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Calmly consider wherefore gracious Hear'n,
To all these creatures has existence giv'n.
Eternal Goodness certainly design’d,
That ev'ry one, according to its kind,
Should happiness enjoy:--for God, all-just,
might, like himself, be employed in making observations. The number of each species, which, in the day time, visited his plant, in these few weeks, was impossible to ascertain ; much less of those which visited it in the night time, and at other seasons of the year.
Thus far of one plant only—what shall we say then of those animalcules which may be found on the vast multitude of vegetables already classed in the extensive catalogue of our European botanists, of which LINNÆUS has reckoned eighty thousand. Sherard and others, nearly twenty thousand species of vegetables. Besides which, an unspeakable variety may be found in the interior of Africa, Arabia, the Asiatic islands, Siberia, and other parts of this globe, where the foot of an European botanist never trod. Yet all the numerous inhabitants of vegetables are but a very small portion of the living creatures which the God of nature has scattered through the air, over the earth, and in the waters of every narrow rill and of the widely extended ocean.
When life he gave, he meant that life should be
A state productive of felicity.
And, though to kill, there may be some pretence, When raging hunger bids, or self-defence :
And how dares man, who's but himself a breath, Destroy through wantonness, and sport with death!
Extend thy narrow sight : consult with art :
And gladly use what helps it can impart:
Each better glass will larger fields display,
And give thee scenes of life, unthought of, to survey. Assisted thus, what beauty may'st thou find
In thousand species of the Insect Kind!
Lost to the naked eye, so wond'rous small,
Were millions join'd, one *sand would over-top
Those experienced in observations on the insect part of the creation, by the help of glasses, will not charge this with being a poetical liberty, but acknowledge its real trath: And though others, whose conceptions have never been turned that way, may find it very difficult to apprehend any living creature so extremely minute; yet I hope the opinion of the learned may clear me from any design of imposing of their belief.
Mr. Ball, in a letter to Mr. Bradley, says, that the green, red, or black appearance of stagnant water proceeds only from insects of several kinds and colours, 3d part Gardening, p. 87. “ Nor indeed is any part of the earth, or waters; and (it may be) pure air itself, free from the seeds of life,
Mr. BRADLEY, after having given us his observations on an insect, which by computation he found more than a thousand times less than the least dust of sand visible to the naked eye, reflects thus, “ It is wonderful to consider the several parts of 4 creature even 60 minute as this, (for the microscope. has Yet each within its little bulk, contains
An heart which drives the torrent thro’ its veins :
Muscles to move its limbs aright: a brain,
And nerves, dispos’d for pleasure, and for pain :
discovered much smaller) how small must the organs of its senses be, in proportion to its body! the eyes perhaps a thousand times Jess, and the other parts answerable to them: May we not then reasonably conclude, that with such eyes it is capable of discerning other bodies, which are as minute, and of as distant smallness to itself as the smallest creature, capable of our sight, is to us? But, alas ! how trifling an object was the insect I have mentioned, in comparison to those discovered by Mr. LEWENHOECK, in a quantity of pepper water, no larger than a grain of millet, in which he affirms to have seen ten thousand living creatures; and some of his friends, at the same time, witness to have seen thirty thousand, and others, ahove forty-five thousand creatures, moving in that small quantity of water? Nay, they tell us, that because they would be within compass, they only related half the number that they believed they had seen.
“ Now, from the greatness of the numbers mentioned, it is inferred, that in a full drop of water, there will be eight millions, two hundred and cighty thousand of these animalcules, which if their
Eyes to distinguish ; sense, whereby to know,
What's good, or bad ;-is, or is not, its foe.
As in the larger world, some live on prey,
Delight in blood, and solitary stray :
Others together herd, by nature tame,
Nor life destroy to feed their vital flame.
Each kind, by reason guided, finds its food,
Bring forth its young, and guards the infant brood:
smallness comes to be compared, a grain of sand, broken into eight million parts, would not exceed the smallness of one of these insects.
“These observations of Mr. Lewenhoeck's were not only confirmed by the famous Mr. Hook, but were likewise improved by him : He tells us, that after he had discovered vast multitudes of those animalcules, described by Mr. LEWENHOECK, he made* use of other lights and glasses, which magnified them to a very considerable size ; and that amongst them he discovered many other sorts much smaller than those he first saw; some of which were so very minute that millions of millions of them might be contained in one drop of water."