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worm which contrives to live in the parenchyme, that is, in the mere thickness of a leaf; the wasp and honey bee which hum around the blossoms; the gnat which sucks the juices of the stem; the ant which licks up the gnat; and, to make no longer an enumeration, the spider, which, in order to find a prey in these, one after another, distends his snares over the whole vicinity.
However minute these objects may be, they surely merited my attention, as nature deemed them not unworthy of hers. Could I refuse them a place in my general history, when she had given them one in the system of the universe ? For a still stronger reason, had 'I written the history of my strawberry plant, I must have given some account of the insects attached to it. Plants are the habitation of insects; and it is impossible to give the history of a city, without saying something of its inhabitants.
Besides, my strawberry plant was not in its natural situation, in the open country, on the border of a wood, or by the brink of a rivulet, where it could have been frequented by many other species of living creatures. It was confined to an earthen pot, amidst the smoke of Paris. I observed it only at vacant moments. I knew nothing of the insects which visited it during the course of the day; still less of those which might come only in the night, attracted by simple emanations, or perhaps by a phosphoric light, which escapes our senses. totally ignorant of the various species which might frequent it; at other seasons of the year, and of the endless other relations which it might have with reptiles, with amphibious animals, fishes, birds, quadrupeds, and, above all, with man, who undervalues every thing which he cannot convert to his own use.
But it was not sufficient to observe it from the heights of my greatness, if I may use the expression, for in this case my knowledge would have been greatly inferior to that of one of the insects who made it their habitation. Not one of them, on examining it with his little spherical eyes, but must have distinguished an infinite variety of objects, which I could not perceive without the assistance of a microscope, and after much laborious research. Nay, their eyes are inconceivably superior even to this instrument; for it shows us the objects only which are in its focus, that is, at the distance of a few lines ; whereas they perceive, by a mechanism of which we have no conception, those which are near and those which are far off. Their eyes,
therefore, are at once microscopes and telescopes. Besides, by their circular disposition round the head, they have the advantage of viewing the whole circuit of the heavens at the same instant, while those of the astronomer can take in, at most, but the half. My winged insects, accordingly, must discern in the strawberry plant, at a single glance, an arrangement and combination of parts, which, assisted by the microscope, I can observe only separate from each other, and in succession,
On examining the leaves of this vegetable, with the aid of a lens which had but a small magnifying power, I found them divided into compartments, hedged around with bristles, separated by canals, and strewed with glands. These compartments appeared to me similar to large verdant inclosures, their bristles to vegetables of a particular order; of which some were upright, some inclined, some forked, some hollowed into tubes, from the extremity of which a fluid distilled ; and their canals, as well as their glands, seemed full of a brilliant liquor. In plants of a different species these bristles and these canals exbibit forms, colours, and fluids, entirely different. There are even glands, which resemble basons, round, square, or radiated.
Now, Nature has made nothing in vain. Wherever she has prepared a habitation, she immediately peoples it. She is never straitened for want of room. She has placed animals, furnished with fins, in a single drop of water; and in such multitudes, that Leeuwenhoek the natural philosopher reckoned up to thousands of them. Many others after him, and among the rest Robert Hook, have seen in one drop of water as small as a grain of millet, some ten, others thirty, and some as far as forty-five thousand. Those who know not how far the patience and sagacity of an observer can go, might, perhaps, call in question the accuracy of these observations, if Lyonnet, who relates them in Lesser's • Theology of Insects', had not demonstrated the possibility of it, by a piece of mechanism abundantly simple. We are certain, at least, of the existence of those beings whose different figures have actually been drawn. Others are found, whose feet are armed with claws, on the body of the fly, and even on that of the flea.
It is credible, then, from analogy, that there are animals feeding on the leaves of plants, like the cattle in our meadows and on our mountains; which repose under the shadow of a down imperceptible to the naked eye, and which, from goblets formed like so many suns, quaff nectar of the colour of gold and silver. Each part of the flower must present to them a spectacle of which we can form no idea. The yellow anthera of flowers, suspended by fillets of white, exhibit to their eyes double rafters of gold, in equilibrio,, on pillars fairer than ivory; the corolla, an arch of unbounded magnitude, embellished with the ruby and the topaz; rivers of nectar and honey; the other parts of the floweret, cups, ums, pavilions, domes, which the human architect and goldsmith have not yet learned to imitate.
I do not speak thus from conjecture; for, having examined one day by the miscroscope the flowers of thyme, I distinguished in them, with equal surprise and delight, superb flagons, with a long neck of a substance resembling amethyst, from the gullets of which seemed to flow ingots of liquid gold. I have never made observation of the corolla simply, of the smallest flower, without finding it composed of an admirable substance, half transparent, studded with brilliants, and shining in the most lively colours.
The beings which live under a reflex thus enriched must have ideas. very different from ours of light, and of the other phenomena of nature. A drop of dew filtering in the capillary and transparent tubes of a plant presents to them thousands of cascades: the same drop, fixed as a wave on the extremity of one of its prickles, an ocean without a shore; evaporated into air, a vast aerial sea. They must, therefore, see fluids ascending instead of falling; assuming a globular form instead of sinking to a level; and mounting into the air instead of obeying the power of gravity.
Their ignorance must be as wonderful as their knowledge. As they have a thorough acquaintance with the harmony of only the minutest objects, that of vast objects, must escape them. They know not, undoubtedly, that there are men, and among these learned men, who know every thing, who can explain every thing; who, transient like themselves, plunge into an infinity on the ascending scale, in which they are lost; whereas they, in virtue of their littleness, are acquainted with an opposite infinity, in the last divisions of time and matter.
In these ephemerous beings, we must find the youth of a single morning, and the decrepitude of one day. If they possess historical monuments, they must have their months, years, ages, epochs, proportioned to the duration of a flower; they must have a chronology different from ours as their hydraulics and optics must differ. Thus,
in proportion as man brings the elements of nature near him, the principles of his science disappear.
Such, therefore, must have been my strawberry plant and its natural inhabitants in the eyes of my winged insects which had alighted to visit it; but supposing I had been able to acquire, with them, an intimate knowledge of this new world, I was still very far from having the history of it. I must have previously studied its relations to the other parts of nature; to the sun which expands its blossoms, to the winds which sow its seeds over and over, to the brooks whose banks it forms and embellishes. I must have known how it was preserved in winter, during a cold capable of cleaving stones asunder; and how it should appear verdant in the spring, without any pains employed to preserve it from the frost; how, feeble and crawling along the ground, it should be able to find its way from the deepest valley to the summit of the Alps, to traverse the globe from north to south, from mountain to mountain, forming on its passage a thousand charming pieces of chequered work of its fair flowers and rose-coloured fruit, with the plants of every other climate; how it has been able to scatter itself from the mountains of Cachemire to Archangel, and from the Felices, in Norway, or Kamschatka; how, in a word, we find it in equal abundance in both American continents, though an infinite number of animals is making incessant and universal war upon it, and no gardener is at the trouble to sow it again.
Supposing all this knowledge acquired, I should still have arrived no farther than at the history of the genus and not that of the species. The varieties would still have remained unknown, which have each its particular character according as they have flowers single, in pairs, or disposed in clusters; according to the colour, the smell, and the taste of the fruit; according to the size, the figure, the edging, the smoothness, or the downy clothing of their leaves. One of our most celebrated botanists, Sebastian le Vaillant, has found, in the environs of Paris alone, five distinct species, three of which bear flowers without producing fruit. In our gardens we cultivate at least twelve different sorts of foreign strawberries ;—that of Chili, of Peru; the Alpine, or perpetual; the Swedish, which is green, &c. But how many varieties are there to us totally unknown?
Has not every degree of latitude a species peculiar to itself? Is it not presumable that there may be trees which produce strawberries, as there are those which bear peas and French beans ? May we not even consider as varieties of the strawberry, the numerous species of the raspberry, and of the bramble, with which it has a very striking analogy from the shape of its leaves; from its shoots, which creep along the ground and replant themselves; from the rose form of its flowers, and that of its fruit, the seeds of which are on the outside? Has it not, besides, an affinity with the eglantine and the rose tree, as to the flower; with the mulberry, as to the fruit; and with the trefoil itself, as to the leaves, one species of which, common in the environs of Paris, bears, likewise, its seeds aggregated into the form of a strawberry, from which it derives the botanic name of trifolium fragiferum, the strawberry-bearing trefoil ? Now, if we reflect, that all these species, varieties, analogies, affinities, have, in every particular latitude, necessary relations with a multitude of animals, and that these relations are altogether unknown to us, we shall find that a complete history of the strawberry plant would be ample employment for all the naturalists in the world.
ELLIOTT. [EBENEZER ELLIOTT was a manufacturer of Sheffield, and now enjoys the rewards of laborious life in a quiet retreat some few miles from that town. He is thought of by many as a mere rhyming partizan of violent political principles; he is known to more as a man of real genius. The following · Half Hour' is from the Second Book of Loye.')
Oh, faithful Love, by Poverty embraced !