Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

passage, where the

vation, which is not entirely foreign to the purpose. It is remarked by Mr. Addison, that Virgil has but one conceit throughout his poem, and that, says he, is put into the mouth of the young Iulus, when, with a kind of punning ambiguity, he observes, that they are eating their tables. But surely the great critic had forgot the

where the poet tells us that Æneas, in running round a tree after the flying Turnus, follows the man who follows him. -Sequiturque sequentem.

This, tried by the rule of Bohours, appears to have truth for its foundation ; but it is so childish a truth, that I am sorry to find it intermixed with the majesty of the Æneid; but perhaps it is like the fly on the picture, which a minute observer was going to brush away, and then found it was placed there on purpose by the hand of the artist.


[ocr errors]


-Eos vita privarant vermina sæva.

Omnia migrant :
Omnia commutat natura, et vertere cogit.


-Vile worms devour'd them, void of aid.

All migrate :
Varying each hour, from change to change propell’d.


The subserviency of the several series of beings in the visible creation to one another; the order in which each of them appears in that appointed season, in which only it could answer the purposes of the others; and the

preservation of sufficient numbers of every species, amidst the seeming wild and unbounded havoc that reigns throughout, are equal proofs of the amazing, the incomprehensible wisdom of him who formed them all; who, at one great fiat, called the individuals into existence, and gave them laws that should preserve them.

Let the man whose wild imagination would put that chimera, chance, in the place of his Creator, look into the works of his hands, and he must blush at his own absurdity: to me, these

living testimonies of the being and attributes of a God, have ever appeared infinitely superior to the best arguments that the understanding of man has been, or indeed ever can be, able to advance. In these we read at once his existence and his praise, in pages written by his own hand.

Who calls forth the tender buds on every bramble of the hedge, just at that period in which the reptile tribe, the brood of the extinct parents of a former summer, look up to them for food? or who was it that taught the parent insect to deposit the latent principles of a succeeding generation on the branches of that shrub alone, whose leaves are the food of the young? The butterfly who eats not, who knows not what it is to eat, whose sole business of life, in that her fluttering period, is to deposit those eggs with which she feels herself distended ; knows she that a voracious insect, wholly unlike herself, is to be born from them? Knows she that, out of ten thousand species of plants which offer without any immediate mark of preference to her sight, there is but one which the young she is to produce can eat ? and is it by this knowledge she is directed to place her burden there.

Who bade the little songster of the woods,

it in so

whose brood of craving young ones must be hourly fed with the produce of that insect's eggs, select the very period for building her nest, that will protract the time of hatching, just till the reptile progeny of the other shall be grown fit for their digestion? Could chance do this? Or, even if it could, is it within the reach of so blind, so vague an agent, to bid the devastation made by these destroyers, go just to an appointed length, and step no farther; just serve to take off the redundancy that would have eaten up the verdure of the year, and yet leave so many as shall continue the species; nay, as shall continue

exact a portion, that the ensuing year shall afford repast and sustenance for such another race of larger animals, and shall just in the same manner preserve its own species?

What but omnipotence, in its full scope, could have given being to the meanest of these reptiles! What, less than a wisdom equal to such power, could have preserved the regular succession of them all for so many thousand years! could have provided, that, in all this time, there should be no fatal redundancy of any kind; nor the defect of one, out of so many thousand species, left, as it were, to the wild will of one another!

They rise into being they know not how, and they perish without pain ; they enjoy the moment of existence that is allowed them, bask in the sun's invigorating rays, and feed voluptuously on the growing herbage : though destined to sudden destruction, they foresee it not; a moment takes them, they know not how, out of that existence which they know not how they received; a pain scarce felt before it is at an end, plunges them into a state in which they have no regret at all that they have lost it.

If the ordinary provision for the animal and insect tribe, when fairly examined, fill us with this astonishment and admiration, what new scenes of wonder are there continually disclosing themselves to him who will carry his researches farther, who will view the peculiar provisions made for the more singular species !

The origin of these observations has been no more than my observing, the other morning, the fate of a multitude of caterpillars, which were feeding as voluptuously on a cabbage-leaf at my foot, as myself was on the best produce of the garden, where I accidentally saw them. While I was regarding them, with thoughts that every moment carried up my soul in praises to their and my Creator, my eyes were directed

« ZurückWeiter »