Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

which the legs move and the hands work? It might have happened very differently, if it had been left to chance. There were, at least, three quarters of the compass out of four to have erred in. Any considerable alteration in the position of the eye, or the figure of the joints, would have disturbed the line, and destroyed the alliance between the sense and the limbs. - * * IV. But relation perhaps is never so striking as when it subsists, not between different parts of the same thing, but between different things. The relation between a lock and a key is more obvious, than it is between different parts of the lock. ... A bow was designed for an arrow, and an arrow for a bow; and the design is more evident for their being separate implements. Nor do the works of the Deity want this clearest species of relation. The seales are manifestly made for each other. They form the grand relation of animated nature; universal, organic, mechanical; subsisting like the clearest relations of art, in different individuals; unequivocal, inexplicable without design.

So much so, that, were every other proof of contrivance in nature dubious or obscure, this alone would be sufficient. The example

is complete. Nothing is wanting to the argument. I see no way whatever of getting over 1f. - V. The teats of animals which give suck, bear a relation to the mouth of the suckling progeny; particularly to the lips and tongue. Here also, as before, is a correspondency of parts; which parts subsist in different individuals. - * THESE are general relations, or the relations of parts which are found, either in all animals, or in large classes and descriptions of animals. Particular relations, or the relations which subsist between the particular configuration of one or more parts of certain species of animals, and the particular configuration of one or more other parts of the same animal (which is the sort of relation, that is, perhaps, most striking), are such as the following: * I. In the swan; the web-foot, the spoonbill, the long neck, the thick down, the graminivorous stomach, bear all a relation to one another, inasmuch as they all concur in one design, that of supplying the occasions of an aquatic fowl, floating upon the surface of shallow pools of water, and seeking its food at the bottom. Begin with any one of these particularities of structure, and observe how the rest follow it. The web-foot qualifies the bird for swimming; the spoon-bill enables it to graze. But how is an animal, floating upon the surface of pools of water, to graze at the bottom, except by the mediation of a long neck? A long neck accordingly is given to it. Again, a warm-blooded animal, which was to pass its life upon water, required a defence against the coldness of that element. Such a defence is furnished to the swan, in the muffin which its body is wrapped. But all this outward apparatus would have been in vain, if the intestinal system had not been suited to the digestion of vegetable substances. I say suited to the digestion of vegetable substances: for it is well known, that there are two intestinal systems found in birds, one with a membranous stomach and a gastric juice, capable of dissolving animal substances alone; the other with a crop and gizzard, calculated for the moistening, bruising, and afterwards digesting, of vegetable aliment. Or set off with any other distinctive part in the body of the swan; for instance, with the long neck. The long neck, without the web-foot, would have been an incumbrance to the bird; yet there is no necessary connexion between a long neck and a web-foot.

In fact they do not usually go together. How happens it, therefore, that they meet, only when a particular design demands the aid of both 2 of . III. This mutual relation, arising from a subserviency to a common purpose, is very observable also in the parts of a mole. The strong short legs of that animal, the palmated feet armed with sharp nails; the pig-like nose, the teeth, the velvet coat, the small external ear, the sagacious smell, the sunk, protected eye, all conduce to the utilities or to the safety of its underground life. It is a special purpose, specially consulted throughout. The form of the feet fixes the character of the animal. They are so many shovels; they determine its action to that of rooting in the ground; and every thing about its body agrees with this destination. The cylindrical figure of the mole, as well as the compactness of its form, arising from the terseness of its limbs, proportionally lessens its labour; because, according to its bulk, it thereby requires the least possible quantity of earth to be removed for its progress. It has nearly the same structure of the face and jaws as a swine, and the same office for them. The nose is sharp, slender, tendinous, strong; with a pair of nerves; going

[ocr errors]

down to the end of it. The plush covering, which, by the smoothness, closeness, and polish of the short piles that compose it, rejects the adhesion of almost every species of earth, defends the animal from cold and wet, and from the impediment which it would. experience by the mould sticking to its body. From soils of all kinds the little pioneer comes forth bright and clean. Inhabiting dirt, it is, of all animals, the neatest. But what I have always most admired in the mole is its eyes. This animal occasionally visiting the surface, and wanting, for its safety and direction, to be informed when it does so, or when it approaches it, a perception of light was necessary. I do not know that the clearness of sight depends at all upon the size of the organ. What is gained by the largeness or prominence of the globe of the eye, is width in the field of vision. Such a capacity would be of no use to an animal which was to seek its food in the dark. The mole did not want to look about it; nor would a large advanced eye have been easily defended from the annoyance to which the life of the animal must constantly expose it. How indeed was the mole, working its way under ground, to guard its eyes at all? In order to meet this difficulty, the eyes are T

« VorigeDoorgaan »