John Wesley.

A survey of the wisdom of God in the creation; or, A compendium of natural philosophy .. (Volume 2) online

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These are thy glorious Works, Parent of Good,

Almighty ! Thine this universal Frame,

Thus wond'rous fair ! Thyself how wond'rous then ;



Primed by W. Flint, Old Bailey,










12. Of the Generation of fishes, - - 1

The manner of sea-tortoises laying their eggs - ib.
Uncommon circumstances attending the generation of

soles - - - .2

Of the coming of herrings, cod, and other fish, in

shoals, at certain seasons of the year - 3
Of the coming of shoals of mackrel, and the reasons for

their coming - .4

Of the tunnies, which come in shoals to the coasts of

Provence and Languedoc - - 5

Of the shoals of pilchards ib.

Of the shoals of salmon - 6

Remarkable salmon-leap near Dublin ib.

13. Of some particular sorts of fishes *3r

Peculiar circumstances of the turbot - ibu

Of whales - ib.

Their singular manner of propagation - f

TO*. II.




Of the Norway whale 8

The use of blubber : their method of feeding 9

Of the whalebone whale . 10

Of the spermaceti whale - ib.

The wonderful strength of the tails of whales ib.

Of the hippopotamus, or river horse 1 1

His uncommon depredations on land - - ib.

The female always brings forth on land - 13

They always sleep on land ib,

Of sharks - 14
Of the white shark : its amazing swiftness, and number

of teeth - - ib.

Of tortoises v . 15

The great Mediterranean turtle - 16

Of the frog-fish of Surinam - IT

Of flying-fish - ib.

Of the ink.flsh : its singular properties - ib.

Of the aborescent star-fish - - 18

Of the torpedo, much like a thorn-back - ib.

Of the sea-nettle, a strange production of nature ib.

The amazing peculiarities of the limpet - 19

14. General reflections * 50




1. Of their motions - - 22

fi. Of serpents 23

The astonishing number of their bones - ib.

Different sorts of serpents . 24

3. Of their brain, stomach, generation - 25

4-. Of the venom of serpents and vipers _ ib.

The swiftness of the poison of a rattle-snake 27

Singular properties of the rattle-snake - ib.

Particular account of a person bit by a rattle-snake 29

5. Of some particular sort of reptiles - QQ
Of the water-snake . ib.
Of the serpent of the waters - 31
Of the crocodile, the king of reptiles - ib.
The amerlcan crocodile, or alligator - ib f
Of the cameleon - 32
Four species of cameleons: the Arabian, the Egyptian,

the Mexican, the European - 33

The uncommon structure and motion of their eyes ib.

Peculiarities of the cameleons in Smyrna 34
Of the salamander . ib.

Of the oocarel of Lower Egypt resembling a crocodile 35

Of the lizards and scorpions of Italy ib.

6. Water Lizards often change their skins ib.
A particular species of water lizards termed an aquatic

salamander ... 3f
a 2



7. Reproduction of parts cutoff - - 37
The remarkable reproductions of the parts of a sala-
mander - ib.

Of those of the tad -pole * 38

Of those of the earth-worm - ib.

Of those of the aquatic boat-worm - ib.

Of those of the snail - - 39

8. Of tape-worms - 40

9. Of worms that feed on stones - ib.
Of the common leech - 41
Of frogs changing their skins . 42
The remarkable longevity of the toad - 43

CHAP. v.


1 . Of their shape and make - 46

2. Of their eye* ib.

3. Their heart, respiration - 47

4. Their generation : particularly the silk-worm and silk-

spider -48

5. Of the common spider - - 50

Of various kind of spiders that fly - 51

6. Of the tarantula, a kind of spider 53
The only remedy for the bite of the tarantula is music 54
Two relations of the extraordinary effects of music ib.

7. Ofthecoya - 55
The uncommon effects of its sting, and the only method

of cure - 56


8. Of microscope animals - ib.

9. Of the flea - 58
10. Of the louse 59

Peculiarities of lice : their amazing increase - 62
Many fishes particularly salmon, incident to lice ib.
11. Of the death-watch - - ib.
Remarkable circumstance of the beating of a death-
watch - 61
Singular properties of the death-watch, the smallest of

the beetle-kind - 62

12. Of the eggs of flies - 63
The eggs of insects the occasion of blights - 65

13. Of gnats 67
The uncommon propagation of gnats - ib:

14. Of the cicadula, or cuckoo-spit - 68
The cochineal . - ib.

15. Of the drone-fly - 69

16. Of the fire-fly of Jamaica - 70
A person may read the smallest print by the light of one

of these insects jb.

17. Of the ephemeron, that lives but part of a day ib.
Another sort of ephemeron, called the May- fly : hs re-
markable properties 7 1

18. Of butterflies 7g

19. Of caterpillars . ib.
The caterpillar of the willow . 75
Peculiar circumstances in caterpillars . ib

20. Of the transformation of insects 77
That of the caterpillaryery remarkable throughout its

various states " ib.

21. Of ants 83
The extraordinary nicety of their nests ib.




Their beautiful appearance viewed through a microscope 83

They eat not, but sleep all the winter - &4

The remarkable architecture of ants - &>

The employment of working ants 88

The red- green, and black ants of Africa - 89

22. Of the ant-eater, or formica-leo - - ib-
His peculiar manner of ensnaring his prey, and various

other extraordinary operations - 90

23. OfBees - 92
The habitation of bees - 93

t How honey is extracted 94

Of honey-dews 95
, A kind of honey-dew produced by a small insect called

the vine-fretter ib.

Ants as fond of this as bees - 96

The curiosity of the sting of a bee, or wasp ib.
The peculiar privileges attendant on, and homage paid

to the queen bee 98

The swarming of bees - 99

24. Of the polypus 101
Of various corallines, a species of polypi - ib.
The polypus, an aquatic animal, found in ditch-water 103
Experiments on a polypus 104
Clustering polypi more strange than the rest ib.
The nature of corallines, and the mechanism of their

polypi - 106

The polypus is an animal of the vermicular kind 108

25. Of the transformation of animals 109

Quadrupeds undergo a yearly change 110

Viviparous animals have a more sudden change ib.

The transformation of oviparous animals - ib.

The transformation of tad-poles - 111

That of the beetle-class, particularly the cock -chaffer ib,


General Observations and Reflections.


1. Of the number of animals, the various species of beasts

birds, fishes and insects - - 112

2. Of the different method of taking their food - 113

3. That brutes are not mere machines - - 114
4 Of the natural instinct of all creatures 115

5. Of the clothing of various animals - 117

6. Of the admirable sagacity of animals in the structure

of their habitations - 119

7. Of the peculiar care of Providence over all his works 120
1. The remarkable destruction and reparation of the

whole creation - - ib*

9. Farther reflections on the world in general 122

10. A comparative view of the animal world, extracted from .

Mr. Hervey - 126



1. What we mean by plants 135

2. Their liquid parts . - - .133

3. Their solid parts - . 133

4. Of the bark - . 133

5. The wood . 134

6. The pith . 135
1. The roots and branches - ib.

8. The leaves - - jb.

9. The nutrition of plants - 136

10. Water not the nutriment of plants . 137

11. The motion of the nutritive juice - . 141
12 The descent and ascet of the sap - 143

13. Of the increase of grains and seeds 143

14. Of male and female plants . 144

15. Of the sleep of plants - 145

16. Of the agreement between plants and animals 149

17. Qf the generation of plants - 154

18. Of their flowers ib.

19. Of their seeds - 156
90. Of their fruits 1 53

21. Of the perspiration of plants - 165

22. Trees inverted will grow 168

23. Of the propagation of several plants . ib,

24. Of grain planted in various substances - 17?,


1. Of some particular plants , 1 75

The submarine grass - - ib,


The submarine sensitive plant 175

The vines of hops 176

The herb of Paraguay, or Caa-tree, a species of tea ib.

The coco-tree - 177

The cacao-tree - 178

The tallow-tree : the horse-chesnut : the sago-tree ib.

Palm-trees : they are male ind female - 179
Sicilian plants : particularly cinnamon, sarsaparilla,

sassafras, and rhubarb 180

The balsam-tree - ib.

The ilowering-ash, whence manna is produced 181

The Peruvian bark-tree - - ib.

The cotton tree : the pepper-shrub ib.

The Jamaica pepper tree 1 82

The plant which affords ginger . ib.

Of the produce of nutmegs - - ib.

The wild-pine - . ib.

The water withy of Jamaica - 183

The fountain-tree of Hierro, one of the Canary -islands ib.

The machineel-apple : its poisonous quality 183
Remarkable method of poisoning by the negroes in Africa 186

Of a plant like doronicum, wherein quicksilver is found ib.

Of the aloe : its singular properties 1 87

The cereus or prickly peer, of America - 188

Peculiarities in the production of mushrooms 189

Of sea-plants : the coral in particular 190

2. Sugar not unwholesome - 191

3. Of maple sugar - - ib.

4. Molasses made of apples - - ib.

5. Of ambergris * - 192

6. Of the corruption of plants and animals ib.
7; General reflections - 199

XI 1

$. Essay on the production, nourishment, and operation

of plants and animals - - 211
Sect. 1. Creatures produce their own kind - ib.
Sect. 2. The laws of nature suiiicient for the produc-
tion of animals and vegetables - - - 215
Sect. 3. Of the nourishment and growth of plants 217
Sect. 4. Of the nourishment and growth of inirnals - 220
Sect, 5. The similar operations of plants and animals .224


Of Metals ) Minerals, and other Fossils.

1. The variety of fossils 232

52. The general properties of metals - 233

3. Of the nutrition and generation of metals ib.

4. Of gold, silver, platina, copper, iron, tin, lead 234
The chief properties of gold - ib.
The malleableness or ductility of gold beyond all imagi-
nation - - - 235

Silver comes the nearest to gold in ductility and re-
sisting fire 236
Of platina, an original metal between gold and silver

discovered in New Spain - ib.

It is extremely hard to melt - ik

It comes nearest to gold in weight of all other metals 237

Copper is next to silver in ductility 259

How brass is made - ib.



Of iron - 240
The arbor martis* a germination of iron, resembles a

natural plant - ib.

Various experiments - 241

5. Of steel - - 243

6 Of quicksilver: its singular properties ib.

Copper and iron, gold and copper, silver and lead, tin

and lead, frequently found in one mass 244

7. Of mines in general - - 245

8. Of mundic - - ib.

9. Of the fissures of the earth ^ - 247

10. Of salts - 249

Remarkable sait mines in Poland - - 250

11. Of stones ib.

12. Of petrifying springs 252

13. Of copper springs 254

14. Of lime - 258

15. Of precious stones - - 259

16. Of the loadstone - - 262

17. Of inflammable fossils 266

18. Of amber 267

19. Of linum as bestum ib.




12. Of the 4 Generation of Fishes.

13. Of some particular Sorts of Fishes.

14. General Reflections.

1. xTLS to the generation of Fishes, some of them are
viviparous, others oviparous. The womb and ovaries
of most fishes are not unlike those of birds. The fe-
male casts out innumerable eggs in the sea, in lakes,
in rivers. Great part of these are devoured by tho
males. The rest are hatched by the warmth of the sun,
and the young ones immediately swim away without
any help from the parent.

Sea-Tortoises lay their eggs on the sea-shore, and
cover them with the sand. It is not uncommon to see
a great number of young tortoises rise out of the sand,
and without any guide or instructions, march with a
gentle pace toward the water; but the waves usually
throw them back upon the shore, and then the birds
destroy the most of them ; so that out of two or three
hundred of them it is seldom that ten escape.

It seems at first view that nature, in this instance,
charges herself with unnecessary expence : but a little
reflection shews the contrary. We do not complain
of the fertility of a he,n 5 which frequently lays above

VOL. ii. B

two hundred eggs in one year ; although it may be,
that not one chick is hatched out of all these. The
design of the Author of nature is plain : not barely to
preserve the species, but at the same time to provide
man and other animals \vith an excellent food. So
his intention in the fertility of a tortoise is not barely
to continue that species, but to accommodate a num.
ber of other animals with food convenient for them.

But whence could arise the common opinion con*
ccrning the generation of soles ? Namely, that they
are produced from a kind of shrimps or prawns? A
French gentleman being determined to try, put a large
quantity of prawns into a tub about three feet wide*
filled with sea-water. At the end of twelve or thirteen
days, he saw there eight or ten little soles, which grew
by degrees. He repeated the experiment several times,
and always found little soles ; afterwards he put some
coles and prawns together in one tub, and in another
soles aK ne. In both the soles spawned ; but there
were no little soles, only in the tub where the prawns

But how can prawns be of use toward producing
soles? Farther observations cleared up this. When
shrimps or prawns are just taken out of the sea, you
may discern between their feet many little bladders,
which are strongly fastened to their stomach, >y a
kind of glue. It'you open these bladders gently, you
ste a sort of cmbrios, which viewed with a microscope,
have all the appearance of soles.

Now here lies the mystery. These are the eggs or
Spawn of soles, which in order to hatch are fastened
to the shrimps or prawns; like many plants and ani-
mals which do not grow oc receive nourishment, but
upon other plants and animals. The prawns there,
fore are the foster. mothers of soles during their first
infancy. And this has occasioned many to imagine
they were their real mothers.

The coming of certain kinds of fish in shoals to cer*


tain coasts, at a certain time of the year, is of great ad*
vantage to mankind ; but the reason of it has been
little understood ; yet observation may clear it up*
There is a small insect, common in many seas, parti-
cularly on the coast of Normandy, in June, July, and
August. They then cover the whole surface of the
water as a scum ; and this is the season when the her.
rings come also in such prodigious quantities. The
fishermen destroy much of these vermin ; yet to these
alone their fisheries are owing. For it is evident the
herrings feed on these by the quantities found in all
their stomachs ; and doubtless, the very reason of their
coming is to feed upon them. Probably the case is the
same in all other places where the herrings come in the
same plenty.

The numberless swarms of herrings, cod, and other
fish, that come forth yearly from their shelter, under
the ice adjoining to the north pole, divide themselves
into three bodies. One part direct their course south,
ward towards the British Islands, another part west-
ward, toward Newfoundland, and other places ia
North America, and the third part along the coast of
Norway, and then through the Sound into the Baltic.

The water, though quite still before, curls up ia
waves wherever they come. They crowd together in
such numbers, that they may be taken up by pailfttlls.

A large shoal of herrings reaches (according to the
fisherman's account) a hundred or two hundred fathoms
deep. They extend also to a considerable circumfe-
rence. Were they all to be caught, the greatest part
would be lost. For it would be impossible to get hands,
tubs, salt, and other necessaries to cure them. Se-
veral hundred ship-loads are sent every year from Ber-
gen alone to foreign parts, besides the quantities that
the peasants at home consume, who make them their
daily provision.

The fishers on the western isles of Scotland observe,
that there is a large herring, double the size of a com-
mon one, whkh leads all that are in the bay, the
shoal following him wherever he goes : this leader

thy term the King of Herrings, and when they chance
to catch it alive, they drop it carefully into the sea,
judging it petty treason to destroy a fish of that

Mackrels come in the same numbers at certain times
of the year, and for the same reason. They are par-
ticularly fond of a sea-plant, the narrow-leaved purple
sea-wick, which abounds on the coasts of England,
and is in its greatest perfection in the beginning of
summer, though at sometimes later than others, ac-
cording to the severity or mildness of the winter.

The chief occasion of their coming is to feed on
this plant ; and those who attend to its growing up,
would know when to expect the mackrel, better than
those who listen for thunder. .

But this is not the sole occasion of their coming.
The real truth is this : the sea near the pole is the nati?e
country of all fish of passage ; the ice which continu-
ally covers that sea affords them a safe retreat. Large
voracious fish want a free air for perspiration, and
cannot pursue the smaller sort into their sanctuaries,
where they multiply so prodigiously, that at length
for want of subsistence, they are forced to quit their
retreat. The large fish wait for them at the extremity
of the ice; they devour all they can catch, drive them
close into the coast, while the birds of prey pour down
upon them from all quarters. In consequence of tfyis
persecution, their march is always in columns, which
are commonly as thick as they are broad. With re-
gard to the herrings, they quit the ice in the beginning
of the year ; but the prodigious column which they
form soon divides into two wings. The right moves
westward, so as to be near Iceland in the month of
March ; the left bends its course easterly, and comes
down the north sea to a certain latitude, where it
divides into two other wings, the eastern- most of
which coasts along Norway. Hence it sends off one
division by the strait of the Sound into the Baltic,
another towards the country of Holstein, Bremen,

&c. and then coin to the Zuderzee. The western wing,
which is the largest, falls directly upon the isles of
Shetland and the Orkneys; and thither the Ditch go
to wait their coming. All that escape these dexterous
fishers, go on to Scotland, and dividing again into
two columns, one passes to the east of that kingdom,
and goes round England, detaching numerous divi-
sions to the coasfs of Friesland, Holland, Zealand,
Flanders, and France, while the other moves to the
westward of Scotland and Ireland. The remains of the
whole western wing which have escaped the nets of the
fishers, and the voracity of other fish and fowl,
having at length rallied in the channel, the column is
formed anew, and then issues into the ocean, from
which (without shewing itself again on the coast) ?t
regains, like the remains of the first western wing,
which had not travelled so far, the polar ice at the
approach of winter. And under the protection of
this, the loss is repaired, which the species had suffer-
ed since they left it.

Thus does the divine wisdom supply many thousands
of men with food, as well as numberless other anima's,
and yet prevent any decay of that necessary provision
which is continually consumed and as constantly re-
cruited. *.

The Tunnies come in equal shoals af certain seasons
to the coasts of Provence and Languedoc, but it is on
another occasion. The fish called by the French the -
Emperor, is the great enemy of these fish. He is in
summer so plentiful in those seas, that they cannot
escape him but by flying to the shallow waters.

The Pilchards catched on the coast of Brittany are
still a stronger proof of the natural means that bring
fish in shoals to certain places. The people of Brit,
tany purchase from Norway the otfals and entrails of
all the large fish caught t.cre. These they cut in
pieces, and strew in vast quantities on the sea along
the coasts : this always brings thither shoals of pilch-


arcfg, enough to supply all the maritime places in the

The Salmon (bred both in the sea and in rivers) is
another fish winch comes in shoals at certain times;
but this is on another occasion. The female salmon
chiefly ejects her roe at the mouth of rivers, in shallow
"water ; the male COPJCS presently after, keeps other
fish from devouring it, and casts his sperm upon the
roe, They are in great plenty from the middle of
April till the middle of July, at which time also they
come in shoals into the rivers, partly to refresh them,
selves in fresh water, and partly to rub or wash off in
the strong currents, a greenish vermin called salmon
lice ; insects wisely designed by the Creator to drive
this rich and valuable fish into the hands of men*

The salmon when they are going up the rivers out
of the sea, always swim as near the bottom as they
can ; and on the contrary, when they are going down
them into the sea, they always swim near the surface.
The reason is, in going up they swim against the cur-
rent, which always runs swiftest at the surface. When
they are going down on the surface^ the current aloiie
is sufficient to carry them-.

At Leixlip, seven miles from Dublin, there is a
iine water. fall, or salmon. leap, so called from the
numberless salmon which leap up it, at the season of
the year for spawning. When they come to the foot
ojf the fall, you may ob erve them frequently to leap
up just above the water, as if to make an observation,
of the distance. Soon after they leap up again, with
an attempt to guin the top, and perhaps rise near it,
but the falling water drives them down again : the same
fish soon springs up again, and rises above the fall;
yet this is equally unsuccessful, for dropping with
their broadsides on the rapid curvature on the waters,
they are thrown back again headlong. The only
method of succeeding in their attempt is to dart their
heads into the water, in* its first curvature over the
rocks ; by this means they first make a lodgment on

the top of the rock for a few moments, and then scud
up the stream. There seems to be a peculiar instinct
in them to aim at this very point ; for the force of the
stream on the top of the precipice is less at the bottom,
close to the rock than on the surface. It is almost in.
credible the height to which they will leap, they fre-
quently leap near twenty feet. The manner of their
doing it is, by bending their tails round, almost to>
their heads ; it is then by the strong re-action of their
tails against the water, that they spring so much
above it,

13. One particular instance of the divine care, is ob-
servable in the Turbot. He is not well able to swim,
especially in stormy weather ; he must then keep at
the bottom, and stick in the sand, and for that reason
he is provided with a skin or membrane which draws
over his eyes, to keep the sand out of them*

Whales are as many degrees raised above other
fishes in their nature, as they are in their size. They
resemble beasts in their internal structure, and in some
of their appetites and affections. They have lungs, a
midriff^ a stomach, intestines, liver, spleen, bladder,
and parts of generation like beasts ; their heart also
resembles that of beasts driving red and warm blood
in circulation through the body.

As these animals breather the air, they cannot bear
to be long under water. They are constrained every
two or three minutes to come up to the surface to take
breath, as well as to spout out through their nostril
(for they have but one) the water which they sucked
in while gaping for their prey.

The senses of these animals seem also superior to
those of other fishes. The eyes of other fishes are
covered only with that transparent skin that covers
the rest of the head ; but in all the cataceous kinds
they are covered by eye-lids as in man : this keeps that
organ in a more perfect state, by giving it intervals

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