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that when the roots of a tree or plant meet with a stone or other interruption in their progress under ground, they change their direction, and avoid it! How amazing, that the numerous shoots which branch out from the root in quest of moisture, pursue, as it were by instinct, the tract that leads to it—turn from a barren to a more fertile soil, and the plants shut up in a darksome room, bend or creep to any aperture through which the rays of light may be admitted !
In these respects, the vegetable tribes may be said to possess something analogous to animal life ; but here the resemblance does not stop. How surprising the phenomenon of what is called the sleep of plants,* and the sexual system of Linnæus, founded on the discovery that there exists in the vegetable, as well as in the animal, kingdom a distinction of sexes !
What amazing variety of size, shape, and of hue, do we discover among this multitudinous order of things! What different properties do possess from others; and what a near approach do a few make to that superior order immediately above them in the scale of existence ! The sensitive plant, when slightly touched, evinces something like the timidity of our harmless animals; the hedysarum gyrans, or moving plant of the East, exhibits an incessant and spontaneous movement of its leaves during the day, in warm and clear weather; but in the night season, and in the absence of light and heat, its motions cease, and it remains, as it were, in
* The modes of folding in the leaves, or of sleeping during the night, are extremely various; but it is worthy of remark, that they all dispose themselves so as to give the best protection to the
young stem, buds, flowers, or fruits.
a state of quiescence! The American Venus' flytrap, like an animal of prey, seems to lie in wait to catch the unwary insect.
Plants, nevertheless, do not appear to have the smallest basis for sensation, admitting that sensation is the result of a nervous system; and we are not acquainted with any other source from which it can proceed. Yet, although the vessels of plants do not appear to possess any muscular fibres, we have evident proofs of the existence of a contractile and irritable power from some other principle; and the facts above referred to, among many others that might be adduced, concur in making it highly probable, that it is by the exercise of such a principle that the different fluids are propelled through their respective vessels. There is no other method by which such propulsion can be reasonably accounted for.
In what part of a plant the vital principle chiefly exists, or to what quarter it retires during the winter, we know not; but we are just as ignorant in respect to animal life. In both, it operates towards every point; it consists in the whole, and resides in the whole, and its proof of existence is drawn from its exercising almost every one of its functions, and effecting its combinations, in direct opposition to the laws of chemical affinity, which would otherwise as much control it as they control the mineral world, and which constantly assume an authority as soon as ever the vegetable is dead. Hence, the plant thrives and increases in its bulk, puts forth annually a new progeny of buds, and becomes clothed with a beautiful foliage of lungs (every leaf being a distinct lung in itself), for the respiration of the rising brood; and with an harmonious circle of action, that can never
be too much admired, furnishes a perpetual supply of nutriment, in every diversified form, for the growth and perfection of animal life ; while it receives in rich abundance, from the waste and diminution, and even decomposition, of the same, the means of new births, new buds, and new harvests.
Frosts and suns, water and air, equally promote fructification in their respective ways; and the termes or white ant, the mole, the hampster and the earth-worm break up the ground, or delve into it, that it may enjoy their salubrious influences. In like manner, they are equally the ministers of putrefaction and decomposition; and liver-worts and funguses, the ant and the beetle, the dew-worm, the ship-worm, and the wood-pecker, contribute to the general effect, and soon reduce the trunks of the stoutest oaks, if lying waste and unemployed, to their elementary principles, so as to form a productive mould for successive progenies of animal or vegetable existence. Such is the simple but beautiful circle of Nature. Everything lives, flourishes, and decays; everything dies, but nothing is lost ; for the great principle of life only changes in form, and the destruction of one generation is the vivification of the next. Hence, the Hindu mythologists, with a force and elegance peculiarly striking, and which are nowhere to be paralleled in the theogonies of Greece and Rome, describe the Supreme Being, whom they denominate Brahm, as forming and regulating the universe through the agency of a triad of inferior gods, each of whom contributes equally to the general result, under the names of Brahma, Vishnu, and Iswara ; or the generating power, the preserving and consummating power, and the decomposing power. And hence the Christian philosopher, with a simplicity as much more sublime than the Hindu's as it is more veracious, exclaims, on contemplating the regular confusion, the intricate harmony of the scenes that rise before him :
These, as they change, Almighty Father, these
III. In the primitive ages, agriculture and pasturage was a principal employment (Gen. ii. 15, iii. 17— 19, iv. 2,) and it has ever been a prominent source of the necessaries and conveniences of life. Noah, after he had escaped from the deluge, once more bestowed upon it his attention; and there were some of the Nomades, who were far from neglecting it (Gen. xxv. 34; xxvi. 12–14; xxxvii. 7; Job i. 3).
Moses, following the example of the Egyptians, made agriculture the basis of the state. Не, accordingly apportioned to every citizen a certain quantity of land, and gave him the right of tilling it himself and of transmitting it to his heirs. The person who had thus come into possession, could not alienate the property for any longer period than to the year of the coming jubilee; a regulation which prevented the rich from coming into possession of large tracts of land, and then leasing them out in small parcels to the poor. It was another law of Moses, that the vendor of a piece of land, or his nearest relative, had a right to redeem the land sold, whenever he chose, by paying the amount of profits up to the year of julibee (Ruth iv. 4; Jer. xxxii. 7.) Joshua divided the whole country which he had occupied, first, among the respective tribes, and, then, among individual Hebrews, running it out with the aid of a measuring line (Josh. xvii. 5, 14; comp.
Amos vii. 17; Micah ii. 5; Ps. lxxviii. 55; Ezek. xl. 3). The word chebel, a line, is accordingly used by a figure of speech for the heritage itself (Ps. cxi. 6; Josh. xvii. 5, 14; xix. 9).
The occupation of the husbandman was held in honour, not only for the profits which it brought, but from the circumstance that it was supported and protected by the fundamental laws of the state. All who were not set apart for religious duties, such as the priests and the Levites, whether inhabitants of the country, or of towns and cities, were considered by the laws, and were in fact, agriculturists. The rich and the noble, it is true, in the cultivation of the soil, did not always put themselves on a level with their servants, but none were so rich or so noble as to disdain to put their hand to the plough (1 Sam. xi. 7; 1 Kings xix. 19; comp. 2 Chron. xxvi. 10). The priests and Levites were indeed engaged in other employments, yet they could not withhold their honour from an occupation which supplied them with their income. The esteem in which agriculture was held, diminished as luxury increased; but it never wholly came to an end. Even after the captivity, when many of the Jews had become merchants and mechanics, the esteem and honour attached to this occupation still continued, especially under the dynasty of the Persians, who were agriculturists from motives of religion.
The soil of Palestine is very fruitful if the dews and vernal and autumnal rains are not withheld. The country, in opposition to Egypt, is eulogised for its rains in Deut. xi. 11; but the Hebrews, notwithstanding the richness of the soil, endeavoured to increase its fertility in various ways. They not only divested it of stones, but watered it by means