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is related about these insects by naturalists who have made them their study. One can hardly understand how such little creatures can be gifted with so much intelligence or instinct, as some choose to call it.
Man is not the only enemy of the ants. If he were, it is to be feared that these small, insignificant creatures would soon make the earth too hot for him. So prolific are they, that if left to themselves our whole planet would, in a short period, become a gigantic ants' nest.
Nature has wisely provided against the over-increase of the ant family. No living thing has a greater variety of enemies than they. In all the divisions of animated nature there are ant-destroyers—ant-eaters! To begin with the mammalia: man himself feeds upon them—for there are tribes of Indians in South America, the principal part of whose food consists of dried termites, which they bake into a kind of " paste!" There are quadrupeds that live exclusively on them, as the ant-bear and the pangolins, or scaly ant-eaters of the eastern continent. There are birds, too, of many sorts that devour the ants, and there are even some who make them exclusively their food, as the genus myothera, or ant-catchers. Many kinds of reptiles, both snakes and lizards, are ant-eaters; and, what is strangest of all, there are insects that prey upon them.
No wonder, then, with such a variety of enemies, that the ants are kept within proper limits, and are not allowed to overrun the earth.—Captain Mayne Fund.
LESSON LXXTII.—THE KITTEN AND THE FALLING LEAVE8.
See the kitten on the wall,
Through the calm and frosty air
But the kitten—how she starts,
Overwealthy in the treasure
LESSON LXXIV. SPITZBERGEN.
It was at one o'clqck in the morning of the 6th of August, 1856, that we came to an anchor in the silent harbour of English Bay, Spitzbergen.
And now, how shall I give you an idea of the wonderful panorama in the midst of which we found ourselves? I think, perhaps, its most striking feature was the stillness, and deadness, and impassibility of this new world; ice, and rock, and water surrounded us; not a sound of any kind interrupted the silence; the sea did not break upon the shore; no bird or any living thing was visible-; the midnight sun—by this time muffled in a transparent mist—shed an awful mysterious lustre on glacier and mountain; no atom of vegetation gave token of the earth's vitality; an universal numbness and dumbness seemed to pervade the solitude. I suppose, in scarcely any other part of the world, is this appearance of deadness so strikingly exhibited. On the stillest summer day in England there is always perceptible an undertone of life thrilling through the atmosphere; and though no breeze should stir a single leaf, yet, in default of motion, there is always a sense of growth; but here not so much as a blade of grass was to be seen on the sides of the bald, excoriated hills. Primeval rocks and eternal ice constitute the landscape.
The anchorage where we had brought up is the best to be found, with the exception, perhaps, of Magdalena Bay, along the whole west coast of Spitzbergen; indeed, it is almost the only one where you are not liable to have the ice set in upon you at a moment's notice. This bay is completely land-locked, being protected on its open side by Prince Charles's Foreland, a long island lying parallel with the mainland. Down towards either horn run two ranges of schistose rocks, about 1,500 feet high, their sides almost precipitous, and the topmost ridge as sharp as a knife, and as jagged as a saw ; the intervening space is entirely filled up by an enormous glacier, which, descending with one continuous incline from the head of a valley on the right, and sweeping like a torrent round the roots of an isolated clump of hills in the centre, rolls at last into the sea. The length of the glacial river from the spot where it originated could not have been less than thirty to thirty-five miles, or its greatest breadth less than nine or ten ; but so completely did it fill up the higher end of the valley, that it was as much as you could do to distinguish the further mountains peeping up above its surface. The height of the precipice where it fell into the sea I should judge to have been about 120 feet. On the left a still more extraordinary sight presented itself. A kind of baby glacier actually hung suspended half way on the hill side, like a tear in the act of rolling down the furrowed cheek of the mountain. The glaciers are the principal characteristic of the scenery in Spitzbergen; the bottom of every valley in every part of the island is occupied, and generally completely filled by them, enabling one to realize the look of England in her glacial period, when Snowdon was still being slowly lifted towards the clouds, and every valley in Wales was brimful of ice. But the glaciers in English Bay are by no means the largest in the island. We ourselves got a view, though a distant one, of ice rivers which must have been more extensive; and Dr.
Scoresby mentions several which actually measured forty or fifty miles in length, and nine or ten in breadth, whili the precipice formed by their fall into the sea was sometimes upwards of 400 or 500 feet high. Nothing is more dangerous than to approach these cliffs of ice. Every now and then huge masses detach themselves from the face of the crystal steep, and topple over into the water; and woe be to the unfortunate ship which might happen to be passing below. Scoresby witnessed a mass of ice, the size of a cathedral, thunder down into the sea from a height of 400 feet. Frequently, during our stay in Spitzbergen, we ourselves observed specimens of these ice avalanches; and scarcely an hour passed without the solemn silence of the bay being disturbed by the thunderous boom, resulting from similar catastrophes occurring in adjacent valleys. A little to the northward I observed, lying on the sea shore, innumerable logs of drift-wood. This wood is floated all the way from America by the Gulf Stream; and as I walked from one huge bole to another, I could not help wondering in what primeval forest each had grown—what chance had originally cast them on the waters, and piloted them to this desert shore? Mingled with this fringe of unhewn timber that lined the beach lay waifs and strays of a more sinister kind—pieces of broken spars, an oar, a boat's flag-staff, and a few shattered fragments of some long-lost vessel's planking. Here and there, too, we would come upon skulls of walrus, ribs and shoulderblades of bears, brought possibly by the ice in winter. Suddenly a cry from Fitz, who had wandered a little to the right, brought us helter-skelter to the spot where he was standing. Half imbedded in the black moss at his feet there lay a grey deal coffin, falling almost to pieces