ePub 版

no example, that I know of, among other animals. Let us suppose, that, in ten days after conception, the foetus of a bitch has only attained the size of a pea: that a pea is equal to five hundred grains of sand, and that a grain of sand is a million of times larger than the seminal animal of the dog, as Leewenhoek himself affirms, in his letter of the 13th July, 1685, Edit. 1696; we shall find, by calculating on these data, that this foetus has become, in ten days, five hundred millions of times larger than it was. Such an astonishing growth will appear the more singular, that there is here no unformed mass of matter, increasing by an external accretion of parts; but, that it is, according to the fame author, an organized body, with a stomach, intestines, and other parts, which enter into the conformation of our body, and each of which, like it, grows by intus-fufceplion.

But, if the spermatic animals grow With such celerity in the uterus, is it not, in the fifth place, very strange, that they should not grow in the semen, although they are there immersed in their native substance, which nourishes them, and preserves their life? By what miracle does it happen, that an animal, which, in the uterus, can become, in ten days, five hundred millions of times larger than it was, cannot grow in the semen, however long it may remain there. Does not a circumstance, so incomprehensible, lead one to believe, that the animalcule and the foetus, are beings of a very different kind, and that the one, by no means proceeds from the other?

In the sixth place, it appears strange, that of so many hundred millions of animalcules, which, it is said, enter at one time into the matrix of the larger terrestrial animals, there should be only one or two, or at most seven or eight, according to the species which become foetuses there. If the foetus proceeded from the spermatic worm, we should naturally expect to find in the matrix, some days after copulation, a vast number of foetuses. But we find no such thing. All that are found, are merely the small number of such as are destined to become perfect animals. According to the idea of Leewenhoek, who denies the existence of an ovarium, we cannot account for an event so little agreeable to nature, except, in supposing, that among those myriads of animalcules, there are only a few that have received the faculty of existing, or, that in the uterus, there are but few places proper for receiving and fostering those little beings: we must likewise suppose, that these places are exceedingly small, otherwise we must believe, that a single place would be sufficient for a great number, at least for a certain time. Those who imagine, that the foetus of all animals proceeds from an egg, are likewise at a loss to extricate themselves from this difficulty. Some take it for granted, that after the egg is detached, as they pretend, from the ovarium, and has fallen into the matrix, there is a very narrow aperture in it, at the place by which it adhered to the ovarium; that this aperture is shut by a valve, which permits the entrance of the spermatic worms: that these worms, by a natural instinct, endeavour to enter by the aperture; that, when one has got in, its tail presses upon the valve, and shuts the entrance against the rest, and, that this is the reason, why there is only a single foetus in each e^g, and that such a multitude of animalcula produce so sew foetuses. But all this requires another supposition, contrary to experience, namely, that the egg, which, they say, has fallen into the matrix, must be so small, that a worm, a million of times less than a grain of sand, cannot extend itself in it, its whole length ; for, without supposing this, hs tail could not press against the valve, and keep it shut. Now, it is very certain, that these bodies, which are taken for the eggs of the ovarium, are of a very discernible bulk, and insinitely exceed that of the animalcula in question. Others pretend, that the semen rises in vapour in the matrix, and that this vapour, being loaded with animalculrs, penetrates to the ovarium, through the Fallopean tube: that at this time, the pores of the eggs ready for secundation, are so open, that they permit the entrance of the animaicubs; that one accordingly does enter, keeps itself there, and grows; that afterwards, the egg, become thereby heavier, detaches itself by its own weight from the ovary, and falls down into the matrix. But, must not this explanation appear exceedingly forced, when we reflect, that before it can be admitted, we must suppose, contrary to all probability, that although all the pores of the egg are open, there enters but a single animalcule; or that, if many enter, only one of them grows there?

There is something very singular in all this; and an opinion, destitute of proofs, and which, in order to be supported, must have recourse to vague and forced suppositions, is not likely to gain ground.

Z z Let

Let us reflect further in the seventh place, nn the conduct which this opinion obliges us to ascribe to the Creator. It presupposes that this omniscient being, in order to produce a single persect animal, has been obliged to form so many hundred thousand impersect beings that the number is inconctivable. Does such a conduct correspond to that which we see reign in the other operations of nature, where all things tend to their ultimate persection by the most direct, the simplest and shortest course?

I kuow that the ways of God are not as our ways; that it would be culpable temerity to condemn his works because they are not consormable to our ideas, and that tho" we do not comprehend the reasons which may have induced the supreme Being to act in such a particular manner, we ought not to be the less convinced that these reasons have been consormable to his insinite wisdom. If therefore it were demonstrated, that generation takes place in the manner which Leewenhoeck and his followers pretend, far from impugning, I should consider it as the strongest proof possible that the thing was so. But I know likewise 'on the other hand, that when on the strength of our own weak reason, we would attempt to account for the operations of nature, the relpect we owe the Creator should render ns caresul rot to attribute to him a conduct which we enn suppose unsuitable to the ideas we have os his adorable wisilctm; and in this view I think the system in question faulty.

It will perhaps be objected to me, that what I here condemn as a fault in the Syltem of Leewenhoeck we have nevertheless very frequent examples of in plants, which produce incomparably more seeds than are necessary for the preservation of their species, and of which a great part perishes without having contributed to this purpose. But If we bwstovv a little attention we ihall sind that this example has no relation to the present case. Fur besides that there Is no proportion between the number of spermatic worms which are produced in a single animal, and that of the seeds produced by the most sertile plants, the seeds o! vegetables are not destined merely for the preservation of the species, they are likewise destined for the nourishment of animals. They make the principal part of the food of man, and of the greater part of the food of birds ; this is a fact we know, but we dp not see howthe prodigious number of animalcules, which perish in the uterus, can be of the fame use there. Add to thii, that as plants have not the power of lowing their feeds in the earth, and that thus after they are shed, many of them perish for want of being sown, it was necessary that plants should produce a quantity of feed sufficient to make up for this loss; besides we may fay that if any feeds perish, this hap^ pens only by accident. There is hardly any feed which, when thrown into the ground, does not produce a plant; but it is quite otherwise with spermatic worms. If they perish it is by necessity, and of so many hundreds of millions which enter into the place said to be destined to receive them, there are only a few which, according to the lystem. of Leeuwenhoeck, can become large animals.

Toall these difficulties which regard animals ingeneral.there are others which respect man in particular. It is allowed that the animalcules, of which it is pretended man is formed, are living, animated beings. I ask what is the nature of the foul which animates them? Is it the foul of a brute? Is it a soul endowed with reason? If it be the soul of a brute, then is man composed os three distinct principles, a body, the foul of a brute, and a foul endowed with reason. This is what I suppose the advocates for the system of Leeuwenhoeck will not admit, and which would indeed be an opinion too singular to be admitted without proof or foundation. But if it is a rational foul, and the fame which animates our bodies.as Leeuwenhoeck makes no difficu'ty in averring^ can we conceive, that in order to form our body, the least noble part of us, God created so many' myriads of rational fouls, all except one or two destined to destruction? \VoUld that accord with the notions we entertain of his infinite wisdom? I (hall be told perhaps, that while these souls reside in the animalcules, they have not yet acquired rea« son, and that they do not acquire it but by degrees from the knowledge the man receives as he grows up; at least it is thus that a disciple of Wolsius would reason. But this would not remove all the difficulty. The soul cf the animalcule would always be essentially the fame with th.it of man ; it would nlways be a soul capable of receiving the perception of objects as they flrould be prescr.ted to it, and of reflecting on those objects. Ail the difference would be, that in the body of the animalcule thoie oty cts would be presented to it fewer in number and more obscurely; but this defect, which proceeds from the condition and imperfection of the bodySa z a iu in which it is found, does not diminish the intrinsic value of the foul, which would always be capable of reason, and in this respect a being very superior to matter. This is not all; those fouls being endowed with reason, or at least capable of reason, and the same which animates us, they would also be immortal. What would be their condition after this lise ? A Protestant might And in the satisfaction of Christ, and in the divine mercy, a means of salvation: but what would these of the Church of Rome do with them? According to the principles of their doctrine, they would deprive of eternal happiness, and banilh to a place similar to what they call the Limbus of the Fathers, those which had received existence in the body of seme one of their religion; for to save them is impossible, us they have not been baptized. And for those who have had the misfortune to be placed in persons born out of the bosom of this Church, I have no doubt but they would damn them without redemption. Here then for a member of the Church of Rome who should adopt the system of Leeuwenhocck, thenumber of the Reprobate, who have never known good nor ill, becomes a" thousand million os times greater than that of those who have become so by their own crimes; and yet the number of the Blessed is not enercased by a single individual. What a horr ble idea! and how little it accords with the sentiment which we ought to entertain of the goodness, mercy • and even justice of the Being of beings ! I believe if Mr Andri had conliderrd this when he wrote in favour cf Leeuwenhoeck's system, the pen would have fallen from his hand and he would have suppressed that part ot his Work. Since then the system we have been examining seems to be founded merely on conjecture without any prectf; that it appears rephte wirh difsiculties, and contrary to probability ; that it is derogatory to the ideas we ought to entertain" of the persections of the divine majesty, 1 think we may reasonably resuse to adopt it; or at least not till some solid proofs have been adduced in its support. In the rtiean time, the discovery of the animalcules we have been talking of, furnishes us with a noble opportunity of admiring the wonders of the Creator, who has thus formed the larger animal?, rot only to serve the sinal purposes of their destination, but to be, without knowing it, as so many worlds peopled with an insinite multitude of inhabitants.

Page 86>

« 上一頁繼續 »