Page images
PDF
EPUB

We must now make an end of our extracts with giving the following anecdotes illustrative of the skill and proficiency of the Chinese in the useful arts. We omit a most execrable piece of fine writing, which is dashed into the passage, about the soar, ing nature of the mind; adamants, fibres, spectres, ores and other figures.

• Having often observed numbers of blind persons, but never having met a wooden leg, or a deformed limb here, I concluded that good oculists were very rare, and that death was the usual consequence of a fracture. The viceroy told me I was right in my conjeure; but when I told him of many things in England, and which I had brought people with me to instruct the Chinese in, if it had been allowed, such as the reanimating drowned persons by a mechanical operation, restoring fight to the blind by the extraction or depression of the glaucoma, and repairing and amputating limbs by manual dexterity, both he and his compapions seemed as if awakened out of a dream, and could not conceal their regret for the court's coldness and indifference to our discoveries. From the manner of these gentlemen's inquiries, the remarks which they made, and the impreffions they seemed to feel, I have conceived a much higher opinion of their liberality and understanding. Whether in these two respects the minister be really inferior to them, or whether he aas upon a certain public system, whieh often supersedes private conviction, I know not; but certain it is, that in a conversation with him at Gehol, when I mentioned to him some recent inventions of European ingenuity, particularly that of the air-balloon, and that I had taken care to provide one at Pekin, with a person to go up in it, he not only discouraged that experiment, but most of the others which, from a perusal of all the printed accounts of this country, we had calculated and prepared for the meridian of China. Whatever taste the emperor Cam-bi might have shown for the sciences, as related by the Jesuits in his day, his successors have not inherited it with his other great qualities and poffeßions ; for it would now seem that the policy and vanity of the court equally concurred in endeavouring to keep out of light whatever can manifeft our pre-eminence, which they undoubtedly feel, but have not as yet learned to make the proper use of. It is, however, in vain to attempt arreiting the progress of human knowledge. -I am indeed very much miftaken, if all the authority and all the address of the Tartar government will be able much longer to Rifle the energies of their Chinese subjects. Scarce. ly a year now passes without an insurrection in some of the provinces. It is true, they are usually foon fuppreffed ; but their frequency is a ftrong symptom of the fever within. The paroxysm is repelled; but the disease is not cured.' 11.-363-365.

From Canton, the embassy proceeded to Macao ; where Lord Macartney falls into that breach of the tenth commandment, so usually committed by Englishmen. Because the possession of that settlement is held by the Portuguese, on terms equally useless and degrading to them' (which we should fancy is rather

their own affair than our's), he is for our getting it from them by all means. If,' says he, they made a difficulty of parting with it to us on fair terms, it might easily be taken from them by a small force from Madras, and the compensation and irregularity be settled afterwards.'-II. p. 396. This monstrous sentiment is so unlike the rest of Lord Macartney's conduct, that we wish his biographer had omitted it, although he found it in his private journal. To publish is rather worse than to write such a thing. Lord Macartney was not bred under a late government at Calcutta; nor had England, in his day, bowed her lofty head to the example of France, in the profligate policy of later times.

ART. IV. Nouvelles Observations sur les Abeilles, adresseés à M. · Charles Bonnet, par François Huber.

New Obfervations on the Natural History of Bees. By Francis Hu

ber. Translated from the original. izmo. Pp. 300. J. Arderfon, Edinburgh. Longman & Co. London. 1806.

THE
The natural history of the common bee has been more carefully

examined, and more amply treated of than that of any other of the insect tribe. Yet so complicated and extraordinary are some of the processes of nature, that the most diligent observer3 were long utterly unable to account for fome circumstances in the history of this infect, and published to the world the most oppofite explanations. Several of the most important and intricate problems, however, seem now to be finally resolved by the Gene. vese observer M. Huber, of whole valuable little work we purpose to lay before our readers a pretty full analysis. We regard the facts contained in this volume as extremely important to the natusalift ; for they not only greatly elucidate the history of this wonderful infect, but present some fingular facts in physiology hitherto unknown, and even unfufpected.

For the sake of those who may never have made bees the particular object of their study, it may not be unacceptable, previously to sketch, in a very few words, the striking outlines of their hil. tory; and to explain some terms generally employed in treating of them.

A hive contains three kinds of bees. 1. A single queen-bee, distinguishable by the great length of her body, and the proportional Ahortness of her wings. 2. Working-bees, female non-breeders, or, as they were formerly called, neuters, to the amount of many thoufands : these are the smallest sized bees in the hive, and

are

are armed with a sting. 3. Drones or males, to the number perhaps of 1500 or 2000 : these are larger than the workers, and of a darker colour ; they make a greater noise in flying, and have no fting. The whole labour of the community is performed by the workers: they elaborate the wax, and conitruct the cells; they collect the honey, and feed the brood. The drones, numerous as they are, serve no other purpose than to insure the impregnation of the few young queens that may be produced in the course of the season; and they are regularly massacred by the workers in the beginning of autumn.

It is the office of the queen-bee to lay the eggs. These remain about three days in the cells before they are hatched. A small white worm then makes its appearance, (called indifferently worm, larva, maggot or grub): this larva is fed with honey for some days, and then changes into a nymph or pupa. * After passing a certain period in this state, it comes forth a perfect winged insect.

M. Huber sets out with describing the kind of improved glass hive which he employed in his experiments, and which he himself invented. He styles it the leaf-hive or book-hive, (ruche en feuillets, or ruche en livre), from its opening and fhutting somewhat in the manner of the leaves of a book. It confifts of several frames or boxes a foot square, and in width fifteen French lines, or fixteen English, that is, an inch and one third : the boxes are placed parallel to each other, and connected together by hinges. Availing himself of a known instinct in the bees leading them to complete any piece of a comb in the direâion in which they find it begun, unless they meet with some insurmountable obstacle ; he placed pieces of comb in each box, in such a position as to in. duce them to build perpendicular to the horizon. The lateral furfaces of the combs were thus only three or four lines distant from the glass panes; and, by opening the different divifions of the hive successively, both surfaces of every comb were, at pleasure, brought fully into view. M. Huber did not experience any difficulty in introducing swarms into these leaf-hives; and he found, that after the laple of about three days, when the colony was. fairly established, the bees submitted patiently to his daily inspections. Their tranquillity he ascribes, with some probability, to the surprize, and perhaps fear, produced by the sudden admifsion

of

* Some authors employ the terms chrysalis and aurelia in speaking of bees, as if they were synonymous with nympba : but a nympb is distinguished by being always rather foft, of a pale or dull colour, and exhibiting the traces of the extremities; while a chrysalis or aurelia is crustaceous, and generally, as implied in the name, of a golden yellow colour

of the light; for he observed that they were always lefs tra&table after sunset, An engraved plan of the leaf-hive accompanies the work; and from it, along with the explanation given by the author, we have no doubt that any person, fond of observing the wonderful economy of the busy tribe, might easily construct such a hive, and we believe that he would also find it moft excellently adapted to the purpose in view. Both the queen-bee and the drones being confiderably larger than the working bees, by adapting glass-tubes exactly to the size of the workers, both queens and drones may be effectually excluded or effe&tually kept prisoners, as the nature of the experiments may require.

The work appears in the form of letters, written, or supposed to be written, by M. Huber to the late M. Bonnet, the celebrated author of the Contemplation de la Nature. Nine of the letters are occupied with the natural history of the queen bee; three treat of the formation of swarms; and the last, or thirteenth letter, contains some economical considerations on bees. The experiments are detailed with great perspicuity; pretty much in the familiar style in which they had been entered in M. Huber's journal: by this means, the reader is in some measure led to consider himself as looking on, or assisting the author to perform them. Subjoined to the first letter, there is an epistle from M. Bonnet to Huber, in which that philosopher suggests a number of experiments, the prosecution and results of several of which, are related in the subsequent part of the work.

In the first two letters, he treats of the impregnation of the queen bee, a subject hitherto involved in the most profound obscurity. The drones are evidently males ; but the most careful observation had never been able to detect any thing like sexual intercourse between them and the queen bees. Schirach (a German naturalist, well known for his discoveries concerning bees) boldly denied that such intercourse was necessary to her imprego nation; and in this he is stoutly supported by our countryman Bonner. Swammerdam, again, remarking that the drones, at certain seasons, when collected in clusters, exhaled a strong odour, broached an opinion that this odour, proceeding from whole clusters of drones, was a kind of aura seminalis, which produced fecundation by penetrating the body of the female. There are generally from 1500 to 2000 males in a hive, while there are only two or three queens to be impregnated in a season ; and Swammerdam seemed to have found, in his hypothesis, an easy explanation of this enormous disproportion in the numbers of the

Réaumur, however, combated this fanciful doctrine; and our author has confuted it by direct experiment. He confined all the drones of a hive in a tin case, perforated with minute holes, sufficient to allow any emanation to escape. This tin case

was

sexes.

was placed in a well inhabited hive, where there was a young queen, who could not fail to be subjected to the odour ; but she remained barren.

Maraldi was the first to suggest another hypothesis, which apparently possessed a greater degree of probability; he imagined that the eggs were fecundified by the drones, after being deposited in the cells, in a way analogous to the fecundation of the spawn of fishes by the milters. Mr Debraw of Cambridge, (in Phil. Trans. 1777), strenuously supported this doctrine, and gave it a certain degree of plausability, by referring to numerous experiments: he even affirmed, that the milt-like fluid of the drones might be seen in the cells. The supposition that the drones performed this important office, satisfactorily accounted for the prodigious numbers of them found in a hive. But Mr Debraw does not seem to have attended to this circumstance, that great numbers of eggs are laid by the queen between the months of September and April, which prove fertile, although in that season there exist no males to supply the milt-like liquor. M, Huber is of opinion, that the appearance of a fluid had been merely an optical illusion, arising from the reflexion of the light at the bottom of the cell. He made the direct experiment of rigidly excluding every male from a hive, and yet found that eggs laid by the queen in this interval were as fertile as when the males were admitted. Mr Debraw's opinion, therefore, must be erroneous; for the fertility of these eggs must have depended on the previous impregnation of the queen herself, and not on any thing that could happen after they were deposited.

M. Hattorf, in a memoir published in Schirach's work, deavoured to show that the queen is impregnated by herself. This was also M. Schirach's opinion ; and it seems to be that of Mr Bonner. It is an opinion, however, that requires no refutation. The cautious Huber, remarking how much confusion had arisen from making experiments with queens taken indiscriminately from the hive, (the source of the error just mentioned), thenceforward selected those which were decidedly in a virgin state, and with whose history he was acquainted from the moment they had left the cell.

The illustrious Linnæus was of opinion that the queen-bees formed an actual union with the drones; and he seems even to have suspected that this union proved fatal to the latter. His opinion on both points has now been verified. For, from many experiments made in the course of the years 1787 and 1788, M. Huber found, that the young queens are never impregnated as long as they remain in the interior of the hive: if confined within its walls,

they

en

• Histoire Naturelle de la Reine des Abeilles, 1772.

« PreviousContinue »