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1. iv. c. 33.
saith Cicero, or a little more or less; which was so CHAP. notorious a blunder, that Democritus, he saith, could not fall into, being skilled in geometry; but Epicurus fin.l. i. c. not only despised it, but persuaded Polyænus it was 6. false. And his late great defender hath little to say for him, but that Socrates understood as little geometry Acad. Qu. as he; but Socrates was far enough from asserting such stupid paradoxes, and making geometry nothing but a piece of sophistry, as Epicurus did, and made a mathematician think so too; which shewed his authority swayed more than his reason. But the Epicurean in Plutarch rejects Democritus's doctrine, for that which Plutarch saith, doth as well follow from that of Epicurus ; for if there be nothing but atoms, then qualities are only appearances; and when we judge by our senses, we cannot judge truly of things, but of what they appear to us. But if nothing, saith he, can be produced out of nothing, and no generation can be of that which already is, how can indivisible atoms, which cannot be changed, produce plants or animals ? Either therefore Democritus should not have asserted such immutable principles, or he should not have overlooked the consequence, i.e. that there can be no generation. But Epicurus impudently holds the same principles, and yet would deny the consequence, and assert true generation; just as he denied Providence, and yet asserted piety; held friendship to be only for pleasure, and yet that a man must undergo any hardship for his friends; made an infinite space, and yet placed an upper and lower region in it. But he declares he can by no means understand how bodies endued with qualities. should be produced by atoms that have none. There can be no generation without heat; how comes there to be heat, when the atoms themselves have no heat in them, nor become hot when they are joined together ? For if
BOOK they are capable of heat, then they are not impassible,
nor without qualities. So that, according to the general principles of Democritus and Epicurus, there can be no such thing as a generation of animals.
But Democritus observed strange alterations in the bodies of insects, from worms to flying animals; and why might not mankind have come into the world after the same manner ? If this were his opinion, it is one of the wildest and most extravagant opinions that could have entered into the head of such a man; and would make one think that the people of Abdera were not out in their judgment of him, if those epistles about him were genuine between Hippocrates and them.
There are wonderful alterations in the bodies of insects, as appears beyond all contradiction by the many experiments of those who have applied themselves for many years to observe them. But what then? Do not all these insects come out of eggs, which have been laid by other insects before them? And therefore mankind could not be worms first, but there must have been eggs before. And how should these eggs be transformed into the worms? What force was there in nature to make so strange a transformation as is continually observed in them? And the very same persons who have observed their transformatiops, have as well observed the incredible number of eggs that are laid by them, and the great and sudden increase of them from those
eggs. Even in the Ephemeron, which was so great a raArist. Hist. rity taken notice of by Aristotle, upon the river Hypanis, Anim. I. v.
(but is so frequent upon some rivers in France and the Scaliger.
Low Countries, as is observed by Scaliger, Auger, Clu
tius, and others,) it is agreed, That they come out of Aug. Clut. such a transformation as other insects do, with four
wings and six feet; and are very careful where they Joh.de Mey: Append. ad lay their eggs, to keep them from the water; in which
Exercit. 194. 5.
Swammerdam. Auatom. de Ephem.
they die, after they have spent their short life in flying CHAP. in great numbers together at sun-setting, saith one from his own observation. Scaliger saith, those he observed began to live at night, and died by morning.
But there are some things which deserve a particular apud observation about insects, which plainly shew that they Amer. Sept. were not formed by a casual coalition of atoms, but by a wise Providence. As, that those that have wings have them stronger or weaker, more or less, according to their business and occasion for using them; those that have feet have an equal number on both sides, although the numbers differ so much according to their kinds; those which have neither wings nor feet have repositories made for them, with proper food in the leaves of trees or plants. Concerning which there are several things very observable. 1. Their great niceness as to their food. Goedart, who made it his business to observe them forty years, (as Aristomachus Solensis did bees for fifty-eight years, saith Pliny,) found it very difficult Plin. N. H. sometimes to find the proper food for them; for they Goedart de would eat no other, and expressed their joy when they Insectis;
. had it. Dr. Lister adds, That insects would rather die Lister. than eat any thing else, not from want of organs,
but from a natural accuracy of taste. And he ingeniously obseryes, that from hence may be found the best way p. 13, 33. of keeping ships from worms, by finding out that sort of wood which those worms will not touch. 2. The different sorts of food in their different states. While they are mere erucæ, they eat a hard sort of food, as the leaves of plants; but when they come to have their wings, and to fly abroad, they live only on honey and liquid things : which is very different from such animals as have blood; for when they are embryos, they live on liquids; but as they grow up, they like harder food. 3. That those which feed on leaves of plants N. 14.
1. xi. c. 9.
BOOK growing, will not touch them when they are taken off
or decaying; which Goedart saith he observed both as to garden-herbs, and grass. 4. That those flying insects which have very short feet, take their food out of flowers by the help of their tongues as they fly. 5. That those which are most afraid of birds eat only in the night, when they are most secure from them; which argued a wonderful care of their own safety. There are many other observations to be made use of concerning the manner of their transformations; the change made by them in the very bodies of these insects; and the different times of continuance under them; and the ways to secure themselves from injuries of the weather in cold seasons : but these are sufficient to my purpose, which was to shew that Democritus made a very ill choice of worms, as the instance of a fortuitous production. But if they had been so, it was a very extravagant fancy, to think that mankind should undergo such transformations as worms do, before they come to their perfection. For these changes are evident to sense, to all that observe no more than silkworms; but mankind continue in one uniform state from an embryo to a perfect man; and, while he is an embryo, hath one sort of nourishment from the mother, which is wholly different from what all sorts of worms do live upon; and the parts of mankind are extremely remote from the shape, number, and use of all sorts of worms. Insomuch that Democritus might much better have fancied that mankind were at first a sort of trees set with their roots upwards : for the head to man is what the root is to the tree; and trees come from an embryo in the seed, and are preserved in the womb of the earth, and are fed with a dew from above, and have passages like lymphæducts in their several parts; only they happen to want the instruments of sense and motion, which
are needless to them, since their food is brought home CHAP. to them, and they grow up in the same uniform manner, without transformations, as mankind do.
The next hypothesis was that of Anaximander; and he makes them to be bred up as embryos in the bowels of other creatures : of which Plutarch gives the fullest Plutarch.de account. In one place he only saith, That the first 1. v.c. 19. animals were produced in moisture, covered over with a certain bark, like the rind of a chestnut, saith Redi; and when it grew dry, it cracked, and the animals started out, but lived not long. Was not this a hopeful beginning in the early days of philosophy ? For Anaximander succeeded Thales, who was the first philosopher of Greece; and a much wiser man than his scholar, as will afterwards appear. But we must now pursue Anaximander. And Plutarch in another place Plutarch. tells us, That he was of opinion that mankind were i S: 8. first bred in the bellies of fishes; and when they were ed. Xyland. strong enough to help themselves, they very fairly cast them upon dry ground, and left them to shift for themselves. Is not this a very good philosophical account of this matter? And he was in the right, when upon this ground he dissuaded men from eating of fish, lest they should be like cannibals. It is a known saying, That there is nothing so absurd, but it was said by one philosopher or other. I think Anaximander may put in for the first, who broached his own dreams and idle fancies under the name of Philosophy. And yet Empedocles in this matter rather outwent him. For he saith, Animals were not entire at first, but came into Plutarch.de the world by pieces; and so arms and legs, and all c. 19. other parts happening to join together, made up one perfect animal. Hæc non sunt philosophorum judicia, sed delirantium somnia, may be much better applied here, than it is by the Epicurean in Cicero to their
Placit. 1. v.
Cicero de Nat. Deor. 1. i.