Department of History
University of California, Irvine
 Instructor:    Dr. Barbara J. Becker

Week 5.  The Age of Enlightenment.

excerpts from
The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing World (1666)
by Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1623-1673)



...I added this Piece of Fancy to my Philosophical Observations, and joined them as two Worlds at the ends of their Poles; both for my own sake, to divert my studious thoughts, which I employed in the Contemplation thereof, and to delight the Reader with variety, which is always pleasing.

[I]t is a Description of a New World, not such as Lucian's [Icaromenippus], or the French-man's  World in the Moon [Cyrano's The Other World...]; but a World of my own Creating, which I call the Blazing-World:  ... which if it add any satisfaction to you, I shall account my self a Happy Creatoress; if not, I must be content to live a melancholly Life in my own World....

I am ... as Ambitious as ever any of my Sex was, is, or can be; which makes, that though I cannot be Henry the Fifth, or Charles the Second, yet I endeavour to be Margaret the First; and although I have neither power, time nor occasion to conquer the world as Alexander and Cæsar did; yet rather then not to be Mistress of one, since Fortune and the Fates would give me none, I have made a World of my own:  for which no body, I hope, will blame me, since it is in every ones power to do the like.


A merchant travelling into a forreign Country, fell extreamly in Love with a young Lady; but being a stranger in that Nation, and beneath her both in Birth and Wealth, he could have but little hopes of obtaining his desire; however his love growing more and more vehement upon him, even to the slighting of all difficulties, he resolved at last to steal her away; which he had the better opportunity to do, because her Fathers house was not far from the Sea, and she often using to gather shells upon the shore, accompanied not with above two or three of her servants, it encouraged him the more to execute his design.

Thus coming one time with a little light Vessel, not unlike a Packet-boat, mann'd with some few Sea-men, and well victualled, for fear of some accidents, which might perhaps retard their journey, to the place where she used to repair, he forced her away:  But when he fancied himself the happiest man of the World, he proved to be the most unfortunate; for Heaven frowning at his theft, raised such a Tempest, as they knew not what to do, or whither to steer their course; so that the Vessel, both by its own lightness, and the violent motion of the Wind, was carried as swift as an Arrow out of a Bow, towards the North-pole, and in a short time reached the Icy Sea, where the wind forced it amongst huge pieces of Ice; but being little, and light, it did by assistance and favour of the Gods to this virtuous Lady, so turn and wind through those precipices, as if it had been guided by some Experienced Pilot, and skilful Mariner.

But alas! those few men which were in it, not knowing whither they went, nor what was to be done in so strange an adventure, and not being provided for so cold a Voyage, were all frozen to death, the young Lady onely, by the light of her Beauty, the heat of her Youth, and Protection of the Gods, remaining alive:  Neither was it a wonder that the men did freeze to death; for they were not onely driven to the very end or point of the Pole of that World, but even to another Pole of another World, which joined close to it; so that the cold having a double strength at the conjunction of those two Poles, was insupportable.

At last, the Boat still passing on, was forced into another World; for it is impossible to round this Worlds Globe from Pole to Pole, so as we do from East to West; because the Poles of the other World, joining to the Poles of this, do not allow any further passage to surround the World that way; but if any one arrives to either of these Poles, he is either forced to return, or to enter into another World....

You must know, that each of these Worlds having its own Sun to enlighten it, they move each one in their peculiar circles; which motion is so just and exact, that neither can hinder or obstruct the other; for they do not exceed their Tropicks, and although they should meet, yet we in this world cannot so well perceive them, by reason of the brightness of our Sun, which being nearer to us, obstructs the splendor of the Suns of the other Worlds, they being too far off to be discerned by our optick perception, except we use very good Telescopes, by which skilful Astronomers have often observed two or three Suns at once.

But to return to the wandering Boat, and the distressed Lady, she seeing all the Men dead, found small comfort in life; their bodies which were preserved all that while from putrefaction and stench, by the extremity of cold, began now to thaw, and corrupt; whereupon she having not strength enough to fling them over-board, was forced to remove out of her small Cabine, upon the deck, to avoid that nauseous smell; and finding the Boat swim between two plains of Ice, as a stream that runs betwixt two shores, at last perceived land, but covered all with snow:  from which came walking upon the Ice strange Creatures; in shape like Bears, onely they went upright as men; those Creatures coming near the Boat, catched hold of it with their Paws, that served them instead of hands; some two or three of them entred first; and when they came out, the rest went in one after another; at last having viewed and observed all that was in the Boat, they spake to each other in a language which the Lady did not understand, and having carried her out of the Boat, sunk it, together with the dead men.

The Lady now finding her self in so strange a place, and amongst such a wonderful kind of Creatures, was extreamly strucken with fear, and could entertain no other Thoughts, but that every moment her life was to be a sacrifice to their cruelty; but those Bear-like Creatures, how terrible soever they appear'd to her sight, yet were they so far from exercising any cruelty upon her, that rather they shewed her all civility and kindness imaginable; for she being not able to go upon the ice, by reason of its slipperiness, they took her up in their rough armes, and carried her into their City, where instead of houses, they had Caves under ground.

[A]s soon as they enter'd the City, both Males and Females, young and old, flockt together to see this Lady, holding up their paws in admiration; at last having brought her into a certain large and spacious Cave, which they intended for her reception, they left her to the custody of the Females, who entertained her with all kindness and respect, and gave her such victuals as they were used to eat; but seeing her constitution neither agreed with the temper of that Climate, nor their Diet, they were resolved to carry her into another Island of a warmer temper; in which were men like Foxes, onely walking in an upright shape, who received their neighbours the Bear-men with great civility and courtship, very much admiring this beauteous Lady, and having discoursed some while together, agreed at last to make her a present to the Emperour of their world.

[T]o which end, after she had made some short stay in the same place, they brought her cross that Island to a large River, whose stream run smooth and clear, like Chrystal; in which were numerous Boats, much like our Fox-traps; in one whereof she was carried, some of the Bear- and Fox-men waiting on her; and as soon as they had crossed the River, they came into an Island where there were Men which had heads, beaks, and feathers, like Wild-geese, onely they went in an upright shape, like the Bear-men and Fox-men; their rumps they carried between their legs, their wings were of the same length with their bodies, and their tails of an indifferent size, trailing after them like a Ladies Garment....

[T]hey made their Ships and tacklings ready to sail over into the Island, where the Emperor of their Blazing-world (for so it was call'd) kept his residence.

[V]ery good Navigators they were; and though they had no knowledg of the Load-stone, or Needle, or pendulous Watches, yet (which was as serviceable to them) they had subtile observations, and great practice; in so much that they could not onely tell the depth of the Sea in every place, but where there were shelves of Sand, Rocks, and other obstructions to be avoided by skilfull and experienced Sea-men:  Besides, they were excellent Augurers, which skill they counted more necessary and beneficial then the use of Compasses, Cards, Watches, and the like.

[B]ut above the rest, they had an extraordinary Art, much to be taken notice of by experimental Philosophers, and that was a certain Engine, which would draw in a great quanty of air, and shoot forth wind with a great force; this Engine in a calm, they placed behind their ships, and in a storm, before; for it served against the raging waves, like Canons against an hostile Army, or besieged Town; it would batter and beat the waves in pieces, were they as high as steeples; and as soon as a breach was made, they forced their passage through, in spight even of the most furious wind, using two of those Engins at every Ship, one before, to beat off the waves, and another behind to drive it on; so that the artificial wind had the better of the natural; for it had a greater advantage of the waves then the natural of the ships; the natural being above the face of the water, could not without a down-right motion enter or press into the ships; whereas the artificial with a sideward motion did pierce into the bowels of the waves....

Having thus prepared and order'd their Navy, they went on in despight of Calm or Storm, and though the Lady at first fancied her self in a very sad condition, and her mind was much tormented with doubts and fears, not knowing whether this strange adventure would tend to her safety or destruction; yet she being withal of a generous spirit, and ready wit, considering what dangers she had past, and finding those sorts of men civil and diligent attendants to her, took courage, and endeavoured to learn their language; which after she had obtained so far, that partly by some words and signs she was able to apprehend their meaning, she was so far from being afraid of them, that she thought her self not onely safe, but very happy in their company:  By which we may see, that Novelty discomposes the mind, but acquaintance settles it in peace and tranquillity.

At last, having passed by several rich Islands and Kingdoms, they went towards Paradise, which was the seat of the Emperor; and coming in sight of it, rejoyced very much....

[T]he men [there] were of several complexions, but none like any of our World; and when both the Boats and Ships met, they saluted and spake to each other very courteously; for there was but one language in all that world, nor no more but one Emperor, to whom they all submitted with the greatest duty and obedience, which made them live in a continued peace and happiness, not acquainted with other forreign wars, or home-bred insurrections.

The Lady now being arrived at this place, was carried out of her Ship into one of those Boats, and conveighed ... into that part of the world where the Emperor did reside....

[They passed] several Cities, some of Marble, some of Alabaster, some of Agat, some of Amber, some of Coral, and some of other precious materials not known in our world; all which after the Lady had passed, she came to the Imperial City, named Paradise, which appeared in form like several Islands; for Rivers did run betwixt every street, which together with the Bridges, whereof there was a great number, were all paved; the City it self was built of Gold, and their Architectures were noble, stately, and magnificent, not like our Modern, but like those in the Romans time.

[O]ur Modern Buildings are like those houses which Children use to make of Cards, one story above another, fitter for Birds, then Men; but theirs were more large, and broad, then high; the highest of them did not exceed two stories; besides those rooms that were under-ground, as Cellars, and other offices....

No sooner was the Lady brought before the Emperor, but he conceived her to be some Goddess, and offered to worship her; which she refused, telling him, (for by that time she had pretty well learned their language) that although she came out of another world, yet was she but a mortal; at which the Emperor rejoycing, made her his Wife, and gave her an absolute power to rule and govern all that World as she pleased....

[A]s for the ordinary sort of men in that part of the World where the Emperor resided, they were of several Complexions; not white, black, tawny, olive- or ash-coloured; but some appear'd of an Azure, some of a deep Purple, some of a Grass-green, some of a Scarlet, some of an Orange-colour, &c.  Which Colours and Complexions, whether they were made by the bare reflection of light, without the assistance of small particles, or by the help of well-ranged and order'd Atomes; or by a continual agitation of little Globules; or by some pressing and reacting motion, I am not able to determine.

The rest of the Inhabitants of that World, were men of several different sorts, shapes, figures, dispositions, and humors, as I have already made mention heretofore; some were Bear-men, some Worm-men, some Fish- or Mear-men, otherwise called Syrenes; some Bird-men, some Fly-men, some Ant-men, some Geese-men, some Spider-men, some Lice-men, some Fox-men, some Ape-men, some Jack-daw-men, some Magpie-men, some Parrot-men, some Satyrs, some Gyants, and many more, which I cannot all remember; and of these several sorts of men, each followed such a profession as was most proper for the nature of their species, which the Empress encouraged them in, especially those that had applied themselves to the study of several Arts and Sciences; for they were as ingenious and witty in the invention of profitable and useful Arts, as we are in our world, nay, more; and to that end she erected Schools, and founded several Societies.

The Bear-men were to be her Experimental Philosophers, the Bird-men her Astronomers, the Fly-Worm- and Fish-men her Natural Philosophers, the Ape-men her Chymists, the Satyrs her Galenick Physicians, the Fox-men her Polititians, the Spider- and Lice-men her Mathematicians, the Jackdaw- Magpie- and Parrot-men her Orators and Logicians, the Gyants her Architects, &c.  But before all things, she having got a soveraign power from the Emperor over all the World, desired to be informed both of the manner of their Religion and Government, and to that end she called the Priests and States-men, to give her an account of either....

The Sun and the Moon

...[S]he caused a Convocation first of the Bird-men, and commanded them to give her a true relation of the two Celestial bodies, viz. the Sun and Moon, which they did with all the obedience and faithfulness befitting their duty.

The Sun, as much as they could observe, they related to be a firm or solid Stone, of a vast bigness, of colour yellowish, and of an extraordinary splendor; but the Moon, they said, was of a whitish colour; and although she looked dim in the presence of the Sun, yet had she her own light, and was a shining body of her self, as might be perceived by her vigorous appearance in Moon-shiny nights; the difference onely betwixt her own and the Suns light was, that the Sun did strike his beams in a direct line; but the Moon never respected the Centre of their World in a right line, but her Centre was always excentrical.

The spots both in the Sun and Moon, as far as they were able to perceive, they affirmed to be nothing else but flaws and stains of their stony bodies.

Concerning the heat of the Sun, they were not of one opinion; some would have the Sun hot in it self, alledging in old Tradition, that it should at some time break asunder, and burn the Heavens, and consume this world into hot embers, which, said they, could not be done, if the Sun were not fiery of it self.

Others again said, This opinion could not stand with reason; for Fire being a destroyer of all things, the Sun-stone after this manner would burn up all the near adjoining bodies:  besides, said they, Fire cannot subsist without fuel; and the Sun-stone having nothing to feed on, would in a short time consume it self; wherefore they thought it more probable that the Sun was not actually hot, but onely by the reflection of its light; so that its heat was an effect of its light, both being immaterial:  But this opinion again was laught at by others, and rejected as ridiculous, who thought it impossible that one immaterial should produce another; and believed that both the light and heat of the Sun proceeded from a swift Circular motion of the æthereal Globules, which by their striking upon the optick nerve, caused light, and their motion produced heat:  But neither would this opinion hold; for, said some, then it would follow, that the sight of Animals is the cause of light, and that, were there no eyes, there would be no light; which was against all sense and reason.

Thus they argued concerning the heat and light of the Sun; but which is remarkable, none did say, that the Sun was a globous fluid body, and had a swift circular motion; but all agreed it was fixt and firm like a centre, and therefore they generally called it the Sun-stone.

Then the Emperess asked them the reason, Why the Sun and Moon did often appear in different postures or shapes, as sometimes magnified, sometimes diminished, sometimes elevated, otherwhiles depressed, now thrown to the right, and then to the left?  To which some of the Bird-men answered, That it proceeded from the various degrees of heat and cold, which are found in the air, from whence did follow a differing density and rarity; and likewise from the vapours that are interposed, whereof those that ascend are higher and less dense then the ambient air, but those which descend are heavier, and more dense.

But others did with more probability affirm, that it was nothing else but the various patterns of the Air; for like as Painters do not copy out one and the same original just alike at all times, so, said they, do several parts of the Air make different patterns of the luminous bodies of the Sun and Moon, which patterns, as several copies, the sensitive motions do figure out in the substance of our eyes.

This answer the Emperess liked much better then the former, and enquired further, what opinion they had of those Creatures that are called the motes of the Sun?  To which they answered, That they were nothing else but streams of very small, rare and transparent particles, through which the Sun was represented as through a glass; for if they were not transparent, said they, they would eclipse the light of the Sun; and if not rare and of an airy substance, they would hinder Flies from flying in the air, at least retard their flying motion:  Nevertheless, although they were thinner then the thinnest vapour, yet were they not so thin as the body of air, or else they would not be perceptible by animal sight.

Then the Emperess asked, Whether they were living Creatures?  They answered, Yes:  Because they did encrease and decrease, and were nourished by the presence, and starved by the absence of the Sun.

The Stars

Having thus finished their discourse of the Sun and Moon, the Emperess desired to know what Stars there were besides?  But they answer'd, that they could perceive in that World none other but Blazing-stars, and from thence it had the name that it was called the Blazing-world; and these Blazing-stars, said they, were such solid, firm and shining bodies as the Sun and Moon, not of a Globular, but of several sorts of figures, some had tails, and some other kinds of shapes....

...and to avoid hereafter tedious disputes, and have the truth of the Phænomena's of Celestial bodies more exactly known, [she] commanded the Bear-men, which were her Experimental Philosophers, to observe them through such Instruments as are called Telescopes, which they did according to her Majesties Command; but these Telescopes caused more differences and divisions amongst them, then ever they had before; for some said, they perceived that the Sun stood still, and the Earth did move about it; others were of opinion, that they both did move; and others said again, that the Earth stood still, and the Sun did move; some counted more Stars then others; some discovered new Stars never seen before; some fell into a great dispute with others concerning the bigness of the Stars; some said the Moon was another World like their Terrestrial Globe, and the spots therein were Hills and Vallies; but others would have the spots to be the Terrestrial parts, and the smooth and glossie parts, the Sea.


At last, the Emperess commanded them to go with their Telescopes to the very end of the Pole that was joined to the world she came from, and try whether they could perceive any Stars in it; which they did; and being returned to her Majesty, reported that they had seen three Blazing-stars appear there, one after another in a short time, whereof two were bright, and one dim; but they could not agree neither in this observation; for some said it was but one Star which appeared at three several times, in several places; and others would have them to be three several Stars; for they thought it impossible, that those three several appearances should have been but one Star, because every Star did rise at a certain time, and appear'd in a certain place, and did disappear in the same place:

Next, It is altogether improbable, said they, That one Star should flie from place to place, especially at such a vast distance, without a visible motion, in so short a time, and appear in such different places, whereof two were quite opposite, and the third side-ways:  Lastly, If it had been but one Star, said they, it would always have kept the same splendor, which it did not; for, as above mentioned, two were bright, and one was dim.

After they had thus argued, the Emperess began to grow angry at their Telescopes, that they could give no better Intelligence; for, said she, now I do plainly perceive, that your Glasses are false Informers, and instead of discovering the Truth, delude your senses; Wherefore I Command you to break them, and let the Bird-men trust onely to their natural eyes, and examine Celestial objects by the motions of their own sense and reason.

The Bear-men replied, That it was not the fault of their Glasses, which caused such differences in their opinions, but the sensitive motions in their optick organs did not move alike, nor were their rational judgments always regular:  To which the Emperess answered, That if their glasses were true informers, they would rectifie their irregular sense and reason; But, said she, Nature has made your sense and reason more regular then Art has your Glasses, for they are meer deluders, and will never lead you to the knowledg of Truth; Wherefore I command you again to break them; for you may observe the progressive motions of Celestial bodies with your natural eyes better then through Artificial Glasses.

The Bear-men being exceedingly troubled at her Majesties displeasure concerning their Telescopes, kneel'd down, and in the humblest manner petitioned that they might not be broken; for, said they, we take more delight in Artificial delusions, then in natural truths.

Besides, we shall want imployments for our senses, and subjects for arguments; for were there nothing but truth, and no falshood, there would be no occasion for to dispute, and by this means we should want the aim and pleasure of our endeavours in confuting and contradicting each other; neither would one man be thought wiser then another, but all would either be alike knowing and wise, or all would be fools; wherefore we most humbly beseech your Imperial Majesty to spare our Glasses, which are our onely delight, and as dear to us as our lives.

The Emperess at last consented to their request, but upon condition, that their disputes and quarrels should remain within their Schools, and cause no factions or disturbances in State, or Government.

The Bear-men, full of joy, returned their most humble thanks to the Emperess; and to make her amends for the displeasure which their Telescopes had occasioned, told her Majesty, that they had several other artificial Optick-glasses, which they were sure would give her Majesty a great deal more satisfaction.


Amongst the rest they brought forth several Microscopes, by the means of which they could enlarge the shapes of little bodies, and make a Lowse appear as big as an Elephant, and a Mite as big as a Whale.  First of all they shewed the Emperess a gray Drone-flye, wherein they observed that the greatest part of her face, nay, of her head, consisted of two large bunches all cover'd over with a multitude of small Pearls or Hemispheres in a Trigonal order, which Pearls were of two degrees, smaller and bigger; the smaller degree was lowermost, and looked towards the ground; the other was upward, and looked sideward, forward and and backward:  They were all so smooth and polished, that they were able to represent the image of any object, the number of them was in all 14000.

After the view of this strange and miraculous Creature, and their several observations upon it, the Emperess asked them what they judged those little Hemispheres might be?  They answered, That each of them was a perfect eye, by reason they perceived that each was covered with a Transparent Cornea, containing a liquor within them, which resembled the watery or glassie humor of the Eye.  To which the Emperess replied, That they might be glassie Pearls, and yet not eyes, and that perhaps their Microscopes did not truly inform them:  But they smilingly answered her Majesty, That she did not know the vertue of those Microscopes; for they did never delude, but rectifie and inform their senses; nay, the World, said they, would be but blind without them, as it has been in former ages before those Microscopes were invented.

After this, they took a Charcoal, and viewing it with one of their best Microscopes, discovered in it an infinite multitude of pores, some bigger, some less; so close and thick, that they left but very little space betwixt them to be filled with a solid body; and to give her Imperial Majesty a better assurance thereof, they counted in a line of them an inch long, no less then 2700 pores; from which observation they drew this following conclusion, to wit, that this multitude of pores was the cause of the blackness of the Coal; for, said they, a body that has so many pores, from each of which no light is reflected, must necessarily look black, since black is nothing else but a privation of light, or a want of reflection.

But the Emperess replied, That if all colours were made by reflection of light, and that black was as much a colour as any other colour; then certainly they contradicted themselves in saying, that black was made by want of reflection.

However, not to interrupt your Microscopical inspections, said she, let us see how Vegetables appear through your Glasses; whereupon they took a Nettle, and by the vertue of the Microscope, discovered that underneath the points of the Nettle there were certain little bags or bladders, containing a poysonous liquor, and which the points had made way into the interior parts of the skin, they like Syringe-pipes served to conveigh that same liquor into them.

To which observation the Emperess replied, That if there were such poyson in Nettles, then certainly in eating of them, they would hurt us inwardly, as much as they do outwardly?  But they answered, That it belonged to Physicians more then to Experimental Philosophers, to give reasons hereof; for they onely made Microscopial inspections, and related the figures of the natural parts of Creatures according to the presentation of their glasses.

Lastly, They shewed the Emperess a Flea, and a Lowse; which Creatures through the Microscope appear'd so terrible to her sight, that they had almost put her into a swoon; the description of all their parts would be very tedious to relate, and therefore I'le forbear it at this present.

A flea, as seen by Robert Hooke with his microscope (from Micrographia, 1665).

The Emperess after the view of those strangely-shaped Creatures, pitied much those that are molested with them, especially poor Beggars, which although they have nothing to live on themselves, are yet necessitated to maintain and feed of their own flesh and blood, a company of such terrible Creatures called Lice, who instead of thanks, do reward them with pains, and torment them for giving them nourishment and food.

But after the Emperess had seen the shapes of these monstrous Creatures, she desir'd to know whether their Microscopes could hinder their biting, or at least shew some means how to avoid them?  To which they answered, That such Arts were mechanical and below that noble study of Microscopical observations.

Then the Emperess asked them whether they had not such sorts of Glasses that could enlarge and magnifie the shapes of great bodies, as well as they had done of little ones?  Whereupon they took one of their best and largest Microscopes, and endeavoured to view a Whale thorow it; but alas! the shape of the Whale was so big, that its circumference went beyond the magnifying quality of the Glass; whether the error proceeded from the Glass, or from a wrong position of the Whale against the reflection of light, I cannot certainly tell.

The Emperess seeing the insufficiency of those Magnifying-glasses, that they were not able to enlarge all sorts of objects, asked the Bear-men whether they could not make glasses of a contrary nature to those they had shewed her, to wit, such as instead of enlarging or magnifying the shape or figure of an object, could contract it beneath its natural proportion:  Which, in obedience to her Majesties Commands, they did; and viewing through one of the best of them, a huge and mighty Whale appear'd no bigger then a Sprat; nay, through some no bigger then a Vinegar-Eele; and through their ordinary ones, an Elephant seemed no bigger then a Flea; a Camel no bigger then a Lowse; and an Ostrich no bigger then a Mite.

To relate all their optick observations through the several sorts of their Glasses; would be a tedious work, and tire even the most patient Reader, wherefore I'le pass them by; onely this was very remarkable and worthy to be taken notice of, that notwithstanding their great skil, industry and ingenuity in Experimental Philosophy, they could yet by no means contrive such Glasses, by the help of which they could spy out a Vacuum, with all its dimensions, nor Immaterial substances, Non-beings, and Mixt-beings, or such as are between something and nothing; which they were very much troubled at, hoping that yet, in time, by long study and practice, they might perhaps attain to it....

Æthereal Matter

...Let me now desire you to inform me, whether the Suns and Planets were generated by the Heavens, or Æthereal Matter?  The Spirits answered, That the Stars and Planets were of the same matter which the Heavens, the Æther, and all other natural Creatures did consist of; but whether they were generated by the Heavens or Æther, they could not tell:  if they be, said they, they are not like their Parents; for the Sun, Stars, and Planets, are more splendorous then the Æther, as also more solid and constant in their motions:  But put the case, the Stars and Planets were generated by the Heavens, and the Æthereal Matter; the question then would be, out of what these are generated or produced?  if these be created out of nothing, and not generated out of something, then it is probable the Sun, Stars and Planets are so too; nay, it is more probable of the Stars and Planets, then of the Heavens, or the fluid Æther, by reason the Stars and Planets seem to be further off from mortality, then the particular parts of the Æther; for no doubt but the parts of the Æthereal Matter alter into several forms, which we do not perceive of the Stars and Planets.


By this Poetical Description, you may perceive, that my ambition is not onely to be Emperess, but Authoress of a whole World ... framed and composed of the most pure, that is, the rational parts of Matter, which are the parts of my Mind; which Creation was more easily and suddenly effected, then the Conquests of the two famous Monarchs of the World, Alexander and Cæsar:

Neither have I made such disturbances, and caused so many dissolutions of particulars, otherwise named deaths, as they did; for I have destroyed but some few men in a little Boat, which died through the extremity of cold, and that by the hand of Justice, which was necessitated to punish their crime of stealing away a young and beauteous Lady.

And in the formation of those Worlds, I take more delight and glory, then ever Alexander or Cæsar did in conquering this terrestrial world; and though I have made my Blazing-world, a Peaceable World, allowing it but one Religion, one Language, and one Government; yet could I make another World, as full of Factions, Divisions, and Wars, as this is of Peace and Tranquility; and the rational figures of my Mind might express as much courage to fight, as Hector and Achilles had; and be as wise as Nestor, as Eloquent as Ulysses, and as beautiful as Helen.  But I esteeming Peace before War, Wit before Policy, Honesty before Beauty; instead of the figures of Alexander, Cæsar, Hector, Achilles, Nestor, Ulysses, Helen, &c. chose rather the figure of Honest Margaret Newcastle, which now I would not change for all this terrestriul World.

[I]f any should like the World I have made, and be willing to be my Subjects, they may imagine themselves such, and they are such; I mean, in their Minds, Fancies or Imaginations; but if they cannot endure to be subjects, they may create Worlds of their own, and Govern themselves as they please...

Go to:
  • The World, or Treatise on Light (1629-1633), by René Descartes (1596-1650)
  • Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds (1686), by Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle (1657-1757)
  • Micromegas:  A Tale of Interplanetary Travel (1752), by Voltaire (François Marie Arouet; 1694-1778)
  • An Original Theory or New Hypothesis of the Universe (1750), by Thomas Wright (1711-1786)
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