« 上一頁繼續 »
The Jewish nation is not the only one which have been persecuted by insects; their ravages have often astonished and desolated the countriespt" the heathen. After diligently searching into the nature and reason of such phenomena, nothing appear more probable, than to attribute the cause of them to the anger of the Gods. This sentiment ought to make atheists suspect themselves; the more so, as without the aid os Scripture, without any motive of interest, without any propension but that of the heart,without any li^his but those afforded by their own minds, these Pagans acknowledged the existence of a Deity ki whom resides the supreme right to chastise vice, and to reward virtue.
If we examine attentively what we suffer from infects, far from sinding any thing to blame in the conduct of the Supreme Being, to whom we owe obedience, we shall sind nothing but striking instances of insinite wisdom. The very sear which these animals inspire us with has its uses; it serves to make us more attentive, more prudent, more caresul. They oblige the gardener so provide the proper means for preserving the precious fruits of his care and toil. Vermin excite us to the cleanliness of our persons; the spider to that of our houses; and the moth to that of our furnHure and clothes. Besides, by a marvellous disposition of Providence, there is not an infect on the face of the earth whose poison has the fame degree of strength on creatures in general; that is, it does not affect all bodies equally as it afsects some. The caterpillar and spider may be fatal to man, while they not only prove delicate morsels to many birds, but even specisic remedies against their diseases: so that it may with truth be said that some things which, are poison to one animal become salutary to others, l'he rule is not even general in the human species. There are instances of people who
have lost their Use by having had the misfortune to swallow insects which others have eaten from a ca^ pricious taste without feeling the smallest inconvenience. Such is the profound wisdom of the Creator, who hath introduced into this lower world such admirable order, that the fame thing which tends to the , prejudice of one contributes to the advantage and happiness of another.
Lastly, the goodness of the first mover is conspicuous in the bounds which he has prescribed to the life of those insects which are dangerous to us. By limiting their duration to a few months, or a few days he has been careful for our peace, as well as For our necessities. For who doubts that instead of momentary evils we would have been subject to perpetual torments, had these animals been generated with us, if they attended us during life, and had survived us or our descendants? One insect which Commits depredations can act only in a certain time; another which would eat incessantly is obliged to wait till night before it can appease its hunger; a third seeks its subsistence during the day; but when night comes it can neither find nor devour any thingi What would be the consequence could all these voracious insects satisfy their hunger at all times and in, all places? And if they can give us pain, many methods concur to defend us from them, or to prevent their hurtitg us beyond a certain degree. The openings of the ears, and of the nostrils, for instance, have their natural means of defence. The one is covered with a skin, and furnished with small glands, which exude a bitter substance, disagreeable to insects: the others are furnished with hairs, which cross, and form a fort of barrier, to defend the entrance. Let us add to this, that all countries are not equally favourable to infects. There are some, in which they rather languish than live j some, which do not seem at all
H h made
made for them, sending forth vapours, which are absolutely noxious to them. Even in their favourite regions, they are not protected from many dangers which threaten them. Wind, rain and moisture weaken and kill ihem, when in their greatest strength ; sometimes the North wind and frost surprise them in the midst of warm weather, or before they have had time to fortify themselves against the approach of winter. Some vegetables are prejudicial to them, certain animals feed on them, and one speciesi of insect sometimes hinders another from multiplying. On the earth the spider eats the fly, and the chafer the gnat; in the water, the crab devours the leech; on the surface of rivulets, the trout seizes the fly; in the fields and about towns, the swallow clears the grananaries and farm yards; the torn-tit the gardens ; the sparrow and the wagtail, the lower grounds. The Lizard and the Chameleon likewise live on insects. Who is there that will not acknowledge in all these particulars, an over-ruling providence? Who is there who will not look up to the existence of a first cause, who hath aranged all things with such order and goodness, that while so many insects are of such real advantage to us, so mat<y different animals, and even insects concur in preventing the exceflive mut* tiplication of those which might hurt us, so that in every view, the good overbalances the evil?
Of The Proper Means Of' Exterminating
^we have seen, in the preceding Chapter, obvious traces of the wise conduct of the Deity in the creation and government of this world. Some others remain to be pointed out in the present. The faculty which God has bestowed on man, of contriving difserent means of desence against the injuries caused by insects, is one very evident mark of his benesicence. Nature is a school; but how sew people incline to study at it ! We wish ourselves enriched by its treasures, we wish to be ignorant of no mystery which it teaches; but no sooner do we encounter its difficulties, than we turn our back and refuse to return. One is discouraged on the road, indnlence prevents others from setting out. Far from attempting to gain the source by a glorious but difficult road, we turn aside, and content ourselves with foolish fancies, which absurd custom only hath sanctioned. And indeed we are at this day still almost in the dark with regard to those means by which we may deliver ourselves from the depredations of insects. In the Church of Rome, recourse has been had to different exorcisms, other people have fabricated amulets and talismans to which great virtues have been attributed.
Hh. z Whatever
Whatever credit these means may have gained with the people, they are far from having the efficacy of prayer, or the worth of the remedies I am about to prescribe. It is true, that it is impossible totally to exterminate insects, both because their number is too great, and because it augments at every instant, by the rapidity with which they multiply.— However, we ought not to despair of sinding the means of reducing them in number, or of prevent: ing their excessive multiplication. There are seveial ways of preventing their increase; the easiest and most natural, in my opinion, are the following. By spreading on the ground, aines mixed with pigeon's pr goat's dung, not only insects newly come forth,' but those about to be hatched, are destroyed. To take advantage of the time before insects deposit their eggs, is likewise a very sure way. By destroying the pld ones, we rid ourselves of the generation they would have produced; and, we thus perform in an instant, what we would not fail to have been employed in during the whole course of a year. But should the season anticipate pur intentions, we must seek their nests in the furrows and clefts of trees. In truth, the industry of insects, in choosing places, in which their brood may be in sasety, makes it impossible but some of them must escape our search. 'I hey hide their eggs, sometimes under the earth, sometimes under the bark of trees, sometimes in walls; but, if in one province, the country pepple would use stratagems on their part, it is certain they would ensure that prosit, of which they are often frustrated.— There are some husbandmen who plough their grounds in autumn, as soon as the cold begins to be lelt. The practice is a good one; for the plough, in opening the foil, throws the eggs of grasshoppers and locusts, and other insects on the surface, where they perish either with the frost, or by rains, or they are eaten by the birds^ We cannot desend fruittrees