« PreviousContinue »
ing food. But when they lie folded up in their chrysalis state, God carries forward His work, and changes their mouths into new forms, more suitable for the life that awaits them as soon as He opens their sleeping tombs.
There are several thousand different kinds of beetles; and those beetles which are to eat flesh, wood, and other firm substances, have two sets of strong horny jaws given to them. The lower jaws are sometimes formed for holding the food; whilst the upper jaws, called mandibles, which are the stronger of the two sets, are made for tearing and cutting. These jaws are variously formed to be hooks, spikes, or saws; whilst others are made like shears for snipping leaves; and others again are smooth, like the surface of grindstones, for reducing wood to powder.
Do you not think, after God has taken so much pains to make the body of a beetle perfect, that He is much displeased, when He sees an idle, ignorant child in very play, stamp its foot upon the living trophies of His skill, and call them “ugly, dirty things!” I wish that every one knew how happy insects are, because God smiles upon them as His own good workmanship. But when man is injured by animals, or can be benefitted by their death, he may destroy them, being granted this permission as “lord of the creation.”
Sucking insects, such as bees and butterflies, have slender hollow tong some of which are three inches long. In butterflies, this tongue is rolled up like the mainspring of a watch; but the insect has power in less than a quarter of a moment to unroll it, and to dart it to the bottom of any flower-cup from which it seeks to draw the delicious juice it loves.
The tongue of the bee is made with a joint, in order that when it is not in use, it may be folded up and kept from injury.
Other insects have their hollow syphon tongues enclosed in sharp pointed sheaths. These sheaths pierce the surface of the food they attack; and, immediately
this is done, the tongue finds its way into the incision, and pumps up the fluid.
Feet.-All insects have six legs, which are each jointed with several articulations; that is, the leg is divided into several pieces, and between each piece is placed a joint or hinge of tough skin, such as there are in the legs of lobsters and crabs. The last joint in the insect's leg is called the Tarsus ; and this tarsus generally ends with a claw like a cat's talon. By this claw the insect is able to fasten its foot to the rough sides of a perpendicular wall, and so to walk upon it. Many heavy-made insects have, on the under side of their feet, soft velvetty cushions of fine hairs. These cushions receive the first shock when they alight upon the ground, which prevents their bodies from being jarred or bruised on leaping down from a height.
Several flies, and amongst others the house fly and the blue-bottle fly, have suckers, or loose pieces of skin tied fast by fibres to the soles of their feet. These pieces of skin can either lie flat down, or they can be drawn up in the middle by a muscle, so as to form a
When a fly wishes to walk on the smooth surface
of a pane of glass or on the ceiling of a room, it gently draws
the middle of its sucker, and this causes the air on the outside of the little cup to press heavily
against it, so that the heavier the body pulls, the tighter the foot sticks. And this sucker cannot give way, till the fly's own will loosens the muscles, and lays the sucker flat.
Insects, which like the gnat, walk on water, have a brush of fine hairs at the end of their feet; the dry points of which keep the water off; but if the brush gets thoroughly wetted, the fly's foot sinks, and the poor little fellow is drowned.
Nothing has yet been said of the stings of insects. Most children know how sharp and painful those small lancets are, but perhaps they do not know that the swelling which rises from their wound, is caused by a drop of poison pressed from out of a bag lying at the root of the sting. This poison passes down a hole, which is bored through the whole length of the sting, and so runs into the wound which the lancet has made.
I think I have now said enough to convince you that insects are a set of wonderful little beings. If you consider the varied works they are appointed to accomplish; if you
look at the beautiful perfection of their light airy bodies-at the expanding breadth of their wings—at the strength of their muscles—and at their various instruments, I think you will be compelled to own, that every insect, from the least to the greatest, bears upon its workmanship the stamp of wisdom and power. This truth prepares the mind to bow to the Bible statement, that He who spread out the starry heavens, and set a bound to the waves of the sea, is also the Maker and the Preserver of all the winged tribes that surround us.
Should you think of these things when you hear the buzzing of a fly; when you watch a butterfly skimming over the flowers; or see a fast running beetle peep out of his hole; your mind will take fresh delight in noticing the works of our God, and you will reap a still greater harvest of joy, when you remember, that we are allowed to say, "My Father made them all!”
And now to conclude; let me ask you, can the think
ing mind of man gather any lesson of instruction from the histories of these insect tribes ? Consider! does not their patient industry, and their eager attention to the duties of every hour, afford us a striking lesson, to be cheerfully active in all that our hands find to do? And does not their history teach us a still higher lesson, even something of the mighty power that dwells in our God, to overcome the sleep of death, and (if it be His good pleasure so to do,) to re-adorn His creatures with bedies suited to enjoy a higher and brighter region than they have dwelt in before! Of the butterfly, the poet says
" Yet thou wert once a worm, a thing that crept
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW, an American poet, still living (1872). He is the author of " Evangeline,” “The Song of Hiawatha,” “The Spanislı Student,” “Tales of a Wayside Inn,” &c.
ALL are architects of Fate,
Working in these walls of Time:
Some with ornaments of rhyme.
Each thing in its place is best;
Strengthens and supports the rest.
Time is with materials filled ;
Are the blocks with which we build.
Leave no yawning gaps between;
Such things will remain unseen.
In the elder days of Art,
Builders wrought with greatest care Each minute and unseen part;
For the Gods see everywhere.
Both the unseen and the seen ;
Beautiful, entire, and clean.
Standing in these walls of Time, Broken stairways, where the feet
Stumble as they seek to climb. Build to-day, then, strong and sure,
With a firm and ample base ; And ascending and secure
Shall to-morrow find its place. Thus alone can we attain
To those turrets, where the eye Sees the world as one vast plain,
And one boundless reach of sky.--Longfellou.
LESSON 37.-EXCELSIOR !
The shades of night were falling fast,