The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Cochineal, by Anonymous

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Title: The Cochineal

Author: Anonymous

Release Date: September 22, 2011 [EBook #37508]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Larry B. Harrison, and the Archives and Special
Collections, University Libraries, Ball State University
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at




Book Cover






New York:

General Protestant Episcopal Sunday School Union;
Depository, Press Buildings, No. 46 Lumber-Street,
in rear of Trinity Church.


Printed at the Protestant Episcopal Press,
No. 46 Lumber-Street.

[Pg 1]


As I was one day studying in the same room with my little son, a child of ten years old, he turned towards me, and pointed to a little insect which was crawling on a sheet of paper.

"Look, papa," said he, "look at that insect; how small it is! See how it moves its feet—how wonderful that God should have made this little creature!"

Father. It is a little cochineal. [A]—Wait; I will bring my microscope, and we shall see many more wonderful things.

Child. Make haste, or it will fly away.

I put the insect between two glasses, and thus prevented it from escaping, without restraining it from moving its[Pg 2] limbs. To the naked eye, it did not look at all remarkable: its back was of a brown colour, spotted with black and white, and the under part of its body was gray. But no sooner had I placed it in the focus of the microscope, than I was filled with wonder and admiration. The back, which before appeared unworthy of notice, now displayed the most perfect and beautiful appearance. The colour, which appeared brown to the naked eye, now presented a variety of feathers or scales of the same size and shape, polished, brilliant, distinct, and arranged in far more exact order than the tiles on the best built roof. The ground was formed of beautiful white scales, surrounded by a border of polished black and blue scales of the same description. A black line divided the back into two equal parts.

"How marvellously wise and powerful is the Lord!" exclaimed I. "Who would believe that so many beauties, and such a variety of exquisite workmanship, had been bestowed on this[Pg 3] little, despicable insect? Oh, how great is our God!"

The child was impatient to judge for himself. He approached the microscope, and gazed in silence for some moments. At length, raising his head, and fixing his eyes upon me with an expression of wonder and astonishment—"Oh! papa," exclaimed he, "is not this beautiful? How beautiful!" repeated he, raising his hands. "How powerful God must be to give this little insect, which attracts so little attention, such a beautiful coat! Did you see its scales, its neck, its head, and its glittering horns? It looks like glass on polished gold. How beautiful! how beautiful!"

Father. My dear boy, since our heavenly Father is so great, so powerful, and so wise; since he takes such care of this little insect which crawls upon the ground; think how great must be his care of his own children, whom he loved so much as to give his well-beloved Son to die for them, that they might be saved, from eternal death!

[Pg 4]Child. Yes; our Saviour himself says that his children 'are of more value than many sparrows;' so they must be of more value than this little insect: and since it has received, and does all the while receive from God, its food and its rich and beautiful clothing, surely the same God will feed and clothe us also! My dear papa, are we not very happy in having seen this insect, since it has shown us the power and goodness of the Lord?

Papa. Yes, my dear; let us thank God for thus enlarging our views of his goodness and infinite wisdom. How good God is, thus to fill our hearts with confidence, to assure us of his guardian care, and to teach us that he sees, protects, and preserves us!

I now turned the microscope, that we might examine the cochineal on the other side; it was equally beautiful and perfect. The side legs, which were so disposed as to balance the body, and make its motions easy, were partly covered with scales, like those on the back;[Pg 5] but they were much smaller and more flexible. There were no scales near the joints, and the legs were fastened to the body with such exactness that it was impossible to perceive the smallest defect, even by means of the strongest lens. Its light and delicate limbs moved with the greatest ease, and with most astonishing regularity.

"How wonderful is even one of its legs!" said I; "could the most skilful artist or human mechanic imitate it, even in the clumsiest manner? Could the most learned man give motion and life to this little creature?"

Child. And yet some people say that all this is done by chance; is this possible, papa?

Father. My dear, there is no such thing as chance. God made the world, and all that it contains. He alone is the Creator and Preserver of all. Those that say that this insect was made by chance, show that they have never examined it; and thus they cannot have seen the powerful hand of God.

[Pg 6]Child. And what do those mean who say that nature created animals and plants?

Father. Those who speak so are generally irreligious and ignorant persons, who, instead of glorifying and blessing God as their Creator and Preserver, never mention his name in their works or conversation; and thus, instead of saying, 'God made this or that,' they say 'Nature made' such things.

Child. God then made every thing?

Father. Yes, every thing, except what is bad.

Child. This must be true: God created us, and preserves us every moment. Yet few think of him, or speak of him. How does this happen, papa?

Father. My dear child, our hearts are naturally turned away from God. Sin is the cause of this sad state: it separates our hearts from our Father and Creator. We do not wish to own that he preserves and takes care of us—supplies our wants, and gives us all things we enjoy.

[Pg 7] Child. Oh, papa! how few love God, and trust in him as they ought!

Father. The true children of God alone really love him, desire to please him, and sincerely trust in his goodness. Yes, my child, till we are true Christians, till we are renewed and changed by the Spirit of God, we are like this little insect. We receive life, motion, food, and clothing from him, but we seldom think of him; and we do not even thank him for all his gifts.

Child. I think, papa, that those who forget God are not even so good as this little insect; for it at least does nothing wrong, while they are wicked, obstinate, proud, and ungrateful.

Father. You are right, my dear child. The sinner is not so good as this insect. How thankful should we then be that our Saviour has redeemed us from sin, and has made us children of God, by uniting us for ever to himself?

Child. Yes, we know that God is our Father, and that he loves us. I am sure he takes care of me, since he has[Pg 8] given his Son to save me. What a good Father! what a kind Saviour!

Father. Continue to love this good Saviour, my dear child; and always remember the words of St. Paul:—"He who spared not his own Son, but gave him up to the death for us all, shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" Remember the cochineal, which is so wonderfully formed by the Lord, and seek, above all things, the blessing of the all-wise, powerful, and good God, who never forgets you, and who is, through Jesus Christ, your heavenly Father.

A barking dog

[Page 9]
[Pg 10]


How wonderful this rolling ball
Of earth, that bears me now!
And, O! thou mighty God of all,
How wonderful art Thou!
(And what is this vast world to thee,
With all its sea and land?
Just what a pebble is to me,
Or e'en a grain of sand.)
And may a simple child address
So great and high a King?
And will he notice, will he bless
So mean a little thing?
And may I hope his love to win,
Before his face to stand,
Who holds this spacious world within
The hollow of his hand?
O yes! for though he is so high,
He makes e'en worms his care;
He will not scorn an infant's cry,
A sinful infant's pray'r.


[A] Perhaps the young reader would know it better by its more common name of lady bird.

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