« 上一頁繼續 »
Worms are, according to the Linnæan system, the sixth class : some of them have only two senses; others no head, and most of them no feet. They are divided into five orders : 1. Intestinal worms, as tape-worms, leeches, &c.; 2. Molluscus worms, chiefly inhabiting the sea ; 3. Testaceous worms, as muscles, cockles, oysters, snails, &c. ; 4. Zoophytes, between animals and vegetables; and, 5. Animal. cules, generally invisible to the naked eye.
THE INDIAN THREAD-WORM eats into the skin in the West Indies, and its extraction occasions great trouble. The furia does the same in Sweden. The common hair-worm is said to occasion whitlows. Garden or dew-worms are useful to vegetation by loosening the soil. The heads and tails of snails will grow again. The nereis is the sea glow-worm.
SNAILS.—Dr. Ebel, in his account of the Canton of Appenzel, says, “In the gardens near the river Sitter, such numbers of snails are kept during the summer season, that the sound caused by their denticulated jaws while they are eating may be distinctly heard. Young snails are collected in the adjacent parts, and placed in these gardens, where the owner supports them till, on the approach of winter, they enclose themselves. In addition to the food which they find on the grounds, they are supplied with leaves, lettuces, cabbages, and other vegetables, by which they grow and fatten amazingly. Some time before Lent the owners pack up the enclosed snails in cases, and carry them for sale to the convents of Suabia, Bavaria, and Austria, and even as far as Vienna, where they are purchased as delicacies."
A NEW ANIMAL.--Some Italian journals mention that a new organized being has been discovered in the interior of Africa, which forms a link between vegetable and animal life. It has the shape of a spotted serpent. It drags along on the ground; and, instead of a head, has a flower shaped like a bell, which contains a viscous liquor. Flies, and other insects, attracted by this juice, enter the flower, where they are caught by the adhesive matter. The flower then closes, and remains shut until the prisoners are bruised and tranformed into chyle. The indigestible portions, such as the head and wings, are thrown out by two lower spiral openings. This vegetable serpent has a skin resembling leaves, a white and soft flesh, and instead of a bony skeleton,
a cartilaginous frame filled with yellow marrow. tives consider it delicious food.
ALL NATURE ALIVE.—Recent observations have gone far to change into conviction a suspicion I have long entertained, that half the wonders for which we are indebted to the microscope are the effects of optical illusion. Suppose the fact to be as is affirmed—but which I am far from admitting -that the whole material world is only an aggregation of living and moving atoms, divided into variously fashioned proportions, the microscope, through which man has made this marvellous discovery, must itself be a body consisting of particles in a constant though imperceptible state of vibration; and if such be the case, how can he tell but that the effects he observed may have been ocular deceptions occasioned by the various reflecting, refracting, and inflecting influences of the vibratory multitude upon the light passing through them? Astronomers of respectability have mistaken particles of thistle down, floating within their sphere of vision, for stars and meteors. Is it not as possible that naturalists, looking through a microscope at a globule of water, may,
through an interference of a similar kind, though on a smaller scale, see myriads of living things floating where none exist ? I have, in conjunction with one or two scientific friends, a mode of scrutiny in contemplation, which will completely put the reality of some discoveries to the test.
ANIMALCULES are shaped like fish, reptiles, eels, stars, hexagons, triangles, ovals, and circles; they have horns, proboscis, &c.; and although the eyes of many species are not discernible, yet they move about with inconceivable relative velocity in the fluids they inhabit, without interfering with each other. “Were it not (says Hawkins) for the moving of the sea, by the force of winds, tides, and currents, it would corrupt into life! The experiment of this I saw when lying with a fleet about the islands of Azores, almost six months; the greatest part of which time we were becalmed. Upon which all the sea became so replenished with various sorts of jellies, and forms of serpents, adders, and snakes, as seemed wonderful; some green, some black, some yellow, some white, some of divers colours, and many of them had life ; and some there were a yard and a half, and two yards long; which had I not seen, I could hardly have believed. And hereof were witnesses all the companies of the ships which were then present; so that hardly a man could draw a bucket of water clear of some corruption." Mr. Boyle was also assured by one of his acquaintance, who had been becalmed for about fourteen days in the Indian
ocean, that the water, for want of motion, began to stink with life; and that, had the calm continued much longer, the stench would probably have poisoned him.
Hunter divided all animated nature into single animals and complicated animals. The single are those which possess only feeling or the powers of muscular contraction, and the power of absorbing food, as chalk absorbs moisture, and appropriating it to nourishment. The hydrabid, found in sheep, consists only of a bag filled with water, and has no appearance of animal powers; but, when excited or pricked, it contracts and shews its irritability, while this vital power is supported by the nourishment which it receives through its coat. From such simple animals we ascend, through all the degrees, up to the complicated and combined powers of body and mind in man. The links are kept up by the addition of muscles for additional motions ; by other senses for hearing, seeing, &c.; by various degrees of irritability in those senses; by the circulation of the blood for renovation through the lungs, and for action through the muscles of the heart by the secretions of the various glands; by the contraction of the muscles which move the bones ; by the nerves which convey the effect of the mental secretions; and by the powers of sensation, will, and judgment, which can be referred only to the inscrutable powers of God.
THE TWILIGHT HOUR.
BOTANY is that part of Natural History which treats of the nature and uses of Plants and Vegetables.
ON PLANTS.- Plants stand next to animals in the scale of existence : they are, like them, organized bodies : like them, increase by nutrition, which is conveyed through a system of tubes and fine vessels, and assimilated to their substance ; like them, they propagate their race from a parent, and each seed produces its own plant; like them, they grow by insensible degrees from an infant state to full vigour, and after a certain term of maturity decay and die. In short, except the powers of speech and locomotion, they seem to possess every characteristic of sentient life. A plant consists of a root, a stem, leaves, and a flower or blossom. The root is bulbous, as the onion; long, like the parsnip or carrot; or branched out into threads, as the greater number are, and particularly all the large ones ;a bulbous root could not support a large tree. The stem is single or branched, clinging for support or upright, clothed with a skin or bark. The flower contains the principle of reproduction, as the root does of individuality. This is the most precious part of the plant, to which every thing contributes. The root nourishes it, the stem supports, the leaves defend and shelter it; it comes forth but when Nature has prepared for it by showers and sun, and gentle soothing warmth ;-colour, beauty, scent, adorn it; and when it is complete, the end of the plant's existence is answered. It fades and dies ; or, if capable by its perennial nature of repeating the process, it hides in its inmost folds the precious germ of new being, and itself almost retires from existence till a new year. A tree is one of the most stately and beautiful objects in God's visible creation. It does not admit of an exact definition, but is distinguished from the humbler plant by its size, the strength of its stem, which becomes a trunk, and the comparative smallness of the blossom. In the fruit trees, indeed, the number of blossoms compensates for their want of size; but in the forest-trees the flower is scarcly visible. Production seems not to be so important a process where the parent tree lives for centuries. Every part of vegetables is useful. Of many the roots are edible, and the seeds are generally so; of many the leaves, as of the cabbage, spinach; the buds, as of the asparagus, cauliflower; the bark is often employed medicinally, as the quinquina and cinnamon. The trunk of a tree determines the manner of its growth and gives firmness : the foliage serves to form one mass of a number of trees; while the distinct lines are partly seen, partly hidden. The leaves throw over the branches a rich mantle, like flowing tresses : they wave in the wind with an undulatory motion, catch the glow of the evening sun, or glitter with the rain ; they shelter innumerable birds and animals, and afford variety in colours, from the bright green of spring, to the varied tints of autumn. In winter, however, the form of each tree and its elegant ramifications are discerned, which were lost under the flowing robe of verdure.
ANCIENT AND MODERN NAMES OF PLANTS.The culling of herbs and simples, and compounding preparations from them, to relieve the sufferings of nature were the first rudiments of all our knowledge, the most grateful exertion of human talent, and, after food and clothing, the most necessary objects of life. In ages of simplicity, when every man was the usual dispenser of good or bad, benefit or injury, to his household or his cattle, ere the veterinary art was known, or the drugs of other regions introduced, necessity looked up to the products of our own clime, and the real or fanciful virtues of them were called to the trial, and manifests the reasonableness of bestowing upon plants and herbs such names as might immediately indicate their several uses or fitness for application ; when distinctive charac