it to the side of one growing upon a tree: her slender bill is the needle, and some fine fibres her thread. When she has formed this external coat, she lines it with feathers, gossamer, and down. This fragile habitation is proportioned to its tenant: she is but three inches long, and weighs only three-sixteenths of an ounce.

MR. HARCOURT. Before we separate, I wish to draw your attention to the force of habit, which, when applied to dexterity, activity, and courage, seems capable of overcoming the very propensities and powers of nature; as is exemplified in the suspension of the breath among divers, who can remain a long time under water. The agility of the climbers of rocks exceeds any powers that persons unaccustomed to the exercise are acquainted with; and various other employments call forth faculties and capacities that would for ever remain dormant, unless excited by necessity, and confirmed by habit. Let us, each one, vigorously apply this principle to the practice of virtue, and the subjection of every improper inclination and

propensity; and we may rationally hope, in time, to attain to an advanced degree of moral perfection. Adieu, dear children.



CECILIA. As I was paying my daily visit to my bees, this morning, and watching their motions, I thought that entertainment might be derived from some particulars relative to the order and discipline by which they are regulated, not inferior to that we enjoyed in the recital of the qualities of birds.

MR. HARCOURT. Could we pursue the peculiarities of instinct, through all its variations, in the different orders of animals, it would supply us with an inexhaustible source of admiration and instruction; but, as many



of them are placed beyond the reach of our observation, we must content ourselves with the investigation of those that are obvious to our notice, among which the bee has ever been distinguished.

MRS. HARCOURT. The history of the bee deserves our attention; for, although almost every country housewife furnishes her cottagegarden with hives, yet the wonderful instincts that guide this small insect, are known only to the observers of nature. Cecilia has spent much of her leisure in observing the economy of those that I have put under her management, and is qualified by experience, as well as by reading, to give us information upon the subject. We have examined together the structure of the parts of the bee, in the microscope. An exact description of them will show their conformity with the purposes for which they are designed; therefore, my dear, begin your account with them.

CECILIA. The honey-bee, for there are many kinds of bees, is divided into three parts, con-. sisting of the head, the breast, and the belly, which are united by two ligaments. The eyes

are black, and of an oblong form, guarded by a horny tunicle or covering. The horns, mostly called antennæ, are placed between the eyes, near the middle of the head, and assist the insect in feeling its way, when the eyes are useless for want of light. The jaws open sideways, and, being armed with teeth, serve to remove every thing offensive or inconvenient, that is found in the hive. In their wars with each other they use their teeth, and the wounds they inflict with them are supposed to be fatal. Their long trunk or proboscis, is of very curious construction: it enables them to penetrate the inside of flowers, and extract their delicious juice: it is long and taper, and so pliant and flexible, that it can be contracted and folded up at pleasure. Four strong scales are contrived to preserve this valuable member from injury, two of which form a sheath to it, while the whole is enclosed in the larger pair. From the breast, which is of a dusky colour and oblong form, proceed two wings, and three legs on each side. The belly is divided into six rings or folds, which by sliding over over another, serve to shorten

or lengthen the body. Besides the intestines, it contains a bag, which is used as a receptacle for the honey they collect. The juices of flowers are conveyed into this bag from the proboscis, through a narrow pipe, which passes the head and breast. The legs are finished, in every part, with the greatest nicety. The hindermost ones are hairy, and streaked crosswise on the inside. Within the thigh of the working bee, is a hollow place, edged with hair, where the bee loads the materials for wax, in little pellets, as large as a pepper-corn. Each foot terminates in two hooks, with the points opposite to each other. Between these claws is a little thin substance, which, when unfolded, enables the insect to fasten to glass, or any other highly-polished body. The sting is situated at the extremity of the belly, and is composed of two bearded darts, enclosed in a horny sheath, which has an opening near the end, for the passage of the darts. At the root of the sting is placed a small bag, filled with a venomous liquor, which is emitted through the sheath, into the wound made previously by the darts. Mr.

« VorigeDoorgaan »