Page images


constitute the volume of a single cubic Within the last few years, a new inch ; the absolute number, therefore, world of living beings may be said to of these animalcules far exceeds that have opened upon our sight--a world, of all other living creatures on the surof the existence of which the ancients face of our globe taken together. Were never dreamed, and which will long mass compared with mass, that is, the continue to surprise by new facts those aggregate volume which the total of the who observe it in a series of well-con- animalcules existing throughout this ducted investigations. We allude to the globe would constitute, compared with world of microscopic animalcules. the aggregate volume which the total

In the hands of the naturalist, the of all other animals would constitute, microscope has become, like the tele- it is not improbable that the volume of scope in the hands of the astronomer, a the former would preponderate. Their source of important information, a means reproduction is perfectly astonishing; of most interesting research ; and philo- | a single individual in some instances sophers, through the aid of this instru- gives birth to millions in the space of ment, have succeeded in exploring the a few hours. After their death, the nature of beings far too minute for the un- precipitation and accumulation of their assisted eye to behold; but often of com hard investments or outer coverings plex structure, and elaborately formed. mixed up with calcareous or siliceous Among those who stand foremost in particles, produce layers of various earths the list of microscopic naturalists, Pro- and rocks, becoming consolidated by fessor Ehrenberg takes the lead. It time into clays, flints, marbles, etc., in is not only in Europe, but in Asia and which the shape of these shells and Africa, that this philosopher has assi- their characters are perfectly distinguishduously studied the minute organic pro- able, so that the very species can be ductions of nature ; and the results of determined. The Turkish stone used his persevering researches, during a for making hones, is a mass of the period of many years, have been recently fossil exuviæ of microscopic animalcules. given to the world, in various scientific In Sweden, on the shores of the lake publications of great merit, as the matured Lettnaggsjon, near Urnea, a vast quanfruit of deep inquiry. The following are tity of extremely fine pulverulent matter among the most interesting of the general is found, much resembling flour in apfacts which are established by, or are pearance, and called by the natives deducible from Professor Ehrenberg's mountain meal (Borgmehl.). It is used labours.

as food, being mixed up with flour, and Microscopic animalcules often possess is nutritive. This mountain meal is an highly organized structure, and con ascertained by examination with a mistitute two distinct classes, according to croscope to consist of nothing else than their structural peculiarities. Like other the shelly coverings of certain polygasanimals, they obey fixed laws of geo- tric animalcules, which coverings, as the graphical distribution, groups and species animals perish, accumulate from age to having assigned limits of habitation. They age, at the bottom of the waters, and abound both in the sea and in fresh water; form a deep stratum ; this drying on they often give a colour to extensive the shore, or in places no longer covered volumes of water, and by the light which by the water as formerly, assumes the they develope occasion a peculiar phos- appearance whence it has its name, and phorescence of the sea ; fishes in ponds each particle is the relic of a microscopic are sometimes made sickly or killed by animal. These beings, then, exercise a the alteration of the quality of the water great and direct influence on inorganic occasioned by their presence, or by their nature. They exist as entozoa in living decomposition after death; but that they bodies, and are themselves infested wită give rise to any pestilential deseases in external parasites and also with entozoa. the human race, or in terrestrial animals, | Like larger beings, they are affected by has never been demonstrated, though the agency of matter around them; it may have been suspected. They do their lightness permits them to be drifted not sleep, at least they have never been by the gentlest currents, and to be even observed in a state of repose which carried into the atmosphere. Some of might be so called. They are found to these animalcules present wonderful form a peculiar sort of living earth, changes of form ; but these changes and forty-one thousand millions often have certain limits, and are referable


to organic laws. It has been pretended. | contains a number equal to that of the by some that these animalcules spring whole human population of the globe. from inert matter by a kind of self- In water replete with these monads, causation ; but independently of their Dr. Ehrenberg has described species complicated structure, which alone de- not larger than the thousandth or even monstrates the fallacy of such an hypo- the two thousandth part of a line, and thesis, philosophy and common which appeared to be separated from equally militate against the doctrine. each other by intervals scarcely larger It is not, however, denied that galvanic | than themselves. Such water may alor electric agency may stimulate the most literally be called alive; it is indeed vitality of torpid embryos, which by teeming with animation : our minds are their sudden appearance will deceive overwhelmed by the idea. But each observers, and lead the unreflective to of the monads is an organized being, suppose that they have instantaneously consisting of various parts, and furnished sprung from inert matter. The organic with various instruments; it moves at frame of these beings, minute as they will, it enjoys existence! Well may we are, and transparent as they appear, is pause, lost in admiration. From the comparatively powerful, as is evinced creature we revert to the Creator, whose by the strength of the teeth in certain power is thus marvellously displayed. groups, and of their apparatus for mas With Him, there is neither great nor tication. Their actions lead to the in- little ; his hand formed, and his eye ference that they are endowed with in sees every minute animalcule, as well stincts and mental faculties of the same as all other living things-every atom character as are possessed by other ani- of matter, as well as worlds or suns. mals; at all events, they know how to He is all and in all, and his power and pursue their food, what to take, what to re- his presence are alike boundless. ject, and how to avoid danger. In their With these preliminary observations, evolutions, they swim with great activity, we introduce the first class of microscopic and though thousands tenant a single animalcules to our reader; namely, the drop of water, they do not interfere with class termed Polygastrica, from the each other's movements.

circumstance of their possessing a numSuch is a general summary of the ber of internal sacs, which are generally principal facts deduced from observations regarded as stomachs, and which are on the microscopic animalcules, all once easily seen through the transparent inconfounded under the name of “in- vestment of the animals, viewed under fusory animalcules,” because they were a powerful microscope. The polygastric found by their first discoverers to abound (or many stomached) animalcules belong in water containing vegetable matter, orin to the acritous division of the animal infusions of vegetable substances. It is, kingdom, so called because no nervous however, now ascertained that they consti- filaments are discernible in the compotute distinct classes, distinguished by mark- sition of the subjects of this section ; cd organic differences. The minuteness nor any brain or central mass to which of some is almost inconceivable; under the impressions received from external the most powerful microscope, they ap- agents can be transmitted. It is suppear only as moving points, of which posed that the nervous matter, instead eight hundred thousand millions are of being collected into threads, ramifying calculated (by means of the micrometer) through the system, is diffused univerto occupy a cubic inch of water, (such sally throughout their composition, and at least as contains them,) and were our is blended up with it; but this opinion instruments capable of still greater re is not positively proved, although profinement, and did they at the same time bability favours it. The acritous section, retain their accuracy, it is probable that in fact, comprises those groups, the orcreatures far inferior in size would be ganization of which is the most remote discovered. Let it not be supposed that from that manifested in the vertebrate we are launching out into extravagant classes, namely, sponges, polypes, acaand baseless assertions; we are detailing lephæ, and the polygastric animalfacts which have been repeatedly ob- cules. served; and, incredible as it may at first We have already said that the polyappear, startling as it is, it is proved gastric animalcules formed until very rethat a drop of water tenanted by those cently part of the Infusoria” of natursmallest of animalcules, termed monads, I alists; they now constitute a distinct class


[ocr errors]

They abound in all waters, various spe- , in diameter) as to require an instrument cies being the tenants of streams, pools, of very extraordinary powers, to present rivers, etc., of which they absolutely them to the eye. render every cubic inch teeming with Some, as the Proteus (amaba) belonglife. Some species are far more com- ing to the naked group, form for themmon than others; but the rarer kinds selves locomotive organs at pleasure, may generally be procured by steeping and are thus perpetually exhibiting dried grass or leaves in a vessel of water, changes of figure. These temporary and leaving it for a few days exposed oars are produced by the animal shootto the influence of the sun and air, when ing out processes, or finger-like appenthe infusion will be found swarming dages, from different parts of its semiwith animalcules. A drop of this in- fluid body, which are retracted, or which fusion, or of water from any pond or sink down, at will, others being again ditch, if put upon a thin slip of glass, protruded, as in this sketch. and covered with any delicate film of talc, and viewed through a microscope of about four, five, or six hundred times magnifying power, and of one fourth of an inch focus, will then present an astonishing spectacle. A little practice in the management of the instrument, and also of the eye, is necessary; for ex

Some of these animalcules, again, are perience greatly improves the eye in the use of the microscope.

furnished with jointed bristle-like apThe polygastric animalcules appear,

pendages, which are moveable, and by

their action propel the beings along; as far as researches have made us acquainted with them, to be divisible into and in addition, some have little hooks,

which enable them to stick to other two primary groups; one distinguished

(See by the soft and shelless condition of bodies, as in the Euplæa charon. the body; the other by the body being the engraving.) more or less protected by an extremely fine and transparent shell, which differs

She greatly in form in the various species ; in some it is a simple transparent shield on the back; in others, the shell approaches that of a bivalve mollusk. To the accumulation of these shells we have

Others again, and by far the most already alluded. The forms of these


have vibratory fibrils, or animalcules are as various as the species,

cilia, as locomotive organs, either disand many are perpetually changing their posed on parts of the body, or distributed figure at pleasure. All are active, and universally over its surface; their action they dance about in their native element is supposed to be circular, or in other with surprising energy, avoiding each words, they are believed to sweep round other in their mazy movements, the and round, and they produce a tremulous larger pursuing the smaller, the smaller and very perceptible current in the conendeavouring to escape. The nature of tiguous fluid, as they thus propel the their organs of locomotion here demands body onwards. In some species, as the attention. In the globular monad, the smallest of known animalcules, no or

parmecium aurelia (see the sketch) and gans of locomotion have been satisfac-. torily demonstrated; the most powerful microscope fails to detect them, if they exist. M. F. Dujardin, however, asserts that in some he has perceived a few most minute and slender filaments proceeding from their bodies, which he supposes to be locomotive agents; other microscopic observers, however, do not appear to have seen them : indeed, he others, these cilia are regularly arranged describes them as so minute and fine so as to encircle the body; but in most, (the thirty thousandth of a millimetre | they only encircle the oral aperture, or

[ocr errors]

are ranged in its vicinity, and besides fibres is discoverable either in these, acting as organs of locomotion, are or in the body of the animal itself, by agents in the acquisition of food, they the most powerful microscopes; and we produce by their incessant vibration a ask in vain the cause of such contractile current in the water, converging to the and motive power. Yet the hydra can mouth, and hurrying along with it, creep along, dilate or compress its body, either smaller animalcules or minute and twist itself in various directions. portions of vegetable matter, on which The same observations apply to the the creatures feed, and which, but for coral polypes which expand and conthis singular provision, they could tract, and move their star-like or flowernot otherwise obtain. The annexed like radii of tentacles, but in which no sketch shows the disposition of the muscular fibres are perceptible. We cilia, in the vorticella. It may here be are, indeed, obliged to conclude that the

power of contraction, expansion, and motion, is not exclusively resident in muscular structures, but that it also belongs to, or is connected with organizations of a very different character, and of which the physiologist has yet every thing to learn. The gelatinous structure of the sponge has not been found to exhibit any contractile or expansive movements, though from the circulation of water through the channels which traverse its substance, such may be suspected. But when we come to the fungiæ, the lowest of the polypes,

we find the gelatinous film which invests asked, What is the intimate structure of a calcareous laminated mass (resembling these cilia, and by what mechanism do a mushroom) to be contractile, and when they perform their rapid and unwearied rudely touched to retire as if for safety movements ?. According to Ehrenberg, between the plates of the calcareous each' fibril is governed by a muscle support. Here then we have the power surrounding its base, having its fibres of contraction and expansion in a semidisposed in a radiating manner, which by fluid gelatinous, but still vitalized film. their successive contractions give a rota

The movements, then, of the cilia of tory motion to the fibril on which they act. the polygastric animalcules, and the There are, however, many reasons to changes of figure which many of these lead us to doubt the correctness of this creatures themselves assume,

do not opinion; for it can be nothing but an necessarily involve the existence of musopinion, inasmuch as it requires a good cles, or arrangements of muscular fibres. microscope to detect the cilia or fibrils

M. themselves, and the most perfect instrument could not display such an apparatus for moving them, as that PART 11.-PREPARATIONS OF THE CONSPIRAToRs. alluded to by Ehrenberg, which must

WHILE the mass of the Romanists be inconceivably minute. Besides, the were despairing, there was one ardent supposition involving the existence of mind which was not appalled: Robert thousands of these muscles infers an Catesby determined to rescue his party organization far higher than that cha- from their supposed oppressions, and to racterizing the acrita, and one indeed re-establish Popery as the national reliof great complexity. The fact is, that gion of England. With this in view, he the subject is in utter obscurity ; it is conceived the horrid design of destroyindeed ascertained beyond a doubt that ing, by a secret and sudden stroke, the the cilia are vibratile, that they move king and queen, the lords and commons. with great rapidity, but we know no This was to be done by undermining the

In the little hydra, or fresh- parliament house, and blowing it up water polype, which is furnished with with gunpowder, on the day of the opententacular filaments, capable of vigorous ing of the session. The dreadful purmovements, and by means of which it pose appears to have been formed in the seizes its prey, no trace of muscular | spring of the year 1604.



Calesby was a gentleman of good of Fawkes. He speaks of him as “a family. Several of his ancestors had man of great piety, of exemplary temrepresented the county of Warwickshire perance, of mild and cheerful demeanour, in parliament. In his early life he re an enemy of broils and disputes, a faithcanted Popery, in which he had been ful friend, and remarkable for his puncbrought up; but, about the year 1598, tual attendance upon religious observhe resumed that profession, and devoted ances.". This is evidently the language himself most zealously to the conversion of partiality; yet the subsequent history of Protestants. He had been engaged in will probably convince the reader that several treasonable undertakings during Fawkes was rather a fanatic than a the reign of Elizabeth, which had in- ruffian. volved him in danger and trouble, and An important addition was made to pointed him out to the government as a

the traitorous band in the person of man of desperate character.

Thomas Percy, one of the gentlemen The first person to whom Catesby pensioners, a relative of the earl of communicated his intention was John Northumberland, and steward of his Wright, a gentleman of Lincolnshire, estates. His mind had been long broodhis intimate friend. He and his brother ing over the presumed wrongs and grievChristopher, who afterwards became a ances of his party. His first words, party to the plot, had been actively con when he met the others ‘at Catesby's cerned in the earl of Essex's rebellion. lodgings were, “ Well, gentlemen, shall Thomas Winter, another of the original we always talk, and never do any thing ?" conspirators, was a Worcestershire gen- Catesby whispered to him that sometleman. He had taken a prominent part thing was about to be done, and proposed in the treasonable intrigues of the that they should previously take a solemn Papists during Elizabeth's reign, had oath of secrecy. A few days afterwards conducted the negotiation with the Span- they met for the purpose, in a lonely ish king, previous to the accession of house in the fields, near the spot now James, and was in great repute for his occupied by the church of St. Clement talents and accomplishments, his exten- Danes, Strand. There they severally sive knowledge of men of influence in took the following oath, in the most the courts of Europe, and his aptitude solemn manner, on their knees : “You for the management of daring and shall swear by the blessed Trinity, and difficult enterprises.

by the sacrament you now propose to Catesby, John Wright, and Winter, receive, never to disclose, directly or inmet at Lambeth. It was there that directly, by word or circumstance, the Catesby revealed his plan. Winter matter to be proposed to you to keep started some objections, which were secret, nor desist from the execution soon overruled, and it was agreed that thereof until the rest shall give you he should go over to Flanders, to see leave.” The whole project was then Velasco, the constable of Castile, who disclosed to Percy and Fawkes, who had was on his way to England, for the pur- been hitherto unacquainted with it; and pose of concluding a treaty between this they then adjourned to an upper room of country and Spain. The object of the the house, where they heard mass, and visit was, to endeavour to secure his in- | took the sacrament from father Gerard, terposition with king James, on behalf a jesuit missionary, in confirmation of of his Roman Catholic subjects; that their vow; thus seeking to connect the the penal laws might be repealed, and sanction of religion with their diabolical Papists admitted to an equality of rights design. It was afterwards affirmed, that, with Protestants. The mission proved Gerard was not made acquainted with unsuccessful, and Winter returned to the purpose for which they met. This London, bringing with him Guido or may be reasonably doubted. The proGuy Fawkes.

bability is, to say the least, that he underFawkes was a native of Yorkshire. He stood them to be engaged in some plot had been a soldier in the Spanish army or conspiracy; and in that age of treain Flanders, and was well known to the sons, no priest was unwilling to sanctify Romanists generally. His warm zeal such undertakings by sacramental solemnand determined courage recommended ities. him to the notice of the conspirators. They next proceeded to hire a house Father Greenway, a Jesuit, who was adjoining the parliament house. It was privy to the plot, gives a high character held by one Ferris, as tenant to Whin

« PreviousContinue »