Imágenes de páginas

& course of conversation, introducing all sorts of subjects, to communicate to others our ideas and wants... io vornimi , fut ront

The rules of conversation may be reduced to three heads : it ought to be a means of instruction, a bond of society, and a source of pleasure. Instruction is the first thing a man requires on entering into the world. If he be not then as a blank paper, the cha racters that are traced in his mind are so superficial and confused, that he wants assistance to make them clearer, and to impress them more strongly. Accordingly, the conversation of the first years of our life is mostly devoted to instruction: we ask the questions which our curiosity suggests from every new object, and if we attend, each answer increases our store of ideas. But the age of infancy, or even of youth, to which we limit this sort of conversation, is not enough. There is no time of life in which we may not obtain information. A sensible man may learn something out of every conversation, by leading others to speak on subjects they are best acquainted with, and which he himself does not know. We meet persons who have travelled, who have been witnesses to certain interesting events; it is in our power to gain all they know, and will only cost us a little attention. We converse with a friend, whose courses and studies agree with our own. What can we do better than to communicate our ideas mutu. ally, to assist cach other in our common enquiries, and to resolve together the difficulties which may embarrass us?.

It has been often said and proved, that the condition of men would be most deplorable, without the sweets of society. But what enables us to form societies? It is speech and conversation. Recreation is an essential part of life, as it gives us strength to fulfil the duties of it: none so natural, or so much within the reach of all the world, as engaging conversation, which makes time fly swiftly, and leaves the mind cheerful and composed. But is it thus that

men converse?'' Are these rules observed? Alas! they are but too much neglected. Those first years, devoted to study, are scarcely over, when a young man, impatient of restraint, shakes off the yoke. He is ashamed to seem ignorant of any thing, and takes great care to avoid the least appearance of diffidence, which might give suspicion there was any thing in the world he did not know." The most likely means of pleasing in society, is to evince a constant disposition to be interested in all that others say to us, and to listen to them with satisfaction, never interrupting them in order to speak ourselves. I do not, however, lay it down as a precept, to restrain one's self continually; for it is only by an unanimous consent of men desirous of information, scrupulous not to offend their neighbours, and attentive to please, that we can hope to see those abuses banished, and thus to make a rational use of a faculty intended to ennoble and to bless mankind. -2;}.' will ??

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

The Effects of Fire. se NOTHING in nature can exceed the violence of fire; nor can we, without astonishment, reflect on the effects it produces, and the extreme swiftness of its operations. There is one effect of fire which falls within every one's knowledge, that of dilating the bodies it penetrates. Iron screws or pins, which have been made to fit into a metal plate, swell soo much if put into the fire, that they go in with difficulty; but as soon as they are cold, they are very easily taken out." This dilation produced by fire is still more visible in fluid bodies, such as wine, beer, and particularly in the air. “ If it were not for

this property, the, thermometer, by which we calculate the different degrees of heat, would be quite useless, Observe the effect of fire on inanimate and compact bodies; how soon it melts and changes them, part into fluid matter, and part into a solid, or a different sort.'. It communicates fluidity to water, oil, fat, and to almost all metals. What renders these bodies susceptible of this change is, that their combination is more simple, and the parts which compose them are more homogeneal than in other bodies; therefore the fire penetrates more easily into their pores, and sooner separates the parts. This also causes these kinds of substances to evaporate, when the fire penetrates in great quantity, and with violence through them. Some solid bodies undergo other sorts of changes. Sand, flint, slate, and spar, vitrify in the fire; while clay turns into stone. Marble, calcareous stones, and chalk, turn into lime. The variety of these effects does not proceed from fire, but from the different properties of the matter on which the fire acts. It may produce three sorts of effects on the same body, that of melting, vitrifying, and reducing to lime, provided the body be composed of the three several matters. The fire of itself produces nothing new: it only discovers parts which were concealed in those bodies. It operates in two ways upon fluids, making them boil and reducing them to vapours. These vapours are formed of the most subtile parts of the fluid, joined with particles of fire. They rise up because they are lighter than the air. In regard to living creatures, fire produces throughout their whole bodies the sensation of warmth. The life of man could not be preserved without this element, as we require a certain quantity of fire in our blood to keep it in motion. We every moment breathe new air, in which there is always some fire necessary to preserve this warmth and motion; whilst, on the other hand, we reject the air wbich had lost its spring in our lungs, and was loaded with superfluous humours. By the union of fire and air the seasons return; the moisture of the soil, and the health of man are preserved. By means of fire, water is put in motion, without which it would soon 'lose its fluidity. By the gentle motion it keeps up in all organized bodies, it gradually brings them to perfection. It préservés the branch in the bud, the plant in the seed, and the embryo in the egg. It prepares our food properly. It contributes to the formation of metals, and makes them fit for use. When we collect together the several properties of fire, we find that the Creator, by that means, has spread a multitude of blessings over our globe'; which ought to make great impression on our hearts, and teach us to love the Author of our being, and inspire us with contented minds.


The inexhaustible Riches of Nature.


NATURE is so bountiful to us, so abundant in means to supply the wants of every creature, and so rich in gifts, that they can no more be numbered than the drops of the ocean." How many things do we require, during a life of sixty years, for eating, drinking,' clothing, and for the sweets and conveniences of life; for pleasure, amusement, and society, without mentioning extraordinary cases and unforeseen accidents? From the king to the beggar, in all situations, conditions, and ages of men, each man has his particular wants. What suits one will not suit another; and they all require different means of subsistence. Yet we find that nature can answer all these demands, and that each

individual is supplied with all the necessaries of life. Since the first existence of the world, the earth has never failed to open her bosom. The mines have never been exhausted. The sea affords subsistence to numberless creatures. The plants and trees constantly bear seed, which shoots in due season, and becomes fruitful. Beneficent nature varies her riches, that one place may not be too much exhausted: and when some sorts of plants or fruits begin to diminish, others are produced; and it is so ordered, that the instinct and taste of mankind should lead them to the most abundant productions. Nature is a wise economist, and takes care that nothing is lost. Insects serve as food for larger animals, which in their turn are useful to man. If they do not afford us food, they furnish us with clothes, with arms, and means of defence; and if for none of these, they at least supply us with salutary medicines. Even when discases sweep off some species of animals, nature repairs the loss by the increase of others. Not even the dust, the carrion, or putrid corrupted matter, but has its use, either as food for insects, or for manure to enrich the earth. How beautiful is nature! Her finest clothing requires only light and colours. She is abundantly provided with them; and the scenes she presents are continually varied, according to the points of view in which they are seen. Here the eye, is struck with the beauty of form; there the ear is charmed with melodious sounds; and the smell is indulged with agreeable perfumes. In other places, art adds new embellishments to nature, by a thousand industrious works.

The gifts of nature are so abundant, that even those which are continually made use of never fail. Her riches are spread over the whole earth. She varies her gifts according to the different countries. By means of commerce, she connects different nations; and the hands through which her gifts pass, ' make them more valuable by the continual

« AnteriorContinuar »