« ForrigeFortsæt »
is an order and a plan in the creation, which can only have resulted from a mind infinitely superior to your own. Think for one moment of the situation of the Greenlander. Did the fruits of the earth spring up spontaneously for his use, and had he no stimulus for exerting himself, he would, in that cold climate, and constituted as he is, scarcely be able to drag on his existence at all. Surrounded by plenty, he would want the energy, and even the bodily power, to turn it to account. Around his dreary abode, however, no fruitful garden smiles ;yet still he is not left destitute, or unprovided for. The seal is to him, what the bread-fruit tree is to the Tahitian, or corn to the inhabitant of Europe; and the exertion required in procuring it, supplies him with the exercise so necessary to the health of his bodily frame.”*
"You have spoken of the bread-fruit tree, mother. It appears to me, but perhaps I ought not to say so, that it would have been much better for man, if this valuable tree had grown all over the earth.”
"I do not wonder at your observation, fond as you are of escaping from trouble, and avoiding labor. But let us take into account the climate of Europe-of the island in which we live. Though less severe than that of Lapland, it is still of such a temperature that we are not injured, but rendered more healthy by a moderate degree of exercise. Here, then, though our food is not found to grow spontaneously, yet such is the nature of our soil and climate, as richly to repay the husbandman for his labor. Sir Humphrey Davy, I think, mentions, that he has counted from forty to one hundred and twenty stalks, produced from one grain
of wheat; and Dr. Rigby relates an instance of one plant, that was sown in June, being taken up in August, separated into eighteen parts, and then replanted. These plants were again taken up and divided, and planted again about the end of September, and the second division produced sixtyseven plants. About the end of March they were again taken up and divided, when they produced five hundred plants. In the autumn of that year the crop was reaped, and it was proved that, by the care and ingenuity of man, a single grain of wheat, in fifteen months, had been made to produce 21,109 ears, which measured three pecks and three quarters of corn, and was supposed to contain 570,840 grains."
Still, after all," said Arthur, "it seems to be very hard labor, and tedious too, when we see the ploughman day after day going over nearly the same ground."
"It is indeed hard labor, when compared with that of the South Sea Islander, whose climate and constitution would not permit him to work as our laborers do. For his use, therefore, is provided the bread-fruit tree, respecting which Captain Cook has observed, that if a man plant but ten trees in his whole lifetime, which he may easily do in an hour, he will as completely fulfil his duty in the way of providing food for his own and future generations, as the natives of our less genial clime can do by ploughing in the winter's cold, and reaping in the summer's heat, for the space of ten successive years.
"You are extremely fond of pictures of the Laplander and his reindeer. Did it never occur to you
to ask by what means this valuable animal is provided with food ?"
"I suppose it eats grass," said Arthur: "no, that can not be, for there is so much snow upon the ground, that grass like ours could hardly grow."
"Here, then, again we find the beauty of adaptation, which you will perhaps learn in time to value as much as the beauty of form and color. In these frozen regions there grows, even beneath the snow, a plant called the reindeer lichen, which constitutes the food of this valuable animal. But I must not try your patience further. You are so little accustomed to listen to me when I talk to you about plants, that I must reserve other instances of the same description, such as the pitcher-plant and cow-tree, for a future lecture."
Pitcher-plant and cow-tree!" exclaimed Arthur, perfectly enchanted with the change in his mother's nomenclature," I am sure I should like to hear all about them at any time."
"After this assurance," said his mother, "I. shall begin my next lesson with more confidence, as well as pleasure; but for the present let it suffice, if I ask you a few questions relative to the kind of pleasure you seem most fond of. How long do you think you could be happy to live among flowers, without knowing anything of plants except their external beauty?"`
Arthur, who had begun to be very much afraid, when his mother talked of asking him questions, that the conversation was going to take a disagreeable turn, felt quite encouraged on finding that pleasure was to be the subject of her inquiries, an
swered very promptly, "I think I should never be tired, so long as the days were fine, and the sun was shining, and the flowers continued to bloom.”
"But the bloom of the flowers, my dear child, even when accompanied by their delicious perfume, would not satisfy you entirely. As your mind became enlarged, and your thoughts more mature, you would never be able to confine them to a bed of roses, or even a bank of wild flowers. A more accurate investigation of the laws of nature, through the medium of science, would not destroy these pleasures, but admit you to a wide sphere of interest beyond; and while you learned the nature and properties of every plant, even its classification too, you might still revel in the sweets of the garden, with as much delight as ever in the verdure of the leaves, and the bloom of the flowers. You would then learn to perceive arrangement and adaptation, as well as form and color; and the admiration with which this would inspire you, would be blended with lowliness of mind, and reverential awe, in the presence of the Creator of this great and glorious world."
It was at the close of a beautiful autumn day, when all the laborers on Mr. Beecham's farm had been working harder and later than usual, in order to get in the last load of wheat from the field, that Phebe Jones and her brother returned to the tree where the small remains of their dinner had been left, to gather up their gleans, and take away the basket which their faithful dog had been watching all the day.
It had been a day of excessive heat, and when David Jones stooped down for the little keg which contained his father's beer, he found to his surprise that it was not quite empty.
"I am a lucky fellow," said he to his sister; "I have found what many a poor man would be glad of to-day." And so saying, he applied his mouth to the opening, without once questioning his right to what the keg contained.
"Stop! stop!" cried Phebe, laying her hand upon his arm; you must not drink that. Remember our poor father. He is working yet; and if you are thirsty now, what will he be when he comes home!"
David, however, was no longer in a state to reason, for he had tasted the wished-for draught; and extreme thirst is a feeling which renders most people both impatient and greedy. He paused