« السابقةمتابعة »
of the eggs of the bee-fly; an insect perfectly resembling the common humble bee, in form, size, and colour, but having only two wings, instead of the bee's four, and wanting that creature's sting.
This fly is instructed by that universal guide and guardian, instinct, to lay its eggs about the edges of waters; its young, while in the worm state, are to live and feed in water; but the female parent cannot go about to deposit her eggs in that element, without perishing in the attempt. She lays them, therefore, on dry land, near the proper places of residence of her young, and the same instinct which instructed her to place them in such a situation, directs the young ones, as soon as they are hatched, to make their way into the water; and, finally, when they have there acquired their full growth, and the animal within is ready to burst forth into a new life, and enjoy the regions of the air, to emerge out of it again, that this great event may be finished at land.
We had got about thus far in our observations, when the servant returned with a little water in, the glass, and with a larger quantity in another vessel, to add occasionally to it. Respiration, continued I, is necessary to all animal life, but it is variously performed in the several species:
the snake respires but once in half an hour; whence she can, without injury, bear her throat to be wholly filled, and even greatly distended, for so considerable a time in getting down her food but it is yet more singular, that different organs may be employed in this office, and those situated in different parts of the body: and that while we, and the generality of other animals, respire by the mouth, this creature does it by the tail.
The insects we were examining were about half an inch long in the body, and their tails near an inch. I proportioned the water in the glass to this measure in depth; and, on our throwing them into it, their bodies naturally sunk with the head downward; and while they seemed searching after food about the bottom, the extremities of their tails were seen just above the surface, and in continual motion. This explained to my company the disturbance we had observed in the water of the puddle; and the impatience of any of the creatures on our forcing the tails to the bottom, together with the air-bubbles sent up through the water from it in that situation, abundantly proved both that it was a necessary organ to the animal, and that respiration was the office for which it was intended.
My little party, who have long since learned to make every observation of this kind the source of adoration to the supreme creator, disposer, and preserver of all things, were admiring the care of his providence in contriving, thus amazingly, that a poor reptile should not be suffocated while it fed, when I ordered a pint more water to be poured into the glass; they all cried out, at first, against my destroying the unhappy animals; but their admiration was raised much higher than before, when I observed to them, that they would receive no harm by this; that nature had not provided so partially for them, as to give them the means of life only in a puddle, which the first shower of rain would swell so as to drown them. I made them observe, that, when the water was now raised to an inch more than its former depth, they lengthened their tails, so as to make their extremities still reach the surface, while their bodies were all the while, as at first, at the bottom. I told them this was about the utmost elongation the tail itself was capable of; but that they were not left without the meals of life, even in a much more increased depth if fluid; on adding a quart more water, it wa soon found that the apparent tail of this insec was a mere tube, containing another within
much smaller, yet sufficiently large for the passage of all the air that was necessary to the animal; a fine slender pipe was immediately darted up out of this, and extended to the new surface: on raising the water to two inches higher, this pipe was immediately lengthened again as far as necessary; and so on till the verge of the glass suffered us to carry the trial no farther.
We never go out on these expeditions without all the necessary apparatus for examination. I opened, with a fine lancet, one of the insects after it had drawn in this lengthened tail, and shewed, by the help of a small magnifier, in what manner this inner tube lay folded in the body of the creature, ready to be explicated and lengthened with the utmost facility. The rest of the animals we returned to their native puddle, not more delighted with their restored liberty, than we with the observation of such an instance of the unlimited care of our Creator over what might be esteemed one of the most inconsiderable of his works.
INSPECTOR, No. 31.
Deponas auimos truces monemus.
We admonish you to lay aside a revengeful spirit,
We do honour to our nature when we express cruelty by the term inhumanity; we declare it unnatural to man, while we call it by this name; and there is indeed no character so amiable as that of him whose heart is most perfectly free from all tincture of it: there is a false pride that sometimes keeps this hateful passion alive in tempers otherwise thoroughly averse to it; and, under the influences of this, men, naturally compassionate, are barbarous. The sense of an injury excites in them a desire to inflict a greater on the person from whom they have received it; and they suppose they own a superiority in him from whom they suffer the seve rity which they do not return. Pride thus be comes the parent of cruelty, and cruelty of a passion still less justifiable, even in the eye of reason, than itself, of revenge.
The man who supposes he appears great by returning an injury, and who, against his very