Слике страница
PDF
ePub

The frequent stops they made in the most convenient places, are a plain indication of their weariness. Some of them were strangely perplexed, and could not get to their journey's end. In such a case, the strongest ants, or those that are not so weary, having carried their corn to their nests, came down again to help them. Some are so unfortunate as to fall down with their load, when they are almost come home. When this happens they seldom lose their corn, but carry it up again.

'I saw one of the smallest carrying a large grain of wheat with incredible pains. When she came to the box where the nest was, she made so much haste that she fell down with her load, after a very laborious march. Such an unlucky accident would have vexed a philosopher. I went down, and found her with the same corn in her paws. She was ready to climb up again. The same misfortune happened to her three times. Sometimes she fell in the middle of her way, and sometimes higher; but she never let go her hold, and was not discouraged. At last her strength failed her: she stopt; and another ant helped her to carry her load, which was one of the largest and finest grains of wheat that an ant can carry. It happens sometimes, that a corn slips out of their paws when they are climbing up; they take hold of it again, when they can find t; otherwise they look for another, or take something else, being ashamed to return to their nest without bringing something. This I have experimented, by taking away the grain which they looked for. All those experiments may easily be made by any one that has patience enough: they do not require so great a patience as that of ants; but few people are capable of it.'

No. 157.] Thursday, September 10, 1713.

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise. Prov. vi. 6.

the species, and contributes nothing either to the riches of the commonwealth, or to the maintenance of himself and family, consider that instinct with which Providence has endowed the ant, and by which is exhibited an example of industry to rational creatures. This is set forth under many surprising instances in the paper of yesterday, and in the conclusion of that narrative, which is as follows:

"

Thus my ants were forced to make shift for a livelihood, when I had shut up the garret, out of which they used to fetch their provisions, At last being sensible that it would be a long time before they could discover the small heap of corn which I had laid up for them, I resolved to show it to them.

It has been observed by writers of morality, that in order to quicken human industry, Providence has so contrived it, that our daily food is not to be procured without much pains and labour. The chace of birds and beasts, the several arts of fishing, with all the different kinds of agriculture, are necessary scenes of business, and give employment to the greatest part of mankind. If we look into the brute creation, we find all its individuals engaged in a painful and laborious way of life, to procure a necessary subsistence for themselves, or those that grow up under them. The preservation of their being is the whole business of it. An idle man is therefore a kind of monster in the creation. All nature is busy about him; every animal he sees reproaches him. Let such a man, who lies as a burden or dead weight upon

'In order to know how far their industry could reach, I contrived an expedient, which had good success. The thing will appear incredible to those who never considered that all animals of the same kind, which form a society, are more knowing than others. I took one of the largest ants, and threw her upon that small heap of wheat. She was so glad to find herself at liberty, that she ran away to her nest, without carrying off a grain; but she observed it: for an hour after, all my ants had notice given them of such a provision; and I saw most of them very busy in carrying away the corn I had laid up in the room, I leave it to you to judge, whether it may not be said, that they have a particular way of communicating their knowledge to one another; for otherwise, how could they know, one or two hours after, that there was corn in that place? It was quickly exhausted; and I put in more, but in a small quantity, to know the true extent of their appetite or prodigious avarice; for I make no doubt but they lay up provisions against the winter. We read it in holy scripture; a thousand experiments teach us the same; and I do not believe that any experiment has been made that shows the contrary,

'I have said before, that there were three ants' nests in that box or parterre, which formed, if I may say so, three different cities, governed by the same laws, and observing the same order, and the same customs. However there was this difference, that the inhabitants of one of those holes seemed to be more know. ing and industrious than their neighbours. The ants of that nest were disposed in a better order; their corn was finer; they had a greater plenty of provisions; their nest was furnished with more inhabitants, and they were bigger and stronger. It was the principal and the capital nest. Nay, I observed that those ants were distinguished from the rest, and had some pre-eminence over them.

Though the box full of earth, where the ants had made their settlement, was generally free from rain, yet it rained sometimes upon it, when a certain wind blew. It was a great

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

inconvenience for those insects. Ants are afraid
of water; and when they go a great way in
quest of provisions, and are surprised by the
rain, they shelter themselves under some tile,
or something else, and do not come out until
the rain is over. The ants of the principal
nest found out a wonderful expedient to keep
out the rain: there was a small piece of a flat
slate, which they laid over the hole of their nest
in the day-time, when they foresaw it would
rain, and almost every night. Above fifty of
those little animals, especially the strongest,
surrounded that piece of slate, and drew it
equally in a wonderful order. They removed it
in the morning; and nothing could be more cu-
rious than to see those little animals about such
a work. They had made the ground uneven
about their nest, insomuch that the slate did
not lie flat upon it, but left a free passage un-
derneath. The ants of the two other nests did
not so well succeed in keeping out the rain :
they laid over their holes several pieces of
old and dry plaster, one upon the other; but
they were still troubled with the rain, and the
next day they took a world of pains to repair
the damage. Hence it is, that those insects
are so frequently to be found under tiles, where
they settle themselves to avoid the rain. Their
nests are at all times covered with those tiles,
without any encumbrance, and they lay out
their corn and their dry earth in the sun about
the tiles, as one may see every day. I took care
to cover the two ants' nests that were troubled
with the rain. As for the capital nest, there was
no need of exercising my charity towards it.

away in less than two hours; which made me believe that it was impossible to make a fourth settlement in my box.

'Two or three days after, going accidentally over the terrace, I was much surprised to see the ants' nest which I had destroyed, very artfully repaired. I resolved then to destroy it entirely, and to settle those ants in my box. To succeed in my design, I put some gunpowder and brimstone into their hole, and sprung a mine, whereby the whole nest was overthrown; and then I carried as many ants as I could get, into the place which I designed for them. It happened to be a very rainy day, and it rained all night; and therefore they remained in the new hole all that time. In the morning when the rain was over, most of them went away to repair their old babitation; but finding it impracticable by reason of the smell of the powder and brimstone, which kills them, they came back again, and settled in the place I had appointed for them. They quickly grew acquainted with their neighbours, and received from them all manner of assistance out of their holes. As for the inside of their nest, none but themselves were concerned in it, according to the inviolable laws established among those animals.

'An ant never goes into any other nest but her own; and if she should venture to do it, she would be turned out, and severely punished. I have often taken an ant out of one nest, to put her into another; but she quickly came out, being warmly pursued by two or three other ants. I tried the same experiment scveral times with the same ant; but at last the other ants grew impatient, and tore her to pieces. I have often frighted some ants with my fingers, and pursued them as far as another hole, stopping all the passages to prevent their going to their own nest. It was very natural for them to fly into the next hole. Many a man would not be so cautious, and would throw himself out of the windows, or into a well, if he were pursued by assassins. But the ants I am speaking of avoided going into any other hole but their own, and rather tried all other ways of making their escape. They never fled into another nest, but at the last extremity; and sometimes chose rather to be taken, as I have often experienced. It is therefore an inviolable custom among those insects, not to go into any other hole but their own. They do not exercise hospitality; but they are very ready to help one another out of their holes. They put down their loads at the entrance of a neighbouring nest; and those that live in it carry them in.

C

6 M. de la Loubere says, in his relation of Siam, that in a certain part of that kingdom, which lies open to great inundations, all the ants make their settlements upon trees. No ants' nests are to be seen any where else. I need not insert here what that author says about those insects: you may see his relation,

'Here follows a curious experiment, which I made upon the same ground, where I had three ants' nests. I undertook to make a fourth, and went about it in the following manner. In a corner of a kind of a terrace, at a considerable distance from the box, I found a hole swarming with ants, much larger than all those I had already seen; but they were not so well provided with corn, nor under so good a government. I made a hole in the box like that of an ants' nest, and laid, as it were, the foundations of a new city. Afterwards I got as many ants as I could out of the nest in the terrace, and put them into a bottle, to give them a new habitation in my box; and because I was afraid they would return to the terrace, I destroyed their old nest, pouring boiling wa- They keep up a sort of trade among themter into the hole, to kill those ants that re-selves; and it is not true that those insects are mained in it. In the next place, I filled the new hole with the ants that were in the bottle; but none of them would stay in it. They went

not for lending: I know the contrary. They lend their corn; they make exchanges; they are always ready to serve one another; and I

can assure you, that more time aud patience would have enabled me to observe a thousand things more curious and wonderful than what I have mentioned. For instance, how they lend and recover their loans; whether it be in the same quantity, or with usury; whether they pay the strangers that work for them, &c. I do not think it impossible to examine all those things: and it would be a great curiosity to know by what maxims they govern themselves. Perhaps such a knowledge might be of some use to us.

6

They are never attacked by any enemies in a body, as it is reported of bees. Their only fear proceeds from birds, which sometimes eat their corn when they lay it out in the sun; but they keep it under ground when they are afraid of thieves. It is said that some birds eat them; but I never saw any instance of it. They are also infested by small worms; but they turn them out and kill them. I observed that they punish those ants which probably had been wanting to their duty; nay, sometimes they killed them; which they did in the following manner: Three or four ants fell upon one, and pulled her several ways, until she was torn in pieces. Generally speaking, they live very quietly; from whence I infer that they have a very severe discipline among themselves, to keep so good an order; or that they are great lovers of peace if they have no occasion for any discipline.

No. 158.] Friday, September 11, 1713.

Gnossins hæc Rhadamanthus habet durissima regna,
Castagatqne, auditque dolos; subigitque fateri
Que quis apud superos, furto lætatus inani,
Distalk in seram commissa piacula mortem.
Virg. Æn. vi. 566.

These are the realms of uurelenting fate:
Aud awful Rhadamanthus rules the state.
He hears and judges each committed crime;
Inquires into the manner, place, and time.
The conscious wretch inust all his acts reveal,
Loath to confess, unable to conceal,

From the first moment of his vital breath,
To the last hour of unrepenting death.

Dryden.

I was yesterday pursuing the hint which I mentioned in my last paper, and comparing together the industry of man with that of other creatures; in which I could not but observe, that notwithstanding we are obliged by duty to keep ourselves in constaut employ, after the same manner as inferior animals are prompted to it by instinct, we fall very short of them in this particular. We are here the more inexcusable, because there is a greater variety of business to which we may apply ourselves. Reason opens to us a large field of affairs, which other creatures are not capable of. Beasts of prey, and I believe of all other kinds, in their natural state of being, divide their time between action and rest. They are always at work, or asleep. In short their waking hours are wholly taken up in seeking after their food, or in consuming it. The human species only, to the great reproach of our na-' tures, are filled with complaints, that the day hangs heavy on them,' that they do not know what to do with themselves,' that 'they are at a loss how to pass away their time,' with many of the like shameful murmurs, which we often find in the mouths of those who are styled

'Was there ever a greater union in any commonwealth? Every thing is common among them; which is not to be seen any where else. Bees, of which we are told so many wonderful things, have each of them a hole in their hives; their honey is their own; every bee minds her own concerns. The same may be said of all other animals. They frequently fight, to de-reasonable beings.' How monstrous are such prive one another of their portion. It is not expressions among creatures who have the so with ants: they have nothing of their own; labours of the mind, as well as those of the a grain of corn which an ant carries home, is body, to furnish them with proper employdeposited in a common stock. It is not de- ments! Who, besides the business of their signed for her own use, but for the whole com. proper callings and professions, can apply themmunity; there is no distinction between a pri- selves to the duties of religion, to meditation, vate and a common interest. An ant never to the reading of useful books, to discourse! works for herself, but for the society, In a word, who may exercise themselves in the unbounded pursuits of knowledge and virtue, and every hour of their lives make themselves wiser or better than they were before!

6

Whatever misfortune happens to them, their care and industry find out a remedy for it; nothing discourages them. If you destroy their nests, they will be repaired in two days. Any body may easily see how difficult it is to drive them out of their habitations, without destroying the inhabitants; for as long as there are any left, they will maintain their ground.

After having been taken up for some time in this course of thought, I diverted myself with a book according to my usual custom, in order to unbend my mind before I went to sleep. The book I made use of on this occasion was Lucian, where I amused my thoughts for about an hour among the dialogues of the dead, which in all probability produced the following dream.

|

'I had almost forgot to tell you, sir, that mercury has hitherto proved a mortal poison for them; and that it is the most effectual way of destroying those insects. I can do something for them in this case: perhaps you will hear in a little time that I have reconciled them to mercury.'

I was conveyed, methought, into the entrance of the infernal regions, where I saw Rhadamanthus, one of the judges of the dead

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

6

flirts, that I passed most of my last years in
condemning the follies of the times; I was
every day blaming the silly conduct of people
about me, in order to deter those I conversed
with from falling into the like errors and mis-
carriages. Very well,' says Rhadamantbus,
but did you keep the same watchful eye over
your own actions?' 'Why truly,' says she,
I was so taken up with publishing the faults
of others, that I had no time to consider my
own.' Madam,' says Rhadamanthus,' be
pleased to file off to the left, and make room
for the venerable matron that stands behind
you.' Old gentlewoman,' says he, 'I think
you are four-score. You have heard the ques-
tion, What have you been doing so long in the
world?' 'Ah, sir,' says she, I have been doing
what I should not have done, but I had made
a firm resolution to have changed my life, if
I had not been snatched off by an untimely
end.'
Madam,' says he, you will please to
follow your leader;' and spying another of the
same age, interrogated her in the same form.

·

·

which the matron replied, 'I have been the wife of a husband who was as dear to me in his old age as in his youth. I have been a mother, and very happy in my children, whom I endeavoured to bring up in every thing that is good. My eldest son is blest by the poor, and beloved by every one that knows him. I lived within my own family, and left it much more

6

seated in his tribunal. On his left-hand stood
the keeper of Erebus, on his right the keeper
of Elysium. I was told he sat upon women
that day, there being several of the sex lately
arrived who had not yet their mansions assigned
them. I was surprised to hear him ask every
one of them the same question, namely, 'What
they had been doing?' Upon this question
being proposed to the whole assembly, they
stared one upon another, as not knowing what
to answer. He then interrogated each of them
separately. Madam,' says he to the first of
them, you have been upon the earth about
fifty years: what have you been doing there
all this while?' Doing says she, really
I do not know what I have been doing: I de-
sire I may have time given me to recollect.'
After about half an hour's pause she told him,
that she had been playing at crimp; upon which
Rhadamanthus beckoned to the keeper on his
left-hand, to take her into custody. And
you, madam,' says the judge, that look with
such a soft and languishing air; I think you
set out for this place in your nine-and-twen-To
tieth year;
what have you beer doing all this
while? I had a great deal of business on my
bands,' says she, being taken up the first
twelve years of my life, in dressing a jointed
baby, and all the remaining part of it in read-
ing plays and romances.' Yery well,' says he,
you have employed your time to good purpose.
Away with her!' The next was a plain country-wealthy than I found it.' Rhadamanthus, who
woman. 'Well, mistress,' says Rhadamanthus, knew the value of the old lady, smiled upon
i and what have you been doing?' 'An't please her in such a manner, that the keeper of
your worship,' says she, I did not live quite Elysium, who knew his office, reached out his
forty years; and in that time brought my hus- hand to her. He no sooner touched her but
band seven daughters, made him nine thousand her wrinkles vanished, her eyes sparkled, her
cheeses, and left my eldest girl with him, to cheeks glowed with blushes, and she appeared
look after his house in my absence, and who, in full bloom and beauty. A young woman
I may venture to say, is as pretty a housewife observing that this officer, who conducted the
as any in the country.' Rhadamanthus smiled happy to Elysium, was so great a beautifier,
at the simplicity of the good woman, and or- longed to be in his hands; so that pressing
dered the keeper of Elysium to take her into through the crowd, she was the next that ap
his care.
And you, fair lady,' says he,' what peared at the bar; and being asked what she
have you been doing these five-and-thirty years?' had been doing the five-and-twenty years that
'I have been doing no hurt, I assure you sir,' she had passed in the world, I have endea-
said she. That is well,' said he ; but what voured,' says she,' ever since I came to years
good have you been doing?' The lady was in of discretion, to make myself lovely, and gain
great confusion at this question, and not know- admirers. In order to it, I passed my time in
ing what to answer, the two keepers leaped bottling up May-dew, inventing white-washes,
out to seize her at the same time; the one took mixing colours, cutting out patches, consulting
her by the hand to convey her to Elysium, the my glass, suiting my complexion, tearing off
other caught hold of her to carry her away to my tucker, sinking my stays Rhadamanthus,
Erebus. But Rhadamanthus observing an in- without hearing her out, gave the sign to take
genuous modesty in her countenance and be- her off. Upon the approach of the keeper of
haviour, bid them both let her loose, and set Erebus her colour faded, her face was puckerea
her aside for a re-examination when he was up with wrinkles, and her whole person lost in
more at leisure. An old woman, of a proud deformity.
and sour look, presented herself next at the bar,
and being asked, what she had been doing?
Truly,' says she,' I lived three-score and ten
years in a very wicked world, and was so
angry at the behaviour of a parcel of young

"

6

|

I was then surprised with a distant sound of a whole troop of females that came forward, laughing, singing, and dancing. I was very desirous to know the reception they would meet with, and withal was very apprehensive

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

that Rhadamanthus would spoil their mirth: | she looked upon as her inferiors. There lived but at their nearer approach the noise grew so very great that it awakened me.

I lay some time, reflecting in myself on the oddness of this dream, and could not forbear asking my own heart, what I was doing? I answered myself, that I was writing Guardians. If my readers make as good a use of this work as I design they should, I hope it will never be imputed to me as a work that is vain and unprofitable.

by them a barber who bad a daughter about miss's age, that could speak French, had read several books at her leisure hours, and was a perfect mistress of her needle, and in all kinds of female manufacture. She was at the same time a pretty, modest, witty girl. She was hired to come to miss an hour or two every day, to talk French with her, and teach her to work; but miss always treated her with great contempt; and when Molly gave her any advice, rejected it with scorn.

About the same time several young fellows made their addresses to miss Betty, who bad indeed a great deal of wit and beauty, had they not been infected with so much vanity and self-conceit. Among the rest was a plain sober

I shall conclude this paper with recommending to them the same short self-examination. If every one of them frequently lays his hand upon his heart, and considers what he is doing, it will check him in all the idle, or what is worse, the vicious moments of life; lift up his mind when it is running on in a series of in-young man, who loved her almost to distraedifferent actions, and encourage him when he tion. His passion was the common talk of is engaged in those which are virtuous and the neighbourhood, who used to be often dislaudable. In a word, it will very much alle- coursing of Mr. T▬▬▬'s angel, for that was viate that guilt which the best of men have the name he always gave her in ordinary conreason to acknowledge in their daily confessions, versation. As his circumstances were very of leaving undone those things which they indifferent, he being a younger brother, Mrs. ought to have done, and of doing those things Betty rejected him with disdain. Insomuch, which they ought not to have done.' that the young man, as is usual among those who are crossed in love, put himself aboard the fleet, with a resolution to seek his fortune, and forget his mistress. This was very happy for him, for in a very few years, being coucerned in several captures, he brought home with him an estate of about twelve thousand pounds.

No. 159.] Saturday, September 12, 1715.
Præsens vel imo tollere de gradu
Mortale corpus, vel superbos

Vertere funeribus triumphos.

Hor. Lib. 1. Od. xxxv. 2.
Whose force is strong, and quick to raise
The lowest to the highest place;

Or with a wond'rons fall

To bring the haughty lower,

And turn proud triumphs to a funeral. Creech.

[ocr errors]

SIR,

HAVING read over your paper of Tuesday last, in which you recommend the pursuits of wisdom and knowledge to those of the fair sex, who have much time lying upon their hands, and among other motives make use of this, that several women, thus accomplished, have raised themselves by it to considerable posts of honour and fortune: I shall beg leave to give you an instance of this kind, which many now living can testify the truth of, and which I can assure you is matter of fact.

6

About twelve years ago, I was familiarly acquainted with a gentleman who was in a post that brought him a yearly revenue, sufficient to live very handsomely upon. He had a wife, and no child but a daughter, whom he bred up, as I thought, too high for one that could expect no other fortune than such a one as her father could raise out of the income of his place; which as they managed it was scarce sufficient for their ordinary expenses, Miss Betty had always the best sort of clothes, and was hardly allowed to keep company but with those above her rank; so that it was no wonder she grew proud and haughty towards those

Meanwhile days and years went on, miss lived high, and learnt but little, most of her time being employed in reading plays and practising to dance, in which she arrived at great perfection. When of a sudden, at a change of ministry, her father lost his place, and was forced to leave London, where he could no longer live upon the foot he had formerly done. Not many years after, I was told the poor gentleman was dead, and had left his widow and daughter in a very desolate condition, but I could not learn where to find them, though I made what inquiry I could; and I must own, I immediately suspected their pride would not suffer them to be seen or relieved by any of their former acquaintance. I had left inquiring after them for some years, when I happened, not long ago, as I was asking at a house for a gentleman I had some business with, to be led into a parlour by a handsome young woman, who I presently fancied was that very daughter I had so long sought in vain. My suspicion increased, when I observed her to blush at the sight of me, and to avoid, as much as possible, looking upon, or speaking to me: Madam," said I, are not you Mrs. such-a-one?" At which words the tears ran down her cheeks, and she would fain have retired without giving me an answer; but I stopped her, and being to wait a while

66

46

« ПретходнаНастави »