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object of the Creator is the maintenance of the whole system of creation in order and beauty, and this he is pleased to accomplish, not always by the concord but by the seeming discord of the agents he employs.
When we take a first view of nature we are struck by a scene which seems to be one of universal conflict, for the very
appear not clear from the charge: the philosopher who studies them tells us of antagonist powers, that are perpetually striving with each other, the one to absorb all things in a common centre, the other to dissever them, and scatter them in illimitable space, and when we turn to the earth, what a scene of destruction is before us! The king of the terrestrial globe, man, constantly engaged in a struggle with his fellow man, often laying waste the earth, slaughtering its inhabitants, and deforming its productions—his subjects of the animal kingdom following the example of their master, and pitilessly destroying each other—the strong oppressing the weak, and most seeming bent to annihilate the races to which they are opposed; so that, humanly speaking, in the lapse of ages, we might expect that one species of animals would be annihilated after another, till the whole were obliterated from the face of creation, and the sublime language of the prophet literally verified ; beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form
and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the air were fled."
But if, with ourspirits depressed, by the prospect of so universal a scene of mutual struggles and destruction, we listen again to the philosopher, he will tell us that the ceaseless struggle of the antagonist powers of the heavens prevents, instead of. causing disorder and confusion, that by the powerful and mutual counteraction of these inighty opponents, all the heavenly bodies of our system are prevented from rushing to the centre, or being driven, dispersed into their atoms, beyond the flammantia mænia mundi; that thus their annual and diurnal revolutions are maintained, that each observes its appointed course, keeps its assigned station, and ministers to the good and well-being of the whole system. If then we turn our view again to the earth, and take a nearer survey of things--if we consider the present tendency to multiply, beyond measure, of all things that have life, we shall soon be convinced that, unless this tendency was met by some check, the world of animated beings would be perpetually encroaching upon each other, and would finally perish for want of sufficient food; and that the partial evils inflicted by one individual or one class upon another, to borrow a term from the Political Economist, proportions the demand to the supply; that thus both vegetables and animals are so accurately distributed, weighed so nicely against each other, as never to go a step beyond what God decrees, and what is most beneficial to the whole system ; and that the actual number of every kind bears due relation to the work it has to do; and, upon closer inquiry, we find, that though since the creation, probably in consequence of the great change in the moral state of the world, superinducing physical changes also, some species no longer necessary may have perished, yet that, in general, they have maintained their ground from age to age, in spite of the attacks of the great army of destroyers. To maintain things in this state, thus to “order all things in measure, num= ber, and weight,” as the wise man speaks, to cause all so to harmonize, and so out of death and destruction to bring forth life, indicates still more strongly the constant and wise superintendence, and powerful arm of a watchful Providence, and demonstrates irrefragably that there is a Great Being constantly at work, either mediately or immediately, to produce effects that, without his constant superintendence and intervention, could never take place. And thus, as sings the bard of Twickenham,
56 All nature is but art unknown to thee,
Functions and Instincts of the Infusory Animals.
As at the original creation of the animal kingdom, it was the will of the Supreme Being to begin at the foot of the scale and to terminate with man, who was at its summit, thus making a gradual progress towards the most perfect being it was his will to create, and ending with him: so I think it will best manifest his power and perfections if I endeavour to trace out the footsteps of the Deity in the same direction as he proceeded ; and instead of beginning, as is usually done by systematical writers, with the highest grade of animals, if I ascend upwards from the lowest.
Our first inquiry must be what are these lowest animals? And are there any organized bodies that partake of two natures, that are either animal at one period of their existence and vegetable at another, or else are partly animal and partly vegetable? These doubtful forms must be sought for amongst what have been denominated first-plants? and first-animals ;? amongst the former is a certain genus or tribes of plants,
1 Protophyta. 2 Protozoa. 3 Oscillatoriæ. Vauch.
which are distinguished not only by their simple structure, but also by an oscillatory movement which seems to connect them, in some degree, with the animal kingdom. When collected in masses they resemble a piece of green velvet. Some cover considerable spots in moist places ; others live in the water, either fixed to substances contained in it, or floating on the surface. They are generally based on a mucilaginous substance, the remains of those that, having fulfilled their functions, are become a caput mortuum. The filaments of which the living plant is composed continually oscillate from right to left, or from left to right, but very irregularly, some going in one direction, others in another; some remaining stationary while others continue in motion.
Professor Agardh inclines to the opinion that these oscillating plants owe their existence to different species of animalcules, which at first swim about as animals, and afterwards fix themselves as plants. This opinion has been adopted by others; and lately Mr. Unger has stated that he has seen animated particles separate from the parent plant, in a few hours converted into globules of vegetable matter, which subsequently became plants perfectly similar to the individual from which they were produced.
But surely the motions of these seeds or germes, may be merely mechanical, and may