Short Fiction; Poetry
Observation, Education, Amusement, Fieldwork, Geology, Infidelity, Providence, Palaeontology, Botany, Illustration, Entomology, Sex, Natural Economy, Design, Wonder, Anthropocentrism, Zoology, Aesthetics, Piety
Exhorts children and their parents to appreciate the importance of observation. Writes as though the walk which the reader recently took was the same as that which the narrator 'wandered over' a few days ago. Gives an account of that walk, and of what there was to see. Observes of the valley: 'We are not geologists, but we fancied we could see in the fluted sides of this romantic hollow [...] traces of an ancient water-course'. Reflects on 'the wilder and more majestic operations of His hand, "who cutteth out rivers among the rocks"', as in the 'majestic streams of the New World', which plainly tell 'the sceptic and the gainsayer that all things do not continue as they were from the creation'. (294) Observes: 'To a mind used to such exercises, "there is no picking up a pebble, without finding all nature in connection with it"'. Describes finding a flint which contains a fossilized specimen of the sponge Ventriculites radiatus. 'We are at a loss to tell how it came there, but there can be no doubt of the fact. [...] These things seem strange to those who neither think nor observe; but all who have read much of the burning springs of Iceland, will be aware that flints are now actually forming in those laboratories of Nature'. (295) Describes finding a 'fine specimen of the lycoperdon bovista; the puff-ball', and gives an illustration 'transferred from our sketch-book, which we always carry with us on our perambulations' (296–97). Details the role of bees in fertilizing flowers, and the adaptation of the fig to nourish insect larvae in order to ensure fertilization. Relates observations on passing through a quarry, noting that 'our philosophers, not two centuries since' thought fossils were sports of nature (297). Reflects on the disposition of the strata: 'Whilst Justice was executing the work of overthrow and ruin, Love was treasuring up and bringing into light materials which were hereafter to be of vast importance in the economy of human life' (298). The party returned home from their ramble with bouquets of wild flowers as mementos; the narrator introduces a poem entitled 'The Orchis pyramidalis (In my Chamber Window)', written by one of the party, celebrating the signs of God in nature.
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 4.0, The Digital Humanities Institute <http://www.sciper.org> [accessed ]