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INTRODUCTION.

There is nothing in Nature; however abject it may appear, which is not a subject of wonder to the man who fets himself seriously to consider it. Far from being unworthy of our regard, the study of Nature is not only useful but necessary to us, since it furnilhes as many occasions of praising our Creator, as there are objecis io contemplate. But the greater part of mankind, insensible to this reflection, hardly deign to cast their eyes on those objects which they have ihought proper to denominate vile. Insects they consider as below their netice, or merely as subjects of cu. riofity, which it would be both useless and troublesome to investigate; and to this contempt, we muft attribute that indifference with which most people are accustomed to examine them. They are view. ed without regard, and inconsiderately crushed to death, when they are found in our way.

I could excuse a vulgar mind for ridiculing the ftudy I recommend; but I think myself authorised to raise my voice against men of learning, who would rank the study of insects in the number of human weak. nesses. Is not the smallest worm, the work of the Sue preme Being, as well as the most perfect animal ? And if God has judged it not below him to create

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it, why should it be thought a weakness in a reason-
able man to make ic the object of his research?
But the vileft infect is a work of omnipotence,
worthy of the higheit admiration. It is endowed
with so many perfections, thatthe most powerful
monarch, or the most skilful artist, can produce
n'othing to be compared with it. God alone can
work those wonders, and he presents them to us, not
as models for our initation, but as so many testimo-
nies of his power and wisdom. It is our duty
therefore to correspond to his views, and to con.
template his perfections, even in the smallest of his
works. Among all the animals, we alone, are ca-
pable of this contemplation. The sun sheds his beams
over all the earth; but man alone comprehends
their source and perceives their effects. Beasts live
and grow, but they know not how. The Lion
is unconscious of his strength; the night...
ingale of the melody of her voice; the butter.
fly of the beauty of its wing; and the caterpil-
lar gnaws the leaf without knowing what it is that
affords it fuftenance? Can we doubt then, that the
tribute of admiration which I demand from the fa.
culties of man, is a reasonable tribute, which he owes
to' his Creator?

Man ought not to confine his reflections to insects alone, he is capable of carrying them infinitely farther. I allow, it; I even confess that he would in some degree debase his powers were he to limit himself to this fingle employment; and were he, for the study of insects, to sacrifice the knowledge

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he may obtain of the fars, of plants and of so many different animals. My design is not to be the apologist of those who are mere collectors of the refuse of Nature, if I may use the expression, and who make cabinets for snew. There are things more worthy of their attention. But on the other hand, I cannot blame the man of piety, who con. templates the power of his Creator in the smallest as well as in the greatest of his works. It is true, he cannot become acquainted with the whole.

The objects which the heavens, the earth, and the waters present to his meditation, are too manifold for him to hope that he can know them all alike. Such an attempt is far beyond the powers of man. Every one ought therefore to chule, amongst the infinite variety of the works of God, some particular department as the principal object of his study, Convinced of the justice of this reflection, I have betaken myself to infects; I have studied them with all the application I am master of, and I have found them more entitled to admiration, ihan to contempt. The remarks I have made on the subject appeared to me of sufficient importance to be laid before the public. They will ferve as a proof, that the majesty of the Creator is manifest in all his works, and that it shines conspicuously even in the smallest iniect.

But I am not the first who have painted them out as exhibiting visible marks of the omnipotence and infinite wisdom of the Being, who prefides 0ver the Universe. “ Every species of animals,

. " (says

{(fays 6t Augustin,) is poslefied of beauties pecu: ? liar to itself. The more man considers them,

the more they excite his admiration, and the more

they engage him to adore the Author of Nature, ? who has made every thing in wisdom, who has ? subjected every thing to his power, and whole { goodness governs the whole. These attributes

are discoverable in the very vilest of animals,

which are defined by their nature to perish, and { whose diffolution terrifies us. They are small,

it is true, but the delicacy and arrangement of ? their parts is admirable. If we examine with at

tention a common fly, its agility will appear more ? surprising, than the swiftness of a beast of prey

at full speed ; and with the same attention, the § ftrength of the camel will seem less wonderful

than the labour of an ant.''

! If you talk of a stone, says St Bafil, of a gnat or of a bee, your discourie is a sort of demonftration

of the power of him who formed them ; for the ? wisdom of the workman generally manilets itself ! in what is most minute. He who harh stretched

out the heavens, and who hath hollowed the bed of the ocean, is the fame who hath pierced the iting of the bee, to form a passage for its poison.?

St Jerome is equally clear : It is not only ! in the creation of the heavens, of the earth, ! of the Sun, and the sea, of elephants, camels,

horses and oxen, of tigers, bears, and lions, that the Creator is to be admired. He is not less

I great

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