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SECTION III.

NATURAL HISTORY.

LRELATIVE IMPORTANCE OF ANIMALS AND

VEGETABLES.

AMID the infinitely various productions which the earth offers, and with which it is everywhere covered, animals hold the first rank; as well because of their superior power, as of the finer formation of their parts. The vegetable is fixed to one spot, and obliged to wait for its accidental supplies of nourishment; unable to correct the disadvantages of its situation, or to shield itself from the danger that surrounds it, every object that has motion may be its destroyer. But animals are endowed with powers of motion and defence. The greatest part are capable, by changing place, of seeking that nourishment which is most agreeable to their state.

Every animal also has some means of finding protection from injury, either by force or courage, swiftness or cunning, whereas vegetables are exposed to every assailant, and patiently submissive in

attack. But though the animal kingdom is, in these and many other respects, far removed above the vegetable; yet both classes have many resemblances, by which they are raised above the unorganised and inert masses of matter. Minerals are mere inactive, insensible bodies, entirely motionless of themselves, and waiting some external force to alter their forms or their properties. But it is otherwise with animals and vegetables; these are endued with life and vigour ; they have their state of improvement and decay; they are capable of reproducing their kinds ; they grow from seeds or eggs in some, and from cuttings in others; and they seem all possessed of sensation in a greater or less degree.

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If we compare vegetables and animals with respect to the places which produce them, we shall find them bearing a still stronger similitude. The vegetables that grow in a dry and sunny soil are strong and vigorous, though not luxuriant; so also are the animals of such a climate : those, on the contrary, that are the joint product of heat and moisture, are luxuriant and tender; and the animals, assimilating to the vegetable food on which they subsist, are much larger in such places than in others. Thus, in the internal parts of South America and Africa, where the sun usually scorches all above, while inundations cover all below, the insects, reptiles, and other animals, grow to & prodigious size ; the earth-worm of America is often three feet in length, and as thick as a walking cane ; the boiguacu, which is the largest of the serpent kind, is sometimes forty feet in length, the bats in those countries are as big as a rabbit, the toads are bigger than a duck, and their spiders are as large as a sparrow. On the contrary, in the cold frozen regions of the north, where vegetable nature is stinted in its growth, the few animals in those climates are also diminutive; all the wild animals except the bear, are much smaller than in milder countries; and such of the domestic kinds as are carried thither, quickly degenerate and grow less. Their

very insects are of the minute kinds, their bees and spiders being not half so large as those in the temperate zone.

Man, for his own interests, has bestowed much care in cultivating and improving a great variety of vegetables, whilst his favour and protection have been limited to a very few species of animals ; so that it may be asserted as a general truth, that to diminish the number of animals, and increase that of vegetables, has been the general scope of human industry. If we compare the utility of the kinds with respect to man, we shall find, that of the vast variety in the animal kingdom, but very few are serviceable to him, whilst in the vegetable, very

few are hurtful. How small a part of the insect tribes, for instance, are beneficial to mankind, and what numbers are injurious! In some countries they almost darken the air; a candle cannot be lighted without their instantly. flying upon it and putting out the flame. The closest recesses are no safe-guard from their annoyance; and the most beautiful landscapes of nature only serve to invite their rapacity. As these are injurious from their multitudes, so most of the larger kinds are equally dreadful to him from their courage and ferocity. In the wild and uncultivated forest these maintain an undisputed empire, and man invades their retreats with terror. Nothing can be more terrible than an African landscape at the close of evening, when the whole forest echoes to a variety of different howlings; the deep-toned roarings of the lion, the shriller yellings of the tiger ; the jackal pursuing by scent, and barking like a dog: the hyena, with a note peculiarly solitary and dreadful; but above all, the hissings of the various kinds of serpents which then begin their calls. These are formidable to man; and there are still more that are utterly useless to him, that serve to take up the room which more beneficial creatures might possess ; and incommode him by their numbers rather than by their acts of hostility. Thus, in a catalogue of land animals that amounts to more than twenty thousand, we can scarcely reckon up a hundred that are any way useful to man; the rest, being all either his open, or his secret enemies, immediately attacking him in person, or intruding upon that food which he has appropriated to himself. Vegetables, on the contrary, though existing in greater variety, are but few of them hurtful. The most deadly poisons are often of great use in medicine; and even those plants that seem only to cumber the ground serve for food to that race of animals which he has taken into friendship or protection. The smaller tribes of vegetables, in particular, are cultivated, as contributing either to his necessities or amusement; so that vegetable life is as much promoted by human industry, as animal life is controlled and diminished. It was not without a long struggle, and various combinations of experience and art, that man acquired his present dominion. Almost every good that he possesses was the result of the contest; for every day as he was contending he was growing more wise ; and patience and fortitude, as well as success and comfort, were the fruits of his industry.

But the hand of providence is particularly evident, in regulating the number of each kind of creatures in a just proportion to the rest of the several kinds. If lions increased like swine, they would soon overrun, and perhaps master, the world. If the whale and the shark (a very voracious fish) increased as herrings and cod, by millions in a season, either they would destroy all other sorts of fishes, or not find sufficient food for their own subsistence. On the other hand, if fowls and other tame creatures, which continually supply our tables, bred no faster than the wild and ravenous animals, we should soon be put on short allowance, or compelled to live upon fruits and herbs. But man has reason to bless the goodness and wisdom of God in this as well as in every other particular. The neces

cessary creatures are the most proLific, and the most appropriate food is the most abundant. The less useful and the hurtful are the most scarce, and generally the most distant from us. The eatable fishes of all sorts are always near the shores, or scarce ever out of soundings—that is, where the bottom of the sea can be found by a lead and line; they swim in swarms near our coasts, and invite, as well as reward, our industry to take them. How manifest in this circumstance is the wisdom and bounty of Providence.

Various.

[1.-ON THE VARIOUS USES OF TREES AND PLANTS.

Trees, besides affording the inhabitants of warm climates an agreeable shelter from the mid-day heat, are in many other respects useful to man. The bread-fruit-tree, which abounds in the islands scattered over the Pacific Ocean ; the date palms, which wave along the coasts of the Mediterranean; the calabash of the West Indies, and the cocoa-nut-tree of the East Indies; the cabbage-tree of East Florida, and the magney or mati-tree of New Spain ; and the accommodating pawpaw, which grows in tropical climates both of the Western and Eastern world, are each rendered remarkable for the number of other useful properties they possess, besides affording most suitable

food, to the inhabitants of those climes in which they severally grow. During a considerable portion of the year, the bread-fruit-tree furnishes the chief sustenance of the Society Islanders, it being in season eight months in the year. The natives of these islands collect it without the smallest trouble; they have only to climb the tree to gather its fruit. A kind of cloth is fabricated from the bark, the leaves are converted into towels and wrappers, the wood is made into boats and houses, and a kind of cement is prepared by boiling the juice in cocoa-nut oil.

Nearly every part of the date-tree may be converted to some useful purpose. A considerable part of the inhabitants of Egypt, of Arabia, and Persia, subsist almost entirely on its fruit, and it is also esteemed for its medicinal virtues. From the leaves, they make couches, baskets, mats, bags, and brushes ; from the branches, cages, and fences; from the fibres of the boughs, threads, ropes, and rigging; from the sap, a spirituous liquor; from the wood, which also serves as fuel, they make their implements of husbandry, as well as beams and rafters for their houses. The stones are ground to make oil, and the refuse is given to the cattle. The shell of the fruit of the calabash is converted into water-vessels, goblets, and cups. So hard and close-grained is the calabash, that, when it contains any kind of liquid, it may even, it is said, be put on the fire without injury. A medicinal juice is extracted from this useful plant; and of it the Indians construct some of their musical instruments.

The cocoa-nut-tree supplies the inhabitants with bread, milk, and oil; it affords them a strong spirit, vinegar, and barm; timber to build their huts, and thatch to cover them. The shell is used for a dish, and the coarse fibrous husk surrounding it, as well as the bark of the tree, is made into cloth and cordage. Of the wood of the cocoa-nut-tree, sewed together with a yarn spun from the bark, a boat or vessel is constructed—of the same wood a mast is formed—of the bark and fibrous covering of the shell the sails are woven ; so that, from the different parts of this valuable vegetable, the whole

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