Imagens da página

LESSON XXIV. Works of the Coral Insect.—UNIVERSAL Review. Though some species of corals are found in all climates, they abound chiefly in the tropical regions. In particular, the larger and more solid kinds seem to have chosen those climates for their habitation; while the more tender and minute, the Flustras for example, occur in the colder seas.

These animals vary from the size of a pin's head, or even less, to somewhat more than the bulk of a pea; and it is by the persevering efforts of creatures so insignificant, working in myriads, and working through ages, that the enormous structures in question are erected.

Enormous we may well call them, when the great Coral Reef of New Holland alone is a thousand miles in length, and when its altitude, though yet scarcely fathomed in twenty places, cannot range to less than between one and two thousand feet. It is a mountain ridge, that would reach almost three times from one extremity of England to the other, with the height of Ingleborough, or that of the ordinary and prevailing class of the Scottish mountains.-And this is the work of insects, whose dimensions are less than those of a house fly. It is perfectly overwhelming.

But what is even this. The whole of the Pacific Ocean is crowded with islands of the same architecture, the produce of the same insignificant architects. An animal barely possessing life, scarcely appearing to possess volition, tied down to its narrow cell, ephemeral in existence, is daily, hourly, creating the habitations of men, of animals, of plants. It is founding a new continent; it is constructing a new world. ..

These are among the wonders of His mighty hand; such are among the means which He uses to forward His ends of benevolence. Yet man, vain man, pretends to look down on the myriads of beings equally insignificant in appearance, because he has not yet discovered the great offices which they hold, the duties which they fulfil, in the great order of nature,

If we have said that the Coral insect is creating a new continent, we have not said more than the truth. Navigators now know that the Great Southern Ocean is not only

[merged small][ocr errors]

crowded with those islands, but that it is crowded with submarine rocks of the same nature, rapidly growing up to the surface, where, at length overtopping the ocean, they are destined to form new habitations for man to extend his dominion.

They grow and unite into circles and ridges, and ultimately, they become extensive tracts. This process cannot cease while those animals exist and propagate. It must increase in an accelerating ratio; and the result will be, that, by the wider union of such islands, an extensive archipelago, and at length a continent must be formed.

This process is equally visible in the Red Sea. It is daily becoming less and less navigable, in consequence of the growth of its Coral rocks; and the day is to come, when, perhaps, one plain will unite the opposed. shores of Egypt and Arabia. .

But let us here also admire the wonderful provision which is made, deep in the earth, for completing the work which those animals have commenced. And we may here note the contrast between the silent and unmarked labors of working inyriads, operating by an universal and long ordained law, and the sudden, the momentary, effort of a power, which, from the rarity of its exertion, seems to be especially among the miraculous interpositions of the Creator.

It is the volcano and the earthquake, that are to complete the structure which the coral insect has laid; to elevate the mountain, and form the valley, to introduce beneath the equator the range of climate which belongs to the temperate regions, and to lay the great hydraulic engine, by which the clouds are collected to fertilize the earth, which causes the springs to burst forth and the rivers to flow.

And this is the work of one short hour.-If the coral insect was not made in vain, neither was it for destruction that God ordained the volcano and the earthquake. Thus also, by means so opposed, so contrasted, is one single end attained. And that' end is the welfare, the happiness of . man.

If man has but recently opened his eyes on the important facts which we have now stated, his chemistry is still unable to explain them. Whence all this rock: this calcareous earth? We need scarcely say that the corals all consist of calcareous earth, of lime united by animal matter. The whole appears to be the creation of the animal. It is a secretion by its organs. Not only is the production of cal

careous earth proceeding daily in this manner, but by the actions of the myriad tribes of shell fishes who are forming their larger habitations, in the same manner, and from the same material.

It is this, which forms the calcareous beds of the ocean, it is this, which has formed those enormous accumulations, in a former state of the world, which are now our mountains, the chalk and limestone of England, and the ridge of the Apennines. These are the productions of the inhabitants of an ancient ocean. Whence did it all come? We may know some day; but assuredly we do not now know.

Thus it is that we prove, that all the limestone of the world has been the produce of animals, though how produced, we, as yet know not. If a polype has constructed the great submarine mountain of New Holland, the thousand tribes and myriads of individuals, which inhabited the submarine Apennine, might as easily, far more easily, have formed that ridge. We prove that this is the case, because we find the shells in the mountains, because we find the mountains made of shells.

The Coral Insect.—Mrs. SIGOURNEY.
Toil on! toil on! ye ephemeral train,
Who build in the tossing and treacherous main;
Toil on-for the wisdom of man ye mock,
With your sand-based structures and domes of rock;
Your columns the fathomless fountains lave,
And your arches spring up to the crested wave;
Ye 're a puny race, thus to boldly rear
A fabric so vast, in a realm so drear.
Ye bind the deep with your secret zone,
The ocean is sealed, and the surge a stone;
Fresh wreaths from the coral pavement spring,
Like the terraced pride of Assyria's king;
The turf looks green where the breakers rolled;
O’er the whirlpool ripens the rind of gold;
The sea-snatched isle is the home of men,
And mountains exult where the wave hath been.

But why do ye plant 'neath the billows dark
The wrecking reef for the gallant bark?
There are snares enough on the tented field,
'Mid the blossomed sweets that the valleys yield;
There are serpents to coil, ere the flowers are up;
There's a poison drop in man's purest cup,
There are foes that watch for his cradle breath,
And why need ye sow the floods with death?
With mouldering bones the deeps are white,
From the ice-clad pole to the tropics bright;
The mermaid hath twisted her fingers cold,
With the mesh of the sea-boy's curls of gold,
And the gods of ocean have frowned to see
The mariner's bed in their balls of glee;-
Hath earth no graves, that ye thus must spread
The boundless sea for the thronging dead?

Ye build—ye build--but ye enter not in,
Like the tribes whom the desert devoured in their sin;
From the land of promise ye fade and die,
Ere its verdure gleams forth on your weary eye;
As the kings of the cloud-crowned pyramid,
Their noteless bones in oblivion hid,
Ye slumber unmarked 'mid the desolate main,
While the wonder and pride of your works remain.

Opening of the Sixth Seal.-T. GRAY, JUN.

And I beheld when he opened the Sixth Seal. Rev. vi. 12.
I stood above the mountains, and I saw,
The unveiled features of Eternity.
Th’affrighted earth did quake. The mountains reeled,
And heaved their deep foundations to the day.
The islands melted in the sea. The rocks
Toppled, and fell in fragments. Lightning shot
A fiery glare athwart the ruined world.
Chaos returned again. Th’extinguished sun
Hung black and rayless in the midnight air.
The moon became as blood. And, one by one,

The everlasting stars of heaven did fall,
Even as the fig-tree shaken by the wind,
Drops her untimely fruit. All light was dead.
The heavens--the eternal heavens themselves, that stretched
Shroud-like above the earth, were rent in twain,
And vanished like a scroll together rolled.
And men did vainly strain their aching gaze
Into the lurid gulf, that mocked the space,
The yawning space of the departing sky.
The city was a desert. Men aghast
Fled from their rocking habitations, out
Into the fields, that gaped and swallowed them,
The prisoner spurned his earthquake-riven chain,
And flung in horror his freed arms to heaven.
And men did cast themselves upon the earth,
And hid their faces; and they prayed--and died.
The living and the dead together lay;
The frantic mother, and the perished child.
And men did groyel in the parching dust,
Crawling like serpents o'er their kindred dead.
The crowned head, the lowly, and the proud,
The rich, the brave, the mighty, bond and free,
Trembled and hid themselves, and shivering crept
Into the dens, and mountain-caves, and rocks;
And in their mortal horror, lifted up
On high their hollow voices, and they prayed,
* Ye mnountains, fall on us--and ye, oh rocks!
Hide us-ay! crush us from the face of Him,
Who sitteth on the throne, and from the Lamb,
For, lo! his day of vengeance is arrived,
And who can hope to stand.'

[blocks in formation]

Bird of the broad and sweeping wing

Thy home is high in heaven,
Where wide the storms their banners fling,

And the tempest clouds are driven.

« AnteriorContinuar »