Page images
PDF
EPUB

PART II.

MISCELLANEOUS LESSONS.

LESSON 1.

THE TEETH OF ANIMALS.

ONE of the most striking differences in animals is in their teeth. In birds the bills perform the part of teeth, but reptiles and fishes have' teeth as well as beasts, and some beasts, such as the ant-eater, which feed on insects, are toothless. Teeth in general are composed of two substances, the one ivory, like the tusks of an elephant, the other enamel. The enamel is much harder than the ivory, and cannot easily be worn away. Beasts of prey, like the lion and tiger, require teeth and jaws fitted to rend and tear flesh to pieces. Accordingly their teeth are sharp, and covered over with the hardest kind of enamel, and their jaws are fastened together by a strong hinge, so that they can move them up and down with great force; the teeth in the two jaws, acting very much like scissors. Beasts which feed on grass and corn, like the horse and cow, need front teeth to crop the grass, and back teeth to grind their food. The arrangement for the grinders is most remarkable ; each tooth is made up of thin plates of ivory and of 'enamel, laid alternately side by side, so that the edges of the plates form the top of the tooth. The under jaw is fastened to the upper much less closely than with beasts of prey, and can be moved backwards and forwards, as well as opened and shut. Thus, the grinders in the upper and lower jaws, are continually rubbed upon one another, while the food is being ground between them. As the ivory wears down much more than the enamel, this rubbing keeps the top of the teeth uneven, while they grow enough to supply what is rubbed away. Mill-stones after they have been much used, are obliged to be roughened by a chisel, but God has so framed these natural grinders, that their very use keeps them in that state in which they are most fitted for their

purpose. There are animals who use their front teeth for other purposes besides that of biting their food. The beaver, for instance, with his front teeth cuts down branches of trees to build his house, and the rat gnaws through wooden partitions, to get at the corn on which he feeds. These gnawing teeth are formed in a different manner from the grinding, not less wonderfully suited for their purpose. The front of the tooth is one thin plate of enamel, and the back a much thicker plate of ivory. As they gnaw, the ivory wears away, and the hard edge of the enamel is continually sharpened, so that the tooth is kept in the form of a chisel, and able to cut just like that tool. But as these teeth are used so much, there is a particular provision made for the growth both of the enamel and the ivory, which is much more rapid in these than in any other teeth. A rat was once found with one of its front teeth growing like a tusk over its head. The tooth had some time before been bent outwards by an accident, so that it was not worn away by gnawing.

Not being ground down like the other teeth, it grew out of the mouth, and continued to grow till the animal was caught. There

are many other provisions with regard to teeth, and to the other parts of the frames of animals. The striking instances here given may serve, among many others, to remind us of the wisdom and goodness of the Creator, Who gives to all His creatures, not only the food which supports them, but the organs which procure that food, and the senses which enable them to enjoy it.

“God bringeth forth grass for the cattle, and green herb for the service of man, that He may bring food out of the earth. The lions roaring after their prey, do seek their meat from God. O Lord, how manifold are Thy works ! in wisdom hast Thou made them all: the earth is full of Thy riches. So is the great and wide sea also : wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. These wait all upon Thee : that Thou mayest give them meat in due season. When Thou givest it them they gather it: and when Thou openest Thy hand they are filled with good. When Thou hidest Thy face they are troubled : when Thou takest away their breath they die, and are turned again to their dust. When Thou lettest Thy breath go forth they shall be made: and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth. The glorious Majesty of the Lord shall endure for ever : the Lord shall rejoice in His works.” Ps. civ.

LESSON 2.

a

THE BRAVE HOWARD, The brave man of whom we are to read was neither a soldier nor a sailor. He never fought a battle by land or by sea. He was neither remarkable for his bodily strength, nor for any of those acts of daring, which are usually considered the proofs of courage. He was not a mighty king or a successful captain, but his bravery was as great, and as useful to his fellow-creatures as that of any king or captain that ever lived.

John Howard was the son of a London citizen. By the death of his parents while he was still young, he came into possession of an estate amply sufficient for all his wants. He lived upon his own property, and his tastes exactly fitted him to enjoy the quiet life of country gentleman. But being high sheriff of Bedfordshire, in the year 1772, he was made acquainted by his office with the gaols of his county. Shocked to find how much misery prevailed, and how shameful was the neglect of the poor prisoners, he determined to do his best to find a remedy. From this moment he devoted his life to this great object. Further inquiries only discovered more abuses, and more misery prevalent throughout all England and Wales.

A prison in the present day is a place of cleanliness and order. There is much evil, because wicked persons are brought together, and the less hardened often become worse by associating with persons more evil than themselves. But the prisoners are subject to restraint, which prevents the commission of open crime within the walls. They are furnished with the neces

rooms.

saries of life, and every attention is paid to their health.

The state of gaols in this country when Howard first began his inspection is almost beyond belief. Debtors and felons were in most cases huddled together, in the most miserable and unwholesome

The allowances for food were so insufficient, that a prisoner could not be kept from starvation, except by the assistance of friends or charitable individuals ; nothing but straw was provided for their beds, and even this was in most cases damp and mouldy. The gaolers had seldom any salary, but were paid by fees extorted from the prisoners, and from the sale of spirituous liquors within the prison. It was no uncommon thing for persons who had been tried and acquitted to be sent back to prison because they had not paid their fees to the gaolers, and to be retained in prison for years, sometimes for life, being unable to discharge them.

Not only were starvation and want to be found in every prison, but neglect and mismanagement had created a peculiar infectious disease, known as the gaol fever, which every year proved fatal to a large number of the prisoners confined in these miserable abodes.

Howard gave up without hesitation the valued comforts of his home, and undertook long and laborious journeys to effect his benevolent purpose. France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Poland, were all in succession visited by this unwearied traveller. In every town he sought not out the dwellings of the great, or the rare objects which usually attract strangers. The hospital and

« PreviousContinue »