« PreviousContinue »
BOOK with legs, which eat through the womb which inclosed
them. And in all galls, he saith, there be either holes, where the worm hath eat out its passage, or a place where it had been. All which he attributes to the particular design of Providence, in taking care for the conveniences of the meanest animals. But there seems to
be more difficulty in the apiarium marinum mentioned Piso Hist. by Piso; for it is hard to understand how those blue 1. iv. c. 2. worms came to the bottom of the sea, which coming
up with a spongy sort of shrub growing upon the rocks, and being exposed to the heat, turned to little animals
like bees. But this matter is not delivered distinctly Microgra. enough to form any argument upon; as Mr. Hook hath
well observed. I see no difficulty in the Ephemeron, or Hemerobion, as it is described by the authors at the end of Goedart, who give the best account of it; for it seems to be of the nature of other insects, and the only difficulty is, why so much pains for so short a life? for it is produced by such changes as other insects are. But it cannot be denied, that there have been among us two very learned men, who have asserted a kind of
spontaneous generation of animals; I mean Dr. Harvey Redi, p. 19. and his Apologist. For Dr. Harvey, Redi observes,
That although he asserts every animal to come of an egg proper to its kind, yet he was of opinion that these eggs are not always contained in the bodies of animals, but are dispersed up and down by the air, and after become animals in an equivocal manner : but he saith, he hath not cleared the grounds of his opinion ; save only that it comes from the omnipotent hand of God. So that Dr. Harvey held a true spontaneous generation from
mere matter and motion to have been impossible; as apEnt. A pol. pears by what is said of him before. And so his Apo
logist supposes a saline spirit to be dispersed in nature, which meeting with proper matter and a moderate heat,
may produce insects, and such kind of animals : but CHAP. he was very far from thinking this could be done without a power far above matter and motion; which at first ordered the world, and all things in it. But he thinks such insects come nearer to the nature of plants P. 245. than animals, and live chiefly by the heat of the sun; and therefore in the winter they are torpid and without motion, and are revived at spring, when the heat increases.
Supposing it to be granted that there were such an equivocal generation of mice and frogs on the bank of the Nile, how doth it from thence follow that mankind had the same kind of original ? It is a saying of Pliny, which hath been carried too far, Cum rerum natura Plin. N. H. nusquam magis, quam in minimis, tota sit; where he compares insects with the greater animals; and seems to admire the workmanship of one far beyond the other: his words are, Nusquam alibi spectatiore natura rerum artificio. And so he falls into admiration of the perfections of some insects, as to the quickness of sense and motion; and of others as to their peculiar properties. I think Aristotle was very much in the right Arist. de when he held, they were to be blamed who despised the 1.1.c.n. least things in nature; for in all of them čveoti ti bavMaotov, there is something which deserves admiration. And particularly in insects, the contexture of their parts, the manner of their transformations, the difference of their kinds, the variety of their food, and their time of taking it, have something in them, which cannot be accounted for by mere matter and motion : but yet there is a great difference in the inward make of these creatures from more perfect animals. For Redi affirms, Redi de that Steno and he opening some insects together, they sect. p. 218. could find no other inward parts, but one long channel through the whole body, about which there were fila
1. xi. c. I.
Anim. 1. iv. c. 6.
Exercit. 180, 182.
BOOK ments in a confused series, which they thought might
be instead of veins and arteries. When all their inward parts were taken out, and the head taken off,
they still lived and moved, as other insects do, and laid Plin. l. xi. their eggs. And Pliny observes, Nihil intus, nisi adArist. Hist. modum paucis intestinum implicatum. By which we
see what a vast difference there is between the prin
ciples of life in mankind from those in these admirable Scaliger insects. Jul. Scaliger extremely despises Cardan's way
of reasoning; Mus e putredine potest nasci, ergo et homo potest: and saith, That the woman in Esop's Fables, who was asked by her husband how the child came without him, and she answered, Out of the snow, might have made a better answer from Cardan's philosophy, viz. Out of the mud. And it is wittily said by Scaliger of him in another place, They who stick in the dirt, while they lift up one foot to get out, set the other faster ; and therefore it is best to keep out of it altogether. But Cardan seemed to be so little concerned to get out of it, that he asserts, That every putrefaction produces some animal or other; and that all animals come out of it; which, saith Scaliger, is a wicked
and profane speech. And yet Andr. Cæsalpinus un1903-193. dertakes to defend Cardan, chiefly from the generation salpin. Qu. of insects, without regarding the difference between Peripat. 1. v. c. 1. them and more perfect animals, if his supposition had
been true. Aristotle, who had all possible advantages for writing his Books of Animals, by the bounty of
Philip or Alexander, or both, coming to speak of such De Partib. as had no blood, (among which are all insects,) he saith,
They have no veins, nor bladder, nor respiration; but something that serves instead of a heart, without which they could have no life; but they have the parts which serve for nutrition: and therefore their life differs little, according to Pliny himself, from that of plants and
Anim. I. iv.
fruits; but he would have them spirare sine visceribus, CHAP. breathe without lungs; and he grants they have neither them, nor heart, nor liver. And although there be some higher degree of life in such animals as Diodorus Siculus speaks of, yet those fall so far short of mankind, that it is a wonder men of sense could imagine the production of one could be an argument for the other. For if we go no farther than nutrition, mice and frogs are easily provided for; but how should mankind live that were produced out of slime and mud ? But nothing can be more absurd and ridiculous than the accounts given of the several ways of producing mankind by a spontaneous generation; as will appear by a particular examination of them.
Franc. Redi hath reckoned up the several hypotheses Redi de to our hands. The first is that of Democritus, That sect. p. 14. mankind came into the world like worms, which by degrees grew up to the figure and shape of men. I wish we had more of Democritus's own writings left, that we might better judge what his true opinion was; but by what remains, it doth not appear that herein he differed from Epicurus. It is certain he did as to the first principles of all things being made of atoms; but whether he did as to the immediate production of animals, is not so clear. For they did not imagine that animals were formed immediately by atoms; which was too general and indefinite a principle; but that the atoms first came together in one form, and then another, till they came to the perfection of animals. And so it is said that Democritus held mankind to have appeared first in the fashion of worms. Petronius Arbiter saith, that Democritus spent his days in making experiments; ætatem inter experimenta consumpsit; and Columella particularly takes notice of his experi-Columel. ments about insects; and it is not improbable, that,
1. xii. ad fin.
BOOK from his observations about their transformations, he
might form his hypothesis about mankind. His origiPlutarch. nal notion was, as appears by Plutarch, That there
were infinite atoms dispersed in a void space, which had no kind of qualities inherent in them; but, as they casually hit upon each other, they produced water, and
fire, and plants, and men; which were nothing but a De Placit. congeries of atoms ; which, saith Plutarch, he called Philos . 1. i. Ideas. And it appears, by another place in him, that
Democritus only held bulk and figure in his atoms; but Epicurus added gravity; without which he found his atoms could not move. And although Epicurus derived the main of his principles from Democritus, yet it is plain by Plutarch, that his followers set themselves to lessen the credit of Democritus, as one that overthrew the certainty of our senses, and resolved all
into reason. To which purpose there are several pasSext. Emp. sages in Sextus Empiricus, of Democritus himself; ed. Steph. wherein he affirms, That the things we call qualities
are only names imposed upon opinions, (which he calls law;) and so bitter and sweet, and hot and cold, are only fancies, and no realities; and that there is nothing real but what is not seen, but only apprehended by the mind, as atoms and vacuity; and in several other places, that there is no certain knowledge, but only opin
ion by our senses. And he quotes Democritus's own P. 164. words, to prove that the knowledge we have by our
senses is dark and obscure; but that which is genuine depends only upon reason. The Epicureans, who followed their master as to the certainty of sense, could by no means brook this doctrine of Democritus, who saw far beyond Epicurus, and knew what blunders he must fall into by the judgment of sense, as about the bigness of the sun; which he positively said was no greater than appeared to our senses, i. e. two feet over,