Imagini ale paginilor

flower in this bouquet, was a carnation: the fragrance of this led me to enjoy it frequently and near: the sense of smelling was not the only one affected on these occasions; while that was satiated with the powerful sweet, the ear was constantly attacked by an extremely soft but agreeable murmuring sound. Curiosity is a first principle in my nature on all occasions of this kind. It was easy to know that some animal, within the covert, must be the musician, and that the little noise must come from some little body suited to produce it. I am furnished with apparatusses of a thousand kinds for these occasions. I instantly distended the lower part of the flower, and, placing it in a full light, could discover troops of little insects frisking and capering with wild jollity among the narrow pedestals that supported its leaves, and the little threads that occupied its centre. What a fragrant world for their habitation! what a perfect security from all annoyance in the deep husk that surrounded their scene of action!


I was not cruel enough to pull out any one of them for examination; but adapting a microscope to take in, at one view, the whole base of the flower, I gave myself an opportunity of contemplating what they were about, and this for many days together, without giving them the least disturbance. Thus could I discover their economy, their passions, and their enjoyments. With what adoration to the Hand that gave being to these minute existences must a heart, capable of a due warmth in His praise, see the happiness he has bestowed on them! But, alas! all magnitude is but comparative; an accident of matter, not one of its properties; and, in reality, a very nothing in no degree affecting the subjects themselves, though of such seeming consequence to us.

The microscope, on this occasion, had given what nature seemed to have denied to the objects of contemplation. The base of the flower extended itself under its influence to a vast plain; the slender stems of the leaves became trunks of so many stately cedars; the threads in the middle seemed columns of massy structure, supporting, at the top, their several ornaments; and the narrow spaces between were enlarged into walks, parterres, and terraces.

On the polished bottom of these, brighter than Parian marble, walked in pairs, alone, or in larger companies, the winged inhabitants: these from little dusky flies (for such only the naked eye would have shown them) were raised to glorious glittering animals, stained with living purple, and with a glossy gold that would have made all the labours of the loom contemptible in the comparison.

'I could, at leisure, as they walked together, admire their elegant limbs, their velvet shoulders, and their silken wings; their backs vyeing with the empyræan in its blue; and their eyes, each formed of a thousand others, out-glittering the little planes on a brilliant; above description, and too great almost for admiration. I could observe them here singling out their favourite females, courting them with the music of their buzzing wings, with little songs formed for their little organs, leading them from walk to walk among the perfumed shades, and pointing out to their taste the drop of liquid nectar just bursting from some vein within the living trunk: here were the perfumed groves, the more than myrtle shades of the poet's fancy, realised; here the happy lovers spent their days in joyful dalliance; or, in the triumph of their little hearts, skipped

after one another from stem to stem among the painted trees; or winged their short flight to the close shadow of some broader leaf, to revel undisturbed in the heights of all felicity'.'



Nature's great works no distance can obscure,
No smallness her near objects can secure:

We've learned the curious sight to press
Into the privatest recess

Of her imperceptible littleness!

We've learned to read her smallest hand,
And well begun her deepest sense to understand.

In an insect or a flower,
Such microscopic proofs of skill and power,
As hid from ages past, God now displays,
To combat atheists with in modern days.



IN my preceding Paper, I considered, in general, the great superiority of the works of Nature over those of Art, as particularly discernible in the objects of microscopic vision. This is a subject of contemplation, of which the ancients had no conception, and of which, consequently, they can afford us no poetical illustrations. It was reserved for modern philosophy, moreover, to invent the means of bringing creatures, imperceptible to the naked eye, under our cognizance and inspec


The whole of this Paper will be found in Dr. Drake's Gleaner, vol. ii. p. 268.

tion; and to furnish the contemplative poets of our age with new subjects of adoration.

Gradual-What numerous kinds descend,
Evading ev'n the microscopic eye!

Full Nature swarms with life; one wondrous mass
Of animals, or atoms organized,

Waiting the vital breath, when parent Heaven
Shall bid his Spirit blow. The hoary fen,
In putrid streams, emits the living cloud
Of pestilence. Thro' subterranean cells,
Where scorching sun-beams scarce can find a way,
Earth animated heaves. The flowery leaf
Wants not its soft inhabitants. Secure,
Within its winding citadel, the stone
Holds multitudes. But chief the forest-boughs,
That dance unnumbered to the playful breeze,
The downy orchard, and the melting pulp
Of mellow fruit, the nameless nations feed
Of evanescent insects. Where the pool
Stands mantled o'er with green, invisible,
Amid the floating verdure millions stray.
Each liquid too, whether it pierces, soothes,
Inflames, refreshes, or exalts the taste,
With various forms abounds. Nor is the stream
Of purest crystal, nor the lucid air,
Though one transparent vacancy it seem,
Void of their unseen people. These concealed
By the kind art of forming Heaven, escape
The grosser eye of man: for, if the worlds
In worlds inclosed should on his senses burst,
From cates ambrosial, and the nectared bowl,
He would abhorrent turn; and in dead night,
When silence sleeps o'er all, be stunned with noise


The word animalcule, the general name of these creatures, is a diminutive of animal; expressing such a minute creature, as is either scarcely, or not at all, to be discerned by the naked eye. Such are those numerous insects, which crowd the water in the summer months; changing it sometimes of a deep or pale red colour, sometimes of a yellow, &c. and which are found imbedded in the ice in

the winter '. These often seem to be of the shrimp kind, and the most common one is called by Swammerdam, pulex aquaticus arborescens, Their concourse at this time, as Derham observes, is for the purpose of propagating their species; and he adds, that they afford a comfortable nourishment to many water animals. The green scum, on the top of stagnant waters, is often nothing else but prodigious numbers of another smaller order of animalcules, which, in all proba bility, serves for food to the pulices aquatici.

The microscope discovers legions of animalcules in most liquors, as water, wine, vinegar, beer, dew, &c. In the Philosophical Transactions we have observations of the animalcules in rainwater, in several chalybeate waters, and in infusions of pepper, bay-berries, oats, barley, and wheat.

Those who have made the most minute and accurate researches into the natures of the several objects subjected to their senses, have found that the substances upon which they employed their curiosity, were often quite different from' what they seemed to be at first view. Thus, for instance, the whole earth has been found replenished with an inexhaustible store of what we should least of all suspect-an infinite number of animalcules floating in the air we breathe, sporting in the fluids we drink, or adhering to the several objects we see and handle.

Far less than mites, on mites they prey;
Minutest things may swarms contain;
When o'er your ivory teeth they stray,

Then throb your little nerves with pain.
Fluids, in drops, minutely swell;

These subtile beings each contains ;
In the small sanguine globes they dwell,
Roll from the heart, and trace the veins.

I See No. I.

« ÎnapoiContinuați »