« 上一頁繼續 »
Of'the Care Which Insects Take Of Their Eggs, And Their Young.
The natural instinct which determines the insect race to take care of tfuir eggs and of their young is so remarkable, that 1 think proper to treat of it, in a Chapter apart. They are neither hatched like birds, nor suckled like quadrupeds. The Sun alone by its hear brings them forth, and no sooner do they quit the shell, than they are in a capacity to chuse food and to eat it. The whole foresight of the mother is consined to the depositing cf her eggs in places where the heat of the Sun may easily reach them, and where the young may at once sind the food that is convenient for them; at least till they are in a condition to go in quest of it themselves. It is for this purpose they are seen choosing the places where, their eggs may be protected from the inclemency of the weather. Some deposit in these places the things necessary for their young; and some carry them from one place to another, when they sind them exposed to accidents.
The choice which insects make of the places in Which they deposit their eggs, is as remarkable as the diversities in their manner of lise. Each chuses for that end the substance which is the proper food of
the young insect. Such as live in the water lay their eggs in that element; but as there is a great difference in the quality of water, each chuses that which is most suited to its nature. Some deposit their eggi in pure water, as gnats; others in stagnant pools, as the Tipula phalænoides, &c. while otuers prefer fluids composed by art, such as beer, &c. Some deposit them under the surface of the earth, where they are defended from the injuries boihof heat and cold. Some which live on plants and fruits, deposite theirs either within these, or on their surface. Hence we find them on the stalk, and on the leaves of plants, sometimes on the trunks of trees, and under the bark, wh; re they are defended from the heat of the Sun, and from rain: they are found also both in dry and green wood. Those'which require a greater degree of heat to bring them forth or which feed on the fluids of other animals, lay their eggs on the body, and even within it, of those which are their proper food. For this reason we find them in other insects, under the scales of fillies, and in their flesh, on the feathers of birds, among the hairs of quadrupeds, in the nostrils, arid in the flesh of animals.
In chusing a place, they are much determined by its furnishing them with food. Almost all of them ■chuse a situation in which their young will not be incommoded by bad weather; but besides this, some fix their eges with a fort of gluten, which retains them, and prevents their being washed off by the rain. This glutinous matter sometimes becomes so hard, that no external force can penetrate to the eggs and break them. Others, to stiun the cold, co* yer them with the hairs of their own body, or weave a web around them, and wrap them up as in a cloak. If any happen to deposit their eggs in places where the young cannot find food, they provide it them
felves, that nothing may be wanting after their exclur sion. Many sorts of ichneumons kill caterpillars and carry them to their nests where they keep them with great care, that they may serve for food to their young when hatched. The care of their brood with some is carried to such a length that they carry their eggs always about with them, or at least, in case of danger, transport them from one place to another. Lastly, some aster having deposited their eggs in sase places, desend them by various ways from the injuries of their enemies.
The instinct which leads them to use so many precautions, must proceed either from the animal itself, or from some other being eudowed with reason, and intelligence. It cannot come from the animal itself, which being devoid of the faculty of reason, is incapable of that foresight and wisdom, of which all these cares are the result. "Who then is the Being that directs them to make use of all those astonishing precautions which I have detailed? The answer i» easy. We know of no being but God who is capable of it. Jt is he who hath taught them to lay their eggs in places the most proper for their convenient and safe exclusion; it is he who among so many situations equalfy proper, teaches them to choose that where the young will sind, at issuing from the egg, the food most convenient for them. Indeed who else but he could inspire them with such affectionate solicitude? Who could teach them to provide sustenance to their young when the eggs are deposited in places where it is not to be found ? From whom have they learnt that prudent practice of removing their eggs from a place where they are exposed tq danger? To whom can such wonderful efftcts be attributed, if not to the Creator and Preserver of all things, whose goodness is equal to his power and his iastnite wisdom?
It is not among insects alone, that this parental tare is to he seen. Quadrupeds are possessed of it in an equal degree, 'i he icrocious lion, and implacable tyger, the ravenous wolf, and voracious dog, the venomous serpent, and cruel dragon, love their young, provide for their necessities, and never hurt them. The prophet Jeremiah seems to allude to this, when he fays that " the sea-monsters draw "out rhe breasts and give fuck to their young ones.'* Lament, iv. 3. Man is endowed with this instinct like animals. It is on this.affection for our childdren that Si Faul founds his argument when he lays " that no man ever yet hated bis own flesh, but
"nourii'heth and clierifheth it." Eprf. v. 29.
41 Can a woman forget her sucking child, says Isaiah, "and not have compassion on the sort ot her womb?" Ch. Xux. 15.
However natural this instinct may appear, yet there are persons to be found who seem to have lest it entirely. They deprive their children of necessaries, and cruelly use them, and take no care either of their soul or their body. This is not all: there are women who, that there may be no living witness of their iniquity, pitilessly expose the fruit of their womb, wthout caring whether they perish for want, are devoured by beasts, or are carried off by persons charitable enough to do so. There are even some, scan it be conceived without horror !) who ate barbarous enough to imbrue their hands in the blood of their little innocents, formed in their womb* and nourished with their blood! The moil ravenous beast is incapable of such cruelty : nor is there any iliins; similar to be seen amun' infects, the viseit ok creatures. P
Of The Sagacity Of Insects,
That man should display wisdom in his economy is not surprising. God hath endowed him with a rational soul, by the assistance of which he think?r= judges, reasons, and is induced to conduct himself agreeably to the inductions which flow from his juste principles: but that animals deprived of the use of reason, and all insects, should exhibit so much of it in their whole economy is what surpasses our comprehension. I'have already remarked a vast number of instances of this kind which authorize us to conclude that insects act according to the rules of wisdom j.bntasthe subject is exceedingly interesting, I- shall collect in this Chapter, the principal proofsof their sagacity.
The skill-of birds in constructing their nests is sogreat,, that the most ingenious artist could not ex* credit. With what neatness do they not co mbine pieces of wood, and straw, and moss and clay togei ther, in the formation of their nests! What art is-, conspicuous in the arrangement and disposition of each of the parts which compose them? What precautions to defend them and their young from cold! The inside of the nest is always lined with hair,