17 November 2012

The Best of All Invisible Things

To the King.

Sir, I do here most humbly lay this small present at your Majesties royal feet. And though it comes accompanied with two disadvantages, the meanness of the author and of the subject; yet in both I am encouraged by the greatness of your Mercy and your Knowledge.

By the one I am taught that you can forgive the most presumptuous offenders; and by the other, that you will not esteem the least work of Nature, or Art, unworthy of your observation.

Amidst the many felicities that have accompanied your Majesty’s happy Restoration and Government, it is none of the least considerable that Philosophy and Experimental Learning have prospered under your Royal Patronage. And as the calm prosperity of your Reign has given us the leisure to follow these studies of quiet and retirement, so it is just, that the fruits of them should, by way of acknowledgement, be returned to your Majesty.

There are Sir, several other of your subjects, of your Royal Society, now busy about nobler matters: the improvement of manufactures and agriculture, the increase of commerce, the advantage of navigation: in all which they are assisted by your Majesty’s encouragement and example.

Amidst all those greater designs, I here presume to bring in that which is more proportionable to the smallness of my abilities, and to offer some of the least of all visible things, to that Mighty King, that has established an Empire of the best of all invisible things of this world, the minds of men.

— Robert Hooke; Dedication to Micrographia: Some Physiologicial Descriptions of Minute Bodies made by Magnifying Glasses With Observations and Inquiries Thereupon; 1667

Illustration: Ant, from Micrographia

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