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ORIGINS OF MODERNITY

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Webster, John (1610-1682)
Metallographia, or, A history of metals.
London : Printed for A.C. for Walter Kettilby ..., 1671.

Image of Webster's Metallographia

John Webster's Metallographia is a work in mineralogy which argues that rocks and minerals actually grow like plants. Indeed he claims that the vulgar view 'that Metals do not grow in the Earth, but were all at once created by God; and so have no seminary principle to propagate themselves by' is a 'foolish Conceit the most part of the learned men have rejected'. This view of the growth of minerals was widely held in the early modern period. As late as 1697 the philosopher John Locke could tell the young Francis Masham 'all stones, metals, and minerals, are real vegetables; that is, grow organically from proper seeds, as well as plants'.

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