The Grasshopper, pp.336-338.

[Three Hundred Animals Contents]

   IS of a gay green colour, the head somewhat resembling that of a horse; the corselet is armed with a strong buckler; it has four wings and six legs, the hinder ones being much longer than the other, to assist the insect in leaping. As naturalists have found three kinds of stomach in the Grasshopper, they are led to suppose that it chews the cud like ruminating quadrupeds. They are oviparous and propagate to an immense number in the space of the summer season. This well known insect feeds generally on grass; and utters abroad a chirping note, which is supposed to be caused by the fluttering of the wings; if handled roughly the Grasshopper bites very sharply the hand which holds it. 

   Lucretius, that great observer and immortal bard of Nature and her works, elegantly says: 

Deponunt veteres tunicas æstate Cicadæ

“When genial heat is conveyed on the wind, 

When Phoebus darts his burning summer rays, 

Gay Grasshoppers put off and leave behind 

The rusty coats they wore in winter days.” 


He was alluding to the metamorphosis which these insects undergo at the return of the warm season. The Grasshopper is oviparous, and towards the end of autumn the female deposits her eggs in a hole, which she makes in the earth for that purpose, by means of an instrument at her tail, with which she is furnished by the ever-admirable wisdom of Providence. These eggs sometimes amount to near a hundred and fifty; they are about the size of anise-seeds, white, oval, and of a horny substance. The female having thus performed the duty laid by the fundamental law of nature, that of propagating the species, soon languishes and dies, as if the lamp of her life was not to survive the lighting the torch of life for others. In the beginning of May following that living spark, put into motion by the warmth of the returning sun, hatches itself out, and a small white maggot issues out of each egg. The creature passes about twenty days under this humble and creeping form; but soon after, having assumed the shape of larva, whilst all the rudiments of the future Grasshopper are concealed under a thin outward skin, it retires under a thistle or a thorn bush, most likely to be more secure, and there, after a variety of laborious exertions, writhings and palpitations, the temporary covering divides and the sauterelle jumps out of her exuviæ, which she leaves under the friendly plant that gave her shelter in time of distress. How comfortable must be the study of nature to the christian observer, who in this metamorphosis, can easily find an exact type of the future life towards which religion turns and directs his most eager hopes, and in which glory and happiness, undisturbed through eternity, will compensate the humility of his station and his hardships in this world. 

   Virgil, and, before him, Theocritus, in their pastorals, often mention these insects, as in the following line: 

Et cantu querulæ rumpunt arbusta Cicadæ” 

And creaking Grashoppers on shrubs complain. 

——————————————-DRYDEN’S VIRGIL, GEO. iii. 328. 

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