« PředchozíPokračovat »
the terrible explosion came; and the column of flame, that shot upwards into the very sky, for a moment rendered visible the whole surrounding scene, from the red flags aloft to the reddened decks below; the wide sbore with all its swarthy crowds, and the far-off glittering seas with the torn and dismantled fleets. Then darkness and silence came again, broken only by the shower of blazing fragments in which that brave ship fell upon the waters.
Till that moment, Nelson was ignorant how the battle went. He knew that every man was doing his duty; but he knew not how successfully. He had been wounded in the forehead, and found his way unnoticed to the deck in the suspense of the coming explosion. Its light was a fitting lamp for eyes like his to read by. He saw his own proud flag still floating everywhere; and, at the same moment, his crew recognised their wounded chief. Their cheer of welcome was only drowned in the renewed roar of their artillery; which continued until it no longer found an answer, and silence had confessed destruction.
Morning rose upon an altered scene. The sun had set upon as proud a fleet as ever sailed from the gay shores of France. Now only torn and blackened hulls marked the position they had then occupied ; and where their admiral's ship had been, the blank sea sparkled in the sunshine. Two ships of the line and two frigates escaped, to be captured soon afterwards; but within the bay the tricolour was flying on the Tonnant alone. As the Theseus approached to attack her, attempting to capitulate, she hoisted a flag of truce: “ Your battle-flag or none !" was the stern reply, as her enemy rounded to, and the matches glimmered over her line of guns. Slowly and reluctantly, like an expiring hope, that pale flag fluttered down from her lofty spars, and the next that floated was that of England.
And now the battle was over—India saved upon the shores of Egypt—the career of Buonaparte was checked, and his navy was annihilated. Seven years later, that navy was revived, to perish utterly at Trafalgar-a fitting hecatomb for the obsequies of Nelson, whose life seemed to terminate as his mission was accomplished.
EVIDENCES OF DESIGN IN THE WORKS OF CREATION.
WHEN we observe a number of separate forces acting in union and harmony, we must believe that there has been a designing mind bringing them together and causing them to co-operate. When we see these agencies working in happiest association to produce innumerable effects of a beneficent character,—when we find them consenting and consorting throughout thousands or myriads of years or geological ages, the evidence is felt to be overwhelming beyond the power of human calculation. Yet this is the sort of conjunctions and co-operations which is constantly presenting itself to our view. We observe everywhere a host of separate bodies and powers, all tending towards a particular end;-say a number of material substances with the vital agency, the heat agency, the light agency, the electric agency, all conspiring to the production of a living plant or animal ; or bone, nerves, and muscles, meeting to give an easy motion to a limb.
“How often,” asks Tillotson,“ might a man, after he had jumbled a set of letters in a bag, fling them out upon the ground before they would fall into an exact poem, yea, or so much as make a good discourse in prose? And may not a little book be as easily made by chance as this great volume of the world ?—How long might a man be sprinkling colours upon canvas, with a careless hand, before they would happen to make the exact picture of a man ? And is a man easier made by chance than this picture ?—How long might twenty thousand blind men, which should be sent out from the several remote parts of England, wander up and down before they would all meet upon Salisbury Plain, and fall into rank and file in the exact order of an army? And yet this is much more easy to be imagined than that the innumerable blind parts of matter should rendezvous themselves into a world."
Every manual labourer may see something analogous to the art by which he earns his livelihood, operating among the natural objects by which he is surrounded. (13)
The sailor may discover the peculiarities of his craft among marine animals. Thus, among the lower tribes, he has observed a jelly-fish-called by him the Portuguese man-of-war-setting up a sail which consists of a crest surmounting the bladder. He may notice, too, how the mussel and pinna anchor themselves by means of threads of a horny material. The tail of the fish, it is well known, acts as a scuttle, enabling its possessor to plough its way through the deep. The web-foot of the swimmers is an example of what is called “feathering the oar ;" when advanced forward the web and toes collapse ; the leg (usually so called) of the gillemot and divers is compressed laterally, presenting a knifeedge before and behind, and thus gives less resistance in the fore and back stroke. It is worthy of being mentioned, as illustrating the same point, that the whale's tail collapses in the upward but expands in the downward stroke.
The fisher, as he prepares the bladder to make the edges of his net float on the water, may observe that the sea-weed is buoyed on the surface of the deep by a contrivance more ingenious than his own—that is, by vesicles which act as floats. Most fishes have one or more bladders filled with air, the amount of which is regulated by the will of the animal, so that it can vary its depth, sink or rise to the surface, as may suit its purposes. The fisher, too, may see that if he has nets to catch the food needful for his sustenance, so also have spiders and other species of animals.
The shepherd knows how much care and watchfulness are necessary in order to protect his flocks from the wild beasts which attack them, and is thus led to admire the instincts of those animals, such as the deer, which set a watch to give a signal of danger. The hunter knows how much cunning he must exercise in order to come within reach of the wild animals pursued by him, and should not withhold a feeling of wonder when he observes how their instincts lead the brutes to show such dexterity in avoiding their natural enemies. We find that those liable to be chased as prey, often take the colour of the ground on which they habitually feed. The riflemen of our army are dressed in the hue which is deemed least conspicuous, and which is best fitted for concealment; we look
and is there not an equally clear proof of design furnished by the circumstance that fishes are often of the colour of the ground over which they swim, and that wild animals are not unfrequently of the colour of the covert in which they hide themselves ? The red grouse and red deer are of the colour of the heath on which they feed; whereas the lapwing and curlew, themselves and their eggs, take the hue of the pasture among which they are usually found. Speaking of the ptarmigan, the late Mr. Thompson says: “ We hardly draw on the imagination by viewing its plumage as an exquisite miniature of the seasonal changes which the mountain summit undergoes ;a miniature drawn, too, by a Hand that never errs !
In summer upon the beautiful mixture of gray, brown, and black, as resembling the three component parts of ordinary granite-feldspar, mica, and hornblende—among the masses of which the ptarmigan usually resides. Late in autumn, when snows begin to fall about the lofty summits, and partially cover the surface of the rocks, we find the bird pied with white; and in winter, when they present a perfect chrysolite, it is almost wholly of the same pure hue.” Nor is it unworthy of being noted, that whitish or grayish colours, which are known to be the warmest, prevail in the covering of animals in the arctic regions.
The horticulturist and agriculturist regulate their plans in accordance with the seasons, and in doing so they should observe that the plants of the ground suit themselves, in regard to the time of budding, bearing leaves and fruit, to the same seasons, which are all determined by the movements of the celestial bodies. The builder may easily perceive that the woody structure of plants and the bones of animals are constructed on architectural principles, being strengthened where weight has to be supported and pressure resisted, and becoming more slender where lightness is required. The form of the bole of a tree, and the manner in which it fixes itself into the ground, so as to be able to face the storms of a hundred winters, is said to have yielded some suggestions to the celebrated engineer, Smeaton, in the construction of the Eddystone Light-house. The architect of the Crystal Palace confesses that he derived some of the ideas embodied in that structure from obserying the wonderful provision made for bearing up the very broad leaf of the beautiful lily, which has been brought within these few years from the marshes of Guiana to adorn our conservatories. The weaver cannot but notice that there are certain tribes of insects which fashion a web of finer texture than his own. The cloth-maker obtains not a little of the material of the fabrics with which he clothes the human frame, from the covering provided for the lower animals, and he derives it all from natural products. When man wishes to protect his body from severe cold, he steals their covering from the lower animals; and by no means of his own devising can he furnish clothing so warm as that which has been provided for the brutes in the arctic regions. The dyer and calico-printer, with all the aids of modern chemistry, cannot produce such rich and agreeable colours as are made to appear, for our gratification, in the flowers of plants and the plumage of birds ; no doubt through the influence of principles which have not been detected by the very deepest scientific research. Rising higher in the arts, we find the painter taking credit to himself for the beauty of his figures and colours ; but he cannot, with all his skill and genius, match those lovely ideal forms and exquisite tints which everywhere fall under our eye in nature.
“Who can paint
Every artificial contrivance, every principle of mechanism used by man, is visibly employed in the operations of nature. The lamp placed in a window to direct the benighted traveller, the light-house erected on the harbour to guide the mariner to a place of safety, are not clearer and more decided illustrations of purpose than the phosphorescent spark by which the glow-worm allures its mate in the darkness of night. What contrivances does man resort to in order to keep his dwelling warm and comfortable ! but the physiologist will tell him that there are still more wonderful schemes devised for keeping up the heat of the bodily frame.