The Empress Quotes in The Blazing World
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 Caesar did; yet rather than 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 one’s power to do the like.
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 only, 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 only 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.
They made their ships and tacklings ready to sail over into the island, where the Emperor of their Blazing World (for so it was called) kept his residence; very good navigators they were; […] 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 quantity 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.
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 rejoicing, made her his wife, and gave her an absolute power to rule and govern all that world as she pleased. But her subjects, who could hardly be persuaded to believe her mortal, tendered her all the veneration and worship due to a deity.
The bear-men being exceedingly troubled at her Majesty’s displeasure concerning their telescopes, kneeled down, and in the humblest manner petitioned that they might not be broken; for, said they, we take more delight in artificial delusions, than in natural truths. Besides, we shall want employments for our senses, and subjects for arguments; for were there nothing but truth, and no falsehood, 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 than 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 only delight, and as dear to us as our lives.
How is it possible, that a natural nothing can have a being in nature? If it be no substance, it cannot have a being, and if no being, it is nothing; […] all parts of nature are composed in one body, and though they may be infinitely divided, commixed and changed in their particulars, yet in general, parts cannot be separated from parts as long as nature lasts; nay, we might as probably affirm, that infinite nature would be as soon destroyed, as that one atom could perish; and therefore your Majesty may firmly believe, that there is no body without colour, nor no colour without body; for colour, figure, place, magnitude, and body, are all but one thing, without any separation or abstraction from each other.
Both by my own contemplation, and the observations which I have made by my rational and sensitive perception upon nature, and her works, I find, that nature is but one infinite self-moving body, which by the virtue of its self-motion, is divided into infinite parts, which parts being restless, undergo perpetual changes and transmutations by their infinite compositions and divisions. Now, if this be so, as surely, according to regular sense and reason, it appears no otherwise; it is in vain to look for primary ingredients, or constitutive principles of natural bodies, since there is no more but one universal principle of nature, to wit, self-moving matter, which is the only cause of all natural effects.
Thus they argued, and intended to go on, but the Empress interrupted them: I have enough, said she, of your chopped logic, and will hear no more of your syllogisms; for it disorders my reason, and puts my brain on the rack; your formal argumentations are able to spoil all natural wit; and I’ll have you to consider, that art does not make reason, but reason makes art; and therefore as much as reason is above art, so much is a natural rational discourse to be preferred before an artificial: for art is, for the most part, irregular, and disorders men’s understandings more than it rectifies them, and leads them into a labyrinth whence they’ll never get out, and makes them dull and unfit for useful employments; especially your art of logic, which consists only in contradicting each other, in making sophisms, and obscuring truth, instead of clearing it.
And thus the Empress, by art, and her own ingenuity, did not only convert the Blazing World to her own religion, but kept them in a constant belief, without enforcement or blood-shed; for she knew well, that belief was a thing not to be forced or pressed upon the people, but to be instilled into their minds by gentle persuasions; and after this manner she encouraged them also in all other duties and employments, for fear, though it makes people obey, yet does it not last so long, nor is it so sure a means to keep them to their duties, as love.
She asked further, which of these two Cabbalas was most approved, the natural, or theological? The theological, answered they, is mystical, and belongs only to faith; but the natural belongs to reason. Then she asked them, whether divine faith was made out of reason? No, answered they, for faith proceeds only from a divine saving grace, which is a peculiar gift of God. How comes it then, replied she, that men, even those that are of several opinions, have faith more or less? A natural belief, answered they, is not a divine faith. But, proceeded the Empress, how are you sure that God cannot be known? The several opinions you mortals have of God, answered they, are sufficient witnesses thereof.
She asked again, whether they were none of those spirits that frighted Adam out of the Paradise, at least caused him not to return thither again? They answered they were not. Then she desired to be informed, whither Adam fled when he was driven out of the Paradise? Out of this world, said they, you are now Empress of, into the world you came from.
Then I will have, answered she, the soul of some ancient famous writer, either of Aristotle, Pythagoras, Plato, Epicurus, or the like. The spirit said, that those famous men were very learned, subtle, and ingenious writers, but they were so wedded to their own opinions, that they would never have the patience to be scribes. Then, said she, I’ll have the soul of one of the most famous modern writers, as either of Galileo, Gassendus, Descartes, Helmont, Hobbes, H. More, etc. The spirit answered, that they were fine ingenious writers, but yet so self-conceited, that they would scorn to be scribes to a woman. But, said he, there’s a lady, the Duchess of Newcastle, which although she is not one of the most learned, eloquent, witty and ingenious, yet is she a plain and rational writer, for the principle of her writings, is sense and reason.
If your Majesty were resolved to make a Cabbala, I would advise you, rather to make a poetical or romancical Cabbala, wherein you can use metaphors, allegories, similitudes, etc. and interpret them as you please.
We wonder, proceeded the spirits, that you desire to be Empress of a terrestrial world, when as you can create your self a celestial world if you please. What, said the Empress, can any mortal be a creator? Yes, answered the spirits; for every human creature can create an immaterial world fully inhabited by immaterial creatures, and populous of immaterial subjects, such as we are, and all this within the compass of the head or scull. […] And since it is in your power to create such a world, what need you to venture life, reputation and tranquility, to conquer a gross material world? For you can enjoy no more of a material world than a particular creature is able to enjoy, which is but a small part.
[The Duchess] resolved to make a world of her own invention, and this world was composed of sensitive and rational self-moving matter; indeed, it was composed only of the rational, which is the subtlest and purest degree of matter; [… this] world after it was made, appeared so curious and full of variety, so well ordered and wisely governed, that it cannot possibly be expressed by words, nor the delight and pleasure which the Duchess took in making this world of her own.
Lest the Emperor, or any of his subjects should know of her travel, and obstruct her design, she sent for some of the spirits she had formerly conversed withal, and enquired whether none of them could supply the place of her soul in her body at such a time, when she was gone to travel into another world? They answered, yes, they could; for not only one, said they, but many spirits may enter into your body, if you please.
Thus those two female souls travelled together as lightly as two thoughts into the Duchess her native world; and which is remarkable, in a moment viewed all the parts of it, and all the actions of all the creatures therein, especially did the Empress’s soul take much notice of the several actions of human creatures in all the several nations and parts of that world, and wondered that for all there were so many several nations, governments, laws, religions, opinions, etc. they should all yet so generally agree in being ambitious, proud, self-conceited, vain, prodigal, deceitful, envious, malicious, unjust, revengeful, irreligious, factious, etc.
When the soul of the Empress viewed the King and Queen, she seemed to be in amaze, which the Duchess’s soul perceiving, asked the Empress how she liked the King, the Queen, and all the royal race? She answered, that in all the monarchs she had seen in that world, she had not found so much majesty and affability mixed so exactly together, that none did overshadow or eclipse the other; and as for the Queen, she said, that virtue sat triumphant in her face, and piety was dwelling in her heart, and that all the royal family seemed to be endued with a divine splendour: but when she had heard the King discourse, she believed, that Mercury and Apollo had been his celestial instructors; and my dear lord and husband, added the Duchess, has been his earthly governor.
But one thing I forgot all this while, which is, that although thoughts are the natural language of souls, yet by reason souls cannot travel without vehicles, they use such language as the nature and propriety of their vehicles require, and the vehicles of those two souls being made of the purest and finest sort of air, and of a human shape; this purity and fineness was the cause that they could neither be seen nor heard by any human creature; when as, had they been of some grosser sort of air, the sound of that air’s language would have been as perceptible as the blowing of Zephyrus.
The Duke’s soul being wise, honest, witty, complaisant and noble, afforded such delight and pleasure to the Empress’s soul by her conversation, that these two souls became enamoured of each other; which the Duchess’s soul perceiving, grew jealous at first, but then considering that no adultery could be committed amongst Platonic lovers, and that Platonism was divine, as being derived from divine Plato, cast forth of her mind that Idea of jealousy. Then the conversation of these three souls was so pleasant, that it cannot be expressed; for the Duke’s soul entertained the Empress’s soul with scenes, songs, music, witty discourses, pleasant recreations, and all kinds of harmless sports; so that the time passed away faster than they expected.
First, I desire, your Imperial Majesty may know, that this Duke who complains or exclaims so much against me, hath been always my enemy; for he has preferred Honesty and Prudence before me, and slighted all my favours; nay, not only thus, but he did fight against me, and preferred his innocence before my power. His friends Honesty and Prudence, said he most scornfully, are more to be regarded, than inconstant Fortune, who is only a friend to fools and knaves; for which neglect and scorn, whether I have not just reason to be his enemy, your Majesty may judge yourself.
Fortune hearing thus Honesty’s plain speech, thought it very rude, and would not hearken to Truth’s judgement, but went away in a passion: at which, both the Empress and Duchess were extremely troubled, that their endeavours should have no better effect: but Honesty chid the Duchess, and said, she was to be punished for desiring so much Fortune’s favours; for it appears, said she, that you mistrust the gods’ blessings: at which the Duchess wept, answering Honesty, that she did neither mistrust the gods’ blessings, nor rely upon Fortune’s favours; but desired only that her lord might have no potent enemies.
The Duchess answered, that since she heard by her Imperial Majesty, how well and happily the world had been governed when she first came to be Empress thereof, she would advise her Majesty to introduce the same form of government again, which had been before; that is, to have but one sovereign, one religion, one law, and one language, so that all the world might be but as one united family, without divisions; nay, like God, and his blessed saints and angels: otherwise, said she, it may in time prove as unhappy, nay, as miserable a world as that is from which I came.
The Empress before she came in sight of the enemy, sent some of her fish- and bird-men to bring her intelligence of their fleet; and hearing of their number, their station and posture, she gave order that when it was night, her bird-men should carry in their beaks some of the mentioned fire-stones, with the tops thereof wetted; and the fish-men should carry them likewise, and hold them out of the water; for they were cut in the form of torches or candles, and being many thousands, made a terrible show; for it appeared as if all the air and sea had been of a flaming fire; and all that were upon the sea, or near it, did verily believe, the time of judgement, or the last day was come, which made them all fall down, and pray.
If I had long speeched councillors, replied the Empress, I would hang them, by reason they give more words, than advice. The Duchess answered, that Her Majesty should not be angry, but consider the differences of that and her Blazing World; for, said she, they are not both alike; but there are grosser and duller understandings in this, than in the Blazing World.
The Empress appeared upon the face of the water in her imperial robes; in some part of her hair she had placed some of the star-stone, near her face, which added such a lustre and glory to it, that it caused a great admiration in all that were present, who believed her to be some celestial creature, or rather an uncreated goddess, and they all had a desire to worship her; for surely, said they, no mortal creature can have such a splendid and transcendent beauty, nor can any have so great a power as she has, to walk upon the waters, and to destroy whatever she pleases, not only whole nations, but a whole world.
Great, heroic, and famous monarchs: I came hither to assist the King of ESFI against his enemies, he being unjustly assaulted by many several nations, which would fain take away his hereditary rights and prerogatives of the narrow seas; at which unjustice Heaven was much displeased; and for the injuries he received from his enemies, rewarded him with an absolute power, so that now he is become the head-monarch of all this world; which power, though you may envy, yet you can no ways hinder him; for all those that endeavour to resist his power, shall only get loss for their labour, and no victory for their profit. Wherefore my advice to you all is, to pay him tribute justly and truly, that you may live peaceably and happily, and be rewarded with the blessings of Heaven, which I wish you from my soul.
ln time of the voyage, both the Empress’s and Duchess’s soul were very gay and merry, and sometimes they would converse very seriously with each other.
The Empress asked, are those good plays that are made so methodically and artificially? The Duchess answered, they were good according to the judgement of the age, or mode of the nation, but not according to her judgement; for truly, said she, in my opinion, their plays will prove a nursery of whining lovers, and not an academy or school for wise, witty, noble, and well-behaved men. But I, replied the Emperor, desire such a theatre as may make wise men; and will have such descriptions as are natural, not artificial. If Your Majesty be of that opinion, said the Duchess’s soul, then my plays may be acted in your Blazing World, when they cannot be acted in the Blinking World of Wit; and the next time I come to visit Your Majesty, I shall endeavour to order Your Majesty’s theatre, to present such plays as my wit is capable to make.
Were there but a passage out of the Blazing World into this, said she, you should not only have some of those horses, but such materials, as the Emperor has, to build your stables and riding-houses withal; and so much gold, that I should never repine at your noble and generous gifts. The Duke smilingly answered her, that he was sorry there was no passage between those two worlds; but said he, I have always found an obstruction to my good fortunes.
One time the Duchess chanced to discourse with some of her acquaintance, of the Empress of the Blazing World, who asked her what pastimes and recreations Her Majesty did most delight in? The Duchess answered, that she spent most of her time in the study of natural causes and effects, which was her chief delight and pastime, and that she loved to discourse sometimes with the most learned persons of that world.
By this poetical description, you may perceive, that my ambition is not only to be Empress, but Authoress of a whole world; and that the worlds I have made, both the Blazing and the other Philosophical World, mentioned in the first part of this description, are 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, than the conquests of the two famous monarchs of the world, Alexander and Caesar: 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.
If 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: but yet let them have a care, not to prove unjust usurpers, and to rob me of mine; for concerning the Philosophical World, I am Empress of it myself; and as for the Blazing World, it having an Empress already, who rules it with great wisdom and conduct, which Empress is my dear Platonic friend; I shall never prove so unjust, treacherous and unworthy to her, as to disturb her government, much less to depose her from her imperial throne, for the sake of any other; but rather choose to create another world for another friend.