The Blazing World
- "Out of this Room there was a passage into the Emperor's Bed-Chamber, the Walls whereof were of Jet, and the Floor of black Marble; the Roof was of Mother of Pearl, where the Moon and Blazing-Stars were represented by white Diamonds, and his Bed was made of Diamonds and Carbuncles."
Observations upon Experimental Philosophy
- "It is known that man has five Exterior Senses, and every sense is ignorant of each other; for the Nose knows not what the Eyes see, nor the Eyes what the Ears hear, neither do the Ears know what the Tongue tastes..."
Margaret Lucas was born in 1623 AD in Colchester, Essex. She received no formal education, but she did have access to some nice libraries and became an avid reader at an early age. Being a precocious sort, Margaret was soon putting her own thoughts on paper, although it was thought unseemly by most – save her brother John, a well-established scholar of law and the natural sciences. In 1642 she was sent by the family – perhaps hoping to nip this thinking thing in the bud – to live with her sister in Oxford, where the royal court happened to be in residence. Seeking an independent life, Margaret applied, and was accepted, to be a maid of honor to Queen Henrietta Maria, accompanying her mistress into exile in Paris in 1644 at the height of the first English Civil War.
There, while still scribbling, Margaret met William Cavendish, Marquess (late Duke) of Newcastle-on-Tyne; they married at the end of 1645, lived in liberal Rotterdam and Antwerp until the Restoration of 1660 allowed the couple to return home and restore the Cavendish estates. Her marriage to the duke is noteworthy for two reasons. First, at a time when it just wasn’t done to print the writings of a woman, most of hers saw publication due to her well-connected husband. Secondly, thanks to Cavendish she made the acquaintance of thinkers like Thomas Hobbes, Rene Descartes, Marin Mersenne, and Pierre Gassendi.
Although eccentric (she was known widely as “Mad Madge”), widely regarded as either pretentious or a genius, her speech “full of oaths and obscenity,” she was a prolific author, publishing poems, plays, literary critiques, and works on philosophy and natural science. She died in 1673, brilliant and extravagant to the end.