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Propagation of Plants.
VEGETABLES are in general propagated from seed, and in most plants the flowers produce the seeds which are to continue and preserve their fertility. Almost all flowers are folded within a bud, where they are secretly formed, being defended by their tunics and external leaves. When the sap begins to flow abundantly at the beginning of spring, the blossom swells, the bud expands, the tunics open and fall off, leaving the flower in naked beauty. We perceive on the outside some very small leaves of different colours, which serve to defend the organs of fructification, and probably to prepare the nutritious juice which enters those parts. It is however in the centre of the flower that we discover the organs of fructification. We find there a filament or stem, called pistil, which, particularly in tulips, rises pretty high, round the pistil are the stamina, capped with tops which contain a prolific dust, tinged of various hues. These stamina may be considered as the proper male organs destined to impregnate the germs, and the pistil the female part which receives the fertilizing dust.
Vegetables are also propagated by grafts. From the tender branch of a tree, when in sap, they detach an eye or beginning of a branch, with a part of the bark, and insert it between the bark and the wood of another tree, and bind up the whole very gently, by passing flax or some soft cord several times round it. From this there proceeds a branch of the same nature with the tree from which the eye was first taken, although the tree in which it is inserted be of a quite different sort.
Trees and other woody plants are propagated by slips: thus, for instance, a slip is taken from a willow, which, after being stripped of its small sprigs, is deposited in the ground; roots soon proceed from those places where branches had begun to appear, and in time it becomes a tree.
Another way of propagating vegetables is by means of roots; but these should have eyes, or they will not grow. Some plants shoot forth long filaments in all directions, which have knots or eyes; these extend their fibres in the
ground, which become so many new feet that may be separated from each other, and then form new plants. A bulbous root is a species of eye in which the rudiments of the future plant are enclosed, and between its leaves are little bulbs or eyes, which enable the plant to be propagated by the leaves to which these bulbs are attached.
What a variety of causes are requisite for the production, preservation, and propagation of vegetables! Granting that the germs already existed, what art is required to effect their development, to give growth to the plant, to preserve it when arrived at maturity, and to perpetuate its species! How fruitful a mother must the earth be, in whose bosom so many tender plants are cherished and derive their nutriment! Water, which also contributes to their support, must be composed of all those particles, the assemblage of which favours the germination of plants. The sun must put all these in motion, and cause the seeds to germinate and the fruits to be matured, by the vivifying influence of his heat.
It was necessary to establish a proper balance and a just proportion between plants, that on the one hand they might not multiply too fast, and on the other that there might always be a sufficient abundance. It was requisite that the texture, vessels, fibres, and every part of the plant, should be so disposed that the sap might penetrate them, circulate, and be so prepared and digested, that the plant might receive its proper form, size, and strength. It was necessary to deter. mine exactly what plants should spring up of themselves, and what others should require the care and cultivation of man. The work of the generation and propagation of plants is then so complicated and intricate, and passes through so many different processes, that it would be impossible to develope the great chain of causes and effects which produce such wonderful changes. However, we know sufficient to acknowledge the wisdom and beneficence of the Creator; for who else could have communicated to the elements the power of perpetuating vegetables? or have given to the sun that light and heat, the blessed effects of which upon the earth are so abundantly conspicuous? It is God alone who has created the constituent parts of plants, and who has dispersed them in the air, in the waters, and upon the earth; who has established the laws of motion, formed the atmo
sphere, and produced the sources of rain and clouds. It is God who giveth life to seeds, and existence and increase to vegetables; by his order the earth yearly renews her fruits, and each spring restores the youth of nature, and each summer perfects her beauty. Let us then for ever celebrate the power, the wisdom, and goodness of the great Creator of plants as well as of men! Let earth and heaven proclaim how great and glorious is his holy name, now and through all eternity.
Diversity of Traits in the Human Countenance.
IT is an evident proof of the adorable wisdom of God, that though the bodies of men are so similar to each other in their essential parts, there is yet such a diversity in their exterior, that they can be readily distinguished without the liability of error. Amongst the many millions of men existing in the universe, there are no two that are perfectly similar to each other: each one has some peculiarity pourtrayed in his countenance, or remarkable in his speech; and this diversity of countenance is the more singular, because the parts which compose it are very few, and in each person they are disposed according to the same plan. If all things had been produced by blind chance, the countenances of men might have resembled one another as nearly as balls cast in the same mould, or drops of water out of the same bucket: but as that is not the case, we must admire the infinite wisdom of the Creator, which, in thus diversifying the traits of the human countenance, has manifestly had in view the happiness of men; for if they resembled each other perfectly, they could not be distinguished from one another, to the utter confusion and detriment of society. We should never be certain of life, nor of the peaceable possession of our property; thieves and robbers would run little risk of detection, for they could neither be distinguished by the traits of their countenance nor the sound of their voice. Adultery, and every crime that stains hu
manity, might be practised with impunity, since the guilty would rarely be discovered; and we should be continually exposed to the machinations of the villain and the malignity of the coward: we could not shelter ourselves from the confusions of mistake, nor from the treachery and fraud of the deceitful; all the efforts of justice would be useless, and commerce would be the prey of error and uncertainty: in short, the uniformity and perfect similarity of faces would deprive society of its most endearing charms, and destroy the pleasure and sweet gratification of individual friendship. The variety of features, then, constitutes part of the plan of divine government, and is a strong proof of God's tender care over us; for it is very evident that he has disposed the particular parts of the body with as much wisdom as he has manifested in its general structure, and we are compelled to admire his beautiful and wise arrangement in this as well as in every other part of the creation.
The universal Care of God over his Creatures.
ALL the creatures which live in the air, in the waters, and upon the earth, enjoy the care of Providence; by which they are maintained in their particular states, and live, thrive, and propagate their species; each according to the faculties it has received, and in its own particular nature, fulfilling the end for which it had existence upon the earth. Animals destitute of reason are provided with organs, strength, and sagacity, adapted to their several destinations. Their instinct teaches them what is dangerous or hurtful, and enables them to seek, discern, and prepare, the aliment and the habitation destined for them. All this is involuntary, it is not the result of choice and reflection; they are irresistibly impelled to it by propensities which a Superior Power has given them for the preservation and support of their lives. They find suitable food and convenient habitations, and no species of animals is destitute of what is necessary to its subsistence and well-being.
Man is of a superior nature, but he comes into the world in a state of greater feebleness, and has much more need of assistance than most other animals. His faculties, neces sities, and desires, are greater and more numerous, as well as more urgent, and require more care and attention: hence we find he is more favoured with the regard, and more cherished by the blessings, of divine Providence. The earth, the air, and the water, the clouds, and the reflected light of the luminous spheres revolving.in space, contribute in an abundant and diversified manner to the preservation and happiness of man. God has distributed his blessings to all intelligent beings with an impartial love, and he has subjected to their dominion creatures destitute of reason, whose lives and strength are employed in their service.
What again particularly merits our attention is, that all the habitable parts of the earth afford a sufficient degree of nutriment to the creatures which live there. Thus, not only the fertile bosom of the earth, but the vast plains of air, and the depths of the sea, teem with alimentary matter suitable for the support of the innumerable multitudes that exist in these elements. The treasures of divine bounty are infinite; and the provisions that God has prepared for all his creatures answer every want, supply every necessity, and can never be exhausted. The world does not decay, and the sun daily shines with his wonted light and accustomed heat. The fertility of the earth does not diminish; the seasons regularly succeed each other; and the fields never fail to offer their annual tribute of fruit for the support of the animal world.
Whether we consider the constancy, the riches, or the diversity of the means of subsistence which nature affords in all situations, we always perceive the traces of an allbountiful Providence. All things which surround us, and which serve to support us and procure the comforts and pleasures of life, are so many visible means, so many open channels, by which our Preserver and glorious Benefactor distributes his favours and diffuses his blessings. The agents of nature are the ministers which fulfil the designs of Providence; the world is as his magazine, from which we draw all that we need; and it is only to his parental care, and that ineffable goodness, the essence of divine nature, that we owe all these benefits.