Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

preservation. The earth itself, with its rocks, minerals, and fossils, owes its origin and continuance to the elements. The trees, plants, herbs, grass, moss, and all the vegetables, draw their subsistence from the earth; whilst the animals, in their turn, feed upon the vegetables. The earth gives nourishment to the plant, the plant is food for the insect, the insect for the bird, the bird for wild beasts; and, in their turn, the wild beasts become the prey of the vulture, the vulture of the insect, the insect of the plant, and the plant of the earth. Even man, who turns all these things to his own use, becomes himself their prey. Such is the circle in which all things here take their course, that all beings were created for one another. Tigers, lynxes, bears, and a number of other animals, provide us with furs to cover us : dogs pursue the stag and the buffalo, to furnish our tables: the terrier drives the rabbit from its deepest recesses into our snares: the horse, the elephant, and the camel, are trained to carry burdens, and the ox to draw the plough; the cow gives us milk: the sheep its wool: the rein-deer make the sledges fly over snow and ice: the hawk serves us in fowling, and the hen gives us eggs: the cock wakes us early in the morn, and the lark. amuses us with its song in the day-time: the whistling note of the blackbird is heard from morn to evening, and then the melodious warbling of the nightingale is charming to the ear. The sportive lambs, the playful calf, the innocent doves, and the stately plumage of the peacock, give pleasure to the sight: the very fish come from the depths of the ocean, and go up rivers, in order to furnish plenty of provisions for men, birds, and wild beasts: the silk-worm spins its web to clothe us: the bees collect with care the honey we find so useful : even the sea continually throws upon its shores craw-fish, lobsters, oysters, and all sorts of shell-fish, for our use: the jack-a-lantern, or great fly of Surinam, shines in the midst of darkness, to give light to the inhabitants of those countries.

our

If we observe the different occupations' of mankind, we shall find that they also tend to this same end which nature proposed. The sailor braves the dangers of the seas and storms, to convey merchandises, which do not belong to him, to their destined place; the ploughman sows and reaps grain, of which he consumes but little himself. Thus, we do not live for ourselves only; for the wise Author of nature has so ordained, that all beings should become useful to one another. Let us learn from thence our mutual duties. The strong should assist the weak; the learned should instruct the ignorant : indeed we should love our neighbour as selves, and thus fulfil the designs of the Creator. The mutual offices men owe to one another have made them form into societies. What divided force could not accomplish, is easily performed by united strength. · Nobody could erect a fine building or palace without assistance: one person alone could not lay the foundation, dig the cellars, make and burn the bricks, raise the walls, put on the roof, make the windows, decorate the apartments, &c. but all this is done with ease when the different workmen assist one another. Even the things which appear to us of so little importance, that we scarcely deigu to look at them, all contribute to make us happy. The very insects we so much despise are useful to us. i1 May it teach us to value as we ought the goodness of our merciful Father, and to be sensible of our own happiness!

1 (?. codi to postes 116 0OJIN10, E 3D Pege Xir 'n t'sz to 1102 LESSON CXXXI. fillos el *152 01 11 C

Common Salt. -d gut ode!!2 Tessen The beasoning most sin use, and that which can be the least dispensed with, is common salt. Its

[ocr errors]

ز

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

flavour is so pleasing, and it has such excellent properties for digestion, that it may be considered as one of the most valuable gifts which nature has bestowed upon us.

It is given to us in different ways: those who live near the sea receive it from thence; they dig marshes on the sea-shore, which they call, salt marshes, and plaster them with clay: the sea flows into them, when it is rough and the waves high. The water that remains in the marshes soon evaporates with the heat of the sun, and the salt is left at bottom in great abundance. Nature also produces salt springs, fountains, and lakes. In order to extract the salt out of them, the water is boiled in great caldrons. In other places the salt is found in solid masses in the mountains. The most famous mines are those of Catalonia and Poland. These different kinds of salt are all alike as to their chief properties. Experience has taught us, that salt dissolves in the stomach and bowels; that it has a power of digestion, prevents putrefaction and too great a fermentation of our food. For this reason it is taken inwardly to promote digestion, to rectify crudities in the stomach and loss of appetite. It not only dissolves the phlegm, which takes away the appetite, and prevents digestion, but it is also a good stimulus for the stomach, the nerves of which it gently irritates, and promotes all its operations. Most of our food would be insipid and tasteless without salt; yet this is the least of its advantages, when we consider the great use it is of to us in respect to health. Another circumstance in regard to salt will appear interesting to every observer of the works of nature: the smallest grain of common salt seems cut into eight angles, or with six sides, like a die ; from whence most masses of this sort of salt must be of a square or cubical form. In this again the Divine Hand is visible, which has given to salt an invariable form, that has been such from the beginning of the world, and is a very striking proof that it does not owe its origin to a blind chance,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

but to the will of an intelligent Being.

This thought is too important and too necessary to our peace, not to make use of every occasion to recollect, and to impress it more and more upon our minds.

LESSON CXXXII.

Origin of Fountains and Springs. All the great rivers are formed by the union of lesser rivers, and those owe their rise to the rivulets which run into them, and the rivulets to the springs and fountains. But from whence do the springs come? Water, from its height and fluidity, always fills the lower parts of the surface of the earth: from whence then can the water come, which flows so constantly from the highest regions? In the first place, the rain, the snow, and, in general, all the vapours which fall from the air, furnish a great part of the water which flows from springs; consequently, rivers and springs are very rare in the deserts of Arabia, or in parts of Africa where it never rains. These waters penetrate into the earth, till they find beds of white clay, which they cannot get through: there they accumulate and become fountains, or they collect in cavities, which afterwards overflow, and the water gradually gets through crevices, great and small, falling towards the bottom, to which its weight naturally inclines it. Thus the water continually flows, and makes itself subterraneous currents, with which other currents mix, and by their union form what is called a vein of water. In some countries, the springs do not owe their origin entirely to the waters which fall from the atmosphere; for there are on several high

masses.

mountains considerable springs and lakes, which do not seem as if they could be produced entirely by snow or rain. There are many springs which give an equal quantity of water at all seasons, and even more sometimes in the hottest and driest weather than when damp and rainy. There must, of course, be other causes both for the rise and supply of springs. Many of them are produced by vapours which are carried up into the atmosphere, and driven by the winds towards the mountains, or by the power of universal attraction, are drawn towards those great

The atmosphere is more or less full of watery vapours, which being driven and pressed against hard and cold rocks, condense immediately into drops, and thus swell the springs.

However, we must still allow that all the springs cannot be owing to this cause: for must not the Danube, the Rhine, and other great rivers which come from high mountains, dry up when these enormous masses in winter are covered with snow and ice. Certainly there must be caverns, which by a communication with the sea or lakes, contribute to form springs. The sea-water, having gone through subterraneous channels into these great cavities, it rises in vapour through a number of crevices, and forms into drops, which, falling again with their own weight, take sometimes quite another course, because water cannot always penetrate where the vapours

All the causes here pointed out contribute more or less to the forming of springs; and there may be other causes unknown to us. It is true that nature is always simple in its operations; but this simplicity does not consist in making use of one cause only for each particular effect: it consistsu ini making use of as few as possible, which does not prevent there being always several auxiliary causes, which concur in working the effect which i naturec purposes.

bu ?

do.

M 5

« AnteriorContinuar »