« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
by the horrid stench which they emitted: but when this evil ceased, their devastations were followed by a most abundant crop. The Arabs of the desert, "whose hands are against every man," Gen. xvi. 12. and who rejoice in the evil that befalls other nations, when they behold the clouds of locusts proceeding from the north, are filled with gladness, anticipating a general mortality, which they call el khere, (the benediction;) for, when a country is thus laid waste, they emerge from their arid deserts, and pitch their tents in the desolated plains.-Jackson's Travels in Morocco, 54.
The noise the locusts make when engaged in the work of destruction, has been compared to the sound of a flame of fire driven by the wind, and the effect of their bite to that of fire. Bochart. A poet of our own day has very strikingly described the noise produced by their fli, t and approach:
Onward they came, a dark continuous cloud
The rushing of whose wings was as the sound
Southey's Thalaba, i. 109.
But no account of the appearance and ravages of these terrific insects, for correctness and sublimity, comes near to that of the prophet Joel: "A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations. A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them. The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run. Like the noise of chariots* on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle-array. Before their face the people shall be much pained; all faces shall gather blackness. They shall rur. like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks: neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded. They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall
Of the symbolical locusts in the Apocalypse it is said, “And the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many norses rum ning to battle."-Rev. ix. 2
climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief. The earth shall quake before them, the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining!" The usual way in which they are destroyed, is also noticed by the prophet. "I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, because he hath done great things!"-Joel ii. 2-10, 20.
The best method of destroying locusts, would be to recommend them as an article of food. In the Crimea, they are often eaten by the inhabitants. Some French emigrants, who had been directed in this manner, assured me, that when fried, they were very palatable and very wholesome. The Arabs, according to Hasselquist, eat them roasted, and are glad to get them.
It is quite certain that there is nothing endued by nature with peculiar functions, in vain; and it is equally certain, that matter, however modified, whether in the form of animated or inanimated bodies, is continually undergoing change. The more deeply we investigate the works of creation, the more strong will be our conviction of these truths.
We know that many animals, and particularly insects, have apparently no other employment, than that of clearing or purifying the surface of the earth of superfluous matter, the residuum of decayed bodies, or of reconverting it into useful forms, as I shall attempt to illustrate hereafter. Now, if we survey those regions which give birth to, and support, the vast clouds of locusts alluded to, our view will be confined principally to the extensive deserts of Africa and Asia; the vegetation of many of which, according to the reports of travellers, is abundant and luxuriant, beyond the conception of those who have not beheld them; insomuch, that the crops of grass, and other annual vegetables, absolutely load the earth; and these, perishing upon each other, would form impenetrable, putrid mass, if not consumed by some animals appointed for the purpose.
That locusts support existence by vegetable food, is well known; but whether they have no other object than to consume the superabundant produce of the regions they frequent, and to procreate, is not so easily proved. One who has had no opportunity of witnessing their manners, from their birth to their final destruction, can scarcely be able positively to decide; but I have no doubt that an intelligent naturalist. (governed by the principles this chapter is intended, in some measure, to illustrate,) with the necessary opportunities, such as Dr Shaw, in particular, had, would be able to get at facts
that would indisputably prove the existence of locusts to be a blessing rather than a curse.
Whatever may be the direct object of their existence, locusts are of great use to many other animals, for there are some, particularly birds, that entirely prey upon them; and, if man himself refuses this food, it is rather from the prejudice, perhaps, of an absurd education, than from any im proper or bad quality of the food itself. The inhabitants of several eastern nations have a relish for this diet: and it is recorded of him who cried in the wilderness, " Prepare ye the way of the Lord," that "his meat was locusts and wild honey."-Matthew iii. 4. After this, we cannot listen to the feeble remonstrances of any modern epicure.
MOSQUITOES, AND THEIR USES.-The mosquito is accounted one of the most noxious and the most numerous of insects; at least of such as are esteemed noxious by the vulgar and the ignorant. In some countries, indeed, their numbers, and the effects produced by them, are wonderful. There is no instance on record more striking than the following, as related by Dr. Clarke:
No contrivance on our part could prevent millions of mosquitoes from filling the inside of our carriage, which, in spite of gloves, clothes, and handkerchiefs, rendered our, bodies one entire wound. The Cossacks light numerous fires, to drive them from the cattle during the night; but so insatiate is their thirst of blood, that hundreds will attack a person attempting to shelter himself even in the midst of smoke. At the same time, the noise they make in flying cannot be conceived by persons who have only been accustomed to the humming of such insects in our country."-" Almost ex hausted by fatigue, pain, and heat, I sought shelter in the carriage, sitting in water and mud. It was the most sultry night I ever experienced; not a breath of air was stirring; nor could I venture to open the windows, though almost suffocated, through fear of the mosquitoes. Swarms, nevertheless, found their way to my hiding-place; and when I opened my mouth, it was filled with them. My head was bound in handkerchiefs; yet they forced their way into my ears and nostrils. In the midst of this torment, I succeeded in lighting a lamp over the sword-case; which was instantly extinguished by such a prodigious number of these insects, that their dead bodies actually remained heaped in a large cone over the burner for several days afterward: and I know
Shaw says, that the gryllus cristatus, which is five or six times the size of the common locust, or gryllus migratorius, is publicly sold both in a fresh and salted state, in the markets of some parts of the Levant. Ger. Zoology, vol. vi. part. ii. p. 138.
not any mode of description which can convey a more adequate idea of their afflicting visitation, than by simply relating this fact: to the truth of which, those who travelled with me, and who are now living, bear indisputable testimony."
Those who have laboured under so painful a visitation, as that to which this lively account réfers, may not perhaps be so ready to admit the general utility of these irritating insects, though their usefulness is more evident, and far more easily proved, than that of the locust, or indeed of most other animals of a similar nature. Bred in the midst of stagnant pools, of bogs, and marshes, in regions unwholesome to man, and where the effluvia arising from animal bodies, and from rank decaying vegetable substances, are so abundant, as to form thick pestilentia!. vapours, that would inflict almost instant destruction on the human inhabitant, and most other creatures, if not removed as quickly as they were formed ;bred in such regions, and gifted with functions and propensities directed to the proper ends, the mosquito supports its existence by consuming the noxious particles exhaled from the swamps; and the bodies of animals, as rapidly as they are generated; thereby preventing that horrible putrefaction of the air, and consequent pestilence, which would infallibly take place, if the mosquitoes, and similar insects, were not employed to purify the atmosphere.
CURIOSITIES RESPECTING INSECTS.-(Concluded.)
Animalcules-The Cheese Mite- The Hydra, or Polypes.
The smallest creature in existence
Has limb and sinews, blood, and heart, and brain,
THE microscope discovers legions of animalcules in mos liquors, as water, vinegar, beer, dew, &c. found in rain, and several chalybeate waters, and in infusions of both animal and vegetable substances, as the seminal fluida
They are also
of animals, pepper, oats, wheat, and other grain, tea, &c. &c. The contemplation of animalcules has rendered the term, infinitely small bodies, extremely familiar to us. A mite was anciently thought the limits of littleness; but we are not now surprised, to be told of animals twenty-seven millions of times smaller than a mite. Minute animals are found proportionably much stronger, more active and vivacious, than large ones. The spring of a flea in its leap, how vastly does it outskip any thing the larger animals are capable of! A mite, how vastly swifter does it run than a race-horse! M. De. L'Isle has given the computation of the velocity of a little creature, scarcely visible by its smallness; which he found to run three inches in half a second: supposing now its feet to be the fifteenth part of a line, it must make five hundred steps in the space of three inches; that is, it must shift its legs five hundred times in a second, or in the ordinary pulsation of an artery. The excessive minuteness of microscopical animalcules conceals them from the human eye. One of the wonders of modern philosophy is, to have invented means for bringing objects, to us so imperceptible, under our cognizance and inspection: creatures, a thousand times too little to be able to affect our sense, should seem to have been very safe; yet we have extended our views over animals, to whom these would be mountains. In reality, most of our microscopical animalcules are of so small a magnitude, that through a lens, whose focal distance is the tenth-part of an inch, they only appear as so many points; that is, their parts cannot be distinguished, so that they appear from the vertex of that lens under an angle not exceeding a minute.
If we investigate the magnitude of such an object, it will be found nearly equal to robooth of an inch long. Supposing, therefore, these animalcules of a cubic figure, that is, of the same, length, breadth, and thickness, their magnitude would be expressed by the cube of the fraction Toʊʊ, that is, by the number 1000,000,000,000,000 that is, so many parts of a cubic inch, is each animalcule equal to. Leuwenhoek calculates, that a thousand millions of animalcules, which are discovered in common water, are not altogether so large as a grain of sand. In the milt of a single cod-fish, there are more animals than there are upon the whole earth; for a grain of sand is bigger than four millions of them. The white matter that sticks to the teeth also abounds with animalcules of various figures, to which vinegar is fatal; and it is known, that vinegar contains animalcules in the shape of eels. In short, according to this author, there is scarcely any thing which corrupts, without producing animalcules. Animalcules are sail to be the cause of various disorders. The itch is known to be a disorder arising from the irritation of a specics