The Mine by T. S. Arthur

Story type: Literature

There are three kingdoms in nature–the Mineral kingdom, the Vegetable kingdom, and the Animal kingdom–the former for the sake of the latter, and all for the sake of man. Without the Vegetable kingdom animals could not exist, and without the Mineral kingdom vegetables could not exist.

It is also worthy of remark, that in all the inferior kingdoms of nature, there is an image of what is superior. The lowest of all the kingdoms is the Mineral kingdom, where every thing takes a fixed form, and where all changes are the work of centuries, instead of days and months, as in the Vegetable and Animal kingdoms. Yet, in this dull, inert kingdom, we find a certain image of the one next above, in the upright or orderly forms into which many of its substances arrange themselves. Under circumstances of more than usual freedom, particles of matter in this kingdom will assume shapes so nearly resembling those of the Vegetable kingdom, that many were at first disposed to conclude that they were mere petrifactions; as in the case of formations at the bottom of the ocean, and those that take place in caverns. But we will not wonder at this, when we remember, that the use of the Mineral kingdom is to sustain the Vegetable kingdom, in order that the latter may sustain the Animal kingdom. Use, it must be remembered, is the great law that pervades, sustains, and holds in harmonious order, the whole universe.

In the Vegetable kingdom we see a still nearer approach to man. There is motion and life–not conscious life, but a kind of insensible existence. Nearly all the members of this kingdom elevate themselves toward heaven, and stand upright, like men.

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In the Animal kingdom there is still greater perfection of life and freedom. Beasts move over the earth, birds fly through the air, and fishes change their places, at will, in the sea. This is the highest and most perfect kingdom, and it is for the sake of this that the others exist. And, as was just said, all three are for the sake of man. They go to sustain his natural life, while he remains in this world.

The variety and beauty in the two higher kingdoms are displayed to the eyes of all. But the wonders of the Mineral kingdom are hidden beneath the surface. Mines have to be opened, in order to obtain the metals and precious stones that the earth hides in her bosom; and man can only obtain them through hard and patient labor. Hundreds of feet below the surface of the ground, the miner, with no light to direct his labor but that given him by his dimly burning safety-lamp, toils on, unconscious of the day’s opening or decline. The sun does not rise nor set for him. He is not warned by the home-returning bee, the dimly falling shadows of evening, nor the sudden cry of the night-bird, that the hour of rest has come. But the body cannot endure labor beyond a certain number of hours. Tired nature calls for repose, and the call must be obeyed. Even the miner must have his hours of rest; and then he comes forth, it may be, from his gloomy place of labor, once more into the sunlight; or sinks to sleep in the dark chambers where he toils for bread.

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When you look at a piece of metal, whether it be gold, silver, copper, or iron, remember that it has been won from its hidden place, deep in the solid earth, by the hard labor of man.

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