imperious and unrelenting Catherine of the hive. “ At first, not quite forgetting their old familiarity, they gently give them Tom Drum's entertainment: they that will not take that for a warning, but presume to force in again among them, are more shrewdly handled. You may sometimes see a handful or two before a hive which they had killed within ; but the greatest part fly away and die abroad.” We need not name the author we are quoting, who, fearful lest womankind should take this Danaid character for their example, proceeds : “But let not nimble-tongued sophisters gather a false conclusion from these true premises, that they, by the example of these, may arrogate to themselves the like superiority : for ex particulari non est syllogizare; and He that made these to command their males, commanded womankind to be commanded. But if they would fain have it so, let them first imitate their singular virtues, their continual industry gathering, their diligent watchfulness in keeping, their temperance, chastity, cleanliness, and discreet economy, &c. :" and so he sums up all womanly virtues from this little type as if he believed in the transmigration of souls described by Simonides--not him of Cos—in his Iambics. We give the translation as we find it in No. 209 of the Spectator:-

“ The tenth and last species of women were made out of a bee; and happy is the man who gets such an one for his wife. She is altogether faultless and unblameable. Her family flourishes and improves by her good management. She loves her husband and is beloved by him. She brings

[blocks in formation]

him a race of beautiful and virtuous children. She distinguishes herself among her sex. She is surrounded with graces. She never sits among the loose tribe of women, nor passes away her time with them in wanton discourses. She is full of virtue and prudence, and is the best wife that Jupiter can bestow on man."

What can we do better than wish that all good beemasters may meet with a bee-wife !

We very much question the truth and utility of the common “ moralities” drawn from the industry and prudence of the bee. Storing and hoarding are rather the curse than the requirement of our ordinary nature; and few, except the very young and the very poor, require to have this sermon impressed upon them. We are rather inclined to believe that, had Almighty Wisdom intended this to be the lesson drawn from the consideration of the works of His creatures, we should have been referred in His revealed word to the housewifery of this insect “fowl of the air," rather than to the ravens “ which have neither storehouse nor barn."

Yet the thrifty bee is never once set before us as a pattern in the Bible. The Wise King indeed, who “spake of beasts, and of fowls, and of creeping things, and of fishes,” has referred the sluggard and the distrustful to the early hours, and the “working while it is yet day," and the guideless security of the Ant; but we see nothing in his words which necessarily implies approbation of that anxious carefulness for the morrow, which we are elsewhere expressly told to shun, and which is but too often the mask of real covetousness of heart. And we believe

[ocr errors]

this the more, because the Ant (to whom we are sent), though it wisely provides for its daily bread, does not lay up the winter store wherewith to fare sumptuously every day.

We know that, in saying this, we are flying into the uplifted eyes of careful mothers and bachelor uncles, who time out of mind have quoted, as it has been quoted to them, the busy bee as the sure exemplar of worldly prudence and prosperity; but we think that we can show them a more excellent way even for earthly honour, if they, as Christ's servants, will content themselves with those types in the natural world which He himself has given them, and learn that quiet security, and trustful contentedness, and ready obedience, and active labour for the present hour, which He has severally pointed out to us in the lilies, the ravens, the sheep, and the emmets, rather than seek elsewhere for an emblem of that over-curious forecasting for the future, which, whether in things spiritual or temporal, is plainly discouraged in the word of God-those laws and judgments of the Lord which are sweeter than the honey and the honeycomb, and in the keeping of which “ there is great reward.”

“ Take that; and He that doth the ravens feed,

Yea, providently caters for the sparrow,
Be comfort to my age!”

Not but that the bee affords us a moral, though it be not that which worldly wisdom commonly assigns to it. We have in the first place a direct cause for thankfulness in the delicate food with which it

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]


supplies us. “ The bee is little among such as fly; but her fruit is the chief of sweet things(Ecclus. xi. 3); and the Almighty has, in many senses, and in no common cases, supplied the houseless and the wanderer with “wild honey” and “a piece of honeycomb,” and “ honey out of the stony rock;" and “a land flowing with milk and honey” has been from the first the type of another and a better country. And the little honey-maker is itself indeed one of the most wonderful proofs of the goodness and power of God. That within so small a body should be contained apparatus for converting the “ virtuous sweets which it collects into one kind of nourishment for itself—another for the common brood—a third for the royal-glue for its carpentrywax for its cells—-poison for its enemies—honey for its master—with a proboscis almost as long as the body itself, microscopic in its several parts, telescopic in its mode of action—with a sting so infinitely sharp, that, were it magnified by the same glass which makes a needle's point seem a quarter of an inch, it would yet itself be invisible, and this too a hollow tube that all these varied operations and contrivances should be enclosed within half an inch of length and two grains of matter, while in - small room

“ large heart least thirty* distinct instincts is contained—is surely enough to crush all thoughts of atheisin and materialism, without calling in the aid of twelve heavy volumes of Bridgewater Treatises.

" the "

* Kirby and Spence, Introd. to Ent., il. 504.

the same

of at

[ocr errors]

But we must hasten to end this too long paper. Its readers generally will be above that class to whom profit, immediate or remote, from bee-keeping can be of any serious moment—though indeed the profit lies in saving the bees, not in killing them. But many prejudices have to be done away, and greater care bestowed, and a better knowledge of their habits acquired, before the murdering system can be eradicated from the poor. It is for the higher

. classes to set the example by presents of cheap and simple but better-constructed hives—by personal interest taken in their bee-management—by supplying them with the best-written books on the subjectabove all, by adopting the merciful system in their own gardens, and intrusting their hives to the especial care of one of the under-gardeners, whose office it should be, not only to diligently tend and watch his master's stock, but also to instruct the neighbouring cottagers in the most improved management. It would be an excellent plan to attach a stall of bees to the south wall of a gardener's cottage or lodge, with a glass side towards the interior, so that the operations of the bees might be watched from within. The custom of placing them within an arched recess in the wall of the house was one of old Rome, and is still observed in some countries. We look upon this as a very pretty suggestion for a fancy cottage in any style of architecture. Perhaps the directors of our normal schools would find no better way of teaching their pupil-schoolmasters how to benefit and gain an influence among

an influence among the parents

« ElőzőTovább »