ePub 版

have been able to take advantage of their difcoverries; but I have not entirely relied upon them., I considered myself as obliged to study the structure of the bodies of the larger animals; and I descended to the contemplation of those whose minuteness requires the aid of instruments. The greater progress one makes in this world of wonders, the mora grandeur one discovers in it, and the more we are convinced lhat it is an ocean of which we foe only the shores. An astronomer has no doubt great difficulty in surveying the vast extent of the heavenly bodies, but it • is not less difficult to consider the almost insinite diversity of insects spread through the air, over the earth and in the waters. It the telescope of an astronomer allows him to discover a thousand things? wonderful from their bulk, or their revolutions, the microscope enables the observer to discover in insects as many things marvellous for their minuteness gnd the changes they undergo.

Many curious menhave dedicated their leisure hours to the collection of all the different forts of insects that have come to their knowledge. It must be allowed that such collections are of great use, they present at one view a great many objects of curiosity, unknown to the generality of people, who are inchanted, with the sight of so many rarities collected together, which they often had seen separately, without bestowing on them the smallest attention. In this manner pne is often enabled to instruct some, and to satisfy the curiosity of others. Besides, it is always saser to Consult the originals, than to trust to their reprentalions, by the pen or pencil. Tl-se always expfefe with fidelity, and without disguise, every object as it is formed by Nature; but the latter may easily lead to errof.

Not that I disapprove of the labours of those whd have undertaken ro delineate objects from life; far from it. I admire a book in the library of the Vatican at Rome, the margins of which are adorned with a great number of figures of infects exceedingly natural and correct. Mr Franck of Ulm in his old age, painted a whole book of excellent figures^ When I consider the exquisite nature of the work, ■ which the illustrious Marie Sibylle Merian has published on the Metamorphoses of Caterpillars, and on the flowers of the plants which furnish their principal food, I cannot enough admire the accuracy with which shi delineates those infects in their different states,- and her talent of presenting to the eyej the variety which nature has established in the mixture and distribution cf her colours. She has not confined her labours to the infects of her own country; her zeal carried her to undertake a voyage to the West Indies, which procured for us in 1705, another work on the transformations of the insects of Surinam. Similar representations have not a little contributed to the reputation which J. Hoefthagel, first painter to the Emperor Rodolph II. has acquired. The edition which was printed by J. N. Viflcher in 1630, containing 326 figures, established his reputation. It was by designs of insects that the cabinet of Arundel was enriched, and by

JJ a which which the indufr-ious Winceslas Hollaaf, acquired the admiration of the public. J. Johnston did not think he misemployed his pencil in painting a great number of butterflies, which Monconys fays he saw at Basil in the hands of Mr Platern. I have myself seen at Furra, in the house of M. de Wurm, Gentleman of the Bed chamber to his Polish Majesty, some butterflies painted in miniature by that gentleman on blue paper,with great art and accuracy. These drawings have not only the advantage of recalling the idea of every sort of known insect, but present a sort of abridgement of the works of naturs in this particular. On looking at them, we behold at one view the infects of all seasons, and of every country. Besides, they supply the desiciences of the pen in descrip-* tion; and they exhibit all the beauty of their originals. - -"

To continue to do justice to those' person?, whose knowledge has assisted me in the composition of this work, I ought to mention those authors who have examined the different parts of .insects with the microscope. The first that I sind, is J. Bononius, who in i6^7, published a letter at Florence, in which he enters into a detail of several discoveries equally usesul and important on this subject P. Borrelliy Counsellor' and Physician to his most Christian Majesty,-also turned his attention to the fame subject* and iias made observations on about an hundred insects of different species. W«j owe likewise a great deal to J. F. Griende! of Ach, Canon of the Order of the Holy Ghost, and Engineer to his Imperial Maj

jesty* jesty. R. Hook has however left this last far behind hinij for the patience and accuracy with which he has undertaken and compleated his researches. M. Joblot, Professor of Mathematics at Paris, and a Member of the Royal Academy of Sciences, need not regret his valuable labours. He made use of a variety of Microscopes for his observations, and he had cne amonp: the rest, which magnified objects, five and twenty thousand times their natural size. I must not forget N. Hartsoecker, Counsellor to the Electee Palatine, and an able mathematician. He was the first who examined the liquid su'ostance in the body of insects; and made use of microscopes for this purpose, similar to those made at Paris for observing fluids. A. Leeuwcnhoeck, has acquired deserved fame for his dexterity in observing insects by the microscope, and for the exactness with which he has communicated his observations to the Public. J. de Muralte has equally enriched the Republic of Letters, with his remarks on this subject. I shall say nothing of those of H. Power, printed at London in 1665. I know not whether anything material concerning insects is to besound in that work. Many authors have confined their observations to a few particular species. Such are F. Redi, who has given us observations on the lice of Birds, and other animals 5 and P. P. Sangallo} who has likewise written on gnats. Some have treated only of one part of an insect; the Abbe Catalan, for example, has observed the eyes j and Ph. Bonanni, the wings.


All the discoveries of those authors being due td the Microscope, it is easy to inser how valuable the assistance of that instrument is to the observer. It enables us to penetrate into a sort of invisible region, and displays to our eyes a new world, composed of an inssinite number of living beings: The antients, deprived of this invention, trusted only to their eyes, which might mislead them, but could not enlarge their discoveries. But by the aid of thi* instrument we have gone a great way; we have passed from doubt to certainty, and modern Naturalists are enabled to rectify their errors, by the assistance of those very nteans which produced them.

It remains for fnc to speak of those Naturalists -whom A noble ardour has encouraged to write the History of Insects. Not content with having given us the sigure and described the form, they have de-r tailed their properties. Eiian, in his history of animals, Aristotle, and Pliny, in their Natural History enter into very interesting discussions; but their facility in adopting the sentiments of others has made them fall into mistakes, which very much discredit their opinions.

The moderns have gone much farther. An Englissi painter^ named Albin, published in 1720, the Natural History of the insects of his country, which he accompanied with an hundred copperplates, ef masterly execution. It was not in the.power of every one to procure so magnisicent a Work. It cost two guineas, and the coloured copies four. The



« 上一頁繼續 »