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Micrographia - or some physiological descriptions of minute bodies made by magnifying glasses with observations and inquiries thereupon/Chapter 29

Observ. XXIX.Of the Seeds of Tyme.

THese pretty fruits here represented, in the 18. scheme, are nothing else, but nine several seeds of Tyme; they are all of them in differing posture, both as to the eye and the light: nor are they all of them exactly of the same shape, there being a great variety both in the bulk and figure of each seed; but they all agreed in this, that being look’d on with a Microscope, they each of them exactly resembled a Lemmon or Orange dry’d; and this both in shape and colour. Some of them are a little rounder, of the shape of an Orange, as A and B, they have each of them a very conspicuous part by which they were join'd to their little stalk, and one of them had a little piece of stalk remaining on; the opposite side of the feed, you may perceive very plainly by the Figure, is very copped and prominent, as is very usual in Lemmons, which prominencies are express'd in D, E and F.

They seem’d each of them a little creas'd or wrinckled, but E was very conspicuously furrow’d, as if the inward make of this seed had been somewhat like that of a Lemmon also, but upon dividing several seeds with a very sharp Pen-knife, and examining them afterward, I found their make to be in nothing but bulk differing from that of Peas, that is, to have a pretty thick coat, and all the rest an indifferent white pulp, which feem’d very close; so that it seems Nature does not very much alter her method in the manner of inclosing and preserving the vital Principle in the seed, in these very small grains, from that of Beans, Peas, &c.

The Grain affords a very pretty Object for the Microscope, namely, a Dish of Lemmons plac’d in a very little room; should a Lemmon or Nut be proportionably magnify’d to what this seed of Tyme is, it would make it appear as bigg as a large Hay-reek, and it would be no great wonder to see Homers Iliads, and Homer and all, cramm'd into such a Nut-shell. We may perceive even in these small Grains, as well as in greater, how curious and carefull Nature is in preserving the seminal principle of Vegetable bodies, in what delicate, strong and most convenient Cabinets she lays them and closes them in a pulp for their safer protection from outward dangers, and for the supply of convenient alimental juice, when the heat of the Sun begins to animate and move these little automatons or Engines; as if she would, from the ornaments wherewith she has deckt these Cabinets, hint to us, that in them she has laid up her Jewels and Master-pieces. And this, if we are but diligent in observing, we shall find her method throughout. There is no curiosity in the Elemental kingdom, if I may so call the bodies of Air, Water, Earth, that are comparable in form to those of Minerals, Air and Water having no form at all, unless a potentiality to be form'd into Globules; and the clods and parcels of Earth are all irregular, whereas in Minerals she does begin to Geometrize, and practise, as 'twere, the first principles of Mechanicks, shaping them of plain regular figures, as triangles, squares, &c. and tetraedrons, cubes, &c. But none of their forms are comparable to the more compounded ones of Vegetables; For here she goes a step further, forming them both of more complicated shapes, and adding also multitudes of curious Mechanick contrivances in their structure; for whereas in Vegetables there was no determinate number of the leaves or branches, nor no exactly certain figure of leaves, or flowers, or seeds, in Animals all those things are exactly defin'd and determin'd; and where-ever there is either an excess or defect of those determinate parts or limbs, there has been some impediment that has spoil'd the principle which was most regular: Here we shall find, not onely most curiously compounded shapes, but most stupendious Mechanisms and contrivances, here the ornaments are in the highest perfection, nothing in all the Vegetable kingdom that is comparable to the deckings of a Peacock; nay, to the curiosity of any feather, as I elsewhere shew; nor to that of the smallest and most despicable Fly. But I must not stay on these speculations, though perhaps it were very well worth while for one that had leisure, to see what Information may be learn'd of the nature, or use, or virtues of bodies, by their several forms and various excellencies and properties. Who knows but Adam might from some such contemplation, give names to all creatures? If at least his names had any significancy in them of the creatures nature on which he impos'd it; as many (upon what grounds I know not) have suppos'd: And who knows, but the Creator may, in those characters, have written and engraven many of his most mysterious designs and counsels, and given man a capacity, which, assisted with diligence and industry, may be able to read and understand them. But not to multiply my digression more then I can the time, I will proceed to the next, which is,