put in practice what some of our Members have contrived, and have continued stedfast in their good opinions of such Indeavours, when not one of a hundred of the vulgar have believed their undertakings feasable. And it is also fit to be added, that they have one advantage peculiar to themselves, that very many of their number are men of Converse and Traffick; which is a good Omen, that their attempts will bring Philosophy from words to action, seeing the men of Business have had so great a share in their first foundation.
And of this kind I ought not to conceal one particular Generosity, which more nearly concerns my self. It is the munificence of Sir]ohn Cutler, in endowing a Lecture for the promotion of Mechanick Arts, to be governed and directed by This Society. This Bounty I mention for the Honourableness of the thing it self, and for the expectation which I have of the efficacy of the Example,. for it cannot now be objected to them, that their Designs will be esteemed frivolous and vain, when they have such a real Testimony of the Approbation of a Man that is such an eminent Ornament of this renowned City, and one, who, by the Variety, and the happy Success, of his negotiations, has given evident proofs, that he is not easie to be deceiv'd This Gentleman has well observ'd, that the Arts of life have been too long imprison'd in the dark shops of Mechanicks themselves, and there hindred from growth, either by ignorance, or self-interest; and he has 'bravely freed them from these inconveniences; He hath not only obliged Tradesmen, but Trade it self: He has done a work that is worthy of London, and has taught the chief City of Commerce in the world the right way how Commerce is to be improv'd. We have already seen many other great signs of Liberality and a large mind, from the same hand: For by his diligence about the Corporation for the Poor, by his honorable Subscriptions for the rebuilding of St. Paul's; by his chearful Disbursment for the replanting of Ireland; and by many other such publick works, he has shewn by what means he indeavours to establish his Memory; and now by this last gift he has done that, which became one of the wisest Citizens of our Nation to accomplish, seeing one of the wisest of our Statesmen, the Lord Verulam, first propounded it.
But to return to my Subject, from a digression, which, I hope, my Reader will pardon me, seeing the Example is so rare that I can make no more such digressions. If these my first Labours shall be any wayes useful to inquiring men, I must attribute the incouragement and promotion of them to a very Reverend and Learned Person, of whom this ought in justice to be said, That there is scarce any one invention, which this Nation has produc'd in our Age, but it has some way or other been set for'e'ard by his assistance. My reader, I believe will quickly ghess, that it is Dr. Wilkins that I mean. He is indeed a man born for the good of mankind; and for the honour of his Country. In the sweetness of whose behaviour, in the calmness of his mind, in the unbounded goodness of his heart, we have an evident Instance, what the true and the primitive unpassionate Religion was, before it was sowred by particular Factions. In a word, his Zeal has been so constant and effectual in advancing all good and profitable Arts, that as one of the Antient Romans said of Sapto, That he thanked God that he was a Roman; because whereever Scipio had been born, there had been the seat of the Empire of the world: So may I thank God, that Dr. Wilkins was an Englishman, for whereever he had lived, there had been the chief Seat of generous Knowledge and true Philosophy. To the truth of this, there are so many worthy men living that will subscribe, that I am confident, what I have here said, will not be look'd upon, by any ingenious Reader, as a Panegyrick, but only as a real testimony.
By the Advice of this Excellent man I first set upon this Enterprise, yet still came to it with much Reluctancy, because I was to follow the footsteps of so eminent a Person as Dr. Wren, who was the first that attempted any thing of this nature; whose original draughts do now make one of the Ornaments of that great Collection of Rarities in the Kings Closet. This Honor, which his first beginnings of this kind have receiv'd, to be admitted into the most famous place of the world, did not so much incourage, as the hazard of coming after Dr. Wren did affright me; for of him I must affirm, that, since the time of Archimedes, there scarce ever met in one man, in so great a perfection, such a Mechanical Hand; and so Philosophical a Mind.
But at last, being assured both by Dr. Wilkins, and Dr. Wren himself, that he had given over his intentions of prosecuting it, and not finding that there was any else design'd the pursuing of it, I set upon this undertaking, and was not a little incourag'd to proceed in it, by the Honour the Royal Society was pleas'd to favour me with, in approving of those draughts (which from time to time as I had an opportunity of describing) I presented to them. And particularly by the Incitements of divers of those Noble and excellent Persons of it, which were my more especial Friends, who were not less urgent with me for the publishing, then for the prosecution of them.
After I had almost compleated these Pictures and Observations (having had divers of them ingraven, and was ready to send them to the Press) I was inform'd, that the Ingenious Physitian Dr. Henry Power had made several Microscopical Observations, which had I not afterwards, upon our interchangably viewing each others Papers, found that they were for the most part differing from mine, either in the Subject it self, or in the particulars taken notice of; and that his design was only to print Observations without Pictures, I had even then suppressed what I had so far proceeded in. But being further excited by several of my Friends, in complyance with their opinions, that it would not be unacceptable to several inquisitive Men, and hoping also, that I should thereby discover something New to the World, I have at length cast in my Mite, into the vast Treasury of A Philosophical History. And it is my hope, as well as belief that these my Labours will be no more comparable to the Prioductions of many other Natural Philosophers, who are now every where busie about greater things; then my little Objects are to be compar'd to the greater and more beautiful Works of Nature, A Flea, a Mite, a Gnat, to an Horse, an Elephant, or a Lyon.
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