« AnteriorContinua »
The figure of an organic body, is generally regular. The trunk of a tree, its branches, and their ramifications, are nearly round, and form a feries regularly decreasing from the trunk to the finalleft fibre: uniformity is no where more remarkable than in the leaves, which, in the fame fpecies, have all the fame colour, fize, and fhape: the feeds and fruits are all regular figures, approaching for the most part to the globular form. Hence a plant, efpecially of the larger kind, with its trunk, branches, foliage, and fruit, is a delightful object.
In an animal, the trunk, which is much larger than the other parts, occupies a chief place: its fhape, like that of the ftem of plants, is nearly round; a figure which of all is the most agreeable its two fides are precifely fimilar: feveral of the under parts go off in pairs; and the two individuals of each pair are accurately uniform: the fingle parts are placed in the middle: the limbs, bearing a certain proportion to the trunk, ferve to fupport it, and to give it a proper elevation upon one extremity are difpofed the neck and head, in the direction of the trunk: the head being the chief part, poffeffes with great propriety the chief place. Hence, the beauty of the whole figure, is the refult of many equal and proportional parts orderly difpofed; and the fmalleft variation in number, equality, proportion, or order, never fails to produce a perception of uglinefs and deformity.
Nature in no particular seems more profuse of ornament, than in the beautiful colouring of her works. The flowers of plants, the furs of beafts, and the feathers of birds, vie with each other in the beauty of their colours, which in luftre as well as in harmony are beyond the power of imitation. Of all natural appearances, the colouring of the human face is the most exquisite: it is the strongest instance of the ineffable art of nature, in adapting and proportioning its colours to the magnitude, figure, and pofition, of the parts. In a word, colour feems to live in nature only, and to languish under the finest touches of
When we examine the internal structure of a plant or animal, a wonderful fubtilty of mechanism is display'd. Man, in his mechanical operations, is confined to the surface of bodies; but the operations of nature are exerted through the whole fubstance, so as to reach even the elementary parts. Thus the body of an animal, and of a plant, are composed of certain great vessels; thefe of smaller; and these again of still smaller, without end, fo far as we can difcover. This power of diffufing mechanifm through the most intimate parts, is peculiar to nature; and diftinguishes her operations, moft reinarkably, from every work of art. Such texture, continued from the groffer parts to the most minute, preferves all along the ftricteft regularity: the fibres of plants are a bundle of cylindric canals, lying
in the fame direction, and parallel, or nearly pa1 rallel to each other: in fome instances, a most accurate arrangement of parts is discovered, as in onions, formed of concentric coats one within another to the very centre. An animal body is still more admirable, in the difpofition of its internal parts, and in their order and fymmetry: there is not a bone, a muscle, a blood-vessel, a nerve, that hath not one correfponding to it on the oppofite fide; and the fame order is carried through the most minute parts: the lungs are compofed of two parts, which are difpofed upon the fides of the thorax; and the kidneys, in a lower fituation, have a position not lefs orderly : as to the parts that are single, the heart is advantageously fituated nigh the middle: the liver, stomach, and spleen, are difpofed in the upper region of the abdomen, about the fame height: the bladder is placed in the middle of the body; as well as the intestinal canal, which fills the whole cavity by its convolutions.
The mechanical power of nature, not confined to small bodies, reacheth equally those of the greatest fize; witness the bodies that compofe the solar system, which, however large, are weighed, measured, and fubjected to certain laws, with the utmost accuracy. Their places
round the fun, with their distances, are determined by a precife rule, correfponding to their quantities of matter. The fuperior dignity of the central body, in refpect of its bulk, and lucid appearance,
appearance, is fuited to the place it occupies. The globular figure of these bodies, is not only in itself beautiful, but is above all others fitted for regular motion. Each planet revolves about its own axis in a given time; and each moves round the fun, in an orbit nearly circular, and in a time proportioned to its diftance. Their velocities, directed by an established law, are perpetually changing, by regular accelerations and retardations. In fine, the great variety of regular appearances, joined with the beauty of the fyftem itself, cannot fail to produce the highest delight in every one who is fenfible of defign, power, or beauty.
Nature hath a wonderful power of connecting fystems with each other, and of propagating that connection through all her works. Thus the conftituent parts of a plant, the roots, the ftem, the branches, the leaves, the fruit, are really different fyftems, united by a mutual dependence on each other in an animal, the lymphatic and lacteal ducts, the blood-yeffels and nerves, the muscles and glands, the bones and cartilages, the membranes and vifcera, with the other organs, form diftinét fyftems, which are united into one whole. There are, at the fame time, other connections lefs intimate: every plant is joined to the earth by its roots; it requires rain and dews to furnish it with juices; and it requires heat to preferve thefe juices in fluidity and motion: every animal, by its gravity, is connected
nected with the earth, with the element in which it breathes, and with the fun, by deriving from it cherishing and enlivening heat; the earth furnifheth aliment to plants, these to animals, and these again to other animals, in a long train of dependence that the earth is part of a greater fyftem, comprehending many bodies mutually attracting each other, and gravitating all toward one common centre, is now thoroughly explo red. Such a regular and uniform series of connections, propagated through fo great a number of beings, and through fuch wide spaces, is wonderful and our wonder muft increafe, when we obferve these connections propagated from the minutest atoms to bodies of the most enormous fize, and widely diffufed, fo as that we can neither perceive their beginning nor their end. That thefe connections are not confined within our own planetary fyftem, is certain; they are diffused over fpaces ftill more remote, where new bodies and fyftems rife to our view, without end. All fpace is filled with the works of God, which are conducted by one plan, to anfwer unerringly one great end.
But the most wonderful connection of all, though not the moft confpicuous, is that of our internal frame with the works of nature: man is obviously fitted for contemplating these works, because in this contemplation he has great delight. The works of nature are remarkable in their uniformity not lefs than in their variety; and