« 上一頁繼續 »
man, professor at Frankfort on the Oder. In the month of July, 1665, being at Ochsenfurt, he remarked, that many butterflies discharged similar red drops when they were merely touched with the hand. Mr Linke of Leipsig informs me he has observed the same thing.
Insects make war on one another, and some, eves on individuals of their own species. The large reddish yellow spiders eat one another, w. en put together under a glass. Grasshoppers are mortal enemies Th6 male lives apart from the female, except at pairing time: if the female meets the male by chance, she maims him, breaks his legs, or kills him outright. There is open and declared war among some species 5 the ichneumons, for instance, aud spiders massacre each other reciprocally, with merciless fury. If grasshoppers are put in the fame place with the house .cricket, the former eagerly pursue the latter and kill .them.
Besides natural antipathy, other reasons may be -suggested for this barbarity. Insects, for whom the Creator has destined others as their food, lay snares for them, in order to satisfy their appetite. They therefore behave like a banter, who endeavours to entrap the game he is in quest of; and, when they have seized their prey, they kill and devour it. Wasps, for instance, moke war upon bees, by the fame instinct which induces the wolf to attack the lamb, the cat the mouse, or the stork the frog. The want of other food ii duoes insects to make war on one another, and puts them under the dihnal nceflity of devouring their own species. I have often made the experiment with certain caterpillars; they never attacked others, till they were entirely deprived of every fort of food. The horrors of famine drove them tp .do what men have sometimes done i«
X* similar similar cases, devoured one another. Jealousy is often the cause of their fatal contentions; the male grasshoppers, and those of most other insects, fight together for the possession of a female. The ichneumons, which deposite their eggs in the bodies of caterpillars, and which, for this purpose, pierce them deeply with their stings, excite them by the pain to defend themselves.
It is said, that' some insects have an aversion, and natural antipathy to certain animals, and many examples of this kind are related. No fly, it is said, ever enters into a house, where the head or tail of a wolf is suspended. Scorpions have an aversion" at crocodiles, spiders at toads, and when these animals appear, they dart upon, and kill them.
Some insects are subject to the stone. It is not doubted, but that this is the cafe with some spiders; but the question is, whether the stones can be found, and in what manner. Doctor Sennertus fays, that the insect must be put into a glass, full of Valerian root bruised. Others fay, that it will be fufficicient to put that root under their webs. However this may be, Doctor Simon Pauli being at Wittemberg, found a spider, as large as a nutmeg, which he. put into a glass with the above mentioned preparation; but, contrary to his expectation, the animal yielded no stone. From this experiment he concludes, with too much precipitation, that what has been said of the stone in spider's, is a fable: for Doctor John Franck inclosed fifteen spiders in a glass, with the prescribed precautions; they left there a stone of an ash colour, with small black specks. This experiment shews, that though all these insects are not affected with the stone, some are. Lastly, it appears from the musæum of Olaus Wormius, that 3 Brazilian infect, called the sea louse, which fucks the fish called Acarambitamba, is subject to the same disease. Wormius himseif had one of the stones.
The regularity observable in the different members of insects, gave me an opportunity, in the last chapter, of remarking the infinite power, the wisdom, and the liberty of the Creator. The subject treated of in the present, is a no less fruitful source of reflection. Man, accustomed to see the lame objects every day, beholds them without regard; the most striking proofs of the unlimited power and wisdom of the Deity, make no impression on his mind, when they become familiar to it. To draw him from his lethargy, he must be roused by some appearance extraordinary, singular or important. All Nature teems with instances of the power, the .wis- „ dom, the goodness of God, which bear also a character of novelty: it is necessary, only to develope them, and to present them to the understanding. The singular qualities of many animals, and of diverse insects in particular, are of this number. It would appear, that the divine wisdom has endowed them with these perfections^-solely with the view of exciting our attention, and of elevating our minds to the contemplation of the wonders of Nature. The duty of a true Christian is to conform to those invitations, and to acknowledge, in those singular productions, the power and wisdom of a divine Author.
Let us six our attention, in the first place, on the wonderful and almost infinite minuteness of many insects. Because they do not approach to the size of an elephant or a whale, or some other animal of great bulk, are they less the production of a divine hand? I own that these large animals are Colossuses, and deserve a marked attention; but insects, those minute inhabitants of the world, bear still more
admirable marks of power and wisdom. Is there Hot more art discoverable in the structure of the teeth" of a Dermesces than in that of the tusks of a boar? Is there not more beauty in the wings of some butterflies, than in those of the peacock? How does the little excell the great, when we compare the head of a grasshopper with that of a horse, the trunk of a flea, with the proboscis of an elephant! Whoever iball reflect seriously on all this, will find that the powerful hand of the Creator is in every thing worthy of the highest admiration; that, it is no less conspicuous, to fay no more, in the structure of a mite than in the formation of a Behemoth. We admire the skill of a workman who <:an execute a piece of mechanism so minute as to be hardly discernible by the eye, and with justice. It is more difficult to make a chain so small hat a flea may be bound by it, than one fit to drag along a waggon; there is more dexterity required in moulding the figure of a small fly than in carving the image of an elephant.' Let us therefore admire with deep humiliation the wisdom of God which is grand in great things, but which is nc* less so in small. How great is the difference between his works and those of the most skilful artists! We have already had occasion to make the remark Can they give to the masterpieces of their hands those internal /organs by which the works of nature execute all their motions? Can they polish the external surface of their productions so as to make them any way comparable *o those of the Creator? However polished theirs may be, inxomparisorr with his they will always appear rough and rugged. Let us likewise compare ihe smallness of the things most artificially constr ucted by human hands, with those small machines endowed with life and motion. Let us compare them jvith the bodies of those minute animals of which Leeuenhoeck discovered many millions in a single
drop of water; and his discovery we cannot discre• dit, for many learned men after him have made the" same experiments. Robert Hook, and many others assure us, that in one drop of water, of the size of a grain of millet, there have been discovered sometimes ten, sometimes thirty, and sometimes five and forty thousand of these animalculæ. Do these owe their existence to chance? It would be ridiculous to suppose it; for chance cannot bestow a regular figure, nor arrange members in just proportion, nor confer the faculty of propagation. Shall it be said that they have been formed by other creatures ? But have these that infinite power which is necessary for creation? Let it be our dutyto acknowledge that no cause for their ex* istencecan beassigned butGod alone. He who hath given the Sun its light to mine by day ; he who hath commanded the Moon and Stars to enlighten the night, is the fame who hath bestowed on certain infects, for certain purposes, the faculty of appearing luminous in the dark. The fame Creator who hath given t» man the power of speech, to quadrupeds and birds their different voices, has given to infects the power of producing certain sounds. He who hath given ta musk its flavour, and to the animal we mentioned above, the power of disseminating its offensive effluvia, is also the cause of the different smells which exhale from the bodies of insects. In short, the fame hand -that hath impressed upon minerals, on fishes and on plants, the quality of yielding different colours for dying, is the fame who hath bestowed the fame qualities on different insects. And as we fee that there is not one of those particular qualities but what is bestowed for some purpose, and a certain end, we cannot but acknowledge that the whole is directed by a wife being, who has formed one plan and pursued one design, and who hath executed the whole with perfect precision,