Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of earth, are covered with moss, which is a vegetable; and we see birch growing between the stones and in the crevices of rocks to a considerable height. The Creator has most wisely prepared those different sorts of earth of which the beds are composed; for, to mention nothing more than the principal advantages which result from them, these several beds of sand, gravel,

and light earth, give passage to spring water, which · filters in running over these beds, becomes soft, and tben, dispersing on every side, supplies water for general use: those beds are the reservoirs of springs. It is remarkable that they are to be found in every country on the surface of the earth, and that they are generally composed of a light earth. If it is sometimes mixed with a harder and more gravelly soil, it purifies the water so much the more. This variety of soil is very useful also for vegetables. It is from this circumstance that herbs, plants, and trees grow of themselves in some countries, while they can only be produced by art in others. All that art can do is to imitate nature, which prepares for the plants that come of themselves, the soil, the nutritive juices, and the warmth, most proper for them. The variety of soil will make herbs, trees, and roots, though of the same kind, differ according to the soil they grow in. fit often happens in the same soil, that some plants

thrive, whilst others fail. The same fruit has a -t, different favour in one country from what it has in tuis another, ***2These observations lead us to acknowledge the

wisdom with which the Creator has prepared every - soil for the production of plants, for the good of his

creatures. di sej HB IPS! Iciri, IE9 $15 buc EQ 0,1 DB rori .., tuotib él 540 ::!?!?

!! .

LESSON CXVIII.

Migration of the Birds. ,

This is the time when numbers of the birds, which during summer had lived and found food in our fields, woods, and gardens, are going to quit our climate for other countries. There are but few of them which pass the winter with us; such as the woodpecker, the crow, the raven, the sparrow, the wren, the partridge, and the thrush: the rest leave as almost the whole winter. This migration is wonderful in all respects; and if we have not much attended to these creatures while they were with us, let us think of them now they are gone. Some birds, without taking their flight very high, or separating one from the other, draw gradually towards the south, to seek the seeds and the fruit they prefer; but they soon return back. Others, which are called birds of passage, collect together at certain seasons, and go away in large bodies into other climates. Some kinds of them are content with going from one country to another, where the air and fruit draw them at certain seasons. Others cross the seas, and undertake voyages of a surprising length. The birds of passage most known, are quails, swallows, wild ducks, plovers, woodcocks, and cranes, with some others which feed on worms. The quails in spring go from Africa into Egypt, to enjoy more moderate heat; they go in flights, and look like clouds: they often fall through fatigue into ships, and are easily taken. The method of the swallows is different; some cross the seas, but many of them stay in Europe, and hide themselves in holes underground or in marshes. Wild ducks and cranes also, at the a pproach of winter, seek milder climates. They also

assemble on a çertain day, and divide company, generally forming themselves into two lines united in a point, as thus , with a bird at their head, and the rest in rows, which always extend in that manner. The duck, or crane, which forms the point, cuts the air, and makes way for those that follow; and these always lay their bills on the tails of those that go before. The leading bird is only charged with this commission for a time: he goes from the point to the tail, in order to rest, and he is relieved by another. But all birds of passage do not assemble in flights. Some take the voyage quite alone; others with their mates, and all their family; others in small numbers. They make their passage in a very short time. It has been computed that they may easily fly 200 miles, in flying only six hours a day, supposing them to rest now and then in the day as well as at night. According to this calculation, they might fly from our country, even as far as under the line, in seven or eight days. This has been verified, as swallows have been seen on the coasts of Senegal, on the ninth of October, which is eight or nine days after their departure from Europe. -- These migrations of the birds cannot be too much admired. Certainly the difference of heat and cold, and the want of food, warn them to change place. But what is the reason, that when the air is so mild that they might remain in it, and find enough to eat, they still never fail to go at the appointed time; and how, they know that they will find food, and the proper degree of heat, in other climates, are not yet known in a satisfactory manner, because we are not enough acquainted with the nature and instinct of these animals. We may, however, behold in these migrations, the wise and beneficent direction of Providence. What wonderful means are made use of to preserve and give food to certain birds; and with what tender care is their subsistence pointed out to them. Let us learn from thence, that every

thing thoughout the vast empire of nature is planned with infinite wisdom. Is not instinct to the birds of passage what reason is to man? And does it not equally instruct them in this point, of changing place in proper seasons? How ought we to blush at our incredulity, our doubts, and our anxieties, when we reflect on the admirable guidance of Providence. uce.

sf ,

[ocr errors]

. The Variety of Trees. 'stle.:

s'u abone will we need IU TU THERE is the same variety in" trèes as in the vegetable productions.'" Some are distinguished by their strength and roughness, like the oak; others are tall and slender, as the elm and the fir-tree: there are some, such as the thorn and the box, which never grow high; some have rough and uneven coats, while others are smooth and fine, like the birch, the maple, and the poplar. Some are made use of for ornaments in rich apartments, while others serve for common and more necessary purposes: some are so light and delicate, that the least wind might blow them down': while others 'stand unshaken, and resist the violence of the northern blasts: some grow to a prodigious height and thickness, and every year after they are a hundred years old, seems to add to their circumference; while others require bat à very few years to come to their full growth. Pliny, in his time, admired those great trees, the shell or bark of which was thick or large enough to be made into sloops to hold thirty people; but what would he have said of those trees in Congo, which, when

hollowed out, make vessels to contain 200 men, There are some of this kind at Malabar, which are said to be forty feet in circumference: the cocoa-tree is one of them, a sort of palm-tree, some of which have leaves large enough to cover twenty people. The tullipot, a tree which grows in the island of Ceylon, and for height resembles the mast of a ship, is equally famous for its leaves. They are so immense, that it is said that one single leaf can shelter fifteen or twenty men from the rain. They are so supple and light when dried, that they may be folded up like fans, and appear no larger than a man's arm. There are still on mount Libanus twenty-three old cedars, so large, a learned person who saw them assures us, that ten men could not encompass one of them: they must therefore be thirty or thirty-six feet in circumference, which does not appear too much for trees some hundreds of years old. The gum-trees which grow in the islands of America are generally twenty-six feet in circumferences There are apple-trees above a thousand years old ; and, if we compute the quantity of fruit such a tree. bears annually, we must, (as has been before mentioned) think with astonishment of the prodigious fertility of a single pippin, which could furnish all Europe with trees of this kind. -- . .

The great variety among trees reminds me of the difference we may observe among men, in regard to their situations in life, their way of thinking, their talents, and the good they do. As there is not a single tree in a forest which may not be of some use to its owner, so there is no one in society which may not be useful. One, like the oak, gives the example of firmness, and of unshaken constancy, which nothing can move: another, has not equal forțitude, but has more complaisance, and conforms to others : he is flexible as the willow, and yields to a breath of wind: if he is virtuous, he will only comply in lawful and innocent points ; but if he is indifferent to his duties, he will always embrace the strongest side.

« AnteriorContinuar »