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"O do, pray tell it, uncle, and I will not look for a worm to-day, and I will tell you what, uncle, I have just thought of it; I need not give myself the trouble of digging for worms, for there is a great flat stone near Lion's kennel, and there are always plenty of worms and grubs under that stone, where I can find them in a minute.”
" Very well,” said Mr. Dalben, “and, now that matter is settled, perhaps you can attend to my story; but as the damp is rising from the river, we will walk home, and I will tell it as we go along.
“I was about to tell you why the ancients called a butterfly Psyche, or the soul. You have seen many caterpillars, Henry; they are something like worms or maggots, but they may be known by the number of their feet. Caterpillars are those creatures which produce butterflies: everybody is acquainted with the shape and appearance of caterpillars; some of them are covered with hair, and others are quite smooth. Caterpillars have no wings, but creep about on the bark and leaves of the trees and shrubs on which they feed: they also often change their outward coat. In this state the ancients compared the caterpillar to men when on earth; who, having no wings or power of lifting themselves from the ground, must be content to spend their lives in creeping about and seeking their food on the face of this earth.
“ The caterpillar, having existed in its first form for a few weeks, enters into a new and curious state of being ; it gradually becomes weak and unable to move actively about ; its bright colours are pale and faded, and its body shrivelled and meager; it then begins to spin itself a web, in which it involves itself as in a winding sheet, and there remains for a long time in a state of apparent lifelessness and inanimation. This state of the caterpillar was compared by the ancients to man when lying in his grave, dead, cold, and silent, and, as it were, without hope. When the creature has lain for awhile in this state, as it were dead, the warmth of the sun at length revives it, in like manner as the power of God, in due time, shall awake the dead which sleep in the dust of the earth, according as it is written, Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, sing ye that dwell in dust, for
thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.—Isaiah xxvi. 19.
“ And now we come to the last state of this insect, when he forces his passage through the covering in which he has been involved, and comes forth an inhabitant of the air, being richly clad with gold and purple, and with fringes and embroidery which surpass the finest needlework. Thus this little animal becomes the lively emblem of the first resurrection, when the redeemed soul and glorified body shall meet again, and be satisfied in finding themselves renewed in the likeness of their Redeemer.
“And now I have explained to you, my dear little boy,” continued Mr. Dalben, “wherefore the ancients, who were not acquainted with the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, compared the body to the soul, of the immortality of which they seemed to entertain no doubt."
Mr. Dalben and Henry continued to talk on these subjects, suggested by the history of the caterpillar, till they were arrived at home, and it was time for Henry Milner to go to bed.
Containing some Account of the Sixth Class of Animals; and a Visit made by Henry Milner in Company with Mrs. Kitty, during which the Young Gentleman lost some Credit, and was somewhat lowered in his own Opinion.
The morning after the walk to the river's side, immediately after family prayers, which Mr. Dalben always solemnized before breakfast, Henry Milner disappeared, and shortly afterward returned, holding a large earthworm in the palm of his hand, which elegant creature he contrived to drop upon the table-cloth, as he was holding it forth triuniphantly for Mr. Dalben's inspection, exclaiming with eagerness, “ There, uncle! there it is, the largest I could find under the stone, and there are many more, but I thought one would be sufficient.”
“Yes, my dear boy,” said Mr. Dalben, quietly,“ quite sufficient; and now, my little man, carry the gentleman back to his abode under this wonderful stone, and do not disturb any more of the family at present."
Henry obeyed, and presently returning, Mr. Dalben, whose appetite for his breakfast was not greatly improved by the sight of little Henry Milner's specimen of the sixth class of animals, took this opportunity to give his pupil some general ideas upon the subject of the sixth class.
“ The sixth class of animals,” said Mr. Dalben," consists of worms, leeches, slugs or snails, sea-anemones, cuttle-fish, star-fish, shell-fish of all sorts, and animal plants, such as corals, sponges, and polypes; besides which we must add those little animalcula which are found in vinegar and in corrupt water, in sour paste, and other decaying bodies.
“All these creatures, with the exception of shell-fish, are, for the most part," continued Mr. Dalben, “ very disgusting in their appearance ; and some of them, such as corals, sponges, and polypuses, have apparently little more life or understanding than the herbs of the field, though they are known to be living animals ; some of these take root upon rocks near the sea, and grow up into hard and solid branches: others are, however, soft, and show that they are endowed with life, because they shrink from the touch. But, despicable as this class of creatures, called vermes, is, nevertheless we may learn many lessons by contemplating them.
“ When the Scripture would represent to us a person who is weak, mean, and despised in the world, it compares him to a worm of the earth, because nothing is more despicable than a worm. The friend of Job, when speaking of the appearance of man before God, uses this expression, ‘How then can man be justified with God! or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight; how much less man, that is a worm, and the son of man, which is a worm.' -Job xxv, 4, 5, 6.
“Humble and holy persons, Henry," proceeded Mr. Dalben, " persons who know their own natural vileness, will not be ashamed to compare themselves to worms: the holy Psalmist says, xxii. 6, 'I am a worm, and no man ;' and, indeed, in some respects the worms of the earth are better than we are; for they are as the Lord made them, but we have corrupted ourselves, and departed from the way of the Lord, and are thus become more vile than the meanest reptile."
Henry looked grave, and said, “ Uncle, I think I shall never despise these creatures again, so much as I have done.”
By this time breakfast was finished, and Henry was called to his lessons. When the little boy was concluding his last task, Mrs. Kitty came into the study, and asked her master's leave to go in the afternoon to see her sister, who lived about a mile distant, and to take Master Henry with her.
“ You have my leave to go yourself, Kitty," said Mr. Dalben; “but as to taking Henry, I am persuaded that he will do you no credit; his spirits will rise, he will begin to chatter, and I fear that you will not check him as you ought to do.”
• Indeed I will, sir,” said Mrs. Kitty; “ I always do speak to him when he is rude.”
" And I will be very good," said Henry.
“ And I will keep him out of all mischief, sir,” said Kitty.
“ And I will do every thing which Mrs. Kitty bids me," rejoined Henry.
“And I am sure little master will be good,” added Mrs. Kitty.
“And so I suppose I must give my permission," said Mr. Dalben; “but I trust to you, Kitty, if he does not behave well, that you will never ask leave to take him out again.”
Thus the matter was settled ; and as soon as dinner was over, Master Henry took leave of his uncle, and walked off with Mrs. Kitty over the fields towards Malvern, it being on that side of the country where Mrs. Green's cottage stood, for Green was the name of Kitty's sister.
Their way lay, first, through a long field; after which they entered upon a little coppice, where Henry amused himself in gathering vetches; at length they came out into a hop-yard, where the people were busy in dressing the hops.
At the end of the hop-yard was Mrs. Green's cottage, standing in a garden surrounded by a high quick-hedge: the cottage was low and thatched, and the garden was curiously disposed in beds of flowers, straight green walks, and a variety of fruit-trees and vegetables.
Mrs. Green, who expected her sister, was dressed in her best flowered gown and lawn apron; and her two daughters, for she was a widow, were also set forth in their best. At sight of Henry and Mrs. Kitty they came out at the door, and received them with a hearty welcome.
"And so, Master Milner,” said Mrs. Green, “ this is mighty kind of you to come so far to see us poor folks. Well, this is a great honour indeed, Betsy,” she added, speaking to her eldest daughter, “ for little master to be coming to our poor cottage. Come, Master Milner; please, sir, to be seated ; you must have the big chair."
"Nay, sister," said Mrs. Kitty, in a whisper, “ do not be making too much of the child; he will grow troublesome upon it, and master will blame me."
It was vain for Mrs. Kitty to expostulate; Mrs. Green and her daughters continued to compliment Master Henry, serving him with the first and best at tea, till the young gentleman, by degrees, grew very pert, and began to chatter at no small rate, and with no great degree of discretion.
After having talked at random for some time, while the party were assembled round the tea-table, a large frog appeared sprawling over the little narrow walk which ran from the house-door to the gate.
"Ah !” said Kitty, “look at that frightful creature; sister Green, I wonder you don't clear your garden of those frogs; I would as soon meet a thief in the dark as a frog."
Mrs. Green laughed, and said, “Oh, they do no harm; why should you be afraid of them ?"
Here Master Henry took upon himself to show off. “Those creatures do no harm, Mrs. Kitty," said the young gentleman; “they are of the class amphibia; that is, of the third class; some of that class are, indeed, very mischievous; but frogs never hurt any one."
“Amphibia," said Mrs. Kitty: “what a word is that, Master Henry ? how can you use such words ??'
" It is not English, Mrs. Kitty," said Henry; “ you don't understand it, I know, but I do: it means the crealures who live half on land and half in water, as frogs and toads do."