Page images
PDF
EPUB

at

the same.

whence ariseth a conceit that corn will not grow if the extremes be cut or broken. But herein we find no security to prevent its germination; as having made trials in grains, whose ends cut off have notwithstanding suddenly sprouted, and according to the law of their kinds; that is, the roots of barley and oats at contrary ends, of wheat and

rye And therefore some have delivered that after rainy weather they dry these grains in the sun : which if effectual, we must conceive to be made in a high degree and above the progression of malt; for that malt will grow, this year hath informed us, and that unto a perfect ear.

And if that be true which is delivered by many, and we shall further experiment, that a decoction of toad-stools if poured upon earth, will produce the same again ; if sowthistles will abound in places manured with dung of hogs, which feed much upon that plant; if horse-dung reproduceth oats;

if winds and rains will transport the seminals of plants ; it will not be easy to determine where the power of generation ceaseth. The forms of things may lie deeper than we conceive them; seminal principles may not be dead in the divided atoms of plants; but wandering in the ocean of nature, when they hit upon proportionable materials, may unite and return to their visible selves again.

But the prudence of this animal is by gnawing, piercing, or otherwise, to destroy the little nib or principle of germination. Which, notwithstanding is not easily discoverable; it being no ready business to meet with such grains in ant-hills; and he must dig deep, that will seek them in the winter.

harvest.' These words may very well be interpreted simply to mean, that the ant, with commendable prudence and foresight, makes use of the proper seasons to collect a supply of provisions sufficient for her purposes. There is not a word in them implying that she stores up grain or other provision. She prepares her bread and gathers her food, --namely, such food as is suited to her—in summer and harvest,—that is, when it is most plentiful,—and thus shows her wisdom and prudence by using the advantages offered to her. The words thus interpreted, which they may be without any violence, will apply to our European species as well as to those that are not indigenous.”Kirby and Spence, Introd. to Entomology, vol. ii. p. 45–47.

And if that be true, &c.] These two concluding paragraphs were first added in 3rd edition.

CHAPTER XXVIII.2

That the Chicken is made out of the yolk of the Egg ; that Snakes sting ;

of the Tarantula; the Lamb of Tartary; the swiftness of Tigers ; with sundry queries.

That a chicken is formed out of the yolk of the egg, was the opinion of some ancient philosophers. Whether it be not the nutriment of the pullet may also be considered; since umbilical vessels are carried unto it; since much of the yolk remaineth after the chicken is formed; since in a chicken newly hatched the stomach is tinged yellow, and the belly full of yolk, which is drawn in at the navel or vessels towards the vent, as may be discerned in chickens within a day or two before exclusion.

Whether the chicken be made out of the white, or that be not also its aliment, is likewise very questionable ; since an umbilical vessel is derived unto it; since after the formation and perfect shape of the chicken, much of the white remaineth.

Whether it be not made out of the grando, gallature, germ or tred of the egg, as Aquapendente informeth us, seemeth to many of doubt: for at the blunter end it is not discovered after the chicken is formed; by this also the yolk and white are continued, whereby it may continually receive its nutriment from them both.

Now, that from such slender materials nature should effect this production, it is no more than is observed in other animals; and, even in grains, and kernels, the greatest part is but the nutriment of that generative particle, so disproportionable unto it.

A greater difficulty, in the doctrine of eggs, is, how the sperm of the cock prolificates and makes the oval conception fruitful, or how it attaineth unto every egg,

since the vitellary or place of the yolk is very high ; since the ovary or part where the white involveth it, is in the second region of the matrix, which is somewhat long and inverted; since also a cock will in one day fertilate the whole racemation or cluster of eggs, which are not excluded in many weeks after.

2 Chap. xxviii.] This chapter was added in 2nd edition, except two paragraphs, one added in 3rd and the other in the 6th edition.

But these at last, and how in the cicatricula or little pale circle, formation first beginneth, how the grando or tredle are but the poles and establishing particles of the tender membranes, firmly conserving the floating parts in their proper places, with many other observables, that ocular philosopher and singular discloser of truth, Dr. Harvey, hath discovered in that excellent discourse of generation, so strongly erected upon the two great pillars of truth, experience and solid reason.3

That the sex is discernible from the figure of eggs, or that cocks or hens proceed from long or round ones, as many contend, experiment will easily frustrate.

The Egyptians observed a better way, to hatch their eggs in ovens, than the Babylonians, to roast them at the bottom of a ling, by swinging them round about till heat from motion had concocted them; for that confuseth all parts without any such effect.

Though slight distinction be made between boiled and roasted eggs, yet is there no slender difference, for the one is much drier than the other; the egg expiring less in the elixation or boiling; whereas in the assation or roasting it will sometimes abate a drachm, that is, threescore grains in weight. So a new-laid egg will not so easily be boiled hard, because it contains a greater stock of humid parts, which must be evaporated before the heat can bring the inexhalable parts into consistence.4

3 But these at last, &c.] The great principle of Harvey, omnia ex ovo,” has received splendid confirmation from the labours of Hunter, Malpighi, and Dutrochet, but still more from the recent investigations and discoveries of Sir E. Home, who has given, in his 14th lecture, a detailed account of the progressive changes of the egg during incubation; illustrated by exquisite microscopical figures. He has ascertained that the moleculi or cicatricula, exists both in mammalia and birds, and that in the latter it becomes, after impregnation, the embryo ; which is nourished both by the yolk and the white. Sir Thomas seems, in one of his observations, to confound the grandines, or chalaze (which are two knotty bodies, proceeding from the two ends of the yolk) with the molecule, a round milk-white spot on the surface of the yolk-bag, surrounded with white concentric circles. The fact which he notices of the whole cluster of eggs being fertilized at once, is a case somewhat analogous to that of quadrupeds which produce several young at a birth with one impregnation : the case of the aphides is still more remarkable, in which this is the fact not only with the eggs of the individual, but with those of its offspring to the ninth generation.

Why the hen hatcheth not the egg in her belly, or maketh not at least some rudiment thereof within herself by the natural heat of inward parts, since the same is performed by incubation from an outward warmth after ?5 Why the egg is thinner at one extreme? Why there is some cavity or emptiness at the blunter end ?6 Why we open them at that part? Why the greater end is first excluded ? Why some eggs are all red, as the kestrils ; some only red at one end, as those of kites and buzzards ? Why some eggs are not oval but round, as those of fishes, &c.—are problems whose decisions would too much enlarge this discourse.

That snakes and vipers do sting or transmit their mischief by the tail, is a common expression not easily to be justified, and a determination of their venoms unto a part, wherein we could never find it; the poison lying about the teeth, and communicated by bite, in such as are destructive. And therefore, when biting serpents are mentioned in the Scripture, they are not differentially set down from such as mischief by stings; nor can conclusions be made conformable to this opinion, because, when the rod of Moses was turned into a serpent, God determinatively commanded him to take

up the same by the tail. Nor are all snakes of such empoisoning qualities as common opinion presumeth ; as is confirmable from the

4 So a new-laid egg, dc.] This is not the received theory of the coagulation of albumen. " Cohesive attraction is the real cause of the phænemenon. In proportion as the temperature rises, the particles of water and albumen recede from each other, their affinity diminishes, and then the albumen precipitates. However, by uniting albumen with a large quantity of water, we diminish its coagulating property to such a degree, that heat renders the solution merely opalescent. A new-laid egg yields a soft coagulum by boiling; but when, by keeping, a portion of the water has transuded so as to leave a void space within the shell, the concentrated albumen affords a firm coagulum.”-Ure.

a

5 Why the hen, &c.] She does “make some rudiment,” viz. the molecule, which, however, without impregnation, would not become a chick by the process of incubation.

6 Why there is some cavity, &c.] It contains air, by which, in the earlier stages, the blood of the chick is aerated.

9

ordinary green snake with us, from several histories of domestic snakes, from ophiophagous nations, and such as feed upon serpents.7

Surely the destructive delusion, of Satan in this shape, hath much enlarged the opinion of their mischief. Which, notwithstanding, was not so high with the heathens, in whom the devil had wrought a better opinion of this animal, it being sacred unto the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, and the common symbol of sanity. In the shape whereof, Æsculapius, the god of health, appeared unto the Romans, accompanied their embassadors to Rome from Epidaurus, and the same did stand in the Tiberine isle upon the temple of Æsculapius.

Some doubt many have of the tarantula, or poisonous spider of Calabria, and that magical cure of the bite thereof by music. But since we observe that many attest it from experience; since the learned Kircherus hath positively averred it, and set down the songs and tunes solemnly used for it; since some also affirm the tarantula itself will dance upon certain strokes, whereby they set their instruments against its poison, we shall not at all question it.8 Much wonder is made of the borametz,9 that strange

from ophiophagous, dc.] But the venomous serpents are eaten as well as the harmless ---indeed the poison itself may be swallowed with impunity. Its fatality is evolved only on its entering into the circulation through a wound.

8 Some doubt many hare, d'c.] The effects ascribed to its wounds, and their wonderful cures have long been celebrated : but after all there seems to have been more of fraud than of truth in the business ; and the whole evil appears to consist in swelling and inflammation. Dr. Clavitio submitted to be bitten by this animal, and no bad effects ensued ; and the Count de Borch, a Polish nobleman, bribed a man to undergo the same experiment, in whom the only result was a swelling in the hand, attended by intolerable itching. The fellow's sole remedy was a bottle of wine, which charmed away all his pain, without the aid of "pipe and tabor.”K. and Sp. i. 128.

9 the borametz.] Polypodium borametz, L. Mirbel (in the 8vo. edition of Buffon, by Sonnini) calls it polyp. chinois. Jussieu gives the following account of it under the article, BAP.OMETZ.

“ Cette espèce de polypode de Tartarie, polypodium borametz, L., présente dans la disposition de ses parties une forme singulière. Sa tige, longue d'environ un pied et dans une direction horizontale, est portée sur quatre ou cinq racines qui la tiennent élevée hors de terre. Sa surface est couverte d'un duvet assez long, soyeux et d'une couleur

7

« PreviousContinue »