Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1607–1764
Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. I–II: Colonial Literature, 1607–1764
An Essay upon the Microscope
By Nathaniel Ames (1708–1764)
[Almanac for 1744.]

      ARTIFICER, go make a watch,
In which no seeming imperfection lurks,
Whose wheels with time exact do onward roll,
And one small spring maintains the motion of the whole,
      ’Tis all an artless homely botch        5
Compared with the least of Nature’s works.
      If through an optic glass
      You view a spire of grass
      That in the road is trod,
With admiration you may gaze        10
On veins that branch a thousand ways,
      In nice proportion wrought.
Which truly to the assisted eyes are brought,
That he who is not void of common sense
Or filled with daring impudence,        15
Must own its maker truly to be God.
      Pray let your brethren, men,
      Use but the optic glass again,
      Thy rarest piece to scan;
In thy so well contrived machine,        20
Those boasted beauties that are seen
After thou hast laid the hammer by,
And done thy best to cheat the naked eye,
We view such large unsightly flaws
Not marked by just proportion’s laws        25
Which shows thou wert a clumsy fingered man.
      Urania’s sons who view the sky,
      Erect long tubes to assist the eye;
May we believe the intelligence they give,
      They tell us many a star        30
      That we behold is bigger far
Than the small world on which we live.
      These massy globes their maker’s skill display,
      But the minutest creatures do their part,
The grovelling worm that under foot is trod        35
      And smallest mite proclaims a God:
And butterflies as well as they,
The feathers on whose painted wings
Outdo the ornaments of kings
      And all their costly workmanship of art.        40
Behold! ye whalers who go forth,
Coasting along the icy north
Under the feeble influence of day.
      Where huge leviathan does play;
’Gainst whose impenetrable sides the billows roar        45
Foaming and broke as from some rocky shore;
Tell me, brave lads, tell me when you
The unwieldy tumblings of that watery monarch view,
When all your darts, and strength, and numbers fail,
When with the sportive glances of his tail,        50
      Keen as a knife he cuts in twain,
      Or oars, or boats, or men,—
      Do not your brethren then,
      When any of their crew are slain,
          Stand off awhile and gaze,        55
With wonder and with vast amaze?
This optic glass creates a thought in me,
As wonderful as what you see:
Being not deceived, nor mad, nor frantic,
But with my eyes do really view,        60
      Crossing their wide Atlantic
Of but a drop of vinegar or two,
Ten thousand little fish, and here and there a whale,
          Whose bulky size
          By far outvies        65
      All other tribes that therein sail,
With more perhaps invisible to sight,
Whose numerous species fall below,
What any glass could ever show;
Small as the beams of light.        70
At this amazed, Oh! wonderful, said I,
Who made the earth, who rules the sky,
      When He his own idea first surveyed,
      Before his beauteous works were made,
      Then formed the wondrous plan,        75
      And took an atom for a space
      To minute down the universe.
          Both things inert,
          Things animate,
Our rolling world, and every lofty sphere,        80
      The unerring hand divine
      In characters immensely fine,
Most truly hath delineated there:
There all his works in true proportion stand.

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