« السابقةمتابعة »
all these little receptacles of dust might have contained enough of it for the impregnating the kernel of a single fruit, for each flower produces no more. Twenty-nine in thirty it was easy to see could not be created in vain, nor was it long before the mystery was explained to me.
The sun which shone with an uncommon warmth, for the season, and had now opened a thousand additional blossoms to the number I had first seen, led forth a bee from a neighbouring hive, who directed her course immediately to this source of plenty.
This little creature first settled on the top of one of the branches; and, for a moment, seemed to enjoy the scene as I did: she just gave me time to admire her sleek, silky coat, and glossy wings, before she plunged into a full blown blossom, and buried herself among the thready honours of the centre. She wantoned and rolled herself about, as if in ecstasy, a considerable time there; and in her motions greatly disconcerted the apparatus of the flower: the ripe heads of the thready filaments all burst, and shed a subtile yellow powder over the whole surface of the leaves, nor did the creature stop its gambols while one of them remained whole, or with any appearance of the dust in its cavity. Tired with enjoyment, as it might naturally
have seemed, she now walked out, and appeared to have paid for the mischief she had done at the expense of strangely defiling her own downy coat. Though some of the dust from the littlę capsules had been spread over the surface of the flower, the far greater part of it had evidently fallen upon her own back, and been retained there among the shag of its covering.
She once more placed herself on the summit of a little twig, and soon began to clear her body of this new gathered dust. It was with great admiration that I observed the readiness with which she executed this; it was not half a minute before her whole coat was as clean and glossy as at first: and what appeared more singular was, that not a particle of the dust had fallen upon any of the flowers about her, where it must have been visible as easily as on the surface of that it was taken from.
A very laboured motion of the fore legs of the bee soon directed my eye thither, and the whole business was then immediately explained: I found she had carefully brought together every particle that she had wiped off from her body, and formed it into a mass, which she was now moulding into a firmer texture, and which she soon after delivered to the next leg, and from that, after a little moulding more, to the hinder
one, where she lodged it in a round lump in a part destined to receive it; and having thus finished her operation took wing for the hive with her load.
It appeared therefore evidently, that what had seemed sport and pastime, was business to the insect; that its rolling itself about was with intent to dislodge this yellow dust from the little cases that contained it, and that this powder, the abundance of which it was easy to perceive could not be created for the service of the plant, was destined to furnish the bee with wax to make its combs, and to serve us for a thousand purposes afterwards.
The return of this single insect to the hive, sent out a legion upon the same expedition. The tree was in an instant covered as thick almost with bees as with flowers. All these employed themselves exactly as the first had done, except that some of them being reduced to enter flowers yet hardly opened, in which the reservoirs of this waxy powder were not ripe for bursting, these were forced to take a
ore laborious method: it was with great satisfaction that I saw them bite open successively every one of the thirty heads in the flower, and scooping out the contents, add them to the increasing ball, that was to be carried home upon the thigh.
Such then is the purpose' of nature in what might appear to us profusion in the abundant quantity of this powder: the bee wants it, though the plant does not; and the pains that animal takes to get it out, never fail to answer the purpose of impregnating the fruit, a vast quantity of it being thus scattered over the organ destined to the conveying of it thither.
The making the comb is not the only purpose to which this powder serves the bee: it is the natural food of that creature: what is lodged in the hive is eaten by the swarm, and after it has been retained in the stomach long enough to be divested of its nutritive matter, it is disgorged in a state just ready for moulding farther into real and finished wax.
Thus in the great chain of beings that we see about us, no one is created solely for itself; each is subservient to the purposes of others; each, besides the primordial office to which it is destined, assists, or is the means of good to another, perhaps to many. How eye that great the comprehends this at one view! how infinite the Wisdom that appointed it!
INSPECTOR, No. 7.
It is one great merit of true researches into the insect world, that they are usually, as in the present and preceding paper, accompanied by a well-drawn and apposite moral.
Heu plebes scelerata !
O ye wicked rascallions!
IT may seem strange that none of our political writers, in their learned treatises on the English constitution, should take notice of any more than three estates, namely, king, lords, and commons, all entirely passing by in silence that very large and powerful body which form the fourth estate in this community, and have been long dignified and distinguished by the name of the Mob.
And this will seem still the more strange, when we consider that many of the great writers abovementioned have most incontestably belonged to this very body.
To say precisely at what time this fourth estate began first to figure in this commonwealth, or when the footsteps of that power, which it enjoys at this day, were first laid, must appear to be a matter of the highest difficulty, perhaps utterly impossible, from that deplorable silence which I have just mentioned. Certain however it is, that at the time of the Norman conquest, and long afterwards, the condition of this es