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den, how do you know that the latter will not spring up in the path, or that the former, making a subterranean journey, will not appear in an adjoining field, to bless the wondering eyes of some indolent neighbor? Indeed, what assurance have you, that they will come up at all? You answer, “ob. servation teaches;” but did you ever think why this is so? Did it never occur to you as something strange, that among the numberless seeds, that each returning year calls forth to life, one should not, now and then, send its fibrous roots into the air, while the branches should be groping their gloomy way down into the earth? Why should there not? Within the tiniest seed's thin shell, the radicle and plume, twin mes. sengers of life, lie cradled now; the former bursts its prison first, and travels down in quest of moisture and a fastening for the future plant; the latter, upward bound, seeks air and light.
There is the Dionæa muscipula, or Venus' fly-trap, that terror of the insect tribe. Each leaf is furnished with a
pair of jaws, invitingly extended, and baited too, with a liquid which attracts the unwary wanderer, but no sooner than he alights, it closes with a spring, and the hapless fly becomes a prisoner for life; the relentless leaf never opening, till the victim ceasing to struggle, expires. True, we are ignorant, of the precise manner in which the plant is benefited by these captures; but as animal life is frequently sustained by the destruction of vegetables, we do not question, that, in this instance, at least, the favor is reciprocated.
The potato, that lies forgotten among the rubbish of an old box in the cellar, sends out its pale, slender vine, that clings upon the unplaned boards that compose its prison, till it finds a fissure; emerging thence, it creeps slowly away towards that distant window, that veiled with cobwebs and dimmed. with the splashing of the last shower, admits a feeble ray through its half-transparent panes. Did you ever think what guided it on its mysterious way? Yes, you knew it was creeping after light. Its clear, waxen stem betokens the absence of the "father of colors," and light it must have; you saw, how as it basked beneath that glimmering beam, each raveled leaf took on a tinge of green,
By the way, reader, what a language does that plant speak to you and me! Like it, we are living beings and prisoners of hope; like it, we are enveloped in darkness; a light has shone upon us too; and we see it through “a glass darkly;""; like it, how should we emerge from the gloom, and follow after the benign ray, that flings its softened lustre in, upon this depraved world! To return, what was it, but a principle of life that impelled the plant, thus to seek that which was essential to its health, if not to its existence, and what is this principle but instinct?
Plant a strawberry vine in the sand, and will it remain there to wither and die ? Examine it after a few days, and you will find its little runners traveling off, in the direction of the nearest soil proper for its nourishments. The tree removed from its native swamp to the parched upland, will not yield its life without an effort; with no guide but that Being
who spoke it into existence, filled it with life and clothed it with beauty, its roots, faithful to their trust, amid the darkness of their prison, will send out a thousand fibres towards the neighboring rivulet or spring. Set a root of the Orchis in your garden and mark the spot. Let a few years elapse before you seek it, and you will find that the strange thing has played you false; no vestige of it can be discovered, but clamber over your neighbor's fence, travel a quarter of a mile, and you may chance to find the truant flourishing in the soil of a new possessor. It had made a toilsome journey hither, all for its little life, abandoning the old and withered root from time to time, it had bundled off to a new and vigorous one, springing up beside the old habitation; like a tenant who resides, now in this dwelling, now in that, leaving each as the decaying timbers and broken roof, threaten to tumble upon his head!
The bulbous root is peculiarly adapted to resist the effects of drought; transplant such a root to some moist spot, and instead of remaining round and plump as a London alderman, it will become lean, lank and long as a half-starved friar; but never fear; it is not about to die. As in a dry soil, to the bulbous root, the plant owes its preservation, so in a marsh, the same formation would prove its sure destruction, actually drowning it; and for this reason, the root instinctively elongates, becomes fibrous, adapts itself to the new situation, and lives on, verdant as ever.
The wood-sorrel that folds its leaves from the coming storm; the yellow flowers that look cheerfully forth upon the rising sun, turn to the south at noon, and catch the last beams of the closing day; the sensitive fern that shrinks from the approaching hand; the Evening Primrose, whose little signal gun announces the approach of night, as one by one, its pale flowers fly open to receive the falling dew; the water-lily that contracts its leaves, as it rests gently upon the crystal couch; the lazy Goatsbeard, that shuts its eyes at noon, as if to sleep, and the chickweed, that wraps the virgin flower in its green mantle, reminding you to make the umbrella your companion for that day, are all directed by INSTINCT, that principle, which, however varied the acts to which it impels, is admirably calculated to preserve life in the vegetable worid. Take away this instinct, and the day which dawned upon a thousand forms of almost breathing beauty, looking forth from hill-top and vale, would close upon a mournful scene of deso. lation and death.
Let us now observe the action of instinct in the animal world. I recollect, when a boy, of spying a robin's nest in an old apple tree. With much scrambling and kicking, I succeeded in getting a foothold on some of the spreading boughs, and eagerly reached up, to take a peep at the interior of the nest. At the imminent hazard of life or limb, so much was I taken by surprise, four young robins, opened their bills all together, and developing their capacious yellow throats, set up a chorus that first startled, then astounded me. Just at this instant, the alarm-note of the old robin, sounding loud and clear, close by me, added not a little to my fear, and trembling in every joint, 1 heartily wished myself out of the predatory excursion, and safe at home. The little family bad but just escaped from the shell, and this movement was one of the first acts of life; without instruction or experienoe, and doubtless without a knowledge of the cause or the result, they placed themselves in the only position in which they could possibly receive nourishment from the parent. This act was an instinctive one; of the same nature with that performed by the Geranium that turns its leaves towards the un. curtained window, or by the root that seeks its proper soil; of the same nature with that put forth by the infant, which throws out its little hands, when in danger of falling from the arms of a careless nurse; an act which is prompted by no apprehension of danger, no knowledge of any means by which it might be averted. In the three instances mentioned, the act is essentially the same; equally unintelligent, and alike calculated to preserve the life, and health of the individual.
The duck-Complex nature of sucking, swallowing and respira
tion-Definition of instinct-not sentient—not intelligentExamples-The office of intelligence-its relation to instinctFew animals destroy life wantonly-The skill of birds in nid. ification—Color of the eggs- Individual and generic instincts.
The patient hen sets for weeks
eggs, unconscious of the anxiety which her perverse brood will occasion; the little web-feet come forth and waddle away to the nearest pool with all possiblė dispatch. The foster-mother, with drooping wings, runs hither and thither upon the bank, cluck. ing her mingled notes of love and fear; but the heedless objects of her solicitude, diving and paddling about with notable zeal, pay not the slightest attention to her exhortations and entreaties. Fitted by nature for a sea-faring life, instinct directs them to their native element, and by instinct they swim. Of precisely the same nature, is the act of sucking and swal.