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better, what I will now endeavour to explain in few words. The breast of birds is made of light bone and tender gristle, that the bird may sail in the air, like a little ship; the bones of the neck are firm and small, and raised above the breast; the head-with the pointed beak is fixed upon them, that the bird may be able to cut through the air, and shoot forwards quickly. The legs are thin and light, so that it may not be drawn down in the air by heavy bones; it can spread its wings and draw them together: with its tail it can direct its aerial course, and in this manner give itself all necessary motions. Birds which can live in the water, as, ducks, swans, geese, and others, have a broad skin on the^feet, which they can spread out, and thus go forward in swimming. There are nearly five hundred sorts of these birds. Each kind has a different nature, a different voice, a different manner of flight; they mostly like different kinds of food; and their flesh has a different taste. And God has not only made them for food; he has also made many of them for the pleasure of the ear. Hark! how gladly the lark sings! how it raises itself in the air, and lifts up its voice! Oh, my child! it thanks the Creator who has made it. It awakens us *
by its song, to thank that God who created it for us! Good God, how many blessings hast . Thou spread over the whole earth for us! how many moving proofs of Thy love and wisdom hast Thou given us! We will enjoy these goods in the fear of Thee; we will thank Thee daily, and serve Thee with filial obedience.
Child. You said that the lark thanked God: does it know something of him?
Father. No, my child! The animals have not reason, like men; they are not able to discern invisible and spiritual things; they know nothing of virtue, of the soul, of religion, or of God.
Child. Why has God not given them reason also?
Father. Do not the animals serve us for food.
Father. If they had reason, we dare not kill and eat them. Would it be right, if a robber were to come and take you away, in order to kill and eat you?
Child. Oh, no! That would be a detestable man.
Father. Why is it not as wicked, if we take a young lamb, and kill and eat it?
Child. Why, that is an animal.
Father. Now, if the animals had reason, would they not likewise think, "Oh, ye wicked men, who daily kill and eat us!" Would they not at last agree together, assemble in large herds, and kill and eat men too?
Child. Oh! it is well that the animals have no reason.
Father. Yes indeed, it is good, my child! For otherwise we could not, and dare not use them according to our will, in order to receive our food and other conveniences through them. But yet this was the view with which God created animals; and therefore, when the Lord made the first man, he said: "Reign over the fish in the sea, over the birds under the heavens, over the cattle, and the whole earth." That is, use them according to your free-will, for your food, and for .the preservation and comfort of life.
Child. Then the animals are badly off, if God has not given them reason?
Father. They are not so happy as we are: they are not created for eternal life. But God has provided them with something instead of reason, so that whilst they live, they enjoy much good. They have faculties that are necessary for the preservation of their lives.
Child. What faculties? Father. I will tell you much of that in future.
Child. Tell me now.
Father. As I told you before, you cannot comprehend all this at present. Yet, hear something of the wonders of God in animals. How much pains must men take before they can teach a child to walk! Animals, as soon as they come into the world and their bones can support them, can run directly. Ducklings are not obliged to learn to swim: they bring this ability into the world. The spider never received instruction in spinning a web; yet it prepares a very ingenious yarn; catches flies in it; eats part of them, when it is hungry, and then wraps up and reserves the remainder. All animals naturally know where to seek for their food, and the manner of finding it. They know, without instruction, what is good or bad, wholesome or unwholesome. They prepare their holes and nests in the most convenient places; they know how to escape from their enemies with dexterity; they use their horns and claws in the best manner for their defence; they heal themselves when they are wounded; clean themselves and remove the dead from
their society. Fish lay their eggs in the mud on the shore, where the sun can best hatch them: many worms and flies lay them in little holes of trees, or in the skin of some animals; or bury them in the earth, and lay a little food with them, so that, when the young animal creeps out, it. may have something to eat directly. Some birds, for which our winter is too cold, go far away over the sea, to warm countries; different kinds of flies and beetles bury themselves in deep mud, or in old walls, sleep through the winter, and awake in spring to new life. Thus every animal knows, by a natural good arrangement, without reason, what it must do to preserve life, to produce its young, and guard against that which is hurtful. How good is God, who has taken such kind care for irrational creatures, who . has prepared every thing for the preservation of their lives; who has formed and arranged them so that they enjoy their food with pleasure. For, surely, my child, it must be pleasant to the animals when they take their food. Is it not agreeable to you, when you satisfy your hunger with good food? Child. Yes.
Father*. Now, most animals possess smell