網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

into the parts they touch: others introduce it by means of their teeth; others get into the body by the mouth. The effects they produce on the human body, differ as much as the means by which they attack it are different. The poison of some affects the solids, that of others operates on the chyle; in others it interrupts the circulation of the humours, stops up the pores, or causes other disorders, but their venom, though different in different species, has this in common, that it attacks the nervous and fibrous parts, and there causes violent contractions. ' -""

The tarantula is an infect remarkable for the effects produced by its venom, on those who are bitten by it. One dances and leaps, another sheds tears; another sleeps incessantly, another pastes the whole hight, without closing an eye; One person will tremble through his whole members, without being able to expectorate or perspire; another will grow; fond of a particular colour, and never find himself satisfied with looking at it. ■ One person wiil divert himself with leaping incessantly, or in waving a sword; one will delight in looking at a glass of water, which another cannot endure. One person will take pleasure in a lamb decked with green, while his companion will be in an extacy at the sight of a bason of water, in which, he will repeatedly plunge his arm or his head. Some are so'eleyated with pride, that they speak only in a high style, while others finish their gambols by whining and lamentation: lastly, some fall on the ground, and fight with feet and hands, in a frightful manner.

It is common for insects to associate together in prodigious numbers so as to compose immense armies, and to make all at once an irruption into a country, whither they bring faniine 'and epidemic diseases. I repeat it, that I am not of the opinion of those who

11 maintain. maintain that the plague is owing to indisposition in the human body, caused by worms ; yet I do not deny but that a vast quantity of insects may give fife to the plague or other similar diseases. History is full of such relations, and, as able philosophers . have found the thing probable, I consider it as very possible. Indeed, when that innumerable multitude of enemies has perished and covered the earth with carcases, it is natural to suppose that there will issue from them certain volatile particles which being dispersed through the air, enter into our bodies by respiration, and disturb their economy.

CHAP. HI.

Of The Injuries Which Insects Cause To OTher Animals.

Insects do not only make war bil other insects, as we fee those that are most useful to man,such as bees, preyed upon by wasps and hornets, but cattle are also exposed to their assaults. Incessantly attacked by these insatiable creatures, the larger animals receive wounds from their sting, which penetrate to the blood. Some attach themselves to the orifice of the wound and fuck the liquor which distils from it; others are hot content with a single sting, but inflict-the wound several times. Such is that fort of fly whose dart is strong enough to pierce the stein of these animals. There it introduces,its eggs, which cause those strange G g 2 tumours

tumours formerly supposed, by superstition, to be the effect of sorcery.

Beasts likewise nourish in their bowels infects of several forts. Few people are ignorant that horses which feed in meadows swallow worms while they brouze the grafs. These pretty much resemble the seed of a gourd, except that their body is intersected with rings by which they can shorten or extend themselves: they attach themselves strongly to the superior orifice of the stomach of the animal, and move, only to mix with the aliment. Dogs, be* sides these gourd-shaped worms, have likewise another kind, which are so slender, that a great nnmber of them together have the appearance of a clue of thread. Cattle in general are very much affected by worms; they lose their flesh, and often die in spite of the most efficacious remedies. Another poison concealed under the grass, is a fort of bug called Bupeftfis by Pliny, which makes the body of the animal swallowing it swell till it burst. To avoid repetition, I shall not here mention any thing os the diseases which leeches cause in animals when swallowed with their drink; and I shalt Conclude with observing that the mortality in sheep, a circumstance so interesting to the proprietor and to the shepherd, and which too often deceives the vigilance of the one, and the ikill of the other, proceeds molt frequently from infects which devour the liver of these animals to such a degree, that the destruction os that part neceflkiily causes the death of the animal.

G H A P. IV, CHAP. IV.

THE DEVASTATIONS MADE BY INSECTS ARE SO MANY MARKS OF THE POWER, THE JUSTICE, THE WISDOM, AND EVEN OF THE GOODNESS

•c God.

Of all the reflections I have hitherto made, none have been aimed so much at atheism as those I propose to introduce in this chapter. I do not doubt but I {hall offend its partisans; but if they will for a: little unloose the bandage with which they voluntarily blind themselves, and deign for a moment to hear me without prejudice, I do not despair of shewing them truths which they have hitherto been ignorant of. I know that truths are odious to them, and that with them obstinacy is set against reason; however I lhall venture to speak to them in its favour. Those who acknowledge the Scripture as a book containing the sacred deposit of the word of God are struck with admiration at the thought of the prodigious number of animals which the power of God collected in the ark. The infidel laughs at this and treats it as a fable: but he does not consider that things equally surprising happen every day under our eyes: do we not fee for instance, that certain kinds of insects, after having collected in myriads, sometimes pass over seas, and cause famine and desolation In distant lands ? What principle leads them thither? Is it reason or instinct? Be it either the one or the other, I ask the atheist from whence they have received it ? If he proceeds step by step it is impossible but he must remount to the supreme cause whence this principle, whatever it may be, originally derives its own existence, But let us go a little farther; these insects, notwithstanding their feeble constitution, carry their depredations into a country affording but a moderate harvest, while they spare another which promised them a much more abundant soil. What is the cause of this election ? Is it determined by judgement, or by chance? Neither one nor the other can be attributed to insects, because they are incapable of judgement, and because they act only from a cause determinate and necessary. But once more, what is that cause ? It is that which hath bestowed existence on all beings visible and invisible: it is God according to the man of reason ; it is chance according to the atheist. I wish much that pne of those sublime geniuses who doubt of every thing, even of their own existence, would tell me what is chance. It is nothing but a name devoid of fense, a word signifying nothing, a term to cover ignorance,a chimerical being to which is attributed what belongs solely to the powerful Architect of the universe. Atheists accuse us of weakness j but have we not greater reason in this cafe to treat them as madmen, who adopt the doubtful for the probable, falstiood for truth, impossibility for reality? Is it then degrading to acknowledge a God? Is it dangerbus to serve him ? Is it dishonourable to humanity to believe that he is the creator of mankind? Is it to despoil ourselves of our rights to confess that we are indebted to him for every thing? Is it to rank ourselves with the brutes to allow that it is he who has formed them? It is the province of reason to answer these questions; and if I appeal to conscience I am mistaken, if it would not declare openly that the!

wounds*

« 上一頁繼續 »